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.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

I played ultimate frisbee this afternoon and ultimately got sunburned. Forgot sunscreen. Oops. Hopefully a good night's sleep will do the trick. It's really not that bad, just a little pink around the eyes mostly. Google tells me lotion with aloe should help the healing. After playing, I put some names and facts together and realized that I think one of the people I was playing with writes a weblog I read. I'm sure I'll figure that out for sure sometime soon (especially if he reads mine too, which I think he might).

Here's a song parody.

"Firm, Firm, Firm" (to the tune of "Turn, Turn, Turn" by The Byrds)

In the fall - firm, firm, firm
This is the season - firm, firm, firm
There's a firm for every student who is breathing

A firm for the boy, on law review
A firm for the girl, who likes to sniff glue
A firm for the wand'rer who hasn't a clue
A firm for the one, with a grade-point of 2

In the fall - firm, firm, firm
This is the season - firm, firm, firm
There's a firm for every student who knows Lexis

A firm with good food, a firm on the beach
This firm's a safety but this one's a reach
One firm that soon will say it's bankrupt
But one firm who'll hire all their lawyers

In the fall - firm, firm, firm
This is the season - firm, firm, firm
There's a firm for every student with no jail time

One profits from war, one profits from peace
One from cigarettes, and one from disease
One firm pays less than the others
That firm does not get any students

In the fall - firm, firm, firm
This is the season - firm, firm, firm
There's a firm for every student who's done sleeping

A firm for you, a firm for me
A firm that wil fly you to meet them for free
A firm who will woo you, a firm who will plead
A firm that will promise you you will succeed
A firm that will work you until your eyes bleed
I saw the movie "Thirteen" this evening, which, in case you haven't heard of it, is about a nice girl who turns bad under the influence of "the popular girl" at school, and starts using drugs, piercing herself, and dressing like a hooker. I closed my eyes during the piercings. I don't handle blood well.

In all, I thought the movie was profoundly disturbing, but not, unfortunately, disturbingly profound. I would have preferred to see "The Battle of Shaker Heights," because I like my movies light and fluffy, but I was outvoted.

The acting in "Thirteen" is quite good. The characters were really convincing. Which I suppose made it all the more disturbing, and I can't really say it's a *bad* movie. It's just unpleasant to watch. So, if you've had a good day, and want to watch something unpleasant to ruin all that before you go to sleep, I recommend "Thirteen." Also if you are a parent of a teenage girl and want all sorts of stuff to become paranoid about, I highly recommend -- I imagine this movie will do the trick. If you are usually depressed, but find yourself happy for some reason, this movie should help restore a state of normalcy in you. If you'd always wanted to watch someone's tongue get pierced on screen, but haven't found the right movie yet, this one is for you. If you prefer your movies to be the opposite of "heartwarming," check this one out. If you are a fan of seeing teenage girls dressed like hookers, again, this may be your kind of movie. If you left "Seabiscuit" wishing Tobey Maguire was really a thirteen-year-old girl, and instead of riding horses his passion was smoking crack, then, once more, this is the movie for you. If you'd rather gouge out your eyes with a fork than frolic in the woods, this is most certainly your kind of film. If you prefer to cry yourself to sleep, please see this movie.

It disturbs me to no end that I have seen 3 of the 6 movies playing in the "independent" movie theater. Because I like formulaic Hollywood crap, I really do. And definitely don't want to have to think of myself as the kind of person who sees independent movies on a regular basis. That would really mess with my head. But the saving grace is that I only liked one of them. Of course, that was Spellbound. Go see Spellbound if you haven't. I promise, promise, promise that you will like it. Spellbound. Even though talking about it makes me sound like a complete dork. Even among law students. I don't care. Go see Spellbound.

Or, if you'd rather start drinking again, go see "Thirteen."

Saturday, August 30, 2003

I bought a small refrigerator for my dorm last year, and stored it at school over the summer. This year I'm in an apartment that comes with a real fridge, so I don't need my dorm one. So I put up a sign saying it's for sale. And tried really hard to be funny, but the best I could come up two days ago when I posted the sign was "I'll even help you push it down the hall." Which isn't really that funny. I then posted a message on a message board about it. And tried harder to be funny. And the best I could come up with was "refrigerator was one year old yesterday (happy birthday)," which manages to simultaneously be unfunny and make me sound like a moron. Now, if I were to have to re-post another sign (which I don't, because someone bought the fridge, despite the sign's lack of funny), it might read something like this:

Single, White Dorm Refrigerator Seeking New Home

Housebroken; hardly ever leaks on the rug
Not lactose intolerant; stores dairy just fine
Drug/disease free
Mostly enjoys just sitting at home
Likes: baking soda, electricity, and ice trays
Dislikes: arrogance, poor hygiene, and pickles
Unable to have children

(Which, of course, would still not be funny, but would at least demonstrate some effort)
Questions not to ask specific law firms during interviews:

Allen & Overy -- "Is that 'Overy' like the reproductive organ?"
Fish & Richardson -- "Is that 'Fish' like the sea creature?"
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, & Katz -- "Are there any Jewish people at your firm?"
O'Melveny & Myers -- "Are there any Irish people at your firm?"
Cadwalader -- "Does anyone ever get the pronunciation of your firm's name confused with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' famous tag line, 'Cowabunga?'"
Akin Gump -- "Is Forrest Gump one of the guys your firm is named after?"
Ropes Gray -- "Are all of the Ropes in your office Gray?"
Hale & Dorr -- "Is that 'Dorr' like the hole in the wall that people use to enter and exit a room or a building?"
Milbank Tweed -- "Does the word 'bank' in part of your name imply that you are richer than the other firms?"
Kilpatrick & Lockhart -- "Has anyone ever pointed out that your firm name is kind of close to a complete sentence. If it was 'Kill Patrick and Lock Hart Up,' it would in fact be a whole sentence that makes pretty good sense."
White & Case -- "Is Royals left fielder Rondell White one of the guys your firm is named after?"
Black & Decker -- "Don't you in fact make household appliances?"
Binney & Smith -- "I like your crayons."
A & E -- "I think you're actually a cable channel."
Orientation 101: Two Truths And A Lie, The Inside Scoop!

Two Truths And A Lie is a popular orientation game where each person says three things about him or herself, two true, and one made up. The key to the game is coming up with strange enough truths that people guess the lie incorrectly.

Most people commonly make the mistake of coming up with lies that are so outside the realm of possibility, that the game is no fun at all. For example:

1. I'm allergic to shellfish
2. My middle name is Jennifer
3. I have no pancreas

See, that's no fun at all. Another problem with the game is when people just use it as an excuse to trumpet their accomplishments. To wit:

1. My team finished first at the Moot Court championships in Cyprus
2. I got a 1600 on the SAT
3. I once got a question wrong on a spelling test in 3rd grade

"Number 3 is a lie. I never got any questions wrong on the spelling tests in 3rd grade. Ha!" This is clearly obnoxious. A third problem is when people say things that are so specific no one could possibly know, nor possibly care. To illustrate:

1. I had a fish named Scooter when I was six years old
2. I had a dog named Spot when I was nine years old
3. I had a cat named Betsy when I was twelve years old

Who cares?!? A final problem is when people reveal awkward facts about themselves that are way too personal for people they've just met. Like:

1. I have gonorrhea
2. I have syphillis
3. I have genital warts

On the other hand, answers like these make it very clear if anyone slept with the person the previous evening. "Two of those are true? Aw, damn. I'm in deep trouble now."

A winning set of statements should be insightful, yet amusing; challenging, yet accessible; personal, yet universal. Or, alternatively, you can try sarcasm:

1. I hate this game
2. I strongly dislike this game
3. I love this game more than life itself!
Possible things for 2Ls to do over Labor Day Weekend:

1. Watch construction workers construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct
2. Attempt to buy and return textbooks just for fun
3. Actually buy and return textbooks, for necessity, not for fun
4. Go with friends to buy and/or return textbooks, for fun and/or necessity
5. Make new friends, and go with them and/or their friends to buy and/or return textbooks, for fun and/or necessity
6. Sit at their computers and post to their weblogs

7. Look at the names underneath all of the 1L mailboxes and see if you know anyone
Yesterday, I had lunch with a bunch of friends from my section last year. Some of the conversation was about On Campus Interviewing (OCI).

Things I haven't done yet which apparently other people have, with regard to on campus interviewing:

1. Research the financial stability of firms. Apparently there exist law firms at the brink of extinction. Apparently it's a bad idea to take a job with them because the job, I guess, depends in a large part on the firm continuing to exist. Apparently people have ways of finding out this stuff.

2. Really, really, really think about what makes one firm different from another, and why I'm interviewing in one place and not another. I've already done a little bit of this, with some help from the NALP guide (, and some help from the Vault guides (which, when I mentioned them at lunch, got less than rave reviews -- apparently those quality of life rankings have some correlation with the "how much did the firm pay Vault" rankings), and some help from the firm web pages. Apparently there are other sources out there I still need to find.

3. "Beat the system" by figuring out the algorithm used to assign interviewees to firms and use to your advantage. OK, no one actually brought this up at lunch, but I couldn't really have a list of two items and feel like I'd accomplished anything.
Check out this post from Greg over at Law Is Fun, if you want to read someone else's reactions to some stuff I've posted (you'll have to scroll down to the third section).
Linking to myself: The Harvard Law Record's web edition for 1Ls. I tried to be funny. Check it out.

Friday, August 29, 2003

I kind of wish there was 2L orientation. It's a little boring without any library tours to take. Also would give me more stuff to write about. Occasionally, as I pass a group of Harvard 1Ls walking around on campus, I get a tad misty-eyed. Part of me also wonders how many Harvard 1Ls have stumbled across this and read it, but I expect the answer's probably pretty low. I'd guess about a dozen. I dunno. If any of them are reading this and have any funny orientation stories, I'm all ears.

10 things the law school's groundskeeping and construction crews have done over the summer (and maybe your school did this stuff too!):

1. They transformed a couple of crappy classrooms into gorgeous new ones, just in time for me not to have any classes there anymore.
2. They magically made the patches of dead brown grass return to life.
3. They erected a big ugly tent in the middle of the courtyard.
4. They put up lots of signs telling you which building you're standing in front of.
5. The new "plaza" in front of the student center that definitely wasn't there before, and actually looks pretty nice.
6. They killed the law school hobos and swept them away.
7. Police tape, in lots of unusual locations.
8. Extra golf carts and construction vehicles motoring down student walkways without any sort of horn or other warning sounds.
9. New font on the sign outside the cafeteria telling us what the meal is.
10. No more final exams.

I'm kidding about that last one.
From the UT 1L over at Wings & Vodka, this gem:

"I often wonder if our gunners have even read the required material; it seems that carrying a casebook would unnecessarily wearout their hand-raising arms."

If I could find an e-mail link, I'd tell him I think that's funny. His post I linked to last Sunday is funny too.
From an e-mail advertising the Jewish Law Students Association bagel brunch:

"All drinks and food provided will be kosher."

10 drinks that aren't kosher:

1. Bacon drippings
2. M-3 (V-8's meat-flavored cousin)
3. Lobster Tea
4. Quik(TM) "Beefy Chocolate" flavor milkshake mix
5. The output of ham put through a juicer
6. Horse milk
7. Clam Tang
8. Carbonated chicken 'n cheese
9. Vanilla & Crab Coke
10. Bin Laden's saliva, on the rocks
"My second thirty minutes back on campus: an even more excruciatingly detailed description"

I'm kidding. I won't put you through that.

Leafing through our first Adviser of the year. The Adviser is a weekly newsletter we get with administrative announcements, student organization meeting news, research assistant job postings from professors, etc. Basically all of the really useful things we need to know.

And the not so useful.

1. "For the first month of publication, the names of student organizations and HLS buildings are spelled out. Initials will be used beginning with the first issue in October." Uh, HLS, I'm looking at you here.

1A. "The Adviser is available online... viewable with Adobe Acrobat Reader (available free from the ITS software site...)" Uh, ITS, I'm looking at you here.

1B. "Please watch for... the HIV pamphlet." Uh, HIV, I'm looking at you here.

2. "Attention, All Student Organization Leaders. Please check the mailroom for any mail or packages you may have there.... Some of this mail may contain valuable information for you and your organization." Oh, is that what mail might contain? Thanks.

3. Regarding one class: "For our first meeting... there is no assigned reading."

4. Another class: "Class will meet... in a room TBA."

5. "Study materials or personal belongings should not be left unattended [in the library]... Library materials will be reshelved." I don't know why that seems funny to me. I guess it's not. I'm just wondering what else they would possibly think of doing with unattended library materials besides reshelving them, and if reshelving them is really such a harsh penalty for leaving them unattended.

I thought this would be funnier that it is. Oops.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

"My first thirty minutes back on campus: a very, very, very detailed description"

[Ed. note: Exact times are merely approximations. There is no way the author did all of this in thirty minutes. But he wrote the title of this piece before he wrote the column, so he’s kind of forced himself into a structure and will feel like he’s failed if he doesn’t get something out of this. So just play along.]

Wednesday, 2:12 PM. Back on campus. The campus looks pretty much the same. New bricks in front of the student center. I heard someone call it a “plaza.” Just looked like new bricks to me. My first stop when I got back was Three Aces, the local pizza place, to see if they’d finished making the turkey sub I ordered back in May. There was another guy there waiting for the pizza he ordered last winter. Why does it take them so long to slice open a piece of bread and put some lettuce inside? This isn’t really a twenty-minute task. Good thing they don’t have eight-hour take-home exams here. They’d never finish.

Wednesday, 2:19 PM. To the bookstore, to buy my books. I've already written my shtick on buying books yesterday, so you can check that out below.

Wednesday, 2:32 PM. To the course packet distribution center, to say hello to hunched-over man and elderly woman, the two people I’ve noticed who work there all the time. I asked if there was a list of courses with packets. They said there was no list, but I should just tell him all of my courses. Three of the four had packets. Amazingly, two of the three packets I were given are the correct ones. I didn’t notice one was wrong until I got outside. I now have a super-secret copy of the syllabus for “Seminar on Wills and Trusts.” Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

Wednesday, 2:32:30 PM. To the Office of Career Services, to pick up the resume I had them take a look at. They cut all of my pronouns, and the words “the” and “a.” This bothers. Me. Because now all sentences look not as English is first language of me. If me legal employer read resume, me no want see sentence bad. Me want sentence friendly good. Honestly, I’m a bit perplexed by this. In response, I plan on adding extra pronouns and resubmitting. “I am serving as a subciter, and on some articles, I am serving as the only subciter, for the Harvard Journal on blah blah blah, which is the biggest, or I think it is perhaps the third biggest, journal on the Harvard the campus, at least that I know of. I the the the I.” The reader also told me to “justify dates and locations.” I thought just mentioning them was enough. I didn’t realize I needed to justify them.

Wednesday, 2:32:45:30:62:45:03:24 PM. To a small room in the basement to pick up a form for a locker. They should put pens by the forms to save me a second trip. But they didn’t. The room to pick up these forms is in the tunnels under the law school right by a bathroom with a security code (don't steal the toilet paper!). Wouldn’t it be funny if my locker code ends up being the same as the bathroom code? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

Wednesday, 2:37 PM. To the library, to check my e-mail. I got an e-mail saying my resume was ready for pickup at career services. Thanks.

Wednesday, 2:41 PM. To my student mailbox. All summer, and only three pieces of mail. I’m invited to a Public Interest reception! Wow! I feel so special! (I would feel more special if I didn’t see the same invitation in everyone else’s mailbox.)

Wednesday, 2:41:30 PM. Back to Three Aces, to see if that turkey sub would finally be ready.

Wednesday, 2:41:45 PM. “Oh, hi! How was your summer? Good, good. Yeah, mine too. Yeah, too fast. Yeah, excited to be back. Yeah, noticed the new plaza outside the student center. Yeah, could have bought some crack with the money I spent on textbooks. Yeah, career services, resume, yeah. Yeah, distribution center. Oh, you got invited to the Public Interest reception too? Cool. Yeah, street people in Harvard Square. No, my turkey sub isn’t ready either.”

Wednesday, 2:42 PM. Boy, that was quite a busy half hour.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Bought my books. 4 classes, 5 books, $297. These are some big books. Also picked up the syllabi and supplemental reading packets. In one of my classes, we're each assigned to give a presentation. The professor writes in the syllabus that the order will be determined by the last 3 digits of our student ID numbers. So now I'm left to wonder until next week whether "032" (that's not really the last 3 numbers of my ID#, but it's close enough that it does the trick for these purposes -- I wouldn't be silly enough to post my ID number on the web) is crazy-low, or everyone has a "0" there and it's really pretty middle-of-the-pack. Honestly, it would probably be good to get the presentation over with the second week of class (the first week of presentations), but deep down nothing really excites me about having to do it right away. Oh well, I have no control over it so no use worrying about it.

That was not a particularly funny paragraph.

Let's try this -- other things I could have done with $297 besides buy my books:

1. 5940 pieces of Bazooka gum
2. Almost 10 cavity fillings (amalgam) under the Harvard supplemental dental insurance plan
3. Almost 5 cavity fillings (white) under the insurance plan
4. Pay the fine for keeping a library book about three and a half years overdue
5. Some amount of crack that I would have a better idea of if I was someone else who knows about that kind of stuff but I'm not
6. 24 online credit reports, with some change left over to mail back a bunch of credit card statements
7. 74 Blockbuster DVD rentals
8. Lots of ice cream
9. Pay bill for using cell phone a whole bunch of extra daytime minutes
10. Paying someone to do the calculations that I'm too lazy to do to figure out how much ice cream or how many minutes (or how much crack, I guess)
Heading back up to Cambridge this morning. A really pretentious next sentence would be something like "The journey continues." I'll stick instead with "I'll post more later."

UPDATE: Back in Cambridge. Everywhere I turn there is construction. On the highway, that is. The campus looks fine.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

A ridiculous post on the Princeton Review law school discussion board (not that most of them aren't ridiculous, but this one seems extra-ridiculous):

SUBJECT: What do law students eat?

"I started law school last week, but am still unsure as to what students eat. I'm trying to decide on lunch, but want to make sure I fit the mold of a true law student. Should I eat hot food? Deli sandwich? Salad, yogurt and fruit? I don't want to be seen as "that guy," so I want to fit into the whole environment here. If you know of anything, please advise."

Um... he doesn't want to be seen as "that guy?" "That guy" who eats hot food? "That guy" who eats a turkey sandwich? How about "that guy" who thinks that anyone cares what he eats for lunch?

SUBJECT: How do law students put the toilet paper on the roll?

"I started law school last week, but am still unsure as to how students put the toilet paper on the roll. I'm trying to decide whether it should come up over the top, or if it should just hang down below. Or maybe law students are so special they don't need to wipe. I don't want to be seen as "that guy" who doesn't know how to put toilet paper on the roll, and get ostracized from all of the law school activities open only to experts in toilet paper etiquette. If you know of anything, please advise."

One reader -- let's call him Gilbert Nutshell -- e-mailed me to ask about what I thought of supplemental study guides. In case you don't know what these are, visit your local law school bookstore and you'll find them right below the sign that says "study guides are not returnable." If you don't see that sign, you might want to buy some, read them, and then return them, but we'll get to that tip in just a minute. Anyway, you'll notice they come in a bunch of flavors. Because long lists of things are usually funny, here's a long list of just some of the kinds of study guides you might find:

E-Z Rules
Professor Series
Examples & Explanations
Black Letter Series
Extra line no one will notice
Casenotes Outline Series
Sum & Substance
Sub & Sumstance
Understanding Series
Another extra line no one will notice
Siegel's Series

Ha, ha, ha! Long lists are so funny! Anyway... here's an edited-for-comedic-value version of the e-mail question Gilbert Nutshell sent me:

"I have a professor who only speaks German. Incidentally, he loves Goulash and you may have seen him eating last night at the restaurant you visited and reported on last night. While he seems like a nice person, I fear I will not learn anything he is teaching, since I don't speak German. I was also unable to tell from our first class today whether he is my Contracts professor, or actually the registrar giving us instructions on the course selection process. If the latter, he may actually have been speaking English, but the instructions were too complicated for me to understand. Especially since I had to leave in the middle of the class and get a Hepatitis vaccine to finish my immunization requirements.

My question: Should I go to the campus bookstore and buy a study guide? Or should I buy a German-to-English dictionary? Or should I wait and see if he learns English on his own and things get better? I don't want to fall behind. I've already missed a reading assignment since I don't know what pages he assigned, and the syllabus is written in Chinese. I think his secretary speaks only Chinese. The love child they have together speaks only Russian. I barely speak English. What should I do?"

My answer, in a Nutshell (ten points for laughing at that):

1. There is no way to know after one day of classes whether or not you need a study guide. Wait a couple of weeks, and then see if the material is coming together. Some professors, even German ones, start off the class in ways designed to be confusing (much like a German restaurant next door to a synagogue would be), and then they bring it all together like magic in order to make themselves seem all-powerful. Plus, different professors emphasize different pieces of the subject, and approach things in different ways -- black letter vs. policy, for example -- so you won't know at least for a little while which study guides will be helpful, and which won't.

2. And even if you feel you need something, a study guide may not be what you need. Perhaps you need an old outline from a 2L or 3L who might be willing to give you one -- most useful by far are those from classes taught by the same professor; next best but not really even close are different professor but same casebook; different professor and different casebook and you may be very prepared -- for a different exam than the one you'll be taking. Perhaps you need to go to office hours and see if the professor can help you one-on-one, or perhaps if you can sleep with him or her for a higher grade and not have to take the exam or learn the material at all. Or perhaps the professor only speaks German for effect in class and is really from Long Island and speaks perfect English -- well, perfect English with a horrid accent, that is.

3. And, if you know you want a study guide, check out if your law school library has a copy -- or if the local city library might -- or if you have 2L or 3L friends who kept theirs and can let you have / borrow them, or check out your bookstore's returns policy. As interesting as these things are, they're kind of pricey, and no need to spend the money if you don't have to.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Had dinner in a German restaurant with a friend. Apparently, Monday nights are special at this restaurant. Goulash, or Trout. Nothing else. $5 for the goulash, $6 for the trout.

Here's a haiku about it:

Six dollars for trout
And five dollars for goulash
But free to walk out

Naw, it wasn't that bad. Dense, but not bad.
[There was a post here about looking for a research assistant for a project I'm working on. I got lots of replies. So the post is gone now. If you read the post before, and were really interested but hadn't e-mailed yet, and you were coming back to find it and were going to e-mail me about it, I won't delete your e-mail or anything like that, so feel free to go ahead. I did get lots of replies, but yours just might knock my socks off and force me to hire you.]

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Inspired by the post below, here's a song parody.

"In What Section Are You?" (to the tune of Elton John's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart")

In what section are you?
Oh, you're in section two
It's sad to say but I am not
In the same section as you

In what section are you?
My professors are best
And our scores were highest on
the Law School Admissions Test

Ooh, ooh, Nobody knows it
When they assigned
Which section was mine
Ooh, ooh, Nobody knows it (nobody knows)
The Lord gave to me
The best one to be
Oh, the best section to be

So in what section are you?
Oh, you're in section two
I'm surely glad I'm not you

And we have the Rhodes guy
But you have the Marshall
And they have the guy who founded
A now-it's-bankrupt dot-com

No classes on Fridays
And yours are 7AM
We both have an hour for lunch
At least that's better than them

Ooh, ooh, Nobody knows it
When they assigned
Which section was mine
Ooh, ooh, Nobody knows it (nobody knows)
The Lord gave to me
The best one to be
Oh, the best section to be

So in what section are you?
Oh, you're in section two
I'm surely glad I'm not you

[dance break]

Ooh, ooh, Nobody knows it
When they assigned
Which section was mine
The Lord gave to me
The best one to be
Oh, the best section to be

In which section are you?
In which section are --
In which section are --
In which section are you?
An amusing post from a UT-Austin 1L about meeting some of his classmates at a party before orientation starts. I recognize the "What section are YOU in?" and "Where in the world in Scottsdale, Arizona?" games from, oh, about a year ago. (So many links... I must be in a generous mood today.)
Courtesy of JD2B, Max Power has a good, although not that surprising, post with thoughts on interviewing from the other side of the desk. Max's tips, in shorthand:

1. Be likeable
2. Know your resume
3. Know the firm and why you want to work there
4. Have a plausible geographical story

Seems reasonable enough.
Sua Sponte has a great post with questions to ask during law firm interviews when you're stuck and can't think of anything to say. Useful stuff to keep in the back of one's head for interviews.

At the bottom of her post, she wonders if maybe I could come up with a parody. Well, I can at least try.

Ten things NOT to ask a lawyer on the recruiting path:

1. Have you tried Listerine?
2. Is it okay that I've completely forged my transcript?
3. The secretaries -- are they easy?
4. There aren't any German people at the firm, are they? Because I hate German people.
5. How much did that suit cost? Looks like a knock-off.
6. My sex change operation turned out okay, right? Can hardly tell, eh?
7. Did you floss today? Because I can see some stuff... nah, nevermind.
8. Any crack houses near the office?
9. How do you look at yourself in the mirror every morning?
10. I'm sorry, could you tell me the name of your firm again? I've suddenly forgotten.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

A pointless multiple-choice game here. Here's most of a sentence I just wrote in an e-mail to a friend:

"I still have no idea how people manage to work at a job for 20, 30, 40, 50 years -- if it's not their passion and they're just there to collect a paycheck -- long hours, lots of days a week -- [BLANK]"

Help me fill that [BLANK] in. What I ended up writing was one of these eight things:

A) "although I suppose collecting that paycheck isn't a bad reason to be there."
B) "but I guess that's all of our likely fates since how many people can really work at something they love?"
C) "without throwing themselves in front of a train or something."
D) "so perhaps I should ask an investment banker to explain it to me."
E) "but I guess they manage okay and I'll figure it out eventually."
F) "and still find the strength to wake up every morning."
G) "but I admire them for being able to do it."
H) "and I guess that's why I still have two more years of law school left."

Can you tell which one? I think it's kind of cool I was able to think of 8 different ways to end that sentence!
Long article in the always-excellent New York Times Magazine about the President of Harvard University, Larry Summers. For those interested, here's what it says about the law school:

(Interested parties may note the second half of the excerpt here, which says the law school isn't likely moving across the river to Allston. There are lots of people who seem to care deeply about this issue. I'm not one of them, and don't see how either the law school moving or not moving would affect my life. But nonetheless, this seems to be something some people are concerned about.)

"But Summers's most notorious power struggle came with the law school, and it wasn't over budget lines. Summers had identified Harvard Law as the one school most in need of presidential supervision, for despite its magisterial reputation it had been losing both students and scholars to other institutions. When Robert Clark, the school's longtime dean, agreed to step down, the faculty decided to appoint a committee to seek a successor. This was a transparent power play, for the appointment of a dean is arguably the most important power reserved to the president. The day the committee was to be established, Summers went to the law school and spoke to the entire faculty. According to one professor, Summers said flatly, ''The president is charged with sole responsibility to appoint a dean.''

The meeting degenerated into a series of angry exchanges. One veteran professor I spoke to denounced Summers as ''a control freak'' and mocked Summers's hierarchical ''Washington'' style. ''He doesn't give a damn what anybody thinks,'' said another professor. And Summers managed to make things worse by unintended acts of boorishness. He told a junior member of the law-school faculty that a question she had asked was dumb; surprised to hear later that the young woman was offended, he apologized grudgingly.

And yet Summers ultimately did what was widely perceived as the right thing. The search committee he appointed was respected within the law school. And Elena Kagan, a former Clinton administration official and recent arrival at the law school, whom he chose as dean (ultimately, the search committee was window dressing), was the one member of the faculty acceptable to virtually all parties. When I saw Summers recently, he said that not only the selection of Kagan but also the process of selecting her had led to a ''clearing of the air.''

This may be true. Martha Minow, a highly regarded member of the law-school faculty and one of the Summers skeptics, told me that the choice of Kagan showed that Summers had read the mood of the faculty very carefully. ''There's an extraordinary feeling of a new beginning at the law school right now,'' she said. Minow had also just come from listening to Summers address a conference on affirmative action, where he had delivered an endorsement of the process with which he had been grappling. That was a surprise. ''He is moved,'' Minow said, ''by powerful intellectual arguments.''


Summers also seems to have reached a decision about the new campus at Allston that is consistent with his vision of Harvard. The question of Allston is the question of what Harvard should be like in 20, 30, even 50 years. What is it that needs to be bigger? What needs to be next to what? Does proximity even matter? Soon after arriving, Summers concluded that Allston should serve as the home either of the professional schools, and above all the law school, or of the sciences. The law school devoted tremendous time and resources to demonstrating that moving it would be a catastrophic mistake. The various science faculties were more open to a move, if extremely wary. Summers says he will announce his decision in the fall, but according to several sources, he has in fact already essentially chosen to move the sciences (as well as some other facilities) to Allston -- a decision that will make an important statement about the future of the university. Summers will then have to make a series of incredibly complicated decisions, which boil down to: Which sciences will go, and where?"
Ten things 2Ls and 3Ls might say that 1Ls should be skeptical of:

1. "No, no, you're not allowed to use the bathrooms. They're for 2Ls and 3Ls only."

2. "Professors like it when you interrupt them without raising your hand. They also like it when you play with the microphones while they're talking, and when you don't do the reading."

3. "Here's a little secret they don't tell you about. Each class has a surprise midterm exam. At some point during the semester, you'll walk into class and the professor will spring a test on all of you. But they never say anything about it, and you're not supposed to talk to your classmates about it. Just keep up on your studying and be ready for it."

4. "You didn't know classroom attire was business formal?"

5. "No, no, looking for a summer job isn't really necessary. Firms come to campus very late in the spring looking for 1Ls. It's impossible NOT to find a firm job 1L year. And they pay 1Ls more than 2Ls for the summer. Betcha didn't know that, right?"

6. "Buy all the study guides you want. The bookstore is happy to take them back, even after they've been opened and written in, photocopied, torn, and shredded."

7. "Everyone loves a gunner!"

8. "I'd love to take you out to meet some of my friends, but you know 1L curfew is 10PM, right?"

9. "Here's the criminal law outline I used. If some of it sounds wrong, don't worry. It's not like I went through and changed all of the important words to something else, or anything like that. You mean you didn't know the penalty for burglary is execution by poison dart?"

10. "No, no, no you're SUPPOSED to wear this nametag with your LSAT score on it!"

Friday, August 22, 2003

Courtesy of Silent Treatment, a really interesting article from the Atlantic Monthly about introverts vs. extroverts.
"School starts in just a few days, and I'm really getting nervous. I enjoy your glib attempts at humor -- especially the song parodies -- but, seriously, what real advice can you give me to stop my knees from shaking and my palms from sweating? I'm desperate here."

Thanks for the question, imaginary friend. It's a good one. A year ago I was pretty nervous too. Although a check of my archives seems to show I wasn't admitting it to the world. I don't know if what I have to share is really advice -- it's just observations I think might help, even just a little bit. We'll see:

1. I think deep down everyone's nervous. Some people just hide it better than others. If they're not nervous starting a whole new experience like law school, moving to a new city, there's probably something wrong with them anyway.

2. This sounds weird, but, being at law school, you kind of start to get the feeling that maybe law students in general weren't the "coolest" kids in high school and in undergrad. Not everyone, but I think probably the average law student is a little less "cool." But, anyway, so in a group of on-average less-cool people, I kind of found that the threshold for coolness is lower than we're used to. It's easier to be cool when most people aren't, and the "cool" standard ends up falling so far, that even if you were never cool before, you might be cool at law school. This may not make any sense to anyone not living inside my brain, but if it does, maybe it's a little reassuring -- just because you don't think you were cool before doesn't mean you can't be cool at law school.

3. But most people I've met at law school are good people. Nice people, kind-hearted people, friendly people. They're all just people. You'll be fine, imaginary friend. If not on day one, then on day two. But don't worry. And don't forget to buy your books before they sell out.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

What if movie reviewers also reviewed law school casebooks?

Criminal Law
Written by Bill Boring and Dan Dull
1,239 pages

It should be a "Crime," and against the "Law" to print casebooks like "Criminal Law" -- A.O. Scott, New York Times CaseBook Review

"Criminal Law," the new casebook from the pens of Bill Boring and Dan Dull, opens today in law classrooms throughout the Northeast. And, like many other books in its genre, "Criminal Law" suffers from the problem of too many characters, too much action, and not enough time to build up any sympathy for any of the major players. It seemed like every ten pages, away would go the murderer, or the rapist, or the guy who tried to bring an unlicensed handgun to the discotecque. And would be replaced by another protagonist, with barely time to get to know him before he would disappear as well. If you like casebooks where one victim after another is paraded before your eyes, maybe this is the one for you. But if you like well-crafted melodrama, well, Boring and Dull have not done their jobs. What was perhaps the most baffling directorial decision was the idea to spend so much time on the judges in each of the portrayed cases. As if the man wearing the robe (and it's always a man, it seems, especially in the 1700s) is more interesting than the people at the tables or wearing the handcuffs. Judge after judge after judge, with no context for who they really are, no reason to care. Except they're there. In every scene. Constantly. For shock value, the beginning of the book does introduce some elements that are interesting to read -- but once the endless middle of the book approaches, we've been desensitized, and it's all the same. What really hurt the book was the collaboration -- Boring and Dull never quite were able to mesh their voices into one, and, in fact, their contributing authors all add other elements of inconsistency that are almost too much to tolerate. But the most egregious flaw in the book is what the authors called, "Notes and Questions." It's one thing to make an audience wade through case after case, but to ask them vexing questions and then not provide the answers -- well, that's downright "criminal." Do yourself a favor and wait until this one's out on DVD.

Excerpts from reviews around the country of "Criminal Law" --

"This book really got me excited about statutory rape!" -- Kobe Bryant

"I was disappointed we didn't make the final cut." -- Lyle and Eric Menendez

"I read the book in one sitting and loved it!" -- Your Criminal Law Professor
Janeway and JCA over at Sua Sponte could have a Lexis Points contest. Janeway reports she has 6,750 and Sua Sponte has almost 6000. I have 950. We've all spent the same amount of time at school. And I do use Lexis-Nexis for most of my research needs (sorry, Westlaw -- but Lexis wins because it also has news sources like the New York Times, and so it works for non-legal research (gasp!) also). I know I've made some mention of this a few months ago -- but what are JCA and Janeway doing on Lexis that's giving them so many points? And is it really worth the $20 Amazon gift certificate they'll get at the end. OK, maybe it's more than $20, and so maybe it is worth it. I guess there are just some people who can motivate themselves to enter all the contests, and sign on every day, and probably also have one of those credit cards that gives them frequent flyer miles and never use ATMs from another bank that charges them a dollar-fifty fee, and always turn their library books in on time.

And they'll end up winning a new car from Lexis-Nexis, and I'll end up with a $4 gift certificate to

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

How many tactical errors can you find in the following exchange?

"We're going to go around the circle and have everybody introduce themselves to the group. We'll start with you."

"Hi. My name is Joe. I'm originally from Chicago. I graduated from the University of Cleveland three years ago, majoring in Comparative Literature. Since then, I've been helping underprivileged youths in third-world countries by serving in the Peace Corps. The reason I'm at law school is because I want to learn how to work within the legal system to really effect change for children in these countries and make their lives better. I also enjoy beer pong and softball. In my spare time, I hope to get involved with the university orchestra and also work for a professor who's studying some of these international problems I'm really passionate about. I'm also looking forward to making lots of great friends."

If you found at least 13 mistakes, great job. If not, here's what you may have missed:

1. "I'm originally from Chicago." What he ought to have said was "I'm from a suburb just outside of Chicago." I don't know Chicago very well, but I have noticed that no one ever claims to be from the city itself. Everyone's always from a suburb. So I assume there's something awful enough about Chicago that admitting to being from the actual city is a definite no-no.

2. "The University of Cleveland" is not an Ivy League school. So it's really better not to mention it at all. Try just saying "I graduated from college," or "I graduated from school in the midwest," or, what might work best in this case, "I graduated from UC."

3. "...three years ago." Makes you sound too old. Try "...a couple of years ago," or something hard to calculate, like "...about 3% of the time that elapses between Halley's comet visits... ago."

4. Comparative Literature is not a law-school-approved major. "The humanities" may be general enough that you won't be actually lying. Or if you don't mind lying -- and you're in law school, so you probably don't -- "government" is a much better answer.

5. "...helping..." That's an awfully weak verb. Check out some of your classmates' resumes. No one ever "helps" or "assists" or "collaborates," even if all they did was make photocopies. They "fight" and "implement" and "manage." Joe should say he "managed" children in underprivileged countries, or "fought for them," or "beat them into submission." But not "helped." Besides, nobody likes a humanitarian.

6. You know the old saying, "if you weren't a paralegal, keep your mouth shut." Maybe that's not really an old saying. But it should be. Joe should get used to the following exchange: "You worked for the Peace Corps? Well, at least you did something.

7. This is an error of omission. Joe won a silver medal for his work in Uganda. That's the kind of stuff that might impress people. So he shouldn't have left it out.

8. Another error of omission. Joe's great-uncle is former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. It's almost criminal for him not to mention that.

9. "spare time." Ha.

10. "university orchestra." Ha.

11. "work for a professor." Uh oh. Joe shouldn't be giving away his intentions. He'll soon find rumors around the faculty that he likes to molest pet goldfish, or something like that, started by his classmates who want those plum research positions he's marked himself in line for.

12. "making lots of great friends." This is Law School, not summer camp.

13. Joe should have at least another page of stuff to say. Don't waste your first chance to impress your classmates by being brief and to-the-point.

*14. This is a bonus one. Joe scored a 177 on the LSAT. He should definitely find a way to squeeze that in somehow.
I was at a Thai restaurant the other day, and they had a dish that you can get with chicken, beef, pork, baby shrimp, or tofu. Except there was an extra comma, in between the "baby" and the "shrimp."

What a mix-up if someone ordered that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Here's an exercise in stupidity. 26 made-up law firm perks, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet.

Air Conditioning, sometimes
Business Casual Dress One Day Each Month
Caffeine, and lots of it
Doors All Have Doorknobs
Extra-Large Paychecks, like on Publishers Clearing House Commercials
Free Food on Fridays
Gym In Building, Equipped With Laptops at each machine so you can work
Hardly Any Blackouts
Indentured Servants At Your Service
Jelly Beans Occasionally Found Rolling On The Floor
Killing Sprees Strongly Discouraged
Late-Late-Night Laundry Service
Money Just Lying Around In Stacks Around The Office, Free For the Taking
Newspapers Available For Just Fifty Cents in the Lobby
Old Man Takes Your Coat
Photocopies for Phree
Qatar Office Sponsors Free Trips
Room Under Your Desk To Sleep
Subsidized Salad
Taxi Rides Home After 3 AM
Underwear with the Firm's Logo Imprinted On It
Vacation Time Does Not Decrease As You Remain At Firm
Wastepaper Baskets Emptied Almost Weekly
X-Rays Included in Medical Coverage
Yale Graduates Forced To Clean Toilets
Zipper Repair, free on Tuesdays

Monday, August 18, 2003

Harvard sent us an e-mail today regarding their recent installation of "Spam Assassin" on their mail servers, which will flag Spam as such, and allow us to filter is out. All sounds fine -- except I was a bit disheartened by one of the FAQs on the website they referred us to:

"Will messages from Harvard groups be labeled as Spam?"

"No. Any message which comes from an account with “” in the address is “white listed” and will not be labeled as Spam."

Well, that decreases its usefulness, because, actually, Harvard groups send me the bulk of the spam I get. :)

(I can't really blame them -- I signed up for most of the organizations that bombard me with mail -- didn't sign up for Career Services, but some of that is kind of useful; but I only have myself to blame for most of the other stuff. "Event in six weeks! Mark your calendars!" Right.)

Sunday, August 17, 2003

For the night before orientation, if there are any 1Ls-to-be reading this:

'Twas the night before law school
And all through my head
I was seeing disaster
I was filling with dread
I thought, "I'll never cut it,"
And "why am I here?"
"Can I really survive this?"
All I felt was the fear
Fear of not being perfect
Fear of not having fun
Fear of wasting three years
That will cost me a ton
But I woke up that morning
And looked all around
At the faces all thinking
The same thoughts I'd found
All their fears were exactly
The same ones as mine
And we took a deep breath
And we all turned out fine

Saturday, August 16, 2003

I expect this should be the last post about the blackout, but I figured I may as well try and get a song parody out of it.

"Blackin' Out" (to the tune of Billy Joel's "Movin' Out")

Anthony works in the grocery store
Throwing his meat in the garbage
But Mama Leone's serving sushi next door
And there's a line twenty-deep for her bathroom
They say a man in Cleveland coughed and we go black-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack
Or that is the theory now

First we just blame the Canadians
You know all they do is cause trouble
And it seems such a waste of food
That leftover crap I saved
Ice cream's heating up cause we're blackin’ out.

We're blackin' out, oh oh...

Sergeant O’Leary is walkin’ the beat
Arresting the looters at Denny's
They're stealing ninety-nine cent burgers
As the bank goes untouched
They're putting twenties aside to chase pennies
They say it's not another terrorist attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack
That's scheduled late this fall

And the subways stopped and the gas won't pump
At least we can still drink the water
And at Ohio's Cedar Point
They're stuck in a coaster loop
Hanging a hundred feet up 'cause we're blackin’ out.

We're blackin' out, oh oh...

No one's ever gonna visit Cleveland-land-land-land-land-land
Like they ever did before
But at least in a day we got power back
Before we were killed in a riot
And it seems such a waste of meat
It seems such a waste of cheese
Landfills will be filling up cause we're blackin’ out.

We're blackin' out, oh oh...
I took the three blackout-related posts from yesterday and synthesized them into one reasonably-coherent 1200 word thing. There's a few new funny lines in here, but I wouldn't really call it "new" so much as mostly a cut-and-paste. But here it is anyway. And I'll have a song parody or something else later tonight.


27 hours without power. Makes an 8-hour take-home exam seem like cake.

I came back home to New York just in time for "Blackout 2003." The news radio station I was tuned to on the Fisher-Price "My First Radio" I dug up in my closet had apparently navigated the legal process with ease and had the phrase trademarked by 5 hours into the event, and was trying to use it as much as possible. "You're listening to non-stop coverage of Blackout 2003, here on the Blackout 2003 news leader, bringing you commercial-free Blackout 2003 information for all of you affected by Blackout 2003 and anyone else interested in Blackout 2003 and its aftermath." The competing news radio station I switched to at around 8 hours in was using the phrase "Great Blackout 2003" instead. Coming next year - Blackout 2004: The Klumps.

Besides missing the stats from Mark Prior's complete game for the Cubs this afternoon on one of my fantasy teams because he was on the bench and, without power, I couldn't get on the Internet to rotate him into the lineup for his start today, I believe I'm no worse for the wear.

An observation, after spending too many of the last 27 hours listening to the radio and thanking the divine spirits I'm not in Cleveland: New York thinks it's really special. It's great that we got through a night of no power with only one instance of looting (and even that: a shoe store in Brooklyn (Payless. Pay a lot less. Pay nothing at all.)? Be honest: if you were going to loot during a blackout, would you really choose to loot a shoe store instead of, say, an electronics store, a jewelry store... or perhaps an adult novelty store?), fewer arrests than on a usual night, not too many car accidents, some added fires but all of them caused by morons incorrectly using candles rather than widespread arson, and no riots in the streets - but does this really make us so special?

All night, I kept hearing things like: "If not for the resilience and unbelievable brilliance and physical attractiveness of New Yorkers, Blackout 2003 could have ended in tragedy. But, because New Yorkers are amazing people, we've shown the world how blackouts really ought to be handled;" "This is New York at its very best, the people of New York demonstrating how they truly are one-of-a-kind, just like Blackout 2003 is one-of-a-kind, and this news radio station is one-of-a-kind as well;" and "The real lesson of Blackout 2003 is not about power grids or electricity; it's about a city, its people, and what a great place New York is and how even the terrorists know, if there's one city in the world that you want to attack, it's got to be New York. Oh, and Washington too I guess. But New York is so much better."

Do the people in New Jersey and Connecticut leave their neighbors to perish on street corners? Kick the blind and tease the deaf? Set monuments and national parks ablaze? Because that's sort of how it sounded. I'm all for pride in where you live, and the people you live with, but is acting civilly and responsibly during a blackout really so extraordinary? Are there any other options for coping with a blackout besides stopping carefully at intersections without signals and being kind to the people around you? Are New Yorkers really all that kind and patient compared to other people? I wasn't so sure about that. Yet all night long, politicians, news anchors, people on the street... all of them talking about what a great night this was for New York, and how we really showed the world how great we are. The power went out. We didn't kill each other. Is this really so thrilling?

After the blackout ended, I took my grandmother home (she lives 5 minutes away but had been staying with me and my parents since yesterday; our house was cooler - I mean in the temperature sense, not the does-the-furniture-have-plastic covers sense, of course) and helped her empty her refrigerator and freezer of any food that had spoiled.

The food museum is now closed.

Her freezer was filled with artifacts covering the evolution of food over the last 50 years. The Mezozoic shelf included some chopped liver which, in the blackout (excuse me, I mean "Blackout 2003"), had separated into solid, liquid, and brand new organism; a first-edition salisbury steak TV dinner; something made of tofu before tofu was fashionable; matzoh balls from the matzoh meal fiasco of 1956; and egg drop soup -- which finally answered the question of what came first, the chicken or the egg (the chicken first appeared on the next shelf down, so we now know it appeared about 10 years after the egg did). The Paleozoic shelf included some chopped turkey, a vegetable dumpling, and a cinnamon roll complete with its original packaging (a rare find!). From the present-day era, Olive Garden leftovers in the original bag, Haagen-Dazs chocolate soup, some brownies, half a gyro, and some no-longer-frozen yogurt.

The exhibit starts from scratch tomorrow. By winter, no one will be able to tell the freezer had ever been emptied.

I've been evading the real issue so far in this column, I know. We had a blackout. We're law students. The natural question: who can we sue?

I've started making a list:

1. The power company. Too obvious, but we have to start somewhere. We pay them for power, they didn't deliver. An open and shut case.

2. The government. Under the takings clause. They took our power away. So there.

3. McDonalds. If people weren't so fat, they wouldn't need as much electrical power to cool their extra-large houses with extra large door frames, to power their extra-large microwaves, to shine light on their extra-large bodies, to run their extra-large clothes-stretching machines in their closets. And because McDonalds is the cause of obesity, they are clearly liable here.

4. Class action suit against the news media on behalf of African-Americans. Why the heck is it called a *black* out? Everything bad is always Black. Black plague, Black Monday, black eye, black lung, black sheep, blackout. Whiteout is a helpful little paint that covers up mistakes. Blackout is a calamitous loss of electricity that causes all sorts of crappy things. We should sue the news media for perpetuating this racist term.

5. Microsoft. My computer was running about a dozen different Microsoft programs when it crashed, including a few I'm sure I've never even heard of. Clearly there must be some connection. (And, besides, think Deep Pockets!)

6. Paul Newman. His salad dressing went bad in my refrigerator. Why can't he make shelf-stable dressing? Bad man. Bad, bad man.

That's all I've got for now. Air conditioning was a great invention.

Friday, August 15, 2003

The one good thing about the blackout: it's giving me lots of stuff to write about. In between my previous post and this one, I took my grandmother home (she lives 5 minutes away but had been staying with me and my parents since yesterday; no good for grandparents to be alone when no air conditioning and stuff like that) and helped her empty her refrigerator and freezer of any food that had spoiled.

The food museum is now closed.

Her freezer was filled with artifacts covering the evolution of food over the last 50 years. The Mezozoic shelf included some chopped liver which, in the blackout, had separated into solid, liquid, and brand new organism; a first-edition salisbury steak TV dinner; something made of tofu before tofu was fashionable; matzoh balls from the matzoh meal fiasco of 1956, egg drop soup -- which finally answers the question of what came first, the chicken or the egg (the chicken first appeared on the next shelf down, so we now know it came about 10 years after the egg). The Paleozoic shelf included some chopped turkey, a vegetable dumpling, and a cinnamon roll complete with its original packaging (a rare find!). From the present-day era, Olive Garden leftovers in the original bag, an egg roll, some brownies, half a gyro, and some no-longer-frozen yogurt.

The exhibit starts from scratch tomorrow. By winter, no one will be able to tell the freezer had ever been emptied.
Okay, we had a blackout. I'm a law student. The natural question: who can I sue?

I've started making a list.

1. The power company. Too obvious, but I have to start somewhere. We pay them for power, they didn't deliver. An open and shut case.

2. The government. Under the takings clause. They took my power away. So there.

3. McDonalds. If people weren't so fat, they wouldn't need as much electrical power to cool their extra-large houses with extra large door frames, to power their extra-large microwaves, to light their extra-large bodies, to run their extra-large clothes-stretching machines in their closets. And because McDonalds is the cause of obesity, they are clearly liable here.

4. Class action suit against the news media on behalf of African-Americans. Why the heck is it called a *black* out? Everything bad is always Black. Black plague, Black Monday, black eye, black lung, black market, black sheep, blackout. Whiteout is a helpful little paint that covers up mistakes. Blackout is a calamitous loss of electricity that causes all sorts of crappy things. We should sue the news media for perpetuating this racist term.

5. Microsoft. My computer was running about a dozen different Microsoft programs when it crashed, including a few I'm sure I've never even heard of. Clearly there must be some connection. (And, besides, think Deep Pockets!)

6. Paul Newman. His salad dressing went bad in my refrigerator. Why can't he make shelf-stable dressing? Bad man. Bad, bad man.
27 hours without power.

Besides missing Mark Prior's complete game for the Cubs this afternoon because he was on my fantasy team's bench and, without power, I couldn't get on the Internet to rotate him into the lineup for his start today, I believe I'm no worse for the wear.

An observation, after spending too many of the last 27 hours listening to news radio: New York thinks it's really special. I mean, it's great that we got through a night of no power with only one instance of looting (a shoe store in Brooklyn -- just an aside--now be honest: if you were going to loot during a blackout, would you really choose to loot a shoe store instead of, say, an electronics store, or a jewelry store?), fewer arrests than on a usual night, not too many car accidents, mostly just *accidental* fires caused by candles rather than widespread arson, and no riots in the streets, but does this really make us so special? All night, I kept hearing things like, "the spirit of New York shined through this evening, as we triumphantly came through the terrible blackout," "New Yorkers are out helping their fellow New Yorkers, and letting the world know what a wonderful city this is," "This has proven to me just how resilient New Yorkers are, and how New Yorkers truly are special people," "People giving rides to their neighbors, cars being extra careful at intersections with no signals... New York at its very best, the people of New York demonstrating how they truly are one-of-a-kind...." Were the people in New Jersey and Connecticut running each other over on purpose? Leaving their neighbors to perish on street corners? Kicking babies and tripping the elderly? Setting monuments and parks ablaze? Because that's sort of how it sounded. I'm all for pride in where you live, and the people you live with, but is acting civilly and responsibly during a blackout really so extraordinary? Are there really other options for coping with a blackout than by stopping carefully at intersections without signals? Yet all night long, from politicians, from news anchors, from people being interviewed, all of this talk about New York being extra-special. If I wasn't from here... well... I'd probably hate this place.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Got an e-mail today telling us about a new online biographical information system that we should use to update our address/phone/etc. So I just did. And one of the instructions on the online form (I swear this is real) is:

"If you wish to change your ethnicity information, please fill in a Change of Ethnicity Form at the Registrar's Office, Griswold 100."

There's a "Change of Ethnicity Form." Wow. Besides Michael Jackson, who would possibly need this form? "Well, over summer vacation, I decided I'm black" is a great conversation starter -- but did they really have a need for this form? Were they overwhelmed by requests for people's ethnicities on file to be changed that they felt they had to create this form and publicize its existence for us, tell us where it can be found....

Of course, like we can't get our grades online, apparently we can't change our ethnicity online either....

[Random unrelated--but probably grotesquely offensive--thought I just want to post before I forget it and it disappears into the ether: one of my friends is working for a magazine that's having him write a story about plays coming out that are related to September 11th. A line you probably won't see in the article: "'s expected that some of these 9/11-related plays will take flight, but some will unfortunately crash and burn...." [...I can hear the sound of readers clicking to go elsewhere...]

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"Cheat Off My Classmate" to the tune of Luther Vandross's "Dance With My Father" (inspired by the line in the song, "if I could steal one final glance") (I think what might maybe be funny about this is that the song is so darn earnest and serious... and this parody really isn't)

Back when I was a child
Math got hard and the tests got tough somehow
My grades had been oh so high
Then I needed some help to keep them up

Cheated off the guy next to me
Back when consequences were so small
Teachers didn't see
Nothing could happen to me

But now it counts, they'll kick me out
I have to do the work they want me to
I wish the days of grade school'd never ever end
How I’d love, love, love to cheat off my classmate again

Ooh, ooh

When I and my classmate would disagree
I'd think it's "A," he wrote down "C" I saw
I'd trust him since I'd lost the textbook long ago
And I'd do fine in the end, and so would he

One day the teacher went up to him
Said that he must be cheating off of me
She never dreamed that he
Was being copied by me

If I could steal one final glance
One final test, one final chance to see
I wish the days of grade school'd never ever end
How I’d love, love, love to cheat off my classmate again

Sometimes I’d forget there was a test
But he never did, and I owed him much
'Specially when they kicked him out of school
'Specially when they kicked him out of school

If I could steal one final glance
One final test, one final chance to see
I wish the days of grade school'd never ever end
How I’d love, love, love to cheat off my classmate again

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I bought a suit for interviews: dark gray... too expensive... now I need dress shoes.... I honestly don't have a pair of dress shoes. I have brown Nike sneaker-shoes that I can pretend with. But not with my new decent suit. That would look icky, I think.

Here's a haiku about buying a new suit:

Law firm interviews
I needed to buy a suit
This haiku's awful

Monday, August 11, 2003

An acrostic poem about a law firm interview.

S is for the suit that cost me way too much to buy
U is for the underwear that, trust me, matches the suit
M is for the mutual fund I could invest in after a summer's earnings
M is for the mailed tuition bill that reminds me the mutual fund thing won't be happening
E is for the estate tax; just some advance planning
R is for the resume that has no typos. Except the one I haven't found yet.

A is for the answers to the interview questions that you ask me
S is for the shoes that match the suit
S is for the socks that match the shoes that match the suit
O is for the organizations I joined just to impress you
C is for the cufflinks I couldn't afford to buy to match the suit
I is for the interview itself
A is for the ascot. I don't know what an ascot is.
T is for the tie that matches the socks that match the shoes that match the suit
E is for the elevator that got stuck on the way to the interview and made me miss it. Oops.

Okay, this is going to be a work in progress here. I'm going to gather a bunch of the advice I've given about the beginning of law school (nothing on final exams, summer jobs, or any of that stuff is catalogued here -- just stuff useful when you start) on my weblog into one list, so law students who start school this month don't necessarily have to go wading through the archives (although I'd be delighted if you would go wading through the archives, I really would). Here goes:

Some questions from 1Ls-to-be about law school stuff, and my responses

Lots more 1L Q&A

Advice on raising your hand in class and balancing school and life

Advice about getting useless advice from 2Ls and 3Ls

Stuff I wished someone had told me before starting school

Sarcastic orientation tips

Classifying the types of classmates you'll find

Mocking the assortment of journals you can join

What the Socratic Method is like

Study groups

Outlines and note-taking

On assigned seating

And, finally, when you think it's just not worth it, Ramblings on why I like law school, Keeping it in perspective, and My favorite song parody I wrote all year

Sunday, August 10, 2003

My watch seems to be running faster and faster lately. I set it 3 or 4 minutes ahead, and now it's like 7 or 8 minutes fast. I guess it just be getting better and better at telling time, you know, practice makes perfect, it's just getting more efficient... no one's laughing, are you?

If you're in New York City with nothing much to do, and looking to see a play in the Fringe Festival -- check out "Mock the Knife" playing at the Red Room (85 East 4th Street -- between Bowery and 2nd Avenue) Wednesday 8/13 4:45-5:45, Sunday 8/17 1:45-2:45, Wednesday 8/20 9-10, Thursday 8/21 6:30-7:30, and Saturday 8/23 1:45-2:45. I'm plugging it here because it's written by a friend of mine and he stars in it. If you go, you can win me friend brownie points and tell him I sent you (he's the one who eats soap and butter in the show; the other actor only eats butter). Seriously. I went today and liked.

Also saw the independent movie "Camp," about kids at a performing arts camp. Saw it mostly because one of the actors with a very minor role -- the camp director -- directed a show I was in during undergrad. The movie's filled with pretty good musical numbers, but I can't say I really loved the film overall. It seems like the kind of thing that could turn into a TV series on Bravo. The CD is probably pretty listenable though.

Law school stuff. Hmmm. I'll have to get back to you on that. It's Sunday. It's summer. You shouldn't be thinking about law school. Go out and play.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

For anyone who's keeping track, my DC job came to an end yesterday and I'm now back in NY for a bit until back to school sometime towards the end of the month. So comments about the subway really will be about the Subway and not the Metro, and probably no more restaurant haikus.

A lot of action on the Princeton Review message boards regarding thoughts about professors -- for whatever reason, Harvard students seem to dominate this thing, but this applies to anyone really. It all seems sort of unnecessary -- you have no choice, you get who you get, and you'll survive. Everyone in your section is in the same boat you are, and anything anyone tells you isn't anything you won't figure out on the first day of class anyway. "She's boring" usually becomes pretty clear pretty quickly, "He's socratic" certainly makes itself known pretty much immediately, "She's brilliant" should be pretty easy to spot on day one.... So it's not like it's really earth-shattering to find out anything about your professors in advance. That said, I'm being kind of disingenuous here, because I've been happy to share anything I've heard or experienced regarding certain professors with anyone who's e-mailed me. But it's not like anything I have to say is particularly extraordinary or anything that doesn't become obvious ten minutes into the first day of class.

It's interesting, actually -- that first impression a professor makes is really important; seems to me that it sets the tone for the rest of the semester, I think. Seem brilliant, and your students will think you are, even if you're maybe not, and for a while probably give you the benefit of the doubt. Scare people on day one and maybe they'll think you're strict for a while, even if you're usually not. Call on some students at random on the first day, and maybe some of them will even do the reading! Amazing!

[Excuse me while I abruptly change the subject. Apologies for a less-than-graceful transition.]

At some point in the next couple of weeks, before I go back to school, I need to buy an "interview suit." My only suit right now is black, and isn't really even a suit. It's a jacket and pants that are both black and made by the same company out of the same material. So it passes for a suit. But they say black suits aren't right. I need a gray suit, I guess. Maybe navy blue, but I don't like navy blue, so I'm going to go with gray. I need shoes too. The only "dress shoes" I have right now are made by Nike. I'm totally serious. It seems strange to me that I seem to have missed the whole suit-buying stage of becoming an adult, but I never really needed one that was more serious than what I could piece together from the random jackets and pants I've got, that all sort of match. Ties and shirts I've got more than enough. But I don't think it's smart for me to fake a suit for interviews. I have to actually buy one. And probably not the cheapest one I can find, although I'd kind of like to. Maybe I can get on that new show on Bravo and they can tell me what kind of suit to buy that will look good and not make me feel like a little kid stealing his dad's clothes. I haven't actually seen that show, but I hear it's funny. Wearing a suit, instead of making me feel like I'm an adult, makes me feel like I'm completely out of place. But I guess any setting where I'm supposed to feel like an adult I feel kind of out of place -- I feel like I relate well to adults, but I'm not "one of them" yet. At work, I can be someone's colleague, and function fine in that capacity, but I still have no problem with them telling me what to do and being bossy, because I'm just a kid. They're adults. Although perhaps the willingness to be ordered around would make me a fine law firm associate....

Friday, August 08, 2003

I went to a restaurant called "Potbelly Sandwich Works" this evening. The sandwiches on their menu: Turkey Breast, Italian, Vegetarian, Pizza, Smoked Ham, Tuna Salad, Chicken Salad, Meatball, Roast Beef, and Peanut Butter & Jelly. Things you can add to "any sandwich" for 50 cents -- extra mushrooms, extra cheese, extra ounce of meat, or extra marinara sauce. I wonder: how many people have ever ordered any of those things on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. :) An extra ounce of meat! Ha! (This kept me amused for way too long... much to the non-amusement of my friend I was eating with...)

Also, random fact of the day: the average 30-second commercial spot costs $343,000 to produce. That's a lot of money!
Courtesy of Unlearned Hand, this article about college admissions counselors. Scary stuff -- $32,000 to help guarantee your child's acceptance into an Ivy League school -- but a really great read.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

I meant to wait until tomorrow to post this, but I just couldn't wait.

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, I decided it would be cool to start a weblog about life as a law student. Mostly to force me to write something every day, even if it was something stupid. And also because I thought it'd be nice to be able to look back at the end of however long I'd keep the weblog going and have a collection of my thoughts, observations, and random attempts at humor. As the counter started to rise a bit, I realized it was also pretty cool that I could use the weblog to share my experiences with other law students, people thinking about law school, people who once went to law school a long time ago, or people with nothing better to do than read about someone in law school, and that I could maybe provide some advice or at least a way for them to know that someone else finds this funny too, and that they're not all alone in the scary law school unknown. Hopefully, I've amused and entertained a bit over the past year, and maybe even made law school, or the idea of law school, a little less scary for a few people. From my end, writing this has been extraordinarily rewarding -- it's gotten me writing something each day and given me an outlet for the random thoughts that pop into my head so that they don't just disappear into the ether, and it's introduced me to a whole bunch of awesome people I've had the opportunity to exchange e-mails with or meet, a few of whom I'd certainly count as friends.

If you're reading, thanks for reading. I'm just humbled that there's an audience out there, whatever the size, that's interested in what I've got to say. I do appreciate it, and hope I've done enough to deserve your readership. Tell me what else I can do to make this better for you. Or don't, and just keep reading. Either way.

And happy one-year weblog anniversary to me. It's been fun so far. And hopefully will continue to be for at least a little while longer. I look forward to typing a similar message again next year.

I've been waiting all day to write this.

At my job today, I encountered some large sheets of foam insulation. And the company name printed on the back? Celotex. Celotex! People who've taken a Civil Procedure class -- or at least people who've taken a civil procedure class and used the same casebook I did -- will recognize this name instantly! Celotex! They're not just a made-up company in the casebook -- they actually make something real!

This excited me way too much.

None of my co-workers shared in my excitement.

Please share in my excitement.

P.S. I realize that "At my job today, I encountered some large sheets of foam insulation" might be a sentence no one else in the world has ever used before. And that it makes my job sound awfully mysterious. I kind of like that.

P.P.S. Celotex!

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

This is kind of stupid, but...

"Tort People" (to the tune of Randy Newman's "Short People")

Tort People got no reason
Tort People got no reason
Tort People got no reason
To frown

They got little tears
In their eyes
Sit on the stand
Tellin' great big lies
So they get little jurors
To which no one objects
To buy their little stories
And give them great big checks

Well, I don't want no Tort People
Don't want no Tort People
Don't want no Tort People
Suing me

Tort People are just the same
As you and I
(Well, an injured you and I)
All men have lawyers
For the day they "almost die"
(It's a litigious world)

Tort People got nobody
Tort People got nobody
Tort People got nobody
Left to sue

They get little injuries
And they find someone to blame
Call it a class action
And add name after name after name
They get little experts
That go blah, blah, blah
With their great big voices
Juries left in awe
They got grubby little fingers
And dirty little minds
They're gonna get you every time

Well, I don't want no Tort People
Don't want no Tort People
Don't want no Tort People
'Round here
Courtesy of the incoming Harvard 1L over at Undeniable Dilemma, I'll point to the Harvard 1L information page, in case any Harvard 1Ls-to-be are reading my site and haven't discovered it yet. It's not particularly chock-full of information -- professors and book lists for each section, and a generic welcome letter. The kind of stuff I recall was sent to me via the always-reliable postal service around this time last year. But it's GREAT to see they're putting more and more stuff on the web. Our grades aren't on the web yet. Kind of hard to believe. But, anyway, it's great that there's this information page for incoming 1Ls, sparse as it may be. And it doesn't tell them what section they're in, so it doesn't actually allow them to figure out who their professors are yet. But still, it's something. The professors, by the way, are mostly the same ones who taught 1L courses this past year, with a few names I haven't heard (visiting professors?) and a few who taught last year who don't seem to be doing so again. But most look like a nice mix of younger and older professors for each section, with some well-known names scattered in there. Three of the professors I had for my 1L classes seem to be teaching again, but two aren't.

TJ over at Undeniable Dilemma says: "I only hope that I'm not the only pre-1L with no plans whatsoever to start buying text books to get a 'head start'." Oh, gosh, I hope so too. I don't know anyone who did that. Most professors don't go in order, don't start at the beginning, skip around... have different ways of explaining things than what's in the book... expect you to read focused on certain aspects... it seems awfully silly / useless / wasteful to read your casebooks before you start. Although you may want to buy them right away when you get on campus -- if you want to save 25% and get 'em used, the used ones sell out fast, at least at Harvard. Honestly, though, the two books I bought used I probably shouldn't have bothered. One was so marked up with highlighters -- when I bought it I said to myself, "it won't be a big deal; only chapters 4 and 5 are highlighted," but it turned out we only used chapters 4 and 5... oops! -- that it was distracting, and the other was kind of falling apart. Law school costs so much anyway; don't skimp on the casebooks. If you find good used ones, great! But if someone's burnt the edges of the pages and you can't read the last word one every line... might not be worth it.

Apologies that this post is of somewhat less utility if you're not about to be a 1L at Harvard -- I recognize that, and will try and conjure up something with broader appeal before the sun sets.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Got a couple of e-mails related to my post below about taking the time to update your resume before starting law school, because you'll need it soon. My e-mailers wanted to know more about what goes on a law student's resume. So here's a mock resume for a law student, in part just me trying to be funny, but also to illustrate the different things you might want to put on it, and the appropriate sections and kinds of information.

Joe Law-Student

Decrepit Dorm, Suite #705B, Closet #2
123 Dark Alley
Shantytown, MN 54321
(123) 456-7890


Law School, J.D. expected June 2012
Honors: Dean's List Fall 2002, Probation Spring 2003, Expulsion Summer 2003
Activities: Journal of Cheese (Fermenting editor), Arts & Crafts Club, Moot Court, Intramural Cricket

University of Phoenix Online, B.A. received magna cum laude June 2002
Senior Thesis: "Why the only thing I've ever wanted to do is be a lawyer"
Relevant Classes: Being a Lawyer 101, Practicing Law 204, Excelling at Law School 305, Ceramics 623
Honors: Recipient of Class of '65 Alumni Prize for Aspiring Lawyers
Activities: President, Pre-Law Society; Vice President, Legal Club; Treasurer, Future Tax Lawyers Association; Intramural Cockfighting


Paralegal, July 2002-August 2003
Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato LLP (Tel Aviv, Israel)
--Sorted large stacks of paper
--Billed large stacks of hours
--Made large stacks of pancakes

Forest Ranger, June 2001-August 2001
Drive-Through Safari, Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, NJ)
--Fed animals
--Managed crowd flow
--Wrote legal memos and reviewed animal contracts

Research Assistant, September 2000-May 2001
Adjunct Prof. Jennifer Lopez (University of Phoenix Online)
--Handled publicity requests
--Ghost-wrote chapter in autobiography, "I Am Famous"
--Wrote legal memos and acted like an aspiring lawyer

Ancient Roman Law, Law of the Middle Ages, National Security, Local Government Law, Being a Lawyer, Lots of Money, Skydiving without a parachute

Monday, August 04, 2003

Saw the Twins beat the Orioles from great seats behind first base at Camden Yards. Law-related: it should be against the law for the Orioles to use a .160 hitter as their DH. Although he did get a hit.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Country Music Song Titles for Law Students:

Too Drunk To Read
The Case-Briefing Boogie
That Ain't My Law
Beer For My Judges
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Trial
Your Cheatin' Test
Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Class
God Bless The ABA
I Will Always Sue You
Friends In Bad Classes
Stand By Your Test
Mommas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Lawyers
Take This Case And Shove It
She's In Love With The Judge
Cowboy Take Me To Court
All My Ex's Garnished My Wages
Here's some advice for incoming 1Ls: update your resume. Now. Before you get to school. When career services starts their onslaught in October or November, it's a pain to find the time and energy to do it then, so you may as well do it now. Leave some room at the top for Law School stuff, but get everything else up to date, less than a page long, lots of white space, no typos... no big deal, but you'll be happy come November that you got a head start.
I went hiking at Great Falls (the Maryland side, not the Virginia side, in case anyone really cares) with a friend today. One interesting note (interesting to me, at least):

The park is a "trash-free" facility, which means that whatever you bring in, you take out; there are no trash cans, not even in the bathroom (there's also no paper towel in the bathroom; I presume there's toilet paper, but I didn't have the occasion to check). Yet there's a refreshment stand, that sells things that absolutely would need trash cans to dispose of them (soda cups, and bottles, ice cream wrappers, napkins, little plates for hamburgers, etc, plastic silverware...). So they give you things, but they don't give you a trash can to throw them out in. For whatever reason, it doesn't bother me if they want to be trash-free and not let you throw out the water bottles you come in with, that's fine -- but if they're going to sell things that need to be thrown out, it seems awfully inconsiderate not to let you throw them out, and make you take them with you. They've given them to you. And they've charged for entry, not that that's really relevant. I wonder if this really decreases trash, or if people toss things on the ground or try to flush them down the toilet instead. I think the policy's pretty silly.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Four-Haiku review of "American Wedding," the third (and final?) in the American Pie series --

I did laugh out loud
Quite a few times, laughed out loud
Doesn't mean it's great

But it isn't bad
And if you liked the first two
You'll like this one too

Perhaps even more
If you like your humor crude
And your plot contrived

That's not really fair
It's better than it should be
Seven out of ten
"The Registrator" (to the tune of Billy Joel's "The Entertainer")

I am the registrator
And I say which class you're in
The schedule dictator
Some will lose and some will win
Perhaps I'll treat you kindly
Give the ones for which you strive
But a random whim and your life is grim
Cause you get a class you'll never pass
And it meets Friday at five

I am the registrator
I don't like you one bit
I have an extra syllable
If I cut it, it won't fit
Oh, they beg me to make changes
To switch the class around
Act like a jerk, but a bribe might work
Pass me dollar bills and the course that fills
A space may soon be found

I am the registrator
So when classes all conflict
It's just my way of having fun
With the choices I restrict
I don't know data entry
All the numbers go in wrong
So you do it right, but then late tonight
You log on and see that because of me
You're in a class you don't belong

I am the registrator
And you know it could be worse
This song could be much longer
But this is the last verse
You shouldn't get your hopes up
Your favorite course will close
And I'd like to help but I never help
I'm a bureaucrat; a poor one at that
And that's the way it goes.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Fascinating article from this weekend's NY Times Magazine on Steven Levitt, an economics professor at Chicago tackling interesting questions like why the crime rate fell in the '90s and how to tell if a teacher is giving her students the answers to standardized test questions.
This is stupid, and I fear I sound unfortunately whiny, but I just want to respond to something Waddling Thunder just posted, regarding his weblog's anonymity:

"As I think Jeremy once noted, if someone is going to hold a blog against you, then you don't really want any contact with that person."

Uh, I don't know about that. And I don't think I said that.

What I do think -- and this is probably what Waddling Thunder means -- is that if a potential employer were to read this, and decide -- perfectly legitimately! -- that he didn't want to hire me, that's totally fair, and it probably just indicates it's not the right job for me. And I'm totally fine with that.

The reason I'm not anonymous is because I don't write anything I'm uncomfortable having my name attached to, and because I do write some stuff I'm actually pretty pleased to have written. I want credit for the good stuff, and, frankly, I'd be delighted if every potential employer read everything I've written here. I think regular readers have probably gotten a decent sense of who I am, and I think I'm not a bad guy, and this probably does a better job of selling me than I do in an interview.

This is one of the posts for which I wish had a comments link. But if you have got comments, I'd love to hear 'em...
900 words on researching law firms:

It’s already August. And, as everyone knows, August is Family Eye Care Month, Foot Health Month, Harvest Month, International Air Travel Month, Medic Alert Month, National Catfish Month, National Child Support Enforcement Month, National Golf Month, National Parks Month, National Water Quality Month, Peach Month, Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month, and, of course, Watermelon Month. And, as the Office of Career Services begins to remind me with its e-mails, it’s Update Your Resume and Start Researching Law Firms Month.

So I bought the latest Vault guide. And then, three hours later, realized I get access for free on the career services website. And they wouldn’t let me return it, because, like our tuition, there are no refunds. And the Vault guide was interesting, but it seemed like the only way firms could be distinguished from each other were regarding the existence of a subsidized cafeteria, a lavish internal staircase, or the dress code on Fridays during the summer. Not that helpful.

So I went to the NALP directory (, lauded by career services and 3Ls alike as being a great source for firm information. And, of course, it was much better. I figured the first step in narrowing down my list of firms would be to check if I fit their hiring criteria. The differences between firms on this dimension are (predictably) astounding:

“Outstanding academic credentials;” “Self-starting and motivated with academic achievements;” “Strong academic performance;” “Strong academic achievement;” “Demonstrated evidence of high academic performance;” “We look for candidates who have achieved academic excellence;” “Strong academic achievement;” “Outstanding academic and non-academic achievements;” “Outstanding academic record;” “Academic achievement;” “We seek JD candidates with a record of academic excellence;” “We look for candidates with strong academic credentials;” “Success in academic and other pursuits.”

Clearly there’s a trend here. So, having eliminated every major firm from my list, I decided to compare the pro bono policies at different firms. After all, beyond the consideration of whether I want to do a lot of pro bono work or not, a firm with a commitment to pro bono seems likely to me to be the kind of place that cares about people, and, by extension, its employees, or at least those employees with demonstrated evidence of outstanding academic achievement. Firms on pro bono:

“All attorneys are encouraged to participate in our pro bono program;” “[The firm] strongly encourages its lawyers to devote time to pro bono legal work, and the full resources of the Firm are available to serve pro bono clients;” “[Our firm] takes great pride in its long-standing commitment to public service. Our attorneys are strongly encouraged to participate in pro bono projects and to bring to each pro bono representation the same unwavering dedication, commitment to hard work, and legal excellence that they bring to all matters handled by the firm; “The firm encourages attorney participation in litigation, corporate and real estate pro bono matters;” “[The firm] has a strong commitment to pro bono legal services by its lawyers;” “The Firm strongly encourages attorneys to dedicate their time and professional skills to pro bono work and community activities;” “[Our] lawyers are encouraged to devote firm time and resources to pro bono matters in which they are interested; “We engage in public service, pro bono, and many law-related and charitable activities.”

“But of course the firms are all the same on these dimensions,” my cynical-yet-practical imaginary visionary legal scholar and mentor has told me. “They’re all competing for the same body of students, and are basically looking for the smartest, most competent people they can find. And they know that everyone’s looking for a place that does some pro bono work, so they all talk about the work they do. There’s nothing wrong with anything you’ve written so far – what do you expect? The real way to distinguish one law firm from another, my young Jedi master, is by the words they use to describe their firm and its clients.”

“Ah, I hadn’t thought of that,” I replied, as my co-workers looked at me wondering why I was having a conversation with the wall.

And so I returned to the NALP directory:

“[We] provide clients with a broad range of legal services;” “[We have] a long-standing tradition of providing the world's most prestigious financial institutions, Fortune 500 companies and other leading corporations… with innovative solutions to complex legal and business issues;” “[Our] clients include multinational corporations and international financial institutions headquartered in the United States and abroad;” “[The firm has] numbered among its clients many of the leaders of American and international finance, commerce and industry;” “[T]he firm has worked on the largest and most complex business and financial transactions, as well as significant litigation for a broad range of clients that are leaders;” “[We] represent leading corporations, financial institutions, and other high-profile clients.”

What really gets me is that it’s so much easier for the firms to make their decisions about us than it is for us about them. After all, none of our resumes look at all alike, and you can tell everything about a person from a 20-minute interview.

But at least, since August is Foot Health Month, while we’re researching firms, we’ll all have healthy feet.