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 email@example.com 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…