Friday, May 27, 2005

THE PAPER CHASE IS ON TV RIGHT NOW

The good news is that the lack of Stanley Cup playoffs has cleared the CBC airwaves for plenty of good movies, including the famous The Paper Chase, featuring John Houseman as the fearsome Prof. Kingsfield.

It's a little overdramatic and over the top but every prospective law student should watch it. Then if they're smart they'd run like hell.

The depiction of law life is pretty accurate- it's a grind and you spend half your life preparing study notes and preparing for all-or-nothing exams. And then you get grilled in class by evil professors like Kingsfield. And exams are pure hell. Very pleasant existence. You're better off getting an MBA, at least you only have to endure two years of that absolute torture instead of the three years you put up with in law school.

Actually, it probably isn't as bad as depicted in the Paper Chase. There are social events where you can get completely drunk, and actually life isn't quite so dramatic for a lot of people. Even the ones who have to fight like heck to make it through ultimately are able to pass.

But sadly, yes, there are those sad cases of people going crazy from the stress- like that poor guy in the Paper Chase, Kevin, who had a terrible time in law school and dropped out, and then attempted suicide. I can imagine things like that happening. A lot of students certainly are under a ton of stress because a lot of employers refuse to let them article or write the bar exams in Canada, just because they don't like their grades. There was a big grades scandal right here in Ontario, with a lot of University of Toronto students giving law firms fake transcripts because these firms were such jerks, demanding people have good grades just to get a crummy job writing memos all day in an office. So these were people who probably worked hard but they got shafted by these professors and had their future prospects potentially fatally damaged. And these grades were meaningless anyway, these people were just going to be writing memos while the C students who got stuck in Barrie and Thunder Bay actually got to run trials and stuff. It means absolutely nothing when it comes to your ability, these grades.

The sad thing was that a lot of people needed to article on Bay Street, just so they had a chance to stay in Toronto. If they couldn't article on Bay Street in Toronto, their chances of ever having a career in Toronto would be shot, because there aren't a lot of decent options outside of corporate law for a lot of people. ( People like me got shafted because of the galling lack of opportunities to pursue training connected to public policy or to government departments like the provincial Crown. We ended up applying for corporate jobs and a lot of us wound up being rejected because we were honest about our corporate-law grades. They stunk. )

I think the whole thing stinks, nobody should have to hand over their grades just to article. If you graduate with honors, great. But it shouldn't make a difference to your career whether some jerk professors gave you crummy grades in school.

Anyway I digress. The Paper Chase is a good movie. But Lindsay Wagner is in it and all I can think about when I see her is ""The Bionic Woman". She's typecast for life.

And Kingsfield? What a jerk! That line in the movie where Hart tells Kingsfield "you are a son of a bitch, Kingsfield!" is classic. Every prospective law student should watch the Paper Chase. Like I say, be warned.

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