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Can't We All Just Get Along?

By Megan Patrick

“Your professional reputation begins now.” We heard it on the first day and you have or will continue to hear some version of this phrase on a regular basis. But, these, like so many other words of wisdom, fall to the back of our minds, as we focus on just making it though our stressful days. Sure, the vast majority of us will become members of the relatively small West Virginia Bar and the odds are strongly in favor of one of your classmates appearing as opposing counsel or even the presiding judge in the future. Thus, it makes perfect sense that we should all strive to get along, but this sentiment is broader than: “you may be at their mercy someday -so be nice to your class mates.” As budding attorneys, making a positive impact on our communities should be a daily consideration.

We can strive to practice civility and mutual respect, not just in our law school community but in public as well. We do not need incentives to treat others as equals and with kindness and respect, but if there ever was one, it is that everyone you encounter on a daily basis is a potential client. It often seems that “lawyer” has lost its shine as a career choice; what was once a respected and noble career has become the target of jokes. But, so many of us chose law school for noble reasons and its up to us to reverse the negative perception.

So, as we try to make our way in this era plagued by uncertainty and discourse, let’s remember that we are in a unique position to make a difference and that the most important skills we will learn in law school include: treating others with respect, being slow to judge, but quick to find common ground, and always taking the time to listen.

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