Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

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jwinaz
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Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby jwinaz » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:01 am

There are a lot of threads about how to do well in law school and other topics, such as the legal economy and admissions, etc.

I guess I wanted to ask a more fundamental question, which is whether or not I'd even enjoy doing legal work. My thread title is actually even more specific to whether or not I'd even enjoy reading the law.

I ask, because I visited both Regent Univ. and William & Mary Law Schools this past weekend and I find that I could go in as a visitor into their law libraries and just hang out and read (I didn't, but I know I could in the future). I don't have any relatives or close friends who are lawyers, nor any other connections that would allow me to shadow someone for a work day or otherwise get much personal feedback on what daily life is like for a lawyer.

I figured one possible thing I could do would be to just visit Regent or W&M's law library for an entire Sunday (literally afternoon to night) and try to spend that time experiencing what it would be like to study/read the law. I wonder if that could give one a feel for whether they'd even enjoy it or not. I could see some potential problems with this approach in that I wouldn't be doing the reading in context of law school teaching and could be missing much of what to even look for and appreciate even with the law. But, I thought about doing it just to see the type of style or writing.

I had read some online warnings about law school and becoming lawyer that included the lament that "the law is very boring and dry"...and is pure torture (like reading a how-to manual for hours and hours everyday that's written in an arcane language with no narrative line to it).

I have a few questions and perhaps you could help me with this experiment.

i.) If I do go to, say, William & Mary's Law Library again on a weekend, would there be any specific books you could recommend there that I might have to realistically spend hours reading as a law student or lawyer? It'd be neat to just go and try to get a sense of whether or not I'd enjoy that type of reading.

ii.) How would you describe the reading that you all do in either law school or working as a lawyer? I realize it won't have narrative prose to it that's like a story/fiction book of some sort, but is it at all like literally reading a how-to technical manual? Is there any "excitement" in it that you guys find? Is it puzzle-like? Any descriptions from your experiences would be great.

iii.) How many hours a day do you guys find yourselves doing actually reading (as either a law student or lawyer)?

iv.) Does the reading differ in either or amount of daily time spent depending on what type of law you do? Or is the reading mostly all very similar for all legal work period?

Very long post, I know! But I wanted to thank people in advance who may be willing to share and answer any of these questions. I greatly appreciate your time and help. Best!

(ETA: I also realize the subjective feelings and preferences like "boring" and "exciting" are relative to a specific person's make-up. I find that I enjoy reading many types of things actually. But probably do slightly prefer readings with more of a traditional narrative to them than not. So I wonder if I would like legal reading.)

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RELIC
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby RELIC » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:06 am

This is a terrible idea and it will give you no practical experience regarding being a law student or a lawyer.

jwinaz
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby jwinaz » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:10 am

RELIC wrote:This is a terrible idea and it will give you no practical experience regarding being a law student or a lawyer.


Well, I think what I was wondering what literally and specifically if I would even enjoy doing the type of reading that is the law.

I think it would matter greatly to me, because I find that I excel at things I enjoy and in thinking about a career I would want to pick something that had daily work that I liked (perhaps maybe tolerate...but definitely not hate lol).

I realize reading is just one part of the experience of law school and working as a lawyer, but it seems to be a signficant part of it. So that's why I was wondering if I'd even enjoy the type of reading or thinking that is the law.

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sopranorleone
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby sopranorleone » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:13 am

If you're not a law student or professor, the only reason you should go into a law school's library is to do this:

http://abovethelaw.com/2012/10/cam-girl-films-herself-masturbating-in-top-law-school-library/

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Yukos
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby Yukos » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:42 am

sopranorleone wrote:If you're not a law student or professor, the only reason you should go into a law school's library is to do this:

http://abovethelaw.com/2012/10/cam-girl-films-herself-masturbating-in-top-law-school-library/


Extra points if you do that in the Regents library.

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sundance95
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby sundance95 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:48 am

Don't worry, even if you do enjoy it, they'll cure you by 3L

Volake
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby Volake » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:17 am

If you could get your hands on some casebooks, reading some from those would help give you an idea of what your reading will be like. You will definitely do a lot of reading in law school, especially if your style is to read relevant supplement sections in addition to your casebook readings. I personally have enjoyed law school quite a bit so far (1L) in large part because of the readings.

I don't understand how so many people don't enjoy the reading. It's fascinating to learn the general principles in areas of the law and see these principles applied to different factual scenarios.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby rinkrat19 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:29 am

Volake wrote:If you could get your hands on some casebooks, reading some from those would help give you an idea of what your reading will be like. You will definitely do a lot of reading in law school, especially if your style is to read relevant supplement sections in addition to your casebook readings. I personally have enjoyed law school quite a bit so far (1L) in large part because of the readings.

I don't understand how so many people don't enjoy the reading. It's fascinating to learn the general principles in areas of the law and see these principles applied to different factual scenarios.

There are cases that are quick, interesting reads. And then there's everything Marshall ever wrote.

Plus
Image

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:31 am

rinkrat19 wrote:
Volake wrote:If you could get your hands on some casebooks, reading some from those would help give you an idea of what your reading will be like. You will definitely do a lot of reading in law school, especially if your style is to read relevant supplement sections in addition to your casebook readings. I personally have enjoyed law school quite a bit so far (1L) in large part because of the readings.

I don't understand how so many people don't enjoy the reading. It's fascinating to learn the general principles in areas of the law and see these principles applied to different factual scenarios.

There are cases that are quick, interesting reads. And then there's everything Marshall ever wrote.

Plus
Image

bwahahahaha.

(thankfully, my Con Law prof couldn't give a shit about the ancient cases, so we spent minimal time on Marshall.)

jwinaz
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby jwinaz » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:42 am

Well, ...I'm heading to William & Mary law library today... heh heh.

Who wants to recommend something for me to read....b/c I'm going to randomly look at stuff when I get there.

jwinaz
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby jwinaz » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:45 am

Volake wrote:If you could get your hands on some casebooks, reading some from those would help give you an idea of what your reading will be like. You will definitely do a lot of reading in law school, especially if your style is to read relevant supplement sections in addition to your casebook readings. I personally have enjoyed law school quite a bit so far (1L) in large part because of the readings.

I don't understand how so many people don't enjoy the reading. It's fascinating to learn the general principles in areas of the law and see these principles applied to different factual scenarios.


What's a casebook?

And any particular one you recommend?

...Oh as for reading...believe it or not, I had a friend complete his history Ph.D. and he told me he hates reading history hahaha. It can happen even for people who specialize in something. He was 3 years in when he realized this and forced himself to finish. But he's admitted that it can be boring reading to get through.

I guess I'd just want a taste for law reading to know if I'd even enjoy it at all.

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tehkris
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby tehkris » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:58 am

i like this post, I share your some "reservations". I've skimmed through some case books and they can be boring but also quite interesting. To see how a jury or judge ruled or just the happenings of the case can be fun. What I find generally interesting about case law and law books are how present day trials and crimes can be guided by past trial decisions. It's sifting through those cases and finding a gold mine that is rewarding IMO.

Master Tofu
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby Master Tofu » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:50 am

If you really want to read, go read SCOTUS opinions.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/opinions.aspx

Not that it has any bearing on what you will actually do post-law school but it is pretty close to the stuff you will read in law school.

Best news is you don't have to schlep out to some random law library to do this.

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howlery
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby howlery » Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:09 pm

Master Tofu wrote:If you really want to read, go read SCOTUS opinions.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/opinions.aspx

Not that it has any bearing on what you will actually do post-law school but it is pretty close to the stuff you will read in law school.

Best news is you don't have to schlep out to some random law library to do this.


Is finding SCOTUS opinions really entertaining a good sign? I can't pronounce some of the latin words and the citations are confusing, but reading them as vignettes is pretty neat.

tomwatts
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby tomwatts » Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:25 pm

You could grab a syllabus from some random class (such as, I don't know, this one) and look up the cases (such as Marbury v. Madison). You can literally Google them; Google Scholar has a Legal Documents option. You could also search in whatever the law library has as an equivalent to a card catalogue at this point.

It'd be nice to toss in some law review articles, too, which some class syllabi will have and others will not. (The one I linked, which was the first result for "con law syllabus," apparently does not.)

Master Tofu
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby Master Tofu » Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:30 pm

howlery wrote:
Is finding SCOTUS opinions really entertaining a good sign? I can't pronounce some of the latin words and the citations are confusing, but reading them as vignettes is pretty neat.


To be quite fair, they're written by some of the best legal minds in this country covering cutting edge issues - most literate people would find them interesting. Not to take anything away from you though; you seem to be literate, have a sense of curiosity and a modicum of pain tolerance. So, that's a good sign that you may enjoy law school.

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slawww
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby slawww » Sat Apr 20, 2013 3:55 pm

I guess I'll use this thread to ask my question. Is it normal - as an 0L - to look at a law school practice exam & sample answer and be extremely intimidated? I obviously have no substantive legal knowledge, but shit.

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pupshaw
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby pupshaw » Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:23 pm

slawww wrote:I guess I'll use this thread to ask my question. Is it normal - as an 0L - to look at a law school practice exam & sample answer and be extremely intimidated? I obviously have no substantive legal knowledge, but shit.


It's normal to feel that way when you look at a practice exam half way through the semester.

ramitia
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby ramitia » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:50 am

slawww wrote:I guess I'll use this thread to ask my question. Is it normal - as an 0L - to look at a law school practice exam & sample answer and be extremely intimidated? I obviously have no substantive legal knowledge, but shit.


It is completely normal to be intimidated. You learn all of that stuff throughout the semester and you are really jumping into school with very, very limited, if any, knowledge on the subject.

As for reading, the case books are extremely dry and boring, a struggle to get through at times. If you think ConLaw is bad, wait until you read cases for Civil Procedure that are ONLY procedural cases. No fun facts.... But this is part of the law school process. They are teaching you how to reason out these conclusions and holdings. You read 5-6 pages about how the judge decided to reach this one conclusion; how they came up with the rule. It's just how it is. I hated reading, but when I got into finals and actually applied all of this knowledge and really saw the fruits of my labor over the past 4 months, I realized how beneficial it all is.

But, by the end of 1L... you're skimming pretty hardcore. Haha

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DCDuck
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby DCDuck » Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:19 pm

To get a feel for the reading you will do as a law student and to give you an overview of "high level" law, I recommend reading SCOTUS opinions (Supreme Court of the United States), as recommended above, which can be pulled from its website.

I also recommend reading the law review of a school you are considering attending, paying particular attention to the student-written notes and comments. Law Reviews are student-edited compilations of writings on discrete legal issues, including case analyses. Most of the articles are written by legal scholars (read: Professors), but each edition usually also contains a couple of notes and comments written by second-year law students.

Most case books are kind of like a highly-simplified combination of a law review and SCOTUS/Appellate opinions. They generally contain illustrative edited court opinions sandwiched between some analysis. The quality and clarity of the analysis between cases varies greatly by book.

Books/Topics to skim (you generally will not be skimming them as a student, but it's fine, preferable, to skim as a 0L):
Torts: The most entertaining fact patterns and some of the more straight-forward legal analysis. Civil Law.
Criminal law: If you're interested in criminal law, try reading some legal opinions on civil issues. Try 4th Amendment search and seizure cases.
Constitutional Law: Important to give an overall idea of the balances of government powers, constitutional rights, and court authority. Almost no one practices "Constitutional Law."
I suggest reading two constitutional law cases, one old, one recent. There are thousands. Specifically, a good intro would be Marbury v. Madison for the old (Establishes the power of the court) and the recent Citizens United decision (stating that corporations are people, too. Sort of.)
You can also read E&Es, which are helpful tools law students use that boil down the casebook into discrete rules and concepts, then provides some "Examples & Explanations" of those concepts. Go to town on this one and dig deep into a Civil Procedure E&E! (There's my sarcasm for this post.)

I can't believe I took this long to write an answer to this, but I figure lots of 0Ls probably wonder what they can read to give them an idea of what they might be getting themselves into. Interested to hear how OP's 4:20 visit to the local law library went. . .

Also, you don't need to go to a law library to do any of that, but they may have casebooks and E&Es you can browse without buying.

And I look forward to Scalia Dissents. That dude's a brilliant madman.

jwinaz
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby jwinaz » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:11 pm

Master Tofu wrote:If you really want to read, go read SCOTUS opinions.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/opinions.aspx

Not that it has any bearing on what you will actually do post-law school but it is pretty close to the stuff you will read in law school.

Best news is you don't have to schlep out to some random law library to do this.


Thanks guys, very very helpful stuff so far. Appreciate it.

And I don't actually mind chilling in a law school library either. haha. I figure it'd be neat to see what being a law student was like part of the time (you know...the whole studying in the library thing).

ETA: Also, when you say it's like what you'd read in LS, but not liek what you'd read on the job, why is that?

jwinaz
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby jwinaz » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:14 pm

tomwatts wrote:You could grab a syllabus from some random class (such as, I don't know, this one) and look up the cases (such as Marbury v. Madison). You can literally Google them; Google Scholar has a Legal Documents option. You could also search in whatever the law library has as an equivalent to a card catalogue at this point.

It'd be nice to toss in some law review articles, too, which some class syllabi will have and others will not. (The one I linked, which was the first result for "con law syllabus," apparently does not.)


Not sure what those things are above, but when I have time I'll try them out. Thanks man!

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UnfrozenCaveman
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby UnfrozenCaveman » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:23 pm

Read this: http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp

But seriously, if you want to know if you are at least going to have some sort of interest in the law, check out a supplement like Examples and Explanations or something. Most law libraries have these.

tomwatts
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Re: Would I Enjoy Reading the Law?

Postby tomwatts » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:43 pm

jwinaz wrote:
tomwatts wrote:You could grab a syllabus from some random class (such as, I don't know, this one) and look up the cases (such as Marbury v. Madison). You can literally Google them; Google Scholar has a Legal Documents option. You could also search in whatever the law library has as an equivalent to a card catalogue at this point.

It'd be nice to toss in some law review articles, too, which some class syllabi will have and others will not. (The one I linked, which was the first result for "con law syllabus," apparently does not.)


Not sure what those things are above, but when I have time I'll try them out. Thanks man!

I assume you know what a "syllabus" is, what "cases" are, and what "Google" is, right? :P

A law review article is an article published in a law-related scholarly journal (such a journal is called a "law review"). Some classes assign legal scholarship as part of their curriculum; some don't.




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