Attending law school as a former educator can sometimes be incredibly upsetting. For example – our professors recently started speaking about “unpacking concepts,” and I swear, I almost thought I was sitting in the back row of a professional development meeting
about to die. I damn near fainted. How in the hell, did Texas TEKS end up gurgling into my law classes?
I thought pursuing law school might mean I would no longer teach.
But I was soooo very wrong. I think I spend more time teaching classmates [and re-teaching myself] concepts throughout the day – and it’s freaking exhausting. At least my high-schoolers took my word as gospel…law students, not so much. We question everything. It’s both beautiful and terrible. I kind of hate it, but usually only when I’m trying to explain it, and then having a friend question my process. I found myself thinking that – if it frustrates me…how much does it frustrate our professors?
Here we are, a bunch of grown-ass adults, complaining about how we interpreted the statute. It is honestly laughable to me that we (as a collective group of law students) seem to think that *we* know more than our professors [you know, the peeps at the front of the class that hold shiny bar cards and have years of practical experience on us].
Why is that a thing? Why do so many of us think it’s acceptable to argue/back-talk a professor over anything other than a substantial topic in class? [Let me clarify, debating a point in class may be useful, but arguing with a professor for the sake of trying to “one-up” them is just not classy. Neither is arguing over an exam in class]. Judges don’t like smart-asses. Why form a bad habit in law school?
Personally, I feel that any grade issues or concerns should be addressed during office hours. Any questions regarding content and confusion could be asked in class, especially if you know a few friends also struggled with that issue.
Now, I do understand that not everyone feels comfortable speaking to a professor one-on-one, but I can promise you they don’t bite. In fact, they’ll probably be happy to help you. I highly recommend you visit a professor if you’re grappling with a concept, or even having a difficult time with their teaching style. Whatever the issue – be kind and courteous when addressing it.
This post isn’t meant to stir anyone into a frenzy. I merely think we should (as students, and adults) be mindful of the questions we ask, as well as the tone in which we frame them. Professors are [usually] seasoned veterans of the legal profession. It makes no difference if you are 21 or 61 – if you’re in law school, then they have years of experience above you. Be respectful of their teaching and their time. Teaching is incredibly hard, and not every great attorney will be a great teacher. It’s a sad fact.
Don’t misunderstand me. I get that law school is upsetting, and sometimes you don’t make the exact grade you want. But here’s the deal – you are not your grades! The goal is to learn how to deal with the setbacks and keep chugging along.
What you, my dear law school friend, need to focus on boils down to this:
- Learn from your mistakes
- You don’t like your last quiz score, or the feedback you received sucked – then go talk to your professor and figure out how to fix it.
- Study Like Your Livelihood Depends on It
- Because it does. If you want to be an attorney – graduating is only HALF the battle. You still have to pass the bar, yo!
- Don’t be an Ass-hat
- Your professors will become your colleagues. One of my professors, Mike Maslanka, told our class one day, “Once you pass the bar. We are equals.” What he didn’t say is that we may be equals, but his network and connections far exceed the capabilities of my own. How do you think a professor you were rude to is going to react when you ask for help securing an associate position? #FatChance
Be awesome. Do good things. Don’t be a jerkwad.