Monday, February 25, 2008

The moral dilemma of law school

Coming to law school, I heard so many conflicting advice. Some seemed reasonable, other advice seemed downright silly. One thing that I heard over and over was that the first year of law school creates a sense of having your beliefs torn apart. I totally concur in that analysis.

Reading as many cases as you do the first year, you note right away that the law is not always fair. Many times the decisions within the cases come smack against what your gut is telling you is wrong. And morally it is. The biggest struggle for me is that moral does not always equal legal.

Professors are at you all the time. And when you make a comment, you better be able to back it up with an intelligent analysis. Morality is not a good answer.

Here's a true story of legal vs. moral: A man lures a 7 year girl away from her father, into a bathroom at a casino in Las Vegas. The man proceeds to rape and kill her, leaving her in the bathroom stall. The worst was that his buddy watched over the wall of the next stall and did nothing. The police could not arrest him because he had not legal duty to stop his friend. And because he was not an active participant, he could not be charged with accompliace or conspiracy.

As a parent, you hear this story and feel outraged and disgusted. In the deepest part of your gut, it is beyond "icky," it is just plain morally disgusting. But legally, the man who stood by and watched a little girl raped in her last moments of life, and killed--he is innocent.

Swallowing this is a bitter pill. The student feels disillusioned because we are taught from the time we are little that the law is "just" and "fair."

I am still grappling with the identity crisis I suffered because of this horrible shock. It sounds dramatic, but is true. When a student, or lawyer, tells you that your soul will be challenged and your beliefs threated, take heed to the warning and be prepared.

I have no tips on how to deal with it. I tell myself that I am going to be a prosecutor, a "good guy" and I can live and believe in the law as it exists. I am still excited for my future, but more cynical.

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