My decision to acquire a Juris Doctor, albeit a decision made later in life, was one I came to quite easily. Although I’ve always had an interest in law since the latter years of undergraduate school, the impetus to seek the degree was brought on by a tragic event much later, which forced me to look deep within myself and see life through a different lens.
On June 2, 2011, I received a telephone call from my mother. I learned that my only sibling, a brother two years my junior, had committed suicide that afternoon. He and I were raised in a wealthy household with adequate discipline, until I was fourteen years old. In that year, as I was just entering manhood, my mother divorced my father, and this set forth a series of heartbreaking events in our lives that spanned over two decades. Most of it was due to my mother’s destructive choices, which culminated with the loss of every penny from her divorce settlement, the breakup of her second marriage, and eventually my brother’s suicide.
Coming from my mother’s dysfunctional household with zero discipline, expectations, or direction since my early teens, it was a challenge to push onward and realize my place in the world. The same went for my brother. I broke free from the destructive aura in that household and set out on my own. I went on to earn a BA degree from The University of North Texas where I was on the Dean’s List. While I graduated, went on to land decent jobs, married, built a new home, and raised a child, my brother did not escape the vortex of his own eroding life. As you have read, his story ended very badly. That is the Cliffs Notes version.
Chad’s suicide was a wakeup call. Although I was doing very well professionally, exceeding sales goals by over 170%, at FirstCom and others, I didn’t feel a sense of personal happiness. I wasn’t doing what I was passionate about. I was great at selling things and persuading people to buy, but I wasn’t really making a difference in anyone’s life. I felt I was just going through the motions and stagnating quickly on a personal level. I didn’t want to feel uninspired or unhappy. I didn’t want my spirit to atrophy. That’s what killed Chad. I know that I must push myself to excel, but from this point forward, I must do so with something I know I have an interest in and will enjoy for the rest of my years.
My first taste of law was when I studied at The University of North Texas. One of the classes for a core requirement in my liberal arts major was Broadcast and Copyright Law, taught by Dr. Ed Glick during the third year of my undergraduate studies. The class captivated me instantaneously. Learning the parameters of certain laws, precedents set, and how those laws are still evolving drew me like a siren’s call. I still recall Dr. Glick’s favorite response to our queries, “Yes or no – it depends,” followed by a riveting monologue about why or why not. I was one of the few students in the class who earned an A, and it was a high A at that. I also took a class at UNT on Business Law and Ethics. That class was not taught by Dr. Glick, and although the instructor was not as enthusiastic, the subject matter was still extremely interesting. As with the other law class, I earned an A.
The recent deep personal reflection I took showed me that, without any degree of doubt, law is the natural extension of my personality and talents. My passion for law doesn’t lie with just a mere interest in it. I also want to use law for good. For change. For justice. I want this not only for my own personal satisfaction, but for that of others as well. In every area of law, whether criminal law, constitutional law, or even wills and probate law, there is opportunity for those things.
There is opportunity to help others right wrongs, to help them in their own self-preservation, and to help their voices be heard. This applies not only to an individual client, but it can be carried forth to help the masses. Law truly is a vast landscape to be explored and used, not only to benefit just one person, but society itself. As former United States Attorney General Edward Levi once said, “Law builds upon and, I should like to claim, is one of the liberal arts. It uses words of persuasion and changing definitions for practical ends.”
In addition to my passion for learning law, I am also a naturally good and formidable debater. I love to argue my case, and when I succeed in the exchange, especially when the other person’s opinion is transformed, I quietly relish the victory. There is no bigger thrill for me. Although I am an average scorer at best regarding standardized tests, to see me shine is to see me in a real-world situation where brains, data, and strategic application of that knowledge are paramount for triumph. This is what I truly excel at. I have had much practice in changing people’s minds – it’s an essential component in sales. Outside the professional world, I enjoy arguing politics and other topics with people. Persuasion, it seems, is what I was born to do. I just wish I would have realized it earlier, but I’m grateful there was a silver lining to that very dark cloud that led me to this place in my life.
I trust this will persuade you in your decision.
Courtney from Study Moose
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