As I stepped through the front door after school, my shaken mother asked me to search the name Sam Kooritzky. I froze instantly, because Kooritzky was our lawyer. As my bloodshot eyes jumped from each Google search a wave of nausea crashed down on me – we had been scammed.
Sam Kooritzky was convicted on all 57 counts related to a massive immigration fraud scheme. His law firm specialized in obtaining work permits and residency cards for immigrants. Kooritzky had used restaurants as sponsors without their consent by falsifying signatures and agreement letters. He had been our lawyer for five years. We befriended him. We trusted him. We confided in him. We relied on him. Our hopes of becoming residents were crushed.
I was the first one in my family to be completely fluent in English. I became my family’s representative to the “outside world,” acting as a liaison, a translator, and a mediator between the world and that of my parents. Kooritzky kept my parents updated about their status by contacting me. The constant contact with Kooritzky gave me a glimpse of his successful life. I wanted to be just as successful as he was. That is, until I read a Washington Post article detailing the vast amount of money he defrauded from some of the most vulnerable elements of this country. Baffled by the deceit of a professional I had believed to be so honest, so warm, and so reliable, I was devastated.
All my life, I believed that lawyers were the upholders of civic morality. I saw them as the bridge between the law and the world. Because of this fiasco, I began to doubt my original dream of becoming a lawyer. I doubted whether I would be able to practice in a profession that seemed to be corrupt beneath its noble façade. Uncertainty clouded my ambition.
It was only through my undergraduate experiences learning about the role of law in society that I was able to rebuild faith in the legal system. Fortunately, I was able to freely communicate with my professors in my undergraduate institution. By conversing with them about my future aspirations I realized that being a lawyer was not solely about prestige and success. My disappointment with Kooritzky was deeper because of my flawed admiration. Blinded by his success, I disregarded the true reason for my reverence. It was the nature of his job in assisting the weaker party that I venerated. This epiphany made me aware that I could fuse my personal experiences and my knowledge of the realities of life for many immigrants to represent them as they should be. I believe that the true reward for being a lawyer is not the financial success but the self-satisfaction that comes from helping those who cannot help themselves. A value-based legal education will allow me to expand my abilities and knowledge to achieve my objective to become a lawyer who places morality above anything else.