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Being a Lawyer and a Person

By Terri Lynn Eberle

The souls of people, on their way to Earth-life, pass through a room full of lights; each takes a taper - often only a spark - to guide it in the dim country of this world. But some souls, by rare fortune, are detained longer - have time to grasp a handful of tapers, which they weave into a torch. These are the torch-bearers of humanity, its poets, seers, and saints, who lift and lead the race out of darkness, toward the light. They are the law-givers and and saviours, the light-bringers, way-showers, and truth-tellers, and without them humanity would lose its way in the dark.- Plato

In my last article, I mentioned a friend from law school who got married in May. This friend is Anoja Bala Madison, and she is one of a handful of people I would not have survived law school without. They made me laugh when I wanted to cry, and inspired me to be my best. Most of my close friends from law school are pursuing public interest or alternative careers, and Anoja is no exception.

She was born Anoja Balasundaram in Sri Lanka in 1969, and moved to New Jersey with her family when she was 2. She went to college at Lafayette in Pennsylvania, and took a year off before law school. Anoja came to law school with a background in science and in international affairs. Like me, she wanted to make a difference in other peoples' lives and was fairly certain she could do this by affecting policy on the national level.

Many of my best times in law school were spent with Anoja. We studied together. We went to section parties and "Bar Review" (Thursday night gathering at a local bar) together first year. We sat in her apartment (avoiding the library after studying too much from Sunday to Thursday and partying too much at "Bar Review" on Thursday night) on Friday afternoons, drinking tea and chatting. We went to both types of "Malls" that exist in DC - the National Mall, where the museums are, and the shopping mall, where the clothes, books, and CD's are.

During our tea conversations and our excursions, Anoja and I would talk about our religions and spiritual beliefs, the meaning of life, our families (who are very important to both of us), our futures - and of course, guys. She explained Hindu beliefs, such as reincarnation, to me, and we judged our classmates based on whether we felt they were "old souls" - people who cared about helping others, about things other than law, about their place in the world and in history - or "not-so-old souls" - people who cared merely about law school grades or making the big bucks.

Anoja worked in a congressional office, and took courses in health policy both at the law school and outside the law school at GW's graduate school. Though she was more interested in policy issues than in the technicalities of law, when I suggested to Anoja that she pursue a career in health policy, she felt it was not "hands-on" enough for her.

Our experiences in DC made us both cynical about working at the national level. We decided that we wanted to follow in our fathers' footsteps - mine is a teacher and hers is a doctor. We wanted to help people one by one instead of being far removed from those who need us. Anoja decided to become a pediatrician.

I am not yet a teacher, though I have been lucky enough to be a mentor and to work on developing educational programs. Anoja is on her way to becoming a doctor. She a student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine. She has successfully completed her first year, and has six more years ahead of her, including her residency. It is hard work, but Anoja seems more focused and sure of herself than when we were in law school. She recently married Julian Madison in a beautiful Hindu ceremony. They are living together in New Jersey.

I know someday Anoja will make a difference in the lives of many children. She has already made a difference in my life by making me feel special and by teaching me about the world and about myself.

I wrote a poem for Anoja during second year of law school, at a time when too many choices and too many cynical people were getting to her. I will include it here, for her and for everyone who wants the time they spend on this earth, including the time they spend at work, to matter.

For Anoja

Look inside
& outside
& feel
You have a
Soul that is
Learned & kind
& should connect
To others

Reflect recollect respond
I was I am I will be

Reach deep into that
Beautiful ancient soul
Culmination of thousands
Of years
Know what has been
Given to you from
Light & darkness
Feel what you believe

Reach far across
Miles mountains
Battles bigotry
Barriers erected by those
With no soul spirituality Memories music
Laughter love

Speak out the inside
Speak out with hope

Time eternal
Not for you
Not for me
Time finite
Time will go
Hold on to time
Hold on to love

Leave something
Leave meaning
To the world
Every moment

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