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FVV23

Why do you want a career in law?

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Posted (edited)

This might be the most asked question I have ever encountered as a prospective law student. 

"Why did you choose law"?

I'm curious as to why some of you chose to go down this path. 

For the record, I don't think every answer has to be deep. It could be something as simple as "I want a career in law" or "law interests me". 

Edited by FVV23
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To be honest, a lot of people fall into it (including myself) but come to love it once they get into law school. I think the question of why you chose law is more relevant when you are trying to convince a law school to choose you. Anytime I was asked this question after starting law school, I just answered "I got a good score on the LSAT and needed a path that led to a job, but here's why I love the law since starting..." People generally appreciate authenticity. 

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Had an Arts degree and didn’t want to teach or be a journalist. Law was a structured next step to take at 21 and the tiny bit I thought I knew (“I get to help other people!”) made me think it would suit me. 

Happily I was right. 

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I studied Archival and Museum studies for my graduate studies, but I found that cultural institutions such as museums would favour white people when they seek their employees. As an immigrant from Asia, I was not confident in securing a decent job for my family. My frustration led me to apply to law schools. I was so happy to get in uOttawa law.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ArchivesandMuseums said:

I studied Archival and Museum studies for my graduate studies, but I found that cultural institutions such as museums would favour white people when they seek their employees. As an immigrant from Asia, I was not confident in securing a decent job for my family. My frustration led me to apply to law schools. I was so happy to get in uOttawa law.

At risk of derailing the discussion, lack of diversity and inclusion is still an issue in the legal profession. The whole "fit" as a hiring criteria, which many firms use during formal law recruits, can disadvantage minority candidates. This is not to say that you made the wrong decision; a reason why I went to law school was because I felt like I could contribute something to the profession since there are not a lot of lawyers who look like me and have the same background. Just don't be surprised if you see social politics are still at play within the legal profession. 

Edited by Twenty
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My sister was graduating law school as I was graduating high school. She would tell me about the things she was learning and I thought it was all very fascinating. I went into undergrad pretty sure that I wanted to go to law school too.

Funny story about how my sister ended up going to law school. She got a science degree and was trying to register for the MCAT but the website was always down, so she said screw it and registered for the LSAT.

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I got a degree in marketing and never really was involved with the law before, until my parents divorced in a very nasty way, the whole process taking 3 years and still going. That's when I discovered the law and became fascinated with the way people can treat each other after mariage, and thought I wanted to help the children who are stuck in all of this. I am also passionate about animal law! :) I think it's great to read this thread and hear everyone's story.

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The thought of my brother addressing me as, "Your Honour". 😋 It's amusing to know I'm on a path where I can threaten him it may happen someday. (I'm a bookish sort of dork and he's in the film industry)

 

More seriously, though, is my love for paperwork and office supplies, combined with a dissatisfaction working customer service jobs since my teenage years that require no additional training. It's satisfying to work long, hard hours and know I've made a difference for someone, but then I would go home and think about how just about anyone could have done the same thing if they decided to put in the effort. With law, I think I'll feel more purpose if only because you can't just walk off the street and access everything a lawyer can. I want to earn the credentials, then use them on behalf of other people who haven't jumped through all the hoops I'm now hurling myself towards.

 

Another detail which I did mention in my Personal Statement: I was wronged by someone, and attempted to use the courts to correct the injustice. The process was cut short along with his life and there was no estate to speak of, so I have no triumphant end to that story, but it did give me a taste for using the law. I'm drawn to learn the rules, even if I don't end up working with them in a justice-seeking context.

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10 hours ago, ArchivesandMuseums said:

I studied Archival and Museum studies for my graduate studies, but I found that cultural institutions such as museums would favour white people when they seek their employees. As an immigrant from Asia, I was not confident in securing a decent job for my family. My frustration led me to apply to law schools. I was so happy to get in uOttawa law.

I remember earlier this year we were talking about getting into law school. 

What a couple months it has been :)

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Had a fairly aimless undergrad, which led to a couple of fairly aimless jobs.

Then one day, I had an epiphany ... being aimless in your 30's wasn't going to be cute.

So I went to law school. 

Seriously though, law had fascinated me since high school. It just took a while before I circled back to it. And yes, that was at least in part to avoid aimlessness. Now I get paid to say things like, "I'm a lawyer" and "Objection! that font's too small"

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I lived a good deal of my life (though, to be fair, not most recently) in public housing in Toronto. In that time, I was exposed to several people who ran into trouble with the law, but who had such trouble--or, more specifically, the reasons for their actions--generated by more basic issues relating to income, food insecurity, and so forth. This experience, of course, is not unique: plenty of people grow up economically disadvantaged.

Still, I hope that by going to law school and entering criminal practice, I can offer legal representation to at least some of these people while coming from a vantage point that will allow me to better understand their experience. Whether or not this amounts to a form of situated knowledge that is strictly inaccessible to those who have solely read about poverty, as opposed to experiencing it themselves, is a worthwhile question. I guess this might be pithily described as a form of public interest or social justice?

Less seriously, and in tune with other posters, reading about the law from a theoretical perspective is interesting as fuck.

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It's not exactly what I wrote in my personal statement, but my pre-law career was neither as intellectually stimulating nor as financially rewarding as I wanted it to be. I don't have any regrets.

On that note, UltraVires produces (or used to produce) an annual feature comparing UofT law students' personal statements to their career choices/paths upon graduation. I think this is the most recent one: http://ultravires.ca/2019/03/personal-statements-from-the-class-of-2019/.

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51 minutes ago, Rearden said:

It's not exactly what I wrote in my personal statement, but my pre-law career was neither as intellectually stimulating nor as financially rewarding as I wanted it to be. I don't have any regrets.

On that note, UltraVires produces (or used to produce) an annual feature comparing UofT law students' personal statements to their career choices/paths upon graduation. I think this is the most recent one: http://ultravires.ca/2019/03/personal-statements-from-the-class-of-2019/.

“Throughout my work as a social worker I witnessed the impacts that the legal system had on the quotidian lives of communities that are socially or economically marginal. Whilst social work has provided me with a trove of tools for front-line practice, I am keenly aware of a legal education’s ability to vastly broaden and deepen the impact I could have on issues of social inequality. This awareness defines my goal to centre my study of law on socially and economically marginalized communities.”

Good lord. He should have been rejected for writing this statement. Whilst troving the marginal quotidian vastness I ended up on Bay Street. 

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1 hour ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

“Throughout my work as a social worker I witnessed the impacts that the legal system had on the quotidian lives of communities that are socially or economically marginal. Whilst social work has provided me with a trove of tools for front-line practice, I am keenly aware of a legal education’s ability to vastly broaden and deepen the impact I could have on issues of social inequality. This awareness defines my goal to centre my study of law on socially and economically marginalized communities.”

Good lord. He should have been rejected for writing this statement. Whilst troving the marginal quotidian vastness I ended up on Bay Street. 

I thought it was a satirical piece for a moment after reading that one.

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Posted (edited)

A whole lot of reasons - some not very deep but I did have one bigger spark of inspiration that is a little more 'deep'. I was studying to be a chemical engineer and the most sobering class I ever took was when the prof started talking about chemists and chemical engineers that used their knowledge to do harm. This is a very technical class, we usually don't talk about ethical stuff but this whole lecture was basically just about horrible stuff people had chosen to do, and some good stuff too. There is one that I still remember really well and it was about napalm. The guy that invented napalm was Louis Fieser and napalm is a substance that is super sticky when set on fire and the fire continues to burn. Well, during WWII this stuff was used in bombs and later it was used in bombs in the Vietnam War. The sticky fire would cause 4th and 5th degree burns on people and at one point it was used on a village and landed on kids. There is a picture the prof showed us of children running, with their clothes on fire (some of them were naked because they'd torn all of their clothing off) and this substances was stuck to their skin, burning them alive. 

He was a Harvard professor and the purpose was to just burn down buildings not to burn people. He didn't like what it was being used for but he knew the military was using it and in a Times interview in 1968 he said  "I have no right to judge the morality of Napalm just because I invented it.". He didn't regret it. My profs point with him and other examples (mostly from WWI) was that you have the immense power to do good or bad, or something in between. You have to take responsibility and be accountable for what you put out into the world. Louis Fieser probably wasn't a bad person but he created a dangerous and bad thing, gave it to the government and didn't feel any responsibility for what it was used for. I felt so passionate after that lecture to be a really good engineer and do lots of good, but I couldn't take my mind off of all the bad stuff I'd heard about and how none of those people really got any justice. I was interested in the ethics of it (how responsible are chemists for what we create?), laws governing it and how we go about making sure it doesn't keep happening.

I'd always been interested in the law but this is what really sparked my interest in becoming a lawyer; being a part of what we deem right and wrong as a society. I know law is far more complicated than making the bad guys pay and getting justice, but it is about doing good and helping people to be better and holding them accountable when they take their knowledge and skills and choose to do harm, and that's what I want to do. 

Edited by parkersophie
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