Monday, May 15, 2006

From "anonymous lawyer"-paralegals who become law students

One of the things about attending law school is that there are a variety of people who have experience in the field. Not being lawyers, mind you, but being paralegals. They are often under the impression that they know something about the law, which is true to the extent that a nurse knows something about medicine. It doesn't mean they understand what doctors do. They don't. They have the most vague outline at best, and at worst are dangerous. Paralegals are not lawyers. Paralegals are not lawyers. Did I mention that paralegals are not lawyers?

I always tried to be nice to them when they came into the library. I told them that the what they know that is real law is going to hurt them in law school, because law students study academic law, not the real law. The two hardly ever meet.

The truth is that they are hurt by their experience because they don't know how much they don't know. Which is little different from most of the twits who roll through the library, except that their misconception of their relative ability and knowledge is bolstered by their experience and probably the words of an attorney patronizing them to get the best performance possible.

An example of such a twit? My buddy and I were sitting in the library the other day studying for the bar, and this woman goes "boy I wish I was in your position." and I looked at her, with a raised eyebrow and said "studying for the bar?" To which this brilliant rejoinder ensued. "I'd rather take the bar than study CONTRACTS". We went back to studying....

anyway, here's a good post from "anonymous lawyer".

From a reader e-mail: "Perhaps a blog post should address the topic of dealing with paralegals who are either attending or planning to attend law school."

I hate paralegals who are planning to attend law school. They're so needy. They want to learn what it's like to work at the firm, they want recommendation letters, they want to stay for a year and then go away, and then bombard us with their resume once they're at school, begging to come back as a summer associate.

Paralegals are service providers. They need to do their job and be quiet. The problem with paralegals who are planning to go to law school is that they have a different agenda than the one they ought to have to be a successful paralegal. They're reluctant to do the busy-work that their job consists of. They want learning opportunities. They want to see the kinds of things associates get to see. They want to know about the cases they're working on. They want to get a sense of what the lawyers do. But they can't. They're just paralegals. They're confused. They think spending a year as a paralegal is going to give them some special insight into how the firm operates, and help them get a job down the road. They think they'll learn things that'll help them in law school. They won't. They'll learn things that'll help them if they want to work as a professor's secretary in law school, not if they want to be a law student. It's like working as a coat check girl to learn how to be a chef. Sorry. You're not welcome in the kitchen. It's like working as a receptionist in a doctor's office to learn how to be a brain surgeon. Not going to happen.

I want paralegals who've already given up on life. Who've accepted that a paralegal is all they are and all they'll ever be. People with no hope. No pride. No ego. People who are willing to count the pages to make sure all seven thousand are accounted for, and then do it again just to make sure. People who won't talk back. People who will obey without question. Like the Germans who obeyed Hitler. Not the ones who actually hurt anyone, but just the ones who didn't talk back. That's the model paralegal. Or the average American television viewer. The ones who'll watch anything and don't want to actively change the channel. Idiots. I want idiots. Competent idiots, who can staple right, but idiots nonetheless. Maybe idiot savants, who can count a stack of cards but can't interact with other humans. Perfect.

Paralegals who want to go to law school? No thanks. Let them work at day care centers instead. That's better training for law school. Dealing with babies all day. Cry babies. "I didn't get a clerkship. I'm sad." Pathetic.


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