Enjoy law school? Is that possible?

Talk to a law student a week into classes, or any lawyer, and the answer to the above would be a laugh, rolling of eyes, a look of incredulity. And, "Are you kidding?!"

"No way is law school fun or enjoyable" is the near unanimous view. Law school is hard, an ordeal, an arduous, necessary rite of passage to practice.*

[BTW. Law practice is much more enjoyable.]

I—Wentworth Miller—have never met or heard tell of a lawyer say, "I would love to go back and repeat law school." (One does hear this about college.) On the other hand, nearly every lawyer says, "If I knew in law school what I know now, my experience would have been very different, a lot easier." (Even enjoyable?)

Personally, apart from bull sessions with smart people, I did not particularly enjoy (Yale) law school (class of '77). However, I might have if:

1—I understood that final exams are everything, class participation counts for little, and I prepared accordingly, FROM DAY ONE.

2—"Analyze as a lawyer" and "lawyerlike," concepts constantly set forth in law school as key goals, were better explained and instructed. Moreover, I knew they imply a learnable, non-innate skill.

[Fact! There is no such thing as "born genius of the law" or "you either have it—lawyering ability—, or you don't." ONE CAN GET IT!]

3—I knew that analytic skill approaching that of a practicing lawyer is unlikely to be acquired sitting in yet another (academically-oriented) classroom pondering appellate opinions (wherein facts are not contested). Skill at thinking and analyzing "as a lawyer" is normally acquired only in actual law practice—FOLLOWING LAW SCHOOL!

[Matching wits with opposing attorneys with important consequences on the line is the best instructor of the ability to apply law to facts. The thought process acquired in practice is what prompts lawyers to think law school could have been very different.]

4—Together with (acquired) analytic skill approaching that of a practicing attorney, I had proven effective (30+ years!) systems for breaking down factual hodgepodges under time pressure to reveal all issues; presenting analysis in concise paragraphs (roughly one per issue); briefing cases in 2-4 lines (as a lawyer might); taking no more than a page of notes per class hour (usually far less); and preparing 30-50 page exam-focused, not class-focused course outlines.

In short, I knew exactly what I was doing at all times and why, and it pretty much guaranteed superior exam performance.

—I5 knew that those who seem far smarter in class normally can't handle exams. Indeed, most classmates are clueless regarding addressing exams "as lawyers," and have no chance at rare A's.

[The typical class mean on law exams is less than 50 points out of a possible 100. (25-30 actually.) 35-40 out of 100 competes for an A! In other words, one does not have to produce a brilliant exam to get rare A's in law school. Merely exhibit reasonable lawyerly competence amid a sea of confusion and ineptitude.]

BOTTOM LINE. I would have been less bored, more confident. I could have followed professor tangents in class—easily! I could have relaxed and laughed at jokes. I would have been in control on exams (not the other way around).

I might have enjoyed the law school experience!

* One need not, in point of fact, attend law school in order to take the bar and become licensed to practice in many states. (E.g., New York, California, Virginia.) One can work for an attorney while taking the apprenticeship route to the bar. (As did such renowned lawyers as Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton.) Perhaps something to look into. Check with state bar associations.


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