JD: Not Just the Protagonist of a Show I Used to Like

I’m at law school.  It’s finally sunk in, and it’s worth mentioning.  Many of the topics on this blog correspond with my past lives as a business student and technology investment banking analyst.  As a legal student, my current interests won’t simply vanish, but I do except to perceive the world in an increasingly altered fashion.

Already I have noticed just how retrospective law is compared to the forward looking natures of technology and financial analysis.  I can imagine former colleagues condescendingly spurning the legal field’s lack of velocity and disengagement with the “real world.”  Yet, I also already recognize the potential benefits of applying the rigors of thorough legal analysis to non-legal matters.  Having read dozens of cases already, parsing analytical discourse into the issue at hand, logical reasoning, and actionable theses is becoming second nature.  The skill of “pattern recognition” that venture capitalists and portfolio managers so proudly tout can be comprehensively honed in the pursuit of a juris doctor.

The distinctive feature about the study of law, of course, is the Socratic method.  It is alive and well a couple of millennia after the bearded sage last donned a toga.  The method is captivating, but it is also mentally taxing.  Some professors seem to employ it to make a point for the benefit of teaching, but others ask students questions seemingly to satisfy their own whims.

While it does help gradually reveal kernels of wisdom, the Socratic method in the legal field today might be less illuminating than in the past.  Reading century old cases, it is apparent that the law has evolved from primarily reflecting the collective moral compass to becoming more about functionality and establishing objective rules.  That means when reading older judicial opinions which rely less on the precedents of preceding cases and more on logical statements of morality, the conclusion is usually too obvious.  Then, when listening to classmates answer questions about these same cases, the kernel revealed is sometimes anticlimactic.

There is a tendency to want to jump ahead to the implied rule.  Perhaps, our primal sensitivity has eroded (or never existed), and in a jaded modern world, we immediately want to drill down to the detached, secular answer.  It is on this front that I will need to adjust most.  I will be forced to value the path to wisdom and not only the results, or risk being miserable for three years.  It is a mindset I happily espoused as an undergraduate, and hopefully, I can ease myself back into that disposition.

I was always fascinated by law school.  As funny as it sounds, attending law school has always been more of a dream than learning or practicing law.  Now that I am here, it is great to hear spirited discussions about legal controversies and public policy.  It is just funny to realize how only a couple of years as a working stiff can change one’s view on things.


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