Well, it's been another big week for us here at Looney Labs.
Over the weekend, we ran another hugely successful Pop-Tart
Cafe, we've been pounding away on Super-Fred work and Origins
planning, and I made a major life decision: I want to go back
When I graduated from college in 1986, my attitude was "Free
at last! I'm off to the Real World and good-bye to classrooms
forever!" The idea of pursuing a graduate degree at that
point was simply out of the question. But now, having worked
in the Real World for 16 years, I've decided that I want to go
to Law School. That's right: I've decided to become a lawyer.
I've thought long and hard about it, and I'm excited about
this decision. I have many reasons for it, all of which I will
explain in this essay. (I may be 38 years old, but I feel like
a high school kid all over again, confronting for the first time
the reality of choosing to go to college. Since I'm sure I'll
have to take tests and write essays with titles like "Why
I Want To Go To College," I figure this can be my first
In studying to become a lawyer, I will have two primary fields
of interest: Intellectual Property and Drug Law Reform. Of course,
I have different reasons for pursuing these divergent fields.
In the realm of Intellectual Property Law, I am already a
practicing amateur. I gave myself a self-taught course in patent
law in 1990 (I highly recommend the book Patent-It-Yourself),
when I obtained a patent (#4,936,585) on our first board game
invention. Since then, I've gotten another patent (#6,352,262)
and I have a third one pending. I've also been closely involved
with the writing of a wide range of license agreements and contracts
relating to other games we've published since then. I'm already
what passes as the IP lawyer for our company Looney Labs, and
the point is, I'm tired of faking it. I'm ready to become properly
But my bigger reason for wanting to become a lawyer is my
dedication to helping end our nation's insane drug war. Over
the past few years, I have become increasingly passionate about
the need to stop prohibition,
and I grow weary of ranting to friends who've heard it all before
and writing letters to editors that don't get published. As an
activist, I can think of no better way to work for this cause
than to go back to school, get a law degree, and seek to defend
and free those unlucky enough to become victims of this tragic
and stupid policy. I have lots of friends who smoke pot... I'd
like to be able to provide real assistance if ever any of them
(As a side note, my hope is that I'll never need the skills
I'm about to try to acquire. I believe we are on the cusp of
a watershed event which will bring a rapid end to the marijuana
prohibition, just as alcohol prohibition crumbled quickly in
1933. However, I'm realistic enough to know that such events
could still be a decade away, and that the other side will not
give up this fight easily. But even if pot is legalized before
I pass the bar, I still have plenty of other reasons for wanting
to become a lawyer...)
What makes me suddenly decide to do this? A few weeks ago,
I attended another NORML conference,
and in one of the panel discussions, someone said the reason
they became a lawyer in the first place was to fight for justice
on this issue. Sadly, I don't even know now who it was (though
I imagine I could find out) but I felt inspired by this statement.
I remember writing on my notepad, "Should I become a lawyer?"
I immediately dismissed it, but the idea has continued to nag
at me, and I've come to find it irresistible. I can think of
no more important location in which to debate the disaster of
drug prohibition than in a court of law, where it might actually
mean something. And the more I think about it, the more I yearn
to do exactly that. I've role-played enough lawyer characters
and watched enough LA Law to see the appeal of becoming a trial
lawyer. I've also served on a jury several times. I've seen enough
real lawyers in real situations to think that I could not only
do that myself, but I could do a better job of it, too. So, I'm
ready to try.
There are other factors in this decision. First, I wish to
continue growing as a person. I've had several careers already,
and I plan to have several more before my last turn in this gigantic
game we call Life. But to do that, I need to go back to school.
I will of course need to make some sacrifices. For one thing,
I'll need to set aside for awhile the creative work I hold so
dear and which I've worked so hard to obtain. But actually, that's
OK... as Kristin put it, this will give her time to concentrate
of selling the games we already have in our product line without
the constant interruption of publishing new stuff. Plus, we have
a lot of stuff in the pipeline that will keep her busy, and I
can continue to provide input as Creative Director, on a part-time
basis, whenever I come home for the weekend.
Which brings me to my next point. As I said, in order to focus
on my studies and obtain a degree in as little time as possible,
I will need to isolate myself to a large degree from any distractions
which aren't absolutely necessary. Therefore, I've decided to
attend a college in a different city.
I grew up in a college town, so it felt perfectly natural
for me to attend the University of Maryland. I had a great time
there and I got a great education... but I've come to mildly
regret the decision not to sample life elsewhere while in college.
I got a job at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (also in my
hometown) right after graduation, and consequently, I've never
lived more than a mile or so from the house I grew up in. Because
of all this, I suffer from what I call "George-Baileyitis"
(if you don't know what I mean by that, see the film "It's
a Wonderful Life") and the idea of going back to school,
this time in a different city, is very appealing to me.
Of course, like George Bailey, I am tied here by many considerations,
so I'm sure I'll need to come home frequently, perhaps most weekends.
After all, I do have a family and friends to consider as well.
So I need to be considering schools that are within a fairly
short train ride home. Beyond that, though, I haven't even started
the selection process.
Incidentally, I'd also like to renew my study of the German
language while I'm back in school. I might even take a class
So, there you have it, my latest grand scheme. I have a lot
of loose ends to tie up before this undertaking, and I'm sure
there'll be many hoops to jump through in order to enroll, once
I figure out where I want to apply. I also need a scholarship.
But the goal is to begin a two-year program in the fall of 2003.
Is this possible? Am I crazy? Will I succeed? (Or will I flunk
out or give up somewhere along the line?) What college will I
choose, and what adventures will I have while I'm there? How
will becoming a lawyer affect my life? Only time will tell, but
if you want to follow me on this journey, stay tuned to this