Archive for the Why Not to Go to Law School Category

Reason Not to Go to Law School #17

Posted in Why Not to Go to Law School with tags , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by bl1y

You’re too smart/stupid to be a lawyer.

Too Smart.

Students who get into the top law schools are generally quite intelligent (or the beneficiaries of outdated affirmative action programs).  A score in the 95th percentile on the LSAT will qualify you for Mensa; this is about a 165-166.

The Duke Law class of 2010 had a 75/25 LSAT of 170/167.  If you’re unfamiliar with 75/25 stats, that means the 75th percentile got a 170 and the 25th percentile got a 167.  Given that there are several alternative routes to Mensa membership, virtually everyone at Duke could, if so inclined, become a member.  Duke is only ranked #10.

I don’t think Mensa membership is the first and last word on what constitutes genius, but I think this gives a pretty decent taste of how smart lawyers at the top schools are.  Even freaking Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia thinks we’re wasting too many smart people on law:

“Well, you know, two chiefs ago, Chief Justice Burger, used to complain about the low quality of counsel. I used to have just the opposite reaction. I used to be disappointed that so many of the best minds in the country were being devoted to this enterprise.

I mean there’d be a, you know, a defense or public defender from Podunk, you know, and this woman is really brilliant, you know. Why isn’t she out inventing the automobile or, you know, doing something productive for this society?

I mean lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom. That’s important, but it doesn’t put food on the table and there have to be other people who are doing that. And I worry that we are devoting too many of our very best minds to this enterprise.

And they appear here in the Court, I mean, even the ones who will only argue here once and will never come again. I’m usually impressed with how good they are. Sometimes you get one who’s not so good. But, no, by and large I don’t have any complaint about the quality of counsel, except maybe we’re wasting some of our best minds.”

Now, not many lawyers have the engineering or mathematical aptitude to become great inventors, but surely there is something more productive and meaningful all these intelligent people could be doing with their time, like working in microfinance or inventing Settlers of Catan.

Too Stupid.

The flip side of the problem is that many law students are just too damn stupid to be trusted as attorneys.  For example, a girl I know who goes to a lower ranked Tier 1 law school in New Jersey came to me with a very serious situation.  Her neighbor had gone out of town for a few weeks, and had parked on the street in such a way that his car slightly blocked her drive way.  Well, one day she didn’t quite clear the car and ended up putting a minor scratch on it.

She did nothing about it and let several days pass.  Then, she came to be, completely freaking out, thinking that she could potentially be prosecuted for hit and run.  I decided to screw with her and say that she could.  But, any reasonable person would have two ways of quickly finding out that a criminal prosecution was not in the cards.

First, you could Google “New Jersey hit and run law” and figure out in about two minutes that one of the elements of hit and run is that someone has to be seriously injured.  When you scrape an unoccupied car, that’s not very likely to happen.

Second, you could tap into your general knowledge about American culture and remember the remedy for scratching a car: you leave a note, the owner calls you, you pay to fix the paint or whatever.  What doesn’t happen is you leave a note and the owner calls the cops and they throw you in prison for 18 months.

If you can’t manage a simple Google search, or understand extremely basic policy concepts, you shouldn’t be a lawyer.  And, if you’re reading this and think that you’re smarter than that, odds are you aren’t.  Her school is ranked in the 40-50 range, which is probably higher than your school.  You just think you’re smarter, but you’re too dumb to know you’re wrong.

Maybe there are some people who are just smart enough to handle the reading comprehension and logical reasoning law requires, but aren’t smart enough to do anything truly useful in society, but they probably account for less than 10% of current law students.

Advertisements

Reason Not to Go to Law School #16

Posted in Why Not to Go to Law School with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by bl1y

Whiny minority kids.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Race to Be Offended is a pretty popular sport among ultra left-wing politically correct types, and law school is a breeding ground for them.  Normally people say dumb things when they’re in too much of a hurry to consider facts, such as a President calling a police officer stupid for investigating what appeared to be an obvious break in.

Now, imagine combining that level of stupidity with the drunken revelry that takes place on the last day of a semester’s exams in law school.

After the last exams of my 3L Fall semester, I was on the balcony of one of our dorms for the traditional drink-till-your-face-falls-off.  Towards the end, a black student and Jewish student got into a rather bizarre argument: who was treated worse, blacks or Jews.

Aside from the fact that it’s strange for anyone to even bother arguing over who’s discriminated against more (they couldn’t just agree that discrimination is bad; everyone wants to be special), what made this particularly bizarre was that they were arguing over which group was most discriminated against in universities.

They went to different schools, but no surprise, black student reported his school treated black students worse and Jewish student reported his school treated Jewish students worse.  Both of these students went to mother-freaking Ivy League schools for undergrad.

I knew both students, and neither one was a rags-to-riches story.  Both came from wealthy, influential families.  They were seriously arguing over who suffered the most from the discriminatory effects of education opportunities afforded to less than .01% of population.

Reason Not to Go to Law School #15

Posted in Why Not to Go to Law School with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2010 by bl1y

1L Summer Jobs.

2L summer jobs are pretty much what all of law school revolves around, but few people pay much attention to the job you have after your first year of school.  Unless you’re very well connected, you’re not going to be working at a law firm.  You can’t rely on phenomenal grades to get these positions, because you won’t have any until February, and at that time law firms have been done with their summer hiring for months.

Most people end up getting jobs in one of three areas, public interest, research assistant for a professor, or not doing law at all.  I’m going to focus on the second, being an RA.

The work of an RA is tedious and dull, and you’ll receive very little guidance or wisdom from your professor.  Your professor is not a practitioner, but an academic, and as such has probably not practiced law in the last 20 years, if ever.  You will gain no useful knowledge or experience to prepare you for your for-profit sector work later on.

But even worse than having a summer job that results in no useful experience is the pay.

According to NYU’s Student Expense Budget for 2009-2010, you will need $20,914 for room and board the 9 months that you are in school, or about $2323 a month.  RA jobs there pay $12.50/hr, and professors can only hire you for no more than 35 hours a week (7 hours a day, 5 days a week).  So, one day of work gets you $87.50, and there are on average about 22 working days in a month, so you’ll be earning on average $1925 a month (before taxes), or about 20% less than what the school thinks you need.  Who the hell did the math on that one?

There is exactly one reason why the school can manage to pay so little and still get a pretty big number of students signing up for the jobs.  1L summer job prospects are just that lousy, even for students at the best schools.  Just imagine how shitty it’ll be if you go anywhere ranked worse.

Reason Not to Go to Law School #14

Posted in Why Not to Go to Law School with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2010 by bl1y

Eggshell Sensitivities.

Lawyers and law students are touchy on anything remotely politically incorrect.  This is especially true for the lawyers who have vaginas, or the ones with penises who think being all sensitive will earn them the love of the ones with vaginas.

As reported on AbovetheLaw.com, New York State Bar Association Committee on Women in the Law is having their annual meeting soon, and one of the panals has got a whole lot of panties into bundles.

That’s right, the Committee on Women in the Law is having a panal to give a male perspective, and the women are pissed:

“I thought it was a joke until I went to the website myself. One female partner I showed it to is hoping that the NYSBA website was hacked and this still is a joke. She couldn’t believe it came from there.”

“[E]very female attorney I know that has seen this — partners to associates — is outraged. The first reaction is this is a joke. Then next is what year is this from. And the last is shocked and appalled. Most people don’t know where to start.”

And Pace Law professor Bridget Crawford is even calling for a boycott:

“I call for all members of the NYSBA to boycott this panel discussion. Yes, the speakers have a right to speak, but we don’t have to go and listen. Men have been telling us FOR YEARS how we don’t measure up. To have a panel of men, endorsed by the New York State Bar Association, discussing our “strengths and weaknesses,” is a regression and an insult to all women in the legal profession.”

But, David Lat provides a very good reason to hold this panel:

“But maybe you still need some advice for navigating the mean, cutthroat, male-dominated world of the legal profession. Ideally these tips should come from, you know…. MEN.”

Given that a huge part of being a female attorney means interacting with male attorneys, wouldn’t it be incredibly useful to know how those male attorneys perceive their female coworkers?  But no, I guess men aren’t allowed to know anything about women or offer women any sort of advice.

Keep that in mind the next time you complain about men not understanding women.  Maybe we do, but we pretend to know nothing about women so that you won’t jump down our throats for having the audacity to think we might have learned something about the other half of the population that we interact with every single day of our lives.

Reason Not to Go to Law School #13

Posted in Why Not to Go to Law School with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2010 by bl1y

Lawyer Humor.

Maybe law school happens to attract people who aren’t particularly funny, but it also seems to transform people who might otherwise have a healthy since of humor.  Either they become humorless drones or, worse, they develop lawyer humor: the disease that makes lawyers and law students find incredibly un-funny remarks hilarious because they relate to law or were made by a lawyer/law professor/judge.

An exchange like this in the Supreme Court is what passes as high comedy in the legal world:

MR. FRIEDMAN: I think that issue is entirely orthogonal to the issue here because the Commonwealth is acknowledging –
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I’m sorry. Entirely what?
MR. FRIEDMAN: Orthogonal. Right angle. Unrelated. Irrelevant.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Oh.
JUSTICE SCALIA: What was that adjective? I liked that.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Orthogonal.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Orthogonal.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Right, right.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Orthogonal, ooh.
(Laughter.)
JUSTICE KENNEDY: I knew this case presented us a problem.
(Laughter.)
MR. FRIEDMAN: I should have — I probably should have said –
JUSTICE SCALIA: I think we should use that in the opinion.
(Laughter.)
MR. FRIEDMAN: I thought — I thought I had seen it before.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Or the dissent.
(Laughter.)
MR. FRIEDMAN: That is a bit of professorship creeping in, I suppose.

Maybe worth an awkward chuckle if you were present when it happened, but this really isn’t that funny.  For a comparison, here is what normal people find funny:

Reason Not to Go to Law School #12

Posted in Why Not to Go to Law School with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by bl1y

Useless Classes.

I’m not talking about the classes that are supposed to be useful but ultimately fail, I’m talking about the ones that don’t even purport to be useful.  BitterLawyer.com ran a bit on this a while ago, highlighting 11 worthless classes, and I thought I’d revisit the topic, but see just how much crap I could churn up by limiting myself to only the Spring 2010 classes at the Top 5 schools.

Yale

Book of Job and Injustice.  Not a class about injustice in the job market, but a class on how to use the Biblical Book of Job to understand injustice in the world.  The class is basically “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”  This was one of the many topics we covered in my philosophy of religion class in undergrad, which is precisely where it belongs.

Ethics in Literature.  I understand the importance of having classes in legal ethics, and why some students are interested in Law and Literature (because they’re book nerds and it looks like an easy class), but Ethics in Literature?  This class would be a thousand times more effective if you just cut out the books and discussed some of the more complex or intriguing ethical dilemmas (legal or otherwise) thought have been thought up during centuries of philosophical circle jerks.

Harvard

Democracy Of, By, and For the People: Reading Group.  This is a class on “(1) community life, (2) self governance, and (3) accountability to the common good,” which requires students to “prepare periodic ‘one-pagers’ on mutually agreed upon topics.”  Flimsy topic?  Bullshit assignments?  Sign me up!

Great Books: Reading Group.  “This reading group is meant to be an antidote. Nowadays, law students arrive at law school having read less and less history and literature.”  So what’s Harvard’s solution to this?  Reading and discussing one “great book,” Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, a book so great you’ve probably never heard of it.  At least the class is only worth one credit.  In my English Honors Seminar we read The Iliad, The Aeneid, Paradise Lost, Tom Jones, and Moby Dick.  That’s how you make up for a lack of exposure to literature and history.  Not with a class where “Soft drinks, wine, cheese and so forth will be provided.”

Jewish Law’s Response to Gentile Law: Internal Views of External Influences: Advanced Reading Group.  Holy Moses, what a freaking waste of time.  The class will “explore the language Jewish law uses to describe its own perception of its relation to Gentile law.”  It’s not even a class on Jewish law, it’s a class on the linguistics of Jewish law.  And what makes this an “advanced” reading group?  You must be able to read Hebrew to attend.  In other words: Only God’s chosen people are allowed.

The Past and Future of the Left.  We all know universities tend to lean liberal, and law schools are no exception.  But this class is quite literally about how students can get the party of “greater equality and empowerment” to overcome its current internal conflicts.

Stanford

Law and Creativity: Fiction and Nonfiction.  I almost didn’t read this one, thinking it would be a class on intellectual property.  But, I’m sure glad I did.  This class is broken down into two components; in the first students “examine and discuss creative treatments of legal and professional issues in a variety of media (including film, fiction, and nonfiction),” and in the second they “submit their own fiction and creative nonfiction pieces for group discussion.”  Basically, it’s watching A Few Good Men followed by a creative writing workshop where you’re critiqued by people with little or no creative writing background.

Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.  Another wonderful reading group brought to you by America’s higher education system.  This is pure discussion group, no lecture.  And to make sure it is extra useless to lawyers, enrollment is capped at 16 students, and only half of those may be from the law school.

Columbia

Biblical Jurisprudence.  Every school seems to have these worthless Bible classes.  This noe is sure to prepare you for legal practice by exploring topics such as “the meaning of wars of extermination in the biblical narrative” and “the binding of Isaac as it relates to other practices of sacrifice.”  In other words, it’s a class that explores the bad stuff Jews did in the old testament.  Or, as Profs. Fletcher and D-Kal call it, “the OT.”

Leadership for Lawyers: “This course examines the responsibilities and challenges of lawyers who occupy leadership roles in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.”  Hint: It’s exactly the same as the responsibilities and challenges of non-lawyers who occupy leadership roles in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

New York University

Retribution in Criminal Law Theory & Practice.  The class basically centers around one question, should we use criminal sanctions for retribution, rehabilitation, or deterrence?  Doesn’t sound too terribly useless until the end of the course description: “The seminar includes in its pedagogy experiments in freeing creative voice through weekly writing and theatre exercises and includes a close study of philosophy, history, psychoanalysis, novels, and plays.”

What.  The.  Fuck?

The Passion of the Christ: The Trial of Jesus.  “For serious learners. Tons to read and plenty of hard work. Do not enroll just for curiosity.”  I think that’s code for “This is a bullshit class, but I’m trying desperately to make people think I’m a serious academic.”

Reason Not to Go to Law School #11

Posted in Why Not to Go to Law School with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by bl1y

Foreigners.

Law school is lousy with foreigners, especially LLM students.  They make the worst gunners, and they’re the most rude, unsocialized students in the school.  This is definitely not a race thing though.  American-born minority students are pretty much the same as everybody else (not counting admissions standards).

The really obnoxious students are the ones who were born in eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia.  And, for the geographically challenged, Israel, Iran, and India are all part of Asia, so keep that in mind.  I can’t speak to Ausie or South American law students, because I don’t really recall encountering any.  I’m sure there were a few, which means if I didn’t notice them they did a good job of not being complete assholes.

The first time you’ll notice how bad the foreign students are is when you try to get a seat in the library to study for exams.  Law libraries get pretty full this time of year, so it’s kind of like trying to park at Target two days before Christmas.  Eventually though, you will find a spot that looks empty and mosey on over to it…only to discover that someone’s backpack is in the seat and their laptop is on the table, chained to the desk lamp.  This is the equivalent of finding that perfect parking spot only to realize that half a dozen assholes have decided to place shopping carts in it.

Now, I understand that long study sessions in the library require occasional breaks, and I don’t think you should have to give up your seat to go smoke or pee or get coffee.  The problem is with the foreign born students who will claim a spot, but not occupy it for hours at a time.  It’s a pretty common site, but the worst I encountered was a student who held a seat for over six hours.  I had the seat across from him, and he wasn’t there when I sat down.  Six hours later when I left he hadn’t once showed up.

Foreign born students are also the most likely to leave trash on the tables in the library, cafes, or in the classrooms.  I don’t really know why they do it, but I guess they’re not used to living in a country with regular garbage pickups, so the idea of putting things in a trash can so that it can end up in some central trash processing facility has never occurred to them.  They should get some sort of primer on the wonderful world of America and how it’s much better than the shit hole they just moved from.

I know it’s not politically correct to say how much America is better than other countries, but come on!  How many American students go to foreign countries to get college degrees (not just to spend a semester abroad, but to get the whole damn degree).  Now compare that to the students coming here.  We’re called First World because we’re #1, end of discussion.

If you have to get smuggled into the Sudan to have better opportunities in your life, your country is a shit hole.  If you don’t like me calling it a shit hole, then explain why you refuse to return.  (My buddy who was smuggled into the Sudan to get out of his country now works for our government and has no intention of returning.  Also, if he did return, his country would throw him in prison for leaving.  That’s how much of a shit hole it is.)

Back to sloppy foreigners…the worst thing I’ve seen one do was, once again, in the library.  This asian guy was sitting across from me and I guess was the only person in law school not using a computer.  (Come on!  Don’t they make our computers in your country?  You couldn’t get one as a going away present?)  Instead he wrote in a notebook with a pencil.  I guess he made a lot of mistakes, because he kept erasing large sections of whatever he had written.  It might be a while since you’ve used a pencil, so let me remind you of what happens when you erase a lot.  A bunch of little pieces of eraser-rubber break off and make a mess.  The normal thing to do is just sweep them harmlessly onto the floor where they’ll be eventually vacuumed up.

But nope, this guy decides that the proper way to dispose of his eraser mess is to push the little rubber bits over to my side of the table.  What the fuck is this guy thinking?  It that how they do things back in your come country?  I guess his people are used to being rude.  When you look like everyone else, no one can really remember if you’ve ever met before and if you were polite or rude.

And now moving on to the final reason foreign law students are so God damn annoying, gunning.  American born law students gun just as much as the foreigners, but the foreigners do it in the most annoying way.  You can tell you have a foreign gunner because every comment he makes begins with “In my country…”  Unless the class starts with “International” or “Comparative” no one gives two shits how things operate in your country.  We want to learn about the law of our own country.  Not that we will, but we’d at least like to pretend that’s what’s going on.  This is especially common in classes that deal with social justice issues, such as the death penalty.

“In my country, instead of a trial, Supreme Leader would simply send his sons to gas thousands of us.  But now that Americans are there we have trials.  Even Supreme Leader got a trial after he was deposed.  We are grateful that your brave American soldiers have stopped the genocide that was happening to my people.”

Shut up Rojdar, no one cares.