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College was suddenly in the rear view mirror.

Captivated by the idea of becoming a criminal defense lawyer, a young man had his heart set on working for the only foundation located in the biggest ghetto in San Francisco that provided legal defense and other social services for its community.

This was to be his training ground. This would be his leg up to get into the law school of his choice.  But he had no experience, no credentials, nothing but a dream.

The foundation refused to hire him. Pig-headed, he showed up week after week, insisting they allow him to volunteer for one year. After a time, confounded by his unflagging enthusiasm and persistent presence, they relented. 

For one year, he honed skills doing legal rearch, interviewing witnesses, doing absolutely anything asked of him and learning everything he could. 

Near the end of that year, he received a rejection letter from the only law school he’d applied to, the only one he wanted to attend, the law school with the most celebrated clinical criminal law program. 

Having given his all, worked long hours and devoted himself to the foundation, the community and the work, he was more convinced than ever his passion to become a defense attorney was well-founded.  And the rejection felt devastating. 

Unbeknownst to him, three young attorneys from the foundation learned the news and secretly, immediately cancelled all court appearances for that afternoon. The law school was a mere half hour drive. They arrived unannounced and cornered the dean of the law school.  Putting their reputation and that of the foundation on the line, they made their urgent plea, insisting she grant a wild card admission.  They told her why. The vouched for him without reservation. Based on their undeniable fervor and faith in this young man, she agreed and admitted him on the spot. Champagne in hand, they returned to deliver the surprise news. 

Have you ever been amazed by people going out of their way to do something truly extraordinary for you ?  What inspires people to take such action and be so generous of spirit ? 

I was that young man.  And I was amazed to the point of being speechless.  These three attorneys cancelled their court calendars to do everything in their power to deliver my dream.  This was their way of expressing their appreciation for my persistence and dedication, for the value I contributed to make their work and the foundation’s mission a bit more successful, never asking anything in return. Yet, they’d already given me the gift of an education far beyond anything I could ever hope to learn in law school.

Their acts were beyond generous, set me on a path that would change my life, and marked a moment for which I’ll feel forever grateful.

So much in this life hinges on the quality of relationships we create for ourselves, and how fully and authentically we invest ourselves in these primary human relationships. As Aristotle said: “In the arena of human life, the… rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”

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