I ate my wafer...

5/08/2005

Today, without a doubt, I took the most brutal exam of my law school career. Since I have a number of friends who are considering law school, it seems only appropriate to give a brief comment on why it was a particularly painful exam, and offer some reflections on law school in general.

Evidence is an area of the law that is completely codified via the federal rule of evidence. There are one thousand and eight rules in the federal statute. All of them were fair game this morning my lengthy, closed book exam. The interesting problem is that when I've observed lawyers in court deal with esoteric evidence issues, everyone digs out a copy of the rules, so memorizing them is nearly pointless in a practical sense. Not to mention the exam had virtually nothing in common to normal law school exam practice, it was mostly multiple choice with the essay section requiring no analysis at all, only regurgitation of memorized facts. That type of essay is utterly worthless in preparing future lawyers. Let me be blunt: law school essay questions should be analytic "issue-spotters", period. Simple regurgitation doesn't test analytic ability, or consequentially prepare for the real world or the bar exam. This morning’s exam was a complete waste of four hours of my life.

So, despite that horrible exam, and everything else that I don't like about law school, what IS good about it? The answer is simple, I occasionally learn things that help me help other people. There is no way that I could have walked out of this morning's exam, sustained by career motivation and greed. Instead I thought about the times in the last week alone where I did legal research on the side for friends instead of studying. The bottom line: if you go to law school, its fine to be greedy and career oriented, but pro bono stuff will sustain you through the bad times.

6 Comments:

  • Whoa. You made my head hurt.

    By Anonymous Jake Allen, at 3:34 PM  

  • Bob,

    I have been a practicing lawyer for 25 years. This could be a valid test with one format change. Alter the test from multiple choice to fill-in-the-blank, and make it an open book, timed test.

    Whether the code relates to evidence, criminal procedure, tax, or regulatory powers, it is certain that the legislatures with proper jurisdiction will repeal your law school education several times over, and do so without notice. It is asking for a malpractice action not to check the applicable rule book every time the issue arises.

    Jay

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:02 AM  

  • I took the 2 credit short course in Evidence--definitely the way to go, if you have the option. You get the basic concepts but don't have to memorize the statute, and the exam is shorter. It is difficult to get a good grade in such a course when a curve is applied, but at least you get ‘er done with less pain, which has been the motivating factor in my course selection, with a few exceptions.

    By Blogger philip, at 12:37 PM  

  • Jay, I obviously agree completely about the format, though I'm willing to tolerate some multiple choice, it is the bar exam format, etc. Since it may amuse you; the essay question, worth 1/3 of the grade on a 4 credit hour class was:

    "We discussed the Hearsay exceptions for business and public records in class, please discuss them in detail, avoiding discussion of general topics of hearsay/non-hearsay"

    I forgot to mention that the rest of the exam was actually 1/3 multiple choice, and 1/3 T/F...and there's no excuse for that much T/F.

    Phil:

    I *Thought* I was making the easy choice with this professor, I've had him for other classes, most recently Crim. Pro. which had a completely rational, well written exam. Open book, mostly long issue spotting essays, some short answer. He happens to be a lot of fun to listen to in the classroom too. I dunno why he used such a crappy exam, but I can be pretty sure that I'll pay for it gradewise.

    By Blogger Bob, at 1:31 PM  

  • Welcome to the world of standardized testing. I hope you came through relatively unscathed(sp?) Being an education major, we are pounded with the idea that standardized testing is ineffective, for the very reasons you mentioned. It is more of a regurjetation of facts, rather than a comprehensive understanding of the material.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:06 PM  

  • i am a evil laywer in cinncinati, and have seen a man kill himself in court, got to my blog, peanutmayo.blogspot.com, there is is a link to my website

    By Blogger bryson, at 1:59 PM  

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