Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Seeing obstacles everywhere.

The mantra about law schools, used to justify the pedagogy of the educational system, is that they are “teaching us to think like lawyers.” Now, I came to law school with a certain propensity to see possible accidents or torts, because I worked as a paralegal for over 13 years in personal injury litigation. Whenever I would caution Marlo to be careful of some hidden danger, she would excuse me to her friends by saying (with an accompanying roll of her eyes), “She can’t help it. She’s a paralegal.” One unfortunate aspect of my law school education is that this propensity to see possible accidents has expanded to include legal obstacles of any sort.

The other day in the Seattle Times, there was an article about proposed legislation that would require school districts to favor local farmers for the purchase of produce for school lunches. I think that we would all agree, given the obesity crisis in the United States, that anything that enables schools to provide more healthy, nutritious and tasty meals to children is a good thing.

However, instead of being thrilled that this legislation is even being proposed – for the good of nutrition, for the environment, for local farmers, and any other liberal cause I could think of – my law-school-tainted-cynical mind sees this progressive idea and thinks, “There is no way this doesn’t interfere with interstate commerce or violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution.” If you don’t know what I’m speaking of, don’t worry about it. Just count yourself lucky that you haven’t paid $120,000 for an education that makes you spend your waking hours figuring out why things won’t work.

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