Jan 302008

In recent weeks Kirsten Wolf, an alum of my legal alma mater, Boston University School of Law, kicked up some dust by complaining how law school was totally not worth it. She raises valid points; it clearly doesn’t seem to have been worth it to her, nor is it likely to be worth it to lots of other people for many of the same reasons.

The truth is that law school clearly contains several manifest defects (e.g., immense cost, too often disproportionate to the amount of financial benefit it can provide afterwards, and pointless competitiveness, which too often wastes students’ actual talents, etc.), which really should be done away with. That said, it’s clearly foolish when people go to law school for lack of any sort of better idea of what to do with their lives. These are the people who will be most gravely injured by the experience’s shortcomings. I therefore agree wholeheartedly with what Susan Cartier Liebel wrote:

There is only one moral to Kirsten Wolf’s story: understand what it is you are trying to accomplish by going to law school and the short and long term financial and psychological costs associated with the undertaking. There are no excuses for being Alice in Wonderland anymore. There is too much information circulating today about the trials and tribulations of law school, the debt, and employment opportunities for you to remain ignorant and whiny.

This is definitely a reasonable point. Of course, I may be particularly partial to Ms. Liebel for having cited me earlier in her post as providing a counterpoint… In fact, a counterpoint as an alum of the exact same law school.

I certainly can’t say that either the law school or the experience as a whole have been all sweetness and light. But I think in my “Great Change” blog I gave a pretty fair window into both, flattering when it was deserved and criticizing when it was not. In fact, on balance I think I’ve been something of a cheerleader for both. There definitely have been students roaming BUSL’s halls (er, elevators…) who were positively influenced to enroll based on things they read on my blog.

I don’t think up to now there have been many other bloggers like me, though. Obviously there have been lots of law student bloggers generally, but from Boston University? Markos of the Daily Kos blog is a BUSL alum, but he’s not exactly a law school blogger. I know of some anonymous diary-type blogs by people who happened to be BUSL students, but apart from perhaps Andrew Sinclair, an alum a few years ahead of me, I can’t think of any others who flew the school banner so publicly. I don’t even think there are any current faculty among the greater blogging population either, now that Randy Barnett has moved to Georgetown, which seems a shame. I’ve offered to help facilitate faculty blogging, but thus far, to my knowledge, none has pursued it, either with my help or otherwise.

Oh well. But I mention all this as some background for an announcement I just saw on the BUSL website:

Earn $250/semester as a BU Law student blogger

The Office of Communications is looking for students with strong writing skills to blog about their experiences at BU Law to prospective students. Your blogs will serve as online journals, giving prospective students a better idea of day-to-day life at the School.

We’re looking for a wide-range of topics for your blog posts—they can be about classes, the community, professors, events you’ve attended, your student organization or journal, clinics, externships/internships, friendships, travels, studying, law-related books you’ve read/recommend, Boston—anything that helps define your life as a law student.

Bloggers would need to submit two, three-five paragraph posts monthly, and some posts would preferably include your photos. Here are a few examples of other schools’ blog pages:


Please e-mail lawweb@bu.edu with a resume (including your involvement and activities at BU Law) and two writing samples if you’re interested or for more information.

I find myself with mixed feelings, seeing this. Though I am generally quite the blogging evangelist, there’s something about this plan that gives me pause. I think it may have to do with looking at those other examples — they seem a little contrived. How honest can student bloggers really be about the experience of law school when the law school is paying for their thoughts? How much credence should a prospective student lend to them? Maybe it’s still a worthwhile exercise anyway, giving blogging students a formal opportunity to write, and shining at least some light into an experience that’s not particularly transparent to people on the outside. Still, for the bloggers, I’m not sure this kind of opportunity necessarily supplants being able to own and develop their own voices. Nor, for prospective students, do I think it necessarily supplants needing to read independent sources of information.

Of course, maybe I’m just bitter that in all the years I was a blogging BUSL law student no one ever paid me $250…

 Posted by at 2:40 pm

  5 Responses to “BU law bloggers”

  1. You have every right to be partial. You have a great attitude, a great blog and provide a wonderful insight. Glad to include you!

  2. Our law school did the same student blogging thing for a while. It was clear from the beginning that the entries were being done for promotional purposes and so I never read them. Blogs are interesting to me because they reveal what people really think. When you pay the blogger, all of that is gone. You might as well start a magazine.

  3. Here’s the bottom line with law school, its a disorganized mess that does absolutely nothing to prepare you for the practice of law. Most graduates wind up being either a) trained by a law firm after graduation or b) teach themselves the in’s and outs.
    Law school is nothing more than a disconnected academic exercise that bankrupts students, enriches universities, and gives burt – out arrogant lawyers a place to work.
    It’s a system that should be fixed, as it does a tremendous disservice to students and the profession as a whole.

  4. BU Law is a second-rate school and, but from what I have heard, it also treats its students horribly. I went to Suffolk, which is a third-tier, but at least I went to school with nice people, most of whom took jobs making $40K a year. That’s why none of us complain about the school, nor does the school offer us pay to write nice things about it. Things are just what they are, no faking. I have a friend who went to BU and she was never encouraged by the career advisors to seek jobs outside the big law firm circle. She didn’t even know of many smaller firms interviewing, and had no clear idea of the public interest opportunities, like the one I am pursuing right now with two of my Suffolk colleagues on a team.

  5. BU Law is not a second-rate law school. It is ranked in the first tier (20th). I graduated from there, went to school with very smart and friendly people, and there were many graduates that made a modest $50k their first year out. Large law firms are interested in BU law grads. This opportunity is probably not presented to third-tier Suffolk law students, and this Suffolk Law grad is obviously still bitter about it. If you’re law school wasn’t challenging, you won’t be a very good lawyer.

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