Published on October 4, 2021  
Kalissa Bishop

“Well, I guess that’s it.” Those were the words I muttered out into my empty living room as I closed my laptop on my law school career. It was far from the grandiose moment I had thought it would be three years ago when I began the first day of my legal education in the moot courtroom. My first day of law school is forever burned into my brain, right down to the too-big floral pants I wore, hoping they would help make a good first impression. My last day, however (it might’ve been a Tuesday?), I don’t recall what I wore. It didn’t really matter either; no one saw me that day. In fact, no one had seen me in almost 14 months, except for the rare occasion I turned my Zoom camera on to ask a question.

Being immunocompromised, I was unable to return to in-person classes like so many of my peers. I had already fought a hard battle with COVID-19 once, my doctors weren’t willing to allow me to try my chances again. From the time Cumberland temporarily closed in the spring of 2020 until I graduated in May 2021, I attended every lecture, submitted every paper, took every final, and argued every mock trial, from my dining room table. While it might seem like the “easy way out,” as I have heard it put, it was far from it. I had to hold myself accountable every day to learn almost completely on my own. Professors were still learning to navigate classes that accommodated both online and in-person students, a task I could never thank them enough for undertaking, though it still had its kinks to work out. Sometimes, an audio feed would cut out, and I would miss an entire lecture. Other times, I was unable to ask questions during class due to the video system used and would have to send an email with a lot of context later that day. And while I wasn’t alone, in that I was not the only student to finish my law school career online, most of the time, I was lonely. I didn’t have my peers beside me to make classes more fun. I couldn’t go to study groups or weekend dinners. I didn’t even get the comfort of hearing my classmates complain about a question on the final that I had struggled with as well.

Despite every obstacle, I graduated; we graduated! Though that accomplishment is mine (that I share with all of my classmates), I know that I would not have made it had it not been for the professors and support staff who went above and beyond their duties to pour into me, encourage me, find answers when I could not be there do it on my own, and keep me sane. The silver lining to finishing law school in this pandemic was knowing that I had a network of people at Cumberland who genuinely cared and wanted my success almost as badly as I did. I finished law school on my couch, but I begin my legal career with a new outlook, a new breadth of knowledge, and a debt to Cumberland I can never repay.