Rohit's Realm - Law School

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September 30, 2007

Why More Douchebaggery is Better (for Law Students)

The first week of law school has come and gone, and with it, the requisite amount of reading, (case) briefing, and of course, (binge) drinking. Having previously heard the absolute worst about law students in general, and those at Chicago Law in particular, I must say that I have been rather pleasantly surprised by the low levels of douchebaggery that most of my fellow classmates have hitherto demonstrated.

Ostensibly this is a good thing: in a world full of douchebags, and in a profession teeming with them, there is hardly a need for elite law schools to respond to this most severe of societal problems by producing even more pretentious, elitist, heartless, soulless, self-absorbed, self-entitled, self-loathing (and sometimes, self-destructive) assholes, potentially sporting the 10° hat tilt and one (or more!) popped collars. And yet, therein lies the problem: with the exception of the 10° hat tilt and popped collar(s), I have just described myself. Which brings me to my point: perhaps douchebaggery is not a product of a law school education, but a necessary (yet clearly not sufficient) quality for admission. And in that scenario, I would argue that more exposure to douchebaggery is actually better for augmenting one's career prospects. The remainder of this article will lay out why this might indeed be the case. [...]

November 14, 2007

Of Gunners and Douchebags

A couple months ago, I wrote a lengthy article that asserted, among other things, that (counterintuitively) more douchebags in one's law school class would likely augment one's career prospects. Though no one has yet challenged my primary assertion (shocking, right?), a couple anonymous law students did write in to argue that in law school, the proper name for individuals I termed douchebags is gunners, and that by adopting my own terminology, I was only confusing the issue.

Some—likely most—people might be inclined to dismiss this criticism as the purely semantic complaints of a couple particularly persnickety malcontents that seek to alleviate their manifest sexual frustrations through pedantic attacks; but, I am inclined to give my comrades the benefit of the doubt: first, precision in language is not to be discounted, especially given my future profession; and second, if we were to become upset at every sexually frustrated persnickety malcontent waving a wand of pedantism, we would likely have to eliminate the legal profession as a whole. In any case, there is no need in this instance to dwell on tangentials, for their assertion can be challenged on the merits; specifically, I would argue that rather than douchebag and gunner being synonymous, the former is, in fact, a specialized subset of the latter, with the primary distinguishing criterion being self-awareness. In other words, a douchebag is simply a gunner who knows he is one. [...]

April 26, 2008

Much Ado About Chicago Law's Classroom Internet Ban: A Faux-Empirical Study

It has been a month since Spring Quarter classes commenced at The Law School, and more importantly, since the policies outlined in the now infamous e-mail read 'round the world went into effect. Of course, here I refer to the e-mail from the Dean which informed us, much to our chagrin, that the beloved Internet which had once been provided in its full edu-network glory—for educational purposes only, of course—would no longer be available to us in the classroom.

Worse still, this was not a result of the so-called democratic process, where poor and starving law students, induced by promises of free food from sub-par establishments in the greater Hyde Park area arrive to do whatever it is they need to do to get said food, but instead, an onerous mandate from the administration. People had complained, they said. Learning would be enhanced, they told us. In the end, our experience will be better without classroom Internet, they assured us. Somewhere, a University of Chicago Nobel Laureate rolled over in his grave. Paternalism, the bane of libertarians, conservatives, and Federalist Society members near and far, had supposedly arrived at the once stalwart home of the free market economy. Oh, the irony.

May 31, 2008

In Pursuit of Happiness: Gunner Credits in Law School Classrooms

With the last day of classes for my (much-dreaded) 1L year having come and gone, I thought it appropriate to return to a topic I first addressed around the time I started law school, namely the tendency of certain self-entitled, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing law students to waste valuable classroom time waxing philosophic on tangentials of little or no consequence while enraged classmates seethe silently, vainly searching for dull razors with which to slit their own wrists. Well, maybe that last part about the razors is just me (and perhaps, it is not limited to the classroom), but let us not dwell on such trifles. The point is that, often, these so-called questions—most of which are actually statements—serve little pedagogical purpose and as such, are a serious source of inefficiency. What is to be done about this awfulness that permeates law school classrooms near and far?

Well, if there is anything I have learned in my time at The University of Chicago, it is that, on balance, markets are good, regulations are bad, and in some circumstances, it might be acceptable to sell babies. Thus, an administrative mandate that, for example, banned all raising of hands, would not be useful since it would prevent both value-added and deadweight comments from occurring. Luckily, we need not turn to the evils of God-less socialism just yet; there is a market-based solution to be had: gunner credits.

October 23, 2008

Moral Absolutism

In law school, moral relativism is often the name of the game. Considering and analyzing all sides of an issue is part and parcel of what lawyers do (insofar as they do anything at all), and in general, I see virtue in some of those teachings. I think we can all agree, however, that this theory does not always hold water. I present Exhibit A:

November 04, 2008

On a Serious Note

For those who have grown weary of my incessant inanity (blah, blah, I hate myself, blah), there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Well, actually, not really, so long as you continue to subscribe to this blog, but for something more substantive (read: boring), check out my first contribution to The University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog. I have been assigned to cover the Crime and Punishment Workshop, so you can expect biweekly posts on the Faculty Blog on this subject in addition to the usual pursuit of nothingness for which the Realm is well known.

May 20, 2010

Ruminations About Law and School (Part 1)

US Constitution

It is rather fitting, I think, that the same day that marked the passage of my last law school class was also the one on which I discovered, much to my chagrin, my first gray hair. The last three years, as I have observed repeatedly before, have not been kind, either on my health or my mental disposition. And as the reality begins to set in—I am actually done with law school?—the inevitable question that will follow in the weeks to come is already looming: Was it worth?

But the end of classes is not quite the end of law school. With three finals left to complete, the chances of soul-crushing failure remain as high as ever (indeed, over a lifetime, those chances are necessarily 100 percent), and as such, I will defer the nostalgia and existential angst to another day. The end of classes, however, does provide an opportune moment to reflect on the subject of my endeavors over the past three years, and more importantly, the infuriating aspects thereof. In that vein, in the next two posts, I will discuss aspects of both constitutional and statutory law that simply don't make sense and should be fixed—immediately. (There goes my Senate confirmability—oh wait, too late.)

May 26, 2010

Ruminations About Law and School (Part 2)

IRS Logo

Last week, I wrote over 1200 words (I swear I can't piss without dropping a thousand words of gibberish) on a decidedly banal topic—constitutional law. More specifically, I described a few absurdities that have long plagued the Constitution and could easily be fixed. Two finals deep, and with my last final of law school looming, I thought it would be appropriate tonight to author the companion piece to last week's rumination: shit that's wrong with statutory law that could easily be fixed. (I promise, dear readers, that this will be my last foray into substantive legal topics for a long time. Existential angst and despair will return in short order.)

July 07, 2010

Briefly Noted on a Midsummer's Evening

In a recent turn of events that probably shocked many of you, and certainly surprised yours truly, my posting frequency in May actually rose to an average of one per week, the same rate I had long averaged in my restive pre–law school days, before plummeting again dismally in June. But whereas the deafening silence on this site over the past three years has been attributable mostly to what I last year deemed a loss of inspiration, the silence that persists vexatiously even today has a little to do with having nothing (crazy) to say and much to do with having no time in which to say it. (Nothing like studying for a licensing exam to make you appreciate meaninglessness, I suppose.)

Thus, as much for my own sanity as anything else, I thought I might briefly note some recent occurrences that, were I not consumed by a pernicious combination of unbridled anxiety and staggering overconfidence with regards to the bar exam, I would likely expound on more satisfactorily:

  • As alluded to earlier, I graduated from law school, which is really to say that despite my best efforts at self-sabotage, I nonetheless managed to complete the requirements necessary to get a degree. And I didn't even trip while crossing the stage. In a life otherwise rife with failure, it's these small things that truly make the difference—or not.
  • With the end of law school came an event that I have long looked forward to: I may have made my last trip down to (much loathed) Hyde Park last week for the foreseeable future. (God, I hope I'm not speaking too soon.)
  • Speaking of lasts, the countdown on my time in Chicago has begun: I am scheduled to leave in less than a month.
  • But before that can happen, I need to make it through the next weeks—a task easier said than done.

With that, dear readers, I bid you adieu, at least for the next month, while I concentrate on learning all the law I was supposed to have learned in law school. (Fairness? Justice? What the hell?) If all goes well, I will see y'all on the flip side; if it doesn't, well, it probably wouldn't matter anyway.

August 26, 2010

Redemption (Part Two)

Ghost Wars

Redemption, it seems, does not come easy. About five months ago—March 22, to be exact—in an acknowledgment of how far I had fallen during my time in law school, I set forth a rather unambitious goal for myself: read two books—for fun—by the end of [] spring break. Given the steady rate of book consumption during my restive pre–law school days, this should have been no big deal.

But it was. After making quick progress with the first, A Tale of Two Cities, I bogged down. Maybe it was the interminable paper I was writing that week, or maybe I picked a book that was too long (usually not a problem for yours truly), or maybe the fact that it was nonfiction made it move slowly. For whatever reason, though, I didn't finish a second book that break. I didn't even get close. And I wouldn't for the next five months. With the whirlwind race to graduation during spring, and then the awful summer of study, reading for fun was hardly a priority. But though the indelible stench of unmitigated failure may consume me, the aura of incompleteness does not. In this post, I review Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll. Better late than never.

February 06, 2011

Rohit Reviews: The Devil in the White City (and Others)

The Devil in the White City

By now, the lament over what I deemed law school casualties has grown so loud on this site as to almost overwhelm what are and remain its principal messages: existential despair and all-consumed misanthropy. But ever committed to my pursuit of redemption, I shall again today eschew the tried and true topics of loneliness, contempt, and despair, and instead turn my attention to books—in this case, books about Chicago.

As with The Nine (which I reviewed here), The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson was a book I picked up in the fall of 2007, and it too became a casualty of my 1L year, remaining painfully half-read for three years thereafter. What had piqued my interest then was that it was a story about where I had just moved, but after my realization that I hated Hyde Park, completing the book became difficult. During my 3L year, however, I took a fantastic Greenberg Seminar on crime in the city of Chicago. In the course of that class, we read five books on famous Chicago crimes and criminality, and then discussed them in a small group over wine and beer. That experience prompted me to finally complete Larson's book, and today I review it, along with brief notes about the other five read in the seminar.

October 24, 2011

Introducing LawTeX

Well, dear readers, it has been a long while—almost two months to be precise—and if it were not to ring utterly hollow, I might even be willing to apologize for my absence. But, as with many things in this (necessarily futile) life of mine, I am over apologies. Having last left you with a discussion of video games, moreover, I see no reason why I shouldn't mark my return with a discussion of something far more esoteric: LaTeX, or more specifically, the software I developed in law school to facilitate the use of LaTeX in a world dominated by (loathsome) WYSIWIG products. (That, by the way, would be the cue for most—if not all—of you to stop reading if you hadn't already.)