In this series of essays, Lawyers Update helps you to get into world’s top law schools.
“I Want to Be a Lawyer Because…”
I was five when I fought my first battle, leaping from couch to couch with a sword and shield slaying evil dragons and returning to my castle heralded by the clarion call of bugles. Sixteen years later I’m still locked in an epic struggle against the chimeras and dragons of our time, enemies that no longer breathe fire or rend with fierce claws, but kill with engineered biological weapons and improvised explosive devices. Swords and shields made out of brooms and garbage-can lids don’t cut it anymore, nor do knives, guns, or bombs. The battles I fight now are won with codes and ciphers, esoteric words, and foreign languages.
For four months I was fortunate enough to be selected to work with the National Security Agency as a full-time summer hire, along with the best and brightest young minds our nation has to offer. I hold a security clearance above the top-secret level and will continue to do so for another five years. I have also been invited to continue my employment when my education comes to a close. Due to classification, I am unfortunately unable to discuss the specifics of my role in the agency, but I am able to say that, among a myriad of other skills, I garnered a knowledge and understanding of the culture of the Middle East and a strong proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic.
I declined immediate employment because I felt that I needed a law school education to reach my full potential as a government employee. I witnessed firsthand the difficulties inherent in global law enforcement and the dire need our country has for U.S. citizens fluent in Middle Eastern languages, skilled in various legal fields, and sympathetic to the dynamic zeitgeist in [the Middle East]. On numerous occasions I met with top-level Pentagon policy makers to discuss the state of affairs of U.S. intelligence, [and] I frequently heard the need for effective young ambassadors and diplomats whose work would preclude the need for violent intervention in foreign countries. Currently many of our representatives in these foreign countries are not only unable to fully speak the native language, but are also ignorant of various crucial social taboos and faux pas. As a brief example, watch the next televised meeting of U.S. officials and Middle Eastern leaders and you will inevitably see the U.S. officials sitting with one leg crossed at a right angle, as is the fashion here in the States. Unfortunately, many of our envoys are unaware that showing the bottom of the shoe in many Middle Eastern cultures is an insult akin to cursing or spitting.
Harvard Law School is certainly an institution that would prepare me for my chosen career in government service. The Islamic Legal Studies Program at HLS is one of the pre-eminent programs of its kind, and I’m certain that my background in intelligence would bring a unique perspective to the program. Further, the chance to contribute to a student-edited international law journal that is as well respected in the field as the Harvard International Law Journal is an opportunity that I would relish. A final factor in my decision to apply to HLS is something Dean Kagan wrote recently, “[T]he study of law is not an arid intellectual exercise. The study of law matters.” This philosophy parallels my own in that I want to attend law school not to become a lawyer, but to study the law.