This week I experienced something utterly unique. I watched our first-born daughter handle a hearing as an intern for our local district attorney’s office. I sat in the gallery, surrounded by people who were witnesses or connected to this case and a variety of others, and I watched her interact with the attorneys and judge before the hearing began.
She looked so professional in her dark dress and blazer, despite the leg brace and crutch that were souvenirs of a summer of surgery and pain.
Her shoulder length blond curls looked beautiful from the back and when she turned to face me, I saw the stunning young woman she had become.
The other attorneys drew her into their circle, asking about her knee and chatting and I began to get a glimpse of my daughter as an attorney. She just seemed to fit.
The hearing began and her sponsoring attorney was by her side, but let her lead, asking questions of the detective who had handled the case, and the procedural questions that nailed down both the origin of the weapon involved in the crime and its chain of custody. I had watched enough “Law and Order” to follow along on all of that, but then everything got very real.
She began to question the three witnesses who had been victims of the crimes, and although the questions were somewhat formal, when she got up from the desk, grabbed her crutch with one hand and pointed with the other, asking the witness to tell her to stop when she was as far away from them as the gun was in the robberies, you could feel the emotion in the witnesses. Some were better than others at describing how it felt to have someone point a weapon at your face from two feet away and tell you they were going to kill you, but we all got the gist.
She was poised and confident, and her sponsoring attorney only responded once in the proceedings to clarify a point that the defense attorney was attempting to deny.
Our daughter did the closing, and it was clear, confident and articulate.
The judge agreed with the prosecution and in about 90 minutes, she had won her first case. She was very excited, but when the excitement died down later that day, we talked a bit about what had happened and how she felt.
It was obvious to me that this is where she should be. The deadline driven, often dramatic, always different and interesting world of the courtroom, where what you do and how well you do it makes a difference is a great fit for her talents and personality. She thinks quickly, is highly articulate and has a charisma about her that will be an asset there. Most importantly, she is realistic about the system and the good and harm it can do.
She said, ” I was blessed that this case, my first real case, was one that I totally agreed with. I believed this person should not be out in society, and there was no ambiguity in it for me. I know it will not always be that way, and I will have to prosecute cases where I don’t really agree with the mandatory term that is required by law, but that is part of being an attorney. The rules of society may not always be as flexible as you would like them to be, but you do good for people where you can.”
I think she has found what she wants to do, and that is a lovely thing to see. Her path stands before her and she knows there may be uncomfortable twists and turns along the way, but she enters her third year of law school with invaluable experience and self-knowledge from this summer and that is truly a blessing.