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It’s their law school and they’ll cry if they want to

It’s their law school and they’ll cry if they want to

Tough love is in order.

As we reported, a wide range of Harvard Law School students, represented by over a dozen student groups, issued a set of demands to HLS administrators in light of the failures of grand juries to indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

One of the demands was to delay exams, like happened at Columbia University Law School.

HLS did not relent, although it did issue some statements of concern and sympathy.

I have it from reliable sources that law students at Harvard are, as we write, being subjected to the oppression of having to take final exams as scheduled.

Here’s my position:

“The decision of Columbia Law School to allow students selectively to postpone exams as a result of emotional upset over the Ferguson and Garner grand jury decisions shows, once again, how far law schools have strayed from their mission.

Few if any of the students complaining talk about the evidence, the forensics, the law that might have justified the grand jury rulings. Instead, it’s all about them and their emotions. Are we training students to think and act as lawyers, or emotional activists?

If we are training students to be lawyers, we should insist that they act like lawyers, and understand that there will be decisions with which we disagree, but that cannot interfere with our professional obligations.

Cry if you want to, but keep representing your clients, complying with court deadlines, and pushing forward under adversity.”

The mythical Professor Kingsfield from The Paper Chase reportedly was based on the late Harvard Law professor Clark Byse, whose Administrative Law course I took, and who was a wonderful and inspiring curmudgeon.

Here’s how the real and the mythical Kingsfield might have dealt with the demand:

(Language Warning)

Old school and tough love still work.


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Few if any of the students complaining talk about the evidence, the forensics, the law that might have justified the grand jury rulings. Instead, it’s all about them and their emotions.

Tell them there is no need for the exam. They just failed.

    GrumpyOne in reply to Yujin. | December 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Indeed… It is just yet another example of children knowing more than their parents, teachers etc.

    So, knowing it all allows one to jump to the front of the line?

    Methinks not, go to the end if your lucky enough to be permitted to do so…

Well, one thing to bear in mind is that there are about a million ways to use a law degree, and very, very few people actually become trial lawyers. I think even fewer STAY trial lawyers.

Many who graduate never touch litigation.

    Valerie in reply to Ragspierre. | December 12, 2014 at 10:04 am

    True. I’ve only had a couple of years of litigation experience. It’s the absence of legal thinking and the dedication to justice that bothers me.

    If these students are incapable of dissecting the evidentiary, forensic, and social issues, and distinguishing the political maneuvering from each of these, they are not competent to hold a JD, much less a license to practice law.

    They are like the snowflakes that get upset over the set-up of an exam question, and write a screed about an emotional distraction instead an analysis of the applicable law. Those students fail, and so have these.

    True story: Spring of 1997, second semester of first year of law school. I had major elbow surgery, was pretty drugged up on pain pills, arm in a large cast, but I did not want to miss another Real Property I class. So I went, and before class went up to the Prof and told him my situation, including that I was just out of the hospital and had not read the materials. When the class started the dear Professor called on me first and stayed with me for about 20 minutes. I was too doped up to feel much of whatever he was attempting to do to me.
    I had a 42-year career as a trial lawyer.

    My problem is that I keep running into those individuals who are NOT using their Law Degree for being a lawyer in the traditional sense, but THINK that the fact that they have a Law Degree makes them competent to comment on issues of the law to their client.

    Having to explain basic concepts of Contract Law, like “acceptance by attempted performance regardless of signing the contract” to “In House” counsel who never passed a Bar Exam and were hired in an “advisory” capacity to a corporation gets old after the second or third time you have to do it.

    Having to explain more complex issues, like triangle financing agreements, Surety Law, Subrogation, Novation, and/or 3rd Party Beneficiary Status, becomes akin to banging your head against a wall while you watch their eyes glaze over.

    When the current crop of whiners get out of Columbia and Harvard, those of us who are in the trenches and have to fight for every scrap are going to tear them to pieces. All the secretaries and staff in the world won’t save them.

      I’ll be watching my inbox with credit card in hand waiting for the tickets to one of these back alley beatdowns to go on sale. I might buy up the whole lot and scalp ’em to beleaguered paralegals who work for one of those brain damaged snowflakes.

      Ragspierre in reply to Chuck Skinner. | December 13, 2014 at 11:34 am

      What I’ve found terribly discouraging, Chuck, is representing clients with causes that sound in equity.

      Lawyers have not been taught much equity at all for a couple of decades, ego I face judges who are complete idiots on the principles of equity, and they don’t like being educated on the subject. You can throw good case-law at them all day, and they just resent it instead of learning something new.

      It’s been a very disheartening year.

Maybe Nancy Pelosi can commission a study on this torture of Harvard Law students.

I was despondent over the breakup of Kim Kardashian’s first marriage. Should’ve taken bereavement leave at work. 😉

Compare this whiny bunch to the men and women who serve in the armed forces of the US. Imagine an 18 or 19 year old Marine or soldier who has been in combat and is asked to perform a complex job the next day with this group of spoiled brats who take every opportunity to weasel out of any responsibility. We know one thing, that they will make poor lawyers if they are to have to show a spine in their new jobs.

I got distracted by Gulf War I during law school. Do I get a redo?

    Probably. If you didn’t finish Law School, You could probably apply through the military for some sort of hardship exemption to be re-enrolled, likely paid for BY the Military. I’d check, if I were you.

Perhaps as an alternative to exams, they can read the entire Grand Jury transcripts from Ferguson and write an essay on whether the grand jury system is a good or bad thing.

2nd Ammendment Mother | December 12, 2014 at 11:10 am

Even Legally Blonde got Aristotle right:
“The law is reason, free from passion.”
(Sorry, I had pre-teen girls in the house at the time.)

On second thought – maybe Harvard Law – Elle is on to something:
I just don’t think that Brooke could’ve done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”

Because wailing and protesting over Grand Juries isn’t working out well for them.

But of course they are NOT in law school to become lawyers at all.

They are there to become social justice warriors, wearing a “lawyer” badge.

At most law schools I visit to speak on the law of self defense it’s almost impossible to walk down a corridor without tripping over one or another stack of SJW pamphlets, produced and distributed by seemingly dozens of disparate SJW organizations of vaguely different flavors.

I don’ recall anything like that kind of presence when I attended law school in the early 1990s. I suppose I might have been too busy actually learning the law (at least, the form that’s typically taught in law school). I assume we must have still had the carryover of Apartheid stuff from college, but honestly I wouldn’t swear to it.

The good news is that even if they don’t end up working as lawyers, they can always become judges.

Or even President of the United States.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | December 12, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    A lot of the Harvard class will go directly into government and NGO employment.

    It really takes NO legal chops to do a lot of what they will be called on to do. Even if they are filing or answering a lawsuit between an agency and an outfit like The Sierra Club, it is just a formality. The “friendly lawsuit” takes no skills from either side that you wouldn’t find in a decent paralegal.

      That’s the problem with wearing the “top law school” “Best and Brightest” badge. You get shunted into a NGO or Government position that you are in no way qualified for, at an obscene salary, that you perform for a couple of years without actually accomplishing anything, and then you leave to become a lobbyist at a higher salary, because “hey, I was with X NGO.”

      I’ve known a couple of these types, and when you discuss basic legal practice, they look at you like you’ve grown a second head.

        tightspotkilo in reply to Chuck Skinner. | December 13, 2014 at 9:55 am

        Actually practicing law, particularly representing real live human beings as named parties, is for the little people lawyers, those who went to 3rd-tier law schools.

      platypus in reply to Ragspierre. | December 12, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks for the kind words about us supposedly “wannabe” lawyers, otherwise know as paralegals.

      When people ask me why I don’t take the bar exam and practice law, I tell ’em that I won’t lower myself for anybody. Besides, the popularity rating for lawyers is nothing to be happy about.

While I’m not a big fan of lawyers and “lawyering” I sure loved the Paper Chase and House’s performance!

Those poor dears at Harvard are getting a double dose.

Not only the stress of the grand jury decisions, but the added stress of knowing the Columbia dweebs are more special than they are.

Wonderful clip. Reminds me of the old Country and Western standard, Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares. 🙂

After the Virginia Tech shootings, when the entire university and town were severely traumatized, the students were told that they could continue to the end of the semester and take their exams, or they could leave and accept their course grades so far as their final grades. There may also have been an option of postponing the exams; I don’t remember.

After the shootings, someone remarked that not everyone would know someone who was killed, but everyone would know someone who knew someone who was killed. Everyone was in a state of shock, but most of the students stayed and finished the semester. Those Harvard students are wimps.

What lawyer won’t find it fun to be up against one of these whiny idiots?

    Paradoxically, I would MUCH rather face a good lawyer in litigation than an idiot. For one thing, they have MUCH better control of their client, and the chances of settlement before trial is really improved because they understand the risk/benefit ratio of their case.

    When you have an idiot, you have a complete wild-card, which is EXTREMELY dangerous in court.

    What I really love are law journal types. They are like a bone-less chicken.