Nelson Hua / Morningside Muckraker
These answers are provided by a 3L who is not pulling your chain and absolutely wants you to succeed, despite being out of here in three months.
Q: How Bad Are Cold Calls?
A: The only thing I can compare cold calls to is your first sexual experience: you will be terrified that (a) you don’t know what you’re doing, and (b) you are the only one in the world who doesn’t know what you’re doing. But of course, no one knows what they’re doing the first time, right? Like silly fumbling teenagers, we quickly realize we are all equally clueless, and can look forward to recalling in later years just how innocent and foolish we once were.
Unfortunately, no. You are at Columbia, so probably 98% of the class will know the right answer, and the professor expects you to be one of them. So it’s like your first sexual experience is on the set of a pornographic movie, and the person who will deflower you is an industry veteran with amazing spider tattoos running up and down his/her body and a tan so fearsomely orange you cannot comprehend its coexistence with knowledge of skin cancer, while the enormous terrifying man in a track suit who fronted the money looks on, glassy-eyed, as you wilt under the glare of the hot, bright lights.
Q: How Do I Get to Know My Professors?
A: This one is quite delicate. You don’t want to be pushy; nobody likes a pusher. But everybody says from here on out “it’s all who you know,” so you obviously have to know people more important than your fellow pathetic, debt-ridden, worthless-liberal-arts-degree-holding law school classmates.
The most important thing to remember is that you must get to know your professors because you’re interested in them and their work, NOT because you want something from them. This is the only way you’ll get what you want from them. If that sounds like one of the more tricky faulty logic questions on the LSAT … hey, look at you! You’re applying the LSAT to real life!
On second thought, perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to think we’d be THAT interested in these people. They started off as law students, after all. So go ahead and let them know you want something from them. Just not the thing you actually want.
Their bodies, perhaps? If you are single and attractive, you could date your professors. If you are taken or not-so-attractive, well, there’s still no harm in flirting. If they are far too advanced in age for you to feign attraction, maybe you could serendipitously hook up with their college-age children at a frat party. You can become an initially exhilarating but gradually more intrusive and ultimately terrifying invasion of their idyllic-but-honestly-kind-of-boring ivory tower lives (think Mark Wahlberg in “Fear”). Right at the climax of their terror, when an actual crazy person would be boiling pet rabbits and kidnapping babies or spouses, explain yourself: “This can all stop. I just need a clerkship recommendation, and I need you to mean it. Okay? But seriously, it can’t just be one of those, you know, lukewarm ones, because to a 2L who knows they’re going places, lukewarm is the dirtiest word in the English language … I just need to hear the magic words … _____ is the most promising student I have ever had … you have to make me believe you mean it … MAKE ME BELIEVE YOU MEAN IT!”
But won’t my classmates think I’m a slut, you ask? They most certainly will. But who cares? It will just feel that much better when you eventually crush them and their sanctimonious stance on pushing the boundaries of rules. Just ask the New England Patriots.
Q: What Do I Say When Someone Asks Me What I Got on the LSAT?
A: Tell them you scored a 180, twice, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
Q: How Do I Let People Know I Got Good Grades First Semester Without Alienating Them?
A: This is a tough one. If people already know you are an asshole, then you have to let on somehow, or they will infer through your silence that you totally bombed, and take delight in your comeuppance, or worse, feel sorry for you. And yet, if you do what comes naturally to assholes and are open about your well-deserved asshole success, you will likely never make friends any more desirable than the asshole friends you’ve made thus far.
It becomes even trickier if people think you’re cool. They won’t think you’re so cool when they realize you are deliberately keeping tight-lipped every time they mention how badly they got smoked by that Torts exam, or worse, when you just say, “Yeah, it was pretty tough,” and leave it at that, so you might as well be saying, “Yeah, it was tough, but I’m a tough hombre myself, and I would never let a hidden Res Ipsa Loquitur issue make me its bitch.”
There really is no way to win. I would handle the situation like this: tell people you have an incurable disease, and are not long for this world. They will feel such overpowering sadness and sympathy that they will overlook your being elected Chief Editor of the Law Review, your unparalleled success at EIP, your tireless devotion to international human rights which contributes directly to the freeing of several dozen high-profile political prisoners, and your snagging of the ultra-prestigious Vinny “Never Ask Me How I Make My Money” Campanero Class Prize at graduation. Hold a fake funeral and listen to your classmates laud your accomplishments with genuine appreciation, with nary a hint in their voices of well, these things are all kind of arbitrary, aren’t they? When everyone is gone, dig out of your grave, dust yourself off, and make the long drive to the nation’s capital to begin your feeder judge clerkship, free from the considerable weight of your own success and secure in the knowledge you have retained a measure of your own humanity, despite abundant evidence you yourself are something a little more than human.
Q: Do I Really Want to Be a Lawyer?
A: A little late for this one, isn’t it?
Regardless, for most of us this question will pop into our heads at some point or another. Don’t people hate lawyers? And don’t they have good reason to? Don’t we only need a lawyer because another lawyer has convinced some poor schmuck to sue us?
And what exactly is the “law”, anyways? Haven’t we, in our modern willingness to acknowledge our own limitations, given up pretending that there is an actual immutable Law which governs our behavior? Don’t we all basically agree the law is just what people say it is? And who trusts people?
Okay, sure. But so what? If, after we finally hang up the ol’ Westlaw account, we realize we’ve spent our entire working lives learning how to be more reasonable (or if you prefer, “reasonable”), well, that doesn’t sound so bad to me. We could all stand to be a little more reasonable, right? Just make sure you start being reasonable AFTER law school. ‘Cuz this shit’s kind of crazy.