Law school does not teach you how to be a lawyer. It teaches you how to think like one.
At the beginning of my legal education – I was free-spirited. I loved the world with an open heart. My head was often in the clouds. I played guitar, made collages out of colored paper and baked cookies. Nothing made me happier than a good book and a vanilla latte from the local coffee shop.
Mind you, I was (am) a hard worker. I put myself through college and law school. However, prior to becoming a member of the bar – I saw the world through a care-free lens.
Law school changed that.
My legal education indoctrinated me to see the world differently – harder, sharper and less forgiving. There is no “grace” in the law. There is right, wrong, judgment, verdict or settlement.
I struggled in law school. Becoming a law student was a bit like pushing a square peg into a round hole. I just didn’t fit. My cookies didn’t fit – and guitar playing in the shiny building in downtown Chicago was not allowed.
So, I stopped baking cookies and I stopped playing guitar.
What saved me in law school – was my competitive spirit. I love to win. Once I started to see law school as a game – I did well. I earned the high score in several classes and was on the Dean’s List. However, in a short three years, my view on life forever changed.
Attorneys see the world through a different lens. Following law school, the curtain (that I didn’t know existed before) was lifted and I could see a web of regulations weaved around everyone. Kind of like Keanu Reeves choosing the red pill in “The Matrix.” I carried with me a painful realization that everything had a legal ramification and purpose.
I’ll give you an example.
One Saturday night, I was at a restaurant with my husband and another couple, when a sweet, older woman started to exit with her family. It was winter. My friend turned to me and commented on how precious this lady was and how it warmed her heart to see a nice woman like that out with her loved ones.
You know what I had been thinking? “If she slips and falls on that ice outside the door – that will be an easy six figure settlement against this restaurant.”
It is no surprise that lawyers are crippled with mental illness. Can you imagine what it is like to see the world like that on a daily basis? It sucks.
I grew tired of seeing the world this way.
As my legal career advanced, I found myself becoming more dependent on God’s Word. I needed its comfort daily. I also found myself becoming increasingly frustrated by it. While there was solace within the scripture – there were also so many darn rules.
During this chapter of my life, I used a faith model I now refer to as “Buffet Style Christianity.” I selected portions of the Gospel I wanted to incorporate into my life and discarded others. While I like to think that God was happy with me in that I was reading his Word – I’m sure I drove him crazy with my constant arguments justifying why certain portions of the Bible didn’t apply to me.
My God – is a patient God.
I had a girlfriend who dated a man who insisted upon an “open” relationship. She wanted marriage. He desired to be in a relationship with her – but also wanted to flit from person to person as the spirit “moved” him. I am surprised she tolerated this arrangement for as long as she did.
In many ways, I treated God just like the cad who dated my friend. I expected God to be “all in” – but I wanted to hold back and not commit myself fully to Him.
As is His way, my Father brought me to the edge of a cliff to force me to decide: Would I follow His Word? Would I see the world through His lens? Or would I choose my own jaded one?
Instead of jumping off that cliff – I made a conscious decision to follow His Word and trust – even if I didn’t understand everything my Father was asking of me.
After I made the decision to walk in faith – I started to see the world differently (again). Unlike the harsh lens of my legal education – I started to see the world through a lens of grace, compassion and understanding.
I chose to follow God’s Word as his devoted servant. This hasn’t stopped me from questioning and pushing back on God’s law for my life – but ultimately I agree to try things “His” way and trust He has my best interest at heart. Which of course, He does.
Yet again, I found my lens of the world changing. However, this time, my lens was being shaped by faith.
I started to forgive without being asked to do so. I practiced giving grace – and receiving it as well. I set anger aside and did not allow its wickedness to take root in my heart. I worked to win – but accepted defeat with dignity. In my failures, I tried to understand my accountable part before placing blame on others. I started using the mantra “Let them see You – in me.”
I do not regret my legal education. As an attorney, I no longer live in the clouds and understand that people have real problems that need to be solved. Lawyers are powerful people who give a voice to the weak and can deliver earthly justice. As a child’s advocate, I like to think that I am using my law degree for good.
However, fully committing myself to God’s Word is what gave me the power to see – to truly see. There is a reason why in the hymn “Amazing Grace” – the author penned: “I once was lost – but now – am found. Was blind, but now I see.”
Yet again I have been transformed and see the world through a new lens – a Christian lens. Through His lens – I honor myself, honor others and set aside those worldly webs that entangle so many.
We are a combination of our human experiences. For me? I identify as a Christian, mom, wife, friend, lawyer, writer and creative spirit. I see the world for what it is – but also for what it can be.
With homemade cookies and a vanilla latte of course.
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“My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.” Psalm 19:14.