Law School Musical

The following link was provided to me by a student.  The video falls in the same category as “A Coloring Book for Lawyers,” which I mentioned in my previous post, in that the video presents a satirical and also despondent take on the life of a law student.  Depending on your perspective, it is quite well put together.

WARNING: There is some mild profanity in this excerpt (i.e., scatological humor).

I think what is notable about this commentary beyond its humor is its accuracy in describing a generational shift from law school once being a noble rite of passage leading inevitably to a secure profession, and now being an uncertain, debt-laden, soul-numbing gamble.  Is this hyperbole?  Yes.  Does it point to some level of real experience?  I suspect so.

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4 responses to “Law School Musical

  1. The student in this “Musical” seems to be questioning his decision to attend law school (and was inspired to create this piece of “scatological humor”) for at least two reasons. First, and foremost, law school has been structured in such a way as to prevent a person from truly learning the law. Second, the student has limited “life experience” and is unable to draw a parallel between the law he reads about and real world legal issues which he may eventually face [ED.]. Notwithstanding these aforementioned problems, add in [ED.] forced grade curving, and random nonsensical grading, and it is clear why a law student feels confused and overwhelmed. For the purposes of brevity, I will only address the first issue.

    This type of humor, and commiseration, has probably existed since Christopher Columbus Langdell first implemented his “Socratic” and “case” method in Law School. Of all the flawed approaches to understanding the law, none has been created with as many problems as the case method. Langdell thought that a true understanding of the law could not be achieved by memorizing state laws, codes, or precedent. So, he presented his students with copies of decided cases to guide them in better understanding the process of interpreting the law.

    One problem with this method is that if a student has not learned the basic rules of law or precedent, they are not learning the interpretation of law but are fumbling blindly through a quagmire of words and Latin for the sake of staying busy. No other profession begins training with presenting real cases for interpretation to teach the subject matter being interpreted. Imagine a medical school where first year students are provided with a decedent’s chart and asked to read through it and find out what problem the patient faced. Or, an engineering school where the students are given pictures and blueprints of a collapsed bridge and asked to determine the mode of failure. The reason we do not see this “pedagogical” approach being used in any other profession is because it does not work for any profession. We all need a frame of reference and a basic knowledge before we can leap into the esoteric subtleties of interpretation.

    Perhaps if we took the Bar Prep course in our first year, and then read cases in our last two (or three) years, the Socratic case method would make more sense. But, as it is currently used, it is a menace to the learning environment.

    Furthermore, the Socratic method is abused by professors who wield it (along with our grades) like a torture implement against anxious students. In fact, I read that the Socratic method was used in Abu Ghraib prison to humiliate enemy combatants (pictures weren’t released, however, due to the extremity of humiliation inflicted). The reason that the “Law School Musical” student is feeling ill-prepared, or not as intelligent, as his peers in law school is a direct result of the rampant use of the Socratic method. The secret he will find out later, is that no one was prepared.

    Change the method, learn the law, feel better. By the way, Langdell introduced his case method in the late 1800s. Time for a change?

    If you want to watch a YouTube clip where you might actually learn something about law, may I suggest the “Hearsay Exception” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi5LESZ7_Kc

    • susannahpollvogt

      The video you posted is great—not in terms of cinematic quality, necessarily, but it actually is a wonderful demonstration of someone learning rather obscure material by making it make sense to him- or herself. I wonder if you would feel differently about law school if more of the curriculum involved activities where you could bring your own meaning to the concepts you were learning?

  2. The truth is, each student I speak with as a pseudo-legislative leader of the law school shares your perspective to some degree. Myself included.

    I cannot help but feel that come May I’ll be thrust into a profession full of zealots and mercenaries. A sort of Machiavellian mix of brilliant folks of all rank, wealthy Dukes and ambitious Barons. All vying for the “grand prize.” A commission with the “royal houses” of law; a place in the Royal Court. Pun intended.

    Peerage metaphors aside, you’ve hit a nerve. I can only hope it catches on.

  3. Great video, very funny and nicely done. [Ed.]

    I wonder if you’ve read 29 Reasons Not to Go to Law School. I read that before I decided to go, so I guess it wasn’t too persuasive, but it’s a witty, hilarious book written in vignettes by former lawyers.

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