Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Law Week Reminds Us Why We Are Lawyers
By Kevin B. Elmore
Why are you a lawyer? I have found myself asking this question periodically throughout my brief career. Usually, the question comes up around midnight when I have hours of work left to do and no energy to carry on. Other times, it is when I’m sitting across the table from another attorney who doesn’t seem to approach the practice of law with the honor I feel it deserves (invariably, not a member of our circuit). Regardless of when it comes up, the answer is always the same ― to do justice and advance the rule of law when others disregard it. I want to live a life of consequence, to stand against the tides of chaos, and balance freedom with anarchy. It can be hard to remember this laudable concept as a young lawyer, but each year my spirit is renewed by a small committee of very dedicated individuals.
The YLD Law Week Committee reaches out to our community through fellow Bar members who volunteer their time and teach students about the practice of law. This year, more than 2,400 students were able to participate in mock trials, classroom lectures, and courthouse tours. This year’s theme, “Magna Carta ― Symbol of Freedom Under Law,” was especially profound as we continue to debate the role of executive powers and judicial checks and balances. The Magna Carta is sometimes viewed as the starting point of democracy, but in truth, it did one simple thing ― placed the King of England under the rule of law.
I felt a tremendous sense of pride helping disseminate this message of accountability to our future leaders. It is quite likely many of the students won’t remember the exact details of our discussions, but there is no doubt their lives have been affected. This year, as with every year, our volunteers received packages full of letters from students thanking them for their time and inspiration. These brief notes are sometimes hilarious ― Why don’t you work for the big name firm on the billboard? How much money do you earn? ― but more than that, they are revitalizing. Each thank you note serves as a small reminder that the next generation still cares about our Great American Experiment.
As a young lawyer, it is not always easy to discern your importance to the world. Events like Law Week help put it into perspective. I would like to thank all of our volunteers and my fellow committee members: Amy Nath, Alexandra Haddad, Maja Lacevic, Sacha Dyson, Clinton Morrell, Melody Manning, Elizabeth Tosh, Crystal Russell, and Carlos Morales ― you are an inspiration. Thank you for blessing me with the sense of purpose that will get me through another year of legal nitpicking and attendant foot-high stacks of discovery.