Two days before taking my LSAT exam in October, I received devastating news that turned my world upside down: My mother, who was living a continent away from me in New York, had AIDS.
Like so many other 19-year-olds, I had never given much thought to the concept of death, or to the possibility of what it might mean to lose someone so close to me. Suddenly, though, I was confronted with the very real prospect of watching helplessly as my mother battled a frightening fatal illness.
Now, 15 months later, my mother is still alive but struggling, having survived a series of extremely close brushes with death. The prognosis remains bleak, and she is not expected to live until summer. At one time she weighed only 80 pounds, down from her normal 120. I visit New York as frequently as possible in order to be near her, and find our roles seem reversed: Now I am the mother; she is the daughter. I recount this story because my mother’s circumstance has had such a profound influence on my recent life. I have done a lot of growing up very quickly. I believe I have become unusually serious and mature for someone my age. I look at many things differently. I have become very aware of life’s fragility and of the importance of treating one’s time and ability as the precious commodities they are. I have also been grateful to have a professional goal-to become a lawyer-that excites me and gives additional purpose to my life, especially during this difficult period when I need a focus apart from my family situation.
I am one of those fortunate people who has had a firm idea of her objectives since first starting college. I have known all along that I want to go to law school, practice law, and eventually get into politics. To corroborate my interest in a legal career, I have worked since my freshman year as an undergraduate in a series of legal jobs, normally 30 to 35 hours a week. I have worked for the L.A. city attorney (as an intern) as well as four private law firms. In these positions, I have not only been exposed to public service law but also to the workings of small, four-attorney law firms and a firm among the nation’s ten largest. As a paralegal/legal secretary I have gained a solid understanding of the legal process, from the summons and complaint through the discovery phase and to settlement or trial. I have done research and court filings, interviewed clients, sat in on depositions, and had the opportunity to become familiar with a wide range of legal documents and procedures. It is work that I love, even on the frequent occasions when it is tedious, frustrating, and anything but glamorous. I like trying to fit together pieces of a puzzle, doing the necessary analysis, facing the challenge that any case poses. I thrive on feeling productive. I find great pleasure in arguing a point, whether verbally or in writing, and am quite adept at doing this.
I believe I am well qualified to study law, having the necessary enthusiasm, energy, temperament, and commitment. Working for the city attorney heightened my awareness of, and interest in, the problems of the underserved, so public service law is the area of litigation that currently holds greatest appeal for me.