I don’t know how long they’ve been doing this, but I’ve just learned that Cornell offers a “Pre-Law Summer” program aimed at undergraduates who want to know more about becoming a lawyer. Cornell is charging almost $5,000 ($4,970 to be exact) for an “intensive, six-week program taught in New York City.” The program promises to give students an “unparalleled chance to develop an accurate picture of the realities, rewards, and challenges of being a lawyer today.”

(Oh, did I mention that the price tag doesn’t include housing or food in New York City for six weeks? I should have mentioned that.)

You know, I’m not even going to blame Cornell. If you have college students (or parents of college students) who are desperate to give you $5,000, you take it. In related news, if anybody wants to pay me $5,000 to watch me eat a sandwich, you know where to reach me.

But here at Above the Law, we believe in equal access. For all of the people who don’t have $5,000 for the “Pre-Law Summer,” we’re going to give you all the information you could have gotten from the program in one post, in the middle of February, for free!

Don’t say we never did anything for ya….

According to Cornell, the program’s main benefit is helping students answer five key questions about being a lawyer. Here they are:

  • How do the careers of lawyers portrayed in Boston Legal and Law & Order compare to those of real-life lawyers?
  • How much of my legal career will involve arguing over lofty Constitutional issues?
  • Will my success as a lawyer hinge on being the smartest person in the room?
  • Will I make a lot of money if I go to law school and become a lawyer?
  • What’s so great about being a lawyer?

Six weeks? I don’t know that it’ll take us six minutes to answer these questions.

Q: How do the careers of lawyers portrayed in Boston Legal and Law & Order compare to those of real-life lawyers?

Short Answer: Not at all.

Long Answer: Would you ask “Does Star Trek reflect what it’s like to be a NASA astronaut?” Of course not. So why would you think Denny Crane is anything like a real lawyer? It shouldn’t cost you $5K to learn that you’re an idiot.

Additional Information: Check out our liveblog of the premiere of The Deep End, or this podcast, where I address this question directly.

Q: How much of my legal career will involve arguing over lofty Constitutional issues?

Short Answer: Heck, you can argue anything you want while sitting on a barstool. If you want somebody to pay for your arguments, you’d best figure out how to make a constitutional case out of a mid-tranche asset forfeiture.

Long Answer: What’s really going to bake your noodle later is when you figure out that arguing over “lofty” constitutional issues actually involves quibbling over the minutiae that distinguish one holding from another.

Additional Information: Go over to the Volokh Conspiracy, get smacked around by Eugene Volokh a little, and then tell me if you still want to argue.

Q: Will my success as a lawyer hinge on being the smartest person in the room?

Short Answer: If you were the smartest person in the room, you wouldn’t have to ask.

Long Answer: Luckily for you, the answer is no.

Additional Information: Unless by “success” you mean being a service partner who gets annoyed when other partners are poached for seven-figure sums.

Q: Will I make a lot of money if I go to law school and become a lawyer?

Short Answer: This is the bimodal salary distribution curve for the Class of 2009.

Long Answer: Please read all of the information accompanying the bimodal salary distribution curve and try very hard to understand it.

Additional Information: You are not special.

Q: What’s so great about being a lawyer?

Short Answer: …

Long Answer: “Lawyers are like nuclear warheads. They have theirs, so I have mine. Once you use them, they f**k up everything.”

Honest Answer: Prestige, models & bottles (good economy only) — what the hell else were you going to do?

Additional Information: No really, there are some positive things about going to law school and stuff.

Okay, so that took a little bit longer than six minutes, but not nearly as long as six weeks. And it didn’t cost anybody any money. No need to thank me; being a good populist is its own reward.

Cornell’s Pre-Law summers, you are now on notice. If you give these people $5,000, it’s your own damn fault.

Cornell University Prelaw Program in New York City [Cornell University]
Deal of the Day: Cornell’s Awesome Pre-Law Summer [Animal]


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