Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Keeping My Head on Straight When Applying for Summer Associateships
I'm in the process now of seeking out and applying for summer associateships for next summer as part of my law school's fall recruitment program. That's with the goal in mind of ultimately finding a firm to work in once I finish law school. With all of this going on, it's hard to get a proper perspective on reality. Unfortunately, many of the things that I've hard are required to do well in law firm life, long term, lead to a mindset of mochin d'katnus, small mindedness.
I know that this idea is the opposite of what most people think. What could be better than being a "rainmaker" in a big firm, spending hours at ballgames, golf courses, or Nicks' games with clients worth millions of dollars, and which could bring millions of dollars in legal fees into the firm, all thanks to you!? Hey, the small timers deal with small clients, small cases & small courts. But the "big firms" deal with "big" clients, "big" deals and "big" courts. The problem is that the more I or we get caught up in the "big" things of this world, we start to think of them as truly the big and important things of the world, and forget about the fact that they are meaningless in reality.
Whether we work on "small things" in this world or the "big, important" things, why should we be doing them? Because they are big or important things, inherently? No. They aren't. Rather, we only do it because it is Hashem's will. I must remember that whether I'm writing a Legal Memorandum for an attorney in a case where $5,000 is on the line, or $5,000,000 is on the line, I must do a good job because it is the Ratzon Hashem, Hashem's will, to do the right thing and make a kidush Hashem by doing excellent work.
But if I ever end up doing these "big" things, and thinking of only them as "big" and feeling big and important because of the job I have or am doing, I must remember that this is the biggest mochin d'katnus, small mindedness that I could fall into, R"L.
In parshas Matos, we read that the people of Gad & Reuven had much wealth in the form of cattle and told Moshe (Bamidbar 32:16) that they would "גִּדְרֹת צֹאן נִבְנֶה לְמִקְנֵנוּ פֹּה, וְעָרִים, לְטַפֵּנוּ," build pens for their sheep and cities for their children." It is well known that Moshe rebuked them for their bad order of priorities, since they placed their sheep (their wealth) before their children in telling Moshe what they would do before coming to help the rest of the Jewish people conquor the land of Israel. Therefore Moshe told them (id. at 24)"בְּנוּ-לָכֶם עָרִים לְטַפְּכֶם, וּגְדֵרֹת לְצֹנַאֲכֶם." "[First] build cities for your children [and then] pens for your sheep."
Similarly, the Gemara in Bava Basra 10b tells the following story: "יוסף בריה דר' יהושע חלש אינגיד א"ל אבוה מאי חזית א"ל עולם הפוך ראיתי עליונים למטה ותחתונים למעלה א"ל עולם ברור ראית." "Yosef, the son of Rebbe Yehoshua [had a near death experience]. His father said to him, 'What did you see?' He said, 'I saw an upside-down world. Those who are high were down low and those who are low, were up high.' He said to him, 'You have seen a clear world.'"
The light of this world's brightest and most important-seeming things have the strongest ability to blind us from our own knowledge of the truly important things in life and turn our sense of our priorities upside-down. May Hashem help me and others keep our propper perspective in life and recognize the things of this world as the small things that they are. May he help us do our best to do an excellent job in them despite our consciousness of them being small things, while having in mind that we are doing so because it is the Ratzon Hashem, Hashem's will.
(Picture courtesy of ctemploymentlaw)
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