Law in Contemporary Society
          On the eve of the last night of my internship, looking at this paper, I realized that the distraction technique of the tangential story wasn’t necessary and the fears that I had attempted to articulate, although ones I had genuinely identified at the time that I wrote the paper, are not valid any longer. I am not afraid that I won’t learn the skills necessary to be a good lawyer; at most I am afraid that I won’t be self-motivated enough to pursue the opportunities to become the lawyer I want to be amidst the constant institutional indoctrination of what is “right” or what you are “supposed to do/be/pursue”.

          Perhaps law is a weak form of social control, but the lawyer who navigates the legal system, can be very powerful. Being back in a workplace with a lawyer who is also a teacher and who enjoys his job and is good at his job and who wields his law license powerfully, reinvigorated me and I wanted to set down in writing some of the lessons I learned and conversations I had with him as a reminder for when I feel the way I did when I wrote about jilted fiancÚs and the power of table manners.

          Working at Orange Law Offices this summer showed me that being the type of lawyer I want to be requires courage (you have not been forgotten Sandra Fluke), requires precision, requires skill, and requires knowing exactly what you want to do and exactly how to do it (to paraphrase a personal introduction). Discussing being a lawyer and the legal profession with Mr. Orange himself, Olu told me this: “I will always see law as this beautiful tool with which you can remake society to the extent that you are good enough to use it. All those people who don't think law is a way you make or reshape society are either not good enough to use it to do so or people who don't have the courage to try to use it to do so”. And he is right. I know he is right because I have seen him do so. I’ve seen him help people, and fight for justice, and set the wheels in motion for changing society. And while on a more theory based level of thinking that was important for me, it was also a relief to to feel again that being a lawyer is important, interesting, and fun.

          Learning about wills and trusts in Property may have been one of the most painful experiences of law school. But working on a probate case in which a trustee breached his fiduciary duty by embezzling funds from the estate to a corporation held in his and his mother’s name in order to avoid tax liability and to avoid paying out assets and royalties to the other heir, who happened to be his sister, was one of the most fascinating cases I got to work on. It is interesting because it involves people, it involves a very personal family dynamic, a painful time where there is a death in the family followed by an even more painful betrayal. Over the course of this case, we helped our client, the sister, find a new job, enroll in counseling, and of course to a greater extent reassert her rights to the estate. But it was more than just painful poring over accounts- there was a story and the story made the work interesting and worthwhile in a way I could never have imagined as I sat in Property.

          The following are two of Olu's oft repeated mantras: “never seek external validation” and his personal motto, “the work never stops till the job gets done and the job must get done”. Those quotes really sum up what makes Olu such an excellent attorney, advocate, and teacher. He is excellent based on that work ethic encompassed in “the job must get done” and in his creativity as a lawyer because of his refusal to “seek external validation”. He gets the job done without paying any mind to naysayers or people who believe the job must get done in a certain way or, even worse, people who think the job can’t be done at all. That is not to say that he does not seek guidance or is arrogant- he is always learning, observing, and refining his skills, but he has the utmost courage and confidence of his convictions.

          As a final message, Olu emphasized that you can do anything with a law degree and it is the most ridiculous notion in the world that you would take a job that makes you unhappy when you have the skills to do anything. He particularly liked the Thurgood Marshall quote about changing the world and wanted to add his own flavor to it be adding, that in a general sense, in order to change the world, you need to have a strong sense of self, an understanding of the nature and depth of your intelligence, and an understanding of the responsibility that comes with that intelligence. You need humility. And you need to know that you have a job to do in this world because we all do, regardless of what we identify that job to be. But, that job is not to be miserable. And of course, it is of utmost important to use the right fork when in the company of your fiancÚ's discerning family.

-- ElviraKras - 03 Aug 2012

Navigation

Webs Webs

r6 - 22 Jan 2013 - 20:09:54 - IanSullivan
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM