I Fought the Law and the Law Won

Posted on 19 May 2011

Here I am with my youngest older brother, Craig, last Saturday after his graduation from University of Houston’s law school. Yes, yes, we look exactly alike.

Craig, who has worked as a computer engineer and as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will now embark on yet another career that I am incapable of understanding: intellectual property law.

His graduation day, May 14, was also our mother‘s birthday. So it was something special for me to fly down to Houston and be there to watch the culmination of all his hard work. And when I say hard work, I mean hard work. He puts the rest of us to shame. No matter how difficult or complex the challenge, he buckles down and gets. it. done. I so admire that about him.

Craig recently published his first paper in the Houston Law Review, which is a big deal. The paper — and get a load of its title: “Extraterritorial Software Protection Under § 271(f): A Call to Congress to Fix a Statute that Was Not Broken” — received the Howrey LLP Award for Outsanding Paper in the Area of Intellectual Property. (There’s one writing award I won’t be entering. Ever.)

I got my hands on my copy of the Houston Law Review during my visit. (Quick aside: He got, like, 20 free copies, plus additional booklets printed with just his paper. Holy crap! I’m always thrilled when literary journals can offer more than two free contributor copies. Oh, law. You and your money.) Anyway, it wasn’t until late Saturday night, when everyone else left his house after the party and I was the only one still clinging to my beer, that Craig pointed out the paper’s first footnote. I didn’t realize that footnotes in law review articles can function as dedications, but apparently they can.

Here are the final lines from that first footnote:

“The Author would like to thank his family and friends for their love and support, especially his wife Erica, for her patience and understanding throughout the entire process. The Author dedicates this Comment to his sister Laura and to the memory of his mother, June; both of whom, through their extraordinary talent, inspire him to become a better writer.”

I’m not normally a sentimental crier, but I will admit that I totally teared up over this. I’d like to blame it on the beer and the jet lag but let’s face it, I’m feeling a little verklempt even right now.

Craig told me that he wrote a draft of this dedication before the paper was fully finished. He then used it for further inspiration during the process, sort of to live up to the people who inspired him. Maybe there’s a lesson there for the rest of us writers.

Congratulations, Craig. And should your literary writer sister ever find herself destitute and trying to write her way out of a can of beans as you rake in the law dollars, don’t forget who inspired you. (Totally kidding! Sorta.)

Who inspires you? Have you ever been named in a dedication? Do you write your dedications in advance? Doesn’t my pale, pale Cleveland skin look absolutely furious to be in the Houston sun?


11 responses to I Fought the Law and the Law Won

  • Lyra says:

    The fact that the dedication is hidden away in an itty bitty footnote is beautiful. Both writers in two utterly different ways, and yet the pride and encouragement to inspire each other, all under the umbrella of your mom. Love.

    • Our mother was a writer, too, which is something I haven’t really mentioned much on this blog yet. It’s still bittersweet to think of what she could have accomplished if she were still here today.

      • Averil says:

        Congratulations to your brother – and I’d love to see some snippets of your mother’s writing, Laura. I can imagine how you must cherish them.

  • lisahgolden says:

    Congratulations to Craig! And what a wonderful dedication!

    You inspire me, Laura, as does Lyra, Amyg, Averil, Teri, Bobbi, Downith,Deb, Erika Marks and MacDougal Street Baby. That whole crowd from Betsy’s. Just being around other writers online has made me a better writer in a short time.

    Thank you for constantly pushing me to see things as a writer.

  • Amy says:

    Super sweet! Keep applying that SPF 100, Laura. We all know what happens to you when you burn! …BURN! No seriously, great article. That’s really cool you got to spend time with him, especially over your mom’s birthday:)

    • Amy! I didn’t realize it was you who left this comment at first. I was like, “How does this Internet commenter seem to understand the particulars of my skin issues? It’s almost like she knows about my humiliating real-life sunburn stories.” Then I looked closer and saw that yes, indeed, this comment comes from someone who watched as I gave myself second-degree burns by not applying sunblock on areas of my skin that have never seen the light of day ever and then falling asleep on the beach for three hours. This is my life.

  • Your mother is smiling at both of you right now. Legacies live on.

    Thanks for sharing your writing and your family.

  • Downith says:

    I love that footnote. What a great brother. And Laura, you are rockin’ that frock!

  • amyg says:

    very nice. congrats to your brother.

    i like the idea of writing the dedication first.

    (that red looks fabulous on you)

  • Deb says:

    I love this post. I can feel the bond between you and your brother in the words. And whatever the burn situation, it doesn’t show. You look beautiful.

    Lately, I’m feeling inspired by the friend of a friend who passed away from ovarian cancer two weeks ago. She fought it out and was writing to the bitter end. Her husband updated the last blog post. Not only did she fight for her health, but to see the beauty of every day. Coming from me that sounds cliche. From her? Not at all.

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