It’s Law School Finals Eve. What that means—to any sane person who has not subjected themselves to the unique and intense pressure-cooker that is the American academic law educational gauntlet—is that classes ended, we’ve finished our “reading days”, and a test for each class is scheduled over the next ten days. It also means no law student is sleeping, probably surfaces only to find some caffeine in whatever form they prefer, and then disappears back down an outline and supplement.
I don’t know how other countries do it, but here law students have one mega-test at the end of the semester on absolutely everything covered for the entire class. They’re not “What is X” questions, but rather, they’re “issue spotting” exams. That means, for instance, that you will have a 3-page long complicated question about an issue, and you have 3-4 hours to determine what the professor is looking for, identify, state, and apply all the law you learned in that class, and analyze the outcome. It’s an adrenaline fueled race on which your entire grade for the entire semester is determined.
I’ve got feelings about the pedagogy of measuring legal acumen in a timed race and its effectiveness, when actual legal work is contemplative, careful, resourceful, and detail-oriented. This testing method favors ranking on rapid recall and speed, when very little about legal work requires either. But it’s a method firmly entrenched in legal academia, and very few professors deviate, at least in doctrinal, bar-tested classes—mostly because that’s exactly how the Bar tests too. *shrug* but here we are.
I took all of Thanksgiving off, which felt like a ridiculous luxury, and then I tried to cook for our small cadre of people in our house who will eat Thanksgiving fare. Turns out I am definitively not good at cooking little batches of things, even though this represents a truly concerted effort. I mean, notice that the sides are legitimately smaller, and instead of a turkey, I cooked chickens. Jon, Jeff, and Abby have been living on leftovers. Neither Bean nor I eat Thanksgiving food—Bean for his Reasons, and me for gradually worsening food allergies. He had English muffins with (wait for it…) peanut butter, and I had plain chicken. What a holiday treat! I love to cook and making this meal was a happy respite.
Mostly everyone else is ok. Things just keep plodding along here in our bubble. Thankful for remote work, remote school, pre-ordered grocery pickup, and delivery options. We are very much in the continued social distancing, no-contact camp for our foreseeable future. I recognize the privilege, as always, in our ability to navigate life with some measure of safety—we have family members who are doctors and nurses who do not have the ability to stay home, and we are keenly aware of the sacrifices they are making (and the sacrifices of other essential people like grocery clerks, drivers, postal workers, poll workers [whoo hoo!] and caregivers). No member of either side of our family broke their bubbles and met for Thanksgiving—we traded photos, group texts, and video chatted from California to Utah to DC—but we did so from our own small family groups.
A family member is an ER doctor who spends their days caring for Covid patients and intubating very sick people. They are optimistic about the vaccines coming this spring, and I hang a lot on their perspective. Winter and the consequences of holiday travel are likely going to exact a steep toll, but spring holds some real hope. I hope. I hope. I hope.
Back to the books.