A FOUR PART PLAY: "My Relationship With The Law"
I still remember the day I found out I was accepted into law school. I was 20 years old, I was in a computer lab prepping with my governmental relations group for a big presentation, and my sister, Amanda, called me to tell me that there was a letter for me from the College of Law in the mail. Should she bring it to the university? YES, PLEASE!
She got to the computer lab, I opened the letter, and I read the word, “Congratulations!” Age 20. Completing my Commerce degree early. Getting accepted into law school. Ka-POW. Ready to take on the world!
PART I: SETTING THE STAGE
I knew very little what being a lawyer was all about. I just knew I wanted to use my brain and accomplish some things. Straight finance with my business degree didn’t seem like the right fit, so on a whim I prepped and wrote the LSAT, applied to law school, and got in. Because the University of Saskatchewan was one of only two law schools in the country accepting applications without an undergraduate degree, I could get in early…and the U of S was my home base. So, I applied. I got in.
Law school itself was a glorious spectacle for a 20-ish year old girl, having outpaced herself in her accomplishments and lacking the life skills to appreciate the experience. I took a lot of photos at social events, became the president of our student body, and really got to know…everyone. My grades reflected my priorities, and I ended up with a slew of right-on-par marks. Exceptional social experience; very average academic performance.
This law stuff. It’s FUN.
PART II: THE DRAMA UNFOLDS
I articled at McKercher LLP, which was a solid pick. I initially felt a bit out of my element, with limited life experience and such, but luckily for me, I found a great practice group. Paul and the rest of the First Nations practice group? We were a solid team. I learned so much. Even now, looking back, I had no idea how valuable that experience would be in setting up a foundation for solid legal skills and solid people skills. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at McKercher.
…the grass appeared greener.
I thought new opportunities would all be like McKercher, but BETTER!
I went in-house for a research-based Crown corp, which was…not ideal. The grass was most certainly not greener. This is where I first learned the absolute importance of being the right fit; where I first learned that no matter how hard we try, sometimes people just don’t work well together. Hmmm.
So I hopped on over to a large public company, with a large in-house department. Surely I will re-find my people here. And I did - to a certain extent - find my people there. Unfortunately, I also found out that all along the way in my 20s, there were many other aspects of my self at play. I slowly realized that even if a job is kind of working out, that relationships and general levels of happiness are also critically important.
When I turned 30, I had checked off the list of things to achieve for happiness and success. I was making very good money in a high-quality legal department, had a relationship, and had the cutest dog.
I was miserable.*
*For clarity, the dog was awesome.
Having reached such intense miserableness, and in what can only be described as a predestined, naively hopeful, and ultimately courageous act, I quit my life as I knew it. I quit the job, I quit the relationship, and I (sadly, so sadly) quit the dog (except that I arranged for custodial visits as needed).*
*Thank you, Jason. It truly means the world.
PART III: GREAT SELF-AWARENESS
Out, damned law!
Using up my savings to travel, not practice law and heal my disillusioned mind and world was by far one of the best things I have ever done. I don’t regret it for a second.
Losing my identities was brutally tough, but also exponentially important. When I “quit my life,” I thought I was going to take a leap into glory, but instead I took a leap off the cliff and straight down, bumping my way into cavernous walls as I slowly, achingly learned how to fly.
Alas. There are no mistakes.
Indeed, in the past 5 self-employed years, I have explored such vast terrain. I finally followed my dream to become a professional photographer and have garnered such beautiful relationships because of it. I pushed further into BodyTalk as a tool to help me heal, and have garnered such beautiful relationships because of it. I rejoined the practice of law as a sole practitioner as a way to augment my income and fit all areas of my work together, and have garnered such beautiful relationships because of it.
It turns out that all along - both pre- and post-life-blowing up - my work has been about relationships.
No matter what work I do, I have learned to constantly ask this question: “What is the state of the relationship here?”
Does my client desire a healthier relationship with their service provider?
Does my client desire a healthier relationship with themselves?
Most importantly, what is the state of MY relationship with MYSELF?
In this, Part III, I learned that it truly doesn’t matter what work I do, as long as it fulfills me and serves others. There is no right or wrong; there is only awareness of what is most needed in relationship.
PART IV: RESOLUTION
At the young old age of 35, I now sit here before you today, having - for the time being - quite adequately learned a fair number of life’s most mysterious lessons.
So what is next?
I’m being called back to the law, full-time. All in. All the way.
Indeed, over the past couple of years, I have unexpectedly found myself reading updates on various legal developments, reaching out to legal scholars and academics about all of the things, and debating passionately about contemporary issues with anybody who brings up something I don’t agree with.
I have learned that just because the law that I practiced when I first started out didn’t fully fit me, it does not mean I wasn’t meant to be a lawyer. In fact, that law I practiced when I first started out? It created a great foundation.
However, here and now is when I am practicing the law in a way that makes sense to me.
I choose to practice law not for its ability to stretch my brain and earn me some accomplishments, but for the fire it lights within me to use my education and talents to assist in the reparation of relationships.
Because if the law - both man-made and natural - can’t restore and repair relationships, we’ve got some work to do.
And along the way?
You can bet there will be some photos. :)