the lawyer writer

sometimes legal                     sometimes literary                     sometimes not

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Identity Crisis

So today I realized that I have my first comment on an earlier post. (Thank you, Toey!) Of course, there is nothing inherently meaningful about the writing life, just as there is nothing inherently unmeaningful about the lawyer-ing life. But it begs some questions.

1. What exactly is my view on law, lawyers and being a lawyer?
2. Since I don't practice and don't intend to, am I still a lawyer?
3. If the answer is yes, how much of me is lawyer and how much of me writer.?

(1) is the subject for a long session with a therapist, preferably one who is tied down and can't get away. I will reveal it in small pieces as I figure it out myself.

(2) is interesting, and I think yes, I am still a lawyer, simply because I am an admitted member of the bar and I could, like Superman into a telephone booth, leap into the practice of law at any time. I would also say that get extra credit because (a) do a lot of writing for a legal publisher and (b) am the legal on-air expert (god help us) for a new little cable show called Politcally Upside Down, and therefore have to keep my hands and other body parts in the legal world. At least a little.

(3) is somewhat annoying. To the world, once a lawyer, always a lawyer. It's a cult you join. I am happy to know about the law and have the highest legal regard for those who learn about the law--much as I have a high regard for those who read the newspaper, watch the news, listen to NPR or otherwise have some knowledge of the world around them. But do I want the invisible halo of "lawyer" following me everywhere, overqualifying me for jobs faster than a speeding bullet? Not exactly. Before law, I spent six years studying English and Film, and working in NYU's English department and at Tribeca Films. I also read books and go to movies and generally engage in both as hobbies. I do not practice law as a hobby, as this is quite difficult without clients, or at least a mock-up of a courtroom in your apartment. (Yelling "objection" at an episode of Law & Order is as close as I get). However, to the world, having practiced law once, I am now a purebred lawyer, with little room to be anything else. (Not accidentally, lawyers often have little time for more than one small hobby, if that).

The lawyer-writer conundrum is about as annoying as the Indian-American conundrum, i.e. "do you feel more Indian or American?" I have no idea. I am purebred Indian by nature and largely purebred American by nurture. I am glad to give up both to be a hybrid, a new classification, with its own unique traits, an Indian-American. And it's about time there were more of us.

Ergo, lawyer-writer. The percentages of each vary from person to person. For a lawyer-writer who seems more lawyer than writer, I recommend Evan Schaeffer's excellent blog, Notes from the Legal Underground. For a lawyer-writer who seems more writer than lawyer, I recommend Maud Newton's equally excellent blog Of course, this is just my take on their blogs. If you are an aspiring lawyer-writer, I recommend that you try them both out, and see where you stand on the spectrum.

And welcome--it's about time there were more of us.


Blogger Evan said...

Thanks for the plug! Frankly, I wish I was more on Maud's side of the spectrum. In the meantime, I do what I can to stay sane by reading Maud's weblog as often as possible. Now I'll read this one too.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4:49 AM  
Blogger Free Games Online said...

Hi, I was blog surfing for the latest information on Legal MattersTax lawyer and ended up on your blog. Obviously I went off track somewhere, but I'm certainly glad I did! Would you mind if I link to your blog in my "favorites" page?

7:41 PM  

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