Law in Contemporary Society
Inspired by the tough love discussion and trying to come up with an idea for a second paper, I started thinking about what effect this class has on people. Unlike classes which focus primarily on learning something, the point of this class seems to be to get you to do something. We've talked extensively about what motivates people's actions (legal reasoning, social roles in swindling and selling, conspicuous consumption) with the implication that we should use these ideas and frameworks to examine our own lives. Does anyone actively do this? How have people found themselves thinking about and responding to certain situations differently as compared to before taking this course? Have people watched less TV, or made different choices about summer jobs, or approached other classes in different ways? I've often wondered about what effect adding some basic knowledge of psychological or sociological theories has on people going forward, and the experience of people in this class seems like it would be a good study of that.

For my own part, I'll admit that I don't feel like I act or think differently in any significant way. I mostly accept that to a large degree the teaching aspect of law school has been swallowed by the needs of employers and that the "biglaw" firm system severely devalues young lawyers, but aside from snickering at the repeated use of "cast a wide net" at the EIP presentation and being a bit more exasperated at the continuing assurances that it'll all be ok in two years I don't think I really do anything differently. In other classes I don't consider how this opinion is full of legal nonsense or feel that everyone is continually restricted by competitive pressure. This isn't to say I don't think about these topics, just that it seems like when I do it's mostly confined to being in, talking about, and doing work for this class.

I have found that I am paying more attention to the way people speak though, especially in contrast to the way they write. The class has certainly made me more aware of how people can act extremely differently in different situations.

-- JustinChung - 10 Apr 2009

I agree that getting us to "do something" is patently one of the ultimate goals of this course. But I view this as a process, not a unitary reflex response to the course. Thinking differently is a sine qua non component, if not first step, in that process. In effect, our purposeful actions can only be the product of deliberate thought. To that end, even if we don't find themselves doing much differently, we've benefited from the class if we find ourselves, to some degree, deliberating differently on aspects of our lives. This will prove indispensable to any choice we make regarding watching television, preparation for classes or the things we do or not in our jobs this summer. If your "past self" would not have snickered at the farce that was the EIP presentation, you could count your reaction as partially being borne out of the effect our class discussions/materials have had on you (though I may be wrong).

To a small extent, I've done some things differently because of my experiences with this class. I taken more seriously the class' message that we spend more time thinking rather than distracting ourselves. So I've painfully began weening myself off my iPod and doing less indiscriminate reading of every article on webpages. Instead I've been thinking more about what judges are really_Italic text_ saying in their opinions and actually noting my reactions to them. All this was non-existent last semester.

Although I may not be doing things significantly different, my class experience has caused me to assess more critically my outlook on life. Before spring break Prof Moglen, as usual, spoke about the destruction of the old modus operandi of law firms in the current "crisis." I cursorily agreed until I read a report on Latham & Watkins firing 12% of their associates. Although I knew of continuous flood of firm layoffs from last summer, this particular news upset my psyche. Last summer some of the nicest and most genuine attorneys I met were from Latham & Watkins and I thought I'd love to work in that "West Coast"-type environment. But their layoff news refreshed in my mind Prof. Moglen's mantra that the law firm model was experiencing a paradigm shift, not a cyclical downturn. I started thinking more about not starting my career at a firm and about carving out my own niche. I'm interested in private international law and have started thinking about ways I could learn more about the practice. I don't know when I'll get around to it, but I plan on looking for professors whose expertise I can explore and governmental/non-firm private organizations whose work would help give me a foundation. All of these thoughts have, to some extent, been motivated by our discussions about the shifting paradigm of legal practice, finding our own niche to provide value for those in need, and making ourselves so self-reliant that we aren't beholden to the threat of losing a job.

Let me note, however, that taking action is critically important. Thinking is not a proxy for acting. I need to act on these shifts in my perception, but its good to know that I've started my process.

-- RicardoWoolery - 11 Apr 2009

Like Eben's response to the "Tough Love" topic in class, I think it depends on what timeframe we use. I would think that changing one's fundamental view on his/her life is a continuous process. As Ricardo pointed out, this process is not a "unitary reflex." I'd be interested to find out what Eben's former students from, say, 5 years ago are doing/thinking right now.

For myself, I have definitely felt a change in my outlook. From the specific (trying to write more clearly, speak more eloquently) to the general (desire to help people with my life), I believe the thinking is starting to come around. The acting, I hope, will follow shortly.

-- KeithEdelman - 11 Apr 2009

This thread began several weeks ago, but I think it is useful in examining our immediate reflections on the course and its impacts. I think that, as a whole, I'm less frightened and more confident in my ability to shape the life I want for myself now and after I graduate. That's extremely broad, I know, but I'm generally a timid person and have realized that I value my happiness a lot more than I thought I did. I am becoming less willing to put up with things that don't contribute to that goal -- people, classes, tracks etc. It's a bit sad that I don't think I'll ever take a class like ours again in my life, but the experience will, no doubt, be memorable. Reading your papers and learning about you all outside of the typical classroom has also caused me to question the judgments I tend to make about people, perhaps without really knowing who they are or what they're all about. To be honest, I've found that many of you are a lot more likable with your masks off and your guards down.


Webs Webs

r5 - 07 Jan 2010 - 22:19:52 - IanSullivan
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