For The Record

When Dorie Arthur and her 1L peers in Richmond Law’s Class of 2021 walked into their first contracts course with David Epstein, they received a surprising directive: At the close of the lecture, instead of packing up their books and rushing out the door, the professor asked the students to applaud. The scene would repeat itself at the end of every class.

That special request became the focal point of “The Merits of Applause,” Arthur’s entry in Brigham Young University’s new LawStories program, a competition that invites law students from across the country to participate in a storytelling initiative. Arthur was one of nine students selected to take part in this year’s program.

The task was to write a short nonfiction narrative that tied together students’ lives and the law. Arthur and the other participants traveled to BYU’s campus in Provo, Utah, in March for a storytelling workshop and live reading. During that trip, she was able to share a message about the bonds that form in law school.

“Something more than the clapping of hands happens in a section B classroom at the University of Richmond, and it’s something you cannot find at many law schools in this country,” Arthur said. “We are actually friends. Classrooms are deafeningly loud with laughter and conversation before and after class.

“We share correct outlines, we whiteboard concepts for each other, and when someone CALIs a class [the highest-scoring student in a course], he or she is a champion for all of us. The world is complex, ferocious, and cruel, but the world is also warm, kind, and full of opportunities for camaraderie (even in law school),” she added. “We want to live in a world where people with different opinions, backgrounds, and expertise work together for a common goal and common good while still appreciating the nuances of humanity and behaving with respect and acceptance.

“To that end, we applaud.”