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Pre-Law at the Movies: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

Whether your university has a pre-law program or not, you’ve likely wondered what actually goes down at law school — especially if you’re reading this blog. Perhaps you’ve even watched a work of completely ridiculous fiction movie or two about law school. If that’s the case, your pre-law school education has gotten off to a less than auspicious start.

Take The Paper Chase, for example. If you’ve had the distinct misfortune of viewing this particular work of cinematic schlock, then you’re no doubt well acquainted with Professor Kingsfield. A tyrant of the lecture hall, the old prof is enough to make any pre-law student quiver in their (now necessary) Depends.

Then there’s Professor Cromwell in the pre-law favorite Legally Blonde. You may better know the actress as Charlie’s mother on Two and a Half Men. She casts a similarly daunting shadow as a law professor.

If your pre-law minds haven’t deduced it yet, I’m not particularly fond of the fashion in which American cinema depicts the law school experience. Frankly, it gives pre-law students a skewed and entirely inaccurate perspective of the law school experience.

First, your professors are not wholeheartedly invested in your utter failure. They don’t want to see you reduced to a pile of self-loathing goo. Will they ask you difficult questions? Sure. Will they answer a question with a question (hail Socrates!)? Absolutely. Are these techniques meant to aid your pre-law mind? Certainly. Law professors may be annoying, but they are not relentless a-holes. They want you to learn the law and they want you to be able to use it a means of effective argumentation.

Law students are often inaccurately depicted, as well. They are not the conniving, hateful bunch they are made out to be. We can’t all be Selma Blair, after all. Most law students realize that they’re all in the same over-worked, over-worried state and are mostly eager to aid and commiserate with their colleagues. They’ll share outlines. They’ll buy each other coffee. They’ll sneak snacks into the law library. They won’t cut pages out of each other’s casebooks. They won’t “accidentally” pour water on your laptop. They won’t purposely fart in your general direction during a final — though it may happen accidentally. In fact, law students are a pretty swell (if often eccentric) bunch.

So, as the French would say, “Ne t’inquiéte pas mon ami.” You needn’t worry your little pre-law head. Just gaze upon this hilarity and all will be right with the world. Until next time, sweet pre-law dreams.