Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Walking Amongst Giants

Six months ago, I stopped pretending to be a happy high flying corporate lawyer. In doing so, I struggled with a great deal of grief. Grief over a sense that I had lost my identity, an identity that I had cultivated and fine tuned. Grief that I had turned my back on a life that would easily have given me a great deal of wealth and material goods. Grief that I had convinced myself (and others) that I was a young success in my chosen field only to have slight suspicion that rather, I was a fraud - that I wasn't actually a success, that it hadn't happened because I had engineered it in any crafted way or that it was all a result of having an exact idea of what success was and going after it. I had found myself in the corporate world by accident - and in amongst it, I had totally forgotten why I had become a lawyer.

I forgot why I became a lawyer.

So admitting to myself and others that I was to become "Corporate Roadkill" was confronting, but by laying on those corporate train tracks and allowing the freight train to roll over me, I have had many wonderful things happen to me.

None more wonderful than what happened today.

Today, I met the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG, recently departed Justice of the High Court of Australia, and one of the most eminent, well respected, and at times, controversial men in law.

Today, Michael Kirby reminded me of why I became a lawyer. Today, he reminded me that you dont become a lawyer to fight over clauses in contracts, to draft the tightest deeds of release, who can fight the hardest and dirtiest, who can come out with the most amount of money. I wasn't put on this earth to give people legal advice, only to for them to choose which parts they wish to take.

Law is not just what comes out of your mouth or what you put down on paper. The law is in your heart. Its about believing in rights, its about acceptance of wrongs, its about making sense out of ambiguity. Its about human rights, its about remaining apolitical, its about accepting that at times, human justice is imperfect. Its about believing in our Constitution. Its about believing in the rule of law, its about believing in accountability.... I felt more of a lawyer today, than I ever felt standing at the boardroom table, giving advice to people who just want to make money.

Michael Kirby spent a considerable amount of his time standing up for his beliefs about the way justice should be dispensed and he had to do it in a very public manner. He did it without fear, he often did it knowing that he would be the minority, yet held firm when challenged publicly. He may be considered "left wing", he may be considered "argumentative", but he is one of the most popular High Court judges Australia has ever had. And today I met him.

Today, I not only walked amongst a giant, but I made him his tuna sandwich.

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