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August 07, 2004

Letters to Wormwood

Anthony at Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil is now entering his second year of law school at Columbia. He offers an extensive series of commentaries and tips for getting through law school, all of which he's kindly collected into a category of its own. It's called Letters to Wormwood (cf. The Screwtape Letters), and it contains bits of wisdom on a variety of topics, including new student mixers, the Socratic Method, public interest requirements at Columbia, feeling overwhelmed, and much, much more. Read the whole category to get it all.

For pre-law readers, don't miss Anthony's tips on preparing for the LSAT and applying to law school, and what to do in your last summer before school.

Posted by mowabb at August 7, 2004 10:44 AM

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Comments

I'm sure this is all great advice. But what I find when I read these kinds of things is that this is advice for people who really don't need it---the people who graduate in the top 10-20% of the class. 80% of the people who graduate from law school will have an extremely hard time finding a job, much less getting a summer clerk position. Here's the bottom line: if you do well in law school, you're ticket is punched. You'll do fine. Don't worry about interviews, law review, all that crap. But the rest of us schmos got out of law school spent literally years trying to find a job. And when we did, we to take really crappy jobs. I've been out 10 years and I make MUCH less money than my friends who just have BAs. Good luck law school kids, but despite what you read on these blogs, most of you are going to be very disappointed when you get out of school. Sorry, this is just a pet peeve of mine.

Posted by: Todd at August 7, 2004 10:47 PM

Hi, I just finished a three-year stretch at University of Richmond School of Law. Rather then bog you down with alot of little bits of advice, I think it's important to convey one very important concept.

I'll pose my advice in the form of a question:

Q: How do you become a billionaire?

A: You become a billionaire by acquiring a billion dollars.

Well, you'll ask next, how do I acquire a billion dollars? I don't know, and that's not the point. The point is that you've just asked the right question, after asking the wrong one.

Billionaires are just people who somehow acquired $1 billion. They're not innately born that way, or "miracled" into exist on high. They're not billionares because the local medicine-man waved his juju stick and uttered the right incantations on the first full moon of summer on the eight-day after their birth. They became billionaires through a series of their own actions where the acquired knowledge and skills and put that knowledge and skills into action. If they hadn't had done so, then they wouldn't be billionaires; they'd be just like you or me.

So, how do you become a good law student and good lawyer? Wrong question. Instead ask: How do a do well on exams? How do I make effective legal arguments? How do I apply this subject of law in relevant factual scenarios? If you want to be what a lawyer is, then all you need to do is do what a lawyer does.

Sorry if this advice sounds a little weird or obvious. It's just that I went through my first few semesters of law school--like alot of my colleagues--wondering "Am I a good law student?" "Do I have what it takes?" "Can I be a lawyer?" etc. when I should've been asking "How do I . . . ?" "What do I do in order to . . . ?" The more I asked the latter questions, the better I did. The less I asked the former questions, the less stress, self-doubt and "giving-up" mentality I had. In law school, you're goal is to learn the law and learn how to apply it effectively. Any focus that hinders that goal--bad and hostile professors, futile comparisons with students, even worries about grading and ranking, and all the rest--should be ignored.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: Protagonist at August 8, 2004 01:31 AM