Friday, September 3, 2010
15 - The Privilege of Being an Attorney (Part 1)
15 – The Privilege of Being an Attorney
I began the practice of law in 1977 after graduating from Regis College (now, Regis University) in Denver, Colorado, and Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, (though when I attended Pepperdine, the law school was located in Anaheim, California).
Since reading my first Perry Mason novel and watching Raymond Burr play the part of Mason on television, I dreamed of being an attorney. I guess my first choice was to be a professional football or baseball player, but after high school, reality set in, and I realized that I was not big and fast and, compared to others athletes I encountered in college and in the military, lacked substantial talent.
It was a tough lesson, but one that was deserved and needed. I dropped out of college after a semester and faced with the draft during the Vietnam war (June of 1966), I enlisted in the Air Force. After finishing boot camp (Lackland Air Force base – San Antonio, TX) and technical school (Shepherd Air Force base – Wichita Falls, TX), I married in October 1966 to my high school sweetheart and promptly went to Fuchu AFB in Fuchu, Japan. Sandy joined me a few months later and our first (of two) son was born in neighboring Tachikawa AFB, Japan, in May of 1968. Our second son was born in Chicopee, MA (Westover AFB) in October 1969, where I spent my final two years before being honorably discharged after four years of service. Though I yearned to be an attorney or a professional athlete, as I review my life, the events in this paragraph are the most profound in my life – these and my Christian development.
Why comment on these matters? Because the path one takes, or is led and/or permitted to take, in life is generally neither a straight, wide path nor a path of green, lush grass strewn with bright, red and white rose petals. Rather it is, most often, ladened with twists and turns, thorns and thistles, hills and valleys, trouble and heartache – all of which, I am convinced, are not only necessary, but good for the heart and soul.
If you are a law student, especially a first year law student, the probability is that you are somewhere on this path and it has crossed your mind that maybe this is not the place for you to be and you should choose another path and profession. Since I have “been there, done that,” I felt I should talk to you about this path – The Privilege of Being an Attorney.
Let me fast forward to today, as I write this as an attorney since 1977 and a Professor of Law since 1999. How does that sound? Yes, I am privileged – not of my own making – but privileged nonetheless, because of the path.
Law school wasn’t easy and there was a time I didn’t think I would make it. Practicing law was hard and intense and there were times when I contemplated giving it up. Teaching law has been intellectually challenging and seemingly over my head from time to time. But perseverance produces maturity and rewards beyond what one can imagine.
Many people contemplate and pursue law school because they want to change the world or become rich or obtain fame and prestige. I suppose that is human nature, but I have come to understand that selfish motives almost always produce heartache. Been there, done that.
Along the way, I have made many mistakes. I have tried to correct them. But I have also been privileged to sit face to face with those who have no hope or those who just need help. I don’t think I have made a difference in the world, but one person at a time, yes, for the most part, I think that has happened. Not that I should take personal credit for any of that – that is a story for a different time and medium.
The point of all of this is that, as a law student, you are on the privileged path; one that not everyone is able or desires to take. I so trust that you will persevere. That you will “appropriately” sacrifice so as to reach the end of this law school path and then be able to make a difference – one person at a time. I wish you the very best in that endeavor.
I think what I may do for awhile, is revisit the topic of succeeding in law school, and try to delve more deeply in how to succeed. So this is the first step: It is a Privilege. But with privilege comes sacrifice. Next, I’ll make a few comments about what is an appropriate sacrifice and some things one should not sacrifice.
I hope these topics will be beneficial for you. I would be happy to hear from you.
Professor Doug Holden
© 2010. Douglas S. Holden. All Rights Reserved.