Things have been very busy around here recently.
As of about six weeks ago, I'm technically "Professor of Law and Director of Advocacy Programs" at Seton Hall University School of Law. Really. Scary but true. The first time someone called me "Professor Feige" I actually turned to look over my shoulder expecting to see my father behind me. It's all still a bit strange.
Make no mistake, it's a great job full of smart and interesting new colleagues. I've even gotten used to (and dare I say rather like) taking a commuter train over to Newark every so often. But the warm immersion doesn't stop me from spending a fair amount of time struggling with what it means to my life to have partially retreated to the safety of the academy. It's strange to have taken yet another step away from the front line work that engaged me for so long, particularly since my passion for the work and my belief in it's righteousness remains undimmed.
The oddity of the whole situation came home to me this afternoon at Yale where I just finished doing a panel at the Rebellious Lawyering Conference.
The beautiful Yale Law Building
I was on a panel with Steve Bogira (whose wonderful book "Courtroom 302" I reviewed for the Washington Post) and Kate Rubin Somewhere along the way I found myself exhorting the young dedicated law students to just go do public defender work, urging them to throw their hearts and minds and passions into the work while they were still young and able to do so. And somehow, even though I did the work myself and stuck with it for over a decade, I still felt a tiny bit like an impostor. Whether this is merely a symptom of getting old or whether it bespeaks something deeper remains to be seen. My guess is that, a bit to my own surprise even after the years I've been out of the work and the many times I've described myself as "a writer" I still find it dislocating to confront how far I seem to have drifted from being a PD.