3 TED Videos That Help You (Re)Discover Your Passion for Law

ted videos that help you discover your love for the law

First, who in the heck is TED? TED began in 1984 as a small conference to bring together folks from the tech, entertainment, and design worlds. Today, its scope has expanded and TED is an international nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TED features incredible thinkers sharing their ideas about the world’s most pressing issues.

The sort of advocacy TED promotes – simple, focused, and powerful – is what the law is all about. While we may occasionally get bogged down in corporate documents or trial briefs, we should never lose our love of law. The videos below remind me of why I chose to go to law school, and I hope that this New Year you’ll resolve to (re)discover your passion for the law.

1. Bryan Stevenson – We Need To Talk About Injustice

Bryan Stevenson is a professor at NYU Law, and the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). EJI is dedicated to fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. I’m most familiar with EJI’s work on behalf children in adult prisons. In the recent Supreme Court case Miller v. Alabama, Stevenson successfully argued that young people should not be sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole after being convicted of murder. In his TED speech, Stevenson explores how poverty and race shape outcomes in the American criminal justice system.

We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes. And yet, we seem to be very comfortable. The politics of fear and anger have made us believe that these are problems that are not our problems. We’ve been disconnected.



2. Larry Lessig – Laws that Choke Creativity

Larry Lessig is a professor at Harvard Law, and the Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Lessig is an expert on law and technology, particularly copyright issues.

Lessig is working toward his vision of a world where creative freedom exists in harmony with market competition, and chairs Creative Commons, a nonprofit that provides creators with free content licensing tools. In his TED speech, Lessig explains how current copyright laws stifle creativity and freedom of expression.

In my view, the most significant thing to recognize about what this Internet is doing is its opportunity to revive the read-write culture  . . . User-generated content, spreading in businesses in extraordinarily valuable ways like these, celebrating amateur culture.  . . . Taking the songs of the day and the old songs and remixing them to make them something different. . . .  [T]he architecture of copyright law and the architecture of digital technologies, as they interact, have produced the presumption that these activities are illegal.



3. Diane Savino – The Case for Same-Sex Marriage

Through its Best of the Web initiative, TED brings you inspired speeches from across the web. Diane Savino is not a lawyer, but a lawmaker. She represents the 23rd district in the New York State Senate. Savino, in her impassioned speech for marriage equality on the floor of the New York Senate, helps us remember that law has the power to impact people’s lives.

But this vote is not about politics. It’s not about Democratic politics or Republican politics. It’s not about who contributed to what campaign. It’s not about who tried to make this body one party or another. It has absolutely nothing to do with this. This vote is about an issue of fairness and equality, not political. It is about the fairness of people who are the right age, of sound mind, who choose to live together, share everything together, and want to be able to have the protections that government grants those of us who have the privilege of marriage and treat it so cavalierly in our society. That’s all this is about.


Interested in catching a TED talk? You can attend one of the annual TED Conferences in California or Scotland, or watch them online. For a less expensive (and often free) option, you can attend a TEDx local program near you.  

What speeches have inspired you to pursue your interest in law? Share them with us in the comments!

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Melinda Hightower

Melinda Hightower

Founder and Chair at Blueprint JD
Melinda Hightower is passionate about legal diversity, literature and community activism. When she’s not busy earning her keep as an attorney, she operates Blueprint JD, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to building diversity in the legal profession.