I can say with a great deal of confidence that law school is no place for a sensitive, bleeding heart. The way we look at the truth is a big part of the ‘why’ behind this.
The adversarial system looks at truth thusly: there is a judge who is charged with the job of telling which party, x or y can back their version of the truth better.
I am not interested in whether this is more conducive to the unearthing of the truth than in inquisitorial systems, where the judge is proactively inquiring herself.
My argument is that functioning in this kind of set-up requires law students to master a way of thinking that is as much about presenting their case as much as it is about poking holes in the case of opposing counsel.
This can be great fun, especially when the question of law up for debate has not been iterated by a succession of five judge benches and a sharp legal mind can get a little creative.
However, it’s still debate. And to me, that means that us lawyers run a very real risk of being lifelong students of that-which-can-be-backed-up-with-provision+evidence; thus losing sight of… dadada.
Because when a rape survivor is trying to talk about her experience, she’s not necessarily going to be able to think logically or want to be responded to from a place of rationality. She’s had a terrifying experience that isn’t anything anyone but another rape survivor can relate to.
I shudder at the thought of her trying to talk to fellow students or a lawyer and being met with reason and no feeling.
Let me put this simply, especially as litigating lawyers that do criminal and family law matters, if we think we can do the work of both counselling and representing our clients, we’re going to run ourselves into the ground.
And land up in therapy ourselves.
And if, as law professors and law college administrators, we do not or CANNOT acknowledge that law schools are incredibly masculine spaces where emotional labour needs to be appreciated, encouraged, harvested and not just spoken about from a rights perspective — then we’re likely to have a mental health situation on our hands.
What’s the solution?
I’ll tell you what I tried to do about this in my next post.
Aqseer is a psychotherapist and the founder of a peer support initiative called Aaina Therapy based out of Delhi/NCR, and runs a free mental health chat room. This post was first published by the author, here.