I am a Free Man: Thoughts of a 20-Something Juris Doctor

Well, I know I announced it over a week ago, but this is still the biggest news in my life. Three years, 30 tear-streaked textbooks, a sedentary tummy, and a blown-out mind later, and I am now officially a Juris Doctor. Not that I can be called a doctor, mind you (unless I lived almost anywhere else in the world). But at least I've got that in my quiver of letters attached to my name. Better than BA, I suppose. After all that work and now the pomp and circumstance, I just wanted to share, as a newly christened attorney,* the five things I learned from law school. In no particular order: Lesson 1: Freedom is relative. Sure. You are free to spend your time as you like. In America, you even have certain freedoms, like speech, belief, and privacy. But, darn it, everything you do has a consequence. You didn't study hard enough for your exam? You were free to do it, but now you have to live with a cruddy score. You chose to study instead of spending time with your family? Shoot, the test was a success, but your kids/spouse/girlfriend/etc. have forgotten your name. We're free to live or not live our lives as we want. Greatest right on earth--liberty. But liberty can be a fickle lover. We have to be careful to watch ourselves in her presence. Lesson 2: Balance is relative. How many people did I hear say "You need to achieve balance in your life!" during law school. I totally agree with them. Balance is necessary for a sane mind. But how often do people confuse "balance" with doing other things--like being at home instead of working. Don't get me wrong--home time, family time, friend time, etc. That's mucho important. But, while I can physically be at home, how often are my heart and my head there with me? Is my brain wafting off to the office? Is my heart stuck somewhere else? Likewise, when I'm supposed to be working, are my thoughts there at the office/desk/assignment, or are they continually drifting off to light saber fights on Tatooine and strolls through the white city of Gondor, etc.? Balance is essential. But making my time, wherever it is, whole and dedicated and me ... that is even more important. Lesson 3: Genius is relative. I love my law school classmates. They are each brilliant individuals, and I'm sure so many of them are going to find tremendous success out there, within and even outside of the law. However, being in this environment, so stacked with booksmart people that have spent their entire lives easily racking up As and Gold Stars, I've learned that pure intelligence only goes so far. Intelligence is a tool that if not sharpened, and more importantly, if not used, can quickly dull and become no use to anyone. So what if I nailed a final exam? What does that prove? That I can memorize facts and rules, apply them mindlessly, and type faster than someone next to me? True genius, unlike pure intelligence, lies in creation. Taking the intelligence we've been blessed with and working with it, molding with it, creating...something. Anything. But genius requires work. And it requires dedication. Ultimately, true genius requires not just a head, but a heart and willing hands. I hope I graduated with 150 true geniuses. Now we get to go prove it. Lesson 4: Succes is relative. I did pretty well in law school. Grade-wise. I guess. But I'm much prouder of two other things: (1) the relationships I forged there: the people I touched and the people who touched me; and (2) the lessons I learned. I will always treasure those friendships I formed at BYU. I will always treasure those great lessons I learned, both in the law and in life. My grades will fade and will be replaced by other achievements (I hope). But the people...my friends and family...those will never fade. Lesson 5: Love is eternal. Where almost everything in this life seems to be relative--Freedom, Balance, Genius, Success--Love is not. It is elemental, it is concrete, it is everything. And if we're not motivated by it, inspired by it, or striving towards it, something grand is missing from our lives. Never thought I could include a post about love in memories from law school? The romantic in me is now utterly hopeless. ;) *subject to passing the Bar Exam in the relevant jurisdiction of my choice, of course.

1 comment:

Andrew McKnight said...

Great thoughts Eric. I mean this in all sincerity, you are both knowledgeable and wise. Congrats on accomplishing such a monumental task. I hope all goes well with the Bar Exam.