Patrick dropped this one on me today:
Me: “did you leave the back door open?”
Patrick: “Is that a question or a statement?”
Me: “Obviously a question”
Patrick: “No, you’re a lawyer. That’s a statement. You don’t ask questions you don’t know the answer to.”
And he’s right. I do that to him ALL THE TIME! I know you left the door open because I didn’t and the dogs don’t have thumbs. I know you left the toilet seat up because I never put it up. Yep, I’m questioning you like a lawyer.
At the beginning of my 1L year, I was terrified of my professors. Were they going to judge me? Was I asking a stupid question? Am I bothering them? Let me answer all of those right now: no, no, and no. First off, professors are NOT going to judge you. I guarantee whatever comes out of your mouth is not the stupidest thing a law student has ever said to them; trust me. In law school, the old “no such thing as a stupid question” still holds true. Now, there is a difference between asking questions in class and after class or during office hours but for the most part, there are no stupid question. Especially 1L year. Professors also don’t get bothered by students asking questions. You’re engaging in the material; you’re keeping up on the class and that’s a good thing.
Professors are not people you need to be afraid of. Right now, they are steps ahead of you in life but as soon as you graduate (or pass the bar depending on how you look at it), you are on the same level as them; you are a lawyer. In my experience, most professors treat you like lawyers and understand they are teaching groups of twenty-somethings, not children. It may seem intimidating when you have to ask them the most basic “what is battery?” type question but at one point, whether it was 10 years ago or fifty years ago, they were in your place too. Everyone starts at the same beginning in law school. Very few people come in with prior knowledge of the law and for me, that acts as an equalizer between classmates. Professors remember what that’s like. If you can’t ask your professor, who is well versed in a subject of law, a question, who can you ask?