I am ashamed to admit this. There are days when I get off the train at Union Station, see/hear someone ask me for breakfast money, and then cringe when I discover that I have no singles or quarters in my pockets to give. Sometimes, I have time to stop and dig for money. Sometimes I am running late and can’t stop. It is at these times that I choose to look away, no, run away, from the hungry stranger as I hear his plea. It doesn’t feel good.
There are only a few feelings in my day-to-day life that hit so low. I am embarrassed and ashamed of myself on those mornings; it is ridiculous that I can’t manage to give a buck to someone who was forced to cross a line of dignity somewhere along his way. Guilty of being unprepared, potentially late, and consumed mentally with all the day’s business, I choose to keep going on some of those days. It’s low.
“Turning a blind eye” is big news these days. Anyone who pays attention feels disgust with all the could-be chinks in the Penn State, Syracuse or Anywhere University’s big football business armors. The folks who saw, the folks who heard, what did they do? What were they thinking? How did they arrive at the stream of decisions they made? Did they conveniently store the knowledge that they had in some out-of-the way compartment of their minds? Did they pretend
These articles first appeared in the Law Bulletin Publishing Company's The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, in the related blog, Around the Water Cooler, and the web site of Ms. JD, www.Ms-JD.org.
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that they knew nothing significant? Did they come up with justifications for their silence, as I have done on my late and ill prepared mornings at Union Station?
Readers of my blogs know that I am often calling out to mid- and senior attorneys to take 15 minutes to respond to the “pleas” of recent law school graduates. While more experienced attorneys know, yes, we all know what new grads are ultimately looking for. While you may not have an actual position to offer to a newly-minted and jobless attorney, you do possess extremely valuable golden treasures, your own life experiences.
It’s simple. You know what you do every day. A new law school grad does not. Fifteen minutes recapping your weekly schedule in your practice may actually be fascinating to a new lawyer. Like most people, she is still trying to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up. Hearing about your clients, the files on your desk and floor, and your life experiences are golden nuggets to law graduates trying to learn how law is practiced in the real world.
Lest you still think you have nothing of value to offer a new grad, think about the people you know. Your law school friends and legal colleagues may work in firms or companies where a law graduate may eventually want to work. These firms, companies, or organizations may be considered gold mines to a novice lawyer, hoping to make a connection and build a relationship with someone working there.
Back to my failings near Union Station … No doubt, my inactions are horrendous. After the wakeup call we’ve all had after Penn State, I know that I will start to be better prepared with ready money as my train approaches the station. I don’t ever want to turn a blind eye to anyone’s plea.
I am hoping that the Penn State scandal will make the Chicago legal community more aware, more sensitive, too, to the plight of recent law school graduates. When a new law grad asks you for help, realize that the help you can give is simple; she is getting to know you, what you do and who you know. She’s not asking you for a W-2. I hope that the 15 minutes you spend with her gives you a good feeling, too, as you coast back into your corner, side or even interior office.
Please understand. I am not trying to compare the problems of subsistence of those begging for breakfast money with the plight of unemployed law school grads. Obviously, the needs of these two groups are different.
The one thing these groups do share is that they both need help. I will attest, it gives me the lowest of lowest feeling when I look the other way …