When the passion for life meets passion for career – Math meets law

I have always (well not when I was a teenager) understood the difference between having a career and having a life. The tragedy is that:

A. So few people understand the distinction; and

B. Many of those who do understand the distinction fail to make their passion their career.

The story of Toronto lawyer and math professor Peter Rosenthal is fascinating and inspirational.

Excerpts include:

It is 8 p.m. on Wednesday with another hour of teaching to go. Rosenthal has been up since 5 a.m. working at his other job as a social justice lawyer. His name sounds familiar because many of his cases are high-profile, pitting little guys against big government or the police. He has made a life of questioning the rules, be they math formulas or laws most people follow without question.

He has defended 89-year-old census resister Audrey Tobias, G20 protesters, some of Dudley George’s siblings at Ipperwash where police shot and killed an unarmed George in a violent clash. He has altered election rules across the country, battled pharmaceutical companies and marched on Washington to hear Martin Luther King’s famous speech.

It’s really quite simple for Rosenthal: he views capitalism as the root of societal problems, and the powerful must be held to account. His next opportunity comes this week — closing arguments are likely coming on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 in the inquest into several recent fatal shootings by police. Rosenthal, lawyer for the late Michael Eligon, will be one of those speaking.

He will work until he dies. And despite his heart problems, he’s well now and working, always working.

“Now here is a curious question with a curious answer,” he says as he turns back to the board.