My partner graduates from law school this week, and I’m reminded of Arendt’s husband, Heinrich Blücher, counseling one of his Bard students to go to law school:
“I decided to study law,” one of his students later recalled, “and came to him to ask advice. ‘I think our society is headed for calamitous events,’ I said, ‘I can’t see the law remaining stable for many years. Of what use would it be to be trained in it?’ ‘ The use,’ he said, ‘ is that you will be one of the ones to remember what it was.'”
It’s not the sixties anymore, but it’s still extraordinary to me that lawyers are able to sustain a link to English fox hunting, millworker’s promises, and the chancery system. The practice of law remains, at least in part, the practice of remembering what law was, of identifying those moments when it changes, and of preserving the continuity and sense of tradition that those legislative interruptions would otherwise efface. Valuable memories indeed.