Grain of salt

When I moved to Ann Arbor for law school two decades ago, I remember excitedly telling my cousin—also a lawyer—that I was very happy with my new apartment because it had a good kitchen. And she responded, “Girl, the only cooking you’re going to be doing is standing in front of a vending machine and thinking, ‘plain or peanut’?” (In my imaginary vision of this conversation, I picture my cousin talking with a raspy voice, with her hand on one hip and a cigarette dangling from her lip, perhaps taking a swig of something as a punctuating finish. Mind you, this is not even remotely an accurate picture of my cousin, but for me, it really paints the right picture of her big-sisterly cynicism. So try to picture it that way when you’re reading, OK?)

My cousin, fount of good advice though she invariably is, was totally wrong about this. I did in fact find time to cook in law school; in fact, I did all sorts of crazy projects (weekly bread-baking; homemade tortilla chips) that have long since fallen by the wayside, waiting to be re-indulged when the kids ditch me for college or something. Law school is certainly time-consuming, but it’s also largely self-directed—OK, the professors are fussy about having you attend class at certain times, sure; your study schedule, though, is up to you—so if you want to carve out a chunk of time to perfect your sourdough starter, you can arrange that. It is my theory that because lawyers tend to be very verbal people, we do a lot more dramatic whining about the time we spend studying/cite-checking/doing document review than, perhaps, is strictly called for.

Because otherwise, how can you account for all the wholly extracurricular activities that go on at the Law School? I applaud the school-life balance exemplified by pumpkin-carving and classical music performance, and by the carefully calibrated dancing and mocking that made up last week’s Culture Show. Not to mention the folks—1Ls, no less! —who managed to combine their activist and artistic sensibilities to make a fabulous contribution to the It Gets Better campaign. (Special shout-out to their upper-class filmographers, Michael Wagner and David Gutt.)

In short: Those of you who are contemplating law school but are being terrorized by gigantic tales of epic workloads—you might want to take it all with a grain of salt.

-Dean Z.
Assistant Dean for Admissions
and Special Counsel for Professional Strategies