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Day 1. The stereotypes

The suits, the ties, the briefcase, documents, big books and deep pockets is the mental picture I had of lawyers. Holding that green slip that was delivered to me via mail, fancy, I said to myself, I mean whoever still sends letters via mail, must be classy. At this time and age technology has brought us to a point that even high school calling letters come in the form of a text message, no formality at all, “Hi, principal here, you made it to our school.” That was not the case with law school, a fancy letter is what I got, it felt like I was called to join an elite club, or a Gentleman's Society of some sort. Sent by the Dean herself, addressed to yours truly, the wording of the letter made me feel like an honoured guest, as if they needed me more than I did them, like I was among a select few smart enough to meet their qualification. In fact, I got so carried away that my Facebook status changed from student to lawyer.

I imagined law school to be a place where students dressed elegantly and lecturers were old professors who had spent many years studying and teaching the art of "lawyering”. For some reason I also imagined the classes would be in old buildings similar to McMillan library or the Supreme Court. I imagined students carrying huge books to class and an active moot court where students actively argued in mock trials. I imagined students who always spoke like lawyers to the extent you could not tell whether they were speaking complex English or Latin. Enough with all the imagination, it was finally time for me to make them a reality.

I prepared myself in the morning, put on an elegant shirt and trousers and the icing on the cake was a nice slim black tie. It was a good effort for me though I knew I would be no match for the other students, they dress like that on a daily basis. After boarding a Matatu to Parklands, I sat proudly and said, “drop me off at the law school" not even knowing that in Parklands there are 3 different law schools. After getting lost several times and asking several people for directions, I finally got there.

The gate wasn't a towering one but I was sure they made up for it inside. There was no one to receive me at the gate, which really made me doubt whether they really meant it when they said in the calling letter, “we are honoured to have you and we believe you will make a fine addition to the school of law." So much for "fine addition and honour." Worry not, I told myself, it gets better inside. The first person I saw was in jeans, and a t-shirt, and as I walked further inside the school, I saw more unexpected dress codes. No ties, no suits, no rhythm. Before I could tell myself it gets better, I saw a guy with dreadlocks, in shorts and a sleeveless shirt. I must have been in the wrong place… but I wasn't. I finished registration early and went in for my first class.

Everyone was seated and we were waiting for the lecturer. Contract law, one of the oldest sections of law, and I was eagerly waiting, seated right at the front. A young man walked in and came up to me, but I dismissed him immediately saying, "my friend if its directions you want I'm also new here, though you aren't late for class, the lecturer hasn't walked in yet.” He just looked at me, smiled and said, “I’m the lecturer, just wanted to know if this is the new first year class."

Law school had almost disappointed me, though one thing I had imagined was correct. My lecturer may have not been old but he was smart, he was the ideal lawyer, and he taught us well without a book in hand throughout the semester. I may have expected law school to be wrapped in a different package but the content was just how I imagined it to be.


photo credit: Daquella manera via photopin cc

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