January 01, 2014

The Back Page

I recently attended my 25-year law school reunion. It was the first real reunion I had ever attended, and one thing struck me. Everyone was exactly the same. Those of us who attended had a little less hair, a little more weight, and perhaps a few extra wrinkles. We were a bit wiser for the years, but we were otherwise fundamentally unchanged from when we all met as scared and curious One Ls in 1985. Twenty-five years ago, we were law students. Today my classmates are Biglaw partners, small-town lawyers, corporate executives, general counsels, judges, mediators, lobbyists, and government attorneys.

It is really interesting to observe how little personality changes with age. Or job switches. Life experiences can have profound effects on us, but we generally are who we are for most of our lives. Michael Apted, in the beginning of his wonderful Up series, quotes Francis Xavier, “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.” This maxim holds equally true for young adults. Give me the law student until he or she is 22, and I give you the middle-age law firm partner. A quarter century after leaving school, we all had essentially the same mannerisms and personalities we had sitting in torts class. My classmate Alan still works like an animal, Sonya is still as gregarious, and Geoff is just as quietly analytical and bright as he was when we were lawyers in training.


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