ABA Journal

My Path to Law

26 ABA Journal My Path to Law articles.

Protecting the citizens on the ground—both in Afghanistan and as a lawyer

“Ideas are destiny. Mine sent me to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, to platoon leadership in Afghanistan, to the intensive care unit—and, eventually, to law.”

From Undocumented to Attorney at Law: A journey of hope and resilience

There was room for only two of us on our tiny raft, yet three of my siblings and I managed to cling onto its surface as my father waded through the Rio Grande, pulling the raft behind him. In front of us was the promised land: America. It promised an education and a better life.

How law, family and history shaped my career

“Life is a dance. For more than a decade, the legal profession has been the floor on which I’ve danced. It’s been hilariously comical, painfully awkward and immensely powerful. At its best, practicing law is a medium through which we experience and discover who we are when the lights are the brightest, when we’ve fallen short and when we dare to lead. That is our profession’s genius. Here’s what I’ve discovered while dancing to our profession’s mesmerizing tune.”

First Gen, Full Circle: Personal tragedies motivate lawyer’s work as a reform prosecutor

I wish I could begin my story with some childhood aspiration like “I wanted to be a lawyer since learning of Thurgood Marshall’s crusades” or “This has been my passion ever since I first saw My Cousin Vinny.” However, the law forced itself into my life in a more direct way. I was born in New Orleans and raised through Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. I was a senior in high school when my father was arrested, convicted and handed a long sentence in state prison that he is still serving today. This traumatic experience left 17-year-old me with a load of emotions and questions that would take years to explore.

From Defendant to Attorney: My journey to the other side of the justice system

“The year was 2005. I was 27 and securely set in my ways; however, God had another plan for my life. By then, I was no stranger to the justice system, having been a defendant in most courts throughout Wayne County. … This time, however, I was at the center of a drug sting operation with a confidential informant and marked money. I was facing up to 20 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections for delivery of a controlled substance.”

BigLaw litigation partner uses his platform to fight for civil rights

In law school, my plan was this: Spend two to three years at a large law firm and then return to my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, to practice civil rights law and run for public office. But life doesn’t always go exactly as planned, and my trajectory turned into an improbable 34-year journey in BigLaw, where I found my path and have made the kind of difference I always hoped for.

The power of my hearing loss

To many, it may seem ironic that a deaf judge presides over hearings. Although I navigate the world as a South Asian Muslim woman with hearing loss, seeing my disability as my power is what shaped my path to law.

Support and sacrifice paved the way for teen mom to eventually become a lawyer

The label “teen mom” can carry negative connotations. No one would expect someone who came from a poor background and had a child before she even became an adult to beat the odds and accomplish her dream of becoming an attorney. By sharing her story, lawyer Jasmine Grant wants others to know that they are capable of so much more than what society may believe.

Lawyer fights for human rights in the nation of Georgia

“Being a female lawyer in Georgia is a constant struggle against stereotypes. Many people brag about our cultural traditions for respecting women in my country, but in reality, these traditions are used to marginalize women from community decision-making,” writes Anna Arganashvili, a human rights lawyer.

Choice and Fate: Why I’m glad my first job offer was rescinded

When I finally had the opportunity to encounter the solo practitioner who rescinded my job offer, he approached me first, stating something like: “I am glad to see that you landed with Plunkett Cooney, it’s a really good firm. I withdrew the offer because you deserved a job like this and needed to wait for it to come along.”

Surmounting hidden disabilities: Challenges need not be barriers

During law school, Emily Cox struggled with countless seizures, numerous medication changes, and having her license to drive rescinded. But she was fortunate to be in a school that cared about her disability with an administration that made sure she had the resources she needed to succeed.

Lawyer with autism finds her voice

With the help of her parents, Haley Moss overcame the stereotypes associated with autism to become a published author and a lawyer.

A natural migration: Descendant of immigrants works to protect civil rights

Many migrant men, women and children are fleeing their homelands to seek safety from violence. My maternal and paternal family members migrated to the United States from Mexico in search of opportunity and with hopes of realizing a dream.

State appeals judge challenged biases as first person with cerebral palsy to argue before SCOTUS

Nobody, except my mother, perhaps, thought I could become a lawyer. I was born in 1963 with cerebral palsy, which, even after many surgeries and much physical therapy, left me with only one functioning arm and a severe speech impediment.

Straddling two identities as a lawyer and DACA recipient

Zain Sayed is an employment attorney in Illinois, one of only about 10 states that admit DACA recipients to the bar.

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