Aaron von Flatern, a 3L at Baylor Law School, attended the Administrative Law Conference of the American Bar Association in San Francisco. The section organizers contacted Flatern to write a brief article about benefits students receive from section membership and by participating in the section events. The article will be published in the "Adlaw News Express" newsletter.
A Law Student's Perspective on Section Membership and Participation
A few days ago, my wife's mentee, Jaquice, met the President of the United States during his stopover in Austin. Really it was just a touching of hands within a sea of hands, but the moment was captured in a photograph that made the Austin American-Statesman. The experience had a major effect on Jaquice.
"You should follow up with a thank-you letter," my wife later urged her on the phone. "Let him know that you want to meet him in Washington to discuss your ambitions."
Jaquice--a high school sophomore legitimately gunning for Columbia University--was enthralled with the idea. A chance meeting had raised her already high sights. She completed a rough draft of the letter within an hour.
Something like that happened to me at the American Bar Association's annual meeting in San Francisco last week. I joined the Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Section a few months ago thinking I would add it to my resume. I planned to do some volunteer work and maybe attend a few events in order to--perish the thought--network. In fact, I did volunteer. I did fly to San Francisco for the meeting. And I made some tremendous contacts. It was exactly the networking experience I had envisioned. What I did not expect, however, was to become a mentee myself, and to find inspiration I hadn't even realized I was missing.
A mere touching of hands, it turns out, can be all it takes to inspire. William Luneburg Jr., Anne Keifer, Jonathan J. Rusch, Michael Herz, Michael Asimow, James T. O'Reilly, Kenneth Starr, Theodora Lee, Robert Gasaway, Robin Conrad, and many others whom I met--nationally prominent lawyers, authors, professors, judges, and government officials--all took the time to shake my hand and share their wisdom. They provided me insights into some of the most pressing issues in administrative law, and gave me concrete ideas for launching a meaningful career. Through their sincerity I came to see the critical importance of this field, as well as the colossal magnitude and urgency of the work still to be done.
Now, thanks to the Section, I look forward to my 3L year with renewed enthusiasm and great clarity of purpose. To law students considering Section membership or participation, I would say only: fifty percent of success in life is showing up. If you can't find a way to meet the President of the United States, show up here and meet the people who--if I may overstate it, and only slightly--are quietly running the world.