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Saturday, January 21, 2012

So you want to go to law school?

Let me paint a picture for you.

You sit in a small group of 4 people in front of a class of 100 students, prepared to explain the legal definition of obscenity as defined in the Miller case.  You are well versed in the previous definition, the change Miller hands down, and the implications of each.   You’re ready to explain why the state has the power to ban subject matter, even with the general “avert your eyes” doctrine, and most importantly, you're grateful that this professor assigns groups particular cases, so that you can prepare for the public flogging of getting called on.  Then the professor turns to your group, looks over his glasses at you, back down at his papers, and smiles.

“Alright, first up.  Have you heard of crush videos?”

“Um.  No.”   This is not in the reading.  You rack your brain for if you skipped a footnote.  You decide you’re about to be set up with an awkward argument.  You’re terrified.

“They are sort of fetish videos, where women wearing stiletto high heels stomp baby animals to death.  They’re all over the place online, and they’re really gruesome.  They show all kinds of different animals, kittens and squirrels, and different women, but always wearing high heels.  Just extremely violent, nauseating videos.  Are these obscene?  Can these videos be banned according to the Supreme Court?”

Yep.  You’re about to argue why weird fetish videos are a-ok by SCOTUS, but sex is not. Proceed to collect your bearings and argue your way out of the corner the professor has painted you in.  Good luck with that.

Constitutional Law is one of the more interesting classes – given it explains so much of how our country is the way it is – and it’s amazing how many cases could have been decided differently with a single changed vote.  But Lord, it’s difficult to rationalize why we do what we do.  The Miller case defined obscenity as solely sexual acts, therefore, I spent the better part of my humiliation session arguing that Crush videos are acceptable material and cannot be outright banned by the Supreme court.   Not surprisingly, I also seem to be going down in history as the girl who got to argue that Crush videos are less offensive than simple porn. 

But that’s what being a lawyer is – making an argument that could make you uncomfortable but is grounded in law.   I didn’t want to defend these Crush video deviants, but I didn’t get a choice. It’s easy to then make the mental jump that’s required to be a defense attorney.  I dread the feeling of being called on in class and having n-o i-d-e-a what might possibly be coming down the pike, but it certainly thickens up my skin.  And like all public speaking, practice doesn’t make perfect, but it makes it a hell of a lot less scary.

So much of law school is bone-dry reading and cantankerous professors and eccentric students, and it’s too easy to lose the end game in this hellacious process.  As much as school can suck, I have to remember what the fun part is – I’ll be ready and able to interpret, challenge, and work with the law.  That’s a pretty awesome skill that I’ll have at my disposal.  With the threat of insufficient job prospects looming, I need to remember the positives: I like what this process will grant me and that school is making me grow in ways I didn’t expect.  And I can’t argue with that.

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