None of my children want to follow in my footsteps and go to law school.
I chose law as a second career, working first for several years as a journalist. I often got frustrated that writing about a problem didn’t seem like enough, that I had to DO something about it. My friend and mentor Joe Tomassi encouraged me to apply to law school at the University of Miami, and I did, thinking a single mother of two had no shot at acceptance.
But I got in.
Surprised, I applied for financial aid and housing, sure those wouldn’t come through. But they did too. Suddenly I had an apartment on campus, day care handy and a new bike to get to and from class. It was a sign. What else was I to do? I went to law school.
My fellow n00bs at law school were abuzz with questions. What if you knew your client was guilty? Could you defend him? Would you take on a lawsuit against the government? What if your client lies? Don’t you think my shiny new MBA will help my career?
We were all naive. Everything that first semester was black and white. What we learned by the time we left, three years later, was that the true color of everything is gray.
I can now walk into a courtroom with a mother OR a father, working OR stay at home, medicated OR unmedicated, convicted OR not convicted, and make an argument why he/she should or shouldn’t have custody of children. The law supports any of the arguments. You pays your money, you takes your chances. Since I work in a small town, sometimes I end up before the same judge in the same week talking out of both sides of my mouth. It makes me uncomfortable; but he understands how it is.
Fifty years ago, life was more black and white. People adhered to behavioral standards and when a lawyer had to argue middle ground, it wasn’t so slimy-feeling. These days behavior is much more gray. Take for example, the mother and daughter who found it appropriate to lie about a dead soldier father to win tickets to a Hannah Montana show. There the woman was, on the Today Show with her lawyer by her side, explaining how it was okay to do this “in the spirit of Christmas.”
I’d rather let my children keep their black and white world a little longer, leave law school for those with less attachment to truth and justice. They’ll be happier in the long run.