My name is Nina-Marie Tauscher, and I am a graduating senior at UCLA. Unlike most early twenty-somethings, I know exactly what I want to do with my life. I’ve known since I was ten years old. From the moment I began taking seriously the question “what are you going to be when you grow up?” the answer has always been, a family law lawyer.
Now that isn’t to say that I haven’t had my fair share of doubt and existential dread. Life threw as many curve balls at me as it does to anyone else. I never expected to end up at a university so far away from my home in the Bay Area. My mom can attest to the times I’ve called her on the phone crying over a midterm I could have sworn I aced, and though I’ve gone through prep courses, I have yet to take the (daunting, terrifying) LSAT. But the biggest surprise I’ve experienced these last four years is that I still intensely want to be a family law lawyer.
I expected to change my mind about my career path at some point during my undergraduate career. So I went through the motions. I went to events for different organizations, and took classes in subjects that didn’t have to do with getting a Political Science degree, expecting something to pique my interest more than Supreme Court cases. That never happened.
My doubts were eviscerated when I started volunteering with JusticeCorps, an organization that provides legal information to individuals that can’t afford attorneys. Initially, I applied to be a volunteer because I wanted to learn more about the legal field. It wasn’t a bad motivation, but it wasn’t a very compelling one.
As I continued to serve in room 426 at the Stanley Mosk courthouse, however, that began to change. When I start a day with JusticeCorps, I get the opportunity to hear the most fantastic, ridiculous, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories of parents trying to get custody and visitation orders for their children. When I sit down with a litigant, and explain the legal process to them, time goes away. I don’t think I’m ever as present as I am when I am with these people, some of whom have taken buses and sat in the rain for hours, just to be helped.
If I could point to the most fulfilling part of my life right now, I’d point to room 426. I’ve been fortunate to work under the supervision of the most caring attorneys and alongside my peers, who are some of the brightest people I’ve ever met. Throughout my time with this program, I’ve learned that being a lawyer isn’t all deal-making and grand speeches to a jury. Sometimes, particularly in family law, it is about listening to someone’s story and being the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
So yes, I want to be a family lawyer. I’ve wanted to be one since I was ten. I’ve really wanted to be one since I started at JusticeCorps last September. And maybe next year that will change, and maybe life will throw another curve ball or thirty. But right now I think I’ve found exactly what I’ve always been looking for, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.