Tuesday, January 22, 2008

True Colors

Good question from Dean and Friend Jim Chen:

So here's the question. Imagine yourself a member of the hippest clique in today'slegal academy, doubly credentialed interdisciplinarians. You are attending aconference with equal numbers of professors in law and in your nonlegal discipline.A friendly stranger approaches and asks, "Say, don't I know you? Where did you go toschool?"

For the love of God, think fast. What pops up first? Your J.D. program or your Ph.D.program? Where your mind turns first is where your heart rests best. Withinan academic setting where costs matter and faculty salaries cost more than anythingelse, this cost-conscious dean would like to offer you a little career advice:

Be true to your school.

Honest to God, I don't know what I would say. I'm still in school right now, and as was the tendency from childhood, I say the current school--admittedly, better ranked than my previous law school. But in the next sentence I often say where I got my J.D. Actually it takes forever for me to introduce myself. "I'm at Liberal College Law. I got my J.D. from Bourgie Metro Law. And I went to college at UC Irvine. Go 'Eaters!"

Well, I don't really say "Go 'Eaters!," but I do at least mention the two law schools I've attended. Although I have a feeling that the farther away I get from my J.D. degree, the more I'll be inclined to just say my present institution, which is where I'm spending the most time and doing the most work in preparation for my future career. Don't get me wrong, I loved my law school, and had a fine legal education there. But for whatever reason, this feels definitively, surpassingly "my school" to me, perhaps because I was supposed to go here way back in 1998. UC Irvine gave me a full scholarship, and my parents needed me closer to home. But I've wanted to go here for ten years, and now I finally am, and I'm happy here.

Coincidentally, the school colors are the same, so I keep my true colors even as I change institutional affiliations.

How about you? What's your school?