“And I stood arrow straight
Unencumbered by the weight
Of all these hustlers and their schemes”
Today, out of the blue (pun intended), I received a large piece of lapis lazuli in the mail. There was no note, no indication why I was receiving this package. Generally when a rock lands in my office, I assume it came from opposing counsel, but those aren’t usually delivered by the postal service, nor are they quite as beautiful. After some investigating, I found that the box came from Afghanistan, and I was able to start putting the pieces together.
In August 2016, I received a letter from a brave individual in Bagram who was being retaliated against for internally reporting behavior that he believed was risking the health of military and civilian personnel stationed there. He had reported the conduct to everyone he could think of in Bagram to no avail.
It was clear right away that this did not fall into my area of practice, but I spent some time researching what he could do, for himself and for those at risk. I scheduled a call with him from Afghanistan, had him walk me through his allegations, and talked with him about his options. Ultimately I referred him to another attorney with more experience than I had in this area (which was basically zero) and wished him luck.
I assumed from my gift that he had successfully reported the wrongdoing with his new lawyer and was reaping the rewards, but I was mistaken. They had taken the report as far as they could with the government, but the government chose not to open an investigation. Still, he had kept his job and those who were responsible for the wrongdoing were gone, and so the bad acts had stopped.
My job is to right wrongs and help people in need. Sometimes, after years of litigation, I get paid for it. But a not-insignificant amount of my time is spent talking to individuals with no expectation of ever receiving a dime or even hearing from them again. I spent probably just two hours trying to help this gentleman, and then his case had not turned out like he’d hoped. But he was still so grateful for my having taken the time to listen and help him that he thought to send me a gift from the other side of the world over a year-and-a-half later. I am incredibly blessed to be doing what I am doing and honored to work on behalf of the people that I do.
“My hands were steady
My eyes were clear and bright
My walk had purpose
My steps were quick and light
And I held firmly
To what I felt was right
Like a rock”