There is a lot of noise coming out of Washington, DC these days, and it can feel like it’s impossible to cut through any of it. Moreover, it can feel like there are no actual issues being discussed or decided. But, you can – and there are! You have a voice, and now is as good a time as ever to use it.

With the upcoming mid-term elections, those running for office need to hear from their potential constituents, because a specific issue that may be front and center for you and your community may not even be on their radar. It is up to each of us to make sure our issues are their issues.

At AccessLex Institute, our focus is legal education and our work is geared primarily toward identifying actionable strategies and public policies to increase law school access and affordability, especially for historically underrepresented students. We know that the cost of law school presents a huge obstacle for many students, so we are committed to understanding the barriers that impede access for minority students and low-income students. Furthermore, the cost is especially concerning for those who want to pursue a lower-paying public interest law career after graduation.

Recognizing this, our policy efforts include reaching out to members of Congress to make them understand what might be preventing students from pursuing their dreams of becoming a lawyer, and how Congress can help fix the problem. For example, we’ve advocated strongly for maintaining access to federal student loans for graduate students, and we oppose the elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Of course, going to law school may be the furthest thing from your mind, so these particular issues may not matter to you. But surely there are issues that do. Advocate for those! Here’s how:

  • Know your stuff: Learn as much as you can about what the problem is, how it’s affecting you and other constituents, and what policy changes could make a positive difference.
  • Tell your story: Reach out to your elected officials (through calls, emails and/or social media) and tell them how it’s negatively impacting you and your community. This can effectively be done with a mix of personal stories and hard data.
  • Come with solutions: Don’t just identify the problem – let your representative know what kind of change would be most beneficial. If you suggest a solution, it’s more likely that your representative will act. In other words, make this problem an easy one for them to solve.

Again, election season is a great time to let your elected and aspiring officials know what issues you care about and what they can do to help. You don’t need to be a lobbyist or donor to get your representatives to listen to you. Use the power of your voice to be a part of the conversation – or even to start a new one. Ours is a government of the people. Get in there and speak up!

For more specific information on how to be the most effective advocate for the issues that are most important to you, check out our #MakeTheCase Advocacy Toolkit. Even though our focus is legal education, the tips and guides included here will work no matter what your passion is. Don’t let the noise in Washington drown out the issues that really matter.