There is not one reason I have chosen to become an attorney. There are a multitude of reasons, but for the sake of time and expediency I will focus on one of the main reasons. The first time I felt the thrill of helping someone who needed a hand from someone who knew the system. My first time involved in the legal process was with the now defunct Nueces County Teen Court program. It was here that the the law and the practice of it became not just a path but my path.
Around 1992, I heard of this program called Teen Court. This program allowed juveniles charged with simple misdemeanors to face a panel of their peers, i.e. other teens. If you chose to go to Teen Court, you would have to plead guilty in real court and basically allow the teens to render your punishment. The punishment ranged from zero “jury duties” and zero hours of community service to 5 “jury duties” and 50 hours of community service. Most of the cases had a panel of prior teens serving out their “jury duties,” and they would listen to the teen who is appearing and render a punishment. The court coordinator would hold one case back for trial, with an attorney as judge, a teen prosecutor, teen defense attorney, and a teen jury.
That one case would be conducted like a typical criminal trial. All the police reports were available, the defense team could speak to the defendant, from there develop a trial plan that we felt was most effective for a jury of teenagers. I worked with a seasoned teen court prosecutor for several weeks and then the teen defense attorney was unable to make it to teen court that week. I was thrown into the deep end as a defense attorney. I was not ready, I stumbled over words, I second guessed myself and my case, and I was hooked. I lost of course, but I had a very favorable verdict, 1 jury duty and 10 hours of community service. That was the lowest punishment handed out for the month. Twenty- five plus years later and I still remember the feeling when someone’s case was in my hands, when it was my job to help.
I would go on to be a defense attorney, a prosecutor, and a trainer for the court, but that first case, will forever be in my mind. For the last seven months, I have been working in the Wills, Probate, and Guardianship Clinic for my school. Here I have re-enforced the thrill of helping others, from the Temporary Emergency Dependent administration of an estate to help an elderly lady bury her forty-five-year-old son, just over a month after burying her husband, to the feeling that you get when a mother or a father is granted guardianship of an incapacitated ward. Seeing that sense of relief, the joy, feeds more than just a paycheck (or a grade in my case) but your soul. I have worked cases I will never forget, cases that have positively impacted many families for decades to come. So that is why I chose to become and attorney.