Saturday, May 7, 2011

What "The King's Speech" has to do with law school

I am an Anglophile.  I lived and practiced in England for 5 1/2 years.  I love everything British. 

Plymouth, England was one of the most heavily bombed cities during WWII because of the naval facilities there.  When I lived in Plymouth during the time period leading up to the 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, my elderly friends told me stories about life during the bombings and the destruction left behind.  They also told me about the visit that George VI and his wife made to the city to bolster the morale of the residents during WWII.  

Consequently, going to the cinema to see The King's Speech was significant for me.  In the ensuing weeks, I have reflected on Bertie's struggle to overcome his speech impediment and his fear of being king.  I realized that his story has parallels with some of my law students' struggles in law school.

Bertie had to overcome his pride to ask for help.  He wanted to depend on his special status as royalty.  He wanted to hold himself out as better than others.  Some law students have to overcome pride to ask for help as well.  They were treated like royalty in high school and college because they received high grades with seemingly little effort.  They were told that they were special and their fellow students were less capable.

Bertie did not want to trust that someone had a better way than what he thought should be done.  He balked at Lionel's methods.  He wanted to depend on the familiar rather than confront the painfulness of the unknown and untried.  Some law students balk at suggested study techniques for law school.  They want to continue doing what worked in undergraduate school rather than struggle with new methods that seem suspect.  They rather listen to the bad advice of upper-division students than trust the expertise of someone who is "administration." 

Bertie wanted instant success.  He wanted results without the heartache, embarrassment, and frustration.  Some law students are overwhelmed when reading cases is difficult.  They want professors to spoon-feed them rules rather than have to discover the law buried within the material.  They become frustrated when things are hard or they make errors when called on in class.

Bertie triumphed both in self-esteem and in reputation as the king that Britain needed.  He achieved his success through his willingness to change, to confront his fears, and to persevere.  Law students who learn new ways of doing things, take on the challenges, and do not give up also have success.  Their self-esteem increases as they do well the very things they feared they could not do.  Their reputation as law students and future lawyers is gained as they are recognized as being serious about becoming the best they can be.

Bertie became the successful king that was always hidden within him.  My law students can become the successful studiers hidden within them.  (Amy Jarmon)

 

 

 

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