You are probably asking yourself, why would anybody want to go to law school? I can only answer for myself. For as long as I can remember, I have desired to influence the world around me. I could grow my current business, a multinational cattle business, to become the biggest cattle business in the world, but I would never be able to have the impact I could have in the legal field. I assume a lot of people dream about having a plush job at a big law firm in Manhattan, but I don’t. I dream about being a part of public policy, preferably creating it, and that 50 years from now I will be viewed as instrumental in making the country a better place. I yearn to shape a better society than was left to me.
Currently, I am a 28 year old Hispanic who co-founded a cattle business operating in both Miami, Florida, and the Dominican Republic. I have reached a level of success that I would have never believed possible for who my parents are and for being academically dismissed from law school in the summer of 2009. My father did not go to Harvard. As a matter of fact, my father did not even complete high school. My only inheritance has been to expect and overcome the next challenge in life. Through fortune and misfortune, I have had to deal with many struggles in my life because of who my parents were not. If I could have personally picked my parents, I would have still picked my parents. Because of them, I have the persistence to be optimistic in the darkest of times in my life. Between my parents and my dismissal I have been able to achieve the greatest successes I have had to date. Even with the dismissal, my intellect and work ethic have remained, but I have found a determination and focus I never knew I could have.
When I was first enrolled in law school, I was working full-time trying to pay my rent; I was having financial struggles at that time and was not able to support myself without working full-time. From the first semester, I was working at least 40 hours a week. My worst troubles were more than financial: my grandmother was on her deathbed, my parents were going through a divorce, and my sister went missing for more than three months during my second semester in law school.
Needless to say, these hardships adversely affected my academic performance because of how much they were both weighing on my mind and time. I was not able to focus at all on my law studies that last semester. I was unable to manage my time well enough to juggle all the commitments and challenges in my life. I was still a naive and arrogant twenty-two year old who believed I could deal with the hurricane sweeping through my life. One of the critical talents of life is learning to deal with difficulty, and I was not able to at that moment in my life. Ultimately, I was academically dismissed from New York Law School after the second semester. My life became a perfect storm.
After the academic dismissal, I began to work for big retail chains such as Wal-Mart, learning the operations, management, and distribution sides of the business. My ability to manage the workforce and become attuned with their needs and considerations propelled me into the biggest Wal-Mart in the country. Between my experiences working for Wal-Mart and through both my savings and partners’ capital I co-founded a cattle business in Miami and the Dominican Republic.
We have a particular farm in La Vega, Dominican Republic, which was troubled by a local inspector who would try to shake us down by intimidating us. This reminded me of an experience I had as a child. When I was about 11, there was a bully named Isaac at my school that everyone was afraid of because he was about a foot taller and 80 lbs heavier than the other boys. I chose to ignore him. However, he did not ignore me. We eventually ended up in a fistfight, but there was still a bully named Isaac the next day. The day after, another fistfight – still there was a bully named Isaac. Another fight, still the bully remained. It got to the point where he just told me he was sorry and there was no longer a bully named Isaac, for me at least. But I would not stop fighting until Isaac was no longer the bully.
Isaac did a lot of harm to other people, but for me Isaac did a lot of good. When I am faced with a challenge, I think of Isaac. I’m older, stronger, and smarter than my 11 year old self. So, if an 11 year old can outlast his greatest challenge, how much more can the older, stronger, and smarter me do! Returning to that inspector, he reminded me of Isaac. Times got very difficult for me because of the legal cases and the pressure I was receiving from the local government. But I kept remembering Isaac. I did not give in then, and I would not give in to the inspector. Fortunately, the inspector was reassigned to another region of the country, and the bully was once again outlasted.
Looking at the direction of this country, the world leaves a lot to be desired. There is a famous story about the coal barons questioning President Theodore Roosevelt if he was willing to go against the constitution when he threatened to nationalize the coal mines. His reply was, “the people don’t serve the constitution, but the constitution serves the people.” This spirit of defiance in face of the biggest spheres of influence of that time for the greater good is inspiring. The coal baron/trust was President Roosevelt’s Isaac. I want the opportunity to be a President Roosevelt to this era’s coal barons, to stand up to this era’s bullies and Isaacs. Law school can equip me with the abilities I need to do just that.
Since my academic dismissal, I have changed profoundly. The work I have done after dismissal has instilled an emotional fortitude and discipline, built on a solid foundation of perseverance which I did not have during my first time in law school. I have learned to harness those emotions into a structured force of productivity and to counter any sense of entitlement. My oratory abilities, charm, persuasiveness, guile, intellect, work ethic, and determination make me a rare package for your institution. I want to compete and beat the best, to become the best.
My confidence, dedication, and acknowledgement of the challenge ahead will guide me to success. I am fully committed towards the pursuit of my ambitions because of the impact I know I can have on our society. I will enter law school as a better person and student because of my work experience, but more importantly because of my life experiences. I want to study law at Harvard Law School because it is Harvard Law School. Who are we kidding? Harvard Law School has the most prestigious reputation and the greatest resources in the world. I know my last name is not Bush, but hopefully someday someone can say, “I know my last name is not Caraballo, but…”
The image of someone telling me I am not good enough intrudes into my thoughts as I re-attempt to pursue my law career, as if Isaac were towering over me again. I keep relieving those many moments when the naïve twenty-two-year old had to pick himself up again. I vowed to never to be defined by a proverbial loss, no matter how uneven the playing field seemed, just as I did with the bully named Isaac. Words on a paper can’t emphasize the emotion that still runs through me when I recall those experiences.
But that emotion serves as a very useful reminder to me when I encounter a challenge, and I will use that emotion as I re-enter law school. I will take the experiences I have had and apply them to this second chance. I am seeking entrance to Harvard Law School because I am now in a better place with a better sense of my strengths (and weaknesses) and how to make the best of those strengths. I am ready to get the law education I need to take my natural talents and the experiences I have had farther, to make the most of them. Harvard Law School is the place I need to be to get that education.