Happy Law Day everyone. What is Law Day you ask?
Some countries celebrate May Day on the same date (May 1st), as it is designated Labour Day or International Workers Day. But on February 5, 1958, President Eisenhower recognized the first Law Day when he proclaimed that henceforth May 1 of each year would be Law Day in the United States. He stated “In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive it must choose the rule of law.”
Each year Law Day has a theme, at least it has since I started practicing law in 2004, which be discussed below.
This year, per the American Bar Association:
The Law Day 2020 theme is “Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: The 19th Amendment at 100.” In 2019-2020, the United States is commemorating the centennial of the transformative constitutional amendment that guaranteed the right of citizens to vote would not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex. American women fought for, and won, the vote through their voice and action.
As always, voting is extremely important and if you are in Kentucky, the election is now going to be June 23, 2020. Every registered voter should get a postcard from the Security of State advising them how to request a ballot to mail in, or there will be limited voting in person this year, due to Covid-19. In Kentucky, the expungement laws starting changing a couple of years ago to allow people who could never previously vote, due to a felony, to expunge some felonies from their record, which meant they could now vote. I remember once I had a man tear up in my office, he was probably about 50 years old and he had never been able to vote before, due to a mistake he made when he was 18, and he could now vote.
For lawyers in Kentucky, Law Day is also the day that, generally, if you passed the Bar Exam in February, May 1st is when you are sworn in to the practice of law. In 2004, as this is Kentucky, they moved it up a day to not conflict with Derby that year. So in 2004, I was sworn in to the practice of law on Oaks Day, April 30, 2004.
Two things happened on that date that should have given me an idea of what the practice of law would be like. We were sworn in Frankfort in the room when the General Assembly meets. To me it was very cool as my grandfather was a member of the Kentucky General Assembly from 1958-1972. The first thing that was memorable to me was that when we stood up to proceed to the front, the person in front of me did not push the chair back in, and it was stuck. I was 6 months pregnant and even a person who was not pregnant could not have gotten by the chair, as it was stuck and blocking the path between the desks. It probably was not very long, but it felt like I held up the ceremony as I had to get the chair unstuck and pushed back under the desk before I could proceed forward to get sworn in. The second thing that happened was my grandmother fell and was injured, so my family basically had to head out pretty quickly to take care of that.
I did get a chance to take a photo, of my three year old with me after the ceremony. Unfortunately I did not get a photo of all the lawyers in the family that were there, as my grandfather, my Dad and my Mom (all attorneys) had to take my grandmother to the hospital.
Those were probably pretty good indications that the practice of law was going to be full of unanticipated events. That is fine with me. Every day is different, but if it was all the same, I would never have had the chance to take a case to the U.S. Supreme Court and help change the law of the Country.
I have to say, looking back at the last 15 years of practice, I am proud of the people I have been able to help and the work I have done.