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Coming Into Her Own Power

Alexandria Richards, Class of 2024

Alexandria Richards

For 2L Alexandria Richards, being appointed Editor-in-Chief of Drexel Law Review means coming “full circle” in her personal growth. At the same time, Richards is making history as the first Black person to occupy the prestigious post.

Joining the journal last year as a staff editor was an important turning point for Richards. “I think being on the journal as a staff editor is where I started to find my footing in law school and feel like, ‘OK, I’m enjoying this; I made the right choice by coming to law school,’” she says. “And then being appointed to Editor-in-Chief, I think it’s such a full-circle moment from the nervous 1L that started [law school].”

As for being the first Black person in the role, “That means the world to me,” she says. “I definitely didn’t think I would come to law school and ‘make history’ or make Drexel history. But it’s a good feeling.”

Leading the way

Richards is keenly aware of providing a role model for others. “I have a few mentees that are Black 1Ls now,” she says, “and I just think the representation is really important—for them to see somebody who is not at the top of my class grade-wise by any means but is still able to leave her mark on campus in an impactful way and hold a leadership position.”

A board member and social chair of the school’s Black Law Students Association, Richards says there is a small group of first-year students she makes a point of keeping in touch with: “It’s definitely important as a 1L to have people who have gone through it already to be there as a comfort and provide resources, and also just provide genuine friendship.”

Though she is Editor-in-Chief for Volume 16 of the journal, which won’t publish until next year, Richards already is weeks-deep into her new role. And her ability as a leader is clear. “I feel like one of my strengths that has really shined is being a team player and how that reflects in my ability to lead,” she says. “I think it’s really important to remember as EIC that even though you get the last eyes on things—you get the last decision on whether we’re going to accept an article–there are still other leaders on the team, and they still have expertise within their role that can provide meaningful contribution to the outcome of the journal.”

“I’m really appreciative to be on a team where everyone is very collaborative and willing to lend their expertise when needed. I believe that a leader is only as strong as the community they serve, and part of that involves knowing when to step back to give others the space to lead and to shine.”

A natural fit

Leading the journal is a natural fit for Richards, who has long been passionate about writing. “I love the way in which words can express diverse, deep emotion,” she says. “I enjoy the way words can make people feel, and I live by the phrase ‘words have power.’”

Richards has used writing in her personal life—journaling, creative writing—and made a foray into publishing original research as an undergraduate psychology major at Salisbury University. Her field research from a community psychology course was published, alongside the research of her peers and professors, in Collaborations: A Journal of Community-Based Research and Practice. In the paper, Richards shares her findings, as well as her observations about the project.

But, as Richards points out, “legal writing is traditionally different from both creative and undergraduate writing. Legal writing encourages conciseness while also requiring extensive research and support. Legal research typically involves precedent, not personal experience.”

Writing her “Note,” or work of legal scholarship, for Drexel Law Review has brought together Richards’ writing interests. “Writing my note has been a great way to combine my own deeply rooted value of expression through words with the demands of the legal world,” she explains. “I am able to use precedent to illustrate a problem and engage in creative discourse about a proposed solution.”

Ultimately, Richards views research and writing as integral to the practice of law. “In general, research and writing are important to me for the purpose of well-informed expression,” she says. “More specifically, legal research and writing are important to me because they are the foundation of discourse and innovation within the law as it continues to change.”

On the rise

In terms of her goals while serving as Editor-in-Chief, Richards says her top priority is being, “a good leader. I want people to look at the journal and say, ‘the journal has great leadership for Volume 16.’” Her response to any challenges she may face in achieving this goal? “I want to step into my confidence more and know that I was placed in this role for important reasons.”

She also aims to ensure the continued quality of the journal. “I want to make sure the articles we’re accepting for publication are articles that would contribute to important legal conversations so that our journal can continue to grow and be respected in the legal community,” she says. She hopes the Law Review will continue to rise in its ranking among journals so it can attract even better articles in the years to come.

Witness to growth

Assistant Professor of Law Elizabeth R. Kukura is not at all surprised to see Richards assume leadership of the Law Review. Kukura had Richards as a student in her legal methods class during Richards’ first semester. “She was a wonderful person to have in class,” Kukura says. Noting that the start of law school can be difficult, she adds, “She really rose to the challenge.”

Kukura witnessed Richards’ growth over the course of the semester. “She found her voice and was able to participate,” she says. “She put herself out there; she contributed.”

She describes Richards as “self-possessed, well-organized, and hard-working, with the kind of discipline that makes somebody a successful law student and a successful lawyer…I think she’s very well-suited to take on this kind of role, and I expect that she will do a really excellent job leading the journal.”

She’s pleased to see Richards in the position for another reason as well. “Having diverse leadership of the Law Review reflects the diversity of our community and our student body,” she says. “She’s highly qualified to fill this role, and [her appointment] also reflects…the kind of broad range of voices and backgrounds and different skills and talents that exist among our students, and I think that’s a special thing about Drexel.”

Finding a path

For Richards, working on the journal has pointed the way to a future career. Even as a staff editor, she says, “I started to feel myself getting more excited about the practice of law and then learning more about the specific practice of administrative law and deciding that’s the route I wanted to go down.”

Though she’s not sure whether she’ll end up working for a firm or a government agency, the Washington, D.C. native says her hope is, after graduation, “to head home to D.C. because that’s just the perfect place to practice administrative law.”

Whatever the future holds, Richards says she already has realized invaluable personal growth “in feeling more confident and like I’m walking in my right path. I feel like the steps that I’ve taken, the opportunities that I’ve received in law school, have just been confirmation of what other people have seen in me that I am just now starting to comfortably see in myself.”