other side of law school...until bar studying got in the way for some of us. But during that brief post-3L/pre-graduation period in which I had nothing to do but think introspectively about where I started and where I want to wind up, I realized something that had not really crossed my mind before: almost everything I had heard about law school before I took the plunge--from books, movies, lawyers, you name it--turned out to be grossly overstated at best.
We are all familiar with the lore--law school, we are constantly told, is where dreams go to die. You'll be studying around the clock, your professors will abuse you in the classroom, and you'll be lucky to have any meaningful social relationships during your (generally miserable) stay. Perhaps I'm embellishing a bit, but the general conception so far as I can tell is that law school is not only hard but very hard--almost to the point of being unmanageable and leading people to serious mental infirmity. Scott Turow's One L is a case in point. So is the old favorite The Paper Chase. More recently, Legally Blonde took a stab at perpetuating the stereotype in depicting a fun-loving sorority girl from California who managed to succeed amidst a class of (seemingly) more boring and neurotically-focused students.
I found law school taxing and mentally exhausting at times, but I never felt as pressured and anxious as I expected to be based on all I had heard. I don't think my classmates ever really did either--at least not to the extent one would reasonably expect from talking to any lay person or older lawyer about law school.
So, if I am correct that things really are not all that bad, where do these stereotypes come from? I have two theories. First, maybe my observation (if accurate) is a self-aggrandizing phenomenon whereby those who have been through law school feel, after the fact, that it was more arduous than it was simply because it is a past accomplishment. Maybe complaining about how bad it was is a privilege of conquering it. But more likely, I think, is that something has changed in the legal education. Indeed, the horror stories tend to come from older attorneys as opposed to more recent graduates. There are many other tenable explanations for this, but I still think it strong evidence of a change in the educational pedagogy and the (probably) corresponding student mentality. If my hunch is correct, will the shift be good or bad for tomorrow's attorneys?
I leave that question, along with all the others I have posed, to you folks...
(Please accept our apologies for the slowdown in content. While law school is not as bad as they make it, bar preparation has made it harder for many of us to post as often as we would like.)