KABOOM!* Our Hyper-Sensitive Future Lawyers


Well, friends, for the second time this month my brains are on the ceiling, walls and floor again, and I’ve had to gate the dog so that…well, you know.

Columbia Law School announced that it is permitting students who are so devastated by recent non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner matters to postpone taking their final exams. Isn’t that nice?

By “nice, “I mean stupid, irresponsible and embarrassing. You can read the Dean’s nauseatingly delicate statement here: I don’t want it polluting the blog, so I’m not going to quote it. Besides, if I look at it again, who knows what else might be on my walls.

This is already a double Kaboom! of sorts. Blast One is that the administration of a major law school is so craven and politically correct that it would aid, abet and tacitly approve a demonstration of manifest unfitness to practice law, or for that matter, function in a complex world, like, let me see, I believe the word I’m looking for is “grown-up.” Professionals have to do their job when they are sick. They have to do their job when they are depressed, or when tragedy strikes. Do you know what I would say to an actor who came to me and said, “I’m not going to be able to perform tonight: I’m just too upset that the Staten Island grand jury didn’t hand down an indictment”? In order: 1) “You’re kidding, right? Tell me you’re kidding. 2) Here’s the number of a good psychiatrist. Call it” and 3) “You’re fired, and I don’t want to see you at an audition again.” This kind of sensitivity is exactly the wrong lesson to be teaching future lawyers; in fact, it is professional negligence.

Kaboom! Two is based on the realization that Columbia law students are incapable of analyzing the grand jury verdicts in both Ferguson and Staten Island according to what they have been taught—negligence is a 1L area, for example, and so is criminal law—and apparently can’t understand what occurred at a higher level than the typical looter, Al Sharpton, or the staff of MSNBC.

Over at Powerline, Jim Hinderaker theorizes..

“What is really behind the request for postponement of exams? I suspect it’s the fact that the students in question would rather protest with their friends and perhaps disrupt New York City than read cases, review lecture notes, or whatever it is that students do these days to prepare for exams. In addition, the students in question presumably want the law school to take their side on what they take to be a political question. In other words, this is, in part, a power play.”

He may be right. It doesn’t make me feel any better about the next generation of lawyers, at least those issuing from Columbia, and it doesn’t clean my walls.  If you are going to have the vapors every time you sniff injustice in the air, the law is the wrong profession for you. Try grooming poodles. And if you are so craven that you can’t tell the students you are supposed to be educating that they need to show sterner stuff than a six-year old whose goldfish died, you are an incompetent fraud.

*For newcomers, a Kaboom! is a special Ethics Alarms designation for news stories that cause the proprietor’s head to explode.


30 thoughts on “KABOOM!* Our Hyper-Sensitive Future Lawyers

  1. The statement implicitly treats Garner and Brown as equivalent and legitimate reasons to lose faith in the law. I think that qualifies dean Robert Scott and the other named faculty members as passengers on the Ferguson ethics train wreck. They further seem to think that students of color especially have a reason to fear, meaning that they are asserting racism despite the lack of evidence.

    Not recognizing the distinctions between the two cases is signature significance of illogical thought.

  2. I thought at first, that this was at least a parody, if not an outright hoax. A Trauma Specialist? First thought, “You’re joking, right?” But, no, it’s Colombia, which I think, is relatively prestigious. So, this now comes under the Heading “What Were They Thinking?”. Of course the students are going to buy into this, but for the administration and professors to do so is idiotic.

      • I’m glad your nephew has already graduated because ( god forbid) if I ever find myself in a bad fix and need an attorney I will make sure the attorney is not a Columbia graduate from this class and on. I can just see myself now in front of a judge, with my attorney and my attorney’s trauma specialist.

    • Columbia also employs a professor who articulated the wish that the US military experience “a million Mogadishus” when we began the war on terror. Using the concept of signature significance, this idiocy shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s pathetic to see what the Ivy League has sunk to. I’m personally acquainted with some now-retired academics who came to be in the Vietnam era and are still patting themselves on the back as the generation that got us out of a war we should never have been in and lamenting that the current young generation didn’t do the same in sufficient numbers to achieve the same defeat.

      • Steve, I don’t know enough about law schools to spit at. I am terribly surprised that a Trauma Specialist would lend his/her professional name to such a professional travesty, since I am a retired psychologist. In order to do trauma counseling, there must first be a trauma, and I assure you that a grand jury no-bill does not qualify.

        • I’m a law school grad, and usually they DON’T give in to this kind of crap, which is usually reserved for the undergrad fools. Law students are supposed to have a degree and be something like adults, not overgrown children who regurgitate rote knowledge during the week and stale beer on the weekends.

        • Dragon…if there actually is a student who feels traumatized by the no bill, I would think that the student would need help finding out where these feelings are trauma are actually coming from. Not from a trauma specialist but a psychologist etc. who is able to provide long term therapy or care. I also don’t think anyone who is truly traumatized by this no bill is fit to practice law without some type of therapeutic intervention on a more long term basis.

        • Hey! My second Bachelor’s was in psychology, but I decided I’d be a poor fit before I pursued a Ph.D or Psy.D. I probably would have been smacking people, telling them to suck it up and deal.

          • The only hope for Columbia is a radical purge of thought and attitude. I suggest that the alumni get together an install R. Lee Ermy as the new president. Then we can all sit back and enjoy it as the chicken feathers fly like a blizzard.

            • That sort of reminds me of a day not long ago that some professor, I presume from victims’ advocacy or transvaginal studies class or something similar, was handing out pamphlets about the virtues and wonders of communism. Of course my first instinct was to beat the snot out of him, but I decided to stand near him and illuminate his would-be victims about what communism really is, and the horrors that followed every earnest trial of it. I stood by him all day, and managed to keep everyone from taking his propaganda pamphlets. I would have loved to have had R Lee Ermy with me, but I still stood my ground when other staff asked me to leave (“sure,just as soon as he leaves”).

              • If private colleges choose to have their campuses overrun with these lice on society’s private parts, that’s their option. When they show their ugly nates in a college run by our tax money, then it’s our option to take that school to task. No student at any state college should have to put up with sedition and sexual pervasiveness by edict as the price for their admittance.

                • Agreed. It was a state university. It seems like just yesterday my friends and I were going underwater for three months at a time, twice a year, on a nuclear missile submarine during the cold war. Seeing this bastard handing out commie propaganda to kids was just too much for me.

                  • Not just you. It should have been too much for the students, the administrators and the board of regents. That it wasn’t is telling about the ambient character of that college. That campus is overdue for some responsible oversight from the state legislature, followed by a thorough housecleaning.

  3. “Our country won’t go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won’t be any America—because some foreign soldiery will invade us and take our women and breed a hardier race.”
    Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller
    Lieutenant General, USMC

  4. Here’s another one:


    My husband went to work the day his sister called to tell him their *mother* had died. I’ve begged him to stay home – without success – when he was having an attack of sciatica and couldn’t move without agonizing pain. I know lots of people who dragged themselves to work the week of 9/11, when *everyone* had *legitimate* reason to be horribly distraught.

    I wonder just how persecuted a person can feel who thinks s/he has the right to ask for special privileges, anyway?

  5. I must admit, I enjoyed my luck while channel-hopping last night – arriving just in time to watch Megyn Kelly on Fox News berate and mock the Columbia U. powers-that-be in derision…she also could not help laughing, it seemed, and got me and my wife to laughing when she came to saying something like “…Awwww, the poor little cupcakes need a day off.”

  6. Jack — I suspect you’ll be busy today making some angry alum calls. Both Georgetown and Harvard are letting students get extra days to study because they have been exercising their First Amendment rights to protest.

    This reminds me of when I was in undergrad. My Con Law professor (my undergrad offered law classes too) announced that he was going to take attendance on the day that Clinton was scheduled to speak on campus. Any student absent that day would fail the course. Now — I think this was extreme meddling by a University in the opposite direction. It should be up to the student to decide what is more valuable — studying, going to class, or attending a protest. Let the chips fall where they may.

    • Wait a minute: are you really saying that there is a Constitutional obligation for a school not to penalize a student who skips a test to protest? Because, you know, there isn’t….and shouldn’t be.

      • Where did I say that? It’s a kid’s job to figure out what’s most important — and if he ends up flunking a test because he decided to protest rather than study, then that was the grown-up decision he made.

        I think it’s ridiculous that Gtown and Harvard are granting these waivers.

    • I agree, which should come as a shock to you, Beth. BTW, I have a similar anecdote from undergrad, in which the professor found himself speaking to 7 students rather than 28 on the day before Thanksgiving break, and said he was going to teach us something outside the syllabus for the final exam and not to talk about it with the other students. It was on the final, worth 15%, and 21 students were starting from 85.

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