Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

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Gamecubesupreme
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Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Gamecubesupreme » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:26 pm

I am a rising 3L after this summer.

Law school taught me how to read cases, interpret statutes and understand the Constitution.

Besides that though, I don't feel like I think any differently than people who are not in law school. I used to believe that after I graduate law school, I will be able to come up with extraordinary arguments that normal people would never think of. However, after two years of law school, I am still far away from being able to think like a lawyer. If I debate with my friends for fun, my thinking process is still the same as it was before I entered law school.

Even though I have done well on exams, it just feels so...fake. I treat it as a game and I get the points needed for a good grade. But I know practice in the real world is nothing like a law school exam.

Is this normal? Or have I been doing law school horribly wrong the past two years?

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Tanicius
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Tanicius » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:36 pm

The whole "think like a lawyer" thing is stupid in the first place. It's just a sophistic layer of analysis that only cares about observing basic reasons for and against things, and once in awhile some basic policy cost/benefit analysis. Law school dresses up half-baked concepts from introductory philosophy, econ and sociology courses and calls them legal analysis. It's good for writing exams and that's about it. Real practice does not reflect this type of analysis. I'm sure you've found this out having summered at two places already, but when you go into the real world the rules for your legal writing and analysis are whatever impresses your particular audience - your boss, your clients, the judge, or a jury. The requirements for these vary depending on a truly infinite array of circumstances that takes years upon years to master, and law school is no more necessary to start learning these things than a substantive internship or paralegal experience.

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kalvano
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby kalvano » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:40 pm

To me, "thinking like a lawyer" is more about being able to set aside your personal feelings on something and objectively look at the law and how to make an argument that is in the best interests of your client, even if you hate their stinking guts.

timbs4339
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby timbs4339 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:56 pm

Thinking like a lawyer is the mythos used to justify an outdated academic system that allows professors to not have to care about teaching. Nothing more, nothing less.

truevines
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby truevines » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:41 pm

I think "to think like a lawyer" means not jumping to the conclusion, but laying out your analysis step by step, element by element.

For example, when asked whether posting a piece of information on a open Internet forum destroys that information's status as a trade secret, lay people might tell you maybe. You know that's more than maybe and will search for all the relevant cases and do the complete analysis before reaching your conclusion.

I don't really think "to think like a lawyer" means crafting the best arguments.

It is more like finding the correct framework to analyze a particular issue (or issues).

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Tanicius
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Tanicius » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:51 pm

truevines wrote:I think "to think like a lawyer" means not jumping to the conclusion, but laying out your analysis step by step, element by element.

For example, when asked whether posting a piece of information on a open Internet forum destroys that information's status as a trade secret, lay people might tell you maybe. You know that's more than maybe and will search for all the relevant cases and do the complete analysis before reaching your conclusion.

I don't really think "to think like a lawyer" means crafting the best arguments.

It is more like finding the correct framework to analyze a particular issue (or issues).



I just don't think that's unique to "lawyer thinking" at all. "Showing work" and digging deeper than "maybe" are facets of any profession. Engineers do it. Doctors do it. Hell, you even learn these skills as an English literature student.

BlueDiamond
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby BlueDiamond » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:54 pm

as a general rule, nothing in law school matters after law school except the stuff you can put on your resume.. and only some of that stuff matters - thinking like a lawyer is horse shit

09042014
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby 09042014 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:55 pm

Thinking like a lawyer = being analytical.


As long as you weren't a dumb fuck before law school, this shouldn't be a big change.

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kalvano
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby kalvano » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:03 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Thinking like a lawyer = being analytical.


As long as you weren't a dumb fuck before law school, this shouldn't be a big change.


Thanks for the new Gchat status.

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rayiner
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby rayiner » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:05 pm

Tanicius wrote:
truevines wrote:I think "to think like a lawyer" means not jumping to the conclusion, but laying out your analysis step by step, element by element.

For example, when asked whether posting a piece of information on a open Internet forum destroys that information's status as a trade secret, lay people might tell you maybe. You know that's more than maybe and will search for all the relevant cases and do the complete analysis before reaching your conclusion.

I don't really think "to think like a lawyer" means crafting the best arguments.

It is more like finding the correct framework to analyze a particular issue (or issues).



I just don't think that's unique to "lawyer thinking" at all. "Showing work" and digging deeper than "maybe" are facets of any profession. Engineers do it. Doctors do it. Hell, you even learn these skills as an English literature student.


Law requires you to show your work and consider all possible alternatives. Engineering requires you to show your work, but generally only requires you to formulate one working alternative. Medicine doesn't require showing your work (it's based on heuristic matching), but does require considering all alternatives. Most other professions require little rigorous or systematic thinking at all.

Having been a programmer and having done some legal work (3L) I think there is definitely a particular mindset to both professions. The fact that you dont notice yourself thinking differently isn't necessarily determinative. Some people compartmentalize better than others. I have notice that in our communications, my girlfriend (2L) and I have gotten annoyingly precise, working through disagreements until they boil down to differences in values, assumptions or facts rather than differences in reasoning.

Flanker1067
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Flanker1067 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:31 pm

timbs4339 wrote:Thinking like a lawyer is the mythos used to justify an outdated academic system that allows professors to not have to care about teaching. Nothing more, nothing less.


This is brutally cynical.

I agree with Rayiner above, but then again, I was an ignorant ass when I came to law school who never put in an ounce of effort to understand anything until the LSAT, so I definitely notice a difference in my thinking now. But most of you are probably not like me.

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dowu
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby dowu » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:23 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Thinking like a lawyer = being analytical.


As long as you weren't a dumb fuck before law school, this shouldn't be a big change.


lol DF, I'm starting to like your posts. Maybe I should follow you..

:)

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Gettingstarted1928
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Gettingstarted1928 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:40 pm

IDK. I've heard many people, including professors and attorneys, insist that law school teaches you to "think like a lawyer." On the other hand, I've heard many others say it's really a myth.

I tend to agree with the poster above - law school probably won't change the way you think unless it's really the first time you had put in the effort to think abstractly.

luthersloan
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby luthersloan » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:42 pm

Sometimes I think it would be better to say law school teaches you to think like a law professor. At least, that is I think a better way to describe my experience at CCN.

Geist13
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Geist13 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:43 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Thinking like a lawyer = being analytical.


As long as you weren't a dumb fuck before law school, this shouldn't be a big change.


And yet there are an impressive number of law students for whom the concept a) was a revelation and b) remains elusive.

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JoeFish
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby JoeFish » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:24 pm

Thinking like a lawyer is just a sort of dumb, self-congratulatory way to say what they really want: Think Analytically.

No matter what you're doing (for me, it's been Math, Creative Writing, and now Law), there's no special mode in which to think, except to take whatever you're doing and really get your hands dirty, as it were, in the working parts. That's what they mean, or should mean, when they say "Think like a lawyer". They're saying, just as a math student should think deeply and analytically about math, and a psychology student should think deeply and analytically about the human mind, a law student should think deeply and analytically about the law.

Edit: Didn't even read DF's original post, but I obviously agree. I do think, though, too, that the broad "thinking analytically" is something that a whole lot of undergrads simply do not trouble themselves with. In THAT regard, sure, thinking like a lawyer may be a big change.

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Sapientia
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Sapientia » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:34 pm

JoeFish wrote: I do think, though, too, that the broad "thinking analytically" is something that a whole lot of undergrads simply do not trouble themselves with. In THAT regard, sure, thinking like a lawyer may be a big change.


This times 1,000. That's why the whole thinking like a lawyer might be something new for a lot of people.

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Gettingstarted1928
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Gettingstarted1928 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:41 pm

JoeFish wrote:Thinking like a lawyer is just a sort of dumb, self-congratulatory way to say what they really want: Think Analytically.

No matter what you're doing (for me, it's been Math, Creative Writing, and now Law), there's no special mode in which to think, except to take whatever you're doing and really get your hands dirty, as it were, in the working parts. That's what they mean, or should mean, when they say "Think like a lawyer". They're saying, just as a math student should think deeply and analytically about math, and a psychology student should think deeply and analytically about the human mind, a law student should think deeply and analytically about the law.

Edit: Didn't even read DF's original post, but I obviously agree. I do think, though, too, that the broad "thinking analytically" is something that a whole lot of undergrads simply do not trouble themselves with. In THAT regard, sure, thinking like a lawyer may be a big change.


This

Edit: Beat me to it, Sap.

I'm glad this seems to be the consensus so far. With the way it has been drummed into our heads that we should have some type of epiphany and "think" differently, I felt like I was missing something.

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AreJay711
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:47 pm

JoeFish wrote:Thinking like a lawyer is just a sort of dumb, self-congratulatory way to say what they really want: Think Analytically.

No matter what you're doing (for me, it's been Math, Creative Writing, and now Law), there's no special mode in which to think, except to take whatever you're doing and really get your hands dirty, as it were, in the working parts. That's what they mean, or should mean, when they say "Think like a lawyer". They're saying, just as a math student should think deeply and analytically about math, and a psychology student should think deeply and analytically about the human mind, a law student should think deeply and analytically about the law.

Edit: Didn't even read DF's original post, but I obviously agree. I do think, though, too, that the broad "thinking analytically" is something that a whole lot of undergrads simply do not trouble themselves with. In THAT regard, sure, thinking like a lawyer may be a big change.


I' not sure analytical thinking as applied to mathematical reasoning is the same as applied to law but maybe that is wrong. Any legal argument that will ever win in court is certainly less complex than most proofs.

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rayiner
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby rayiner » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:49 pm

JoeFish wrote:Thinking like a lawyer is just a sort of dumb, self-congratulatory way to say what they really want: Think Analytically.

No matter what you're doing (for me, it's been Math, Creative Writing, and now Law), there's no special mode in which to think, except to take whatever you're doing and really get your hands dirty, as it were, in the working parts. That's what they mean, or should mean, when they say "Think like a lawyer". They're saying, just as a math student should think deeply and analytically about math, and a psychology student should think deeply and analytically about the human mind, a law student should think deeply and analytically about the law.

Edit: Didn't even read DF's original post, but I obviously agree. I do think, though, too, that the broad "thinking analytically" is something that a whole lot of undergrads simply do not trouble themselves with. In THAT regard, sure, thinking like a lawyer may be a big change.


Math and psychology are both different. There are different kinds of analytical thinking. Math, for example, requires a level of precision law does not require. At the same time, math is in a way more straightforward. If you're doing a proof, either the proof fails or it succeeds. You can't load up a proof with a bunch of support, each of which only gets you 90% to your end goal.

Psychology is hardly analytical at all. Its an observational, empirical science. Empirical methods are almost absent in law.

One classical bit of legal analysis is categorization: grouping like things with like. You see categorization in some fields (e.g. biological classification), and it's pretty absent in other fields (most engineering disciplines). Categorization in the law is somewhat unusual in that the categories are always fuzzy and things rarely fit perfectly into any category, but part of your job as a lawyer is to make a the most convincing argument for why a particular thing fits in a particular category.

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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby sunynp » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:54 pm

Thinking like a lawyer in law school is thinking analytically about the cases and the exam situations in front of you. I think thinking like a lawyer in practice is more about evaluating a client's position and thinking of all the ways things can go wrong, and then finding solutions to avoid those things. Most of that comes from experience, which I have to learn, but a lot of it is from being thorough, paying attention to all the little facts and determining what matters - I guess that is the part I learned in law school.

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Gettingstarted1928
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Gettingstarted1928 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:56 pm

sunynp wrote:I think that thinking like a lawyer in law school is about analytically about the cases and the exam situations in front of you. I think thinking like a lawyer in practice is more about evaluating a client's position and thinking of all the ways things can go wrong, and then finding solutions to avoid those things. Most of that comes from experience, which I have to learn, but a lot of it is from being thorough, paying attention to all the little facts and determining what matters - I guess that is the part I learned in law school.


I agree. It's really about having the ability to plan for every contingency. I think most people who put in any effort in undergrad can already do this.

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AreJay711
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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:00 am

sunynp wrote:Thinking like a lawyer in law school is thinking analytically about the cases and the exam situations in front of you. I think thinking like a lawyer in practice is more about evaluating a client's position and thinking of all the ways things can go wrong, and then finding solutions to avoid those things. Most of that comes from experience, which I have to learn, but a lot of it is from being thorough, paying attention to all the little facts and determining what matters - I guess that is the part I learned in law school.

Except actual litigation probably.

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Re: Am I doing law school wrong if I don't think like a lawyer?

Postby Renzo » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:08 am

Rayiner has laid down the all-time best definition for what it means to 'think like a lawyer' in this thread. Good lawyering requires a different type of analytic reasoning than is useful in most professions. Not harder or easier, just different.

It's almost like medicine in reverse: a good doctor recognizes a pattern of symptoms, makes a list of every disease that could be causing that particular set of symptoms, and then sets to rule them out until the final correct diagnosis is reached. A lawyer basically has a client walk in and hand them a random diagnosis, which may or may not be correct. He or she then sets out to show that the client had all the symptoms which would prove that diagnosis correct, and that the client did not have any symptoms that would support diagnoses other than the one they were handed.




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