Law in Contemporary Society

What can and should I do in order to sustain a drive in the pursuit of justice?

-- By JessicaRo - 31 May 2017

In my first draft, I asked what role faith would play in my pursuit for justice. Upon reading the comments and engaging in some further reflection, I realized that I had raised the wrong question. Rather than focusing on religious faith, a topic that remains elusive and distant for an irreligious person like myself, the more pertinent question I had meant to ask was: what can and should I do in order to sustain my drive in the pursuit of justice? Or, to phrase it more crudely: how do I not become lazy?

Throughout my four years as an undergraduate student in Chicago, my day-to-day routine was saturated with opportunities to learn about and engage with policy. During the day, I attended lectures and seminars mostly pertaining to my public policy major, and in the late afternoon, I was typically either at my part-time tutoring gig or volunteering at a nearby elementary school. In the evening, my focus shifted back to my course load and thesis, with much of this time spent paging through case studies or writing my own material. I also joined several policy research groups at school. As most of them involved fieldwork, it was not atypical to spend a day going around the city with peers to survey people on the street or interview a particular figure. Albeit on a micro scale, i.e., a classroom of elementary school kids or as part of an undergrad research practicum, I felt as if I were participating in something of substance. And it was the satisfaction that I derived from such work that propelled me to apply to law school; I wanted to up my game, foster more macro-level changes.

But for a multitude of reasons, I decided it would be best to wait a couple years before matriculating, returning to my hometown where I found work at a small, telecommunications tech firm. Although I was not particularly interested in the field of telecom, the job was attractive in various other respects: the office atmosphere was open and relaxed; my coworkers were incredibly affable; and I was making enough of a salary so that I could help out family, accumulate savings for school, and have some pocket change for the occasional happy hour or concert. I was also volunteering with the LA Public Library's adult literacy program on the side but these sessions barely took up more than a couple hours per week. And so within those two years my routine transformed. I talked telecom with clients during the day and spent my evenings shooting the shit with friends over cheap beer or slouched across the sofa at my guy’s dank apartment. Rinse, repeat. I was becoming increasingly idle...and loving it.

A year later, I can review the extent of my disengagement during this period and, more troublingly, how perfectly complacent I was. I do not doubt that I was at least partially responding to feelings of burnout and/or acting on hedonistic desires that I would conveniently like to attribute to being 22/23 years old. Regardless of the selected excuse, there is no denying that I had hit peak sloth. However active of a student and community member I may have been prior, it became clear that I am by no means immune to slumping into a nest of laziness, especially in the absence of the regimented schedule and pressure associated with school. For whatever reason, I had thought that the determination to go out into the world and do good was, in large part, inherently driven and sustained. But it is not, at least not for me.

So in returning to my original question: what can and should I do to in order to retain the drive to pursue justice, prevent it from dissipating as it once did? While this answer is almost painfully obvious, I am realizing more and more how essential it is that I find a career that directly relates to the causes and goals I wish to promote, and fast. In other words, a position in an unrelated field in which I assure myself that pro bono work is available on the side, will likely not suffice. I need a dominating presence. In addition to the substance of the work, a position that directly involves my causes and goals will also (hopefully) surround me with peers who are similarly driven and can act as another source of motivation.

At the time of composing this draft, I have been with the LA City Attorney’s office for two weeks and am already thoroughly impressed with the level of work and dedication displayed by the attorneys with whom I have engaged. Although I am specifically assigned to the Consumer Workplace Protection unit, several attorneys from other departments have stopped by my desk to ask if I want to tag along to observe trials. I have thus sat in on cases involving the exploitation of minors on the internet, the invasion of privacy, and charity fraud, among others. While they differ in their principal issues, all these cases touch on my longstanding goal, which is to provide a voice for those in the city who find themselves without one. Seeing the attorneys at work and conversing with them one-on-one has fostered lunchtime chats with the other interns as well as my own supplemental research.

And so I feel the fire under my ass being re-lit -- and within the drab, beige walls of a government building, no less. As excited I am about this renaissance of sorts, I now understand that I must proceed with a different approach, acknowledging that the fire pushing me toward my goals is one that that will need to be tended to with persistent care.


Webs Webs

r3 - 01 Jun 2017 - 06:33:30 - JessicaRo
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