Law in Contemporary Society

Journal Entry, June 2016

-- By TamarLisbona - 16 Jun 2016


My first paper in this course was about the commoditization of the human body in the form of paid gestational surrogacy and the ethical questions that arise when we attempt to sell parts of our selves. But I didn’t write enough (meaning at all) on the commoditization of my own body – not as a gestational surrogate necessarily, but as a lawyer and more broadly as a laborer in the modern day workforce. The style of this essay is introspective, not persuasive. It is an attempt, and just that, to reflect more fully on, to borrow Eben’s phrase (albeit out of context), the nature of my irresolution.

As an incoming law student, I entered myself into the assembly line. The hope being that with each completed day and each completed course I would become one more iota “a lawyer”; that somehow law school would squeeze the pre-lawyer guts out of me and replace them with fresh-out-of-the-box lawyer guts. But the anticipatory hope stopped there. I had not spent significant or meaningful time thinking about what might happen once I had the degree in hand and entered the working world. I am starting to reflect on that now.

What does it mean to work?

When I look at a residential building, in New York or elsewhere, I like to imagine what the people who live inside are doing at that moment, and what their lives might be like more generally. It’s fun for me to imagine how these strangers might spend their time, and how they might interact with one another. But beyond the sheer voyeuristic pleasure of this kind of thinking, I’ve been led to think about the notion and quantity of work time and time again. Who (or what) employs people? What do most people do all day? Beyond specific vocations (like medicine or teaching) that involve required and well-known functions, what do most people do at work? I have no idea, but from my experience, what we say is work is often bona fide, yet glorified, paper pushing.

After finishing undergrad, I took a finance job with a confusing description. Eager to do well, I did a lot of water churning and Power Point babysitting. Unable to see the impact of my day-to-day tasks, and bored out of my mind, I left the finance world for the film industry, scratching an itch I had noticed while in school. But even though I preferred the subject matter of film to that of finance, I still found myself toiling over tasks – setting meetings, booking reservations, making phone calls. This, I told myself, also couldn’t be real work. It’s at this juncture that I decided to come to law school, where reflection and introspective thinking temporarily stopped.

In an effort to pick up again and continue reflecting on what matters to me personally and professionally, I am thinking about what constitutes work rather than just a collection of tasks. A quick survey of my colleagues at my summer job turned up words and phrases like commitment, responsibility to others, being needed, and continuity when they were asked what differentiates work and tasks. When I work, as opposed to complete tasks, I want it to be this long-standing, fulfilling endeavor, almost like a romantic partnership. Yet when I reflect on my past professional choices, I don’t think that I have put as much care into selecting employment opportunities as I have into selecting with whom I would like to spend my time socially. This is incongruous. As I move forward in my studies and in my career, I plan to think with more care and discretion about how and with whom I will be working.

Additionally, to work, you have to have purpose. For me, that purpose cannot be solely completing the task at hand, but has to be a higher-level goal to which all of the tasks bubble up.

What does drinking have to do with any of this?

Why do lawyers drink? Honestly, I’m not sure. It’s easy to hypothesize, as I did in my previous draft, but without long and frank conversations had with many lawyers over the span of many years, it is too hard to know definitively. Why won’t I drink in middle age? I’m also not sure. But here’s my current thinking.

1. I will seek out real, meaningful work.

This is non-negotiable for me. While I am not sure what “real, meaningful work” means quite yet, and am confident that awareness to this desire will lead me to think more deeply about my potential choices and visualize what it would be like to take a certain job. I feel lucky to have two more years of school to learn by doing, think, and reflect.

2. I am my own best companion.

In law school we are surrounded by friends and classmates non-stop. That constant drip of social sugar has made me irrationally nervous for what happens when it inevitably stops. Having spent a few weeks alone this summer, I have had time to reflect and remember that I am my own best companion. A sense of community in oneself is a beautiful thing, and I look forward to reflecting further as I continue law school and beyond.

3. There is always more to see.

I drink because I’m lazy. I have to caveat that having a conversation over a glass of wine will likely always remain in my definition of a good time, but the laziness and lethargy that comes with drinking is ultimately unappealing. I have a very real desire to see and explore the world for what it is without the added color of inebriation.

4. I am grateful.

Having stable employment is a luxury, and collecting a paycheck does come with a responsibility – to yourself, to your family, but most of all to society.

You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.


Webs Webs

r3 - 16 Jun 2016 - 09:46:46 - TamarLisbona
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM