1.Why did you choose to ignore all the bad press about going into law school and pursue it anyway?
I've always been a humanities person so from about 8th grade I saw law school as the most prestigious route to take for my talents/interests. Now, I have much different reasons for wanting to attend. In the last 4 years I have also become very interested in social justice/civil rights type of work. Like you, I get really riled up about systemic injustices. I thought about pursuing a PhD instead of a JD but felt like that was a bit too abstract and theoretical for me. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE research and writing, and I do think I would have enjoyed getting a PhD, but I felt like I wanted to combine theory with actual work on the ground and so a JD was better for me. I was very fortunate to be able to work with professors who taught English or Cultural Studies classes with a strong legal bent (assigning policy briefs and amicus curiae for hw and studying court cases instead of books) that really inspired me. One of my professors was actually really brilliant and worked as an expert witness in a lot of discrimination cases. Getting to work with him really solidified my interest in law for the ability to create social change. I chose to ignore all the bad press because I realized that for me law isn't about making a shitload of money, but it's really about reshaping the type of society I want to live in. I'd rather go home to a tiny apartment proud of what I accomplished that day than to a mansion earned by helping the rich get richer and keeping the poor poorer.
2.Do you have lawyers in your family that you could get advice from/insight how it is really like to work in law?
No lawyers in my family. I've had an internship at a small law firm for almost 4 years now. It's definitely not what I hope to be doing as our work is basically to help super wealthy people avoid taxes. This internship actually derailed my interest in law school for a while because I had a hard time envisioning myself doing a different kind of work from what happens in this office. As I stated above, other people and experiences helped reinspire my passion for legal studies.
3. What do you hope to do with your law degree?
I honestly don't know. I hope to do some sort of social justice/civil rights type of thing, but beyond that broad category, I'm not sure. Fair housing and equal access to education are two areas that really interest me but I'm not going to confine my options to only those two.
And I just want to say about what "Thales" commented above, that's just one perspective. There are actually a lot of opportunities to "help people" with your law degree and a lot of areas that are greatly understaffed in lawyers who want to help people. Yeah, you won't be raking in bucketloads of cash, but if you do a nonprofit or gov job, there are programs to help you pay off your loans. People always get their panties in a bunch about employment statistics, but really, I think so much of it has to do with how you spend your time, how you network while in school, how hard you work, and the type of job you are looking for. If a 80% employment rate scares you and you are that convinced that you will be in the 20%, then maybe law school isn't for you. Also, it's a lot more competitive to get a big law, corporate job than a job "helping people," so please don't be discouraged. We can do it!!!