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What I Learned in Law School

About a week after I found out I’d passed the bar exam in Utah, I was asked to speak to a business law class at Woodscross High School.  The class is part of the school’s career education curriculum, and the teacher is a close friend of my aunt’s (whom I was living with at the time).  The teacher told me that while it was a business law class particularly, that it would be interesting for the kids to have me talk about the law in general, things that legally affect them at the age they are now, why I chose to go to law school, etc., etc.  She showed me the textbook they’re being taught from–something about torts and legal liability in businesses–and I had to ratchet down my Law Student mentality and look at it in terms of what you can teach in a semester-long class to people who are not paying to be there and truly could not care less.

And so I did it.  I showed up, and, knowing how high school students are, expected to be asked a lot of personal or diversionary type questions.  (An aside:  After banging my head against the career wall for a year after my divorce, I had planned on getting my teaching certification for high school because I really do like teenagers.  They soooo like to have guest speakers, because they can sidetrack them in all sorts of ways to eat up a full class period and not get any homework from the day.)  The kids were great.  And I found myself, in the course of this hour and 20 minutes or so, distilling 3 years of law school into what the most important things were that I learned.  And so, in no particular order, The Most Important Things I Learned In Law School:

1)  When the Nice Officer asks if he can search your car, the correct answer is always NO.  If he had probable cause to search your car, he would already be in it.  Since he’s asking, he doesn’t, and even if you have absolutely nothing to hide from law enforcement, NO ONE has the kind of time in their day to have their car ripped from stem to stern in an effort for a bored cop to try and find something to nail you with.  (Closely related to this is the thing NEVER to say to the Nice Officer: “No you can’t search my purse because that’s where my marijuana pipe is.”  Seriously.)

2)  Be careful who you make babies with, because that person you think you’re so in love with now could turn out to be a total loser, and could own you for the next 18+ years.  I work a lot in family law, and have experienced Family Law up close and personal as well.  It’s hard enough to raise kids with someone you actually love and are married to.  Now imagine that scenario with some total jerk who is either using your kids as a weapon against you, or sucking you for child support.  Not Fun.

So there you have it.  I did learn a lot of other stuff, but most of it wasn’t really relevant to high schoolers (or most of the general public, for that matter.)  I do feel that in terms of living a successful life, following these two simple guidelines will significantly decrease the pain you may suffer.

(Oh, and the lunch lecture is almost always worth the free food offered to those attending, unless it’s the Patent Law attorney who is speaking.)

Categories: law general
  1. Michelle Jorgensen
    November 15, 2010 at 1:55 am

    I loved your blog and learned more about you. It’s wonderful to consider you a cousin of mine, even though it’s our parents who are cousins. It has been a blast getting to know this new woman and seeing how proud she is–she should be!! She has accomplished what many women are not capable of doing. She got past all the crap of a bad marriage and found herself. This woman is more than so&so’s wife.You are Marca. A wonderful example to women everywhere. When things get tough, the tough move on, making their lives more valuable!
    Love you and your strength!
    Michelle : D


  2. February 22, 2011 at 5:15 am

    It’s encouraging to read that our young people are able to discuss these most vital survival skills.


    • February 22, 2011 at 10:40 am

      I’m assuming this is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek response. Considering the trouble kids get themselves into when they don’t think, and the lasting consequences of their actions, I’m considering these two things to be pretty important. We also talked about how to avoid getting tagged as a sex offender for life by doing things kids think are completely innocuous. No one IS talking to them about these “most vital survival skills” as you called them. They have opportunity to learn in school how to balance their checkbooks, manage money (to a degree), learn some trade-type skills, and basic office-type skills. No one is telling them that sending partially nude photos of their underage girlfriends to all of their other friends via text messaging equals Distribution of Child Pornography. Surviving means not cutting off your own feet when you are 16 or 17. I think it IS encouraging that the kids I spoke with were willing to ask questions and discuss some of these things.


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