Monday, March 12, 2007

I turned this into a federal judge

I had an assignment from a federal judge in my non-graded one credit class. The assignment that the entire 1L class had to do was to write about a situation in which your integrity was challenged. The purpose was to foster integrity and to create a noble system free from lawyer jokes. Find this assignment ironic and hypocritical, so did I. Here is what I turned in:


My moment of integrity that I will discuss is this very assignment. We have been assigned to challenge ourselves to think of situations of integrity as an integral part of becoming a lawyer. This is a very difficult concept to take seriously, since law school and the profession rewards people for doing just the opposite. Lawyers who are more self-interested, less involved in the community, less interested in truth, and learn how to play the game at the expense of their own knowledge, categorically succeed more than those who don’t. People who are better human beings do worse in law and are constantly encouraged to compromise their morals. I thought it was an ironic choice to talk about disclaiming sophistry for the more noble Socratic pursuit of truth; what we learn and what helps us succeed as lawyers is to become good sophists. You mention how the few bad apples give lawyers such a bad reputation and are the ridicule of countless jokes. The problem isn’t stopping the rotten apples, but changing the system so that the bad apples aren’t constantly rewarded and propelled through the profession. My integrity is telling you that an assignment that most students take as a joke since there is no grade attached will hardly challenge anyone to have more integrity.

I find it even worse that this assignment comes from law school, an institution that has no justification for the hazing process of bottomless work. It is good to work hard for noble enterprises, it is good to test to see how far people can go, but it is horrible to put students in a system that balancing any other value besides law school will hinder their education and result in ridicule of classroom participation. To take away from values such as family, friends, moral enterprises, relaxing, community service and fun is to bereave us of what is most essentially human. The most hypocritical part of law school is in its testing methods. A student who happened to pick up the right testing method does better than a student who is far more knowledgeable about the law. The student who takes a three hour test well, with no instructions on how to take the test, gets six figure salaries in a few years; where the student who has the integrity to pursue a more genuine knowledge of the law will scrounge to get a third of the salary at the public defenders office. Personally, it is hard for me to accept that the system has integrity when the one sentence “Finish your exams” is more valuable to your career then 300 hours worth of studying. Especially when you are not informed on how the tests will be graded. Surely a huge problem such as this is answered by the integrity of the law school program? The Law schools in America answer to this problem is willful blindness and increasing every single thing that is wrong with the system so their US News ranking will increase.

I am constantly amazed that a subject that studies fairness, justice, and integrity has so little of any of the three. I apologize for the bitter rant between studying for my classes, but at least it is honest and has integrity unlike many of the papers in the stack that you are reading right now.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, that was intenses and definately make me think a bit about going to law school :P

1:22 PM  
Blogger Another Asian Law Student said...

trust me. it'll only get worse as time passes by. not only will you realize how ironic the school system is... but you'll realize how CONTRADICTORY the law school system is.

we as future lawyers are taught to be ethical... yet, it's funny how the ABA doesn't crub any ethical standards for law schools themselves - i.e. misadvertising, misleading potential law students that being a lawyer is prestigious, etc.

believe me, you'll only get bitter as time goes by.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you do on the assignment? Any comments from the judge?

1:16 PM  
Anonymous recent law school grad said...

That was excellent! Truer words have never been spoken. I don't regret going to law school, but I hope and wish they change the way law school is evaluated, how we determine what makes a good lawyer(the bar bears almost no relevance to success or competence in your legal career), and how we reward those who stand for everything bad about the profession.

3:14 AM  
Blogger David said...

The assignment was ungraded, but I got credit for turning it in. But here's the awesome part. When the judge came back to anounce the winners of his contest, that they made us do, he mentioned a'distinguished gentleman who challenged the integrity of the system' and said to the 1L class that he respected the topic. I didn't win, but it was still interesting to get a shout out.

9:59 AM  
Blogger BabyBarista said...

Just a note to tell you that The Times newspaper has recently asked to host my blog and so my new web address is http://timesonline.typepad.com/baby_barista . My links list (with your site on it) will hopefully be put up in the next few days.

Very best wishes,

BabyBarista

7:45 AM  
Anonymous imp said...

you are absolutely right, and are my hero. my school's "honor" code is crap. a good majority of the students are bullies (and are crappy people in general). and they try to make you feel like you're an idiot if you don't succeed under "their" system. I think most of the people who enjoy law school are saying that as an excuse for not getting laid.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved your comments. You're dead on. I just graduated from law school and am studying for the FL bar (more on that later). Law school was ok, once I was able to get over making a complete a-- of myself for not coming prepared to class. I refused to compromise my time with my son (I'm a single mom) to overprepare for lectures. Once I figured out the game, I just made sure to study like hell for the exams, since that's all that is graded. As for law school preparing you for the bar - OH MY GOD! I'm in the middle of a serious panic attack right now. It's like I'm seeing all this material for the first time even though I took these classes. My professors obviously did not teach to the bar. I consider myself pretty smart but the amount of stuff I'm suppossed to cram into my brain and retain is ridiculous! I don't know how I'm going to do it... I don't know how anybody does it. And now I am forced to compromise time with my son - it's almost not worth it. Well, I guess if I could get through law school (relatively successfully) being underprepared, then maybe I can get through the bar exam the same way. And, if I fail, I guess I can always take it again . . .but please God, let me pass!

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get over yourself. Like all things in life, law school is about playing by the rules (even if you don't know what they are). You don't need to spend hours learning the law, merely learning how to pass.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did you do with it once it was a Federal judge? I thought Federal judges were appointed. Are you magic?

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Preach! This is so true and as I sat here crying again today about my rotten 1st semester GPA, your post once again made me question if I want to drop out and do something worthy with my life - that will actually make me happy and benefit society... ugh why did I do this to myself?!!

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This ungraded integrity paper is very similar to some of the useless exercises I was put through as a 1L. What a joke. There were far more genuine backstabbers in law than in any of my other graduate coursework, and that includes business classes.

Law school doesn't prepare you for a career as a lawyer or even to pass the bar. The profs don't care one whit about students in general. Students come and in three years they're out the door.

Law school provides those academic weenies teaching the classes a nice fat check, benefits package, and a retirement without worries. Free Westlaw and no office rent overhead.

10:12 AM  
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9:18 AM  

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