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LuckyCommander

What DID law school prepare you for?

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Hey again! Another post made out of boredom. 

Many articles and forum posts emphasize that law school doesn’t adequately prepare you for practice or life outside of law school. Well, I want to challenge that notion a bit. What DID law school prepare you for? Are there things that a legal education provided for you that you could not get anywhere else?

For example, a friend of mine told me that their writing skills increased exponentially as a result. Another told me that it helped them deal with the deadlines associated with having multiple clients!

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I went to law school at a relatively young age and believe that it made me a more grounded, humble, and mature person. Law school and the path to becoming a licensed lawyer in itself is a life experience. 

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Posted (edited)

Law school taught me that not all lawyers are smart people, and not to expect otherwise. 

Edited by beyondsection17
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25 minutes ago, beyondsection17 said:

Law school taught me that not all lawyers are smart people, and not to expect otherwise. 

And also that even some smart law students/lawyers are assholes who don't take their jobs seriously enough.

But also the reverse is true: there are some truly incredible and talented and smart people doing incredible things and sacrificing what could be a richer life for themselves in order to work towards some greater good. These people are my role models now.

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I think law school does prepare you for practice, or at least the litigation end of it.

Fact pattern analysis, cause of action analysis, remedy-right interaction, argument and delivery, and many more things were at least addressed in addition to the black letter law (which is also helpful) in most of my courses.

While I may never go back to class notes, I don't think it was a waste of time. 

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27 minutes ago, TKNumber3 said:

I think law school does prepare you for practice, or at least the litigation end of it.

Fact pattern analysis, cause of action analysis, remedy-right interaction, argument and delivery, and many more things were at least addressed in addition to the black letter law (which is also helpful) in most of my courses.

While I may never go back to class notes, I don't think it was a waste of time. 

Certainly not all of it is a waste of time. But I think you only really need two years of law school to develop those skills in the context of law school classes (at least to be sufficient for most students; some students of course "get it" much quicker and get to the point where repetition becomes not worth it very quickly).

I think third year should be geared more to get students to try litigation, solicitor type work. Maybe under an LPP type program. That way all students actually get exposure to both that type of work before articling.

Though even that may be moot since, as I understand it, over 50 percent of students end up with articles by summer before 3L (may be wrong on this stat).

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Law school prepared me for the reality of the legal community. That is, understanding that I'd have to start assuming that my peers in legal practice - lawyers and judges, mainly - are at least as smart as I am, and to stop expecting that I could pull random observations out of my ass on a moment's notice and still get good results in discussions, debates, and assigned work.

U of T was great for this. Say what you want about the school, their terrible policies regarding tuition, etc. - they still attract the best and the brightest. I know some people here thing I'm arrogant. Hell, I AM arrogant in many ways. But I like to think I'm rationally arrogant. I know when I'm good at something and I like to take credit for it. But man, going to law school was an eye-opener. Because suddenly everybody was very, very good. And seriously - I needed badly to recalibrate. It took me a while. Some law students and lawyers never get there. They simply aren't smart enough to notice how smart everyone else is, like how Donald Trump just genuinely can't recognize expertise and knowledge in other people because he doesn't know what it is to operate on that level. Fortunately, I think I avoided that pitfall eventually. But not before I had some cringe-worthy moments.

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Law school is actually very good at teaching you the current state of the law. Don’t ever discount the value of this knowledge and work hard to keep up on developments as you go along.

When you appear in front of a judge and make an argument that - I don’t know - there is an objective standard in play when a person fails to take steps to ensure they don’t breach a court order, knowing that the BCCA just released R v Zora this year puts you ahead of about eighty percent of your colleagues who are too lazy or too busy to stay up to date. Another random example: Coming out of law school I promise you have a MUCH better handle on the nightmare of jurisprudence that is sexual assault law that almost anyone else in the courthouse. 

Now you probably have no idea how to create a foundation for your argument to bring that knowledge of the law in play. School doesn’t teach you to be a litigator. It just teaches you the law.

But I make a point to chat with new Calls about caselaw from time to time because honestly, they often have a much better concept of the current framework on X area that I need to adopt, especially if the judge doesn’t have a criminal background. Being able to Coles Notes the Law in argument is a wonderful thing, and without a lot of effort you lose it fast - so enjoy being current while you can.

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7 hours ago, Diplock said:

Law school prepared me for the reality of the legal community. That is, understanding that I'd have to start assuming that my peers in legal practice - lawyers and judges, mainly - are at least as smart as I am, and to stop expecting that I could pull random observations out of my ass on a moment's notice and still get good results in discussions, debates, and assigned work.

Man, if this isn't true. Having just completed 1L, it's mindblowing that I can't bullshit my way through schoolwork anymore. In undergrad, my essays and assignments would get good grades just because they sounded nice, even if the evidence supporting the thesis was paper thin. Profs in law school seem way more likely look at your arguments rationally rather than take the conclusions at face value. Getting my first difficult question in a moot and receiving my first memo back covered in red marks were extremely humbling, but I already feel that my analysis and writing skills have improved for it. 

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Law school gave me the basic, most important foundation on which I am building my practice. 

1. It taught me the basics of legal research (spoiler - it is NOTHING like scientific research). 

2. It taught me how to properly read and analyze case-law (example - just because there is a dissent - do not discount it - that shit is important). 

3. It taught me how to issue spot and how to kind of compile a series of cases to make your point (even if the exact point in and of itself is not very clear on the face of the case law). 

4. It taught me how to ground almost all arguments in statute. 

5. It taught me the basics of statutory interpretation. 

6. It taught me your reputation is everything and you need to keep that polished like a Rolls Royce even beginning in 1L. 

7. It taught me to be scared shitless to screw up because it can be very VERY serious when you do. I practice with fear in my heart - because without that fear I know my diligence will lapse and the consequences can be terrible. 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Diplock said:

Because suddenly everybody was very, very good. And seriously - I needed badly to recalibrate. It took me a while. Some law students and lawyers never get there. 

It goes further, IMO, than just everyone is good. It's that everyone is good and a significant number of them start to have defined interests that turn them into semi-SMEs (academically, not necessarily practically) by the time they finish 3L. I'm very confident that if I walk into a room where a certain subject is being discussed amongst peers, I am going to know more than most of them. By contrast, there are numerous subjects where my job is to walk in, shut up, and let the people who know what they are talking about speak. I'm not reading administrative or labour law articles/texts in my spare time, the same way they aren't keeping up to date on certain major M&A issues. It's not just being okay with everyone being good, it's also being okay with being good at only a few areas. The "stay in your lane" skill is one I think good students learn early. 

Edited by whoknows
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7 hours ago, TheScientist101 said:

1. It taught me the basics of legal research (spoiler - it is NOTHING like scientific research). 

I'm not sure if this makes me feel relieved or nervous to begin something completely new.

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13 minutes ago, Honks202 said:

I'm not sure if this makes me feel relieved or nervous to begin something completely new.

I wouldn’t sweat it. Law profs do a great job of teaching students how to do research and most schools (maybe all?) have a course in 1L geared towards just that.  No one really knows how to do legal research when they start law school but everyone learns how to be semi-competent over the 3 years. 

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Lots of interesting feedback! 

To answer the second part of your question, the "real world" application of law, bearing in mind that i have only completed 1L thus far, I would say law has done the following: 

1. Greatly improved my confidence! While I literally was shaking at my knees in my first mock courtroom submission in front of a pretend judge, after doing a couple of these things during my first year, I find that I am SUPER confident in practical situations. Very little intimidates me now and I have learned to realize the only thing that I found intimidating in the past, were people who would give me these false arguments that actually did not make logical sense! (I think the LSAT helped with this a lot too). 

2. Issue spot. And no, I don't mean in legal cases, I mean issue spotting in day-to-day life. I never really realized how much BS people throw out at you in everyday life before going to law school. I find myself following the logical flow of people's arguments (whether the argument be what they had for dinner, or what their mother's best friend thinks about Celine Dion) and poking holes in it. Before, I would take a person's unsolicited advice and contemplate it, now I am able to poke holes in it and stop them in their tracks with the realization that their advice is completely illogical. 

3. Embrace conflict. I am a natural introvert. I would flee at the first sight of conflict. Now, I take conflict head on. If someone wants to be adversarial with me, I use the facts I know about the situation, poke holes in their argument where it is weak and generally cause people to think twice about challenging me on things they have no real idea about. 

4. Has reduced my threshold for mediocrity and ridiculousness. Over the summer, I am working in a leadership role. Part of my role includes managing people and disciplining when needed. When someone is clearly in the wrong and they try to back peddle with ridiculous arguments and justifications, while I used to be empathetic and understanding, I find now I have very little patience for it. I have been called Judge Judy by some (I am not sure if this is a compliment or offensive, still deciding haha) because I have been as crass as to tell people "tell it to your therapist, this is completely irrelevant to me". While this arguably is not a great trait, I never realized how much time I wasted in the past listening to people's nonsense. I find it actually exhilarating and refreshing that I have been able to filter the necessary interactions with people in a professional setting to things that are relevant and pertinent. Before, I was weighing myself down with other people's baggage, and in reality, this isn't fair. We all have our own problems and we all work through them. If I am your friend, I will listen, but as a professional, I don't care. 

5. Has changed my world view. I definitely see things differently now that I have some legal experience. If someone threatens to sue me, I simply say "Whats your cause of action? Because I don't see any here". I also spot negligence, carelessness and understand the legalese of my phone contract. My world view has opened up and I feel like I have a better understanding of how things function in a legal context. 

 

I'm interested to hear how law has changed other people's personal lives, aside from the obvious how it has impacted their legal careers. 

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23 minutes ago, steversteves said:

Lots of interesting feedback! 

To answer the second part of your question, the "real world" application of law, bearing in mind that i have only completed 1L thus far, I would say law has done the following: 

1. Greatly improved my confidence! While I literally was shaking at my knees in my first mock courtroom submission in front of a pretend judge, after doing a couple of these things during my first year, I find that I am SUPER confident in practical situations. Very little intimidates me now and I have learned to realize the only thing that I found intimidating in the past, were people who would give me these false arguments that actually did not make logical sense! (I think the LSAT helped with this a lot too). 

2. Issue spot. And no, I don't mean in legal cases, I mean issue spotting in day-to-day life. I never really realized how much BS people throw out at you in everyday life before going to law school. I find myself following the logical flow of people's arguments (whether the argument be what they had for dinner, or what their mother's best friend thinks about Celine Dion) and poking holes in it. Before, I would take a person's unsolicited advice and contemplate it, now I am able to poke holes in it and stop them in their tracks with the realization that their advice is completely illogical. 

3. Embrace conflict. I am a natural introvert. I would flee at the first sight of conflict. Now, I take conflict head on. If someone wants to be adversarial with me, I use the facts I know about the situation, poke holes in their argument where it is weak and generally cause people to think twice about challenging me on things they have no real idea about. 

4. Has reduced my threshold for mediocrity and ridiculousness. Over the summer, I am working in a leadership role. Part of my role includes managing people and disciplining when needed. When someone is clearly in the wrong and they try to back peddle with ridiculous arguments and justifications, while I used to be empathetic and understanding, I find now I have very little patience for it. I have been called Judge Judy by some (I am not sure if this is a compliment or offensive, still deciding haha) because I have been as crass as to tell people "tell it to your therapist, this is completely irrelevant to me". While this arguably is not a great trait, I never realized how much time I wasted in the past listening to people's nonsense. I find it actually exhilarating and refreshing that I have been able to filter the necessary interactions with people in a professional setting to things that are relevant and pertinent. Before, I was weighing myself down with other people's baggage, and in reality, this isn't fair. We all have our own problems and we all work through them. If I am your friend, I will listen, but as a professional, I don't care. 

5. Has changed my world view. I definitely see things differently now that I have some legal experience. If someone threatens to sue me, I simply say "Whats your cause of action? Because I don't see any here". I also spot negligence, carelessness and understand the legalese of my phone contract. My world view has opened up and I feel like I have a better understanding of how things function in a legal context. 

 

I'm interested to hear how law has changed other people's personal lives, aside from the obvious how it has impacted their legal careers. 

You must be fun at parties...

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28 minutes ago, steversteves said:

Before, I would take a person's unsolicited advice and contemplate it, now I am able to poke holes in it and stop them in their tracks with the realization that their advice is completely illogical. 

 

Literally the worst thing about lawyers

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8 minutes ago, BabyRhinoRainbow said:

Literally the worst thing about lawyers

Haha so true!!! 

But within limits. If its a friend, I tend to spare them ;). 

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So law school prepared you for the real world by making you totally ill equipped to be out and about in it.

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22 minutes ago, Rashabon said:

So law school prepared you for the real world by making you totally ill equipped to be out and about in it.

Depends on which premise you're basing that assumption on I guess. 

 

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1 hour ago, steversteves said:

Lots of interesting feedback! 

To answer the second part of your question, the "real world" application of law, bearing in mind that i have only completed 1L thus far, I would say law has done the following: 

1. Greatly improved my confidence! While I literally was shaking at my knees in my first mock courtroom submission in front of a pretend judge, after doing a couple of these things during my first year, I find that I am SUPER confident in practical situations. Very little intimidates me now and I have learned to realize the only thing that I found intimidating in the past, were people who would give me these false arguments that actually did not make logical sense! (I think the LSAT helped with this a lot too). 

2. Issue spot. And no, I don't mean in legal cases, I mean issue spotting in day-to-day life. I never really realized how much BS people throw out at you in everyday life before going to law school. I find myself following the logical flow of people's arguments (whether the argument be what they had for dinner, or what their mother's best friend thinks about Celine Dion) and poking holes in it. Before, I would take a person's unsolicited advice and contemplate it, now I am able to poke holes in it and stop them in their tracks with the realization that their advice is completely illogical. 

3. Embrace conflict. I am a natural introvert. I would flee at the first sight of conflict. Now, I take conflict head on. If someone wants to be adversarial with me, I use the facts I know about the situation, poke holes in their argument where it is weak and generally cause people to think twice about challenging me on things they have no real idea about. 

4. Has reduced my threshold for mediocrity and ridiculousness. Over the summer, I am working in a leadership role. Part of my role includes managing people and disciplining when needed. When someone is clearly in the wrong and they try to back peddle with ridiculous arguments and justifications, while I used to be empathetic and understanding, I find now I have very little patience for it. I have been called Judge Judy by some (I am not sure if this is a compliment or offensive, still deciding haha) because I have been as crass as to tell people "tell it to your therapist, this is completely irrelevant to me". While this arguably is not a great trait, I never realized how much time I wasted in the past listening to people's nonsense. I find it actually exhilarating and refreshing that I have been able to filter the necessary interactions with people in a professional setting to things that are relevant and pertinent. Before, I was weighing myself down with other people's baggage, and in reality, this isn't fair. We all have our own problems and we all work through them. If I am your friend, I will listen, but as a professional, I don't care. 

5. Has changed my world view. I definitely see things differently now that I have some legal experience. If someone threatens to sue me, I simply say "Whats your cause of action? Because I don't see any here". I also spot negligence, carelessness and understand the legalese of my phone contract. My world view has opened up and I feel like I have a better understanding of how things function in a legal context. 

I'm interested to hear how law has changed other people's personal lives, aside from the obvious how it has impacted their legal careers. 

I'm honestly not trying to be snarky here. But if you're really acting the way you describe here (poking holes in what your mom's friend thinks about Celine Dion, saying "tell it to your therapist, this is completely irrelevant to me"), then you are going to do a lot of damage to your personal and professional reputation. If I heard a 1L talking like that, I wouldn't think they're confident and analytical. I'd think they're an arrogant prick. I'd avoid them. And if given the choice to work with them, I'd be concerned that they lack the basic social skills to function in an office environment and navigate a client relationship. 

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