Career Services co-hosted the Law School Preview last night with the Firestone Library in order to give students an idea of what their legal future might hold. For someone like myself, whose knowledge of law school comes from The Paper Chase and Legally Blonde, the preview was an eye-opening experience.
The preview opened with a small talk from David Hollander, who is Firestone’s legal librarian. Hollander introduced the future legal students in the room to the phrase “the magic of legal research,” and provided information on researching the law. Hollander practiced law for three years, and he said that knowledge of primary (court cases, executive regulations, and statutes) and secondary (Law Review, treatises) sources was essential for every law student.
The majority of the preview was conducted by Michael Herz, a fellow in Princeton’s program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA). Herz explained that he would be simulating an “ordinary class,” though he wouldn’t focus on the Socratic method, a formerly popular method of teaching law. Instead, he said that the class would be “having a conversation, less that [I’m] grilling you or testing you, or humiliating you.” The reports of ultra-scary law professors (think The Paper Chase) apparently have been greatly exaggerated.
The twenty or so students attending the preview had received a packet of cases upon registering for the preview. Case law, Hollander had previously explained, created precedents but not statutes.
Among points covered in the discussion of the cases were the three elements needed to understand a case: the outcome, the justifications for that outcome, and the legal rule that could be extracted. “You don’t know what a case means until you’ve seen it applied,” Herz said. In the discussion, students were asked to look for “meaningful distinctions” between cases, or, alternatively, to look for cases where the same justifications could be applied. In this way, students learned how lawyers consider cases related or unrelated.
This is Career Service’s fourth year hosting the Law School Preview, but you don’t need to wait until it comes around next year to learn more about law school. Keep an eye out for the alumni panel “What Kind of Law Will You Practice?” (Tuesday, April 3, 7:00 pm at Career Services), or schedule an appointment with Lyon Zabsky, the career counselor in charge of pre-law advising and all other things law-related!