My decision to come here on this course was one of the most rational decisions I've ever made in my life. Note that rational doesn't instantly bring one happiness. The main reason I took it up was this - it was the fastest way to get the most practical degree. Now I understand that this point can be contradicated in a number of valid ways (Economics is a three-year course, too!), and I won't contest the issue. The thing is - I never expected to be this fulfilled and happy on this degree, and it always comes as a pleasant surprise when I am. There is a workmanlike joy anyone can get from doing a job well - any job. It's the satisfaction of doing a task well, and knowing that you've done well. This could be anything - tidying up your room, painting a wall, running laps on a track. But there is a satisfaction beyond this. I don't quite know how to describe it. "Intellectual happiness" is a pale shadow of what I mean, but for me - It's the way I feel when I read a really good judgement on a law case, and think YES. It's what it's like to read the papers and understand what the economic and financial pages are talking about. It's being able to look at the world and know what's going on. I hate that I sound a little pretentious, maybe, when I say these things, but it's so true. It's when you figure out a tough statute to draft advice for a client, and you know you've done well and the lawyer in charge says so too.
Tonight I judged a mock trial for the first time in my life, and as tough as mooting (arguing at a mock trial was), I'd say judging is harder! *laughter* If you're counsel in a mock trial, you've only got to keep track of two arguments - yours and opposing counsel's. If you're a judge, you've got to keep track of four! And you've got to tell them what they did right and what they did wrong, not only legally, but procedurally. Such as, they could have fantastic courtroom manner, and a stellar argument, but when they call you Your Honour you just know they've been watching too much American television. It's one of the most basic principles of English courtroom manner that the judge is never addressed as Your Honour. It's "Your Lordship". Or Ladyship, in the interests of gender equality. It was absolutely great. I went to bed at 4am in the morning (superfluous yes) because I was up preparing the arguments, and today just went great. I don't think anyone knows how nervous I am when it comes to these things. It never shows. But I am.
What I love about doing this is that when I'm judging or mooting, everything, everything outside of the moot, leaves my mind. There is no fandom, there is no world outside the here and now, there is just the argument and the knowledge that I've got everything I need to bring it crashing down. Law is the ultimate power trip. Well, one of them, at least. It's when I'm making an argument that I am at my most confident and assured, because I know I'm right and I can prove it. It isn't like the subjectivity of friendships and relationships and stories and everything else I love. It's something entirely other, and that's what makes it take your breath away.
Before I started this degree, when I thought I had to become a lawyer if I did this, one of the things I most wanted to do was to become one of those lawyers who made you want to become a lawyer. Because I've had that in my life. If I'm any good at all it's because I met people who were good, and I know it when I see it, and I know that's what I want to be. From the days I was in school and on job shadowing in law firms, to being an intern, and even when I'm a student reading one of the clearest and most satisfying judgements I've ever read in my life, I've had these moments when I know This is it. This is worth everything. And that's something to remember, because everything is difficult! Everything! Everything that's worth anything to you will be difficult! Sometimes you're going to hate your work! Sometimes you're going to hate the people around you! Sometimes you're going to hate yourself. Oh, that's the worst one, when you think, or know, that you just aren't good enough. I get so frustrated sometimes, but that's not what this is about.
I've used the analogy, before, of my law degree and I being much like a match-made marriage. I didn't love the law. I chose it. I didn't love it the way I loved history and literature. But one can learn to love. And sometimes, in moments like these, I know everything was worth it.