There are so many posts and tweets and articles written on what law school didn’t prepare us for. Marketers scream “law school didn’t prepare you to run a business and get clients!” People who want to ghost write for you scream “You didn’t learn to write persuasively and use proper fonts!” Criminal defense lawyers scream “How do I live with the constant stream of humanity that I see being wasted.” (Read that post, though, really.)
Look, I went to law school to learn how to pass the bar. I didn’t go because I thought it would teach me really much of anything. For that I went to work. I started in the DA’s office as an intern in the appellate unit, then in my 2nd year I got permission to try cases. So, I did that. Then I switched sides and went to work for a balls out criminal defense lawyer. He taught me how to work hard, and how to stand tough in the face of sometimes seemingly never ending criticism. Did law school prepare me to set up my office remotely from Starbucks? Nope. Did it help me learn how to be a human being and talk to people about what I do for a living so they can refer cases to me? Nope. I thought that being a living sentient civilized human being was part of me being a lawyer. So, that when I was a lawyer and people knew I was a lawyer because as a civilized human being I would talk to them, they might refer cases to me.
I’m not sure why law school has to teach people how to practice law. Their goal is to teach you the law – the concepts of it, how to analyze and evaluate it. Where to find it and how to comprehend it. Each firm, each governmental entity, each person has a way of engaging in the practice of law that is unique. And, obviously, the law is always changing and how people practice it will change as well. (Aren’t we all ever evolving? Isn’t that the hope?) What worked for us 15 years ago simply doesn’t hold true today. But the things I learned in law school are still useful – I know how to read the law. I know the questions to ask myself when I read a case or a statute and I know that may means it could be and shall means it has to be.
My suggestion is this: Law schools shouldn’t let in so many dopes who don’t realize that you actually go out of school and practice law – sort of like being a glass blower or an auto mechanic. This is a skilled profession. When you leave medical school you have to go and learn some things before you are allowed to perform surgery or take on patients. I guess it was too much to expect that people who went to law school would know that they should learn the things they need to learn before they go to practice law on their own. I don’t know that law schools thought people would leave school and go on and do, you know, whatever.
(But there are no jobs, what are we to do? We need to work. We need to pay back our student debt. Law school is a scam. They tell us there are jobs. There are no jobs. We need to work. I need to hang a shingle and claim my internships as experience and law school better give me that ‘experience’ and knowledge so I can go out and hang that shingle and have that ‘experience’ be real.)
When you go to law school you go to become a lawyer. You don’t go to philosophize on the law, unless you are going to be a legal philosopher. Which is fine. I philosophize on shit all the time (I was a philosophy major as an undergraduate. I won the women’s studies prize and the Minerva Prize for undergraduate scholarship. So suck it if you think I’m not a feminist.) But I wanted to be a lawyer who went to court and argued things and said “Objection!” so I had to learn how to do that. In order to learn to do that I had to take classes that taught me how to do that. I am fairly certain even your third tier law school has such classes (I went to a third tier law school and we had loads of those classes, as well as clinics.) I mean, did you not know to do that when you went to law school? What was so confusing to you?
Really, if there was a law school class on rainmaking I don’t know what it would teach – how to have lunch with your friends? How to play golf? How to not be a recluse and a socially awkward douchebag?
It seems the problem we have is that there are lots of people in the world who think law school is a way to 1. avoid deciding what to do with the rest of your life; 2. a good, easy way to make money; 3. learn how to be a human being who can be a lawyer. Perhaps you might want to take a good look at yourself and figure out why you want to go to law school before you go. But stop bitching about how law school didn’t teach you how to manage your case files. That’s not what it is there for.
The truth is you won’t know how to be a lawyer from law school. Even if they stop doing law school stuff in the third year. You need experience and knowledge and you need to be melded and molded.
The only cure for inexperience is experience. Not law school.