A “blog” is an inherently dangerous forum for an attorney; for it is a blank slate that welcomes the fool to fill with vacuous thoughts. Let me first provide a bit of background and introduction, to provide a context: my first love has always been Philosophy. That is why I went to college to study – it was not to get a degree; it was not to go to law school (at least, not initially); it was to read and understand the great philosophers, from the Pre-Socratics to modern day Deconstructionists, Postmodern philosophers, etc. It was a discipline – a complex system of thought by brilliant minds beyond the reach of a young man who was mesmerized by the brilliance of such conceptual systems and fabrics of thought. I ended up majoring in Philosophy; then going on to Graduate School at the University of Virginia.
After completing my Master’s coursework and beginning to write my thesis on Berkeley’s philosophy, I realized that my love of Philosophy had waned; perhaps I realized that I would never reach the heights of such brilliant minds as Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, etc.; I desired to do other things. I went to law school; it was a natural step, because law allows for one foot to remain in the world of conceptual systems of logic and argumentation, while placing the other foot into the world of practical application and concretely helping clients. Still, after almost twenty years of being a lawyer, my first love is still Philosophy – and I have, in my spare time, while happily married to my wife of 25 years, and bringing up 3 beautiful kids, been able to enjoy reading a wide range of philosophers, and am thankful that I learned the “discipline and methodology” of philosophy, and that the works of such great minds have become less intimidating to me over the years. For “Philosophy” at its core and simple definition, is merely the “love of wisdom” (as all young Philosophy students learn in Introduction to Philosophy 101); but wisdom comes with age; and, hopefully, the fact that I am older has granted some semblance of wisdom.
That provides a short background; it is about the extent of my comfort level in being “personal” on an OPM Disability Retirement blog.
Now, my thoughts for the day: The tools of an attorney are words; the method of delivery rhetoric and argumentation; the conceptual framework, logic; the foundation of justification – a Court’s opinion. In a recent local case that I was involved in, I pointed out that lawyers are often criticized – albeit justifiably – for thinking that by the sheer power of words, we are able to shape reality. We think that, because our tools are words; because we have learned from law school and honed in trial practice the method of argumentation; and further, because we see the practical impact of our words, we come to believe that words themselves can shape the reality around us. I pointed out, however, that it is facts which shape reality; not words. Upon reflection, of course, such an argument is a rather conceptually muddled argument; for facts are certainly framed by words, and so to argue for a bifurcation of “facts” from “words” is in itself confusing. But beyond such confusion, the primary point I wanted to make was that it is vitally important for the integrity of the “profession” of a Federal attorney, that we use the “tool of words” carefully, such that our tools are constrained by Truth, and not mere expediency to win a case.
I believe that our world – the profession of Law – has been diminished in recent years by too many people abusing and mis-using the tool of words to merely win; at the expense of Truth.
I have attempted to represent my clients to obtain OPM disability retirement, in the best way possible, by utilizing the tool of words; while attempting to maintain the integrity of Truth, and thereby the “profession of Law”. In many ways, my job has been easy – my clients are people with medical conditions which seriously impact their lives; it is merely my job to use “words” to accurately describe the “facts” of how their medical conditions impact their ability to perform the essential functions of their jobs.
Robert R. McGill
Attorney at Law – OPM Disability Retirement Law