Law in Contemporary Society

Would you rather be the rat or the scientist?

-- By DesireeMoshayedi - 16 May 2021

I. Rat and Scientist

A rat lives in a maze with several other rats. She watches the other rats run around the maze, completing various useless tasks for a small reward, a treat just big enough to hold over their hunger until they complete their next task. She wonders whether they can see the scientists above them. Whenever she can, she watches the scientists, envious of their freedom. She prays of a day she can become a scientist and free all the other rats from their life of imprisonment and perpetual labor.

By a stroke of luck, her wish is granted. She stands above the maze in a white coat and discovers the difficulty of her stated mission. The maze contains a transparent padlocked lid and only the senior scientist contains the passcode. Opening up the cage would get her fired. With her binary understanding of the world, she knows only of rat and scientist and fears that the word "fired" means putting her back in the maze. On top of it, she is beginning to like her coworkers, the pay is good, and the project is interesting. She understands her life to destined to either being oppressed or being the oppressor, and the possibility that she can risk it all for nothing leads her to reluctantly choose to imprison rats for a living.

II) Public Interest and Big Law

Law students have all of these passionate social reasons about why they want to go to law school and when they get there, things change. They realize that public interest jobs do not pay as well as they expect, subjects that relate to the social causes they care about end up not being as interesting to them doctrinally, and that valuable social change is incredibly difficult to make happen.

I came to law school with the intention to do something about the income inequality plaguing the United States. When I came to law school, however, I was immediately overwhelmed by the salary disparity between public interest and big law jobs. Over the course of the year, I realized that constitutional law is much less interesting to me than contracts and property. Additionally, the political climate of the past year has brought me to a clearer understanding of how difficult it is to enact huge societal change, even for people in positions of power.

A) Existing in an Unjust Society

When realizing my own mortality as a kid, I had this panic to make sure my existence on earth would last longer than the memory of my family, friends, and acquaintances. I believe that there is a part of most young students at elite institutions that once felt life is meaningless unless they truly make an impact on the world around them. This comes from a combination of narcissism and the guilt of being afforded privilege and opportunity in an unjust society.

It is okay not to change the world substantially. At a certain point – and it usually happens when they realize that their capabilities and chances of enacting great change are not what they had hoped them to be – they realize that it is okay just to be happy and have a good life. You don’t have to necessarily make an impact or change the world; it is not about result. It is about doing your best to be happy and sane during your short time on earth.

B) Binary Fallacy

If the scientist leaves the facility, she will realize that there are a number of other jobs that would interest her and different ways of benefitting rats than freeing the particular ones in cages. Similarly, my choices are not between representing big oil/big banks and working in public interest. There are a range of legal fields in between.

Each person has a variety of interests that make up the person they are. For example, when I was younger, I always wanted to work in the entertainment industry. My passion for income equality came much later. Though the entertainment industry has its own unethical practices, I would feel excited to go to work every day knowing that my work helps the creation of art.

In addition, a practice does not need to be only one thing – if well executed, it can mirror a person’s variety of interests, while meeting their material, personal, and self-actualization needs.

III. Shaping My Practice

As a lawyer, I can shape my practice in a way that forwards the goals I want to achieve, while meeting my material and personal needs. Ideally, my practice would allow me to live a comfortable life, get to know my clients, and allow me the flexibility to do what I want on the side. Expanding upon my interest in entertainment law, I hope to start my own practice that combines talent management and entertainment law. I believe this practice would allow me the flexibility and agency to choose my clients as well as pursue the extracurricular pro-bono cases that I am the most passionate about. By taking on more responsibility for each individual client, I would establish closer relationships of trust, making the work even more meaningful.

I say this with the understanding that this ideal practice is some time away. To enter a seemingly impenetrable industry, I must first establish 1) legal and industry knowledge, 2) professionalism, 3) connections, and 4) credibility. During law school, I will take classes that introduce me to the various aspects of the industry, classes that explore my pro bono interests, and classes in the business school to introduce me to entrepreneurship. When I graduate, I will start at a firm with a strong entertainment law practice, and lateral to another firm as soon as my learning begins to plateau. Over 6-years, I will actively make connections with artists, agents, managers, executives and other lawyers. By the end of the 6-year limit, I will have built up the money, connections, credibility, professionalism, and knowledge to confidently start my dream practice and leave the big law world.

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r5 - 17 May 2021 - 07:05:05 - DesireeMoshayedi
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