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A road to most people is simply the route they take to reach their destination. From my own perspective I see them much differently. When I look at a road I see much more. Much goes into the construction of a road. The area is surveyed and careful measurements are taken. From these measurements the best route is chosen and designed. After the design is finalized construction begins. The location must be marked out then obstacles are cleared. Soft spots are removed and replaced with suitable material. Culverts and bridges are placed to accommodate water crossings. A suitable base is built first with gravel then asphalt. Finally, pavement markings and signs are placed to guide travelers.
Building roads for others to travel has been my occupation that supported me through college. It is my desire to continue this profession, but to build roads of a different kind. Highways can be easily travelled by most, but many struggle with successfully navigating through conflict. There are a number of different ways to resolve disputes ranging from adjudication through mediation. These roads that lead to resolution of conflicts are the roads that I wish to build.
As a mediator in the local small claims court I see many people whose routes to resolving conflict are filled with obstacles. Their disputes include default loans, damage to property, landlord-tenant difficulties, unfulfilled contracts and more. They all have the same thing in common; at one point or another they failed to communicate and understand their responsibilities to the other party. As a mediator, often I am able to facilitate negotiations that lead to successful resolution of their disputes. This is one area where I can guide others to success; I want to travel more.
What roads have I travelled besides my daily commute to work? One well traveled road for me is the knowledge I have gained in college. Many classes led me to my current location: a conflict management class that taught theory and application of conflict, Psychology classes that helped me gain a better understanding of how others and I think. These were signs pointing me towards finding the Grand Teton Mediation Association (Members support practice and promotion of Mediation and other Alternative dispute Resolution Methods). Now as part of the Board of Directors I work to encourage and provide a more satisfactory method for resolving conflicts.
Through my membership I was able to take part in forty-hour mediation training and have nearly completed the requirements to become a Certified Professional Mediator. As I continue down this road I plan to receive the training necessary to be placed on the Idaho State Supreme Court roster of child custody mediators. This is one of many roads I plan to travel while learning to resolve conflicts.
Having multiple perspectives helps in selecting routes for and designing roads. It is hard to tell where you need to go in the midst of a forest or where the best river crossing is with knowledge of only one bank. It is important to carefully measure and map out the obstacles as well as the terrain. Conflicts have many obstacles through which I don’t have the knowledge to navigate.
It took years of experience to learn and understand all of the work that goes into building a road. I gained my knowledge from those who understood the process. X law school will give me access to instruction from those who understand the obstacles and the routes that can lead through conflict. Thus it follows that the next road I should travel is attending X law school.
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- cinefile 17
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I was able to receive special benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs because my father had invested 24 years of his lifetime in service to our country through the Marine Corps, and serving in the Vietnam War. War is a terrible tragedy, and while my father made it through with no bodily injury, the terrible things he witnessed would never leave his mind. Both my adoptive father, and my biological father, suffered immensely from PTSD following their tours in Vietnam, and during Desert Storm, respectively.
PTSD was a sinister enemy, burrowing in to pollute their minds. After a decade’s long struggle to put the past behind them, and a lack of adequate medical care through Veteran’s Affairs, the two men I could identify as father left this world. My father passed away in his bed, where he had spent the majority of the previous several years, and my biological father took his own life, after a month’s long failed attempt to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.
As a helpless bystander witnessing these events take place, I grew frustrated by my inability to prevent the suffering around me. These tragedies, along with the horrific car accident my aunt was in last year, leaving her with brain damage and living in a nursing home, have really changed my perspective on life. Happening in so short a span of time, these unfortunate incidents definitely impacted my studies, but now that I have had some time to reflect I believe some positives have come out of everything as well.
I changed my major from environmental science to public policy, in the hopes of eventually pursuing public interest law. I helped my mom find a local university that would allow her to attend tuition free due to her senior citizen status, and Veteran’s Affairs now sends her a monthly stipend while she is a full-time student, which is a major help after living on just social security and my father’s death pension. Also, I have become a stronger person. College is meant to be a time to find yourself and become a more mature and independent member of society, and for me this was even more so. I have learned that rather than depending on others to help me, I can help them. I don’t have to be a bystander, and more than that I’ve learned that helping others feels good. It’s amazing to see the transformation my mom has made, from depressed and lonely widow living with serious financial problems to experiencing the joys of learning and social interaction with her classmates.
Fordham Law School is the perfect environment to further my passions. With the mission “in the service of others” and a nationally renowned program in International Human Rights, as well as the extensive diversity and opportunities afforded by the amazing location in New York City, and close proximity to the United Nations headquarters, Fordham is the catalyst to my dreams.
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- Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:11 pm
If it matters to anyone, I am a non-trad who is just finishing school as an adult learner. My LSAC-adjusted GPA is 3.33 (not great, but I was working the whole time) and my LSAT is 162.
I stood with my head bowed, leaning against the wall as the warm water streamed over me. The sound of bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” and “Danny Boy” kept running through my mind in a mix of memory and emption. The echoes of 21 guns cut through me, making it all painfully real. We all face moments where we look back on our life and deep into our own soul, wondering if we have lived the life we want to live and if we are on the right path. That was what I was experiencing in the shower, the day after we buried my little brother.
Dave had been killed in the line of duty while protecting his community as a St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer. Before that, he had joined the Marines at the age of 17 and had led his crew into combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The funeral had been a massive public affair, and after speaking with the hundreds upon hundreds of people who attended his funeral I was amazed to find that everyone remembered him the same way...as someone who had lived exactly as he wanted to, aligned with his values of service and honor. As I slumped in the shower, I wondered if I was living life with the same clarity of purpose.
What I saw in myself is that I have struggled to find my place in the world and have had to overcome my share of hardship. But those experiences have shaped me as a person and will make me a better law school student and ultimately a better lawyer.
My father died just before more senior year in high school, and our family was crippled financially. I went to work instead of school, and jut a year later met my wife. We were married with our first child before either of us was old enough to buy a drink. For a long time it felt like I had missed an opportunity, but I learned more about personal responsibility than I ever could have learned in a school. I have had people counting on me for years now, and that is a responsibility I will never take lightly.
Eventually I tried to follow Dave into the Marines, but an injury during training ended my military career before it could really get started. As the Towers fell, I received my last treatment and was released from the Corps. I stood on the sidelines as my brother and friends I had made were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s very hard to describe what that feels like, caught between worlds like that. But again, I came out better for the experience. I have learned that things don’t always go the way we plan, but that doesn’t mean we get to quit. You dust yourself off and come at it again from a different angle.
I eventually went to school as an adult learner working full time. I learned to manage my time and priorities. I also found that I could make any work meaningful, no matter how trivial it might seem. Even working at a retail pet-supply store, I could make someone’s day by helping them solve a problem and or educating them about their newest, fuzziest family member. It is not our role or job that gives our life meaning, it is we who give our jobs meaning. I learned to apply our values of service and honor to anything I choose to do, whether that be running a cash register or serving a legal client.
After a few years I found my way to The Salvation Army, working as a case-manager. I served as an advocate for people in a variety of circumstances, working with everyone from homeless clients with nothing to wealthy donors looking for a cause to support. I was able to touch the lives of thousands of people by taking the lead for our Holiday Assistance program (serving the eastern half of the Detroit Metropolitan area). I also learned to analyze individual situations and the needs of the community as whole, tailoring our programs to fit those needs. Sometimes that mean a couple of bags of groceries and a sympathetic ear, sometimes it meant developing entirely new program (as I did with a job-club program for clients coming out of rehab). My time hear taught me to work with people across a variety of circumstances, and to be feel empathy for situations I would never have been exposed to otherwise.
I moved back to St. Louis when my brother left the Marines, and moved into the private sector as a manager at a Fortune-100 company, which is my current position. I coordinate call centers across the globe while communicating with all levels of management (from line supervisors to senior leadership). Anticipating issues and coordinating the company’s response challenges my analytical, research, and communication skills. The environment is constantly changing, and I have to be able to mentally turn on a dime and switch from one task to another. This has taught me to remain flexible, and to look deep into the details because even seemingly trivia decisions can have a huge impact.
Staring at the water running down the drain that morning, I ran all of these experiences through my head. I had begun to question everything I had done, everything I wanted to do. Was I the person I wanted to be, or had I simply justified where I had ended up? Could I even tell the difference anymore? Answers to these questions do not come quickly or easily, and often they do not come at all. What I realized that day in the shower was the same lesson I figured out years ago…it it is not what I have done that gives my life meaning, I give meaning to what I do. I decided that day that I would continue to move forward, striving to live just as Dave had, the way I had learned to, by applying my values to anything and everything I do. These are the values I would bring to law school and ultimately to the profession itself.
A decision to change career paths naturally makes people ask “why?” My current career path offers a relative amount of financial security, and an MBA would be much easier than law school. The fact that I like what I do is a very pleasant bonus. Part of me is honestly seeking the challenge law school offers. Being a lawyer offers me the opportunity to apply the gifts I have been given and the lessons I have learned along the path my life has taken while applying the values I have chosen to live by. I could have easily written a statement about how I wanted to go put bad guys away like my brother did, or how I wanted to help the kind of people I worked with at The Salvation Army as a public defender, but the reality is that I don’t know what type of law I want to practice. It may lead down either of these paths, or back to the private sector, or down a path I haven’t even thought of yet. But I do believe that the lessons I have learned and the life I have lived up to know clearly show what kind of lawyer I would be.
Communicate now with those who not only know what a legal education is, but can offer you worthy advice and commentary as you complete the three most educational, yet challenging years of your law related post graduate life.
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Clerkship, Spring The candidate will engage in cutting-edge constitutional litigation. Will have the opportun... read more
Clerkship, Fall The candidate will have opportunity to substantively contribute to active litigation, work cl... read more
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