October 26, 2010

If this inspired you to go to law school...



... would you admit it now? Would you smile inwardly at your long-lost naivete?

26 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Was that really a popular movie once? The times they are a changing. Our self image is better focused now. The legal system is not love and acceptance based. It is about destroying others before they destroy you...and we keep score with dollars and ruined people.

EDH said...

If either that movie or TV spin-off inspired you to become a lawyer, a fortiori, you really did have a "skull full of mush."

Pogo said...

Seals and Crofts had a corner on treacle at the time.

Christopher said...

Very popular TV show. Cynical mockery is overrated and hadn't quite yet taken over pop culture.

I wanted to be lawyer once. In middle school I attended some summer seminar on the law. One day a local Newsday reporter arrived to write a story about it. I was quoted as saying something quite witty.

Which was actually stated by another student.

I became a journalist.

former law student said...

Once the struggling student with the sweet pregnant wife tried to kill himself, the appeal of the movie suffered a bit for me.

Similar reaction quoted in a contemporary Harvard Crimson article on the film: One first year law student said, "My first reaction was to go to the Crimson Travel Bureau and to get the heck out of here."

Robert Cook said...

I never went to law school or had the slightest desire to do so, but I very much enjoyed the original PAPER CHASE movie and subsequent television series.

Fred4Pres said...

I would be more impressed if a lawyer said he was inspired to join the profession by Matlock.

LA Law however would reveal one to be a shallow person.

ndspinelli said...

"You leave thinking like a lawyer."

Example: Gene Hackman character in The Firm, "Our only question is, who are we going to bill for this meeting?"

Skyler said...

The movie was an influence, slightly. The tv show? Not so much. It was terrible. Even for the day they were too hippyish.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am not sure how many wanna-be lawyers were that affected by this movie, but the law profs sure seem to have been. I think that for at least the 1st 20 years after the movie, this was seen as THE way to teach law school classes, esp. the basics like Contracts, Torts, etc.

It is called the "Socratic" method, but really isn't. And a lot of people have questioned whether that much intimidation really is that useful in teaching the law.

But to the critics, I would suggest that if you cannot survive the attempts by profs like that to intimidate you, then maybe you really are going into the wrong profession.

Robert said...

There are movies about lawyers? Who knew?

Emil said...

My motivation was partly as a tribute to my father - who practiced law for 50 years, but mainly as a reaction to the experience of going through a divorce in the mid-1980's, in Madison, WI. The process was so frustrating that I thought I needed to do something about it and I assumed that I would perhaps enter the legislature, or at least work to have the law changed. While in law school the blinders were removed and it became clear to me that there was nothing effective that the state could do in the area of divorce law. Better to leave it quick and dirty than to make it fair.

What I remember of the TV series was that they evidently filmed it in or near LA on some campus they found that had plenty of red brick buildings that, in a stretch, if you didn't think about it, could resemble Harvard Yard. In one sequence they had the cluster of students standing outside, in quilted jackets with scarves and hats, gloves, patting them selves and shuffling as if to keep warm while having a discussion. If you paid any attention there were a number of discontinuities that made it impossible to believe this was in the Boston area, or that this was winter. The light was too intense (as it might be in S. CA as opposed to Boston, there was no condensation forming from the breath of the actors as they conversed, and most telling was a jogger running by in the background in a tank top and shorts. The show had a really cheap look, even in first run on low-res TV.

former law student said...

There are movies about lawyers?

Wait a minute. The Paper Chase was not a movie about lawyers. The main characters were law students and law professors. Law students are not yet lawyers, and law professors are usually people who, once tasting being a lawyer, wisely chose academia instead.

kentuckyliz said...

I think Ann saw it and decided she wanted to be John Houseman and did the best she could--becoming a law professor.

Mom and I used to watch the TV show together. She tried to convince me to go to law school because I argued with her most brilliantly. However, I don't like conflict. (Other than with my mother during those crappy teen years)

hombre said...

The prof my first day in Torts: "Look to the right and to the left. Only one of the three of you will be here at graduation."

Cliche, but true. He didn't look or sound much like Houseman, but it was pre-Paper Trail.

Marcy said...

Finally, a conservative admits the power of culture to influence lives. Where have the conservatives been in the culture wars? AWOL. My husband was a charming, intelligent, masculine, Catholic, former paratrooper, actor who is now dead because liberals run the media unchallenged. Your dereliction of duty has allowed this country to elect two dangerous morons to the highest office in the land, and left 41 million men, women and children to languish in poverty on food stamps. Why won't you fight for your ideas? Are you all John Galt, so intelligently designed that you don't choose to sully your hands reaching for the hearts and minds of your fellow man? I want an answer. I was there trying to hold the line against the liberals in Hollywood and New York for 40 years. Where the F*** were you?

traditionalguy said...

Marcy...You have friends you have not met yet. But they are not perfect people. So lighten up some.

Pogo said...

I did find Marcy's comment intriguing, though. Long-suppressed righteous anger.

Her web site doesn't tell me how the left was responsible for her husband's death, but I'd like to know.

blake said...

What I remember of the TV series was that they evidently filmed it in or near LA on some campus they found that had plenty of red brick buildings that, in a stretch, if you didn't think about it, could resemble Harvard Yard.

USC.

UCLA doesn't have the red brick.

Bart DePalma said...

I was sorely disappointed that I could not find a single Houseman among my law school profs.

PatCA said...

I thought the TV and the movie were both great! It was a very idealistic time...much preferable to the nihilism of today's entertainment.

What made you decide to go to law school, Ann?

PatCA said...

Firefox crashes every time I leave a comment. Anyone having that problem?

Beldar said...

John Houseman, in both the "The Paper Chase" movie and the TV series, was exceptional. I saw him speak at UT-Law in 1980, and he told wonderful stories of being a radio actor with Orson Welles' company before the war; he was easily as compelling a figure addressing an audience as his character Professor Kingsfield.

Apart from him, however, in just about every respect, the book was better than the movie, and the movie was better than the TV series. The TV series was certainly at least adequate, though, in comparison to most of the other TV series of that day.

I had decided to go to law school before I read "Paper Chase" or saw either the movie or TV series. And I recall learning more about law school (or at least Harvard Law) from Scott Turow's excellent non-fiction memoir, "One-L." (Which left me confused, however, since at Texas they called the entering students "Freshlaws," not "One-Ls."

These late 20th Century depictions of law school were all notable for their lack of cynicism as compared with almost all current discussions of law school. Sometimes when I read websites like Above the Law, I'm saddened by how jaded everyone seems to be. "The Law" as a profession, though, at least as depicted in "The Paper Chase," seemed sweeter and nobler.

I blame Duncan Kennedy, the so-called "legal realists," and Harvard for screwing things up.

Methadras said...

John Houseman only enters my skull whenever I think about Puritan oil.

Anthony said...

Two things inspired me to go to law school

1. To Kill a Mockingbird
2. LA Law

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