Young Ladies, Please Remember Your Manners

Young ladies, please remember your manners……for your own sake.  When I hear stories like the one that I am about to pass on to you, I am shocked and dismayed.  There is rarely any good excuse for bad behavior, and exhibiting it to the people with the power is never a good idea.

As you know if you have been following the blog, I recently attended a conference of pre-law advisors and  law school admissions folks .  I was there to familiarize them with the Best Friends at the Bar books and program.  Occasionally,  I was able to break away from my display table to hear some of the panels and participate in some of the discussions.  One panel really caught my attention.

The members of that panel addressed the law school admission process and particularly the issues of financial assistance and wait lists.  The panelists were seasoned law school admission deans from very prestigious law schools.  In other words, they have seen a lot in their careers as admissions officers, and they are used to turning a blind eye to some bad behavior because of the stress inherent in the application process.  They understand the high stakes for many students applying to law school today and the pressures that many of those students feel.

However, these same folks are experiencing  some really unprecedented bad behavior from students today—both male and female—and they were there to encourage the pre-law advisors to take a message forward to their advisees—-that this level of bad behavior comes at a cost.

It seems that we have entered a new realm of bad behavior—-especially from those top candidates, who are being courted by more than one top law school and are feeling very important and powerful.  This manifests itself in accepted applicants leaving voicemail messages for law school admission deans inquiring “when is a good time for us to negotiate my scholarship money?”  True story, according to the panelist, and it was followed by some other similar examples.

The response to that particular voicemail message, according to the panelist who received it, is NEVER.  It is never a good time to have that discussion, when the question is stated in such a presumptuous and disrespectful manner.  Maybe this accepted applicant is not as powerful as he or she thinks.  I got the distinct impression that was the case.  A student with an entitlement attitude like this is likely to manifest other similar attitudes that would not be positive contributions to the law school community, and the law school admissions folks know it.  Let that student take the higher scholarship money at the other school—-if it exists—and be gone.  Even law schools have their limits with attitude, even it comes from a 171 LSAT performer.

I am appalled by this kind of bad behavior, and I hope that none of you falls victim to it.  The behavior is just plain disrespectful and wrong.  But, it bothers me for a different reason as well.  We already have a pretty uncivil professional bar, and I fear that the perpetuation of bad behavior like this from law students may just propel us to an even more unseemly level of disrespect in our profession.  When I shared that opinion with some of the panelists, they wholeheartedly agreed.

Get at grip.  For those of you who feel entitled to flex your muscles because of your stellar academic achievements and your high LSAT scores, think again.  Your academic achievements are hard to measure vis a vis the academic achievements of others at other learning institutions, and your high LSAT score often means that you are a good test taker.  No more and no less.  It does not mean that you will make a fine lawyer, and bad behavior like this demonstrates that maybe you will not be a credit to the bar of your choice in the future.

Curb your bad behavior because it is not worth the advantage that you seek, and it can come back to bite you in the end.  In fact, I can pretty much guarantee you that it will.

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