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Lawyers can be Superheroes

There is an awful lot of cyberspace white noise about how I’m making the biggest mistake of my life. Just last Monday, Jodi wrote a piece about the current increase in LSAT takers, and the WHOLE INTERNET WENT CRAZY. (Ok, so not quite, but there was certainly some response to it.) And so much of that response repeated the same tired theme: that each and every law student is making a horribly naïve mistake. That we are all hiding from the bad economy, and if only (dear god if only) we weren’t such money-hungry, coddled and disillusioned brats we would see the light and realize that law school is a tragic misstep.

I get it. The world is bad all over, and law students can’t truly appreciate what we’ve gotten ourselves into at this point. But, like Dorothy in Oz, we will never know the way home unless we learn it for ourselves. So no matter what the internet says, there are still going to be LSAT test takers, and there are still going to be people applying to be 1Ls. And as someone who is already too deep in the “mistake” of law school to get out if I wanted to (note: I don’t want to), the negativity can get a little discouraging.

Luckily, my spirits were lifted when I attended an event that featured David Vladeck as a speaker this past week. Vladeck is a professor, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, long time public interest lawyer and a completely rad person. See, he was promoting this crazy idea that it’s ok, nay- that it’s necessary, for young people to become lawyers. That the profession is not just a mass of greed and questionable motives, but rather there are very real reasons for young people to pursue a JD in today’s world.

Knowing that my audience is full of LSAT test takers, I want to recognize some potential flaws. Here we had a law professor/lawyer who was invited to speak to a group of law students. It’s safe to say he couldn’t really tell us we’d made a horrible mistake even if he wanted to (or he could, but probably wouldn’t be invited to speak at many more events). Also this is just one person, and a person who was selected to speak presumably because he’d had an excellent career as a lawyer. So sure, maybe he wasn’t representing the voice of the masses. Yet, he seemed genuine, and I found myself truly inspired by his message.

He told us about how he represented “invisible” hospital staff workers whose supervisors knowingly exposed them to harm, and how he worked with people who had fallen victim to predatory lenders or Western Union scams that took advantage of the current economic situation. Seriously, this guy was like Batman. Low-life lender? *Pow!* Uncaring corporate boss? *Bam!* Trepidation about becoming a lawyer? *Ka-Boom!*

Plus, not only did he help others, but also he insisted that we could do the same in our careers. He was a living, breathing example of someone who honestly believed there was a very real role for new lawyers to help people in our world.

I can’t say that I had ever lost sight of my goal or forgotten why I decided to come to law school, but by the time Vladeck was done, I was ready to rock and roll. I wanted my Bar accreditation and some sleazebags to slap with an injunction, pronto. I also wouldn’t have minded a cape and/or the ability to fly.

However, since I had none of those things, I had to satisfy myself with harassing my roommates when I got home. I threatened to seek an injunction prohibiting them from watching the Wizard of Oz (thanks, in part, to the insensitive treatment of people of small statures). Subsequently, they banned me from the living room.

Luckily, that gave me time to sit in my bedroom and reflect on the evening. Listening to someone who wasn’t convinced my life was doomed to misery was a nice change. Sure, it wasn’t quite as transformative as a trip over the rainbow, but in this economy, I’ll take what I can get.