Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress: Not in Love (Legally)

                 I have observed an interesting phenomenon in law schools generally: students that arrive single will often meet their spouse during the course of the three years they are here.
                This happened with several friends of mine which will remain unnamed—one of them met their spouse through membership on a journal, and another through placement in the same first year section.  It would seem as if these are the two most common “places” within law school where future spouses meet, but I would imagine a similar concept holds true for Moot Court, or certain classmates on the same career path that end up in more than a few of the same courses. 
                There are basic assumptions about what it means to be a law student and a lawyer.  One of those assumptions is that, one day (perhaps) we will have money, and since we will have money, we will be in the “right” position to start a family.   If you fail to take the right first steps, you may graduate alone, and you may then be afraid of dying alone.  To paraphrase one of our career counselors, compare walking down the street alone, to walking down the street with a girlfriend or boyfriend—more people check you out in the latter situation, no?  This is a metaphor for presenting an effective case for yourself as a job applicant – but the purported truth of such a hypothetical is troubling.   (Not to mention the inference that, those are who are in stable, happy relationships are more likely to get a job.)
Interviewing is only like dating to a degree—you interview in the hopes of a job that will last more than a year or two—but it is unlikely to expect lifetime employment.  Rapid-fire dating and one night stands may be fun up to a point – but once that point is reached, more “practical” dating becomes the rule.  A lifetime relationship is sought.
Law students are probably not the most physically attractive (or morally attractive) people out there.  However, law students are picky because they don’t have much time—they only want to spend time with someone they could actually see themselves marrying.  It follows that, when work and companionship are combined, the stress of dating subsides, a partner is found, and no time is lost.  If that is the only proof to my theory, so be it.  You may ignore what I say, and that is fine, but when you go out into that cold place known as reality and you lack the benefit of an immediate mutual interest, have fun trying to convince other bar patrons about the awesomeness of the automatic stay. 
On the other hand, claiming that one day you will win a $100 million toxic torts judgment may potentially be an effective hook.  We know we have plenty of interesting things to talk about, and some are more talented than others when it comes to engaging “outsiders” in that interest, but generally, “bar scoping” is limited to what you look like, what you do and how much you make.  Nobody cares about whether you are a proponent of judicial activism.  Other lawyers may scoff at such bar conversation – but if not, you may have a winner.
So maybe, when I graduate single, it will be different from the five years I spent in between college and law school, going out to bars, trying to meet someone, anyone, to place a succor on the loneliness of existence.  More likely is that I will continue to be cheap, claim that bars are exploitive, and write similar op-ed pieces until I die.  Only they will be published on my blog and not BLS advocate. 
The moral of the story is this: treasure what time you have left and don’t waste it by sitting alone in your room drinking and smoking.  It is unfortunate that I cannot practice what I preach.  I can’t change society and I can only change myself—but, with limited exceptions, I’m not open to changing myself to “fit in.”  There is a Black Flag song called “Society’s Tease” whose lyrics I will now appropriate to drive home my point:
                Wherever I go
                Playing some stupid role
                Sometimes I look at the world
                And I just want to say,
                Something went wrong
                Where love plays stupid tricks
                But I’ve got a plan
                The world will finally be saved.

                Christopher J. Knorps is a 2L at Brooklyn Law School.  He enjoys studying bankruptcy law.  You may find his other work at  He also invites you to the electrifying conclusion to this week (Sex & the Law Week)—the HLPA Open Mic!  Please sign up on posted fliers to perform “a” Vagina Monologue, or your own original performance. If you are too shy to read, please come to watch the action, as a voluntary $5 donation will get you complimentary dinner and drinks.  

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