My official last work day was yesterday, Wednesday March 28, 2018. However, I was not ready to say goodbye yet and so I decided to come back for one last day.
I met Guillaume at the Vancouver courthouse on 222 Mainstreet. After a quick adjournment that he had to make, Guillaume and I headed for the exit. He told me that today he was going to take me for lunch at a vegan restaurant called Meet (he knows that I am vegetarian). He also insisted that he would pay for lunch. I think it bothered him that throughout the internship I did not let him pay for my expenses. I had explained to him that I could not have him pay for my expenses because, just like lawyers, I too have my own ethics. If I had it my way, I would pay for his lunches. But I knew he would never agree to this. The least I could do was not allow him to pay for mine.
The restaurant was not open when we arrived. They were still preparing for the day. We decided to wait in a café across the street from the restaurant. We each ordered a cappuccino and grabbed some seats at the end of the café. The rain sprinkled down. It was a sad day, but a perfect day.
After we took some sips from our cups, I decided now was the time to present Guillaume with a gift I had been carrying around for a while. Guillaume was very moved. He wanted to open it there and then, but I asked him not to. I was too nervous. To my pleasant surprise, Guillaume threw his arm around me. We were now friends.
We then began to reflect on our time together. Guillaume mentioned that I seemed to be on the right path. He said that I had the right amount of passion for the work, and a love for people. It is all about people in the law. As Richard Peck once told Guillaume, “There is no such thing as business in law. Law is not a business. It is a profession.” Guillaume felt that I was in it for the right reasons. I cared for humanity. I cared for my fellow human beings. Hearing this was so humbling. To be able to hear these things from a mentor means so much to a student.
However, Guillaume’s comments about people being in the profession for the wrong reasons made me wonder about something. I asked him, “Is law a dying profession?” Guillaume’s answer was a quick and painful “Yes.” People who are in the profession for reasons such as greed, power, and prestige could eventually out-number those who are in it for the right reasons, such as a passion for people, and advocacy. “Clients should not be looked at as another paycheck,” he said.
I then asked Guillaume if the profession of law is dying because humanity is dying? Again, his answer was “Yes.” As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.” People are not one with their own virtues and values, and thus cannot offer any positive meaning to the world around them. In my opinion, this was also the essence of Crim 4400- be real with yourself so that you can be real with the world. However, it seems that the world is becoming more and more disunited because people are disunited with themselves. Going back to law, if the values of lawyers- and some firms- are to just make money, then how will they be able to serve their clients and essentially the world? Clients are not stupid. They can sense when a lawyer is being hard to trust and if they cannot trust you as their lawyer, they will fire you. But, this will mean that the problems of mental illness, homelessness, and segregation will continue because there will be no one to represent those voices who need to be heard. However, Guillaume then smiled and mentioned that this is exactly the reason why he takes on students. His hope is that with one student at a time, the dying profession of law can become lively again.
After our lunch- which was extremely delicious- we headed towards New Westminster court. I had to really control my emotions because this was where it all began for me three months ago. What a way to cap things off.
After another quick adjournment, Guillaume offered to drive me to the sky train station. He wanted to drive me home, but he had a meeting with a client. I do not know why I did ask him to take me to the meeting. I did not want the day to end. I did not want to go home.
Once we got to the sky train station, I jokingly asked Guillaume which court he wants me at tomorrow morning. We laughed. “Well, it was fun man,” he smiled. I shook his hand one last time, thanked him maybe another ten times and walked off. I did not turn around. I could not turn around. I had lived my dream for the last three months. But the dream was now over. It was time to wake up. Law school was about to call.
Joining the practicum program was not only the best academic decision I have made, but also the best personal decision. One of my mentors Elliott Hulse often says that it is experiences in life that make us who we are. I needed an opportunity to see the world from a different angle. I needed to experience the world that my future clients would be coming from- a world of struggle and challenges. I am very blessed to have parents that gave their sweat and blood to make sure that my sister and I were comfortable. But the fact is that I needed to feel uncomfortable to be able to empathize with those I may represent in the future. The practicum allowed me to do that. Due to this, I am also a lot more independent. I went places I had only heard of. I roamed those streets that society tells us not too. I have grown as a person
However, for this growth to become a reality, I needed a mentor- someone who could show me the light in all the darkness that I was about to experience for the first time. Guillaume showed me that I can be myself in a profession that forces so many to become jaded. Guillaume showed me that Atticus Finch does exist.
Death is the inevitable truth of life. If there were no death, there would be no life. If there were no winter, then the beauty of spring would not exist. So, all though the internship has ended, the beginning of my professional life has begun. I once roamed the streets of East Hastings and Main as a student. One day, and I know that day is coming, I will roam those streets as a lawyer.