“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
- I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
- I shall fear only God.
- I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
- I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
- I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.” -- Mahatma Gandhi
Despite my prolix commentary on my reasoning for leaving legal practice, there’s still part of me, just a small part, that misses the cut and thrust.
In hindsight, the mistake I made was to pursue the money imperative rather than justice -- yes, I know it sounds clichéd, but that was the principal reason I went into law: to fight for the underdog.
Without going into the detail -- and I couldn’t share them even if I wanted to -- I’m looking down the telescope of another sporting injustice, and kicking myself for not being on hand to fight said athlete’s corner. I know, without denigrating the previous legal team, that, at the very least, I would have given everything and more to prove the innocence of the athlete. Whether I would have proved the athlete’s innocence, who knows, but I would have fought it pro bono, even if that meant doing all the work on my time as opposed to the firm’s.
But, of course, none of this -- i.e. the justice element -- really matters to law firms who, nowadays, are run along the same line as every business, namely to produce the highest return on investment to the partners or members. (I don’t say this to dismiss the notion of private practice and of course some firms do do work for free but it’s not their sine qua non.)
Perhaps I missed my vocation -- my wife always says that I should have worked for Greenpeace or the WWF -- but the past is the past and I’m not trying to rewrite it.
In case you’re wondering why I feel the need to share my slight hankering to return to legal practice, it’s simply the fact that I continue to struggle in understanding why so few lawyers have any connection with their work beyond the work in progress, fees billed and clients won. That’s not legal practice...as I know it, but instead some pseudo practice where time = money and not much else. If I’m completely honest, rather than showing how social media might make the connection with their work more meaningful, I want to reconnect them with their rationale for entering the profession -- if of course there was one! Absent that they might as well do something else -- soul work as I say.
Will I ever return to practice? Only time will tell (I think it’s very doubtful), but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop believing in and fighting for a profession that’s often the only backstop to the grave injustice that we see proliferated in every corner of the world.