An Open Letter to the Religious Right

[Note: This post is an adaptation of an address I recently gave for a conference of pre-law advisors at Regent University Law School which itself was originally based…on a previous blog post.]
I’m honored to be able to speak to you today for I am a great admirer of your work. Indeed, it is my opinion that pre-law advisors are significantly undervalued despite the fact that you carry out one of the most important tasks in the legal profession–talking people out of becoming lawyers.
While it is true that the bar exam and law school admissions officers perform the same function, though perhaps more brutally, pre-law advisors provide the first line of defense in preventing people like me from stumbling into a career in law.
In 1987 I entered the University of North Texas as a freshman with the intention of someday becoming an attorney. The first week I was there I scheduled an appointment with the pre-law advisor, expecting him to tell me that I could choose any major I wanted, as long as what I wanted was to major in political science.
Instead, the first words out of his mouth were “Why do why to be a lawyer?” I was so caught off guard that I ended up answering truthfully–telling him that I wanted to be part of a profession that made a lot of money. He then set about ripping my response, explaining why this was a terrible justification. I gave him another lame reason and he shot that one down too. That went on for several minutes before I laid out the dumbest rationale of all. I told him that my friends and family always told me I’d make a good lawyer “because I was good at arguing.”
He leaned forward in his chair and gave me a pitiable look generally reserved for fools who are about to make a disastrous life choice. “Mr. Carter,” he said, “how good could you be at arguing when you can’t even make an argument for why should be a lawyer.”
That day he planted a seed of self-awareness’ within me. I realized two things about myself: (1) I really would make a terrible lawyer and (2) I’m really not all that good at arguing.
So today I won’t even bother trying to argue my case. Instead I’ll just throw out a pile of assertions and conjectures and let you sift through it all to see if there is anything of value.

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