Friday, October 22, 2010

Robo-Lawyer

If a robot tells you to do something, you do it.  So when a robot lawyer lectures you on why you shouldn't go to law school, you should listen closely to his electronic voice. (See below.)
Judge Dredd spent time in private practice

There's been a movement lately among law students and recent graduates for "Law School Transparency;" a demand that law schools accurately represent their post-graduation employment statistics to prospective students.  The recession hit the legal community hard, leaving countless new associates jobless, summer clerks offer-less, and 1Ls hopeless. Yet law school enrollment is at an all-time high.  So, disillusioned would-be lawyers are taking to the "blawgs," (isn't that cute?) trying to tell the truth about the law school experience, the resulting debt, and the dismal job forecast.

"Law School Transparency" activists blame law schools for inflating job reports in an effort to recruit more students and make more tuition money.  But that's because if lawyers know how to do anything, it's how to blame someone else for their own mistakes.  I'll admit, it's an attractive proposition to convince myself that I was "lured" into law school by some scheming, mustache-twirling admissions officer who lied to me about my inevitable $160k starting salary.  But the truth is, I had a useless undergraduate liberal arts major and I didn't see a lot of upward mobility in my retail job at J.Crew, so I went to law school.  And chances are, that's why you did, too. 


Blaming law schools for being businesses is just dodging responsibility for embarking on a career you didn't fully understand and ended up not liking.  The bigger problem is this: while law school really is a glorified graduate degree, perfect for poli-sci undergrads who want to put off the "real world" for three years, practicing law is a skilled profession; law school has managed to become completely separate and next-to-useless training for being a lawyer.  So liberal arts undergrads with only the vaguest notions of the Constitution, distant political ambitions, and/or parents who say "blogger" isn't a career, go to law school, read a lot, graduate, and then have to compete tooth-and-nail for a job as a "lawyer" when they don't know what being a lawyer actually means.

Law schools are flawed because they don't provide appropriate technical training to be an attorney.  Every other "professional" career requires some sort of practical on-the-job instruction, complete with focused specialties. But lawyers all graduate with the same J.D., modified slightly by their particular mix of generalized classes, largely without having learned any every-day lawyering skills.  It's possible to graduate from law school without ever doing anything that remotely resembles being a lawyer, other than some occasional legal research and spinning around in a firm's office chair for a few weeks one summer.

That's not to say that everyone who goes to law school is misguided or miserable.  After admittedly stumbling into it, I personally really enjoy a lawyer.  I love my job and the opportunities my degree afforded me.  But law is not for everyone, and it may not be what you think. This video says it best:


This link was featured on Above the Law. More importantly, it was featured on my friend Clint's g-chat status. So take our word for it.

8 comments:

  1. Very well put... It is true that law school is not closely related to the legal profession. There is some relationship. If someone does choose to attend law school, I strongly encourage them to find a job in some legal office whether it be a law firm, legal aid, or government office during their second year and third year in order to gain experience. That's just me talking.

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  2. You had me at "scheming, mustache-twirling admissions officer." Also, the "Tags" that came up on this article are awesome.

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  3. Unrelated: http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/2010/10/sunday-sweets-goes-back-to-future.html

    Present for you.

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  4. Maybe Mrs Thomas told Anita that her husband's sexual organs are not nearly as big as he boasted. Anita has the right to know the truth after all she's gone through.

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  5. I think Gorilla intended to comment on See You Next Tuesday, not this post. But if Gorilla is right, then Thomas' references to a Coke can were particularly misplaced.

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  6. Alison: Good summation of the law school-law world disconnect. You forgot to mention how unpleasant lawyers are, so they'd have to teach you to be an "unpleasant person." Fortunately, a lot of your classmates are already there. The robot thing is not the best summation: the entire profession is explained in six hilarious minutes called the "Argument sketch." (Monty Python--two of them were lawyers). If you watch it, and law still sounds like fun, you're in.

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  7. Anonymous (Oct 28th): So glad you pointed this out. I bet it's unsurprising that I'm a huge Monty Python fan (I'm an Eric Idle girl, myself). A lesson we all could've used in Trial Practice:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

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