Wading into it… (against my better judgement)

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

I turned off comments on my post about leaving law school because I don’t really care about people who think hazing is normal, that one should not complain ever, etc. I wrote about what I felt like was a toxic, soul crushing environment. People did not question my account of what happened. Rather they were insulting me for being bothered by being singled out.

Instead of try to reply to each comment, which I would have felt compelled to do, I just turned them off. I did not want to have to address how someone saying “It’s just hazing” is exactly part of the problem I described. I did not want to go through all my points again because people can not read and thought I was complaining about having to work hard.

Someone resorted to trying to post on my “Who am I?” page instead. All my comments are set up to require prescreening so I got it in an email. I am not putting it through as a comment because I don’t want it on my personal info page. Instead I am going to post it in this entry along with my itemized response to it. The person who wrote it (I can not verify that it was written by North, it could be an impostor)  clearly did not understand my problem at all. The numbers in parenthesis are added so I can easily reference pieces of it in my reply.

The comment and my reply to it (all unusual capitalization, spacing etc is how the comment was received, I copy and pasted it directly):

An Open Response To My students who Stayed the Course:

I waited ever so diligently before I prepared my response. It is sad that the student chose to participate in a Profession with an undergraduate attitude. Based on that commentary, I submit the following response.
It amazes me that after 3 weeks (1) in law school you now speak as an expert in a course (2) where in my estimation you were mediocre at best. (3) I accept my responsibility, as your professor, for trying to have Standards and Expectations.  After thirty years in this profession, I am amazed that we have finally created a vehicle where cowards can express their accusations without retribution. (4) I am sure that you were told that law school requires a great deal of reading and preparation. I review countless syllabi from around the country as well as articles on best practices in law school. The assignments I give model the Dressler text and the standard set by the American Bar Association. (5) The disingenuous assessment is dead wrong but be encouraged, I am responsible for the following.

• I accept responsibility for expecting you to read each assignment, and respond to a series of questions based on that assignment. (6)

• I accept responsibility for expecting you to be able to verbalize your understanding of that material.

• I accept responsibility for asking you to give a little of your personal time to make sure you get a detailed understanding of the material. (7)

• I accept responsibility for expecting you to be in class on time. (8)

• I accept responsibility for expecting you to read the textbook cases as assigned on the syllabus and to read cases outside of the class text that add a different perspective on the concepts.

• I accept responsibility for HAVING WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS THAT MUST BE TURNED IN WHEN THIS IS NOT REQUIRED IN ANY OTHER CLASS. (9)

• I accept responsibility for covering more than twelve crimes in AN ACADEMIC SEMSTER because you believe they are the only ones that will be placed on the bar exam. (10)

• I accept responsibility for being born in a time where mediocrity is considered contra to personal ambition.

• I also accept responsibility for taking my personal time to meet with you about your assignments so you can  have legitimate one-on-one feedback. (11)

• I accept responsibility for a legal community that has made it clear that law schools must do more to critique students in the admissions process because of a lack of necessary character to be lawyers.

• I also accept responsibility for being on an island where Very Few Sturdy Ships Pass. (12)

• I accept responsibility for teaching at a time when students expect professors not to challenge them, or ask them to do anything except allow them to listen. A time when students themselves determine if they will participate or not.

As I see it, this is a time when students expect professors to simply adorn their very presence. (13)

I will not succumb to the meritocracy that surrounds me everyday. I will not allow anyone to denigrate my efforts and this LAW SCHOOL’S motto, “Seriousness Of Purpose.” (14)

It is sad that there was such an awful waste of a spot in law school but someone when there are individuals yearning to be a part of this profession. (15)

The legal profession is very demanding and the new character and fitness standards are critical to our efforts to regain the trust of each community. The Judges and Bar Associations around the country have made it clear that you must meet the whole lawyer concept.

Popularity plummets when you expect students to be fully engaged in a course as trying as criminal law.  (16)

Some students simply want you to walk into a law school classroom, give them the exam (with the answers on it) and allow them to turn it in when they feel like it. (17)

Some Students will turn in a late assignment, even when they themselves set the return date, and they expect the instructor to understand. (18)
I believe that this is a law school of opportunity; however, do not misunderstand, at SULC, we are about the business of training the finest lawyers in the nation.

I DO NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYONE’S LACK OF CANDOR AND YOUR INABILITY TO GET THE JOB DONE. MAYBE NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER TOLD YOU THIS BEFORE OR MAYBE IT JUST MIGHT POSSIBLY BE YOU.  (19)

I DO HAVE MORE TO SAY, BUT I HAVE TO IMMERSE MYSELF IN THE STUDY OF CRIMINAL LAW.

PROFESSOR NORTH (20)

(1) Factually incorrect, not three weeks. I left in my 6th week.

(2) I made no claim to be an expert in Criminal Law.

(3) Insulting my ability even though it is irrelevant to the subject of my post.

(4) He says accusations but does not point out anything factually incorrect in my story. The term retribution really reinforces my image of a toxic environment where dissent is not permitted. Also, coward- the trend of personal insults continues.

(5) Clearly he misunderstands my problem and believes it to be about hard work.

(6) He doesn’t address whether he sent out assignments suddenly and with little notice which was part of my problem

(7) Yet again my issue was lack of notice. If I had been told 2 days in advance about the live chat it wouldn’t have bothered me at all. That was not the case.

(8) Thirty minutes early and on time are simply not the same thing.

(9) No explanation of requiring hand writing. That requirement was central to my frustration with his assignments as it wasted time that I could have used for other courses. Hand writing takes about 20 min extra per brief.

(10) Seriously? I didn’t say he should only cover 12 cases. No one said that.

(11) Also not what I was frustrated by.

(12) Some of his comments seem to be pretty strange…

(13) More things that weren’t the issue. In fact, by asserting that as why I have an issue with his behavior there is some implication that  other professors don’t challenge students or students would have an issue with them as well…

(14) The law school also emphasizes professionalism and screaming that you are mad is not professional.

(15) Insulting me personally again instead of actually addressing the problems I had with the environment

(16) See 13, this implies negative things about popular professors.

(17) and (18) Did not ask for either of these. Had every assignment on time.

(19) My inability to get the job done? I did not say I couldn’t finish things. I said I refused to continue in a soul crushing environment.

(20) While I can’t verify this to be North, the unusual use of caps is characteristic of what I have seen of his writing.

In summation, I wrote about the environment of law school not the academic challenges and got an angry response that implied that I was lazy and stupid. It did not argue that the events did not occur as I described.

Most of all the response crystallized for me just how toxic of a place law school can be. Speaking about what happened to me garnered a reply of anger and insults. It was in at least some people’s minds not okay to tell people about my experience. They believe being unwilling to endure hazing efforts meant I did not want to work hard.

Toxic and soul crushing.

At this point I am washing my hands of it.

No more comments on it will be posted nor will I make any more replies. I would not have wrote this reply if the comment had not been so strange.

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