Thanks to the New York Times, you don’t need f/k/a to tell you this morning about dissatisfaction and malaise within the legal profession. See “The Falling-Down Professions,” by Alex Williams (Jan. 6, 2008), for a discussion of the reduced prestige and status of lawyers (and doctors, too), which states:
“In a culture that prizes risk and outsize reward — where professional heroes are college dropouts with billion-dollar Web sites — some doctors and lawyers feel they have slipped a notch in social status, drifting toward the safe-and-staid realm of dentists and accountants. It’s not just because the professions have changed, but also because the standards of what makes a prestigious career have changed.”
the gunslingers wait
for high noon
We’ve been singing the praises of the Legal Studies Forum for almost four years. As LSF tells us, it was “established by the American Legal Studies Association to promote humanistic, critical, trans-disciplinary legal studies.” At the core of LSF, you will find its Editor, Prof. James R. Elkins, of the West Virginia University’s College of Law, who has done more than any academic or practitioner to remind the world of the connection between lawyers and poetry, first with his groundbreaking, comprehensive website project Stangers to Us All, and then through the vehicle of the Legal Studies Forum. It was the poetry connection that brought f/k/a to the attention of Jim Elkins and vice-versa.
low gray sky —
an afghan warming
on the radiator
“Off the Record,” Vol. 28 of the Legal Studies Forum (2004) was the milestone 700-page anthology of poetry by sixty-six currently-active lawyer-poets. As we said when it was first published, Off the Record is “not filled with poetry about law, lawyers, and the legal world,” but instead contains poetry by poets who happen to have been educated and trained as lawyers. The twenty-page Introduction by Prof. Elkins is a strong reminder that there is nothing inconsistent about the lawyer and the poet coming together in one man or woman. It’s also a rousing argument that every school of law must nurture a practice of law that is enfused with “the poet’s sensibilities, awareness, introspection, and care for the things and the particulars of the world.”
behind bare branches
every kind of cloud
in one sky
“Intelligible Hues,” Legal Studies Forum Vol. 29 No. 1 (2005), presented about 300 pages of poetry by people with law degrees, along with interviews and essays about lawyers and poetry (see our posting, May 6, 2005).
the long pull
of faraway children
the deeper quiet
of uncut roses
…………………… roberta beary – Legal Studies Forum XXX (2006)
“harvest moon” – The Heron’s Nest
“quiet rain” – Paperclips (Press Here 2001)
alone at sunset
i pick a pair
of faded daylilies
waits for dawn
the morning rush—
the whiteness of last night’s snow
…………………….. david giacalone – Legal Studies Forum (Vol. XXXII, No. 1. 2008)
With “A Day’s Work Done,” Legal Studies Forum Vol. 32 (No. 1, January 2008), Prof. Elkins continues to promote lawyer-created poetry (plus short stories and essays), with another winning collection, that contains more than 300 pages of poems by JDs. In addition to generously presenting a few of my own poems (reproduced above), “A Day’s Work Done,” again features the work of our much-honored friend, Washington-DC attorney-poet Roberta Beary. Along with two of her haiku, LSF 32 presents a ku-less version of After Work, which was originally published in Simply Haiku as haibun, but is reborn in LSF as free verse. Volume 32 also has haiku and other poetry by Indian Law expert and appellate judge Frank Pommersheim, and several haiku from Jay Bryan, who has been instrumental in promoting poetry in his home town of Carrboro, North Carolina, and whose professional experience [“an attorney, mediator and guardian ad litem specializing in family and juvenile law”] sounds a lot like the second half of my legal career.
just enough moon
for this firefly to land
on my finger
…………………………. by roberta beary, LSF Vol. 32 (2008),
orig. pub. Jiyu-Katari (Free Talking; Ito En Ltd. 2007)
I’m pleased to remind our readers again that the poetry collections published in prior editions of Legal Studies Forum have been reproduced online at the U. Texas Tarlton Law Library’s E-text pages (and can be reached using the various hyperlinks above). But, the Dedication in Volume 32 of LSF by Prof. Elkins, to trial lawyer Hardy Parkerson, of Lake Shore, Louisiana, in gratitude for his continued extraordinary financial contributions to Legal Studies Forum, is a very good reminder that this unique publication needs and deserves the support of subscribers who honor and appreciate its mission.
The Legal Studies Forum (ISSN: 0894-5993) publishes two issues a year, with occasional supplements. Its editorial and business offices are at College of Law, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6130. You can Contact Professor Elkins directly to subscribe to Legal Studies Forum.
As we’ve pointed out before, Prof. Elkins puts it so well: “If we think literature matters, . . . then the best education of a lawyer remains an education in skills practiced as an art, an occupational poetics of the real.” The pundit in me wants to ponder the state of our profession, as discussed in this morning’s NYT. The person-poet in me, is going to head outside to see whether any new snowmen appeared on my block since I checked late last night.
justice center –
even the courtroom Bible
has a number
eyeing his wrinkled shirt
from the night in question –
with an ice cream cone
the senior partner
……………………………….. by Barry George, JD