Why does the shortest boy in the class turn out to be one of the best athletes-or the one who goes on to work for a former attorney general? As much of a cliché´ as overcompensating must be for someone who is small, I’m afraid I must confess to having fallen into this pattern of behavior as a consequence of my physical stature. When I was young and terribly aware of my height, I viewed sports as the best way to make up for this deficit, the best means of distinguishing myself in a world filled with boys who were taller. I became such a good skier that my parents allowed me to move away from our home in northern California so that I could attend school in Lake Tahoe and compete on the Squaw Valley race team. There, as a 13- and 14-year-old, I made the Western U.S. Junior Olympics ski team based on my success in regional races in Nevada and California. My peers eventually went on to represent the U.S. in international competition, but in order to have more time for my studies, I shifted my focus from skiing to wrestling. In wrestling I distinguished myself again, becoming captain of my high school team before a rotator cuff injury ended my participation in this sport.
In my second year of college, I turned to skiing once again as a member of my university’s Alpine ski team. I have been on a race team as well, even serving as captain last year. My grades were always adequate but not stellar. Then I became an intern with a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. For three months I spent much of my time working for former Attorney General Edwin Meese III. My job was to research material that Meese would use in his various speeches and published pieces. For this I relied on the Library of Congress and congressional and Senate sources. I also put together a 22-page summary and analysis relating to the Omnibus Drug Bill. Working in Washington was a pivotal and extraordinary experience for me in several ways. First, I gained remarkable insight into the way in which public policy is churned out and the roles which lobbyists, lawmakers, and related agencies play. Perhaps more importantly, though, I had the opportunity for the first time to test myself intellectually in a nonacademic environment. What I discovered was that I had the independence, initiative, and ingenuity necessary to fill a very responsible and challenging position. This was a great confidence booster for me; I began thinking about attending law school and returned to campus with a new enthusiasm that reflected itself in improved academic performance.
Last summer I worked 35 hours a week in my father’s law office. His practice specializes in litigation involving the Public Utilities Commission, especially as related to transportation and maritime law. I did research and also had the chance to study evidence, attend hearings, and proofread both my father’s pleadings and those of his adversaries. This was fascinating for me and corroborated my interest in studying law. I also became very aware of the fact that being a lawyer entails hard work, long hours, frustration, and a need for total commitment. I have this commitment because, just as I distinguished myself through sports in the past, I now want to distinguish myself through what I can accomplish intellectually as an attorney. In law I will have a long-term opportunity for work that is not only personally rewarding but which also offers me the privilege of making a difference in the lives of others.