Office hours.

Last year, a 3L friend of mine told me his biggest regret of 1L year was not making more use of office hours. I decided to take his advice, and availed myself of professors’ office hours regularly as a 1L.

So far this year, I have been to an office hour once. I can say to my 3L friend, who is now waiting for the results of his bar exam: you weren’t missing much.

Let’s just get this right out on the table: law professors are weirdos. All of them. And they are just not the kind of people I enjoy spending 1-on-1 time with.

Certainly, each law professor is weird in his or her own special way. But there are a few broad types you run into at office hours:

Mr. Old School. You can tell him your name when you come in & he won’t remember it 3 minutes later. Refuses to make eye contact.

Mr. Hot Air. Fond of long, pointless digressions that never answer your question. So you have to figure out tactful ways of asking the same question over and over.

The Automaton (aka The BSoD). This is a common affliction. You ask the professor some variation on a theme she introduced in class and you get the frozen stare of non-comprehension. After a quick ‘internal reboot’ she will summarize exactly what she said in class, taking no notice of your question.

Man of the People. Usually a young professor, not yet tenured. Tells you to use his first name (to show you how ‘down’ he is) but then twitches every time you do (because it reminds him how far he still has to go).

Ms. Befuddlement. Simply doesn’t understand the material very well and gets flustered when you inadvertently point out errors and contradictions in her explanation. Sometimes confused with The Automaton. Here’s how to tell the difference: The Automaton has mastered the material, but just doesn’t care to answer your question. Ms. Befuddlement lacks the cognitive skill to do so.

Mr. Open Door Policy. The professor doesn’t have fixed office hours and encourages everyone to drop by anytime because he’s “always in his office”. 80% of the time you drop by, he’s not there. The other 20% he’s on the phone and asks you to come by in an hour. At which point he won’t be there.

The Shirker. Another common affliction. She says office hours are Weds 3-5pm. You go by at 3pm and there’s a note on the door saying ‘back at 3:45pm’. You go back at 4:00 and the note’s still there.

Ms. Attention Deficit Disorder. Friendly for about 15 seconds but then starts exuding the umistakable vibe that she has about 23 things laying on her desk she’d prefer to be looking at instead of you. Will always take a phone call while you’re sitting there. May even do some email. Eventually you’ll realize you’re better off asking a classmate.

12 Oct 05


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