July 29, 2017. I give all of the glory to God. Three days ago I sat for the two-day Pennsylvania Bar Exam. This entire study process has been daunting, humbling, intense, and now – a great relief. During the increasingly scarce non-study hours, I managed to create new law friendships, learn new music, cook (finding time for that was a miracle), and even laugh a bit along the way. I know that His grace gave me the energy and focus to study. The support of my loved ones and friends helped me move forward each day. The post below is one that I “picked up and put down” without ever publishing to WordPress. The message and intention remain the same. This is just the beginning and I hope to update you more on my experiences post-JD.
(Early July, ’17) Sitting outside on the back landing of my apartment; absorbing the breeze and warmth and city noises of July. With 12 days remaining until the exam (and me a bit behind on blogging), June is complete.
Often, the end of a thing invokes reflections on the thing’s entirety. This is my first “Law and Policy” related post, and I have shared the following advice in a number of ways to different people over the years. This is also a self-portrait in the writer’s sense, because I express my deeper contemplations and perspectives about life. Completing law school and earning a J.D. in the U.S. has made me reflect on how I arrived here and what was helpful for me in this journey. In a large sense I am really at the beginning of all that is to come, though especially as this stage of my career has ended, I wondered whether I would do anything differently.
We all have accomplishments, regrets, successes, and mistakes; but the thing I am most grateful for is that I stayed true to myself. I never changed the essential core of who I was or what I believed in. Law school even helped bring out some of my deepest, most innate qualities. Sure I adapted to new situations, and developed or got rid of some traits. Though I stayed essentially true to who I was and who I am.
From an early age I knew that I wanted to go to law school. As early as I can remember I was nominated to the role of lawyer in the family. I was the person who was going to attend law school. Whether it was the destiny surrounding that early designation, or whether it was more a choice of my own that led me there, I also knew a few things about myself: I liked to communicate – loved to read and write, and I also liked working with people. I knew that these fundamental things lent themselves well to a career in law where good writing, advocacy, and communication are key.
So I worked for a couple of years and entered law school with these qualities in mind. While most of my work before (and during law school) focused on environmental law and policy, I also gained experience in immigration law during my third year. I made this transition because I wanted to develop more than one area of experience – and once again, I knew a few things about myself: I loved to communicate and work with people. That I am bilingual, the daughter of a diverse ethnic family, and previously worked in communities also made immigration work in the U.S. an important and even natural fit for me.
I do not write all of this to say that we should never change, or that being our most authentic selves is always the best way to be – but instead, that when I listened to the qualities within me that spoke to me most, my work was so much more rewarding. In the context of immigration, for example; think about building the trust of a client who looks to your organization/firm for advice, or who looks to you to eliminate a barrier of communication when you are able to interpret for them. This work and these moments are life changing; both for the individual who needs your help and for you.
Moments like these help me see the purpose of lawyers and policymakers, and it encourages me to always develop my ability to communicate and empathize with other people, especially with those who share little to nothing in common with me.
This post may eventually become an extended article on law school advice, and I would be happy to write one at some point on more of the specifics. Feel free to comment below with requests. I also know that there are probably an infinite number of articles on this topic…but in the spirit of this post – no voice is the same. Each one is unique. As we all collectively add our perspectives to this world, let us remember to stay true to our perspectives. Nothing is wrong with a bit of change, but just as our genetic identities* are distinct and unique, there is no other person in this world who can fulfill our created purpose if we are not there to fill it. Stay true to your voice, and if you are unsure of it – search for it and act on it so that your work in this present life is a reflection of the purpose created solely and uniquely for you.
*Check out this link from The Telegraph and podcast episode from Cambridge University’s “The Naked Scientists”, on whether our thumbprints/thumb marks are truly unique. Interestingly this aspect of our identities is still debated ~