In my last post about TED, a nonprofit that promotes “Ideas Worth Sharing”, I shared 3 videos that were sure to help you rediscover your passion for law. I admire the organization and watch TED videos whenever I get some downtime, and the recent holiday break was no exception. I’m glad I did because I found 3 more inspirational videos about law.
1. David R. Dow: Lessons from Death Row Inmates
David R. Dow has his work cut out for him – he defends death row inmates in Texas. Over the past 20 years, he has defended more than 100 people. A professor at the University of Houston Law Center, he founded the Texas Innocence Network and directs the litigation work of the Texas Defender Service.
In his TED talk, Dow explores how death penalty lawyers have begun to focus on early intervention – interceding at the beginning of the legal process – in an effort to obtain life sentences for their clients. He also argues that intervention in these inmates’ lives should come even earlier, in the juvenile justice system, before a murder is committed.
2. Karen Tse: How to Stop Torture
Karen Tse is a lawyer, an ordained minister, and an international human rights activist. In 2000, she founded International Bridges to Justice, a nonprofit organization committed to ending investigative torture – the use of torture to coerce confessions during the investigative stage – by putting trained attorneys in place for these pre-trial phases.
Tse, in her TED talk, dispels the notion that torture is something that only happens in extreme instances. She also argues that universal access to lawyers can revolutionize a criminal justice system.
3. Shereen El Feki: HIV – How to Fight an Epidemic of Bad Laws
Shereen El Feki is a TED Global Fellow and holds a Ph.D. in molecular immunology. Her writing tackles health and social welfare issues. Though she typically focuses on the Arab world, in this TED talk, El Feki addresses an international epidemic – HIV.
El Feki points out the stark difference in certain countries between the medical and legal communities’ reaction to HIV – the former focused on treatment and the latter effectively criminalizing living with HIV. In case you’re wondering, Obama ended the United States’ 22-year immigration ban for those who are HIV positive, but several states have laws criminalizing HIV transmission. El Feki argues that criminalization and the resulting stigma run counter to basic human rights law.
After watching these, I’m tempted to pursue a public interest career. I’m a biglaw lawyer, a corporate one at that. Biglaw is a long way from where I began. I entered law school hoping to become an employment and labor attorney, advocating for employees’ rights.
While I’ve taken a different path, at heart I’m still a liberal, pro-union kid from Detroit. I take full advantage of my law firm’s generous pro bono policy to provide representation to those unable to afford an attorney.
But I’ll be honest. There are days when I wonder what would have happened if I had chosen a legal career dedicated to public service. And videos like the 3 above make me think it may not be too late to find out.
Have you been inspired by a video about law lately? Let us know in the comments.
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