Who will be my champion?

Student loan monsters keep me up at night. 

Who will be my champion?

A professor once told me a story; it was some time early in her career, I believe.

She quit her job as a high paid associate to become a public defender; her family all told her she was crazy.  I think she took something like a 90% reduction in pay.  But she had to follow her dream to help the poor, she said.  The problem was that she could not afford bus fare to meet her clients at the court house.

What a damn shame. I think she told me that to encourage me to consider that not everyone who wants to serve the poor, has to become poor to do it.

At the time I was struggling between financial security and the dream of legal aid and poverty law.  I will never regret my decision to pursue poverty law.

Sometimes, however it is all just too much.  Some days the work never stops coming, the load is so very heavy and the road seems lonely.  The clients dance around in my head, long after I leave the office.

Who will be my champion?

I am proud of what I do; I am happy that I am advocating for them.  I am passionate about access to justice.  And yes I feel called to champion those who are often underrepresented by being a poverty lawyer. 

I am not here to get rich, but some days are harder than others.

I am blessed, I have a roof over my head, I am making regular payments on a modest car and I have nice things.  But, I am also not financially secure, by any means.

Who will be my champion?

All of the advocates championing the cause for legal aid funding are crying out for resources to ensure that the countless folks who are desperate for access to justice have a better chance at it.  Their advocacy will make our client cases stronger and the work we do more efficient.

Here are just a few articles touching on the crisis affecting legal aid services and access to justice in this country. Grant Makers Need to Help the Poor Fight Legal Injustices, (Texas) Legal Aid Services Face Funding Crisis, Right to Lawyer Can Be an Empty Promise for the Poor.

Every day, everywhere we turn there is a new and different or old and languishing crisis that begs for advocates to cry out, to seek that justice be restored. As a relatively new attorney, every day I wake up, with a battling internal sense of both impending dread and hope as I come to the office.

I think: I must find a way to do poverty law with some form of work-life balance.

Those words work-life balance are kind of a joke to me. They are just something people in the United States say to each other to feel better about the looming deadlines and long hours that we tolerate at work; most people talk about work-life balance because their work keeps them from their own lives. But what happens when your life is purposed by your work?

I am a poverty lawyer and I breath in the desire for justice and I  breath out as I work for equality.  Work-life balance has never come easy to me. I recognize that if I am not careful to work for it–this balance, then no one wins.

Who will be my champion?

Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying, right?


1 thought on “Who will be my champion?

  1. Pingback: Change the Legal System? - Pilant's Business Ethics

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