Law in Contemporary Society

Continuation Chronicles

-- By WilliamDavidWilliams - 25 Apr 2012

Why Chronicle Now?

Martha Tharaud and John Brown both passed the imagination test. With courageous commitment to their respective endeavors, they were able to adequately assess their own values. In this assessment they found peace and thus comfort despite their decision to be non-conformists. Tharaud believes that the efficacy of lawyering can be determined in assessing the amount the people that one can impact in terms of improving their living standards or quality of life. Money is not the answer for her. Social justice is her mission. John Brown was committed to freeing the slaves, even if it meant he would lose his life fighting for something that was against the “law.”

Since I also have the opportunity to engage in work that aligns to my values, I believe it is best to carefully assess my experience. I will be working for Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP, a leading New York civil rights law firm dealing with landmark civil rights cases that could have groundbreaking policy implications. Although I am not yet a lawyer, I believe these chronicles will be helpful because this internship will give me an up close and personal understanding of what life would be like as a public interest lawyer. It is my hope that this critical inquiry will bring me closer to passing the imagination test.

Taking Action: The Chronicles

Tuesday, May 29th

I couldn't believe that so much happened on my first day, and the firm was filled with passion that could not be traced to monetary or prestige concerns. First, I met with the office manager along with another intern who started today. We were given a tour of the firm and introduced to many of its partners and associates. I could tell they enjoyed working for Beldock. One of the partners even invited us to a court conference regarding a class action case suing the NYPD for its Stop and Frisk policy. Before attending the court conference, Myron Beldock, a founding member of the firm, gave me my first assignment dealing with police misconduct. Technically, our work hours are from 10 - 6:30 pm, but I already feel as if I should be working overtime. I felt like Robinson in the sense that I was working according to my values and thus it really seemed as if I wasn't working at all.

Wednesday, May 30th

For the first time I learned about deposition digests and became reacquainted with the extensive time involved in litigation. My case involves a man named Cy Greene who was wrongfully convicted of felony murder and robbery in 1983. His conviction was overturned a few years ago but he still had to serve over twenty years in prison. Now, Mr. Beldock is suing the City/police in a civil action for the harm done. I spent the entire work day at my desk, which was a change of pace. Another attorney that I am assigned to came to check on me, which was great. I realize that interaction is important to me, as it helps to balance the solitude that also exists in this work.

Thursday, May 31st

A little of everything happened today. I did more prep work for the Cy Greene case, witnessed a will, attended a Lexis training, helped move materials to clear space, and listened to oral arguments in reference to summary judgment motions for arrests made during the 2004 Republican National Convention. I know I want to be a litigator. It is such a rush to articulate your views on a topic, and I could tell the lawyers doing so today felt that and enjoyed it.

Friday, June 1st

I stepped into Mr. Beldock's office and he directed me to his desk. He wanted to know what I had learned from the case, and I felt honored to tell him. He told me to read deposition digests or summaries from the two main detectives involved in the case and to pick up work for another case if my help was needed. Later that day, I decided to visit him again because of my decision to attend my former students' graduation in Oakland, California. I feel bad that I have to miss three days next week for it, but I knew I couldn't miss it. I thought Mr. Beldock might be mad, but he smiled and told me to take pictures. He inspires me. Mr. Beldock told me that he was up at 1:30/2 am working on a case last night. He is at least in his seventies, having dedicated himself for several decades to public interest work like Martha Tharaud. He doesn't know this, but if he had asked me to stay up with him and help, I would have. This was an incredible week at Beldock. Incredible.


(June 16, 2012)

Although I had a great first week at the firm, as a long term career I am not sure being a lawyer would be the most fulfilling. My students were elated that I came to see them graduate, but other students at my school really wanted me to come back. One of them is doing drugs more, and I am concerned that he is losing hope. Some of them have lost family members too. My mother also is having a hard time adjusting to the prospect of living on her own in North Carolina after my sister goes to college in September. She has been disabled from rheumatoid arthritis for almost three decades, and now her condition is getting worse. She is the reason why I really began to seriously consider becoming a lawyer. It is difficult to ascertain the best way to be there for her now. Can these values co-exist or are they mutually exclusive? Dealing with these concerns will be a challenge, but writing and reading the chronicles have helped me not only gain awareness of the concerns but move closer to a solution. I'm going to reflect more and see where it leads...

This draft reflects well both the excitement involved in working as an intern in a practice that values its ability to inspire law students, and the ambivalence that comes from combining adult responsibilities in existing networks of personal relationship with the process of intellectual exploration and self-discovery. The combination of (relatively) naive excitement and (relatively) sober thought about long-term consequences is not the environment for making life decisions. It's good that you've decided to return to law school; in the next two years, your ideas about your own practice will mature, leading you to some tentative conclusions around which you will begin to shape your post-graduation practice. The sober realities of adult life will not abate, though they may change. Your practice will be one of the primary vehicles, along with the new relationships you form, for dealing with your long-existing adult responsibilities from within a newly adult life.

I don't know what editing should be done here. In my view, it would be better to begin a new project soon, writing not about what was, but once again about what is happening.

Hi William David,

I'll also be taking that course [Public Sector Structural Reform in K-12 Education] (see you there!), and am very interested to hear how your work with your firm goes - keep the updates coming!

Rohan Grey

(Great. I'm looking forward to it. - WDW)

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r11 - 22 Jan 2013 - 20:10:20 - IanSullivan
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