Well, I read this thread very attentively and I just don't get why all the "surprise" by the whole law school experience ... I mean, law school is not a mere continuation of one's undergraduate (or even graduate) studies -- I think it more akin to "boot camp" where, in addition to certain substantive subjects and professional skills, one becomes "re-socialized," learns to "think like a lawyer," learns to cope with stress and many other things collateral to learning law, but not collateral to "lawyering." Like boot camp (or virginity's loss!), when you enter law school, your life turns a corner past which it can never again pass. Don't get me wrong, I do not regret the trip ... but it brings a permanent change. So, those of you who still have the chance, enjoy the virginity -- law school will bring a permanent change!
In Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four there is a particularly chilling scene in which, after the director of the Ministry of Love has subjected Winston Smith to intense physical tortures, he employs another strategy in the process of Smith's gradual re-education."This time it will not hurt," [O'Brien] said. "Keep your eyes fixed on mine." At this moment there was a devastating explosion, or what seemed like an explosion.... A terrific, painless blow had flattened [Smith] out. Also something had happened inside his head ... somewhere or other there was a large patch of emptiness, as though a piece had been taken out of his brain. "It will not last," said O'Brien. "Look at me in the eyes.... Just now I held up the fingers of my hand to you. You saw five fingers. Do you remember that?" "Yes." O'Brien held up the fingers of his left hand, with the thumb concealed. "There are five fingers there. Do you see five fingers?" "Yes." And he did see them, for a fleeting instant ... there had been a moment -- he did not know how long, thirty seconds, perhaps -- of luminous certainty, when each new suggestion of O'Brien's had filled up a patch of emptiness and become absolute truth, and when two and two could have been three as easily as five, if that were what was needed ... "You see now," said O'Brien, "that it is at any rate possible."Compare this passage to Karl Llewellyn's famous description of the student's first year of law school: "The hardest job of the first year is to lop off your commonsense, to knock your ethics into temporary anesthesia. Your view of social policy, your sense of justice -- to knock these out of you along with woozy thinking, along with ideas all fuzzed along their edges."Bot of course when we undertake the resolution of hard issues it will always be the case that the relevant legal concepts, the demands of social policy, and the ideal of justice will by necessity appear to sensitive interpreters to be "fuzzed along their edges." That very same formal, empirical, and ethical fuzziness is, after all, what makes hard issues hard. A successful legal education therefore both sharpens and desensitizes the adept's sense of analytical complexity, sharpening it so that the advocate can identify various plausible arguments, and then deadening it for the purpose of making and (especially) deciding between such arguments. This characteristic doubleness of the legal mind produces the doubleness of the literal sophomore -- of the brilliant simpleton who understands and exploits and at appropriate times forgets -- the evidentiary problems, conceptual incommensurabilities, and ethical dilemmas that always characterize legal issues. To be trained to think like a lawyer is to be taught how to evoke all the chaotic complexity of law, and then how to repress the intolerable doubt that same evocation can produce by going on to achieve the "luminous certainty" required of the advocate or judge.
Shouldn't then law school be abolished altogether? After all, no other legal system in the world requires 3 years of postgraduate schooling before one can undertake the most routine matter of client representation or courtroom advocacy. Indeed, the maverick presidential candidate Morry Taylor made a pledge to close down American law schools for 10 years, a major proposal of his quixotic campaign. Why not make the study of law an undergraduate program, or a college major followed by some sort of postgraduate apprenticeship -- this would surely be a quintessentially rationalist response to an institution that survives, and even thrives, because it fills a deep cultural need for the maintenance of some atavistic set of rituals that will obscure the inescapably troublesome and often tragic relationship between moral belief, political science and social power.
The person who started this thread and the others who supported what s/he said are obviously sidetracked people who are trying to sound interesting by trying to attack the system, being full aware that the system will never accept them for who they are and what they represent - the negation of the basic tenets of that system.
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