I’m going to head into work now, after a day of getting small house-projects done. I’ll be using substandard resources (no one would choose *this* level of resources to defend themselves) in an attempt to defend individuals constitutional rights and freedoms, to say nothing of their basic not-being-in-a-metal-cage-liberties, in front of an increasingly accepting and uncritical public. It’s the best job; it’s the worst job. But what else would I want to do with myself in the early 21st century America? I hope my (frankly, highly theoretical) grandkid’s kids would not think me too much of a placidly embarrassing exemplar of this particular generation.
A lot of law-school-friend/acquaintance news has just rolled in, given the NY and CA bar announcements, which has sent me wool gathering. The juxtaposition of the reality of my job and my (thankfully fading) memories of law school is just plain scary. I must note, that some-small-bit out of law school, my opinions on the general ridiculousness/ineffectiveness of law school have not changed. It’s rare that you see someone who brings their heart out of law school indoctrination in the same condition (I know I haven’t), unless, of course, your heart is so shaped that it can always and only hold a faux-race-neutral, empty-Christian, late 19th Century Capitalism, expressed by combatively engaging others who disagree with you. Meh.
Where do we find the robust humanism which must inform both law and justice for us to survive as a moral and loving people? Everywhere I think, but in case-law. It’s certainly found in the small and normal acts of humanity expressed in the face of the very artificial law/law school/bar exam standards.
Thus I wanted to thank all the student blawgers, legal blawggers, and particularly the criminal law bloggers, who share themselves (aspects of themselves) with us. The most grand universal principals are always and only embodied in the particular, not matter how banal those particulars may seem to some. It means a fair bit to hear how you all feel about the profession, even if it’s via the tribulations of dry cleaning. We all need to be reminded that people do these jobs – and that lawyers, judges, victims and defendants are, above all, people.
Of course, I’m proud of all my fellow law students who kept their soundly-emoting hearts, which is probably the vast bulk of Section 3 (including Section 3’s of the past, and I pray, the future). When professors, intentionally or not, provide a model for one-upmanship and snarky commentary by focusing on (when you think about it) unsystematic legal rationales (sans any equitable analysis) drawn seemingly blindly out of caselaw, AND you’re set head-to-head with your classmates for jobs which depend on your coming out ahead (just ahead) of your fellows in regurgitating those “principles”. . .well, it’s just plain remarkable how the core of Section 3 comported itself in the first year and beyond. I think we’ll appreciate this more and more as we go. (Of course, one can be in Section Other and not prove yourself an asshole, as so many of our fellows showed.)
And (to continue my ramble by leaping about in quasi-related topics) I am happy to report that nearly everyone I’ve heard from seems to have passed their various bars. I know a lot of you tried to keep your sanity through it all by actively resisting the BarBri Fear Mongers and the general snarkiness of law students, and (see above) I appreciate that and am glad you survived and passed and can stand in front of judges. I am also hella-glad (I keep saying this, but believe me, the pressure brings out random parts of you. . .) for those who helped us do this.
Although all these bar-passages are significant accomplishments, I wanted to make a special shout out to the CAnarchist who got her good news yesterday. Although there are many unblogables here, I think I *can* say that there was a point where she really didn’t know if she should spend the money/time on this particular round of the CA bar, which is arguably the hardest bar in the country. She was behind the prep curve and had multiple friends (who had failed the CA bar) cautioning her not to get her hopes up. So, for her to have decided to go forward anyway, then cranked CA, well, that says something. (We have the same job on different oceans, which kind of tickles me – defending from sea to shining sea. We may soon be joined by the James Bond Watch, provided he does not get assigned to do his JAG defender stuff overseas.)
And to all my friends who may not have (yet!) passed the bar of their choice, let me say that a difficult test is just that – a difficult test. Take a pause. Think about the worthwhile things you’ve accomplished; those non-multiple-choice-testable things like treating people right and being a good person. Have faith in who you are beyond the assessment of a bar examiner. Then take the damn thing again and rock it.
(PS – if anyone is thinking about taking the FL bar, feel free to drop me a line. Ditto for anyone thinking about interning/interviewing at our office. I also have a West Palm PD contact who I can refer you to - no guarantees though.)