Tuesday, June 12, 2007


So, today I was called to my profession. Between getting rear-ended on Elgin Street and having a posh lunch with family and friends, I donned the black robes and white tabs (and regulation black shoes and socks), walked across a stage, bowed a couple of times, and became a lawyer.

[Ok . . . I started this post almost a month ago . . . and now I am determined to finish it. . . .]

The call to the bar was a mixture of archaic tradition and down to earth common sense. We wore the robes and bowed. We rose when the special session of the court was opened to admit us as solicitors. We were told to look after our health and our relationships (there's something ominous about being told at your graduation that you are in a high-risk group for addictions and suicide, but it's good to have it addressed . . .). We applauded our families for supporting us through this process. We were encouraged to give of our time, and to safeguard the reputation of justice.

I went to law school because I wanted to safeguard justice, to make justice happen. I came out of the process convinced that our profession DOES have that responsibility, but that we generally have failed to take it on. People need lawyers in the crises of their lives, but most people can't afford a lawyer. We are told to safeguard justice and to work tirelessly for people in need, but we pay sky-rocketing tuition that leaves many young lawyers in too much debt to consider a low-paying career. We are also groomed to be elite, from the wine and cheese parties that the firms throw to the etiquette seminars that are offered through career services. All of these conflicting messages can leave a young lawyer wondering if we can actually make a difference.

I am now a member of a profession that has earned itself a bad reputation, but I think it is salvageable, and I hope that my career will be an example of integrity within the profession.


Wheat Sheaf said...

Nice setting of the scene, and I appreciated that optimism that you conclude with.

The question is, and this is likely one that you have yet to answer, how (and when) best to answer that call of safeguarding justice?

el Maggie said...

I think that we have to start now by practicing law with integrity and not being elite snobs.