I have found my people. All 11 of them.
Today there was a meeting for participants in the criminal and juvenile justice clinic at the law school, the group with whom I've been doing work like this and this. Also this. Anyway, at this meeting, the director of the clinic made everyone stand up and make an awkward little speech introducing themselves and what they did last summer. Yes, it is January. Yes, I have mostly forgotten what I did last summer. No, that didn't seem to faze him. The second year students in the crowd talked about the research or clinical work or whatever they did this summer. Then the third year students started introducing themselves, and to my shock, many of them ALSO did public service work! Even though they could have worked for a firm and made a cool $20 k over the summer! And had free lunch every day! I'm stunned. There are almost a dozen people who go to this- the libertarian's favorite law school, where the market is king and people refuse to admit to having kind thoughts- who are actively engaged in public interest work even where they could be making gobs of money. Maybe I've misjudged this place. (Then again, according to the official materials of the law school's admissions and recordkeeping people, in the past three years, exactly two people have gone into public interest upon graduation.) Then one woman, when she introduced herself, said "and as for my summer, I'd rather not say." When pressed, she said "fine. I worked in a firm. Fine. Thanks for making me admit it. I'm not proud of it." And everyone sort of smirked at her. And that's when I got kind of mad. Because seriously? There are only a dozen people at this law school who are into this kind of work, into it to the point where they're considering it as a career. And the idea that we would factionalize this teeny tiny little community by separating ourselves into "truly committed because we didn't work for a firm" and "not so truly committed because we did work for a firm" makes me angry. I realize that I sometimes am guilty of a little of this myself, but I'd like to think that what I smirk at is the "I really like people, and public interest is cool, but I'm going to work at a firm, already know which firm, how long it's going to take to make partner, and I never planned on doing anything but firm work." And even those people don't get a smirk so much as a "you really don't need to justify yourself to me. Law school is expensive. So are shoes. You are free to make your own choices." This happens in the liberal crowd here, too. There are probably 13 liberal organizations on campus competing to meet the needs of the 60 liberals here. The question I find myself asking over and over is: why do we keep dividing and subdividing, classifying and subclassifying? We're making it way too easy to ignore what we have to say!