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This paper will focus on my lack of knowledge about how growing up poor would make my own struggle to become a lawyer – especially a lawyer hoping to one day serve her own community – seem cluttered with unending obstacles. Given the costs of becoming a lawyer, and given that poverty disproportionately affects minorities, it is easy to understand why diversity is still lacking in the legal profession. Furthermore, because of the economic obstacles the poor face from the very beginning, attempting to work in the public interest field can add to the lists of challenges by disincentivizing those who truly wish to use their careers to help their own communities from doing so.

Part I will touch on the constitutional treatment of poverty under equal protection analysis and how that contributes to inequality of education and opportunities for the poor beginning at the K-12 public school level. Part II will reveal some of the financial costs leading up to law school (including college tuition), of applying to and getting into law school, of attending law school, and of becoming a member of the California Bar. Part III will identify the central ways in which starting off poor makes it difficult for aspiring lawyers to afford using their law degree to serve the communities they came from and explain how that disservice impacts impoverished communities.