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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Giving Everything I Have

By: Melissa C.

Starting law school is intimidating. But working your first job as a legal intern is even more. After finishing my first year of law school, I didn't know what to expect for my summer internship. Being accepted to work at International Justice Mission ("IJM") was a dream come true, but with all dreams comes a little fear: Was it going to be hard to do the legal work? Was it going to be challenging to use my skills in another language? Could I really be of help? There were so many questions swarming my head. Luckily, my skills were more transferable than I thought they were. More importantly than my legal knowledge, my heart grew by a tenfold.

Since the first day at the office, I noticed how the victims were given aftercare services in the office. Kids would be running around the office, happy and joyful. Despite knowing their cases, this taught me to not detach myself and bury myself in the word of law, but remember why I was doing this in the first place: To help others. These kids would come running to the legal team's office and say hi to everyone, and every time I would see them, I would be reminded how important was this job and how lucky I was to be chosen to be one to help.

Furthermore, I saw firsthand the lawyers fight with everything they have in court. I realized how important is the job IJM does and why they do it. The lawyers at IJM would go extremely prepared to trial, leaving my agape at their knowledge and skill, only to realize they might be the only ones prepared in that room. This realization brought to my mind a quote I love: "If not me, who? If not now, when?" If it were not IJM helping these victims in a justice system that still has some advancement to do, who would advocate for the rights of these victims with everything they have?

I also saw first hand when a judgment was given that the office believed was not the correct one, and how shattered the lawyers were, how much it bothered them. This taught me to realize that it is not because we "lost" but because we are fighting for justice of the oppressed. However, this would not destroy the legal team's hopes, they would just say instantly, "we are appealing this one." Yet again, I would see how the lawyers would give everything they had in them for this fight.

Overall this experience taught me what being a lawyer is really about. It is about caring for others and giving everything you have in you in the court of law to secure the rights of others.