In my day (circa 2003), to be discouraged from going to law school, you had to make the effort to apply to a Biglaw firm for a paralegal job. After a year or two of working with disgruntled corporate lawyers, there was a good chance that your desire to become one of them would wither like a houseplant watered regularly with bleach.
These days, getting dissuading from going to law school is much faster and easier. Everywhere you look, people are saying that law school is a lost cause. Even Gawker — and if that’s not an expert source on the worth of a law degree, what is?
But, hey, we are law groupies here at ATL. We love and respect The Esquire. We also love debates. We will keep offering arguments for and against law school. (A big argument in the “for” category: If people don’t go to law school, who will read us?)
We are, however, frequently amused by those naysayers who lampoon the law school experience. One such law school regretter recently sent us an “unofficial law school orientation” memo that she had prepared for entering 1Ls. What caustic pearls of wisdom does this rising 2L have for law school newbies?
The author of the memo is a rising 2L at a California school. We sense that she may be regretting her decision to attend:
Let me tell you something, law school will mess you up. And they never tell you this too. Students take out loans that are going to take AT LEAST 3 lifetimes to pay off…and the administrators, professors, and all other personnel that you address by last names never tell you just how jacked up inside you’re gonna be in 10 months.
We’re not sure what it means to be “jacked up inside” but it sounds bad.
They should at least make allusions of [sic] this during orientation. They don’t even need to be frank, you know and just come out with it, and tell us how much law school will change us—for the worse—of course.
Oh, come now, jaded 2L. Law school is a positive change. Being a law school student is a total aphrodisiac, for example. You walk into a bar, tell someone attractive that you’re scoring a JD, and that person will go down on you right then and there. On their knees, guaranteed.
And if you’re too lazy to go out to a bar, just post a Craigslist ad soliciting undergrads, and they will flock to you. Cuz you are smart and organized, after all, and that is sexy:
We are intelligent people….I mean we took plenty of exams to get in and all of us were probably the kids that were in charge of the glue sticks in elementary school because we were smart enough to distinguish them from Push Pops. And if we weren’t on glue patrol we were probably passing out graham crackers because we could break them right on the line.
But seriously speaking, what I remember during orientation is, they showed us our classrooms, where the restrooms were, and the law library, and places to eat. Listen, if any of us needs to be showed where these facilities are located uh…don’t even bother to worry about those students. Because the rest of us really need them, they come in handy during finals. Somebody’s gotta be at the tail end of the curve, and better it be those that can’t find the classrooms and library by themselves.
Law school: Survival of the strongest sense of direction.
Okay so anyway, after orientation you know, you feel ready to go for the first day, for the school year. Yeah. Bathrooms– three doors left to the main auditorium, library– bottom floor, left of the reception desk, no not that reception desk, the other one. Snack machine—third floor’s broken, fifth floor’s got Munchies. You got blue highlighters, yellow highlighters, pink posits, pencils, pens, papers, scissors, staples, white out, a nail clipper.
Which item is not like the rest?
So like I said, we’re relatively smart people and so from orientation, we infer that if we are prepared enough…then law school will be alright.
We’ve noticed the downgrading from “intelligent” to “relatively smart,” by the way.
See that’s just downright misleading because no matter how prepared you are…you’re not really ever ahead or behind of the other kids. If you wake up at 4 in the morning to study the 400 flash cards you made, thinking you’ll be ahead of the curve. THINK AGAIN! Because at least 70 other students have already been up an hour more than you with 500! Flash cards!…I mean the majority of law students are defeated even before the game begins. There are studies from prestigious think tanks with people, you know, in gray suits that you address as “doctor” and they will run all sorts of complicated tests…like neurological scans and uh, pap smears or something like that…whatever it is they do. And after millions of government dollars and several years will release their findings…that, get this, ten percent of students in law school will be at the top of their class, the majority of students will fall in the middle and thus be mediocre, and that the last ten percent should very seriously consider careers in fast food service.
The way I see it…We don’t even need to take things that far, you know, with the scientific formal analysis. Because come on, just think about it for a second, this is all really easy… let me break it down for you like this… see if everyone of us had once been the proctors of glue sticks and the distributors of graham crackers then get us all together in a room and we’re all just average.
Is it just me or does that room sound like a ring in Dante’s Inferno?
So like I said, the school doesn’t have to be frank with us during orientation because we can take hints. They can take the time they have with us before school starts and make it really useful, without ever telling us just how ugly and terrifying it gets….It just goes like this: have all of us take a personality test on the first day. From that we get divided up according to test results right. Introverts on this side and Extroverts on that side. You got introverts and extroverts. And the school can still keep the tour aspect of orientation alright….They can take the introverts to check out yoga centers, coffee shops, cheap therapy services— or if you’re a really independent introvert then the self-help section of some bookstore— and bars. The extroverts? They can take to see group counseling facilities, night clubs, and gyms. And when both groups convene for a general meeting they should present us with our own membership card to Alcoholics Anonymous.
And that my friends would be enough to tell us that we are screwed.
So the point of all this seems to be that orientation should involve directing students to drinking holes rather than to study facilities. We’re sure this school’s administration will take this under serious consideration.
In the meanwhile, we think anyone thinking about applying to this particular law school should read this memo first and consider very seriously whether they want to be part of the “glue patrol.”