It is possible to fill the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated. I view law school as a tool for the enhancement of humanity. I am of the belief that lawyers are public servants. We are the masters of the rules and principles designed to bring law, order, and opportunity to all persons. Although cliché, it is true that with great power, comes great responsibility. To me, being a lawyer is more than helping a client, winning one case, and billing a certain amount of hours. Lawyering is about ensuring that rights, privileges, and accountability are equally and fairly distributed among all persons. Public interest law should not be viewed as a liberal, low-paying, sacrifice. To the contrary, it is the most prestigious and enlightened career choice a lawyer can pursue.
When starting law school, I had no idea of the endless opportunities that a Juris Doctorate could provide. I experimented in various career options hoping to find my “true calling.” Thanks to NESL’s clinical programs and assistance from caring and passionate professors, I realized that public interest law was my future. After my first year, I worked at a law firm in New York City and quickly realized that it was not for me. Despite its financial benefits, I felt it lacked human contact, empathy and camaraderie.
During my second year, I enrolled in the Lawyering Process clinic and chose Greater Boston Legal Services as my placement. For the entire semester, I was interning at the Health and Disability Unit and quickly realized the importance of their services. I was given opportunities that allowed me to speak directly to clients. It is amazing the experience that you gain by looking a person in the eye and listening to his or her story. No casebook will ever provide a student with this emotional rollercoaster. At GBLS, I was able to handle a case from start to finish, including representing clients at SSI hearings in front of Administrative Law Judges.
From there I applied to work at NESL’s Clinical Law Office in the summer of my second year. With the guidance of talented and passionate supervisors, I was given an opportunity to improve my legal writing, oral advocacy skills, and understanding of family law. It was during this opportunity that I discovered my desire to litigate. Watching one of my supervisors, Professor Barbara Oro, cross examining a witness to perfection, made me aspire to take courses and clinics that would provide me with the skills to mirror her abilities.
In my third year of law school, I took numerous substantive and practical courses that would allow me to persue this goal. I quickly found, that criminal litigation was exhilarating, challenging, and essential to the pursuit of justice and equal rights. These courses, including criminal advocacy, trial practice, clinical evidence, ethics, and Criminal Procedure II, reassured me that I was on the right path. I could not wait to practice these skills in a real life setting. Fortunately, NESL’s clinical programs came to my aid once again. As the only New England School of Law student in the Dorchester District Attorney’s office in the spring of 2008, I was given a variety of challenging tasks. This clinic is essential for anyone interested in criminal prosecution or defense. Although my long-term goal is to be a public defender, working for the prosecution was an experience I will cherish forever. During my internship I learned an exorbitant amount of substantive criminal law. I was also instructed to represent the Commonwealth at arraignments, Motions to Suppress, and even at jury trials.
These clinical opportunities, in addition to the amazing professors at NESL, have allowed me to find my true passion, while simultaneously encouraging my desire to reinforce humanity in our profession.
I urge all students seeking to improve themselves to attend law school. And for those who desire to improve themselves and OTHERS, I urge you to pursue a career in public interest law.