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.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Decided not to do the law review competition. Actually, hadn't really planned on doing it, but by picking it up I thought I'd at least give myself the chance to get motivated and potentially change my mind. My reasoning for not doing it? (1) I don't think that for the things I want to do in the future, which -- at least now, and without law review, I guess never -- don't include clerking for a Supreme Court justice or being a Harvard Law professor -- that law review would be particularly necessary, and, in fact, (2) my current extracurricular activities, most of which I'd probably have to drop if I were to make law review, might actually be more helpful. I want to make sure I have time to write, that I have time to work on the newspaper, that I have time to sing in the a cappella group and act in the law school Parody show, that I have time to hang out with friends, to enjoy my classes... and (3) I really enjoyed the past year, and the balance I found between class and law-related stuff, and stuff that was less law-related. I'm more than a little worried that adding a 40-hour-a-week job to the mix -- a job that, by all accounts, isn't particularly enjoyable or relaxing -- would mess that up, and make me enjoy life a bit less. Not worth it. To me. Worth it to others, and that's totally understandable and sensible and great for them. I'm not at all trying to say I think law review is stupid or a bad idea for everyone or even automatically a trade-off. There are people who like checking footnotes and editing articles, and there are people who have serious goals for which law review makes a lot of sense. (4) A side consideration is that I start my summer job tomorrow, and so I probably wouldn't have had time this week to give the competition the effort and energy it would take to make it on. So it turns out that I did only pick up the packet in order to write about it and find stuff to make fun of. Which was my hunch all along.

It frightens me a little that I even thought about doing it. The only reason I was tempted is because it's a competition, and "winning" a spot on law review, even if I didn't want it, would feel nice. More than one professor told us this year that just by being at Harvard, we've "won" the race, and we'll all do fine, and we can stop competing. But in the back of everyone's mind, I think it's hard to get out of the mode of competing and wondering if you "have what it takes" and how you compare to your classmates. And it felt silly to automatically pass up something prestigious and desirable and wanted without even trying to get it.

I'm gonna try an analogy here, although it's probably not a very good one. I think of law review as a pile of rocks, and the law review competition as a race to the rockpile. Some people really want rocks -- for their slingshots, for the construction project they're working on, for their rock collection. Lots of reasons to want a pile of rocks. And if you do have a slingshot, or a construction project, or a rock collection, those rocks are really desirable, and really helpful. And they're lovely rocks, so even if you don't need them, if you win the rockpile, people are going to think you're pretty special. "Wow, you've got nice rocks." Some people will be really impressed by the rocks, whether or not you actually need them for anything. But if you don't need them, you've got this big pile of rocks, and nothing to do with them -- they're hard to move, they take time to bring to the rock deposit, they take up space you could use for your shell collection, or you refrigerator magnet collection, they block the door so it's hard for people to get in, and this big pile of rocks casts a big shadow and makes it hard for anything else you're doing to really stand out. And the race is pretty long. So if you don't want the rocks, and they're only going to cause trouble, maybe it's okay not to even run the race.

What a long and convoluted analogy. I'm spending way too many words explaining this. Probably I'll turn this into an 800-word "law review summary entry" in a couple of days, but besides that, I think that's enough words on law review. Until I change my mind on Thursday night and stay up for 24 straight hours writing. Right.