Law and Law School in Six Words

One of the things we try to teach our law students is how to write concisely. And nothing is more concise than a story in six words. If you aren’t familiar with six-word stories, let me briefly (in six words) explain.  Ernest Hemingway wrote one; won bet.  Okay, more fully, it’s said that in the 1920s, Hemingway’s colleagues bet him he couldn’t write a story in six words.  He wrote:  For sale: baby shoes, never used. Some say that Hemingway considered it his best work. (But see here for evidence that Hemingway never wrote those six words.)

Writing a six-word story is creative and fun—and great practice at being concise. Here are several six-word stories about law school or other law-related themes, contributed by faculty and students. My goal is to continue to collect such stories and post them as they come in. Please consider writing your own six-word story and posting it as a comment. Or email it to me at

Answer:  “It depends”


most days

Professor Rebecca Blemberg


Old dog, new liberalism; Antonin Scalia.

Gil Simpson, 2L


I loved fearlessly, despite the law.

Professor Ed Fallone


Fourteenth circuit moot court is real.

Brittany Kachingwe, 3L


Cost-benefit analysis rules the case.

Professor Melissa Greipp


Personal jurisdiction in six words? Ha!

Professor Irene Ten Cate


UPDATE (9/21/13):  The six-word stories keep rolling in.  Here are some more.  Please keep them coming!

Don’t outsource, let our lawyers work.

Angelina Joseph


“Habeas Corpus,” the third-year student cried.

Professor David Austin, California Western School of Law


Hanging shingles, he fell into debt.

Professor David Austin, California Western School of Law


Legal writer, for sale, bores family.

Submitted by the children of Professor Ruth Anne Robbins, Rutgers School of Law – Camden


Friday night, legal writing: the usual.

Submitted by the children of Professor Ruth Anne Robbins, Rutgers School of Law – Camden


I worked hard. It paid off.

Professor Candace Centeno, Villanova


Perseverance in law: Constance, Thurgood, and Desegregation.

Professor Bernadette Gargano, SUNY Buffalo Law School


No better preparation for serving humanity.

Professor Kirsten K. Davis, Stetson University College of Law


“Heads full of mush” learn clarity.
Professor Sue Liemer, School of Law, Southern Illinois University


Students never saw Paper Chase, alas.

Professor Bruce Ching, Michigan State University College of Law


Ruth Anne Robbins submits the following, written by her 2L and 3L students:

1L: scared; 2L: burnt; 3L: done.

2L. One month deep, doggy-paddling. Quicksand?

Sanity sustained by pounds of coffee.

Work Harder Than Ever, No Guarantees.

1L, 2L, 3L, Bar Exam, Floor.

Should have read the “Slacker’s Guide.”




This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. Gordon Hylton

    Writing is passe. Just use Twitter.

  2. John DeStefanis

    Aiken spoke in paragraphs, not sentences.

  3. Ellen Henak

    I am not sure which of these is more central to what I do as an appellate criminal defense lawyer:

    (1) Facts often matter more than cases.

    (2) Judges hate emotions– but have them.

    (Maybe they really are two sides of the same coin.)

  4. Lisa A. Mazzie

    Law school. My personal debt crisis.
    (Submitted by a 2L who wants to remain anonymous.)

  5. Mitchell Scott

    He babbled on; she silenced him.

  6. Judi Langer

    Love my job; policy wonks rule.

  7. Lisa Mazzie

    Professor Blinka, teaching evidence through parable.
    Cathy Zillgitt

    Background search for bar application – STRESSFUL.
    Brittany Kachingwe, 3L

  8. Rick Sankovitz

    Adolescent felons, whose shackles fall off

  9. Greg Waters

    Twelve jurors, nine votes, life changed.

  10. Anne Kearney

    Judgment of conviction, overruled. Life restored?

  11. Janine Geske

    Moved admission. Rested. Dismissal is granted.

  12. Vanessa Paster, 2L

    The reasonable man is an illusion.

  13. Katy Kasriel

    3L’s parent: retirement nest egg imperiled.

  14. Jeffrey Morrell

    Learned to hate rational basis review.

  15. Mike Shorts

    One hundred twenty thousand in debt.

  16. Marisa Kasriel

    Don’t worry Mom, I’ll marry rich.

    (In response to Katy Kasriel’s post, above.)

  17. James Wawrzyn

    Empowered: belittler or advocate? Choose wisely.

  18. Lisa A. Mazzie

    More six-word story submissions!

    As promised, I have more six word stories.

    Brittany Kachingwe, 3L, is really on the six-word story bandwagon. Here are several she submitted:

    The Framers should’ve been more specific.

    You only three L once. #YO3LO.

    Coffee for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Someone needs to invent coffee IVs.

    My umbrella paragraph keeps me dry.

    Professor Ruth Anne Robbins ( at Rutgers School of Law – Camden has long been a fan of six-word stories. One of her upper-level students, Robert Norcia, submitted this:
    The socratic method: torturing 1Ls worldwide.

    Another of her students, Erika Page, submitted two:
    Didn’t do the reading, uh oh.

    Summer Associate? 6 Figures? Yeah right.

    And one from me:
    Falling leaves, rising stress: outline time.

  19. Anthony Procaccio

    Six 6-word stories to sum up the last 3 years of my life.

    Welcome to Milwaukee, here’s a beer.

    Sleep? I’m not familiar with that.

    Congratulations, graduates. Don’t forget to donate.

    I was told JDs open doors.

    One soy latte coming right up.

    Regret enrolling? Not even a little.

  20. Cassady Toles

    Before law school I was employable.

  21. Vince Kurta

    Who needs family when there’s books?

  22. Jim Anderson

    Just give us the rule, please.

  23. Laura Beaver

    Will this be on the final?

  24. Lisa A. Mazzie

    Professor David Austin at California Western School of Law submits the following six-word stories from his students:

    Two cases, identical facts, opposite holdings…

    Law Student: “What is free time?”

    Learning to argue to solve arguments.

    1l life: unreasonably minimal social contacts.

    No time for writing stories, silly.

    Brain so fried, I can’t even count.

    Professor Austin adds that he particularly loves the last story “since the student actually added an extra word to prove the point.”

  25. Laura Beaver

    What is “ATL”? –Class of ’72

  26. Laura Beaver

    Law professors love unadopted model codes.

  27. Laura Beaver

    Motion struck. Oops. Pesky local rules!

  28. Laura Beaver

    “Never hide the ball.” –Socrates (Deathbed)

  29. Tyler Leverington

    Tired, stressed, absolutely love the grind.

  30. Joel Graczyk

    I’m still working on writing one of my own, but for now it occurred to me that the last line of the song “Annie Waits”, off the album Rockin’ the Suburbs by Ben Folds, works well as a six-word story:

    “Annie waits, but not for me.”

  31. Jarvis Coffin

    Note to self: professor cold-calls.

  32. Gabriel Peterson

    Possession is nine tenths the problem.

  33. Gabe Peterson

    Law is reason, free from passion


  34. John Burkoff

    I’m Professor of Law at U of Pittsburgh and author of 41 books:

    Buy my books. Feed my children.

  35. Adam Koenings

    Public Service Loan Forgiveness? Yes, please.

  36. C. Ann Harper

    Your Voice, Your Words: Our Edits

  37. Lisa A. Mazzie

    From an anonymous 2L:
    Made 12(e) motion in class. Denied.

  38. Melissa Greipp

    Linear motion controls litigation’s dynamic chaos.

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