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Author Topic: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL  (Read 109579 times)

bulletproof

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2005, 01:42:15 AM »
I think I'm somewhere in the middle on this one.  On the one hand, I feel all the "depression" etc. is overblown and people need to get a grip.  I understand where it comes from, and about mid-october when the shine wore off law school I really understood.  But that is little excuse to give in to it.  You need to have some friends, have some beers from time to time, and keep yourself grounded.

On the other hand I absolutely believe that the pedagogy of law school is so completely screwed as to be next to unbelievable if you weren't seeing it yourself.  You spend an entire class mostly listening to classmates say nothing at all with a professor that usually gives no indication of what the hell is good info and what is bad.  The result: you figure it out yourself.  Law school, at least the 1L year of it, is esentially self-taught.  I have no doubt you could do just as well by reading primers and E&Es on each of the subjects and then just bouncing hypos off your classmates.  If you listen to most of your prof's you'll see they are saying a whole lotta nothing about the nuts and bolts of most of the subjects.  Those of you that have yet to take a test may be surprised to find out that taking notes of everything that came out of the prof's mouth was a complete waste of time. 

In any other subject, including med school, the profs actually attempt to teach you the skills needed to do well.  They teach them right there in class... by lecturing... by telling you things that you can write down and remember and then use to understand.  Not by making you read 12 pages of case to learn a one sentance rule.  Sure case briefing is important at first... but it quickly becomes a waste of time for any purpose other than being able to look smart when you get called on. 

The theory that it needs to be this way to keep all the tom, and dicks, etc, out of the field of law, I don't see why.  The GPA/LSAT hurdle narrows the field down and the school's pickiness does as well.  The people that get in after that, are you seeing a lot of them fail out??  Cuz I'm not.  Pretty much you get into law school and hang in there and you will graduate it.  It is not weeding people out, so there is no reason to think that if the classes actually tried to simply give you the information you need, that less qualified lawyers would be the result.  In fact, I'd argue the opposite would be. 

If you haven't ever read an Aspen Examples and Explanations book on one of the core 1L subjects, take a look.  Listen to the "lectures" on a given topic and then read the chapter from the book.  See if it doesn't make you wonder why they couldn't "have just said that".

Course this doesn't apply to every single prof... some are a little better at trying to teach.  But it is a pretty universal observation of the field.

ryanjm

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2005, 11:05:53 AM »
I'm fine so far. No worries. Maybe the people having problems aren't able to adapt to having to work hard for perhaps the first time in their lives.

BigTex

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2005, 11:20:06 AM »
"Dark side of law school," my ass. Take responsibility for your own emotions, or get the f*ck out. We're privileged to be here. Every one of us.

There's two ways you could take the study i guess. 1) Law school is mean and evil. We need to reform it to make it a nice fuzzy warm environment that everyone across america can enjoy and participate in free from the torment of stress about being skilled and able at one's profession, or 2) hey future law students - this stuff is very stressful; think twice before jumping in.

I think Jumboshrimps is right-on if people take the study to imply #1 above. However, #2 seems like a legitimate conclusion to take away from the study. Don't go to law school unless either a) you're a hardass who can stand up to the pressure, or b) you're a free spirit for whom such pressure never seems to affect you in the first place. Lots of people might *think* they are b), but they're not. "I don't care what grade i get" is usually code for "i want good grades but don't think i'm up to it so i pretend not to care".

So, just be aware, you're entering a pressure-cooker.

eloisa

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2005, 12:46:54 PM »
Yes, law school is stressful.  And I don't think making it "warm and fuzzy" is the greatest idea.  After all, graduate and professional education is supposed to be difficult.

But compare law school to other professional schools -- say, med school.  We always hear that "med students have it just as rough."  I know some med students, and I can say without a doubt that they are just as busy, if not more so, as law students.  But by and large, they are not as depressed as law students. 

The question then is, what is the difference between law school and medical school?  I
 think a large part of it has to do with teaching style.  My medical student friends have lectures -- lectures! -- and labs.  They know what the professors expect of them.  We law students attend lectures but come out of it even more confused -- we aren't being taught, we are being asked to teach ourselves.  That, I think, is what leads to the greatest distress among law students.

Jumboshrimps

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2005, 12:57:23 PM »
ALL important learning is done on one's own. The idea that people should be sat down and TOLD the material is radical, relatively new, and an utter failure, as is apparent from the current state of public schools.

I love the way law school works. I may be unusual in that I refuse to accept anything I haven't figured out on my own, but I think reading all of these cases to get a handful of rules has benefits that we don't even recognize. We are forced to take a "forest to trees" approach to the law. That makes sense. The law requires that you start in the correct forest when a client needs your services. If you were a master of details but had little feel for their context, you might advise your client on the wrong forest altogether. A lawsuit or transaction is a complex, comprehensive piece of art. I think we all benefit from being forced to keep an eye on where, exactly, we are within that context at any given time. Reading cases enforces this way of thinking.

You can't win the case or close the deal if you miss the boat, but you at least have a fighting chance if you just land in the correct boat on your head by mistake.


kmpnj

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2005, 02:04:04 PM »
Not being a law student yet, I'd still like to offer my own, uninformed opinion on this fascinating subject.

I think that the reports of depression are a serious matter, but I wonder if the large amount of depressed people in law school and the legal profession is a result of more Americans, in general, being clinically depressed.  Turn on any channel on TV and you will see adds for Paxil and Zoloft and any number of anti-depressants.  In this empirical evidence, do they compare the rates of depression to American society as a whole?  Is it markedly different? Again, with the bombardment of advertisements for anti-depressants, I would tend to think that the legal field is but a microcosm of society as a whole.

I would also like to know the socio-economic background of those persons polled.  I would tend to think that white, upper and upper-middle class students would rate higher than those who were from poor backgrounds.  If you had a lifetime of dinner choices consisting of Ramen noodles and Chef Boyardee, I'm confident that you would not be depressed by something so trivial as whether a professor likes you or not.

ALso, what was the methodology of this study?  Were the people who were clinically depressed before Law School controlled for?  How many students were polled?  What schools were polled?  I would think that a school like Harvard or Yale would have more clinically depressed people than a working class Law School like Widener or Temple, because most of the students at the upper echelon schools, I would hypothesize, have had economic backgrounds which would allow them the luxury of self-indulgent emotions like depression.  Bottom line, people with money, I have found, have a lot more time to determine that they are depressed than kids who do not.

Just some food for thought.

Jumboshrimps

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2005, 02:24:35 PM »
Interesting. I think you're right. depression is a "disease" of the haves. The have-nots don't have time for it. As to those drug commercials, I intend to sue every one of those drug-pushing megacompanies and the "doctors" who make up diseases and then overprescribe medications that strip people of their inborn abilities to deal with their own emotions. I think in the decades to come, we will come to see the short-sightedness of drugging our personalities into submission.

BigTex

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2005, 02:41:37 PM »
My favorite drug commercial is the one for "social anxiety". It's a cartoon with some sad frowning face hopping around various social environments, always with a frown and never happy. Then, the cartoon shows the problem. You see, it's a "chemical imbalance". As proof, the cartoon shows some animated molecules passing back and forth across a dotted line, with too many molecules amassed on one side.

It's astounding that the drug companies can push an advertisement in which they 'prove' the purported effectiveness of their drugs with saturday morning cartoons. But frankly, i'm not up in arms about stopping them. As was stated, it seems like it's the privileged loafers of society that are having all these expensively medicated depression problems. So, I don't really care that they are being bilked by the drug companies. In fact, the more medicated zombies walking around the more the general quality of work in all fields is reduced, as well as drive, ambition, and creativity. That gives the sober among us an advantage.

Jumboshrimps

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2005, 02:51:37 PM »
That's one way to look at it. Another way is to see the net productivity happiness of our culture suffer. I can only look out for numer one to the extent that number one doesn't look around and see a world full of zombies, I'm afraid. What bothers me about all this is that the solution is antithetical to my core libertarian disposition. I feel that drug companies need to be regulated, but just typing that made me a little sick.

BigTex

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Re: INSTITUTIONAL DENIAL ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF LAW SCHOOL
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2005, 03:57:09 PM »
People who try to medicate away their emotional problems are precisely the sort of people I don't like and don't get along with anyway. They're also not the sort of people likely to be vibrant, driven, and creative in the first place. In a way, the drug companies are doing us a favor by allowing these people to voluntarily self-select themselves onto the short-bus of medicated zombies. Creative, driven, ambitious, intelligent people do not hand over their mental destiny to a bottle of pills. That is not to say that they don't have mental/emotional problems, but they work out their problems with family, friends, conversations with a professional psychologist, or other introspective techniques (a walk alone in the woods, whatever) that take hard work and dedication to unravel and correct the underlying psychological problems. The mentally lazy jump for the magical solution of a bottle of pills. So, in my view, it's not much of a loss to either society as a whole or me personally. It's a case of a sinister (or arrogantly deluded) group of drug companies taking advantage of grotesquely lazy people who are too fearful to engage in genuine introspection. I just don't care much when bad people take advantage of lazy cowards.

That's one way to look at it. Another way is to see the net productivity happiness of our culture suffer. I can only look out for numer one to the extent that number one doesn't look around and see a world full of zombies, I'm afraid. What bothers me about all this is that the solution is antithetical to my core libertarian disposition. I feel that drug companies need to be regulated, but just typing that made me a little sick.