Why Law School Makes Some People Sick

Apropos of this NYT Editorial on law school.

I did not pass the Bar the first time, so I am having another go at it. I recently met with a Bar tutor. I left our meeting sadder but wiser. Bar Examiners do not read your magnificent essays, the product of nineteen years of intense attention to your teachers and professors, development of high-quality analysis skills, and patiently-accumulated writing ability.

All the Bar Examiners want to know is: did number 6457 memorize most of the lingo for 14 areas of law we test? They have a checksheet. They skim the answers looking for key words. I know lots of people otherwise incapable of practicing law who could perform a memorization feat of that magnitude. Some of them are institutionalized.

These essays we must write should run from five to twelve pages each. The examinee is given an hour, and the equivalent of a blank piece of paper and pen, to come up with the elements of a, say, crime or tort or breach of contract, analyze each element against the facts of the case and argue both sides, then produce a sensible conclusion.

Here’s the trick that law school plays on the rational mind: Never does your conclusion matter. What matters is that the conclusion, either a or b, is supported by your analysis and argument.

Fresh from my graduation with Honors at UC Santa Barbara in May 2001, I drove up the coast directly to Hastings that August. I entered law school at the age of 51. Thing is, I was firm in my convictions and my morality at this age. I was never quite able to hide my bias towards conclusion B over conclusion A. I took an extra sentence or two to explain my reasons for supporting conclusion B over conclusion A. I took the time to support my answers with policy suggestions.

The Bar examiners don’t care a fig about this.

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