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.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Bought a really detailed map of the area (Professor Pathfinder's Harvard University -- I recommend it). I should've done that sooner. I've been wandering in the darkness but no more. No more inadvertently taking the longest path possible to get everywhere. No more hoping and praying that the next corner would be familiar enough that I'd know where to turn next. And all for just $4.95. Plus a 5% rebate at the end of the year (bought it at the Coop).

Started delving into my reading. Easily distracted by the Mets game, answering e-mails, eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. It's slow going so far, but I have to admit it's kind of comforting to be a student again. I can deal with reading assignments better than I can deal with 401k plans.
Exploring Harvard Square this morning, then doing my reading for class on Tuesday. This is just a placeholder for a post later today. Most likely subjects -- Harvard Square, or "my reading for class." We'll see which one gives me something funny to write about. I'd put my money on Harvard Square.

At least there's no baseball strike.

I have a funny story about the baseball strike, actually. I was talking to a couple of people and this one guy gets a cell phone call. He hangs up. "There's no baseball strike." Someone called to tell him. Not more than twenty seconds later, my cell phone rings. "There's no baseball strike." Someone called to tell me. I thought this was hilarious. This is how you know you're a baseball fan -- when someone calls you to tell you there's no strike.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Assigned seats in our classes. Each seat has a number, each student has a number, we make the match. This way the professors have a seating chart and can call on us. Can't wait.

Had a tour of the library today. Printing costs 5 cents a page, copies cost 10 cents a page. Huh?

The best line of the library tour, said by our tour guide (who was the nicest librarian I've ever met, by the way!) -- "This is the largest academic law library in the world. I say "academic" because there is one library that's bigger. The Library of Congress. They're slightly bigger than we are. Slightly."

The second best line of the library tour -- "In the bridge between buildings are some bean bag chairs. Students like to sit in them. And late at night, sometimes we find couples doing more than just sitting in them."

The third best line of the library tour -- "Over there is where you can talk on your cell phones. It looks private but the way the walls are, we at the reference desk can hear every word you say. So you may think it's private, but we can hear you."

Thursday, August 29, 2002

I think I heard "...and I have just one more piece of paper to give you..." about fifty times today. Stacks and stacks of stuff. Stuff like this:

Information Technology Services packet (printing costs 5 cents a page. That kind of sucks.)

Lexis-Nexis ID cards, daily planner with pen, big glossy brochure, sweepstakes entry (can win a Lexus -- oh, I get it! Lexis, Lexus! So funny!!), and some advertising propaganda rectangular sheet of paper with no information on it.

Westlaw bookmark, pen, and law students handbook all in a fancy box, legal summary book, manual, ID cards, coffee mug, and fake velvet case (to match the Fleet Bank sunglasses case).

Apparently, Lexis and Westlaw are competitors in the legal research game. Each one wants to woo students to their system. I'm not sure I fully understand yet. Their tables at orientation were right next to each other. I was kinda hoping they'd start fighting. Celebrity Deathmatch: Lexis-Nexis v. Westlaw. And no one but law students would be tuning in.... But it is a good song idea. We'll see later.

Playing it Safe: A Guide for students, faculty, and staff
This guide introduces the R.A.C.E. acronym for fire safety --

(As opposed to Run Away Carrying Everything).

Services for students with disabilities brochure
"The law school will make appropriate changes in examination procedures for students with special needs." What if my special need is the answer key?

Yearbook order form ("the price goes up so act now...")

Privacy request form, in case you don't want your e-mail address made public. This is useful because the e-mail addresses are composed of the first letter of your first name and the first 7 letters in your last name. So if you keep it private, no one can ever figure it out...

Deferred examination policy -- "if four or more exams are scheduled in a row..." How many classes are these people taking? Four exams in a row?

Drug and alcohol policy -- "food and non-alcoholic beverages must be available at any event where alcohol is served." Oh yeah? Good food? Is it free?
Wednesday's observations, one day late (just got my computer hooked up to the network)

10:03 AM

We had an all-dorm-residents barbecue last night, and then the first Bar Review (the oh-so-law-student way of saying trip to a bar) later on at night. It's nice that they had something organized going on so I wouldn't be stuck in my room watching American Idol. Which actually was pre-empted by the Red Sox-Yankees game on the local Fox affiliate. But American Idol is apparently such a phenomenon that they let viewers know during the Red Sox game -- I caught about a half hour inbetween barbecue and bar -- that it would air (in full!) after the news after the game. Got back to my room at 11:30 in time to see the contestants waving goodbye. But -- and this is truly pathetic -- I had my mom tape it for me, so I'll see it at some point in the future, probably after the winner's career has already come and gone twice over.

So far it's seemed like in most cases, there appear to be only 5 questions on the approved "first day of law school making conversation" question sheet, and always asked in this order:

(1) What's your name?
(2) Where are you from?
(3) What school did you go to?
(4) What section are you in? (The entire first year class is divided into 7 sections of about 70 people, who attend all of the required classes as a group)
(5) Did you come straight through from college?
And if the answer to (5) is no, (5A) What did you do inbetween?

That pretty much covers most of the conversations. I guess it's like that with any new situation. But a big nametag with all of that information might help things along... it was kind of funny to watch some people just go from person to person asking the questions, trying simply to meet as many people as possible -- quantity over quality I suppose. One guy, after we talked for about 90 seconds, simply said "Okay, I'm going to go meet someone else now." Well, at least it's honest. I found myself guilty a couple of times of saying dumb things in response to people's answers, just because I couldn't think of anything else to say and the silence was awkward. Like:

SOMEONE ELSE: "I'm from California."
ME: "Oh. So this is pretty far away for you."
HIM: "Yeah."
ME: "It gets pretty cold here in the winter."
HIM: "Right."

Yeah, I know it's pretty idiotic to imagine that anyone -- from no matter how far away -- has no conception that Boston may get cold in the winter.

10:43 AM (yes, just 40 minutes later)

Who knew that just walking to the bookstore and back could give me enough for another Weblog entry? First off, I went to the bookstore because after I saved the file with the preceding entry, I realized I didn't have a floppy disk to copy it onto in order to transfer it to a cluster computer later on today and post it. But before I could even get there, I passed by the Fleet Bank "Please, please sign up for an account" table. "Have you signed up for your free Fleet Bank account yet? Get a free mousepad, keychain, and white board." Did they say mouse pad, keychain, AND white board? Not "...OR white board?" How can anyone pass that up? The deal is that they want everyone -- money or not. Sign up, get a checkbook, and if you decide you want the account, make a deposit at some point. Otherwise, don't. "But I don't know my mailing address," I said. "Leave it blank -- just put your name and we'll find it," the scary man in the blue shirt said. Well... okay.... Another student passed by:

SCARY MAN: "Have you signed up for your free Fleet Bank account yet?"
STUDENT: "I've already got a bank account."
SCARY MAN: "What bank?"
STUDENT: "Bank One."
SCARY MAN: "How are you going to make your withdrawals? We've got an ATM right on campus."
STUDENT: "I'm fine. I'm happy with my account."
SCARY MAN: "But this account is free -- and convenient. We've even got an ATM right on campus."
STUDENT: "Yeah, but I don't want to switch banks."
SCARY MAN: "Why not?"
STUDENT: "It's a family thing."
SCARY MAN: "The bank account? Don't you want your own bank account?"
(...the student starts to walk away...scary man screams after him...)
SCARY MAN (cont'd): "...and a free mouse pad, keychain, and white board? How about a sunglasses case?"

So Fleet Bank is pretty desperate.

But that's not all! I was walking back from the bookstore -- with my one disk, cost: 99 cents plus tax. $1.04. Which means I have 96 cents in change rattling around in my pocket. But that's besides the point. I'm walking back, and I see someone who looks vaguely familiar. And I quickly realize who I've just passed -- remember on the second season of Survivor there was Nick, a guy who went to Harvard Law School? This was him. I'm positive. I didn't say anything, but I'm sure it was him. He'd be in his 3rd year now I guess, so it makes sense. A brush with fame. Now all I need is to pass Alan Dershowitz later today and I'll have seen every famous person on this campus. Or not.

9:16 PM

Back in my room, inbetween the first day of orientation and another bar outing. Started out at 4:00 with a section meeting -- first time with the other 80 people who'll be in all my classes, plus our section professor. Saw a classroom for the first time. Each desk had a microphone. Scary. "Attention, Seat 55, your lights are on..."

My dorm room is beginning to show cracks -- the fluorescent light bulb won't stop flickering, and the sink has a real slow drain. Someone told me to e-mail the dorm office -- so I'll see if I get a reply.

12:32 AM

I really don't like bars. Too crowded, too noisy, too dark. I can't think of a less effective way to meet people than to put all of them in a room ten times too small, turn out the lights, and play loud dance music. Maybe it's just me. I just haven't mastered the art of bar conversation. Usually I'm too quiet to steer the conversation anyway, so I just sort of nod and stand there. No one gets past the magic 5 questions anyway -- name, from where, what school, what section, take any time off inbetween -- that it's pointless.

I think the key to these conversations is to have a gimmick. One of the five answers has to be something different, something enough to keep people from moving right past. Like one guy was from Canada. So he got lots of questions from people I'm sure he'd never ever heard before -- "is it cold up there?" "you like hockey?" "ever been to the states?" I asked, in a brief moment of insanity, "so, how do you feel about Quebec secession?" Yeah, that's a great bar question.

I want to find a gimmick. "I have six fingers on each hand?" Naw, too freaky.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Posting from a computer cluster in a Harvard Law school building whose name begins with an "H." I can't remember the name, just the first letter. Got here this morning, moved into my dorm room. Passed by a supermaket with a sign "Pick and Pay Supermarket." Isn't that what you do at every supermarket? Pick your food, then pay for it? Anyway, my dorm room is nice. Carpeted, clean, big window, lots and lots of closet space, drawers, outlets, necessary things like that. Needed to buy a lamp though. Not that much light. This is insanely boring to read, isn't it? I bought my books. They're really heavy. And expensive. $513.05. But the Harvard Co-Op Bookstore has this thing where at the end of the year you get back 5% of what you spend. Why not just charge 5% less? I guess they think I'll have a good feeling when at the end of the year I get a $50 check -- better than if it's just pennies less each time I buy something. Or they think I'll forget and then they won't send me the check. Yeah, that's it, it's all a ploy.

I seem to be the only person moving into my dorm who hasn't learned from experience how to effectively pack and move -- other people had wagons and wheelbarrows and baskets and crates and boxes and dollies and hand carts and lever-and-pulley systems and rickshaws and wenches and indentured servants. I had my socks in one garbage bag, my underwear in another, my computer wires laying loose on the back seat of my parents' car -- so I had to make 14 trips in and out of the building -- protected by two doors that each required me to take out my key each time (signs: 'Do Not Prop Open -- Under Penalty of Death... no, I'm making up the last part) -- and into "the world's slowest elevator (tm)," while everyone else backs their U-Haul up to the entrance, pulls out their electronic robot moving device, and is fully unpacked in seventeen seconds flat. Led to exciting elevator conversations like, "You really know how to pack," "Wow -- so quick and easy doing it your way," and "Can I please borrow your pack mule and sherpa when you're finished with them?"

But now I'm all unpacked, my books are bought (which unfortunately means I have to read them -- but, hey, the sign said I can return them before September 13th, so if I just read them all really quickly... there's $513.05 I can save right there!), and I'm just killing time until a dorm barbecue at 5:00. Good thing they don't let us have any cooking devices in our rooms or the barbecue could start a fire. Wait, that logic doesn't make any sense -- a barbecue could burn down the dorm anyway, with or without microwaves in the rooms. Guess it's a good thing the barbecue's outside, not inside.

Monday, August 26, 2002

I'm really going to law school. I'm really going to law school. I'm really going to law school. Uh oh.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Okay. Starting to pack. I'm faced with how to pull all these wires out of my computer and pack them in such a way that reassembling the whole thing isn't a monumental task on the order of building a nuclear explosive. When I went down to college freshman year, I painstakingly applied different-colored Post-It flags to the ends of wires to mark what "thing" they plugged into (the big thing with the disk drives, whatever it's called, or the monitor, or the printer, or the wall...) but the flags came off en route and I was left completely perplexed. Another time I tried leaving everything plugged in on one end, so I'd only have half the number of things to reattach, but I found that carrying things with dangling wires is dangerous, and tripping over oneself while carrying a computer would be a bad idea. But I think by now I've done this enough that it shouldn't be problem. Until I get there and find that I'm missing three wires and a mouse. Or something like that...
I can't legitimately make fun of existing questions and answers for prospective law students (see today's earlier entry along with yesterday's ramblings) without at least trying to create an alternative of my own. So here goes:

Questions and Answers for Prospective Law Students, from someone who hasn't even started law school yet so has no real expertise on the issue

1. Should I go to law school?
For me, it was either law school or figuring out what kind of job (a) I could get and (b) I really wanted to do. And that's really hard. So I chose law school. But that's not as stupid as it sounds. Because there are lawyer-like jobs that do sound interesting to me, and regardless of whether I decide I want to practice law, hopefully law school will (a) increase the number of jobs I can get, and (b) give me some more information and time to figure out what I really want to do. Plus, it's three more years of school, and I already know I'm good at school. I don't know if there's really any advice there, except to say that from the people I've talked to, it isn't as simple as just being 100% sure you want to sue big companies for doing mean things (or defend the big companies against those obviously-frivilous lawsuits), because there's lots of jobs for lawyers that aren't so obvious, and lots of other jobs where the law degree can help... or so I hope....

2. If I decide I want to go to law school, should I take the LSAT?
Definitely. And you should make sure to do well!

3. How?
By answering most of the questions correctly. Here's a hint: if Sally eats Steak on Sunday, then Fred definitely eats Fish on Friday. (If you've never taken the LSAT, I'm talking gibberish here, I know.)

4. How do I decide which law school to attend?
Try the U.S. News rankings. They're perfect in every way.

5. Is law school hard?
Ask me in a few weeks. I sure hope not.

6. My parents say I must go to either medical school or law school, or they'll cut me off financially. How do I explain to them that my real passion is sculpture and my dream is to be a famous artist?
Hold on a second, who's telling you not to be a famous artist? But do you really want to be a struggling artist? Doctor-artist sounds awfully cool, with kind of a whole renaissance man (or woman -- imaginary questioner didn't tell me his or her gender) thing going on. What have you got to lose if your parents are paying? Worst case scenario is you hate school and you drop out -- but if you don't give up your art along the way, what have you lost? And if the art doesn't work out, this way you've got a pretty neat backup plan. Don't demonize graduate school like it has to make you give up your dreams. Demonize investment banking and management consulting instead. They're the real enemies.

7. My girlfriend walked in on me and another girl---
This is for law school-related questions only, please.

8. No, just listen. My girlfriend walked in on me and another girl studying for the LSATs together and now she's jealous. What do I do?
Like I said before, if Sally eats Steak on Sunday, then Fred definitely eats Fish on Friday, if you know what I mean.... (I don't even know what I mean... but it's getting late here, so give me a break...)

9. Thanks for the advice.
You're welcome. But that's really not a question.
The University of Miami School of Law (insert your own joke here), has its own prelaw "29 Critical Questions" at They're pretty lame too.

Of course I admit for humorous purposes I'm only using the parts of the answers that are funny, so it's really not as bad as I seem -- and I know I'm not being fair to them... but nevertheless... here's a sampling:

1. Should I go to law school?
Only you can answer this question.

2. Is law school as challenging as they say?
Yes - and no.

4. When should I apply?
There are over 185 ABA accredited law schools in the U.S., and although the admissions process is similar at each, there are important differences.

5. What are law schools looking for?
As the entering class profile is important to prospective students, faculty, and the legal community, law schools are looking for the most competitive applicants possible.

8. How is the job market? Will I get a good job after graduation?
People attend law school for a variety of different reasons, and thus, the definition of a "good" job after law school is different for everyone.

27. I have a documented disability. Should I disclose this information?
This will be entirely your decision.

28. What type of support systems are in place once students are enrolled?
Support systems among law schools vary from the formal to the very informal.

I hope taking these out of context and making fun of them isn't slander.*

(*Note: "Slander" is a real legal term. But since I haven't started law school yet, I don't really know what it means. So forgive me if I'm getting it all wrong and this isn't slander, it's libel. Or it isn't libel, it's battery. Or it isn't battery, it's just a tort. A tort with whipped cream and glazed kiwis. Yum.)

Saturday, August 24, 2002

I just discovered the "Law Discussion Area" message board on Princeton Review's website ( I think someone ought to be monitoring the board a little more closely. Five of the most recent topics:

"Is my roommate right to be mad at me for listening to Eminem?"
"Closet Homosexuals in Hollywood"
"Do we brief ALL of the cases in our texts?"
"Lawyer unhappiness"
"I squirted my foam all over two chicks!!"

That's quite a mix, isn't it?

And... even more fun with law-related web sites... "The Incoming One-L FAQ" at features answers to common questions about starting law school. Some highlights:

(Note: I don't really mean to pick on this specific web site as being any more ridiculous or less well-intentioned than any other resource. I'm mostly just trying to be funny, and, if there's any point I'm trying to make it's that most well-meaning sources of "advice" are pretty lame and obvious. It's really nothing personal against this site -- and if I was really diligent and really had readers who were depending on me for that type of thing, I'd surely do some research and find a site that was truly ridiculous. But, in a pinch, this one will have to do.)

[3] How can I get ready for Law School?
Are you sitting on the fence in a relationship? This is the time to fall off the fence, either one way or another. Do you have a place to live? Are you planning on getting dental surgery? Take care of these kinds of things *before* school starts.

Thanks, Incoming One-L FAQ. I was going to start law school (a) without a place to live, and (b) needing dental surgery. But now, thanks to that answer, I guess I'll cave in and finally leave the bench I've been living under. And I'll read the fine print of my health insurance (see my August 8th entry for more about health insurance) and see a dentist.

[5] Are study groups a good idea?
This is a very subjective call.


[8] How should I take notes?
Use a pen. *rim shot* Seriously, you got through undergrad, you already know how to take notes.

Is this really worth my time?

[9] Socrates Unplugged
The Paper Chase was a movie. This is the real world. The fact is, that at most top schools, it is considered very bad form among professors to torture students publicly. Some teachers hit students randomly, others call on the same people, looking for someone to parrot their take on things, yet others go in the order of the seating chart in a democratic fashion.

Uh, that's not a question. Gotcha, Incoming One-L FAQ!

[11] Grades
Unless you totally freak out and write gibberish, you'll pass. But is passing enough? It depends where you go to school. It isn't fair, but the facts of life are that if you are at a second-tier school, you are best advised to do particularly well.

Uh, that's not a question either. But I'll let it slide in favor of making fun of the retarded answer. "You are best advised to do particularly well?" Come on, is this helping anyone? From an imaginary testimonial ad for the Incoming One-L FAQ: "Well, I thought I ought to try and fail," thought Johnny Moron of Thomas Cooley Law School and Chinese Buffet, "but then I read the advice in the Incoming One-L FAQ and now I'm a straight-D student. Thanks, Incoming One-L FAQ!"

Friday, August 23, 2002

The worst part about packing to move somewhere: it's always too early to do laundry. If I do my laundry now, by Monday I'll have 3 pairs of socks that are dirty, 3 pairs of boxers, a couple of t-shirts, and maybe a pair of shorts that will all need laundry again. And there's nothing less fun than getting to a new place and already having laundry to do. But if I wait until Sunday, I'll have a hundred other things to do -- like alphabetize my CDs, test my pens to see if they're out of ink, and sort through random piles of paper looking for the ones I'll need to start a new random pile of papers in my dorm room -- and won't want to do laundry. And then I'll end up going up there with no clean clothes. Which is stupid. So I guess I should do laundry now. Or tonight, after I take my socks off. Or now, but take off my socks. And if I go anywhere, not wear socks. Or wear socks with holes in them that I don't want to take with me anyway. See the dilemma??
Anagrams of "Harvard Law School"
(What a waste of time... these really suck.)

Allah, wash VCR odor.
Aloha, hard slow VCR.
Cow lava? Harsh, Lord.
A vocal, harsh world.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Need to start packing. I'm hoping by now (after four years of college and a year and a half of my own apartment) I've figured out what I really do and don't need. I hate the feeling at the end of the year when you start packing things up to take home and realize that you didn't use half of the things you had. In that spirit, here's a list of 15 things my mom would want me to bring with me but I know I won't use them.

Top Fifteen Things My Mom Thinks I'll Need At Harvard But I Really Won't
(can't I come up with a shorter way of saying that?)

15. Paper towel holder
14. Three pairs of identical blue pants
13. Coasters
12. Extra extension cords
11. Pillow sham
10. Soap dish
9. Industrial-size box of dryer sheets (because one is never enough...)
8. Dust ruffle
7. Ugly green shirt I never wear
6. Boots (for the blizzard...)
5. Spare toothbrush
4. Something made of glass that is destined to one day break into tiny pieces
3. Extra vacuum bags to go with the vacuum I'm not taking
2. Industrial-size jar of peanut butter
1. The kitchen sink (yeah, I guess I could do better...)

And, because I can't resist, here's a companion top 10 list for your reading pleasure...

Top Ten Things The Most Competitive Law Student at Harvard Will Bring to School

10. His first-year casebooks, all of which he's already read
9. Bag of banana peels (for strategic placement outside exam rooms)
8. Pens with invisible ink, for generous lending to classmates
7. Master key to the library
6. Box of laxatives, for spiking the punch at law school parties the night before finals
5. Paper shredder
4. Complete set of audio tapes: "First Year of Harvard Law School for Dummies"
3. Those glasses they sell on late-night infomercials that have mirrors in them so you can see behind you
2. Semi-automatic weapon
1. His father's checkbook, and the home addresses of all of his professors

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Got my orientation schedule for next week. Some highlights:

8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Preparation for Registration
9:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Registration

Why would it take an hour to prepare for something that only takes half an hour?

1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Dean's Welcome Lunch, Jarvis Field Tent

Maybe I'm wrong, but whenever I see the word "tent" in the location for "lunch," I get very unexcited. I picture hamburgers. Or little sandwiches on platters. I also picture hot sun, really long lines, and a generally underwhelming experience. But maybe I'm wrong.

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Financial Aid Orientation

"The bank is a quarter of a mile South. You are currently facing West. Here are your compasses."

9:30 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. Library Tour, enter front steps

As opposed to from the roof. I'm finding it hard to imagine there's 45 minutes worth of stuff to see in the library. Unless they're going to have us shelve books, or complete a short research assignment while we're there. I remember a "library orientation" in high school where we had to find things "hidden" in books -- kind of like a scavenger hunt, only without the fun. Like, "use the Dewey Decimal system to find a book about Astrophysics," and "find a New York Times article about the death of President Taft on microfilm." That was so much fun!! And useful!!

10:20 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. Campus Tour, immediately following

Well, first of all, it's not "immediately following." There are five minutes inbetween the two tours. And secondly, I hope the length of the two tours is not commensurate with the amount I'll be spending in each location -- "well, for every hour you spend anywhere on the campus, you'll be spending forty-five minutes in the library." Hmmm.

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. All School Party, Jarvis Field Tent

I don't know if I can stay up that late!! (And the tent again? Come on...)

8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Boat Cruise. Tickets, Pound 330

I have to buy tickets for something? Aren't I paying enough? And I hope "Pound 330" is a room number and not the price of the tickets, because 330 pounds is a lot of money.

Friday, September 27th
7:05 p.m. Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay. Tickets, Pound 330

Yeah, if they're not on strike. Red Sox tickets, I'll pay 330 pounds for, it's fine. But did they have to pick the game against Tampa Bay? Is Tampa Bay even going to show up to play this meaningless late September game all the way up North in Boston? They were mathematically eliminated from the postseason in June, are they even still getting paid? But, honestly, this activity I'm looking forward to. And it's not in a tent!

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Damn. I spoke too soon. See my last line below about American Idol -- "I think Tamyra's a shoo-in to win." Well, she went first tonight and just sang Patti Labelle's "New Attitude," and gave me an entirely "new attitude" about her singing. Eh.
Another "American Idol" episode in just 5 minutes. I'm a little concerned that I'll probably miss the final two shows because of law school. But I guess I can tape them. That sounds kind of pathetic. Taping "American Idol." I wonder if I'll be the only person at Harvard Law School taping "American Idol" on Tuesday night. Gosh.

I'm kind of looking forward to seeing my dorm room. There were a bunch of reasons I chose to live in the dorms, not least of which being that it was less work to sign up for a dorm than to start looking for an apartment. But also there's the location advantage -- a block from classes instead of potentially a subway ride, bus ride, or 20-minute walk -- which in the harsh Boston winters (at least that's my stereotyped image... but I'm sure it'll be no different from New York...) could be pretty unpleasant. And there's the advantage that everyone in the building will also be a law school student, so it should make it easier to make some friends and find people to hang out with. And the ethernet connection onto the Harvard network is a definite plus. And, finally, the cost difference -- including the savings on utilities -- is a nice bonus.

But there are negatives -- the size, and the lack of a kitchen (and a Cambridge ordinance banning any kind of cooking appliances in the rooms -- microwaves, etc) most notably (I sprang for the more expensive dorm -- with my own bathroom and my own thermostat, with air conditioning, so there are some usual negatives about a dorm that I'm avoiding). But today I realized the positive side of no kitchen and no microwave -- my room won't smell like food. See, there's always a silver lining!

And now, it's time to watch "American Idol." I think Tamyra's a shoo-in to win. But I reserve the right to edit this weblog entry to make it look like I chose right no matter what.

Monday, August 19, 2002

A friend of mine who's going to be a 3L somewhere this fall has to write a paper this week for a pre-semester course next week on Professional Responsibility. Lawyer ethics (oxymoron?) and stuff like that. How ironic would it be if someone plagiarized the paper for that course? "Uh... I didn't know I wasn't allowed to copy someone else's work for my paper on ethics...."

I flipped through a book called "Planet Law School" in a bookstore this afternoon. Okay, I did more than just flip through it. I sat down on the floor (Barnes and Noble used to have more chairs... have they finally decided that making it easy and comfortable for people to read the books for free in the store is a bad idea?) and read a few chapters. The author of this one thinks all incoming law students should spend the summer beforehand learning the law and then not buy the casebooks and sporadically go to class. I'm not in any position to cast doubt on whether this method can lead to good grades -- but it sure does seem like a waste of being enrolled in school. Maybe I'll feel differently once I get there, I don't know.

Saw the Jennifer Aniston movie, "The Good Girl" this afternoon. No lawyers in that one. A complete aside -- ever since "American Beauty" came out and was successful, I've noticed a lot of movies about relatively ordinary people living relatively typical lives. And these relatively typical lives are miserable, unfulfilling, and without meaning. Personally, I find this more than a little disturbing and frightening. These movies scare me into thinking that everyone's lives are like that, and I don't know that that's true. I also wonder if the people who live these kinds of lives -- in "The Good Girl," Jennifer Aniston plays a retail clerk in a small town, and I'm sure there are millions of people in roughly the same situation -- go see these movies, and what they think about the "your ordinary life is worthless and meaningless" attitude that is portrayed. I don't know how much sense I'm making... but, regardless, that's just the reaction I had to the movie...

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Should I rent "The Paper Chase" and completely scare myself about law school (now just a week away...)? Nah. Instead, I just watched Albert Brooks' "The Muse" on Comedy Central. His previous film, "Mother," was really funny. So funny, in fact, that when "The Muse" came out a few years ago I drove an hour to the nearest theater it was playing in, just to see it on the day it opened. It's not as funny as "Mother" (but, then again, nothing really is), but tonight when I saw it in the TV Guide, I figured I'd give it a second chance. It's okay. Recommended. But see "Mother" first! And "Defending Your Life," which is good too.

Anyway, the relevant part of this mostly irrelevant weblog entry is that the movie gave me a few more opportunities to identify "Interesting Jobs that Lawyers Have." I'm not sure that this guy was a lawyer, but he seemed like one, and being a Film Development Executive seemed like an interesting job that a lawyer could have.

And, just to make up for the irrelevance of today's entry (or add to it?), a short sketch. Actually, it's more like an idea for a cartoon I would draw if I could draw. Picture this: a law school courtyard filling with people moving out -- big boxes, cars with open trunks, etc. The words underneath:

"Why's everyone moving out?"
"Didn't you hear? The U.S. News rankings came out. We slipped three spots."

Huge laughter. Maybe? I hope?

Maybe I need "The Muse."

Saturday, August 17, 2002

I've been following the discussions on a message board for incoming Harvard Law students at a website called Many of the posts have actually been pretty helpful -- about which cell phone providers have the best service, how first-year recruiting works, what banks have branches near campus, whether it's useful to be part of a study group -- but some posts have been simply inane. I feel bad for saying that, because I'm sure the people who posted had legitimate questions and just didn't realize exactly what they were asking... but I can't resist sharing some of the highlights. They're all taken verbatim from the website (except I've corrected some typos).

"A tiny matter, I know, but I'd love a response: I'm trying to budget for food and such, and I was wondering if the tap water in the dorms is potable." (The reply, which was funnier than the question: "Have you ever been to Cambridge before? I'll assume not. You should rest assured though that the Law School is not located in a place akin to Cambodia. Cambridge is a fully function city where they do have tap water that meets various health regulations.")

"With the passing of baseball legend Ted Williams over the weekend, I've (for some reason) heard a lot about the tunnel in Boston named after him. Is this something that connects the Cambridge area at all?" (I love the preface... "with the passing of...")

"I'm going to be in [the dorms] next year, and I wonder what the kitchens are like. Are some pots and pans available, or do we need to bring all those? Any common ingredients available?" (Uh, do you really want to use someone's else's pots and pans? And I know by common ingredients she probably meant salt and sugar and stuff, but on first read it sounds a little messed up, doesn't it?)

"I know there are common bathrooms in the [dorms], but there are separate shower stalls (with a door/curtain), right?" (Come on...!)

"I'm from Texas, so we're not used to much cold weather here. Are there any special items/clothes that I need to buy to handle the cold weather?"

And, finally... (and I swear I am not making this up -- check the website!)

"I was just wondering about how we go to the bathroom at HLS. Do you just walk out of class, or must you raise your hand and ask permission from the Professor? My old high school made us raise our hands, and then get a bathroom pass from the Professor. I figured HLS would do something like this, makes sense. But I might be embarrassed y'know? :) Does anyone know how to get fake bathroom hall passes so we can just leave class without making the hand-raising scene?"

Friday, August 16, 2002

Was looking at my class schedule. Noticed that all three of my fall semester classes -- Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Law -- begin with the letter "C." Hopefully my grades won't too. :)
There's an article on today called Letters to a Young Law Student, with advice for incoming law students (like me!). Basically it's three tips for law school mental health: (1) Know why you are going, (2) Know why you are not going, and (3) Have a life. Not really much to argue with there. (Except that advice like that gets its own article... although it is just Slate, not the New York Times magazine...)

The author, a lawyer (obviously), warns against getting swept into the law school tide and pushed into doing things just because everyone else is -- and by "things," she means ending up at a corporate law firm. You know, if there's one theme that ties together everything I've heard and read about law school it's that (1) corporate law firms are evil, horrible places and (2) everyone ends up working for them. I understand they offer a lot of money, and I understand they look nice on a resume, but what I don't understand is what turns the tide -- apparently (all I have to go on is what I've heard and read -- so this is probably a gross overstatement of the truth) virtually everyone goes into law school committed to never working for a corporate law firm, finding his or her own passion, not selling out, doing good for the world, etc. And then at some point in the course of law school, they all somehow get brainwashed by the corporate recruiters and end up working for Long, Boring, and Hard, attorneys at law.

So my question is "how does this happen?" And it's not even that I'm personally so dead set against working for a corporate firm -- I feel stupid admitting it, but I don't really have any idea what lawyers at a firm actually do, so I certainly don't feel informed enough to know what I want to do after graduation -- but I'm just curious what happens at law school to change everyone's mind, or at least make the idea of "selling out" palatable and acceptable to people who were dead-set against it beforehand.

I think that's enough rambling for tonight. Hopefully in a few months I'll have a better idea why corporate law is so evil yet popular and I can edit this entry to make believe I had it all figured out even before I started.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

I went to the Mets game this afternoon, figuring that I ought to do as many "outside things" as I can before all the indoor stuff -- classes, studying, crying -- begins. Disregarding how horrible the Mets are -- and they really are terrible -- what's really interesting are the advertisements all over the outfield wall and the between-innings scoreboard filler. One of the Mets' biggest sponsors appears to be Acela -- you know, the high-speed trains that have been taken out of service due to safety issues. There's a sign on the bleachers behind the outfield wall -- "hit this sign and win a free ticket on Acela." Like that's an incentive now. (And, besides, how many ballplayers take the train -- and if they did, can't they afford to buy their own tickets? I mean, if they can't, is there even any hope for the rest of us?)

But funnier still was the between-innings promo sponsored by Acela -- a mock movie trailer for the Mets, with the Acela logo all over it, with printed quotes like -- "high speed action at every turn," "unending excitement," and "a thrill ride like no other." Meant to apply to the Mets games, I know -- if you watched the game you know it didn't -- but quite a scary proposition when applied to Acela. "High speed action at every turn?" On a train? No thanks. "A thrill ride like no other?" I think I'd rather walk.

Of course, the worst offender is the ad right next to the one for Acela. "Off-Track Betting." Now that's not really the kind of thing I want to think about when I think about taking the train....

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Just a few minutes ago, in the weblog entry below, I introduced chapter one of the "Interesting Jobs that Lawyers Have" series (see below for more). And then it crossed my mind that such a discussion would be incomplete without an associated "Terribly Horrible Jobs that Lawyers Have" companion series. And so I present chapter one of the "Terribly Horrible Jobs..." series, from an episode of Dateline NBC I saw a few weeks ago.

On the episode of Dateline I saw, the correspondent was interviewing the lawyer for a church in Camden, New Jersey, where the priests were being accused of sexually molesting teenage boys in the 1970s. The lawyer was fighting to have the lawsuits against the church thrown out because the time since the alleged incidents occurred exceeded the statute of limitations. This, I submit, is the perfect example of a "Terribly Horrible Job that Lawyers Have."
From's article this afternoon on the ongoing major league baseball negotiations: "Rob Manfred, the owners' top labor lawyer, has repeatedly expressed optimism, but even he admitted little headway was made at the bargaining table Wednesday."

Some people see nothing extraordinary about that sentence, and, admittedly, a few weeks ago I probably wouldn't have either. But that's before it sunk in that I'm really going to law school, and I started wondering whether I really want to be a lawyer. Maybe a little late for that question. But, nevertheless, I've started to keep my eye open for "Interesting Jobs that Lawyers Have." (I've put that in quotes and capital letters because I'm thinking that I'll come back to that theme in future weblog entries, and this way I can avoid a lengthy introduction like I'm writing now... so we can just call this entry chapter one in the "Interesting Jobs that Lawyers Have" series.)

So when I was reading the ESPN article, I didn't think about the potential baseball strike, or wonder if negotiations would go better tomorrow, or click on the fancy pop-up ad for on the top of the ESPN webpage. Instead, I noticed that Rob Manfred, "the owners' top labor lawyer," probably has a pretty interesting job. And he's a lawyer. So there is at least one interesting job that lawyers have.

That makes the score Lawyers 1, Investment Bankers 0. Hopefully I'll find more "Interesting Jobs that Lawyers Have" before my three years of law school are up. Hopefully.
To get back on track with the law school theme... here's a short comedy sketch based on a horrible nightmare I had last night. It's called: "First Day of Law School."

First Day of Law School

Lights up on a classroom. Lots of students who look really smart. They all wear glasses. Two pairs. One on their eyes and one on their foreheads. That wasn't really part of the nightmare. But it sounds funny now so I'll run with it. A teacher -- oops, I guess I mean professor -- stands at the front of the classroom. He's wearing three pairs of glasses. No, make it four!

And that, my friends, is the meaning of life. Any questions?

An overeager student -- let's call her "Target Practice" -- "Betsy Target-Practice" -- shouts out a question.

Will that be on the final exam?

Yes, Ms...

He checks his seating chart.

PROFESSOR (cont'd)
...Target-Practice. That will be on the final exam. Which is right now.

The professor hands out the final exams. Spotlight on me. I don't have a pen.

Uh oh.

I frantically search for a pen. In my knapsack. In my pocket. In my sleeve. But I'm out of luck. And then, a brainstorm. I grab a pen from the pocket protector of my neighbor. Because smart people who wear two pairs of glasses always have pocket protectors, and always carry extra pens.


I take a copy of the exam. I begin to write. But the pen is out of ink. Once again, I am frantic. But I get an idea. I take the point of the pen and stab myself in the arm, letting out a small trickle of blood. I have the blood drip into the ink-holding compartment of the pen, where it begins to collect. I am home free.

What a relief.

I open the test booklet and read the instructions. In big bold letters it reads, "No Red ink. Black or Blue ink only." I think to myself -- "Many of my classmates come from extraordinarily wealthy families. You might say they are... blue-blooded."


And as I reach over towards the boy sitting next to Betsy Target-Practice -- we can call him Jimmy Donated-Library -- and get my hand into the pen-stabbing position, I wake up. And realize it's only a dream. And resolve to watch more TV and stop reading about law school and the horrors of the Socratic Method. Because I am poisoning my subconscious. And I'm sure Wanda Legacy-Admission would agree.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Continuing the TV theme (see comments on NBC's "Meet My Folks" below), tonight I watched what has become my only summer TV habit, FOX's "American Idol." Around the beginning of June, I told myself I wasn't going to watch any TV all summer, except for a couple of Mets games here and there. That lasted about two months actually, with only a few rare exceptions.

But then a few weeks ago I discovered "American Idol" and the joy of hoping that a bunch of reasonably talented singers can screw up on live TV. In case you live in a cave, here's how it works -- they held auditions for people who can sing, and chose a bunch of them to be on the show. Each week they each sing a song that fits the week's theme (for example, "Songs of the '70s," "Songs of the '60s," or "Songs that weren't any good when they came out, and certainly aren't any better now"), the "celebrity" judges -- Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson (a record producer; is he Michael's brother? Or are they just pretending he's famous for the show?), and a British guy who is really pretty funny (by funny I mean that he insults the contestants and tries to make them cry) -- give their opinions, and then the American public (or at least the three or four teenage girls who are really into this show) votes by phone for their favorite, and the one with the least number of votes gets kicked off for next week.

They're down to 5 contestants. Tonight's theme was "Burt Bacharach songs." And, yes, that was as exciting as it sounds. Burt Bacharach himself, in one of the many segments of filler necessary to turn 5 songs into an hour of television, helped the contestants choose their songs. Then he apparently lost his ability to hear. This was not the right genre of music for 18-24 year old aspiring pop singers. Burt Bacharach songs are musically pretty complicated, it seems to me, and don't really have the melodic hooks that make them fun to listen to even when they're being butchered. So the show was, well, boring at its best. And in the case of one contestant, actually painful. My ears began to bleed as the notes got flatter and flatter until it was like she was singing the national anthem at a little league baseball game.

But that was the best part of the show. Because, just like it's secretly fun when the stock market falls a thousand points, it's kind of entertaining to watch someone mess up on live television.
I know this has nothing to do with law school, but... I was watching the new NBC reality show, "Meet My Folks." The premise is that there's a girl and her parents, and three guys each want to "win" a week-long vacation to Hawaii with the girl. And the parents get to pick the guy. Over the course of a weekend, throughout which, dirty secrets about the three guys are revealed (like, "Tom cheated on his SATs," or "Jason enjoys videotaping himself being intimate with his dates, without them knowing," or "Bill's a child molester.") Aside from the fact that the show is having parents push their daughters into the arms of a sleazy guy they hardly know for a week in Hawaii, it all seems like pretty harmless fun. But they're ignoring the real ratings winner hidden within. I think it would be much more fun to reverse it. Single parent, and the kids pick the date from a bunch of hopefuls. We reveal dirty secrets about these middle-aged divorced guys -- after all, much more entertaining than "oh, those wacky kids," would be "oh, those sick, sick adults." Picture it. Janet, 40 years old, 300 pounds, who hasn't had a date in twelve years -- and the choices are equally appealing -- with the winner chosen by her children, ages 5, 6, and 9. Well, I'd watch it. (Of course, I'm watching it anyway...)

Monday, August 12, 2002

As I continue my pre-law-school reading (see comments on "One L" and "Broken Contract" below)... I just finished "Law School Confidential," which bills itself "a complete guide to the law school experience." I'm a little disturbed that it talks about how doing some studying before law school starts -- taking a course or buying some law-related tutoring software -- can be helpful. Because with two weeks left, I'm just about out of time, and I don't know the difference between collateral estoppel and concilium plebis.

(I did buy a dictionary, and those are in fact two terms I have randomly selected to use because they sound complicated and have lots of syllables. And, even though I opened the dictionary to find them, I did not look at the definitions, so it is not an exaggeration in the least for me to say I do not know the difference between them.)
Trying to solve the mystery of why beds in student housing always seem to have extra-long mattresses. Is seeking education beyond high school correlated with height? I just don't understand.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Top Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear the Professor Say on the First Day of Law School

10. This class will be conducted entirely in German.
9. I gather you've all already read the entire textbook.
8. Has anyone seen my pants?
7. I only give D's.
6. I've just been diagnosed with a rare and extremely contagious fatal disease.
5. Welcome to Criminal Law. You're all under arrest.
4. Security, please lock the doors from the outside.
3. I am the devil.
2. For homework, please memorize the first chapter of your casebook.
1. Clear your desks and take out a pen. I am passing around the final exam. You have 3 hours.
Top Ten Things It's Not A Good Idea to Do Two Weeks Before Starting Law School

10. Develop allergy to paper.
9. Start medical school.
8. Get arrested.
7. Fall down a well.
6. Contract an incurable disease.
5. Sign up for the Peace Corps.
4. Become addicted to sleeping pills.
3. Re-take the LSAT.
2. Forget how to read.
1. Stop payment on tuition check.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Okay, it's officially sinking in that I have two weeks until law school. Not that I don't want to go, but new things are always scary. I decided to comparison shop for my textbooks on the Internet, quickly finding that (a) they're all expensive, (b) regardless what site you buy them from. So I think I'll wait and try my luck with used books in the Harvard bookstore. By my rough calculation, retail price of the books for my 4 classes should be about $700. But how can someone feel guilty about buying textbooks -- again, after what tuition costs, everything is cheap, and besides, you have to buy textbooks, there are no options here, it's a necessary cost... but if I can save $10 by buying something used, I'll at least feel like I'm allowed to go see a movie.
Another book review -- Scott Turow's "One L." Well, it's not as scary as people say it is. An e-mail from my soon-to-be "resident assistant" in the law school dorms warns us not to read it if we haven't already. But it's really not that bad -- and certainly not worth the effort people seem to make to assure incoming students it's untrue and exaggerated. I admit, clearly Scott Turow got way too wrapped up in grades and classes and studying and competition. So when looked at under the lens of "this is how he perceived it," the facts he presents don't seem that unrealistic -- there's a lot of reading, you'll probably get called on in class, it's a bad idea to be unprepared for stuff, tests are long, and some people study way too hard. He admits after the first set of exams that all of his extra diligence didn't really affect how much he was able to master the material and how well he did on the tests. Didn't he learn any lessons in college? You can always study too much -- and there will always be people who do. And the "scary professor" he talks about -- only calls on people once in the semester. Once you're called on for one day, you're safe. Uh, okay, so what's the big deal?

Friday, August 09, 2002

A quick comment on the book list I received in the mail along with my class schedule yesterday -- could they maybe give the textbooks more interesting names? Even if just to fool us? My contracts book is called "Contracts Cases and Doctrine." My Criminal Law book is called "Cases and Materials on Criminal Law." And most stimulating, my Civil Procedure book is called "Civil Procedure." I mean, I'm sure they're fine textbooks, and I have no illusion that the reading is going to be like a Dave Barry column. But if that Civil Procedure book was instead named, "The Crazy World of Civil Procedure," or "Civil Procedure for Debt-laden Law Students," or "Civil War -- I mean Procedure," maybe, just maybe, I'd look forward to buying the book. At least until I looked at the price tag. (No idea as of now what these books cost. But compared to tuition, the books -- heck, anything! -- is cheap.)
Today I finished reading "Broken Contract," by Richard Kahlenberg, one of two "famous" memoirs of life as a law student at Harvard (Scott Turow's "One L" being the other one -- and next on my reading list). Interesting -- basically asking the question "how can someone balance being a liberal with being a lawyer?" Spends a lot of time talking about the recruiting process -- the pressure to go to a big corporate law firm. And how easy it is to make that choice, as opposed to going into public service or anything else. Not just because of the salaries, but because they're there, on campus, wooing people, while the other jobs don't need to do that.

Just like college -- the investment banks and consulting firms have to come to campus and recruit, and they have to offer tremendous salaries, because without that, no one will take the jobs. The good jobs -- not financially, but in terms of quality of life, fulfillment, etc -- don't need to pay huge salaries, and certainly don't need to come to campus to recruit, because people will seek them out and those jobs will be filled regardless. Thinking about it that way kind of illustrates, at least for me, how bad some of these investment banking and similar jobs must be, considering all they need to do. People are lining up to find entry-level administrative assistant jobs in advertising for $18,000 a year, without ad agencies needing to recruit like mad, but McKinsey has to wine and dine students on campuses across the country -- using significant time and money for the recruiting process -- and still as to pay people $75,000 a year to start.

Do I have any idea if I will end up at a corporate law firm? No, not now. The idea doesn't sound that thrilling, but I can't say I look around and see lots of my friends with jobs I envy. Sure, there are awesome jobs out there (and of course my list of what's awesome is sure to be different from most other people's) -- writing for Saturday Night Live, being a working songwriter, writing speeches for politicians would be cool -- but what's the easy path to get there? Scary thought is just like law school serves as a fine way to postpone finding the "path to adult career-hood" for three more years, I could certainly envision graduating and feeling like spending a few years at a big law firm would serve the same function -- and then where does it end? If everything's a fine way to postpone actually having to seek out what will truly bring fulfillment, you never quite get there.

That's a little too deep for the fourth entry in a weblog, I know. To my loyal audience of one (hi, mom!), I promise something lighter tomorrow.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

I received my course schedule in the mail today. I open it up and the first thing I notice -- two of my professors are "E. Warren" and "R. Kennedy." Earl and Robert? No. It's Elizabeth and Randall. But still! Maybe you really do need a famous name in order to teach at Harvard Law School.
I got a whole packet of information the other day about the law school insurance plan. Classes, they send me nothing. But health insurance, I get a carton full of stuff. Not so busy today, so I read what they sent. A few observations:

Because it's not a dental plan, injuries to teeth are only covered when not due to a "biting or chewing" incident. So if I fall on my head and break a tooth, great, I'm covered. But if I bite into a rock, no such luck.

Ambulance rides are only covered for certain "participating ambulance services." Because when you need an ambulance, of course you're always going to be the one calling.

(I suppose one of those "medic alert" bracelets would come in handy in a case like this -- "If I am injured and require an ambulance, please use one of the following companies: Hospital Express, Bleed-n-Go Ambulance Service, Hit-n-Run Emergency, Bob's "Stretch"-er Limousines, or No Frills Emergency Room Wheelbarrows, Inc. Do not under any circumstances allow me to be placed in a Roger's Ambulance and Dog Catcher vehicle -- it is not covered by my insurance.)

Not covered: voluntary sterilization, tattoo removal, and "repetitive procedures (such as injection of varicose veins or hemorrhoids)."

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

The plan excludes coverage for "treatment for obesity... except as required by applicable law." Hmmm. I guess I'll learn about those laws in my "Obesity Law" class.
Hi. Welcome to my Weblog. In a few weeks, I'll be a first-year law student at Harvard Law. And this is just a place for me to record my thoughts and observations related (or unrelated) to law school. E-mail me if you stumble across this and think it's funny.