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The first few weeks of law school have mercifully ended. Already gone are the feelings of intimidation and fear of change. The routine is starting to set in, and the mind feels like it’s getting into gear. Classmates all seem nice and the teachers don’t appear to be the fang’ed wing’ed creatures that we envisioned prior. By now we’ve figured out our favorite toilet and our best studying spot as well. However, we feel far from safe, still nervous about the threatening future that looms ahead. But this is nothing new; we are simply going through that great rite of passage that many have gone though before and others will go through in the future, and that is: being a first-year law student. I’m a 1L. What is a 1L anyway? It sounds like an elevator destination, and it connotes bottomness. That may sound unpleasant, but we 1Ls have all gone through much schooling; we have passed through many trials in our lives, and we have even lived through that unspeakable, utterly dehumanizing obstacle known as the LSAT, just to be here. And now, we made it! We’re in law school! We’re finally grad students! But what are we here to do? What are we here to learn? What is the big picture? These questions are the source of my one complaint: At Cardozo I have not yet heard a motivational speech, not one stirring oration like the kind you get at the beginning of med. school or jetfighter-pilot school. You know the kind that goes: “Class of 2003, you are about to embark on a profound mission, a journey of the mind that will expose you to new forms of thinking and reasoning. By the end of your time here you will have inherited much of the combined wisdom of this nation’s great jurists and thinkers …” “The law forms the underpinning of society, a system by which humans can co-exist with one another. Law is society’s agreement to general rules of behavior, set out in codified form in order to administer justice properly and fairly throughout a commonwealth. In a family unit or tribal village, no codified body of law is needed to set out behavioral norms. However, in a large and diverse collective such as our great nation, where people are united more by citizenship than ancestry, the law serves as an integrating and uniting element.” “Our nation’s forefathers envisioned a place where all men and women were treated equally under this law. With great foresight, they meticulously planned out a system of law that would grant freedom and liberty to individuals while maintaining law and order for the collective whole. They understood that order in man’s existence gives rise to human dignity, and that this dignity is an inalienable right of all men and women. Their ideology, and its translation into a practical document of law we call the Constitution, can be seen as one of the great accomplishments of mankind.” “For the next three years at Cardozo you will study the systems of law that have evolved from the humble visions of the American forefathers and their predecessors. While in academia, you will have the opportunity to learn and to question, to doubt and to accept. However, while you are mastering the workings of law, I urge you never to lose sight of the ultimate goal: to be a justice seeker and an administrator of that justice. Remember what this school’s proud banner proclaims from the Bible: “Tzedeck Tzedeck Tirdof — Justice justice shall you pursue.” “The privilege of studying the law gives you moral and ethical responsibilities. Soon, upon your graduation, you will be put in positions of leadership and influence over your fellow man. By your very knowledge, you will be made responsible for the welfare of others, and by the great power that you will wield you will be held accountable to them. As lawyers, your charge will be to uphold justice and truth and to buttress it with your innovations and creativeness.” “We hope that your behavior in the outside world will reflect well upon this institution, just as we hope that our institution will be reflected well through you. Remember, today you are entering more than just law school, today you have gained admission to the seminary of the secular priest and the training ground for the creative visionary. Make the best of your time, study hard and lead well.” Seen in such a light Law School is a most romantic undertaking. Even the whole competitiveness stuff can be seen in a romantic light. Maybe if we have to reconcile ourselves to competitiveness, we can let it be only a means to propel us to gain more knowledge, a method by which we sharpen our wits and become better advocates (a term preferable to lawyer). Maybe that’s naive. But I have been blessed with the great gift of naivet�, and I’m about to bestow some more on you: We will all get jobs; we will all repay our loans; we will all be happy and alive, law review or not. Lots of changes will come about by the end of this three year stint. Hopefully by then, we will find strength, direction, and ideology. With God’s help, we will emerge from the academy knowledgeable and enlightened human beings, lovers of peace and seekers of justice. In the meanwhile I have bought a rock and a mannequin, to practice drawing blood and going for the jugular.

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