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.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

“Welcome to the Bar”

“Did I hear you right? Did you just say that your bar review course isn’t actually taught by a real person, but that you have to go to a room at a certain time for 6 hours a day, and watch a video? On a little TV? And take pages and pages of notes? Are you serious?”

“Uh... yeah...”

“And that it costs you – or not you, your firm, whoever – twenty-five hundred dollars for you to watch these videos? And you can’t get a copy if you miss a class? And there’s no one to answer any questions? And you can’t get that last sentence played back, even if the tape skips?”

“Uh... yeah...”

“And no one’s come up with the book version for, say, a hundred bucks, that you can just study on your own from, at your own pace, in your own living room, without having to trudge to class every day?”

“Uh... no...?”

I thought my friend was lying to me. I really did. As Ashton Kutcher would say, I thought I was being Punk’d. Bar review courses are on video? All that money for a video? All those hours watching a video? 6 hours a day of law video? I can’t even concentrate for an entire episode of Elimidate, and Bar-Bri (or its competitors) will expect me to concentrate for the equivalent of a 12-episode Real World marathon all about evidence? And then go home and study this stuff? Are they nuts?

I know it’s too early to be thinking about the bar – it’s only nine in the morning! (ha ha ha) But I think there’s a broader lesson to be learned. They can do this – charge a gazillion dollars for nothing more than a video series on the law – because they’ve got us trapped (or, as Ashton Kutcher would say, Trapp’d).

No one would dare not take a bar review course, just like no one would dare not join a journal, and no one would dare boycott the bookstore because they give us three cents on the dollar for used casebooks, and no one would dare complain about bad professors, and no one would dare picket the cafeteria when the meat gets up and walks off our trays under its own volition.

We’re conformists – that’s how we got to law school. The rebels dropped out in fifth grade and have never looked back. We accepted that paste is not for eating, and it’s been downhill from there. An employer tells us to find the legal rules about employee torture, and we don’t ask why a company ought to be allowed to rip its workers’ toes off one by one as long as it’s done in a safe and sanitary way by machines operated by union members. We just write a memo about it. We don’t ask why it takes longer to grade our exams
than it would take to drive all the way around the equator in a Nissan Sentra. We don’t ask why some professors are great and some just aren’t. We just accept it.

But I don’t want to accept it anymore. I don’t want to accept that law school graduates work at law firms and the work sucks but the money’s good. And I don’t want to accept that bar review courses are taught on video.

Imagine if professors just sent a video in with their lectures. Forget even showing up. And then students could send a video of themselves listening. The good news would be no more socratic method, no more cold-calling, no more solitaire. The bad news would be no more classes, no more school, no more learning.

Lock in your Bar-Bri price now, because you know once they switch over the DVD they’re going to have to raise the price. And laser discs? Forget about it. We’d all be screwed. Or, as Ashton Kutcher would say, Screw’d.