So -- on an uber cynical day in October, I wrote a post questioning how much some idealistic 1Ls (first semester..) were really going to change the world. Some were upset by this, and for that I'm sorry. (note -- original post was edited so as not to be as personal -- that was wrong of me)
I would love to be proven wrong. It isn't as if I don't think you CAN change the world. It isn't as if I don't think you WANT to change the world (now) -- it is simply my experience that most people who start law school with those ideals are slapped in the face with the real world and the financial challenges that face those who want to change the world. It is also the case that I think you could probably be more effective changing the world doing other things than going to law school-- I also think that law school is attractive because of the potential to do good -- but terrible in the real life of a lawyer and the debt that most law students have to incur.
So -- go out there and do it. Send me an e-mail when you've been in the trenches doing good with your degree -- tell me I was wrong. I'm very open to being proven wrong, and I'm happy to be wrong when the world is a better place to live-- I'd take that any day. I would love to hear about how you've been doing public interest law for a few years and are only getting more interested in saving the world. I would be thrilled to hear that you've spent the last 20 years suing the housing authority on behalf of "dirty, stinky old men" -- and loving it (a direct quote from a lawyer friend who has done just that..). You'll be able to find me teaching freshman philosophy in the philosophy factory...
Don't blame me for being cynical -- it is what comes from seeing and being in the real world for a while longer than y'all. It is what comes from teaching people who are as smart as you, but not nearly as fortunate. There are real life injustices, I see them impact my students on a daily basis.
Don't get defensive when I think there may be a different way to solve the problems and that I think that for most law students, going to law school is a default choice, not a choice out of passion for the law. I think this is sad and even if you aren't one of those people -- many in your class are and it is these people who will diminish your credibility in society.
Show me you are wrong -- make the sacrifices necessary to do good -- or, at least be honest and admit that making some money is an acceptable goal and something you've worked hard to be able to do. That is fine-- I don't think you have a unique duty to change the world -- just don't fool yourself if that is really how it is going to end up.
Also, don't look down on your classmates who have to make the choice of making money over saving the world.