American Violence III
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Date: April 11th, 2018 12:54 PM
Before I began practicing, I never understood the level of personal peril entailed by this job. It's spun to you in law school as something safe and secure and a reasonable UMC option: you'll sit behind a desk and wind out your years drafting and researching, interviewing and deposing, perhaps, if you're ambitious, heading to court for hearings and trials, all the while making enough money to provide a solid existence for you and your family--send the kids to school, get a nice Volvo or two, buy that vacation house on the Cape when you get the promotion to partner; live out your days in the agreed-bargain of copacetic comatose bourgeois bliss that so many of us strove for.
That vision of the job presented to you in school is wholly divorced from the violence and danger--but also heroism and valor--which defines the actual practice of the law in service to the nation's largest corporations. And, to this day, I don't know whether that divide between perception and reality is due to an act of complicity on the part of the legal academy or because, in fact, those sweater-vested tut-tuters truly have no insight into the fact that men are daily dying in the killing fields of the law to defend the American arsenal of capitalism.
Personally, I was disabused of my idyllic preconception of what it meant to be a lawyer by my first month at the firm; as I sat screaming in the blood slick mud holding a colleague draining life in my arms, plaintiffs all around us, the noise and clangclash of litigation ringing in my ears, I learned pretty quick that law practiced at an elite level was necessarily an act invoking death and destruction. Maybe there are still idealists among us here at the firm, but I don't see them. What I see are hollowed out stares of men who have seen the visage of their own mortality day in and day out but who, for whatever reason, keep on coming back for more.