Greetings from the Bottom of the Class


On the inside of one of the stall doors in the Hark’s gleaming marble men’s room, someone has posted a short Bible verse, entitled “the Great White Throne”. The throne in question is, presumably, where God sits in heaven, although, given its placement, one could be forgiven for having other ideas. However annoying it is to be subject to proselytization while sitting on the toilet, one has to give this Campus Crusader points for wit.

Unfortunately, the verse also struck a nerve for me this week: when my first semester 1L grades came out, nothing could have captured my emotions more appropriately than the image of my life being flushed down the toilet while I prayed for mercy from on high.

My grades are low. Spectacularly low. Lower than needed to fill out the curve. Lower than the lowest circle of Dante’s hell, where Lucifer thrashes Judas around in his mouth for eternity. At least Judas doesn’t worry about where he’s going to be working come 2L summer. From where I’m standing, spending forevermore being shredded by the Devil’s teeth doesn’t seem so bad.

Experience has taught me just how desperate this situation is. Some years ago, when I was working for a mid-sized law firm none of you have heard of, I wiled away an afternoon browsing through associates’ bios. When I was done with the Boston office, I’d move on to the branches: first Worcester, then Nashua, New Hampshire. Lo and behold, the Nashua branch of this forgotten little firm contained a graduate of the majestic Harvard Law School.

How could this be? I wondered. Surely, one does not turn down the opportunities afforded by HLS and move to Nashua for quality of life reasons: its sole distinction is that it contains the greatest concentration of strip malls per square kilometer in south-central northern New England.

And then it dawned on me: among the hundreds of brilliant people accepted every year into the elite ranks of HLS, all but one are stupid relative to someone else – and one is stupider than everyone else. Someone has to be the worst of the best.

The pedagogically crucial, divinely-ordained grading curve would not have it any other way. Classmates, I humbly admit: I am this year’s sacrificial lamb.

And so, resigned, I accept my lot. Once, dreams of clerkships, judgeships, mayoralities, and principalities danced in my head. But now, Nashua branch, I prostrate myself before you. Please, please give me a job. I am on two journals, and, I swear, neither of them is Unbound. I was on my middle school track team for one semester and, well, how fast can an ambulance go?

I will lower myself to any level of moral turpitude: I know you were behind the electoral fraud that cost Ron Paul 15 crucial primary votes last month, and I don’t care. Expanding gun ownership rights for ex-cons? Sounds like a heartwarming pro bono opportunity to me. Live free or die, right? No, don’t worry about me wrestling with ethical outrage: that kind of thing is for people who understand highfalutin philosophy-talk. Look at my grades! I surely don’t.

I will even return to Harvard, tail between my legs, and beg law review editors to consider your firm’s advantages over Wachtell and Cravath; you might only be able to pay associates enough to afford a Tercel, but what use is that Lamborghini or Maybach when they can’t park it anywhere near the Cartier store on Fifth Avenue during rush hour? Not even their chauffeurs or their personal shopping assistants can pull that off.

Wait, what? What do you mean you took that kid from the bottom of the class at Stanford? Something about US News? I guess I’ll have to consider my options.

I could always start over in another subject – let’s take art. There’s a great program at Ringling College (the one that trains artists, not clowns). I’d have my career in court even if it means I’m only sketching lawyers! My Legislation and Regulation notes may be nothing but a series of intricately crafted doodles, but they ought to make a strong start to my portfolio.

And if not – well, maybe the sort of law I’m looking for exists outside the airy abstractions of judges’ chambers. Maybe to truly understand the Chevron doctrine, I need to work at an actual Chevron.

If all else fails, I can always clean toilets. Aren’t lawyers basically society’s cleanup crew, anyway? Plus, I’m fairly certain the janitor’s guild doesn’t ask for transcripts. Mop and bucket in hand, I will finally be secure in a career, despite my evident slackerdom; I will sit on my Great White Throne, the Fresh Prince of laissez-faire. But before I go that far, I have a question for you Sears Prize winners: do any of you need a chauffeur? Or a personal shopping assistant?

Anonymous is a 1L

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