Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Torts professor asked us to write 250 words about Tort law and the issues we've been talking about in class. Here's my thoughts:

Since the beginning of the semester, when we talked about the McDonalds coffee case, I've found myself trying to identify other situations where we instinctively blame injured parties when in fact the fault may be someone else's. Interestingly enough, I've noticed the parallels most strongly in situations involving elements of law school life. "Looks like you chose the wrong meal" is what people say when they notice your lunch from the Hark is practically inedible. "Guess you picked the wrong elective" is the sympathetic response to a story about a less-than-thrilling class. "Too bad you ended up with that career counselor," "maybe you shouldn't have gone to the health clinic if you really wanted to see an actual doctor," and "guess you should've backed up your e-mail files" are all things I've heard people say. But, on second thought, why should we blame ourselves for the cafeteria food being lousy, our electives being uninspiring, the career counselors being hit-and-miss, the health clinic offering band-aids to fix sore throats, and ITS losing our e-mail? Mostly, I think it's because we feel powerless to do anything about these things. Just like an individual customer really can't act alone to make McDonalds cool its coffee - except through the Torts system, I guess - we can't act individually to improve the mediocre aspects of an institution that, in most respects, at least for me, makes me feel lucky and privileged to be here. But still, like in the McDonalds case, the intuition is to blame ourselves, and not Harvard - and maybe that's an intuition we need to question more than we currently do.