Law in Contemporary Society

First Essay, 2nd Draft

How To Become A Great Lawyer

-- By StephenKim - 20 April 2018

Professor Moglen offers two great questions to becoming a great lawyer: In terms of changing of the world, what do you want to do and how do you succeed? I will first delve into my not-so-distant-past when I wanted to become a film director, to answer these questions.

My Love for Stories

Before I decided that I wanted to practice law, I wanted to become a film director. Ever since I was kid, I was infatuated with films. Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, and Indiana Jones: The Lost Ark were some of the many films that I watched over and over. They showed me a beautiful world, full of excitement and happy endings. It was only natural that I wanted to become a film director. What job was going to be more fun than that? When I entered high school, however, I yearned for something other than fun in movies. I started to selectively watch movies that told meaningful stories, stories that would help me understand society through a lens that I had not looked through before. Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon propelled that inner change in me. Rashomon tells a story about a murdered samurai whose death is reported by several people with different points of view. The film revealed the subjectivity about truth and the different perspectives that exist in reality. It taught me that it is difficult to reach an identical understanding of a truth among people, and that people understand and interact in society with different lenses and objectives. Rashomon inspired me to create stories that would offer people new ways to understand the world.

The Thirst for More

By the time I was about to graduate from college, I had written and directed three short films. But, here I am, at Columbia Law School, to practice law. What happened?

During my pursuit in film, I realized I wanted do something more than writing and directing films. Films could change people through stories, but I wanted to bring change that was more tangible, a change that I could witness happening in front of me. Since I already wanted to create social change through my films, I was inevitably attracted to the idea of a career in law, the perfect avenue to bring social change.

So, What Do I Want to Do?

My journey into film created my thirst to create positive, social change and ultimately led me to think about practicing law. The financial crisis of 2007-08 erupted when I entered college and inspired me to question and learn about the effectiveness and stability of our financial system. Although I passionately pursued film, I could not give up my interest in the issue. I ended up taking economic courses related to the U.S. banking system and financial regulation, reading books related to either financial regulation or the financial crisis, and graduated with a double major in film and economics. So, when I decided I wanted to bring an effective and tangible form of social change through the practice of law, the idea of a government career in financial regulation quickly replaced the void left by my previous tracks in film.

How Do I Get There?

How do I become a great lawyer that practices a career in financial regulation? Aside from getting good grades and honing my interview skills to persuade people to hire me, there are other important, intangible tools that could help me become a great lawyer. If there is one lesson the piled stacks of Blu-rays, DVDs, and VHS tapes that I own have taught me, it’s that there are countless perspectives and ‘truths’ that exist in this world. Joseph’s Lawyerland echoes that in a lawyer-context: How do you understand someone if you haven’t lived his life?

Robinson, a character in Joseph’s Lawyerland, hypothesizes a world where lawyers would metamorphose into prisoners and prisoners would metamorphose into lawyers. Although lawyers would certainly reach a higher level of understanding with their clients through such metamorphosis, which is only possible in a fictional world, the takeaway isn’t about the impossibility of understanding someone else. Knowing that it is more than difficult to understand a person and keeping an open-mind about it, in spite of that, are the important toolsets that will allow me to better represent my future clients and help me become a great lawyer.

When I graduate from law school, I want to work for the FDIC, the government agency that specializes in supervising banks and providing insurance to bank depositors. FDIC attorneys litigate against bank directors and officers whose negligence and malpractice led to their bank’s insolvency, but also manage complex litigations that help develop legal resolutions for failed banks. In addition to acting these roles as an attorney of FDIC, I want to gain insight into how regulations oversee safety and soundness in banks by working closely with bank examiners and ensuring banks are complying with banking laws and regulations. Armed with those insights and experiences, my long-term goal is to serve an important role in the government that will give me a powerful voice in discussions of how to maintain stability in our financial system. Unfortunately, the power of such roles is usually limited or controlled by the ideas of the dominant political party. An understanding of the psychology social organizations will be useful here. Arnold’s The Folklore of Capitalism brings up a relevant argument that dominant social organizations try to fit in their creed with society’s needs and blame failures as a sign that society was not living up to the creeds. Political opinions about the efficacy of financial regulation embody hidden motives of those who control and maintain the creed. This understanding will help me look beyond the political processes and political debates that arise when determining how much financial regulation is enough for the benefit of society. Also, it will enable me to become a great lawyer, one will who stand as a bastion preventing the financial market from collapsing by using words.

Word count: 999

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r3 - 20 Apr 2018 - 16:31:30 - StephenKim
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