Orin Kerr on "Studying Engineering versus Studying Law"
I enrolled in law school after engineering graduate school, and people occasionally ask me if I have advice for engineering graduates planning to study law. ... I tend to think engineering education provides a pretty good background for law school, but that there are some pitfalls to keep in mind. Engineers tend to have two possible advantages over other entering law students. First, engineers usually have a very high tolerance for pain. It takes a lot of time and energy to "get" law school, and former engineers are used to facing that kind of challenge... Second, studying engineering trains students to think logically, step by step, and that kind of logical thinking can sometimes help students see relationships more easily than students with some other backgrounds.
Let all who would presume to study law, beware...
This reminds me of one simple illustration I used to use to show first-year students the difference between the "interpretative" and the "creative" views of judging:
- "In 1930, Clyde W Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto. Also, in 1930, William Faulkner's novel The Sound and the Fury was published. What's the difference? If Tombaugh hadn't discovered Pluto, it would still be there, in exactly the same form, waiting to be found by someone else. But if Faulkner had never written The Sound and the Fury, it would never exist, and the chance of someone else happening to write the same story by accident is infinitesimally tiny (even if you had a million monkeys with a million typewriters). That shows how different legal scholars view judge-made law: is it waiting there to be discovered, or do judges have to create it?"
Moreover, as far as "creative" works is concerned, the fact that someone at Disney created The Lion King - ex nihilo, without ever having heard of Kimba the White Lion (and who would accuse Disney of falsehood?) - shows that the chance of random, uncoordinated but near-exact replicability is much higher than I had assumed a priori.