Friday, June 30, 2006

Law Revue, Part 1: Everything I learned about the law I didn't learn in law school

One of the reasons I started this new blog was because I was reading a little blurb on thenonbillablehour about possible suggestions for ways to revamp the law school experience. So I thought my extreme insights, coupled with my growing bitterness, put me in a unique position to offer some similar observations on the many problems that plague both law school and the legal profession in general. I could REVIEW LAW school, if you will...and since everything I say is highly entertaining, my REVIEW would be a REVUE.

1. Stop telling us law school is worthless. Everyone I talk to - lawyers, judges, job interviewers - tell me that the skills I've learned in law school have little relationship with the actual practice of law. Even my beloved West Wing said as much: "And I’d like you to learn from my experience when I tell you that law school bears little relationship to the practice of law." It's basically reached the point of universal consensus, which makes me feel particularly happy when I think about how I'm putting myself $90,000 in debt for this experience. Sure, it's been a crazy ride, but you can't put a price on misery.

The kicker for me was in my first year when one of my professors was discussing grades and telling us how some of her friends in law school who got terrible grades were now some of the best lawyers in the business; in short, she told us that how we did in law school would have little reflection on how we did as lawyers. And I suppose it was nice of her to try to provide some comfort for those of us who got bad first semester grades, but I found it to be more of a testament to institutionalization. Only in academia could someone be providing you with a service while at the same time inform you that said service was worthless. Imagine buying a car and having the salesman say, "You should buy this clunker over here, it doesn't even work! At $45,000 we're practically giving it away!"

Personally, I think law school is worthless. One of the reasons I am down on lawyering right now is probably because of my complete inability to do any legal research. I was given a problem to research, stared at Westlaw for about fifteen minutes, and suddenly realized, "Holy shit, I have no clue how to do this. Isn't someone just going to give me cases to brief or fact hypotheticals to issue-spot?" I'm not gonna lie; at that moment, I felt pretty betrayed by my law school experience.

Nor am I convinced by arguments that law school teaches us how to "think like lawyers." I've spent two years in law school, and I still don't know what that expression means. It's true I think about legal issues a lot more, but I don't think that's some special manner of thinking. Back when I was a classicist I thought about Classical issues. Example: Someone was telling me a joke...

Dude: "When's the only time a woman has intelligent DNA in her body? When she swallows!"
My inner dialogue: "That's a reference to classical Greece, when they believed that a young man who swallowed his mentor's cum would be imbued with the elder gentleman's wisdom."

But nobody ever says one "thinks like a classicist."

Either law school isn't worthless, and we should stop saying it is, or it is worthless, and we should get rid of law schools.

Yeah, baby! Yeah, baby!

I want to hire this guy for my kid's birthday:

TOBY: When they ask you why you're here today, you say, "Orange County's beachfront is a national treasure."
SAM: Who are you, Charlie McCarthy?
TOBY: Charlie McCarthy was the dummy, Edgar Bergen was the ventriloquist.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Summer of George

I'm at a professional crossroads. Rather than being the Summer of George, this has been the summer of soul-searching: what do I want to be doing this time next year? Really, I am struggling between that eternal conflict--do I take a job I think I will enjoy, or do I take a job that will pay $80-120,000? I just don't know. I thought I'd try to pursue something in legal publishing, but I was talking to someone at work the other day and she said a lot of her law school friends who worked in legal publishing were dissatisfied with the "lifestyle." And that's the conundrum, isn't it? If you want to make the big bucks, you have to put in 80 hours a week. But I think for that kind of commitment you also have to really WANT it. You have to LOVE it. I don't love it. And I think it's stupid--to say nothing of spiritually irresponsible--to take a job I don't want just for the money. I understand I'll never find a job where they pay me to watch Simpsons reruns from 9-5, but that doesn't mean I should throw myself into a career I have serious reservations about. Especially since I just spent two years of me life being completely miserable and have got one more ahead of me, and I don't know if I could manage another two-four more of it. Or maybe I'm just a loser with a bad work ethic who'll never make anything of himself because he's afraid to get his hands dirty. I just don't know. The fact that nobody else who works as a lawyer seems to like what he does certainly doesn't help inspire me.

"Hey Kev, what do you call 1 out of 4 lawyers?"
"I don't know, Jay, what?"
"Clinically depressed."

I'm also feeling a little frustrated with Career Services. I guess they can't guide me if I can't tell them where I want to go, but I don't feel like exactly they've proffered a pantheon of potential options when it comes to alternative legal careers. The reason I don't know what I want to do with my JD is partly because I don't know what else is out there besides legal publishing or legal journalism. Everyone keeps talking about how versatile a JD is, how you can do almost anything with it. Okay, well, like what? I read that book What Can You Do With A Law Degree? I felt it was pretty worthless. It has this list of alternate legal careers that actual lawyers have pursued, like "voiceover guy," but it doesn't tell you HOW they got those jobs. Basically it seems like they pursued them through business connections they'd established over the years, rather than through some sort of mystical marketing with their JD. My parents and friends tell me I should try to be a John Grisham, but my ultimate fantasy has always been to pull a David E. Kelley. There was even a point where I secretly hoped I could write for The West Wing one day (I even wrote a pilot script for a West Wing spin-off about a Republican president) but then the show got cancelled, so that admittedly slim dream got completely quashed from the fantasy I'd kept it safe and secure in.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I'm an equal opportunity asskicker

Let's talk about the phrase "Equal Opportunity Employer." When a company says it's an "equal opportunity employer," it doesn't actually mean it's an equal opportunity employer. What it means is, "We don't want white people. We'll hire a white person if we have to do, but what we really want is a black applicant. The very thought of a black applicant gets our HR department so incredibly jizzed up...we've got quotas to fill and discrimination suits to avoid, goddammit!" This is progress.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

And on the 8th day God blogged

Welcome to my new blog! If you didn't know I had an old blog, you probably don't belong here, so get the fuck out. I had to create a new blog because like all Americans I cherish our country's commitment to free speech, up to the point where people start actually exercising it. That's okay, though, because the new blog gives me a chance to show off a new background template. Isn't it pretty? It's got that soothing blue sky and the little lighthouse on the left; I feel like I'm in a Tommy Hilfiger ad. If it's all right with you, I'm just gonna go slip on a v-neck sweater over my J.Crew polo and roll my linen pants up my ankles, maybe walk along the beach with my golden retriever.