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.

Monday, March 31, 2003

A few phony Harvard Law School news briefs, in honor of April Fools Day tomorrow:

Saddam Hussein named new Law School dean

Harvard University president Larry Summers announced this week that Saddam Hussein has been named the next dean of Harvard Law School. Mr. Hussein, who has a wealth of executive experience, will begin his term in the fall. Summers said, “we feel fortunate that Saddam was looking for a change, and that the timing of our opening with his ‘early retirement’ was perfect. I look forward to working with Saddam on critical issues facing the law school, and feel he will be a tremendous asset as we explore the possibility of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, and taking over Lesley College by force.” It is rumored that Mr. Hussein just barely beat out Professor [name withheld to protect the guilty] in a faculty vote. One faculty member who wished to remain anonymous said, “we just felt Professor [name withheld] was a bit too dictatorial, and thought we would be better off with someone with a bit more warmth.” Mr. Hussein released a statement expressing his honor and delight at being selected for the position, promising to bring himself up to speed on all matters concerning the law school “just as soon as the current project I’m involved in finishes up.”

Reflection Room disaster: coffee cold, cookies stale

Students held a rally outside the Harkness Commons Monday afternoon, not in protest over the war in Iraq, but in protest over the conditions of “the Reflection Room,” set up as a place where students could seek refuge from the turmoil in the Persian Gulf. Over thirty Reflection Room regulars carried signs, including “no more cold coffee,” “can’t you afford fresh donuts?” and “eating these horrible cookies is worse than flying in military helicopter and being attacked by missiles.” Upstairs in the Hark, the sounds of the protestors could be heard by the few students bold enough to venture into the Reflection Room regardless of the quality of the free refreshments. Said one 2L, “I think the cookies are just fine. I especially like the little gingerbread men. Although the ones whose heads are missing are a bit frightening, and only serve to remind me of the world situation. Excuse me while I cry myself to sleep.” Dean Clark expressed disappointment that students would react negatively to the free coffee and donuts, meant entirely “as a goodwill gesture to the law school community.” Dean Clark explained: “I had the idea to give out free cookies, donuts and coffee, but just needed a reason. Then I called up my good friend President Bush and he agreed to start a war for us, just so I could put my plan into action.”

Harvard endowment grows 36%; “slow economy” blamed

Harvard University’s 2003 tax return, released publicly this week, indicates that the endowment grew by 36% this past year to a total of “28 and a whole bunch of zeroes.” The lackluster return is blamed on the slow economy. The office of financial planning released a statement apologizing for the situation, and promising a return to the usual triple-digit growth in the coming year. Said a representative, “I understand that people will be disappointed that we were only able to beat every single mutual fund, bond, and international currency investment by approximately 40% in this year of troubled economic times. But I can assure you that there will be accountability for this disaster and the coming year will involve a greater-than-usual amount of strategic investment, fundraising, and currency printing in the basement of Langdell Library.”

Students use break to make a difference

Last week, Harvard Law School students traveled around the world to help the economies of a number of countries over spring break, including Jamaica, Cancun, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Staying in some of the nicest resorts in the world, accompanied in some cases by MTV Spring Break camera crews, these students sacrificed their week off from school to help grow the economies of these struggling nations, going out of their way to buy copious amounts of liquor, eat gourmet food, and sleep until noon.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

A very long law review article about the low quality of life and general unhappiness that lawyers experience, due to long hours, lure of money, lack of ethics, big firm culture. I admit I haven't read the article carefully yet (it's 81 pages long). But I will, and I'll report on the highlights. But in the meantime I thought I'd point it out for anyone interested.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Spring break's almost over. I head back to school tomorrow. It's too bad the real world doesn't get spring break too.

Friday, March 28, 2003

If you're a baseball fan, you'll want to read this NY Times Magazine article about Oakland A's GM Billy Beane. Great article. And, even more remarkably, yet again the NY Times Magazine has an awesome article. Every week, without fail, there's one great, great article. Whoever's editing the NY Times Magazine must be super-cool. Every week, something I want to read. I'm consistently impressed.
50 Productive Things I Didn’t Do Over Spring Break

1. Get a week ahead in the reading for all my classes
2. Get a day ahead in the reading for all my classes
3. Catch up on the reading for all my classes
4. Finally buy the casebooks for all my classes
5. Outline moot court oral argument
6. Practice moot court oral argument in front of a mirror
7. Take Bar-Bri “moot court oral argument” class
8. Turn my class notes into awesome outlines
9. Turn my class notes into serviceable outlines
10. Look at my class notes
11. Finally get around to buying winter coat
12. Fill out financial aid forms
13. File for personal bankruptcy
14. Beg bank to give me back repossessed textbooks
15. Participate in the bustling “Dining Hall ID Card Cash-for-crack” street trade in Harvard Square
16. Comb through the course catalog planning my choices for next year
17. Comb my hair
18. Look through some old exams for my courses, to get an idea about what’s to come
19. Find some old outlines for my classes and compare them to my class notes to see if I have any major gaps
20. Learn computer programming and fix the online outline bank so it actually works every time you’re looking for an outline and not just on Wednesdays from 3 until 6 in the morning
21. Read stack of law firm brochures I’ve been saving
22. Throw out stack of law firm brochures I’ve been saving
23. Donate stack of law firm brochures I’ve been saving to less fortunate law students at lower-ranked law schools
24. Listen to archived audiotaped classes on intranet
25. Clean out e-mail inbox
26. Go through all of my old highlighters and throw out the ones that no longer have any ink in them
27. Discover whatever the Glannon’s equivalent for Torts and Property are
28. Read whatever the Glannon’s equivalent for Torts and Property are
29. Memorize whatever the Glannon’s equivalent for Torts and Property are
30. Sell back fall semester casebooks
31. Use money from selling back fall semester casebooks to buy brand new postage stamp
32. Catch up on videotaped American Idol episodes that I’ve missed
33. Three words: Lexis training session
34. Write my third-year paper
35. Finally change my sheets
36. RSVP to upcoming firm reception events I ought to attend just for the free food
37. Prepare for the 2004 summer clerkship interviewing season
38. Have my one hour of substance abuse training required by the Ohio Bar (they really do require this!)
39. Buy some new socks that aren’t falling apart
40. Develop algorithm to effectively choose numbers for the upcoming Clinical Course Lottery (…oh, you mean it’s not that kind of lottery?)
41. Vacuum floor in preparation for hosting an international student next year (there was an advertisement saying they needed hosts...)
42. Find a summer sublet
43. Log onto Lexis and Westlaw every day just to collect points
44. Floss twice daily
45. Get head start on bar review with Bar-Bri’s “Spring Break Watching Videotapes of Law Professors Talking About Law,” now just $1,999, but going up by a dollar a minute until graduation.
46. Learn how to program VCR
47. Learn how to make DVDs play on my computer
48. Learn how to rig the window shades in classrooms so that I can control their movement by pressing buttons on my laptop, thoroughly confounding the professor and keeping myself awake in class
49. Learn property and torts
50. Sleep twelve hours a night (…oh wait, I did that…)
Off-topic: just came across something pretty interesting on the web, criticizing the accuracy of Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" and saying it distorted reality for the sake of making a compelling movie. My politics are probably closer to Moore than the author of this piece regarding guns and gun control (though perhaps not in general), so I'm not linking to this to say "ooh, look, Michael Moore's wrong." I just thought it was a really interesting and detailed discussion -- whether it's accurate or just some guy looking to attack, I don't know. (caveat: if you didn't see "Bowling for Columbine," odds are you won't find this link particularly interesting...)

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Third song of the day... productive evening... to the tune of Journey's "Open Arms"

"Open Book"

Sitting beside me, here on the desk,
Knowing you have what I need
Turn to the index, find where you are,
This is the case I should read
Since back in September, we've drifted apart,
But here you are by my side

So now I come to you, it's open book,
I need your words, to know what you say
So here I am, it's open book
Won't you reveal if they won their appeal
Open book

Weeknights without you, watching TV,
Leaving you there on the floor
Hating to read you, wanting you gone
But this day's what you were bought for

And now that I've got you
The answers are clear
I need you right here

So now I come to you, it's open book,
Show law to me, so I get my degree
Oh here I am, it's open book
Keep me in school, with the right legal rule
Open book
To the tune of "A Whole New World," a fantasy about a professor actually changing someone's grade after the exam!

"A Whole New Grade"

I can look at your test
This time actually read it
Random grades, I concede it
Makes my winter break a breeze

Did the questions make sense?
I didn't actually write them
Stolen from a website, them
Cut and pasted them with ease

A whole new grade
I've never seen this done before
Actually turn the page
And try to gauge
The value of the answer

A whole new grade
That students care, I never knew
But since you seem concerned
And law you've learned
I think I've got a whole new grade for you

Wow, this answer's not bad
Maybe if I had read it
Gave you good grade instead - it
Seems to spot the issues well

A whole new grade
I'm gonna help your GPA
You'll graduate cum laude
The system's flawed
Perhaps you'll clerk at where I used to be

A whole new grade
You've new horizons to pursue
Job offer anywhere
A millionaire
Make partner with this whole new grade for you

A whole new grade
Erase that C
If there's a way
You'll have an A
[and just to complete the fantasy] ...and law school's free!
To the tune of Bryan White's "Someone Else's Star"

"Someone Else's Notes"

I'm in my room today, I did not go to class
I had not done the reading, and I went to sleep too late
Oh, I tried hard as I could, but I couldn't get out of bed
So instead of solitaire in class, I play it in my room instead.

I guess I will be borrowing
Someone else's notes
I hope there's someone who showed up
And did not fall asleep
Why can't I be as lucky as those with no class till noon
So I'm left to beg for mercy
And someone else's notes

You'd think that I could find a class I'd want to go
A teacher who's dynamic so the class won't seem so slow
If that's too much to wish, perhaps there could be
A teacher using lecture notes that are on the Web for free

I guess I will be borrowing
Someone else's notes
I hope there's someone who showed up
And did not fall asleep
Why can't I be as lucky as those with no class till noon
So I'm left to beg for mercy
And someone else's notes

I sit here in my room, and watch a DVD
I could do that in class like lots of laptop screens I see
But when I sit in class, the options ain't the same
Sure I could play solitaire, but there's no sound on the game

I guess I will be borrowing
Someone else's notes
I hope there's someone who showed up
And wrote down all the quotes
Why can't I be as lucky as those with no class at all
So I'm left to beg for mercy
And someone else's notes

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Baseball season starts in just a few days. I'm in five fantasy baseball leagues. I'm addicted. I'm in two fantasy basketball leagues that are in the playoffs now -- I'm in 2nd of 8 in one, and 5th of 12 in the other. And I know nothing about basketball. An advantage, perhaps, because all I go by are the numbers -- no prejudices for or against certain players, no idea how to project future performance on anything but past stats. No idea that Caron Butler's first name isn't pronounced like "Karen" and Corey Maggette's last name not like the worm ("Maggot"). No idea what a block is, just that not too many players get them, and the ones who do are mostly Cs. Which I think means Center, but if you told me that Centers actually stand on the Right (and Forwards stand in the Back), I'd believe you. I know that GFs are especially valuable for their positional flexibility, and 15 rebounds is a good day. I know that Dirk Nowitski is awfully good, but I don't know what team he plays for and if they're any good. I know Tony Delk gets lots of 3-pointers, but I don't know a single other thing about him. I know Michael Olowokandi has been injured for a while, but I don't know what his injury is, who replaced him, or whether his team is suffering because of it. I just know he's good at getting blocks. Because he's a C. (Baseball I know much better. So my 5 fantasy teams actually have a lot of the same people, because there's a set of players I just seem to value more than other people do, or about whom I have a hunch they'll do well. Braden Looper, Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Sweeney, Kris Benson, Austin Kearns, Dave Roberts, Jeremy Giambi, Erubiel Durazo, Edgar Renteria, Jake Peavy, Oliver Perez, Randy Wolf, Josh Phelps, Woody Williams, Scott Williamson, Carlos Lee, and Tim Hudson seem to be my most common picks, all on at least 2 in some cases 4 of my 5 teams....)

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

A quick riff on the "public interest auction" that Harvard's got -- every year, they have a big auction, and the proceeds go towards giving students summer funding if we take summer jobs that don't pay anything, or don't pay much. I think it's like $3600 for the summer, so it's really quite a generous stipend -- although considering it's really just a small rebate on tuition more than it is actual free money, it's not really that generous. Plus the thought that they need the money from an auction to afford to give people this summer funding when they have an endowment as big as the war cost is a little silly. But anyway. They solicit donations from firms, businesses, alumni, faculty and students for the auction -- and get a few hundred items, actually. My volunteer task -- everyone who wants funding needs to "volunteer" to work 6 hours for one of the auction committees -- has been to copyedit some of the item descriptions, so I've had a chance to read them all. A couple of faculty members are auctioning off dinner at their houses -- but I imagine it would feel awfully weird to win, and then go have dinner with the professor, and know that you're only there because you bid the most money. I wouldn't want to force a faculty member (or anyone, really) to have dinner with me just because I bid for it. It just sounds disturbing to me -- spending money for access to people, even if the money goes to a good place. One professor is auctioning having him go up to your parents at graduation and tell them you were the best student he's ever had. That feels a little wrong to me. Even though I guess it's all in fun, sort of. But it's only a small step from that to auctioning off good grades. "We'll start the bidding at $1000 for an A-minus...." And obviously that's not going to happen... but still, once we get on the slope... it bothers me a little. Lots of students donated food -- baked goods, lasagna, etc. Everyone's descriptions made these things sound probably much better than they really are: "world's best meat loaf," "the law school's tastiest brownies," "the best strawberry shortcake you'll ever taste." I guess they're relying on the fact that in contracts class we learned that people can't be held liable for statements made that are obviously opinion and no one would take to be fact. I wonder how much these things end up selling for -- on the one hand, it would be insulting to donate a cake and have it sell for a quarter... but is it really worth very much money to have someone's homemade lasagna... maybe a dollar? What do you do with a whole cake, or a whole meat loaf anyway... it'll go bad before it's finished... and if you start giving pieces away then what's the point of having spent the money. I guess it's the good cause stuff again.... Some people donated babysitting time -- one person wrote "World's best babysitter. Kids love me!" That's not very modest. At least it's not "I love kids! Literally!" That was Michael Jackson's donation. Bid for him to love your kids. Gross, I know. Sorry. Lots of people donated rides to the airport. "Ride in a stylish 1984 Honda Civic. It's even got an AM radio! And you can pick the station!" Alumni donated books they'd written -- Senator Jeffords donated autographed copies. "To Bob. You spent way more than cover price for this book. Stupid. Best wishes, Jim Jeffords." Restaurants donated gift certificates. Law firms donated trips. BarBri donated discount coupons for its courses -- which is kind of self-serving.

Actually, that reminds me of something else. Yesterday, someone was telling me that most of the bar review courses are actually done on videotape. You take the course the summer after you graduate, before you take the bar, and it meets every day for 6 weeks, for 4 hours a day. And costs like $2500 (although if you're working for a firm, usually they pay). And apparently there's no teacher -- they just set up a TV in the room and you watch a video lecture and take notes. I'm not kidding. Hearing this -- and I'm just going on one person telling me, I haven't verified it anywhere -- boggles my mind. $2500 for a videotape series? And being forced to "go to class" to watch a video? Some of them are 8am-1pm every day -- why would I wake up early in the morning and trudge to a classroom for 5 hours to watch a video? For $2500???? If this is how it's done, there had better be a book instead. Books are faster than hearing a lecture, and easier to deal with than a videotape. Plus, you can study it when you want. And it wouldn't cost $2500! And if there isn't a quality book alternative to the videotape series, I think I ought to write one, charge $500 -- it's an 80% savings, not even including any value you might put on your time -- and make my fortune that way. Surely there's got to be a market for it. I can't fathom that people really stand for paying $2500 to take 6 weeks of a class-on-tape. I still can't believe my friend wasn't kidding when he told me about this.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Today on Attorneys Suck, a weblog by a frustrated attorney I've become mildly addicted to, the author sums up his accomplishments for the day. It's funny. And sad. But more funny than sad. Maybe. I had some similar days before law school, when I was working. At least at school I know I'm building towards a degree -- so days when nothing worthwhile gets accomplished are okay, because I know I'm still there for a reason. The frustrating thing about days in the real world when nothing gets accomplished are that it makes you start to wonder what you're doing, and why you're spending 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 hours a day in an office doing nothing, and what the meaning of life is. I'm on spring break this week, and have been having meals with a bunch of friends the last few days. Nobody I know seems genuinely at ease with his or her situation -- friends in the real world want to go back to school; friends in school want to go be in the real world. It's as if too much of either one is no good.

This actually leads very nicely into some thoughts I've been meaning to try and articulate into a reasonably-coherent paragraph for the last few weeks. So I guess I'll give it a shot and see how it comes out. A little spring break introspection... "Why I Like Law School."

"Why I Like Law School" -- reflections and incoherent ramblings after a semester and a half that hopefully have some relevance for anyone reading this who's not sure if law school's the right next step for him or her.

First of all, law school is school. It's not nearly as different from undergrad as I thought it would be. The lifestyle is the same, pretty much. Classes, homework, extracurriculars. Lots of other students, lots of social stuff to do, flexible schedules, bad cafeteria food, exams. It's school. If you liked undergrad, you'll like law school. Workload hasn't been tremendously different. More reading, less writing. Manageable. If you survived undergrad, you can hack it at law school. Classes aren't as boring as I feared. Good professors are good, no matter what they're teaching. Less good professors are less good. But everyone's had less good professors before. It's not that big a deal. The hardest things about the real world were (1) having to plan my life -- knowing that if I didn't make a special effort to do things, I would get into a rut of work, eat, sleep, repeat and would be lonely, bored, and unfulfilled. Not a problem at school. Usually people around, and even if not, activities are all set up for student enjoyment. Searching unnecessary. Easy to join things and get involved. Lonely, bored, and unfulfilled hasn't been a problem yet. Thankfully. (2) pointlessness. At work, I'd ask myself why I was there, what the point was, what this was building towards. At school these questions have easy answers. I get a degree at the end. No matter how useless the day-to-day could possibly feel, the degree is still something tangible that's being worked towards. No one -- including my own brain -- can tell me I'm wasting my time. Of course I'm not -- I'm in law school. Regardless of whether I feel like I'm actually learning anything. The only downsides -- this is very expensive, and in reality it's only delaying the inevitable 3 more years. After law school, I have to go back to the real world. This is a nice shelter, but it's not forever. And, as the weblog linked above illustrates, being a lawyer doesn't magically solve the problems with the real world. Still need to find a fulfilling job -- and make a fulfilling life for myself. But even if it 3 years of shelter, what's wrong with that? Law school is fun -- I'm involved in lots of stuff, I've met a bunch of cool people, made some friends, learned some interesting stuff, and I come out with a really marketable and valuable piece of paper telling me I'm a lawyer. Besides the cost -- which I can earn back if I choose to go that route -- what's wrong with spending 3 years fulfilled and reasonably happy in school even if you know you're only delaying the inevitable? After all, isn't the entirety of life just delaying the inevitable until death? Why not make yourself as happy and fulfilled as possible? If I learned one thing in my two years inbetween undergrad and law school -- and my job really wasn't that bad, most days, but the days when it was pretty crappy were actually really good for coming up with platitudes about the meaning of life -- it was that it's just not worth doing something that doesn't make you feel fulfilled and reasonably content and at peace with yourself. Life is too short. Money isn't worth it -- beyond a certain level required just to subsist and live comfortably -- when (1) you have no time to spend it, and (2) you're sad. I feel a bit disturbed when my classmates say they'll go work for a big law firm for a few years and then they'll have a bunch of money. Fine, but after a few years of working 16 hours a day doing something not particularly enjoyable isn't there a risk they'll have no more friends and no more interests and hobbies. So what good is it? We have a limited number of days to play with. Is it worth spending them doing things that aren't making us reasonably happy? Maybe it is, I don't know. I don't have answers. But I do know I feel better at law school than I did in the real world. So I'm glad I'm here.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Choosing between law schools? Play The Ranking Game, a slightly outdated application on the University of Indiana web page that lets you rank law schools based about two dozen categories that you can assign weights to. Find fun measures -- like # library seats / student -- that put Drake University at #1 and Harvard at #164. Or school sq. feet / student, where Thomas Cooley is #1 and Yale is #155. Fun stuff.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

To the tune of "The Times They Are A-Changing" by Bob Dylan, a song parody about the common law...

"The Law, It Is A-Changing"

Another tough case with
An activist judge
While for strict constitutionalists
Law won't budge
But a liberal court
Can be swayed by the facts
And the precedent's rapidly aging
And the judge sees distinctions
That may not be real
And the law, it is a-changing

A hundred years one way
But times they have changed
But regardless, all's needed
Is one judge who's deranged
The opinion's a muddle
Of policy talk
And there's no tellin' if
This is stickin'
Or if they will appeal
And this case overturned
But the law may be a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Don't play it cool
It depends on the Congress
To pass a good rule
Make it airtight and solid
To withstand judges wild
There are activists here
Hearing cases
They'll be hearing the victims
And swayed by the facts
Oh the law, it is a-changin'.

Though students have learned it
It all could be moot
All the memorization
Destroyed with one suit
The rules and the standards
Can flip in a blink
The old law is
Rapidly aging
Let's come up with a new one
They can't understand
Oh the law, it is a-changing

Exam is tomorrow
But Westlaw is wise
The key to the course
Changing before my eyes
All the students who study
Are studying wrong
The law's different now than this morning
And the right choice before
Will fail cause the law
Oh the law it is a-changing

Education is quickly outdated
Cause the law it is a changing...
From JD2B, an article from the NJ Star-Ledger, Law school graduate who didn't disclose prostitution arrest is fit to become attorney. The more-than-slightly-tweaked text of the article:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A law school graduate who failed to disclose a prostitution arrest should not be banned from practicing law, the all-male Kentucky Supreme Court ruled, after meeting with the student for a short time in their chambers.

A majority of seven justices emerged from chambers a bit dissheveled, but smiling, and lauded the graduate for having "taken appropriate steps to deal with the residue of her early life" as well as "having really nice [assets]."

After an investigation, two hearings, and an hour at the local Motel 6, the lower court's committee had found that the graduate "has not demonstrated the maturity and insight to be placed in a position of trust. There are, however, other positions she seemed very comfortable in."

But the court said the committee concentrated too much on her past "and not enough on her [assets]."

"Any prospective member of the bar brings his or her life experiences to this profession. She simply brings more experience than most," the court wrote.
An article in last Sunday's Boston Globe magazine about Marketing Food Products to Children, or, "The Invention of Purple Ketchup." Really interesting stuff. Heinz has apparently gained incredible market share since it started making ketchup in colors besides red, and in e-z-squeeze bottles suitable for drawing pictures. I think law school could learn from this strategy... adding fun to everyday items... imagine if our casebooks were printed with glow-in-the-dark ink. More fun to read. Can read even in bed, and we wouldn't have to worry about falling asleep with the lights on. Or if professors had to wear outlandish costumes to class. Might increase attendance. "Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" comic books, animated "Restatement Cartoons" starring our animal friends Richard Posner Porcupine, Justice Cardozo Dodo, and Oliver Wendell Horse. Or maybe not. But think about it. Wouldn't it make law school more interesting?

Friday, March 21, 2003

Trying desperately not to cross the line between making fun of law school and making fun of war, which I'm really not trying to do, since war is a lot more real and scary and serious than law school is.

"Free Cookies"

The Dean wrote in an e-mail: "Alternatively, you may feel that you would benefit from being in a relatively quiet place without the intrusion of news media. For this purpose, we will make available the south end of the Harkness dining room. We will have coffee and snacks (donuts, cookies) available during the day, free of charge, at times when meals are not being served."

Free coffee, cookies and donuts? Good intentions, and not that I'm against free food, but what does it have to do with the war? And, if the Hark is actually making the cookies and donuts, isn't the war punishment enough? And wouldn't the cookies be better used as weapons - biological warfare; one cookie can kill thousands; harder than plutonium; can crack windows and teeth alike.

My first thought was that if they start out giving us cookies and donuts, will the food get better if the war gets worse? The first sign of ground troops and we're upgraded to sandwiches. Tanks mean turkey and cranberry sauce. Bombing raids mean it's time for a lobster bake.

I find it hard to imagine the meeting that led to the cookies-and-donuts decision. Were there other options on the table? "It looks like we're about to go to war. What should we do? Should we suspend classes? Have an assembly? Simulcast CNN across campus?" "How about cookies." "Huh?" "Not just cookies. Donuts too." "Great idea... but what will they have to drink??" "Ooh, nice catch there, associate dean for student beverage enjoyment. We'll give them coffee too." "Sounds like a plan. Now let's get back to making course selection a more complicated and drawn-out -- and less automated -- process."

My biggest question concerns the donuts. Donuts are fried in oil. Oil comes from the Middle East. Are we using Iraqi oil to fry the donuts? Is it all a secret ploy to support the opposition? Is the oil we fry donuts in even the same thing as the oil we use to make gasoline? This seems like such a basic question, but I really don't have any idea. I find it hard to imagine that it's vegetable oil that we pump out of the ground, but I'd believe you if you told me it was, as long as you seemed like you knew what you were talking about.

I went to find some of the free cookies this afternoon - thinking about the war made me hungry. But there weren't any. The sign on the door read, "The Reflection Room" and listed its hours - 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m." Aside from wondering what they expect us to do late at night when we're craving a Boston Crème, I found it hard to believe that someone took the time to name the room. "The Reflection Room?" It sounds like that weird spot in the middle of every art museum, with a fountain, a pile of rocks, and a Yanni CD playing in the background. This is the freaking cafeteria. "The Reflection Room" smells like roast beef and looks out over the Gropius Complex dormitories. What kind of deep reflection can I do while staring at salt and pepper shakers and a pile of napkins?

I know the intentions are good. There's nothing the administration can actually do about the war - except perhaps fund it, given the size of Harvard's endowment - so anything they try and do is going to seem silly and insignificant. Coffee and cookies and donuts don't make any sense, but at least they're trying. Like MTV News. I turned on MTV last night to watch Sorority Life and Fraternity Life - don't criticize me for my TV preferences, please (but do give Everwood, Monday nights on the WB, a fair chance. It's good stuff.) - and they were pre-empted for war coverage. On MTV? What is the audience of people who are watching MTV for news? It's not like if they want to watch news about the war, they don't have just a few other choices. "Well, the words they were using on MSNBC were just a little too big for me to understand, so I switched to MTV News, where not only can I watch Uncle Kracker telling me all about missile defense, but I can hear President Bush's news conference with J-Lo's latest single playing in the background. Split screen. Baghdad on the left, Madonna on the right. Scrolling ticker: "Turkey allows United States to use its airspace... Vanessa Carlton releases latest single... Hussein hiding in bunker... O-Town gets haircut."

I know the war is serious stuff, and I don't mean to joke about it. It's scary, it's uncertain, our military is filled with courageous and honorable people risking their lives for a greater good. I have unlimited respect. We're relatively safe here in law school. They're the ones who deserve the free cookies.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I turned on MTV last night to watch Sorority Life and Fraternity Life -- sometimes the stupidest TV shows I just find compelling for whatever reason -- and they were pre-empted for war coverage. On MTV? What is the audience of people that are watching MTV for news? It's not like if they want to watch the news they don't have just a few other choices....

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Ten law schools waiting for ABA approval:

1. Baltimore State
2. OJ Simpson's School of Football and Criminal Law
3. West Dakota Law School and Geography ph.D program
4. Your local law school diploma mill: buy one law degree, get the second one half off
5. Barbecue (and Law) Shack
6. Yarvard law school; tuition's only 10 bucks down on Canal Street next to the guy selling "Moakley" sunglasses and "Polex" watches
8. Lawng Island Law Skool
9. The site of FOX's new reality series, "I'm a Law Student, Get Me Outta Here"
10. All-you-can-eat lunch buffet, law school, and independent record label
A post on another weblog, liable, from last Friday (March 14) talks about how most law school-related message boards, books, and weblogs focus on the top national law schools and not regional schools like the midwestern university she (or he, I guess -- I haven't read enough of the weblog to know) will be attending in the fall. I suppose my take on it is probably that there's more of an audience for materials about the schools that are more well-known nationally. Even a non-law student might be interested in hearing about what goes on at Yale. Probably less so about Joe's Tackle Shop and Law School. (Actually, I'd be kind of interested in what goes on there...). Also, a lot of the books and weblogs and discussion boards out there concern the admissions process and "getting in" -- and a lot of the more regional schools simply don't have as selective an admissions process, so there's less concern and less need to analyze and discuss it. Plus, a regional law school only has regional appeal -- there's less of an audience automatically, just based on geography.

But, overall, I sympathize with liable's concern -- although certainly my weblog doesn't do anything to fix the problem. I agree with Waddling Thunder, who wonders if it could be that students at regional law schools have more work to do -- and thus less time to worry about writing a weblog -- than students at the more national schools. I think that's quite possible. I've been a little underwhelmed at the amount of work overall, at least compared to what books like 1L and movies like the Paper Chase made it seem like it would be.
Following up yet again on my musings from last week on extracurricular elections -- Monday night I went to the elections for a law journal I'm on. They elected 9 people for 7 positions -- Editor-in-Chief, 2 Executive Editors, 2 Managing Editors, a Submissions Editor, Technical Editor, Communciations Editor, and Speakers Editor. All but two of the positions were contested, so it was quite a process of people making speeches, then answering questions, then leaving the room while people talked smack about them, then we voted, then did a runoff of the top two candidates, and then announced the winner. Repeat. Three and a half hours.

A few things I learned you probably shouldn't do when making an election speech:

1. Don't pick your nose.
2. Don't stick your hands in your pockets, look at the floor, and pace back and forth while talking
3. Don't say "I don't care which position I get, I just want to be on the Masthead."
4. Don't use the fact that you're up at the front of the room as an opportunity to play with the window shades, dim the lights, or take another piece of cake. And if you do take another piece of cake, don't try to hide the fact that you're eating it while your opponent is speaking.
5. Don't answer questions with, "that's a not a very good question."
6. Don't joke about the war.
7. Don't read off notes you wrote on your hand.
8. Don't forget the name of the journal you're running for the position for.
9. Don't stand with your face pressed against the window of the closed door when you're supposed to be out in the hall not hearing what everyone says about you.
And, finally...
10. Don't forget to ask for a recount. (groan)
Check out this column from the Harvard Law Record this week, Wild America meets Harvard Law, which responds to a column I wrote a few weeks ago. My column included a quick aside about the LL.M. students who tend to disproportionately use dormitory kitchens. My line, which was, I admit, perhaps a bit insensitive -- "...Although a kitchen that wasn't all the way down the hall and filled with LL.M.s roasting wild game or painting their homemade clothing with goat blood might be a pleasant change of pace" -- clearly wasn't serious. I wasn't actually suggesting that the LL.M.s were roasting wild game in the dorm kitchens, and didn't think anyone would mistake my column about toilets for a serious news piece. But I'm pleased and amused that it got a response. So feel free to check that out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

From the law school dean's e-mail about the war:

" may feel that you would benefit from being in a relatively quiet place without the intrusion of news media. For this purpose, we will make available the south end of the Harkness dining room. We will have coffee and snacks (donuts, cookies) available during the day, free of charge, at times when meals are not being served."

Free cookies? Let the war begin? I can't possibly be the only person who thinks this is a little odd.

Monday, March 17, 2003

A couple of experiments:

1. If there's something you find notable about law school that I haven't written a song about, E-mail me and I'll try to write something and post it.

2. If there's any questions about law school you'd like me to answer in my weblog, also E-mail me and I'll try my best.

Just figured I'd see what would happen if I ask my readers for ideas... :)

Also... I feel sort of obligated to post something -- or at least feel something, even if I weren't going to post it -- about the impending war , but, really I really have nothing to say. I feel bad that I have no strong feelings going through my head, especially since it seems like everyone in law school has strong feelings about everything, but what can I do...

And, finally for right now... maybe if I link to this pre-law information site called JD2B , they'll finally know I exist. Usually I'm cool with just getting discovered by whoever discovers me, but pretty much all of the other law school weblogs I know of are listed on their page, but not me. Maybe the guy in charge of it read my weblog and decided he didn't like it. Oh well.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Trying to get motivated to work on an optional practice exam question for Property class. Professors should never call anything optional. It totally eliminates all motivation to actually do it. Everything should be mandatory and graded if it's worth assigning... or so I say now.

Maybe a song will help me get motivated. A song about procrastination. From the musical "Annie." Enjoy.


The work'll get done
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
I'll do work

Too busy until
Checking e-mail, watching
TV reruns
'Til I sleep

When I'm stuck with a task
That's dull
And dreary,
I just load solitaire
And sit
And play.

The work'll get done
Let the clock keep ticking
'Til tomorrow
Not today

Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I'll do it tomorrow!
You're always a day a way!

...and if one song isn't enough...


Maybe in an hour
Or maybe in a day
Something will click in my brain cells
Telling me I shouldn't play
Maybe when my list
Of things to do grows long
I'll start accomplishing something
Rather than writing this song

Betcha I'll pass
I'm sure I will
It'll get done
At some point, but still
Doing it's not
Really that bad
Why can't I start
Then I'd be glad

So maybe now it's time,
Instead of when I wake
I'll get it all done today, me

Betcha I won't
Won't even try
Telling myself
I know it's a lie
Maybe it's hard
And I should start
Maybe I should
But I'm just not that smart

So maybe now this song
Will get me going strong
Maybe I'll start it today, me
Maybe... not.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

I synthesized some of the extra-curricular activity thoughts from earlier in the week into a nice, 700-word package:

"Everybody cool reads my weblog..."

That is just part of my campaign speech for Second Assistant Vice President of the Cool Law Students Society. They're just one of the many organizations that have recently sent me an e-mail encouraging me to come to their next meeting and vote for the new officers - and inviting me, along with the hundreds of other students who find themselves on the mailing lists of organizations they once signed up for but have no actual involvement in, to run for office myself. As I've been discovering, it's election season.

I sat at a table at the activities fair during admitted students weekend and was surprised to realize that I knew many of the other people in the room. I don't think I know an unusually large number of other students, but it seemed like almost everyone sitting at a table for some organization, I knew from another organization that we both had in common. A friend of mine tried to explain the phenomenon: "There are only a limited number of 'joiners' here, and more organizations to go around than people to participate. So, really, every student organization consists of the same people, just with different titles."

So the President of SALSA (South Asian Law Students Association -- this is real) might be the Secretary of NALSA (Native American Law Students Association -- real too), and the Treasurer of BLSA (Black Law Students Association -- pronounced "Ball-Sa.) But the Vice President of APALSA (Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association -- totally real) may be the Publicity Director for CLSA (Catholic Law Students Association -- "Call-Sa") and the Membership Chair of JLSA (Jewish Law Students Association -- "Jall-sa"). And that's not even considering the two height-related affinity groups at the law school, TALLSA and SMALLSA. (Not real. That's the joke this whole paragraph is building towards.)

I'm still considering whether or not to run for a position in any of the organizations I'm in. It seems like we've finally passed the point where resume-building ought to be a consideration. I expect it's very unlikely that underneath the bold "Harvard Law School" heading, the difference between getting rejected by an employer and getting a job will be whether or not someone was Recording Secretary for the Harvard Defenders. Meaning that the traditional intuition of trying to strive for the highest position realistically possible probably shouldn't apply, and that not running for anything probably shouldn't be seen as somehow "losing a race." As one of my professors said last semester before the final exam, the race is over. We've all already won. Winning an election for Deputy Social Director of the Medieval Law Studies Association (MLSA) just doesn't matter.

So we're each faced with the harder question of what we actually want to do, as opposed to having to worry about what we ought to do. Which should be a good thing. It lets us look at the actual tasks involved in doing a given job - say, Managing Editor of the Cafeteria Lunch Menus, who perhaps needs to come up with names for the entrees, arrange the sample plates, and pick whether the pasta ought to cost $4.95, $5.25 or $6.42 - and decide whether or not they are things we feel like we'd enjoy doing and that we'd be good at. Kind of like the considerations we all took into account when we decided whether or not to subcite for a journal in the fall.

Right. Because everyone loves to subcite, and that's why we all do it. Let's face it. We're not used to really thinking about whether we want to do something or not. We're all overachievers; that's how we got to law school. If the girl who sits across the aisle from you in Contracts class gets elected President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and you're just the Chairman of the Neutering Committee, you feel like you've lost. Even if you don't really want the responsibility of manning the animal phone lines and having to listen to clients barking orders at you all day. It's human nature. It's hard to let what look like possible opportunities go by, even if intellectually we know it won't make a difference.

So, in conclusion, I ask you to come out to next week's meeting of the Unspecific Law Students Association (ULSA) and vote for me for Associate Coordinator. And if you'd like to run for Lieutenant Representative, there really is still time to submit your candidate statement.
Top Ten Lies I Think Law Students Should All Conspire To Tell Admitted Students And Scare Them Away

10. "Average age of the students here? Seven. They're brilliant. Trust me."
9. "I get seven, eight, sometimes nine minutes of sleep a night."
8. "You think the weather's bad now? Just wait until monsoon season in the fall."
7. "No, we're just the students they let out. The rest of them are locked in the basement doing manual labor as punishment for putting an extra comma in a footnote."
6. "All classes are conducted in Latin. Except on Wednesday, when they use Ancient Greek."
5. "Why don't you come sit in on Legal Writing. It's the most interesting class at the law school."
4. "The reading's not too bad. One, maybe two casebooks a week per class."
3. "Yeah, I think there's a bathroom... somewhere... not really sure. We've all had the required surgery already."
2. "It's a lot of fun, if you don't mind the ritual sacrifice of three students a week."
1. "Weekends? No, we have class 7 days a week. Seriously."

Friday, March 14, 2003

Not only is it election season (see posts from earlier this week), it's also recruitment season for the three big upperclass activities here: Legal Aid Bureau, Board of Student Advisors, and the big one, the Harvard Law Review. Each has its own application process, its own informational meetings / wine & cheese receptions / ice cream socials / sponsored lectures, and, most important, each has its own way of filling up 20-40 hours a week that you could otherwise enjoy.

The Legal Aid Bureau, according to the five-minute presentation they made in one of my classes, requires 20 hours a week of service from each of its members, and basically helps people who can't afford legal services. This sounds like a great thing for people who really want some hands-on experience practicing law. I have no interest in this.

The Board of Student Advisors helps to run the First Year Lawyering program I've talked in glowing terms about (sarcasm). But, seriously, I think it might be cool to get some experience teaching legal writing, and be a great way to spend 20 hours a week. Plus, they pay some money. The application process includes an edit of a deliberately-awful legal brief, some essays, a recommendation, and an interview.

The Harvard Law Review sucks approximately 40 hours a week out of the lives of its members, and has a rigorous application process involvingchecking some footnotes and writing an article about a Supreme Court case, all in a week's time after exams in the spring. They then use a complicated algorithm involving the scores on these two things, your grades, and some factor added if you're a woman or minority, to determine who gets to write "Harvard Law Review" on their resumes. The resume-builder in me wants to apply, just to see if I would get in. The sane person in me wants not to. We'll see who wins the battle. I have a few more months to decide.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Torts professor asked us to write 250 words about Tort law and the issues we've been talking about in class. Here's my thoughts:

Since the beginning of the semester, when we talked about the McDonalds coffee case, I've found myself trying to identify other situations where we instinctively blame injured parties when in fact the fault may be someone else's. Interestingly enough, I've noticed the parallels most strongly in situations involving elements of law school life. "Looks like you chose the wrong meal" is what people say when they notice your lunch from the Hark is practically inedible. "Guess you picked the wrong elective" is the sympathetic response to a story about a less-than-thrilling class. "Too bad you ended up with that career counselor," "maybe you shouldn't have gone to the health clinic if you really wanted to see an actual doctor," and "guess you should've backed up your e-mail files" are all things I've heard people say. But, on second thought, why should we blame ourselves for the cafeteria food being lousy, our electives being uninspiring, the career counselors being hit-and-miss, the health clinic offering band-aids to fix sore throats, and ITS losing our e-mail? Mostly, I think it's because we feel powerless to do anything about these things. Just like an individual customer really can't act alone to make McDonalds cool its coffee - except through the Torts system, I guess - we can't act individually to improve the mediocre aspects of an institution that, in most respects, at least for me, makes me feel lucky and privileged to be here. But still, like in the McDonalds case, the intuition is to blame ourselves, and not Harvard - and maybe that's an intuition we need to question more than we currently do.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

There's an article in this week's Harvard Law Record about how law students interested in the arts fell pressured to hide it. An excerpt:

"There are almost no law school organizations devoted to the arts (the Drama Society and its delightful Parody is a rare exception). Arts groups outside Harvard Law School seldom poster here because it is a waste of paper. Law students do not have time for fluffy artsy stuff. After class we must attend events that prepare us to be the political leaders of the world. Good preparation involves gaining legal, clinical and research experience, schmoozing with VIP speakers and attending info sessions that enable us to suck as much as possible out of the resources Harvard offers....You will be surprised how many of us possess talent in music, dance, acting (not just the people in the Parody!) — but keep it secret while dutifully pursuing the political life through our legal studies."

Nonsense! The author has it backwards! I find it hard to believe that there's a secret underground cult of Harvard Law students who want to dance and sing but feel ashamed to admit it. The reason why there's a dearth of artistic expression (and, actually, I would argue that really there isn't this dearth at all!) is because this is a law school, and most people here are interested in the law.

The aforementioned Parody had a cast and crew numbering approximately 60. Add to that a half dozen a cappella singers who weren't in the Parody, a half-dozen more involved in a Gilbert and Sullivan show this past fall, an improv comedy troupe of about a dozen (although I'm not totally certain they still exist... since they rejected me in the fall, I haven't anything about them...), and a handful of musicians I'm aware of who play in University orchestras, we're probably getting close to 100. Out of a law student body of 1800, 100 evidencing a substantial interest in artistic pursuits -- and the number is probably higher, since I'm sure there are lots of off-campus things people do I'm just not aware of -- isn't an embarassing number. After all, the self-selection here is awfully high -- most people interested in the arts probably don't want to be lawyers. And the idea that people feel compelled to hide their interests because of peer pressure to be focused, interest-free law students is gobbledygook, I think. I think it goes back to the joiner / non-joiner distinction from my posts over the last few days. The joiners are doing artistic things, without a doubt. The non-joiners aren't doing anything. If law school is forcing people to hide their artistic side, they're doing a great job, because I just don't see it.

And the suggestion that organizations don't poster here because it's a waste of paper? I think it's just laziness -- the Parody sold something on the order of 1500 tickets over 5 nights, the a cappella concert I was in this past fall practically sold out... I think if we knew about more events going on across the campus, law students would go no less than any other group of students. This article, while well-intentioned, I just think is plain wrong.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Kind of a follow-up to my joiners / non-joiners post from yesterday. This one's really only about the joiners. Just in the last few days, it has become election season for all the extracurricular activities, getting things in place for next year as the second half of spring semester begins. I've been a little disappointed at my initial reaction, which has basically been the resume-builder instinct -- the thought that the higher the position, the better it is, and trying to think about what's realistic for me to be thinking about, and what can I do to put myself in the right position to end up as a person with a nice title for my resume by my 3L year. I was hoping I'd outgrown this instinct, or at least that I'd feel that being here all by itself was enough of a resume-builder, and that I really didn't need to add Treasurer of A Cappella Singing Group in order to impress an employer. And, intellectually, I'm completely aware that Treasurer of A Cappella Singing Group is not -- and should not -- impress an employer. I'll concede that Editor-In-Chief of the Harvard Law Review probably impresses most employers. Perhaps Editor-In-Chief of any legal journal here impresses many employers. Maybe even Managing Editor. President of the Legal Aid Bureau. Sure. But I think there's a very steep slope beginning to show. Vice President of the Prison Legal Assistance Project... maybe a line on a resume, maybe a slight bonus in the job search... maybe... Secretary of the Law School Council... probably not. The less legal-related, I'm thinking the less it matters to anyone, and the less it makes an impression when seen next to the boldfaced Harvard Law School. Like Publicity Chair for the Drama Society... probably not worth pursuing if the goal is resume-building. Food Editor for the newspaper... unlikely to help someone land a job. What I really want to feel is that the time for resume building has passed, and that anything I do, I'm doing entirely because I want to do it. Not because I think it sounds impressive, or I feel like by not running for a position I'm somehow "losing a race." A friend of mine is on the same legal journal as I am. They sent out a call for people interested in running for managing editor. They sent out a second call. It was fairly clear that they weren't overrun with candidates. My friend said he was interested. 3 candidates, 3 positions, no elections, he;s now managing editor. And great for him. And, in my heart of hearts, I don't want to be managing editor of a legal journal. I don't really have a burning desire to do the work it would entail, and I'm probably never going to be looking for a job in the field that the journal covers, so it won't ever matter that I don't have the title. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it worries me a little bit. He has a title now, and I don't. I'm losing the race. I had trouble falling asleep last night, lying in bed wondering where I can get a title of my own -- from which of the organizations I'm involved in can I make a compelling case for deserving a given position -- or capitalize on the disinterest of my classmates. That's not how I want to feel, and that's not wat I want to be lying in bed thinking about. But it's the "joiner" mentality, and the kind of stuff lots of people have been trained to feel. I'm okay with just being a "singer" in the a cappella singing group. The duties that the President has -- scheduling rehearsals, arranging performances, keeping track of the keyboard -- are not thrilling duties. It's not a resume builder. So why am I forced to admit to myself that if another 1L gets it (if a 2L gets it, awesome for them) -- that if another 1L gets it, I'll feel a little disappointed. Whether or not I even run. It's not that I would deserve it any more than someone else. I really don't think I do. (Although I don't know that I deserve it any less. But that ain't no good reason.) And it's not that I think other people don't deserve it, or wouldn't do a good job. And it's not that I have any reason for wanting the job other than it's out there and attainable. I don't need it. Yet I have that sense inside that I'd like it. And that it can't hurt. Is this just the "joiner" urge? The "achievement" urge? It's a mystery to me...
American Idol is so addictive.

Property reading is not.

Monday, March 10, 2003

A bunch of law school weblogs, including Waddling Thunder have been posting about their legal writing classes. One of them, Jewish Buddha mentions my weblog and wonders if the First Year Lawyering (FYL) class I talk about is our legal writing class (it is), and whether our mandatory moot court competition is part of it (it is). Just to hopefully steal some of their traffic, I figure I'll add my thoughts to the discussion, more generally about the class than about the moot court competition I wrote about two weeks ago -- February 22, if you want to scroll down and read it.

The biggest flaw of the FYL program is that it's graded pass-fail (with a "high pass" grade that is apparently given to a few people per 80 person section, and a "low pass" grade hardly given at all). Nobody fails, nobody really gets a "low pass," and the bar for getting a Pass is set pretty low. Not that I'm saying that the only thing that drives people to do their work is the grade, but it doesn't hurt as motivation. There simply doesn't seem to be a reason -- beyond the desire to become a better legal memo-writer (but, arguably, the memo-writing method we're taught isn't necessarily a wonderful method -- more important than figuring out whether or not it's a good method is that in many students' minds it isn't, so there's no motivation to try and perfect our understanding of it -- to put in tremendous effort, especially for students who don't necessarily expect to have to write legal briefs and memos in their chosen future careers. Because the class is pass-fail, it feels like an inferior, less important class. Because it's taught in part by an upperclass student (competent as she may be... and in my case, she really is terrific... she's still just a student), and in part by a "lecturer on law" as opposed to professor, it doesn't feel as vital as Contracts or Civil Procedure. Also, the hand-holding nature of the class -- we write first drafts of all of the assignments, receive feedback, meet with the instructor to talk about it, and then write our final, graded drafts -- makes it seem, perhaps unfairly, like we're in baby school.

None of this is to say that I try less hard to do a good job here than for my other classes -- and I honestly don't believe that there are too many people who do put in less effort than they otherwise would -- but the problem is that it makes me feel stupid when I do put work into it. I feel like I'm wasting time fixing marginally important "mistakes" in my first draft, that I'm wasting time trying to manipulate my writing into the rigid memo structure we need to follow, that I'm wasting time double-checking my footnote styles, that I'm wasting time doing some extra research to find one more relevant case -- skills that I know I have, and have demonstrated in what I've written, but just need to do the busy-work to make sure it's all nice and polished -- just to lift my grade from a Pass... to a Pass.

So, disregarding whether or not the curriculum is solid or not (I don't know enough about legal writing to have any clue, so I can't even speculate as to whether the memo format we learn is useful or garbage), I think the best thing they could do to make people less resentful of the time they put into the assignments, and respect the class more, is to give people real grades and have professors teach it. Or call the lecturers "adjunct professors," "class B professors," or anything with the word professor in it, just so it seems like just another class and doesn't get called out as being a waste of time.
Some thoughts on law school extra-curricular activities... I volunteered yesterday to help out with the admitted students weekend activities fair for the a cappella singing group I'm in. I sat at our table for an hour or so, giving out copies of our fall show program to any interested students, and answering any questions people had. But mostly just enjoying the free cookies, pretzels, popcorn, and Nantucket Nectar drinks they had. Admitted students get treated well before they send their deposits. We got a total of 4 interested students to sign up for our non-existent mailing list. Including an unfortunate girl whose first name rhymed with her last name. But what I foudn most interesting was that probably 15 out of the 50 or so students manning tables were people who'd been in the Parody show. Out of 1800 students in the law school, the odds that 15 of 50 would be from among the 50 people in the Parody show are probably pretty steep. (A probability shareware program I just located on the web and downloaded -- look at how dedicated I am -- tells me the odds are 4.04 x 10^(-12) of 15 or more out of 50 students manning tables would be from the Parody cast of 50 out of 1800 students. So, yes, the odds are pretty steep. Apologies if I screwed up the calculation somewhere.) The explanation is that of course it's not random chance -- the people who did the Parody show were people who were willing to rehearse four hours a night for a month. There may not be a tremendous set of people here who are willing and interested in doing that, at the potential expense of staying on top of their schoolwork. And, by and large, people heavily involved in other organizations -- to enough of an extent that they'd be sitting a recruiting table for it -- are also people from this subgroup of law students willing to put time into extracurricular activities. Because these "joiners" are limited in number, and because many have more than one interest they're eager to pursue, there's lots of repetition. One of my friends manning a table yesterday agreed with this distinction of joiners vs. non-joiners. He's a 2L, and laughed when I said I was surprised to see so many familiar faces. "What you haven't realized yet," he said, "is that every organization here is the same group of people, just with different positions." Perhaps that's not completely the case, but it many be closer than intuition places it. After all, there were Parody cast members at tables for the newspaper, the Latin-American students organization, the Big Brother-Big Sister group, and lots of others.

So, the point I'm trying to make... law school has "joiners" and "non-joiners." I think it would be interesting to see a study done comparing overall happiness, grades, and future success among the two groups (with the distinction between the two groups being, say, involvement in a substantive way (having a position with a title) in at least one activity and involvement in some way with at least one additional activity as the definition for a "joiner"). My hunch would be that joiners would be substantially happier, and peraps even have better grades -- in part because happy, busy, fulfilled people probably do better, and in part because people who are able to balance schoolwork with some extracurricular activities might just be better and quicker at the academic stuff.

I wonder if people at other schools feel this same "joiner" / "non-joiner" distinction as sharply as I've noticed it here...

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Perhaps the coolest thing I've ever witnessed... last night, before our final performance of the Parody show, someone proposed to someone else in the show. It was really super-awesome to see.

The show went well. Regular blogging will resume in force, now that I have six extra hours a day to work with, instead of this day-skipping nonsense of late.

Friday, March 07, 2003

The best thing about being in the law school's parody show, without a doubt, has been getting to see the Dean putting on stage makeup while wearing an ape suit. I think a video of that alone - the Dean of Harvard Law School in an ape suit putting on lipstick - sent to all of the admitted students - would lead to the highest enrollment yield ever. I think it would somehow humanize the institution in a way that a tour of the library can't.

Instead, the admitted students this weekend will be treated to a weekend of well-choreographed and carefully-managed activities and events designed to demonstrate that our library has books, our courses are taught by professors, and our financial aid office needs your tax returns. Inspiring stuff. I took a peek at the schedule:


9:00 AM: Admitted students line up outside of Health Services for a lice check.

10:00 AM: Career services panel: "How to start looking for a job before you even start law school. First of a twelve-part series." Also available on audiotapes for the car ride home.

11:00 AM: Financial aid lecture: "We know where you're hiding that inheritance."

11:00 AM: "I'm Not On Financial Aid" lecture: "Tips on tolerating classmates without trust funds."

12:00 PM: Lunch, provided by anywhere but the cafeteria. Be careful of the cafeteria employees, who will be lining up to get their first taste of edible food all semester.

1:00 PM: Bar-Bri recruitment rally. Lock in the low price now, before it goes up.

2:00 PM: Yearbook order form collection. Lock in the low price now, before it goes up.

3:00 PM: Panel discussion: "Training for the Law Review Competition, a year in advance."

4:30 PM: Guided tour of a typical dorm room. (Please reserve in advance, due to space constraints.)

4:31 PM: Lecture: "The History of Harvard Law School's Admitted Students Weekend." Sponsored by the committee on self-important events.

5:00 PM: Sample 1L class and spider solitaire tutorial.

6:00 PM: Introduction to the pro bono requirement. Attendance counts towards fulfilling the 40-hour requirement. Attendance for all 40 hours of the meeting fulfills all pro bono requirements.

7:00 PM: "Picnic under the slush."

8:00 PM: Movie night. Choose from: "Soul Man," "How High," or "Stealing Harvard."

9:00 PM: "Legacy Party," presented by the Student Activities Council.

10:00 PM: "I'm Choosing Yale Instead Party," presented by U.S. News and World Report.


12:00 AM: Sale of used books begins at the bookstore.

12:05 AM: All used books are now sold out.

3:00 AM: Random construction and/or snow plow collision outside the window of wherever you are sleeping. Sponsored by facilities management.

7:00 AM: Deadline for nominations for "Admitted Student Section Representative."

8:00 AM: Breakfast reception, Wilkie Farr law firm, "It's never too early to start recruiting you."

9:00 AM: Subciting competition, Library.

10:00 AM: The price of a Bar-Bri review course has already risen by $10 since yesterday. Haven't you signed up yet?

11:00 AM: Lexis-Nexis raffle for 3500 Lexis points.

12:00 PM: Lexis-Nexis lecture: "Making the Most out of your Lexis points... and why you shouldn't use Westlaw."

1:00 PM: Concluding remarks (and introductory 1L elective information session), Registrar's office.

2:00 PM: Your car has been towed. You can't leave.

3:00 PM: No, really. You're stuck.

In all seriousness, after a semester and a half of law school, I have two pieces of advice for admitted students, to help them make their decision:

1. Don't believe any advice that starts with the word "everybody." The stereotypes just don't hold true. There are all kinds of people here, who do all kinds of things. That's part of what makes it interesting.

2. You'd better like snow.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Performances tonight and last night went well.

Another theater song -- to the tune of "Footloose"

Been working so long
Perfecting each song
Rehearsals went late
But last night starting at eight
The crowd, they liked us
Didn't wish they studied instead
And techies miked us
So they could hear what we said
And the audience

Laughed, they laughed
They admired our craft [rhymes are hard...]
Awed, guffawed
Even chose to applaud
Paid, they paid
And through intermission they stayed
Laughed, they laughed
Everybody heard they laughed

No numbers fell flat
No set piece went splat
No light burst up in flames
They laughed at character names
The props got set right
They didn't fall to the ground
No broken spotlight
No feedback screwing up the sound
But above it all

Laughed, they laughed
Even those who are daft [Like I said, rhymes are hard...]
Rapt, they clapped
All talent it got tapped
Prayed, there'd be
An even longer act three
Laughed, they laughed
Everybody heard they laughed

They all had good things to say
Even from seats far away
They'll laugh even harder today

Laughed, they laughed
Even though no beer on draft [...glad there's no fourth chorus... out of rhymes...]
Cheered, and cheered
Cheered, and nobody jeered
Got, the plot
And it made them laugh a lot
Laughed, they laughed
Everybody heard they laughed

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Just got my housing lottery number for next year. I'm on the wait list. Which means I'm not guaranteed housing, not even in the Gropius Complex, Harvard Law School's answer to the high demand for rooms that while they are the size of bathrooms don't actually include bathrooms.

So, basically this post is to say that if you're a Harvard student reading my weblog, and will have a vacancy in an apartment next year, and want to hear draft versions of all of my weblog posts before I even post them... then please do shoot me an e-mail. :)

(...and what's the deal with the Gropius Complex anyway? There's nothing Complex about it...)
I'm in the law school's parody show, which starts tomorrow. It has inspired me to write some song parodies geared more towards performing on stage on general than to law school... but I hope you enjoy anyway...

To the tune of Billy Joel's "Piano Man"

It's halfway through
One more endless scene
The dialogue's dragging along
Yet there's one quick fix in the bag of tricks
Let's just all sing a meaningless song

The actor here
On the left of me
Was clearly not cast for his voice
But he wanted a song, though the notes will sound wrong
He's the last one left, so we've no choice

Sing us a song, you're the soloist
For this number that's just filling space
We know that you've come for a musical
Here's some music that's in the wrong place

Now the techie backstage had my microphone
But she got the clip caught on a light
Now I'm screaming as loud as my voice can get
But I know you can't hear me tonight

I said techie, I need a replacement mike
Ought there be something extra around
She said I just do props, and some costuming
I don't know what to do about sound

Sing us a song, you're the soloist
For this number that's really a waste
We know that you've come for a musical
And we know this scene should be replaced

Now sometimes a cast isn't big enough
But clearly that's not what's wrong here
So to give us a chance to let everyone dance
There'll be three songs you wished disappear

There are characters we need to parody
But when scenes start to build up too long
There is only one way that the crowd's gonna stay
And that's just if we give them a song

So sing us a song, you're the soloist
For this song where the singers won't blend
We know that you've come for a musical
But I bet you thought soon it would end

Oh, sing us a song, you're the soloist
For this number that's killing the band
We'll be done in a moment, but humor us
With some laughter, and clapping your hand

Sing us a song, you're the soloist
One more chorus and then we'll move on
To the next random tune we wrote this afternoon
But by then all the crowd will be gone...

[to the tune of REM's "Losing My Religion"]

"Leaving my Rehearsal"

Oh, Lord, it's later
It's later than they
Said I'd be here
The times rehearsal goes to
To run this scene once more
Oh no we screwed it up
We start again

That's me in the doorway
That's me out the window
Leaving my rehearsal
Trying to sneak out the door
But I don't know if I can do it
Oh no the dance was wrong
We'll run it six more times
I thought this was till 11
I thought we would start at 8
I think I thought that I'd get fed

Every evening
Every waking hour
I'm leaving for rehearsal
Trying to read in times between
But the band is loud and lights dark
Oh no I missed my line
We start again

Consider this, consider this
The payback for our sins
Consider this
A dream, a nightmare of a dream
Stuck here
What if these notes we get, he'll
Just change his mind
We've been here
Too long
I thought this was till 11
I thought we would start at 8
I think I thought that I'd get fed

And who said run the scene
Once, twice, thrice, why?
Who said run the scene, run the scene, run the scene, scene

To the tune of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

They hung the lights
Built the set
The microphones
Are on the stage

From cue to cue
What's the line?
This light is wrong
Redo design

How long, how long, how long we'll go
How long, how long, how long

Listen to the techies screaming
Actors on stage, are daydreaming
Broken spotlight, won't stop beaming
Burning speakers, could be steaming
Oh the light tower, please don't climb now
Run the last line, one more time now
Yeah! Hey! Hey!

I broke the leg, off a chair
I lost a prop but I don't care
Unscrewed a bolt, what the hell
I laughed when all the towers fell

How long, how long, how long we'll go
How long, how long, how long

Listen to the techies screaming
Actors on stage, are daydreaming
Broken spotlight, won't stop beaming
Burning speakers, could be steaming
Oh the light tower, please don't climb now
Run the last line, one more time now
Yeah! Hey! Hey!

And I forget, what's my cue
I should have brought some work to do
You think they'll care I broke the stage
You think we'll ever turn the page?

How long, how long, how long we'll go
How long, how long, how long

Listen to the techies screaming
Actors on stage, are daydreaming
Broken spotlight, won't stop beaming
Burning speakers, could be steaming
Oh the light tower, please don't climb now
Run the last line, one more time now
It's a spotlight
Broken spotlight
Shining spotlight
Falling spotlight
One less spotlight...

Sunday, March 02, 2003

We have a pro bono requirement to graduate -- 40 hours of free work to help people. So here's a song about it.

[[to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music]]

“The Things You Can Do”

Save spotted owls,
From corporate pollution,
Innocent prisoners,
From wrong execution,
Help the old woman who lives in a shoe,
These are a few of the things you can do . . .

Rescue small children,
From parents who beat them,
Save all of the chickens,
From people who eat them,
“Stop Prisoner Rape,” real foundation, it’s true
These are a few of the things you can do. . .

Go to the Congo,
And fight some oppression,
Save Catholic youngsters,
From priests in confession,
Fight for an Gay Female Blind Asian Jew
These are a few of the things you can do. . .

When the rent’s due,
When the heat’s off,
Ramen’s all you eat,
Simply remember the good you can do,
And then getting paid… can’t compete….

Help rich white businessmen,
Lie to a jury
Poison the rivers,
Ohio, Missouri
Chop down big trees and turn ponies to glue
These are a few of the things you can do . . .

Kick pregnant women,
And squash people’s freedom
Choke peaceful animals
Then we can eat ‘em
Bring down the many
To raise up the few
These are a few of the things you can do

Fight to end hunger
By binging and purging
Help wealthy companies
Finish their merging,
Say it’s pro bono but let them pay you
These are a few of the things you can do. . .

When the rent’s due,
When the heat’s off,
Ramen’s all you eat,
Simply remember the good you can do,
And call up the firm… down the street.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

"Toilet Humor"

Like most people, it seems, I have my own personal system for keeping track of things I have to do - class assignments, appointments, strangers' credit card, social security, and PIN numbers.... For me, I find post-it notes work the best. Not only are they just the right size for listing a day's worth of things to do (or briefing a case...), but they also tend to stay where I put them. On my desk, on my bathroom mirror, inside my shoes, on the back of my neck.... This weekend's list includes the exciting task of filling out the dormitory housing renewal application. It just seems so much easier to live in the dorms than to worry about furniture, Internet, electricity bills, more than a hundred square feet of space, privacy, pleasant architecture.... Although a kitchen that wasn't all the way down the hall and filled with LLMs roasting wild game or painting their homemade clothing with goat blood might be a pleasant change of pace.

Overall, I guess living in the dorms here has been mostly as I expected. No real surprises. Besides, perhaps, the plumbing. As soon as the weather got cold, for whatever reason, my toilet decided it no longer enjoyed the flushing process. I deposited nothing extraordinary into the toilet, yet it began to consistently fail to fully power the journey from bowl to wherever the pipes take my little friends. I called facilities management the first time, and they came a few hours later to fix the problem. A week later, I had to call again. This time it took them a day and a half. But my bladder is strong.

The maintenance worker laughed when I asked him if maybe there's a bigger problem than what it seemed, since I'd needed to call twice in the span of just over a week. He said twice was nothing, and that someone upstairs from me had called the past four nights in a row. Well, at least he's regular. And apparently eating his fiber. And other people's fiber, too. Three weeks later, when it happened again, it took them three days to come fix the problem. Again, my bladder is strong, so there were no consequential damages. But still, three days is a long time to wait when the cafeteria serves "Prune chicken in a bean sauce," and "Metamucil pizza."

Finally, this past week, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. Not literally, of course. I went to CVS in search of a plunger. And found a selection of two. The regular, traditional wooden plunger with the rubber suction cup, and the Plunge-O-Matic 3000, a battery-operated device complete with sound effects and splash guards. Well, not really. But there was a little plastic one for a dollar cheaper than the wooden one. But I'm not sure if it was designed for real toilets or if it was part of the Barbie bathroom set. Miniature plunger, toilet brush, and shot of mouthwash, in a kit with ultra-small Q-tips, a fingernail-sized bar of soap, and condoms for Ken. I'll let you insert your own joke here.

When I was walking back from CVS, I passed a friend who, while we've had some fascinating conversations about the weather, I wasn't really prepared to discuss my bathroom habits with. Yet I quickly discovered that it's very hard to disguise a plunger in a plastic bag and make it out to be something else. "What have you got there?" he asked. "Oh, nothing...," I said, as I put the bag behind my back. "It's just a stickball bat." "With a suction cup on the end?" "Yeah, suction stickball. It's a new game. It's lots of fun. There's an intramural league. We're going down to UVA to play in a tournament." "Sounds like fun. You play... in the bathroom, right?" He'd seen right through my story. There was no hiding the plunger from his observant eyes.

After I politely excused myself from the conversation - "I really have to go to the bathroom" works as a highly believable excuse when you're carrying a plunger down the street - I kept on walking. And passed by a professor, the girl I have a crush on, the woman who'd interviewed me earlier in the day at career services for a job with her law firm, and, oddly enough, the maintenance worker who'd come to fix my toilet the previous time. He looked at me, and at the plunger, and I could see his heart sink. He felt betrayed. Double-crossed. Disappointed that I would turn elsewhere for relief.

My neighbor saw me carrying the plunger as I got back to my room. Word spreads like wildfire. I'm charging by the use now.