[Disclaimer: all names referred to are a coincidence. I have drawn inspiration from real life events and people (i.e. every conversation here has happened), but I have also amalgamated these events and people so that this is not an accurate portrayal of anyone in law school. All names have been changed.]
In the coming reading weeks, there will be a Year 1 who says “Argh, f*** Contract”, with all the desperate vehemence of someone who has either not finished studying, or someone who has studied too much.
Depending on the kind of friends (s)he has, one of them might respond: “A f*** contract is a contract between you and a prostitute”.
In my year, that was Richard.
Richard is the kind of guy that’s parents tell their children not to grow up into. He’s probably one of the reasons why typing “treitel contract” into the library search engine turns up “did you mean: “the sex contract”?”. He’s read the little black book on pornography on the third floor of the library from cover to cover. He reads cases like Gillett v Holt and has taken away the implied homosexuality between the people concerned rather than the holding of the case.
In short, some people have a life. Richard says his libido passes for his. No one has the heart to tell him that that reading incessantly about sex is not exactly what people think of as having a libido.
To the people who remain surprised by this: welcome to law school. One of the first things seniors tell Year 1s, depending on how evil said seniors are, is that their life as they know it is over.
That is possibly hyperbole.
There are several official reasons why: law school is meant to train your mind, to teach you to see things differently. There are readings meant to expand your horizon, LAWR to teach you how to “think (a bit) like a lawyer”.
The truth is that they’ll pile you with readings and work until one day, amidst the floundering for survival, you realize that you have no life outside law school. If you are an optimistic person, you will endeavour (however briefly) to find one of your own. This goes on until you collapse from a lack of sleep and acknowledge your attempts as ultimately futile.
There’s an old maxim about university: grades, social life, sleep — pick two. In law school, if you pick grades, you can forget about the other two.
And you’ll still fail anyway.
At this point, you might ask: if I want to actually get a life in law school, what do I do?
Well, honey, the most obvious answer is that you go on exchange.
But that might not save you. I have a friend who managed to go on exchange, and she told me about how hard it was to study while overseas. I asked her why she wanted to study on exchange.
She couldn’t help herself. She just needed to study. Law school leaves that kind of indelible mark on your soul.
One of the first jokes people tell gullible freshies studying tort is of a long-ago senior who got into a car accident. When she returned to school on crutches, the first thing her schoolmates asked her was not if she was okay, but whether she could sue the driver of the other car.
Some people put this down to law students being intelligent enough to guess that since the person they were asking was visibly not okay, there was no point in asking after the obvious, and had moved on to the next question.
It has not yet been confirmed if these people truly believe the explanation they’re giving.
There may be a time in first year, just after the first tort assignment is due, when some people do believe this sort of thing really happens. (Most don’t.) But the reason why these jokes have such staying power is this: because somehow, there’s that kernel of truth in it that people can recognise (even without a Rule of Recognition).
I once told a group of friends that the best way to ensure a first date was successful was to go on rollercoaster rides. The shared horror would release a hormone that mimicked the effects of love.
The group included Helen, whose boyfriend was also in law school. “No wonder,” she laughed. “Going through law school is a kind of shared trauma.”
People like Helen add to the common myth that lawyers tend to date lawyers. Other reasons include: only other lawyers can understand the late hours and stress of the profession (starting from law school), and, frankly, they spend so much time thinking and talking about law (in Latin, no less!) that they are unable to think or talk about anything else.
(There is also another myth that law students are on such a remote campus that it’s just easier to be incestuous and date within the faculty. This has not been proved.)
Trying to buck the trend are people like Wilfred, who is determined not to date law girls. Knowing him, I tell him that it’s because he’s afraid they would out-lawyer him. He denies this. Nevertheless, he hasn’t had much success. If I were a kind person, I would tell him that the key word is “yet” and that love finds a way. Eventually.
I am not a kind person.
The thing about law school is that you’re entering some sort of rarefied atmosphere; if you’re not careful, you’ll start quoting case names at each other, making puns about studying at “the benches [along the corridor]” and studying “debentures [in company law]”, and wondering why the rest of the world doesn’t get your joke about all power having legal limits.
This generally puts a damper on dating outside the faculty.
Which reminds me of Gavin, who is the kind of person who hopes that “brainy is the new sexy” is really a fashion statement about the shifting tastes of romantic love towards people who can explain when an elephant is a bird.
Take what he said to me the other day: “I need to know more people with cars.”
“Why?” I asked him.
“Most people don’t read the terms and conditions before entering the car park,” he says, “and the way the entry has been built, there’s no way to turn back if you don’t agree to the terms of entering the car park. Imagine if a whole group of students with cars one day queued up outside the car park at BTC and each car read the sign before it went in.”
Gavin continues. “Imagine if one car decided that it didn’t consent to the terms — it won’t be able to get out because there isn’t be enough space.”
“But there’s a grace period, isn’t there?” I tell him. “The driver wouldn’t lose anything by going in, because it’s not a contract yet. There’s been no consideration yet.”
“Someone obviously hasn’t read the sign,” Gavin says, without heat. “There is a grace period, but one dollar per entry between 8am and 9am every weekday. That’s consideration right there — the formation of a contract! Someone could rightly not wish to spend the money — but there’s no easy way to back out, to not consent to the terms — especially if there are other cars behind you. That’s a potential law suit!”
No one, I think, to myself, would fight for that one dollar. But that’s Gavin for you. Gavin is the kind of person who reads terms and conditions for every contract before he signs it, and tells everyone that you can’t use iTunes to manufacture “nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons”. He will remind everyone that consuming alcohol in the school is against the code of conduct unless it’s during university-approved events. This is the sort of pedantry that will get him lynched one day.
Gavin is also the type of person who finds Latin sexy, and dreams about waking up in bed next to his significant other and talking about the applicability of nemo iudex in causa sua (the rule against bias) when complimenting your partner as late night/early morning conversation.
Unlike Wilfred, Gavin prefers law girls. Unfortunately for Gavin, law girls don’t want to date him. This is because when Wilfred says things like “I would like to take a Mareva injunction against [law girl],” Gavin replies, “You can’t take out a Mareva injunction, she wears a bra. Her assets aren’t going anywhere.” Followed by Wilfred saying, “oh well, it’s not like she has much anyway”.
This, said in the presence of the law girl they were referring to, is a good illustration for why Wilfred doesn’t want to date within law school (having the intelligence to recognise his chances), and Gavin can’t.
That’s fine though. In law school, he blends right in. Let that be a warning to you.
People like Gavin are possibly why I have another friend who has completely given up on dating, and decided to raise cats instead. We have two on campus already. They look well-fed with the re-directed love from law students.
You might ask, at this point, what about the administration? Who are the people who grade this madhouse?
Let’s preface this answer with a reminder that this is a school where the contract professors assign “Treitel On The Law Of Contract” as one of recommended contract texts every year. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever typed “treitel contract” into the library search engine — and if they have, whether they’re deliberately making the reference.
There is the usual gamut of professors. There is the male professor that students form secret fanclubs over, the kind with at least one Richard hiding in their midst. There are the kind professors, who take an interest in the love lives of their students by attempting to match-make them with the Gavins of this world. And then there are the — for the lack of a better word — dedicated professors, who show gruesome pictures of medical injuries resulting from various torts in order to hammer in the lesson — and who do this right before the lunch break.
Don’t get me wrong. What the professors do is painful, but how they do it can be pleasant. There’s a myth that they’re carefully training a Pavlovian reflex into you to beg for more work every time they open their mouth. Again, this has not been proven, although students will swear that Professor Vocksdey will murder you quietly with work
And then there is the gossip. Apparently, you should never go out for karoke with the much beloved Professor Archie, since he “sings like a typical ang moh professor”. At this point, people ask if it’s because he sings badly. The truth is subtler than that: it’s not that he sings badly, it’s that he doesn’t think the lyrics matter. What’s more important is that once you have the microphone, you must behave like a rock star.
This actually explains a lot of Professor Archie’s behaviour in class.
When I first entered law school, one of the professors said that “university is where you’ll meet the people you’ll spend the rest of your adult life with — the legal sector is only so big”.
If this is the rest of my “life”, it looks very colourful indeed.
 Richard has not got enough of LCS, and has offered to draft said contract. Draft clauses on mutual performance have been created, and are available on request, although suing for incomplete performance is apparently proving a bit of trouble.
 Incidentally, if you’re going to try that out after reading the article, do click the link to encourage the library to keep suggesting that phrase. Purely for the sake of future generations.
 ETA: Apparently this has really happened, and the senior is still studying here. Oops.
 This is technically inaccurate, though I didn’t know it at that time: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2711943/Why-a-date-on-a-rollercoaster-is-the-best-way-to-find-love.html
 To any university official, I should add the caveat that I am not implying that there has been any unauthorised alcohol consumption occurring on campus in any manner whatsoever.