The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Different World

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I have been reading New Kid's posts about starting law school. I am so happy and excited for her. Reading her posts about her expectations, fears and excitement takes me back to my law school days.

I decided to go to law school after my first year in my Master's program. I was not happy with my program or what the prospects would lead me upon finishing. I had always dreamed of going to law school, so I figured I would give it a shot.

After I was accepted, I remember reading everything I could on how to survive during the first year. I had nightmares of ending up with a Professor Kingsfield from The Paper Chase. I also wondered how my foreign language background would translate into law. I was not a pre-law major and the only law courses I took were those for my teaching degree. Basically, I knew diddly squat.

I went to orenintation and immediately connected with some students who about my age and had similar academic backgrounds and life circumstances. A few of us became study buddies. That came in handy during the first semester of my first year. In law school, the first year program is very rigorous. You are told what courses to take and when to take them. Many professors have assignments due on the first day of class, and believe me, they expect you to be ready to go. There is also a significant amount of reading that comes with the territory. And I am not talking about reading just textbook stuff. A usually textbook is not a textbook at all. It's a book filled with cases. One case can be in excess of 40 pages, main of which is what is called dicta. (Translation...filler.) Soon I learned how to cipher through the dicta to find the relevant information.

And yes, there are some Kingsfields out there. And yes, I did get my ass handed to me a few times. In retrospect, these professors were trying to make me think like an attorney. See, attorney do think in a different way. We are constantly viewing and analyzing issues. We are those annoying people who love to play Devil's Advocate. We are taught to do that. And it's a good thing becuase a good attorney is constantly considering all sides and scenarios before setting forth an argument.

But what I loved was learning about the law, how the concepts and theories come together to create a concept. After reading or hearing about a theory, it would be a great learning moment when the light bulb would click on and I would say "Holy crap, I get it!"

I really enjoyed law school. It was tough, challenging and expensive. But, I loved how it taught me how to think, how to look at a particular issue and how to present my thoughts.

Law school is nothing like the real practice of law. In practice, you don't have much time to embrace the theories. You are too busy trying to deal with clients, court and other issues. Sure, you need to understand the theories, but trust me, a client does not care on whether or not economic analysis of tort theory is going to help them in a personal injury case. The client just wants to know how much he is going to get paid.

I guess that is why I left the world of law practice. I missed diving into the law and examining it's parts. I love conveying the concepts and theories to students in hope of seeing a bunch of light bulbs suddenly click on.

Best of luck, New Kid and any other academics making the jump to law school. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did.


New Kid on the Hallway said...

Thanks for the best wishes! It's great to read about your enthusiasm for LS - totally encouraging!