Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rule #3

No One Cares If You Sound Like An Idiot When A Prof. Calls On You

As is the custom with Law School, the students are expected to prepare and brief cases before class, and then the Prof. will test the student's knowledge on the case. I believe that this is called The Socratic Method, but the basic purpose is for students to learn how to read and analyze cases. A secondary purpose is that the knowledge sticks with you longer than if it was rote lecture. Don't believe me, go back and look at the first case you read this semester, once you see the name you will remember the basic facts, rationale, holding, and most importantly, the one or two concepts that case was designed to illustrate. You may not completely understand it, but that is a different animal all together.

So this brings us to the thrust of the rule. For whatever reason, be it lack of understanding, lack of preparation, glossophobia, or underwear that's too tight, there will be a time when the Prof. calls on you and you struggle to get through a case. The awkward pauses will slowly build as you frantically try to teach yourself speed reading in 10 seconds. At this point there are two options. The first is to say "I don't know." This is for pussies. If you do not know how BS yet, this is the time to learn. Plus, Profs. are a vindictive bunch, and not only will this piss them off, there is a chance that the Prof will call on you in each of the next three or four classes.

So it is better to take the low road and make something up that sounds reasonably intelligent, or if that fails, just say something. I recall a class where I was called on to explain a case on the Statute of Frauds. When the Prof. asked me if I thought the decision was fair, I replied, "Well, that's the law." Surely that response falls about 120 IQ points short of genius, but at least it was something. The second time that Prof. called on me, it was for a stupid note case that I had only skimmed the night before. I sucked it up, and answered his questions, often wrongly, to the best of my ability and limited knowledge. But I got through it, and am a better person for it.

The fact of the matter is that your classmates don't care if you sound like a mental midget during one of these sessions. They know that it could of just as easily been them. So while they may snicker when you say that lost profits are a restitution measure of damages, it will all be forgotten when the Prof. moves onto his next victim.

And as is the case with all rules of law, there is an exception. The above only applies to when the Prof. cold calls on you. If you raise your hand and consistently say retarded things, your classmates will remember, to the point that as soon as you raise your hand, everyone will start to laugh and the Prof. will roll his eyes. The key word there is consistently, so if you normally have cognizant things to say, no one will mind your brain-fart every now and then.

So when the Prof. calls on you and you are ill-prepared, take a deep breath, silently quote some Shakespeare ("Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more"), and start talking like no one is listening, because no one will care if you something stupid. Eventually, the Prof. will correct you.

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