Across the country, law students are entering their august institutions. We here at Bitter Lawyer are happy to guide these students through the perils of their epic quest for a J.D. by reposting helpful tidbits provided by those that came before them. Stand on the shoulders of bitter giants, students.
Originally posted: March 28, 2013
With the end of my J.D. classes rapidly approaching, I’ve started to think about what I wish I’d known coming into this
bullshit incredibly rewarding process. There are plenty of lists out there for how to succeed at law school, instructions on what to do in the great variety of situations that a law student will find himself (or herself, as Title IX reminds me I should include) thrust into. Helpful books like “How to Win at Law School” exist to suck money from gullible 1L gunners instruct incoming law students on how to achieve the highest grades possible. But what about the rest of us? Those of us happily sitting in the fat part of the grade curve and, by so doing, retaining some semblance of a life and hobbies unrelated to our classes. As a group, we’ve been largely overlooked, so here’s a bit of advice for us, the silent majority of law students who aren’t killing ourselves with work.
- An open-book exam combined with the professor distributing his PowerPoint slides means that you really don’t need to outline the class.
- “Ctrl-F” is your best friend when you’re allowed to use electronic notes on an exam.
- Law school is a glorified trade school; treat it that way. If a class isn’t giving you practical information about how to actually practice law, it’s safe to mentally check out for the rest of the semester.
- It’s perfectly acceptable to describe such a class as “mental masturbation” in a letter to the dean.
- Cultivating a personality where you see no problem whatsoever with using the phrase “mental masturbation” in a conversation with your dean is a key component in making sure that you are treating law school with the appropriate level of respect.
- When a gunner interrupts a useful class for the fifth time in a session to ramble about an irrelevant tangent, it’s likewise perfectly acceptable to cut him off by saying that he can ask his ridiculous questions during office hours and that the rest of the class is actually trying to learn something.
- Sneaking into the American Constitution Society office to hang pictures of Antonin Scalia on the walls is fun. Sneaking into the Federalist Society office to hang pictures of President Obama on the walls is even more fun.
- The required course on professional responsibility isn’t about being ethical, it’s just about how to follow the bar association’s arbitrary rules; all you really need to know is the number for your state bar association’s anonymous ethics hotline and they’ll take care of you. After the ethics portion of your bar exam, you can safely forget everything else.
- 14-pt periods in a paper with 12-pt font are virtually undetectable if you’re turning in a hard copy of your paper.
- Always, always, always remember that the law school will do just about anything to avoid giving you a failing grade; anything that lowers their graduation rate hurts the law school. Unless you’re actively trying to fail, you’re probably not going to get worse than a C+.
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