Futures and Options

Just another town along the road.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Like Greyhounds in the Slips

Another year of law school is upon me and, amid the usual musings about what my school was thinking when it decided to start a month later than seemingly every other law school in the country, my freshly-minted status as a 2L gives me the privilege of an excuse for chuckling at the incoming 1Ls who are currently bumbling around the law school like so many moths trapped in a recessed lighting fixture.  As a worldly 2L with immeasurably-valuable experience a huge ego, I feel that it’s my duty to force some realism on these poor, over-eager 1L blighters.  So here you go, 1Ls, this is what they didn’t tell you during your two-week orientation.

(1)  That kid in the Three Wolf Moon T-shirt is going to get the highest grade in the class.  The guy in the back of the class who only asks inane questions that annoy everyone will get the second-highest grade.  The people to whom everyone goes for help understanding the subject and who can make theories understandable to laymen will be sitting in the fat B+/A- section of the bell curve.

(1)(a)  Law school exams test your ability to take law school exams, not your understanding of useful legal concepts.

(2)  You will do more work in your first quarter/semester of Legal Writing course than you do the entire year for every other course combined.  You will also receive fewer credits for your Legal Writing course than for any other class.

(3)  That A you get in ConLaw/CrimLaw/Contracts/Torts/&c from heavy study and quiet, rapt attention in class will feel great.  Until you realize that the professor doesn’t remember you at all when you try to get a recommendation next quarter/semester.  The guy who asked question after question and engaged the professor in active debate but got a B+ on the exam, however, will not only be remembered, but the recommendation he receives will be positively glowing.  One of the dirty little secrets of law school is that the ability to do well on an exam and the ability to understand and apply the material are two very different things.

(3)(a)  This doesn’t change the fact that your 1L grades will be the 800 pound gorilla when you’re applying for a place on your school’s journal and especially when you’re applying for jobs during OCI (On Campus Interview) season.

(4)  You absolutely can have a life while you’re in law school.

(4)(a)  It just has to revolve largely around law school.  When you’re sitting in class, look to your left, then look to your right.  These people now represent at least 95% of your friends (at least, the friends you’ll have time to interact with in person).  During the first couple of weeks, or even months, you may think you’ve escaped this one.  You haven’t.  It’s only a matter of time before “The Law” starts taking over your brain.  Sooner or later you will be watching a show on TV and you’ll start complaining about an element of law that they got horribly wrong.  Or you’ll hear a friend mention a common misconception about a legal theory and you’ll read him the riot act for it.  The change will come and, in time, you’ll start to believe that the only people who really understand you anymore are your fellow students.

(4)(a)(1)  The only people who understand you will be your fellow students.  Law school is a huge time sink and you’ll find that even when you’re not in class, it will creep into your thoughts.  You’ll make parody songs expressing your frustration with the legal memo you’re writing.  You’ll make jokes that have punchlines containing the phrase “strict scrutiny.”  No matter how much you try to avoid it, you will incorporate law within the rest of your life.  That’s not helpful when communicating with normal people.

(5)  By the time Spring comes around, you’re going to start responding to things like a lawyer.  As one of my professors once commented on a judicial decision, “the human response is, ‘what the hell were they thinking’ but the lawyer’s response is, ‘that’s a fascinating question.'”  At the very least, you’ll understand why the ultimate verdict in the Casey Anthony trial was, legally speaking, most likely correct.  This will not make you popular.

That’s about all I can think of off the top of my head.  Congratulations on your decision to study law.  Have fun.  I hope you really like your school’s law library; you’ll be spending most of the next three years of your life there.

posted by Zenmervolt at 09:58  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

In ignorantia confidenter praegredi.