Why I Don't Play Games With Law Students

I don’t play games with law students.

And I mean any kind of game. I don’t play board games, Catchphrase, intramurals, pickup games, drinking games – nothing – with law students.

My refusal to participate in any kind of out-of-the-classroom competitive venture doesn’t stem from a fear of failure or a concern that I lack capability. While in general I avoid competitions, when I do participate, it’s in academics. And it’s mostly because I’d be embarrassed and mad at myself if I didn’t make my best effort, not because I want to beat someone else. My avoidance of games with law students is because law students are, as they are with most things, hyper-competitive, too serious, and detail-oriented to the point of minutia, all in “the name of the game.”

Drinking games are no exception. There’s always that law student who must play the game, someone who is not content with people just drinking casually, someone who needs everyone to play – and to play by the rules. This person hasn’t figured out that drinking is a pressure release valve, time to unwind, to relax, to get away from the rules that come with law school; it’s not a chance to create more rule statements and remedies for failure to perform. Maybe next year.

I’ve seen Catch Phrase turn into a shouting match, more than once. The way people trash talk and cheat at Words with Friends and Scramble with Friends, you’d think someone was giving out CALIs for winning. I’ve watched classmates massively overstay their welcome because they “just have to put these last few pieces together” of a puzzle, because law students must succeed at any cost. From pickup games and intramural injuries, no less than five of my classmates have gone to the hospital: broken ankle, two torn ACLs, problem with a pacemaker, and an elbow to the face requiring stitches. And those are just the kids who left the field because of injuries, not the kids who left the field because they were kicked out by the undergrad student referees for “un-sportsman-like conduct” or “foul language.” Keep in mind that one must receive multiplewarnings for these “offenses” before ejection occurs.

In fact, I get uncomfortable just watching law students play games. Except for intramural sports. In addition to all of the above causes for amusement, a law school flag football team is typically a combination of the kids who got picked last in high school gym class and the kids who were – or thought they should have been – serious college athletes. Their desire to demolish the undergrad teams is only rivaled by their pseudo-desperation to beat any other law school team. Law students take themselves so seriously in these situations that it’s impossible not to laugh. And besides, they need spectators standing by in case anyone needs to go to the hospital.

It’s not fair to place the entirety of blame on the law students. Law school encourages, even demands competition, from the forced curve to the  “do or die” stakes of the Socratic method to the fierce competition for meager scholarships. My school even gives out a scholarship for being the best ping pong player. (You read that right. There is a tournament, and the winner of the ping pong tournament wins a small scholarship. They don’t even call it table tennis to try to class it up). In general, the competition cultivated in law school often spills over into personal life and extracurricular activities.  Apparently, you can take the student out of the law school, but you can’t the law school out of the student.  Unless you try hard. Maybe that should be the next game – one that I would be willing to play.

Post image from Shutterstock

  • Jerkface

    I totally agree. In fact, when I play games or interact with my friends and family, they demand that I turn off the lawyer so they can have a good time.

  • Sweetpea

    There’s nothing quite like playing Pictionary with your other lawyer/ law school friends when someone suddenly yells, “Objection, leading!” mid-play. This inevitably results in the next closest person saying “Motion to strike” and then viciously whacking ‘opposing counsel’ with a pillow. Good times.

  • The Dean

    There was this type A associate at my firm who could never take off his lawyer hat. He once was negotiating a construction contract with a builder for his own home. He arrived to a meeting with a young sales associate for the builder with a redlined contract and made ridiculous demands as if it were a $20M commercial project. The meeting ended with the sales associate leaving in tears. The relationship ended when the builder came in and told the attorney to get out – that there was no way they were going to do business with him. Gotta know when to leave the attorney at the office.

  • Harry

    I liked to play strip poker with the 1L women, and the one who first got naked had to have sex with the others. I did not mind losing, except when the other players were Barkers!