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David T. Cole

Real vs. TV Law School: More Cold Calling, Fewer Murder Coverups

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I'll get the ball rolling. Never once did my criminal law professor ask me to help her cover up a murder. I've got another year, though, so there's still time.

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I'll get the ball rolling. Never once did my criminal law professor ask me to help her cover up a murder. I've got another year, though, so there's still time.

What kind of cut rate school are you attending? I kid. I kid.

I never attended law school myself, but I always imagine a lot of stuff that would make bad TV, like hours spent in the library reading.

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It was insanely ridiculously not remotely like real law school

I'm in law school, unless you want to watch a show about a bunch of gunners and people lying about their grades you don't want to watch a show about real law school

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I agree with the sentiments that this was insanely ridiculous.  Has anyone involved in the show been to a law school?  Sat in on a law school class?  Even the set design looked inauthentic.

 

It seems to me that the show runners came up with this really cool premise, but failed to ask if the premise is even plausible.

 

Here are a few of the many inaccuracies:

 

1. The set- law school lecture halls do not look like that.  Most class rooms have tables or at least desks large enough to accommodate a laptop, a giant law book, and paper notebook.  Those desks were teeny and not big enough to support a law book or a laptop, let alone both.  It would be very difficult for a student to follow along in the casebook and take notes in that set up.  Plus that lecture hall was huge.  My first year classes had approximately 75 students, but that hall appeared to have at least twice that number.

 

2. The idea that a professor that is a first year professor is a full-time practitioner.  According to one of my law school professors, teaching first year classes is way more time consuming than teaching second and third year courses.  Additionally working on a trial is incredibly time consuming.  Unless this show takes place in an alternate universe where days are 36 hours long, I'm not buying it.  

 

3. The whole concept that she is teaching the practice of law and not the theory.  You can take classes like this in law school, but they are much smaller (15 students max) and not open to first year students.  And those classes actually would be taught by an adjunct professor who still practices.  I took a couple of those.  Most of those only meet once a week, typically at night.  One of those classes I took was constantly being cancelled because professors were in trial or away on depositions.

 

4. The law firm had interns in their month of law school.  A firm that focuses on trial work would never, never hire interns who have not taken evidence.

 

5. A professor telling their first year students to ditch torts class.  This must be Ms. Keating's first year teaching, because no law school would let a professor get away with that.

 

There were other inaccuracies.  Most of those could have been avoided by having the class be a small class of second and third year students.  But that does not bode well for future seasons.  However, designing a set like that is unforgivable.  Someone on the staff for that show could have called up a law school, said they were a prospective student, taken a tour, and sat in on a class.  The only scene that was realistic was the scene was the mixer between the students and the professors.  Stuff like that happened all the time when I was in law school.

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5. A professor telling their first year students to ditch torts class.  This must be Ms. Keating's first year teaching, because no law school would let a professor get away with that.

 

This cracked me up. Those kids are likely paying $40k/year to be there, and she's telling them to skip their second day of a doctrinal class? That's not how that works, and there's no way at least one of those students (likely more since law students are notorious pains in the ass) wouldn't have tattled on her so that the dean of students was quickly jumping down Annalise's throat. 

 

In a similar vein, I thought it was funny that the whole competition was for an "immunity idol" to get out of "one exam." In my experience (and definitely during 1L year) you only have one exam per class, typically at the end of the course. Sometimes you'll also have a midterm, but that's certainly not the norm. So unless the winner of the Scales of Justice statue was allowed to skip the only exam in class and to take an A, I call bullshit. 

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Things that are really like law school? Well there are really gunners, who have to have the answer to everything and are always competing with everybody. And, that's about it I think.  Oh and the all consuming fear that you will get called on the one day you forgot to read those cases.   I don't remember the taking part in many murder trials as a 1L.  I remember a lot of reading.  I remember dissecting statutes.  Mostly I remember law school being just like high school.  Everything was in one building and we all had lockers.  And I drank more.

 

If she wanted to make this useful to these future criminal defense lawyers, she should call it "How to Get Away with Disorderly Conduct" or "How to Get Away with Retail Theft" or most importantly "How to Get Away with Selling Weed." Those come up far more often than murder.

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Things that are really like law school? Well there are really gunners, who have to have the answer to everything and are always competing with everybody. And, that's about it I think.  Oh and the all consuming fear that you will get called on the one day you forgot to read those cases.   I don't remember the taking part in many murder trials as a 1L.  I remember a lot of reading.  I remember dissecting statutes.  Mostly I remember law school being just like high school.  Everything was in one building and we all had lockers.  And I drank more.

 

If she wanted to make this useful to these future criminal defense lawyers, she should call it "How to Get Away with Disorderly Conduct" or "How to Get Away with Retail Theft" or most importantly "How to Get Away with Selling Weed." Those come up far more often than murder.

 

My trick if I didn't do all the reading?  I volunteer to brief the first case, professors then think you did all the reading and they are far less likely to call on you. In your first year classes they are looking to catch the guy in the back playing solitaire. And bless his heart, that guy is always in class, sitting in the very back for some crazy reason.  According to a professor I had, they will specifically scan the back and the sides and pick on those students because they assume they are sitting in the back so they can avoid being an active part of the class.  Sit in the dead middle and keep raising your hand.

 

And yes, law school is just like high school.  Eyerollingly like high school.  No assigned lockers, but something called Bar Review, where allegedly drunk girls hook up with some of the douchiest men that have ever graced the planet earth.  

 

Okay, I'm about 10 minutes in.  And I'll admit, the first day of law school there were people talking about which Supreme Court Justices they liked/didn't like, whatever.  I think most of it was an effort to impress their brilliance upon us all.   I remember quite a few students talking shit about various supreme court justices and their legal reasoning, which I thought was laughable since it was like our second week of law school.  What didn't happen was that no one stood up to brief a case and the facts they presented coincided perfectly with a power point the professor brought in.  Most of the times briefing a case is not all that concise.  You start to share the facts of the case, but you may forget a fact that the professor thinks is important, you don't know exactly how much detail they want you to go into.  And generally when you brief a case, its from a published decision, but it sounds like this case hasn't even gone to trial.  Furthermore, what didn't happen is that someone "clerked for" a Chief Justice before heading to law school.  Unless he just said "worked for" which I can forgive, but clerks are generally people who have graduated from law school, and this dude just started?

 

BTW, how long is that class?  I remember Criminal Law being 3 units, meaning 3 hours a class a week (1.5 hour class, 2 days a week).  they had time to all get settled, and then travel to their professors house/office, meet a client and listen to her tell her story.  And even if they had a weekend, how in the world is that enough time for first year law students to peruse an entire case file, and learn the applicable law in order to try to apply it to the facts?  And everyone has to have a different theory?  Say what?  This isn't first year criminal law, this is first year Colombo.  

Edited by RealityGal
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Our Bar Review got canceled by the dean my first year because they went to a strip club, and said some very inappropriate things about some students in the flyer they announced it on. A local news paper caught wind, which lead the major local paper picking it up. It became a thing, and the dean had to step in.

 

One thing I did notice.  These kids are not nearly as smart as they think they are at the end of the semester.  Second and third year, favorite day of the year was the day the 1L first semester grades came out.  Just seeing their bubble burst when they find out they are not the smartest person in the building almost made up for this massive debt.

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Oh my, this show made me so angry. Which made me sad, because I love Scandal and Grey's and who doesn't want to see the Shonda-version of their life? 

 

I'll try not to repeat what's been said, but my issues:

 

1. How smooth that cold-calling was in the first class scene. Hah, no. I know, realistic dialogue is unrealistic, but like RealityGal said, the professor is usually looking for something specific and it's not going to be that neat.

 

2. "To kill" is not a mens rea. "Purpose to kill," would be the correct answer if the professor is teaching off the Model Penal Code (a sample, ideal penal code written by scholars. Crim law varies by state, so usually professors (at least at my school) teach off of that), "intent to kill" or something along those lines if you're using common law. 

 

3. 100+ people and NO ONE except Wes came up with self-defense using some variation of Battered Women's Syndrome. Yeah, I don't buy it. That was definitely in their textbook. 

 

4. Asking for a directed verdict is such a revolutionary strategy that you feel the need to break into your professor's house in the middle of the night to tell her about it?? Every defense attorney asks for a directed verdict at the end of the prosecution's case in chief. That's not obscure research, that's a very standard thing to do, and probably mentioned in the crim textbook's outline of how a case proceeds. This is also typically done without the jury present (at least in the state I'm most familiar with), so Keating's concerns are non-existent. And ridiculous, because every defense attorney asks for a directed verdict. 

 

5. Nitpick, but at least at my school, the hippie/liberal/bleeding-heart/went to Brown types think prosecutors are the evil scum of the earth and defense attorneys are the ones doing god's work. 

 

I'm also sure a ton of professional ethics were breeched and laws broken, but I don't know as much about that, so I'll mostly leave that be. Destroying evidence is *definitely* illegal, and I'd be shocked if pretending to be an insurance agent to get information wasn't a massive violation of ethics.

 

And, I have a feeling my law school experience is super atypical, but I go to school with a pile of extremely nice nerds. To give you some idea - we were joking after the sneak peak that property should be called "how to get away with an unclear conveyance," contracts is "how to get away with inadequate consideration," this show was going to be, "how to fail the MPRE." Nothing like this "everyone is trying to destroy me" mentality, but I guess ymmv. 

Edited by Ariaa
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Our Bar Review got canceled by the dean my first year because they went to a strip club, and said some very inappropriate things about some students in the flyer they announced it on. A local news paper caught wind, which lead the major local paper picking it up. It became a thing, and the dean had to step in.

 

One thing I did notice.  These kids are not nearly as smart as they think they are at the end of the semester.  Second and third year, favorite day of the year was the day the 1L first semester grades came out.  Just seeing their bubble burst when they find out they are not the smartest person in the building almost made up for this massive debt.

 

How did you ever even know?  I'm convinced at least 75% of students are big fat liars.  Our classes are graded on a curve, and apparently everyone gets an A in everything.  Apparently we are all graduating magna cum laude.....whatever 

 

LMAO at how your Bar Review got cancelled, that sadly, makes so much sense

 

Oh my, this show made me so angry. Which made me sad, because I love Scandal and Grey's and who doesn't want to see the Shonda-version of their life? 

 

I'll try not to repeat what's been said, but my issues:

 

4. Asking for a directed verdict is such a revolutionary strategy that you feel the need to break into your professor's house in the middle of the night to tell her about it?? Every defense attorney asks for a directed verdict at the end of the prosecution's case in chief. That's not obscure research, that's a very standard thing to do, and probably mentioned in the crim textbook's outline of how a case proceeds. This is also typically done without the jury present (at least in the state I'm most familiar with), so Keating's concerns are non-existent. And ridiculous, because every defense attorney asks for a directed verdict. 

 

 

I'm also sure a ton of professional ethics were breeched and laws broken, but I don't know as much about that, so I'll mostly leave that be. Destroying evidence is *definitely* illegal, and I'd be shocked if pretending to be an insurance agent to get information wasn't a massive violation of ethics.

 

And, I have a feeling my law school experience is super atypical, but I go to school with a pile of extremely nice nerds. To give you some idea - we were joking after the sneak peak that property should be called "how to get away with an unclear conveyance," contracts is "how to get away with inadequate consideration," this show was going to be, "how to fail the MPRE." Nothing like this "everyone is trying to destroy me" mentality, but I guess ymmv. 

 

LMAO at "how to fail the MPRE"  you got that right!  

 

Second, even if I had a thought that was going to set the legal world on fire in the middle of the night he can't use email, TWEN, text messages or even a phone message?  Its important enough to walk into her unlocked door?  Man...thats how people get killed in scary movies, or stumble on dead bodies.  Maybe Wes needed a few more years on the waitlist.

 

Pretending to be an insurance agent is fraud, if I remember criminal law correctly.  But I guess "discredit the witness" "bury the evidence" and important life lesson number three were more important than "try not to defraud anyone"

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I'm in law school, unless you want to watch a show about a bunch of gunners and people lying about their grades you don't want to watch a show about real law school.

 

 

I had to laugh at this because it's true!  I've already graduated law school, but the "gunners" are one of the groups that I remember vividly. The gunners are about neck and neck with the cutthroat artists as groups that stuck out to me. All of them annoyed me, but they weren't all that interesting and definitely not 1 hour drama worthy. So I agree with you, this show is much more interesting to watch even with all of the inaccuracies.  In some ways I sort of wish I'd had an experience like the students on this show have had when I was a 1L.  Black letter law and real life experience right away?  Awesome!

 

My torts professor practiced outside of teaching law school. I don't know if he practiced full time, but as it turned out, he was in the middle of a pretty big med-mal case during my first year and he had us to come down to the courthouse a few times while he was trying the case.  So the fact that Keating had her students come to see the case she was trying wasn't all that far-fetched to me.  

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As one who graduated from law school, I understand what everyone is saying.  However, while I made one "that would never happen in law school" statement, it didn't stop me from watching and enjoying the show.  I don't expect realism in TV and definitely not in a Shonda show.  But I can't front, these comments are funny though I am not sure if I want to take that trip down memory lane back to law school.  I don't miss it at all.

 

But one thing that stuck out was that since this was a criminal law class, it did take me back to my crim law professor.  We had assigned seats after the first day but she was old school and taught common law crimes with a nod to the MPC.  I literally just had this discussion with much more seasoned attorneys on whether schools should be teaching the practice of law.  As a career student, I still see the benefit of learning theory and can't imagine my "crim law 100" class aka my first year course being taught based solely on one professor's practice of law.

 

Lastly, I guess it was supposed to be okay to make the students miss torts since it was only for a competition/just optional and wouldn't really affect their grade.  

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As one who graduated from law school, I understand what everyone is saying.  However, while I made one "that would never happen in law school" statement, it didn't stop me from watching and enjoying the show.  I don't expect realism in TV and definitely not in a Shonda show.  But I can't front, these comments are funny though I am not sure if I want to take that trip down memory lane back to law school.  I don't miss it at all.

 

But one thing that stuck out was that since this was a criminal law class, it did take me back to my crim law professor.  We had assigned seats after the first day but she was old school and taught common law crimes with a nod to the MPC.  I literally just had this discussion with much more seasoned attorneys on whether schools should be teaching the practice of law.  As a career student, I still see the benefit of learning theory and can't imagine my "crim law 100" class aka my first year course being taught based solely on one professor's practice of law.

 

Lastly, I guess it was supposed to be okay to make the students miss torts since it was only for a competition/just optional and wouldn't really affect their grade.  

 

Yeah, we had a seating chart that we filled in after we picked our seats.  I can't imagine having assigned seats the first day, because I like to sit in the dead middle of the classroom, and have shown up extremely early to get that seat.  And it has to be the dead middle.  I would be bummed to be in a huge class and have to be in the front corner.  I don't want to spend an hour looking up the professors nose.

 

But I think having a practicing attorney teaching a first year class is bound to be a disaster.  I had two amazing professors for contracts and criminal law in my first year.  The criminal law professor was a dedicated professor, and so she taught in a very cohesive, deliberate way.  It was very helpful to me, because I felt like I wanted a good foundation, and thats what, IMO, the casebook, and studying the cases is meant to give you.  I think the finesse and practice tips can only come when you have the foundation down pat.  Now my contracts professor was amazing, funny as hell, and cool as shit.  But he was a practicing attorney, and in about 80% of cases we would discuss, he would circle back and tell us how the case didn't at all reflect how things were done in practice.  It confused the shit out of me, because I would read the casebook, understand it, and feel like I was building a good foundation, but then he would come back and muddy the waters by telling me that that case wasn't really how law was practiced.

 

the only thing they have learned so far is mens rea, actus reus, and that they should bury evidence.  I'm hoping the bar exam is flexible in their state.

 

I'm sure Professor Keating is the bomb dot com at the law school, but I can tell you right now, professors all love to feel important, and if a torts professor at my law school got the idea that someone even suggested their class was less important, there would be much hell to be paid.

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Discrediting a witness is a perfectly valid strategy in trial.  As a lawyer, you are obligated to zealously advocate for their clients, and often that means calling into question the credibility of a witness, that's what you do.  But the term that lawyers and law professors use is impeach, not discredit.  But discredit sounds so much more sinister to the non-lawyer types.

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Discrediting a witness is a perfectly valid strategy in trial.  As a lawyer, you are obligated to zealously advocate for their clients, and often that means calling into question the credibility of a witness, that's what you do.  But the term that lawyers and law professors use is impeach, not discredit.  But discredit sounds so much more sinister to the non-lawyer types.

 

You're right, but would it be what you would learn in a first year criminal law course?  On the first day?  Not in mine.  It wasn't until I got to Evidence that we covered impeaching witnesses.  Actually, I can't remember the context of "bury the evidence" but excluding evidence is also a valid trial strategy, but we covered that in Evidence & Constitutional Criminal Procedure, not first year Criminal Law.  

Edited by RealityGal
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Second and third year, favorite day of the year was the day the 1L first semester grades came out.  Just seeing their bubble burst when they find out they are not the smartest person in the building almost made up for this massive debt.

 

I did so love this.  I had mediocre grades in undergrad, so my law school grades were an improvement. There were so many in my class who had always made straight As, and to find out there were only 2 As in the class of 75 students caused many a come apart.  It was like clockwork.

 

This episode was so unlike law school for me that after the whole 'skip torts' thing I didn't even catch myself comparing or saying "that would never happen."

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I was more listening than watching, so I sort of missed a few points but I'm pretty sure that a lawyer wouldn't take a case FOUR DAYS before she has to actively defend in court (was there a jury?  'Cause just from my knowledge of John Grisham let alone the real world, I know those take DAYS to select).

 

Also, the initial classroom scene was such a Legally Blonde rip-off!!

Edited by dusang
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But he was a practicing attorney, and in about 80% of cases we would discuss, he would circle back and tell us how the case didn't at all reflect how things were done in practice.  It confused the shit out of me, because I would read the casebook, understand it, and feel like I was building a good foundation, but then he would come back and muddy the waters by telling me that that case wasn't really how law was practiced.

 

This.  Learning law in lawschool is more about how to pass the bar than it is how to actually practice  law.  I know more law schools are providing more practical experience, at least in the 3rd year, because really all you need is two years to learn how to pass the bar exam.  But its like passing the MPRE, you learn how to pass the exam in school, learning all the black and white.  But after you've been out in practice for many years, its a little tougher to pass that exam because things are no longer black and white, there's a heck of a lot of gray.

 

So this show having the students pick up practical experience (and dubious experience at that), is in no way realistic.

 

Another point, the defense attorney learning about the store video at trial.  That doesn't happen.  The prosecution has to give up all their evidence to the defense before trial, usually months before trial.  If this tape was 'new evidence' then the prosecution had to get it to the defense immediately, not spring it on them at trial. 

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You're right, but would it be what you would learn in a first year criminal law course?  On the first day?  Not in mine.  It wasn't until I got to Evidence that we covered impeaching witnesses.

Yeah, the stuff taught in that class would more likely be covered in Evidence class, not Criminal Law.  Some school let you take Evidence second semester of your first year, but none that I know of allow you to take it first semester.

 

In law school, the first year curriculum is pretty uniform across most law schools.  Most schools would not hire a first year professor who deviates so much from the standard curriculum.  Unless they are brilliant and tenured and well-known through the law professor community.  My Civil Procedure professor was one of these professors.  He spent the first six weeks teaching a book he wrote on legal theory.  In order to get tenure, a professor has to publish.  There is no way that Ms. Keating is tenured, because there is no way she has time to publish legal scholarship, teach, and run trials.   

Edited by Tigershark
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Amen to all the inaccuracies already pointed out in this forum!

"You get immunity from an exam!" was the most hilarious to me, since most first year classes are based only on one end-of-term exam (which, of course, is why it's so stressful). Soooo ... The winner gets no grade at all? Yeah, great prize!

Also - two days before an attempted murder trial starts and the lawyers are leisurely wasting time with the "let's see what the law students come up with!" contest?! No. No, no, no. That's basically malpractice. Two days before trial starts, they would be dealing with motions to keep out certain evidence, etc. etc. and basically working like crazy to prepare.

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Another thing that bugged me in the pilot was when Prof. Keating made a snotty remark to one of the students about how he could just go do corporate law, as if only the best attorneys can do criminal defense work and doing corporate law is for losers.  Not everyone goes to law school wanting to do criminal law.  There are lots of people who go to law school with the intent to do corporate law, tax law, family law, etc. and have no desire what so ever to be a criminal defense attorney.  That does not make them a bad lawyer.  There are people who think that the type of law they practice is the most important law in the world, (usually they are public interest lawyers) but they typically don't teach law school.

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Another thing that bugged me in the pilot was when Prof. Keating made a snotty remark to one of the students about how he could just go do corporate law, as if only the best attorneys can do criminal defense work and doing corporate law is for losers.  Not everyone goes to law school wanting to do criminal law.  There are lots of people who go to law school with the intent to do corporate law, tax law, family law, etc. and have no desire what so ever to be a criminal defense attorney.  That does not make them a bad lawyer.  There are people who think that the type of law they practice is the most important law in the world, (usually they are public interest lawyers) but they typically don't teach law school.

 

Not to mention that (unfortunately, in my opinion), most of the top law students at the best law schools tend to choose to practice corporate/M&A law anyway...

Edited by eyetotelescope
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Another thing that bugged me in the pilot was when Prof. Keating made a snotty remark to one of the students about how he could just go do corporate law, as if only the best attorneys can do criminal defense work and doing corporate law is for losers.  Not everyone goes to law school wanting to do criminal law.  There are lots of people who go to law school with the intent to do corporate law, tax law, family law, etc. and have no desire what so ever to be a criminal defense attorney.  That does not make them a bad lawyer.  There are people who think that the type of law they practice is the most important law in the world, (usually they are public interest lawyers) but they typically don't teach law school.

In fact, criminal work is the only type of law I don't want to practice.  Too much pressure, too much competition for paying clients if you're on the private side.  From my understanding a lot of people get a public defender now, because they don't have the ability to pay for a private criminal defense lawyer.  I also think its much harder for a criminal defense lawyer to get out of a case if the client can't pay.

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Another thing that bugged me in the pilot was when Prof. Keating made a snotty remark to one of the students about how he could just go do corporate law, as if only the best attorneys can do criminal defense work and doing corporate law is for losers.  Not everyone goes to law school wanting to do criminal law.  There are lots of people who go to law school with the intent to do corporate law, tax law, family law, etc. and have no desire what so ever to be a criminal defense attorney.  That does not make them a bad lawyer.  There are people who think that the type of law they practice is the most important law in the world, (usually they are public interest lawyers) but they typically don't teach law school.

In fairness, I think there probably is an element of real-world law school profs (and real-life lawyers) often thinking their area is the best area of the law there is, or looking down on those who practice certain other kinds of law.

 

And I would say that there's a big overlap between those with a criminal defense background and the public interest lawyers you talked about. 

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I don't know how it works in the States, but in Canada, Annalise, as the supervising lawyer, would be ultimately responsible for whatever the law students are doing while in her employment, since they're not lawyers yet, so unless the rule is vastly different in the States, I'm not sure how this would give her plausible deniability.

 

The thing is, the law students aren't in her employment, if we're to believe the show. She is teaching. The law students are doing whatever they are doing and providing her with theories, facts, and so forth not as interns at her firm but students in her class. They are in an academic competition, and whoever does the best will then get to be employed by her.

 

Seems like a small distinction, but at least in the world of "Murder" law, one that she can be reasonably expected to get away with.

 

In real-world US law, there has been a general prohibition from full-time first-year students (or 1Ls) even looking for summer employment or getting counseling through career placement until Nov. 1 (which apparently was recently changed to Oct. 15), and I think different schools probably have different rules about how much/whether full-time 1Ls can work.  The idea being that law school is so disorienting and busy that they don't want students to lose focus. So it seems extra-doubtful that Analise could kick off a competition for placement with her firm on the first day of school.

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The thing is, the law students aren't in her employment, if we're to believe the show. She is teaching. The law students are doing whatever they are doing and providing her with theories, facts, and so forth not as interns at her firm but students in her class. They are in an academic competition, and whoever does the best will then get to be employed by her.

 

Seems like a small distinction, but at least in the world of "Murder" law, one that she can be reasonably expected to get away with.

 

In real-world US law, there has been a general prohibition from full-time first-year students (or 1Ls) even looking for summer employment or getting counseling through career placement until Nov. 1 (which apparently was recently changed to Oct. 15), and I think different schools probably have different rules about how much/whether full-time 1Ls can work.  The idea being that law school is so disorienting and busy that they don't want students to lose focus. So it seems extra-doubtful that Analise could kick off a competition for placement with her firm on the first day of school.

 

Full time law students can't work more than 20 hours a week.  I'm not sure there is an ABA prohibition against seeking career counseling, or looking for a summer job, but I would imagine most law schools would find it a waste of time.  At least until your first set of grades are out.  While she is only seeking legal theories, I think if she later got sued for malpractice, and it came out that she got part of her strategy from law students in their second week of school, she could be in trouble.  The part where she is seeking legal theories might be covered as a simple learning exercise, but if she is, in effect having them do her casework (thinking through strategy) it might be termed work nonetheless.

 

It's like when you have a practicum in law school, which is generally where you work on a legal project as a law student.  You are doing legal work, but under a supervising attorney, and that attorney is responsible for your work.

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I think different schools probably have different rules about how much/whether full-time 1Ls can work.

20 hours is technically the maximum number of hours a full-time law student is allowed to work according to the ABA.  The ABA recommends that 1L's don't work at all, but that usually never happens.  There is some wiggle room for this requirement if a student is getting a lot of credit for an internship, etc.  However, there are lots of instances of this rule being broken.  The public defender's office in my county is notorious for requiring law students to work for 30-35 hours a week.  Some of the lower profile law schools turn a blind eye to this practice.  According to some of my classmates, the public defender's office is one of the most difficult places to get a job after law school.  They only hire people who spent their entire law school interning at the PD's office, and even if you did that, you still are not guaranteed a job.  

 

I made the comment about public interest lawyer because during orientation, my law school had an alumni panel of different types of careers, and it was hijacked by a public interest attorney who thought public interest law was the most important thing in the world and looked down on people who didn't want to go into that area of law. 

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I made the comment about public interest lawyer because during orientation, my law school had an alumni panel of different types of careers, and it was hijacked by a public interest attorney who thought public interest law was the most important thing in the world and looked down on people who didn't want to go into that area of law. 

Of course, because who doesn't want to spend over $100,000 on law school so they can make as much as the senior line cook at McDonalds?  I'm just kidding, I'm just kidding.

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It's not the ABA but the National Association for Legal Placement that recommends that 1Ls don't spend time on career placement services at first. See V. D. 1

 

http://www.nalp.org/fulltextofnalpprinciplesandstandards

 

I don't believe the National Association for Legal Placement is a governing body for law schools or gives any accreditation that would make a really big difference, so I'm not really sure they would have much say in what law schools do or don't do.  And a recommendation isn't really the same as a rule.  However, it would make sense for most schools to hold off on career services until you at least have one set of grades because most placements would want to know that they are getting someone that they feel has a certain level of academic acumen, which would at least evidence the ability to learn, and give the placement an idea that you know something.  IIRC a lot of students after the first year would do an internship/externship for the summer, which would require placement within the first year.

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It's not mandatory, but my understanding is that most law schools follow the guideline of not allowing 1Ls to get assistance from career placement for the first half of first semester. When I went, my school wouldn't allow us to do anything with career placement until November. 

 

After November, things are fair game. But what I'd picked up from the pilot was that it took place during the first week or so of school, so that would be in August at many law schools, and probably no later than early September. 

 

On another front, it occurs to me about why most law schools don't have active criminal law practitioners be full-time faculty teaching classes like intro to crim law. Whenever the prof would be on trial, she'd have to basically cancel classes for at least the week of the trial. I mean, even if she is talented and organized enough to handle the demands of full-time academia and trial, Annalise can't be in two places at once. A high-profile murder trial (which seems to be all she takes) would take at least a week of 9-5  to handle. What is supposed to be happening with the other 95 students who aren't working on her cases in a hands-on way?

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It's not mandatory, but my understanding is that most law schools follow the guideline of not allowing 1Ls to get assistance from career placement for the first half of first semester. When I went, my school wouldn't allow us to do anything with career placement until November. 

 

After November, things are fair game. But what I'd picked up from the pilot was that it took place during the first week or so of school, so that would be in August at many law schools, and probably no later than early September. 

 

On another front, it occurs to me about why most law schools don't have active criminal law practitioners be full-time faculty teaching classes like intro to crim law. Whenever the prof would be on trial, she'd have to basically cancel classes for at least the week of the trial. I mean, even if she is talented and organized enough to handle the demands of full-time academia and trial, Annalise can't be in two places at once. A high-profile murder trial (which seems to be all she takes) would take at least a week of 9-5  to handle. What is supposed to be happening with the other 95 students who aren't working on her cases in a hands-on way?

I don't know if that would have anything to do with the organization or if it is more common sense that drives the decision.  I would think it would be common sense more than anything.  Depending on when a school starts classes, the earliest you would have a set of grades would probably be November. I don't think anyone would want to hire you with absolutely no grades to your name, not even for an externship/internship.  Most placements also want a writing sample, which would be hard to develop until November (which is when a first year legal writing class would give you at least a bare bones writing sample).  Additionally, if you're looking for a summer placement, the firms/companies/government agencies/judges that would want to hire students won't even know their own need or want to deal with applications until later in the year, closer to when grades come out.  So, if those applications are due in December/January then November would be the earliest time to start working on them.  Not to mention, as you said before, its a lot for a 1L to try to focus on in their first year.

 

I have had other professors who are practitioners and its never really been a problem.  Professors cancel classes for other commitments (speaking arrangements, etc) so I don't necessarily think the school has a huge problem with cancelling class every once in a while.  They can sometimes have another professor come in and teach the material for the day (most classes have more than one criminal law section) or if they will only be missing a class they can start up from where they left off and resolve teach straight through to catch up on the material.  But I don't think it could be something a school would be okay with a professor doing a lot (I think a week of classes, which would equal 2 classes would be the upper limit for a semester), but most of my professors who were in practice were partners, so they had a little more flexibility. They should also know if they are going to be in trial or if there is a chance to be in trial at least a few months before the start of the semester and either plan accordingly or let the school have someone else teach the class.  From what I remember from working in the courthouse was that trial scheduling (if a case even got that far) happened a long time in advance of the trial.

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The thing is, she has already had two trials this one semester. If each of these trials takes a week, she has either had to cancel two weeks of classes (or I guess she could have made class going to watch her at trial, but that doesn't seem to be the case.)

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My first year, my criminal law professor cancelled the entire last week of classes, but he also scheduled make up classes to account for the missed class time.  My Civil Procedure professor also cancelled a couple of classes due to a speaking engagement, but knew well in advance, and on the first day of class he gave us a revised schedule with make-up dates.  Almost any time there was a make up class, the professor was required to video-tape it in case there were people who couldn't make the class.  For first year classes, I don't think a law school would have much patience for a professor cancelling classes without scheduling make-up dates.  The stuff you learn your first year are the subjects that are the most heavily tested on the bar exam, and bar pass rates are a huge factor in law school rankings.

 

I do know of one instance when an Evidence professor couldn't make his class and had another Evidence professor teach the class one day, but instances of that don't happen often.  In that particular instance, it made all of the students who had the missing Evidence professor resentful of all the students who had the professor who subbed for him because the substitute was a better professor. 

 

Also, at my school, there was one first year section that was taught primarily at night.  You could request that option.  

Edited by Tigershark
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Also, at my school, there was one first year section that was taught primarily at night.  You could request that option.  

 

Same here, although the evening 1L classes were strictly for part time students. 

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Episode two flags for me: "in my expert opinion these two women could not have been murdered by the same person!" - experts cannot testify to the ultimate issue. Pretty sure that answer would have garnered an objection.

Also the non-existence of Brady requirements or apparently discovery requirements at all is still funny. The only way to get exculpatory evidence is to trick it out of the police by pretending to be with the prosecution! And by the by, revealing material alterations in a police report is not so much "embarrassing police on the stand" as it is "revealing police malfeasance" - if i was prosecuting this case, i would kind of expect to lose on those grounds alone, on appeal if not at trial. It sort of undermines the entire police conviction. I'd consider that move by the police to be spending a dollar to save a nickel as far as their reputation/effectiveness goes

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Another thing that bugged me in the pilot was when Prof. Keating made a snotty remark to one of the students about how he could just go do corporate law, as if only the best attorneys can do criminal defense work and doing corporate law is for losers.

 

 

What was most hilarious was that she claimed Wes could practice corporate law in a firm or do her kind of law and "like himself" -- right after she basically won at trial using some fairly dubious and underhanded tricks!  Even though Laurel, not Wes, knows the defendant was likely guilty, Wes does know that Annalise was sleeping with the cop - or using an already existing affair with the cop and ruining his career on the stand -  to win a case.  That's not exactly behavior to be proud of or want to emulate, even if it's not strictly in violation of the rules of ethics (I should know the answer to this, I know, but I've never had to research this sordid aspect of the ethical rules, lol).  

 

I do have to say more power to those who can handle criminal defense.  That's a huge responsibility. 

 

But, yeah, most law schools would not look kindly on any professor denigrating priviate civil practice.  Law schools like their gifts from wealthy alumni - and most of those wealthy alumni became wealthy practicing transactional law or civil litigation for large companies!

Edited by SlovakPrincess
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Still, I think that sort of arrogance is common among successful defense attorneys.

Oh man I find arrogance is just common in general when it comes to a lot of attorneys. Starting in law school this became comically apparent. When my civ pro professor dramatically through our exams on the floor and went on a spiel about how awful they were, one student raised his hand and asked, "are even the good ones bad?" As if he was so sure he had one of the top grades. In practice I continue to be shocked by people who are just unaware that they might just be wrong on some point of law.

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Oh man I find arrogance is just common in general when it comes to a lot of attorneys. Starting in law school this became comically apparent. When my civ pro professor dramatically through our exams on the floor and went on a spiel about how awful they were, one student raised his hand and asked, "are even the good ones bad?" As if he was so sure he had one of the top grades. In practice I continue to be shocked by people who are just unaware that they might just be wrong on some point of law.

 

That entire exchange sounds hilarious.  Just the throwing of the exams on the ground sounds too good to be true.  

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That entire exchange sounds hilarious.  Just the throwing of the exams on the ground sounds too good to be true.  

 

At the time it was petrifying.  Now, I look back and it is pretty funny.  After she threw them on the ground she went on to tell us every single one of us needed to make an appointment to meet with her.  I of course thought I was going to fail out of school, then at the meeting she just basically said, "oh I'm not worried about you. You're doing fine."  I'm guessing she threw exams every year as a tactic to fire us up again.  The ones she tossed were second semester midterms.  We pretty much realized that 10% of our final grade was not really worth studying for.  I think that she did this routine to make sure we stayed on track for the final.  However, since the first day of class where she wrote our names on an index card and then shuffled them each time she called on someone I pretty much lived in a perpetual state of fear.  This helped my grade tremendously.  It was quite the dramatic class, but I guess a show called How to Get Away With Bending the FRCP in Your Favor is not quite as sexy. 

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At the time it was petrifying.  Now, I look back and it is pretty funny.  After she threw them on the ground she went on to tell us every single one of us needed to make an appointment to meet with her.  I of course thought I was going to fail out of school, then at the meeting she just basically said, "oh I'm not worried about you. You're doing fine."  I'm guessing she threw exams every year as a tactic to fire us up again.  The ones she tossed were second semester midterms.  We pretty much realized that 10% of our final grade was not really worth studying for.  I think that she did this routine to make sure we stayed on track for the final.  However, since the first day of class where she wrote our names on an index card and then shuffled them each time she called on someone I pretty much lived in a perpetual state of fear.  This helped my grade tremendously.  It was quite the dramatic class, but I guess a show called How to Get Away With Bending the FRCP in Your Favor is not quite as sexy. 

 

I am always intrigued by professor dramatics.  It would be even more hilarious if she threw exams every year.  The most amusing thing is that the people like you, who were scared were probably the people she didn't have to worry about, but the people that couldn't give two shits probably didn't care that she threw the exam on the ground.

 

The random name call via the shuffle cards is scary.  My first year contract professor tried to do that, but 99% of the time he forgot the flashcards.  And ultimately, he had an idea of who he wanted to call on, so if the card always magically came up with the same guy, sitting in the back, playing solitare.  But its one of my nightmares to be caught having not done the reading, so I can see how it would help your grade.  I think throwing midterms on the ground would fit into this show quite well actually :)

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I think lawyers and law students have to disregard every single thing they know about law school and the law to enjoy this show, because it's so off the mark it's entirely comical. But I do still enjoy it! I just think it would have worked a lot better to have the set up be a small group of 3L's taking a clinic and Annalise being the start adjunct who supervises it. There could still be the competitive edge to it, and it would make soo much more sense for 3L's to have all this extra time on their hands. 

 

Last night's happy hour "Law Review" was a little too much. Not just the set-up that Law Review would ever have to really recruit people (and at my law school, happy hour every Thursday was called Bar Review but maybe that's not completely common) but the idea that any of these kids who have completely abandoned all of their 1L classes except Crim Law, would ever make the GPA cut-off. Maybe they'll all be write-ons!

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So for the non-attorney/non-law students who might be hanging out in this thread, you may have been confused with the talk of outlines.

 

The idea behind them is that people summarize the important cases in a class so that you can more easily commit them to memory. Since a lot of law school class exams are about applying sets of hypothetical facts to established rules from real cases, using reasoning similar to that in actual cases, it's important to know what the rules/reasoning of those cases are.

 

Outlines are passed down from student to student not unlike what was in the show, at least in my experience. Even though many of my profs said that the benefit of outlines is actually working through the cases and doing the summaries yourself, it's easy to want to take the shortcut.

 

That said, in 2014, people are probably not going to bother carrying around hard copies of their outlines, generally. They'll just have them on their computers. 

 

In fact, it would be fairly rare that anyone in law school wouldn't have a computer on class to take notes (or more likely, Facebook or otherwise surf the net). In the classroom scene there are definitely a lot of computers, but some people, like Wes don't have them.

 

I do appreciate the show talking about it being unusual to take depositions in criminal cases. But in a deposition, you can't just set up a video camera and go to town. You're going to generally have a court reporter and a professional videographer.

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Well said Chicago Redshirt.  Although, I agree with your professor, the process of outlining is what helps me to study.  Furthermore, I wouldn't trust a lot of law school outlines, because there are so few students I trust to tell the truth about the grade they got in the class .  I don't really want an outline from that guy who got the C- and thats just the guy I would suspect of telling me he "killed it" (although there are some people you know are the real deal, and thats an outline I would trust).  But I've seen a lot of people with outline books, and they seem to like them, although I'm an E&E girl myself.

 

I've seen people take notes longhand, and I have no idea how they do it.  And honestly, sometimes its almost like the constant thinking will be too much, and I just have to take a quick mental break to look at shoes online for a minute or two.

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