I remember when and why I decided I wanted to become a lawyer. I was in eighth grade and, already a fan of biographies (and I remain one to this day), I purchased a book called The Story of My Life an autobiography written by Clarence Darrow, an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, an advocate for civil rights, and proponent for the teaching of evolution.
(I still have the book today, its $.1.95 price tag clearly visible.) Brilliant, witty, profound and genuine, Darrow inspired me with words that still resonate with passion nearly eight decades after his death.
He also taught me to think and to question things others did not question.
- As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever,
- Chase after the truth like all hell and you’ll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails.
- History repeats itself. That’s one of the things wrong with history.
- I am a friend of the working man, and I would rather be his friend, than be one.
- I am an agnostic; I do not pretend to know what many ignorant men are sure of.
- If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.
- Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.
- At twenty a man is full of fight and hope. He wants to reform the world. When he is seventy he still wants to reform the world, but he knows he can’t.
- No other offense has ever been visited with such severe penalties as seeking to help the oppressed.
Many of us entered the legal profession full of fight and hope that we could reform the world and make it a better place. We also wanted to help the oppressed.
We learned we could not do those things working for a law firm helping corporations. Yet, opportunities exist to make a difference through pro bono work and through many bar association activities.
Even when we are helping corporations, we are helping the people who own stock and the people who work for the company. Think about what motivated you to become a lawyer and find ways to do as much of it as possible.