Not Really a Law Student, But He Played One in Class

–From Jennifer Henson, Wake Forest University School of Law, Date of event: Fall 2005

First week of law school: Our Civil Procedure professor was affectionately known as Mad-Dog and had a reputation for scaring the 1Ls. Our Torts professor, Professor Green, on the other hand, seemed like a really nice guy. Don’t get me wrong, he did his fair share of the Socratic method but I don’t think any of us were “afraid” of him.

It was the third day of class and Torts was almost over when Prof. Green called on one last student. The student was already packing up his books. The student’s response amounted to “What?” So Prof. Green asked the student the question again. At this point I think the student responded with something to the effect of “I don’t know.”

Prof. Green launched into a tirade. “You don’t know? Didn’t you read? etc., etc.” The student was getting really flustered and stood up and shoved his Torts book over the edge of the desk and onto the floor. The whole room was staring, petrified. The student got up and headed to the door. Prof. Green told him to leave law school, leave the city, leave the state! We were all horrified. We couldn’t believe it. We were almost prepared for something like this from Mad-Dog’s class, but we all just sat shocked and couldn’t believe what had happened.

Within a few minutes Prof. Green let us in on the joke. The “student” was his son who was in graduate school somewhere else. His classes hadn’t started yet so Prof. Green had gotten him to come to class for the first three days. He told us he made his son do all of his own class prep. This kid had been answering questions in class the whole three days.

I think maybe Prof. Green had hoped he’d scare us into never being unprepared for class. We all agreed that the joke would have been funnier if he’d let it go a little longer and really led us to believe he had scared someone out of law school. But I think that would have been far too cruel to do to 1Ls. Prof. Green turned out to be a great guy.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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