People misstating the law is one of my law student pet peeves.
Maybe it’s due to the perfectionist nature of law students, or our lecturers drilling into us that we have to learn and apply the correct cases and sections of legislation. Whatever the cause is, when I hear incorrect statements of law or see them on Internet forums, I itch to pull out the relevant legislation, case or textbook to correct them.
But nobody likes the person who corrects everything, and it may be better to simply save your arguments for your essays, tutorials and the courtroom. So instead I have come up with a number of coping mechanisms so as not to be arrested for slapping people with law textbooks (and jeopardise my chances of being admitted – although I feel that some judges might sympathise)…
Consider that you might be wrong – the person might be from a different state or they could be talking about one of those many exceptions to the rule. Or the law might have changed through legislative amendments or a new case, so don’t be too quick to come out with the ‘correct’ answer.
Take a deep breath and bite your tongue/walk away.
Rant to your pet – this can be quite therapeutic as they don’t answer back, but only works if you can get them to stay long enough to listen to you and not try to run away from the frustrated tone of your voice (it can be a fine balance).
Rant to someone (or send them an email rant) – I often send long rants about these things to family members who have law degrees. It helps immensely and they tend to sympathise with you and not judge you as harshly as others might – at least in my experience. It also relieves the stress and frustration you feel. You can even rant to people who have no knowledge of the law and explain why the person was misstating the law – it helps you practice your persuasiveness skills.
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