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Three Words of Advice for New Law Students: Question, Answer, Love

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 29, 2018 11:59 AM

In the story Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert turns to a palm reader in Bali for guidance in her life.

It's really about self-discovery, and the palm reader can only tell her so much. And that's the beauty of the story.

Law school is like that -- a path to career discovery. With a bow to palm readers everywhere, here are three words of advice for law students:

Question

Law school is famous for employing the Socratic method, which involves teachers asking students to question their assumptions about the law. Many law professors, however, just demand students recite cases and state rules of law.

"The value of a Socratic professor -- or a professor who's just an asshole -- is that it helps teach you to stand up for your client," says law professor Ilya Somin.

Ultimately, that's what Socrates did -- he questioned authority. Of course, he paid with his life but that is another story.

Answer

To ask is human, to answer divine. Or something like that.

In any case, you will not succeed in law school or law practice if you don't have some answers. So it's alright to use canned briefs -- no matter what the profs tell you -- to learn the rules of law.

You'll need to develop the ability to summarize cases on your own at some point. But by the time you're ready for the bar exam, it's all about knowing the rules of law and applying them.

Love

The Beatles would tell you that love is all you need, and they'd be psychedelically right. If you don't love the law -- or at least something about it -- what's the point?

Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, says you don't have to love your job. You just have to get paid.

There's some truth to that, too, because life is more than law school or being a lawyer. But then again, Gilbert consults palm readers in Bali.

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