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Alumni Stories

Law Student

Peter Beauchamp
New York Law School, New York, NY

January 2009 - People will sometimes ask me why an enthusiastic English major would forgo the world of literature and poetry for the rigors of law school. Why not stick with your original passion and pursue a graduate degree in literature? I try to answer them in this way: as far as I'm concerned, I will never stop being an English major, and that part of me is an ideal fuel and foundation for the study of law.

What I love so much about English and Sigma Tau Delta is that they are the meeting ground for people who have an insatiable curiosity about the human condition. When we read Dostoevsky and Dickinson, we're doing much more than simply indulging in a prized pastime; what we're doing is immersing ourselves in some of the most poignant and profound studies of the human spirit ever created. Literature and poetry tell us more about why we love, hate, hurt, and hope than any empirical study in the hard sciences ever could. Our collective glory and curse is that we are as unpredictable and irrational as the timeless literary characters of our study make us out to be.

Law is the tangible manifestation of our collected values and experiences, assembled with a view toward affecting the future conduct of people. In other words, to study law is to study the ways in which we attempt to shape the human condition for the better. Any attempt to shape the way in which we live our lives would be futile without first understanding what we value and why we do the things we do. Any law student will tell you that one of the most frustrating things about the field is how seemingly unpredictable and arbitrary the law can appear to be. An English major, however, has long trudged through this field and is prepared to tackle ambiguity with a critical eye and a nuanced heart.

The practical advantages this experience brings to law school are also legion. Appeals are won, contracts are invalidated, and constitutional protections are established by the minutia of comma placement, the precision of syntax, and a whole lot of creativity. The attention to detail this line of work requires is part and parcel of any English major's undergraduate curriculum. The combination of this and the natural-born enthusiasm for scholarship that any member of Sigma Tau Delta possesses makes for a formidable law student.

I want to devote my life to helping other people. Studying literature and poetry fostered the desire and understanding, and studying law will furnish the tools. I am a member of the New York Law School Law Review, I tutor first year law students as a teacher's assistant, and I have already worked in two different public interest law offices. There is no doubt that I owe a great deal of this success to the tenacity, enthusiasm, and experience I gleaned as an English major and Sigma Tau Delta member.

Peter Beauchamp is a 2006 graduate of Keene State College, where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English and a Political Science minor. While at Keene State, Peter served as president of the Upsilon Pi Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta from 2005-2006. Peter now lives in New York City where he is a second year student at New York Law School, concentrating his studies in civil rights and international human rights law. Among his favorite courses is Law & Literature, an exploration through literature of what it means to create and practice law.