Amicus Curiae

We're just like Scalia and Ginsberg, only we're 2Ls and not on the Supreme Court. Oh, and this Antonin doesn't sing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Lachrymose Library*

Dear Reader,

If you came to this blog looking for a clever, witty, and well-composed tale about the blunders of a University of Texas 1L, I humbly suggest you look elsewhere. Today's tale is filled with copious amounts of anguish and woe. Today I bring you the story of beleaguered law students, trapped in the bleak abyss that is the Tarlton Law Library. This is not a story for the faint of heart. If you are in the midst of finals and in need of a laugh, you will be much better off hitting the "back" button on your browser, going to Google, and typing in, "seriously need laugh."

I, Ruth, am obligated to record this woeful tale, but you are free to find more humorous reading materials.

With All Due Respect,


The word "study" comes from the ancient Greek word "etude" which means, "to bang one's head against a stone column repeatedly." One of the definitions of the modern word "study" is "a state of mental absorbtion." This particular definition aptly describes what law students do in the last two weeks of the semester. They mentally absorb an entire semester's worth of information that they should have been absorbing all semester, but couldn't be bothered. Others had been absorbing all semester, and a reasonable person might think that they would relax during finals, secure in their knowledge that they are thoroughly prepared and are certain to do well on the exam. Unfortunately, these particular law students think they are at Baylor rather than the University of Texas, and they are convinced that they will be forced to work at a personal injury boutique and put their picture on the back of the Yellow Pages if they don't have at least a 3.9 GPA. In other words, even the students who have been studying all semester long are stressed to their breaking point.

The Tarlton Law Library, once near-empty and a place of comfort, is now full of law students. These are not your usual, easy-going, flip flop wearing UT students. These are students in the midst of finals. The library has degenerated from being a quiet place of reading and relaxation to--well to put it bluntly--a jungle. And I don't mean jungle metaphorically. I mean that the students act like animals guarding their cubs as they become increasingly territorial. Don't believe me? Just walk through the Tarlton Law Library, preferably while wearing flipflops, walk to the table furthest in the back, and count the number of dirty looks you get as your flip flops disturb the students' mental states. Only four of the people you pass won't give you a hard time, but that's because they're wearing earplugs and didn't hear you in the first place.

In the unlikely event that you actually find a free table with a nearby plug for your laptop, it's probably because you reached it mere seconds before the girl who had been sitting at that particular table for the past few days. She will undoubtedly walk up just in time to see you place your laptop on the table (akin to a Conquistador putting the Spanish flag on the beach of a soon-to-be conquered land). Instead of simply moving on and looking for another table, she will attempt to shoot daggers at you with her eyes, sigh loudly, roll her eyes before she's completely turned her back to you, and walk away loudly. Later she will complain to her friends how you took her table and how she couldn't concentrate after that because the table she ended up sitting at faced a different direction and it messed up her chi.

The rest of the library is no less dejecting. Common scenes include guys pulling on their hair; wide eyes staring blankly at computer screens, their expressions revealing that they don't know this shit, and they certainly aren't going to know it by tomorrow's closed book exam; a girl passed out at a desk, the sheer exhaustion finally taking its toll. If you look hard enough, you might even find a girl who has reached her breaking point, and is crying in the library because she's going to fail Civil Procedure.**

Even when well-meaning people try to make small talk in the elevator, the subject inevitably turns to the dread subject of finals. How many do you have left? How long have you been studying tonight? How long is your outline? How many times did you retch before taking that PR exam?

I wish, dear readers, that I could tell you that this was fiction. I wish I could tell you that UT law students were well-balanced people, that they understood that we are at a Top 15 school, that our grades are inflated anyway, and that most professors just toss their exams down the stairs (which magically land in a bell curve) and your grade corresponds to the stair your exam landed on. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Most students 1Ls still labor under the misguided view that their hard work will actually materialize into a good grade. I also wish that I could tell you that I am calm, cool, and collected and thus not misled like the aforementioned 1Ls. But I would be lying, because my Civ Pro exam made me physically sick with anxiety.

And this is why I might try to avoid the Lachrymose Library as much as possible today and tomorrow. As I am determined not to stress over Property, there is no reason to subject myself to the substantial tension that just seems to float in the air there. Indeed, if the sun comes out and the mosquitoes don't, you might find me outside at a picnic table, reading my thirty-three Property syllabi, trying to make sense of the subject, but shrugging when I remember it's my last exam of the year and that I don't have enough left in me to care.


* Some of the writing style in this post was shamelessly swiped from Lemony Snicket. May he forever reign as the Prince of Woe.
** This may or may not have been me.


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