An assortment of all things interesting (and possibly useless) in the legal profession
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Musings on the mind of a law student
Law school has done something to me. Alas, it seems—at least superficially—that I have lost some of my creative abilities. In fact, I know that merely writing this post will be an arduous chore. It already is. My use of the word "alas" suggests that I am expressing my unhappiness with the (apparent) departure of my ability to not "think like a lawyer." Don't understand yet? Let me explain.
I am sure that at least a few law students can relate to this phenomenon—that is, the incarceration of most of your thoughts and actions in the abstract penitentiary of legal reasoning. Please don’t let my flowery language shield you from my point: everything is law to me, and it may well be the case that you’re a victim of the same phenomena. It’s not for nothing that the only metaphor I’ve used in weeks employs legal jargon. Since we’re on the topic of legal jargon, let me shell out the “test” for you to “apply.” You know you’re hooked when you're walking down the street and you think about the concepts you learned in torts as if they transcend everything else. You strive to fit everything you hear within a logical framework of some sort. This cycle can get nasty, and worst of all, it may even interfere in your relationships with "non-law school" pals. Is this what "thinking like a lawyer" really entails? Maybe. The truth is, I can’t answer the question definitively because it really can go either way; and that’s why W&L’s practical approachhas to be crazy—right? I will resist the temptation, at this point in the essay, to give you three concise, logical reasons as to why my deliberately vague contention is correct. I had a teacher during my 1L year who told me that "thinking like a lawyer" is akin to breaking free from the chains of ignorance. No, I'm not kidding—he really said this. Assuming that there is some freeing aspect to learning how to think in this way, I hope I find it soon. Unfortunately, I doubt it will come so quickly. So, in that vein, I want to provide you with three general recommendations on breaking free of this cycle—at least from time to time. I think you will find that these recommendations are a logical outflow from my initial premise that law school captivates your mind. Err... The truth is that I don't need to give any recommendations, because everyone is different; we all have our own escapes. But we forget, at times, to use them. It just takes some refreshing. Take your mind off of the minutiae for a minute, relax and remember how creative you were before you came to law school—you can still use those skills if you want to.