Thursday, May 06, 2004

My (extremely long) take on Law School compared to Grad School

Well...I saw that both Jeremy and Ambivalent Imbroglio had chimed in on the Advice/How Does Law School Compare to Other Grad Programs post that Greg put up...and so, since I know that my three readers desperately want to know my opinion (probably their email is just down and that's why there aren't messages pouring in from them begging for me to weigh in) I decided to put up a couple of quick thoughts.

First, I would qualify everything that I say with the fact that I have a Master's Degree but it is in Human Resource Development which wasn't such a rigorous program but did last for two years and I did do it full-time at night while I was in the Air Force -- so the time commitment was at least there.

OK...I tried to write this point by point like Greg did...but my attention span isn't that long and I don't have enough new to say to validate making everyone read a 5 page treatise. So, here we go:

Overall, I am 100% behind Jeremy's assessment that Law School is what you make of it and it doesn't have to be a miserable experience (although it certainly has its moments). But, like Greg, I have experienced the job interview where they had no idea how to talk to someone with 5 years of management experience and a lot of knowledge in a particular field. I've also experienced the job interview where the interviewer questions my ability to be a fair and impartial person because I was in the military (which apparently breeds people who are unfair and impartial...who knew??). I handled that by narrowing down the types of jobs I was interested in to places I thought would gladly accept my experience, and I got the exact summer job I wanted...the exact one I would have dreamed about having!

Competition and grade weirdness are definitely present -- especially now with finals looming, Moot Court on the horizon, and the law review write-on less than a month away. But, I try to just focus on learning things that I need to know to be a good lawyer -- not to be a crazy All-Star law student. The people here are all used to being the "smartest one"...this has been said by MANY people's hard to adjust to having a curve and sometimes not getting to be the smartest guy or girl in a given population.

I would say the vast majority of students here get a "B" or "B+" in most classes, with about 25% getting some variety of an "A" and a few people, especially in the larger classes, getting a "B-". I will also say that I was the proud owner of a "C" in Torts for almost a week because of a screw up somewhere in the system with getting the WHOLE test to my professor (who apparently had just the first two pages)'s fixed now, but the point is that it was the ONLY "C" given in ANY 1L class that I'm aware of...and it was so unusual it was the talk of the town for a week or so. The moral of this story is that if your school has computer testing and you get a grade that seems way out of just might be. The moral of this story was going to be about grade curves and then I realized I'm not smart enough at math to have a point about that...and it just went downhill from there...sorry!

Like Ambivalent Imbroglio, my grad program had much smaller classes, and you really got to know the professors because you took classes over and over again with the same person. My classes here are pretty big, but we have one small section each quarter and generally get to know that professor really well (which can be good or bad, depending...).

I have made some of the best friends of my life here...the first few months were rough, especially for a girl coming out of the military into arguably one of the most liberal cities in the country--let's just say people weren't breaking down my door to be my pal (which is funny, because I have always thought of myself as pretty politically moderate, but the military thing seems to throw people). I've addressed how I feel about law school here, so I won't go into that's a different world but I think that if you've been to another type of grad school, or have worked, or are the kind of person who can resist running over the cliff with the other lemmings...the law school mystique just doesn't work on you as well. The ability to see the experience for what it is and make IT work for YOU is valuable and the people I see doing it best are those types of people.

Anyway, now I still wrote WAY too much and I apologize (I also apologize for any inaccuracies in interpretation of anyone's opinions...I agreed with all three of them!!).
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