Law School Discussion

Question on Student Etiquette, Re: Gunners, Unnecessary Commentary & Hypos, Etc.


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At risk of being unfunny...let me say recount this one moment.

In torts, we were discussing what physical symptoms may be recoverable for NIED. Most states don't allow recover for purely emotional symptoms BUT one of the the physical symptoms they allow recovery for is loss of bladder control. The professor said this very quickly and moved on. I looked around the class and nobody got it.

Any jokes about, well, this subject seem funny to me. I can't believe I'm the only one who got it....

The original post on this threat did not result in loss of bladder control...hence, not funny.

Maybe I'm slow, but I don't get it.

I personally find it annoying when some classmates talk without raising their hand or seem to want to make an attempt to answer every question.  But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter.

What matters is that I am getting what the professor is teaching and that I am prepared and caught up enough to consider myself in good shape in preparation for the exam. 

It's up to the professor to control the class, not me, and he/she can set the ground rules early if desired.

Like many other 1Ls, my section has quite a few gunners. Some other section mates and I are trying to nail down some "rules of classroom etiquette" for a quasi-Socratic dialogue.  Tell me what you guys think of these rules:

1. When the professor asks you a direct question pertaining to a case, statute, or hypothetical, answer directly and in as few words/sentences as possible. Do not pontificate or wax philosophically. We are all trying to learn black-letter law, and your gray-letter hazy b.s. is frustrating that goal.

2. If you are unprepared, and the professor asks you a question, say "pass" and allow somebody else to move on (this is an option at our school) with the discussion.

3. Do not volunteer for questions or comments unless the professor invites such discussion.

4. Do not discuss personal experiences. Period.

5. Do not argue with the professor. You're a 1L. They're older than God. Do the math.

5. Do not invoke hypothetical scenarios involving some sort of factual distinction from the present rule discussed unless explicitly invited to do so by the professor.

6. Limit yourself to one question or comment during volunteer periods in class per session. Quit hogging class time trying to prove to other people in your class, who had the same GPA and LSAT score that you did, that you are smarter they are. You aren't making friends with your future colleagues.

7. Only use Instant Messenger for the purposes of making fun of the people who are presently violating these rules. Do not use AIM to talk to your significant other when you should be trying to figure our venue under federal question subject matter jurisdiction.

8. All discussion not permitted under this code shall be reserved for study groups, professor e-mails, office hours, and lonely nights in wish you alternate between Dungeons and Dragons and your casebook. For the love of God. Who is still younger than your professor.

yeah, after working a few years, I'm more inclined to agree with this when I go to l.s. I've learned the art of shutting up. You might need hundreds of blunders before you come up w/ something insightful at the student level...not totally against it either though.  Are the elite schools more abundant with these "creative" types?

I have two thoughts on asking questions in class:

1. Asking the question in office hours instead gives you a reason to go to office hours, which is always a good idea.

2. Remember you are graded on a curve, if you ask questions in class you are giving ammo to your enemy.  Another reason to take advantage of office hours.

I'd qualify that to say arguing with professors CAN BE the most interesting part, provided the argument is logical, clear and hasn't already been stated by other classmates. Unfortunately, too many gunners just like to hear their voices, and they don't think before talking.

Your rules would make for a pretty boring class. Arguing with professors is the most interesting part.

Meanwhile, as you argue with the prof, everyone else is thinking, "Why doesn't this dumbass shut the F up so we can get out of here on time."


I'm going to assume (pretend?) that the OP wasn't trying to be funny, and answer it seriously.

1. I agree with this almost completely.  As a side note, though, the statement "We're here to learn black-letter law" is not the best attitude.  The sooner you can get past this, at least in 1L, the better.

2. Generally good advice, if that is an option.  At our school, some professors allow this, some allow a limited number of them, some only allow them if you give them a note before class (and allow only a limited number), and some don't allow it at all.  So - if it's an option, good advice, if not, then pretty useless.  Better advice is just be prepared.

3. Comments, yes.  Questions, generally yes, but if you have a decent sense for it, you can ask in a way that the class finds informative and helpful.  I generally save mine for after if I can, but sometimes a question just has to be asked at the time, or it will be too hard to explain later.  Do it quickly, concisely, and rarely.

4. A good rule.  Some professors ask for personal experiences.

The first 5. The comment on age is inconsistent with my law school experience, but the advice is good advice.  John Galt thinks arguing with professors is the most interesting part.  I would wager that John Galt's classmates think seeing John Galt get embarrassed is the most interesting part of class.  I would further wager (along with LawJockey07) that, as interesting as they find it, most of John Galt's classmates would strongly prefer that he shut the eff up already.

The second 5. Again, a good rule of thumb, but a rule that can be broken if you have a good sense of it.  (If you're thinking about this comment or my comment on #3, and wondering if you have a good sense of it, you probably don't.  If you're not wondering, you still probably don't.)

6. Like most of these rules, this one can probably be broken now and then.  But seriously, if you're asking questions or making comments in order to impress anybody, then shut the eff up, for real.  You're doing nobody any favors by trying to impress people, least of all yourself, who are quickly becoming a laughing stock.  I'm 100% with the OP on this.

7. Your grade will probably be inversely proportional to your use of AIM in class.  Grades, especially 1L grades, are of paramount importance.  Using these two statements, you can decide whether it makes more sense to use AIM to make fun of your fellow students, or to just make fun of them the old fashioned way, after class.

8. Uh, whatever.

If I were to add one more, it would be:

10. If you don't know who the gunner/laughingstock/most obnoxious person in class is, it's you.


i gotta say i enjoy the gunner from my 1L section who knew he was the gunner and was OK with it. he drove me nuts but you gotta respeck that.

i gotta say i enjoy the gunner from my 1L section who knew he was the gunner and was OK with it. he drove me nuts but you gotta respeck that.

I agree to this to some extent.  I think there is a difference between people who are eager to participate and answer a lot of questions but who do so quickly and accurately, and those who just like to hear themselves talk and debate hypos and discuss their own opinions and ask questions. 

I don't mind the first at all, the second.... eh, not my thing.




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Meanwhile, as you argue with the prof, everyone else is thinking, "Why doesn't this dumbass shut the F up so we can get out of here on time."

I was thinking this while trapped by the gunner in my LW classes during orientation week.   :(