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Life in the Law School Lane: Living Through the 2016 Election as a Female Law Student

"This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is, it is worth it. And so we need—we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives. And to all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion." - Hillary Clinton, Concession Speech, November 9, 2016

With my penultimate post as a 2016 Writer in Residence, I figured I would be wrapping up and writing another satirical post with the premise that “law school can be rough, but you can survive it, if you keep your head high.” Yet, after having observed (and lived-through myself) the reactions of many of my fellow female classmates, and females in general, to this historic election, I knew that writing about the election was something that I had to do. Ms. JD’s tagline is: “Women of the legal profession standing together, rising together.” I write this post to stand together with any female of the legal profession and to show that we can rise together against any sexism, racism, other-ism, you may be feeling, as a result of these election results.

1. Anything you may be feeling is totally valid

Many female law students and lawyers are upset, hurt, and shocked, that the United States could have elected a president-elect that has spoken down against women, engaged in “locker room” talk, and generally engaged in a variety of misogynistic ways. They are scared of the president-elect's and vice president-elect’s stance on issues that relate to the regulation of their bodies. They are alarmed that there seems to be no true pathway to break the highest glass ceiling in the land – one that couldn’t be broken by a former public service lawyer and law professor, with years of political experience, no less. As a Jewish female lawyer-to-be, who has experienced unwelcome situations that equate to sexual assault, I feel for you if you feel any of these things. Your feelings are real and you should never feel as if you are meant to suppress that.

Whether you share these concerns, or not, it’s important to remember that people are allowed to be emotional, especially in the immediate aftermath of the election. Telling others to more or less “suck it up,” because the “American people have spoken,” will not bring us together. In fact, it makes us more divisive. You tell someone to “just get over it” when their hometown team loses in the Finals (and yes, I am still reeling from the New York Rangers’ loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals). Yet, if you tell someone to not express themselves when they feel their life is at stake, whether or not you can commiserate with that concern, you do not know what damage you may be causing.

2. We can come out stronger together

For those of you who are feeling betrayed by this election, I feel for you. I am not naïve to the fact that not every women wanted for Hillary Clinton to become the First Female President. In fact, according to polls, only 54% of female voters voted for her.[1] Looking at white women specifically, she only captured 47% of the vote.[2] Whether you feel betrayed by other females who did not vote your way, or even the American electorate generally, you have the power to overcome this.

Female law students can be bad-ass. Some of my closest friends at the University of Virginia School of Law have been Presidents and Vice Presidents of affinity groups; Editor-in-Chiefs of Law Journals; and participants in clinics exonerating the wrongly imprisoned. They have organized forums of discussions and brought in amazing female speakers. They have served as rocks for their fellow female classmates. They have proven themselves as a block that could unite and show the world outside of Thomas Jefferson’s Grounds what they are truly made of.

I am not here to advocate a plan of action, as I do not know what one can truly be. I would love to say that we should all pursue public interest jobs and fight the good fight by becoming immigration attorneys or public defenders. Yet, as someone who will be starting at a firm, that may seem too aspirational of me to wish unto others. I don’t know what the next year, two years, four years, or eight years holds for women’s rights. What I do know, is that if you feel that you have not been heard this election, there are other females who are there for you. But the narrative needs to be changed from defeat to perseverance. Seek to become informed about issues that affect any women – whether they are professional ones, such as the difficulties females face in becoming law partners, or medical ones, such as affordable access to birth control. Listen to one another, even reach across the aisle, and learn about the experiences other females share with you. When we are building each other up, as opposed to putting each other down, we can be so much stronger together.

[1] http://fortune.com/2016/11/09/hillary-clinton-election-gender-gap/

[2] Id.

What are your feelings post-election? Regardless of whether you were pro-Trump, pro-Clinton, or pro-someone else, the Ms. JD community would love to hear your stance on coming together as women and standing up for women's rights in this new presidential era. Leave a comment below!
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Lauren Nevidomsky is your "average" law student trying to figure out her way in the legal world. She tells the tales of her law school trials and tribulations with the hopes that she'll help make the life of even one law student easier and less stressful.

Follow her on Twitter or Connect with her on LinkedIn!

Missed any of her previous Writer in Residence posts? Check them out here.

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