Life lessons and the law.
I’ve not been keeping up with the trends these days. Apparently people are talking about what a waste of time and money it is to go to law school and law professors are having a field day writing all sorts of crap they get paid to think about. I am not gonna lie, I think it would be nice to sit around and get paid to think and then write articles on it. As you can see, I can barely get around to doing it for the love of the game. This blog has been sorely neglected and writing, in general, has taken a back seat to this process of living Â life and being a mom and a lawyer and not the shittiest friend, daughter, and general human being around.
So far, so good. I’ve had some hits and misses but that’s how it goes, right?
I’ve written and said this a million times but I will say it again. I have not ever wanted to do anything but be a lawyer. Well, there was that short stint when I thought about getting my PhD in philosophy, but aside from that this was it for me. The alpha and the omega – the beginning and the end. I had no desire to go into corporate law or have a bunch of minions or sit in an office all day responding to discovery demands. I wanted to be in court, I wanted to talk to people. Dammit I will say it as naive as it sounds, I wanted to make a difference. And back then, I wanted to save the world.
I started as a prosecutor. This isn’t something I advertise and it doesn’t make me a better defense attorney. The thing that makes me a good defense attorney? You really want to know? It’s my humanity. I am a fallible, sentient, sometimes crazy human being. And, you know what? All those across the aisle are just like me.
Law school didn’t teach me this. I went to a third tier law school which had a fantastic bar pass rate. We didn’t learn theory or Â pie in the sky ideals. I think we had a class called law and theory and that was it. We learned black letter law. We learned how to look shit up and write it down. We learned how to write persuasively and to think rationally and logically. We used the Socratic method and were graded on one test a year. I passed the bar the first go around. So did almost all of my friends. We just wanted to be lawyers.
The thinking part came later. It came with a fuckload of life experience. I was one of those prosecutors who said “I’m not doing this to your client, your client made a choice to commit a crime” and my life has taught me how terribly wrong headed it was to say that. As if choices were really based on free will. As if we are all blank canvases every time we decide to go left or right. Silly me.
And now, now I know better. I know we are the sum of all of our experiences – taste, touch, sight, sound, feelings and sometimes just being bombarded on all sides by just plain old life – things we can’t control. And some things that were never about us but affect us so profoundly that they change us for good. Â And you, young person contemplating whether it’s worth it ask yourself what is worth it to you? Do you think you will graduate from a school with a piece of paper to hang on your wall and you can walk into court with your excellently thought out argument and know the theory behind it all and win? Maybe. But remember, those people you are talking to have lived a life. Find out what motivates them. Find out why they do what they do and how you can make them realize that at the end of the day they are just like you. They are just like that person that stands next to you at counsel’s table. We are all just the addition and subtraction of luck and coincidence.
Law school was worth it to me. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to get my hands dirty and get into the mix with judges and opposing counsel. I wanted to wear a suit and heels and carry a briefcase and say “Beg the court’s indulgence”. It’s true. I had fancy notions and fantasies and I can tell you this too – this isn’t how I thought it would be but it is so much better than I could ever even imagine.
If you want to save the world I say Go Forth! But realize that at the end of time if you save just one person, one day, one time from one thing, it will have been worth it.