January 26, 2011 16:18 Age: 3 yrs

Elizabeth Redpath 13L Admission Essay

On January 11, 2010, the first day of the U.S. District Court case that questions the constitutional validity of California’s Proposition 8, Plaintiff Kristin Perry was asked to conjecture what it would mean for gay U.S. citizens to grow up in a country where they didn’t know the type of discrimination that she experiences on a daily basis. “Their lives would be on a higher arc,” she responded, swiftly and succinctly, as if she were an expert witness, which in this case, I would argue that she is.

As the younger sister of a severely disabled woman, I have felt the tangential impact of laws that fall short of protecting and valuing some of our most vulnerable citizens. And as a gay woman, I have felt the direct impact of intolerance, ignorance, and the consequences of a manifestly conjoined Church and State. I have brimmed with rage, lost my voice at political rallies, regained my voice as a fledgling activist, and on more than one occasion, struggled to maintain equanimity. Whether I am fighting for my sister, or fighting for myself, I find myself fighting flawed laws, and I am well aware that ammunition is the product of education.

As someone who has paid her dues in corporate America, I can’t help but be intrigued by certain aspects of litigation and transactional law. As someone who served as a wide-eyed juror on a 2005 capital case, I can’t help but be engaged in the processes of criminal law. In other words, I will enter Emory Law School as a student who has relevant and profound experiences with the far-reaching implications of law.

I will also enter Emory Law as someone who doesn’t hesitate to ask questions. What kind of legal discourse is going to emerge from an increasingly homogenous (but contentious) global culture? How does the language of the majority constrain legal debate? Is the language of the majority ever sufficient to protect the minority? What happens when actual experience outweighs legal precedent and rhetoric?

To be candid, I have spent five years avoiding law school, not because I didn’t recognize it as an inevitable step in my life, but because I knew I was not primed to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by a law education and a law degree. There is no doubt that I am now primed, and prepared, for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I am also confident that Emory Law is the right place to think, question, and identify a career track that will allow me to help individuals like Kristen Perry in simple pursuit of that elusive “higher arc.”

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