I have actually wanted to write about a few substantial things lately. A few weeks ago I wanted to write about racism in the criminal justice system, and Ferguson, and how I really wish that we had a restorative justice model that we could use in the US for dealing with these difficult issues. I thought about it the same time I watched this trailer for Children of Light, a new movie biography about Desmond Tutu’s life.
Then, I wanted to write about sports and domestic violence.
Then, I wanted to write about the North Carolina Senate Race.
But, I haven’t written about any of those things.
Last week, I was invited to speak at the International Municipal Lawyers’ Association’s Annual Meeting in Baltimore. It was so much more fun than I thought it was going to be. It really made me miss practicing law, and working for a municipality in general. I was privileged to meet many great city attorneys working in North Carolina, and also, caught up briefly with the managing attorney at the New York City Law Department, my old employer. It is funny how one event could make me miss practicing law that much. I like my job, I really do, but sometimes I long to be back in the thick of those courtroom battles, even at the same time questioning how well the American justice system works for solving all of our disputes (see the paragraph above for the need for something more substantive, and more inclined to truth-telling for deeply embedded problems like endemic racism in the criminal justice system).
I feel pretty lucky because one of the great blessings of my job is that I get to exist, at least on the periphery, of all of these issues and topics that really interest me. I may not be fighting the battles, but at least I get to engage in discussion about them. Sometimes, I miss being more intricately involved, but at least I get to keep learning and reconsidering what I thought I knew before. That is one of the most fun parts about my job.
I want to be a good example to my future kids in regard to caring about the world, and wanting to make it a better place. I want them to be engaged and be passionate about learning and taking that information and doing something positive with it. It makes me sad when I realize so many other people increasingly seem to be withdrawing their children from the world, or rather only viewing the world as something that gives them pleasure or that should conform to their existing world view. One of the best ways that I can do that, in my opinion, is by doing what I really enjoy, which is continuing to work and teach and every day take those lessons I learn from those experiences home to them.
One of my worst problems in terms of being able to sustain a long-term legal career in one general area of law is that I am a generalist by nature, as I am interested in so many things, I get bored with doing the same thing over and over again. But, I also view that as one of my great personal strengths, in that there are so many issues and topics that I care about in the world. I am not sure what to emphasize for my kids. I mean, the truth is, in a real career sense, the generalist, like myself doesn’t fare so well in today’s economy that favors very specific and detailed specialization. But, yet, sometimes specializing too much runs into that insularity problem that I talked about before. I don’t know what the balance for this is yet.