Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle
russellb

The Paper Chase

Based on my two days of experience at University of Washington so far (plus two weeks of orientation), I'd say these are the differences between what law school is currently like and how it was portrayed in the 1973 movie The Paper Chase:

  1. Less long hair, fewer bell-bottoms.
  2. Professors don't TRY to intimidate you, use the Socratic method hyper-aggressively, insult you for poor answers, or affect an unapproachable demeanor.
  3. The classrooms are much more attractive and well-lit.
  4. You aren't required to stand while giving an answer.
  5. Laptops, laptops, laptops. Westlaw, Westlaw, Westlaw.

On the other hand, here are the similarities:

  1. There's still a sense that this is a profession which matters, and indeed that sense is perhaps even stronger in real-life here than it was in The Paper Chase (whose characters seemed to focus on "Wall Street jobs" to the exclusion of public-interest work).
  2. There's still a sense that one's class is composed of society's elite, meaning here that each of you has the capacity to make a difference in the world and most of you actually will.
  3. The 1L coursework is unchanged: Civil Procedure, Torts, Property, etc.
  4. The casebook method is still used for each class, and the Socratic method is still employed (though perhaps more selectively).
  5. Making law review still conveys prestige.
  6. You're still embarrassed if you provide a poor answer in class discussion.
  7. Your professors are still worthy of respect: my Civil Procedure professor is arguing a case in the U.S. Supreme Court on October 8 (he has already won three cases in that same court), and right now I'm listening to a talk by Erwin Chemerinsky.
  8. It's still very time-consuming, and very, very hard.
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