Thursday, November 10, 2011


My first year of law school nearly did me in. I came so near to calling it quits that if it hadn't been for my hefty financial investment, I couldn't have forced myself to stick it out through my second semester. But I learned an important lesson. I learned that I couldn't do it all on my own and that I was going to have to learn how to ask for help. And while there was little anyone could do to help me get through the mountains of reading assignments or perform better on my finals, the moral support of family and friends was incredibly fortifying.

I talked to one such friend (and mentor) before I went back to Vermont to start my second year. I told her how hard it was and how I wasn't any good at it. And she said something that's stuck with me ever since. She told me that people have done studies on the lasting psychological effects of law school.* That's right, there are lasting psychological effects. And after that, I started recognizing that there are a lot of aspects of the legal education that are unproductive and amount to little more than hazing. And though I believe that my particular law school was probably better than some, they still carried on their fair share of the tradition.

Despite my efforts to overcome, I carry around a lot of baggage from law school. Included in that baggage is an obsession with citing sources. This is something that was drilled into my head time and time again and has become deeply ingrained in my brain. In the legal world, citations are king. The more citations the stronger your argument, it doesn't matter how brilliant you are, or how revolutionary your argument is, it'll be stronger if you can show that someone else said it first. It's not uncommon to have multiple citations for a single sentence, and a dozen citations in paragraph. It can be rather awkward to read, but it is those sections that are riddled with citations that I'll skip ahead too.

I have found this obsession migrating into everything I see and hear. In everything from craft ideas to talks in church to arguments about politics, I want sources. If you're going to use facts or anecdotes to support your argument, I'm going to want sources. Opinions and new ideas are fine, but if you've come to a novel conclusion, I'll probably dismiss it if you don't back it up with your own analysis (tell me how you got there) or cite your source. And I think that's what irks me about Pinterest**, which I'm the first to admit is engrossing and inspirational. But it leaves me empty, because even though I can search down a source for many of the images I like there, detached from their source the images loose some of their meaning. I love beautiful things, inspiring quotes and new ideas but I need to have a framework to put them into and I need to know where they came from. 

*Which I ironically I have no source for. And it's really bugging me that I have nothing to link to here.
** See yesterday's rant. 

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