Law Student

Law Student

The Answer to the Question, “Why Did You Go To Law School?”
By: Patton Ritter

Since I was 5 years old, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a lawyer. I also knew that I wanted to be my own boss because I had watched my mother own her own financial planning practice, and I saw how much she enjoyed it and the freedom it provided. After years of undergrad, and the daunting 1L year we all experience, I started to question why I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. In spring 2017, I was lucky enough to enroll in the Wills & Estates Clinic at Texas A&M University School of Law. Little did I know that that clinic would cement the very reasons that I wanted to be a lawyer.

After going to multiple senior centers around the area every week, we came to our final center in north Fort Worth. I was assigned to work with an older couple who were thrilled to have a law student helping them out. After I explained what it was we were going to do for them, which entailed drafting basic wills, powers of attorneys, and directives to physicians, they had a few questions, which was definitely to be expected. The first question they asked was, “how much is this going to cost?” After I told them that we offered this service for free to get the legal training in school, they were astonished. The husband actually leaned in closer and asked “can I just slip you some money in the parking lot?” I smiled and told him no, that wasn’t necessary at all, and asked if they had any more questions. At that point, the wife looked at me and said, “would it be too much trouble to leave something specific to each of my grandkids?” I told her of course not, and asked what it was they’d like to leave. Well, after gifting a couch, a table, a television, and a nightstand, I had gotten quite a few items to write into the will. A week or so later while working on the will, I realized that one of the grandkids on the list wasn’t given anything. So, I called that couple, and the wife answered. Little did I know that the next three minutes of conversation would solidify my choice to go to law school and specialize in estate planning once I start my practice.

When I told her that I had a question for her, she immediately said, “Hold on. Let me get my husband.” When she put the phone on the table, I could hear her yell across the house, “Honey, the lawyer is on the phone.” First of all, for a law student, there is no better feeling than knowing that people trust you and feel confident that you’re doing a good enough job to be considered an attorney. When the husband came to the phone, I reminded them that I was just a law student and proceeded to explain what had happened. After I did, I could hear the wife crying. I asked what was wrong, and she proceeded to explain to me that she would never have forgiven herself if she would have forgotten that grandchild in her will. She thanked me profusely and decided to give that grandchild a different cabinet in the house. So, I told her thank you and that I’d see them at the signing ceremony.

When I hung up, it really struck me that that’s what being an attorney is all about. Did that grandchild really want an old cabinet? No, probably not. But that’s not the point. The point is that we as attorneys have the opportunity to give clients what they really want—peace of mind. They know that someone is looking out for them, and they trust us to handle the things they cannot do for themselves. After the signing ceremony, the couple thanked me again and we went our separate ways. But I will never forget that couple—one of the first I was able to help. I was able to ensure their life belongings are given to their children and grandchildren once they’re unable to give them those items personally. Most importantly, I was able to give that couple the peace of mind they wanted. And that’s why we do what we do. We want to help people, and we should want to help people. As long as we remember that, it’s easy to answer the question, “Why did you go to law school?”

Patton Ritter is a 3L at Texas A&M University School of Law and its Student Bar Association President.


Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

Submit an Article

Interested in writing an article for eNews?

Contact Us

Connect With Us