A Thanksgiving Message from the HeLP Clinic

Breandan Cotter photoBy: Brendan Cotter, HeLP Clinic

As we clinic students enjoy our week-long Thanksgiving break, I hope everyone can catch up on sleep and spend some time with their families for those who are able. Reflecting on my experiences this semester, I came to the timely conclusion that I, and likely many other fellow students, faculty, and staff, have much for which to be grateful. It may sound cliché, but in light of what I have seen while working at the HeLP Clinic, I feel Thanksgiving comes at a perfect time for some self-reflection on appreciating what our lives have offered us thus far.

I know law school has a tendency (for me at least) to stress students out, and right about now is prime time. How can we focus on anything else when we have papers, projects, briefs, and exams to worry about? It’s entirely natural to focus on our own problems, issues, deadlines, and obligations. But I suggest each and every one of you take a small bit of time this Thanksgiving and reflect on what you truly are fortunate to have in your life.

We all come from different backgrounds, and we all have different resources, but we had the motivation, intelligence, support network, and ambition to become law students. When I look back on my experiences with my clients this semester, how much I have to be grateful for truly comes into perspective with startling strength. Because we serve the underserved, the adversity our clients face is often staggering. I couldn’t imagine living in the situations I have witnessed and still be able to hold it all together. This adversity breeds more adversity, and it’s easy to see how so many in poverty can end up on the street, in jail, or in other dire situations.

It is this that has instilled a greater gratitude for all the things I have been afforded in life. Reflecting on my work at the clinic also led me to realize that I am, in fact, grateful for this opportunity this semester. I am appreciative of both playing a role in an organization that helps those who no one else will, as well as the notable effect this has had on my self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and empathy.

So for everyone reading this, take a second and think about what you’ve learned about yourself from working in the clinic. I have a feeling it will be rewarding.