Monday, March 26, 2007

A Moment of Reflection Part 2

Part 1

Part 2 was going to be expansive (and eloquent) dissection of the law school experience. "The Path of the Law" to quote Holmes, and the pitfalls of thinking that getting a JD is the answer to the proverbial question of "What should I do with my life?" These are important questions, and I decided to take some time to fully formulate my point view. If I was billing for the amount of time I thought about this since last Wednesday, I would have no need to take out a private loan next year. There is a lot of time to just think when you spend 11 hours driving in two days. So I was getting ready to espouse brilliance and caution into the blogosphere when . . .

Those bastages over at Barely Legal decide to update their blog for the first time in months over the weekend. Long story short, the lightning that my post was set to ignite, will not have its thunder heard for weeks, or months, or ever. So if you check out that site (as I am sure you all religiously do), you will pretty much get the point of what I was going write here.

However, there are some pretty important distinctions, which I will address now (there is no point in reprinting my entire e-mail to my sis, so I will hit the high points).

The e-mail from my sis stated that she was thinking about attending law school part-time. My response began with this query, To start with, why do you want to go law school?

This is the threshold question. Failure to provide an appropriate response to this, and the inquiry ends. In lawyer terms, for a court to hear a case, there must be a controversy. However, you will never hear a court explicitly state that a controversy exists, unless the decision is based on those grounds, and it is not that it is overlooked, it just becomes implicit. In determining why to go to law school, a prospective student will formulate a reason why, without digging deeper. The why becomes implicit and shoved into the background, to be forgotten until you become a 2L, with a chance to think, "Where are we going?" (or for you latin aficionados, Quo Vadimus).

The same arguments can be advocated for Undergrad. I have no reason for going to college other than it seemed like the next logical step. There is no why, it is just the next step. Law School should never be the next step without a clearly defined goal, whether it is being the next Vincent Bugliosi, Henry Hyde, or Frank Easterbrook (while understanding the road each path takes), or a just the desire to work for Legal Aid. Whatever the goal is, before going to law school, it should be clearly defined.

My sister told me that she had a desire to do something with IP finance, so I wrote to her that there had to be a better way to prepare herself for a career in IP issues without going to law school. Hell, a nice week long seminar could probably sum up the most important issues in IP law, or at least how it relates to what she wants to do.

Other than the poor reason for attending law school, I railed against attending law school part-time. What I did not mention in my e-mail, is possibly the best reason: The fact that when attending full-time you can go out drinking on a Wednesday night, then stay up until 5:30 a.m. arguing all sorts of semantics, and sleep through your nine o'clock class because you still have a couple absences to give. How would want to give this up? What I focused on in my writing to my sis was the burden she would have.

First, it is about five years to graduate i think. That is a lot of shot weekends. Second, with one or two, three hour classes a week, there is going to be a lot of reading. The general rule is for each hour in class, it is three outside of class. At least the first year. So if you take six credits (two classes, I am not sure exactly how many you would take), that is 18 hours (at least), for a total of 24, plus work. 64 hours in toto a week is not too bad.

I harken back to my first year, when I studied my ass off. Reading cases two or three times, and briefing them. That first year is a tough one. I could not imagine the first year lasting two years. The rigors of the first year provide a substantial benefit. You come to understand the process, how to read a case, whether or not you like it, you are learning to think like a lawyer. It becomes easier, but that first year is tough.

I could not imagine working full-time, going to law school part-time, and dealing with all this bullshit for the first time. You got to want it pretty bad. Which brings us full circle, back to the why.

Barely Legal penned a series of bad reasons to attend law school (I am too lazy to find the links, but it is around April '06 (I think), and I generally agree with them. Money, prestige, thinking one man can make a difference, are all too pretentious for but a few of us. Pragmatic reasons grounded in thoughtful decision-making are much more pertinent. Those reasons, are personal to everyone, and I will not bother to make a list.

I suppose now would be the time for me to list my reasons for attending law school, but I do not feel like it. They are still valid, and I still think I made the right decision (though feel free to ask if that holds true a year from now), and I am comfortable with that.

So, as for my moment of reflection, I am not ready to aim that mirror on myself just yet, but I will happily point it in your direction.

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