Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Typical Lawyer - (Confirming) The Usual Stereotypes
I've finally realized why people hate lawyers and, by association, law students. Throughout my university career, I've tirelessly defended law students and lawyers for years, protesting against arguments for the following: a lawyer's lack of ethics, lack of sportsmanship and overall vicious nature (not to mention the stuck-up, elitist attitudes many despise). I've protested against it all. Yet a recent encounter has changed my mind immensely. Although I plan to be a law student one day, I don't think I will be protesting against the typical lawyer stereotype anytime soon. I've recently discovered that these stereotypes exist for a reason. And sometimes, certain law students and lawyers do in fact deserve such reputations.
I've seen the light, friends. In fact, I've been jaded, and I'm not happy about it. But let me backtrack a bit and explain why I've drawn the above conclusions.
With courtesy and respect for confidentiality, I will purposely not mention the specifics of the situation (i.e. the specific SGPS intramural sport I engaged in). Because while these law students' actions angered me, I recognize that their reputations are important to them, and a public blog post such as this could potentially impact and damage future student opportunities. Oh, what a shame that would be.
A couple of weeks ago, I joined an SGPS intramural league, and attended my first game of the year. As a side note, I don't think I've had this much fun with contact sport since elementary school. I'm so glad I joined! However, one aspect of that particular match tainted the evening: our opponents, the Law Students. I have never in my life witnessed such a lack of sportsmanship and respect towards one's opponents. Because this was an intramural game, the match was self-regulated: no referee was in sight. Therefore, the following antics ensued: these law students cheated, yelled out an insane amount of profanity to my team members, and acted in a way that represented their faculty and their profession in the worst way possible. Their game play was, in short, absolutely wretched.
I was particularly insulted when, after missing my target, one female Queen's law student yelled out to me, "Idiot! You have terrible aim! I can throw so much better than you!" These are the people representing our legal system one day, folks. Classy.
Annoyed, I watched as a number of insults were thrown towards my teammates during the course of the game. The following conversation occurred between a teammate and myself:
Me: Why are these law students so rude?
Teammate: What do you expect? They're law students
Me (Shocked): But I'm going to be a law student! And I'm nothing like that!
Teammate (Laughing): Just wait a year. You'll be exactly like that one day too. Lawyers confirm the stereotypes about their profession all the time. Many of them are like that.
Wow. If there was ever a time when my naive, idealistic conceptions of the legal profession came crashing down, this was probably it. Turning to another teammate, I asked if other intramural opponents acted the same way. Shaking their heads, my teammates said that previous matches were incredibly fun and easy-going. This was the first time they encountered such unprofessional behaviour with intramural opponents. Queen's Law did it first, friends. Lovely.
I highly doubt that this display of vile behaviour is representative of every single law student at Queen's. In fact, I'm sure it isn't. I'm sure there are a number of Queen's law students who, in contrast, refute the typical stereotype and choose to take the high road of sportsmanship in any situation - whether they're in an extracurricular setting or not. However, I think this particular batch of law students disappointed me because of what their behaviour represented: a confirmation of stereotypes often associated with a career that I know is very capable of more ethical, acceptable behaviour. A career that I know is capable of more than what was demonstrated on the gym floor that night.
Let this blog post remind us that we should always, without hesitation, act professionally and with courtesy in any situation we find ourselves in, particularly if we're in a setting where we represent our careers or faculties. Our attitude matters more than we know, more than we realize, and vile, unprofessional behaviour will rarely (if ever) be tolerated.
/Angry blog post over.
"It has always seemed strange to me... the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."
- John Steinbeck