Ultra Vires


Dark Comedy

Last February we sat around, got warmly drunk, and laughed at ourselves. As usual, Law Follies built most of its comedy on mocking law school stereotypes. One skit mused on the damage we do to our social lives we replace relationships with textbooks.

Another skit parodied lawyers as self-obsessed hipster douchebags. The self-deprecating humour doesn’t end at Law Follies. The other outlet for law school humour, Ultra Vires, only ever makes one joke: law students are awful human beings.

Law school humour is dark. It mocks the best parts of our profession and exaggerates the worst. Usually it targets law students, depicting us as either corporate hacks or naive, idealistic imbeciles, and in either case totally dependent upon substance abuse and emotional denial.

Is it odd that our humour usually takes this form? Nah. It’s normal, and it’s probably healthy.

U of T law has a pretty awful reputation. We take ourselves too seriously and are obsessed with grades. We are the only school that everyone loves to see lose at law games. During those first weeks of 1L, I remember wonderingis everyone here as intense as the stories say? You try to
suss out the mood of things. You ask cautious questions and you pay attention, closely, to what upper years do and say. You read Ultra Vires. You go to Law Follies.

It’s valuable to mock ourselves, sometimes ruthlessly, because doing erodes our reputation for being vicious sociopaths with no other goals in life than personal prestige, the accumulation of wealth, and narcotics. Self-deprecation humanizes the law school experience to people who do, and do not, go to U of T.

But secondly, and maybe more importantly, this type of humour directs our attention to actual problems. Each of these stereotypes contains a grain of truth. Corporate hacks? Many people who come to U of T do find themselves funnelled into corporate law, in many cases simply because it is the default option presented before them. Substance abuse? Law school culture does encourage excessive consumption of alcohol already standard for some, but a norm that can be socially frustrating or even unhealthy for others.

We don’t need reminders of our successes. The faculty does that well enough every chance they get. But we might need more reminders of the pitfalls of our profession and our school.

Now, this is the part where you realize that this editorial railing against people taking themselves too seriously is taking itself way too seriously.

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