When I first applied to law school and my friends and relatives were asking why, I would always joke that it was a combination of arrogance and schadenfreude. Enough arrogance to believe that I would be able to handle the courses easily and keep myself above the stresses of law school life and a desire to delight in the sort of Schadenfreude that can only be delivered from watching a client, who failed to heed my brilliant advice, get steamrolled. As with many jokes, it
wasn’t that far off was basically a way of trying to lie by telling the truth in a way that makes people think you’re insincere.
Even though my arrogance has not abated (as reliable sources have informed me on more than one occasion), the Schadenfreude aspect of my desire for law school has, in fact, changed. It has expanded.
The first inkling that I might be fueling my desire for other people’s misfortune from sources other than stupid client stories came about this time last year when I volunteered to be part of a student panel that the law school put together for incoming 1Ls to speak with during orientation. I told these impressionable souls, with a straight face, that it was perfectly possible to have a social life in law school and that classes weren’t as stressful as people made them out to be. I told them that as long as they managed their time well there was no reason for law school to take over their lives.
Over my 2L year I worked with the school’s legal writing program to help 1Ls with their research and writing skills, coaching them on structure and phrasing, but mostly selling them on the value of the legal writing classes and their importance for the actual practice of law. Now that I’m working on my LL.M. in addition to my J.D., I’ve spent a lot of time working to convince other students to apply to the LL.M. program as well, explaining that an extra year really isn’t that long and that the credentials will really be helpful in finding a job (this isn’t a complete lie as long as they stick to the Tax LL.M. as I have). And I’ve again volunteered to speak to this year’s incoming 1L class.
So, why do I enjoy selling others on law school so much? Well, for starters, if they’re fool enough to listen to someone telling them to go to law school, they deserve what’s going to happen to them. Mostly though, it’s just nice to be on the opposite side now. Someone did this to me and damn it, now it’s my turn.
So to all you entering 1Ls, it’s going to be great. You’re going to love law school. Even if what you love is watching it break others the same way it broke you.
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