Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Jump Through Our Hoops, You Legal Monkeys

That's right, law school students, you're all part of a racket as corrupt as your uncle Salvatorre's meat packing union.

While depressing to revisit the ugly truth about the bar exam, I was already aware of this even prior to going to law school. The really sad thing is much of the same forces are at work behind LSAT testing and law school admission rates, a fact I took perverse delight in relating to my LSAT students when I worked for Princeton Review. Law schools (or the accredited ones at least) have something of at least a tacit agreement amongst each other that they will collectively keep their fingers plugged in the dike that holds back the vast resevoir of the money-obsessed and morally flexible youngsters as a means of maintaining the relative prestige and comfortable lifestyle afforded a lawyer.

Even more transparent is the relatively recent decision to mandate attendance at an accredited school for admission to the bar. Tradition was, if you were smart enough and didn't care about some academic pedigree to put on your resume, you could study on your own, and if you were able to pass the bar, you were as much a lawyer as anyone else. I'm not sure of it, but it seems rather clear to me that this was more than anything the law schools' doing, making their $50-100k stamp of approval an unavoidable hoop for future shysters to jump through.

I've heard similar things about med school as well, although I could be wrong. A year in law school has thoroughly demystified the legal world and jaded me to the point that I'm pretty sure any reasonably intelligent simian could do it passably well with about half the schooling lawyers typically recieve. The world of medicine is still fairly opaque to me, though. The bank of knowledge required seems more encyclopedic, the process of diagnosis still looks like something of a magic trick.

But then, I also wouldn't be surprised if I learned tomorrow that what doctors do boils down to a car mechanic working with slightly squishier parts. I'm actually sure that would happen if I ever leanred the stuff myself. One certainty I have about life is that once I can do something, it can't possibly be hard. After all, I'm an idiot.