Sunday, December 28, 2008

Excellent List: 10 Things I Didn't Learn In Law School

From Gideon
Look, law school taught me a fair bit. I won’t lie. It taught me that even grown-ups can get drunk and get in fights at local bars. It taught me that my fellow lawyer isn’t much smarter than me and will one day become really famous. It taught me that you can fake your way through almost anything.

But here are ten things it didn’t teach me:

1.Nobody ever uses the phrase “black letter law“. Seriously. Lawyers who do use the phrase “black letter law” are usually laughed at by cliques of other lawyers. This is an invention of professors, I’m sure, meant to intimidate and harass poor first year students. Black letter law? Is that some Rules of Court book?
2. That you will forever be haunted by names of cases, but not remember a damn thing about the case itself. Who here can tell me about Helicopteros or International Shoe or Pennoyer or Dudley and Stephens? (Okay, that last one is really cool - it’s about cannibalism). Wasn’t there a Vana White case?
3. How to pick a jury.
4. There is no box. Law school professors keep telling you to think outside the box. What they don’t tell you is that there is no box.
5. That law review leads to document review. If you want to do real work, take a clinic or something.
6. Your clients will hate you. They will think they are smarter than you. They will try to tell you what to do.
7. How to deal with #6 above.
8. Most judges haven’t practiced in a while, so forgive them if they make stuff up as they go along.
9. Caselaw and precedent may or may not mean much until you get to an appellate court. And even then…
10. Finally, no matter how long you practice or what you do, there will always be more to learn and ways to better yourself.

What have you not learned from law school?

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