Summer Series 2019 continues! Next up is Sophia Iams, who will begin law school in the fall. Sophia is a “nontraditional” law student in that she had a career as a consultant in the biotech industry in the Midwest and is raising a family. She shares how she decided to take the leap in changing her career’s trajectory and pursue a career in the law. Most importantly she shows us the value in seeking out professional fulfillment, even when it doesn’t fit the mold.
Growing up I didn’t know much about lawyers. I didn’t know who they were or what they did. It’s difficult to understand a career path that you can’t actively engage with. I understood the legal profession from typical portrayals on TV and the negative stereotypes propagated by friends and family. The one career path I did have access to was a family friend who had become a doctor. From age 7, I knew I was going to become a doctor. Then college happened – I struggled away from home without much guidance and feeling too embarrassed to ask for help. Taking the MCAT and being accepted into medical school seemed out of reach. During the financial crisis, work was hard to come by having only a bachelor’s degree in a science field. I felt forced to continue school and took on a great deal of debt to get a masters in biotechnology and entrepreneurship. Finally landing a good consulting job after that felt justified.
Before long I realized there was something missing. I continued to explore my options; not only new jobs but also learning about different career paths, different schooling options. After extensive research, reading multiple books written by and about prominent lawyers and speaking with mentors in and out of the field did I come to the conclusion that I felt I had something to contribute to the legal community. Unfortunately, as the years progressed it became a larger obstacle to leave a steady position. After having a child, at times I felt as though my future had been set in stone. But there was another overriding feeling…I needed above all else to be a good role model for my daughter. To not only provide for her but show her how valuable education and self-determination is. This is what ultimately lead me to pursue law school.
There are many paths to law school (some long standing dreams, others more recent discoveries) and I have learned so many things throughout my journey. The main lesson I’ve learned is that one is never too old or too entrenched in a career that they cannot pursue their dreams. It’s difficult to change paths, especially when you’ve put so much time and effort into it. It also goes against so many societal norms to go back to school in a completely different field than the one you originally pursued. I have also learned many small lessons along the way, you cannot let pride or embarrassment influence decisions that can help you in the long run. I intend to ask for as much help as possible along this new journey and I am already learning from others’ experiences here. The calling I now feel to practice law, to be a role model for not only my own daughter but for other young Latina girls who don’t know they have the option to succeed in law, is already motivation enough to undertake what I know will be a challenging and fulfilling 1L year.