April 01, 2013

Opening Statement: Remembering Why

Going to law school is neither a casual endeavor nor an easy decision.

William R. Bay

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My son is in law school right now. As I watch him navigate that process, I realize how much has changed since I attended law school. I spent long hours poring over thick textbooks in the lamplight of the University of Michigan’s massive law library, a building whose stately interior closely resembles the dining hall at Hogwarts. He accesses nearly all his books and course materials online.

I had to work up the courage to contact a professor. His are accessible not only in their office but also at all hours of the day. If I wanted help to find a job, it required hours in the placement office examining binders of materials on each firm. My son just checks a firm’s website and gets more information than I ever had.

It’s a long time since 1978. Sometimes it makes me think I am a relic from a bygone era. But his late night calls recounting his task list remind me some things never change: the work that’s required, the intense effort and long hours of study. Going to law school is neither a casual endeavor nor an easy decision. Hearing his experiences reminds me that today’s law students aren’t going to law school because they have the luxury of trying out a career in law. They’re pursuing that tough but rewarding journey because they really want to practice. That’s something they share with all of us. A passion for practice and something else as well: the knowledge that being a lawyer can make a real difference.

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