Thursday, July 07, 2005

Mail Bag

Recently, I have actually been receiving some "fan" e-mail about this site. Maybe the rest of you bloggers have been getting e-mail for awhile, but to me this is kind of cool. Of course, most of this "fan" mail has been coming from Minnesota 0Ls who want to know what law school is going to be like1. Anyway, some of the same questions are coming up, and many of them are generally applicable, and some of Minnesota specific. But I thought I would take some time to publicly answer them and see if it helps anyone else out there.
How competitive is law school?
My answer is probably specific to Minnesota, since I have no idea exactly how other schools are, but I didn't think law school was that competitive. Sure, there are gunners2 that feel the need to show they are superior, but they generally get knocked down a few pegs by the end of the first semester (and if not, finals are excellent for peg knocking). But gunners are easy to deal with (in my experience), every time they raise their hands, I just secretly laugh at them because they think their public displays of their superior inferior legal knowledge helps their grade because they haven't figured out that law school exams are blind-graded. Ha Ha! Note: Here's a quick tip regarding gunners/tools... If after the first few weeks you look around the classroom and can't figure out who the gunner is, it's probably you. STOP IT!

Anyway, some level of competition is inevitable when you concentrate a large number of Type A personalities and tell them they will be graded on a curve, but I didn't find it oppressive (at least at Minnesota). However, I do think your school's ranking has something to do with how competitive your school feels because, practically speaking, the higher your school is ranked, the less well you have to do to get a good job.3 Thus, there is slightly less pressure to be the best. Yes, you don't want to suck, but I can be in the middle of the class here at Minnesota and still get a pretty good firm job in Minneapolis. If I was middle of the class at William Mitchell or Hamline (the other accredited law schools in MN), there would be slim pickin's for jobs here in Minnesota, and the pickin's wouldn't exist outside of the Twin Cities. Just my observation, and it may not be true at other high ranked schools.
How is the workload?
I won't lie to you, the workload in law school is very tough to deal with. I thought I would make a fairly smooth transition after working 50-60 hours/week in "the real world," at a law firm no less, but all the reading for law school still smacked me in the face (and then it kicked me in the balls). The biggest surprises for me were 1) the amount of reading, and 2) how challenging the reading was (at least at first). Each class gives anywhere from 20-40 pages per class hour, multiply that times 4 classes, and then 3-4 class hours per week for each class, and that works out to as much as 560 pages per week (although it probably averaged much less than that, say around 200-300).

Not only that, but the actual reading is difficult enough that my reading pace slowed way down. If I was reading at my "normal" pace (i.e. when I'm reading a novel) I can probably crank out at least 50-60 pages in an hour (maybe more... I've never really timed it). But during the first few weeks of law school I probably didn't top out above 10 pages per hour, and even when I became more efficient I was still only around 15-20 pages an hour. Part of the reason for this is there is a lot of legal jargon in the cases that you've never heard of and that is generally not in use anymore. Also, many people (me included) took notes on what they were reading to help remember it if they got called on in class, which adds even more time.

Thankfully, the workload starts to feel more manageable as your first semester goes on and you start to get into a groove... so it only sucks for a little while.
Speaking of getting called on in class, what's that like?
It is hard to adequately describe the Socratic Method (which is really what you are asking, hypothetical friend), but I think this is the best I've been able to describe it. The first time you get called on it is terrifying, and you feel like the stupidest person on the planet... and you feel like you sound way stupider than anyone else in your section. Afterwards, someone will tell you "Good job," and you'll say "No, I sounded like a moron." But, when it is that person's turn, they'll sound really smart, and you'll tell them "Good job," and they'll say "No, I sounded like a moron." That's when you'll realize that it's all in your head... and that's pretty sweet.
Is there any social life?
Yes Virginia, there is a social life at law school... although at first, it is mostly forced. But remember, at every law school I've ever heard of, you are put in a section with the same 50 or so people who you take every single class with during your entire first year, so you are going to get to know some people very well.

Also, just about every law school has what's called "Bar Review," a clever little word play on the hell that recent graduates are going through. But, this "Bar Review" is all about going out to (also known as "reviewing") a different bar (also known as "a bar") each week and getting drunk with your classmates (hence the "Bar Review.") It is just one of many drinking opportunities you will probably share with your classmates. We may all be law dorks, but we know how to party like geeky Business Schoolers.
Did law school live up to your expectations?
Um, yes. Wait, no. I guess so. It was about what I expected, but with worse grades and fewer women throwing themselves at me when they hear I'm a law student (still just my wife that does that... and now she only does it when I talk about res ipsa loquitor and what not).
The weather really sucks, doesn't it? (U of Minnesota Law School Specific... or at least northern law school specific)
Why yes, it does get a little chilly in Minnesota during the winter. But I love it up here. That just means I get to do winter activities (a whole lot of winter activities) AND summer activities. Plus, the summers are usually absolutely gorgeous around here, so it's a fair trade in my book. Look at it this way, even if you hate the cold, you're going to be shut up in the library for much of the winter anyway, so why would you want it to be wonderful outside when you can't enjoy it anyway?

That's about it for now. Wow, that was a long post! If anyone else has any questions (either general, or Minnesota specific) just ask. And if any of my classmates have anything to add, what do you think the comments are for?

1 To be a 0L again. Anxious for law school to start, and excited for the future. Ah yes, I remember it well.
2 a.k.a. "Helium Hands," a.k.a. Dorks, a.k.a. (my favorite) Tools, a.k.a. the dreaded "Power Tools"
3 Don't believe me? I ask you this, where would you rather be... at the bottom of your class at Harvard Law School, or at the top of your class at a Tier 4 school? Most sane people would chose HLS, because even the bottom at Harvard will be able to get a great firm job somewhere.


At 11:30 PM, Anonymous CR said...

Just curious, what was your undergraduate degree in?

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Unreasonable Man said...

I have a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LS is only competitive if you decide that you want to be competitive. You will enjoy it more if you are kind to your classmates and don't pull out the ego. Don't EVER talk about your grades or refer to them in generalities - no one appreciates someone who purposely hints at how well (or not well) he did. Don't make condescending comments about your classmates. Don't think that you are smarter than anyone else, because the people who talk the least are usually the smartest. Realize that you all got in because you all had the credentials to get in. You won't like everyone, but you should be polite and nice to everyone. If you follow these general rules and genuinely respect your classmates, LS will be a very good experience.

Good luck!

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fully support making condescending comments about your classmates. Some of them suck, and you need to point that out. Law School is basically like high school, except that if you do well, someone pays you six figures.

At 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about this for condescending comments about your classmates...

You're actually the worst kind of 'tool' there is in law school - the loser gunner type who doesn't even have the balls to admit it. Do you think you get out of being a gunner simply by not talking all the time in class, while you secretly work your ass off, get a paying job over the summer, make law review and then brag about it? All the while complaining about the people who you think work too much. You're just like them, if not worse.

I've never seen a blog by somebody who is more clearly in love with himself. Why don't you write another post about about how law school really works so your 'fans' can see what its like. Please, tell us about the competition in law school. Getting called on in class? Yes, give me your wisdom. Do tell us about how much work we do at law school. Oh, you used to read 50-60 pages an hour but with case books you only read 15-20? You think any of us really give a rat's ass about how well you read? Jesus christ dude, you're pathetic. Don't even get me started with your social life...

You know what really sets the 'gunners' apart from the non-guns? Its people that can't seperate law school from their lives. And I'm sorry, you fail miserably on this one. Just glancing over your blogs show that its clearly the only thing you can think of. And you love it. You love being a law student. You love "just cracking the first quartile" (which by the way you '0L fans,' telling people your grades is about the worst thing you can do in law school). You love getting a call by "them." And most importantly, you love telling us about it. THATs why you're a gunner, aka dork, aka tool, aka whatever the hell else you want to call it. You even leave freakin' footnotes in your blog. What a tool.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Unreasonable Man said...

Wow, so much agression! Since you are obviously an open minded individual who doesn't know sarcasm when it bites him (or her... I don't want to assume too much) on the ass, and who has the amazing guts to be able to post anonymously, I will answer your accusations in turn (or what passes for "in turn" in your rambling bitchings).

I do admit that I want to do well in law school. I do admit I worked hard. I wouldn't be paying $40K/year (plus whatever interest I have to pay on the $40K/year) if I didn't want to do well. Why would I invest that much in my future and not try to do well.

Yes, I did get a paying job this summer. So what? So did several of my friends. I worked hard to get that job. I worked for three years with my mentor and friend to become a good professional, and my current employer recognized this in me.

Yes, I made law review. Yes, I'm happy about it. Wouldn't you be if you had worked so hard on something and then made your goal? It seems that way because you obviously can't stand the fact that I did.

Other than this post, I honestly can't remember complaining about people who work too much on this blog... and I welcome you to point out a post where I did. In fact, I don't see anything in this post that had anything to do with working too much. I believe my comment was on people who try to sound impressive in class (much like I'm sure you've never done).

I'm sorry that my method of trying to describe how difficult law school reading was for me (i.e. using how long it took me) doesn't meet your high standards of descriptive writing. How easy was law school reading for you? If you have a better way of describing it, I welcome your input... not your childish little tantrums.

There is really only one thing I can agree with you on in your weirdly agressive comment. The difference between a gunner and a well-adjusted law student is someone who separates school from normal life. I only wonder how you can pass judgment on me when you so clearly don't know me. I think I have a great balance between school and life. I spend more time with my wife than I do studying, even though it means my grades suffer because of it. I go out of my way to make sure I have friends, both in and out of law school, to spend time with. If my blog seems to be geared more towards law school... well, that's called picking a subject and sticking to it. THIS IS A LAW SCHOOL BLOG retard! IT'S ABOUT LAW SCHOOL!!!!

I'm sorry for you, dear anonymous commentor, that you feel that I am trying to lord my "success" over you (which I find hilarious, because I have not been very successful in law school). You must really think that I have it in for you, someone I've never met, and now, because of your dickless tirade, I wouldn't want to get to know you.

This is my fucking blog, and if you don't like my advice, don't be such a pussy about it and give your own advice.

Oh, and if you comment on here again, at least have the balls to leave a pseudonym.

At 9:00 PM, Blogger biff said...

We all make our own choices about how much to sacrifice in our first year. If you achieve, you should be able to brag. If you didn't, it was your own choice.

At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And if you brag about grades on a blog, you deserve to get made fun of like a fat kid in gym class.

At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Nick said...

Ah, the first symptom of a successful blog: trolls.

If there is one thing that listening to hip-hop music has taught me, it's that on the rise to the top there will invariably be "playa haters". These are generally folks who aspire to the successes that the target of their hatred, the "playas", enjoy.

In the instant case, it sounds like a bunch of jerk offs who didn't feel like getting jobs after college are confused by the fact people with an actual intellectual interest in the law (as opposed to an interest in money) get good grades. Of course, I can only speculate because they leave their middle-school comments anonymously.

Fuck the haters, fuck them all. Nobody makes them read your blog.

To the commenters: anonymity is for cowards. If you have an opinion that you don't feel comfortable signing your name to, you need to reexamine why you hold it.

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous The Colonel said...

Hey Nick, you're an idiot.

1) You may call me "The Colonel." There, now do you feel like we know each other?

2) There are at least two commenters, because I haven't written everything that has been posted.

3) I love how you describe "middle school comments" and then use terms like "Fuck the haters." Your parents clearly endowed you with a wealth of intellect.

4) I'm actually on a full ride to a comparable law school, so I guess you look like an idiot there too.

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Unreasonable Man said...

Hey Colonel, we know that you didn't write all the anonymous comments... because the tone changed remarkably when you decided to enter the fray. Here's the difference, Nick actually links to somewhere that has his actual, really real name on it. You don't even link to anything (or you link to you're so cleavor... I wish I could be you).

Also, wow, you told us you got a full ride, so it's got to be true.... and at a "comparable" school, no less. And, to state the obvious about your "scholarship", big deal, a scholarship doesn't equate to intelligence. If you think it does, I dare you to only put your scholarship on your resume, without any grades or other credentials and see how many firms are scrambling to give you a job.

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous The Colonel said...

Why would I want to give you tools my name? So that you can stalk me some more, Unreasonable Man, P.I.? No thanks, douche. It's already sad enough that you tracked where I am accessing the internet from.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Unreasonable Man said...

I know it must be tough to make a ridiculous statement like "Everyone is anonymous on the internet, jackass." and then have someone so easily, and I do mean easily, figure out where you are from. (did you really not know that every blogger using tracking software to keep track of hits on their blog? You really are quite naive about technology... it's so adorable.) Maybe this will be a lesson to you (I doubt it, but maybe). Lawyers should not make a blanket statement like this unless they are 100% certain they know it's true... and even if they are 100% certain, they should double check.

By the way, thanks for confirming where you're from. Personally, I would have either not commented on it, or just denied it. I also see you've added a new term to your repertoire, "douche"... Gold.


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