When it comes to being prepared for class, I am far from the ideal law student. But that is because I have learned many integral law school secrets- like how to skim cases, predict when you will be on-call, how to use study aids, and how to steal outlines from the internet. Only rarely do I just "show up" without even glancing at the reading assignment and pray that I don't get called on. The way luck works in law school, this is the equivalent of raising your hand and begging to be in the "hot seat."
My point is, I don't judge slackers for being slackers because those are my people. But I DO judge slackers for their failure in delivery. Oh boy and today I was in some kind of mood or something. Herein follows my harsh judgment of those slackers who failed to meet my low standards:
Today in my insurance law class- at least 5 people in a row had to "pass" when the professor called on them. This is ridiculous. My insurance law class meets once a week. And for homework, the prof usually assigns 5-6 cases that are about 10 pages each. For those of you who are expert case skimmers- you can read almost any case for a below-proficient level of knowledge in just 5 minutes:
1. Skim the facts (1 minute).
2. Find out what the issue is (hint: the court usually says "the point at issue here is..." or less subtely the court will preface the issue with the word "whether...") (45 seconds).
3. Skim the relevant court's analysis - if this case is for insurance law, you can go straight to the discussion about duty to defend and it's a safe bet you can skip any discussion about things like evidentiary rules or constitutional law. (2.5 minutes).
4. Find the paragraph with the court's holding - you don't even have to read this because if you get called on you can easily go straight to it and recite it in class. (30 seconds)
VOILA! You read an entire case in under 5 minutes. Congrats on being less than proficient!
HINT: If you get called on you can chalk up your lack of knowlegde to "faulty memory" since, duh, you read this case six days ago when it was first assigned- right!? Of course!
But, if you can't even brief via the Slacker Briefing Method as outlined above, you have to be able to "pass" with equal parts style, wit and humility.
One student in class failed miserably according to my book. This one girl in the front row, after she was called on, actually had the balls to say, "I have to pass on this case, but if you could come back to me when you get to So and So case, I would totally appreciate it." HULLO! You can't CHOOSE which case you get called on for- that's so cheating! First off, that defeats the big slacker gamble. If you could chose when you get called on, where is the risk? Where is the pay off of being a slacker? Way to ruin it for all of us!
Also, slackers should OWN their slackerness. Don't live in the delusion that you are a could-be Law Review student. A slacker by any other delusion is still a slacker!
Finally, that "pass" was SO cheesy! Cheesy. Cheesy. Cheesy. On the instances in which you have to pass, you end up feeling bad, and horrible and stupid. This is how you are supposed to feel. This is what law school is about- feeling dumb and inferior in a controlled environment where the professor is the inflictor of shame and there are not enough sharp objects to cause serious bodily harm. You can't try to overrule these feelings by volunteering for a different case. You can't try to justify your failure by showing the professor you actually aren't the useless piece of crap that you feel. This is just wrong. (Am I bitter or what?). And "I would totally appreciate it"? That phrase, when spoken to a professor, triggers my gag reflex.
However, one student in class today shows us how it is done. This student was able to "pass" with both dignity and style without trying to be a major brown noser. He is the major Model Passer. People, THIS is how you should "pass." Turn it into something funny- most preferably, you should be the butt of the joke, but if not, it is acceptable to make an objective funny.
Prof: "Mr. Smith, can you please tell us what the court ruled in this case."
Mr. Smith: "Um....hmmm....well... Can I poll the audience?"
Prof: [laughs out loud] "So you're electing to use a life line?"
Yes. Mr. Smith gets a 10 out of 10 in my play book for his style in evading giving an answer without resorting to saying "pass" or cheesy brown nose tactics. I award him Slacker of the Week.
May we all aspire to be the Slacker that Mr. Smith is.