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.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

I've gotten a couple of e-mails from people asking me if I've read "Brush With The Law," because they thought it was a great, super, fantastic, life-changing book. And I did read it, last year before starting law school, and thought it was pretty absurd, a tale of people completely outside the mainstream of law school life, and completely foreign to anything I was at all likely to experience. But thinking maybe I missed something, and would have a different perspective now that I've finished a year, I went back and read it again over the last few days. And, while it's somewhat more interesting now that I know a lot of what the Harvard parts of the book (it's a dual memoir of someone at Stanford and someone at Harvard) are referring to and they have context for me, I still didn't think it came anywhere close to painting a realistic portrait of law school life for the vast majority of students -- unless there's this vast underground of illicit behavior that I'm too naive to know anything about. Putting realism aside, I think the book would make a compelling movie and tells an interesting -- if depraved and worrisome -- story. But as a guidebook to law school life, and a "must-read" for incoming 1Ls, sorry. I don't think it's got a ton of value there.

What the authors try to get across is that it's possible to do virtually no work, attend few classes, and do well on exams solely through the use of other students' outlines, commercial study guides, and old exams. And while those are useful tools, and you can probably swing decent grades if you're bright enough, you're pretty much throwing out your money and not learning all that much. And some of what you learn is actually interesting, and class isn't really a bad thing. I have no idea if there are people at law school who go to Foxwoods and gamble away their financial aid checks, or smoke crack every weekend, or anything else they describe in the book. I don't know these people, and I don't want to know these people. And there's the problem I have with the book -- maybe law school can be like that if you want it to, but why would anyone in their right mind want it to?