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The People You Meet In Law School

The law school equivalent of the water cooler.

Law school is a lot like high-school. There are lockers, people carry backpacks, and everyone knows about everyone else’s business. We all know that high-school has certain defined social groups (see “The Breakfast Club”). This post is going to discuss the types of people that you meet at law school, both good and bad.

Now, we all know the classic variety of law students — the “gunners.” These are the students who stay late after class to talk to the professor, raise their hand for every volunteer question (and, evil of all evils, ask questions in the last two minutes), and brag about spending every waking moment in the library studying. Some of the gunners are relatively innocuous and might just have a general enthusiasm for learning (weirdos, right?). Others, however, are the adult version of teacher’s pets—the Martin Prince of law school.

A second, lesser known, group in law school are the “secret gunners.” These students try to maintain an aura of nonchalance, even in the throes of studying for finals. They will loudly announce that they got a full eight hours of sleep, even when they are running on Red Bull fumes. These students are afraid of falling into the gunner category, and do everything they can to make you feel like you’re working more, and care more, than they do.

Finally, there are the students who feel like they’ve made it just by getting into law school. Now, I assume this particular breed is probably confined more or less to the upper echelons of law schools (those ranked in the top 14). These students feel that they already have their golden ticket to employment simply based on gaining admission to a prestigious school. They’re the ones you see at every bar review (i.e. weekly drinking night) and the ones you don’t see until your class’s final examination.

Students aren’t the only ones who fall into certain distinct categories—faculty members also tend to come in one of two flavors. First, there are those professors who try to “hide the ball.” They think their job is to make you question everything and begin to “think like a lawyer”—a phrase you’ll hear more often than you can imagine. These professors rarely discuss the “black letter law” and focus more on the fuzzy, doctrinal grey areas. Good luck relying on a commercial outline or supplement if you want to understand them.

If there are “actor’s directors,” there are also “student’s professors.” These professors provide a strong contrast to the ones discussed above. They just give you the law, as it is, which is usually confusing enough. They don’t focus as much on theory, or pontificate on other lofty thoughts that make most students’ eyes roll. Now, I have a relatively small sample size, but I’d say that these types of professors tend to be ones who aren’t teaching a class in their main area of expertise (e.g. they’re teaching property law, but their true focus—the one they publish on—is criminal law).

Law school has fewer jocks and more nerds, but you’ll definitely find a pretty clear set of social groups wherever you go (there are even theater kids—they put on the “law revue”). If you’re planning on attending, just remember: no one likes a gunner.