Through my work and academic experiences, I have come to understand the need for competent and compassionate legal representation for under-served populations. I also believe I have a role to play in providing it. My interest in law can be most directly attributed to a constitutional law course I took as an undergraduate student, coupled with my subsequent work with the Washington State Attorney General's Office, where I saw how laws that protect consumers and citizens are only as strong as the resources that are devoted to their enforcement. I am pursuing a law degree to strengthen my skills and expand my experiences so that I can work to defend the public interest in the American legal system.
As an undergraduate student at [redacted], I enrolled in a graduate-level First Amendment Constitutional law course to supplement my business coursework. I was immediately – and unexpectedly – struck by how it mirrored my academic interests and interest in public service. Our instructor, Professor [redacted], brought a unique perspective to the course material. Due to his experience in the 1970's as legal counsel for César Chávez, a prominent labor movement leader at the time, he offered an authentic and comprehensive approach to my understanding of one of our most fundamental constitutional protections. I was fascinated by the delicate balancing required by the courts to keep the law current while maintaining the integrity of the law's original intent. I was particularly interested in the need to adapt speech protections for disenfranchised or vulnerable populations in the constantly shifting world of digital communications. Because of his ability to effectively channel my enthusiasm for social justice and my prior work in non-profits, Professor [redacted] was a major inspiration for my pursuit of a law degree.
[Redacted]'s unusual educational framework and my academic focus on business and entrepreneurship also helped to foster my interest in public interest law. Small class sizes and multiple-term courses allowed me to develop close relationships with my professors and peers, along with a strong spirit of discourse and dialogue among my fellow students, significantly enhanced the value of my education. Through my academic pursuits, I helped to start an international non-profit organization, promoted minority-owned business interests in my hometown of [redacted], and tailored my coursework to focus on education reform, medical insurance policy, and the global communications industry. These opportunities provided a window into a diverse range of legal applications, and allowed me to narrow my interest in law to providing legal aid assistance in the not-for-profit sector.
In the year following graduation, I interned with the [redacted] State Attorney General's office. My work as a Complaint Analyst for the Consumer Protection Division placed me front and center as the public face of our office. Officially, my duties centered on providing dispute mediation for consumers and business; however, as the division had the only publicly listed number in the Attorney General's Office, we doubled as a switchboard for a plethora of government agencies. Working with a team of coordinators, we were able to quickly process and troubleshoot a wide range of complex problems, and ensure that Washington residents were able to find the resources they required, either through our office or elsewhere.
While I was proud to assist those who sought help from the Attorney General’s Office, the limitations of the office became apparent over time. The heavy call volume, on issues ranging from ill-advised mortgages and personal loans to bankruptcies and home foreclosures, required that we be as pointed and efficient as possible when advising callers about the function of our office and the services we were authorized to provide. In many of the cases that fell outside of our jurisdiction, I was required to instruct them to seek private legal advice or representation. It was an unsettling revelation for me that such a critical body of knowledge – consumer protection – was relegated to so few, and virtually inaccessible to the average person. But through this work, I was heartened to discover the strong network of legal and advocacy clinics throughout [redacted] State. My communication with these organizations offered a distinctive perspective into the world of not-for-profit legal aid services. My accomplishments at the Attorney General's Office, as well as my exposure to the various agencies we interacted with regularly, affirmed my desire to work in public interest law, and provided me with further inspiration to seek out an institution that could foster my growth in this area.
A law degree from Boston University School of Law will give me the rigorous academic foundation I need to succeed. Boston University's broad offerings in international and comparative law will allow me to gain experience with international public interest organizations, specifically through Boston University's renowned Study Abroad programs. I will also actively seek a position with the Boston University Public Interest Law Journal. In turn, I believe my unique academic background, breadth of experience, and commitment to the public interest will enrich the courses, externships, and pro bono work to which I will contribute.
After completing the degree, I would like to take advantage of my duel Irish-American citizenship to gain practical experience abroad, and continue my education in the field, after which I would return to the United States to acquire a position as a lawyer, legal counsel or consultant for a non-profit legal aid or international development organization. A quality education in Public Interest Law will enable me to utilize my knowledge, experience and passion to offer aid to those in need, on both a local and global scale. With a degree from Boston University, I will be well positioned to achieve this goal.