By Christine Connolly LeBlanc • August 05, 2015•Writers in Residence
I challenge you to change it up. A new perspective will undoubtedly give you a breath of fresh air in your personal life and might also help you become a better attorney.
Perhaps I am challenging you to make a change as I have just been forced to make a change. You see, I just moved across the world…again. This isn’t my first time moving. Being a “military brat” meant I moved most of my childhood. Then deciding to join the US Army JAG Corps meant I would keep moving. Marrying someone who also joined the JAG Corps ensured my fate. I am a modern nomad. I joke to my children they are part of the elite modern military nomad culture.
Truly, I welcome the opportunity to move. To change. To shake things up. It is amazing to realize how different people are in different places, not just the US – but across the world. There isn’t just one way to do things. There isn’t one way to live. And there certainly isn’t one way to practice law and seek “justice.” It is all relative. Change your situation and your perspective on what is right and wrong, legal and unethical, or just and unjustifiable will certainly be altered.
We just moved from the country side of beautiful Bayern (Bavaria), Germany to Asia. Going from southern Germany to South Korea has certainly been a big change. We had grown pretty accustom to the German way of our country life. No stores open on Sunday, no loud noises, don’t mow your lawn on Sunday – easy it allowed (umm…perhaps forced) us to spend time as a family. To slow down, enjoy the simple things. Coming to Korea has shaken this up. Everything is open Sunday. We are now in a 24/7 culture. You want it, you can go buy it. Hungry? Always a restaurant open. Life is certainly on the go.
We loved living in our country home. Huge and spacious, opening up to Bavarian fields and horses. Now we find ourselves on the hunt for a new home in skyscrapers. Looking down from the 36th floor certainly can cause vertigo and highlight the fact things are changing and we are shaking things up.
Often we find the biggest change is through cuisine. Quite true on this move. German’s love their schnitzel and fries. And the idea of spicing things up might involve dusting a bit of curry powder in some ketchup. Well, that certainly wouldn’t suffice for a Korean. The kimchi is always spicy and served with everything. Bolgogi is a marinated beef dish – I have been told it literally means fire meat in Korean.
To further test out our new home’s food differences we went to the local chicken and beer festival. Trading in our German lederhosen we said goodbye to Oktoberfest and headed off to our first Korean fest. All kinds of chicken – to be expected as it was a chicken and beer fest after all. It was surprising that they had some German beers, was nice to have a taste of home. But coming upon the bowl of cooked bugs was surprising. At first we weren’t sure they were bugs, but yes they were. In fact beondegi is pretty common. You can find these lovely steamed or boiled silkworms pupae at fests and markets…but according to my spouse they might be an acquired taste. You should like the taste of burnt crunchy cardboard.
Needless to say we are certainly shaking things up. This opportunity provides me with a perspective on life and hopefully a new understanding of how another culture practices law. I was lucky enough to see some sides of how German’s practice law. Sitting through a misdemeanor criminal trial was eye opening. Rules of evidence – why need them when the judges have an entire notebook with everything about the case. Or while visiting the German blood testing facility for DUIs I was told it wasn’t possible to question the results of the test. There was no possibility it could or would be wrong. Germans have rules and they are to be followed.
While I haven’t had the opportunity to experience the Korean legal system, I am expecting a different and varied experience from Germany. Just driving on the roads is night and day. Koreans have a more flexible understanding of driving rules than Germans. It will be interesting to see their perspective on legal matters.
So, I challenge you to change it up. You can drive a different way home from work for a small change. Reconsider the method of argument on an upcoming brief. Or if you really want hop a plane and move half way across the world. Good luck. VIel Glueck. 굿럭.