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.