I’m Pivoting
June 19th, 2021

“A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision.” -Eric Ries

I’ve spent more than a decade serving disadvantaged communities as an actor, deck manager and stage carpenter; very soon, I’ll be serving similar communities pending a trip through law school. On May 27th, I began an accelerated course of study targeting enrollment at the University of Virginia School of Law, where, if accepted, I’ll be able to focus on constitutional law and civil rights.

Turns out it’s not that big of a shift. Think about the broad skills that will transfer:

  • discipline
  • empathy
  • communication
  • service to others over self
  • confronting a weakness until it’s a strength
  • leading a team through inconceivable deadlines
  • shifting seamlessly between member and leader of a team
  • being as available in your 11th hour as you were in your 1st

None of that is getting left behind. These skills also transfer exceptionally well:

  • note-taking
  • research
  • active listening
  • critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • improvising
  • perseverance
  • delivering under pressure
  • convincing a room full of people to follow what you say

Why this path? Why now?

I have long felt underutilized, that I was capable of doing more to help others. I’ve increasingly been working myself to the bone with every job I’ve held, trying to find that place where I was maxed out and could go to bed knowing I had done all I could; the problem was, I would drain my body and all the hours in the day, but I never went to bed feeling I had fully tapped my mind. There was more that I could do.

While I’m far from unique in feeling called to respond to injustice, I’ve many times found myself set apart by certain skills in observation, logical reasoning, and carefully crafted communication which have enabled me to resolve issues where others had previously failed.

Looking back at the handful of interventions and mediations I’ve initiated or joined over the years, I’ve realized that each brief act of restoring and preserving the rights of my peers was more satisfying to me than the other work in which I was engaged, but I never considered it that way at the time.

What’s the timeline?

Thanks to expanded distance learning spurred by the pandemic, I’ll be able to spend the next year working at a BA in Political Philosophy, Policy and Law (from home) to precede law school, and I am taking every step possible to leave no doubt that I’ll be heading up to UVA next fall.

What’s the plan after law school?

I’ve got so much to learn before I can predict the sort of work in which I’ll be engaged, but there are plenty of avenues for me to apply the skills I have and the many more I stand to gain. Whether that’s in the realm of policy, litigation, or some area just outside the direct practice of law, I can’t know until further down the road; however, I do know that I’ll keep at it until I’m fully tapped out when I hit the pillow at the end of the day.

Why UVA?

Yes, Thomas Jefferson founded the school; yes, he contradicted many of the ideals he professed.

The controversy surrounding Jefferson reveals the most important detail of our founding documents. Jefferson’s earliest draft of the Declaration of Independence already included the words “all men are created equal,” a principle that he was violating as he was writing it by owning slaves. That inconsistency is prime evidence that the many standards set forth in the preamble to the Declaration were ideals not yet achieved. This interpretation is vital because it gives agency to our continued efforts to see those virtues reflected in our society, which is exactly the work-in-progress I’ll be joining as soon as I am able.

The freedom that Jefferson and his peers failed to grant “all men,” they succeeded in granting our governing bodies, empowering every new generation of Americans to overwrite the convictions of their predecessors—themselves included. My interest in UVA and its connection to our founders doesn’t stem from a blind adoration for them, but from a desire to understand where they failed as well as where they succeeded, and to continue the work they began.

Also, I’m a Virginian. I was born 30 minutes from the university. It feels right, ya know? And I hear they’re a top law school. So there are a few reasons. Here goes!