If I were an employer, I’d pay close attention to the classes of 2020 and 2021. What sets us apart from the rest won’t be our grades, our class rankings, our impressive lists of internships, nor our ability to marathon a semester’s worth of Zoom lectures in a day. It will be our raw, unrelenting capacity to endure.
You can’t teach resilience. You can’t assign it for reading, outline it, memorize it, or IRAC it. You can’t bullshit it like a cold call. You can’t supplement it or borrow it from a 3L. There’s no Quimbee for resilience; there aren’t any Examples and Explanations. Resilience is practiced–not by completing 100 MBE questions in an hour–but by adapting to the unadaptable, surmounting the insurmountable, spitting in the face of adversity, laughing at the thought of impossibility, losing the battle, owning the fail, and embracing the suck. There’s no “it depends,” you either have it, or you don’t.
And yet, this least-teachable asset happens to be the most valuable trick of our trade. With resilience comes creativity and tenacity; an unquenchable thirst to succeed at all costs, mixed with the bravery of doing so while knowing that the game is rigged. Most importantly, with reslience comes graceful failure. We’ve been there before. Our time to recovery is unparalleled.
The classes of 2020 and 2021 harbor the most resilient graduates of all time. That’s especially true for us Santa Clara Law grads. When wild fires threatened our livelihoods, we raged on through the orange haze. When COVID-19 plagued the world, we sought refuge online, and refused to accept any meaning of the “new normal” that included putting our education on hold. When we (and our colleagues) lost loved ones, we mourned them. When we lost our internships, we found new ones. When we lost out on celebrations and precious life experiences, we acclimated. When we lost resources, we made our own, and we shared them. When our computers fried, and our Internet connections dropped, we adapted. When isolation brought depression, we welcomed therapy. When all we wanted to do was quit, we resisted. When social injustices aggrieved our brothers and sisters, we protested. When our democracy was crumbling, we voted.
And despite it all, we graduated.
Future employers, I challenge you not to judge us by our grades, but by our scars. They tell the stories our transcripts can’t.
Congratulations to my colleagues, and cheers to resilience.