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The law is so isolated and intense a world that we forget to notice the differences of other worlds — assuming we remember they exist at all. And, of course, when you ignore a world, you can’t compare it with your own. Fate intervened as a would-be med student, homeless for the night, crashed on my floor. After just a glimpse at the world of medical schools, the world of the law will never look the same. Zelda said she had an interview in the morning. I remember for college they lasted an hour, longer if you were “interesting”, or wore something tight. Hers was to last six hours. “Six hours! What do they want to know after six hours?” I know lawyers who didn’t spend six hours talking to their professors during all their years law school. “Oh, you know. Character, communication with those you help, your take on medicine’s role in society, why you’re interested in becoming a doctor and your specialty, if you know it. The basics.” The basics! “And this is normal?” I couldn’t believe the kind of personal interest med schools were taking. “Sure. Why? Aren’t law schools interested in those things?” And now it’s all so clear: CHARACTER Law schools don’t need to talk to you about character because after you cram for the MPRE, you’ll have all the character a lawyer needs. Who cares that you’ll forget most of what you studied once you don’t need that information to be a lawyer — the second after the exam? I use the word “information” because it is only information unless it stays with you and changes your approach to ethical situations, becoming knowledge. Besides, law schools know where their money is at: pumping out a high percentage of private lawyers. Many excel in the $500/hour world because they’re so good at what Machiavelli stressed: seeming to have character so that you have a great reputation while actually having disgusting character, so no advantageous means are beneath you. Why be na�ve? Like he said in “The Prince,” “A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must necessarily come to grief among so many who are not good.” See, you can’t be good because the next guy might not be. Of course, the next guy looks at you and concludes the same damn thing. Point being, seeming to have character helps to make an effective lawyer. There is therefore no sense in interviewing a student to determine whether he or she has character. You wouldn’t be able to tell if the prospective student was: A) someone who really wanted to do some good with the law; or B) the savvy social saboteur who was playing your sense of honor all the way to a J.D. COMMUNICATION AND THE ROLE OF THE LAW A lawyer’s communication with his client need only be good enough to determine what the client did and what the client wants. There is no bedside manner for lawyers, only a strong presence in front of the jury. If a candidate is interested in public interest work, that is all the law school needs to know for her to stick out. Who cares if he is good at dealing with his lowly clients? He’s got a heart, and that’s enough! Doctors, even the avaricious ones who play golf all day while prescribing pharmaceutical cocaine to their even richer golfing partners, are viewed by society as public servants. When little Timmy, whose dad got laid off by our golf-playing friend so he could make his quarterly bonus, gets the flu, it is our healthcare system that at least ought to come to the rescue. Those doctors are supposed to know how to help. If it turns out that Timmy’s flu is really lung-tissue damage caused by lead in his apartment’s paint, it is not the justice system that is supposed to come to the rescue. The only time the law is seen to help the (not rich) public the way medicine is at least supposed to is when enough people inhale enough lead to warrant a class action suit garnering enough millions. So it’s only when the poor combine to suffer that they may enjoy the legal benefits the rich can pay for. There is strength in numbers after all. In fact, we don’t really have a “justice system,” do we? I had to make it up just to finish that last sentence. If a law school found out you thought “legal” means “what the law does to further justice” they would have to warn you away from law school unless you were committed to a lifelong crusade. Ours is a legal system concerned with the law, not justice. Don’t get the two confused. WHY YOU WANT TO BE A LAWYER Definitely no reason for law schools to ask you about this one. One of the law’s selling points is its versatility: there is so much you can do with it. The Great Miscellaneous Professional School would lose half its market (soon-to-be rich alumni lawyers) were it to shun those who didn’t have a (good) reason to want to be a lawyer the way med schools do. You just can’t tell a med school you’re in it for the money or because you don’t know what the hell else to do with yourself now that you’re 26, did all the drugs you wanted and are tired of seeing your med school friends make more money than you. As for specialties in the law, they’re not really relevant now, unless you’re smooching up to a school whose strong programs match your alleged interests. There are many law students who know just what they want do. It’s just that most of them know they want to specialize in paying off their juggernaut of a debt and, you know, “enjoying life” — during the 20 minutes a week they’re not working, I guess. I spewed all this out at Zelda as the shock ran its way through my system. Imagine, professional schools that are professional about who becomes a part of their world. Zelda at this point asked the question I’ve been neglecting: “What do law schools look at when they’re deciding who they’re going to admit?” “LSAT.” That’s it. One acronym and a few points decide who’s going to be a lawyer. It’s not that simple, right? True. A few law schools look at other acronyms, like GPA. It’s not like they use a formula to determine who’s in and who’s out. Oh, wait … A law school by itself decides who goes to that law school. Law schools combine to decide who are going to be lawyers. This issue impacts society as much as med schools deciding who are going to be doctors do. And there are no criteria involved other than the ability to succeed. Law schools only care about your ability to be good, not do good. They may say otherwise, but you can pee on the grave of The Unknown Soldier and still get in with a 162. Supposedly, law schools get help with this process later on. When taking the bar exam, one also undergoes character reviews. Most 3Ls don’t admit that they smoked pot, or cheated on their Property final. No one will argue that these character reviews are perfunctory card-stamping sessions. Yet one review, after the 3L has been hardened by his years of law school, isn’t enough. The idea should be to filter out the evil bastards who have been ruining the law’s reputation since its inception. Abort them before they become lawyers who know how to get around character reviews. Being able to be a doctor by itself isn’t enough for med schools to allow you to be a doctor. Because being a doctor involves having a heart as well as a mind. Being a lawyer all too frequently involves having a smaller heart than your adversary, as well as a mind. But why is this so? Because of what you think. Because of social perceptions. Doctors are esteemed with honor. Lawyers are perceived as sharks who get the job done, with honor being about as big an issue as cuddling is in a one-night stand. And so we see a two-way street: lawyers acting like sharks facilitates their being viewed as such, and vice-versa. What can be done now, in light of the logistical difficulties of thoroughly interviewing every candidate? Some effort at finding out things like, “Why do you want to be a lawyer?” I never had to answer that question to get admitted. Maybe they didn’t want to know. Free-lancer and ex-law student Mitch Artman lives and writes in Chicago.

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