Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

An e-mail from my civil procedure professor last week:

"A brief note to those of you who are playing computer games during class. I hope you're paying close enough attention to what's going on in the room that you occasionally fail to put a red nine on a black ten!"

A follow-up today:

"In my last e-mail, I tried to joke people out of playing computer games in class, but I guess that wasn't a complete success. You have every right to be bored, of course, but I don't believe it's fair to those around you to try to relieve the boredom that way. Give day-dreaming a chance."

Awesome. He's right that it's awfully distracting to see all the people around you playing solitaire, hearts, minesweeper -- or on rare occassions, even kung-fu fighting games, tetris-like block-falling games, and snood-like ball-shooting games. Not that I'm totally innocent of all this -- I haven't yet resorted to playing games in class, but I sometimes start changing the color scheme of my screen, gratituously running the spell-check on my class notes, or playing with Word's autotext feature to make "sc" turn into supreme court automatically, "jur" into "jurisdiction," and, perhaps my biggest autotext triumph, having "oms" turn into "objective manifestation of subjective intent." You wouldn't believe how often that comes in handy. But I do (perhaps mistakenly) take the moral high ground since I don't play solitaire. What's most distracting is when the guy or girl next to me wins and the cards fall down like springs across the screen. Very hard not to be sucked in. Mind-numbing...

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Add Failed Yale Lecturers to the FYL acronyms list (see below) (Thanks, Rob).
An ad in the mailboxes today for a tuxedo store... "over 20 HLS students served in this year only." 2 problems -- (1) don't they mean "this year alone?" and (2) there are over 1700 law students here. The fact that 20 of them bought tuxedos from this place is decidedly unimpressive. 20 people here have probably been struck by lightning. Run for Congress. Contracted syphillis. Seen Madonna's new movie. (maybe not the last one)
Our First Year Lawyering course -- abbreviated FYL -- is often a topic of conversational scorn. It's a "legal skills" class -- how to do legal research, write memos, negotiate, conduct client meetings, etc -- and it's graded on a pass/fail basis (high pass / pass / low pass / fail, if I'm not mistaken), so it's basically just not as "real" as the other classes. Plus it's taught by a lecturer, not a famous professor like the rest of the classes. And apparently my section has more work than the other sections -- an extra memo, I guess -- but I think the fundamental complaint is that the class in general feels like busywork that takes time and energy away from the other classes, as opposed to feeling like valuable supplementary instruction. Because writing a 10-page memo -- even though it's graded pass/fail -- still takes a lot of time and effort, because what's the difference between aiming for an A and aiming for a pass in actual performance? Should I purposely spell words wrong because it's only graded pass/fail? I imagine a solution to people's disgruntled-ness might be if they set it up as a real class -- didn't make it pass/fail, didn't act like it was any different from contracts or criminal law or civil procedure, and didn't give us reading targeted for a nine-year-old (we have a book called "finding the law" which basically tells us how to open books and turn pages, and we've had some excerpts from books about client interaction that say things like "it's important to listen and not to judge other people" -- yeah, because lawyers just lawyer and it's judges who judge). Anyway, as I try to figure out if this is a good topic for my newspaper column next week, I've been trying to come up with some other (funny) things that FYL could stand for with regard to the class, besides First Year Lawyering. So far:

Finding Your Library
Finishing You Last
Frustrating Your Leisure
Feeble Young Lecturers? (that one's too harsh... but the F and Y are hard...)

I'm in search of more and better ones...

Monday, October 28, 2002

On recommendation from a friend, I took a walk this afternoon (taking advantage of the really awesome weather) to a bakery that's in a completely different direction than anywhere I'd been so far, but only a 10-minute walk away. (To put this in geographical terms, the main road -- Mass Ave -- runs North-South. The two major places where food and stores are are Porter Square and Harvard Square, 10 minutes North and South, respectively. Walking east takes me to Somerville, which looks like a part of town I ought to avoid although probably is perfectly safe. This was west, where I hadn't ventured before) So I found the bakery -- no small achievement given my utter lack of a sense of direction (I actually brought a map with me just in case -- that's how easily I get lost). And I got a piece of Cranberry Pound Cake (and a cup of some herbal tea... I dunno, looked interesting, and was only a dollar.), and started to walk back. So I reach into the bag to try a piece of the cake. And it's ok, but there's a weird "extra" taste -- some flavor that didn't seem to belong. Couldn't quite place it. A few minutes later, the next bite. Again, something extra -- not sweet, almost salty, kind of a robust flavor. Third bite. I figured it out. The cake tasted like beef. Like they accidentally dropped some roast beef in the batter. Or they used meat drippings instead of milk as the liquid. Very strange. Like eating a "roast beef on cake" sandwich. Not something I'd recommend. Very strange. Won't be going back there anytime soon....
Went to a meeting last week -- motivated by the "free ice cream" -- of the Symposium committee for a journal I did some subciting for (reminder: that means footnote-checking). They had about 8 of those haagen-dazs ice cream bars -- chocolate covered in chocolate, or vanilla covered in crunchy chocolate, or chocolate and vanilla covered in saturated fat and sprinkled with unsaturated fat. 8. Which was enough for each person at the meeting to have 2. Not a very well-attended meeting. Which made me feel bad, since I was only there for the ice cream. Now I feel obligated -- now that my name's on the list, and now that I've taken their free ice cream -- to actually get involved in this Symposium committee. If only I had the foggiest notion of what a Symposium is...

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Game 7 of the World Series! I'm rooting for the Angels... not sure why, but I'd rather they win than the Giants. Maybe it's because if the Mets aren't going to win, I don't want any National League to win (unless of course they're playing the Yankees...). Like the Mets are going to be winning the World Series anytime soon... right... like they have any players under the age of 35....

I joined a fantasy basketball league with some people in my class. I know nothing about basketball. I read six different sets of rankings and tried to combine them together to get a consensus. We drafted yesterday. It's sad that even my first round pick -- Dirk Nowitzki -- I simply had never heard of before yesterday. Stephon Marbury is the only guy on my team I had heard of before. I didn't get Jordan or Pippen or Malone or Stockton or Grant Hill (the 5 players I had actually heard of), but I imagine those are good things, since they must be quite elderly by now.

It'll be fun to see if I can do well at Fantasy Basketball knowing absolutely nothing about what goes on in the NBA... heck, maybe it'll make me into a fan. Or prove to me that fantasy sports success has no relationship to actual knowledge. Which would be a disappointment, since I really do enjoy fantasy baseball.... We'll see....

Saturday, October 26, 2002

The post from last weekend promising a spoof of the powerpoint from the careers orientation -- I created it but can't figure out how to present powerpoint slides on my weblog. E-mail me if you want it.
This post sounds mildly insane, but I'm trying to puzzle out this notion that I'm been thinking about this afternoon, and figure maybe writing it down will help. So excuse the strange-ness. More and more, I find myself feeling like there are a limited number of "types" of people in the world. Like a bunch of people fall into the "generic friendly normal person" category, but then you get a set number of alternatives like "pompous jackass" or "insane aggressive dude," and that if you could somehow develop a list of all these types -- and maybe there are 20, i don't know, you could easily fit 99% of people into their appropriate category. What I find myself doing is looking to compare people I meet here to people I know from before -- like "Oh, Jim is like Mike, only with a little more energy and fewer moral qualms," and stuff like that. And then I find myself looking for people who fit into the types I'm most drawn to. Like "melancholy introspective thinker" and "sarcastic observer with good heart" and "sunny extrovert mind-reader." I don't know if this makes any sense at all. It's hard to find people in those three categories, really. Maybe they're too specific. Or hard to sense right off the bat, whereas "phony social climber" and "just doesn't understand the world around him/her" are so easy to pick up on right away. I should read some Myers-Briggs stuff. I think studying personalities would be fascinating. I think I've just turned off anyone who's reading this entry. I would say that if anyone has stumbled across this weblog and thinks they fall into any of the three categories I listed as desirable, send me an e-mail and let me know I'm not insane. :)
I had an interesting conversation with someone in my section the other day about our impressions regarding law school so far. A few observations we were able to articulate that I hadn't really reflected on before:

1. The people here from what U.S. News might call less stellar undergraduate universities are in some ways (and this very much a generalization) more impressive than the people from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc.

And I think the reason is because to get in here from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc is, while "easy" probably isn't the right word, certainly it's easi*er*. The people here from SUNY Albany, or the University of Oklahoma, or any number of schools, presumably had to be really extraordinary -- at the very top of their class, or have had some outside work experience that's unique and interesting and makes them stand out. While the people from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc have a little more wiggle room. I know I wasn't at the top of my class -- I told someone during the first week here that I had two C's on my transcript and the reaction I got was "...and they still let you in?" -- but undergraduate background becomes a plus as opposed to something that has to be compensated for, like if your school is the University fo Utah. So I think a lot of the impressive people -- I know a doctor, a couple of phD's, just as examples -- are the ones not from U.S. News's favorite places. Which I hadn't really reflected on before.

2. This place is really pitched at 22-year-olds right out of undergrad.

...and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But I've definitely been surprised at how little difference there is between this and undergrad, from a lifestyle perspective, and even from a schoolwork perspective. For me, I'm happy with that -- I loved undergrad, and I'm thrilled that there are lots of opportunities here to meet people, that there are lots of activities to get involved in, that -- although to a lesser degree than Princeton undergrad, but still enough -- it's not hard to get into a routine where this is your entire world, especially if you live on campus. I mean that less negatively than it sounds -- all I mean is that unlike a job (or at least unlike the job I had before coming here), you don't need to make connections external to the law school, to go into Boston and find activities to get involved with unrelated to school, to make friends in town, stuff like that. Those opportunities are there if you want them, I'm sure. And for people with lots of Boston connections before coming here, I'm sure they find it refreshing to talk to non-law school people and maybe even find it frustrating that they don't have *more* time to spend outside of here -- but for me, I'm awfully happy that I've been able to find enough that I'm fulfilled without being forced to go searching in the "real world" for things to fill my time and energy and keep me satisfied. So in that sense it's a lot like undergrad -- in a good way for most, but if someone has a family, and, well, a Life outside of Harvard Law School, I can imagine it's frustrating.

And, similarly, just as an aside, the Socratic method of teaching is certainly pitched more at a 22-year-old than at an "adult" (yeah, I know lots of 22-year-olds probaly think of themselves as adults. I'm 23 and certainly don't). Being questioned, and pushed, and potentially embarassed in class (although that's so much more in people's heads than for real -- no one remembers who gets an answer wrong, and even more so, no one cares) is not really an adult technique, and if I was 35 I'd probably be more than a little annoyed by a teacher treating me like a 5-year-old. But at 23, I'm totally cool with it.

3. A little work experience goes a long way.

Just seeing what's out there besides school I think really makes a difference. I was joking with someone that I feel like I can tell who's straight through from undergrad and who tok some time off. I was wrong on the two cases they tested me on, but still I think it's a valid idea, generally. There's something different about the people who have had a job, even just for a year -- they know there's something more out there, they have more of a reason for being here and understand that school isn't the entire universe. I think for a lot of people straight out of undergrad, they're here because it's the next logical step. It's what it made sense to do. And they haven't really thought about *why* they want to be here, and they don't really know what their other options were, and they have nothing to measure law school against in terms of a job or real-world experience. Whereas the people who were out in the world have a little tiny bit of perspective, and realize that if law school isn't for them, or being a lawyer isn't for them, there are other options, and they've seen what they are. And because they made a conscious decision to leave something else to come here -- as opposed to just right here when undergrad ended -- I think there's more of an element that they have a reason to be here -- or at least they know why they made the choice and they're not wishing they were elsewhere or wondering what life would have been like if not here.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

When there are events on campus, the practice here is that people write them on the blackboards in all of the classrooms. Today there was an announcement for a Halloween party on Saturday sponsored by the Student Activities Council. Except they spelled sponsored wrong -- "s-p-o-n-s-E-r-e-d." Maybe it was part of the Halloween theme, because the idea that Harvard students can't spell sponsored is pretty darn scary.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

I was getting worried because I couldn't think of a newspaper column idea for next week -- but then they told me that next week there's no newspaper. So I'm off the hook. But the reason why there's no newspaper gave me a good idea for a column. Ah, the conundrum of it all. Anyway, the reason there's no paper is because it's "flyout week," when the 2Ls go to callback interviews around the country for their law firm jobs for the summer. By "around the country" I mean New York and DC. Because those are the only places anyone gets jobs.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Here's something scary. I just laughed at something in a contracts case. I have become comfortable enough with reading these cases that I was actually able to find humor in a court's opinion. This is very scary. Let me try to share without being incomprehensible. There's this case where a big company took out a loan from another big company, and the contract clearly says the company can't pay it off early. But they want to pay it off early because interest rates have gone down and they're locked into a high rate. So they sue, claiming that while the contract is clear, the intent of the parties when they signed it was to allow early payment -- and they have evidence they want to present regarding that. The court wants to say no, this is ridiculous, you're stuck in your contract, you can't show us extrinsic evidence when the contract is so unambiguosly clear. Go away. But, there's a prior case where the court decided that words are never completely unambiguous and that one should always be able to show extrinsic evidence to determine intent. So the court here is stuck. Even though they really want to dismiss the case. So the opinion says, "While we have our doubts about the wisdom of [the prior case], we have no difficulty understanding its meaning, even without extrinsic evidence to guide us." This is funny stuff. This is laugh-out-loud law going on here. And, yes, I realize how pathetic that makes me sound. I have reached rock bottom: I am laughing at case law.
Is there a good way to get rid of junk e-mail? I get about 5 e-mails a day regarding lowering my credit card debt or refinancing a mortgage, and while 5 e-mails a day is not an intolerably large number, it bothers me when I hear the incoming e-mail bell ring and then I'm disappointed. It's a real disappointment too, not just like the mild inconvenience when i swallow mouthwash by accident, or the fitted sheet starts to slide off my mattress in the middle of the night. I don't just want a filter that'll hide the evil e-mail -- because then I'll constantly worry I'm filtering out something real by accident. I want a way to get myself off their lists. But everyone says that if you do waht they say to do to unsubscribe, they just put you on more lists. Does anybody have a solution?

Monday, October 21, 2002

Searching for random stuff on Lexis-Nexis is a great way to waste time. I uncovered a two-year-old article from Esquire magazine about five 1990 Harvard Law graduates and what they were doing ten years later. Learned that stand-up comic Greg Giraldo (he's had a couple of failed sitcoms too...) has a Harvard Law degree. I'm not sure if there's a lesson there or not. Interesting article though.

Now that the Gilbert and Sullivan shw is over, I feel like I have a lot of free time. It's been over for a day, and already I'm feeling that. Not good. The show was fun, though. I'm glad I did it. I met a bunch of cool people, got to fill in my days for the last few weeks, and most importantly I met the people involved in the law school parody show in the spring -- a student-written musical comedy that makes fun of the law school. First writers meeting on Tuesday. I'll be there with bells on. Actually, I'll be there with sketches and songs in my pocket. Literally. I am more excited about getting involved with that than I am about anything else here. Isn't that disturbing? Doesn't it mean I'm in the wrong place???

I should really be doing my contracts reading right now, but I feel like after having done laundry this afternoon, I've accomplished enough for one day. There was some sort of odd attempted sabotage in the laundry -- there was a fountain pen ink cartridge in one of the dryers. I'm lucky I noticed it before I put my clothes in, or else they would've been ruined. I didn't think much of it at the time, but now I'm wondering how exactly an ink cartridge -- alone, without a pen -- gets into a dryer without there being some sort of bad motive. I'm completely baffled. Because even if it was some sort of intentional bad-ness, the perpetrator wouldn't be around to see the results. So I don't get it.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

I have a desperate urge to create a mock powerpoint presentation parodying the powerpoint we were shown the other day at a "career services orientation session." There were 5 slides:

Slide 1 -- a quote from an alumnus about how valuable working for a law firm is.
Slide 2 -- % of graduates who go to work for law firms, public interest organizations, etc.
Slide 3 -- average salary of graduates who go to work for law firms vs. public interest
Slide 4 -- % of graduates who find jobs as compared with the national average. Big surprises here.
Slide 5 -- law firm retention rate after x years out of school.

My spoof coming by the middle of the week hopefully. If I can find a way to attach a powerpoint file to the weblog, I'll do that. Otherwise, you'll have to e-mail me for it.
I'm making up a new verb. "Final drafticizing." Fairly straightforward what it means. I'm spending the morning (uh... and the afternoon, I guess... this isn't very productive...) turning my first draft memo into the final draft that's going to get "graded." I'm putting "graded" in quotes because the writing workshop is pass/fail. This is an utterly useless exercise. They made us write the first draft and hand it in, and gave us comments back. It's fairly clear to me that if the first draft was really the final draft, and was getting graded, I'm well past the threshold to receive a "pass" rather than a "fail." So the incentive to make any changes to this thing is virtually zero. I know I'm getting a pass, it doesn't matter what I do. I already wrote the memo two weeks ago and don't really want to go back and work on it more. If they want us to write a memo, just make us write something and then grade it on a real scale. This hand-holding -- first draft, then comments, then a final draft, plus not really a grade, just pass-fail -- seems kind of pathetic given that we're in law school, not third grade.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

The Gilbert and Sullivan show I'm in has its third and final performance tonight. We're trying to break speed records -- 33 minutes last night from start to finish. It's a brief little adventure.

An e-mail from our first-year-lawyering workshop instructor regarding the professor and class on Monday -- "Also, I know that there has been some discontent about the amount of FYL work you have. [The professor] is aware of it, too, and he will address the issue in the lecture on Monday." Should be entertaining to hear. Frankly I'm sick of people complaining about the work -- it's a pass-fail course, and everyone passes. It's really not that brutal. Doesn't one give up the right to complain about schoolwork when they go to Harvard Law School?

Thursday, October 17, 2002

First draft of next week's newspaper column:

“I’m Sorry, Dean Clark”

The invasion of the suits finally spread to the 1Ls last week. At least to my section. But it wasn’t overeager students flagrantly violating the ban on summer job searching until December 1. No, that will have to wait for next week. It was just for yearbook photos. And for our section’s reception with Dean Clark.

First, the yearbook photos. I’m not sure if that was really a legitimate reason to wear a suit. They suggested we wear “business attire.” But doesn’t that depend on what business you’re in? What if you’re a lifeguard? A hooker? A clown? An underwear model? I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that “business attire” means you have to wear a suit. It’s presumptuous. What if I can’t get any of the jobs that require suits and I’m stuck wearing a paper hat and apron? Then assuming that suit and tie as “business attire” will make me feel awfully silly. But I’ll excuse the people who simply wanted to look spiffy for their yearbook photo. After all, yearbook photos are permanent. Like these columns I write. Gosh.

Harder to excuse are the people wearing suits for our section’s reception with Dean Clark. Right before our reception, we had our OCS/OPIA orientation session, which I suppose was an even worse occasion to wear a suit. The orientation presented us with a number of graphs about the career prospects for graduates. First, a graph showing the number of graduates who went to firms as compared with the number who took public interest jobs. It was like a graph comparing the Harvard endowment to the change I’ve collected in a plastic cup on my desk. The only way it could have looked worse is if they’d used a logarithmic scale. The second graph showed the percent of graduates who get jobs as compared with the national average. Perhaps it would have been a fairer competition had they compared the percent of graduates who get jobs with the percent of people with beating hearts. Are we really supposed to be surprised that everyone gets a job after graduating from here? Is this news to anybody?

Anyway, after the exciting career orientation, it was off to the Dean Clark reception. With the people in suits. Unnecessary for a few reasons. First, they said there’d be food there. And my policy is anywhere where there’s food is a dangerous place to wear my one suit (actually it’s not even really a suit – I have a jacket and a pair of pants that come oh-so-close to matching. Barely visible to the naked eye. Almost can’t tell one piece is navy blue and the other is black. Almost. Goes great with my olive green only-pair-of-dress-socks and my brown shoes.). So easy to get it dirty, and then what? Complete and utter disaster. Plus, what could the consequences possibly be of not wearing a suit? Would Dean Clark kick us out of school? Erase our entries from the log we had to sign to get our ID cards? Ensure we get a low pass grade in FYL? Where’s the incentive?

And, frankly, the reception wasn’t really worth a suit. Maybe a polo shirt and a pair of khakis, but definitely not a suit. The leap from styrofoam plates to real ceramic was impressive, though. As was the food. A step above the goldfish and assorted crackers at the all-law school party (does Harvard own stock in Pepperidge Farm?), there were miniature spinach pies, fried wontons, little triangles of toast baked with cheese, assorted fruit, and other finger food that in large enough quantities makes for a filling and nutritious dinner. Especially if you brought a Ziploc bag and loaded up on the chicken on a stick. There were also some assorted flavors of what more sophisticated members of my section told me was paté. It looked kind of like slabs of clay to me, so I’m not sure. Tasted like clay too.

The highlight of the reception with the Dean was when he told us some of the accomplishments of people in our section, like he did for the whole class during orientation: “…a Fulbright scholar, a Truman scholar, two people with an allergy to peanuts, one student who still wets the bed, three hypochondriacs, one convicted felon, four transvestites, and a former stunt double for Barney the dinosaur.” Now there’s one person whose “business attire” most certainly wasn’t a three-piece suit….
We had to go take pictures for the yearbook today. They suggested "business attire." What exactly does that mean? Doesn't it depend on what business you're in? What if you're a lifeguard? Or a hooker? Or an underwear model? Or a professional football player? Business attire is a vague and ambiguous concept. This is the kind of thinking law school forces us to do.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Another interesting e-mail:

"There are spots remaining on the 10/21 tour of the Big Dig (Central Artery/ Tunnel), one of the largest public construction projects in history. The tour will include commentary by the project's legal counsel. Proper attire -- slacks and heavy shoes -- is required."

What the heck is proper attire for a construction site?????
Just got the following e-mail from a professor:

The second volume of supplemental readings are ready for you to pick up. (They're just too heavy for me to lug to your Harkboxes!)

[A Harkbox is a mailbox.] I'm not looking forward to seeing the size of these things...

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

I sent my section a mass e-mail about the show I'm in this week. I think it's kinda funny:

Apologies for sending a mass e-mail.

I'm a jury member in this weekend's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Trial by Jury" and the director is making me tell people about it so we have an audience.

The show is Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm in Ames Courtroom. The show takes place in a courtroom. So that meant we didn't have to build a set, which was good.

It costs $5. (Random fact: in 1875, when the musical was written, $5 in today's money was equivalent to 31 cents.) Tickets are on sale in the Hark tomorrow from 10-2, or you can buy them at the door. I don't get the feeling that you should worry at all about it being sold out if you wait to buy them at the door, but they didn't tell me to say that in my e-mail, so I make no promises.

Frequently Asked Questions

"What's the show about?"

Bitter over Edwin's refusal to marry, Angelina takes him to court to recover damages. Edwin is forced to defend himself in front of a jury and a wacky judge. Hijinks ensue.

"Is it all music, or if I come will I be forced to sit through boring dialogue too?"

No dialogue. All songs. Isn't that a relief.

"But 8pm on Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday nights are my favorite times to study."

That's not a question, it's a statement. But anyway, the show is only 45 minutes long. And besides, it contains a bunch of legal terms, like "breach of contract," and "court of the exchequer," and "be firm, be firm, my pecker." (Those last two rhyme.) So it's really sort of educational.

"But if it's only 45 minutes long, why is it worth my $5?"

Sorry, no more questions.

"Couldn't you have said all this in about three lines instead of writing this whole long e-mail?"

I said no more questions.

"Okay, okay, I get it. Sorry."

Monday, October 14, 2002

Another "stumbled across" web site -- they seem to come in bunches, don't they -- Worth magazine did a study of the Top High Schools in the nation for getting students into Harvard/Yale/Princeton. Seems like an awfully narrow view of a high school's excellence, but I'm sure there's a demand for this kind of information out there. 94 of the top 100 are private schools. I'm not sure that can be called a surprise, but I would have expected it to be less overwhelmingly skewed. To get 50 public schools, they had to go to spot 294 on their list. 930 of 31,700 nationwide high schools sent at least 4 students to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton combined in the four years 1998-2001. More than half of those sent less than 1%. School #1 sent 21%. School #100 sent 4%. And the rest inbetween (obviously). High School Rankings

My alma mater is the top ranked public school, which is pretty cool. #26 overall. I think this list is a great argument for a private school voucher system, because it shouldn't have to cost $20,000 a year to get a real chance at these schools. Obviously there's some self-selecting going on, but still....
Just stumbled across an incredibly pointless editorial in the Daily Princetonian about the evils of Diet Coke. Diet Coke is Evil

It strikes me that I often use the phrase "stumbled across" when talking about articles or websites I've found. I guess that makes me sound less pathetic than if I were to say "found in the course of my reading" or "searched for and found." Truth is, in this case, I do try and check the Daily 'Prince every couple of days or so, in case there's anything interesting. And in the case below, I was actually searching for other law student weblogs -- so to say I "stumbled across" it is not exactly forthcoming. I read stuff on the web too much. It's a mild addiction -- there's always more interesting news to find. And I know it makes no sense to read the sports sections of 5 different New York area newspapers each morning to get the widest perspective possible on the Mets' search for a new manager, especially since they're all tailored versions of the same Assoicated Press wire story. But it's healthier than Diet Coke, at least according to the 'Prince article.
My weblog has some competition, sadly enough. They don't know it yet, but I've been scoping out whatever weblogs I can find written by other law students. There's one that's got something somewhat thought-provoking today about law students that I completely disagree with. Here's a long and out-of-context plagiarized quote:

"There are few things that get me angrier then law students in my position complaining about the difficulty of law school. Before I say anything else, however, let me be clear. 'Nothing I say here refers in the slightest to people... [in] difficult positions, with responsibilities for children, aging parents, or whatver. All this is about is people like me; just out of college, completely unburdened professional students. Now, what could possibly be difficult about law school in this position? We're surrounded by young people, even (let me add!) those of the opposite sex. We're studying interesting material; material made interesting, let me be clear, not by my personality but by its nature. We study the very bones of our society. Outside the law school, many of us live in interesting places, and at least the rest of the university is around to provide entertainment. We're mostly young and healthy, and in general, the work is demanding but not overwhelming. And, if the great problem of life for many of us is finding something to do, then, law school fits the bill exactly. What, then, is the problem? Do people expect endless hilarity? Actually, I think people do expect to be constantly entertained, and consequently, when they're not, they become unhappy... You know, our jobs sometimes just aren't going to be very interesting. Certainly, they'll be more demanding then law school. And at that point, it's going to be these daily routines that are going to save us from complete depression. It's going to be the gentle sizzling of the onions in the pan, the stirring of the risotto, the weekly walk to the supermarket or to the dry cleaners or whatever, that's going to keep us going. If you see the basic functioning of your life as a chore, then you place too high a burden on the rest of your life to be fun and interesting. When the rest doesn't deliver, you're probably going to be in trouble."
(Here's a link citation This Other Guy's Weblog -- but please don't abandon me for him.

Anyway, I have a beef with his argument. I don't see what's so bad about wanting our lives to be interesting, and not being satisfied with the routines and the everyday. Yes, it's nice to be able to appreciate the little things in life -- and often the little things deserve appreciation. But if the little things are what's "save[ing you] from complete depression" then aren't you in trouble? Doesn't it mean that your life's pursuits are wrong? I can't help but think that this is the rationalization for going to work in a big corporate law firm -- everyone knows they won't enjoy the work, that the 20-hour days will be grueling, that the lifestyle will be unhappy and lonely and boring and unfulfilling, albeit lucrative (but what good is the money if you have no time to spend it?). So people start making absurd claims that jobs aren't supposed to be interesting, and life isn't supposed to be fun and exciting.

I have to admit, my argument falls apart if I broaden my circle of awareness -- it is unfortunate but true that there are lots of jobs very important to society that are not interesting. We have waiters and janitors and secretaries and IRS auditors who do things that have great utility but probably are not spectacularly interesting and rewarding. And they're only there to make money to support themselves and their families and not because it's their dream job. Fair enough. But, at the risk of sounding elitist (at the certainty of sounding elitist, I should say), I'm at Harvard Law School. If people here (and by "here" I really mean a broader circle than Harvard -- I mean the, I don't know, 10% of the population that goes to reasonably selective colleges and universities and has a wide variety of doors open to them, and isn't forced to take a job in CVS as the only means for survival. It's an elitist argument, but I'm not so elitist as to single out this place as special -- I mean people fortunate enough to get educated and have options, that's all) aren't in a position to find a job that is at least interesting and fulfilling, then who the heck IS? And if society is set up in such a way that there are NO jobs that are truly rewarding, then we're in trouble. It's an awfully low bar being set if the goal isn't at least to have a job that's interesting and rewarding. I feel bad for my fellow law student if he's truly bracing himself for a life one smell of risotto away from constant depression.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

I saw "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" on Friday night, and I'm going to see "Moonlight Mile" tonight. I liked "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" more than I thought I would.

I heard someone's theory the other day about there being more short people here than one would expect. I'm not sure I'd noticed this phenomenon, but I guess it's more the case that there just aren't a ton of really tall people, not that there are lots of short people. But anyway, this person's theory was that short people work harder in school to compensate for their height. This sounds like utter baloney to me. I don't buy this theory at all -- even if I did think there were an unusual number of short people here, which I don't.

I was explaining to someone yesterday that my dream job would be to write for a TV show. She said, "oh, you want to be an entertainment lawyer?" I said, "no. I want to be on the other side of the table. The one who needs the lawyer." Explaining this took forever -- this girl simply could not fathom that someone would have this desire to write as opposed to practice law. Completely inconsistent with being at law school. Oh wait, I guess it is...

Saturday, October 12, 2002

This is the kind of learning you're missing if you're not in law school. I just sent an e-mail to my study group:

"I have a really specific question about today's class that I was going to try and articulate into an e-mail to Prof. Warren, but I'm kind of scared to do that, so I figured I'd see if any of you had the same thought as I did or could tell me where my logic is going wrong. Apologies if this makes no sense -- it made really good sense in my head during class but now it's not as clear to me, looking back at my notes. But anyway --

Regarding Nebraska Seed, when Prof. Warren was looking for reasons why we take the soft-edged approach of inferring the "invitation to deal" term instead of the hard-edged approach of requiring people to write in their advertisements that it wasn't an offer ---

If the default is "this is an offer," we run the risk of binding people into contracts they don't intend (like unsophisticated parties who don't know they need to include the invitation term), but if the default is "just an invitation," then the only risk we run is that two parties who both want to enter a contract, and are agreed on the terms, need to take that one extra step of invitation-offer-acceptance.

So the soft-edged rule doesn't really have any potential to cause any harm -- because if people want to make a contract, and agree on the terms, then another step won't stop them. But the hard-edged rule does have the potential to bind people who don't mean to be bound, so there is possible harm.

And that seemed to me like an argument in favor of the soft rule, but it wasn't one of Prof. Warren's in class.

(Just as an aside -- I'm realizing that under my logic here, transaction costs might be higher with the soft rule -- because of the extra step needed (invitation-offer-acceptance versus offer-acceptance), which is the opposite of the transaction costs issue Prof. Warren talked about in class -- higher with the hard rule because you need a lawyer ---- but aside from transactions costs, I'm wondering if my reasoning makes any sense)

Does this make any sense at all (or have I, as I suspect, done a really crappy job of articulating what the heck I'm talking about)?


Friday, October 11, 2002

Volunteered to help move a piano for the Gilbert and Sullivan show I'm in (we perform next weekend). Piano couldn't fit in the elevator. So they have to rent an electric piano instead. The maintenance guy was telling us he might be able to wheel it around to the handicapped elevator, which can support 1200 pounds. That's one fat handicapped person!
Last night I went out to a Karaoke bar with my section. It was on the Orange line of the Boston T (that's what they call the subway). Someone had told me "never take the Orange line." Now I know why. No, seriously, it was nothing. But clearly this place had never seen educated people before. It was full of middle-aged drunk people with beards (even the women) and plaid shirts. I don't know what that means, I'm just trying to paint a picture here.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Had my first study group meeting tonight. I'm not sure what use there is for a study group 3 months before exams. What are we studying for?

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Draft of my next column. If you've been reading this weblog since the beginning, you'll recognize a chunk in the middle. Otherwise, it's all new stuff:

This afternoon, I ventured into the basement of Pound in search of a cure. A cure for this pesky sore throat I must’ve caught from one of those classmates who’s always opening his mouth and spreading germs (along with words upon words upon self-indulgent words) throughout the classroom. So I went to the law school health center. Where they told me I had a “sore throat” (that’s the medical term for a sore throat), and that I should “try my best to stay healthy.” That’s very practical advice.

The nurse gave me a sheet with some tips for dealing with a “sore throat.” There was a list that began with the instruction, “call your doctor right away if any problems develop including the following.” Already a problem. There was no doctor. Only a nurse. But anyway. Call your doctor if: “you are worse in any way.” Does being a day older count? How about falling behind on the reading? Does that qualify?

Other reasons to call your doctor: “confusion, drowsiness, or loss of memory.” Sounds like what happens when I get called on in class. “Trouble walking or controlling arms and legs.” Yes, that does sound like a pretty ominous development from a sore throat. “Drooling.” Huh? “Anything else that worries you.” Again, the open-ended problem. I’m worried about this war with Iraq. Is that a good reason to call my doctor?

After reading the oh-so-helpful sheet, I figured it would be a good idea to check over the restrictions in the health care plan, just in case “try[ing] my best to stay healthy” doesn’t end up working out for me. A few observations we all ought to be aware of about our health coverage (these are real):

Because it's not a dental plan, injuries to teeth are only covered when not due to a “biting or chewing” incident. So if we fall on our heads and break a tooth, great, we're covered. But if we bite into a rock masquerading as a chicken breast in the Hark, no such luck.

Not covered: voluntary sterilization, tattoo removal, and “repetitive procedures (such as injection of varicose veins or hemorrhoids).” How about subciting? That’s a repetitive procedure.

“The removal of wisdom teeth is covered only if the teeth are impacted in the bone.” Exciting to think about.

Ambulance rides are only covered for certain “participating ambulance services.” Because when you need an ambulance, of course you're always going to be the one calling. I suppose one of those “medic alert” bracelets would come in handy in a case like this – “If I am injured and require an ambulance, please use one of the following companies: Hospital Express, Bleed-n-Go Ambulance Service, Hit-n-Run Emergency, Bob's “Stretch”-er Limousines, or No Frills Emergency Room Wheelbarrows, Inc. Do not under any circumstances allow me to be placed in a Roger's Ambulance and Dog Catcher vehicle – it is not covered by my insurance.”

The plan excludes coverage for “treatment for obesity... except as required by applicable law.” Hmmm. I guess we'll learn about those laws in our “Obesity Law” class next semester. Taught by the guy who plans the menus at the Hark.

Actually, the menus at the Hark aren’t so terrible. But something that was disturbing – the other week I was getting lunch and decided to get a bottle of Tropicana grapefruit juice. Opened it up, took a sip. Tasted fine. Then I noticed the date on the bottle – “Jan 19 02.” Uh, that was almost 10 months ago. Freaked me out. I threw it away. I guess I was wrong to go against the Nantucket Nectars monopoly, and that was my punishment.

I’d never seen Nantucket Nectars in cans before coming here. Or in vending machines. Or coming out of water fountains. Or the sinks in the bathroom. Or my shower. Or in the swimming pool at the Mac. Half and half. Half lemonade, half chlorine. It’s delicious. And would kill all those germs that caused my sore throat (see, it all comes back full circle).
Today in contracts class, the professor said it wouldn't be a bad idea for people to eventually form study groups. She's inadvertently (or --gasp-- intentionally?) unleashed a monster. I just got an e-mail inviting me to join a study group. The long slow march towards exams has apparently begun for my section. Thanks, Professor. Ugh.
Ideas are starting for my next column. Here's what I've got so far --

Before coming here, people kept telling me that law school was like high school – with lockers, required subjects, and classes with the same set of people. But after Field Day last weekend, I think high school may have been pushing it. Law school is really fifth grade.

My school had a Field Day in fifth grade. It was pretty much like this one. Except for the eight kegs. And the section subciting competition. (Kidding.) But I think that may have been the last time I played dodgeball. And I haven’t gotten any better at it than I was then.

In fifth grade, I remember there was an obsession with being one of the “cool kids.” I'm not sure what being 'cool" meant in fifth grade -- I think it was still to young to be dating or anything like that, so that wasn't it. I guess it was all about not getting beat up during recess, or getting invited to the boy-girl parties. Or having someone to sit next to on the bus during field trips. Or at the lunch table. But I do remember that I wasn't one of the cool kids. I'd be willing to bet that most people here weren't. We were the smart kids. The cool kids then are the ones working at the gas station now. Or in business school.

Monday, October 07, 2002

I went to a speech on "Finding your Identity at Harvard Law School" this evening. I thought it sounded like it would be really interesting -- that it would cover some of the territory I spend way too much energy thinking about. About people fitting in"the box" and stuff like that. But no. It was a psychology gobbledygook speech about finding a place where Personal values, Community values and Professional values converge into one. It didn't make any practical sense. It was mumbo-jumbo. I have no idea what the guy was talking about. So disappointing. Because I thought it was really going to be about the stuff I obsess about.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

I turned my song about the socratic method into 4-part harmony today. My first time trying that. I think it turned out okay. I'll bring it to a capella rehearsal on Tuesday and see what they think.

I know I haven't written anything substantial or funny in the last couple of days -- just not much to say I guess. But I promise, tomorrow will be a banner day here on the weblog. I'm talking pages of gut-busting hilarity. I promise. Or I will delete this post. :)
I missed Saturday Night Live last night -- ended up staying at this party I went to for longer than I thought. Got into a conversation with like 6 people from my section that lasted about 2 hours, so that was cool.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

I played dodgeball today at Field Day. And, yes, this is really fifth grade, not law school. It was fun, even though my section lost. People were protesting, saying the other team cheated. "Breach of Contract," they yelled. No, I'm making that up.

Tonight is the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. My expectations are low. I'll post a review after it's over.
Computer virus came back. But I think I got rid of it again. I think the network is giving it to me. Oh well.

I went to the law school bookstore to buy some paper for my printer and made an impulse purchase -- a miniature stapler for $3.00. It's sad when a stapler becomes an impulse buy. But I needed it. Because when I handed in my legal memo -- which needed to be staple, according to the instructor's oh-so-informative "last minute questions" e-mail -- I had to go lurking around the administrative offices until I found one with a stapler right on the front desk that I could sneak in and quickly use.

I saw "Red Dragon" last night. It was okay -- for a scary movie (not my usual preferred genre -- I like my movies short and funny) it was pretty good.

Today is "Field Day" from 12-5, featuring activities like Tug of War, Dodgeball, and Check a Footnote in Twenty Seconds. Or something like that. I have rehearsal from 12-2, so I'll be late to Field Day, but according to what people have been saying, the turnout won't be that good anyway. More about Field Day later.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Legal memo due tomorrow. Finishing up my proofreading. Was delayed a bit because of a computer virus. Fun stuff. I had to do all sorts of weird stuff -- create a boot disk, type in commands in DOS, run crazy virus-checking programs -- but I think I've eliminated it without any ill effect. I had all my stuff backed up onto CD so I wouldn't have lost any information, but still, it was annoying to have to waste time eradicating a virus from my computer.


Wednesday, October 02, 2002

More on Bobby Valentine's firing -- I read in the NY Times (or maybe it was the Post, or Newsday, or the Daily News, or the Bergen Record, of the Star-Ledger -- sadly, I check 'em all each morning for the Mets articles... obsessed perhaps? ...but I'll pretend I read this thing in the Times because it sounds more credible that way) that Valentine demanded more input as far as roster decisions and who to sign and trade for, and that forced the owner to make a choice. So I think he made the wrong choice of who to fire, but at least it seems to be the case that one of 'em had to be fired... so it's not like he just decided to give up on Valentine without any provocation.

I want to watch some playoffs tonight, and I have no other activities besides working on my memo due Friday, so I should at least get to catch some baseball in the background of my editing and footnoting...
I don't know what's with all the kinda-dumb e-mails I'm getting recently, but here's another:

from my First-Year-Lawyering Workshop professor, regarding our memo due Friday:

"Some of you have asked logistical questions that may be of interest to the whole group, so I share them (and my answers) below.

SHOULD I NUMBER THE PAGES? Yes, please number each page.

ARE THERE ANY FORMAT REQUIREMENTS? Yes, please see the handout you received
detailing your memo format requirements, and follow them strictly.

MUST I STAPLE THE MEMO? Yes, please do."

[Did people really ask him these questions?????]

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

From an e-mail we get with information about student organizations:

Rape Aggression Defense Class
Sponsored by Women's Law Association

The Women's Law Association will be sponsoring a Rape Aggression Defense Class designed to teach women defensive concepts and techniques against various types of assault, utilizing simple, effective and proven self-defense tactics. All female members of the Harvard Law School community are invited, including LLMs and wives of Law School students. Men are not allowed to attend or observe classes.
The Mets fired Bobby Valentine. No! You got the wrong guy! They should fire Steve Phillips, the GM! Not Bobby! Argh... another 90-loss season, coming right up...
Here's a very rough first cut at my newspaper column for next week. It needs work, but I think the idea works. If you read this, please do send me some feedback -- it's appreciated.

The Box

Everywhere we go now, we see people in suits. (And I don’t mean law suits. Sorry, not funny.) 2Ls and 3Ls with three dozen interviews over six days, or six dozen interviews over three days, or ten dozen interviews over lunch tomorrow from noon until one. By all accounts, pretty much no one passes up the opportunity to at least try and get an offer from a corporate firm. Just to be safe. Even if they know they don’t want to end up there. Because it’s just for one summer. Because it’s only a few years. Just until the loans are paid off. Only until I make partner. Just until I can retire. Only until the day that I die. It can’t be that bad. Everyone does it.

I’ve heard people try to explain why this happens -- why people start law school dead-set against working for a big firm, but end up “selling out.” And, yes, I know there are lots of great reasons to go work for a firm, not least of which being to pay off student loans, but also because you can make good contacts, some people really do find it interesting, your salary gives your relatives something to brag about (as if just going to Harvard Law School isn’t enough!), and so forth. I’m sure we’ll get a big glossy brochure with all of these reasons (and pictures of happy, smiling, multi-ethnic men, women, and domesticated animals) from every law firm in the country when it’s the appropriate time.

But aside from these good and justifiable reasons, I think it’s mostly about expectations. It seems like from the first day of orientation, there’s an expectation that everyone here will fit into a certain box. Went to a good college, majored in something appropriately related to the study of law, had some sort of law or business-related job or internship -- paralegal, management consultant, investment banker -- and has a burning desire to use his or her law degree to either (a) help a specific set of people -- the poor, children, taxpayers, foreigners, sports figures, or (b) make a lot of money. Or both.

And that’s The Box. It’s what all of those questions people ask you during orientation are designed to put you in. “Where’d you go to school? What’d you do before you came here? What’s your future goal?” “Harvard, I sold stocks in management consulting firms to paralegals, I want to help the poor children of professional soccer players pay taxes in Bolivia.” You’re in the box. Wonderful.

And I think it excites us to meet people on the fringes of the box: “Where are you from?” “Canada.” “Canada? Wow, that’s cool!" "But I went to Yale. And my dad is a Supreme Court Justice.” Perfect. You’re in the box.

But people too far out of the box don't quite fit: “What did you do before you came here?” “Juggled hoops of fire in the circus.” Not in the box. You’re too different. You don't belong.

And no one doesn’t want to belong. The Box has a magnetic pull. It’s why everyone talks about his or her year at Oxford (and if I hear one more person force that into a conversation… “Oh, wow. Those trees remind me of trees we had -- when I was at Oxford,” or “I ate a turkey sandwich once -- at Oxford,” “The sky was blue -- at Oxford,” “We breathed air -- at Oxford.”) and no one talks about his interest in snorkeling. Or her comic book collection. Or his innermost thoughts and feelings. (Ooh, that’s too deep for a column trying to be funny. Sorry. I think I must have meant, “Or his favorite Beatle.”) We’re scared that if we reveal too much, we’ll put ourselves outside the box, and we won’t belong. And that really is pretty scary.

So I think that’s part of the reason why all of the 2Ls are dressed up in suits, going to fourteen dozen interviews in eight minutes, even if their hearts aren’t really in it. And why the deepest conversations in the Hark are about the weather, the Civ Pro reading, and the utility of Daylight Savings Time. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can make the box bigger. And find out the guy sitting next to us is from Canada. Or an amateur sumo wrestler. Or really a girl.
Received the following e-mail last night from the residential advisor in my dorm (a 3rd-year student). I think it's kind of funny:


I wanted to let you all know that I have had numerous reports from residents that their food is being stolen from the kitchen. Clearly, this is not allowed and is very inconsiderate and disrepectful of the other residents. As a result, I am taking steps to address these issues. I want to remind you that no one is allowed to take, eat, or throw out any other resident's food. At the same time, if you food has been stolen, you are not allowed to post hateful notes in the kitchen. All signs in the kitchen have been posted by the housing office or the dorm Resident Assistants.

In an effort to resolve these problems, I am asking that if you have food in the kitchen, you label it with your name or your initials to rule out the possibility that people are taking food that they mistakenly believe is theirs. Also, if any food of yours has been taken or is taken in the future, please send me an e-mail informing me of what has been stolen. I want to ascertain how bad the situation is and how drastic the solutions need to be.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Your RA.