Law Students

Law Students

Star Power
By: Belashia Wallace

As chair of the Law Student Division for the State Bar of Texas and TYLA’s law student liaison, I want to highlight some of our State Bar of Texas and TYLA stars who are spreading their star power at law schools all over Texas. Find out more about what the State Bar and TYLA have in store for law students this year by visiting our law student webpage here.

Pictured Stars: Belashia Wallace, chair of the Law Student Division for the State Bar of Texas & TYLA law student liaison, along with Latoya Merida, vice chair of the LSD. Belashia and Latoya hosted the first “LSD Day,” where Thurgood Marshall School of Law students wore their LSD T-shirts on campus during new student orientation.

My 3-Step approach to Obtaining Star Power:  Aspiring for Star Power, Obtaining Star Power, and Maintaining Star Power

Everyone wants to be a star in law school. You sit in classes with students who either seem to know the answer to every question, seem to find a question for every answer, or who simply question where they fit in the scheme of things. The truth is that the road to becoming a star has less to do with you being the “best,” but it has everything to do with being the best you.

Pictured Star: Kristen Levins, program attorney for the Texas Access to Justice Commission, speaks to a room of nearly 70 law students. As part of her initiative to speak to Texas law schools, Kristen shared valuable information and insight regarding the law student opportunities and benefits within the Texas Access to Justice Commission.

Aspiring for Star Power: Law schools are filled with students who believe that they’ve already obtained star power, while others may think that star power will never be within their reach. However, we often forget that just like snowflakes, no two stars are the same. Each star is unique, just like you. So rather than aiming to be like the star student alongside you, aim to be the best star student you already are. Believe that you can become who you have always aspired to be. Take a moment to ask yourself whether what you aspire for is truly what you have a desire for. Many of us entered law school already knowing how we wanted to use our law degree to change the world. But somehow, between our letter of interest for law school and being a current law student, we felt like we had to aspire for the legal practice areas of the majority. We heard about the $30,000 summer clerkships. We applied to the same OCI positions that everyone else raved about. We set goals to make Law Review because we heard that was what every employer was looking for. But many of us still dread being asked the ever-popular question: “What type of lawyer do you want to be?” Because the truth is, we did well in classes that we thought we would have no interest in, and the classes that we thought would be our favorites turned out to be the worst. The truth is that we simply do not want to candidly say, “I know that I want to be a lawyer, and even though I’ve been in law school for this long, I don’t know what I want to do yet.” Let’s try to make this easy. If I asked you to write down your talents, passions, and skills, would they be a reflection of what you are currently aspiring for? It’s easy to lean toward the legal practice areas that everyone says there will always be a “need” for, but always remember that most of all, there will always be a need for you. You bring something unique to the table. Rather than comparing yourself to the rest of the law school galaxy, embrace the star in you so that your aspirations will reflect your heartfelt desire to bring your uniqueness into the legal community.

Obtaining Star Power: In order to obtain Star Power, you must first be born into a star. Let’s look at this from an astrological standpoint. A star is formed out of a cloud of cool, dense molecular gas. In order for it to become a potential star, the cloud needs to collapse and increase in density. As law students, it is easy for us to get discouraged when we feel like we are at our lowest point. Many of us entered law school under the assumption that we would be the star student in all of our classes, only to find that we are in classes filled with stars. We’ve all shared the shame of studying for hours on end, only to get called on in class and either freeze up, or alternatively, respond incorrectly. We’ve all had days where we planned to study intensively on a specific day and during a specific time, only to find that our nice study calendars failed us. We never planned for the unexpected call regarding a death in the family. Our arguments with friends and family could not come at a more inconvenient time. Our cars wait until final exams approach to give up on us. And we have nervous breakdowns over not being able to find our keys that are hidden under mounds of papers that we promised ourselves that we would organize. But we’re still in law school because we did not give up. Just like a star must collapse as a mere molecular cloud before it can increase in density to become a star, so is the same for you in order to obtain star power.

If you have already confirmed in your head that you are at your lowest point and this proves to be true, many people would say, “There is nowhere left for you to go but upward.” However, they fail to realize that you can still remain sedentary. Upward mobility requires faith first, and then, action. In retrospect, if you are one who believes that you have already reached your peak in life and things could not get any better for you, then you are also limiting yourself to your present. This means that you will stay where you are for a short while, but soon enough, you will realize that if nothing is holding you up in the end, you are destined to fall. It is imperative that we never lose sight of the things and people that keep us grounded. For me, it’s my spiritual growth, my family, my friends, and my heart to give back to my community that keep me grounded. Those who live with their heads in the clouds, while under the assumption that things can’t get any better because they are the best, are similar to the cartoon characters that we watched growing up. The characters may do things such as run off of a cliff or tussle in a ball of smoke at the highest point in the sky. They stay there as if they are on sturdy ground because they have preoccupied themselves in such a capacity that they do not even realize that they are in the air. However, it is not until they look down or look around and see that they are all alone, that they fall with great speed. So it is key to realize that in obtaining star power, you do not get discouraged in aiming for the top.  Likewise, you should never forget what is most important to you when you reach the top.

Pictured Stars (left to right): Belashia Wallace, TYLA’s law student liaison & Women of Law’s charter member; Morgan Gaskin, TYLA’s board member & attorney for M-I SWACO, a Schlumberger Company; and Shay Bryson, attorney for Andrews Kurth LLP. As part of TYLA’s Diversity Initiative that includes supporting women in the legal field, Morgan and Shay spoke to the Women of Law organization for a candid lunch conversation on the topic of “female confidence within the legal profession.” Morgan shared her personal experiences, book passages, and words of wisdom to a full room of female law students. She will also be a panel speaker for TYLA’s upcoming “How to Get a Job After Law School” program.

Last, but not least…

Maintaining Star Power: Once you have reached your star potential, you must not forget that there are certain things required of you in order to maintain your star power. Think of your journey toward stardom and in stardom as a mountain-climbing experience. Take a brief moment to imagine yourself at the foot of your mountain looking upward. You have your harness on. Your helmet is secure. You have a light backpack of supplies, including your flag of achievement that is anxiously waiting to be secured on the peak of your mountain. You take a deep breath, and you start climbing. The first few steps are easy. But midway to the top, your foot starts to slip. The wind begins to throw you off balance. You are now starting to second-guess your journey. But in the back of your head, you tell yourself that each step and each pull will get you closer to the top. So, you keep climbing. Let’s pause right there.

When you imagined yourself in this scenario, did you imagine yourself climbing the mountain alone? It is likely that you did. This is one of the most common downfalls of maintaining star power. In your mountain-climbing journey to stardom, it is imperative that you surround yourself with other mountaineers as well. You cannot expect to get to the top when you are surrounded by people who are not goal-oriented or who are always discouraging you. When you climb, you should surround yourself with three types of people: 1) people who are at the bottom of the mountain, looking up to you as you climb; 2) people who are climbing the mountain alongside of you; and 3) people who have already acquired what you aspire. Surrounding yourself with these three types of people will guarantee that you will always maintain your star power.

Group 1: The people who are at the bottom of the mountain, looking up to you as you climb. These are the people who will help to keep you humble in your journey. It is easy to get prideful in your accomplishments, but pride can kill your spirit and your future. When you see someone who desires your same accomplishments, take them under your wing and show them the avenues that you took to get from the bottom to the top. This could be done through mentoring, tutoring, serving your community, or even helping an old friend who has now decided to pursue law school just like you. There is an humbling phrase that you should all remember called “lift as you climb.” So when you climb your way to the top, always remember to open up doors for others to achieve as well, as I’m sure the same was done for you somewhere along the way.

Group 2: People who are climbing the mountain alongside of you. They will be the ones who will encourage you along your journey because they know firsthand what you are going through. They are mountain-climbers who are fervently climbing toward their goals like you are. Prior to law school, we saw that undergrads usually gravitated into their own circle of friends. What you tend to find in theses circles is that there is usually one odd ball of the bunch who just doesn’t seem to fit in. We’ve all heard the phrase, “birds of a feather, flock together.” But what happens when one bird begins to aspire for more things than their flock does? What about when the rest of the flock chooses not to fly any higher, or even worse, chooses not to fly at all? What is then to come of that one bird? Many of us know this concept all too well. We may feel as though we have to downplay our achievements when our friends have none of their own to share. We feel as though no one believes us when we say with total honesty that we just “don’t have time.” And no one seems to understand how spontaneous outings every weekend have now evolved into one-time calendared events that must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. Having someone alongside of you who understands your struggle will make your journey much easier. Whether it’s a classmate, or even a friend who is a law student at another school, it helps to have someone in your position to vent to every now and then. They understand the struggle of the climb. Take advantage of that by encouraging each other as you climb your mountains together.

Group 3: People who have already acquired what you aspire. These are people who are working at your dream job or who are doing exactly what you would love to do after graduation. Become a mentee of someone who has the same job title that you are hoping to soon have. Request an internship at your dream job. Be willing to offer your time for free, in exchange for the experience of a lifetime. If you are blessed with the opportunity to see someone you look up to, don’t allow that opportunity to pass you by. Speak to that person and share with them the desires of your heart.  Attend functions where you will have the opportunity to network. Take it a step further by going to networking functions alone so that you can force yourself to step out of your shell. Set a personal goal to take full advantage of every opportunity that you are presented with to leave a mark on your law school campus and throughout your community for generations to come.

Always remember that a star is still a star, even when it goes unnoticed. Your efforts to achieve should not be only for a meritorious award. You should aspire for greatness because you desire greatness. You should be quick to help others, even when no one else is watching. You should give it your all every time, even if the only hand patting you on your back is your own. A star is always a star. It shines in the darkness and in the light. When it rains, the star still shines. When all you see are clouds, the star is still there. You are a star. Never stop shining because of what is going on around you. It is during the darkest nights that stars are recognized for shining the brightest. Never forget the things that are necessary for you to truly Aspire Star Power, Obtain Star Power, and Maintain Star Power. If you keep these close at heart, I am confident that all of your stars will always be within your reach.

Pictured Stars (left to right): Belashia Wallace, chair of the Law Student Division for the State Bar of Texas & TYLA law student liaison; Latoya Merida, vice chair of the Law Student Division for the State Bar of Texas; Rebekah Steely Brooker, TYLA president; and Bree Trevino, TYLA project coordinator. Brooker attended Texas law schools to speak to first-year law students about the benefits of TYLA, including TYLA’s annual Diversity Scholarship for law students and TYLA’s enhanced focus on serving law students across Texas.


Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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