Do not forget why you came to law school

Since the first day of law school, my law school professors have conveyed words of wisdom. However, one professor in particular gave me advice that continues to provide me guidance when I am overwhelmed with my studies or unsure as to what direction to take. His advice was simple yet profound: Do not forget why you came to law school. The first month I kept thinking how anyone could forget why they came to law school. I came to law school, because I want to have the ability to use the law to help people. I want to be part of the catalyst that changes laws that are lawful but awful. I quickly realized that law school is not an end in and of itself, but a means to develop the qualities and skills I need to succeed at the opportunities that come my way.

My parents are from Iran and I am very familiar with the religious and gender based persecution my relatives in Iran confront daily. Baha'is are the largest minority in Iran; however they have no legal rights, barred from holding government positions, denied the right to inherit property, and most impacting is the government's prohibition of Baha'is from attending universities. Also in Iran, a woman's livelihood depends on the men in her life whether it is her father, brother, husband or son. As a Baha'i woman in the United States, I am very grateful for the opportunities I have and feel it is my duty to pursue an education that will enable me to help others who do not have this chance.

I come from an environment where obtaining education is vital and should not be taken for granted. My parents have especially emphasized the importance of a woman obtaining an education, because women are their children's first teacher. I am seeing the wisdom of their words in action. I am currently working for the Immigrant Project of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence Immigration Project. I realize that many of the issues the women face are their lack of education. The victims of domestic abuse are many times trapped in a cycle where they marry young, bear many children, and then have no choice but to tolerate their abusers because they have no other means of financial support. The IP-WCADV is a statewide, non-profit, membership organization dedicated to preventing and ending domestic violence. The IP-WCADV provides direct legal services to battered immigrants, most specifically to women and children, and collaborates with domestic violence and sexual assault programs in the area. The experiences the clients deal with are horrific, and many of the clients remain with their abusers because they have no faith in their own abilities. The attorneys I work with are all women and it is empowering to know the great differences these women are creating for their clients.

I am the first aspiring lawyer in my family; therefore, many times I am confused as to what decisions to make. I also wonder how I will manage raising a family and maintaining my career. But then, I remember my professor's words of advice: do not forget why you came to law school. I came to law school with the sincere intent to learn the law and be able to use my knowledge to help others. I am very grateful and appreciate for all the support I have received from my family, friends, and mentors. As a woman cognizant of the discrimination and injustices towards women, I feel I have a very special opportunity to empower other women, and to give them the support and courage I have graciously received.

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