We are servants

By Jalen Sanders, CFCC Student Fellow (2019-2020)

Participating in the CFCC Student Fellows program, I have learned and acknowledged a lot. There is no difference between a student, a faculty member, a lawyer, a judge, or an advocate. No pay grade, word of mouth, or potential job offer can change that. What destroys our titles is the realization that everyone in the legal system is a servant. 

We would not be here today but for the communities we serve. Be it a student fulfilling the desires of a professor, or a judge providing an interpretation of justice, we serve. Albeit the means or methods, our service is what generates the impact we have in the communities we serve. The CFCC Student Fellows program has brought me to this conclusion.

I have a problem with holding onto things. I usually don’t trust a lot of people. I was such a servant to my own vices, ideologies, and passions that I started being a slave to my processes. I was so used to handling situations with aggression and apprehension that I prided myself on being able to find any inkling of distasteful behavior someone showed me. I believed that it was my “maturity” that allowed me to “sniff out the dirt.”

What ultimately set me free is my participation in CFCC’s Student Fellows program. The rich history of therapeutic jurisprudence and the work CFCC does within the family justice system is truly enlightening. I saw how the Truancy Court Program (TCP) works to keep the children’s best interests in mind and how the Student Fellows work to support the TCP participants’ needs. Responding to assigned questions asking us to reflect on our experiences and sitting in restorative circles with TCP participants helped me channel my energy into the safe spaces the program provides. I learned how to rely on the most powerful tool in my skillset: compassion.

Through the aid of this law school course, my self-realization has rekindled in me what it means to be a servant. What is bigger than I am are the communities I serve. The law’s success, no matter how much you want to deny it, is based on the community you serve. Remember who you are. Remember what you do. And most importantly, know that you will always be a servant to someone. 

3 thoughts on “We are servants

  1. Jalen,

    Thank you so much for this. I hope we all have been challenged to grow and develop a servant’s heart if not by law school, at least by this class. I know I have. As a person who has had to look out for themselves and make tough choices from an early age, I think a lot of us come here as guarded high-achievers. Having to confront ideas of trauma and therapeutic jurisprudence strips a lot of that away and forces us to really see other people. I’ve enjoyed all of your insights in class, and I’m curious what experience you feel has impacted you the most. Was there a moment that really brought forward the ideas you’re discussing?

    • Thank you for the comment Shannon, the moment that really brought forth my ideas was during a restorative circle. One of the students was communicating their desire for faculty at the school to show more compassion to those individuals who have issues with mental health. Based on student experiences, and some confirmation from faculty members, there has been a lack of empathy towards the groups afflicted with certain conditions. I realized that as a circle participant I had the duty as an advocate to use my stature to help invoke change. The school system is not meant for students to build up programs but for the programs to build up students. In this lies the core definition of service, but we become so entrapped in out-dated thinking that a role reversal has occurred as to who serves who.

  2. Jalen, Thanks for sharing such a transparent analysis of CFCC. CFCC certainly forces us to look introspectively and question our application of the law. You are right. Being a lawyer, is being a servant. And to be a servant we need to be understanding of the people we are serving. Thanks for your insight.

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