Jeremy's Weblog

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

Sunday, November 30, 2003

In just one hour, you can read Howard Bashman's 20 Questions for Judge Posner. If you haven't read any of his past "20 Questions With Judges..." features, you're missing out on something very cool. I hadn't read any until this past Wednesday, when I read them all in one sitting and then felt bad because I should have been doing something more productive. But they're really interesting.

I'll catch the Posner Q&A tomorrow, since I'm on a mission to get 10 hours of sleep tonight and only have 15 minutes to go before that becomes unlikely.

Quick acrostic poem

Studying is easier when you don't
Lie down and fall asleep
Every time you open a book
Every time you turn a
An acrostic poem

I think I used to like to learn
Even boring new things.
Law school is different.
Law is different.
Tells us something.
Usually something contradictory to the case before.
Alternate ways of seeing things.
Law is like that.

Cases are like that.
Underlying the whole set of them
Rarely seems some unifying theme.
It's a set of rules, and exceptions
Or no rules at all.
Simply exceptions.
I can learn all this stuff, and I pretty much have to, for the exam. But
This time around, I'm just not all that into it.
Yet. I'm sure I will be. Tomorrow perhaps.
Study Group Application.

Thank you for applying to be a member of my study group. I appreciate the interest. Please fill out the following form with care and place in my mailbox along with a copy of your transcript and resume. Your submission will be carefully considered and you will hear from me within 48 hours.


1. How many days of class have you missed? (Please enclose documentation to verify. Acceptable documentation includes: your original handwritten notes from class, a signed slip from the professor, or a laboratory report from tests done on your assigned seat to ascertain whether or not it was used during each class session.)

2. What other commitments do you have between now and the exam? (Please be specific. I.e. if you tend to use the bathroom once a day, generally at around six in the evening, please block off ten minutes at that time each day; if you plan on sleeping at all, please mark off the appropriate 90 minute block (90 minutes is the maximum allowed sleep time for participation in my study group; less is encouraged)).

3. What materials can you offer to the group, above and beyond your class notes (which are an obvious pre-requisite) and the class outline you will create as per #7 on the application, infra)?

4. The study group will spend the next two weeks in a secluded location that CANNOT ACCOMMODATE food or beverage. Will that be a problem?

5. Practice exams are imperative for study group success. I currently have the complete set of law school exams given at the top 50 schools from 1934 until the present, except for Washington & Lee University's 1956 set. Will you be able to secure a copy of that set of exams, or, if not, would you be willing to contribute your share to the fund I've establish to track the exams down and recover them (estimated cost per person is $50 plus FedEx costs)?

6. Someone in class sneezed last Tuesday. Were you that person? If so, please stop filling out the application, and DO NOT put a copy in my mailbox. I do not want your germs.

7. Please enclose your course outline (minimum 100 pages).

Thank You.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Apparently, people who have a bunch of offers and take a while in making up their minds about which to accept start to get phone calls from the firms... just to check up.... Apparently that can start to get overwhelming. And then people start screening their calls and just letting them go to voice mail. My in-depth research has unearthed the following transcript of one such voice mail:

"Are you mad at me? You haven't returned my calls in over a week. Have I done something wrong? This is Chuck O'Donnell over at Grinn & Barrett down in DC. I know this is the ninth voicemail I've left this morning, but I just wanted to try and grab you before the sun came up.

I wanted to get a handle on how your decision process is going, and if there's any more questions I can answer to help you make your choice. I hope you got the t-shirt we sent that's completely the wrong size and the tin of brownies even though you're allergic to wheat. Also the expense reimbursement check. We added on a few dollars just to show our appreciation for you sending the form back to us so quickly.

I happened to be talking to a friend of mine over at Peezin Showers, down the street, and he mentioned how the international landfill division over there has been having some rough times, and that they've started to move people out of that department over to corporate. I know that was one of your areas of interest, and I don't mean to be talking trash about another firm, but it was just something I heard and thought I'd let you know.

Again, my offer to have you flown back down here for a weekend, to meet some more attorneys, see what we're like, try out our new copy machine - that's still definitely in play, and I can set that up for you with the travel department.

I understand that when you talked to Janice Franklin over in wills and trusts you expressed some concern about the location of the firm and whether it's as easy to get to as a place like Crapper that's right downtown. I talked to Alan Coleman over in buildings refinance and he said that if you take the offer, we'll actually move the firm over closer to the Metro if that's going to be the stumbling block that's keeping you from saying yes.

I wanted to reiterate that while our gas and electric group is relatively small, first- and second-year associates really do get a chance to do hands-on work, with client contact and all the rest of that stuff people say they want before they realize what it actually means. I can put you in touch with Jim Greenfield or any of the other partners down there in the basement and he can tell you more about that group.

I do understand that you were concerned about culture, especially with the layoffs last January and the conversion of the attorney game room into a supply closet - which does, incidentally, have the highest-quality paper clips in the city and perhaps the entire region. We've also been working with one of our clients to upgrade from the yellow post-it notes to the multicolored - I'd expect you'd see results from that ongoing negotiation even as early as this summer. I'd of course add you to the update list if you'd like to receive the e-mail progress reports we send out to the attorneys each week on that front. But back to the culture question, I'm really confident that the people we have here are here because they want to be here, and they enjoy their colleagues, the work, and the complimentary bagels on the third Friday of every quarter except when it falls on a weekend.

You'll work hard everywhere, but to know that you're working in a place with people, and with desks, and with doors on every office, is very important. Plus, as opposed to places like Boies Jackson Sleptwith, we have a top-notch health care plan!

I'm sorry to be taking up so much of your time, but I just wanted to remind you that we'd love to have you join us for the summer and hopefully beyond. Please give me a call back - you have my number. I look forward to talking with you soon."
A slideshow of mock campaign posters by top graphic designers assigned a candidate at random, in the NY Times Magazine this week. I thought the one for Edwards wasn't bad, and I liked the Carol Moseley Braun one, but the rest didn't really impress me.

It's interesting to think about. Reagan had an effective line in 1980 (or so the history books say), asking "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" when no one was. Actually the "four years ago" line would probably have a decent amount of resonance this time around, except that it's not really Bush's fault we got attacked by terrorists (I suppose maybe it is, but I'm not nearly informed enough to even think I could debate either side of that one). But I don't know that I've heard anything from any of the candidates this time around that does that, that really strikes a chord and says "this is what the race is about." It'll be interesting to see if any of them can find that sound bite and pull away from the pack.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Here's an article about the new "healthy" food items at fast food restaurants, notable mostly for a truly horrific-looking photograph of a Burger King Smoky Barbeque Chicken Sandwich. Check it out, but not while you're eating.
Big, big, big thumbs up to "Shattered Glass," the movie about Stephen Glass, the writer for The New Republic who made stuff up. Along with "Spellbound," it's one of my top two movies of the year, no doubt. If you write -- or even just if you read -- it's a great two hours spent, basically right there in The New Republic's newsroom. Rich, compelling drama. But don't take my word for it. Read any review you want. If I felt more ambitious this evening, I'd write up something longer.

But instead of a movie review, how about a Thanksgiving review? Or at least a Thanksgiving review template. I'd like to propose my very own Thanksgiving Ranking System:

There are four key aspects to any Thanksgiving meal.

1. The Food (subcategories: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce)
2. The People (subcategories: youth, adult, adult-plus)
3. The Conversation (subcategories: current events, sports, all about you)
4. The Aftermath (subcategories: bathroom, leftovers, personal grudges renewed)

Each of the three subcategories that makes up one of the "Magic Four" gets a score between -10 and +10, inclusive. The scores are then added up and divided appropriately to give a score for each of the four categories and then an overall Thanksgiving Day score.

Again, if I felt more ambitious, I'd rate my own Thanksgiving. But I had a good time, and nothing funny happened, so it wouldn't be a very interesting story. Other people who actually have terribly dysfunctional families where holidays are a chore would be better equipped to wring comic value from their Thanksgivings. Mine was solid. Good food, no problems.

Go see "Shattered Glass." Trust me on this one.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Here's a NY Times article giving thanks for all sorts of technology: Google, wireless hotspots, digital photography. It got me thinking (just a little bit) about the technology I'm thankful for. I posted over at En Banc my list, shorter, less modern, and less interesting than the author's:

1. The ability to save and correct documents in word processing programs, as opposed to what they did when typewriters were the only technology we had.

2. E-mail.

3. Cell phones.

And then I said that there'd be no reason to use this technology (esp. #2 and #3) if there weren't people on the receiving end. So, more than anything, I'm thankful for the people that are in my life.

Just relevant to this weblog thing, I'm thankful for the handful of people I've met "in real life" because of this, and the others I've exchanged e-mails with. I'm thankful that enough people have found my words interesting that it's kept me motivated to keep on writing them. I'm thankful that I haven't written anything that's gotten me any death threats.

I'm thankful that even though at times I've joked that law school can strip people of their humanity, it really doesn't, and there have been lots of great people I've met here and become friends with. And I'm thankful that perhaps by posting reams of my thoughts on the Internet every day, I've made it more possible not to lose touch with the people I know who aren't here, and I don't see every day. And I'm thankful that it's very hard to come up with a reason why grades matter, because I really don't know what the difference between rational basis and strict scrutiny is, and surely that's a key to success on my Con Law exam in two weeks.

I'm thankful that nothing in my life has led me to believe that this isn't a world filled with interesting, good, and fundamentally decent people. I'm thankful for the health of my friends and family. I'm thankful that I never changed the address on my cell phone bill and so my mom just seems to end up paying it every month. I'm thankful that the strange noise the heat makes in my apartment doesn't keep me up at night. I'm thankful that I get to eat food today that (a) wasn't made in a cafeteria, and (b) won't cost me anything.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Okay, I've just spent the last whole bunch of hours when I should have been either studying for exams or, better yet, doing something fun, making the following:

Jeremy's Index

It's basically an index to most of what I've posted here, since I realized when I was trying to dig up the real exam advice yesterday that it was really hard to find anything. Perhaps this was just an exercise for my own benefit, but that's fine -- I just thought it would be cool to have an index of what's here.

The lengths to which one will go to avoid studying...
According to this article, The Onion is working on a "pay section" of their website. Not that The Onion's not worth it (sometimes), but given the number of things on the Internet that are free... and given that The Onion's really just got about ten minutes worth of new content to read per week (at least the current stuff... and the article says that the current stuff'll still be free, it'll just be extra stuff... but still).... I don't know how the economics end up working out for websites that charge money, but given how much is out there for free on the Internet, and even just given that it sounds more expensive to say $12.50 for a year of access than "a quarter a week at your local newsstand," and given that if I was paying for a website, I'd have much more rigorous demands that its content be consistently awesome... I don't see how it makes tons of sense for them to put at risk the 5 million visitors they get a month (according to the article) -- and the mindshare that has given them; everyone's heard of The Onion -- in the hopes of converting some money out of it... although if they could even get a penny from each visitor (and that I suppose even I'd pay), they'd be doing pretty nicely.... It would seem to make more sense to do what they've done with books of content that cost money, and to branch out into more arenas -- charge for a monthly magazine, perhaps; maybe theme restaurants (huh?), TV... I don't know. I'm just skeptical that when there's too much to read on the Internet anyway, a website could actually keep a good chunk of its audience while charging money.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I don't even need to make stuff up today. Two stories.

1. In Constitutional Law today, we were talking about physician-assisted suicide and upbeat stuff like that. The professor was discussing the potential ramifications of a regime where anyone could just ask his physician to help him die, and that would be legal. This is perhaps a slight exaggeration of the picture the professor painted, but it's pretty close, I think: then you'd potentially have families trying to convince their elderly and sick parents and grandparents to die, to guilt them into it. "Grandma, don't you remember, you promised Johnny you'd pay for his college education and now all your money's being spent to keep you alive;" "Grandma, it's not like you're going to get any better, so why not just go now;" "Grandma, it's a real hassle having to keep coming to visit you, it's disrupting our lives, it's just not very convenient for us;" "Grandma, don't you feel bad that you're using all of these medical resources that could be spent on someone younger, with a better end outcome, with more of a life to look forward to, don't you feel like you're being just a little bit selfish?" And you're all laughing, but it might be closer to reality than you think.

We also talked about a case in Washington (I believe) where the Supreme Court struck down a law that would have allowed non-parents to petition a court for child visitation right against the will of the parent. I assume the statute meant to apply to grandparents, and step-parents, and things like that... but I could definitely see that being the kind of statute Michael Jackson would support. (You saw that one coming, didn't you?)

2. And, from another professor in class today: "I had a dream that I called on a student, and then he died."
I felt bad offering up some useless advice about finals yesterday without at least combing through my archives and digging up some actual stuff I wrote about finals last year -- not that I have all the answers, by any stretch, but in case any 1Ls want to read about what I did to prepare and any actual thoughts I have on the subject.

So... having combed through my archives:

Exam Thoughts 1: All about outlining... the monster exam advice post

Exam Thoughts 2: "Yes, outlining's important, but you should do practice exams"

Exam Thoughts 3: "What about study groups?"

Exam Thoughts 4: "But the exam is only worth 100% of the grade!"

And some lighter exam-related stuff I stumbled across:

Top Ten Registrar Mistakes regarding 1L grades

Twenty-five things not to do the night before an exam

"The Twelve Days of Finals" parody song

Monday, November 24, 2003

Retiring NY Times food critic William Grimes is interviewed here, and if you like food even just a little bit, it's a fun little read. Being a food critic would be a cool job. Unless you were a food critic for one of those free college or grad school magazines that litter university mailrooms and had to go around the country trying different dining hall food. That would be the job from hell. In fact, if anyone reading this ever finds his or her onto "Inside the Actor's Studio" on Bravo, I think that job would be a unique and worthwhile contribution to that sometimes-interesting questionnaire they have at the end of each interview where they ask about the favorite curse word, favorite sound, occupation you would least like to try. That would be a really awful job.

UPDATE: Will Baude over at Crescat Sententia proved himself more intellectually curious than I, and checked on Grimes' claim that he never used the words "studded" or "slathered" in his reviews. See the link for the results.
Some useless advice for 1Ls about studying for exams that sounds a lot like most of the advice people gave me last year.

1. Make sure you absolutely read every case over again, because cases really won't be very important on the exam; it's the concepts that count, except sometimes.

2. It's crucial to talk about policy except when the question doesn't ask about it.

3. Most people I know just crammed for the few nights before each exam, except for the people who methodically paced themselves over a few weeks. One group did better than the other but I forget which.

4. The right study guide can be a godsend, but the wrong one can lead to disaster.

5. Using other people's notes to check your own is helpful if the other person happens to take better notes than you do; otherwise it can just throw you off. The way to tell if someone's notes are better than yours is to wait until after the exam and see who did better.

6. The key is to get into the professor's head, but not too much because that might be a trap.

7. Some professors give you credit for everything you write down so you shouldn't worry if you have something wrong; other professors will take credit away if there's wrong stuff so you should be careful.

8. My favorite exams are the ones with word limits -- I mean the ones without. I think. No, I don't remember.

9. None of it matters anyway, because the exams are so hard that only the students who study effectively are going to do well, and so what's the point unless someone gives you some solid advice, which is really easy to get but not from me.

10. Some professors repeat exams they've used before. Most don't.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Another song parody:

“Big Firm” (to the tune of “Big Shot” by Billy Joel)

I went walking into the interview room
In my dad’s best navy blue suit
You had the nicest suite in the place
And the recruiter was cute
And when I sat down for the interview
It went so well
And you didn’t even look at my grades
You offered me a callback
And you told me how much I’ll get paid

Oh but you had to be a big firm, didn't you
The kind who’ll work me dawn till night
You had to be a big firm, didn't you
A little stuffy and uptight
You had to have all day face time
The fourteen year partner track
You had to have a sweatshop label
It had to be a big firm that night…

They were all impressed with my LSAT test
And the journal work I said that I did
And they didn’t uncover
The felony conviction I hid
They say they have free frozen yogurt
And a subsidized gym
And a dental plan that hasn’t a peer
But it’s three thousand hours
Or no bonus at the end of the year

Oh man you had to be a big firm, didn't you
The kind who’ll work me to the death
You had to be a big firm, didn't you
You better bill your every breath
You want to bill pro bono? No chance.
How ‘bout a document review
You have to put the job first, job last
It had to be a big firm, run fast…

Well the tobacco money’s gonna pay your rent
And the asbestos money’s buying your meals
And all the money they’re getting
From the mafia is buying you wheels

No, no, no, no, no, no, you had to be a big firm, didn't you
You want to squeeze the life from me
You had to be a big firm, didn't you
But what else goes with this degree?
You treat me like a king all summer
So much fun to practice law
And then you pull the rug out leaving
My friends and family grieving -- big firm, whoa…

You had to be a big firm, didn’t you?

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Thanks to Howard Bashman for the link, and for calling this the funniest current law student blog. I'll try to live up. Someone e-mailed me yesterday asking for advice. She wrote:

Maybe you could help me with a dilemma I'm having involving a lawyer [I work with]. The problem is that I have a secret crush on him, and while I'd first like to know if he's interested, the more important task is to come up with pick-up lines for lawyers or suggestive law office banter (beyond the obvious "hey, nice briefs"). I figured [you] might be able to offer up some funny suggestions.

An unusual challenge. Note that if I was making up this e-mail, I'd be wise to make up something that I felt more confident I could execute well. Nevertheless, here's the best I can do.

Ten Really Really Bad Pick-Up Lines For Lawyers

1. "I know a great way I could serve justice today... should I stop by your office?"
2. "Ow. You stepped on my foot. But I've got an idea for how you can mitigate your damages."
3. "I hear you give great oral... arguments." (predictable, i know)
4. "Is that a new cologne you're wearing? I like your dis-scent." (ooh, that one's really bad)
5. "I know a whole new de-position we could try" (huh?)
6. "I find you very appeal-ing" (thanks, howard)
7. "Before I went into law, I worked in restitution... uh, I mean prostitu-- you get the drift." (i'm terrible at this)
8. "I've got a one-pronged test we could try together."
9. "Meeting of the minds? Actually, I had some other parts in mind."
10. "I've heard what they say about guys with big foot... notes."

Two bonuses if it's bankruptcy law:

11. "You invite me over, and it'll be an automatic stay-the-night."
12. "Don't worry about that, it's just a strange discharge."

Friday, November 21, 2003

Following up on my post below about the NY Times Magazine article on internet dating sites., the new law student dating site designed to help you find the man or woman of your objectively manifested intent (dreams are too subjective).

Step 1. Complete this quick and easy survey.

1. I am a (male / female / too much studying has made me forget) seeking a (male / female / whatever, I'm lonely, I just need human contact, any sort will do)

2. What type of relationship are you looking for?
(a) a marriage of mutual convenience -- mutual support as we both climb the ladder to managing partner
(b) something we'll both regret in the morning when we see each other in Con Law class

3. My ideal match:
(a) only speaks in class when called on, and hardly even then
(b) is a gunner

4. If you were a law school course, your name would be:
(a) Family Law
(b) Entertainment Law
(c) Criminal Law, with a focus on Rape

5. Your ideal first date:
(a) study group, you and me and practice exams from the last seven years
(b) a hot night of passion over Instant Messenger
(c) we'll hang out at a bar... -bri class

Step 2. Essays.

Essay 1. Describe yourself, citing at least five prominent cases.
(Example: I'm a 2L, originally from the defendant state in the Lawrence case. I enjoy eating the animal litigated in the Frigaliment case, went to undergrad at the school at issue in Grutter and Gratz, and have a rich uncle who has promised me an inheritance if I find a nice girl to marry, and stay away from drugs (see Hamer v. Sidway). I'm also looking forward to impregnating a girl and convincing her to have an abortion (Roe v. Wade), but not a partial birth abortion, although they are allowed (Stenberg v. Carhart).)

Essay 2. Write an issue-spotter featuring you, your date, and at least eight potential legal issues
(Example: John goes to pick up Sara at her parents' house. Her parents bought the house in 1972 from the owner of a set of six contiguous plots of land, each containing a house. When they purchased the house, they did not negotiate for use of the connecting driveway. The deed illustrates that the land purchased includes only half of the aforementioned driveway, yet Sara's parents have been using it for years without complaint. However, when John goes to pick up Sara, and crosses the driveway, neighbor Bob yells out the window of his house, demanding that John get off his land. Bob also bought his plot from the original owner, but he signed a covenant promising that there would be no blue cars ever on the property of anyone in the entire subdivision. Of course, John's car is blue. Sara's parents met in 1966 but have never married. In the state we are in, there is no common-law marriage rule, and property is divided 50/50 upon divorce. John is distracted by Bob's yelling, drives his car into the house, and runs over Sara's mother, Betty. Betty, who does not have a living will, is transported by helicopter to County Hospital. On the way to the hospital, the helicopter passes over a highway where Frank, drunk and known to have seizures, is driving home. Ten minutes prior, he picked up a hitchhiker at the side of the road, who wears thick glasses. As the helicopter passes over the highway, Frank steals the hitchhiker's glasses and throws the hitchhiker out of the car. The helicopter crashes, killing the hitchhiker, Betty's mom, and the helicopter pilot, who mailed his health insurance premium yesterday, but it has not yet been received by his insurance company. Meanwhile, Sara's father, who is in this country illegally, is detained by the police and sent to a camp outside the United States but under American control. John offers Sara a tranquilizer to calm her down from all of this commotion, and while she is in a state of semi-consciousness, he induces her to transfer to him one hundred bushels of wheat at 14 cents per bushel, at a date set three months in the future. Sometime between Tuesday at 10 PM and Wednesday at 2 AM (exact time is uncertain, although a videotape that was recovered through the use of an undercover informant may provide more information) a tornado causes wheat prices to rise dramatically (as well as destroying John's blue car, which has an insurance policy that reads, "acts of natural disaster will be covered only if they happen on Tuesdays), and John seeks to enforce the agreement. The date ends with a kiss.)

Essay 3. Describe your LSAT score in 200 words or less.

Step 3. Submit a transcript, writing sample, and three references. A member of the staff will contact you soon if you have been selected for an on-campus interview.
A long article in this week's NY Times Magazine about internet dating sites. It's a balanced article -- not saying these sites are great or awful, but that they exist and all sorts of people are on there. I could go for an easy joke here, probably involving Michael Jackson; I could try something more ambitious, like fake profiles for a bunch of law student personality types (and, in fact, I'll probably try that later and see what happens); or I could make this one of those posts where I tell you actually how I feel about something and aren't necessarily trying to be funny but use the word "peanut butter" somewhere in there for a laugh. Read the article; take a little nap; when you come back before the night is over there'll be something here, either trying to be funny or not, depending on how quickly the Robitussin I just took kicks in and stops my nose from running.

(There's also a really interesting article about John Edwards and behind-the scenes preparing for one of the Democratic debates. I like this kind of stuff. Once again, the NY Times Magazine stopping me from doing real work. Cool.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Law School Weekly Events Newsletter


Dean's Office Hours
The Dean welcomes students in her office to talk about issues facing the law school. She will hold office hours on Tuesday morning from 2:00-4:00 am. For an appointment, sign up in person with her secretary, whose office is in Borneo.

Mentor Program
The cafeteria is sponsoring a mentoring program for students wishing to become servers in the cafeteria. For more information, go to the grill during lunch hours and use the secret code, "Grade D Meat, please." You will then be taken into the potato shed for an orientation and peeling session.

Peer Counseling
Have a problem? Call us. We're here to listen. Our number's unlisted though.

Academic Calendar Available
For the 2006-07 Academic Calendar, just released this week by the Registrar to great fanfare, go to the law school's web page, or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to John Cook c/o the Registrar's Office. A limited number of autographed copies of the calendar are available for a modest $10 processing fee. Cash only.


Bar-Bri: Sign Up Now before fees once again rise
Don't miss your fourth-to-last opportunity to lock in the special fall term discount Bar-Bri rate of $exactly what it will cost later and receive a copy of the 4-Book Set, "Stuff You Don't Need To Know Yet." Also, join Bar-Bri in celebrating its latest achievement. 90%. That's right, 90% of all Bar-Bri students pay $2500 to sit in a room and watch videotapes for six hours a day instead of having a live lecturer.


3L to 1L Summer Job Panel Discussion
1Ls are invited to hear 3Ls lie about how much fun their summer jobs were, and how easy it is for 1Ls to get them. There will be time for questions, but not answers. Dust will be served.

2008 Judicial Clerkship Season Is Here
Students seeking clerkships in 2008: the application process train is about to leave the station and you don't want to be left behind at the ticket counter trying to trade your stub in for the next bus to legal writing instructor land. Students interested in clerkships should have already secured eighteen letters of recommendation, ordered seventy-one thousand copies of their transcripts, and collected three jars filled with black sand from the beaches of New Zealand. Please bring four hundred postage stamps to this meeting; if your applications are not mailed by the end of the day, your next chance for a clerkship will be in 2045, and even for then there's a waiting list.

No Job? Oh Wow That Sucks
If the on-campus interviewing process has failed to provide you with any job offers, well, sucks to be you, we've done our job so there.

Employers Who Cancelled OCI Visits...
...are obviously in deep financial trouble. But we suppose it's better than nothing, so if you'd like a list of these insolvent and clearly headed for disaster law firms, stop by the office wearing the big scarlet zero you received in your mailbox last week and we'll provide you a copy of the list, along with some help reading the long names.


Openings in Spring Courses
There are still a handful of open slots in the courses no one wants to take. E-mail Prof. Smith to sign up for his latest seminar, "All About Professor Smith," or his reading group, entitled, "My Books."

Add/Drop Deadline for all courses
The add/drop deadline was yesterday. Sorry for the late notice.


The Franklin Award
Alumnus Richard Franklin, class of 1913, is offering a $1000 cash prize to the student who writes the most comprehensive paper on the topic of shielding your assets from the young trophy wife who's great in bed but you're afraid is only after you for your money.

Franco-Prussian Law Review Seeks Submissions
The Franco-Prussian law review seeks articles on contemporary issues of Franco-Prussian law for its spring issue.

Franco-American Law Review Seeks Submissions
The Franco-American law review seeks articles about pasta in a can. Those authors whose articles are selected to be published will receive lots and lots of Spaghetti-O's.


Advanced Issues in Personal Jurisdiction
This course is still open.

Law and Roller Coasters
This 12-person seminar, which will include twelve all-expense-paid trips to theme parks across the world, still has space on the waiting list, which right now numbers just three hundred. You won't get in, but feel free to put your name down anyway.

Law and The Law
Professor Jones is seeking a more interesting name for this class.

The Law of Law
Professor Jones is seeking a more interesting name for this class also.


Like the last fifty-two weeks, there is no information in this section. Just thought we'd put it here to get your hopes up. Sorry.


Term Bills
Your term bills, which will be sent out tomorrow, are due today. A late charge will be assessed for any reason we feel like. To get this charge removed, you must pay it.


Concerned about that strange discharge?
Stay away from Jocelyn Brown, 2L. She's already got crabs and doesn't need anything else.

An Alternative Way Of Calculating the Sales Tax: A Roundtable Discussion with Ninety-Six Pre-eminent Legal Theorists
This discussion is open to all. In anticipation of the widespread interest we expect, we have booked room 14B for this event, also known as the "broom closet."

Need Help Preparing For Exams?
Grow up, you're in law school, fool.

Thanksgiving Virtual Food Drive, sponsored by the Office of Technology Services
If you go to the technology services web page before Thanksgiving, you can click on pictures of food that, in theory, you would love to see poor people provided with on Thanksgiving Day. They will then receive printouts of those pictures to enjoy as they starve.

Drop-In Times for "Ask The Proctologist"
The University's proctologist-on-call will be available for in-person consults on Wednesday in the same place they make the cafeteria food, where he will use cafeteria utensils to conduct examinations, and then, without washing them, put them back in the drawers.


Flu Shots...
...are for people, but computers feel left out. That's why we're giving out Virus Shots to PCs on Wednesday afternoon, at no charge. Like a flu shot, a Virus Shot is a small amount of a deadly virus that we'll inject into your hard drive, in the hopes that your computer's natural antibodies will fight off the infection and be immune from that virus strain. This event is being sponsored by the Committee For Idiotic Ideas and the Laptop Sale (see below).

Laptop Sale
Is your laptop infected with a virus? Buy one from us for just 15% more than you'd pay in a store.


Professor Madison seeks a slave
No experience necessary, no pay. Duties include: doing laundry, cooking dinner, and teaching his classes whenever he doesn't feel like doing it himself.

Professor Johnson seeks a "research assistant"
Professor Johnson has a "research project" that involves long hours of "work," mostly late at night when his wife is away. Assistant must be "patient" (Professor Johnson is old), and have a great "grasp" of research "tools." Also must be "flexible," eager for a "learning experience," and ready to dive in and get "hands dirty." Assistant must also be a young man with a long [rhymes with Venus].

Professor Harrison (James) seeks a student training to be a divorce attorney, specializing in situations where the husband has cheated, but the wife hasn't.

Professor Harrison (Jane) seeks a student training to be a divorce attorney, specializing in situations where the wife's cheated too, but the husband doesn't know it.


No Jelly
For the fifth consecutive week, we must remind you that jelly is not allowed in the library. It makes the books sticky. Please confine your jelly use to the cafeteria.


Lost: Soul
In the hallway outside career services. If found, throw it out, I don't need it anymore.

Found: 400-page outline
And I'm not giving it back. Ha ha ha.

Lost: My Lunch
After I found the maggots inside. Ew.

Found: His Lunch
In my locker. Ew.


Administrative Notice
Due to budgetary constraints on the number of letters we could afford for the door, the Office of Public Interest Advising has been renamed "Bob."

1Ls: Already Rejected At Firms?
Then come see us! We've got pages and pages of job listings no one looks at until they've got no other choice. We can help you secure your dream job collecting trash on the highway, fixing potholes, or changing bulbs in streetlamps.

2Ls and 3Ls: Really screwed?
We can help! Ever wanted to work in Moldova?


New Speaker Announcement
We have just purchased a new speaker. It is gray, four feet tall, and will be placed on the left side of the podium in Room 402. More information is available from the Speakers Office.

Harold Van Goblinbaker
The esteemed circuit court judge will be speaking about the role of judges in the coming war against the aliens tomorrow at 3:00 in the Center for Transnational Studies.

Law Student Republicans Present
The assistant deputy associate undersecretary for the department of health, taking questions tomorrow about the administration's policy on yeast infections. Don't miss this exciting event!

Finally, with no greater fanfare than anything else in this insipid publication
Bruce Springsteen will be performing live at the law school today at 4:00. This notice is printed in invisible ink and no other notice will be given. You will first hear of this event when the newspaper writes about it and you will kick yourself for not going, but no one will have gone, because no one will have heard about it, because we bury the interesting stuff along with all this other crap and so how do you really learn about the stuff that's cool and worthwhile?


The intramural badminton club will be having a scrimmage against the club from the Education School tomorrow at 6:00 on a slab of concrete somewhere.

Too cold. Not here. Should have gone to UVA.

Professors will be wrestling each other for tenure on Dred Scott Field on Monday at 2:00.


Manic-Depressive Club
Introductory meeting either tomorrow at 3 AM on the roof, if we feel up to it, or six months from now after we drag ourselves to the clinic and finally get some Prozac.

Racial Intolerance Society
Meeting tomorrow over dinner to talk about how much we hate foreign people and everything about them. Join us at Thai Bistro at 6:00.

Affirmative Action Club Accepting Applications
Limited slots available.

Michael Jackson Fan Club
Prayer vigil Sunday at 8:00. Children welcome.


Earn 1,000 Points
Just look up the word "The" and make a list of every case it appears in, and 1,000 points can be yours.

New Prize
18,000 points now gets you a $5 gift certificate to the Westlaw Store, where you can buy pens and coffee mugs that say Westlaw all over them. Congratulations!
The always excellent Howard Bashman points to some information about "Amicus Humoriae: An Anthology of Legal Humor." It's a compilation of trying-to-be-funny law review articles. I'm skeptical, and a little scared that if the cards fall in a certain way, it's a frightening glimpse of my future. An entry in an anthology, next to two dozen other wannabe-humor writers that took the risk-averse path instead. But I'll give it a chance and have a review for y'all sometime in the not too distant future (but after exams, probably).

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

"The library's closed over Thanksgiving weekend? That sucks!"

According to the law school's weekly newsletter about campus goings-on, the library will be closed next Thursday through Saturday. That stinks. Because I was planning on spending my entire Thanksgiving weekend reading old copies of the Hastings Law Journal and catching up on my Lexis research. How dare they close the library. With only 60 hours of open-library time that week, there won't be enough hours to finish my reading!

Anyway... other things from this week's newsletter:

1. Drop-In Times for "Ask the Dietitian" -- Are you interested in improving your overall nutrition? The Nutrition Service at Harvard University Health Services is excited to offer this new option for students.

>>Yeah, um, thanks. Good thing you didn't use the money this is costing to, I don't know, improve the cafeteria food...

2. HLS Veterans Association Magazine/Book Drive -- Our servicemen and servicewomen would greatly appreciate new materials to read in their downtime.

>>Hmmm... I can go two ways with this joke. Either "I bet they'd love some porn" or "Do they really want old copies of the Technology Law Journal to keep them company in Iraq?"

3. Professor seeks part-time office help... answering phones, filing, typing... please send a brief description of your qualifications...

>>My *qualifications* ?? Maybe I'm overestimating my fellow students, but are there any law students NOT qualified to file and type? Come on...

4. Lost: Bookbag -- "Contents more important than the (expensive) bag"

>>Return it because I am (filthy) rich.

5. The Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy is soliciting articles...

>>I'm guessing there's no cash prize.

6. 2L/3L add/drop requests "can be e-mailed... only on dates that the Registrar's Office is open for business."

>>This kind of understanding of how information technologies work is why we can't get our grades online, isn't it?

7. Student Animal Legal Defense Fund Thanksgiving Potluck... e-mail for ideas for animal-free dishes

>>Uh, I think that would be -- EVERYTHING BUT THE TURKEY. Seriously, right?
A pretty funny addendum to the Model Penal Code over at Wings & Vodka.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Today in Constitutional Law, we talked about abortion. In Local Government Law we talked about suburban sprawl and the decline of central cities. In Bankruptcy we talked about mass tort cases like asbestos and breast implants, and how bankruptcy law can change the normal rules.

I know I'm usually pretty cynical about this law school stuff, but all three of those classes were awfully fascinating. Possibly more than any day yet at law school -- these were the kinds of classes people imagine having at law school before they get here. Real issues, issues that people have real feelings about, and how the law shapes them and the policies behind them and learning to look at them with some kind of framework and intelligence.

Good stuff. If every class was half as compelling as any one of today's three, I'd have considerably less to write about.
This is what I do with my Con Law book instead of reading it...

"They Didn't Get Elected" (The Supreme Court Justice song)
to the tune of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire"

Potter Stewart, William Day
John Paul Stevens, Horace Gray
David Souter, Stephen Breyer, Robert O. Grier

Fred M. Vinson, Nathan Clifford
Harry Blackmun, not Frank Gifford
Rutledge twice; second time just for one year

Henry Brown, William Strong
Brennan served for very long
Brandeis, and Byron White
Clarence Thomas is far right

Joseph Story, John McLean
William Taft was not so lean
Rufus Peckham, Mahlon Pitney, Benjamin Cardozo

They didn't get elected
Presidents appointed
And for life anointed
They didn't get elected
But they hear objections
And decide elections

William Cushing, Joe Lamar
John Jay didn't drive a car
Sherman Minton, not Bill Clinton
Salmon P. Chase

James Wayne, Tom Todd
John M. Harlan twice, that's odd
Arthur Goldberg, William Douglas heard the same case

Al Moore, Stan Reed, each heard nervous lawyers plead
Bader Ginsburg, John H. Clarke
Robert Trimble made no mark

Ward Hunt, Fortas too, Day O'Connor, one day you?
Wendell Holmes used moustache combs
David Davis was fat


George Shiras, Gabe Duval, Kennedy seems kind of tall
Frankfurter, Antonin, Blair was judge when court begin

Noah Swayne, Harlan Stone, Hugo Black didn't serve alone
Earl Warren, Livingston, take a breath we're almost done

Philip Barbour, James F. Byrnes, when they question take their turns
Peter Daniel, John Catron, William Cushing's long been gone

James McReynolds, Morris Waite, Roger Taney not so great
Henry Brockholst Livingston, justices are so much fun!


Even when they're gone
Their decisions all live on, and on, and on...
One song parody just wasn't enough (see above). So today you get two.

"It's Gonna Be B"
To the tune of the *NSync song, "It's Gonna Be Me"

My outline's good, babe
That ain't no lie
Ev'ry day of class I did go, whoa
I did practice exams, yeah
And I read all the hornbooks, I studied all night
And I'm so bright

Every single test I take
I always make a big mistake
And if studying it just ain't enough
I snort cocaine and stuff
I could see the test before
I could have eight hours more
Guess what?
It's gonna be B

I got no choice, babe, except to try
Maybe I should just give up
The clerkships -- too hard to see
Cause in the end you know it's gonna be B
Let down my mom
I'm not da bomb


It's gonna be B
Ooh yeah

There'll be a day
When maybe I'll get just one A
Till then, It's gonna be B

I think I'd find
If I read the prof's mind
My answers were great
But still it's my fate
I'm destined to a grade of B
Guess what?


Monday, November 17, 2003

Some dumb names for made-up law-related people and organizations:

Law school math team -- The Law-garithms
Law school math team that also sings -- The Law-ga-rhthyms
Way for children of law school students to make money -- Law-monade stand
Who you call when you forget your key -- The Law-ksmith
The people who cut the trees down at the law school -- Law-n maintenance
The people who do stuff with the wood after the trees are cut down -- Law-ggers
What you can call a funny professor -- A Law-f riot
What they do to your student ID card to keep it from tearing -- Law-minate it
Where you store your books -- A Law-ker
What kind of soap you should use if you're a law student -- Law-ver 2000
The sea creature who lives in the puddles by the law school -- The Law-ch Ness Monster
The favorite politicians of law students -- Joe Law-berman, Hil-Law-Ry Clinton, and Condo-Law-zza Rice (and former governor of Florida Law-ton Chiles, of course)
What law students bet on sports team to have -- Law-sses
Law student personal grooming tip -- Always F-Law-ss
Favorite law student movie -- "Law-st in Translation"
A law student's favorite part of the meat packing industry -- The S-Law-terhouse
Favorite plane crash -- The one over Law-kerbie, Scotland
Favorite dictator -- S-Law-bodon Mi-Law-sevich
Favorite way to kill somebody -- Guil-Law-tine
Favorite illnesses -- Law-kjaw, Rubel-Law, and Law-ss of control over one's bowels

Can you tell I should be sleeping?

Sunday, November 16, 2003

We received an e-mail from the law school dean, that said in part:

"We wanted to let you know that the Law School's Physical Planning Committee is undertaking a feasibility study to explore the possibility of renovating [the student center]... [which is currently] in our view, is a woefully inadequate facility. ...[T]he public spaces in the [student center] can be dramatically improved in appearance, lighting, layout, and functionality. Our students, and our community more broadly, deserve a better facility."

The e-mail asked for students to send their thoughts to the Planning Committee. But wouldn't they have been more likely to receive a response if they used a friendly multiple-choice questionnaire like this one??

1. I visit the student center:
(a) every day, so that I am able to, in comparison, more fully appreciate the lighting and layout of my 118-square-foot apartment or dorm room when I go home.
(b) only when there's a special event, like a student organization deciding that the student center is the best place for them to hold a party, or the weekly "Turkey Monday" lunches that both foreshadow and recall happy Thanksgivings past and future.
(c) when I'm desperate to go the bathroom, but don't want to use a clean one.
(d) to check my mail once a semester and throw out the fourteen advertisements for class rings, seven flyers regarding the "early-bird discounts" on ordering a yearbook, five firm recruiting brochures, three pieces of melted candy a journal threw in my box to thank me for checking footnotes for an hour last October, and a printed "backup copy" of an e-mail someone sent me six weeks ago.

2. My favorite part of the student center is:
(a) the pool table with 12 balls.
(b) the handicapped doors.
(c) Bill, the guy who stuffs the mailboxes with class ring advertisements four times a week.
(d) the smell.

3. My least favorite part of the student center is:
(a) its colorful brown color scheme.
(b) the message board featuring one hundred and forty-three flyers in an 8X11 inch space, all stapled one on top of the other.
(c) the permanent stack of Harvard Magazine from three years ago.
(d) the "summer job evaluations" collections box.

4. When I meet my friends in the student center, we:
(a) leave as soon as possible.
(b) take pleasure in recycling the stacks and stacks of class ring advertisements we find in our mailboxes.
(c) enjoy relaxing on one of the comfortable counters and tables that can also serve as temporary seating.
(d) share a day-old doughnut from the cafeteria.

5. If I was going to build a new student center, I'd make sure it had:
(a) a food vendor that wasn't managed by an institutional bureaucracy.
(b) walls that weren't brown.
(c) space for flyers, newspapers, and advertisements to all coexist peacefully and in user-friendly ways.
(d) a bulletin board summarizing all of the upcoming law school events.
(e) meeting rooms.
(f) free cookies.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

The F-Word

Two of my professors used the F-word in class this week. That's right, "finals." Seems like the semester's just started, and already it's time to worry about actually opening the casebooks and doing some reading. As a 1L, finals are scary because they're new, and you don't know what to expect, or where you stack up… as a 2L, finals are scary because last fall as 1Ls we got about a month to study (finals after winter break), and this time we get about three days (finals before break). So the week I spent making an outline for criminal law that would eventually prove relatively useless is now condensed into about three hours of scrolling through my constitutional law class notes and deleting the limericks I wrote during lecture:

There once was a case named Brown
That made schools integrate all 'cross town
Think "equal protection"
Think "Plessy's rejection"
Think I'd better write this one down.

Heck, maybe I should keep the limericks and delete all the rest of my notes.

What makes it hard to really get nervous about finals this time around is that due to the fact that the recruiting season starts further in advance of when we'll actually be working than presidential candidates start campaigning for the next election (now there's a forced analogy…), many of us have jobs already lined up - and it's possible that no one may look at our law school transcripts ever again. And, as the familiar saying sort of goes, if an exam gets written in the forest but nobody sees the grade, did the exam ever really take place? Perhaps it's all just a bad dream - an 8-hour night's sleep spent taking a take-home in real-time, a nightmare of issue-spotting and conclusion-drawing. An event that takes place only in our subconscious, as machines grade the test papers while we try to save the dock… sorry, still trying to figure out what the Matrix movie I saw last night means. I have no idea what I'm talking about. It did look good in IMAX, though, although it cost more than a constitutional law study guide would, and I probably need that more.

There's sometimes a scrutiny strict
For when statutes seem to afflict
A race, not a gender
Although it depend-er
It's hard, oftentimes, to predict.

Yeah, that's a helpful one. What's been interesting about classes this year is that I've heard lots of people talk about how they'll be assigned the same cases for multiple courses. Topics like the dormant commerce clause (please don't ask me what that is), or environmental regulations, or "how to fake your way through being on panel without having done the reading" have come up over and over again. I can visualize the overlap fairly clearly - cases about education can fit in constitutional law, local government law, law and education, family law, federal courts, just off the top of my head; cases about bestiality can fit in animal law, family law, animal family law, family animal law, the law of nature…. It makes me imagine it's pretty possible to sign up for three courses and end up only having to read for two, because it would all overlap. Which I suppose is still more work than signing up for four classes and reading for none of them. Or signing up for no classes and writing a bunch of limericks and calling it a third-year paper.

There's speech that's protected and free
I don't know which speech that might be
But for sure, I suppose
There's an outline that knows
It's an outline that I'd like to see

I can also write haiku. But I don't think that'll do anything for my exam grade. The "f-word" is finals. But there's another f-word out there too. I'll leave that one to your imagination.
A few notes:

1. I got a phone call today from a friend letting me know that my weblog was mentioned in an article in National Jurist magazine, which they give out for free in the student center here and I imagine in lots of other places. They did an article on weblogs, quoted me saying something about my weblog -- they'd e-mailed me a while ago, but I wasn't sure when the article was going to run and to what extent I'd be mentioned in it -- and their sidebar is a piece I wrote a while back making fun of some law firm names. I don't think it's the best thing I've written on here, but it's okay. If you've arrived here after seeing the link in there: (1) welcome, and (2) the thing in the magazine is not the best thing I've written on here. Scroll down; I think you'll like. If you want to be dropped right in the middle of a bunch of stuff about callback interviews, you can try here or here. If you want a cool song parody, you can try here. Today was the first day the magazine was in our student center here; I don't know if we get it first, last, or pretty much when everyone else does. No noticeable spike in hits, but I'm not sure I expect one.

2. I saw Matrix: Revolutions in IMAX tonight. It is way cool to see a movie on an IMAX screen (and at $15.50, way expensive). I didn't really understand the movie, but seeing it on IMAX almost made up for that. Way cool. I want to see more movies on IMAX, only next time with a plot I can follow and hopefully with some funny too.

3. A link to my article in the Harvard Law Record about the environmental law conference here last week (disclaimer: it's not funny). I'll link to my hazing column too, but if you read it on here last Friday, you've already seen it. No real change.

4. Saw a newspaper headline: "Michael Jackson's Dad -- I Whipped Him But Never Beat Him." Pick your punchline: (1) Well, those *are* two different blender settings; (2) So "Beat It" wasn't based on a true story?; (3) "I also cut his nose off" Eh, maybe three aren't better than one.

Friday, November 14, 2003

The Score Bard, who writes awfully clever baseball poetry and has a couple of awfully fun baseball distractions on his site (Fantasy Draft Simulator is a nice time-waster) posted a poem recently wishing he had more readers. And, lo and behold, it's getting him an awful lot of links. Like this one. In some ways, asking for it seems like cheating, I don't know why. I feel like good content ought to bring the links and the readers, not an express request. Not that he doesn't have good content, because, word for word, it's probably among the most creative and well-written sites out there, but, like he writes somewhere on the site recently, he doesn't update every day, because poetry's not like that. But that makes it easy to forget about a site, and stop going back. Like I hadn't been there since April or May, until I saw a link somewhere this morning -- and it doesn't take all that long to catch up. So the new links'll get him visitors, but if there's two weeks between content, they probably won't come back. I don't know where I'm going with this post. Personally, in a way I see it as a challenge to write content good enough that people want to link to, so when my visitor numbers take a jump on a particular day, I feel like I've actually created worthy content that people are either telling other people about or linking to from somewhere. And maybe that's not how it works, but I don't know. I understand the Score Bard's frustration -- I'd love more people to be reading my words, anyone would... but I feel like the way to get there is content people are motivated to come back to, not threatening to stop writing if more people don't link to me or tell their friends to come read my site. Internet blackmail. :) Which isn't exactly what he did, but it's kind of what he did. Nevertheless, I give him a pass since his site is so creative and unique and he's clearly talented. But if starts complaining on its home page that it wishes it had more readers, you won't see a link from me....
One of the courses I'm taking this semester is Local Government Law. Basically the laws governing cities, and suburbs, and counties, and how they relate to each other, and to the states, and to the federal government, and how people are affected by local government and how they affect it. Urban sprawl, local school funding, things like that. A theme we've returned to a bunch of times has to do with our sense of place identity -- where do we come from? Do we come from, for example, "America," or "Nebraska," "Pine Bluffs," (I'm imagining there's got to be a city in Nebraska called Pine Bluffs. I don't know why. It just sounds right. Pine Bluffs, Nebraska. Even though probably no pine trees there) "The Pine Bluffs Condo Subdivision," etc. People from suburban Chicago often say they're from "Chicago" even though they're not. People here in Cambridge say they live in Boston when we don't. Are you from where you were born, where you lived when you were growing up, where you went to college, where you live now, or somewhere else entirely? I was born in New York -- well, Brooklyn, actually, but I say New York -- and I grew up there. Over the past 7 years, I've been in New York for probably no more than 18 months of calendar time, including vacations and summers and the 8 months I was home in between leaving the job I had in Texas after college and starting law school. I've lived in Princeton and Austin, Texas for longer than that, in Cambridge almost as long, and have spent about 3 months total in Washington, DC and 4 months as a summer camp counselor in the Poconos. That pretty much covers where I've lived. But in my head, it's a no-brainer that "home" is New York. I'm sure for other people, home is where they are now. For people whose parents might have moved since "growing up" in a certain place, home might be a place where they don't know anyone, or home might be a new place, or there might be no "home."

All of this is a long-winded introduction to some thoughts I've been having tonight -- as I do my reading on urban sprawl for Monday's local government law class (no e-mails asking me why I'm doing Monday's reading on Thursday night, please), I'm thinking about how transient our society really is today. People don't stay in one place, people don't always have roots, people pack up and move, leave friends and family behind, sometimes not just once but over and over and again. We become part of people's lives, and then it all just sort of dissipates. My grandmother has a friend that she's had for 80 years. They live in different cities now, but for the longest time they didn't, and a bond was able to form over many decades. We have fewer of these bonds now. We spend a few years with a set of people at school -- and they're our friends, sure -- maybe even friends for life, if we're lucky. But lots of people -- outside of a spouse and an immediate family -- for the most part don't have these lifetime connections, these years and years of shared experiences and the strengthening of bonds that happens over time. Our bonds are more easily shattered when we move from place to place. Even with phones, even with e-mail, even with a daily-updated weblog.... It's kind of sad to think about it. In a lot of ways, a lot of time we're the only souls we really know. It's hard to get deep enough to really know what someone else is thinking, to know them well enough that you understand them -- because two years ago you didn't know them, and two years from now you'll be across the world and -- still peripherally in their lives, perhaps, but not in the same way, not in a deeper sense than "just got a new job, family's good, how about you?" It's a sacrifice we make for a global society I guess, for the chance to chase education and dreams and passions and career opportunities. In a way, I think it makes us less happy than people might have been before all this transience and impermanence. It saddens me a little bit when I think about it. I understand it, and I accept it as what life is about in today's world, but it makes me feel a little empty inside.

These four walls all look the same
My neighbors may not know my name
'Cause one day soon I will be gone

Another year, another place
As I move forward in the race
And alone I walk along

It's a transient world and there's no time to lay down roots
From behind the wheel to a pair of walking boots
Who you get to know will just be part of memory
It's a transient life for you, and for me

And even if you're in the lead
There's a part of you that needs
To plant your seeds and watch them grow

It's superficial in some ways
To see new faces every day
To be the only soul you know

And when the road comes to an end
When there's finally nothing lying around the bend
You want a place to go back home to
Not a place to walk alone to

It's a transient world and there's no time to make wounds heal
To know what others think, and to know what others feel
Harder now to make the road mean something worth the trip
Gotta hang on tight and watch your grip

(There's a melody in there too -- it's a song lyric, in case that wasn't obvious. MP3 on request? Maybe. I dunno. Sure.)

See, not every post ends with a top ten list. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2003

I've never performed stand-up comedy. I wouldn't be very good at it. Nevertheless, if I ever were to...

My Very Own Bad Stand-Up Routine about being a Law Student, Draft One*

(*"Draft One" means I'm writing this on the fly without planning it out first. I imagine real stand-up comics do some editing and rewrites. Although most I've seen don't sound as if they do.)

Hey. My name is Jeremy, and I'm a law student. Law students are generally boring, so I apologize in advance if I'm boring. I was going to start by saying something like, "although it's not visible on the outside, I'm a law student," but I realized that now that I'm in my second year, the horns and tail have started to grow in, so if you look closely, you can pretty much tell I'm on my way to becoming a lawyer.

People hate lawyers, mostly because lawyers hate people. When I started law school, I didn't have any idea what a lawyer did. I figured he sat in his office and manufactured money, or something like that. Which, in fact, is what lawyers do. The big perk about being a lawyer is being able to charge for your time. See, most people can only charge for their work, so if you do things fast, you make more money. But lawyers are special. To make more money, lawyers have to work really slowly. The slower we work, the more hours we can bill, and the more money we can make. As law students, we practice working slowly all the time. It's part of the homework. And law students get used to working slowly, so that by the time we become lawyers, we do everything slowly. It's why lawyers need to take two-hour lunches. Last night for homework I spent an hour on the toilet. I got an A. Actually I got three of them.

Lately I've been consumed with the job search. While in most industries you look for a job after you leave school, or at least when you're getting ready to -- in law school, even though it's 3 years long, you start looking for a job the moment you arrive on campus. Our first meeting, the first week of school, was with the career office. "Welcome to law school. You haven't learned anything yet. It's time to find a job." Law jobs -- or at least law student jobs -- divide into two categories. There's law firm jobs, and there's what they call "public interest." Theoretically, public interest means helping people, which makes it the opposite of a law firm job, where you hurt people. Actually, you don't hurt all people. Just people who don't own big companies. But everyone owns a big company, right? I just bought IBM, in fact. Yesterday. I spent fourteen hours on the toilet to earn enough money. This working slowly thing, it really does the trick.

Anyway. Law firms, and public interest. In practice, "public interest" just amounts to everything that isn't a law firm. Working for the government, working for an advocacy group -- like the Citizens for Bigger Vegetables, or something like that, pretty much anything. At my school, they give out public interest funding for people who don't work at a law firm for their first summer after year one of law school. You can pretty much get public interest funding for anything. Lighting forest fires, kicking the elderly, tossing puppies down the sewer. As long as it's not a law firm.

That's the first summer. But at the end of the first summer, the job search starts for the second summer. Seriously. There are schools where the recruiting process starts in August for the following June. And what's special about the second summer, is that these law firms that hire people for the second summer are really hiring people for after they graduate. The vast majority of people get offers from their second summer firm. Basically to not get an offer, or so I've been told by some of my friends -- talking slowly in a monotone, since they're law students -- you need to do something bad. Not just bad like "I didn't finish my work" bad, or "I stole your sandwich from the refrigerator" bad. Bad like "I got you indicted" bad, or "I maxed out your home equity line of credit and spent it on a new husband for your wife" bad. Bad stuff. And that becomes your job for after law school. So by the end of the fall of your second year -- of a three-year program -- you've pretty much got your job for after you finish. So if you enter law school in, say, September of 3006, then by October of 3007, you basically know what you're going be doing in the fall of 3009. And that way you get two years to pack up all of your stuff for the move to Neptune, and you can charge up the spaceship in the garage.

[Okay, that's enough for now. I have no idea if this is funny or just dumb. If you think it's funny, let me know and I'll write more. If not, I probably will anyway, but at least then I'll know I have to try harder.]
I guess this is law school application season. I should be sleeping, but instead I'm going to see what I can come up with if I promise five pieces of advice for applicants to consider when deciding whether law school is the right choice.

1. Know why you're going. This is the biggest one. There's lots of reasons -- burning desire to practice law, want a stable career that will enable a good living, are interested in the education, think it'll be good training for business or political careers, mom and dad said they'll pay and so why not. I don't want to judge the reasons, and I think even that last one is legitimate if it's really your situation. My advice is just to know what that reason is, to be able to articulate it, and to use that decision as the foundation of your school choice. Make sure the reason and the school you pick match up well. If you're there to get a job, go to the best school you can find, and if it's not a top school, make sure it's in the city you want to eventually work in, or you won't find a job that easily. If you're there to play softball, don't go to a school in Boston. If you're there to do environmental law, don't go to a school without any environmental law professors. You know what I mean.

2. Know how you're going to pay for it. Loans are great. But have your eyes open going in. If you're going to need to take out a gazillion dollars in loans, you may find yourself stuck in a position of needing to take a law firm to pay them back. If that's what you want, then great. But go in realizing that if you want to do public interest law, you may need to find a school with a loan forgiveness program, or some other way to keep the pressure down to have to go take a job you don't want to take, and then regret going to law school to begin with.

3. Know that you're ready. Everyone's different, but, personally, I'm glad I took some time in between college and law school. Having a job for a little bit provides some perspective, I think, and makes you not take school so seriously, and makes you feel lucky to be in school and have a student schedule. Unless you have a compelling reason not to, it may not be a bad idea to defer and go do something for a year, get a sense of the real world, so your first job is not the law firm job, and you'll have something to compare it to. But everyone's different, and maybe some people are mature enough to not need the time between, or already have the perspective I thought my time gave me. I don't know.

4. Know where you want to be. For a top school, maybe it's worth uprooting yourself to someplace new. You'll make friends, there's lots of people at every school who aren't from there and don't have an already-established life. But if going somewhere in particular has the potential to make you miserable -- far away from things you want to be near -- think about whether it's worth it. It's hard to like school when you're not liking life. Obviously it's a trade off and can balance in either direction. But it's just something to think about, I think.

5. Know how to read. There's a bunch of reading in law school. If you don't like to read stuff -- or at least if you have trouble reading dense stuff -- you may not like it at law school. The work overall isn't really that bad, I don't think -- there's less writing than in college, fewer tests, possibly less work overall although some people disagree. But there is a lot of reading. If you are illiterate, law school may not be the place for you. Although you may find my weblog more entertaining than it deserves. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Right now, Harvard's 92nd Ames Finals Moot Court Competition is going on. Three famous judges I've never really heard of are presiding over oral arguments in a fake case; two teams of 6 students each, who beat out a couple dozen other teams in the preliminary rounds, are competing in order to win the case and add another line to their alreday-stellar resumes. The teams this year are the Paul Wellstone Memorial Team (Petitioner), and the John Ritter Memorial Team (Respondent). No, I'm getting that wrong. It's John Rawls, not John Ritter. Oops.

Here's what the fake case is about, taken from the Harvard website: Michelle Jones, Petitioner v. Harlan Oakes, Commissioner of the Ames Division of Motor Vehicles, and Clara Brooks, Ames State Treasurer, Respondents -- involves a plaintiff's challenge to a state statute authorizing the production of specialty license plates displaying the words, "Choose Life." The plaintiff holds pro-choice beliefs, but cannot obtain a pro-choice license plate because the state has not authorized such a plate. The first issue asks whether the plaintiff has Article III standing to challenge the statute. The second addresses whether the statute violates the plaintiff's right to free speech under the First Amendment.

I cut-and-pasted that description, but as many times as I try to read it, I can't concentrate enough to read the whole paragraph and actually comprehend it.

The people on each team who talk are called "oralists." That's the kind of thing their friends would probably make fun of them for if their friends aren't humorless law students. "Ooh, you're an oralist...."

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Funny Onion article about the "dangers" of having a weblog. This one really hit home for me. My mom reads my weblog. :)

It's prompting a lame attempt at humor:

Nine Events That Didn't Really Happen, but if they did I'd be pretty wary about posting them, since you never know who's reading.

1. That time that Professor Junklehopper called on me and I was high on LSD and pounced on him like a rabbit pouncing on a piece of lettuce, and I tore his shirt collar, he called security, and had me removed from class.

2. That time my study group session turned into a wild orgy, involving highlighters, flash cards, and something someone bought with a whole lotta Lexis points.

3. The ill-advised "bungee jumping off the library roof" incident.

4. The time I stole fourteen study guides from the bookstore (holding the cashier at felt-tip-pen-point), and then burned them all in an big bonfire outside the student center.

5. That source I cited wrong in a footnote.

6. My purchase of a Con Law outline from the creepy man who hangs out by the schoolyard trying to get us kids hooked on the study guides. He's scary, dude.

7. That time I tried "skimming" for the first time.

8. When my friend dared me to take a practice exam, and I couldn't just do one, and stayed up for 72 hours straight on a practice exam binge that ended in disaster when I... ran out of practice exams.

9. Five words: "Review session, machine gun, messy"
I was eating a Stonyfield Farms yogurt this morning (Maple Vanilla flavor -- it sounds weird but it's really good), and on the lid there was a message about a contest they're having. Something like: "Send us a healthy version of your favorite recipe, that includes Stonyfield Farms yogurt, and you can win a trip to a cooking school somewhere." Which, of course, as I sat down in Constitutional Law class, got me thinking about the worst possible recipes I could think of that would incorporate yogurt. A few ideas:

1. Veal Parmesan & Yogurt. Cover the veal with cheese, tomato sauce, and three cups of yogurt, preferably strawberry-flavored, although lemon will work as well. Bake in an oven until the yogurt turns brown.

2. Yogurt Shrimp Fried Rice. In a wok, mix white rice, soy sauce, bits of scrambled egg, assorted vegetables, shrimp bits, and lots and lots of yogurt. Stir-fry until well-mixed. Add soy sauce to taste.

3. KFC+Y. Buy a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Pour yogurt (again, fruit flavors work best) over the top. Enjoy.

4. Tuna Salad, Yogurt-style. Mix tuna salad as you might normally. Instead of mayonnaise, use coffee-flavored yogurt. Spread onto un-rolled fruit roll-ups. Makes a delicious lunch.

5. Yogurt Cheez Doodles. Dip Cheez Doodles in yogurt. Enjoy.

Perhaps someone else has some better ideas.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Exams are coming soon! Well, not that soon, but soon enough. Try out these exciting practice exam hypotheticals.

1. Criminal Law. You are a fan of a professional basketball team. After the game, one of their star players (KB) comes up to you and asks you if you would like to accompany him to his hotel room. Events ensue. Should KB go to jail?

2. Civil Procedure. You are driving from New York to California with a young woman trapped in your trunk. She cries out for help at least once in every state you pass. As you reach California, you encounter a newly-elected politician (AS). He opens the trunk. Events ensue. Can the woman sue you in federal court? Can she sue AS in federal court?

3. Constitutional Law. You are a clerk to Justice Thomas. You find a pubic hair on your Coke can. What do you do?

Other random notes on a not-that-exciting day:

1. When I was walking to class today I saw a real live skunk wandering around the campus.
2. I think cauliflower is a strange-looking vegetable.
3. Even though it's a little while (okay, a fairly long while, coming up on 1 AM here...) after midnight, I'm going to change the time on this post to 11:59pm Monday.
4. I am upset that I missed tonight's episode of "Average Joe"

Sunday, November 09, 2003

If you *really* want to read about the substance of the environmental law debate I saw here on Thursday, I have an article that'll probably make it into the Harvard Law Record later this week which I'll link to, and some previews of the actual content (quotes from the participants regarding Bush's policies) over here. But I figured it was worth a post on the oddest / funniest moment:

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett was talking about the Bush administration and how it's trying to cooperate with industry in order to develop environmental policies, and find ways to get stuff accomplished without necessarily penalizing businesses. She drew an analogy to raising children:

You want to get them to behave through encouragement and role modeling, she said, although “of course sometimes you have to get out the sticks and punish." Silence. Awkward chuckle. She got a confused look on her face and then realized what she'd said. "Not with children, I don’t mean…. my daughter will vouch that I never used sticks.”


Saturday, November 08, 2003

Another review of Barman (see my review from last Monday) over here at the usually excellent Wings and Vodka. I like his review better than mine, to be honest. He gets at all the stuff that's wrong with it; I spent too much of my review trying to justify why I read the book in one sitting. He also could have paid $10 less than what he did if he'd gotten it on like I did, and that may have made him like it more. I still think there's some good stuff in Barman about taking the bar and going through interviews... but there's way too much filler about the girls who can't keep their hands off of him and the crumbling concrete walls in his apartment.

Also, a real brief comment over at JD2B about "Brush With The Law," which I wrote a little bit about way back here.

And, to complete today's survey of what other people are writing about, Waddling Thunder has a multi-part series on how his interviews went. Especially if you have any interest in working in London, which I believe is in a foreign country somewhere, you should check it out.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Anagrams for a few law firms --

Skadden Arps: DARKNESS PAD
Davis Polk: VODKA LIPS
Milbank: I'M BLANK
Jones Day: ENJOY SAD
Akin Gump: AM PUKING
Debevoise: OBESE ED VI (That's Ed the Sixth, in Roman. Right.)
Shearman: MEAN RASH
Some better stuff about hazing, mixed with some more thoughts on the Law Review Drinking Game from earlier this week... combined into an 800-word extravaganza. Some new stuff here, but some will sound familiar.

Hazed and Confused

I've been a victim of hazing. The "forced physical activity" of having to read the anti-hazing statute a half-dozen times, causing me "extreme mental stress" and "extended deprivation of rest." For a law school, they've written an awfully vague statute if you ask me. "Exposure to the weather" can count as hazing. There's always some sort of weather, even nice weather. Any activity that meets outside - or inside, with a window open - I've been hazed! "Forced consumption of any food?" Come on, every single student organization on campus is in violation of that one. On day one, the Jewish Law Students Association (known for last year's unfortunate "you must eat that pork!" initiations festival that caused quite an uproar) had a bagel brunch. I wouldn't say they forced anyone to eat the bagels, but they did suggest it a number of times, and with some conviction behind it. I could easily see a 1L claiming he was coerced against his will. "...likely to adversely affect the physical health...." Law review. "[E]xtended deprivation of sleep." Law review. "...or extended isolation." Law review.

"Forced calisthenics." There goes every intramural sport. Uh, all two of them. "Branding." There goes anyone doing anything with Lexis, Westlaw, or Bar-Bri. Ha. I think Student Health Services is in violation every time they write a prescription, the cafeteria every time they poison the food, and any sort of competition at all is clearly a violation of the
prohibition against "beating." One of my professors forces us to bring the casebook to class every day. It's heavy! I've saved the best for last, though: these law journals we've got are all in gross violation of the hazing statute. "Forced consumption of any... other substance." Like a footnote? Like the Bluebook? "Forced physical activity." Mass subcites? Fight the power. We're all being hazed like nobody's business. But we know now. Because they made us read the statute. All of them. Multiple times. And cite-check it for accuracy.

If these law reviews are going to violate the law, at least they ought to be able to turn it into a game of some sort. Make it fun to break state statutes. I suggest the adoption of a "law review drinking game" in the research room of the library during each mass subcite:

Take one sip for every "id." Two sips for every "supra." Three sips every time the author uses a Latin phrase just for effect (inter what?). Four sips for every page that's entirely footnote without a single line of text. Five sips for every quote inside a parenthetical inside a quote inside a parenthetical. Six sips for every misquoted source. Seven sips for every generic web citation (see, The Internet). Eight sips for every point cite to a page that simply doesn't exist. Nine sips for every time the reference librarian is able to assist with whatever difficulty you might be encountering. Oh, wait, that never happens.

Of course, this whole game could be played with coffee, inside one of the bath-sized spill-proof mugs the library gives us at the beginning of the year. Fill that up and you could take fourteen sips for each and every word you pass, and still be drinking from it a week from now. I filled mine up with water. My water bill doubled. (Do we pay water bills? Does anyone pay water bills? Or is water just one of those things that's free, like illegal cable TV, or music files. I have no idea.)

I think final exams may be illegal under the hazing statute, actually. Writing them is certainly a "forced physical activity," and surely they cause some people "extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep." "Or extended isolation" in the library. Or in the dorms. Heck, the dorms alone are pretty adverse to anyone's well-being. Down with the dorms. Down with finals. Down with hazing.

Want to join my new club, AHALSA (pronounced "cough, sneeze!")? It stands for the Anti-Hazing Law Students Association (duh!). All you have to do to join is stand outside for 36 hours, doing pushups, eating walnuts, drinking lemonade, taking vitamins, while baking a cake (that gets the "whipping" and "beating" involved - you see where I'm going here), and advertising a leading type of dish detergent ("branding") on the toothpicks holding open your eyelids. I think that just about covers the whole statute. We're meeting tomorrow on some public or private property somewhere. For a mass subcite.
A 1L friend told me he's started to think about what to do this summer. The topic unleashed a bunch of unsolicited advice from me. I figure there's no better place for my unsolicited advice than right here. First, a caveat -- if you go to a law school where the job choices really are different for people who work at a firm 1L summer versus people who don't, then you can probably take all of this with a grain of salt. Obviously, the math is different if what you do is really going to determine job offers as a 2L. I think here we're fortunate and lucky enough that most reasonable things that anybody would do over the summer are all seen as fine by employers and don't hurt in the 2L search as long as there's a compelling story behind it and a rational reason. I don't know if that's true everywhere, so I recognize this advice may have limited application. Second, a disclosure -- I didn't work at a law firm last summer. I think there are some great reasons to try and work at a law firm 1L summer. My feeling was that since I knew I was going to be doing that 2L summer, I wanted to use 1L summer to do something else, something that would introduce me to another thing I could do with my law degree, and give me an experience and connections and skills that I wasn't just going to duplicate the following summer. That said:

I look at the summer after 1L year as an opportunity to leverage your year of law school into spending ten weeks doing something you really feel has the potential to have an impact in what you really, really, really want to end up doing with your life, whatever that might be. I feel like too many people approach it as "what OUGHT I spend the summer doing?" and they end up doing something they're not really passionate about or even that interested in. They go to a default option. I see nothing wrong with ending up at a law firm. But if you know you're going to end up at a law firm 2L summer, then the best reason, in my mind, to go to a law firm 1L summer is -- and it's a great reason, and a reason I'm sure tons of people have and that's great, really: You are absolutely passionate about the law and feel like law firm work is definitely something you think you're interested in. You know you want to work at a law firm, and can't think of anything else you'd genuinely rather spend your summer doing. When you consider different kinds of law you may want to practice, or, broader, different things you may want to do with your life, it all comes down to different things that different law firms do, and you want to use this summer to try some of them out and start to narrow the field and get a sense of where you want to end up in the long-term and this is really what's motivating your summer search. That's a fine overall reason, I think. No arguments from me.

BUT. Reasons that sound really good, and in a lot of cases are really good, but I will try and counter at least a little bit: (1) The money -- in whatever financial situation you're in, that trumps everything else in your head. It's a fair reason, but realize -- working at a firm after graduation, you will earn so much freakin' money that the $24K is a pittance and will turn out not to have mattered all that much and not to have been worth wasting a summer on. It's all coming back in tuition anyway -- yes, it will do a great job in reducing your loans, but with the lawyer salary, you can pay back the loans. The money's a good reason to work at a firm, I can't deny that. But is the money worth passing up other things you may be more passionate about? Just ask the question -- I know for a lot of people it is, and that's totally fair; (2) there are more than two locations you really truly think you may genuinely want to be -- because if it's just 2 you can split your 2L summer -- and, more than anything else, you want to check out location #3. My response: that's great. But there's no reason why that has to be at a firm. You can do all sorts of things in that city, whatever city it is.

Reasons that suck: (1) It'll look good on your resume. My response, at least here: Go talk to some 2Ls. Firms don't really seem to have cared all that much what people did last summer, as long as you have a good reason for whatever it was, and can articulate it, or at least make something up that sounds compelling. (2) All of my friends are working at
firms. If all of your friends kill themselves when they get a B in Civ Pro, will you kill yourself too? You go to law school, that's good enough. No one will think you're an inferior being because you pass up the chance to spend an extra summer using Westlaw.

SO: my advice would be to think about what you'd really like to be, if you could be anything at all -- and use this summer -- leverage the fact you're a law school student -- to see if you can take a real step towards getting there. If you work at a firm without a really compelling reason to do so, you're wasting the summer because you'll be doing nothing you won't be able to do next year. If you do "immigration law" at a non-profit just because the public interest office publishes a big thick guide and you figure that sounds like something that people won't look at you funny for doing, then you're wasting your summer. But if you decide, hey, I really like the law, and I really am passionate about immigration and helping to change the system and I want to get involved, and see what these organizations do, and there's nothing I'd rather try this summer, then that's great. You've found it. The key, I think, is no regrets. Don't be forced into something that's going to make you feel silly when it turns out it really didn't do anything for you and you wasted the whole summer. If you're dying to see how government law stuff works, lots of cool stuff; district attorney's offices; non-profit stuff; lifeguarding. It's all about what your passions are, or at least that's how I see it.

Of course, I may be totally wrong.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

If you liked the 3000-word version of my A-to-Z Guide to Callback Interviews from earlier in the week, you'll love the 1000-word version that ran in the Harvard Law Record. Check it out if you dare.

Tonight at a cappella rehearsal, we had to discuss Harvard's anti-hazing statute. There's a law, it seems, that requires all student organizations here to sign an anti-hazing pledge. Because hazing is obviously a big problem for a cappella groups. And the Jewish Law Students Association (eat that pork! you must eat that pork!). And the technology law journal. And moot court.

From the statute:

269:17. Hazing; organizing or participating; hazing defined

Whoever is a principal organizer or participant in the crime of hazing, as defined herein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.

The term 'hazing' as used in this section and in sections eighteen and nineteen, shall mean any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug, or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health, or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation.

"Exposure to the weather" is awfully vague. There's always some sort of weather. Making someone enjoy a beautiful day: hazing. Asking you to eat the "welcome to our church" cookies: hazing. Making you hold the door for the person behind you ("forced physical activity"): hazing. Better examples of stupid things that would count as hazing: coming later when I'm more creative.