‘The two sides of my brain’

December 1, 1995 § Leave a comment

Jerome Carlin | Launch #2, 1975

Jerome Carlin | Launch #2, 1975


With the love and support of my family, I have been extremely fortunate in being able to plumb the depths of the two sides of my brain.

My father was a lawyer. Seeking to gain a better understanding of his work propelled me, in part, into an examination of the legal system. I was drawn to sociological inquiry, believing that lawyers played a critical role in the development and maintenance of our market economy and democratic system. What I found in my study of solo practitioners in Chicago (for my doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago) and then in my study at Columbia of the ethics of New York City lawyers, was a highly stratified profession reinforcing class differences in the availability and quality of legal services and development of the law, resulting in a class system of justice. This led me to a closer examination (at UC Berkeley) of the lack of legal services for the lower half of our population. Then, seeing an opportunity for action with the enactment of the Federal Poverty Program, I helped establish and became the first head of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation. We had some success, but probably little effect in the long run. Indeed this small window of opportunity was soon closed by drastic cutbacks in these programs.

loto2-sm-siteI had been painting all my life. In 1970 I made a major shift. I decided to paint full time and have been doing that for the past 25 years. What I have been seeking in my work are qualities little appreciated in the commercial art world over the past several decades — expressions of deep feeling and emotion in the representation of figure and landscape.

I did step back briefly two years ago into my research life, summarizing changes in the legal profession during the past 30 years for a new introduction for republication in paperback of my Chicago study, Lawyers on Their Own. I also did a painting for the new book cover.

Like my paintings, the books I have written form a picture of the legal world drawn largely from the vivid account of the lawyers I interviewed. In both my legal research and my painting I have been trying to picture my feelings for and understanding of significant areas of life around me.

December 1995

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