Questions for current law students

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CMDantes
Posts: 420
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:37 pm

Questions for current law students

Postby CMDantes » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:27 am

Hey all,

I have a project to do for one of my final classes of undergrad and it entails asking law students some questions about their experiences.

I was wondering if you guys could help me out, answering any part of these would be tremendously helpful. These are the questions I came up with:

1. Some have described lawyers as all having the same following characteristics: a taste for formalism, propensity to be conservative, contempt for the average layperson, and a lust for prestige and power. Which of these generalizations do you find accurate? Which do you not? Can you give me a specific example of a time during law school where you were struck by one of these generalizations and thought, ‘wow, so what they say about lawyers is true?’

2. The practice of law itself has sometimes been characterized as morally bereft. To explain further, the idea is that the law is less concerned with justice and rightness and more concerned with procedure and preserving the status quo. Have you read any cases during law school where the legal “right” answer conflicted with your own sense of justice? Can you name a specific example of such a case and why it disturbed your morality? From what time was the case? If the case was from a very long time ago, do you think things have changed?

3. The common perception is that law school denatures people and encourages foregoing the conscience in favor of pursuing the interests of the client, whoever that may be. Have you had any specific experiences with this during law school? More importantly, do you feel like you are pressured to leave law school with this mentality? What factors give you the idea that you will hold on to your sense of rightness or, alternately, that you will let it go in favor of pursuing the client’s interests and thus money? Or do you feel that the two don’t necessarily have to be separate? If you feel this way, how can you visualize balancing the two (career path, pro-bono work, etc.)?

4. Many people warn of law-school being an incredibly cut-throat place. Is yours this way? If so, what gives you that impression? If not, what kind of atmosphere dominates your law school? Do you think atmosphere is at all a product of the school’s relative ranking and prestige, or is it something else?

Please note: I don't have a particular viewpoint on any of these questions. Please try not to assume that I'm a presumptuous 0l with delusions of being a white knight saving the downtrodden. I'm not. I'm just doing a project and these questions are based on what is expected of us.

Thanks for the help :)

Leeroy Jenkins
Posts: 1003
Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 10:19 pm

Re: Questions for current law students

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:34 am

CMDantes wrote:1. Some have described lawyers as all having the same following characteristics: a taste for formalism, propensity to be conservative, contempt for the average layperson, and a lust for prestige and power. Which of these generalizations do you find accurate? Which do you not? Can you give me a specific example of a time during law school where you were struck by one of these generalizations and thought, ‘wow, so what they say about lawyers is true?’

A taste for formalism -- I think the more academic minded students have a taste for formalism. Everyone else goes with their emotion.
Propensity to be conservative -- Definitely not.
Contempt for the average layperson -- I get the feeling that trial lawyers have a certain level of contempt for the layperson because the layperson makes up the jury, and jurors tend to be from the lower half of society who aren't blessed with an overabundance of schooling. I don't think lawyers in general are any different from any college educated, or even more so, graduate school educated person in their view towards the layperson. Fact is most such people are simply smarter and richer. Contempt for those you perceive to be less educated or poorer is a natural consequence flowing out of that for many people whether or not they realize it.
Lust for prestige and power -- people don't go into the law because they want power. For a small percentage, yea prestige is a driving factor.
In summation -- I don't really find any of these generalizations accurate. Maybe contempt for the average layperson.
And no, I cannot give you an example of a time when I was struck by one of these generalizations and thought it was unique or representative of the legal profession. Maybe once, when my Contracts professor asked a student whether an events' occurrence was a necessary or sufficient condition, and it made me laugh inside when the student asked what that meant.

2. The practice of law itself has sometimes been characterized as morally bereft. To explain further, the idea is that the law is less concerned with justice and rightness and more concerned with procedure and preserving the status quo. Have you read any cases during law school where the legal “right” answer conflicted with your own sense of justice? Can you name a specific example of such a case and why it disturbed your morality? From what time was the case? If the case was from a very long time ago, do you think things have changed?

I don't agree with anything stated in this paragraph. If anything, the law is most concerned with the judge and what his personal beliefs are. The legal 'right answer' is whatever the judge authoring the opinion wants it to be. If the judge is conservative, he will be concerned with maintaining the status quo by relying on the precedent. If the judge is liberal, he will be concerned with overruling precedent or selectively interpreting it.
Specific example of a case that disturbed my morality ... hmm... I cannot give a specific example because there are so many of them. They tend to group around Torts, Criminal Law, or Constitutional Law, though. The time those decisions were issued varies and for the most part these decisions were either eventually overruled or they were the overruling case.

3. The common perception is that law school denatures people and encourages foregoing the conscience in favor of pursuing the interests of the client, whoever that may be. Have you had any specific experiences with this during law school? More importantly, do you feel like you are pressured to leave law school with this mentality? What factors give you the idea that you will hold on to your sense of rightness or, alternately, that you will let it go in favor of pursuing the client’s interests and thus money? Or do you feel that the two don’t necessarily have to be separate? If you feel this way, how can you visualize balancing the two (career path, pro-bono work, etc.)?

Denatures people, no. Encourages foregoing the conscience, no. I have never had any such experience in law school, nor do I feel pressured to leave law school with such a mentality. My sense of right or wrongness is very unlikely to have any relevance to the type of law I want to practice, so it isn't a concern to me at all, and therefore I will do whatever I can do in my client's interests as long as I don't violate the rules of ethics.

4. Many people warn of law-school being an incredibly cut-throat place. Is yours this way? If so, what gives you that impression? If not, what kind of atmosphere dominates your law school? Do you think atmosphere is at all a product of the school’s relative ranking and prestige, or is it something else?

My law school is relatively collegial, which I think is just the atmosphere of the school, and not a product of its ranking, which is relatively high. People are friendly to each other and have no reservations in helping classmates whether by discussing confusing aspects of the law or supplying notes.

CMDantes
Posts: 420
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:37 pm

Re: Questions for current law students

Postby CMDantes » Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:03 am

Thanks much Leeroy that's really helpful. I especially liked your answer to question two.

Any other takers?

StudentAthlete
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:48 am

Re: Questions for current law students

Postby StudentAthlete » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:48 pm

Propensity for conservatism? Not unless they're in business litigation.

typically the over-zealous type, bright but in a lot of ways immature (at least during law school)
The statement about attorneys having an over-inflated sense of self-ego definitely reigns true- look at a lot of TLS posters who are yet to even be attorneys yet- I think it's rather obvious lol. I guess that would run hand in hand with them being contemptuous for laypeople




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