That perception transformed three years ago, while sitting beside her mom listening to the speakers at the UC College of Law during Admitted Students Day. When Dean Verna Williams spoke alongside two other Black women leaders in the College’s administration, Thompson said she and her mom knew this environment would be what she needed.
“I was blown away. I had never seen that before, except for at Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” she said. “It let me know that if I came here, I would have a voice too. It was really impactful.”
Of course, the challenges that come from the absence of representation in the legal field didn’t go away when she started her law degree. According to the American Bar Association, nearly all people of color are underrepresented in the legal profession. In particular, only 5% of all lawyers are African American, compared to 13.4% of the US population is African American. Even with the best intentions made by the College, Thompson soon felt she was not on equal footing along with others in her similar situation due to this disparity.
“When I first got here, I had a huge case of imposter syndrome. People seemed to already have everything figured out and I was so confused most of the time,” she said. “I felt like, ‘Oh my God, I am going to fail out of all my classes, I'm going to fail out of law school.’”
It was during those times that Thompson said she was grateful to be able to turn to her support system back home, especially her mom whom she talks to every day.
“My mom and my whole family would tell me how proud they are. And that helped,” she said, remembering how members of the church where she grew up even wrote her letters of encouragement. “I know that I'm very blessed to be getting this legal education and it's something that a lot of people, especially in my situation don't have. So if I can use it and be successful, that's my way of using my degree to make a difference.”