Law in Contemporary Society
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We all are criminals.

-- By KamelB - 27 Feb 2009


On February 2nd, I read for the first time the Columbia Spectatorthe Columbia Spectator for the first time. The cover headline was relating the death of a 19 year-old student who committed suicide for no appearantapparent reasons. I first read. I then tried to understand. I finally felt tears of anger racing over my face, painstakingly drying on their owns. What brought him to this? Hhanging in the common bathroom of a freshman dorm. I would have loved living in Hartley, but why did he choose it to be his final bed? I was probably buying a white hot chocolate when Eric gave his last breath. Listening to Jeff Buckley, ironically. I am sure I was. Too busy with memyself. With my damn me, myself, and I. I was wondering what could have been his last word, his last thought, his last hope. Hatred? Regret? The hope that someone like me, like them, would come and rescue? I felt guilty. And I still do. Because I realized how and self-absorbed I am. Who can commit suicide at the age of 19, in a dorm located in the middle of the campus? I tried to understand. While gettinghearing Eben’s thoughts about modern society, relating the current economic situation to individualism, pursue the pursuit of success at any price, and retention of information and knowledge, I gradually understood that we were all victims and actors of this situation.

A selfish act to call for a united awareness

I would not say that I am in favour favor of an extreme socialist system, where everyone would share every single parcel of its intimacy. But still, more consideration of the ‘Other’ seems necessary. Durkheim in his thoughful essay on Suicide revealed that suicide was a ‘normal and social’ phenomenon, and that every single society throughout the centuries saw people who commiting committed suicide. Nothing new then. But think about it. In in the traditionnal traditional societies people commited suicide with the purpose to defendof defending the entire community. They were treated like war heroes in their highly solidarian solidary tribes. However, in our modern society, it seems that the nature of suicide has changed and is directly related to anomie. Eric must have felt terribly lonely, and his pain must have been all the more substantial since millions of inhabitants arewere living inon the same island. Feeling souls, but not feeling humans. Individualism, selfishness and pursue the pursuit of one’s own interest are the factors of this shift in the nature of suicide. The heroes of yesterday are today’s isolated and lonely individuals, drown drowning in their social and relational misery. Suicide. A selfish act in itself if you think about it. I don’t doubt that his family is suffering , and or that his closest friends are still under the in shock, as I am; I am as well (I'm not sure if that phrase was grammatically incorrect but the construction of the sentence sounded awkward before. You might want to still change it.). But how powerful it is it is so powerfulGgrasping the attention of the community for one moment and blantly blatantly pointing out the failures of our modern society. It worked. I felt terrible.

Lawyering without borders

Now come the legal implications of these conclusions. Remember Michelle Obama saying said that she did not like her job while working at the law firm, because she could not find any rewarding satisfaction in it. She had no raison d’etre to wake up every morning, and that is whatwhy she quit after three years. I just do hope this won’t happen to me. Maybe if someone like Eric asked her for some legal support, she would have felt better. Maybe if she could have defended with passion passionately the rights of her community more often, she would have felt useful. On the contrary, she represented the economic interests of businesses. A and she found no pleasure in it. I did not understand at first. Now I do. I really do. The salaries were luringlured me. The illusion that we could choose our clients seduced me. The prestige conferred of by the words ‘corporate lawyer’ on a business card pleased me. Not to mention bonuses and all the personal prospects we would fund on with them. But why would I sell my soul if I find no stimulation in it? Why would I let individuals going go crazy in their pains without even taking the time to wonder what is happening? Why would I put my skills at the service of companies which are resorting that resort to legal advice for the only goal to eventually increase of eventually increasing their profits? I know that at some point I will come to the same conclusion as the first ladyFirst Lady. Law has been devised to protect. But it has beenwas first created to defend individual onesindividuals facing discrimination, deprivation, or other rights violations. I would concur with Holmes’ theory contending that ‘ when we study law we are not studying a mystery but a well-known profession’.(p.1). I would just add that one should not forget that this profession was created by individuals and for individuals. Law firms tend to make us forget about it at the detriment ofto the latterslatter.


Eric’s death affected me. It also made me find answers about my role as a human being and soon as a soon-to-be lawyer. Our modern societies are inevitably becoming more and more individualistsindividualistic. What’s more worrying worrisome is that even a world finance crisis which affected every single person on the globe did not have any effect on the questioning of such a system. Think about the Russian Revolution. Think about the French Revolution. This current crisis had the potential to lead to the first Wworld revolution, and therefore contests with strenghtstrength the viability of a capitalist system in a world where 25% of the global population is in possession of 75% of the resources. Instead, we are still living in a society where individualism and pursuethe pursuit of one’s own interest prevails. I however refuse to see an additional member of our intersubjective community die of despair. I also refuse to engage in a practice where economic interests would prevail onover human ones. I prefer to fight for human dignity and especially avoid the death ofyoung individuals to die because their racial, sexual, or religiousdifferences isare hard to deal with; be racial, sexual or religious.

  • For technical linguistic editing, you should be sure to have your writing read by a native speaker. You are very fluent and effective, but there are a few characteristic non-idiomatic errors that you can expect a native speaker to catch.

  • The substantive flow of the ideas is clear, and even supple. A suicide is an act that radiates outward, with resonances as wide as the contemplations you give to it. But how the death of this young man is to be related to the global financial crisis I do not understand. There seems to be some expectation that the link will justify putting a good deal of weight on the combination in relation to your own professional plans, and I'm not sure I see that connection clearly.

Kamel, I tried to fix some of the non-idiomatic errors in your paper to help you write your 2nd draft. Some of the changes are strictly grammatical, some relate to the proper verb tense or the proper choice of word, and some relate to clarity. I tried my best to retain the flow of the piece, as I thought it was very effective. Please let me know if you have any questions. I encourage you to ask another native English speaker to review my revisions, since I do not profess to be the best editor. -- LaurenRosenberg - 03 Apr 2009

Thank you Lauren for your help!


Webs Webs

r7 - 08 Jan 2010 - 22:10:21 - IanSullivan
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