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The ‘Legit’ Breakdown of a ‘Scam’ Law School Course

This piece has been written by Sumit Chatterjee and Pallavi Khatri (Batch of 2022).

Meme Credits: ‘Chitragupt’ (Batch of 2022).

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness’ – it was legit, it was a scam. Charles Dickens was truly prescient when he began his masterpiece by introducing the dichotomies that plague human life. And when we mean life, we literally mean all of it. But for now, let’s talk about Law School (because hey, this is a Quirk piece, not an Atlantic article). Look around you. Some of your batchmates study, some don’t. Of those who do, some study in the library, some in the acad. Some eat at bistro, others at Rohini. Some sleep early, others late. Some you will say are (as the law school lingo goes) elite and some aren’t. You get the gist. But all of these dichotomies exist, and flourish, under an overarching superstructure which is based on a giant dichotomy itself – you guessed it – the legit/scam dichotomy.

The legit/scam dichotomy is all-pervasive, it is ubiquitous and it covers every single aspect of what we perceive to be part of law school life. Right from legit and scam seniors, to legit and scam internships, legit and scam batchmates, not even the mundane is spared. For instance, Acad wifi is legit, library wifi is a scam. Chetta maggi is legit (<3) and Nestle’s is a scam, LC is legit, new acad is a scam (wink wink). But all of these manifestations of the legit/scam dichotomy are relatively docile and fairly harmless. However, there exists one, which, if not handled carefully, threatens to shatter life (whatever little you have of it in law school) faster than Daenerys burnt down King’s Landing. It is the be-all and end-all, the x-factor that supposedly makes law school the Harvard of the East and is responsible for making a trimester the stuff of absolute dreams or your worst nightmare – Courses.

How? Well, it is all too easy to say if you study well, you will score. But, sadly, that is only true for the *miniscule* number of ‘legit’ courses we have. You will receive a lot of gyaan about those – from seniors, professors, the ASP, the Shadow-ASP, your friends, the law school grapevine – basically anyone with the ability to communicate. All of this will hopefully result in you scoring well in your legit courses, which is a good thing. But to this Dr. Jekyll of Law School is the Hyde of scam courses. The arbitrariness and abundance of scam courses establish the importance of learning the art of mastering them, failing which your much-coveted CGPA will remain as stagnant as the water in the pond outside TC. So here we are to help you get a sense of what constitutes this crucial but criminally neglected skill of navigating, surviving and hopefully thriving in a scam course. But first things first.

What is a scam course? Our 2.5 year long voyage has taught us that there is no single identifier of a scam course, no set formula which one can use to quantify the scamminess of a course. It is, however, important to establish that there is a discernible difference between an easy, chill course and a scam one. It is that lack of arbitrariness yet the feeling of freedom which distinguishes the former from the latter.

Scam courses are a genus unto themselves, with every individual scam course an individual species. Therefore, here is our own unique taxonomy of scam courses in law school. (A caveat though. Our quest to discover the entire spectrum of stones for our gauntlet is still fairly nascent, and therefore this taxonomy is only suggestive. Like the ocean, a large portion of the scam course ecosystem remains to be discovered)

  1. The Bring-your-pillow-to-class Scam Course

Fundamental features: Professors that let you exercise your human rights to sit in the last bench, use your phone and catch up on sleep.

Occasional features: Professors who are gifts to humanity who welcome you into class at 9:48 understanding that you were truly, in fact, making a project late into the night. Also professors who purposefully skip the maths of finding out the difference between those who say ‘Present!’ and those who are. And who also do not mind variations in this number even when there is a mass evacuation from class resembling a Lok Sabha walkout in protest of the Triple Talaq bill.

Optimal way of using time: Sleep, simple and sweet. It’s a rare luxury in law school (whether due to external circumstances or one’s own doing), learn to appreciate it, and therefore, sleep. If your slumber in the night before class was satisfactory, however, read a book, newspapers, magazines or anything which you want (the course RM is also an option…). Or just stalk your crush on Instagram.

Tricks of the trade: Grow your hair out → buy a pair of bluetooth earphones → leech off your friend’s Netflix account → Finish two seasons of Narcos.

  1. The Pull-your-hair-out Scam Course

Fundamental Features: Professors who think they are Bhisma Pithama and Gilderoy Lockhart rolled into one, fantastic human beings and every student’s dream. Except that they are not. Not even close. They are just annoyingly arbitrary individuals whose droning voice will reduce your IQ if you pay attention to them. They make it a point to make your seemingly decent day a reminder that life is nasty, brutish, and short.

Occasional features: Cold calling you to answer questions which have left them genuinely dumbfounded. Or worse, imploring the batch to ‘challenge’ itself through discussions and then beginning a sleep-inducing monologue. Assigning cringe-worthy action-based titles to people like SleeperMadam and MobileMan.

Optimum use of time: Getting thrown out of class (only after attendance though), at the risk of a bad viva but hey, old people are forgetful. Perfecting-your-sleeping-with-eyes-open skills you learnt on your trip to Area 51.

Tricks of the trade: Grab the seat next to the window for a distraction, and to contemplate why you’re doing law, why CLAT, why NLS… In the alternate, improve your doodling skills, tic-tac-toe strategies or the art of surreptitiously using your phone in class (believe us, you’ll figure out a few new ones along the way).

  1. The Blink-and-you’ll-Miss-it Scam Course

Fundamental features: Such a distinct numerical lack of ‘classes conducted’ (but don’t tell Edchemy) that the course and the Professor remain a myth to this day. Legend (and our CR) has it that the course is underway, but then so is Brexit.

Occasional features: N/A as we are aware of the existence of only one such course.

Optimum use of time: Don’t go looking for the course, the teacher, or the reading material. Let it remain a myth while you bask in the two hours of free time you get.

Tricks of the trade: Wake up in the morning → Look at the time table → Look at the WhatsApp text where the CR says ‘No class today’ → go back to sleep.

4.  The We-don’t-have-a-“professor” Scam Course

Fundamental features:

  1. No (real) professor.

  2. A human being who, under delusions of knowledge, takes classes in said professor’s place, and;

  3. Ruins the subject for all students.

Occasional features: A loooot of section reading, statutory interpretation in light of the judicial backdrop or the backdrop of our brains collectively going on vacation for 2 hours.

Optimum use of time: Getting on the good side of your CR, if you haven’t already done that, and hoping that she/he gives you attendance.

Tricks of the trade: Go to class → look at the time → bang the tables at all of the jokes of the human being teaching you → look at the time again, and sigh if it’s not time for the break yet.

And there you have it. A classification of the worst law school will throw at you. And we know it looks dreary. But fret not, despite the almost complete lack of control over your performance, the silver lining here is that some things work. As the tagline for Apsara ran many years ago – ‘Extra marks for good handwriting’. And highlighting. And perhaps an all-nighter the day before the exam. That should be enough to add another of that coveted 15th letter of the alphabet to your transcript.

However, there is just one last thing. Amidst all the talk about binaries, dualities, dialectics, and dichotomies, we’ll leave you with another little dichotomy as food for thought – the one within you. What will you do when you’re in one of these courses – will you change yourself to deal with a scam or will you choose to make it legit and take the road less travelled? That is what makes all the difference.

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