Law School for Cretins – UK Edition
I realise that the true hay-day of ‘the dummies’ series of books has been and gone several years ago now and I think it’s fairly common knowledge that the vast range of topics on which these books exist almost beggars belief. It should come as no surprise, then, that there is a genuine ‘Law School for Dummies’ – pitched at US law school. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before a UK edition of an equivalent title rears its head?
I’m all for good preparation and self-help (up to a point) though I’ve never been a big believer in self-help books per se – perhaps because of their generally patronising approach which invariably promise the world and fall woefully short or the fact they tend to lead the reader on a helter-skelter trip into the bleeding obvious. I’m not quite sure who would actually buy Law School for Dummies: potential students, the interested lay person – if such persons exist – or desperate students looking for shortcuts to success?
In the case of the latter category, sound, useful advice is always a good thing, I guess, though I feel that while some study techniques are more conducive to success than others, there are very few shortcuts or quick fixes to be found out there. Study methods are also a matter of personal taste – a fact I highlighted in my recent ‘How to revise for a law exam’ post.
I’m also not sure that dumbing-down the law school experience, what it demands from students and offering supposed shortcuts to academic success can be a good thing. The graduate market is already over-saturated with second-rate law graduates churned out from former polytechnics and encouraging more like ‘Paul-shouldn’t-have-gone-to-Uni’ to leap into the breach can surely only exacerbate the problem.
In fairness to the US edition of the book which I’ve electronically thumbed through (at least the limited preview available on Amazon, anyway) it did seem to strike a reasonably cautious tone in warning of the hard work ahead and so on. That said, the closing chapter is entitled, ‘Ten little-known Law School Secrets’. Yeah, good luck with those.
Maybe I’m being overly harsh here. Still, I find it vaguely troubling that the title ‘Law School for Dummies’ even exists. It can hardly stand as the proudest addition to a law student’s bookshelf and supposing you were gifted such a book for Christmas? I should imagine that such a present would take some serious bouncing-back from.