Reason Not to Go to Law School #3

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on January 8th, 2010 by bl1y

You don’t learn anything.

Most law students figure out pretty early on that they won’t actually be learning the law in law school. But, not everyone still in the application process is aware, so I’ll make the point as clear as possible:

You will not learn law in law school.

If you really are interested in learning black letter law, go pick up three things: law school text books (aka: case books), law school study guides (aka: horn books), and bar exam study guides (aka: the law). Read them on your own. You’ll maybe miss a thing or two by not having a professor explaining it. If so, just buy another study guide and get a different person’s explanations. You can get the same, if not better, education than someone going to law school, and for not more than 1% of the cost.

A lot of people are okay with law school not teaching law because they think law school teaches this other skill known as “thinking like a lawyer.” It’s some combination of critical analysis and being an asshole. You don’t learn it in law school. If you really want to hone your analytical skills, get a degree in analytical philosophy. Seriously, you will learn how to break arguments down into their component parts, put them back together, and figure out what’s missing or where things go wrong. Make sure to take a class in deductive/symbolic logic. Law school won’t teach you this stuff. For real. DeMorgan’s Law was absolutely essential to understanding one of my legal research and writing assignments, but we never had a lesson on distributing negations. A lot of people screwed up their statutory interpretations because of this. The professor didn’t know how to explain it.

You also will not learn how to write like a lawyer. Your legal writing class will be taught by a third year student who has no more than ten weeks of actual lawyering experience. If you’re lucky, there will be a real life law professor for the class too, but don’t expect her to do anything. She is just a diversity hire used to pad the school’s numbers. Mine was a lesbian and a Native American. Double the diversity points!

If you have poor reasoning skills or poor writing skills, law school will not help you. If you’re good in these departments, law school might actually make you worse.

If you think I’m just cynical, consider this: The ABA limits the number of lawyers who can teach at law schools as well as the number of credits you can take from lawyers. The vast majority of law professors cannot be practitioners (aka: lawyers), they must be academics (aka: worthless). So, you’re taking classes from people who have probably never practiced law. Good luck learning how to be a lawyer from them, or even learning how to think like a lawyer. They’ve never thought as a lawyer, so they can’t teach you how to think like one. If you get a professor who used to practice, they’ve probably been out of the game for so long that their experience will be useless to you. They won’t have done the type of electronic research and document review that will dominate your practice.

Here is a complete list of things I learned in law school:

Law students are incapable of basic math functions like adding two numbers, or simply taking one number, leaving it alone, and having it remain the same value by not doing anything to it.

Law students are really bad at learning the Erie Doctrine. (If your explanation does not involve the Supreme Court ruling on whether a law written by the Supreme Court is constitutional, you’ve missed something.)

All packages contain explosives.

How to create a zipper in Desktop Tower Defense 1.5.

Emma Watson reached the age of consent (about two years ago, varies by state).
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