Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).
My client is finishing her 1L year. She’s bored.
“I study. Then I study some more. Then I go to sleep. Then I get up and study again. It’s the same for everyone.”
At least, I proposed, the subject matter was interesting.
She demurred. “Yeah, I guess… but — really? I mean… Property law? Contracts? Torts?”
Her demurrer was sustained. She had a point.
Maybe it’s your turn to demur. The subject matter of law school — law itself — not interesting!?? That’s unthinkable. It has to be the school’s fault — my client must be attending some fourth-tier degree mill, with subpar teaching, and a dull-witted student body….
But the school’s not at issue here. She’s attending one of the top places in the country. Not that it would make much difference, since every law school essentially teaches the same thing, first tier or fourth tier.
Then it must be her fault. If she doesn’t appreciate the study of law — if this Philistine isn’t drawn to the greatness of legal scholarship — she doesn’t deserve her seat at an exalted institution.
I’m not convinced. This young woman projects intelligence, and turns heart-felt-y and passionate discussing her real interest — international human rights law. Unlike most law students, she did an internship and reads books, so she knows what international human rights law is (even if, like most law students, she vastly overestimates its significance.)
It’s possible things will get better next year, when she takes a course on international human rights law. On the other hand, law school courses have a way of making topics less interesting than they were before you took them.
Maybe the fault doesn’t lie with any particular school, or any particular student. Maybe it lies with the myths surrounding law school itself.
Let’s gather for a moment, and contemplate the inconceivable: Maybe law school is just… well… not that big a deal. Maybe it isn’t engrossing or life-altering or — much of anything. Maybe the whole schtick — law school as the turning point in a young lawyer’s existence — is oversold. The legal industry itself is a bubble recently popped. Perhaps the mystique surrounding law school is due for puncture.
Ask yourself — is the subject matter taught in law schools really so engrossing? Or were you taught to believe the subject matter taught in law schools is really so engrossing?