Burning the midnight oil in the nation’s capital

BY DAVID COE

Summertime and the living is easy. Although Gershwin’s lyrics ring true for most (if not all) law students throughout our nation, they are particularly appropriate for those who spent the halcyon days of summer 2001 in our nation’s capital. From Georgetown to Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill to Alexandria, Dupont Circle to Bethesda, the Washington, D.C. area offers something for everyone.

Although Washington is renowned for the museums, government buildings and monuments that call it home, much of what makes the area (including the adjoining Maryland and Virginia suburbs) remarkable stems not from the walls of white marble but from the underlying energy of the city and its people. Perhaps a function of Washingtonians’ infectious fascination with politics, the large number of university students in and around the district, or the strange blend of cultures representing every corner of the globe, this energy is as present on a warm summer evening on the waterfront in Georgetown as in the gilt-laden halls of Congress. One senses it in the increasing number of “new American” restaurants that populate the city (although no one is exactly sure what “new American” means), the revitalization of downtown along and near Pennsylvania Avenue, and even in the meat markets of Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan where the young, beautiful and inebriated come to play.

Yet as many have discovered and many more have lamented, Washington can be an expensive city frequently requiring one to — gasp — work. Fortunately for aspiring lawyers, the government agencies, private firms and corporations of the D.C. area employ the second largest number of lawyers in the nation, second only to that overworked behemoth to the north — New York City. Practicing virtually every type of law imaginable including some only found in Washington, these employers offer a sophisticated practice while maintaining a collegial atmosphere.

Of course, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (and probably an accountant), and Washington is anything but dull. For the sporting among us, miles of bicycle paths surround the city (including one that runs alongside the banks of the Potomac River leading ultimately to Mount Vernon), golf courses can be found within and without the district, and the world’s largest jogging path, sometimes known as the National Mall, lies in the center of it all. In addition, both the mountains of West Virginia and the beaches of Delaware are a relatively short drive away. For those more culturally inclined or who object to running in 90-plus degree temperatures, there are a seemingly endless host of concerts, plays, readings and exhibitions. Two of my favorite memories of the summer are of taking a picnic supper to see The Gypsy Kings perform at Wolf Trap (an amphitheater in Northern Virginia) and of watching “A Streetcar Named Desire” on the big screen on the Mall with 10,000 happy people many of whom imitated Brando relentlessly (and badly). Also, while it may be cheesy to mention, nothing quite compares to seeing fireworks explode over the Washington Monument on the Fourth of July.

Though many of us will burn the midnight oil in our careers, rare moments of free time will present themselves. When they do, I hope to be in a place where life is seen (and lived) as if it is more than mere survival. Washington, D.C. is such a place.

Comments