Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Law Degree

As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a lawyer. I used to pretend to be sick at daycare so my Dad had to take me to class at Syracuse Law School, where he was a student. On one such occasion, the professor asked a question. As my Dad and a few of his friends pondered the answer, my father took a quick look over at me. And FREAKED OUT, because I had my hand up. He quickly put my hand down, and out of curiosity, asked me what I was going to say. And as my Dad tells it, I had the right answer. I was probably six.

As the years went by, my interest in a career in Law only grew. I volunteered at the City of Lakewood Teen Court. I was a lawyer representing kids that were in trouble. And if you were a 12-year-old that needed aggressive representation for that chapstick-stealing incident, I was the 13-year-old to call! I visited law schools, I joined honor societies, and I made sure to maintain the best GPA I could in college so that I could have my pick of law schools.

My passion for the law was further stoked by a visit to the Supreme Court in DC. My step-mom had a friend arguing a Colorado case in front of the Supremes and we went to see them. It happened to be the same day as the “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance case was being argued. It was March, and freezing cold. The only way to get in was to sleep in line, overnight, on the steps of the Supreme Court. We thought the line would already be outrageous, so we just stopped by to see… and found ourselves around 15th in line. So, completely ill prepared, we sat down to claim our spot.

We met some amazing people (two boys whose Dad turned out to be the lawyer arguing the pledge case), had some great talks, and contemplated the genius of homeless people that are able to survive these conditions every night. I had to finally take a taxi back to the hotel with one of the boys to steal all the pillows and blankets off the bed and bring them back. Otherwise, I think my butt would have frozen to those famous steps. I will never forget that moonlight, pre-dawn taxi ride along the banks of the Potomac. I fell in love with DC that night. We had a great time singing songs, talking law and a group even tried to order pizza to the steps of the Supreme Court. They did finally succeed in getting someone to deliver.

Morning finally came, and we were sleep deprived, cold and hungry. We went in, and I was in awe. The place was beautiful. Both cases were argued beautifully and each Supreme Court Judge’s personality was on full display. It was a whole night of waiting punctuated by barely an hour of excitement. But it was worth it. We went to a post-party with the lawyers we knew, drank champagne, and reveled in all that is DC. For most lawyers, arguing in front of the Supremes is the Super Bowl of their career. And we were glad to be a part of it. As we left, I was offered a clerking job in the law firm in Denver once I got into law school. I was totally hooked on the law.
I would love to practice law and do pro-bono work. I have not decided what area of law I want to go into, but I like constitutional law a lot. I also like international law and have become very interested in maritime law. Law school is three years long and costs well over $100,000. I just want to be sure that I will be happy doing the job before I spend that kind of time and money. The magic of champagne in the shadow of the Capitol with victorious lawyers is far from the reality of the hard work, long days (and nights), and mountains of paperwork it took to get there. Even with the constraints of the Coast Guard moving us all the time, I know I can make law school happen if that is what I want. My husband is so supportive and willing to do what it takes for both of us to be successful. I just need to make sure that it is what I want still.

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