HSLDA Welcomes Sixth “Attorney”
What would motivate a home-schooling father of five with an established career as a computer programmer to go back to school? And to Harvard Law School at that?
Scott Somerville, who joined HSLDA’s staff on June 1, 1992, knows because he is that father.
It happened in 1988. A New Hampshire legislator proposed regulations tripling the requirements home schoolers needed to fulfill. The department of education, in turn, created a committee to pass the new regulations.
New Hampshire home schoolers went into action and formed a coalition to block this proposal. They were successful in getting two home schoolers appointed to the department of education’s committee. Scott was one of those home schoolers.
The next seven months were filled with intense conflict as the battle over the regulations raged. Scott found dealing with the school system lawyers on the committee especially frustrating.
The regulatory attempt and a later legislative attack both failed. God showed favor to the home schoolers and provided an escape from the requirements the department of education sought to apply.
But God used this experience to reveal His calling to the Somervilles. Scott became convinced, “Somebody has to go and defend those who should not have to be defended.”
The Harvard Years
In 1989 Scott began classes at Harvard Law School. From that vantage point, looking at all the battles Christian families are facing, Scott was convinced that he could achieve the most lasting good through working to equip and protect home schoolers.
The years at Harvard were not just challenging academically. The Somervilles weathered four moves, welcomed a new baby, and Marcia and the children watched for glimpses of Dad between classes, studying and work.
Looking for a Job
As the end of law school approached, it was time to start looking for a job. There is a saying that there are two kinds of people at Harvard Law School—those that come in wanting to get an $80,000 per year corporate law job, and those that don’t but change their minds halfway through.
During his second summer internship Scott worked for Gaston & Snow, a large law firm in Boston. It seemed promising that he would be offered a position, but God had other plans. Gaston & Snow went bankrupt, and Scott began the full circuit of interviewing. God closed every door. Then, on the day the last rejection letter arrived, so did a letter that had been lost in the mail for three weeks. The letter was from a Christian attorney, and it prompted Scott and Marcia to ask God what He had in store for them. They began contacting Christian law firms across the county.
Scott and Marcia had been members of HSLDA for a number of years. Knowing that he wanted to promote home-schooling freedoms, Scott placed HSLDA at the top of his “places I’d like to work” list, but it was his last expectation. In late January they interviewed with four offices; by March they were hired by HSLDA.
Moving to Virginia
After two years in apartments and one year back in their New Hampshire suburban home, the Somervilles are delighted to find themselves renting a farm house on a 198 acre working Angus cattle farm.
In addition to settling in and becoming familiar with his duties at HSLDA, Scott is also busily studying for the bar exam which he will take in mid-July. Upon passing, he will be sworn in as an attorney. Scott’s responsibilities at HSLDA include working with a few states—providing legal counsel and handling contacts—and assisting Michael Farris in litigation.