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Law School: The Secrets of the Temple

I graduated from law school in 1995. Technology has improved, but substantively speaking, law school has changed very little since then. I know this because shortly after I graduated from law school I was hired as an Adjunct Law Professor and have taught the basic legal writing and research class that every One L takes in their first year for 12 years now. I remain in the thick of the first year law school environment, and from time to time I actually enjoy speaking with a One L student.

Let me admit one thing about me in law school: I was a grade hound, pure and simple. I am a very practical person, and so I am not afraid to admit that I shamelessly focused on grades. I wanted to end up at or near the top of the class. Why? I am not an egomaniac. I wasn’t looking for recognition. I wanted top grades for one reason: I understood the importance of grades for getting a good job. I didn’t have any illusions about it, and I still don’t.  Class rank mattered then, and it still does. Anyone that tells you differently is either clueless or a liar.

My background was similar to most law students reading this book when I applied for law school. I had a pretty good LSAT score, but while I had good undergrad grades they were nothing special. I had one major advantage over my classmates, however: I had a seer, a guru, a Socrates, whatever you want to call him. This friend had been through law school a few years before I went, but he was not enlisted in the “scare ‘em to death” law school graduate conspiracy.  In fact, while he had done very well in law school, he never became a lawyer and he was never enamored by lawyers. He did not have any stake in the game.

As a result, he had no interest in perpetuating the mythology of law school. Knowing this I bought him a couple beers one night and he told me all the secrets of the One L year. He de-glamorized it. He taught me its tricks. He forced my eyes wide open before I entered the cave. It was a good decision to buy him beer.

Consequently, when I entered the cave I had no illusions about the shadows on the wall. I knew what was really going on. My friend told me what Two Ls find out by struggling through the One L year. Of course if you know going into law school what Two Ls find out through a year of frustration, you will have the perspective you need to be successful without burning a year of grades figuring it out. And that is exactly what I did.

So that is the role I have for you: You’re the prisoner and I’m your liberator. You’re my Glaucon, and I am your Socrates. I am going to drag you into the light and explain what is on the wall. I am going to give you the secrets to the temple.

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