‘Honey, what’s a tort?’

When we decided to go to law school, we spent months agonizing over all the procedural stuff that comes with a life-altering decision. Then, we were set. Unlike undergrad or even high school, we didn’t have to worry about picking classes. We didn’t even have to think about scheduling. Everything was handed to us.

That said, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about my first semester course load — mainly because I didn’t have the first clue what I’d be spending the next four months learning.

I actually asked my husband on the second day of orientation, “Honey, what’s a tort?”

His answer was illuminating: “I think it’s like a lawsuit.”

Oh, boy. So, heading into Day 1, here’s what I thought my classes were going to be about, and what I ultimately wound up getting out of them.

Contracts

September Jaime: Oh, this is probably something about how to write contracts. Maybe I’ll be able to write my own lease next time? I probably don’t need to pay much attention, though, unless I decide to go into corporate law.

December Jaime: I know how to determine whether a contract is valid (and how to get out of it), and I will always remember my professor’s advice to “always hire a lawyer.” This stuff is really important any time you buy or sell anything, or enter into any kind of relationship with anyone. I’m not sure I could write a complete lease today, but I can certainly read mine better (oops, ours ends a month later than I thought it did!).

Property

September Jaime: Wow, how is this one different from contracts? I am pretty sure I’m not interested in real estate law. Also, I’m not sure what a “property law” is.

December Jaime: I could spend a lot more than one semester learning about the impact of fair housing laws, inheritances, and tenants’ rights (especially if my ceiling keeps leaking)! This was so much more than wills and bills. Everyone needs a place to live, and how they get, keep, and maintain it involves many interesting aspects of the law. My professor was excellent at mingling legal and socio-political history with the history of property laws in the United States.

Torts

September Jaime: Didn’t Ronald Reagan push for “tort reform”? That probably means torts are important to the common people. But … what’s a tort?

December Jaime:  Torts really is a vital course for anyone who might ever need to sue anyone, or any company, or defend against such a suit. It’s about assertion of rights and collection of damages, but it’s also about catastrophes, and tragedies, and fights, and medical malpractice, and railroads! So many railroads! My favorite course, it outlined rules, rights, and how to assert those rights. If you’re hurt or wronged, wouldn’t you want to know how to get your just reward?

I’m so glad I took all three of these classes. Someone up there at the top actually did know what they were doing when they set the first-year curriculum. The foundation is set, and I can’t wait to build on it!

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