Law School Q&A
I knew nothing about law school until I began it. As a second-year law student I wanted to take this chance to teach about the mysterious institution that produced such magnificent American specimens as Clarence Darrow, Johnnie Cochran, Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong, and Ally McBeal. Also, “educational” writing counts toward my community service. (Stupid mailbox – why did you have to be on a public street when I peed on you?)
Q. How long does law school take?
A. Three years. The first year is spent on basic topics like contracts, procedure, ambulance chasing, and yelling “Objection!” really dramatically. After that, students pick their own curriculum. This semester, for example, I am taking Copyright, Criminal Law, Reasonable Bribe Amounts, and one other – I think it’s called Professional Ethics, but I’m not sure since I never go and have someone else sign the attendance sheet for me.
Q. Isn’t law school a lot of work?
A. This is a common misconception. On average, we spend about 15 hours in the classroom each week, 50 hours reading and studying, six on a law journal, four on moot court, seven reading forwarded e-mail, 12 at interviews and callbacks for summer work, five for Pilates, and 25 undermining each other’s confidence under the pretense of friendship. This leaves 44 whole hours a week we have to ourselves for whatever we want: Sleeping, eating, napping, sleeping, and napping.
Q. Is it true that they cut off your hand if you break a rule?
A. I think you are thinking of 12th century Persia. That’s not the same thing as law school.
Q. So what does happen if you break a rule?
A. You have to disclose it to the dean, it goes in your permanent record, and an e-mail is sent to the entire student body with a vague description of your offense. Your name is omitted.
Q. Nobody knows who it was?
A. If there’s one thing law students do more than undermining each other’s confidence, it’s gossiping while undermining each other’s confidence. Also, the more embarrassing the violation, the quicker the offender’s identity spreads.
Q. How do grades work?
A. A+ is the best, A is next, then A-, B+, B, B-, and so on down to F.
Q. Very funny.
A. Thank you. In most classes there is just a final exam, and it counts for your entire semester grade. Scientific studies have shown this is the best way to make everybody really nervous and ruin Thanksgiving and Spring breaks, since there’s no time for anything but studying. It is also very practical for us, career-wise, because most firms regularly give their attorneys four months to prepare for five open-book, curve-graded essay exams.
Q. Did you just write this column so women would know you are going to become a high-paid lawyer?
A. OBJECTION! Irrelevant.
Q. Wow, that was very dramatic.
A. It should be. “Objections” was a four-credit class.