Tuesday, September 20, 2005

First Posting

I sit in the Moritz College of Law library at 3:25 with a reprieve from the mandatory professional responsibility class for the day. In front of me is the luminous item wearing away at my ability to see distance, a used copy of Problems and Materials on Payment Law and to my left, Commercial and Debtor-Creditor Law--Selected Statutes 2005. It is the size of a phonebook and written in such a way that my eyes glaze over after 6 minutes of trying to read the statutes for the questions in the textbook.

I have been sitting in a study carol (or is it a corral?) for around an hour, thinking about working. It is not happening. Now I am thinking about thinking but facing similar problems. Here is some information about law school from professor Susan Daicoff at Capitol University here in Cowtown: As opposed to the general population, law students and lawyers tend to be less interested in people, emotions, the interpersonal, and to seem cold and detached. We tend to have greater levels of psychological distress and depression, and other stats I have come across indicate surprisingly high rates of abuse of alcohol and "other drugs."

We tend to become more authoritarian in law school, and trial lawyers have higher testosterone rates. This is noteworthy for female trial lawyers in particular. I presume that we typically have above average IQ's since the competition to gain entrance is fierce.

The atmosphere is competitive to the core. We must compete for grades due to a mandatory curve. We must compete to gain admission to a journal, moot court, two gauntlets I chose not to subject myself to, and even the public interest Pro Bono Research Group, my one extracurricular activity. In conjunction with that, let me state that once I graduate, I never ever want to write another stiff, formalistic bureaucratic legal memo again.

The competition alienates us from one another. My three close friends in the law school are immigrants to this country and have no doubt formed coping strategies for being "aliens" or different even before arriving here. For me, it has been a cold and lonely two years. I have lost nearly all of my hobbies. Go to any public library and look through the legal reference books. Any in-depth law text is only a slight improvement in terms of the interest of subject matter and style. The contents alienate people--we have a complex legal system that does not exist for the people who live under it. Try acting as your own attorney in even a simple legal matter and see how far you get. You will pay somebody $200 an hour or more depending on area of expertise, experience, and the amount of work your situation requires.

It will be like a vampire bat is flying at you in a shadowy office corridor and, much to your surprise, it digs its fangs deep into your back pocket or purse instead of the jugular. We want green, not red. Your bank account will shrink. You will feel drained and you will not know exactly why. You will weaken until you yourself must find a way to increase the personal money supply. Perhaps you will feel the temptation to enter law school yourself at such a time. I strongly warn against it, unless you have the certainty, will and psychological stability necessary to fight the system or become part of the massive self-sustaining American legal machine.

This legal system provides rights for those who understand them and for those with the power to use them. If you are not educated, lack natural intelligence, or lack the time to read law, all the rights and remedies in the world will be of no use to you. Without the money for somebody who does have the necessary time and resources, you are screwed, my friends. That is what the career they would have me enter is predominantly about, opportunism and living off the problems of others, or their own aggressive opportunism if you are in plaintiff's work or corporate settings.

I have engaged in frequent drinking. I am weening myself off of the Genessee (it's cheap, dammit) because I am determined not to allow the institutional creeps and zombies to defeat me. My seemingly sadistic first year civil procedure professor who broke out in sweat and turned red like his head would explode when he did not like our answers will not defeat me. My contracts professor who told me the first practice test I ever took here was "mush" and could give me no more useful information will not push me out. I will finish, escape, and eventually, thrive, doing things that the conformist majority would never have considered. I must repeat this like a mantra to convince myself it is truth and not delusion. "Love is the law, love under will."

Most lawyer$, e$pecially the more con$ervative member$ of my cla$$, appear to take pride in wearing expen$ive clothing, $licking their hair, and $howing off when they have a high-power firm interview on campu$, when they have a photo for the magazine, or when they land the 2L $ummer job that will pay $60,000 a year after graduation--maybe more for the top of the cla$$. The cra$$ materiali$m di$gu$t$ me. There are $ome liberal$ here, but mo$tly left-leaning centri$t$, the educated conformist majority. They will not make wave$, but tho$e with $tronger conviction$ may enter the public $ervice arena. Mo$t of them will be female: Many of u$ come in with some vague idea of entering public $ervice, but the proce$$ change$ our mind$ along the way, as doe$ the debt load upon graduation. $$$

I do not know where I will be this time next year, but I do know it will not be here, and I will not write legal memos for a living.

for other rants and insanity of a personal nature, visit my [obsolete?] blog at http://matts3rdeye.pitas.com


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