Monday, March 17, 2008

A how-to-guide

When I was a freshman in high school, I attended a makeout party in a classmate's house (yes, these parties actually exist). There, I also spent 7 scary minutes in a closet with Courtney S. (hey, you too would be scared if you were a cool but dorky 15 year-old guy who finds himself alone in a closet with one of the most popular sophomore girls in school). We all took a purity test there as well, and the main rule was that "all technicalities count" (hey, we all wanted to seem less pure than we actually were). What "all technicalities count" meant was that Jim in the first American Pie technically got to third base with Nadia.

So, how does my embarrassing repressed pubescent memories of a high school party have anything to do with the Law Review writeon?

No, it doesn't mean for you to lock yourself in the closet with the Editor in Chief. It's because my approach I advocate to you for your writeon diversity essay is called "All Technicalities Count." Having let you guys in on the horrors that awaits you on Law Review, I will now show those of you who've nonetheless decided to do the writeon how to approach the diversity essay in a way that maximizes your diversity.

I have no idea what this year's diversity essay will be about. But last year, it was something like "name one issue that was inadequately addressed by your first year classes and what unique perspective would you bring to Law Review" (though I would not be shocked if this was the same essay prompt this year because of Law Review's general lack of creativity). But regardless of the question, what Law Review basically wants to get at is a two-fold discussion of your diversities: your "intellectual" and "racial/ socio-economic/ sexual orientation" diversities.

While Law Review will claim that there are no right answers to the question, there are some answers that are more "right" than others. So, regardless of whether you actually believe in any of the enumerated list, here are some topics I "highly suggest" you write about.

"Right answers" for the intellectual diversity question include:
1. more interdisciplinary approach, known as the "law and" movement (law and economics, law and philosophy, law and gender, etc.)
2. more public-interest focus
3. more focus on sexual orientation impacts and stereotypes in the law
4. more focus on law as a mask for perpetuating the power of elites (critical legal studies)
5. more focus on the impact of race and discrimination in the law (critical race studies)
6. less black letter law and more theory, history, and policy

"Wrong answers" include:
1. more of the law from the white, rich, heterosexual male perspective
2. less of what the law should be and more on what the law is
3. law school is full of liberals and professors should reign in the liberal slant

Don't believe me? Here is an actual line from another internal Law Review memo: "A nondoctrinal approach could draw from critical legal studies, public policy, law and economics, law and literature, feminist jurisprudence, law and philosophy, political theory, critical race studies, or sexual orientation law."

For the "What unique perspective would you bring to Law Review" question, I advocate "All Technicalities Count." Basically, make yourself technically as diverse as possible. Some examples:
1. If you're only a very tiny bit Native American and once went gambling in a Native American casino, write about how you're "a Native American who spent time on a reservation."
2. If your father/mother is a Fortune 500 CEO who didn't spend a lot of time at home because he/she was jetting around the world for business meetings, write about how you were raised "primarily without my dad/mom."
3. If you went to a fancy magnet school in LA or any other "good" public school in LA, write about how you are "a proud product of local LAUSD schools."
4. If you got into USC for college only because your CEO dad is a big sports booster, write how "due to unfortunate family circumstances, I was forced to go to a second-tier university in a bad urban neighborhood."
5. If while in a sorority at the aforementioned University of Spoiled Children you kissed another girl because of a group of frat boys cheered you on, write about how you are LGBT. It is my understanding that among of the cornerstones of sexuality studies is how sexuality is (a) self-identified, (b) fluid, and (c) can change over time.
6. If you're a descendant of British/French/other European colonizers in Africa, write about your "African heritage." Likewise, if you're Egyptian.
7. If you grew up anywhere in LA County, where the "majority" is statistically the "minority," write about "growing up as a racial minority."
8. If you once went to spring break in Cancun/ Acapulco/ Cabo/ Negril/etc., write about how the "time you spent in a developing country really changed you."

While many of you are probably seething at how I am "gaming the system," I present these recommendations as ways to counter what I view to be an illegitimate evaluation mechanism. There is simply no statistical reason why selection of the best 35 Law Review writeon comments and production tests will not produce the requisite diversity (however you want to define that term). Through my "All Technicalities Count" mantra, I'm not encouraging lying, but merely suggesting ways to get as close to the line as possible without crossing it. After all, you cannot be blamed for any inferences Law Review makes about a 1L with "African heritage."

If anything, following my advice will actually help you for your future: isn't showing big corporations aiming to screw over the little guys how to get as close to the line without crossing into illegality what you will be doing anyway in Biglaw?


Blogger Butterflyfish said...

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5:07 PM  

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