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As sweat dripped down my nose and mixed with the dirt, I yelled, "I found glass!" Glass is considered a rare find, and upon hearing my announcement the excavation team stopped digging. Later, as I sat under the overhang on the laboratory roof patiently brushing dirt off a pottery shard and reconstructing a pot from the shard, I realized that archaeology parallels the process of producing a paper, piece by piece and note-card by note-card. I came to Mallorca, Spain because of my passion for Egyptology and archaeology. I was determined to excavate, and although Mallorca is not Egypt, this was my opportunity to do so. I love solving puzzles — discovering pieces, analyzing their importance, uncovering relationships and then utilizing the information to produce a final work. An archaeologist discovers an object; draws on knowledge of the culture, materials available, and history to analyze the object; deciphers its role and determines its value. Writing, research, legal study, and legal practice share this process with archaeology. Instead of finding a pottery shard in soil, the discovery is information and requires research and analysis.
The challenge of researching and analyzing an unknown subject is the most enjoyable part of academic life. An honors thesis I wrote on Colombian environmental policy allowed me to study a topic about which I had been ignorant. I chose Colombian environmental policy because my Latin American Politics class did not cover Colombia, and I was interested, after writing about French and American environmental policy, in continuing my study of different countries' environmental policies. Colombia, however, presented a greater challenge than the other two countries due to the paucity of available material. After the Colombian consulate was unable to help me, I located one of the few experts in the field who directed me to relevant material. I threw myself into a provocative topic, formerly unknown to me, and transformed it into something about which I was knowledgeable. The process is like discovering a shard, or if lucky, a piece of glass.
The Colombian paper also stands out as one of my favorite projects because of the analysis and interpretation it required. The class analyzed events using a matrix comprised of political, social, international, and domestic factors. The environmental articles offered no obvious examples of reasons for the events; my analysis relied solely on my interpretation. Just as archaeology or a research paper require analysis, so too does the law. It requires the generation of arguments and analysis of relationships, facts, and precedents. The interpretive aspects of law and legal practice attract me.
Writing is much like replicating the clay pot; it conveys your conclusion. Just as when the archaeologist spends more time constructing the bowl from a shard, the more effort and patience the writer devotes to writing the better he/she conveys the conclusions. The paper I wrote for a politics and business class best demonstrates this point. For this paper, research material was abundant. The challenge was to persuasively present my arguments as a Ford Motors representative whose job was to fight environmental legislation. All the information was provided; the true test was analyzing perspectives, best utilizing and manipulating the facts, exploring various ways to approach the situation, and convincing the reader to accept my policies.
In addition to my affinity for research and writing, my work experience has confirmed my desire to learn more about the law. Currently, I am working at an Internet firm that focuses on the real estate industry. One of my assignments, researching the possible expansion of the company into the art industry, required delving into a field I knew relatively little about. Through researching similar Internet art-related services, interviewing presidents of art associations, compiling a list of artists and galleries, and developing sales material, I was exposed to a new area. I enjoyed learning about this unknown industry. The law and the Internet share constant variety. Since both are evolving, they require constant research and learning.
Through my various jobs and internships, the breadth and variety inherent in the law has impressed me. Especially at my current job, where my employer prepares for heavier regulation of the Internet and new legislation regarding copyright, privacy rights, and pornography, the law's omnipresence is looming. My work at John Smith's law office exposed me to some of the realities of law such as the legal atmosphere, the commitment and initiative required, and the diversity of the work. Whether helping research, correcting dictation, or watching Mr. Smith in court, I was glad to have participated in the legal process.
The thrill of discovery that I so enjoy in my academic and professional life partially stems from my travel experiences. Whether traveling on a dirt road in Kenya taking a pregnant woman to receive her malaria medication, observing the species Darwin studied, visiting my grandfather in Italy, or submerging myself in French culture, my travels expose me to different facets of humanity. My experiences on foreign soil allow me evaluate daily situations as well as academic works from a unique perspective. It was a trip to Egypt that fostered my interest in Egyptology which led to my reconstructing a pot and drawing parallels between archaeology and the law.
Three pillars of law school and legal practice--research, analysis, and writing--are activities I enjoy. Whether organizing hard-to-come-by research on stacks of note-cards or compiling data on dealers, art magazines and the like, I like discovering and embracing a subject, learning about it in depth, and then applying what I have learned through school, work, and travel. Law requires a constant commitment to learning new precedents and digging deeper. Law will allow me to find the pottery shard, analyze its location and markings, discover its purpose, reconstruct the pot, and complete the puzzle.