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February 20, 2007

American law, globally: fresh glances from a distance.

"The study of law is one of the great intellectual adventures of our time. True, there are many who mire it in the rote, the mundane and the simple-minded. Yet for those who look past the shallows, the depths of law offer excitement and wisdom. Those who learn these nuances gain a particular authority in modern culture. They become effective citizens in the modern state."

Permit me to be consistently serious for a few paragraphs:

Ever since I left a staff job with the US Congress in the 1980s, and reluctantly started to practice law, I've been challenged, stimulated and stretched. There have been times of being tired, frustrated, overworked and underappreciated--but no two days have ever been the same. Maybe I've been lucky, even a bit spoiled. I love what I do.

I bought and am reading American Law in a Global Context - The Basics, a 650 page volume by George Fletcher and Steve Sheppard (Oxford 2005), which is based on course materials at Columbia University's LLM program which (like other US law school post graduate regimes) offers a one-year course of study to non-US students who have already trained as lawyers in other nations. But this book may have charms and powers other than its first-rate "survey" value at good American law schools for non-US lawyers.

If you are an American lawyer who is (i) burned out from too much work, (ii) disillusioned with the quality of clients you serve, (iii) disturbed by the lack of imagination, lethargy or jaded nature of the lawyers you work with, or (iv) bored to tears or depressed by the cookie-cutter engagements you keep drawing, take heart--and please don't quit before the miracle occurs. Parts of American Law in a Global Context may very well make you appreciate your profession for an inspired moment or two. It's about the big picture--which some of us either missed or forgot along the way. The book may remind you that it's a privilege to work in the law. Or it may merely "remind" you to find something new--in or out of the law--to do for your life's work. It begins with the wonderful and defining passage above (at page vii).

Posted by JD Hull at February 20, 2007 11:05 PM


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