Jeremy's Weblog

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Questions and Answers about Legal Research

Q: So I have this retarded research assignment --

A: Don't say retarded. It's not polite. The phrase is "mentally handicapped."

Q: Okay, so I have this mentally handicapped research assignment to go find all of the cases in the 3rd circuit that have to deal with circus clowns and write up a summary of the current law. And I have no idea where to begin.

A: Neither do I, dude. You're screwed.

Q: But you're supposed to be this super research dude. That's why I'm coming to you for help. Dude!

A: Okay, dude, calm down. Let's start with the basics. There's three options when it comes to your legal research. There's Lexis, there's Westlaw, and there's books.

Q: Books, that's funny. Books. Ha! I'm on the floor, rolling around in my own vomit. That's hilarious. Books!

A: Your own vomit?

Q: Yeah, stomach flu. Besides, it's better than rolling around in someone else's vomit.

A: I suppose...

Q: At least your own vomit, you know what's in there. Like I know I had corn, and here it is, in between my toes. But someone else's vomit, who knows if those are nuts, beans, or pumpkin seeds?

A: Pumpkin seeds? Who eats pumpkin seeds?

Q: Dude, lots of people eat pumpkin seeds. I ate them all the time as a kid when I was in Little League. The smart kid's chewing tobacco, we all used to call it. Okay, we never used to call it that, but we should have. I love pumpkin seeds. My mom used to buy a pumpkin each year and scoop out the seeds and roast them. It was awesome. Dude!

A: Did you drag me out of the bathroom to talk about pumpkin seeds?

Q: No, I dragged you out of the bathroom to talk about legal research. What do I do?

A: Call the Westlaw helpline. They'll help you for free. It's 1-800-73-FATTY.

Q: 1-800-73-FATTY? Why would that be their phone number? That sounds like the Weight Watchers phone number. What the heck does the "Fatty" mean with regards to legal research?

A: It's actually 1-800-REF-ATTY -- like "reference attorney" for short -- but it's more fun to say it the other way. And it helps you remember. Or at least it helps me. And they'll totally answer all of your questions and help you set up your search.

Q: On a date?

A: Huh?

Q: You said "set up my search." Set it up on a date? Is my search going to get more action than I get?

A: Could it possibly get any less? After all, it's almost midnight and you're rolling around in your own vomit asking me about legal research. Is this really a compelling picture you're painting of yourself that's going to have people falling over themselves to go out with you?

Q: It will after I drug them.

A: That's illegal.

Q: What?

A: Haven't you been paying attention in law school?

Q: No. Duh. That's why I need your help. I don't even know the difference between a circuit court and a district court.

A: That's easy. A-minus average for circuit court; B-plus for district.

Q: Oh, for clerkships?

A: Yeah, for clerkships. Duh. You applying for one?

Q: Me, no. I don't want to have to move to Idaho.

A: But clerkships are awesome. You get to make up law.

Q: Really?

A: How the heck should I know? I don't have a clue what clerks do. I don't have a clue what lawyers do either.

Q: Aren't you working at a firm this summer?

A: Yeah...

Q: So...

A: I've been there eight days, what do you want? You expect after eight days I know all there is to know about this stuff?

Q: Well, no, but...

A: But what, dude?

Q: But at least you should have picked up something...

A: I think I picked up a fungal infection from my office mate, actually.

Q: That sucks.

A: No kidding.

Q: So I should just call that fatty number and they'll help me out?

A: I think so. That's what they keep saying.

Q: But you've never called?

A: No, dude, that stuff's for losers.

Q: Awesome. Well, thanks for the tip.

A: No problem. See you tomorrow.

Q: Yeah, see you later dude.