The narrative on modifying legal education to produce entrepreneurial students with resiliency and “grit,” however, often has a troubling class and race-regarding dimension. This Essay argues that the “grit” reform initiative has the potential to rationalize future disparities, by shifting the focus from responding to the continuing impact of poverty and identity bias on student outcomes to bolstering individual character traits and resiliency. Our country has a long and troubling history of adopting such post-oppression “distancing moves” in order to discount the effect that systemic bias has on inequality, including disparate legal outcomes, by focusing solely on personal responsibility and individual deficit. The “grit” and “resiliency” narrative, by way of example, has been regularly deployed the past two years to silence the voices of students protesting systemic racism and sexual violence at colleges and law schools throughout the nation. While there is certainly a need for future law students to be thoroughly prepared to succeed in the ever evolving techno-legal marketplace, a focus on modifying legal education to promote “grit” and “resiliency” seems misplaced at best, and dangerous to future social justice efforts at worst.
Christian Sundquist, Beyond the ‘Resiliency’ and ‘Grit’ Narrative in Legal Education: Race, Class, and Gender Considerations, 50 J. Marshall L. Rev. 271 (2017)