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Law School In One Syllabus

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Contracts

Spend two and a half months romancing the sweet, sweet common law of contracts. Come allow yourself to get seduced by the tender easiness of offer and acceptance. Be wined and dined by the smooth touch of consideration. And then, just as you’re starting to ease into the night with a nice little “I own everything about this” feel-good buzz…BAM. Feel your formerly loving relationship gradually turn into one of abuse and sleepless nights due to the Uniform Commercial Code as you fabricate a story for the neighbors about how that swollen black eye “isn’t” actually from Article §2-207.

Civil Procedure

A tale of two semesters. It was the summary judgment of times. It was the diversity jurisdiction of times. Come see how “holy shit” levels of worthless the Erie Doctrine is. It’s maddening. The Erie Doctrine’s flowcharts need flowcharts. Spend a semester learning how the Erie Doctrine’s flow charts are singlehandedly keeping the Scranton paper industry afloat.

Torts

The popular TV show 1000 Ways To Die is now in casebook form! Why? Because idiots. It’s a semester in the study of idiots. You’ll be shaking your head with such vigor throughout the term that it’s in your best interest to keep a chiropractor on retainer. From learning about grown men falling into wells, to children pushing great big fat persons out of their rocking chairs, come see firsthand why the rest of the world thinks that Americans are sue-happy morons.

Criminal

Do you love Dexter and hate making money? Well then, Criminal Law’s for you! It takes a certain kind of soul to appreciate the finer points of conspiring to kidnap and rape. Come discover that virtually every aspect of the Model Penal Code can be boiled down into five elements, then witness on the final exam how your seemingly normal professor apparently has an imagination that would make Keyser Söze want to go to church and wash the horrifying disgust off of his body.

Constitutional

What’s there to say about Constitutional Law that hasn’t been said about your over-the-top-levels-of-slutty college ex-girlfriend? It was easy in undergrad, easier today, it’s a hindrance to having a fat bank account, and all that’s ever talked about is abortions and getting arrested.

Legal Research And Writing

Full disclaimer: I was one of the misguided souls. I was one of those kids in college who got strong grades without trying all that hard, whose only idea of what to do with his life postgrad was to put more letters at the end of his name, whose only real concrete skill was (and still is) bullshiting. Guess you can say that, at the end of the day, the only reason I went to law school is because I love writing, wanted to get great at writing, and couldn’t think of anything better to do postgrad other than buy some time.

This is where a once on-the-lighter-side-of-things column gets ugly, and quick. I can’t, like the rest of the discussed classes in this piece, do an upbeat sales pitch façade about how some of the quirks of Legal Research and Writing are awful, but overall, the class is some level of tolerable. Why? Because there is no writing in Legal Research and Writing, any no more than there was Art Garfunkel in Simon and Garfunkel. Research dominates. So, the shitty thing is not only that you never really get to write anything of substance, but that the class is essentially about learning to work two fucking websites, Lexis and Westlaw. And here’s the real kicker- YOU CAN’T EVEN USE FUCKING WESTLAWNEXT. Because using WestlawNext would be too easy, and God forbid we stop chasing shitty software contracts, and instead teach law students what actually works best. One takes literally five seconds to use; the other, fifteen minutes of warrantless over-complexity. While we’re at it, everyone throw out your iPhone and dust off your old Motorola RAZR, because touch screens cheapen your appreciation for texting!

I have so much more to say about WestlawNext versus LexisNexis, but that’s for another day. Rather, I’ll just wrap up the subject on this note: fuck this class. Not because it’s not important, but because its priorities are so fucked up. Throw a bone to the writers, and for the love of God, ditch LexisNexis.

That felt good to get off my chest. Moving forward.

Property

A bundle of sticks. That’s right. Come watch an entire semester of studying at the end of the day be condensed into one phrase that simultaneously is the original meaning of a homophobic slur: “a bundle of sticks.” Don’t worry, friend. You didn’t accidentally stumble into a time machine and travel back to the 18th century when barefooted, scurvy-carrying woodsmen dragged freshly-axed tree limbs for miles. It only feels that way because the founders of Property law had a hard-on for Paul Bunyan, and no one’s gotten around to coming up with a less shitty teaching mechanism.

Labor

Wobblies of the world, unite! Who needs MSNBC when you can sit back, throw up your feet, and watch the apparent influx of closet communists discuss OHSA policy, how to rig your union’s next certification election without drawing the ire of greedy corporate fat cats, and what to wear to your next picketing session. Throw in a token conservative who loves stirring the pot by calling shenanigans on the NLRB’s true intentions, and let the good times roll!

Evidence

You will love learning about hearsay, except when it’s one of the 38 exceptions to hearsay. I mean, when it’s non-hearsay. No, wait! I really meant to choose…oh, fuck it. If you’re the best guesser, you win the whole bell curve!

Professional Responsibility And Ethics

A good lawyer knows all the rules. A great wealthy lawyer knows all the exceptions.

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