The word ‘meme’ was coined by academic Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene as a way to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena in the field of evolutionary biology. But it was only with the advent of the internet that its use became widespread, as web users began creating content that could spread rapidly. The advent of social media has accelerated the meme trend, with lawyers and law students increasingly getting in on the act. Here are ten examples of law going viral.
Law School Memes
One of the most well known legal meme sites is the incredibly popular Facebook page ‘Law School Memes’.
It hosts the best law-themed captioned images from popular meme sites like Quickmeme.com, with a large proportion of the featured content submitted by UK law students. Despite only being founded in April last year, Law School Memes boasts over 50,000 likes. Those who wish for their creations to be showcased can contact the site's editors at email@example.com.
In February, an anonymous English undergraduate law student opened a Twitter account called @LawVicissitudes to tweet amusing dilemmas under the #LawStudentProblems hashtag.
Almost overnight the account became a Twitter sensation. As it hauled in hundreds of followers a day, its mysterious founder made a guest appearance on the Legal Cheek podcast and was commissioned to write an article for The Guardian. Frantic speculation as to his identity ensued.
Four months on and the still-anonymous @LawVicissitudes has approaching 12,000 Twitter followers and continues to entertain with his observations about the stresses of exams.
Law Lecturer Woes
The success of @LawVicissitudes has inspired an anonymous law lecturer to tell their side of the story, also via Twitter. Be warned, law students, it's not always pretty. One to watch.
Amid controversy over the government's legal aid reforms, the #SaveUKJustice hashtag has become one of the most popular on Twitter, trending on the social network on a number of occasions. We’ll be examining the issues raised from these reforms more closely in a separate FLN article – keep an eye out for more details coming soon.
You know you are a law student when
Yahoo's reported $1.1 billion bid for Tumblr has thrown the popular social media blogging platform into the spotlight. Tumblr is awash with law student blogs, the majority of which are image based. 'You know you are a law student when...' is a long-running classic
Trust me I am a law student
More recently, there has been a craze for captioned animated "gif" images on Tumblr. There are a host of law-themed examples, with Trust me I am a law student a stand-out.
Pinterest law student boards
Many expect Pinterest to be the next social media big thing. Already, it has numerous law student ’boards’ where increasing numbers of posters are curating their favourite legal content. So far, no one has emerged as the dominant force, but several accounts, such as ‘Lawyer Gaga’, are worth keeping an eye on.
‘Law School’ (A parody of ‘Payphone’ by Maroon 5)
Every year US legal blog Above the Law conducts a video contest in which law students are invited to post their comedy shorts on YouTube, from which a winner is decided. This year "Law School" (a parody of "Payphone" by Maroon 5) bagged the prize, garnering almost a quarter of a million views in the process.
British law students are also proving enthusiastic embracers of YouTube, coming into their own, in particular, during the Harlem Shake viral video craze.
But the best effort to date has been Southampton University law student Tommy Chuang's brilliant Gangnam Style parody "Lawyer Style", which has approaching 100,000 views.
How to prepare for law exams
As it becomes ever more common for people to create their own content, the meme effect is spreading away from humour into educational areas via platforms like Prezi. Bristol University law lecturer Steven Vaughan's excellent guide on exam preparation is a good example of a recent hit that was disseminated widely through social media.