Law in Contemporary Society
All - so I've stuck with the original idea since it means a lot to me but tried to address some of the issues Paul brought up in his comments by making my aims clearer through changing the structure of this paper a bit. I like the first structure and will post the older version of the paper as well. Please let me know if you have any feedback - I'd love to hear your comments. Hope everyone is having a great summer.

An Ending and a Beginning

-- By DavidGoldin - 22 Jun 2010

Looking Back

Every school year, I begin my first day by writing down three goals that I hope to achieve by the last day. My goals for my senior year of college, for example, were to raise my GPA, get a full time job and to read four books purely for pleasure over the course of the year. I taped a sheet of paper with these goals written on it to my desk, and saw them almost every day. At the end of the year, I drew a checkmark next to each and took the piece of paper down.

I began this school year by doing the same thing. I wrote three goals down on a piece of paper, and taped it to my desk. My goals were to get a high-paying job for the summer, get good grades and to help my parents out more. Unlike my senior year of college, however, I did not end the year by dutifully putting a checkmark next to each goal. While the final goal continues to mean a lot to me, the first two were no longer served to guide my decisions and actions. My aim for this paper is to reflect a bit upon why this is the case and where it has led me.

This Year

So, what happened? There are a number of factors which have played roles in my shifting set of goals. The first (though not necessarily the most important) is the recent set of changes to the big law firm model. I no longer can count on an "easy" path to follow. This isn't particularly profound, but it is the truth. I didn't realize the extent of the structural changes in the legal field before coming to law school. Once in law school, I was surrounded by people who couldn't talk about anything else. Simply aiming for a good grades so I could get a soon-to-be nonexistent high paying job seemed like a bad idea.

Another, arguably more important, factor was that I came to the realization that my actions as a lawyer will likely have a significant impact on others. More specifically, I saw the connection between what lawyers at some large firms do and some of the tangible problems society is facing. Lawyers have licenses which give them access to those who have power to effect change. As idealist as this seems, I do not want to use my license to do bad. Coming from a minority community, I have repeatedly seen those who I care about the most being taken advantage of because of their societal status. I don't want to be the one behind this.

Looking Forward

Where do I go from here? I have never been in this position before. Every other year that I've written down my goals, I've put check marks next to them and considered the year a success. I've come up with a new plan: first, to pick something that interests me, and then to figure out a way that I can do work in the field that will allow me to be the type of lawyer that I want to be. Perhaps this is na´ve. Perhaps I will fail. But it seems like a pragmatic approach to both do work that I will enjoy and to have the type of impact that I want to have.

I know what interests me - prescription drug policy. Prescription drugs have had a huge impact on the world we live in today. What was once life threatening, like strep throat, is now a minor ailment to those who have access to drugs. The issue, however, is that many individuals who need access to drugs the most are unable to obtain them. The current system of regulation and intellectual property rights in the biopharmaceutical industry is hugely problematic and inefficient and is preventing substances that can potentially improve the lives of many from being exploited to their full potential.

This summer, I am working in the legal department of a drug company to gain experience in the field. Although I have some knowledge about the field from my pre-law school experiences, I am still new to the field and chose this job because it will expose me to some of the major issues in the field. But these are just my first steps. I may try and work for the government in the future. Or I may follow Eben's advice and go it solo. I am not ready for this yet. My hope is eventually gain the knowledge necessary to contribute meaningfully to the discourse on the issue and access to those who make the decisions that matter.

If anything, this semester, and this class, has forced me to pull my head out of the sand. I am no longer blindly following simple goals that I didn't put much thought into. It has forced me to think meaningfully about the effects ways I can use my license to fight for change where I believe it is needed most. I am looking forward to using the next two years of law school to try and do this.

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r11 - 13 Jan 2012 - 23:34:20 - IanSullivan
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