Monday, May 25, 2009

How Do I File a Lawsuit?

Those of you who've been with us from the start remember the early days when Blackbook Legal was, at its core, an effort to stir up law school reform. We were young and ambitious, and we took it all on: from the nature of legal education to the emphasis on 1L grades and, of course, publish or perish.

I must concede that, in the midst of a wonderful semester replete with fantastic professors, we've been a lot more complacent lately. But we haven't stopped noticing the problems of legal education and certainly won't stop pointing them out to all who are willing to listen.

Let me rehash one such problem we've discussed at length before with a personal anecdote: I'm a rising 3L, and I literally have no idea how to file a lawsuit. I know what I'd need to include in a complaint, I know how the defendant would try to defend against the suit on procedural grounds and--depending on the area of law--I may know whether the substance of a claim has merit or not.

But I don't know how to file the suit. I don't know where I'd go or what I'd do. Maybe it's common sense or something I could easily figure out on my own using the internet--I'm not sure. What I am sure about is that, when I was being a typical law student this weekend and thinking of the hypothetical lawsuit I'd file on behalf of my fiance (who, sadly, got a minor burn by a negligent hot dog vendor), I literally had no idea what I'd do if she came to me as a client. I think that's sad, and is a poor reflection on what we're learning.

Don't get me wrong--I love law school, have almost uniformly loved my professors and actually enjoy studying and thinking about this stuff (even constantly). And, quite honestly, I have learned quite a bit in my two years...I just wish I had a little more practical knowledge and experience to apply when I enter the workforce.


  1. The fact you evidently wrote that entire post without even taking 5 seconds to Google your question is extremely sad. Take some responsibility for educating yourself. Law school is only, and is only supposed to be, a starting point for a future career of learning.

    See the below link:

  2. Law Schools don't teach students how to make use of a search engine? Whew!

  3. @ 10:42--

    I said in my post: "Maybe it's common sense or something I could easily figure out on my own using the internet--I'm not sure."

    Thus, I assumed I'd be able to find the answer if/when I needed to. But that's not really the point. The point is that this is an important practical skill that I would rather be taught in a law school classroom than on an internet search engine.

    In short, my question "how do I file a lawsuit" was intended to be a rhetorical one to demonstrate (again) that law students are often not being taught the basics. We'll have to agree to disagree about whether teaching these types of things falls within law school's purpose.


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