LSAT Kung Fu Blog / LSAT Kung Fu Blog
LSAT Kung Fu Blog
As of this writing, I’m halfway through my four finals. Friday I wrote Civ Pro I, this morning I did Crim Law, then Wednesday I’ve got Torts I and then we finish our first semester on Friday with our Contracts I final.
I’m feeling good so far!
Here’s what I’ve done that helped:
So, I’m thinking about last week, and I don’t think I learned anything. I don’t think I did anything. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT EVEN HAPPENED.
We’re at the end of the first semester. Week 15 was our last full week of classes, and right now everything feels like that part of the cartoon where Wile-E has left the surface of the cliff but has not yet begun his inevitable plunge to the canyon floor.
The plunge happens Friday when we have our Civ Pro final.
Actually, I guess the plunge is happening now, and the depth of my thinking over the course of the semester, the organization of my notes, and the quality of my study over the coming week will determine whether I hit the bottom like Wile-E or make a miraculous landing, Road Runner style (I am, er, hoping for the latter, although I feel strangely numb about the whole thing right now. I’ve read somewhere that when a mouse is caught in the cat’s jaws, just before death it goes limp. The brain just short-circuits the whole operation and the mouse knows only numbness for the last seconds of its life. This is kind of like that? I guess?).
Last time we met (two weeks ago, because I took off from the blog on Thanksgiving week, mostly because my week before Thanksgiving was one of the busiest of my life—because I’m on a mock trial team, and because I’ll be writing onto one of my school’s journals, I had a series of evening meetings, which meant that there were three days in a row that week where I arrived at school by 8 AM and didn’t leave for home until after 8 PM. I am against 12-hour workdays. There’s probably a future blog post about the proper role of work in a healthy life), I told you that law school is “all a game. Don’t you ever forget that.”
I thought about that some more, and decided it was worth spending some more time on.
Why is law school a game? What is unserious about it? Why should you not hold the entire enterprise in higher esteem?
There are a few reasons, among them the profit motive and the problem of easy access to enormous amounts of non dischargeable debt (and in all fairness, those are probably the biggest, most important flaws in our current system of training lawyers, and maybe I’ll write more about them some other time). But once you’ve accepted your bill and found some way to pay it, now you’ve got to do the damn thing.
We’re going to try to do this using the spare, forceful, economical language that will be rewarded on your finals.
Already screwed that up by using so many adjectives in that first sentence. So let’s make this rule one:
(A-hem. For my law school classmates reading this, you guys stop reading now. This isn’t for you to learn how to win at law school, this is for future law students who will not be competing directly with me for their grades. Go on. I swear to god I’m not writing another word until you move along. OK. Here we go).
Rule One: Don’t write like this blog. Professors reward succinct analysis, and there are zero points (in fact, there are probably quite often negative points) awarded for using a varied and interesting sentence structure. No parentheticals (as you can imagine, this KILLS me to do). Keep it simple and blunt. Your most effective law school writing is a hammer, not a Rube Goldberg device. Write like you’re teaching a smart sixth-grader, and your style will be rewarded.
Is there any creature on the green expanse of our globe so soft, so complacent, so bloated with the poison of its own self-regard as the law school professor?
(But you know what? Before I write even a sentence further, I ought to say a couple of things:
- I’m no less angered, no less dismayed, no less uncomprehending about yesterday’s mass shooting than I was about each of its precedents. But I decided that if I wrote my anger out every time there was a mass shooting in this country, I’d have a mass shooting anger blog, not an LSAT or a law school one. So I’ll just refer you to my feelings here, which have not changed.
- Maybe the foregoing has had some impact on my writing style and content in today’s post.
- It’s not all law school professors. In complete candor, I have some professors who I find to be perfectly lovely, intelligent people. So, yeah, I’m not talking about everyone.)
There are reasons for this; siloing your knowledge base detracts from your ability to develop wisdom and is corrosive to your intelligence. Never being challenged on any of your opinions is corrosive to your humanity.
So I’m taking this week off. Next week, I’ll tell you about how Halloween week is at law school. I’ll probably write something about the speaker our school invited today.
This week, though, I’m just stuffing my face with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (FULL SIZE).
Have fun at your Halloween parties. Be safe.
Also, really; be good to one another, for we need it now more than maybe ever,
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I want to be Thurgood Marshall.
I mean, I know that the position is taken (Synecdoche! What I really want is to be, like Justice Marshall, A Towering Figure in American Jurisprudence in all caps).
Also, I do understand the inherent—and enormous—chutzpah entailed in making such an assertion. But if you want to change the world, you have to believe that you can do it, right? And it is certainly not the case that I believe I’m uniquely qualified to push American society toward a more just and equal footing. It is also true that I know that I cannot possibly do such work alone, nor solely on my own merits. I am making no claim here to being unique, and I know that in every bit of work that I do, I will be standing on the shoulders of giants. I also know that I’ll do it with the material help of the smart and capable community that I’ve joined at my law school.
Still, I came here on a mission, and even if I never see the mountaintop, I will also never lose sight of why I came nor of what I’m trying to do. So, for me, this translates into the following action points:
Before we go any further, I have to say something that you already kind of know about me: I hold myself and my work to an extremely high standard.
I wasn’t always this way: in college, I skated, man. I did juuuust enough to keep my scholarship. I skipped class all the time. I got As in the classes I liked, and just blew off the others.
I’ve evolved, is what I’m saying.
That evolution has me determined to graduate at the top of my class. Like, literally Number One is what I’m saying.
Remember the story about my second LSAT and how that compared to my first one?
That’s how I’m feeling every day right now.
But here’s some things I believe to be true:
- It’s important to have goals.
- Your goals should be difficult.
- Your goals should reflect your abilities.
- If you never fail, your goals aren’t big enough.
As you’ll remember from previous discussions, I never had large goals as a business that provides LSAT prep resources. Like, I want my students to succeed, and I like hearing about it when they do. I like having students. I like feeling like I'm helping create a community. I like being part of something.
I have made an important discovery. I need to find a partner for my future law practice who enjoys doing research.
I know that such people must exist, and it is incumbent upon me to find at least one of them to work with me, or I will be forced to put out both my eyes and leave the law entirely to train sheep (the eye-gouging will be necessary to ensure that I never accidentally take up further legal research. I do not know for what endeavor I'll be training the sheep. A heist, maybe?).
I'm entirely confident that I'm not alone in my feelings about doing research, and I know that smart people before me have learned to cope with the exigencies of the trade. But man. I mean, I am learning, and I'm (very slowly, with much difficulty) gaining some skill, but it feels Sisyphean.
In one of the very first jobs I ever had, I worked alongside a wise man who told me it was important to gain a variety of experience, because that way you could at least rule out some things you knew you didn't want to do.
Well, I now have an increased esteem for law librarians, and a firm sense of one thing I don't want to do (but will probably have to, at least a little).
So guys, I had most of a post written last week in preparation for today. And today we learned that last night, another asshole in an endless parade of sick, sad, horrible, broken people once again very easily got his hands on several weapons capable of killing lots of people very quickly, and then used them to do just that.
And my problems with legal research just don't feel relevant today. Maybe next week.
Today I want to just vent a little, because if I don't let out some of the pressure, I feel like I'll maybe explode.
There is nothing surprising about the events in Las Vegas last night. As a country, you and I made sure that this would happen, and we keep making sure that it will continue to happen.
Newtown was really the last stand for our American humanity. It was the last test, and we failed it miserably. When we decided that those little kids' deaths wouldn't change anything at all about the way we deal with guns and gun violence in this country, we relinquished our moral authority, we surrendered our judgment, and we lost the war.
We did this.