Student organizations do more than help aspiring lawyers network; they establish community ties.
Organizations run by and for students, such as Moot Court Society and the Student Bar Association, often provide a first glimpse of the College of Law community. These groups also enable lasting connections for many alumni. As the auction chair and former president of the Public Interest Law Association (PILA), I can say that my experience with student organizations has greatly enhanced my law school experience. PILA gave me the opportunity to meet many alumni who remember the organization fondly and are eager to help our cause, whether through facilitating public interest opportunities at DePaul or raising funds for summer public interest stipends.
Recently, I attended a PILA-sponsored mixer in Washington, D.C., following the conference for nonprofit Equal Justice Works. I had the opportunity to meet many PILA-affiliated College of Law alumni who were both eager to spread the word about our enhanced auction efforts and interested in recruiting DePaul graduates to their D.C. employers.
This enthusiasm is not unusual. While looking through old PILA files, I came across a member whose name I recognized and reached out to her to discuss new ideas for the auction. In the process, I discovered we had similar interests in juvenile justice. We've since corresponded about our work, and even though she is located out-of-state, this particular alumna was willing to do just about anything to help the auction. Along with many alumni from the conference, she donated monetarily to the auction.
It's these humble, but important, donations that will grow our proceeds. We've tapped students as well, but we still have opportunities to reinvigorate our alumni networks. For many students, it's the community ties that attract them to DePaul. When applying to law schools, I was attracted to DePaul above all other Chicago schools because of its reputation for a strong alumni network and its student organizations, particularly those in public interest law. I believe DePaul is Chicago’s law school because of its work in the city to enhance access to justice, often organized by student organizations and specialty programs, and also because of the numerous alumni who put their legal education to work in Chicago.
Our community is strengthened by student organizations that tie alumni back to the school. As DePaul progresses, the support given to student organizations must also progress: after all, community ties are the root of DePaul Law. I challenge you to reconnect with the student organizations you were a member of during law school, especially if you haven't in some time. Simply offering to speak to students over coffee about the work you do now goes a long way. I challenge DePaul law alumni to remember the value of student organizations, and to look for ways to enhance their support.