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.

Friday, February 28, 2003

My section has a bowling event this afternoon. Hopefully I will have something funny to say about it when I get back.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Budgetary cutbacks have forced the library to eliminate the following telephone services:

"Library Paper-Stapling Helpline"
"Library Coffee Mug Regulations Helpline"
"Library ID Card Swiping Helpline"
"Library Restroom Flushing Helpline"
"Library Cell Phone Policy Helpline"
"Library Locked-in-my-Carrel Helpline"
"Library I-Think-The-Guy-Sitting-Across-From-Me-Is-Masturbating-Under-The-Table Helpline"
Rambling paragraph fans, see below for some talk about grades. Song parody fans, here's a new one.

To the tune of "One More Night" by Phil Collins

"Red Mouse Nub"

It's been sitting there so long
On the laptop
Helps the arrow move around

But the glue has come unstuck
The rubber's tearing
Gets away and must be found

I need a
Red Mouse Nub
A brand new
Red Mouse Nub
Red Mouse Nub
Oh I can't type without you

It's been rolling 'cross the desk
Have to find it
Or the cursor will be stuck

When I hit the keys
It gets caught on my fingers
And then I'm out of luck

(repeat chorus)
We've had grades for two weeks now, and still, the "grades are random" / "no they're not" conversation pops up pretty often. I'm tired of not having anything of any value to contribute on the subject, so I'm hoping that writing about it will at least help me figure out my thoughts.

My opinion: they're not exactly random. I have full confidence that professors are able to rank exams in terms of how well students answered the questions and create a pretty accurate ordering. The real trouble occurs on two levels: (1) where to draw the lines between grades, and (2) what the exams are measuring. (1) is an unavoidable hazard. The lines have to be drawn somewhere. Some exams have to be on the border and fall one way or the other. And even though there's a pretty big difference between an A- and a B+, or a B+ and a B, I'm willing to accept the reality that your exam might be 1% worse than the one slightly better, and you get a grade that looks a lot more than 1% just because there are only 5 (maybe 6 or 7, depending on whether the A+ or the C are in play) different grades you can get. (2) is at first glance slightly more troubling, just because measuring us once, on one set of questions, on one day, and through one professor's eyes, is hard. And people have off days. And maybe it's measuring test-taking ability as much as it is subject knowledge. And maybe some people are better at faking it. And maybe there's luck in whether you spend your limited word count on the things the professor wants you to write or you focus on other issues that may be equally interesting and valuable but just aren't what's being looked for. And those are all good arguments. But on the flipside is the thought that in the real world, all of those skills that help you "beat the test" can help you "beat the judge" or "beat your boss" and it's not so absurd to be grading on them -- maybe people who can fake an answer that convinces a law professor they know what they're talking about can fake a judge into thinking his client is right. A valuable lawyering skill. Maybe clear presentation that overcomes lack of content isn't necessarily something bad to reward. Maybe knowing, or at least being able to sense, what someone is looking for, even when there are lots of things you can choose to focus on, is a valuable lawyering skill. Maybe being able to shine even on an off-day is something they should want to encourage in the grading process. So I'm not so sold on the one test-one grade system being so awful, since the real world often judges people in the same way. I'm not sure if that makes any sense, but I think it's at least a reasonable contribution to next time I'm in the "grades are random" discussion and want something else to do besides sigh and roll my eyes.
Many apologies for the couple of skipped days and generally short posts the last few days. Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal. Which is no excuse, I know. This weekend will produce a motherlode of new material that will keep you laughing all week. Trust me on this one. And Thursday and Friday will have good stuff too. If you're a loyal reader and have a preference between ramblings in paragraphs, sketches, or songs, shoot me an e-mail and it will motivate me to get cracking on some funny stuff. I mean that.

Random thought as I was returning to my room today after a trip to CVS to buy a toilet plunger because the plumbing sucks and building services is slower than my digestive system is -- hard to disguise a plunger in a plastic bag. There's simply nothing else it can be.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Note for the future: if you go into a store at 11PM and want to buy a muffin, and the guy says, "I'll give you two for the price of one," they're probably stale. Found that out the hard way.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Went to an information session for people who might be interested in helping to teach the First Year Lawyering program next year... it's an organization called the Board of Student Advisors. The meeting wasn't funny enough to give me anything funny to write. Unfortunately. In other news, the show I'm in opens next week. From the e-mail I sent to my section:

Some questions and answers about what the Parody is and why you should come see it.

"What's the parody?"
It's a musical poking fun at law school life, some professors, and some students.

"Did you say students?"
Yeah. Quite a few students, in fact.

Yeah. And some not so gently either. That makes it funnier. Like, for example, imagine if there was a girl in our section with a tropical disease, and her name was, I don't know, Mallory Smith. And imagine pro basketball player Yao Ming was in our section too. There might be a scene that looks kind of like this, but funnier:

YAO-IS-HE-TALL MING: Hi there, MALARIA SMITH. How's your tropical disease coming along?

MALARIA SMITH: My arm just fell off. Oops. What's it like with your head in the clouds, YAO-IS-HE-TALL MING?

YAO: A little lonely sometimes.

MALARIA: That's too bad. By the way, my disease is contagious.

YAO: Oh. I think I want a vaccine.

MALARIA: That sounds like a song title.

YAO: Yes, it does.

[MALARIA and YAO begin to sing a song, to the tune of the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way"]

"I Want a Vaccine"

You are, infected
Your arm, not connected
Your skin, a bit green
I want a vaccine

And so on... you get the drift.

"Am I being parodied?"
You'll have to come see the show to find out. I signed a confidentiality agreement (because, of course, this is law school...), so I can't tell you. But hopefully I am not violating anything by saying that at least one student in our section and at least one of our professors is being parodied.

"Is the show funny?"

"How long is it?"
Let's just say you'll get your money's worth.

No, what I mean is that it's funny.

"Can I buy tickets directly from you?"
Sort of. You can come to the Hark during one of the times when I will be serving my mandatory ticket selling duty.

"Is this e-mail going to end soon? You're wasting my time and it's not even that funny."
Sorry. I'm done now.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Another song... based on Torts class and our discussions of the McDonalds obesity case, where someone sued McDonalds for making her fat... to the tune of "Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie

Sue you, sue me; sue us together
Sue us every day
Sue you, sue me; sue us together
It's the American way

I had a lunch, I had an awesome lunch
Burgers in the bun, I could eat a ton
Nobody said, you should have salad instead
When I finally broke the scale, sue McDonalds, I'll prevail

Sue you, sue me... (Chorus)

And all of those fries, all of those sumptious fries
Extra mayo, extra salt, but I know it's not my fault
They didn't say, you shouldn't eat that way
So I have someone to blame
For the cow that I became


So you think Big Macs are good for you - Oh no
And the ice cream shakes are not so good as well
That's right - I'm telling you
It's time to call a lawyer - Oh yes
Believing who you are: Manipulated victim


Sue us together... it's the American way.
Slow weekend. Reading this year's new Baseball Prospectus book instead of getting ahead on my real reading. Law School Parody show opens in about 10 days. I have a small role in the cast.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

“The moot court competition”

“How’s your moot court brief coming along?” has been a pretty common refrain lately. Next to “how’d the grades turn out,” “boy, that weather,” and “gosh darn it, income taxes are due in less than two months.” As if first-year lawyering wasn’t marginalized enough by the fact that it’s graded pass-fail, taught in part by fellow students, and relies on videos about the Dewey Decimal System to fill up lecture time, this semester we get to work in pairs. Semester three of first-year lawyering, if it continued down this path, would involve making a diorama of a courtroom – complete with a toy action figure of Justice Thomas, and a thimble full of Coca-Cola with an eyelash on it (I’m so close to crossing the line with that comment, I can feel it…) – and writing a Haiku about Westlaw. I search for cases / But I never win a prize / Screw these stupid points.

I don’t think winning the first-year moot court competition (yeah, yeah, I know it’s not really a competition. Just by writing the brief, we’re all winners) depends on the actual brief quality as much as it depends on a strict adherence to the byzantine rules and regulations that we have to follow. I imagine that by the time we give our oral arguments, there are only a few briefs left even eligible for the “best brief” award. All of the rest will have been disqualified for failure to turn in seventy-three copies, each bound in a unique and different way (like snowflakes), with a different color cover. “Are you sure the brief with the Mustard Yellow cover gets stapled into a Mobius strip and the one in the Burnt Sienna folder gets shot out of a cannon?” “I think it’s the Plum cover in the Gannett House boxes with a candlestick.” “You both know better than I. I haven’t a Clue.”

After counting the number of pixels on each page to make sure I didn’t exceed the three million, seven hundred thousand, six hundred and forty-four pixel-per-page limit, I made sure that my margins measured 12 pica and I had stapled the brief on all six corners of the special hexagonal brief paper I purchased at the only moot court-approved Kinko’s copy shop in the world, located just outside of Stockholm, Sweden. My partner and I also remembered to sign each punctuation mark, as the rules indicated. However, even given our careful attention to ensuring we had exactly twice as many consonants as vowels, and no use of the letter “D,” our brief was disqualified because I had accidentally overheard a conversation two librarians were having about inter-library loan. As soon as the Ames surveillance cameras posted in the treetops and installed in each campus squirrel’s left eye caught wind of this conversation, we were notified by express mail with a blue letter in a green envelope with no more than seven-tenths of a gram of saliva used to lick the stamp. But we’ve appealed the disqualification to the Advisory Board since the letter cited an unpublished regulation that appears on neither Lexis nor Westlaw.

After being caned for our failure to follow the rules (the “additional penalty” imposed by our first-year lawyering instructor, per the last sentence on the first page of the Rules Packet), my partner and I decided to give up any hope of earning our High Pass on the Ames brief itself, and instead sought to make up for any deficiencies by concentrating on the 10% of our grade devoted to class participation. I decided to raise my hand at the beginning of class, and simply not put it down until I was called on, no matter what the question. However, this failed to distinguish me from a number of other students, who appeared to have shoulder injuries that made it physically impossible for their hands to be in anything but the “oh, please, please, please call on me!” position.

My “class participation” strategy having failed to put me in the good graces of my lawyering instructor, I chose instead to volunteer to be a research assistant and look for new textbooks for next year, to replace “Briefing for Lower Primates” and “All About Microfiche.” The results of my comprehensive search of the Community College Bookstore, the seventh sub-basement level of the library, and the popular website, were not particularly fruitful, and all I was able to recommend were the updated versions of the two books we’re already using, retitled “Briefing for Lower Primates, and some species of Birds,” and “Everything You Always Wanted To Know about Microfiche, but were afraid to ask.”

But I forgot to package my recommendations in a corn husk with a dollop of sour cream, and so they were instantly disqualified.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Sequel to yesterday's song. Here's a parody of "Hold My Hand" by Hootie and the Blowfish.

See me sit up front, see me lift my chair up high
See me start to twitch and tremor
See the glimmer in my eye
See me sort of smirk, just a little, hardly there
The professor turns around
And my hand is in the air

Oh, I got a hand for you
A hand in the air for you

Yesterday, I had not read the case
But I have thoughts, so you should listen
Or just keep staring into space
This class is mine, all mine and nothing more
Let me step up onto my soapbox
Captive students, hear me roar

'Cause I got a hand for you
A hand in the air for you

Raise my hand, I just have to raise my hand
Raise my hand, I'll tell you what I think
About everything
Raise my hand, everything you ought to hear
Because I will be talking
The most that, the most that I can

See, I was quiet, but I was in denial
About how much I had to offer
And how my words are so worthwhile
I raised my hand, and then I screamed aloud
And all the eyes were focused on me
I felt big and smart and proud

Now I got a hand for you
A hand always up for you

Raise my hand, I just have to raise my hand
Raise my hand, hearing me talk makes me feel grand
Raise my hand, maybe I can't get an A but
I want to raise it, the most that...
The most that I can
If you liked my Beatles parody song yesterday, check out someone else's weblog -- Jewish Buddha -- for someone else's take on the whole hand-raising in class thing. It's cool to read what other people think about this stuff.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

He must like lunch: From an e-mail just now, regarding a "brown-bag lunch" (means lunch in a classroom with a speaker) we're invited to as part of one of my classes... "Students - Prof. XXXXX will be inviting 2 students to join him... for another lunch after the brown-bag lunch on Friday... If more than 2 students are interested, a lottery will be held. Thanks."

It makes perfect sense, I guess, for the professor to be having lunch with the speaker after the talk. But it just sounds funny to say "another lunch."
To the tune of the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

"I Want to Raise my Hand"

I've got something
To say
No one will understand
But I know
They want to listen
So I will raise my hand
I want to raise my ha-a-a-a-and
I want to raise my hand

It's a class of eighty
It's really only one
And hearing
Myself speaking
I find it's lots of fun
I want to raise my ha-a-a-a-and
I want to raise my hand

And when I raise it I feel warm in my heart
Because I must convince my class,
I am smart
I am smart
Oh so smart

I spend
All my class time
Thinking of things to say
And class
Is deemed a failure
If I don't speak each day
I want to raise my ha-a-a-a-and
I want to raise my hand

And when I raise it I feel warm in my heart
Because I must convince my class,
I am smart
I am smart
Oh so smart

The center
Of attention
The only place to be
The professor
They should all look at me
I want to raise my ha-a-a-a-and
I want to raise my hand

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

One class cancelled due to the snow, but one went on as planned.

Quick story: I was going to the bathroom before class, and as I was walking in, a professor was on his way out, and there was another student on his way in right behind me. I heard the following exchange:

STUDENT: Oh! Professor!
STUDENT: I'm so sorry I missed your class yesterday.
PROFESSOR: Well, it was a very good class.
STUDENT: Yes, I'm sure it was.
PROFESSOR: And I hope you have a good excuse.
PROFESSOR: I'll see you there tomorrow.
STUDENT: Uh... yes. Yes. See you tomorrow.

I thought it was funny.

In international environmental law class today, the professor made a comment that I think would make a great slogan for the country Jordan. "Jordan: Surviving entirely due to aid." Yes, that'll get the tourists coming.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Lots of snow! Classes for tomorrow morning (until noon) have been cancelled! It's amazing how excited I am for an hour and a half of extra sleep!

In my international environmental law class today, the professor said something about endangered dolphins. For the remainder of the class, I imagined that the professor was actually a dolphin -- a talking dolphin! It made class much more interesting!

Sunday, February 16, 2003

I have a bunch of friends planning to go to law school either this fall or next fall. One of them works in a DA's office now, doing real work that lawyers do. Which means that he'll be very well-prepared for the pass/fail writing workshop, should he come here, and might challenge for the elusive "high pass" grade that few people are able (or even trying) to achieve. However, it's interesting to realize that the class his lawyer-like work would most help him in is our least important, most disregarded class. They're not training us to practice law here. Save that vocational stuff for the get-your-degree-at-home courses advertised on late-night TV.

I have a friend in physics grad school too who wanted me to mention him in my weblog.

My friend in the witness protection program, however, prefers I keep his name and identifying characteristics to myself.
Thanks to fellow law blogger Sua Sponte for her grade-related "hug" in her weblog (and I should also note that her weblog is a pretty good law school-related read... so check it out!).

I want to write more about grades, because they should feel more important than the attention I've given them, but I honestly can't come up with anything to say. Seems like most people did OK. And the people who did better than that seem to be doing a good job of keeping it to themselves. Unless I'm not picking up on the code.

What code? I don't know. But at least it gives me an idea for something funny. So here goes.


You say... "Grades are completely random"
When you mean... "Man, I screwed up those exams."

You say... "No, grades are imperfect but still valid measures of how well we've learned the material"
When you mean... "I did pretty well. Yay for me."

You say... "It's only three grades so far... not enough to really know how we're doing."
When you mean... "Man, I screwed up those exams."

You say... "I should raise my hand in class more often now, since I want everyone to know how smart I am."
When you mean... "I did pretty well. Yay for me."

You say... "I think I'm really interested in working in a smaller city, for a smaller firm, for a lot less money than the big firms. Less money is totally the key."
When you mean... "Man, I screwed up those exams."

You say... "Do they even give B's?"
When you mean... "I did pretty well. Yay for me."

You say... "Do they even give B's? Or A's?"
When you mean... "Man, I screwed up those exams."

You say... "You think the Supreme Court will have a vacancy soon?"
When you mean... "I did pretty well. Yay for me."

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Working on brief for first-year-lawyering class... and not really much more to say about grades after yesterday's posts. So I figured I'd resort to bathroom humor today, for a change of pace. Apologies to any first-time readers... this one's a but more low-brow than where I usually aspire to go.

"World's Worst Law Careers Panel Discussion"

[Lights up on a long table where the lawyers sit, ready to start their panel discussion.]

Good afternoon to the [she counts with her finger] seven students who’ve shown up today for our exciting World of Law panel. We’ll be focusing on a quickly-moving field of law this afternoon – bathroom law. Our three distinguished guests are experts in the field. First, from Ropes Gray, third-year associate Rhonda Flush. From Milbank, hiring partner for the insurance, finance, and excretion practice group, Harry Septic. And from Shearman and Sterling, founding partner Bob Shearman.

It’s pronounced “Charmin.”

Oh, I’m sorry. Bob Charmin.

[students applaud.]

First, I’d like you each to tell us how you got involved in bathroom law, and why you think it’s one of the most compelling areas of law today. Ms. Flush?

Thanks. Let me start off with a question. How many of you have ever gone to the bathroom? (some hands go up, not all.) Most of you, that’s great. So clearly, bathroom law is something that affects virtually everybody’s daily lives, or at least a few times a week. I like to tell people a story about one of my early clients. An elderly couple walked into the office, pretty much dripping with dung. I had been working in bathroom law for only about a week, but the receptionist knew exactly where to send them. They came into my office, wiped themselves off, and told me this awful story about being in a department store and the wife having the urge to relieve herself. So she went into the bathroom – he was standing outside – and something didn’t seem right. First flush, not everything went down. So she calls him into the stall with her, and they flush again. And – BAM! – the toilet explodes, covering them both in feces. It was awful. We sued the department store and the toilet manufacturer, and came away a winner. And ever since then, this has been my passion.

My story is a lot like Rhonda’s – just think cows instead of people, and buckets instead of toilets. But I want to talk more about the day-to-day of bathroom law. It’s not just the people coming into your office covered in excrement. Although that’s certainly part of it. It’s also safety issues – one of my clients had a baby sucked down the bottom of the toilet when she flushed. We sued the manufacturer, the installer, and the city fire department for breaking the baby’s arm when they fished her out of the sewer. It’s not just litigation either, it’s also contracts – I work with construction companies that rent Port-a-Pottys. It’s amazing how complex the rules are regarding how many workers per toilet and how many rolls of toilet paper per day a company is required to provide. I also defended 2000 Flushes in a class action suit claiming that after 1474 flushes, the product was no longer functioning properly. It turned out that the complainants had high-capacity units. That project was a great way to get hands-on experience in the field, as was my very first assignment when I joined the insurance, finance, and excretion practice group – figuring out how bathroom law varied across the 50 states by going to each one and taking a crap at a rest stop. It was perhaps the best experience I’ve had in all my time here at Milbank.

I founded Shearman in part to capitalize on the demands for experienced bathroom law attorneys back in the 1960s. Federal regulations regarding the diameter of toilet seats, the number of gonorrhea bacteria allowed per square inch of a public toilet, the maximum odor anyone’s personal excrement is permitted to have – these were all pressing, pressing issues. I’m proud that I’ve been able to grow my firm into a leader in bathroom law – and the choice of 8 of the top 10 toilet manufacturers. This means that at Shearman, even a first year associate can get his hands dirty right away.

Thanks. The panelists will now take questions from the audience.

Student 1:
I’m often constipated. Will this make job advancement difficult?

Why don’t you take that one, Harry.

Not at all. I can’t speak for my colleagues’ firms, but at Milbank we’ve got people of all different bowel consistencies and volumes. And our senior partner wears Depends.

One final question before time is up?

Student 2:
What kind of summer position would you recommend to a 1L who wants to get into bathroom law?

I’d say definitely one where you’ll be sitting down.

[they all laugh]

No, seriously, I’d say the best thing you can do is observe. Watch people using the toilet – family members, strangers, even well-trained cats and dogs. Notice the problems they have, keep a keen eye for the bathroom challenges people face. Then you’ll be in a great position to get a job with one of us after your 2L year.

Thank you to our three panelists, and to the students who were here. Join us for some finger food and other refreshments across the hall.


Friday, February 14, 2003

This week's column for the newspaper... hot off the press...

"Of Course, There's Nothing to Write About This Week"

I really wanted to write about the public interest auction mandatory volunteer meeting this week. I had a great line planned about how when the leaders of each of the committees got up to talk about what their committees do, I started my rank-order numbering up from the bottom as each committee said things that I don't want to do. For example, cleaning toilets. Or, in the case of the Faculty committee, cleaning faculty's toilets. So by the time all of the committees finished their no-longer-than-two-minutes-but-only-assuming-your-watch-had-stopped presentations, I was out of numbers and all finished ranking them.

I was also going to mention that I had an idea for a new committee - the Phone Bank committee, which would consist of students calling all of the other students to remind them that they needed to show up to the phone bank to call Alumni, Faculty, Students, Parents, Law Firms, Business Owners, Famous People, 911, 1-800-Dentist, and the Psychic Friends Network, depending on their respective committee assignments. And, of course, for the Silent Auction committee, calling deaf people.

I was going to write about how popular the meeting was - standing-room only! - and how I was glad I wasn't forced to go to one of the overflow rooms to watch the simulcast. I was going to write about how I'd be happy to spend my six hours of required service writing a song for next year's meeting that won't make Aretha Franklin cry. ("F-U-N-D-I-N-G, if you do our slavery. F-U-N-D-I-N-G, bother all the faculty. F-U-N-D-I-N-G, clean up auction trash debris. F-U-N-D-I-N-G, making phone calls frightens me.")

I was going to finish the column by admitting that, really, six hours isn't too much to ask in exchange for a few thousand dollars of funding. It's almost a thousand dollars an hour, if you're eligible for work-study, and not that much less even if you aren't. But then I realized that's about how much we pay for every hour of class. So it's not that impressive an argument to make.

I was going to devote the entire column to talking about the public interest auction, because, to be perfectly honest, my life just isn't that exciting, and nothing else really happened this week that's of that of much interest to 1Ls. No big, defining moments of our 1L experience. No unifying events, nothing that happened to all of us at roughly the same time, on the same day, that immediately sparked conversation and concern. Certainly nothing that we'd been waiting for since exams.

Oh, but then we got our grades. There goes that whole public interest auction thing. Who cares about the public interest auction now anyway? I'd have to rewrite my whole column! I'd have to write something about how the first reaction I had to opening the envelope was how thin the paper was. Can't they afford thicker paper? Perhaps with a watermark, or a seal, or at least a signature? I opened the envelope, and wasn't ready to see the letters yet. But I could read right through the back of the paper. It messed up my whole plan. I read it wrong first. A "P" in Crim? I thought I got at least an "M." And then I turned the paper over, and after it blew away a few times and I crawled out on the window ledge to retrieve it (noticing many of my classmates out there as well, some with quite concerned looks on their faces and brief notes ending with the word "afterlife" sticking out of their pockets), I was able to finally stick a paperweight on top and really look at it.

And what did it tell me? Not that much. Whatever I did as far as studying last semester, I ought to do more or less of it, depending on the class, in similar and different ways. I figured out a pattern to my grades that may also help you figure out how to make sense of yours. If I rank order the classes by how confident I felt going into the exam, compared to how confident I felt leaving the exam, multiplied by the number of pages my outline was, divided by my seat number, raised to the [official registrar's course number] power, and then I take the logarithm base 7, and multiply by 6.02 x 10^23 (not sure what number that is exactly, but I remember it from AP Physics in high school), I end up with a very large number that has nothing at all to do with any of the letters on my sheet. I've also made the very astute observation that there seems to be no correlation between the number of credits a class was and my grade. I do, however, feel bad for the person down the hall from me who noticed a strong correlation between the first letter of the class name and her grade. She's a 2L. She took Family Law. And Federal Litigation. And Feminist Legal Theory. And Food and Drug Law (she got two grades in that one... ouch). And Quicksand Law. That Q really messes up her transcript.
Top Ten Registrar Mistakes Regarding 1L Grades

10. Hiring dyslexic data entry employees. (That's a "C" in "Briminal Law," right?)
9. Using "F" as the abbreviation for "FYL Passing Grade" on the transcripts.
8. New bilingual initiative requires grades to be reported using Egyptian hieroglyphics ("I got 'man slaughtering a horse' in Property and 'big gray rock' in Torts.")
7. "Not an Official Transcript" disclaimer treated as permission to just make stuff up.
6. Registrar's four-year old son declared, "it's backwards day!" and registrar believed him.
5. Allowing Crimson Cash to be used to increase grades. An A-plus and a piece of blue cheese pizza costs just $7.95 as a combo deal at the Hark.
4. Liberty Bell as inspiration for the Bell Curve. Unlucky students fall into the crack.
3. "Did postage really go up from 34 cents? Oops."
2. Putting up the "if we don't offer you 99 cent fries with your grade report, your next B-plus is absolutely free" sign.
1. "These are the grades from the students' preliminary events. They will be averaged with the scores from the swimsuit and evening gown competitions to determine the ten finalists who will go on to compete for the crown."
Just got my grades. There are some things having an anonymous weblog would be better for. This is one of them. Regardless of how I did, I can't think of anything I can possibly write about them in a non-anonymous setting besides:

1. The paper should be thicker. It's no fun to open the envelope and already be able to read through the back and see what it says.
2. They shouldn't do it on a Friday, because you get all weekend to digest without enough distractions.
3. They should give back model answers when you get grades, so you can at least try and make the grades all make appropriate sense, good or bad.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

The library here at Harvard is named Langdell Hall, after Christopher Columbus Langdell, the guy who apparently invented the case method of law instruction. Reading cases. In big casebooks. Enough to fill up a library. Or so the reasoning must go. This is just background so the song makes sense:

"Langdell Reading Room" (to the tune of “Margaritaville”)

Started on Monday
That was a fun day
Signed into Lexis and found me a case

But then I saw her
I couldn’t ignore her
And spent all the day staring right into space

Wasting away again in Langdell Reading Room
Searching for the thesis statement to write
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame
And there is
And she’s a librarian

I came back on Tuesday
A gave-me-the-blues-day
Because my librarian wasn’t around

She's a real beauty
A researchin’ cutie
Finds all of the cases that need to be found

Wasting away again in Langdell Reading Room
Searching for the Supreme Court case to cite
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame
And there is
And she’s a librarian

I saw her on Friday
Yeah, that would my day
I needed her help and she came to my aid

Wearing that short skirt
And I looked down her shirt
I wasn’t to get any work done all day

Wasting away again in Langdell Reading Room
And now I’ve got just three hours to write
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame
And there is
And she’s a librarian

Some people claim that she don’t even know my name...
And she don’t
Cause she’s just the librarian….

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

American Idol was just a bit slow this evening:

"Hadas, Kim, one of you has made it to the top... how many? We'll find out when we get back."

[commercial break]

"Yes, one of you has made it to the top... three. That's right, three. We'll find out who when we come back."

[commercial break]

"Hadas, Kim, one of you has made it to the top three. And America has voted, and they have chosen... to tell you right after this break."

[commercial break]

"Hadas, I'm sorry, but the American people have... done something that we'll find out after this commercial."

[commercial break]

"Hadas, you're not in the top three. But that means... we need to go to break."

[commercial break]

"Kim, you're in the top... how many? Stay tuned to find out."

[commercial break]

Learned about adverse possession in Property class today. It's kind of the property equivalent of common-law marriage, I guess. If you act like you're the owner of a piece of land for a certain number of years, and you build stuff on it, and live there, and the real owner should reasonably know you're there but doesn't do anything about it, the land becomes yours.

So, with that in mind, here's a song about an elderly couple where the wife wasn't really in love with her husband, but after so many years of living together, he's taken adverse possession of her heart.

It was never true love
We've been stuck here as two
You may have loved me
But I didn't love you

But our life was arranged
This was how it should be
Now a half-cent'ry later
You adversely possess me

You've taken my heart
And given your own
We're always together
Our bond is well-known

It's exclusive, there's not
Any other with me
And for all of these years
With continuity

At the start, was adverse
I did not love you well
But you said to hang in there
And time, it would tell

And in this state, the law
Says possession's year 10
And at that point you sued me
And then

You were declared
The adverse possessor of my heart
I did not love you
Right from the start
But you met all the elements
Now your title is clear
You adversely possess me
In my heart, right here
Two Minutes in the Class of the World's Most Ineffective Professor

Okay, for today you all read chapter, uh, three, uh, chapter four. It's on page 194. Who can tell me what the third word on the fourth line is? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? How about you?

I didn't bring my book to class with me. It's heavy.

Anyone else? Anyone else? Anyone else? Okay, I'll tell you. It's "the." My third, uh, second question. What is the ninth word on the fourteenth line? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? No one knows this? No one? No one? Who can help me out with this? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Okay, I'll tell you. It's "it." Very important. Very. Important. I realized when I got home yesterday that I forgot to ask one of the questions I had prepared for yesterday's chapter. Page 104. What is the eighth word on the second line? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? You couldn't have already forgotten yesterday's chapter, could you? Anyone? Anyone? How about you? Do you have any ideas?

No, I'm sorry. I have a cold.

Oh. A cold. Okay. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? The answer is "how." How. Very important. Very. Important. But back to today's chapter. Question three. What is the seventh word on the twenty-second line? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?...

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I taped American Idol because I wasn't home earlier. Isn't that pathetic?

Sat through a meeting this evening regarding the "public interest auction," which students are required to give 6 hours of work towards in order to get summer funding in the event we have a summer job that does not pay. We were asked to rank our choice of 11 committees, 8 of which sounded remarkably similar:

(and, yes, I'm building up to a joke here...)

1. Students -- phone bank where you will call students and beg for donations to the auction
2. Firms -- phone bank where you will call law firms and beg for donations to the auction
3. Corporations -- phone bank where you will call corporations and beg for donations to the auction
4. Alumni -- phone bank where you will call alumni and beg for donations to the auction
5. Faculty -- phone bank where you will call faculty and beg for donations to the auction
6. Special Projects -- phone bank where you will call famous people and beg for donations to the auction
7. Media -- phone bank where you will call newspapers and magazines and beg for publicity for the auction
8. Silent auction -- phone bank with TDD for the hearing impaired

(yes, that was the joke I was building towards...)

Monday, February 10, 2003

Noticed a debate between fellow law-bloggers Waddling Thunder and JMB regarding whether someone can work at a big law firm without sacrificing his or her moral beliefs. Since I want some of the web traffic my two fellow bloggers seem to be getting out of their back-and-forth, I figured I'd offer my thoughts. :)

My initial reaction is that defending bad people is bad. And I don't see any real way around that -- if you go to court defending tobacco companies, I have trouble thinking you're doing good for society. But there's the counter-argument that being entitled to representation in court, and having a justice system where even people who do bad things get a fair trial is a value that's just as important to protect as the value of not selling things that kill people. I can understand that argument intellectually, but I don't know if that's really the motivation for why people defend companies doing bad things, and why people go to work for law firms -- I'm pretty sure it's more about the money and the prestige than about making sure we have a fair and equitable justice system. Because if the fair and equitable justice system was really their concern, there are people more in need of representation than big companies -- like poor people, I suppose.

But I guess my more fundamental question is whether working on something bad necessarily makes you immoral and a bad person, or if it's just a job and it's okay. The argument I don't like is that if you don't do it, someone else will. That seems like a cop-out. But it's possible to work somewhere and not truly be emotionally invested, and not truly care if your client wins -- you might care on an intellectual level, that you're doing competent work and won't get fired -- but not truly deep down. I imagine more people than we'd like to believe sleepwalk through their jobs not really feeling a stake in what happens to whoever they're working for. But does this absolve them of moral responsibility for their actions? Or at least make them less blameworthy than people who really care? Or is it worse to be doing stuff that's bad for society without even having a good reason, or a low moral character that can justify your actions?

I don't really have an answer there -- and I'm certain this rambling makes little sense. But I just figured I'd post my thoughts...
From an e-mail:

"Let the Naughtiness Begin"
$15 at the door with your Harvard ID

Fill out your match survey to get a list of your 10 most compatible matches at Harvard. Lists $5. Sold ONLY at the party, so don't miss out!

Doesn't charging money seem like a bad idea?

Think of the counter-argument:

But how else can you possibly get a list of 10 random people who happen to answer a small sample of survey questions somewhat similarly to you???????? Isn't that worth a $15 entry fee + $5 list fee + hoping that at least one of the people on your list also showed up + the chance you can actually find them in the crowd of the people + the chance that you're actually on their list too + the incredible odds that since you both like "reading," "watching movies" and "eating food" that you must be perfectly compatible in every way??????

Actually, it sounds like it would make a great parody commercial, like those Mastercard ads.

A box of chocolates... $10
A dozen roses... $30
A list of 10 people who answered some survey questions sort of like you did... Priceless. Oh wait, no, actually it's five dollars.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

It seems as if every day, we’re hit with another invitation to a law firm 1L reception. They all sound pretty much the same. “You may have heard of us from the rejection letter we sent you a month ago when you sent us your resume looking for a summer associate position. However, we’d like you to forget about that, tear our rejection letter from your dart board, and come join us for free food and drinks so that we can convince you to send us your resume again next year. So we can reject you one more time. Ha ha ha.”

Some firms have decided that a fancy invitation in our mailboxes is the best way to woo us. “You, generic student, and all of your classmates (or non-law student friends who can pretend), are individually invited to our informal gathering where we will distribute reams of promotional material.” Others have opted for the cheaper e-mail route, following in the footsteps of the “Lower Your Mortgage Rate,” “A Free Gift Is Waiting For You,” and “Enlarge Any Body Part You Want” businesses in deciding that the best way to get people to do things is to send them lots of spam. As if the seventh time we get a reminder e-mail – “Weil & Gotshal reception is just 23 weeks away!” – we’ll suddenly decide that we want to attend.

I think they should combine the MIT matchmaking service (described in a post a few days ago) with the 1L law firm receptions. Each firm could ask us a few questions about our legal interests, and what we’re looking for in a mate, and match us up with an associate at their firm who can simultaneously be our recruiter, and our date. Frankly, I think they’d get a huge turnout. Of just the kind of associates they want, actually – single ones, without a family to keep them from working 160 hours a week. Hey, I think I’ve stumbled onto something here….

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Passage taken directly from my International Environmental Law casebook, part of an excerpt from Ambassador Tommy Koh's reflections on a United Nations environmental summit:

"At 4:00 am, after eight hours in the chair, I was desperate to go to the toilet. I also sensed that there was a lot of tension in the room. I announced that we would recess the meeting for five minutes in order to enable me to make a discharge of a non-toxic waste. I promised to do it in an environmentally safe and sound manner. The delegates broke into laughter and the meeting resumed in a better mood."

File that under too much information...
According to the New York Times, Nine May Face Shuttle Looting Charges. I'd have to believe there isn't a ton of precedent on "shuttle looting" in the court system....

Friday, February 07, 2003

Some thoughts about nighttime activities for law students:

We received a flyer in our mailboxes about a Harvard-MIT Valentine's Day matchmaking service. I think it's safe to assume that this endeavor was probably MIT's idea. The ninety-eight to two male-female ratio presumably does make it pretty difficult for MIT guys to get dates. Of course, I'm absolutely sure that's the only thing standing in their way.

I went to the website to check out the questionnaire. And, indeed, they're looking to match people up in terms of the most important qualities that two people need to share in order to be compatible:

1. My idea of the perfect Saturday night is:
(a) studying at home; (b) studying in the library; (c) studying in the student lounge; (d) recharging my graphing calculator

2. My favorite computer programming language is:
(a) Java; (b) Pascal; (c) Basic; (d) the one I used to program my last girlfriend

3. My career goal is:
(a) to one day be a guest on "Charlie Rose"; (b) to move to a secluded cabin in the mountains; (c) to grow a long and unkempt beard; (d) to get rid of the voices

4. My favorite movie is:
(a) A Beautiful Mind; (b) All About Eigenvalues; (c) Quantum Mechanics Lecture Series Volume 5; (d) Quantum Mechanics Lecture Series Volume 4

5. My last kiss was with:
(a) my mom; (b) my dog; (c) myself; (d) my roommate, but we were both drunk

6. My favorite fashion accessory is:
(a) my brown glasses; (b) my green glasses; (c) my black glasses; (d) my glasses with the masking tape

I filled out my questionnaire and sent it back. Twelve seconds later, I received an e-mail telling me that my top three most perfect matches are the woman who alphabetizes signed promissory notes in the financial aid office, the automated student organizations activity notifier (it's a real person; her first name is Jennifer), and Stephen Hawking.

However, I wasn't able to set up a date with any of them, because all of my nights are busy going to law firm receptions. I find it ironic that some of them are held at the House of Blues. Because what better way to describe a law firm than a "House of Blues?" Can't get much bluer than sitting in an office all day searching Westlaw. "Join us for cocktails and conversation." "Cocktails first. We need you as drunk as possible in order for us to have any chance to convince you that we're different from all of the other firms."

If I could bring myself to pass up the reception for Sleepy, Grumpy, and Doc LLP, according to another e-mail, I could attend the Jewish Law Student Association's Board Games night, featuring Taboo and Pictionary. The card set for Taboo: The Orthodox Edition (suitable for any religion, in fact - I'm trying for an equally-offensive punchline regardless of what you believe in) has twenty-one thousand cards, with such "taboo" activities as "smiling," "conversing with members of the opposite gender," and "thinking marginally-dirty thoughts about undergarments." And Pictionary might be a challenge as well - how exactly can we draw a picture of God? Especially with this one lousy crayon.

But the very best way to spend our nights is at none of these activities. It's at the cafeteria, enjoying "this afternoon's lunch at tonight's prices." I think that should be the dinnertime slogan. Just like the slogan for the soup should be "yesterday's side dishes, in last week's broth," the slogan for the calzones should be "last week's leftovers in last month's extra pizza dough," and the slogan for breakfast at the cafeteria should be "what on Earth are you thinking??"

MIT just sent me another e-mail. Apparently my new "most perfect match" is Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.
In property class today, we talked about a case where a hotel built a huge wall on the side of its property, ostensibly to block the sunlight from the hotel next door, casting a huge shadow over its pool and beach, making it a much less attractive option for tourists. Here's the chorus for the song that would result from such a dispute:

"You Block My Light" -- Chorus

You block my light
Always dark in the day
Like it is at night
You cast shadows on me
And it isn't right
But I lost the legal fight
You block my light
A Tort Liability Song!

Coffee's hot
It spills, it burns
Lid pops off
On sharp right turns

Food is cheap
But it's no good
Only choice
In the neighborhood

And no real choice
You've got no legislative voice
So on these facts
Compensate you
For the tortfeasor's acts

In quantity
Tumors grow
In you and me

Genetic change
Three-armed apples
Meat tastes strange

And no real choice
You've got no legislative voice
So on these facts
Compensate you
For the tortfeasor's acts

Profit mo-ti-va-ted
But without a social conscience?
You should pay
Burned or o-ver-weight-ed
Is a cause of action
When a corporation
Doesn't act in a friendly way

And no real choice
You've got no legislative voice
So on these facts
Compensate you
For the tortfeasor's acts
From the "Here's What I Do When I'm Sitting In Class" file, a few limericks:

1. Really awful limerick about the tortious harming of a fetus

One fine day I decided to pin you
Didn't know of the fetus within you
Perhaps I went wild
I injured the child
And "pregnant you"'s now become "thin you"

2. Even worse limerick about the purported "torts crisis" of the 1880s

My daughter, she hath lost her bow
To a man that she doth hardly know
There is sadly no cure
She is no longer pure
But instead she is just a big 'ho.

3. Not-quite-rhyming limerick about the jury system

There once was an ignorant jury
That created a terrible fury
Summed IQ: 64
The wrong party ruled for
And it made the society worry

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Very funny song parody about bombing Iraq on another weblog, Something's Always Wrong, the song apparently written by someone named Hillary Johnson. I think it's very funny.
Holy Cow! Partners at law firms make a heckuva lot of money, according to this chart at Maybe I ought to delete the sketch (below) I just wrote!
The World's Worst Summer Job Phone Interview

Hello, is this Student?


No. This is Richie Rich from Rich, Rich, and Rich Associates. We set up this phone interview for a summer job, remember?

No. I don't. But that's okay.

Is now a good time?

Yes, it's perfect. Let me just turn the volume down on the adult video I'm watching. (the rest of the line originally read "...and pull up my pants" but I thought that was too graphic.)

Yes, why don't you do that.

What firm did you say you were with?

Rich, Rich, and Rich Associates. You can just call us Rich for short.

I'm so excited about the possibility of working for your firm. I really want to be in New York for the summer.

Our office is in Stockholm.

Yes, that's what I meant.

So what made you apply to Rich Associates?

Well, I was definitely most influenced by the fact that your firm and its contact information was in the mail merge file I downloaded.


And of course the work you do.

Like for example?

That work you do. On behalf of those companies. And the litigation they're involved in.

Could you be any more specific?

No, I'd rather not.

I see. I noticed on your resume -- right next to the blood stain -- that you're very involved with the Target Shooting Club.

Yes. I love target shooting. I like it even better without the targets.

I was wondering how your interest in target shooting is related to your interest in our firm.

Well, target shooting can hurt people, and, well, so does your firm.

That's actually a fantastic answer.

I know. I used it in a previous interview and got a great reaction so I figured I'd add it to the piece of paper with all of my standard answers that I'm currently reading off of. I can move to question 6 now, if you'd like. About my work on the Journal of Cheese.

I can't say I'm familiar with the latest in cheese law.

Neither am I. I'm only on the journal because it looks good on my resume. In fact, that's why I do everything that's listed there. To tell you the truth, I don't even go to class -- but listing my courses on my resume still looks pretty freaking awesome, don't you think? Corporations? Tax? Bankruptcy? It makes me look so knowledgeable! It's wonderful!

Yes, I noticed all of those courses. I was wondering about references. You didn't send me a sheet with any professors I can call.

Yeah, I know. I couldn't get any to agree to say good things about me. But I'm happy to give you the phone number of my parole officer. Just don't tell him where I am.

I thought I'd end by telling you a little bit about the work you'd be doing as a summer associate.

No, that's ok. Every firm is the same. I already know what you're going to say.

Great! Well, it's been a delight talking to you this afternoon.

Yes, same here. I look forward to hearing from you after you've made the hiring decisions.

Yes, I'll be sure to drop a form letter in the mail twelve weeks after the summer ends. Best of luck.

Say hello to your wife for me.


Wednesday, February 05, 2003

The a cappella singing group I'm a member of here generally rehearses in unoccupied classrooms. In addition, student organizations often write announcements on blackboards to advertise upcoming events, so that students coming into class the next day will see them. I had an uncontrollable urge this evening at rehearsal to replace the "Reagan week" announcement (see point 6 below) with "Grover Cleveland week." I feel a twinge of guilt.

If I had truly been feeling creative, I wouldn't have merely stopped at changing the title, but I would have made small changes in the entire week's itinerary:

Hear Professor Charles Fried talk about the Cleveland legacy and how Cleveland's policies impact our world today.

Celebrate Grover Cleveland's birthday with a screening of his most beloved film, "Bedtime for Grover."

Join the business school and the law school for an '80s party. Come dressed in your most stylish outfit from the '80s. The 1880s!!

Receive your grades by US mail, much like they must have distributed them back in Grover Cleveland's time. Since it's not like we have the technology to make grades available over the computer or anything newfangled like that.
Random thoughts on a Wednesday afternoon:

1. "You are responsible for the actions of your cows" was something the professor said yesterday in Torts. I think it would make a cool t-shirt slogan.

2. I have become addicted to "Everwood" on the WB and went so far as to download an episode I missed off of Kazaa.

3. Phone interviews for summer jobs are not so much fun. I wish they could just issue interrogatories instead. (For non-law-students: an interrogatory is a list of questions you provide written answers to.) It's just very difficult to come up with reasonable-sounding answers to perfectly legitimate questions with the pressure of having to avoid silence. In person, you can pause, and ponder, and use visual cues to see if the other person thinks you're making sense or thinks you're a lunatic. On the phone I'm finding it's much harder. I imagine there are surely people who are really good at these things, who have a great phone presence and sound confident and sure and can create compelling answers on the fly. I'm not one of those people. And what bothers me is that I think I'm a lot stronger of a candidate in reality than how I come across in a phone interview, but I don't know how to show that. I've resorted to basically ending the interviews by begging the interviewers to call my references, because I really do think that they can make a better case for me than I can.

4. Lots of foreign students and older students in my International Environmental Law class. (Subtitle: "The World Is Ending Soon! Ahhh!") It's actually interesting to hear what they have to say and how their attitudes and ideas are different from we selfish Americans. It's also fun to hear cool accents.

5. Should McDonalds be liable for people getting fat because they eat too much fast food? What if they're seduced by the advertisements? What if they truly believe McDonalds food is healthy? What if their parents make them eat it? What if they're addicted to beef tallow? I don't know if it's all as silly as it sounds.

6. Check this out: "Join the Harvard Law Republicans for one last "Reagan Week" event celebrating Ronald Reagan's 92nd birthday." Reagan gets a whole week, while Thanksgiving only gets two days. :)

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Today's my birthday. (Dan Quayle's birthday too, if anyone cares. And Phillies relief pitcher Dan Plesac.) 24 sounds kind of old to me. I still sort of feel like I'm 12 sometimes.

And, to celebrate, I have more classes than usual.
10:30-12:00 Torts
12:20-1:50 Torts "Bonus Class"
2:00-3:30 International Environmental Law

Although I suppose I can't really complain about 3 classes in a whole day.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Had my first class of International Environmental Law today. Provided a good excuse to play with Microsoft Word's autotext feature some more. "Intl" becomes "international," "env" becomes environment, and "law" becomes "law." That sounded funny in my head, but doesn't really work so well on paper.

The International Environmental Law class is my first class around a large table instead of in a lecture hall. Providing no noticeable difference except that the laptop outlets are further away. But that's ok, because I think I may forego the laptop in this class. Wasting sheets upon sheets of paper is so much more environmentally friendly.

Tomorrow in Torts, we have a "bonus class." The professor says they're fun. Hopefully. It's all a framing issue. Tell us it's a "bonus class" and we have high hopes. Tell us it's a "mandatory extra session" and people would probably go complain to the registrar or something.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Ten pages of optical illusions to look at in my packet reading for the First Year Lawyering workshop. Weird. I think the point is to make us see that legal arguments -- like optical illusions -- can be framed in different ways, and that our job as lawyers is to fraem our legal issue in the way most favorable to our side. So the judge sees the young lady instead of the old woman.

Actually, if the justification we get us in class tomorrow makes even half as much sense as that, I'd be surprised. Instead, I'm expecting to hear something like, "yeah, we had you look at optical illusions because we want you to see that sometimes things aren't clear. Like the law. Yeah. That's it. See you next week."
An article about Gary Hart in the New York Times Magazine this week (registration required -- but if you haven't registered for the NY Times by now, it's probably safe to assume this article won't interest you anyway). I thought he vanished off the face of the Earth in 1988 when he ingloriously (if that's not a word, it should be!) dropped out of the Presidential race. I don't know why I'm linking this article. Maybe because my counter tells me I've had 5 visitors in the last hour, and I feel obligated to post something new. It's an interesting article, though -- and check it out quickly... because if I come up with anything better to post today, this link'll be gone. :)

Saturday, February 01, 2003

I'm going to use the excuse of the space shuttle exploding as a reason not to try and write anything funny today. I can remember being in second grade and watching the Challenger explosion on a TV in the school auditorium. They had gathered everyone together to watch the first teacher go up into space... and after they realized something had gone horribly wrong, they quickly got us back into our classrooms and we watched the newscasts with our teachers. It's awful when stuff like this happens. I was watching ABC News earlier and Peter Jennings made a comment to a guy from NASA, something along the lines of "the one good thing that might come of this is that more attention will be given to the space program." And the NASA guy said, "this really isn't the kind of attention we want." No kidding.