My name is Hala Furst, and I am a 3L. Before coming to Roger Williams I received a BA in Theatre Arts at the University of Minnesota. In the three years between graduating from college and arriving here in Bristol, RI, I worked as a hotel concierge for a luxury brand, a loan officer and mortgage...
The Good Fight
The days are just flying by here at Roger Williams University School of Law. Already we are firmly in our second month back, and already I am starting to feel a wee bit overwhelmed. It was supposed to get easier, folks. We have a semester under our belts. It was supposed to be old hat by now. I was supposed to have all the answers and be exceedingly, obnoxiously, almost irrationally intelligent.
That didn’t happen. I was sitting in class today, trying to wrap my mind around supplemental jurisdiction, and I realized quite abruptly that I was not that smart, and that Civil Procedure would in fact beat me. To a pulp if necessary. Civil Procedure wants to break me. It wants me to cry. And I should be clear about this, it is the subject, not the teacher. Professor Gutoff is quite literally one of the nicest men I have ever met, and yet Civil Procedure haunts my dreams. It is not the fault of the professor, it is the fault of my brain, my poor, rational brain, that cannot understand how we gathered together the supposedly brightest minds in our country, and they got together to write the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Legislature wrote these things and they, and the process they govern, are next to unintelligible. I think I’ve complained about this before, but it bears repeating. I think it’s the feeling of being tricked that bothers me the most. When you tell someone you get to look at the rules, it makes the person looking at them think that they are going to be helped by said rules. That the rules will be clear and understandable, that this class will be easier because, look, hey, there are rules! No. No no no no no no no. No. It is a trick. Do not be duped by it.
At this point in the blog post you might be wondering, hey, I get it, you don’t like Civil Procedure. Can you move on? Yes, I can move on. But before I move on, I’ll tell you that my point in complaining is that it doesn’t get easier. Just different. As soon as you learn the ropes of one thing, there’s a new thing. Sure, reading cases gets easier and briefing gets easier, and enduring the Socratic method get easier, but the law remains inscrutable and constant. There are no easy answers, and frustrating though it may be, I think that’s a good thing. This knowledge is a privilege, and it should be difficult. It should require study and sacrifice, it should ask more from you than you thought capable. At one time the law was where common people could ask for help “for the love of God and in the way of charity”. That is an incredible burden, to be asked to assert and protect the rights of others. Being called to this profession means you have a responsibility to use that knowledge for good, to do good things with it. The privilege of learning to be a lawyer means you have a duty to that knowledge, and it isn’t something to enter into lightly or without consideration. I was talking to a friend the other day about this, about not being OK with people deciding to just use this degree to make as much money as possible. If that is your goal, fine, go into investment banking. I don’t think that the law should be used as a stepping stone to pure greed. Lawyers and students of the law have a historical mandate to be guardians of justice. The study of law requires tenacity and vision, and anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell something. Law is society’s way of expressing what it deems important, of protecting and cherishing its best values. If you want to have a hand in deciding what this society deems important, then I think law school will be a good place for you. Civil Procedure and all.