Ten Things “Legally Blonde” Gets Wrong About Law School

My semester ended over a week ago, so of course I already miss BC Law desperately. Final exams really just leave you wanting more. Hindered by my inability to time travel forward to the fall semester, I’ve decided to instead live vicariously through Elle Woods so that I can get back to the law school experience.

Thusly, while viewing the lauded documentary film “Legally Blonde” for the first time, I engaged in a critical analysis to see just how well it actually captures the genuine law school experience. In its totality, I would say the film is 99% accurate to what incoming students can expect from their 1L year at BC Law. However, there are a few minor inaccuracies worth mentioning. Just ten, as a matter of fact. Here they are:

(1) Elle decides to go to Harvard Law after her college boyfriend dumps her during a fancy dinner date, when she had expected him to propose. In the film, Elle is the only student at her law school who decided to go because they got dumped, just 1 out of 500, whereas I’d estimate that in actual law school it’s really about half. Even less accurate is the college boyfriend’s motivation for going to law school – he wants to run for political office one day. That would never happen, it’s completely absurd.

(2) Upon hearing of Elle’s aspirations to go to law school, her father says “law school is for people who are boring and ugly and serious.” Presented without comment.

(3) When Elle’s LSAT results arrive and she tells her friends the score, dozens of them surround her, joyfully cheer, hoist her on their shoulders and parade her around while firing off confetti cannons and silly string. My friends did exactly the same thing, but in my case there was also a military flyover.

(4) At Elle’s law school orientation, students are divided into groups to introduce themselves and break the ice. All of her peers have impressive resumes: one has a background in overseas communal service, one in political advocacy, and one was his college’s valedictorian. I recall feeling similarly impressed and somewhat daunted by my well-accomplished peers at BC’s orientation, having come to law school straight from undergrad myself. Nonetheless, the film’s inaccuracy in this case is that Elle’s peers at Harvard were snooty and egotistical about their accomplishments, whereas my peers at BC Law have only ever been friendly, supportive and gracious. Also, Elle and company didn’t get any free food. We got lunch at BC Law orientation.

(5) Elle’s first ever class is Civil Procedure, and they proceed to cover subject matter jurisdiction on Day 1. There are two inaccuracies here. First, no one in Elle’s class dropped out immediately. Second, as best I can recall, in my first Civil Procedure class we covered such challenging topics as the professor’s name and background, the syllabus, basic course structure, and some light introductory material about what “the law” is. Subject matter jurisdiction is best left to November of the 1L fall semester. Elle then falls victim to a cold call, and because she is unprepared, she is summarily removed from the class with the enthusiastic approval of her classmates. It is certainly important to be well prepared for class at BC, but this kind of cut-throat relationship between students simply does not exist here. This movie does take place at Harvard after all, not BC.

(6) Elle meets a research assistant on a bench in a courtyard, who proceeds to give her advice about how to most effectively manage her courses and adapt to her professors’ unique lecturing styles. At BC Law, you get assigned peer advisors and thus do not need to squat on some random bench looking helpless until a friendly 3L wanders by (though any of them would be happy to help, surely).

(7) Elle finds refuge from the stress of law school at a local salon. On one occasion, Elle leads the customers and staff in an impromptu dance routine. This is yet another inaccuracy, as they only break out into dance, rather than into an unplanned and yet perfectly choreographed musical number like we do here at BC.

(8) Elle approaches a study group and asks if she can join them, but they reject her, bully her, and call her dumb. As a BC Law student, your peers will never call you dumb – you will call yourself dumb, then your peers will bully you into admitting that you’re wrong and then probably invite you to join their study group even though you didn’t ask.

(9) Now driven to become a top student, Elle begins doing all the readings, reviewing and studying, engaging with the material and participating enthusiastically in class. She successfully rises to the top of her class and gets a prestigious internship by working hard. The inaccuracy here is that Elle also makes the time to get to the gym while doing all of this. That’s impossible. It cannot be done.

(10) At the conclusion of the film, time skips forward two years to Elle’s graduation ceremony. Viewers are informed that Elle’s ex-boyfriend graduated without any job offers. This might be accurate for Harvard Law students, but not for BC Law students as everyone here has a bright future ahead of them.

In conclusion, “Legally Blonde” is nearly unimpeachable. So long as incoming 1Ls bear these minor inaccuracies in mind, they will surely come to find that the film accurately catalogs the law school experience. So, there’s much to look forward to at the end of the summer. In the meantime, have fun in the sun.

Dan Riley is a rising third-year student at BC Law who grew up deep in the Brazilian rainforest and had no contact with the outside world, which explains why he has never seen the lauded documentary film “Legally Blonde.” Contact him at rileydh@bc.edu.

Featured image from “Legally Blonde”, copyright MGM Studios.

4 thoughts on “Ten Things “Legally Blonde” Gets Wrong About Law School

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