This guest post is from an incoming first-year student who would like to remain anonymous.
The quintessential question for any law student is always, “what made you want to go to law school?” And more often than not, my answer is, “Because I’m bad at math.” But when it came to the question, “Why BC Law?” my answer was vastly different. To explain why I chose BC, I must first go into why I chose law in the first place. And a big part of it was my complicated relationship with my late father.
To the public, my father presented himself as a kind and loving family man. But my mother, sister, and I never felt safe, always fearing a sudden outburst. More often than not I’d cower in the small room that I shared with my mother and sister, deliberately facing the wall and wishing he would stop telling me he regretted my existence; praying to a God I didn’t believe in to beg against an escalation into a beating. The incessant physical and emotional abuse at a young age, pushed me into a dark corner. I was scared of everyone and everything and had no dreams or aspirations. I struggled to wake up in the mornings. More often than not, I could not find a reason to live on.
The law had let us down; no divorce nor domestic violence attorneys would help us because my mother could not afford one and because there was no “concrete” physical evidence of abuse. No one took her seriously due to her heavy accent, and we were turned away from multiple places. Instead of a safety net, there was only a pit of helplessness – and no path to escape. The law wasn’t on our side, and neither was justice.
My father passed away unexpectedly in my freshman year of college. On that day, I felt a flurry of emotions; I felt both devastated and liberated. It was truly a confusing time; I was devastated for having lost a parent, yet I felt liberated from the threat he posed to my family. I could not erase all the scars that had already been inflicted onto me and my family, but I was finally free from the shackles of imminent fear. And with this newfound freedom, I was finally able to ask myself for the first time: “What do I want to do with my life?”
The answer was ultimately simple: I wanted to help assist others who had also been through traumatic domestic situations like mine. I worked as a disability law paralegal for a year and a half leading up to law school. The client base for the public service organization is predominantly poor, mentally and/or physically disabled residents of color living in New York City who could not afford help anywhere else. I met countless different clients from various backgrounds, many of whom came from abusive households. Our client pool consisted of people who had lost all hope, people who thought no one would be there for them, people who had nowhere else to go. It was terrifying and eye-opening how common domestic abuse was, and to see just how many people kept silent because they lacked the resources and therefore were not in a position to fight back. I saw my past self in them: scared, lost, unaware of how to seek help and too helpless to even try.
I want to pursue law school because I aspire to be like the attorneys who fight so bravely in court for these clients who had all the odds stacked against them. Observing our advocates discuss cases and hearings, compile records into evidence, and brainstorm ideas for compelling arguments was absolutely inspirational. It was refreshing to see people who truly cared, people who passionately upheld their ethical obligation to help their clients. Hearing the hope grow in clients’ voices as their cases advanced was well worth the hours put into investigating their cases. I believe that attorneys wield significant power by having an intricate knowledge of the law, and I want to be able to wield that same power to help people who were stuck in situations similar to mine. I want to grant a ray of hope to people who have experienced adversity. Most of the clients are troubled, upset, and often extremely frustrated with the many closed doors they are presented when it comes to the law. I desire to be the person who opens those doors for them, to let them know that they are not alone.
Now, why BC Law? The principles that BC law embodied really spoke to me. It stood apart from other law schools in that the faculty and students truly cared about each other. When I expressed my uncertainties of going to a school based in Boston, the admissions team immediately matched me with a 3L who eased my concerns about employment in other states and gave me helpful advice. Everyone I have reached out to since orientation, including students, alumni, and faculty, was more than happy to talk with me about their experiences at BC Law. This sense of camaraderie spilled into our current 1L class, which is the largest class BC has had in a while. Despite being in such a large class, I have already made so many friends who are willing to share their notes, borrow books, and even split lockers with the unfortunate souls who were too late in requesting one. The kindred spirit of BC spoke to me on a deeper level; as someone who had faced much abuse and rejection in her life, the genuine, accepting, and collaborative nature of those attending and teaching at BC Law was certainly the most enticing quality by far.
I will end with a personal note: though it is impossible to change the past, I refuse to let it affect my future. The adversity that I faced only made me stronger and more empathetic towards the struggles of people whose voices are silenced by their circumstances. I finally braced through my first day of law school on August 30th. Even though it was rough, I simply needed to remind myself that I had faced tougher struggles before; this is just another hurdle. Everyone is in the boat of uncertainty, and everyone’s just trying to find a place to belong. In reality, we’ve all faced bigger hurdles than the privilege that is law school. We just need to put things into perspective and keep on doing what we’re doing. As we make the walk from East Wing to Stuart Hall on any given day, I hope that we can continue to embody the spirit of BC law and remember that we are all here for a reason, and that is because we all deserve to be here.