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17 S. J. Pol'y & Just. 39 (2023)
Using Positive Psychology Principles to Assist Black Students Succeed in Law School

handle is hein.journals/srebwsude17 and id is 43 raw text is: 

                              SUCCEED IN LAW SCHOOL

                              JOSELINE JEAN-LOUIS HARDRICKI


In its initial scene, the Shonda Rhimes-produced television show, How to Get Away with Murder
has criminal defense attorney Annalise Keating entering a classroom full of eager law students.
Keating, played by Viola Davis, who won an Emmy award for the role, is sharply dressed, perfectly
coiffed, and confident as she approaches the chalkboard. In a commanding voice, she announces:

              Good  morning. I don't know what terrible things you've all done up
              to this point in your lives, but clearly, your karma's out of balance
              to get assigned to my class. That said, here we all are. I'm Professor
              Annalise Keating, and this is Criminal Law 100. Or, as I prefer to
              call it...

              How  to get away with murder.2

She delivers that last line after she picks up a red marker and writes on the board; the students all
watch, twisting their necks to see the words until she finally finishes. She then turns to them as she
reads the words aloud. Intense theme music plays in the background as she smiles mischievously.

As a young  Black woman  attorney, watching this scene felt groundbreaking, extraordinary, and
exciting. As a child, I saw no images like this depicting a Black woman as a criminal defense
attorney. The only Black female lawyer I saw on TV (that I can recall) was Claire Huxtable. Then
I saw the television shows Matlock and Perry Mason, and I was enthralled. They had great theme
music, intense courtroom scenes, the literal smoking gun, and impeachment of witnesses. Those
lawyers did compelling monologues and always got justice for their clients. I remember thinking
that is what I want to do! Being in the courtroom questioning witnesses looked like so much fun.

Despite the lack of representation in the media of Black attorneys, attorneys of other races, and
even female attorneys, I still wanted to pursue a legal career. Like many Black law students, I am
a first-generation lawyer in my family, was raised in poverty (at least measured by American
standards), and attended underfunded and poor-performing schools. I relied heavily on mentors
and pipeline programs to find my way into law school.

1 Assistant Professor of Criminal and Constitutional Law at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law
2 Pilot. How to Get Away with Murder, created by Peter Nowalk, episode 1, season 1, Shondaland, 2014. Clip
available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=til9wywbPtA&t=5s


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