"It is a sad thing to think of, but there is no doubt that genius lasts longer than beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. The thoroughly well-informed man—that is the modern ideal. And the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value."
— ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde
People often ask me why I study law and why I want to become a lawyer. I usually tell them that I like that the law is structured, challenging and diverse. I also like that jobs in law are generally well-paid, involve working with other people and are a good stepping stone to a range of other careers.
Several months ago I attended a talk given by Justice Emerton of the Supreme Court. Among other things, she spoke about how she came to be a judge. It has since occurred to me that one of the reasons she gave for choosing to study law and for pursing a career in law applies to me also.
Justice Emerton first studied philosophy in Paris. She loved studying philosophy there because, according to her, philosophy was part of the social discourse. When Justice Emerton returned to Australia (she wasn’t a justice then, of course), our politicians and other social leaders were not debating philosophy; they were debating the law instead. So Justice Emerton took up law.
Whether it be in the pages of a daily newspaper, the plot of the latest television drama or in editorials and essays, the Australian media is constantly talking about the law. As individuals, we often talk socially about legal topics, including online piracy, sentencing of high-profile criminals and immigration. The law is deeply-ingrained within the Australian consciousness.
For this reason, learning about the law has a sense of pertinence and urgency that other fields of study lack. Though at times it may be difficult or stressful, it is made easier by the knowledge that what you are doing is important (or will at least be of interest at dinner parties).
"Isn’t it true that you start your life a sweet child believing in everything under your father’s roof? Then comes the day of the Laodiceans, when you know you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, and with the visage of a gruesome grieving ghost you go shuddering through nightmare life."
— ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
— Søren Kierkegaard
It is often said that ‘first impressions last’. That ‘first impressions are important’. That ‘you only get one chance to make them’. True. But what is less often said, though no less true, is that first impressions are often wrong. If someone were to dedicate their life’s work to making the expression ‘first impressions are often wrong’ into one as commonplace as those in the opening line, I think their life would be thoroughly well spent. Why? Because I believe we could all benefit from giving and receiving a second chance at making a lasting impression - something that our current language prevents us from doing.
"It’s better to hold on too gently to the things you love than to hold on too tight, better to run the risk of losing something than to certainly break it."