Tag Archive: cold calling

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Dispatches from Law School: The Stress of Cold Calling

When you think of law school, the scene that comes to mind might well be the beginning of the movie The Paper Chase, where a law professor calls on a student the first day of class and ruthlessly interrogates him about a case he didn’t know he was supposed to read. Law school professors are notorious for “cold calling” students — essentially, calling on individuals at random to answer questions without waiting for students to raise their hands. It’s a source of stress, especially when a lot of new law students are used to seminar-style classes in undergrad where they could pick up participation points by giving their opinion about a novel they looked up on Sparknotes that day. Cold calling takes away so much of your control over how and when you participate, so you have to be on your guard all the time. Now a few weeks into law school, I have been cold-called, and I’ve also observed it in my classes almost every day. With that experience in mind, I can answer some of the most common questions people have about professors cold calling in law school.

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Law School, Actually

Law school classes are very different from undergrad classes. Here’s how.

1. Cold Calling

One of the biggest differences from your undergrad experience is that most law school professors will cold call students from a seating chart or list of names. Law professors don’t like to wait for volunteers. What this means is that you’ll have to be prepared for most of your classes, instead of leaving things for last minute cram sessions at the end of a semester.