so i’ve been tapped to write one of those 10 things you need to know about…articles for an independent magazine in Lexington, Ky. I wrote the article and got it all shiny and smooth only to find that the magazine went belly-up. Since they aren’t going to be publishing it, i will just put it here. Enjoy, my three followers!
Ten Things You Should Know Before Law School
Everyone goes to law school for different reasons. Some go because Daddy is a lawyer and hey, it’s a living (that was me). Some go because lawyers make a lot of money so they see this already overcrowded profession, with attorneys so desperate for clients that they are wrestling dinosaurs and ninjas on television commercials, and think “I want a piece of this!” Some go to law school because they suck at math and would rather be tazed in the gonads than have to take a college level chemistry class (me again). Some go because they want the prestige and respect that comes from being a lawyer (I have to pause a moment here to stop laughing and to clean the spit off my computer screen and shirt). Hell, I’ve heard that a guy went to law school a few years ago because he was interested in the law. Not sure I believe it, but there it is. I’m sure he probably just went to further his chances at running for public office sometime in the future. But whatever the reason, if you are planning to apply for law school, or wish to take the “legal track” through undergrad, I think it’s important that you consider the following TRUTHS. These aren’t opinions. Don’t be confused by the flippant, indifferent tone I’m taking here. I was there, I know. As an undergrad, we all have this belief that once we get out of school and start our chosen career, everything will fall into place and we will suddenly have some sense of peace. Grow up. Nothing ever falls into place and peace is for hippies and epitaphs. So, if you find yourself wanting to be a part of a profession in which there is more suicide, alcoholism, chemical dependency, and depression than any other career path start taking notes because this entry is just for you.
1 Law school sucks. It’s not just the place, or the work; it’s the people. Yea, there are good people in law school (hell, I was there, and I think I’m pretty swell) but the bad people are really bad. Grades are generally posted publicly by the last 4 digits of your social. Law school classes are small. There are always douches that compare those 4 digits across all classes and figure out what YOUR 4 digits are so that they can figure out what your grade is, and if you are a threat to them. It has to take them hours, probably days, to figure it all out. The first year is the worst, after that it generally just turns into something like a soap opera, where everyone knows who everyone else is sleeping with and which teachers like to go home to “tutor” students. There are two upsides to being in law school, and only two. The first, every student bar association event I’ve been to at any school involved kegs, hard liquor, and drunk women. Law students are some of the heaviest drinkers you will find, so if you like waking up in strange places with people you don’t know then by all means, dive in. The second upside is that whatever your sex, you are suddenly more attractive to others when you answer the “What’s your major” question with “I’m in law school.” Otherwise, law school sucks.
2 They don’t teach you anything in law school. You may think I’m joking here, but I’m not. You will work your ass off in law school and at times, you will really feel like you are grasping some heavy legal concepts. You are not. What you are grasping is as useful as canned unicorn farts. Do this experiment if you don’t believe me. Find a third year law student and ask her to draft a complaint. Make it about whatever you want, it’s fine. She won’t be able to do it. There you go. 3 years of her life and about $200,000 worth of education. Can’t draft the simplest of legal documents.
3 Your professors don’t care. Once you are out of their class, they won’t even pretend to know you in the hallway. You want to know why? They aren’t there to teach. They are above you. Those stupid classes they have to teach really get in the way of why they are professors in law school anyway-they are writing. Not cool stuff either, there are no bestsellers coming out of law school offices. “Guerilla Courtroom Tactics”, “Lawson’s Rules of Evidence” and “Deposing Deceptive Defense Doctors” will never be on the front row at your local Barnes and Noble.
4 Unless you are in the top 10% of your class, you might as well be in the bottom 10%. That’s right. If you find yourself really pushing yourself hard, but only making the top 20%, let yourself go. The fact is, getting in to law school is the hard part. Just coast, dude. It’s cool. You won’t flunk out unless you just stop showing up. Drink, party, tell every girl in the bar you are a law student. Come to class wearing your pajamas or her pajamas or whatever. It probably won’t make a bit of difference about where you get hired and won’t affect your income earning potential at all. The old saying about law school is true: A students make professors, B students make judges, and C students make money.
5 They go by different names at different schools, but prepare yourself for “gunners.” Law school uses the Socratic method, which means the teachers in most classes will ask questions to make sure the students are actually paying attention and keeping up. Most of us sit in the back of the room and roll our eyes, which I put forth to you is the correct way to proceed through any learning experience. But these gunners, they are different. They seek out the seat in the front row, in the middle. The Gunner, much like a wild bird, has an elegant display that he is very proud of. It is accomplished by sticking one wing straight into the air at every opportunity. The display is followed by the gunner’s song, one you need to get used to now: “I have a question.” It is sometimes personalized to the individual gunner, so if you are passing an open college class window and hear things such as “Point of inquiry”, “I would like to propose a hypothetical” or “Might I interject something here” you are hearing the territorial call of the gunner. For God’s sake, run.
6 Your liver is not ready for law school. I know, you stay out every night as an undergrad, going to bars and getting the guys to buy you drinks. You even drink blowjob shots off the bar the right way, just to get more free booze. You think you are ready, but you are wrong. My theory is that by the end of the first semester of law school, everyone has realized that they made a mistake. They also realize it’s too late to quit, as they either have gone too far into debt to get into law school, or they have spent too much of their or their parent’s money and realize if they quit now, they will be cut off. Booze deadens the pain.
7 Law schools are like going back to high school. You know who’s sleeping with whom. You are remembered for every stupid or cool thing you do. So, if you want to reinvent yourself, go ahead and try. Want to be the class clown? Start your fumblebuckery on the first day. Want to be the cool and aloof chick? Put your panties in the freezer from the beginning. You will be around these people for three years. Every. Single. Fucking. Day. Enjoy the act, because sooner or later the real you is going to pop out like the breast of a German beer maiden and everyone will see that you are really just an act. And you have puffy nipples.
8 Law school is expensive. As in, you are now a slave to the system. You will be assigned a number and a uniform shortly. Welcome to the machine.
9 Once you graduate, you are going to have to learn how to practice law. See number 2 above. You will not even know the proper procedure for the most basic of cases. You will walk into courtrooms for months before you are really confident that you are standing in the right place, that your paperwork is in order, that you are speaking at the proper time, and that you are even in the right courtroom. It’s sort of like that dream where you are standing in front of the class and you realize you forgot to put on pants that morning. Only now this is your fucking career.
10 Being a lawyer sucks. Everyone thinks you are rich, so nobody wants to pay you for your work. You go to a restaurant only to run into a client who “just wants to ask you a couple of questions.” Doctors will refuse to see you just to punish you under the false pretense of “not getting sued”. There is no respect. It’s also a very crowded field right now. One option is you can hope to get on at a large law firm, where the pay is ok so long as you don’t really expect to go home evenings, weekends, or holidays. Another option is you can go apply for government jobs, such as assistant prosecutor or judicial clerk. It’ll be ok for a while, until that student load debt payment causes you to send your children to Thailand for sweat-shop wages. Or, you can go out on your own. Please remember though, many lawyers advertise now, and while it does work, it does so at the expense of dragging down the entire profession. You’ll have to set yourself apart somehow. Might I suggest you use zombies or vampires in your commercials, they are really “in” right now.
That’s about it. I know this entire article sounds really negative about the law school experience but in reality, the experience can be much worse. It’s up to you. And if you find yourself sitting in the front of the class with your hand up, asking questions every time the professor pauses to take a breath, just remember: I hate you.