Law in Contemporary Society

The Solution to My Personal Disillusionment

-- By MollyMartinez - 18 Feb 2023 THIRD REVISION:

I recently compared my two personal statements for law school and college to track my own educational trajectory.

My college essay began with the following: My story begins in the cotton fields of Texas. My grandma, born to a pair of poor immigrant workers, spent most of her day picking cotton. Her duty to her family came before all, including her education. With every bulb of cotton she picked, our lives began a new cycle. My abuela had my mother at a young age with a emotionally and physically abusive husband. The cycle would continue for generations. My mother, a high school dropout, married a drug addict and soon gave birth to my older brother. Soonafter, she fled in hopes of providing her children with a brighter future than she was afforded. Courage and perseverance run through my blood.

My personal statement for law school began with…

“Mija, can you read this over for me?” Little did I know, my dad’s simple request on that ordinary fall day would forever alter the course of my life. His appeal came from a need for translation. My young cousin was on trial for a serious drug charge, and my dad was writing a character letter to the judge, a plea for mercy. My father felt inadequate to write such a significant letter and posed the task to me, his thirteen-year-old daughter. This was my first time translating for my community, but it would not be my last.

As I read these back, I am struck by the sense of hope that I felt and the desire for societal change. Now, I sit with a sense of disillusionment with both. When I entered my first year of law school, Margaret Montoya’s Mascaras y Trenzas remained at the forefront of my mind. In her Harvard Law Review article, Montoya traces the duality of her experiences as one of the first Latina students at Harvard Law. She recognizes the dissonance between the black-letter law classes she takes and her background growing up as a Latina in the Southwest. In the article, she recounts her 1L experience as she struggled with reading a case in Criminal Law while removing her level of humanity. Her article ends with a powerful image of her delivering a speech at a legal educators conference where she embraces both English and her native tongue, Spanish. I first encountered this article during my first year of college, and I was struck by her optimism for the future. I shared this similar hope but soon began dreading the same masks I was learning to wear in law school. Masks provide the ability to navigate spaces traditionally made for white men. Masks that require me to separate my own empathetic being from the law I was learning. These masks link with my disillusionment about my law school journey as my desire to create a positive impact feels futile against the luring sirens of big law and wealth.

The answer to my disenchantment may not lie within a text or even a course. It may be a disenchantment with the system at large. A potential solution is the possibility of discovering my own practice as a way to chart my pathway in the legal industry. Through my own economic agency with individual practice, I can begin to retire the different masks I wear and demonstrate my full identity.

As my hopes for individualized practice hinge upon the desire to represent creatives in their negotiations with various business entities in the pursuit of the production and distribution of their art form, I hope to occupy the characteristics of a collaborator. My own practice will focus on making the necessary connections between the various actors involved in the entertainment industry while still keeping an eye for the needs of my smaller client. To accomplish this, I will take courses focused on dealmaking and negotiations. I will also explore opportunities for externships with private and public sector organizations as I seek to develop my business skills. My business skill development will center on some ideas discussed in our course, like navigating a capitalist marketplace as an individual practitioner.

Most importantly, these skills will further my ability to collaborate with others toward mutual goals. As a collaborator, I will listen and adapt accordingly to best serve the group’s interests. Even as I serve others, I will continue thinking of how I may collaborate with others in my field. As I approach my career with authenticity, I plan to build out a more extensive network of colleagues. I anticipate meeting a range of industry professionals: PR executives, label executives, creatives, and community members. To create these relationships, I will reach out to various organizations like the Entertainment and Media group of the New York State Bar Association. Furthermore, I will learn the art of connecting. As I continue my legal education, I am confident that one of the most significant skills a lawyer can develop is the ability to connect. Living in New York, the opportunities to connect with various artists and performers are plentiful. I will have the added benefit of attending concerts and galleries that pique my interest. As I grow this network, I can build up mentorship opportunities for both sides.

Ultimately, a chain of mentorship will grow. Through the mentorship I receive, I will also mentor others. In a way, my community will be like an orchestra with various instruments and tonalities: all coming together to create a practice that returns me to my first love of the arts.

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r5 - 22 May 2023 - 19:03:38 - MollyMartinez
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