The Law

Years ago, long after I graduated from college and even after I spent time pursuing and then abandoning a graduate degree, I seriously considered going to law school.  There were many reasons.  First and foremost, I found law extremely interesting; it presented an opportunity to participate in the social order I had learned to appreciate while achieving my degree in sociology. It seemed to me to offer an opportunity to think for a living; attorneys, as I saw it, occupied the enviable position of spending their lives exercising their minds.  I liked that.  I envied that.  I wanted that.

Unfortunately for my desires, law school was expensive and time-consuming.  And I was money-poor and time-poor and afraid of failing.  So I opted not to explore what appealed to me; I accepted the impossibility of the wish, though I never really abandoned it.

It wasn’t a hard decision.  Or, I should say, it wasn’t a decision. It was default.  Such is life.

Tonight, I watched The Good Wife on television.  I realize, full-well, that it’s a television series.  It’s not reality, not even close.  But it amplifies bits and pieces of reality that recalled for me the wishes and dreams I abandoned so long ago.  I don’t know whether I made the right choice or not.  I could have done some good. Or, like Ted Cruz and his psychotic associates, I could have done some serious harm.  I’d like to think I am a better person than that.

In the context of “the law,” I’ll never know.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to The Law

  1. robin andrea says:

    We never watch The Good Wife, but happened to tune in last night. Quite an interesting piece of drama, well-choreographed and compelling.

    I have known, admired, and loved some fine hard-working lawyers: Defense attorneys who took cases that were brutal; First-Amendment lawyer who came to the campus every quarter to talk to our journalism students about rights and responsibilities; a deputy district attorney who picked me up at home and drove me to court to testify in a horrible rape trial. Nothing about these people was similar. There was no aspect about being lawyers that connected them in any way. They each brought their own underlying dreams to the table.

    I think we each get to make contributions in our own ways. Lawyers do it in courtrooms, and they do have a lot of influence. But like all professions, they are defined by the best and worst among them.

  2. You and your friend probably are right, Carlos; I don’t know about being alcoholics, but I think legal training and the system within which it is applied do tend to make people hard. In that system, following the rules is rewarded; doing what’s right not so much. Humanity can fit in the system, I suppose, but it’s incidental and unplanned. Abandoned dreams. That’s something I will write more about! I’m glad you didn’t become a dentist or a lawyer, Carlos. I like you as a teacher, someone whose role is to think and help others do the same!

  3. Carlos says:

    My mother wanted me to be a lawyer; my father wanted me to be a dentist, and so somewhere between the two I became a teacher.

    A colleague of mine whose wife is a partner in a big law firm says, “you don’t want to be lawyer.” He shakes his head as he cuts into his chop. “They’re all pitiful alcoholics and slimy hard.”

    I don’t know about dreams, lost or gained. I often wonder if the dreams we abandoned were done because they just weren’t fit for us — they were sinking anyway, or that dreams are really about our conscious reality, and therefore not a dream at all.

    I’m glad you didn’t become a lawyer, John. I like you as a writer — fair-minded and searching, always working within the “between worlds” of thought and reality. 😉

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