Monday, February 05, 2007

The 1L Diaries: Disheartened

This entry in The 1L Diaries was written by my classmate "Disheartened", who also started law school in the summer of 2005.

I am in law school because I scored in the 99th percentile on the LSAT. My undergraduate performance was notoriously unimpressive, so I felt compelled to “take advantage” of this good fortune. Big mistake. I arrived in Michigan with high hopes – maybe even dreams. Now I am a cynic. Law school is where idealists go to die.

That’s not to say I don’t like Michigan. Ann Arbor is a beautiful college town; the law school is terrific, and I am particularly fond of my classmates. But there is something about the education that irks me. Maybe the Socratic Method has exhausted my vigor, as the weight of preparation and attention is particularly burdensome for us underachievers. Maybe it’s that I find the American legal system disgraceful; particularly constitutional law, scandalous is the word that comes to mind. I spend at least thirty minutes each day wishing I were in med school or engaged in some other endeavor where I might be able help people. Lawyers are a scourge that bleeds society like an open wound. Certainly, they are necessary; but one-half the number would provide identical societal benefits without unnecessarily consuming excessive resources. Law is extortion made legal – the only distinction is whether the extortion is foisted upon the person or the system requires him to ask for it. Sadly, I am training to be a leach. But law school is a terrific education. I know almost nothing about the law and am entirely incapable of providing any service to my employer this summer, but I have learned much in law school. Law school is really just liberal arts education, with an emphasis on improvised public speaking.

I will admit that I was displeased by my grades and by the law school grading process generally. First semester, I worked harder than at any point in my academic life. I earned median grades. Second semester, I did as close to nothing as is feasible: I attended roughly half my classes and learned each subject in three days using outlines available online. Can you guess the punch line? Yes, slightly better grades.

Law school introduced me to Northeastern pretension. In a class I had two days per week, one student managed to wear some sort of Yale paraphernalia to every session all semester. I did not know that Yale passed out t-shirts based on which dorm the student lived in or whether he entered the annual eating competition. I grew up in a middle-class home in an informal town, and am the proud product of public schools. I am grateful for Michigan’s 25% in-state requirement. The school owes its down-to-earth reputation to these students. Without them, my law school experience would have been much less pleasurable.

My political viewpoints are largely unchanged. Maybe now I see fewer things as absolutes and am more capable of making arguments for either side. I still think that affirmative action sounds good in theory but fails in practice. I hate how I can’t help but think of race when minority students say something foolish. I wish I did not know that they were under-qualified to attend this law school. And I truly wish that I were able to attend law school with minority students similarly qualified with the rest of the class. Unfortunately for all of us, the AA system drags those students up to Yale, Harvard, and Stanford, and provides us with minorities who should be attending lower ranked schools. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but our class would have benefited from an outstanding minority student willing to and capable of challenging established views.

But what really matters in law school? Jobs. And I was offered my first-choice job during the interview and without providing grades. Clearly, Michigan’s reputation carried the day. Is this enough to declare victory and end this essay? Yes. I am racing toward a profession defined by misery, but I will be well compensated – and moderately prestigious.

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At 6:35 AM, Blogger Leather Diaries said...

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