(For many, school starts tomorrow.. have fun -Ed)
The following is a welcoming speech purportedly delivered by Dean William S. Prosser to his freshman law students.
It is my duty to welcome you all to the Law School of the University of Minnesota. It has been my custom to greet the entering class by asking each one of you to look at the man on his left, and at the man on his right. I ask you to do that now. Take a good look, and impress the features of each man on your memory. Next year, all three of you will not be here.
I always wonder why students come to study law. As I gaze into the faces now before me, that wonder becomes amazement. I do not know what business, what trade, what hard labor your faces suggest to me, but it is not the law. There is nothing legal about them. They fill me with revulsion approaching nausea. Some of you are here because your fathers are willing to spend the money for three more years in the university. That money would be better spent on drink.
Some of you are obviously here because you are looking for a place to sleep. This is not the place. There is not a comfortable bench in the building. I have tried them all.
Some of you, the female students, are all too evidently here for biological reasons. Of that I most emphatically disapprove. I warn you that no biological activities will be tolerated in this school.
Some of you do not even know why you are here. I am sure that I cannot tell you. There are other institutions for morons, for criminals, for alcoholics, and for the mentally deranged. There is still time to seek them out, and I urge you to do so before it is too late.
There may be a few of you, perhaps four or five, who are normal human beings and capable of making an intelligent choice, but who have come here through ignorance, or misinformation or aberration or folly. To them I have this to say: Abandon the idea. Go away. Dig ditches. Drive garbage trucks. Clean sewers. Go back into the army. Even teach. But do NOT study law. If you do, you will rue it. You will work long hours of the day and of the night. You will read thousands of incomprensible, written by incompetent judges, and endeavor in vain to understand them. For three years you will get no sleep. You will have no time to eat. Above all you will have no fun. No one has any fun here, not even I. You will slave for three years like the beasts of the field, and in the end you will fail. All of our students fail.
If you do not fail in this school, you will fail in the bar examinations. All of our students fail in the bar examinations. And if you do not fail, you will not find employment. There is no employment to be found in the law. The legal profession is saturated. It is crammed. It is overflowing with graduates of this and other law schools--for there are other law schools, for reasons that I do not know--Harvard, Columbia, Michigan, Iowa, Arkansas, Idaho, even Yale. Out of 20 men in our last graduating class, seven are now working in filling stations, five are selling popcorn, four are shoveling ashes, two and one-half are in jail, and one man is playing the piano. I have heard him, and he does not play it well.
If you try to practice law you will be extremely unhappy. It is a dismal and distressing trade. You will be brought into contact with clients. They are dishonest, corrupt, unrefined, bad-tempered, ill-mannered, disagreeable, and above all unremunerative. You will not be able to earn a living. According to figures complied by Professor Llewellyen, the average income of the lawyers in Minnesota for the last 10 years, that is, before the payment of state and federal income taxes, was sixty-four dollars and eighty-three cents. Your wives--if any of you are ever so foolish to marry, which I sincerely trust that none of you will ever do--your wives will be forced to take in washing, or driven to a life of shame. Your children will starve. The cemetaries of Minnesota are filled today with the emaciated bodies of lawyers' children who have died of starvation. I urge you to consider before it is too late what be your feelings if one of those fragile little bodies should some day be your child?
Now we will pause, and there will be soft music while you reflect on what I have said.
(Flute: Massa's in the Cold, Cold Ground.)
I do not mean to be unduly discouraging. In the practice of law, there is always room for a good man at the top. Sometimes even for two good men. But in this school we have not had a good man in the last 31 years.
I welcome you to the Law School of the University of Minnesota. My office is open for the cancellation of registrations. Will some of you in the back please carry out the men who have fainted? The assignment for tomorrow will be the first 168 pages of my casebook on real property.