Yesterday I turned 32-years-old. This entire week, I have been searching for the answer to how 32 feels different than 31. That answer finally came to me Monday during my morning run. It’s been ten years since turning 21. And while 32 may not feel all that different than 31, it feels drastically different than 21. In the last ten years, I came to the most important decision that I’ve ever had to make: the decision to dedicate my life towards the betterment of humanity and hope that somewhere along the way, I might stumble upon my own happiness. That decision brought me to the study of law and the long journey to becoming a young lawyer.
It’s now been three-and-a-half years since I took The Oath. This past year has been the most transformative – yet challenging – of my practice. That is due in large part to the fact that it is, now, my practice. Yet I’ve never felt more proud of the work we do and the lives we’ve changed as a result. And I say “we” because it’s always a two-way street. My client and me; I believe we fight the good fight, together. I believe we win, celebrate, laugh, cry, and sometimes, lose, together. Which brings me back to that road; the road less traveled.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is not only one of the greatest poems of all time, but is truly, a motto to live by. Mr. Frost writes:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The world has the misconceptions about lawyers that they are money hungry savages. I believe this misconception exists because the world views the road less traveled by lawyers as being one where we possess a genuine desire to help others. In other words, the average reasonable person thinks: “lawyers don’t care about me, they only care about my money;” or worse, “lawyers hurt, not help.”
As lawyers, I genuinely believe we make the world a better place by helping others. I personally abhor each and every stereotype to the contra. So much so that I devote much of my practice and free time to fighting those stereotypes and proving the world wrong. I’m proud of this work, but even prouder of the knowledge that I am not alone.
In my work with the American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, I’ve been fortunate to meet hundreds and convene with thousands of young lawyers from every part of this country that possess that characteristic associated with the road less traveled: a genuine desire to help, not hurt; to bring order to an otherwise chaotic world. I’ve been fortunate to travel from coast to coast, San Diego to Detroit, San Francisco to Miami, and every step of the way, shaken hands with countless hungry, young lawyers that share with me, this road less traveled. It’s only a matter of time before the world hears our voices and changes that misconception. Until then, like traveling headlong into a storm, we must put our face down, and walk, putting one foot in front of the other.
Ten years ago, two roads diverged in a wood. And I, I took the one less traveled by. And that, that has made all the difference. As a young lawyer, I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone.
I hope you will to.
October 28, 2016, Tampa, Florida