I am 26 years old and have been practicing law for a little more than two years. I was in school from kindergarten straight through law school, completed law school in two-and-a-half years and passed the Bar six months before my peers. I share my story not so you will be impressed but so you will know I intentionally chose to become a lawyer and am very happy with my decision.
I first knew I wanted to become a lawyer when I was tasked with a career fair project in my eighth grade home economics class. At that time, my family had just immigrated to the United States from India, where lawyers are not a very well respected group. That stereotype might be culturally apparent in day-to-day life in America, as many first- or second-generation Indian-Americans are shoved into careers as doctors or engineers by “lovingly concerned” parents. My mother, however, was open-minded enough to perceive that a legal career in the United States was more highly revered and seemingly more significant. I think the fact that most U.S. presidents have been attorneys influenced her opinion. (I’m not sure how she missed the plethora of “lawyer jokes” that saturate popular culture.)
I took government- and law-centered classes in high school, majored in political science during my undergraduate studies, took the LSAT and landed a spot in the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Class of 2012. Over time, as I got deeper into the study of law, I realized I did not become a lawyer simply because the only job I could get with my bachelor’s degree was making venti soy non-fat Frappuccinos as a barista; nor was it because someone in my family was a lawyer; and it wasn’t even because of some TV show featuring heated courtroom battles. I became a lawyer because I wanted to help other immigrants like myself find a better life in America. I wanted to assist people when they were at the lowest, most difficult point in their lives and needed support the most.
From the age of 12 to the age of 24, everything had gone exactly according to plan and I had earned those extra 3 letters to add after my name. On a hot summer day, I was sworn in to practice law in Maryland and ready to take on the legal world by storm. In retrospect, no one told me law school was the easy part. Now I faced the complicated part – I had to find a job (in a terrible economy) to pay off all the debt I acquired in the pursuit of my dream. I had to do this without any “real world” experience under my belt. While I had been warned of the potential gender and race issues I would be faced with, I was not prepared to vault the additional hurdle thrown at me due to simply having been born a few years after many of my peers.
I interviewed at several immigration law firms after graduating but had no luck because my Spanish was not up to par. After a few weeks of job hunting, I decided to accept a position as a litigation associate, even though I was terrified of public speaking and wanted to practice only transactional law. I did not have the faintest clue of how to draft a complaint, how much court filing fees were, or what a De bene esse deposition entailed.
I tried my first District Court case one month after starting the job and my first Circuit Court jury trial came only four months later. Clients would (and still) ask me questions like, “So how old are you again?” or “Are you sure your boss isn’t handling my trial today?” or “You sure you’ve done this before?” I had one client express to my boss something along these lines: “I don’t want this kid for a lawyer.”
Eventually, however, I started loving the adrenaline rush I got from these trials and enjoyed watching my clients’ faces as I fought for them. I even had several clients whose cases I lost who were so grateful for the way I represented them in court that they came back to me the next time they needed an attorney.
I wanted to be involved in Generation J.D. because I love sharing my experiences as a young lawyer, immigrant, former waitress, vertically-challenged individual – whatever the topic may be. I enjoy sharing my war stories and warning new attorneys of the pitfalls I was unable to avoid. I also like hearing about the struggles of my colleagues and seeking advice from more experienced professionals in our field.