By Kirsten Williams, Staff Writer
Diarra Raymond (JD/MARJ’22) was recently elected Editor-in-Chief of Vermont Law Review, Vol 46. I sat down with her to learn about her background, her time at Vermont Law School (VLS) so far, and her vision for the journal. Raymond currently serves as a Staff Editor on Vermont Law Review, Vol. 45, treasurer for the VLS Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and treasurer for the VLS Christian Law Fellowship. Questions and responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and why you chose to go to law school?
A: “I grew up in the US Virgin Islands and moved to Texas right before I started 11th grade. I did two years of community college and then I graduated from Texas Woman’s University in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, with an Emphasis in Law and minors in English and Applied Psychology. I really knew that I wanted to go to law school after my first semester in my junior year… all of the courses were like mini law school classes. So you really had to read cases and kind of brief them. Since I was a kid, people thought I was argumentative… they were like ‘You’d be a good lawyer!'”
Q: Was there a certain reason you chose VLS?
A: “Yeah, it’s not a super conventional reason, but the short answer is that God told me to come here. I was preparing for the LSAT and I thought to myself, ‘You should probably figure out where you want to go…’ I never gave Vermont a second thought, but He just repeated Himself. So I searched it and at first, I wasn’t too excited about the idea because it’s far away from most of my family and I wasn’t super happy about uprooting and moving halfway across the country all by myself… But it all worked out and I’m really happy that I came here. I feel like I would have been fine at another law school, but I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it as much as I do here. Especially because our community is helpful towards each other.”
Q: How has the Law Review experience been so far?
A: “I knew I wanted to get on to Law Review when I first heard about it because they described it as writing and research and I love writing and research! I was really excited that I was able to grade on. I chose Vermont Law Review because I’m not a very environmentally oriented person—I’m sure I could have found a topic that I was interested in and still had to do with the environment—but I wanted the freedom to choose. I wrote about voting rights in US territories: on whether or not the United States Supreme Court could mandate that voting in federal elections is a fundamental constitutional right, or alternatively, that Congress should give territories the right to vote.”
Q: I was wondering if you’d like to talk about the significance of becoming the first Black person to hold the position of Editor-in-Chief, and how that feels for you?
A: “I mean, it’s not super surprising considering that it’s Vermont, but at the same time it’s a little weird… I didn’t set out to do that. The position really stood out to me as something that I would be good at. A couple of classmates told me ‘You know, you’ll probably be the first Black Editor-in-Chief,’ but obviously none of us knew for sure… but I knew that there hadn’t been a lot of Black people on Law Review in general. After I won the election, I ended up in a meeting with Dean Jefferson and she congratulated me and confirmed our suspicions. And in terms of me being the first, I would hope that I’m not the last. And that the next one is pretty soon after me and not too far in the future.”
Q: What’s your vision for Law Review? Is there anything you’re really excited for?
A: “The most challenging thing will be transitioning back to being in-person and doing stuff in-person rather than online. And the incoming class of [staff editors] haven’t been in-person either, most of them. But being in-person will make it a little easier to communicate because you don’t have to just rely on email. In terms of things I’m hoping to implement, I just want to make it more of a community-centered organization—something that’s a little less stressful.”
Q: What are your summer plans? And plans for after law school?
A: “This summer, I’ll be interning at the Vermont Supreme Court for Justice Eaton. I’m really looking forward to that. I’m hoping that at least part of it will be in-person since we’re all getting vaccinated now, but I’m hoping for the best and I’m sure it’s going to be an awesome opportunity. After graduation, I’m planning to clerk. Hopefully I could work my way up to clerking with the US Supreme Court in some type of capacity… I know that’s a very aspirational goal, but I want do it; it’d be amazing!”