Dagny holds a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Economics (with Honors) from Smith College. She is currently an associate attorney at Barclay Law Group, P.C., a small family law firm that focuses on custody and child advocacy. Dagny loves horses and has been riding horses since she was two.
This letter is addressed to her 28-year-old self, after her first year of practicing family law.
Law school seems so long ago, doesn’t it? You feel like you’ve come so far, and you have. But there is so much more to go. Law school was just the beginning of a long journey that will undoubtedly take you down many unexpected paths.
I know that the practice of law is something that you find satisfying and that you love working with people. I also know that in law school, you fell in love with helping others, with being able to be someone that made the world a slightly better place. You dreamed of working in the United Nations as a human rights lawyer. But right now, in your office in Chicago, that dream seems rather far away.
It is a hard lesson to learn, and one that you’re still learning, that although not all lawyers will end up tackling the major issues of humanity, we are still making a difference. It reminds me of the story I was told growing up, about an old man walking down the beach after a storm, placing all the starfish that had washed up on the shore back into the ocean. He is questioned about why he is bothering to save some starfish when he can’t possibly save enough to make a difference. He stops, places another starfish in the water, and states, “It made a difference to that one.”
All clients that walk through the doors of your office are looking for help that they cannot provide themselves. You are not solving world hunger, but you are helping that person through one of the hardest times in their life, or you are helping the court decide what is best for a child that cannot advocate for themselves. In short, you are using your law degree to make a positive difference in someone’s life.
When you are feeling as though you didn’t achieve those lofty goals you set for yourself in law school, I want you to think of all those people who trusted you with their lives for a short period of time, and how you got them through those tough moments. Think about how your help made them able to move on with their lives and find happiness and stability. Then I want you to remember: you made a difference to them.