Gideon at A Public Defender posted a very funny list entitled “10 things I didn’t learn in law school.” I thought it was very funny. How funny was it? Funny enough that it made it onto Feminist Law Professors, and we all know that Ann Bartow lost her sense of humor in a tragic kiln explosion years ago. It was funny enough that Jessica Slavin, Marquette lawprof posted it on the school’s faculty blog.
That’s when the true nature of Marquette law school reared its old, ugly, stodgy and humorless head. Along comes David Papke to find misery under every rock:
With the exception of item #10, I thought the list was cynical to a fault. Too many lawyers have a sad bitterness and mean anti-intellectualism about them. Maybe living in debt and working in the context of hierarchy and bureaucracy produces those attitudes. I wish somehow that lawyers could remember law school as a demanding but enriching academic experience.
Let’s add up the adjectives: cynical, bitterness, mean anti-intellectualism (does that count for one or two?). Since Papke came of age in the 60s while attending Hahvad College, when a guy named Andrew Weil was busily promoting altered states of consciousness and Timothy Leary was enjoying the benefits of psilocybin, maybe there’s an organic explanation for his need to see the dark cloud in front of every silver lining. Some people can just suck the fun out of anything.
The comments devolved after Papke’s shower of venom rained down. Andrew Golden, a student contributor, wrote:
Also, to respond to Professor Papke:
“Maybe living in debt and working in the context of hierarchy and bureaucracy produces those attitudes.”
I couldn’t disagree with you more vehemently. I think the problem is that the happy ones don’t waste their time making silly lists; they do their jobs well and enjoy their lives. It’s just the few vocal malcontents that seem to grab the spotlight.
Gideon a malcontent? Few are more dedicated to their cause than Gideon. What would possibly give this law student the sense of self-righteousness to reach such a bizarre conclusion?
And if these 6 months at the Public Defender’s office internship have taught me anything, it’s that A LOT of clients hate me because I’m white, because I’m Jewish, because they perceive me as looking through them, or just because I’m not cuffed and they are.
I can only speak to my personal experiences, but the people I work for at the PD’s Office are FAR less cynical than I am, and I’ve been called overly idealistic by many people at MU Law.
Six months interning with the PD. I wonder if Gideon’s years of practice can possibly hold a candle to that. But it’s harder to fault this law student after some grumpy old professor has already spun the post into a condemnation of misery, leaving the kid to spout his one-dimensional understanding of what lawyers do, as if they hold ice cream parties at the close of business every day.
If I had to come up with some rational explanation for this purveyor of misery, it’s the product of his spending his life in the academy where he was never challenged to actually represent a human being, deal with judges or wallow in the trenches with real lawyers. Such defensiveness might be derived from his own deep-seated recognition that he can’t enjoy the joke, because he’s never experienced what lawyers do. Wrapped up in his pompous self-righteousness, no one can make fun of law school and, by so doing, make him the butt of the joke. There is bitterness here, but it has nothing to do with Gideon.
Thankfully, this isn’t the way most lawprofs I know react. First, they can enjoy a funny list. Second, they realize that law school falls a tad shy of perfection. Third, they aren’t miserable jerks. Some, particularly those who have actually practiced law, are well aware of the fact that law school falls far short of preparing kids to practice law, as has been discussed ad naseum by just about everyone who isn’t a pompous, self-righteous law school sycophant.
Am I being too harsh on Papke? Probably, but no more harsh than he was on Gideon. If those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach, then Papke is the poster boy for Law Professors. So if you need a lesson in how to be a miserable, pompous, disagreeable jerk, there’s a special seat for you in David Papke’s class at Marquette Law School. Otherwise, here’s 10 reasons to avoid Marquette Law School, and they’re all Papke.
Post Script: I have great respect for a number of the other lawprofs at Marquette, and offer my sympathies for having to hang out with this miserable jerk at faculty parties.