Thursday, March 7, 2019

Learned in School And Will Never Use IRL - Or So I Thought

The joke goes that so many things you learn in school you will never use in real life.  The funny thing about this is in actuality, at times, you do use those lessons in real life without even realizing it.  


For example, when you try to beat the red light, your mind is calculating how fast you must travel for a certain distance in order to get past the light before it turns green.  Your mind is really calculating trigonometry. Or is it calculus? Whatever it is, it sounds a lot like this math problem on analyzemath.com: 


Problem 1: A person 100 meters from the base of a tree, observes that the angle between the ground and the top of the tree is 18 degrees. Estimate the height h of the tree to the nearest tenth of a meter.


There are so many lessons in high school that you would think you will never need again. Law school is no different. How many times in law school did I learn a doctrine that I truly felt I will never use nor see ever again?    

Until that time that I did see it again... 


One day I was reading a book for my local book club, The Alienist by Caleb Carr.  First published in 1994, it was a major phenomenon, spending six months on the New York Times bestseller list, receiving critical acclaim, and selling millions of copies.  A "touchstone of historical suspense fiction", a period piece that is "fast-paced and riveting, infused with historical detail".  Sounded interesting enough! It is the last place I would think to find an esoteric legal doctrine I learned in my first year of law school, in Torts class no less.    


But there it was.  the text bounced off the pages of the book and knocked me into my quondam days of being a 1L: 

"Res ipsa loquitor".  


First of all, even the word "torts" is not one that is ever used outside the halcyon days of first year of law school.  Instead one says "personal injury case".  So to see res ipsa loquitor a decade later was a precipitous journey way back to sitting in the back of Torts class at Howard University. 


So for all  1L students struggling through your classes.  It may seem unforeseeable but don't worry because one of these days those seemingly expendable legal dogmas will creep up on you when you least expect it!  




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