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, May 31, 2003

The "Should I Go To Law School?" Quiz, version 1. For entertainment purposes only. This will get funnier with a rewrite tomorrow. I promise. But for now...

1. My dream occupation is to be:
(a) a filthy-rich corporate lawyer
(b) a spiritually-rich public interest lawyer
(c) a member of the Backstreet Boys

2. When I think about reading a hundred pages of dense legal material in an evening, my first thought is:
(a) sounds like it could be interesting
(b) just the price one must pay for an education
(c) I can barely even read this quiz.

3. My idol is:
(a) Justice Scalia
(b) Alan Dershowitz
(c) Ashton Kutcher

4. In a typical day, I like to make sure I:
(a) earn some money
(b) learn something new
(c) don't get arrested

5. My favorite kind of donut filling is:
(a) hundred-dollar bills
(b) love and harmony
(c) jelly

6. My biggest reason for wanting to go to law school is:
(a) to find a high-paying job in an industry that will never vanish no matter how bad the economy gets
(b) to put myself in a position to be able to help people less fortunate than I am
(c) to avoid having to actually get a real job

7. On the political spectrum, I would consider myself:
(a) republican
(b) democrat
(c) what are you talking about?

8. In order to finance my education, I plan to:
(a) take advantage of the low interest rates, borrow to the maximum, and pay it back after graduation through an aggressive savings plan
(b) apply for grants through various human rights organization, and also start my own telethon to help not just me, but needy aspiring public interest lawyers worldwide
(c) sell crack

9. In college, my extracurricular activities included:
(a) debate team, model congress, and school treasurer
(b) hunger alliance, poverty alliance, alliance of beneficial alliances alliance
(c) college???

10. On the LSAT, I scored a:
(a) 132
(b) 135
(c) 177

Scoring key: Disregard your answers to questions 1 through 9. If you answered (a) or (b) to question 10, you should probably not apply to law school. If you answered (c), it sounds like law school would be perfect for you.

Friday, May 30, 2003

A thread on the Princeton Review discussion board about people going to Harvard in the fall (side note: I wonder if any of the half-dozen people who actually post on that thing read my weblog), focusing a lot on the dorms, and choosing between them. So here's some general thoughts about housing.

Based on my 1L year, I think it was really important to live close to campus, and to have a place where I was comfortable and didn't hate. Studying in my room, even with the distractions, I just found so much more enjoyable and less like work than going to the library. It helped to have a home base that was pleasant to be in, and clean, and complete with bathroom that made life a little less crazy than it might have been. Helped not to be woken up in the middle of the night by people screaming in the hall, or vomiting in the echo chamber, or whatever else disturbing people could do in a noisy dorm (as opposed to a relatively quiet dorm). I don't think on campus / off campus mattered so much as close enough to not feel like you're commuting. Because for the people who couldn't just go back and forth at will and had to plan their day around travel to and from home, school becomes less like a lifestyle and more like a job. And nobody likes to have to go to work in the morning. It just feels different. Even now, 4 days into my summer job, I ralize how much different work is from school. Work ruins the whole day. You have to go, and be there all day. You can't go back home when there's nothing to do, you can't run errands, waste two hours surfing the web, take a nap... well, you can... but you feel guilty. The great thing about the student lifestyle is that it's flexible, that it isn't a job, that you control your time. So my advice is live close, and live comfortably. Don't try and save $100/month by picking the apartment that smells like fish. It's just gonna make law school that much more unpleasant. Just my advice.
Just in case reading three separate posts about the law review competition was too much for you, I've condensed those thoughts, added some new ones, and even come up with a few fresh jokes. Hence, the definitive 1000 words about the law review competition.

"3 1/8 inches"

Three and one-eighth inches. No, not that. Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm of course talking about the law review competition packet. It's a monster. Over twelve hundred pages. Without any pictures. They handed out blow pops when they were giving out the packets. You know why? Because it blows. Heck, just picking up the packet - literally, just picking it up off the table, since it's so darn thick - should be enough to get someone on law review. I was expecting a little packet, a couple of cases, some forms to fill out. I don't know, eleven hundred pages max. But what do I get but a 1200-page monstrosity that almost made me wish I'd only picked it up so that I could write smack about it. Oh wait. That *is* the reason why I picked it up.

The one thing that was missing from the packet - the only thing, I suppose - was a list of reasons to apply. I know everyone says being on law review is great - the parties, the food, the millions of adoring fans, the free sneakers. Oops, I'm getting it confused with being on the Celtics. No, everyone says law review is great because without it, you're pretty much automatically disqualified from this whole bunch of jobs. Like nine of them. Souter, Rehnquist, Scalia, O'Connor, Stevens, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, and the other dude. The one with the black robe and the gavel. Not Byron White but the one who's still alive. Whatever, you know who I mean. And so from what I gather, law review's great if you want to be one of those guys - or clerk for them, I guess. Or if you want to be a professor. Of law. At Harvard. You can still be a professor of screenwriting at Vassar without law review. I hope.

So I totally have no issue at all with people doing the law review competition because they really want to get a job that being on law review improves their chances of getting. That seems like a fine reason to forego sleeping for the next two years. Really, it does. And I guess I have no issue with the people doing it just in case - you know, you don't want to be Justice Breyer now, but maybe twenty years from now, after a law firm has sucked all the spirit of your soul, it'll seem like a cool gig. So you do law review now, just in case. Like the Japanese lessons and the brochure you picked up at the doctor's office about the sex change surgery. Because you never know what you're gonna want down the road. Like, for example, if you saw MTV's "True Life" last weekend, calf implants. There was a crazy dude convinced that his life would be perfect if only he had bigger calves. So he got implants. And if you think your life would perfect if only you were on law review, then cool, go for it.

I guess I just want to know whether the line to pick up the packets was two hundred people long because there are two hundred 1Ls who really want to do stuff for which being on law review will make a difference, or whether they're just doing it because just being a normal Harvard Law student isn't prestigious enough and they need more. I realize I've left out the category of people doing it because they really enjoy subciting and tracking down sources and undangling modifiers. And maybe that's not what people do who are on law review. I don't know. It wasn't in the packet. Or at least not on pages 1 - 347. I stopped when I started seeing footnotes dancing in front of my eyes. Last Friday night, after getting the packet, instead of counting sheep to fall asleep, I counted people on line to get the packet who won't end up making it onto law review. No, actually I counted how many licks it took to get to the center of the Blow Pop.

I told a friend about the law review competition (don't worry, I don't mean I collaborated with him on my answers. That would be a violation of the rule on page 841, footnote 62). He said a "writing competition" didn't sound too bad. Then I told him that meant writing a 20-page comment on a recent Supreme Court case and editing a brief. "But editing can be fun," he said. "I edited my sister's college application essay about the time she finally became a woman, and she got into Wellesley." I said that's not quite what I meant. But after I showed him the packet he understood, and then he called up a bunch of law schools to withdraw all of his applications. Another friend asked me if maybe it wasn't so bad - "you know, it's only a week of torture and then you potentially "win" the competition, right?" (And, yeah, I know it's kind of strange that all of my "friends" ask the perfect questions to fit right into my sentences.)

And what do you win? A grueling, unpaid job. Oh, yeah, right, great, exciting. Again, I don't mean for this to sound like I have anything against law review. I really don't. I understand that it helps put people in a better position to get certain jobs, and so for people who want those jobs, or at least want the option of getting those jobs, or just like the idea that they're not excluding themselves from those jobs, or just like hard work and have some free time on their hands, it's silly not to try to get on law review. Absolutely. And because so many people want to be on it, they need to have a competition packet that's three and one-eighth inches thick. I'm cool with all of that. This is not a negative essay, this is just some rambling thoughts from someone who's still trying to recover from the hernia he got from lifting the competition packet.

But like I said before, I picked up the packet basically so that I could write about it. So I have to say something.

And I know the ninth justice is Thurgood Marshall. I was just trying to be funny.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, John Harlan. Potter Stewart. Oliver Wendell Holmes, that guy from the Dred Scott case with the funny name, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, Anthony Kennedy. Aha!

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Five New Slogans and Promotions from the New York City Public Transportation System Marketing Department

1. "No shirt? No shoes? Welcome!"
2. "Contract one disease, get the second one free"
3. "I Can't Believe it's Not Bleeding!"
4. "On the subway, Early in the morning is now Surly in the morning"
5. "Forget the low-fat sandwiches. *Our* subway diet is rats and vermin."
Grotesque Tales From the New York City Public Transportation System

Virtually verbatim, from this morning on the bus:

Man: So how's your nephew?
Driver: Good, good. They grow up so fast.
Man: So I have this friend who was 400 pounds.
Driver: Is that so?
Man: She was having trouble walking, breathing, moving. So she went to the doctor, and they said she had some circulatory problems. So she went into the hospital, and the blood wasn't flowing right, so they cut off a toe.
Driver: Wow.
Man: Yeah, and that didn't really help, so they cut off another, and then another, and one by one until all 5 were gone.
Driver: And then they removed the foot?
Man: No. Then they thought she has gall stones, so they cut her open and looked inside. And you know what they found?
Driver: No, what did they find?
Man: Her gall bladder was all gangrene. Like totally black and rotted.
Driver: So is she all better now?
Man: No, no, she died.

Followed by this morning on the subway:

A couple comes on the train. The man has a box of tic-tacs. He offers his girlfriend, or wife, or whoever she is. She says no, and gestures to the bottle of water she's got. As if drinking water means no tic-tac. But whatever. So she opens her water and takes a sip and makes an awful face, like she's just swallowed a rat. The man looks at her. Asks if the water's bad. She says she thinks so. He looks at. Says it looks ok. He smells it. Makes a face. Says it smells like something's wrong with it. She looks at it. Says it looks ok. She smells it. Makes a face. And then... And then... And then... And then she takes another sip. Really.

If you're also subjected to the New York City public transportation system (motto: "Did you get there? Isn't that enough?"), you may be able to recognize me -- I'm the guy constantly shifting his weight and trying to steady myself with my feet because I'm too frightened to touch any of the exposed metal surfaces.

Also funny -- heard a radio ad at some point today. I'm sure I just heard wrong, but it sounded like the commercial said: "St. Vincent's hospital. Taking good care of patients, whether it's your first visit, or your last." Lovely thoughts.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Hilarious satire of the NY Times plagiarism scandals at You'll need to watch a 15-second ad from Microsoft to get the "premium day pass" to read the article though. But it's worth it, I promise. How often do you laugh out loud reading anything on the Internet?
I promised something funny, to make up for the not so funny post about final exams below. Instead of funny, how about completely random? Like this sketch about a ball of dust I found under my bed while I was studying for exams (ok, not really, but I have to at least try to make this relevant, right?)

DUST: A completely random sketch that might be funny

(scene opens on a dorm room. Bed and desk. Jeremy is sitting at his desk, studying.)

Jeremy: Stupid Evidence final tomorrow. (he slams the book closed) I wish there were no laws.

(an actor in a big round gray costume emerges from under the bed. he is a ball of dust. he dusts himself off. ha. he slowly sneaks up behind Jeremy, and taps him on the shoulder, very carefully. Jeremy turns around.)

Jeremy (startled, screaming): AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Dust: Calm down, dude.

Jeremy (scared): Who...What are you?

Dust: I'm a ball of dust. From under your bed.

Jeremy: What? What do you want?

Dust: Well, you haven't vacuumed or cleaned all year. And that's great. You know, so I don't die. So I figured I'd say thanks.

Jeremy: Uh... Okay...

Dust: And I heard you complaining about your Evidence final, and thought I might be able to help.

Jeremy: Are you a lawyer?

Dust: No. I'm a ball of dust. But still. Are you a lawyer?

Jeremy: No.

Dust: So what's the difference. Besides, the guy who roomed here last year took the same class and he was real smart. And he never cleaned either. Filthy humans. (Dust reaches inside himself and pulls out a sheet of crumpled paper) Just use his outline and you'll be fine.

(Jeremy grabs the sheet of paper from Dust)

Jeremy: Thanks dude. This is awesome. Hey, can you help me with my Environmental Law final too?

Dust: No, but I've got a friend who can.

(Environmental Law Dust, who looks kind of like a cloud of air pollution, emerges from under the bed)

Environmental Law Dust: I'm illegal in 49 states. But they don't care in Texas.

Jeremy: Do you know environmental law?

Environmental Law Dust: No, but I can give you asthma.

Jeremy: Close enough!

Environmental Law: I figured. Can I go to the bathroom?

Jeremy: Sure.

Environmental Law: Don't worry, it'll be non-toxic. I'm environmentally-friendly. No hazardous waste coming out of me.

Jeremy: Great. Hey, are there any more dusts under there?

(Registrar Dust comes out from under the bed)

Registrar Dust: I'm Registrar Dust. I can help you choose classes.

(Student Loans Dust comes out from under the bed)

Student Loans Dust: I'm Student Loans Dust. After law school, your net worth looks just like me: completely turned to dust! Ha ha ha!

Jeremy: Maybe I should vacuum.

All the dusts scream: Noooo!

[The end. Don't say I didn't warn you this was random...]
Haven't said much about my spring exams, so I figure today's as good a day as any to talk about those. The biggest thing I noticed was that people seemed a lot less concerned / stressed / intense / insane about spring exams than they had been in the fall. Which I suppose makes sense, since we'd already been through it all once, whereas in the fall it was all brand new, and people had already gotten a set of grades and so probably at least were secure in knowledge that they could pass a law school exam, and that a B wasn't going to kill them. Unless they got an A on everything, in which case they had another reason not to be too concerned -- because they probably had the knack for this sort of thing. In any event, people seemed much more relaxed. Of course, everything is relative, so by "much more relaxed" I mean still pretty insane, but just not as much as in the fall.

Last semester I made nice outlines, which it turned out I didn't really find that useful during the exam, and didn't really feel like making them was so valuable as compared with reading stuff. So no outlines this semester. Instead, I did lots and lots of practice exams. As many as I could fine. And for the ones that didn't have model answers, I did them with people so we could compare answers. Found that to be pretty helpful. Also tried to get my hands on lots of different outlines and find the best pieces of each one. Didn't find that too helpful though. It wasn't that the outlines weren't good, it was just that they didn't really help with putting everything together mentally to make the whole course fit together. All of my exams wee open book. I find studying for open book exams to be really frustrating because you don't need to memorize anything, and memorizing stuff doesn't matter anyway. You just need to make sure you understand stuff well enough to be able to play around with it and wrap your head around whatever questions the professor makes up. I found it useful in the fall for contracts to write out my own "story of contracts," trying to fit everything together into one cohesive package. I did something similar for property this semester, but just based on the exam styles of the different professors, didn't find it to be as useful. I think it's important to have something written out that lists everything you covered in the course so that when writing an essay or trying to spot issues, you can go down the list quickly and see if anything fits. Just a 1-2 page issue sheet, with some keywords to remind of important concepts, units, cases, etc. That was probably the most useful.

It's really frustrating, when the exam is 100% of the grade, to have exams that seem poorly designed for measuring knowledge and understanding. Easy or hard, doesn't matter, I feel a little angry when the exam isn't testing what I think it ought to be testing -- when it's too vague to know what the professor is really looking for, or when it's too specific to really force you to apply concepts. I imagine it's really hard to come up with good exams from a professor point of view, but I would guess that while grading it quickly becomes clear whether the exam was good and the answers are all on target but still differentiable, as opposed to when they're all the same because it was too easy or too right-out-of-the-book, or there's such a variation that it's clear that some people who probably had a decent enough understanding of the course just missed the boat and didn't go in the direction it was expected they'd go in, or missed the key concepts, not because they didn't understand the material but because the question was vague or unclear or just badly thought-out. I also think there should be a permanent moratorium placed on professors making any comments about grading being random, arbitrary, vague, hard, or anything else like that. Even if it's true, it's so not motivating. I want to believe that the quality of my answers has something to do both with my understanding of the course, and with the grade I get. Maybe too much to ask, but at least allow me the illusion. My other grade reform would be that I think they should have to share samples of an A answer and a B-minus or C answer after the exam is over -- I want to see what people are and aren't doing that's causing them to do well or poorly. Otherwise we're left kind of clueless -- how good is the best answer? How bad is the worst? Which one am I closer to? And is there something stupid I'm not doing -- like creating subheadings, or drawing diagrams, or whatever -- that alone could give me higher grades without actually having anything to do with my comprehension. Just curious.

That's a long paragraph. Without a real point. Gosh. Rambling about exams. Hmm. Hope someone finds it sorta interesting, I guess. Sorry about the lack of funny in there. Maybe something funny later tonight? Any ideas? :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

MTV's "True Life" this past weekend (yes, I watched MTV's "True Life." And, yes, I could have been doing the law review competition instead) featured young people getting plastic surgery. Two girls -- aspiring Playboy models (are there internships you can get for that?) getting some assorted breast, nose, and thigh work done, one tremendously overweight girl trying to become merely obese, and one particularly disturbed guy getting "calf implants" because "[he] wants big calves" to impress all of his friends. Because the first thing I look for when picking my friends is big calves. Anyway, he got his new calves, the surgery pretty much paralyzed him for a few days, but then he was off to the bar to show off. "Big calves! Who cares?" was pretty much the reaction of his friends. But he went off to pursue his dream of being a male model (a sock model, perhaps?). After the surgery, I kept waiting for him to say, "well, I got my calves, but now my elbows are too small! I need big elbows!" And why is any of this related to law school? Well, if you go to law school, then after exams, you too will have time to watch MTV's "True Life." And also, you'll be able to wonder what the contracts these doctors make the patients sign before surgery look like, and if they're open to any liability at all if the new claves aren't big enough, or they mess up and give you big knees or big ankles instead. You can also spend time wondering about malpractice insurance. Law school: it can even turn watching MTV into a lesson in adhesion contracts.

(Thanks to Roger, for reminding me I watched this thing. Thanks to MTV, for costing me brain cells.)
I mentioned something in yesterday's post about starting a summer job today. Particularly alert readers (read: obsessive stalkers of mine) may have noticed that was probably the first time I'd mentioned anything about a summer job, at least since December, when we were first allowed to send out resumes. And the mention in passing yesterday didn't really say anything other than "I have a summer job, and it starts tomorrow." There's a reason I've spent more words talking about the cafeteria food than anything having to do with my summer job. And now that the summer has started, I feel relatively comfortable sharing a story I've been saving, and reluctant to post while I was still looking for summer work.

Back on December 1st, when we were first allowed to send out resumes, it felt like all of my classmates were literally racing to the post office. I had friends applying to over a hundred law firms, or twelve dozen public interest organizations, or every Starbucks on the East Coast. I had been delaying actually sitting down and thinking about the summer job search -- I thought I'd gone to law school to avoid looking for a job, and now, three months in, we had to start sending resumes out? And once I did start thinking about it, I figured that regardless of what I want to do next summer and in the future beyond law school, it probably made sense for me to try to get something different for this summer, so I could explore some other options. And since it's relatively easy for 2Ls to get summer jobs at firms, but less easy for 1Ls to do so, especially in this economy, by not even trying for a firm job, I wasn't really costing myself anything. But it's hard to get hired for something that isn't a law firm in December, when the summer is six months away. And there's pressure to do *something,* since everyone else is.

So I looked through the Public Interest Job Guide we'd received, and I identified a handful of public interest organizations that I'd totally consider working for, in areas I'm interested in. I wasn't passionate about public interest legal work -- but I thought I'd explore, send out some resumes, see if any opportunities ended up sounding really good and would be a nice fit. Totally in good faith, just not things that I was truly passionate about -- not that all of my friends sending out resumes to corporate law firms were totally passionate about them either. So I sent out a dozen resumes, and I posted something flip on the weblog, like "just sent a dozen resumes to places I don't really want to work." Not completely the truth -- it wasn't that I didn't want to work there, just that I wasn't dying to work at any of them, at least not until I'd found out some more about them and what exactly a public-interest legal organization does, anyway -- but not completely a lie.

And a week later, I received an e-mail from someone at one of them, saying, basically, "Thanks for your resume, but according to your weblog, you don't really want to work here. Best of luck." And my stomach dropped. And I realized that I needed to be careful. I mean, she had every right to send me that e-mail -- although I'm not sure she didn't overreact to the post -- but it scared me that I was potentially making myself unemployable by writing this thing, and not doing it anonymously.

But for every hundred potential employers who might find my weblog, decide they don't think my song parodies are very funny, and decide not to hire me because of it, there might be one who reads it and thinks it's pretty funny. And that's probably the place I want to work anyway. So I decided it's worth the risk.

But you're not going to find out what my summer job is anywhere in this post. Or tomorrow's, or the next day's. Because it wouldn't be fair to them, it wouldn't be particularly courteous, and man would I be scared they'd find it and fire me. Even though I have nothing bad at all to say. Day one was awesome, and I can't wait for day two.

So, the moral of my story, fellow webloggers and aspiring webloggers, heed my warning, even if it's six months late. They're gonna find it. So be careful. And be nice to the elderly, too. Because they're generally pretty nice people.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Decided not to do the law review competition. Actually, hadn't really planned on doing it, but by picking it up I thought I'd at least give myself the chance to get motivated and potentially change my mind. My reasoning for not doing it? (1) I don't think that for the things I want to do in the future, which -- at least now, and without law review, I guess never -- don't include clerking for a Supreme Court justice or being a Harvard Law professor -- that law review would be particularly necessary, and, in fact, (2) my current extracurricular activities, most of which I'd probably have to drop if I were to make law review, might actually be more helpful. I want to make sure I have time to write, that I have time to work on the newspaper, that I have time to sing in the a cappella group and act in the law school Parody show, that I have time to hang out with friends, to enjoy my classes... and (3) I really enjoyed the past year, and the balance I found between class and law-related stuff, and stuff that was less law-related. I'm more than a little worried that adding a 40-hour-a-week job to the mix -- a job that, by all accounts, isn't particularly enjoyable or relaxing -- would mess that up, and make me enjoy life a bit less. Not worth it. To me. Worth it to others, and that's totally understandable and sensible and great for them. I'm not at all trying to say I think law review is stupid or a bad idea for everyone or even automatically a trade-off. There are people who like checking footnotes and editing articles, and there are people who have serious goals for which law review makes a lot of sense. (4) A side consideration is that I start my summer job tomorrow, and so I probably wouldn't have had time this week to give the competition the effort and energy it would take to make it on. So it turns out that I did only pick up the packet in order to write about it and find stuff to make fun of. Which was my hunch all along.

It frightens me a little that I even thought about doing it. The only reason I was tempted is because it's a competition, and "winning" a spot on law review, even if I didn't want it, would feel nice. More than one professor told us this year that just by being at Harvard, we've "won" the race, and we'll all do fine, and we can stop competing. But in the back of everyone's mind, I think it's hard to get out of the mode of competing and wondering if you "have what it takes" and how you compare to your classmates. And it felt silly to automatically pass up something prestigious and desirable and wanted without even trying to get it.

I'm gonna try an analogy here, although it's probably not a very good one. I think of law review as a pile of rocks, and the law review competition as a race to the rockpile. Some people really want rocks -- for their slingshots, for the construction project they're working on, for their rock collection. Lots of reasons to want a pile of rocks. And if you do have a slingshot, or a construction project, or a rock collection, those rocks are really desirable, and really helpful. And they're lovely rocks, so even if you don't need them, if you win the rockpile, people are going to think you're pretty special. "Wow, you've got nice rocks." Some people will be really impressed by the rocks, whether or not you actually need them for anything. But if you don't need them, you've got this big pile of rocks, and nothing to do with them -- they're hard to move, they take time to bring to the rock deposit, they take up space you could use for your shell collection, or you refrigerator magnet collection, they block the door so it's hard for people to get in, and this big pile of rocks casts a big shadow and makes it hard for anything else you're doing to really stand out. And the race is pretty long. So if you don't want the rocks, and they're only going to cause trouble, maybe it's okay not to even run the race.

What a long and convoluted analogy. I'm spending way too many words explaining this. Probably I'll turn this into an 800-word "law review summary entry" in a couple of days, but besides that, I think that's enough words on law review. Until I change my mind on Thursday night and stay up for 24 straight hours writing. Right.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Not law-related but kind of funny: my mom was telling me about a woman she works with who's having a baby. She saw the sonogram and found out that it's a boy. Now she's telling her co-workers: "I could tell, he has a really big [you know what word goes here] -- just like my husband." From the sonogram! Seemed funnier when my mom told me the story. Oh well.
Linking to a weblog over at Sanction Films that was kind enough to link to me. Their film project, "In the Bathroom," a spoof of "In the Bedroom," sounds pretty funny just from the title. I'm been meaning to link to them for a few days now, but was waiting for a weblog post that gave me something to say in response so I could combine the link with something substantive to say. And today, there's a post that's awfully sad, but I think conveys feelings that we all have some of the time, when we're frustrated, or lonely, or just scared of the future out there unknown. He writes, in part:

"I am 23 years old, and the more I go through life the more I realize that no one cares. No one cares if you go to work. No one cares if you don't wake up today. No one cares if you don't pick up your dry cleaning this Tuesday. No one cares about what happened to you on the way home... No one is going to make you become something. You have to do it yourself or it is just not going to happen."

He sounds like someone who needs some good old-fashioned graduate school. :) I'm actually completely serious. One of the great things about law school -- and one of the reasons I decided to go, really -- is that no matter how meaningless the day seems, how useless you feel, how little you get done, at the end of the day, in the back of your mind, you know at least you're getting a degree at the end. That you're working towards *something.* That you won't wake up in three years and find that you're three years older and have nothing to show for it. You've wasted all of this time and what for? At least you have a degree. Maybe it's not a degree you want, but it has value. It can get you a job. It can make your wall more crowded, and your resume look prettier. And even at its worst, it fills the day with classes to sit through and surrounds you with people your own age to interact with, and fills your weeks with activities and assignments and a feeling of purpose. The two years I spent in between finishing undergrad and starting law school were often interesting, often enjoyable, and often worthwhile. And there were also days that I came home, sat on my bed, and wondered "What in the world am I doing? Where will this lead? Why am I here?" Those feelings simply don't exist at law school. Vanished. Gone. I'm in school, I'm getting a degree, it's fun, there's stuff to keep me busy, I'm never stuck sitting in my room doing nothing, it's great. No complaints. Lacking a sense of purpose? I don't say that law school is necessarily the answer, but find something -- anything -- with a carrot at the end of the journey. So you're building towards something and no day can ever truly be deemed a complete waste of time. Or at least that's an idea. I don't know. Writing at one in the morning is never a good idea... this entry needs a meaningless top ten list to balance the melancholy. And so...

Top Ten Classes Not Offered by Any Law School. Or at least not any ABA-accredited law school.

1. The Law of One-Celled Organisms
2. Extraterrestrial Legal Regimes
3. Torte Law (the pastry kind)
4. The Law of Oligarchy
5. Prison Law
6. Fungus and the Law
7. History of Traffic Court
8. Law and Breakfast Cereal seminar
9. Clinical Workshop: Influencing the US News Rankings Through Subterfuge
10. Uncivil Procedure

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Questions and Answers about the Harvard Law Review writing competition from someone who knows nothing more than they're telling us in the packet and readily admits that he really doesn't know what all of the benefits and burdens of actually being on law review are, whether or not it's a good idea for everyone to try to get on or just people with certain specific career goals, and whether or not being on law review would mean having to drop lots of other activities and never see your friends again:

"Finals just ended three days ago. And now I can choose to spend another week doing grueling law-related work? Ooh, I'm excited -- tell me more!"

Gladly. It's the Harvard Law Review writing competition. Each year, the Law Review chooses its new editors (everyone who's on Law Review is called an editor) through a writing competition that takes place the week after finals. Any 1L can choose to participate, and is given exactly a week to do the competition.

"A writing competition! That sounds like fun!"

Uh, maybe. The term "writing competition" is actually a bit misleading. It makes it sound like you have to write an essay, or something like that. You actually have to complete two tasks -- editing a 30-page excerpt from a law review article that's been doctored so that it has lots and lots of mistakes, and then writing your own 20-page case comment about a recent prominent court case.

"What do you mean by 'prominent'?"

I mean it's something I'm guessing I should have probably heard of but I haven't, since my only sources of news are the Daily Show and that 60-second news break at 10 minutes before the hour, every hour, on MTV. And the only court cases they mention on there are about Eminem and Puff Daddy.

"Editing an article doesn't sound so bad. After all, I edited my little sister's college application essay about the first time she got her period, and she got into Wellesley!"

It's not really that kind of editing. They give you a stack of paper -- and I mean a stack like pancakes, not a stack like playing cards -- that has all of the sources (court cases, law review articles, ancient Cyrillic texts) used, and you have to read them to make sure they're not misrepresented, or misquoted, or misinterpreted. And then you also have to do all the standard editing stuff like figure out whether any modifiers are dangling, infinitives are split, the voice is passive, any redundancies, misspellings, etc.

"But you get a week to edit a 30-page article? It really doesn't seem that bad."

But you're forgetting about the case comment part, where you have to write a 20-page paper about a case, relying on 722 pages of support materials to make your argument. You have to do that too.

"Is that '722' one of those fake made-up numbers you sometimes use when you're trying to exaggerate for comic effect?"


"Oh. Remind me again why I'd be putting myself through this thing for a week?"

To get on law review. Or at least to try and get on law review. Apparently something like 250 people (out of 550 1Ls) pick up the competition, 175 or so hand it in, and they accept about 40. So it's certainly not a slam dunk even if you do the competition.

"And I want to get on law review... why?"

I wish they'd be more explicit about this, because tons and tons of people want to get on law review, and I'm not completely certain why. I understand that it's pretty much required if you want to clerk for the Supreme Court -- but so few people are in a position to do that anyway -- and that it's an awful big help if you want to be a law professor at a place like Harvard, although you can certainly still be a professor at lots of other schools -- and there's a lot more besides law review you need to do to make yourself a viable candidate for a professorship. So for these very small number of jobs...

"But if it's just a week of torture, isn't it worth it?"

Oh, totally. I definitely think it's totally worth it if it was just this week of competition. What makes me hesitate is that if you make it onto law review, you're basically accepting a full time job doing this same kind of work -- editing, checking footnotes, and, in one instance, writing a case comment or note of some sort, if I'm not mistaken. For those accepted, they return to campus on August 11th and do law review work until school starts, and then basically work upwards of 40 hours a week on this stuff all year. Plus go to class, in a few exceptional cases. And so it becomes difficult to balance law review with classwork with other activities and commitments, plus hanging out with friends and relaxing and stuff like that. So in cases where people have fulfulling lives already, and want to do more than law review, I don't know if it's worth it.

"But I love Justice Souter."

Doesn't everybody. But even with law review on the resume, it's still awfully hard to get to be his clerk.

"But it seems silly to pass up an opportunity that most people would kill for -- there's got to be a reason it's such a competition. And you don't know what you're going to want to be doing ten years from now, and if all that will be holding you back is not having been on law review. It seems stupid not to at least do it and give yourself a chance -- don't arbitrarily close doors that can be of great value in the future, robbing yourself of future success and happiness..."

Lay off the crack, dude. No, you're right. And that's why I picked the packet up. And that's why I'm kind of torn. Right now, the opportunities Law Review makes easier aren't things that I'm really interested in. But who knows. And silly to pass this stuff up without at least giving it a shot, getting rejected, and then at least saying you tried. Otherwise you run the risk of blaming yourself down the road.

"But let's get serious for a second. The only reason you picked the packet up is not because you really think you're gonna do the competition, but because you wanted to write about it and find stuff to make fun of."

Well... on some level...

"And another thing -- don't you think it's a little bit arrogant for you to be devoting all these words to a debate with yourself about whether or not to try out for the Harvard Law Review. Many people in this world -- most of whom post on the Princeton Review law school message boards -- would give their little sister away just to have this choice."

Yeah, I know, and I don't mean for it to sound that way, because it's not like it's causing me any inner turmoil or I'm having nightmares about it, or anything like that. It's really not a big deal, and I have this 1200-page packet in front of me, and no real desire to be on law review or spend the next week doing this competition... but I figured some people out there in weblog-reader-land would be interested anyway. Because it's kind of interesting. Maybe.

"You're petering out. I think it's time to end this post."

I think you're right. But wait -- I have a one-liner I've been meaning to fit in here somewhere -- "I picked up the law review writing competition packet. And at over 1200 pages and 46,000 pounds, that in itself is an accomplishment that should be enough to get me on law review." And, yeah, the 46,000 is one of those made-up numbers for comic exaggeration. Okay, now I'm done. See you later. Tell your sister I say hi.

"Sure, no problem."

Friday, May 23, 2003

More about the Yale explosion from the Yale Daily News, including this incisive quote from an administrator: ""Frankly we've pretty much returned to normal, with the exception of the ... Law School." Um, yeah. Still super scary. Nightmarish, in fact.
3 1/8 inches. No, not that. The law review competition packet. More pages than I can count. But not more pages than Waddling Thunder can count. He has some thoughts on the law review writing competition, which, until I unpack my stuff from lots and lots of bags now that I've returned home, should suffice. I should note that it's pretty apparent from his post that Mr. Thunder is awfully serious about this thing and intends to put in the requisite gazillion hours of work to do really well and make it onto the Law Review. Meanwhile, I think it's a pretty big accomplishment just to have measured how thick it is. He's bought binders and stuff. I read the instructions. He's gonna do it. I'm gonna find funny things to say about it. I wish him luck.
Goodbye, Cambridge. See you in a few months.

On the way back home to NY. Stay tuned for some post tonight about the law review wrtiing competition, once I pick up my packet later today.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

An eyewitness account of the Yale explosion at Super scary. I can't imagine how freaked out the students there must be. Seems like nothing's really safe anymore. I'd trade a bit of personal freedom for a bit of security, I think. Metal detectors at the door of every public building, security guards, bag searches... I'd be cool with all of it, if it can potentially stop bad stuff. Of course, then they'll just do bad stuff that doesn't come through doorways and in bags.... No real solution I guess. But, man, that Yale explosion is freaking me out. Thank goodness no one was in the room. Wow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

"It's Over"

It's finally over. 38 weeks, over 383,000 minutes since it began. American Idol has ended. Oh, and the school year has too. As of 4:30 this afternoon, assuming they didn't change the curve so half of us fail, I'm no longer a 1L. My classmates and I have gained wisdom, knowledge, and carpal tunnel syndrome. We've lost our innocence, our souls, and thousands of dollars in tuition. The next time we go to class, there'll be people on campus who know less than we do. And that's a really scary thought.

It seems like only yesterday that I arrived on campus for orientation and quickly realized I had no idea how it was possible for Massachusetts Avenue to bend a full 90 degrees at Harvard Square, and no idea why the sidewalk on one side of the street simply vanished in the middle of a 5-way intersection. The first night, I was walking back to campus after dark, and actually had to ask a security guard where Massachusetts Avenue was. He told me I was standing on it. I told him I went to the Kennedy School. Don't want to give law students a bad name.

I'm excited to be finished, but a little scared. Scared that from here on, instead of being on the way in, I'm on the way out. Three years is short, and made shorter by the fact that by the middle of the fall, most of us will probably already know where we'll be working upon graduation. Our experiences won't be as new, our fears won't seem as important, and our outlines won't be as long. Instead of seeing the same faces in every classroom, we'll see lots of new faces, and, probably, if my elective this semester is a representative example, lots of empty seats. The guy sitting next to me in Con Law won't understand my jokes about 1L classes. He'll just think I'm strange. Then he'll stop showing up to class. And I'll just have to whisper sarcastic comments to myself.

I have piles of paper on my floor. I have notes from last semester that I don't need. I have four copies of every Word file on my computer in my bookcase, and three more copies strewn across the room in no particular sequence. I don't need any of these things. I will never need to know the twenty-seven elements of a successful adverse possession claim again. I probably never even knew them to begin with. But I have a plan. A plan to recoup 0.1% of my tuition. I am going to sell my class notes on eBay. "Learn what it's like to be a Harvard Law student. Pretend you finished grad school. Light a big fire. Torts notes come with two thousand pages of background reading and a book about feminism. Buyer pays shipping. For entertainment purposes only. Accuracy of legal statements not guaranteed. For actual legal problems, call an actual lawyer." I'm setting the reserve price at forty-seven cents. Hopefully someone will bite. Probably an incoming 1L, super-concerned about making a good first impression. Someone for whom this will all be new, for whom this will all be important, for whom this will all matter now more than it will a year from now.

I'm going to miss it here this summer. Not the weather, although the last few weeks have almost made up for the mini-Ice Age we experienced for much of the year. And not the food at the cafeteria, which I can't go two weeks in a row without mentioning at least once. But the friends I've made, and the things I've learned. Occasionally I'll be walking across the campus and it'll hit me that I'm actually a student at Harvard Law School. Totally wild. I feel like I'm still seven years old. No way I should be at law school. It's cool. I think sometimes my classmates and I take for granted where we are and how special it is. All it takes is a few minutes reading Princeton Review's online law school discussion board to see how much people would give to be in our shoes (ooh, maybe I can sell my shoes on eBay too). We get to sit in the same seats as some very famous people did, before they had laptops, when casebooks were thinner (think of how many fewer cases they would have had to pick from a hundred years ago...) and when coffee mugs weren't seventy-six ounces and the size of our heads. So they probably weren't as cramped. But still, pretty cool.

I still have a box filled with the stuff Harvard sent me last summer, before school started. My course list, with professors named E. Warren and R. Kennedy that made me wonder if one had to be a former chief justice or slain brother of a president in order to teach at Harvard Law School. The Black's Law Dictionary I got as a gift last summer that has not been opened even once. The Harvard coffee mug I've never used.

In the blink of an eye, it will be September again. I'll have stories to tell about my summer, brand new classes to attend, old friends to reconnect with and new friends to make. I'll have 1Ls asking for my outlines and wishing they were in my shoes. I'll never be a 1L again. But it's been an awesome year.

P.S. No worries (not that you're worrying...) that just because the school year has ended means nothing more to say on the weblog. There'll be no interruption in service. :) And hopefully I'll have some time to reflect on the first year of school and offer some insights that might be helpful to people on their way in, on their way out, or just curious. I'll have thoughts about my recent exams sometime in the next few days, after they've had a chance to sink in, and some thoughts about the different things people I know are doing this summer. I'll probably take a look back and reflect on things I wish I knew and wish I'd done before law school, and things I would have done differently this year. Things I'm glad I did, things I regret, things that no one should go to law school without doing. And, of course, shoot me an e-mail if there's anything you, random reader, would like to see me write about. When I started writing the weblog last August, I didn't really know if it would be anything more than a brief experiment. I'm pleased and relieved that I've been able to keep it going all year, and hopefully I've been somewhat amusing and informative. I know I've enjoyed writing it, and I truly hope that you, random reader, have enjoyed reading it and will continue to visit. The cyber-connections I've made through this forum have truly enriched my life.
I'm too afraid to really do this, but I kind of want to sell my reading packets on eBay. See, for torts we didn't have a casebook, just packet upon packet of reading. Like 2000 pages total. It's interesting stuff, and I'm sure I could write a compelling description, like "Learn what it's like to be a Harvard Law student by purchasing this big stack of readings from a 1L torts class. Exam included. Buyer pays shipping." And maybe someone would even bid. Some super-motivated incoming student who's really curious and wants to get a head start. But I'd hate for the professor to feel bad if he somehow heard about it, although it's really no different from selling casebooks back to bookstore... I don't know, it feels different. I'm tempted though. Because I don't what else to do with these 2000 pages besides throw them on a shelf somewhere. They were interesting to read, but I don't know that I need to ever read them again... anyone want them?
Note the change in the description in the upper left. I've finished my last exam. I'm done. Of course, like everything else, it's sort of anti-climactic. No real change in the world, other than no exams left. It's not like the school blew up. Oh, wait, that would be a different law school. Explosion at Yale Law School. Scary stuff. My initial theory was that someone's head got too big and just blew up. But that's only funny if the story wasn't true. It's pretty frightening, actually.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

This headline in today's NY Times caught my eye, and is actually sort of related to the Torts exam I've got tomorrow: Doctor Admits He Did Needless Surgery on the Mentally Ill

"An eye doctor who preyed on the severely mentally ill pleaded guilty yesterday to a nearly $1 million fraud scheme in which he routinely rounded up residents of some of New York City's most notorious adult homes and subjected them to unnecessary surgery or charged for thousands of procedures that were never done."

"They said that on patient charts, Dr. Debbi made notations like: "Smart. Do not invite," or "Confused. Must invite."

"Dr. Debbi's scheme was so flagrant that at one point, prosecutors said, he billed the government for multiple services on a resident's eye even though the resident was missing that eye."

Monday, May 19, 2003

From an e-mail from the professor whose exam I have on Wednesday:

"I wanted to let you know ahead of time that the exam appears to be quite long. You will discover upon closer review that, in fact, the exam is merely long (as opposed to "quite long"). You should expect to spend a sizeable chunk of time reading the exam before you do much writing. The reading, though, will often be light and interesting and should go fast."

Well, now I'm excited...
Ten things to do before an 8-hour take-home exam

1. Go to the bathroom
2. Stock up on water / juice / soda / etc
3. Pull out the ethernet cord
4. Turn off the cell phone
5. Organize your reference materials
6. Make sure you've got paper to print the exam out on
7. Delete solitaire from your hard drive
8. Format a backup floppy disk
9. Get a good night's sleep
10. Check to make sure you're not out of toilet paper
From a promo on Fox: "...what you need to know about your kids and sex. Tonight at 10, after Mr. Personality." That's the one hosted by Monica Lewinsky, right? Funny.
This didn't get me particularly many e-mails last week, but I figure I'll give it one more try... 8-hour take-home Property exam today that I'll be doing at my computer all day, punctuated only by the uncontrollable urge to take 5-minute breaks every hour and check my e-mail. Wish Me Luck! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2003

From an e-mail from a law firm hosting an ice cream giveaway after tomorrow's exam:

"We hope that you will consider interviewing with us on-campus this fall for the summer of 2004."

Wow. Seller's market, eh? Law school is weird.
To the tune of Disney's "When You Wish Upon A Star," it's a song all about Regulatory Takings

When you're taking property, from a citizen like me
You must fairly compensate or else I'll sue

If the right you take is core, does not matter what it's for
That's per se, and courts today will punish you

Value's down, my expectations lost
The diminution of my land is crucial

Fairness is the guiding light, show the court that you are right
When the city takes your property, they'll pay
Adverse possession, prescriptive easements, implied negative reciprocal covenants, regulatory takings... so many concepts, so little time....

A song parody coming later today, I promise.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Coming to CBS this fall... In Vitro Survivor.

One woman. Three fertility drugs. Four infrared cameras. Eight fetuses. Tune in each week as the fetuses compete head-to-head* for the ultimate prize: birth. A nine-month journey with only one winner, as each week viewers will call and vote for the fetus they'd like to see voted out of the womb. The fetus with the most votes each week will be terminated; the rest will move on to more competition. Watch the fetuses compete for food, drink, and the occasional (amniotic) sac of prizes. The tangled relationships (and umbilical cords) will leave viewers gasping for air. Don't miss... In Vitro Survivor.

*Competitions the first three months will not be head-to-head, since the fetuses will not yet have developed heads
"Books, be gone."

"Here you go. Ten, twenty, thirty, thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven. Thirty-seven cents. Thanks for selling your books back to the bookstore. Have a nice day."

Okay, so it wasn't quite that bad. But it was close. I've sold back three casebooks and a statutory supplement so far - over $200 in initial value - and received $37.50 from the bookstore. And in the fall, they'll get about a hundred and fifty bucks for 'em, for a tidy profit margin of 300%. They wouldn't even take back my Federal Rules of Civil Procedure book. They said there'll be a new edition in the fall. Like the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are really changing so much year after year that it's worth it. Sanctions for this, penalties for that, whatever. Like we're actual practicing lawyers who need to know the real rules or something.

I've heard two reasons from people as to why they don't sell their books back. The first is that a bookshelf full of law books looks really impressive. To who? Illiterate house guests? These must be the same people who tell their friends how much all of their clothing costs. "I paid four thousand dollars for this gold watch. It was on sale. It's really worth nine thousand dollars. And my socks are made of gold too." "Oh yeah? I got this watch in a McDonalds Happy Meal. And the closest I have to gold socks are Gold Toe. But they have holes in them." I don't want a bookshelf filled with books like "Property Law," "Criminal Procedure," and "2002 Uniform Commercial Code Annotated Special Edition." I don't think it's impressive, I think it's boring. If I walked into someone's house and saw all of those books, besides being concerned the shelves would collapse from the weight and fall on me, breaking my gold watch, I would think that person was dull and dreary. Like if they had "National Cactus Journal," and "Modern Fireplace" magazines on their coffee table. CVS had a magazine all about chandeliers last time I was in there buying some socks and a brand new watch. I think it was called "Chandelier Life," or something like that. Who's buying these things? Probably whoever's married to the lawyer who's got shelves full of "Tax Code, 2002."

The second reason I've heard as to why people keep their books is because they want them as reference materials. For the next time you're dying to know which justices concurred in the Upjohn case and can't remember your Lexis password. When am I ever going to need to be re-reading these cases? Will I be bored one day and yearning for a series of perplexing notes and questions to ponder over a cup of tea served in a three-hundred dollar tea cup while wearing my new gold cufflinks? Will I be desperate for a four-inch thick book to balance the leg of a severely unbalanced coffee table? Will I need a heavy object to throw at the intruder who has come to steal my fancy chandelier? Perhaps people think they can one day use their casebooks to teach their kids how to read. "Assumpsit, daddy. I think the word's assumpsit." When I was a kid I remember seeing a Supreme Court paper dolls book in a discount bookstore. All of the justices in their underwear, with paper clothes and paper robes to put on them. Just seeing it in the store scarred me for life. Someone really thought that Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist in their underwear made for an appropriate children's book.

Yeah, so I don't want my textbooks. And the bookstore apparently doesn't either, or not much, anyway. My plan after my exam in International Environmental Law was actually to sell the book back on my way to my room after the test. In my own head I thought that would be making a very subtle statement about how valuable the book is to me. "I don't even want you coming back into my room now that you've outlived your usefulness. I'm done with you, you, you stupid casebook!"

True story - a guy in front of me in line at the bookstore when I was selling back books tried to return a study guide, still in its original shrink wrap. Still in its original shrink wrap. "I got it for the wrong casebook. I just want to exchange it for a different one." "No. No returns on study guides." "But it's still in the shrink wrap. You can just put it back on the shelf." "Not like that I can't." 'Not like what?" "No returns. No exchanges." "But it's in the shrink wrap." "No."

What are they, book nazis? It's in shrink wrap. Unless the bookstore is also selling do-it-yourself shrink-wrap machines (mine's made of gold and cost me three zillion dollars), he couldn't have photocopied it or done whatever else they think we do with study guides that makes them unreturnable (the pornographic treatises and hornbooks, I kind of understand why they're unreturnable...).

So take my books from me, evil bookstore. Turn my dollars into casebooks into pennies. Impoverish me so that you can continue to earn monopoly profits, and double the price of umbrellas whenever it's raining (you didn't think anyone noticed, did you?). Lure me in with your promises of cash back. Where's my cash back, law school bookstore? It's certainly not in my used books....
I'm off to exam #1: a three-hour open-book in-class all about International Environmental Law. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Foreign man in front of me on the copy machine line in the library: "How many pages you copy?"

Me: "About twenty."

Him: "About same."

I then waited for twenty minutes as he photocopied an entire hundred page book.

But at least my water isn't brown anymore (see below).
E-mail from my Torts professor's assistant:

"Hi everyone. A nice man came by my office today with some Torts materials he found in in the Harvard Square bus station. I have them here at my desk. Please let me know when you want to come by to pick them up."

That's pretty funny.
The water coming out of the sink in my dorm room this morning is brown. Like the cover of my civil procedure casebook. I know I've been in law school too long when everything reminds me of my casebooks.

By mid-morning, at least a half-dozen people in my building will already have filed a lawsuit against the housing office in response to the brown water, and by tomorrow, there'll be a new course offering scheduled for next semester, called "Dormitory Water Law." By next week, Johnnie Cochran will have been hired to defend the school ("What do the students have against *brown* water? This is discrimination at its worst."), and they'll eventually negotiate a settlement -- perhaps a free bottle of natural spring water and a new toothbrush. In a few years, there'll be a movie about it: "The Water Runs Brown" starring John Travolta as the prosecuting attorney, driven to ensure justice is served for the poor students, Julia Roberts as the crafty up-and-coming law student who never gives up the fight, and Tommy Lee Jones as the housing director, in search of the real culprit, the one-armed man with a bucket of food coloring.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

...excuse this short interruption in the usual content for some self-indulgent commercial messages... (there's real content right below this message, I promise!!)

I had dinner tonight at the home of a cousin of mine in Newton. I mention this mostly because I think he's probably going to search the Internet to see if he can find my weblog, since it came up in conversation. The food was awesome. It always is. His wife's a fantastic cook. If you're my cousin, and you've found my weblog, welcome... :) (If not, welcome anyway...)

Speaking of things that aren't related to law school... Check out Steve Hofstetter's weblog if you like. I went to high school with Steve, and he writes a weekly humor column called Observational Humor. We've sort of lost touch (I should probably e-mail him), so he has no reason to know I read his column, or that I have a weblog of my own. But maybe if I link to him, he'll see in his referrer logs that people are coming to his site from my site and he'll come check this one out and then I'd have an actual reason to e-mail him. Although who doesn't like getting e-mail.

...and now back to your regularly scheduled humorous thoughts about law school...
Waddling Thunder makes fun of the Star Market's sign that "Federal State Law prohibits the sale of individual sticks of butter" because there's no such thing as "federal state law."

I think he's been at law school too long.

Because my first reaction to that sign would have nothing to do with federal state law, but with why exactly the law prohibits the sale of individual sticks of butter (I thought butter was bad for us -- yet we're required to buy it in bulk??), and, even more so, why the Star Market needs to put up a sign about it. Is there a gang of "butter bandits" running around Cambridge trying to buy single sticks of butter? Has Star Market recently been faced with people opening up butter packages, removing individual sticks, and attempting to purchase them? Is the US government subsidizing butter producers (I was about to say "butter farmers" but quickly realized that can't be right) by requiring us to buy more than we need?

Don't do it, Star Market. Don't let the FDA create these butter purchasing regulations and interfere with the normal workings of the free market. If I want to buy a single stick of butter, why shouldn't I be able to? Why is there a law to stop me? Is this what lawmakers are spending their time doing? "Well, Senator, I know we wanted to talk about terrorism some more, but first I have a proposal to put on the table. I think we should prohibit the sale of individual sticks of butter." "But why?" "Because I'm senile." "Oh." "And while we're at it -- let's prohibit the sale of cheese in any size smaller than a five pound block, and rolls of paper towel in anything fewer than a 24-pack." "Gotcha."

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Making my way through my Property class notes... there's a lot of property law. I guess there's probably a lot of law in every subject we take, but just that we've learned more of it in Property. I need to do laundry -- and since I don't have any clean socks, I'm wearing sandals today. It's perfectly reasonable for my clean laundry to determine what footwear I choose, right? :)

I promised something about exam studying... here's ten things not to do when studying for exams:

1. Light matches near your outlines
2. Take advantage of the early-bird "sell your books back before you study" promotion
3. Throw lots of sequenced but un-numbered papers high in the air and watch them scatter as they fall
4. Overdose on sleeping pills
5. Take exactly the recommended dosage of sleeping pills
6. Buy sleeping pills and, just to consolidate the number of bottles you have, mix them with your vitamins
7. Become addicted to the Food Network
8. Become addicted to Food
9. Become addicted to sleeping pills
10. Blind yourself with acid

Here's ten more actual study tips for exams that aren't just me trying to be funny but probably not succeeding:

1. If it's an open book exam, gather all the relevant materials you can possibly get your hands on, because they can't hurt
2. Make an index of all the big thick things you have, like textbooks and big piles of class notes
3. Post-It flags can be useful I'm sure, although I have yet to find a good use for them
4. Stock up on highlighters: I am not kidding, I have gone through 4 this week so far. I've resorted now to using the purple one that's always the last one in the package because it's so ugly
5A. Don't waste time posting to your weblog every day :)
5B. Don't waste time carefully setting the lineups for your 6 fantasy baseball teams every day :)
6. Take advantage of professor office hours -- maybe they'll be giving away hints inadvertently
7. Budget your time, making sure to leave breaks -- for, say, posting to your weblog
8. Wake up early
9. Delete all solitaire and solitaire-like games from your computer
10. This is not the week to go out and buy the new book about Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane ("Moneyball" by Michael Lewis), and spend time reading that instead of reading property. (review of Moneyball coming later in the week... I ought to practice what I preach... good book though)

Monday, May 12, 2003

More quick Disney fun... to the tune of "It's A Small World After All"

"It's A Small Curve After All"

It's a small curve after all
It's a small curve after all
It's a small curve after all
It's a small, small curve

There's a grade I'm getting
I'm not quite sure
Not sure if it matters
If I study more
There's so much I can learn
No effect on what I'll earn
It's a small curve after all

There is just one A
And a couple Cs
And a few A minuses
The rest are Bs
Though you study a lot
Doesn't change what you've got
It's a small curve after all

It's a small curve after all
It's a small curve after all
It's a small curve after all
It's a small, small curve

Sunday, May 11, 2003

To the tune of "Beauty and the Beast"

"Proctor and the Cheat"

Man as old as time
Proctors the exam
Reading every rule
They follow at this school
But he don't see my scam
Just a little page
An answer-loaded sheet
I have come prepared
Curve-busters be scared
Proctor and the Cheat

I stalked the professor
Hid under his chair
When he wrote the test
Stabbed him in the chest
Made a copy there

Took my copy home
Called up 911
Doctors made him well
And he could not tell
My scheme had begun

Wiped off all the blood
Made an answer sheet
Proctor's in decay
I will get an A
Proctor and the Cheat

Man as old as time
Doesn't know my crime
Proctor and the Cheat
Wadding Thunder writes about how as he reviews for exams, he's finding that in the class where he volunteered the most, he remembers what he said, and that his comments provide memory clues to other important points made in class -- basically that he can use his comments made in class as a roadmap to recalling more of the subject matter. Hence, a reason to volunteer. (I hope I'm not completely misrepresenting his point here)

I have an alternative approach, and a way to get the same memory-jogging exam help without actually having to think of relevant things to say, raise your hand, and risk the wrath of your peers for volunteering too much in class. You see, I occassionally write limericks in my notes, like, for instance, about the case of Vosburg v. Putney in Torts class, where I wrote something like:

It was only a kick to the shin
That stirred the diseases within
A kick to the knee
A lawsuit or three
In the end, the boy Vosburg did win

And going back through my notes, I'm finding that for the cases about which I wrote limericks, I remember the facts much better than the ones for which I stared into space or counted the number of empty seats in the classroom. Hence, my lesson: writing limericks in class is useful for the exam.

Writing lists of the "top ten things people are doing to stay awake... #1: re-enacting the Last Supper on their desks with animal crackers," however, does not appear to be helpful in reviewing for the test.
Sorry for the stream of article links without any real law school content -- I'll have something to say about exam studying soon, I promise -- but here's the Boston Globe magazine's cover story about American Idol and the backstage lives of the contestants. Not as interesting as NY Times plagiarizer Jayson Blair, but still a good read. Especially for the Boston Globe. :)

As far as that pesky task of exam studying goes, I've finally realized: (1) I take too many notes in class, (2) I take too few notes in the casebook, and (3) I really, really should start outlining sooner in the semester. Coming soon: my advice on taking notes in class (that I ought to actually listen to).

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Fascinating article about Jayson Blair, a NY Times reporter who apparently fabricated stories, claimed to be reporting from places he wasn't, and pretty much plagiarized his articles from other sources and phone interviews. Journalistic integrity apparently not his thing. Fascinating how it took the NY Times a really long time to figure it out.

Friday, May 09, 2003

An article about William Bennett's gambling by the author of my (very good) Contracts casebook. I guess sometimes law professors do have things to say that are somewhat relevant to issues in the news today, and not just in 16th century England. :)

Thursday, May 08, 2003

"Stressballs and Bagels"

On Monday at noon, I went to the student center and got a free highlighter and stress ball from Dorsey & Whitney LLP, which, I'm guessing, is a law firm whose name I should probably know by now. Or perhaps I shouldn't know their name, and they know that, so they feel like they need to give me free things so I'll learn their name. What bothers me is that it worked. A few months from now, when I'm preparing my list of firms to bid for on-campus interviews with --

Digression: I don't like how they call the process "bidding" -- it's all about money with these people; there's not even any money involved in the process, yet still it has a money-associated name. And it's not just the term "bidding." They assign the interviews with a "lottery." Another money word. And if you don't like your interview times, you have to "change" them. Yet another money word. And employers look at the number of "credit"s on your transcript. Will it ever end?

(as I was saying) -- I'm going to remember Dorsey & Whitney, but not remember that the only reason I remember them is because they gave me a free stress ball, and I'm going to check off their name as a place I really ought to be trying to get a job at. They're buying me off with a stress ball. But it works.

The other place I'm going to make sure I bid for an on-campus interview with is Finagle-A-Bagel, thanks to the bagel study break they sponsored on Monday night. I spent fifteen minutes on line for a free bagel, which costs about a dollar. That means I value my time at about four dollars an hour, which is actually good, because that's just about what I'd be making at Finagle-A-Bagel if I work there. It's also what I'd probably end up making at a law firm, if you take into account that I'd probably try and bill forty hours a day. But only work twenty-three. Because I'm lazy.

I've practiced billing my hours this week, as I've been studying for exams. Yesterday I billed two six-minute increments for "counting how many socks I have left until I have to do laundry." I billed one six-minute increment for "flossing really thoroughly." And I billed five six-minute increments for watching the American Idol weekly results show. I just realized this afternoon that the American Idol finale will be the night before my Torts final. Not good. Not good at all. Stresses me out just thinking about the conflict. Good thing I have my Dorsey & Whitney LLP stress ball to help relieve the tension. And my Dorsey & Whitney LLP heroin.

But Dorsey and Whitney LLP isn't my favorite law firm, even with the stress ball. No, no, that honor belongs to Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP (what's up with the LLP at the end of all the names? I know I should probably know what it means, because it's probably important... my best guess is something like Lucrative Limited Partnership, but I'm not even sure that I'm close here).

Stroock put a brochure in our mailboxes last semester telling us that all of the other firms lie to us and just tell us what we want to hear, and that being an associate is long hours, not a lot of fun, and pretty unpleasant overall -- but at least they're honest about it. A few weeks ago, they followed that up with an advertisement filled with mysterious pictures of bees and captions that don't seem to be particularly related to the photos. A picture of lots of bees -- "you will work at a highly-ranked and prestigious firm." Okay, I understand -- they're illustrating the herd mentality here. Gotcha. A picture of one big bee and lots of little bees around it -- "you will work one-on-one with partners on real matters." Again, I think I'm following. Now it gets confusing. One bee, all alone -- "you will find the collaborative nature of the environment rewarding and thrilling." Collaborative nature, but only one bee... are they telling us that's a lie, and we're stuck in an office by ourselves the whole time? I don't know. Finally, close-up of one bee -- "you will never seem to leave the office but still find time for adequate sleep." Does the bee look tired? How can we tell what a tired bee looks like? Are they trying to say we're all just interchangeable honeybees who'll never leave the office? Are they saying they give out free honey? Are they saying their office building looks like a hive? I'm confused! It gives me stress. I need my stress ball.

If I worked for Stroock, I'd want to be the guy making the brochures instead of the one doing legal research. That's probably not a good thing. I'm also mildly allergic to bee stings. So I probably shouldn't work there anyway. And I'm mildly allergic to legal research. So maybe this whole firm thing is a bad idea. But at least I have a stress ball.

Excerpts from Dr. Seuss's recently-discovered unpublished manuscript, "Oh, the Law School Exams You'll Take."

One case is long
The other is short
This case is property
That one is tort

Issues here, issues there
Issues, issues everywhere
Issues hidden on the sheet
You won't find unless you cheat
Issues on the front and back
Issues that your outlines lack
Issues that you won't remember
Till you're a 1L, once more, in September

I know the statute
Do you know it too?
Do you think it would pass a judicial review?
Do you think you can ponder the writer's intent?
What the senator wanted, what the congressman meant?
And the precedent cases I hoped that you'd find --
Even the ones that I didn't assign --
Do they cause any questions to pop in your head?
If you wrote the opinion what would you have said?
Would you remand the case or affirm it instead?

I is for issue, just give it a try
R is for rule that the court should apply
A, application, it counts for a ton
C for conclusion -- and then you're all done!

Look at the outline your classmate has made
Your feeble note cards won't be of much aid
Should have been studying; instead you played
But what does it matter, you'll get the same grade

One test, two test
Have-no-clue test
Three test, four test
Please no more test
Five test, six test
Full-of-tricks test
Seven test, eight test
Hand-in-late test
Nine test, ten test
In-the-fall, all-again test.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Thanks to for linking to my advice to soon-to-be 1Ls (below). A spike in the number of visitors is always fun.

As a welcome to any new visitors -- and because I can't come up with anything new to post this afternoon -- I'm re-posting a song parody from back in the fall that I wrote and think is kind of cute.

[[to the tune of: "The Rainbow Connection"]]

"The Casebook Connection"

[HE sings]
Why are there so many
Cases in casebooks
But never a case about love
Cases are boring
And poorly written
But they're what our days are made of

We read all these holdings
But I'd rather be holding
You in my arms every night

I think we've found it
The Casebook Connection
You versus me turns out right

[SHE sings]
I read these issues
But cry in these tissues
And wish that I had something more
And though you're erratic
In answers Socratic
I love you more than I love the law

This feeling's not fiction
In my jurisdiction
You keep my soul burning bright

I think we've found it
The Casebook Connection
You versus me turns out right

Nothing's preventing
Our heads from dissenting
But somehow we both feel this way
Our hearts are both beating
Our minds have a meeting
We sign our love contract today

Show me your objective manifestation
Of subjective intent -- with a kiss

I think we've found it
The Casebook Connection
Legally binding... like this...

Just a quick comment on something in the news. I was watching The Daily Show last night (my main source of world news, it seems), and Jon Stewart had a segment about Bill Bennett, former education secretary under President Bush the elder, and pretty much the spokesman for the "Americans should have good moral values" movement, as author of "The Book of Virtues," "The Moral Compass," a book about how President Clinton was a bad, bad man, and other such stuff. Basically, he's been on a crusade to stop Americans from traveling down the road towards moral bankruptcy, or something like that. And apparently -- and here's an article all about it -- he's a compulsive gambler who's lost over $8 million at Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos. It's this kind of stuff that makes people lose faith in humanity. If you're going to preach to the country about values and morals, don't be a compulsive gambler. It's really pretty simple. I mean, he's not a murderer, or anything like that (although it seems from the photos of him that gluttony may also be an issue), but still.... Ridiculous.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Roses are red
Violets are blue
My classmates are studying
I should be too
[[To the tune of that awful '70s song "Downtown"]]


Read all the cases and I made a good outline
At the end I got ~ B-plus
Slept through the classes and I didn't do the reading
But it hurt me not ~ B-plus
They say that there's a curve but I see only one dimension
The grades are all the same no matter what your comprehension
What is the point?

Employers can't really care
If all the transcripts are equal, no grades to compare
It’s a B-plus, I can't complain, with a
B-plus ~ work's done in vain, with a
B-plus ~ firm jobs are waiting for you

(slutty girl sings) Slept with the teacher and he made me a promise
But the grading's blind ~ B-plus
(arrogant guy sings) Stole me a copy of the test in December
What a useless find ~ B-plus
We took the bar-bri courses and we read each book the Coop had
But now we got our grades back and we're all left to feel stupid
What do we do?

You know you can't really care
If all the transcripts are equal, no grades to compare
It’s a B-plus, I can’t complain, with a
B-plus ~ work's done in vain, with a
B-plus ~ law review's waiting for you
(Well, not exactly.)

And if you are a gunner and you study every weekend
And though by finals time you're ready to jump off the deep end
Grades are the same

You know you can't really care
If all the transcripts are equal, no grades to compare
It’s a B-plus, I can't complain, with a
B-plus ~ work’s done in vain, with a
B-plus ~ diploma is waiting for you

Monday, May 05, 2003

Thanks to this weblog of a soon-to-be-1L for linking to my post about the career services meeting last week. His weblog's actually got an awfully helpful list of hints for writing resumes and cover letters. I've had to read a bunch of resumes in the past as well, and he's right on pretty much all counts. Follow directions, make things easy for the person reading it, show you care... easy stuff... probably works for law school exams too, actually. Follow directions, make things easy for the professor, show you care... maybe I'll try and follow that advice when exams begin... in just 11 days.

And a new feature I'll introduce today, as I begin my studying... Things that have distracted me from studying today: the stress-ball and highlighter giveaway in the student center, buying a new container of milk, reloading my stapler, counting how many clean socks I have left so I can figure out when I need to do laundry next, reading a chapter of the baseball book I bought off Amazon last week (just in time to distract me from studying), Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups, watching C-SPAN's streaming video of the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate from this past weekend (more on that below), and seeing how many times I can tear a Post-It flag in half before the pieces get too small.

More on the Democratic Presidential Debate: 9 candidates. It makes it look like a student council election when there are more people on stage than in the audience. Let's see if I can name all 9 off the top of my head: Dennis Kucinich, Bob Graham, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Richard Gephardt, John Edwards, Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun, and Howard Dean. Or, in other words, Grumpy, Sleepy, Wealthy, Moral, Boring, Youthful, Crazy, Irrelevant, and Doc. That entire joke was driven by the fact that Howard Dean is a doctor, and I thought that could be funny. My thoughts on each of the 9, not that anyone cares:

Dennis Kucinich -- I really hadn't heard of him before watching the debate. Apparently he was mayor of Cleveland, and under his watch, Cleveland went bankrupt. His favorite line was "take the profit out of health care," which sounds to me like socialized medicine, and I'm not sure that works so well in countries where they have it. He gave me no reason to even contemplate voting for him, even for President of the local school board.

Bob Graham -- A Senator from Florida, he got totally muddled when he was asked what he would do to make sure voting problems wouldn't happen there again. Said something about it not being the federal government's job to make sure people can vote, it's the state's job. A softball question, and he got sloppy and unclear with his answer.

John Kerry -- Seems qualified. Didn't say much memorable. His favorite thing to say was that he fought in Vietnam and is the only one up there who fought in Vietnam, and that means he's brave, and bravery is something the President needs. Well, okay...

Joe Lieberman -- Best one-liner of the debate, in response to a question about electability. Something like, "I'm confident I can beat George Bush... because Al Gore and I already did it once." Funny. I like Joe Lieberman. He seems genuine, and he's moderate enough that I feel comfortable with his positions on most stuff.

Richard Gephardt -- Is really pale. The other candidates didn't like his health care reform package. I didn't pay close enough attention to know why.

John Edwards -- Seems younger than he is. I don't really have anything objections to him, but he didn't say anything I remember.

Al Sharpton -- A Sharpton-Lieberman ticket would lose to the Natural Law Party. Al Sharpton is entertaining to watch, and is probably as qualified to be President as Dennis Kucinich. I'm not sure if his comment about making the right to vote and the right to health care part of our Constitution was an actual campaign platform, or just a spur-of-the-moment sounds-like-a-good-idea.

Carol Moseley Braun -- I read an article somewhere that she removed the hyphen from her last name to make it easier for voters. Is this what our country has come to? Apparently she was most recently Ambassador to some country that we're not at war with -- I can't remember, but I think she said New Zealand. In any event, I recall thinking, "wow, that's not a job they give to people who are going to be President one day." She also said she wants to focus on creating more spirituality in this country, or something to that effect. My own personal biases, obviously, but I don't feel completely comfortable when anyone besides Lieberman says stuff like that, and can completely understand why lots of people wouldn't like Lieberman saying that either.

Howard Dean -- Is against the war, is a doctor, and needed to rehearse his closing statement more, because his eyes were darting back and forth between the paper in front of him and the camera every three seconds or so, and it was pretty distracting. He claimed to be more liberal than the other candidates. His answers didn't really distinguish him though.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

From an e-mail we just got:

"So are you in need of some highlighters or post-its??? What about a stress ball to help relieve the tension of Reading Period??? Well then come to [firm]'s promotional giveaway in the Hark on Monday, May 5th from 12PM – 3PM - where you can pick up your free study aids and learn more about this great firm."

Are we that pathetic? Are highlighters, post-its, and a stress ball all we need for a firm to buy our love and affection?

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Random advice: "I'm going to law school in the fall. What can I do this summer to prepare?"

Sleep. No, seriously. Sleep, eat, see friends, do something fun. It's your last summer without pressure to go work for a law firm, or something else similarly legal-sounding. Try not to feel any pressure to learn any law or anything like that -- there are people here who started reading when they got their professor and textbook lists in August, who took pre-law preparation courses (Law Preview I think is the big one... it's done by the Princeton Review people, and, from what I hear, is a huge waste of $1000), who found jobs as paralegals thinking it would give them a head start... all seem pretty useless.

What I found slightly useful over the summer, just to give me a sense of what to expect, was reading some books about law school -- One L, by Scott Turow, is the famous Harvard memoir -- written about 25 years ago, and painting a picture of a law school world much more intense than it is now. Some people say it scared them, but I thought it was an interesting read, and as long as you know it really isn't terribly representative of reality, I don't think it's too frightening. I also read Law School Confidential and Planet Law School, two guidebooks to law school life -- Law School Confidential isn't bad, although it has a chapter about reading cases using six different colors of highlighters that I think is a pretty bad idea. Come to think of it, if you head all the way back into the weblog archives, there's reviews of all these "pieces of literature" (and some other cool stuff, if I remember correctly) back last August.

Friday, May 02, 2003

"It's Time For On-Campus Recruiting! (Well, sort of...)"

Ah, the weather outside has finally started cooperating. No more snow, lots of sun. It's finally fall. I mean spring. Sorry about that. I'm just a little confused, since the Office of Career Services has already started the fall recruiting process. So it can't possibly still be spring. That wouldn't make any sense.

I went to the OCS fall recruiting orientation kickoff meeting this past week. Couldn't tell if it was mandatory or not from the e-mail: "If you plan to participate in fall on-campus interviewing, please attend the orientation, or we will sabotage your bid lottery number, burn your resume, and make you work in Omaha." Guess it's mandatory.

The career services representatives began the meeting by congratulating themselves at how lucky they are to have ended up working here and not at Thomas Cooley Law School. Over 700 employers come here to interview students in the fall. This is entirely because of the competence of our career services office and has nothing at all to do with the fact that this is Harvard. Nothing. It actually is a bit amazing that 700 employers come for probably a total of 500 students looking for jobs, and given that the biggest ones take a bunch each, a lot of these firms must be literally competing to even have a possibility of getting one student (and how lucky they would be...). It sort of sounds like the opposite of the college admissions process. Lots of spots, limited number of students. And, apparently, plenty of "financial aid" to go around. But, unfortunately, no time for any extracurriculars.

They told us firms come from cities big and large, over 100 cities in all. Big cities like New York, Washington, and Chicago, and "small cities like Philadelphia, Miami, Houston...." On what scale are Philadelphia and Houston small cities? Oh, I forgot. The Harvard Law School recruiting scale. Philadelphia and Houston are small cities in the same way that $100,000 is a small starting salary, and 80 is a small number of billable hours per week. Another small city they mentioned was Michigan. I think it's somewhere in New Jersey. Perhaps the students at Colombia Law School in South America have heard of it.

The real key to the meeting was finding out the list of things we must do over the summer. Impossible to explain without an in-person meeting, the list includes updating our resume, lining up three references, ordering our transcript, developing a writing sample, and choosing which firms we want to bid on. Whew, that was complicated. But things may change - "be sure to check the OCS website throughout the summer," the handout says in bold letters, "for critical OCI updates." Like this one I'm projecting to see sometime in the middle of July: "Attention, students. All law firms in the universe have decided that resumes must be written in Greek. Please update yours accordingly." Or this one, from early August: "Transcripts now come in three flavors: cherry, honey-lemon, and traditional menthol. Please check with your top firm choices to see which they prefer." Or, the day after the end of the world: "Due to recent events, three of the seven hundred firms scheduled to come to campus have cancelled their visits. For the six hundred and ninety-seven others, on-campus interviewing will proceed as normal, except that the interviews will be held somewhere in the atmosphere (to be announced), since the planet has vaporized. Not even the end of the world can stop our graduates from securing high-paid employment upon graduation."

The big key to the recruiting process is research. Research, research, research. Gotta learn the difference between the cities and states (I know, I'm beating that one to death). "It's hard to tell the difference between firms A, B, and C," they said. "They tell you what you want to hear. They'll all tell you can have a rewarding career as well as a life. It's all marketing." They really said that. I took careful notes.

They told us about the hypothetical "Joe Bloggs," the worst-case-scenario icon of what happens when you don't do any research. He misses the OCS orientation, logs onto the Vault list the last day of the bidding lottery and just picks the firms he's heard of, ends up with 8 callbacks, but realizes they all do corporate transactional work, while he wants to do litigation. Worst-case-scenario, they tell us. The homeless guy outside of CVS in Harvard Square is crying for you, Joe Bloggs. "Corporate transactional work instead of litigation?" "Only 8 callbacks?" "How will you ever survive?"

You want an on-campus interviewing worst-case-scenario? Here's one. You submit your resume on time but OCS loses it, your lottery bid choices vanish into cyberspace, you end up interviewing only with firms in "small cities" like San Francisco, Tokyo, and Calcutta, your fortune cookie at the Chinese restaurant you eat in the night before your first interview reads "You Will Get SARS" (I've been waiting all column to make that line... without a doubt a current best-seller in the novelty fortune-cookie market... make a tiny bit of sense somewhere... anywhere...), and on the way to the Charles Hotel you fall into a well. Although even in a coma, you can probably get a job with a firm in a small rural farming community like Nashville or Cleveland, so you're still probably good. But that's certainly a more realistic "worst-case scenario."

My favorite part of the OCS orientation was the question-and-answer session. "I'll take any questions you might have that you think might be relevant to the 500 other students in the room eyes glued to their watches and perched on the edges of their seats just waiting to escape." "Yes, here's a quick question I'm sure everyone else wants to hear the answer to. I, personally, me and only me, want to split my summer between a litigation firm in Atlanta and a greenhouse in the city of Canada. I was wondering how the following seventeen firms on this list I've got in my pocket would feel about that, just off the top of your head. Also, I'm lactose-intolerant." Yes, general questions like that.

On the way out, they noted that we could find the handouts they'd given us on their web page, "which can be found in a number of different locations." (I think I'll just look for it on the Law School web site, if that's okay.) You mean we could've gotten the handouts without going to the meeting? Really? Thanks for the meeting, career services. Good thing I went, since I'm sure there won't be any more in the fall.

Outtakes from OCS

I've somehow gotten my hands on a super-secret videotape of the OCS practice session, held the morning of the orientation meeting, where the staff members rehearsed their lines and did some last-minute preparation. Some of the lines that didn't make it into the real meeting:

"Welcome to the OCS orientation session for fall recruiting 2007. We're trying to get an early head start here..."

"Even though there are seven hundred firms, only a small handful of students in most years interview with all of them. You may want to trim your list to only four or five hundred of your top choices."

"...or small cities like Shanghai, Mexico City, and Neptune."

"You might try this tactic for finding out the real truth about life at your top-choice firm: find an associate who looks somewhat similar to you. Club him with a crow bar on his way out of the office one morning at four a.m., steal his access badge and brand-new suit, and go into work the next morning at six pretending to be him. You'll get a first-hand look at the life of an associate, and be all the more prepared to do your bidding."

"While most of your resume should be in 10- or 12-point font, the word "Harvard" should appear in 64-point type, and preferably be accompanied by blinking Christmas tree lights."

"...appropriate references can be law school professors, former employers, or Saturday Night Live actor Chris Parnell, pretending to be President Bush calling Skadden on your behalf."

"You should choose 8 cities to visit for firm callbacks. This will enable you to earn frequent flyer miles out the wazoo, and keep you well-rested for the interviews."

"If you would like OCS to review your resume... tough luck."

"It is critical that you check the OCS website frequently over the summer. We get paid by the hit."

"Make sure your cover letters... aw, screw it. I'm sick of this crap, year after year, watching these 24-year-old bastards getting jobs with a starting salary thirty-three times higher than the $8/hour Harvard pays us, without so much as lifting a finger. Let's see if they can hack it if we cancel the interviewing process, refuse to release their transcripts, and spray the campus with a highly contagious fungus. Then we'll see how smart they are. That'll show them!"