De Novo Days: Class with L.LMs - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
1Ls are blissfully ignorant of a lot of what actually goes on at this law school. Just think of all the abbrevs they have yet to encounter! To the lowly law school freshmen, FRP is still only some horrific experience looming in the distance, they think the RAP prohibits being too much of a social butterfly [insert popularity for perpetuities], JMOL sounds more like internet lingo than a legal term of art, and the DCC is certainly not the only thing about ConLaw putting people to sleep. In particular, 1Ls are often completely oblivious to the existence of LL.M. students. As a 2L, I still don't even know LLM means. Regardless, I am now well aware of the presence of LLMs and have my first class with this strange breed of law student this semester. For those of you who have yet to share a classroom with the other half, I have provided a quick overview for your future course selection enjoyment.
Learning with LLM students has significant advantages. First, LLM candidates are often older and wiser than the average JD candidate. Frequently, LLMs are practitioners who have accumulated some degree of expertise in a given field. Accordingly, they often provide thoughtful comments during class and contribute meaningfully to discussion. Similarly, LLM students are rarely gunners. They have been out of the law school game for so long that the hand-in-the-air-like-I-need-to-use-the-restroom-or-I-might-die squirm has slid out of their repertoire. It's refreshing. These students possess real world knowledge, which they are more than willing to share with others, and substantive experience in their given area of practice.
Given that LLM students are older, wiser, and far more mature than some (most) JD candidates, they can sometimes make us regular law students look bad. Many LLM students work full-time while attending school, which means they go from the office straight to their seminar on Sustainable Regional Growth. Consequently, LLMs always arrive to class dressed nicely (unlike some of the 1Ls who have not yet learned that it is almost impossible to command respect when one is wearing Uggs, turquoise leggings ["pants"], and a bright pink sweatshirt). LLM students are also always on time and are always prepared. Only rarely does a professor call on an LLM to receive an "uhhhh . . . could you repeat the question?" as a response. Seriously, stop showing us up.
Disclaimer: the majority of the observations contained in this section are from a single course. In no way am I proclaiming that this is an accurate representation of all classes in which LLMs are enrolled.
Because of the extensive knowledge LLMs possess in a given subject matter, they often can (and do) engage in unlimited discussions with professors during class. Thus, what the professor (and the rest of us) thought would be a one-line comment turns into an unwieldy diatribe on "the differences between structural analogs of erythropoietin." These crazy tangents are unbelievably frustrating. Also, because certain practice areas are comprised of only a small network of attorneys in the greater DC community, professors are sometimes independently acquainted with LLM students. This background knowledge can lead to a professor requesting the participation of a single student very frequently (and for good reason). As harmless as this may seem, the consequences are disastrous. The light bulbs go off and we know: "If the professor is calling on him, that means he is not calling on me." At this point, you might as well ask me to single-handedly make "Pants on the Ground" the number one watched YouTube video this month because there is no way I'm paying attention anymore. Which brings me to my next and final point: LLM students are infamous for their lack of focus on the end goal [the final exam]. Despite all this talk of erythropoietin and a dissipated fear of being Socratic-ed, LLM candidates can still be found listening intently during class and doing all of their reading. Why? Because LLMs are truly interested in the subject matter of the course. JDs, on the other hand, are interested in one thing and one thing only: grades. Tell us what we need to know to do well on the final exam and then let us go. Please. We don't have time to worry about anything else.
In conclusion, taking class with LLMs has been an interesting and positive experience. Like most things, it has its advantages and disadvantages, but has been rather enjoyable thus far. You should try it before you graduate. At least you know you won't be called on.
 FRP = Fall Recruitment Program. See the CDO, Burns 301.
 RAP = Rule Against Perpetuities. See Property.
 JMOL = Judgment As a Matter of Law. See Civil Procedure II.
 DCC = Dormant Commerce Clause. See Constitutional Law I.
 See Alissa Fideli, J.D. Candidate, Class of 2011.