Becoming the role model I always wanted

Communism came to an end in my native country of Albania when I was in first grade. I recall vividly all of the events that took place in my city. People came from all over the country and made their way to the port. Audacious men, women and children crowded ships to overcapacity to cross the Adriatic Sea, eager to reach Italy--many not surviving the journey. People looted stores and offices, while others held demonstrations no longer fearing imprisonment or being sent to work camps. At last, people felt what freedom was like after 50 years of enduring an oppressive dictatorship. However, as time passed, information and video footages surfaced documenting the horrific human rights abuses that occurred during the Communist regime. As a result of what I learned and experienced during that time, I decided that I wanted to become a human rights lawyer. I have carried this goal throughout my educational years, and I am certainly excited as I am getting closer to fulfilling a life long dream.

I never doubted that I would reach this point in my life of entering the legal profession. However, at certain times, it seemed that the odds were against me. I came to the United States not knowing English, but I did not allow this to be an excuse to not succeed. I worked very hard in school and I graduated near the top of my class. However, when time came to attend college, I did not have the means to afford all the expenses of going to school. Thankfully, due to my family's low income and my academic achievement, I was able to receive some scholarships that assisted me in paying for school.

As a student, I did not have any role models in the legal profession. In undergraduate, I signed up for a mentoring program where female students were paired up with female mentors in the community, in the students' preferred career paths. I waited until the second semester of my senior year before the program coordinator found a mentor, due to the difficulty of locating a female attorney in the community to volunteer her time. In the end, a law professor agreed to become my mentor. I was ecstatic to finally have someone as a role model, and we set up our first meeting. Two hours before our initial meeting, he left me a message stating that he decided that he did not want to be my mentor because he was very busy. That was very disappointing knowing that he waited until the last minute to cancel our meeting. Overall, not having a mentor who can provide some guidance and give words of advice has been detrimental. There are so many questions that an attorney could answer and be a good role model. And unlike most of my law school classmates, who have attorneys in their families, my family is back home.

As a result of all the obstacles and difficulties I have overcome, I became a stronger person. Due to my life experiences, I know that when clients walk into the door, they all have very different stories and backgrounds. As a result, each individually deserves and needs a kind word and our help. Yet, people with whom I have worked do not seem to relate well to poor clients. Each client deserves respect and compassion. In my current position as a summer fellow, I am working primarily in the area of family law. Most of the clients are indigent women in desperate need of filing for divorce. Many are dealing with such complicated situations and it is difficult for them to come to our office to sign their petitions. Being a female has to a certain degree made my work a little easier because I feel that the women can trust me. They appreciate that I take the time to talk to them on the phone and listen to their concerns. Having studying Spanish in college has helped me a great deal because a lot of our clients are Spanish speakers. Hence, instead of waiting for an interpreter, I can personally call the clients and ask them the questions and talk to them about their particular situation.

At the same time, working at a legal aid organization has not been everything I imagined it would be. Our office is small and currently there are not many attorneys on staff. As a result, we have to turn away many people for services we cannot provide. The potential clients all have real life problems, yet they lack the means to hire an attorney. It is very sad to not be able to assist them because it is unclear if they will be able to solve their problems or not. Entering law school, I had a very idealist image of the law, but I am finding out that it is not always equal and just. All people are human beings regardless of how much money they have. Nevertheless, the law does not always consider that many people are unable to pay the filing court fees, let alone hire an attorney who can zealously advocate on their behalf. From all that I am learning and experiencing, my desire to work in legal aid services has increased. Upon graduating from law school, I would like to combine my goal to work with human rights and my desire to help people who cannot afford to solve their legal problems. At different times of struggling with problems, I would have liked someone to provide me with some guidance or help. As a result, at these times of desperation, I vowed that whenever I can help someone, I would take the time to do whatever possible to assist them. I may not be able to solve their problems, but I would like to try and see how far I can go to make their lives a little better. There is nothing wrong with trying.


Legal Eagle

I don't think I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer until halfway through law school. I didn't come from a family of lawyers either. But if I needed a role model for entering the legal profession, your post would have helped. I hope your words reach somebody else who needs it like you did. Thank you for sharing, and god speed.

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