I consider myself to be a very private person, and I don’t tend to discuss things of a personal nature here or anywhere else on the internet. It was a sort of open secret that I applied for law schools, and it’s more of a secret secret that I applied twice.1
Many of you know that my day job is as a paralegal, but most of you probably do not know that since May of 2010 I’ve volunteered for the Prison Law Project, a joint project between the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Along with a few other volunteers like myself, I spend my Monday evenings poring over one hundred to one hundred fifty letters from prisoners across the country. The stories they tell are emotional and moving, but they are not, unfortunately, unique. For those who feel their civil rights have been violated—who have been abused or neglected by staff, provided inadequate medical care, denied the right to practice their religion, or been prevented access to an adequate law library—the Prison Law Project provides a handbook for how to begin a Section 1983 civil rights claim against the prison in federal court.
It was this project that put my work as a paralegal in context and convinced me to pursue law school, a path I had never before seriously considered. Those of you who remember me from Tor.com know that I have an itch for allegories about agency, social justice, and tolerance. Science fiction has always excelled at portraying men, women, and aliens overcoming seemingly irreconcilable cultures and histories to create a common future. As cynical as I can be sometimes, I remain deeply moved by science fiction’s conviction that we cannot persist in this universe thinking only of ourselves. My work with the Prison Law Project only confirmed my belief that the law can offer hope and empowerment. I want to pursue a career in the public interest because I believe in science fiction’s promise that a positive future is possible for everyone.
It’s the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. Law school is ludicrously expensive, the legal market right now is apocalyptic (to put it gently) and I’m interested in a field of law–public interest–that is both extremely competitive and not very well paid. So I sat on this idea, and after my rejections last spring I mulled over my career options.
I applied again, and after a lot of back and forth I have decided to attend Brooklyn Law School. Brooklyn has offered me a full scholarship and a living stipend. In addition, I was awarded the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship, and I know that I will be joining a community that shares my values and goals.
As for logistics: I will continue re-watching Star Trek over at The Viewscreen, mainly because I expect having dedicated entertainment time (and writing that is for pleasure) is going to be more of a blessing than a curse. I will do my best to keep school out of it!
Wish me luck!
1 I applied last year to only top-ranked schools, and was rejected or waitlisted from all. This year I focused more on strong regional schools that give hefty scholarships, and those with good connections to government and public interest.