You all get multiple posts today, because I have a bunch of different things I want to write about before the end of the semester, and I don’t know if I’ll have time later. This post will be half gushing love and half airing grievances… and maybe a little bit in the middle. The bad stuff will come first, and I’ll finish up on a positive note. I won’t talk about exams (much).
I have three real law classes. (I’ve complained about my fourth class elsewhere, so no more of that.) The professors for my classes could not possibly be more different. Friday was the last day of class, and because of NYU’s strict anonymity requirements for exams, the last time I’ll see these professors until January at the earliest.
My Torts professor is … difficult. She’s done great things in the field, apparently, is extremely broadly-published, etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately, none of that makes for a great professor. She railroads discussions when she’s not lecturing or soapboxing, which is frustrating enough. Otherwise, she lets one or two students dominate the discussion. If a student voices a view that she disagrees with, they’re unceremoniously cut off. Class lectures/discussions essentially mirror exactly what the readings were for that day. She seems to want parrots, instead of the critical thinking I was promised. She’s also been rather rude to students on multiple occasions. And instead of making class about the students getting as much out of it as possible, she makes it about citing herself, and showing us her publications. Which would be fine, if they directly related to the course work, but they’re more specific than what we’re going over. And finally, she assigns way more reading than is reasonable.
My Civ Pro professor is an amazing lawyer. He’s done amazing things in his field, and he is absolutely brilliant. He treats students with respect, and seems to think we’re all significantly smarter than we actually are. He has the utmost faith in us, and believes that we will do amazing things. He’s been a practicing attorney since before our parents were born – he was practicing during the Civil Rights movement. He’s been in movies! He has awesome stories, and he uses them to illustrate his points. But I’m not really sure how much Procedure I really learned in this class. I’m kind of glad that Civ Pro wasn’t a field I was planning on going into in depth, because I don’t know that I have much of a foundation. He also doesn’t work or think linearly, which really shows in his diagrams on the board. They’re more abstract than anything else. Taking notes in his class is challenging.
My Contracts professor is amazing. He’s not only well respected in his field, but also a great educator. He has a (dry and sarcastic) sense of humor. He explains things clearly. Or at least, as clearly as he’s able under the circumstances. (Courts don’t like making things easy on us.) He lets students raise points on both sides, lets us disagree with each other and with him, and lets us figure things out on our own (with prodding). He hides the ball, but gives you hints to find it. His readings are reasonable, and all pertain to the class. (He picked my favorite TA. Civ Pro has none, and Torts has none that worked for me.) And perhaps most importantly, he really cares about teaching, and about teaching first years. I first realized that during the lunch with faculty that we had. But it really came home on the last day of class. He made a cute speech – a reading from Virgil’s last lines to Dante in Canto 27 of Purgatory. Essentially it was about how he’s done as much as he can to help us and now we have to do the rest ourselves. But he thinks that we’ll be amazing doing it, whatever we decide “it” should be. When he finished, he wished us luck, said goodbye, voice cracking, and fled the room.
I initially was intrigued by Torts, and thought Contracts would be a drag. Now that the semester is coming to a close, I’m not remotely interested in Torts. I am, however, planning on trying to take another class with my Contracts professor. I’m even vaguely interest in seeing about working on white collar crime/fraud/etc. (In case there’s confusion, I want to prosecute the crimes, not perpetrate them.) If I work in a firm (more on this in a later post), I’ll definitely be heading that route. (Not necessarily prosecution, but fraud stuff etc. I suppose I’d probably end up in defense…)
It’s amazing the difference a teacher can make.