The Antsy Law School Runners

Ana Melhor Columns, Lawyer 10 Comments

It amazes me that we are halfway through the first semester of law school and more and more people are so antsy that they run out of class the second it is over. We are dishing out tens of thousands of dollars to be here, but education appears to be one of the only things people do not want to get their money’s worth. How many hundreds of dollars do we pay to sit in class everyday? And, then, five minutes before the class is over all you can think of is “time to start packing up” to get to that latte? Or, if the professor happens to hold you a few minutes over, you get so antsy that, as soon as class concludes, you are the first one out the door?

How to overcome this? For starters, calculate the bottom line. With plenty of students indebted by at least $100,000 to attend law school, that runs about $3.80 per hour for every hour you breathe during the three years it typically takes to get your JD. Or, to put it in six-minute increments, it’s 38 cents per tenth of the hour billed—for every hour you breath. But, let’s say you are in class about fifteen hours a week over the typical course of 30 weeks of school. That’s about 1,350 hours of class in three years. Or about $75 for every indebted hour of class you attend. Sure, that’s a low billable rate. But that’s being billed to you.

Here’s how it is supposed to go: the better you focus on school, the higher your GPA will be, the better job you can get, the more money you can make, the faster you can pay down your mounting student loan debt. So take a moment to focus on why you are here and why you want this. Write it down. Seriously, write it down so when you are having doubts or just need some motivation, you can go back and read it. Finally, sit your ass down in class and don’t think about getting out before the professor utters the last sentence about legal duty or causation. And if the prof goes over—be grateful, you are getting more for your money.

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  • Mike

    $3.80 per hour = 3.8 cents for every six minutes? You sure about that?

    • Gregory Luce

      My bad. Fixed to 38 cents. Blame it on the editor, and thanks for pointing it out.

  • Virginia Dentata

    Spoken like a true 1L who has yet to get first semester grades. Your GPA is not dependent at all upon class participation or even class attendance in most instances, but upon the arbitrary grading style of your professor.

    If you were really so concerned about your bottom line, you never would have matriculated in the first place.

    • Guano Dubango

      The teeth on this beeotch!

  • Guest

    Don’t kid yourself. You’re not paying for an education. You’re paying for the piece of paper they give you at the end of three years that allows you to sit for the bar examination of your choosing. This “education” won’t prepare you for the bar exam or the actual practice of law. Its just a lengthy, expensive hoop to jump through if you want to be a lawyer.
    Keep your eye on the ball.

  • 3L

    You’re not paying for the classes – you’re paying for access to professors, alumni, casebooks, and OCIs. The education comes from actually practicing law – through legal clinics, clerkships, or as an associate attorney. Lawyers need to know how to use their time most efficiently, and if your time is better spent outside of the classroom then by all means rush out of that room.

  • Aaron Meyer

    Some of us have other classes to get to. Some of us even have days with a solid 7-hour block of classes. When a professor runs long, we lose our ability to run to the bathroom (it takes a LOT of coffee to get through a day with 7 hours of classes and sooner or later all that coffee will want to leave our bodies). That’s not a minor issue. We end up having to choose either being late for our next class or being unable to concentrate because, well, there are certain natural biological reactions to caffeinated coffee.

    Some of us are also coming into law school from the corporate world; you know, the world where we’ve been paid for our time. Because of this, we know that allowing meetings to run long indicates one of two things: Either the person running the meeting lacks time management skills, or he lacks any respect for other people’s time. Being “grateful” that a professor has “gone over” is the wrong reaction. The professor knows how long the class is. The professor has every opportunity to plan accordingly. If a class runs long consistently (everyone has an off day from time to time), then the professor is either failing to plan his classes properly or he simply doesn’t respect his students’ time.

    You’re not getting “more for your money” when a professor lets his class run long every day; you’re getting a professor who can’t present information with sufficient clarity and concision to fit within the boundaries of the course. That’s not a win for anyone.

  • Ellen

    You are paying to GET an Education, and that TEACHES you to be a lawyer.

    I got a JD and then took the DC bar and then the NY bar and now I am ADMITTED to Practice Law.

    That is what I learned.

  • The Watcher

    I have to point out the horribly flawed assumption in this every day. You ARE NOT paying for the right to sit in class and listen to a professor speak. That is a lecture series, where the end goal is to hear the speaker talk. You are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the law degree you will receive at the end of 3 years. If class attendance and participation helps you get there and get better grades, then fine, go to class. But in the end, what matters is your GPA and place you got your degree from. It’s not like adverse possession will help you in your doc review.

  • Cee

    If my professor inadvertently remembers something at the end of class that wasn’t important enough to mention in the first five minutes, it probably is irrelevant, which means it won’t be on my outline, which means I don’t need to know it. So why spend valuable seconds listening when I can noisily packing up my stuff instead?