Don’t be sorry it’s over; be sorry it ever happened in the first place.
Kevin Schoenfeldt, c. 2018 (who had been sitting on this great line for years but was never grumpy enough to use it)
It’s beautiful outside, there are 25 days left of law school, and frankly, we do not care anymore. We wanted to write something hopeful, touching, and nostalgic. A celebration of what is indeed a genuinely significant accomplishment, and—if nothing else—a major turning point in most of our lives.
But we’re not really feeling it.
We’re both just a little tired and law school is feeling about a year too long. Anyway, might as well use this space for one last good screed…
It is useful to remember how this is all kind of made up. We are joining a profession that keeps itself relevant through absurd entrance barriers ($4,859 in licensing fees on top of tuition!?) and effective lobbying. Yes, lawyers might be important, but mostly because of a monopoly we’ve built around ourselves, to the exclusion of others. It’s nice to remember it’s fiction, if only to keep our egos in check (for example, the administrative staff in our workplaces will be much better-equipped to do much the work we’ll be assigned).
We’ll mess up, probably repeatedly (for when that happens, check out this issue’s “Guide to Crying in Public: Financial District Edition”). But much of the supposed stakes of this work are entirely self-imposed. So, when you’re having a nice Saturday night out with friends and you get a work email, hey, maybe leave it for the morning. Maybe just leave it for Monday.
And while we caution against taking ourselves too seriously, we must acknowledge the aspects of the work that are serious. The legal profession has managed to make this whole thing up in a way that gives us an incredible influence over the lives and livelihoods of others. For some of us this is a jarring shift in status. For those of us that have lived our entire lives this way, we may not feel it as abruptly. But for all of us, we are being granted a social position few others have access to. We will be wielding the power of this position whether we do so consciously or not.
This generation of lawyers is forcing a deeply conservative profession to rethink its relationship with a public that it is meant to serve and represent. Just in the past three months, we watched as our justice system, and adjacent social systems, utterly failed Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine in an all too familiar way. In the weeks following, law students around the country walked out of class in their honour. It was nice to see so many of us join in.
The profession itself is changing, as people in underrepresented groups fight their way into circles that remain openly hostile to them, and speak up about the challenges they’re facing along the way.
In the face of this reckoning, it’s become increasingly clear that maintaining the cushy and exclusive status quo is as much a choice as railing against it.
As we graduate we are going to get the chance to do things that aren’t purely pedagogical—maybe for the first time. A critical mass of us have never really lived without the end of a term on the horizon. We’re all about to have a work product with impact beyond ourselves. And with our heads finally clear of the insular bullshit of law school, we have space to consider what that impact will be.
Or not, whatever. Like we said, we’re tired. Have a great summer all.
Aidan & Amani