April 30th, 2008

abstract butterfly

Childishly Drawn

Childishly Drawn, originally uploaded by gurdonark.

This evening I sat down and "toted up" my Mandatory Continuing Legal Education hours, to ascertain what requirements I needed to complete to ensure I stayed in good shape with the Califonria requirements. I found that I lacked the required hour in Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession. I found an on-line seminar on precisely this topic, whose expiration date was tonight. I plunked down my twenty five dollars, and began to listen to audio, view a power point, and read materials. The presentation, by a litigator who now teaches at the Mercer law school in Georgia, was quite good. Sometimes this topic lends itself to a plethora of opinion disguised as fact and
of the picayune elevated over the substance. The seminar instead focused on the substance of the very real continuing issues of ethnic and racial inequity in the legal profession,and ways to address that concern.

One lawyer-attendee posted on a message board the point of view that the only remedy was to impose heavy fines unless large law firms met pre-ordained percentage quotas. I found this solution not to my liking. I support anti-discrimination laws, though I want them applied with a bit more nuance than that suggested by the poster.

This led me,overall, to an inner thought about non-governmental ways to encourage greater diversity in professional life, and in the culture generally. I am a believer in regulated markets, so my concern was not to find some Milton Friedman nirvana. My concern instead was much more small scale--what can I do? How can I help?

I feel this way about a lot of issues. How can I help with the problem that the City of Dallas had to destroy 27,000 dogs for want of owners last year? How can I help with the inequity in educational opportunities? How can I help get the word out that existing laws already on the books provide help with a number of consumer issues, ranging from stopping collection agents from making harassing calls to getting a credit report cleared of an inaccurate entry?

How can we create a culture in which the local community funds local people creating art and music and move from this idea that we are all merely media consumers of a "national" media?

I've been reading Erin Grewell's book about bringing hope to school kids in a rough neighborhood of Long Beach, and thinking to myself that a kind of drive to do good, coupled with effective naivete', can bring a child-like virtue of succeeding because one does not know one is supposed to fail.

Arriving home late after a Firehouse roast beef sandwich intermezzo spent reading about Mahler, I sat down with the freeware program "Drawing for Children" and played childishly with the shapes and backgrounds.

But my mind was alive to "What then must we do?"