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Dreams

SALK Day 17 – Remembering MLK’s Dream

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

3. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights act...
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Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream that African Americans would be treated the same as Caucasian Americans.  Thanks to the Civil Rights Movements, the law treats all person the same; however, we have a long way to go to make this occur on a societal level.  Stereotypes vastly pervade our culture.  When we see a person, we automatically make judgments about them based on their appearance, whether it’s based on their skin color, height, weight, gender, clothing, posture, or who they associate with.

When it comes to overcoming stereotypes, one thing that is hard to turn off is the automatic filter.  This can be applied to a group of people or to a single person.  These are the automatic thoughts that all overweight people are lazy or that all Asians are bad drivers.  It takes an effort to see people for who they are, and not what they are.  When I don’t like a person, it takes a conscious effort not to view everything that they do or say as wrong or bad.  Also, when someone is being hyper-judgmental of me, I try to remember that their ability to be rational could be being blocked by their automatic filter.

When judgment is suspended long enough to see a person for who they are, their talents and personalities shine through.  The person who appears dim-witted has a chance to show that he is brilliant.  The large intimidating black man can be seen as a sensitive poet.  The awkward-looking paralyzed man in the wheelchair can be seen as an exceptional physicist.

Like Martin Luther King, we all have dreams.  It might be to have particular career, achieve certain athletic goals, or to raise a family.  With few exceptions, who are any of us to tell someone that their dream is wrong or to criticize them for their aspirations?  My dream is for the world to see that being different is not the same as being wrong.  Just because you don’t share my views or my passions, it does not make either of us wrong.

We each bring something different to the table, and whenever possible our unique perspectives should be honored if not celebrated.  We should all strive to see each other for who we are, and not who we assume each other to be.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Darvin and Jane DeShazer.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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Seeking the Road Less Traveled in the Legal Profession

Last semester, I had a powerful conversation with my friend Julia while we were sitting outside the law library during a study break.  I looked up at her and said, “I don’t want to be a traditional lawyer.”  She responded by giving me a look that screamed, “Duh.”  I was spending the semester working part-time at a big law firm in Phoenix, and while the people and the projects were top-notch, it was not an environment I could thrive in long-term.  I understand that being a lawyer involves a lot of research and writing, however I am not meant to spend my waking hours alone in an office surrounded my other people who are equally isolated in their offices, and where there is little collaboration.  I realized that I need human interaction and laughter to be happy.

Fork in the road south of Keyingham, East Ridi...
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One of my classmates told me that there used to be a law firm where the lawyers frequently shot each other with Nerf guns.  Unfortunately, that firm no longer exists, but I was so glad to hear that there are non-traditional lawyers out there.

Despite how untraditional I am, I thrive in structure.  I like guidelines, road maps, and guarantees when it comes to achieving my goals.  In law school, there are suggested strategies for getting a job.  The ideal way is to work a summer job at a firm between your second and third years of school where they offer you a job for after graduation.  Having a job offer like that provides a huge sense of security going into the last year of school.  For me to say that I don’t want to be a traditional lawyer or work at a traditional law firm makes me feel like I’m operating without any type of structure, a road map, or any sense of security when it comes to building my career.

It’s a bit frightening to operate with only vague ideas about what I want to do career-wise.  I know that I want to work on problems that have a significant impact on people’s lives, and not just a significant impact on their wallets.  I like the idea of trying to figure out how the law applies to situations that lawmakers never imagined when they were drafting the laws.  I have mental image of my clients calling me on my webcam and saying, “Hey Ruth.  We have a great idea for X, but we need to know how to do it without getting sued or arrested.”  I want clients who want to push the envelope without crossing the line.

I appreciate Google’s dress code policy.  According to rumor, their dress code is simply, “You must wear clothes.”  They encourage employees to do what they need to do to be effective and creative whether that means showing up in a suit or pajamas.  Some law firms believe that they get higher quality work when their lawyers wear suits and professional attire every day.  I work better when I’m comfortable.  If I’m not meeting with clients, I’d prefer to work in jeans and a hoodie.

When I think about seeking a firm that suits my personality or hanging my own shingle, I have fears about money and having enough work to make a living.  I try to temper those fears with the excitement and freeing sensation that come with the prospects of being professionally happy.  When I worry, “What will happen if I try for my dream and fail?,” I try to counter it with, “How much will I regret it if I don’t try?”

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