Days Until I Am No Longer A 1L:

Saturday, April 09, 2005


So apparently I was eliminated in the first round of the moot court competition. All day long, I was hoping that this would happen so that I didn't have to argue tomorrow. Now that it did happen, I am surprisingly pissed. I feel like the run of good luck I was having has come to a screeching halt and now I am back to my old ways of nothing ever seeming to go my way. As much as I have been telling myself that I didn't really want to do this, it still pisses me off that i didn't make it. I think my beef about this goes way beyond the actual moot court board and more to law school as a whole.

I came to law school to get my JD. I thought that when I came to this school, I would finally be away from dealing with petty bullshit. Boy, was I wrong. The system - and by that I mean law school and beyond - seems to go out of its way to compel you do things that take all of your free time and which you have no desire to do. I'm not saying that I am a slacker - I just want to take my classes, get my diploma and finally get on with my life. Apparently, that is not possible.

It seems like it is coming at me from all directions - like there is some kind of set in stone formula that you have to follow over your three years in law school. First of all, I don't want to do the whole Big Law thing. I never have. Apparently, I am fucking crazy for this. Everywhere I turn, I feel like I am being funneled down a certain path that I don't want to go down. Granted, the majority of people who are here want to do that and it makes sense that the school concentrates on that, but I just get the feeling that that is all they care about. E. Spat hit the nail on the head tonight when she said that they take a group of people who theoretically could be diverse and interesting and spend three years turning them into pretentious assholes. God help me if I end up like that.

Since there is such an emphasis on securing for everyone the coveted Big Law job, all the advice that I get seems to be geared towards that. It is so overwhelming that I feel like I have no choice but to follow it. I don't want to be on a journal. I would love to write an article for a journal, but I have no desire to be on the journal staff just so I could say I was on the journal staff. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to do the journal competition, because the way everybody makes it sound, if you are on a journal, people will be throwing jobs at you left and right and if you are not on a journal, you will be lucky to get a job as a clerk for a traffic court judge. So, despite the fact that I would rather rip off all of my fingernails than spend the next two years bluebooking someone else's journal article, I wasted four days writing a case note for a journal that I have no chance in making, just so I could put GW Law Review on my resume. And, despite the fact that I could have spent today writing an outline for a class that actually has some meaning to me, I spent the day preparing for and worrying about an oral argument that I was only doing so that I could put Moot Court Board on my resume.

Without even realizing it, I have been working on becoming the exact person I don't want to be. Maybe it is a good thing that I didn't make any of these boards. I see the people who are on the journals and who are on the boards and it almost makes me sick - the last thing I want to do is become that guy. I know that not everyone who is on a journal or a skills board is like that - I know a bunch of people who aren't. But I have seen enough of the "I am on Law Review so I am better than you" attitude that it makes me want to run away as fast as I can so that I don't end up turning in to that person. It isn't worth the line on my resume to end up like that.

That's another thing about all of this that makes me mad. Not only do I feel forced to participate in these competitions, but when I do, I am judged by the very people who I am trying to avoid. Thankfully, I was lucky in that I got a good trio of judges today - two practicing attorneys and one respectable member of the board. But I heard some comments that were made by upperclassmen that, if they were made to me, I would probably be in jail right now. It's the same jerks who I fear turning in to so badly that I don't even want to compete who are judging us and making comments that are absolutely insane, and it is this attitude that is at the heart of this rant. What gives you the right, Mr. 3L, to belittle someone who is making a legal argument for the first time in their life. Just because you are on the moot court board and have a couple years of law school under your belt, you have the right to tear a poor 1L to shreds? I don't think so. I thought the whole purpose of this competition was to help 1Ls improve their oral advocacy skills. How is that purpose served when the upperclassmen judges' idea of constructive criticism is saying things to competitors that is so insensitive that they will never want to compete again.

It isn't just the student run skills boards that piss me off, either. I get the same feeling everywhere I turn in the school, from the top down. Like I said before, if I don't want to be a super-lawyer at a big time firm, I might as well not even be here. But it's not just that. This is something that E. Spat hit on in one of her posts a week or so ago, and I have been thinking about it ever since. I am an average student. Middle of the curve. By definition, the majority of the class is going to be in the same boat as me. But everything I see and everything I hear, whether from the student organizations or the administration or the career development office makes me think, "I'm not in the top 10%, why should I even bother?" I feel like everyone here caters to the top of the class and the rest of us might as well pack it up and go home. You might say that they earned their spot at the top and they deserve the benefit of that, but I say that the grading here is so arbitrary, how can you honestly compare people based on four exams. I mean, can you really say that a professor can honestly and fairly discriminate among 73 three hour long essay exams? And furthermore, the top 10% coming out of the school that I go to are not going to have any trouble getting the job that they want. Doesn't that mean that the school should be helping the other 90% get the jobs that they want? I guess the answer to this is that the top 10% have the most potential to get jobs at the most prestigious firms, which in turn will get the school rich alumni and good numbers in the US News rankings, so the school is going to go out of there way to help them and to hell with the rest of us who won't be able to make any donations on our government salaries anyway.

The thing that really pisses me off is that all of this is the worst if you want to get a job in the academic world. That is something that really interests me - something that I would really enjoy and that I could really feel like my work is making an impact. It is the area that, to me at least, seems like it could have the greatest effect in changing all of this crazy nonsense. Unfortunately, the system seems to be worse here than it is even at big law firms. The impression that I get is, based on the grades that I got in my first four classes, and the impact they will have on me not making a journal, I can already pretty much kiss being a law professor goodbye. Don't worry about the person's personality or their desire to teach and share with and help a generation of students coming up through the ranks. No, let's just look at their GPA from a top five school and the articles they have written, because the fact that you graduated at the top of your class at Harvard and wrote an 80 page article where you ramble on about God knows what directly correlates to your ability to teach a law school class.

i don't want to be a number. i don't want to be a line on my resume. I want to be me, and I want people to see me for who I am and for what I have the potential to accomplish. Is that too much to ask? Based on the intelligence and academic background of the people in my chosen profession, you think we would be able to figure that out sooner or later. Well, I'm not going to hold my breath.

I really like my law school classes but - Spice said it right earlier tonight - I fucking hate law school.