Dave Runkle’s Experience at the 2023 NLG-Mass Testimonial Dinner

Despite being an NLG member since 2021, this was my first opportunity to attend a Testimonial Dinner and I couldn’t be more glad that I finally made it.  I joined the Guild shortly after beginning a two-year J.D. program at Suffolk University but somehow, during those two years which also included marrying my amazing partner and welcoming a devastatingly adorable daughter into the world, I had yet to make it one. Having now rectified that, I feel like someone who hadn’t realized how thirsty they were until they had had a sip of water.

To me, law school was a strange place.  It was a place of great possibility and learning – a place where the rules, understandings, and authority that govern our society are often laid bare; though much of what law school teaches is bound to and limited by the multitude of systems that law schools and their graduates ultimately serve.  At the same time, it was filled with an incredible array of intellects and personalities, some clearly sharing in the principles that motivated me, some who still finding their way, and still others who were decidedly neither of those two.  Politics may make for strange bedfellows, but law school makes for strange classmates.

In stark contrast to the dualistic setting that law school often presented, any time or place I shared with a Guild-mate was like a cool oasis.  I first felt this when I met the Suffolk University NLG chapter members during the first few weeks of classes.  After we watched the “Rise Up” short and spent some time discussing the ridiculousness of law school that had already become apparent, I knew that I had found “my people.”

This year’s Testimonial Dinner gave me the same feeling, but went so much further.  To me, it provided a wonderful combination of recognition of efforts and members near and dear to me, and those that were new to me – a mix as good as any cocktail.  And better still, I got to share this all with two guests who are critical parts of my support network: my wife Rebecca and her mother, Teresa.  The Testimonial Dinner not only gave them an opportunity to learn about recent Guild activities, but to also experience first-hand the combination of the diversity embodied in the Guild’s members, efforts, and projects all backed by a foundation of shared beliefs: that people should prevail over profit, that the systems we rely on perpetuate many injustices, and that these systems and injustices must be challenged directly, immediately, and wherever possible.

I believe that solidarity is something of a skill, and as a skill, it’s something that must be learned, practiced, and maintained.  Events like the NLG Testimonial Dinner are instrumental in this because they teach by example what solidarity looks like in action and demonstrate the possibilities that might otherwise be unimaginable.

With Love and Solidarity,

Dave Runkle