April 2, 2011
A REFLECTION ON LAW AND LAWYERING
Ward Just, Rodin's Debutante: A Novel (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) ("Have you ever thought of the practice of law?" "For Lee Goodell the law would not do for a simple reason. It was not physical enough, the work done inside a downtown building. Lee liked ground-floor space and a certain amount of disorder inside the space. He liked sweat, a reminder of football practice . . . He was not attracted to collaboration, a necessary feature of the legal life: associates, clients, judges, bailiffs, court reporters, juries. Its essence was a remorseless search for precedent, that which had gone before. What had gone before was the controlling conscience. If you were an artist, precedent was not the solution. Precedent was the problem. He thought of lawyers as an infantry surveying the battlefields of distant wars. He thought of them as buzzards picking over carrion and writing the results in a prose so opaque--well, it was double Dutch, the so-called brief, which was never brief but stretched like a wave in the open ocean, rising, collapsing, re-forming itself until it petered out on some foreign shore. He preferred the mallet and chisel and knowing that however hard he worked on the stone its interior would never reveal itself entirely. In that way it resembled an inspired musical figure and life itself." "Besides, law was his father trade." Id. at 159-160.).