Christine Louie Personal Statement Santa Clara University School of Law
I dig my fingernails into my palm, as if to subconsciously mirror the pain etched on the face of the young boy standing only ten feet away. From the front row of the jury box, I can almost hear the thoughts of hurt, anger, and confusion crashing through his mind. “Why do you think you deserve more time with your son, Mr. Garcia?” the judge addresses the boy‟s father. “He doesn‟t! He just doesn‟t want to pay!” Mrs. Garcia cuts in, her heavily accented voice wavering as dark tears of mascara streak down her cheeks. The boy flushes and kicks the toe of his shoe against the floor. Thud. Thud. I glance to my left, where rows of people fill the wooden benches awaiting their turn. Their looks of irritation, fatigue, and frustration have disappeared, their boredom temporarily forgotten by the spectacle of Mrs. Garcia. My eyes are instead drawn to the boy squirming uncomfortably between his fighting parents. I spent the summer following my junior year of college in the Old Courthouse of downtown San Jose as a judicial intern. In many ways, the internship was like a study abroad program; it immersed me in a foreign culture of legal jargon, business attire, and court proceedings. More importantly however, it gave me the rare opportunity to learn about the legal world through firsthand observation, much like an anthropologist living among an exotic tribe. It is not surprising then, that the time I spent observing hearings in family court influenced my goal to practice family law. Every Tuesday afternoon, the interns would make the sweaty trek in suits and dress shoes to Family Court, where we would watch the motions Judge Judy-style. Family court never failed to amuse; it wasn‟t rare to see an ex-wife and a new girlfriend screaming obscenities at each other over a man who didn‟t even bother to show up. But it wasn‟t these exchanges that caught my attention. The tangible pain of children whose parents dragged them to court with the drive of a crack addict inspired me to use my future profession as a tool for change in the legal system. I aspire to fight for the best interests of the child, whether in family law matters or juvenile cases. Too often it seems that the legal system disregards the feelings of children, trying to decipher the truth from the caustic words of the fighting parents, thrown out desperately to sway the judge. It seems unfair that a child‟s input is not more heavily weighed, especially since the child is the one affected the most. This flawed practice increases the chances of giving custody to a parent who may not care as much about the child as they do about child support or getting back at the other parent. We‟ve all seen such a case; in the movie „Liar, Liar‟, Jim Carey instantly regrets when his greedy, self-centered client is granted custody of the children instead of their loving father. As an attorney, I will strive to practice law in a way that emphasizes the child‟s priorities and gives them a stronger voice in the legal system so that their preferences, needs, and desires will count. The exposure to my “study abroad” program in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara County whet my desire to live in the world of law I had inhabited for those summer months. I left the courtroom with more than an enriched understanding of the legal system; I now have a meaningful purpose behind my career path. Witnessing divorce hearings and their negative effects on children has inspired me to help them gain a stronger voice in the legal system.
Though my ambition to practice law blossomed late in my college career, I have made a concerted effort to reach this goal. My grades as an upperclassman exhibit drastic improvement. My academic progress coupled with my work experience, demonstrate my ability and drive to accomplish my goals. My values, ideals, and goals align closely with those of Santa Clara University, where I believe I can reach my highest potential for growth. I have lived in this county all of my life and have seen the wealth as well as the poverty, the influential and powerful along with the weak and vulnerable. I have heard of SCU law school‟s solid reputation in this valley and believe it is an excellent fit. My experience in the courtroom has given my career choice a deeper meaning, inspiring me to use my profession as a vehicle for change within the legal system. I do not simply desire to be an attorney; I aim to fight for the best interests of children. The availability of a broad spectrum of classes in public interest and social justice, as well as the emphasis on the nuts and bolts of the practice of law have drawn me to the Santa Clara University School of Law. With its humanity-based mission to give back to the community, Santa Clara is the fitting backdrop for my own mission to help others. Through the Pro Bono program or an externship, by volunteering at an organization such as Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, I can represent the interests of children and gain real-life work experience at the same time. The supportive environment of Santa Clara provides the perfect foundation for my goals, and in return, I can offer my initiative, enthusiasm, and motivation to achieve.