By Dana Shaker, Georgetown University Law Center
I learned of the Harvard Food Law Student Leadership Summit from a multitude of sources over the summer. The first was from my summer co-intern. The second was from one of the attorneys for whom I was working. The third was from a law school friend back in DC.
While I was grateful that each of these people reached out to me and encouraged me to apply for the Summit, I wasn’t surprised they had done so. Past experience has taught me how welcoming and inclusive the food law community can be. As I filled out my application, I wondered if that spirit of collaboration would be present at the Summit. What would it be like to meet with so many students interested in food law, all in one place? How engaged and excited would the speakers be? And what would we take with us after we left that weekend?
When I arrived at the Summit, I knew instantly that a cooperative spirit wasn’t just “present” like I had hoped. It was the core of the gathering. Professionals and academics dined at the same tables as Summit participants, discussing their own work and listening to and encouraging student interests. Students engaged each other, sharing past work experiences, advice on class offerings, and what was most meaningful to them about food law. Everyone there was intent on forming a food law community, a network of people they could reach out to in their professional lives who were equally passionate about forging a career in this rapidly expanding area of law.
Post-Summit, I’ve seen that sense of community continue between both professionals and students, from Summit participants coordinating informal food law gatherings in their geographic areas to Summit speakers giving their time at local law schools. Participants not only recognize the importance of maintaining the connections we’ve made with each other, but also genuinely want to continue and expand the dialogue to others with similar interests. I am grateful to be a part of this professional community that cultivates a spirit of inclusion. When participants look back on their careers, I hope they remember the Summit as a pivotal moment in time when connections with community members grew.