learn how the law works by memorizing a set of rules or theorems. A misconception lies in the commonly asked question, "What is the law?" -- since it presupposes that it's all laid out somewhere on great stone tablets. The truth is that the answer often is, "It depends." As you'll soon discover the legal system basically is a method of applying abstract rules or social policy to concrete situations. To comprehend its workings, you have to get involved in the process -- it's a little like learning to swim in that you've got to jump in and splash around a bit. It's not an unpleasant sensation, but it may seem little strange until you get used to it and learn to keep your head above water. You'll discover it's a bit like peeling an onion in that as you strip away one layer of complexity you find another one just below it, and it's akin to rotating a diamond and watching the light refract off the individual facets of the stone."
Professor Arthur Miller, Harvard Law School
The most influential effect that any book has ever had on my life was professor Arthur Miller's Miller's Court (1982) because it inspired me to become involved, on a hands-on basis, with the actual work of pursuing social justice through the legal system.
I was born in Germany and lived the first six years of my life in Romania, where my parents both experienced tremendous hardships in comparison to my relatively privileged youth. My academic achievements have been substantially motivated by my love of international law and legal reasoning, as well as my appreciation for the privileges and comparative comforts for which my parents both sacrificed so much to provide me.
Some of my academic achievements include Second Place (among several thousand contestants) in the National Latin Competition, National Honor of Youngest
Student Studying Law, admission to the prestigious German Pupils' Academy, and recommendation for admission by Academic Merit Foundation of the German People.
While my academic achievements have been the main focus of my life to this point, I regard them as a means to a worthwhile purpose, rather than as goals, in and of themselves. My main ambition in life is to utilize my interest in and knowledge of international law and economics to better the living situation of the Romanian citizens who suffered deprivations under the former Ceaucescu regime. Toward that end, I undertook the study of Latin, which I hope will assist my eventual pursuit of the study of law at Harvard Law School.
In Romania, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to assist several practicing attorneys pursue claims of pensioners dispossessed of their homes and properties by the Communist Ceaucescu authorities. More than anything else, the experience satisfied me that, despite any cynical claims to the contrary, it is not unrealistic or "idealistic" to achieve socially relevant change and redress social or institutional injustices through legal means, even in parts of the world marred by political oppression and violence.
Working on actual civil cases where the hopes and financial future of real people were tied to my degree of success or failure taught me more about the necessary commitment to hard work required of lawyers than even the most intense academic experience. On many occasions, I worked all day and night without sleep and without much more nutritional sustenance than black coffee), particularly in preparation for trial, researching cases, drafting and rewriting documents seemingly countless times and preparing detailed procedural motions and substantive legal arguments. At times, the difficulties of overcoming obstacles imposed by judges steeped in communist ideologies were almost overwhelming. The frustrating experience of adapting to the hopelessly inefficient bureaucracy and the delays inherent in the Romanian justice system were almost enough to make me feel like giving up at times.
Eventually, our perseverance did pay off, resulting in very substantial monetary awards to compensate victims in ways that enabled them to renew their lives and finance the necessities of their families' futures. The rare opportunity to combine my academic enthusiasm for international economic law with the real life experience of helping victims of economic oppression secure much deserved compensation was more than worth any personal sacrifices and I am committed to returning to my homeland regularly to continue pursuing justice on behalf of the Romanian people.
Ultimately, I hope to continue my education at the Harvard Law School in order to pursue my interest in international economic law for the benefit of my People as well as victims of social and economic injustice in the United States. In this respect, I hope to build a career based on the notions of justice articulated by renowned civil rights attorney and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz (2002):
believe that because we can never have anything approaching consensus regarding what constitutes perfect justice, any attempt to derive a perfect theory of rights from an ideal of justice will inevitably fail. There is, however, widespread consensus regarding perfect injustice. Virtually every thinking person today regards the Holocaust, the Stalanists mass murders, the Cambodian genocides, the Rwandan massacres, slavery, the Inquisition, and the Crusades as instances of perfect injustice, never to be repeated. While there is no complete consensus regarding the lessons -- especially as to rights -- to be drawn from this history, our collective experiences with injustice are a fruitful foundation on which to build a theory of rights."
WHAT I HOPE TO CONTRIBUTE TO HARVARD UNIVERSITY
As a student, I hope to bring my unique set of life experiences and interests to complement the intellectually talented student body at Harvard University. I have had the incredible experience of living in the Democratic Republic of West Germany as well as in communist Romania under a comparatively oppressive regime.
In addition to my multi-cultural background and exposure to both political and economic systems, I have also already been fortunate enough (at my very young age) to participate in redressing some of the social wrongs suffered by the Romanian people under the oppressive communist Ceaucescu regime. I have returned to Romania annually for approximately two months at a time to assist with the general reconstruction efforts to rebuild my ravaged country, in connection with which I had the very rare opportunity to assist several local attorneys obtain monetary judgments to compensate pensioners whose property and homes had been illegally confiscated or otherwise interfered with by the communist authorities. On a much more positive note, I was able to enjoy and absorb many of the unique cultural traditions of both German and Romanian cultures and languages and I hope to add this very unique personal and cultural perspective to enrich the Harvard University student body.
My experiences working to protect the financial interests and property rights of Romanians confirmed to me that my main academic focus in college will relate to international affairs and economics, with the eventual goal of pursuing a legal education at Harvard Law School. Prior to this experience, my interest in law derived rather generally, from the ordered logic of the legal method. Participating in rebuilding my country of origin and witnessing the ravages of communism was absolutely the most profound influences on my life and it has given me a precise direction for applying my intended course of academic studies for the betterment of people less fortunate than me.
Naturally, I am also very hopeful that my philosophical perspective, professional interests and political sentiments closely match the so-called "liberal" political perspective often attributed to the Harvard University campus. Harvard University has traditionally emphasized the value of assembling as diverse a student body as possible, so I am equally hopeful that my background, multi-cultural heritage and very unique set of circumstantial life experiences will comport particularly well with this element of the university's objectives.
Finally, while I hope to contribute to the diversity of the Harvard University student body, I am even more excited about the prospect of benefiting from the many experiences and different backgrounds of my talented classmates. While I am already fairly certain as to the direction of my educational interests and my eventual pursuit of legal career, I also recognize the importance of academic exposure to as wide an academic representation as possible. While at Harvard, I intend to maximize the opportunity to explore as many areas of study as possible, not in order to prepare for an alternate career, but precisely to prepare myself as fully as possible for the study of law.
When we study legal reasoning we confront important -- and often perplexing -- questions that reach far beyond the legal system as we conventionally define it. We must understand some psychology and philosophy in order to perceive what reason is in the first place, or to tell a reasoned and an unreasoned choice apart, or to decide whether a well reasoned choice is necessarily 'right.' And we must know something about political and social life in order to determine whether those who reason in…