Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Being Stretched

I wrote before that law school was about four times as much work as undergrad...

Granted, that doesn't mean it was so bad. After all, I actually enjoyed myself for the majority of the semester. After a couple weeks of adjusting, I really felt like I hit my stride. There was one particularly frustrating professor who seemed to take pride in making his easy class hard only in ways that didn't stretch anyone's mind or facilitate learning; that was occasionally discouraging.
But the rest of the experience was phenomenal. Absolutely amazing. I got what I wanted.

It wasn't harder than a new, hard job, in terms of hours and the endless pile. In fact, in sales, you are absolutely never done, so in some ways it was even easier.

But in other ways, it was more difficult. It was a marathon of the mind. It wasn't all marathon or all mind, but it was a pretty challenging mix of both. Philosophy bends the mind more than law, at least on a per capita (uh? per page) basis. But the problem is that if good philosophy is 90% mind-bending, law is still 60% mind bending, and then you have to do forty times as much of it. In law school, your logical skills may expand, but your ability to handle volumes of logical problems most certainly expands.

Law is mind bending not because the rigors of logic are particularly difficult (in fact, the standards are a bit looser than in philosophy). Instead, it is mind bending because the standards are looser and the opportunities are endless; law requires creativity. Since it is so experiential, narrative (fact pattern based), the application of general law to specific situations is immensely complex. And, the truth is, there are often two sides to the story. Or six. Or forty. Anyway, that makes for lots to write in finals.

I came to Harvard Law School to be stretched. It happened. I got the peers who pushed me, the professors who wowed me and the curriculum that kept me on my toes at all times. For those who liked to speak as if it was something to be feared, they were dead wrong. If I lacked the maturity to discipline myself, or my standard of normal was the undergraduate experience, it would have been prohibitively difficult. But instead, it was just really challenging. It required a lot of me, a LOT, more than I cared to give at times.

It wasn't that hard. I slept eight hours a night, ate nutritiously, worked out, and (with the exception of the last three weeks) spent a decent amount of time my beautiful wife.

But it was hard enough. The itch is scratched. I'm hoping someone gets the memo and next semester is easier.


watluk said...

If net effort expended is the factor of labor (Law = 40xPhilosophy), % Mind bent (60 and 40, respectively), and situational elasticity (either 2, 6, or 40 in the case of law and 1 for philosophy), then your comments indicate that law is either 120, 360, or 2,400 times as difficult as philosophy.

The apparent hyperbole and lack of precision is disappointing.

A said...

Well done, buddy! Have you found anything comparable to Coffee Cottage near your campus? Glad to know you can enjoy some down time with family now. You've earned it!