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    « Business risks | Main | Home is where the exam is »
    Monday
    Dec042017

    Aunty Meme

    The world of law school memes ... Gummow, with his fashion sense, pips Kirby in online popularity ... Values free crassness ... Subeta Vimalarajah presents her comparison of outstanding student memes  

    GONE are the days when law students would pass notes to each other in class with humorous quips and unflattering doodles of their lecturer. The camaraderie and anxieties of today's law students are photoshopped into meme form and exhibited on Facebook for all to like or react to.

    A meme, for the embarrassingly unacquainted, is a piece of media - usually an image with overlayed text - that is copied and spread on the internet. Essentially, an internet joke catered to those avocado toast loving, selfie snapping millennial "youth" whose jobs will soon be automated away.  

    When it comes to Australian legal memes for tertiary students, a few Facebook pages have made their mark. For those who judge value based on Facebook page "likes" (a questionable metric at best) it is Law School Memes - with 96,221 likes - that tops the leader-board. Up-and-running since mid-2012, this is the big six of the legal meme world. 

    There is room to question whether Law School Memes is keeping up with its new competitors or relying too heavily on re-posts and the talent of other meme pages. Emerging giant Legal Memes for Judicial Teens has declared: 

    "Law School Memes hasn't published content since 15 June ... So until they return, thank you for handing us the crown." 

    So, it seems, Law School Memes' incumbent status is under threat.

    In the mid-tier category is Australian Law Memes, with 27,079 likes, and Legal Memes for Judicial Teens, with 24,669 likes. Legal Memes for Judicial Teens is run by three University of Sydney students - Patrick Ryan, William Ryan and Tom Power, two of whom study law. This page has seen a rapid rise to popularity, despite starting only about six months ago. 

    The revolutionaries behind Legal Memes for Judicial Teens say their secret is "unfettered and shameless populism". Their words of wisdom for wannabe memers are ... 

    "don't be afraid to sell out your values every now and then. It's a cynical world and your legacy will fade quickly." 

    Inspiring stuff. 

    For those seeking a specialist practice, there are Dank Law Memes, with 6,661 likes, and Gummow Memes for Judicial Teens, with 4,665 likes. 

    Despite the differences between the pages, a few common themes emerge. 

    Kirby is out, Gummow is in 

    The days of Kirby J the great dissenter are out. That is not to say that Kirby does not garner regular mentions in meme world, but the content dedicated to him is more salty than sweet. Rather than a resounding voice for justice, Kirby is the one who "will argue with anyone about anything" and who is "too overtly political". 

    Admittedly, there are some who cling on to old trends, with Dank Law Memes still opting for a Kirby J inspired branding. 

    With Kirby's descent has come the rise of Gummow. Now sporting his own dedicated meme page, Gummow has made concurring cool again. He is hailed as both a fashion icon and the way to make your girl smile for hours. 

    Together with his BFF (best friend for life – it's a term of art) Kenneth Hayne J, this former High Court judge has more fans in your average law seminar than the Kardashians. 

    There are too many legal graduates, and not enough jobs  

    For every new Australian Financial Review article about the changing landscape for legal graduates, there's a new meme turning those unemployment woes into a momentary, desperate laugh. Particularly as clerkship season approaches, many a jibe is made about being too drunk at networking evenings and the various hoops one is required to jump through to secure a coveted salaried position in the legal industry. 

    Some memes adopt a decidedly less spritely tone and cut straight to the chase - clerkships are competitive, community legal centres are underfunded and your only solace is remembering that everyone else is just as anxious about it as you are! 

    These pages also seek to address the very anxieties they communicate. The three behind Legal Memes for Judicial Teens noted that running a meme page is not just a way to "speak truth to power" while "escaping the attention of defamation law suits", but a way to "scream 'fun!' on our resumes".  

    The AGLC is that friend we love to hate 

    With its 300+ pages, the Australian Guide to Legal Citation has caused many an aneurysm in law libraries across the country. Meme pages have captured these experiences in divergent ways. Some have chosen to vent their frustrations through various iterations of "we hate the AGLC", while others have opted for needlessly sexual content that sullies the good name of legal memes (looking at you, Dank Law Memes). 

    Admittedly, it is crass to reduce thousands of memes to these three themes. For the avid Facebook scroller or exam study procrastinator, there are memes that decry the Civil Liability Act's drafting, equity, and the new Austlii. 

    As the operators of Legal Memes for Judicial Teens confess, "at the heart of legal memes is a large community of generous and creative meme donors". They estimate that 75 percent of their memes are published by them, with the remaining being community posts. As a result of this collective approach, from the legally complex to the snobbishly simple, there's something for everyone. 

    Disclaimer: The author does not endorse any particular meme page, despite only seeking comment from Legal Memes for Judicial Teens. 

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