Saturday, May 24, 2008


One of the most pleasant lunches I recall was with Chesterfield Smith. He spoke of attending law school for a semester and the returning to Bartow, Florida to pick watermelons in order to return to Law School.

I wonder how many of today's law students have summer time experiences that are as likely to be as important in shaping their perspective for years to come or a life time. Instead they seem to want to settle for so much less. Many, I suspect, go to one of the many summer programs abroad where they are taught what they could learn in the USA in a setting that is carefully selected to be not all that different from being in the USA.

Others want clerkships or externships. Others go to summer school in the US. I realize that necessity may be a factor here. Those with clerkships may need the money and those in law school may need to hasten their graduation date.

The question is not so much what the students do in the summer but why they do it. If they go to a foreign program just because it is a neat thing to do in the summer, they are missing a great opportunity to pick watermelons or something like that to learn about a life they are likely never to fully understand. If they are building their resumes and there are pressure to do that, here again, it's a missed opportunity.

I'd advise to every law student to spend at least one summer picking watermelons.


A Student at UF said...

Fair enough point for those who came straight out of Undergrad. However, there are a lot of non-traditional students (such as myself) who have "picked the watermelons" in some way or another, and have since ended up here at law school, probably because they realized "picking watermelons" wasn't for them.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite students at Acorn Law comes from a family of tobacco farmers, and spent his summers, from a young age until he finished college, picking tobacco. My first thought, when he told me about it, was that this would undoubtedly be a salutary experience for most law students.

Jeff Harrison said...

I completely agree. Many have picked those "melons."