Simple Justice on law school

Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice hit the nail on the head with his post regarding the important, and unimportant, aspects of a legal education. Most law schools do an amazingly poor job at preparing students for the actual practice of law, which much of the time includes dealing with abuse incoming from every direction. Scott stated that:

A well-conceived law school education serves one purpose only: to prepare you to confront the abuse of being a lawyer and prevail. How to prevail comes later. You’re not ready for that now. For now, you need to learn how to toughen up and take abuse without crying and whining. How to keep a smile on your face and deflect the humiliation that is designed to make even the most macho man shrivel. If your lawprof doesn’t abuse you, she hasn’t done her job. If your lawprof doesn’t toughen you up, then you’ve gained nothing.

Up to this point in your educational career, the system has been designed to make you feel good about yourself and build your self-esteem. If this isn’t changed, it will destroy you as a lawyer. There is nothing about the legal system that will make you feel good about yourself. It will challenge your dignity and humanity at every turn. Your mommy is wrong when she tells you to just go up to the judge after court and tell him that he wasn’t very nice to you and you don’t appreciate it. This is not a successful strategy.

How true that is. Perhaps the hardest thing to learn as a trial lawyer is to confront the realization that at least half of everyone you encounter in your profession are going to dislike, or even hate, you. It requires putting up with every kind of abuse and stress that has ever existed, while at the same time either deflecting it, or absorbing it in a way that motivates you rather than slows you down or stresses you out. Because in the real world of knitty-gritty trial practice, prevailing is the only thing that matters. Second place only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney

2 thoughts on “Simple Justice on law school

  1. I do not agree with every idea that Scott Greenfield has or every idea that you have either. I think one of the benefits of law school is the ability to think “critically” and not to just accept someone else’s ideas without considering the reasoning or without using your own independent judgement. We have an adversary system of justice. Winning and losing are loaded terms. Sometimes, it is the constitution or the bill of rights that wins. People should be treated with dignity and respect. I am not sure where those words are in the constitution. Maybe, this is just something I made up. Supreme court judge’s do not agree on every theory or on every interpretation of the law. Families sometimes disagree upon fundamental issues. America, unlike some tolitarian societies, believes in a bill of rights, and an advesary system of justice to protect an individuals rights. I believe many people want to live in America because of the idea of “freedom” including freedom of speech and the freedom to disagree. In theory, when people disagree there may be the ability to achieve a better sense of balance and a fair disposition of the matter. Some bullies and some “managerial” types think everyone has to agree with them and you are stupid if you disagree. I love it when I get the little guy who has been picked on and pushed around and who is ready to serve on a jury and stand up for what he believes is right. Too many people are pushed around by big powerful people who think their ideas are more important than anyone elses.

    Yours in the Defense of Fellow Human Beings,
    Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney, Tulsa, Oklahoma – Oklahoma Criminal Defense on blogspot

  2. Hopefully every time the Constitution or the Bill or Rights wins, we as criminal defense attorneys are also winning. Sadly though, this rarely happens where it should – before the trial judges, who’s duty it is to uphold the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Mostly I would attribute that to systems where judges are elected, as it is here in West Virginia. Usually it only happens through passionate and persuasive argument before a jury. And in those situations, it indeed is great to get a juror who is ready to stand up for what he or she believes is right. The hard part is getting that person on your jury.

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