My law school alumni magazine contained a link to a YouTube hit called "So You Want to Go to Law School." I just about died laughing. It can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMvARyOIBLE. (Hope I entered that correctly. If not, just put in the title of the video in YouTube.) Written by a law school alumnus, it hits all the highlights of the young idealist (including switching from medicine to law because of a bad grade in biology) versus the burned-out cynic who has been through the wars.
Call me one of the burned-out cynics. On this day of remembering Dr. King, I wish I could have been more effective in protecting the rights of those the legal system has systematically treated with disdain and lack of protection of their legal rights. Whenever I had a black client in a criminal case, I knew I was already going to lose, no matter what the evidence presented. Black with a prior record? Done deal. Another black man in an orange jump suit. Now substitute cute young white guy/girl, same evidence, and it's a different story. Even if there was a conviction, time was usually suspended, probation imposed. Sorry, but those are the facts of my legal practice when I was a court-appointed defender.
Equality before the law is fundamental. Until we can achieve that, we're failing Dr. King's vision miserably.