September 7, 2004


Ideas I mistakenly brought from my previous life to Law School:

1. Email will be answered within 4 hours at the latest. If people are unavailable, they will have an away message response. (Now, I'm ecstatic to get any answer at all, and consider myself lucky if the response arrives in 2 or 3 days.)

2. Contrapositive to #1 -- it is imperative that I check my email at least 4 times daily. (Quite the opposite, in fact. Email inboxes are the collectors of all information in law school, useful or not. Why filter it yourself when your fellow students will all be discussing the majority of the important things you need to know?).

3. In public places like meetings or presentations, everyone has their phone on vibrate, or off. (Apparently, class is not like a meeting or a presentation. Go right ahead and let that baby sing the latest 50-cent riff...)

4. In group projects, all members of the team are interested in making the lives of their teammates reasonable liveable. Note, I did not say that they succeed--I'm not an idealist. But it was my impression prior to law school that most people at least tried to give the impression of wanting to reach the end goal of group projects in the real world. In Law School, I've seen several people not the least bit concerned about the fact that their work reflects not only on them, but on others as well. Of course, see #5 to understand why and how they can get away with this...

5. Everyone has a life. (One of the most shocking realizations about law school is that some people really don't have a life. It's actually possible. The majority of them are miserable, of course. But still--it's actually possible to NOT have ANY life what-so-ever. I say this coming from Software. Where people sleep under their desks. In sleeping bags. To avoid paying rent and be close to the happy hum of their CPUs [tangent: you wouldn't believe the noise in E's and my office. I lost count, but I believe we've got about 5 CPUs in here...]. But there are people in law school who are worse than the software freaks because they don't even seem to like what they are doing...)

6. Smart == Experienced. In general, in software, people who know what they are doing have done quite a bit. It doesn't matter how quick you are to start with, experience really does level the playing field quite a bit. Law school is very different. There are plenty of people who are very smart by law school standards but they have no experience anywhere outside of the classroom. Most likely, they will succeed in their careers after they acquire a modicum of experience. But in the meantime, I can't help but be confused. How do people get to be in their 20's without having lived at all?

7. I'm open-minded. Law school has shown me that I'm much more judgmental than I'd like to admit. I spent several years developing a comfort zone in the science-engineering world. It's a good world. But I chose to leave the promised land of meritocracy and logic, which made me seem open-minded. Funny-that. Because, out here in the nether-lands, I've got a lot to learn. Particularly about assumptions, and thinking I know anything about anything. Wish me luck.

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