March 11, 2010

"I went to Cornell.... Ever heard of it?"

There's this:



And then there's the WSJ article calling Cornell Law School "white hot" and it wasn't clear what the reason was.

Some Cornell Law School applicants were citing that Andy Bernard character on "The Office" — in the clip — so the school "decided — let's have a little fun with this." They put the "Office" character on the front page of their website in a slideshow along with various "distinguished" alumni.

And some alumni, distinguished, presumably, but a lack of a sense of humor, started blogging things like "Somebody at the Law School Needs to be Fired." Oh, now they've updated that post to specify that the problem is that Andy Bernard isn't a positive character. He's "like the uncle in your family that nobody quite likes" and "you don't bring him up unless asked." And what are we to think about someone who demands that somebody get fired because he pushed the comedy envelope a little? If I had an uncle who did that I wouldn't quite like him.

An ear for humor is an excellent attribute for a prospective law student. When you read legal arguments, one thing you do is ask: Does this pass the laugh test? Understanding humor is a legal skill, people. Use it. And value your colleagues who have it.

So I think the new popularity of Cornell Law School might be that there are a lot of smart young people who think it will be cool to be able, some day, to say: "I went to Cornell.... Ever heard of it?" And I hope when they get into court, they run rings around the stuffed shirts who can't understand why you'd want to identify with a fictional fool.

***

Disclaimer: My son went to Cornell.  

Ever heard of it?

41 comments:

Danny said...

applied to Cornell for undergraduate studies, didnt get in, so, I graduated from Michigan instead.
GO BLUE!!!!

Ann Althouse said...

"once this darned brain-tumor/cancer crap situation is resolved"

I hope that's just a joke, but if not, I hope the situation is indeed resolved. On the bright side, your experience will provide excellent material for the personal statement on your application.

ricpic said...

"Understanding humor is a legal skill, people.

An assertion. Maybe so maybe no. But not self-evident, at least to me. Doesn't the case have to be made with an example or two?

CatherineM said...

Is this a good idea for Cornell since Andy is so dumb?

The actor who plays him actually went to Yale.

It's usually those who went to Yale, in my experience, who mention they went to Yale. A lot. Especially if they are losing an argument. For some reason, I have never witnessed those who went to other Ivy's do that.

Joseph said...

Nicely said. An acute sense of humor is definitely a useful legal skill.

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skyler said...

Understanding humor is a legal skill, people.

Sometimes law professors can be so full of themselves. Is there any trait that a human being can possess that a law professor won't claim is critical to being a lawyer?

Skyler said...

On the bright side, your experience will provide excellent material for the personal statement on your application.

Yeah, because having a disease is so a critical trait for being a lawyer.

Scott M said...

Is there any trait that a human being can possess that a law professor won't claim is critical to being a lawyer?

Being warm-blooded? Not having teeth arranged in a circular pattern designed for attaching to larger fish?

lol

Jay Tea said...

I was certain I wouldn't be the first to make a Keith Olbermann reference. Mr. Olbermann, who is so proud of being a Cornell alum.

Cornell Agricultural School, of course.

J.

AllenS said...

I've heard of the Cornell Law School, but I've been in Cornell, WI.

Fred4Pres said...

They always have Olbermann...oh wait, he went to the animal college down the road.

Joan said...

Yeah, because having a disease is so a critical trait for being a lawyer.

Seriously, you went there? How about: because how you deal with having a potentially fatal disease reveals a lot about your character. Sheesh.

My husband graduated from Cornell. Andy Bernard cracks him up. The only times I've ever heard him mention Cornell is when someone specifically asks him about college. Even if he's referencing something he did while there -- like playing in the band -- he'll just say "when I was in college," not "when I was at Cornell."

I think it's great that the school can poke fun at itself -- and capitalize on a moment in pop culture -- this way.

I like to think that most people realize the only time what school you went to, and how well you did there, is important is when you're interviewing for your first job after graduation. After that your resume should be about your experiences in the non-academic (aka "real") world.

Lem said...

Is there any trait that a human being can possess that a law professor won't claim is critical to being a lawyer?

A wise latina ;)

Pogo said...

1) Using the Andy Bernard character violates the Never Offend Anyone rule of the Maintaining a Bland Corporate Website stylebook.

2) Re: 'An ear for humor is an excellent attribute for a prospective law student.'
Yes, as it can be a good proxy for bullshit detection or gullibility.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Ever heard of it?

Since I was a kid. My dad went there as an undergrad - chemistry major.

Lem said...

Is there any trait that a human being can possess that a law professor won't claim is critical to being a lawyer?

A wise latina ;)


Unless she is buxom and beautiful.

WV "rehorn" What men need to do after the first round of sex.

Pogo said...

"Is there any trait that a human being can possess that a law professor won't claim is critical to being a lawyer?"


Thrift, frugality, forbearance, leniency, mercy.

Not critical.

Richard Dolan said...

Yes, everyone hates lawyers -- until they need one to save themselves, that is. Trite, boring.

Why is Cornell LS popular with applicants? Probably because it is the easiest of the Ivy LSs to get into. Call it a flight to quality in a down market, with a dose of realism on the part of the applicants thrown in. Law students tend to be very practical about their reasons for attending one LS rather than another -- cost to get through, and job prospects when you do, are high on the list. These students provide a fine example of rational consumers making choices in a marketplace.

A lawyer's basic job is to persuade others to see something his way -- a legal point, a negotiating problem, a business issue, whatever. It's helpful to have good reasons, and an ability to explain them, to get you there. But you also need the 'people' skills. "Ever heard of it?" is probably not a persuasive thing to say to anyone, at least in the way this guy does it.

Pogo said...

"Yes, everyone hates lawyers -- until they need one to save themselves, that is. Trite, boring."

The primary reason most US citizens will need one is to save themselves from the kudzu of rules and regulations created by lawyers, a mechanism that would make Kafka proud.

It's been the only successful perpetual motion machine I know of, though it is entirely parasitic.

I find that neither trite nor boring.

Richard Dolan said...

"It's been the only successful perpetual motion machine I know of, though it is entirely parasitic."

Ridiculous. The 'perpetual motion machine' has another, more familiar name: democracy. "[T]he kudzu of rules and regulations" aren't "created by lawyers" -- a law degree gives no one any such power.

Here's a news flash: People use government and the tools it offers to shape the world they live in, and (surprise!) they don't all agree about what that world should look like. That generates some heat, lots of disputes, and occasional medical problems. Lawyers are involved in all of that -- so are doctors and everyone else. And if your basic gripe is that doctors get sued too much for malpractice (they certainly do), it's well to remember that it takes a jury of non-lawyers to decide the case against the doctor, and that doctors win most malpractice cases that go to trial.

MadisonMan said...

I think people want to go to Cornell because of the fabulous winter weather there.

miller said...

Law Quad at A2 is phenomenal. Closest thing to a secular church I've seen.

El Pollo Real said...

I know a Cornell chemistry professor who put out a Fatwa on me should I ever get a law degree.

I have nothing to worry about.

Blue@9 said...

Why is Cornell LS popular with applicants? Probably because it is the easiest of the Ivy LSs to get into.

I think this nails it. I imagine that applications at the T14 schools are all up significantly. If you're going to burn six figures on a law degree, best to get one that maximizes your chances at a high-paying job.

veni vidi vici said...

You're funny. The end of this post was great.

Sigivald said...

Cornell... they're the guys who make that white ceramicware with the blue flowers, right?

MPorcius said...

Cornell? Pfft! I went to Rutgers, like Mr. Magoo!

http://ruweb.rutgers.edu/timeline/1960a.htm

Pogo said...

I'm not thinking of malpractice, but of the simple act of being a citizen.

The rules and regulations are indeed created almost entirely by lawyers. Only 6% of workers are lawyers, but 45% of the members of Congress are lawyers.

Volokh argues that "we need a lot of lawyers because we have a lot of laws." I think he have a lot of laws because lawyers intentionally made government the most powerful thing in our lives, cementing their utility forever.

Not surprisingly, lawyers are overwhemingly Democrats.

In the last 10 years, the legal profession has led all other groups in campaign contributions-giving a total of $357 million to federal candidates. 70% of its cash goes to Democrats. The 56,000 member Trial Lawyers association was the top PAC contributor to Democratic federal candidates in the last election. It spent $2.6 million, 86% went to Democrats.

Big Mike said...

My son went to Cornell.

Ever heard of it
?

Isn't that a little land grant college by some lake somewhere?

Joe said...

Sure, I've heard of it. I hear there's one in New York, too.

chuck b. said...

This guy always makes me laugh. I'd like to see him do something with Jason Sudeikis from SNL.

Mark O said...

Didn't go to Cornell. Didn't apply. Thought it was part of a sandwich.

Roman said...

Cornell who?

Samuel said...

Sigvald: Nah, those guys are just down the street.

Cornell is the place where you've got to be careful in the winter, or you might slide down the hill into Cayuga Lake.

Slightly more seriously: it's not easy to learn to drive stick in collegetown.

Dad Bones said...

There's also Cornell College in Mt Vernon, Iowa, older and even more obscure than the 'famous' Cornell no one has ever heard of.

Palladian said...

[singing]

Far Above Cayuga's Waters
comes an awful smell
from an old, deserted out-house
that they call Cornell...

SukieTawdry said...

Not only have I heard of it, I dated it through my college years.

rcocean said...

Whats funny is people like me, who grew up in the West don't know where Cornell is, or why its important.

We know about Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth but all the other Ivies are a bit of a mystery. Lets see: Cornell, Penn (somewhere in Pennsylvania, I assume), Brown (wherever the hell that is) and ...

Better go to Stanford.

joated said...

Lack of humor amongst the alums?

Rutgers owns up to and is proud of Mr. Magoo!

itzik basman said...

America's Top Law Schools
Rankings for 2009-10

[Updated August 9, 2009]

First-Tier Law Schools

1 Harvard Law School

2 Stanford Law School
2 Yale Law School

4 Columbia Law School
4 NYU School of Law
4 University of Chicago Law School

7 Cornell Law School
7 Georgetown University Law Center
7 Northwestern University School of Law
7 UC Berkeley School of Law
7 University of Michigan Law School
7 University of Pennsylvania Law School
7 University of Virginia School of Law

14 Duke University School of Law
14 UCLA School of Law
14 University of Southern California Law School
14 Vanderbilt University Law School

18 Boston College Law School
18 Boston University School of Law
18 University of Minnesota Law School
18 University of Texas School of Law
18 Washington University School of Law

23 Emory University School of Law
23 Fordham University Law School
23 George Washington University Law School
23 Notre Dame Law School
23 University of Illinois College of Law
23 University of Iowa College of Law

29 Carolina Law (UNC)
29 University of Washington School of Law
29 University of Wisconsin Law School
29 Washington and Lee University School of Law
29 William and Mary School of Law

34 George Mason School of Law
34 Ohio State University College of Law
34 Tulane Law School
34 UC Davis School of Law
34 UC Hastings College of the Law
34 University of Georgia School of Law

40 American Univ., Washington College of Law
40 Baylor University Law School
40 Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (Yeshiva)
40 Indiana U. School of Law--Bloomington
40 University of Arizona College of Law
40 University of Connecticut School of Law
40 University of Florida Levin College of Law
40 University of Maryland School of Law
40 Wake Forest University School of Law

49 Arizona State University College of Law
49 BYU, J. Reuben Clark Law School
49 Case Western Reserve U. School of Law
49 University of Alabama School of Law
49 University of Cincinnati College of Law
49 University of Colorado School of Law
49 University of Miami School of Law
49 University of Utah College of Law

Rick said...

(A&S) 89, MA 93, PhD 98. Co-workers who watch "The Office" tell me about it all the time. Could I have known your son? :-)