Student Commentary

Finding My Passion (Again)

Kimya Forouzan

The first year of law school is hard. Prior to starting, people told me it was unlike anything else. I prepared myself for a difficult year, filled with demanding study schedules, the Socratic Method, and resting all of my grades on a single exam in each class. Accordingly, I sought advice on time management, study skills, and how to prepare myself for class. However, the best advice I received prior to starting didn’t have to do with law school academics at all. Instead, a Temple Law alum told me, “In your first year, it’s going to be easy to forget your passion. But you’re lucky enough to have found something that is your path. Don’t forget that, and don’t settle for anything less in a career.”

And she was right. Law school is academically difficult, and your first year requires a lot of dedication. And although Temple provides a welcoming student body, I occasionally struggled to recognize that following a different path than some of my classmates was okay. Many people come to law school either to work for a firm or to become litigators. But I didn’t come to law school to litigate or to make partner; I came to law school to work in policy.

I’ve wanted to come to law school since I was a child. In elementary school, I told my teachers it was because I was “good at arguing” and “liked to talk.” Once I actually realized that being a lawyer was more than just talking a lot, I began to see myself practicing as an immigration attorney, directly aiding clients. During my undergraduate career at George Washington University however, I found my real passion to be within the field of gender-based violence. At GW, I was a campus sexual assault and Title IX activist. I also worked and volunteered for a number of organizations working to end gender-based violence. Most notably, I worked as a development associate at Polaris, an international NGO that combats human trafficking and runs the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. During my time there, I felt so inspired by the lawyers that comprised the Polaris policy team. Those lawyers worked tirelessly to effectuate change. This was not simply a job for them; this was their calling.

So, after facing the year of my life I had feared most, 1L, I knew that my summer would be best spent through the Law & Public Policy Program, directed by Professor Nancy Knauer. In addition to coming back to D.C., where I hope to eventually move after graduating from Temple, the Law & Public Policy Program seemed like a great opportunity to work, take classes, write a policy paper, and attend a number of professional events with Temple alumni working in the Washington, D.C. area.

“Already this summer, I have met (and hugged!) Senator Elizabeth Warren in Chinatown, rallied outside of the Supreme Court for abortion access, and attended a private event hosted by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.”

While participating in the Law & Public Policy Program, each scholar works at a different organization, advocacy group, government office, or firm. I accepted an internship with the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ). IAWJ is an incredible organization that brings together judges of all genders who are passionate about appropriately addressing and working to end gender-based violence. I started my internship working at IAWJ’s Biennial Conference, a conference that brought together over 900 judges from around the world and included speakers such as Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. After a slightly hectic two weeks preparing for and working at the conference, I began my work with IAWJ’s programs in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. So far, I have had the opportunity to employ my dual Juris Doctor-Master of Public Health track at Temple to research successful methods of implementing medical legal partnerships in combatting domestic/intimate partner violence. I’ve also worked directly on judicial training programs being held this summer in the Dominican Republic and Haiti by helping organize manuals for the judges, drafting contracts, and assisting in the coordination of forums.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ginsburg Speaks at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

In addition to my internship, the Law & Public Policy Program has given me the unique ability to write a policy paper in the summer of my 1L year. I chose to focus my paper on the connections between domestic/intimate partner violence and toxic masculinity and mass shootings. The tragic mass shooting at Pulse Night Club, Supreme Court decision in Voisine v. United States, and large number of interfamilial mass shootings have inspired me to focus my research and policy recommendations on curbing mass violence by better addressing violence that occurs within the home.

Although my policy paper is still a work in progress, my current recommendations include closing all loopholes on the state level of firearm purchase and ownership of those convicted of domestic/intimate partner violence, as well as increasing the likelihood of reporting through improved housing resources, more comprehensive training and regulation of law enforcement, and the establishment of medical-legal partnerships focused on the issue.

Kimya Forouzan and Elizabeth Warren

The author (left) posing with Senator Elizabeth Warren

Beyond my internship and academic work, the Law & Public Policy Program has given me incredible professional opportunities and experiences. Already this summer, I have met (and hugged!) Senator Elizabeth Warren in Chinatown, rallied outside of the Supreme Court for abortion access, and attended a private event hosted by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Also, in addition to connecting with alumni and attending professional events coordinated by the program, being in D.C. has given me the opportunity to reconnect with old coworkers and friends who are doing incredible work through community organizing around street harassment and public safety, petitioning the city to provide rape exams at more than just one hospital in the city, and doing work through NGOs and nonprofits to combat gender-based violence.

But most importantly, past all the new professional connections, resume additions, Instagrammed pictures, and opportunities to catch up with old friends doing incredible work, this summer has helped me learn and solidify that the reason I came to law school is as important today as it was years ago. Although it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle of worrying about grades, organizing study schedules, and following the trajectory of a “traditional” law student, the advice I received before my 1L year still rings true. The Law & Public Policy Program has reminded me, yet again, to never forget my passion.

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