Saturday, October 07, 2006


Our cafeteria at school is not terribly large. It's got room enough for quite a few people, but it's still a room. I was in there yesterday and there was a group of students about 7 feet away from me having a conversation. While I was busy reading for class, these folks were sufficiently loud enough that I couldn't help but overhear their conversation. One of the students was apparently complaining because one of his professors had commented on how she might drop a student because every time she tried to call on him, he wasn't in class. You see, our school has an attendance policy based on the premise that the ABA requires a law student attend at least 80% of the class days in a semester in order to take the final. Usually the professor will pass around the roll sheet so that everyone can sign, but this professor at the beginning of the semester said that she would not take roll. The guy speaking then said that the professor had better not try to drop him because he relied on her promise not to take roll, and if he were dropped for missing too much class, he had relied on her representation to his detriment, therefore she "couldn't" drop him.

You see, he's wrong. In order to have a contract, which is what he was suggesting she would be breaching, there must be a bargained-for exchange. There was nothing given on his part, except, perhaps the promise that he would exercise self-governance and attend at least 80% of the classes in exchange for her not passing the role. If that's the case, then by not attending 80% of the classes, he has breached his promise as well. Additionally, for there to be a breach in this situation, there must be detrimental reliance - the guy must have relied on the professor's promise and that promise must be the cause of his harm. Again, if he's dropped for missing too many classes, the harm is not that he relied on the professor's promise, it's that he didn't fulfil his obligation as a student. He started from a faulty premise and reached an incorrect result.

What's really going on is he's proactively trying to deflect blame for a potential harm that will likely never come to fruition. He's seeing that, in theory, he might be dropped from a class. Rather than accept that it would be his own fault for not attending class, he's trying to foist the responsibility for his actions on someone else. I know that's exactly what I look for in a lawyer.


Hannelie said...

Once a lawyer always a lawyer, and you guys want us to trust you? LOL
It's a very interesting piece Steve, I like posts where I can learn from.

nuje said...

Dude, the Tigers are a game away from the ALCS. Making the evil emprire look like pansies.

Gramma said...

It's wonderful to see your brain is still functional, my Son. You haven't been posting as often. Of course, neither have I. But someone's Christmas stocking is finished tonight.

JJ4Sonora said...

Is there anyway I can get you to take Kelso's contract final for me? That was awesome.
Rarely attending class 1L

Matthew said...

If there were an award given for perfect attendance in law school, I would have received it. You're paying the money, so why not make the most of it?

Bellejar said...

Bruce hasing been listening to a blog called the life of a lawstudent, I was trying to explain consideration to him the other day. I don't think the word peppercorn makes sense to the nonlawstudent....
Anyway what if the payment of tuition became part of the equation. Pay tuition get a grade... Could that be considered a contract - Although essentially I agree with your analysis, don't get me wrong. Contracts, how I miss my teacher yelling "Argue against yourself!!" at the top of his lungs, after someone answered a question in that class.

JJ4Sonora said...

If in consideration for my attendance of class I was awarded at least a nominal amount of a PASSING grade I would have no trouble attending class or jumping through any of the other hoops I am sent out to perform. However, I have found law school to be not the best of contracts. No doubt, it is very much a business relationship and meets the elements of a contract. Especially at STCL for a 1L. But here is where I have trouble, I am the offeror promising to pay, however, there is no promise of a return benefit. I assume that because I guess I have given consideration that I may not return due to grades, thus, there is enough consideration on my part for offer and acceptance.Regardless of any performance from them. Yea, I get performance--class, YIPEE!... and sometimes free pizza.

I have gained little from class (despite my spotless attendance record).Class is really just a break from studying.

Acquiescent 1L! said...

My guess is this student will find out the true cost of his "contract" breach when he doesn't make it back next semester (if he's a 1L). And regardless of what the prof says, you have to sign the pledge when you take the exam and although it's a little thing, lying on that pledge is the first step toward your eventual license-losing. If you'll lie about stupid crap like that, you'll lie about the big stuff (usually) because it signals a lack of respect for the profession and the expectation of honesty you're supposed to uphold. But I tend to adhere to lofty ideals.

JJ4Sonora, GO TO CLASS. Especially if this is your first year! Trust me, it will only hurt you if you don't and in your first semester, the stakes are even higher because if you don't get a C average, you throw away a semester's worth of tuition money and a whole lotta time.