Senior Stories

Socratic Method and Other Tortures

Socratic Method

Luckily I loved the cases. As a writer, I saw each one as a mini-story about people, their disputes, and the court ruling. In addition to Contracts and Criminal Law, we had Civil Procedure and Torts that first year.

Contracts Law Exam

In March I had my first Contracts’ midterm. What a shock! I got a D minus and almost fainted. I never had such a low grade and was very discouraged until I discovered most of my classmates got pretty much the same. Lincoln had a very tough class schedule and grading policy. Most law schools take only top graduating students so they have a preliminary elimination process. Lincoln used testing to eliminate poor students.

Since Lincoln wasn’t a California accredited school during my first year, we had to pass the “Baby Bar” in June in order to start the second year. It was a shorter version of the State Bar. There were three one hour essays in the morning and one hundred multiple-choice questions in the afternoon. Lincoln School exams consisted of four forty-five minute essays per class. The Baby Bar was easier in a way but the pressure was tremendous. Several students were sick in the bathroom before the test started. I only ate yogurt before the exams. The multiple-choice questions were the most difficult. It seemed to me the answers were either all correct or all wrong.

Law School Exam Success

Somehow, I passed. Out of the 40 people who started in January 1992, only 21 took that exam. Either because their grades were below a C or they had left school. After the exam, there were only 11 of us from the original class and we were merged with the incoming fall students. During our first class of Criminal Law, our professor said only one out of every three persons in the class would be there next year. I remember smiling as I looked around the room. When he asked why I was smiling, I told him I was just wondering who the other 12 would be. He said this was the attitude we needed.

Law School Courses and Professors

The second-year was Real Property, Constitutional Law (my favorite) Sports and Entertainment Law, Research and Writing, and Professional Responsibility. That summer we had Moot Court. We were given the facts in a case and actually presented our arguments before a real judge. Again, I spent a lot of time in the law library. But the judge gave me an Excellent grade so it was worth it.

The third-year was Evidence (with exciting discussions about the OJ trial); Corporations, Bankruptcy, and Community Property. The fourth-year was Criminal Procedure, Wills and Trusts, Remedies, Land Use, Administrative Law, Trial Practice, and during two weekends, we studied Arbitration and Mediation.

Wills: Every Senior Needs One ASAP

Lincoln professors were practicing attorneys and our classes covered all 13 possible State Bar subjects. These classes were mandatory at Lincoln. Many students from big-name universities could choose not to take classes that would affect their GPA.

During my last year, I was Editor-in-Chief of Law Review, a legal publication compiled and published by law students. We were a small school so we received very few submissions. Still, each one had to be fact-checked and proofread with references correctly cited.

Law School Secret Society

I enjoyed law school. Most of us spent the first year trying to determine what our professors wanted. Obviously, they had some big secret that once learned would put us into the ranks of a secret society. Actually, it was a very “simple” thing called IRAC: what is the Issue? What is the Rule of law? Analyze how the rule applies to the facts in the issue and draw a Conclusion. After that last question on the Remedies final exam, I understood IRAC better and felt I was ready for the State Bar.

It was “showtime.” Testing was six hours a day for three days. Three one hour essays each morning and 100 multiple choice questions each afternoon. The questions were taken from all 13 law subjects. I had studied hard. Fortunately, I passed because there was no way I was going through that again.

I only practiced law for a short time. Age was one factor. The salaries for new attorneys were much lower than I had been earning. Not only are malpractice insurance and annual Bar fees costly, but the California Bar also has additional educational and financial restrictions and any infractions are grounds for disbarment. Just too much trouble and expense. After two years, I requested and received an “Inactive” status.

Socratic Method Conclusion

Was Law School worth it? If all I learned was law, the answer is no. The hated Socratic Method and other forms of torture taught us to think and that made it worthwhile. While working on that last question in Remedies and ripping pages from my typewriter, I was very angry with my Professor for writing such an obnoxious question. As I struggled, I didn’t realize within its depths was a hidden lesson that would impact my writing. That night I learned the importance of focusing on what is and is not relevant to what I want to say.

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