Law in Contemporary Society
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Class Reflection

-- By KimberHargrove - 21 May 2012

In this essay I would like to reflect on this class and try to work through why I did not get very much out of it. Originally I had chalked up my indifference to my own bad attitude (which I still find mostly true), but it seems silly to believe that my attitude is independent of external factors.

I did around 90 - 95% of the reading on time (sometimes multiple times, but not often).

My own attitude

My primary problem was that I did not engage in this class as closely as I could have. I did not post on the wiki, even when a topic was brought up that was semi-interesting to me. The main example of this that comes to mind is when Kipp posted regarding white privilege and how he didn’t want to be seen as part of the problem or one of the enemy. Certainly this is a topic that everyone should reflect on, regardless of race or sex/gender, and institutionalized racism and sexism is something that I could go on at length about. But in the end, I declined to post anything, primarily because I am too tired and lazy to fight the same battle over and over, especially on the internet. If a classmate had come up to me and said, “Hey, let’s talk about institutional preferences towards white men,” I probably would have taken a crack at it. As it was, I couldn’t be roused to comment.

After further reflection I also realized that the class format simply doesn't work with my personality and that is why I struggled with it so mightily. As an introvert (and someone with a pretty modest amount of self esteem), I really do not want to throw my bullshit ideas out there for my classmates to roll their eyes over. This is of course not an excuse for not engaging in the class—we have all had mind-numbingly dull professors, short-answer tests when we're abysmal at editing, etc. We all know that if a class doesn't work for you, just suck it up and do your best. (I guess you could complain to the Registrar). But I think the mental block of being so cripplingly shy/introverted as to be unable to even think of a worthy idea that interests me is where I really failed in this endeavor.

The apathy exhibited above was troubling to me. I came to law school with a specific goal in mind, and apathy towards civil rights issues and an inability to come up with and defend my own ideas was not part of the original plan. Now that the semester is over though, I am relived to find that I do still care about those issues and am excited to start my summer internship at MALDEF.

How could I have gotten more out of this class?

This class often left me with the impression that I was taking the easy way out by coming to law school, or that I wasn’t caring enough about the things I care about. But once I take a step back (now that we are out of the trenches of 1L) I realize that I do still care about those issues, and I do still see law school as a means to achieve those goals. For me to get down on myself because I am not doing enough, as a law student, to achieve my goals right now is silly.

The takeaway that I should have gotten from this class is not to set limits on myself; the takeaway that I was left with was that I would never be able to do enough. But here I am sitting in a dingy, roach-infested room in a state that no self-respecting Californian would ever travel to, purely because I wanted to do a job that I “believe” in. Considering that fact, it’s hard to feel that I’m somehow taking the easy way out on this one.

If I had been able to keep the larger goals in mind while class was in session, I would have gotten more out of it. If I had been in a position to tell myself that law school is something that I have thought about, that I have a plan for my degree that does not include a 2 a.m. realization that I work for the wrong side, and that the next two years are a step towards a future goal (which may or may not work out, but is still important to have so as to prevent the 2 a.m. realization). Instead I got bogged down in the details (Eben completely deconstructed his professor’s exam! I can’t even finish my reading without passing out and drooling on the cases!) and was left feeling disappointed in and sorry for myself.

As I journeyed through the semester and got more turned of by the idea of Big Law, this class was encouraging in that it encourages us to do whatever the hell we want and ignore the haters. When I do those things, I don't get "A"s and a job offer as a research assistant—I get crappy grades and the popped-balloon dreams of a public interest fellowship. But hopefully, in the grand scheme of things, I think the boiled-down message, “do what makes you happy and screw what other people think of you” is going to be much more useful in life than Contracts or Torts. Especially Torts.

-- KimberHargrove

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r6 - 22 Jan 2013 - 20:10:01 - IanSullivan
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