Wednesday, August 10, 2005

3Ls--stop wasting your time.

Some Question Third Year of Law School

Now a corporate lawyer, Jennifer Leong fondly recalls her third and final year of law school. A job secured, she traveled frequently. Her courses included feminist jurisprudence and a half-semester bankruptcy seminar — each carefully chosen to get her weekend started by Wednesday afternoon.

"A lot of beer and softball," recalled Leong, who got her University of Virginia law degree in 2000. "Third year was probably the best year of my life."


Well, that's great. I am glad Ms. Leong had a wonderful third year of school. On the other hand, I was working full time as a bureaucrat and going to school full time (shh, don't tell the Bar Association). I have always thought that the last year should be less theory and more application. I learned as much in my one semester in the legal clinic as I did in the classroom. I will never forget talking to a paralegal as a 2L and she said she had to file a motion in limine. I remember thinking to myself 'Wtf is a motion in limine?'. I felt so inadequate because the paralegal knew more about practicing law than I did or maybe we covered that in school during the week that I went to Mardi Gras. Who knows...

Lawgeekgurl has posted her thoughts on this as well. I was in the same position as her. I had a job, but I sure was not going to be able to pay the bills with it. I was scared to death.


Blogger Jim said...

The third year of school doesn't need to be dropped. If anything, it's a prime opportunity for law students to do more practical, skills based work. Unfortunately, not enough students take that opportunity. In fact, if law schools were really interesting in giving the bench and the bar a valuable commodity-i.e., new lawyers who are primed to hit the groud running-the entire law school experience would be more apprentice-like. For example, what good does it do a future lawyer to take a contracts course where all you talk about is contracts gone wrong (which is essentially what most contracts classes consist of)? Why not talk about the proper way to write a contract so you don't end up in court talking about why the agreement went wrong? Why not discuss the key components of a contract-representations, warranties, etc.-and how to draft them instead of talking about stuff like unconscionable contracts, which almost never arise in the real world?

Too much of the law school experience is stuck in the old Paper Chase/Langdellian world.

August 10, 2005  
Blogger torporific said...

Good comment, Jim. What did Oliver Wendell Holmes say--Good cases make bad law, or something similar.

I agree with you. I think the practical, skill based work should be strongly recommended if not compulsory.

August 11, 2005  
Blogger Jezebella said...

I worked for a short time as a legal secretary and I could impress and shame my friends that were in law school at the time because I knew about things like Motions in Limine and they did not. It seems like law clerks are kept searching Westlaw all day while the paralegals and secretaries actually watch law being practiced, so inexperienced lawyers are left completely in the dark unless they can find a mentor. But as my lawyer boyfriend says, the purpose of law school is to help you pass the bar, and the purpose of passing the bar is to get licensed. Then you can learn logistics. But possessing that license means that you can make six figures while that all-knowing, unlicensed secretary is stuck making $30K.

August 15, 2005  

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