Life before law school

By W. David Ball on January 31, 2014 2:43 pm
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I’m living proof that you can go to law school and find your passion there.  I actually took the LSAT at Santa Clara (Bannan Hall 127) and as I looked at the portraits of former deans, I thought to myself, “Being a law professor wouldn’t be a bad idea.”  In fact, it’s turned into my dream job.

Before I was a professor, though, I was (among other things) an improvisational comedian in New York City.  I just wanted to write a little bit to explain why that’s not as much of a leap as you might think.

Improv (as opposed to standup) involves taking audience suggestions and working alongside other performers to create a scene (or even an entire play).  I see my job in the classroom as being similar.  I have to listen intently to student questions, to work with students as we explore the doctrine, and, to some extent, balance the competing interests of good (but perhaps tangential) ideas and making sure we understand how the pieces fit together.

This is more art than science–and, like improv, not everything works—but I do think that being open to suggestions (and new ideas) and working collaboratively are, in general, good skills for lawyers to have (and absolutely essential for law teachers to have).