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Fraternity of the Damned

Dear Wormwood:

After the innumerable bake sales, drinking events, speaker meetings, dinner events, and even Law Revue [1], it will not be until this part of the year that you can join the most important social grouping: the Fraternity of the Damned. [2]

You join about twenty-four hours before your second legal memo is due. There's not really an initiation ceremony as such: you'll just be able to tell your fellow members from how they look. Bruised eyelids over bloodshot eyes, an unbalanced air of distraction, they'll be murmuring about causes of action and counting the hours until it's over.

I'm a member of the Fraternity, dear Wormwood, and while I will pass on the required warning against membership, there are some advantages. For one thing, you will never spend too much time on a task that you leave to the last minute. Required as our memo is, it's a pass-fail task, and thus allocating time elsewhere is not unwise. Similarly, while the stress in the last two days is awful, it is only stress for two days. This is particularly useful if you're a not-so-young man who wants to keep his hair.

Anyway, here's the important thing about Fraternity membership: in the end, you know you're not alone. In the weeks leading up to this hazing ritual, you'll hear a lot from the non-members. They'll ask you to justify your position on how you should Bluebook quotations from Egyptian law review articles on conversion of intellectual property relating to bovines, leaving you to sheepishly admit that you've not started your research yet. Undeterred, they'll question you as to whether the dissenting opinion in a state court ruling that was overturned might be used to justify a novel reading of an otherwise unquestioned area of law in a federal case brought on diversity jurisdiction. You'll look blank. And they'll keep going, even though you have nothing to say on the matter, because... well, who knows? This will make you feel very alone.

Here is where the Fraternity of the Damned steps in. These are the people you'll want to buy drinks with after you've been up all night crying over string citations. They're the people who, when you say, "Yeah, I've only begun researching summary judgment," reply, "Oh, yeah, I need to write that section too, don't I?." Every member knows that tonight is going to be a very long night, and that they'll be enjoying copious amounts of Colombia's finest (legal) export well after most of humanity is in bed. In short, they're the people who don't make you feel ashamed that despite your fine time management skills, you're about to pull the equivalent of an undergrad allnighter.

We don't have t-shirts yet. But I'm working on it.

[1] A song-and-dance number put on by members of Columbia Law School once a term. Congratulations to everyone who played a part in it last week, it was top notch.

[2] I use the term 'fraternity' loosely, because in no sense is the Fraternity closed to women. It's an equal opportunity group, open to members of all races, creeds, genders, sexual orientations, and political affiliations, nor does it discriminate on the basis of age.


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Can I start a chapter? Late nights, lots of coffee, cigarettes, it must be memo time for 1L's everywhere. And more important: how the hell did you get so lucky as to have a pass/fail memo?
Mine is not to reason why, at least on that count. And my friend, if you have to ask if you can start a chapter, you probably already belong.
Lovely post. New t-shirt ideas: Res Ipsa Loquitor, sed in infernos dicet? You know your in lawschool when: 1. Torts, torts, everywhere, torts. 2. Your friends tell jurisdiction based jokes and you laugh. 3. You are more than $100K in debt and have nothing to show for it. 4. You can use the words "promissory estoppel" in conversation. 5. The four food group are coffee, beer, coke and pizza. 6. You own more than 3 travel coffee mugs. 7. You haven't been separated from your laptop in over 2 months. 8. Your Mom thinks you hang out with a couple of guys named Gilbert and Emmanual. 9. You suddenly find you have a preference for Lexis. 10. You can create a coherent argument to explain why Homer Simpson cannot sell his soul to the devil based on Moore v. Regents of California. One for the lessons from law school: in order to preserve a claim...never eat more than one substance from more than one vendor at the same time.
Hmm. I want to add to your list: You, and the statistical majority of your friends, have real and deeply held views on the best highlighters. You can hold this discussion for over a quarter of an hour.

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