Friday, February 3, 2012

Today's Inspiration

This was just one of those all-around great days. Today I had the privilege of listening to two fantastic speakers at my law school, and they got me really motivated and excited. I had to go listen to the first speaker for part of my legal profession class. She works in the public sector at Georgia Legal Services, and everything she was saying about what she does--and about really, truly loving her job--really struck a chord with me. She talked about some of the stresses of the work, like when she gets a call at 2 in the afternoon from someone who says, "I have court at 9 tomorrow morning. How can you help me?" She explained that in this particular office, they have 5 attorneys covering 23 Georgia counties. That means that they often get calls from clients who need legal help, but they simply are too understaffed to be able to help everyone. The speaker talked about how most of her cases have to do with family law issues, like helping women get custody of their children or restraining orders against abusive husbands. She said she has also done a lot of cases to help low-income families be able to stay in public housing when facing eviction, often for the pettiest of reasons. I really connected with the things she was saying. I've never given a lot of thought to working in the public sector because the vast majority of information we as law students receive about it is from the perspective of doing pro bono criminal defense. Although I am deeply interested in the law and using it to help clients, I do not feel led at all to practice criminal defense work. This is the first time I've heard from someone who helps clients with women's and family issues who can't afford to pay for a lawyer, and it REALLY inspired me. All day I have been thinking, that is exactly what I want to do with my law degree. I decided then and there to apply for fellowships to work in public interest for the summer. Of course, I'm not totally sure yet that I'll do that for this summer (it's only February), but I do feel that I should at least submit some applications to places that do similar work as Georgia Legal Services.

Then, I went to another great speaker who graduated from my school, served as a trial lawyer for 30 years, and now writes novels full time. I found this second talk equally inspiring because everyone who knows me well knows that I love to write. Sometimes I think that if I could do anything in the world, I would sit on the porch of a beach house somewhere and write novel after novel while watching the waves crash on the beach and the sun rise and set over the ocean each day. Even being in law school now, I know that I want to write as well as practice law, whether that be scholarly articles, blogs, or full-fledged books like this speaker. He explained that for each novel he writes, he literally reads through it almost 75 times, writing and editing and rewriting. I was so impressed with the commitment and work ethic that I am sure that requires. All in all, this speaker made me really motivated to keep writing all through law school and to see where it may take me. I would love it if I could make writing a really consistent part of my life and career even when practicing law.

Then, I went out for dinner tonight with some friends for my friend Alex's birthday, and had such a great time. When I'm with this particular group of friends, we are pretty much laughing nonstop--there's never a dull moment. Now, I'm back home and getting ready to curl up on my couch with some hot chocolate and my Jodi Picoult book--it doesn't get much better than that!

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