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Let's Get It Started: Starting a Student Organization in Law School

This summer, after my name was thrown around by some of my law student friends, I was contacted by the national office of the Federalist Society. There hasn’t been a Federalist Society chapter here at WVU Law for quite some time, and they felt like it needed a revival, so I was apparently the man for the job. I must admit, I was a bit nervous. For starters, I already had plenty on my plate, and this was the bright and shining 3L year that you only hear rumors about during the first two years of law school.

Further, I’ll freely admit that the group is a bit of an outlier at school—those of us who espouse small government, states’ rights beliefs tend to be in the minority, and firing up a group like this to foster diversity of thought in an already small place can sort of put a target on ones back.

But, because I felt like the organization was a good fit for WVU Law, I agreed to do it. The idea wasn’t to force views on anyone, but to attempt to take a stake in the discussion at our school and actually bring people together; to prove that we may disagree on some things, but that we can absolutely find common ground on a whole host of issues if we just sit down and discuss them.

And I’m really glad I accepted the job.

There’s no doubt that starting the organization was busy. Even during the summer, I had to start doing things like coming up with a constitution and doing all the paperwork necessary to be a legitimate organization. I was also slated to go to a conference in Washington, D.C. on leading the organization, but that didn’t happen due to flight cancellations. The business spilled over once school started, and it magnified—organization fairs, emails, scheduling meetings, getting lunches together for those meetings, planning events . . .

However, through all the busy work, the first meeting made it worthwhile. The turnout was fair, and it was a group of people passionate about the marketplace of ideas and fostering debate amongst our student body. And I can already tell that, throughout the year, the rewards will continue to roll in. The group wants to facilitate debates and ensure people from both sides of arguments come and take part in real discussions about issues everyone in our small campus is passionate about. People outside the group have been supportive, backing the idea that we actually can come together and have discussions and debates in search of common ground. Even our faculty adviser, who admittedly does not embrace the same views as the Federalist Society, is very excited to be a part of our group and help ensure that ideas are civilly discussed and that debate is never stifled.

So, starting a group basically from scratch can be a big commitment. But it will pay off. If you’re passionate about something and it isn’t represented by a group or club at school, go for it. You’ll find support, and you have no idea what may be waiting on the other side.

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