Right On, Write-On

One of law school's rites of passage is the write-on competition at the end of the first year. It's where smart people vie hungrily for limited and coveted spots on the law review. It's called a "write-on" because the competition involves writing a scholarly article on a particular case. I opted not to participate because I would've lost. You can call me a defeatist if you want, but don't challenge me to a game of badminton, because I'll probably lose.

See, I'm not very good at competitive things, like basketball or football or tetherball or golf or bloody knuckles or drag racing or Pictionary. I think the only competition I've ever won was in 2nd grade when we had a competition to see who in the class could write the numbers from 1 to 1000 the fastest. I know, with such prodigious talent it's a wonder I'm not the governor of some bankrupt state by now.

Far more interesting than my lone competition victory, however, are my many spectacular losses. I share a couple with you in short-form so you can share with me in partaking of the agony of defeat, which, unknown to habitual winners, actually tastes somewhat like chicken.

In 4th grade I was on a Pop Warner football team. We lost every game. We didn't score a single point until the fourth game of the season, although we did score a touchdown in the third game, which unfortunately got called back due to a holding penalty. On me. Like the biblical Jonah, I knew that my loser-dom was the cause of our troubles, but unlike Jonah I was unwilling to fess up to the fact that God was punishing the team because of something I'd done -- punching the deaf kid down the street for saying something unintelligible that I interpreted as a prediction that the Chicago Cubs would lose the NL Central to the Cardinals.

In 2nd grade, I entered a community drawing contest with my best friend Curtis. He drew a dinosaur and won first prize. I drew a picture of Planet Volt, an imaginary world I'd made up that electrocuted any spaceships that flew within 12 parsecs of it. No one lived there because, well, living there would put them within 12 parsecs. So they'd get electrocuted before they could settle down and plant crops. Did you really need me to explain that to you? Clearly, the judges of the 6-7 year old contest failed to appreciate my superior powers of imagination. Curtis got a $25 bond that should be maturing later this year. I vented my frustration at losing by drawing a picture of Planet Volt exploding. It was a stupid planet anyhow.

So, given my history of punching deaf kids and blowing up planets, I opted out of the write-on competition. Also, I question whether the skills required by the write-on contest, and, later, participation in law review -- such as editing and writing scholarly articles -- are actually skills that lawyers use. I've never been a lawyer, so, I don't know, maybe lawyers write academic papers a lot. And maybe the partners come several times a week to the junior associates, throw 40 page articles by a law professors on the associates' desks, and say, "Here, I really need you to edit this article on how nice it would be if the law were different than it actually is. Meanwhile, while you're doing that, I'll be trying to figure out what the law actually is, which you could be doing, except you're busy editing that article that I don't think any actual practitioner of law will ever read, but which I have no doubt two or three law professors will read. Maybe." Nevertheless, I salute those bringing honor to the profession by participating in the write-on. And, for those of you that win the competition and make it on law review, can you loan me a few thousand dollars in five years when you're a wealthy and successful attorney at a large, prestigious firm and I'm waiting tables at Winger's? I might be needing some help with my back payments for my subscription to People magazine. Write on, write-on writers... right on.