Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is a Bad Boy a Bad Guy?

Once I got a footing on the type of law student I would be, that is, the “bad boy of law,” I began to experience how important it is to face my law professors and colleagues with some dignity. But does being proud about being a bad boy also make me a bad guy?

What on earth am I talking about? Trust me, I’m using law school terminology that cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars to master.

After also learning Latin and verbose legal theories, law students today are still asked to refer to either the convicted criminal or even the loser in a civil suit as a “bad guy.” How I hated this lesson! Justice compensates for wrongs done by members of society, but is not an affirmation of bigotry. Who (let alone conniving lawyers) can stand above the sphere of morality and judge any person (or guy) as good or bad?

The clarity of logic gives us moments when, as if turning a light switch on or off, we can evaluate whether or not someone is a burglar just by reading a clock on the wall and determining what time the breaking and entering occurred (under common law burglary, that is—you’ll have to look that up if you don’t get it). But does this determine who is a bad guy?

We’ve also all seen the Lethal Weapon movies, where Riggs tells his partner that it’s OK to break into that warehouse without a search warrant, because “we’re the good guys”; same with Rambo; same with Dirty Harry. How can defenders of due process of law really quibble with the popular Riggs-Rambo-Callahan element of our culture?

I admit that I can’t really be so pure as to say that I live in a perfect world of not judging people. Look at this blog! I am calling the people who run law schools bad guys. People who call themselves good guys run a big risk of being the real bad guys—me included.

Let’s say that being a naughty boy in school is not really OK, but if you are a good guy dealing with bad guys for teachers…well, you fill in the blanks of this contradictory argument. Let’s also say that once you get out of law school, you’re not a boy anymore and hurling spit wads at people who annoy you can even be a public nuisance.

So am I a good guy or a bad guy? After all, if a bad guy tells you law schools must be debunked, you really should not listen. Who cares what bad guys think?

If you disagree with me and think law schools are the outstanding, upright institutions of education that they purport to be, you can just ignore my arguments as the useless rants of a bad guy. My motives might be all wrong: sour grapes; poor loser; lazy whiner; hoaxing paranoid conspiracy theorist; even evil narcissist trying to destroy the good guys just because they are good. All of these motives would make me a bad guy that you should ignore.

Or I could be an honest scholar looking for defects in our society caused by the overzealous greed that the legal profession breeds. I could be a true-to-life do-gooder, fending off corruption. I could be a farseeing social reformer who detests hazing rituals and reinforces worthwhile weaklings (Gandhi, Christ, Buddha—you get the picture).

After my experience of law school, I tend to ruminate a lot about it and such thoughts that I produce are written down here. Perhaps I don’t know what I am or what makes me ruminate about law school, but I want to know and writing about it helps me focus in on what exactly bothers me about the whole experience.

Still, I hope that my observations during the past years will continue to help me and others understand why law schools may be run by bad guys and being at the bottom of your law school class does not automatically make you a bad guy. Don’t give up on law if its training system treats you poorly.

The law needs everyone to participate, overachievers and ruminators alike, to be fair. Winners and losers.

Just because the irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife, don’t ignore the silly good-guys-versus-bad-guys bac-and-forth. Bad guys may call good guys bad guys. Good guys may retaliate and call the putative good guys bad guys. Good guys ignore bad guys, and bad guys ruin the reputations of good guys.

Which one are you? Do yourself a favor and find the answer outside of law school.