Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Small “e” epiphany

I can’t believe I’m halfway through my MUPP classes. Torts? Dead and buried. Likewise Texas Procedure. And all of volume one of the Essential Skills text: done.

Grade-wise, I maintain a nice, solid “A” average. I aced the recent Essential Skills exam, and received a 92 on my Texas Procedure assignment. I’m waiting on my grades on the Texas Procedure exam (I answered all of the T/F questions correctly; the rest has to be graded by an actual person), and my last Essential Skills assignments. 

Something strange happened to me when I was studying for that Essential Skills exam. I realized that I was reading questions and answering them not because I’d hammered particular factoids into my brain, but because I just knew what the answers were. The information was sitting there waiting for me, just like I know a plot summary goes in the 520 field of a MARC record without having to really think about it. And I could almost hear the realization of that level of knowing click into place. I bet if I’d looked into a mirror right then, I would have seen one of these expressions on my face.

I’m starting to know what the hell I’m doing.

Wow. Kind of scary.

The rest of our merry band of proto-paralegals is also doing well with grades in the low to upper 90’s, with one exception. We get to see a statistical summary of each exam – down to how many people chose which answer on the multiple choice questions – but not the names attached to the grades. I suspect I know who isn’t doing well. There’s a guy in the class who has had internet access issues, and if there’s one thing you need to do in order to do well on tests, it’s get into the program’s website. (I credit the practice quizzes and mock exams for my score on the Essential Skills exam.) He’s very quiet in class, and from what he’s said about some of the assignments, I don’t think he’s quite with the program. He’s no dummy – he’s got a wicked sense of humor, and I’ve heard him muttering some really funny comments under his breath in class just about the same time they occur to me. But … I worry he isn’t going to make it.

That’s another difference between paralegal school and my brief venture into Real Law School at WCSSL-SP: there’s not the same sense of cut-throat competition. I really do want all of The Magnificent Seven to do well (or at least graduate), and I think we all feel pretty much the same way. We’re not being graded on a curve. We don’t have to have somebody else tank in order for our grade to be better. There’s no Law Review to compete for; no limited number of summer associate positions pressuring each of us to be The Best or miss out. Don’t get me wrong: we don’t all hold hands and sing “Kumbayah” at the close of each class. One of my classmates confessed that she wasn’t happy with her class participation grade in Torts because, dammit, she wanted that 100%. (She’s a woman after my own heart!) But we do tend to look out for each other, and share tips on assignments. And I like that very much. Maybe proto-paralegals are just nicer people than proto-lawyers.

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