Jeremy's Weblog

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

From the hypothetical "World's Worst Automated Telephone System" :

Press "1" for Accounts Receivable
Press "2" for Recent Transactions
Press "3" for Investor Information
and Press "10" for Inventory Tracking
Hmmm. Didn't even realize this was a career. I'm on a couple of alumni e-mail lists from Princeton, and on one of them there was just a post:

My daughter will be entering her senior year.... She is very much interested in an internship/apprenticeship this summer, anywhere in the U.S., in the field of glassblowing. She is very serious about glassblowing as a career.... If anyone has any leads or ideas...
Hmmm. Glassblowing as a career. Interesting. Sounds like fun. And never a question about what gifts to give on holidays and birthdays. "Thanks so much for the vase! I put it right next to the candy dish and the candlestick holder! And the other seven vases!"
How Appalling reports on a post I had up for about an hour last night before I realized I was just tired and not making much sense, and I'd be better off deleting it. His (or her) post explains my post pretty well, which was basically that it kind of bothered me that someone would say that its site, which has been up for a week and is essentially a one-joke parody of Howard Bashman's How Appealing is funnier than mine, because, while it's amusing, it probably can't sustain for much longer, and is kind of mean-spirited anyway because Howard is a real person and not a faceless corporate institution. Whatever. I took Overpundit's post too personally and it's not a big deal, and that's why I deleted the post....

UPDATE: Overpundit makes nice in a follow-up post.
UPDATE 2: How Appalling makes nice too.
Random stuff:

1. It's interesting how different cities have different quirks of law. Like in Boston, all restaurant menus contain a warning about eating raw and undercooked food, and how that might not be so good for you. Even places where nothing on the menu ought to be raw or undercooked (as opposed to sushi places), there's still that unnerving warning, forcing me to check my chicken just a few too many times. But in New York, instead we get signs in bathrooms about how employees must wash their hands -- because it's the law. If I owned a restaurant, I'd be a little peeved if my employees only washed their hands after going to the bathroom because it's the law. In fact, I'd want to put up a sign that says "Our employees would wash their hands even if it wasn't the law, because they don't want to get their pee in your food." Only I'd say it more tastefully. When I was in DC for a few weeks last summer, the only quirk I remember noticing is that they made a big deal about not leaving behind any "articles" on the subway. Which made me extra-cautious with my Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated (no, I don't read The New Yorker and Harper's Weekly... I'm just not that cultured). Ah, federalism. Without it, every state would have the same warnings and customs, and that wouldn't be much fun, now would it?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

"Yo Momma" jokes that are only funny to law students, and even then not so much, inspired by this uninspired line I tossed off in conversation this evening, and which actually got a pretty charitable response compared to what I thought it deserved as I said it: "The professor's so old, we know he clerked for Justice Harlan, but we're not sure which one."

"Yo Momma's so poor she can't afford to file for bankruptcy."
"Yo Momma's so fat she wants to sue McDonalds but can't get up off the couch to file the lawsuit."
"Yo Momma's so stupid she doesn't know the difference between rational basis review and strict scrutiny."
"Yo Momma's so mentally ill she might actually have a reason to plead insanity instead of just faking it to get out of jail."
"Yo Momma's so deformed that if she had a skin graft operation that made hair grow out of her hands, it would be an improvement."
"Yo Momma's so tired she couldn't even do twelve pages of Con Law reading before falling asleep last night."
"Yo Momma's so sad she makes first-year associates look like they just won the lottery."
"Yo Momma's so fat or stupid or both she had to take the LSAT twice just to get scores that added up to her weight."

Monday, March 29, 2004

Every time I'm home on a break, there's always a little something new to see. When I came home for winter break, we had a new back porch. Last summer, we got a DVD player for the first time. And last spring I discovered that my mom had bought new toilet seats for the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. This time, it's TiVo. Well, almost TiVo. They switched from Cablevision to DirectTV, because it's cheaper, and DirectTV came with a TiVo-like digital video recording system, and even the TiVo remote control that the New York Times lauded a few months ago in an article I'd link to if it wasn't too far in the archives to make it cost money (but you can find it on Lexis for sure). I like TiVo (and I'm going to call it TiVo instead of DirectTV, because that's who makes it and it's really what it is), but I thought I'd like it more. I have some friends who have it, and love it. I'm intrigued by the ability to pause live television, and then come back and watch it about 10 minutes behind so you can fast forward through all of the commercials. The ability to record a "season pass" of every new episode of a program is cool. The ease of use, to set up recording, or to play something back, is fine -- although I'm okay with programming a normal VCR, so this isn't really doing all that much for me. And, as the Times promised, the remote control is nicely contoured and easy to use (although the TV-power-on button is really hard to find if you don't know where it is, and flummoxed me for a good three or four minutes). What I expect is sort of cool is the TiVo recommendations, where it gives you programs based on what you've already recorded. My mom turned that feature off because it was giving her stuff in Spanish for no reason she could come up with. But I've turned it back on while I'm home, because I'm curious what it will give me, now that I've recorded The Apprentice, a "freeview" concert on the "music choice" channel, and a few episodes of a show I read about on the Sundance Channel called Tanner '88, a fictional behind-the-scenes "documentary" of a presidential campaign, that initially ran on HBO in 1988 and is written by Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury) and directed by Robert Altman (famous movies I can't name). They had 4 episodes back-to-back (-to-back-to-back) on yesterday and I recorded them. I've watched one and it was okay, but didn't compel me to immediately watch the rest, although I'm sure I'll get to them before the week is through. But it strikes me that there's nothing *bad* about TiVo -- they've done a very good job creating a set of features no one can really dislike. It's not like a computer, where you have to learn stuff and buy stuff and plug stuff in, and do all sorts of time-intensive activities at the start that can make it prohibitively painful to start -- although obviously computers have enough benefits that many, many, many people have decided it's worth the initial investment to become able to use one. But TiVo presents none of those problems, and although the upside isn't like what you can get out of a computer, it's reasonably cool. So I expect this will become standard stuff pretty soon. Man, this post isn't funny at all except for the gratuitous toilet mention up top. Oh well, yesterday's was hopefully funny, and maybe something later.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

They’re telling us that next week, we’ll be given course selection information for next year. Due to an obscure provision of the Privacy in Information Act, I’ve been able to get my hands on a copy of the course catalog prior to its official release at a press conference next Monday, which will be attended by dignitaries from around the world along with former child stars Danica McKellar and Rider Strong. My advance copy has allowed me to preview some of the upcoming courses in the space below.

Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction and Other Issues in Media Law and Regulation
Visiting Professor George Carlin

Prof. Carlin, who is currently appearing in the hit film “Jersey Girl,” starring Ben Affleck and featuring Jennifer Lopez (but she dies within the first fifteen minutes of the movie, obviously), will be offering this course, which will examine (over and over again) Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl “overexposure” in order to determine how the law should treat naked body parts on television, and whether we ought to create a big, long code that will flummox future generations of lawyers. (This course will be rated TV-MA for adult language, sexual situations, and, despite the pleadings of the faculty committee, occasional full-frontal nudity by Prof. Carlin.)

Losing Election Law
Visiting Professor Howard Dean

Prof. Dean, who will also be teaching a class at the Medical School titled, “It’s Not Easy To Restart Your Medical Practice When Much Of America Thinks You’re Kind Of Loony,” offers a course that examines new law that could be enacted to help losing candidates turn their fortunes around despite massive media mishaps that turn the public against them. Among the legal regimes discussed: banning voters from voting for anyone but Howard Dean, erasing people’s memories, turning back time, and more easily translating fanatic Internet support to actual votes. The course will have a companion weblog, which will get more hits than there are people on the planet but still not increase enrollment beyond three or four liberal nutcases.

Child Pornography
Visiting Professors Paul Reubens and Michael Jackson

Professors Reubens and Jackson, who will team-teach the course in a fully-equipped bedroom rigged with cameras, in front of a live studio audience of ten-year-olds, will announce the complete syllabus later, but want to emphasize that this will be a hands-on class. Students with children of their own are especially invited to enroll and add their unique perspectives.

Securities Regulation
Visiting Professor Martha Stewart

Prof. Stewart acknowledges that many students may be more comfortable taking this class from a more familiar professor, especially since the law school does have a number of talented and experienced scholars in the area. However, she promises to provide food and drink at every class meeting, adorn the classroom with pleasant furnishings and fragrant greenery, and give every student the tools to make his or her own decorative book jacket, to hide how boring Securities Regulation really is. Expect to do “five to ten” hours of outside work per week for the class. The class will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, but not “Fraud”-days. Prof. Stewart apologizes for that not at all being a funny joke.

Other offerings not funny enough to get a whole paragraph:

Animal Law
Visiting Professor Roy Horn

Narcotics Regulation
Visiting Professor Whitney Houston

Seminar on Gay Marriage
Visiting Lecturer Jerry Falwell

Carbohydrate Law
Visiting Professor Ghost of Robert Atkins

Saturday, March 27, 2004

From the mailbag:

I'm an avid reader of your blog, and I was just wondering if you'd give a shout out to me on it! Say sometimes like, "I give a shoutout to the coolest Californian Filipina I know, Paula Nuguid."
I'm pretty sure you really are the coolest Californian Filipina I know, Paula.
OK. If you're not a baseball fan, this post just won't be very interesting to you. I posted something possibly-amusing about law school a few hours ago, so you can just scroll on down to that (or click here to let your browser do the work for you.

I just finished my 5th of 5 fantasy baseball drafts. Although no one cares but me, I figured I'd write something up in summary. Reds OF Austin Kearns has the distinction of being the only player on all 5 of my teams. Probably means I'm overvaluing him, but that's OK. Royals SP Jeremy Affeldt, Angels RP Francisco Rodriguez, Blue Jays RP Aquilino Lopez, and Indians RP David Riske are each on 4 of my teams. With Riske and Lopez, it illustrates my usual strategy of going with risky young closers after the Gagnes and Smoltzes of the world have been taken, instead of using a high-round pick on one, or grabbing mid-tier closers like Benitez or Hoffman. Although, I did end up with Mariano Rivera on 2 teams, and Arthur Rhodes, Jason Isringhausen, Joe Borowski, and Troy Percival on one team each. Also Ryan Wagner on two teams, and Damaso Marte, Jose Valverde and Rafael Soriano on one team each, in leagues that count holds. My final round pick in another hold league was David Weathers; I also have Mike Timlin in that league. And I think that rounds out my entire bullpen.

I have a handful of players each on three teams -- Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, and Javy Lopez. With the exception of Lopez, who in each case I grabbed because if I didn't take him I'd end up without a top tier catcher -- I have Varitek and Kendall on the other two teams; I probably spend too many picks considering position scarcity too heavily... unless there are some real deals available, I tend to try and fill my infield before my outfield. Affeldt, Santana, Peavy, and Webb show my bias toward young starting pitchers. Young players in general I guess -- the relievers I took were mostly young too. I like when there's upside. I don't even rank players like Jamie Moyer, Garret Anderson, Kevin Millwood -- too predictable; low risk but low reward. Roy Oswalt, who's one of my favorite players, largely because I drafted him on a bunch of teams the last few years and he did well, only fell to me once -- he kept being "next on my list" and someone else would grab him. I've got Rich Harden on two teams, Tim Redding on two teams, and Kerry Wood on one. Missed out on Prior. Last year I had Zito on a bunch of my teams; this year I have Tim Hudson on two. Didn't plan on it, but ended up grabbing Kevin Brown on two teams, when he fell unjustifiably low. I have Randy Wolf and Matt Morris on one team each, and, with early-round picks, grabbed Pedro Martinez in one league, and Javier Vazquez and Randy Johnson in rounds two and three of the sixteen-team draft I just finished... the league counts strikeouts, and I felt they were both the best available players at that point, even though I had no plans to grab either one. I thought I'd end up with Miguel Batista on more than one team, but I kept waiting too long, so only grabbed him once. And I've got Ted Lilly on one team. I had him on a lot more than that last year, and he was okay... but I thought he'd be better.

Carlos Beltran is one of my favorite players, because of the power-speed combo. But he went in the first round in 4 of my 5 drafts -- I took him in the second round in the 5th league. Bobby Abreu is also one of my favorites, and also just ended up with him in one league. Besides Kearns, who's on all 5 teams, the only outfielders I have in more than one league are Geoff Jenkins (2), Magglio Ordonez (2), and Adam Dunn (2). Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez fell to me the second round of one league each; I grabbed Griffey late in one league, Jim Edmonds in another, and grabbed Suzuki in the 8th round on one team. I have Larry Walker on two teams, Carl Crawford on one team, and, in one deep league, Jason Bay, Jay Gibbons, and Bobby Kielty as outfielders 4-6.

In the infield, second base seemed especially shallow this year. I ended up with Alfonso Soriano as my first round pick in two leagues, and grabbed Marcus Giles in two others. In the fifth, and as a backup in another, I have Ray Durham, who's at least steady if not spectacular. And I have Vidro and Brian Roberts each in one league. At shortstop I took A-Rod as my first round pick in two leagues (one where I was seeded first; the other third, but Bonds and Pujols were the first two to go), and have Furcal in two and Reyes in one league. At third base I wanted Chavez, but ended up with Rolen in two leagues, Blalock in two, and Dmitri Young in one league, out of desperation (and Morgan Ensberg snatched up by the guy who picked prior to me). At first base, I got Helton with pick 5 in one league -- hadn't planned on that, since there are so many solid first basemen, but OBP and SLG are two of the stats, and Helton's numbers are so huge. I have Mike Sweeney (so many Royals... him, Beltran, Affeldt...) in two leagues, and I have Huff, Millar, and Fullmer in one league. Josh Phelps as a utility guy in two leagues, and Edgar Martinez in one.

5 teams, 72 total players to root for. Fun!
The blog myoclonic has a list of the most overused phrases in law school. His/her picks include "with all due respect," "reasonably foreseeable," "reification," and then a bunch of phrases I've never ever ever heard, like "lacuna in the law" (???) and "disjunctive element" (?). I like the idea, so I'm going to steal it.

Jeremy's Most Overused Law School Phrases

-- Objective manifestation of subjective intent
-- Excuse me, I think you're sitting in my seat.
-- Three-pronged test
-- Well, I happen to think...
-- Strict scrutiny
-- Why is attendance so low today?
-- According to the dissent...
-- Will this be on the exam?
-- Rules versus standards
-- Is that a highlighter in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
-- Known or should have known
-- I think that's Bluebook rule 14.5
-- The time-value of money
-- I'm sorry, I just had some cafeteria food and need to go vomit.
-- Administrability
-- According to my student loan officer...
-- Promotes the alienability of property
-- Could you call on someone else? I didn't get a chance to do the reading.
-- One hundred percent of students received job offers last year
-- No, I'm sorry, that's incorrect
-- This meeting will be mandatory
-- Here's another hypothetical...
-- Please stop playing solitaire in class
-- Okay, let's take a ten-minute break and when we come back we'll move on to the next case.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Any Blue Jays fans out there will want to check out this long but excellent season preview. Link courtesy of The Hardball Times.

Also for baseball fans: tomorrow afternoon I have my fifth (and final) fantasy baseball draft of the pre-season (yes, I know I am slightly obsessed, but I will stop writing about fantasy baseball once the season starts, I promise)... I'm hoping to write up some sort of draft success/failure wrap-up that will also serve as a baseball season preview of sorts. Expect that Monday or Tuesday.

Other posts-in-the-pipeline news (clearly I'm stretching for inspiration here, and kind of want to go to sleep...) -- course selection for next year is coming soon; as soon as the registrar posts a catalog online, I expect to be able to milk that for some fun posts. Also, I had dinner with a pair of fellow bloggers tonight that I'd hadn't met before and one of the topics that came up was how blogging about goup blogging can be fun, so maybe I'll write something up about the ill-fated En Banc, or the hopefully-better-fated De Novo (which, incidentally, is still looking for people interested in writing something for our Internet Law & Society symposium coming on April 5. E-mail me if you want to write something we might want to post there -- whether you're a fellow blogger or just a reader).
The Office of Public Interest Advising just sent out a job listing for a summer position in Newark, NJ that ends with the line, "For those unfamiliar with Newark, it is located 7 miles from Manhattan and is only a 15 minute train ride away." How about this: "For those unfamiliar with Newark, you probably want to stay that way." My description is probably more accurate. Sorry, Newark.

Also: courtesy of Scheherazade, check out Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974. It sounds uncompelling, but it's really, really funny. Laugh out loud even though there's no one else here funny.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Angry Book Review
Trading Up: The New American Luxury, by Michael J. Silverstein and Neil Fiske

The authors of "Trading Up" should be forced to "Trade Down" and go live in a housing project for a couple of years. The book is a well-researched, well-written, nauseating celebration of the wasteful and overindulgent consumer culture in America. Victoria's Secret. Panera Bread. Williams-Sonoma. Belvedere Vodka. What these companies (and more) have in common is that they're of marginally higher quality than their competitors, but through manipulative branding that takes advantage of people's emotional needs and desires, they're able to raise their price points and "rocket" to huge profits off the demand curve. I don't dispute the book -- I think the authors have done a fantastic job identifying what it is companies like The Cheesecake Factory and Callaway Golf and Samuel Adams beer are doing: making high-quality products, and pitching them as lifestyle choices, as more than just "things you buy" but as part of what gives you an identity and what makes you feel good about your consumption -- but the tone of the book is kind of sickening; it's a celebration of consumer manipulation and of shrewd branding that makes people feel like consumer products can change their lives. "They are my little mechanical buddies;" "They are part of my family" -- these are people talking about their $2,000 Whirlpool washer and dryer. It's disturbing and sad -- but the book uses these quotes to illustrate a success story. Okay -- it is a success story. But not for society, and not for these people who, because of broader societal issues, are left to rely on their appliances for emotional support. Buying a $50 pair of tongs at Williams-Sonoma does not make me happy, and I think if it does make people happy, then we have things to worry about and shouldn't just be applauding Williams-Sonoma on making consumers believe that their neighbors will think less of them if they buy their tongs at K-Mart. I give the book credit for being awfully thought-provoking -- for getting me to think about these issues, and realize that there are certainly products I buy that I could just as easily buy the generic version of and it wouldn't make a difference. Shampoo comes to mind, actually, although it's an awfully negligible expense in the scheme of things -- not that what I buy is such a luxury brand, but still, I could save $2.00 if I bought the CVS bottle next to it, and I'm sure there's a negligible difference if any. But reading this book makes me want to never buy a brand name anything again, and scold people for reaching for the finely milled pet food when Walmart's Ol' Red will do just fine, and actually makes me angry that we live in a world where the thought of consumer products filling emotional needs is lauded and not shamefully disturbing.
After a subway ride, bus ride, subway ride, bus ride, and short car ride (total trvael time: a shade under 6 hours), I have made the journey from school to home, and I suppose it's now Spring Break. My first Spring Break activity is a dental appointment at 5:30. My second Spring Break activity is taking my grandmother to the supermarket. My third Spring Break activity will probably involve another weblog post. :)

Two things I'm looking forward to about Spring Break:

1. Seeing friends (and family) I haven't seen since winter break
2. Being able to watch Mets games on TV (even if they're only spring training games)

More later.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I just returned from the law school newspaper's newsroom. I say "newsroom," but it's really more like a "room" where there are some computers, a printer, and a small handful of people. Small handful for former baseball pitcher Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, that is. Anyway, in addition to writing my column, I'm "copy editor," which I may or may not have mentioned before but probably not since it's usually not that interesting. So I read everything and put some extra commas in, and then I leave and the other people add some misspellings to make it look like I haven't been doing my job. Anyway ("will he get to the point of this story already???), usually I get down there at about 4:30 and there's a person or two and a half a newspaper laid out so I can start reading stuff. Today there was no one there, and the door was locked. But I have a key. So I went in, and saw on the computer that only two pages had been laid out -- 4 opinion columns. "Hmmm," I thought. "No one's here, and there's not much of a paper... running late, or no issue this week but they just didn't tell the columnists?" You should already have some idea what the answer is, or there wouldn't be much of a story, would there? So I figured either way I'd copyedit what was there, so I did, and then checked e-mail, and checked e-mail again, and checked some more e-mail. And then the editor in chief came in and said there's no paper this week because Spring Break is next week, and so people may not bother picking up a copy before they leave... and that'll make it relevant... and whatever, not a big deal. Oh well. But the real point of my story (you mean this whole thing is just a prelude to the actual point???) is that in about a half hour I will return to the "newsroom" where we will do elections for next year. There are three positions that get elected: publisher, editor-in-chief, and business manager. There are two candidates for editor-in-chief (I am neither of them), and zero candidates for the other two positions. The other jobs -- news editor, editorial page editor, copy editor, photo editor, food editor, film editor, biased-coverage-of-law-review editor, promoting-his-own-political-agenda - at-one-of-the-extremes - although-it-doesn't-really-matter-which-one editor, music editor, and features editor (although we lived without features editor this year) -- are all appointed by the editor in chief and are usually picked out of the flurry of applications that are submitted prior to the election so as to be waiting in a pile for the new editor-in-chief to peruse. I submitted an application for editorial page editor. The pile of total applications for the half-dozen or so positions in my list I wasn't making up numbers one. Including mine. So clearly there's some sort of interest problem at the newspaper. Nobody seems to want to be involved. This is somewhat baffling to me, since the newspaper is one of the six or eight activities I'm involved in that I most enjoy being a part of. But my list of activities includes pretty much everything without the word "legal" in its description, so maybe that explains it. But even if you're here because you want to be the next Oliver Wendell Holmes, you do law all day -- why not do some less-law extracurricular activities? For fun. And because there are lots of smart people here, who I'm sure no matter how passionate they are about the law, also have other interests. Or they used to. And maybe they're just getting their fulfillment in non-law-school activities, or in stuff I don't know about, or non-law stuff I just don't happen to be that interested in. But I feel like we should be able to muster more than 3 or 4 or 5 interested students from among a student body of 1800. When Aaron Gleeman* can't get on the sports staff of his college newspaper, but at Harvard Law School we can't fill two out of three elected positions of leadership, something seems messed up.

*Aaron Gleeman, who I've almost linked to a couple of times but I don't think I ever have actually, is a college student who writes a baseball weblog that's awfully solid. It's well-written and really pretty compelling, possibly even if you're not in five fantasy baseball leagues. Anyway, he's written a couple of times about trying to get on his college paper's sports staff (University of Minnesota) but it's really competitive and there are no spots, even though he's clearly a solid writer and deserves one. My only point is that people who can write well, wanting to write and not being able to is the opposite of here, where no one wants to do anything. That's all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The law school a cappella singing group I'm in does a spring concert each year where we give the proceeds to a charity of the group's choosing. I may have mentioned before that I was advocating we choose the National Association for the Deaf, which I think would be funny, but it's been vetoed because it may be offensive. So my second suggestion, since we serve beer at the concert, is to donate money to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or Alcoholics Anonymous. Again, vetoed. Offensive. I mean, I guess I understand. I tried a third suggestion, in my head I tried to somehow link our singing to those wailing sounds that animals make and suggested the ASPCA, but I'm not sure my thinking really comes across all that clearly with that suggestion. Anyway, we'll probably end up choosing some actual, legitimate charity whose appearance on our signs won't be designed to cause laughter but rather sympathy and good-hearted feelings like that. Which I suppose is a good thing. Two of the songs we're doing are "Like a Prayer" and "God Only Knows" -- perhaps the Atheist Fund or something like that (is there something like that?) should be my next suggestion. I'm just trying to cause trouble, aren't I? :)
I just got an e-mail that definitely looks like it was meant for one person but accidentally got sent to the entire mailing list of a student organization here. It's not particularly damaging, just sort of amusing:

I think we should send out an email asking for those interested in officer positions. I also think we should have several positions, to allow folks to pad their resumes.... Sound like a plan?
Sounds like a plan. user reviews are a marvelous gift that the Internet provides. Ignoring that most of the reviews are probably posted by the author and his family, and the rest are posted by illiterate devil-worshippers with a personal grudge against the publisher, they can be quite useful. I wondered what Amazon reviewers had to say about law school casebooks and study guides. So I did some relatively random and unfocused clicking looking for review snippets I could take out of context. Here are the results of my exploration into the world of Amazon reviews:

"Overpriced garbage! This book is printed in very small print, all in one color (blue), on very thin (cheap) paper. How the publisher justifies the ridiculous price is beyond me!"

"This book is terrible. I thought I was purchasing an Administrative Law text book. This is not a text book. It is a book of this guy's opinion... Further, he says he's a professor at, according to US News, a fourth tier law school."

"Very dry for the interest subject. The book was edited in 1994 and does not reflect the latest changes in the law, especially European one (including Eastern Europe). In addition it is very dry."

"Horrible Book. This book was used for my constitutional law class. It is poorly organized and completely fails to relate any constitutional law concepts to each other. It contains little, if any, historical background. All in all, this book is BAD."

"Poor organization and explanations. Of all the textbooks I've ever had in law school and undergraduate classes, this book is likely the most frustating and the worst.... For those who say this book isn't that bad, have put the bar far too low and also miss the point. There is no requirement that legal textbooks be dry, unorganized, or unhelpful."

"Awful. This is a terrible book, but unfortunately you probably won't have much choice in whether or not to use it if it is required for your course."

"defective structure. The problem of corporate groups is the great problem of the corporation law . This book doesn't contain this subject,so I think the main defect of this book lies in the unreasonable structure."

"Confusing. Property is a difficult subject, therefore, any casebook on the matter should be clear. This casebook, on the other hand, did more harm than good. Every case was followed up by questions with a list of cases to "see." ...The notes seem to be in another language: Latin) are never answered by the student."

"Worst casebook I had in law school. They don't get much worse than this. The book is worthless, and made Contracts almost impossible to understand. The cases are sliced into strange, sometimes tiny portions, making it hard to elucidate anything from them."

"can't see the forest for the trees. I used this book for two semesters of contracts. It is the most unpleasant book I have had to read so far in law school. The authors themselves wrote very little. The book consists almost entirely of edited cases and excerpts from law review articles. There is essentially a case for every little iota of contract knowledge and it gets very tedious to parse a long case for what is in the end a simple rule. The law review excerpts are often very obtuse."

"very unclear. This is a very unclear book with horrible, dense prose. The authors seem to have an impressive grasp of securities law, and fill the notes with many meaningful substantive explications of various technical points, but they are basically just awful writers, which makes this text a serious chore to read."

"So if you choose a contracts supplement, use it w/ could go down a very bad road by choosing and relying upon the wrong supplement."

Monday, March 22, 2004

This week, we have Class Marshal elections. Class Marshals are the people who "plan" the 3L year -- they organize social activities, find a graduation speaker, make sure we get our caps and gowns... I'm not really sure exactly, but stuff like that... stuff I can't really imagine anyone enjoys doing, but, for whatever reason, people want to do it. So they run, and we vote for them. The past few days I've gotten a bunch of e-mails that look sort of like this:

Dear Friends, Acquaintances, and Others in the Facebook,

I am writing first to encourage you to vote in this week's elections for Class Marshal, which may also be spelled Marshall, but I am neither certain nor consistent in my knowledge on this ground. Second, I am writing to say that if you do vote in the Class Marshall elections, please vote for ME! Through these past two years in dreary Cambridge, you and I have gotten to know each other through our time spent in rewarding extracurricular pursuits and/or late-night conversations in the dorms and/or in the enriching classroom experiences we have shared and/or nodding an acknowledgement of recognition to each other around campus and the surrounding community when our paths happen to cross and/or none of the above. You have seen me to be an extraordinary motivator of people and/or highly organized and/or just crazy enough to embrace a position which involves spending my third year of law school planning events for others to enjoy and/or none of the above. I'm not completely sure whether it will really make a difference in your lives who become the Classs Marsshallls, or why it will make a difference in my own life if I win, but I ask that when you fill out that ballot and/or vote online and/or both, you remember the good times we may or may not have shared, and the qualities you may or may not think I will bring to the position, and you vote for ME! I also hope you enjoy receiving this e-mail from not only ME! but from every single acquaintance we share in common, sometimes twice.

Your Bestest Friend and/or Someone You Barely Know
"I'm sorry, I don't have time to help you plan that useless event that no one's going to come to. I have to write my 3L paper."

For 3Ls, this is the Season of Final Hurdles in the long march to graduation. Everyone here, in order to graduate, needs to write a 3L paper, something of some length, with a faculty advisor, that is somehow about the law. The obstacles up to this point for 3Ls, before they reach the time of 3L paper writing, have certainly been steep: avoiding the risk of completely falling off the curve and failing all of one's classes; committing some sort of crime heinous enough to get one suspended or expelled; showing up to registration at the right time; not making the proctors mad; paying library fines; avoiding the poisonous cafeteria food; not getting in the way of some particularly driven student who will do 'whatever it takes' to get what he or she wants; steering clear of the runaway snow plows; taking study breaks to drink plenty of vitamin C so as to avoid contracting scurvy; leaving the buildings during fire drills; not getting caught in any automatic handicapped-accessible doors; taking advantage of health services' fine medical care; and not wearing a Yale sweatshirt at football games.

Other than that, it's been pretty smooth sailing for 3Ls up until now, but suddenly things have changed. No more six-day weekends on a ski trip, or seventy-two-hour Playstation marathons; no more willingness to take a spur-of-the-moment cross-country road trip; no more five-hour lunches; no more sixteen-hour naps; no more can they say, "Library? I don't even know where the library is!" Because now they have to write 3L papers, those rigorous research-intensive sophisticated and scholarly explorations of areas of law heretofore poorly understood and barely analyzed. Yes, each class of 550 Harvard Law students produces 550 extraordinary works of scholarship, each fit to be published in whichever journal pays the most (they do pay, right?) and whichever editor-in-chief agrees to pass along the most useful stock tips (perhaps I have not been paying good enough attention in corporations class to know that this might not exactly be a perfectly legal form of payment). Well, not quite. I have it on notice that there are 3Ls across the campus, blending into classrooms and extracurricular activities, who are in fact writing papers that seem, well, less than rigorous.

My top-notch team of investigative interns have uncovered the following 3L paper topics that I believe are worth sharing, in the hope that the students responsible will step forward and acknowledge the lack of serious purpose with which they are undertaking this extraordinary final step in the path toward becoming a lawyer:

>>"Eighteen Thousand Words That Rhyme With Tax"
>>"Haiku About Venue Rules"
>>"A Diorama of the O.J. Simpson Trial, complete with fake-blood"
>>"Collage of Pictures of Justice Scalia in Various States of Undress"
>>"A Collection of Short Stories About Prison Rape"
>>"A Short Guide To Eating Your Way Through Law School"
>>"The Martha Stewart Case: An Analysis Through Flower Arrangements"
>>"The Federal Rules of Evidence: A Modern Dance Exploration"
>>"Environmental Law (as expressed through a bunch of cups of dirt)"
>>"The Influence of Property Law in Jackson Pollock's Art"
>>"The Rule of Perpetuities: Examples and Explanations in Pig Latin"
>>"These Forty Blank Pages Represent The Rights of Criminals in our Corrupt Legal System"

Clearly, we need reform :)

Sunday, March 21, 2004

No one's been linking to me lately. Maybe my last couple weeks have been sort of lackluster. I'm working on it, I promise. I thought today I'd think outside the box for a bit, and experiment with a cool idea I had this morning.

Twenty Types of Law Students, Each Keyed To A Particular Baseball Player

1. The Barry Bonds

The Barry Bonds is a superstar. His grades lead the class, his comments in class are a home run every time... he's setting records, no one else is in his league. It's ridiculous, really. He's going to be a Supreme Court clerk and everyone knows it. He's also kind of surly to the media.

2. The Pedro Martinez

He doesn't show up at every class, and sometimes when he shows up he leaves early, but when he's there, he's almost perfect. He poses hypotheticals no one can figure out. He makes leaps of reasoning no one can follow. He's brilliant. But fragile.

3. The Albert Pujols

He was aces from day one. Shocking, really. Came in knowing way too much about the law. There are rumors he attended some other law school beforehand, and he's not as inexperienced as he says, but no one's been able to prove it. In any case, he's unbelievable. Just can't find a specialty. First it was Con Law, then they needed him to study Criminal Law. Then Property. Now maybe back to Criminal Law. But anywhere he goes, he's awesome.

4. The Todd Helton

He's good. But not as good as it seems. He cheats. Well, not really. It's just circumstances. His casebook has 40% more answers than everyone else's. His papers take up 40% more pages. It's weird. People have said they should make him take harder exams, or at least curve his performance in a different way. But his raw numbers look tremendous. And he's good. He's just not that good.

5. The Roger Clemens

You thought he graduated, but it turns out he's coming back for another year. He's only going to take classes he's really interested in, and maybe part of the reason he's come back is because his best friend just transferred to this law school, and he wants to hang out with him. All of his children have the initials J.D., like the law degree, except for his adopted foreign child, who has the initials L.L.M.

6. The Derek Jeter

All the girls want to date him. And he's definitely a solid student, his grades are up there, his moot court team keeps winning the championship, year after year after year -- they just do what it takes. But he's not as perfect as it seems. He has weaknesses. In-class exams, not that strong. It appears he is sometimes, but the results don't bear it out. Little range to think outside the box. And his speed is leaving him. He doesn't always finish on time. But, aw, isn't he adorable?

7. The Barry Larkin

He's been here forever! He took a leave of absence last year to deal with a computer virus, which ended up being worse than they thought. He could have transferred a bunch of times, but hasn't. Sacrificing career opportunities to stay at his hometown school. He's outlived his welcome, but there he is, every fall, signing up for classes, talking about how this will be the year he goes to class every day and takes his exams... but then, lately, something always seems to happen, and it doesn't work out for him. He's not getting any younger. But he won't leave!

8. The Eric Gagne

Phenomenal. Just don't ask him any follow-up questions. Another student's having trouble answering the professor's question, he steps right in and takes over. Right answer, almost every time. But the professor sticks with him, and then you get problems. 1, 2, 3 questions he's fine. More than that and you start exposing weaknesses. But he'll answer 'em every day, day after day without fail. Also wears funny glasses, and rumors are he may be Canadian.

9. The Randy Johnson

This student is really not a particularly attractive fellow, and impossibly tall too. But even though he started out kind of erratic, never sure whether he'd be even close with his answer or what, he's really blossomed into quite a performer. His legal analysis moves quicker than anyone else's, can blow an argument right by a judge, and it seems like no one's ever going to catch up with him, no matter how long he goes. He'll talk for nine hours, ten hours, eleven hours if the situation calls for it, and still be right on his game. But he kind of looks like he needs a shower.

10. The Joe McEwing

Aw, he tries so hard. He'll do anything you ask. He'll write a brief, he'll outline the cases, he'll memorize a long list of names for no reason at all. His notes are color-coded, he always shows up to class, he sits right in the front, he listens so carefully. But all that effort is the baseline for him -- it's what he needs to do to survive. He can't speed-read like the guy in the third row, he can't articulate his argument like the girl in the back. But he tries. He really tries. He'll end up a partner in five years, too, because he'll put in the hours.

11. The Jason Giambi

He's gotta be on something. Ritalin, maybe? Drinking too many Red Bulls? Maybe speed? Not sure, but something. Rumors are flying. He was named in the big bootleg-study-guide scandal. He's always been a powerhouse contributor, but now people are starting to wonder. Is it all him, or is he getting help from somewhere? Will we ever really know?

12. The Ben Grieve

First year he made the honor roll. And then something happened. Did he stop trying, sit in his dorm playing video games all day? Did the material just get too hard? Is he not as driven as his classmates? They had such high hopes... and now he's transferred to Thomas Cooley and they're not even sure he'll graduate. Gosh.

13. The Manny Ramirez

Everybody hates him, but you've gotta admit he's smart. Gotta admit he's one of the most talented students in the school. But his scholarship is way too big, he doesn't treat the professors with respect, and he won't come to class if he's got a paper cut. No one wants to be on his mock trial team, even though they'll probably win. The school tried to sell him to Yale, but they didn't even want him for free. They said it was the scholarship, but that's not really it. He just needs a better attitude.

14. The Curt Schilling

He thinks he's the Dean of the Law School. And one day he probably will be, but for now he's got an opinion about everything, and goes onto all sorts of message boards and writes it. He's good but he's a 3L now and time is running out for him to make his mark. He'll do fine, but he wants more than that. He's hungry, even as a 3L. He wants a job at Wachtell. Badly.

15. The Mo Vaughn

He goes to too many law firm receptions and eats all the food he can find. Yes, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here and resorting to fat jokes. I'm sorry. Twenty is a lot.

16. The Mike Matheny

He's going to be a professor some day. He's practically a teacher's assistant as it is. He never really helps anyone out in class but apparently he goes to office hours and... well, he must be doing something right or he wouldn't still be around. It seems like he's failing all his classes, but someone must like him... he'll be teaching before we know it.

17. The Joe Mauer

He's not even here yet! But his reputation precedes him. The star 1L, everyone's sure he'll make law review, even before seeing his first exam answer. Expectations are high, no one knows if he'll really be able to live up... but everyone's trying to get in his section, just to see.

18. The Josh Hamilton

He's not here yet either, but probably won't be coming. Keep hearing about him, but the train keeps getting derailed. Study guides are the problem now they say. One-year suspension for using study guides. Also has 26 Supreme Court opinions tattooed all over his body.

19. The Ramon Castro

He may have raped a fellow student. Trial soon. We'll stand clear of this one for a while.

20. The Alex Rodriguez

Superstar. Once "The Barry Bonds" is gone, it will be even more undisputed than it is now. Just transferred to the best school around. Rumors are that he gets his own honor roll, just for him, but we'll see about that. Not only is he on law review, but he has the hardest position. Or at least he did until getting to the new school, where he's agreed to go from Editor in Chief to Executive Editor just to spare someone's feelings. But if they knew what was best they'd keep him as Editor in Chief. He'll probably be there by next year anyway.

(apologies to girls. i didn't mean to use "he" as the only pronoun. girls are just as good as boys at this whole law school thing anyway. and probably at baseball if they'd sign you.)

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Howard Bashman links to this AP article reporting that Sandra Day O'Connor has been chosen as one of 10 "Arrid Total Women of Today" and is pictured on her very own Arrid trading card, which "features a large logo that includes the brand name 'Arrid Total,' described on a fact sheet sent to reporters as an 'all-in-one anti-perspirant and deodorant.' It's available in 'powder' or 'passion flowers' scents." How odd.

In other Supreme Court Justice news, John Paul Stevens will reportedly be appearing as a guest judge on American Idol next week, Clarence Thomas is featured in an upcoming Playgirl spread, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the host of Saturday Night Live tonight, David Souter has signed a sponsorship deal with Hooters restaurants (they will all be renamed "Souter's Hooters"), Antonin Scalia plays bass on the new Outkast album, Anthony Kennedy is in a new line of commercials for Crest Whitestrips, Stephen Breyer is starring with Jim Carrey in the sequel to his hit movie "Liar, Liar!" (tentatively titled, "Breyer, Liar!"), and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is naming a new flavor after Chief Justice William Rehnquist, ImPEACHment Hearings, peach flavored ice cream with a blueberry ribbon (symbolic of the blue dress).
This evening I saw the law school's improv comedy group perform along with a group from one of the Harvard undergrad houses. They weren't bad. I laughed. I got my money's worth and more (it was free). Tuesday night, I've been meaning to report but haven't had a chance yet, I went to see composer Randy Newman do a "conversation with some music" on the undergrad campus -- basically it was like an Inside The Actors Studio kind of thing -- an interviewer asked him questions and occasionally one would spur him to get up and play something on the piano and sing. And then he took questions from the audience. I was not hugely familiar with his body of work, but I definitely thought it would be cool to see him talk and sing -- and it really was. Totally converted me from a non-fan into a moderate-fan; and I thought he came off as an interesting, bright, articulate, passionate person and songwriter. Who has had a tremendous career I would give my little toe for. His song from Toy Story 2, "When She Loved Me" (performed by Sarah McLachlan) was very, very nice. His film music from The Natural was awesome. Good stuff. It's all been part of my effort to go see more arts stuff that's on campus -- these two events, the a cappella concert a couple of weeks ago, the Hasty Pudding show... I'm into all of it; definitely trying to take advantage. And even the non-arts stuff -- Dennis Kucinich, the law and politics panel this past week.... Because that's part of what makes being on a university campus cool -- there's stuff going on. I don't want to miss seeing interesting and cool things that'll make the day more fun and give me something to think about and talk about and maybe inspire some more creativity in me. Go see stuff. It's so worth it. So much better than movies. So so so much better than reality TV. So so so so so much better than doing your reading. :)

Friday, March 19, 2004

A bunch of weblogs have linked to Open Secrets in the last few days, a website that lets you look up what political candidates people are donating to. Among the interesting bits of information I uncovered (scandalous even):

1. George Washington, of Atlanta, GA, gave $250 to Norm Coleman and $500 to Max Cleland. Neither are Federalists.
2. John Adams, of Berkeley, CA, gave $500 to Howard Dean.
3. Thomas Jefferson, of Bloomington, IL, gave $250 to John M. Shimkus, and $500 to Dennis Hastert.
4. James Madison, of Middletown, CT, gave $339 to the Libertarian National Committee, which means his views seem to have changed radically since he wrote the Federalist Papers.
5. James Monroe, of Wicheta, KS (that's how he spelled it) has given almost $2000 to Pat Buchanan. Clearly no longer supporting the Monroe Doctrine, I say trying to be clever but not even completely sure if that makes any sense, or even if it does if any of my readers will get it.
6. John Q. Adams of Tampa, FL gave $200 to the Republican National Committee. Again with the party-switching.
7. Andrew Jackson, a student in Mississippi, gave $200 to John Kerry. Well, they do kind of look alike.
8. Many members of the Van Buren family have given money to Arlen Specter. None named Martin or with the first initial M.
9. Dr. William H. Harrison of North Carolina gave money to Elizabeth Dole. Perhaps if President WH Harrison had been a doctor he would have known to put a coat on during his inaugural and wouldn't have gotten sick and died so quickly.
10. John Tyler, a lawyer in Texas, gave money to John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. President Tyler had 17 children.
11. James K. Polk (even got the middle initial right) of North Carolina gave money to Elizabeth Dole. She seems to be popular among North Carolinians who share their names with former presidents.
12. Zachary Taylor of Helena, MT gave $1000 to Michael Taylor. Maybe related? I guess people are allowed to give money to relatives running for office, right?
13. I guess I'm not really that surprised there are no "Millard Fillmore"s in the donor database.
14. Franklin Pierce of Texas gave money to John Carter. He's the doctor on ER played by Noah Wyle, right?
15. James Buchanan of Kentucky gave money to Michael Oxley. No idea.
16. Abe Lincoln of upstate New York gave money to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Okay, that's enough. Interesting, right?
Scheherazade at Stay of Execution writes:

If you are reading this blog and you know me from way back in the day and we've fallen out of touch, just know that if you decide to email me ... it will make my day, perhaps even my week. So don't be shy.
Readers can probably safely assume that applies to everyone with a weblog. Even e-mail from people I don't know makes my day. :)
In the law school a cappella group I'm in, we rehearsed tonight one of the songs we're doing for our spring concert next month, "God Only Knows" (you may know the Beach Boys' version; we're doing the slower Manhattan Transfer version, but the words are the same). Anyway, I keep on fumbling the lyric and wanting to sing "God's Only Nose" instead of "God Only Knows." So I figured I could ingrain the flub into my head even better by writing a whole parody lyric for it. Apologies that I've sunk to lowest common denominator potty humor here.

Hence: God's Only Nose

It may not smell like flowers
If you eat beans and wait two hours
Some things smell very badly
Cause God lost her nose, so sadly
God's only nose, she can't smell without it

The smell of bread in the oven
A smell no one can help but lovin'
But right when the Earth was forming
God lost her nose one morning
God's only nose, she can't smell without it

That's why some things smell charming
And others more underarm-ing
After the nose was finished
Her sense of smell diminished
God's only nose, she can't smell without it

God's only nose, she can't smell without it

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Yesterday, while in the law school newspaper office trying to match a photo with my column this week about celebrating spring break a few weeks early, we selected a Girls Gone Wild video box cover photo. Although not completely relevant, it'll look nice in the paper. It crossed my mind that if I was writing an article about some mysterious epidemic of women getting pregnant over spring break, I'd have the perfect headline: Girls Gone Child. Budding journalists should feel free to steal that.
In my fake Guide to LLM Life -- scroll down here-- I said, in jest, that "Harvard" was the Indian word for "Land of the Brilliant But Modest." I'm inspired to turn that into a whole song. This one ain't no parody song, but e-mail me if you want the mp3. I don't know if this works or is just throwaway.

"Land of the Brilliant But Modest"

They're reading books
In the cover of darkness
Solving equations
In the black of the night
Submitting papers
Under names that have been falsified
Saving the world
But hiding out

It's the land (land, land) of the brilliant but modest
Where the credit's shared, and no one wants fame
It's the land (land, land) where they're all deferential
And no one cares if you know his name

The trophy sits
But there is no engraving
Reporters come
But no one will talk
You ask for help
And there's a line of willing geniuses
You slip and fall
They pick you up

It's the land (land, land) of the brilliant but modest
Where the world gets changed, and that's all you want
It's the land (land, land) where you don't need the credit
It's in your heart; no reason to flaunt

Though it'll go into history
You're okay if your name is a mystery
Though what you're doing is stunning work
You're more than just a cunning jerk
Who wants his name in the news

It's the land (land, land) of the brilliant but modest
Where the world says thanks, and that's all you ask
It's the land (land, land) can somebody point me
You, yeah you, the one in the mask.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I promised I'd post the news article I was writing about the panel Monday evening on combining a career in law and politics. This is my draft before anyone at the newspaper sees it. Enjoy.

On Monday evening, the Office of Public Interest Advising presented a panel on combining a passion for politics with a law degree. Chris Lehane (HLS ’94), who worked in the Clinton White House, and then as political consultant for the 2000 Gore presidential campaign, and, most recently, the John Kerry and then Wesley Clark 2004 campaigns, was joined by Don McGahn (general counsel of the National Republican Congressional Committee), Cheryl Cronin (partner at the Boston law firm Brown, Rudnick and counsel to the 2004 Democratic National Convention) and Bobbie Hantz ( former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Committee) in a discussion about their careers in law and politics and the upcoming election.

“I’ll spend more time in this session today than I spent in a classroom all three years of law school,” said Lehane, who was the only one of the four panelists who has eschewed the law firm life completely and devoted himself full-time to politics. Lehane grew up in a family active in politics – at age 12 he “ran a precinct” in Sen. Edward Kennedy’s bid for the Democratic nomination; between college and law school, he worked for the governor of Maine, and spent much of his time at law school working for the ’92 Clinton campaign, “[teaching] people from Arkansas how to put lawn signs in the ground in New Hampshire after the first frost.” He went to work in the White House right after graduation from HLS.

McGahn followed a more traditional path to his current job at the NRCC. Through college and law school, politics was not a passion – in contrast with a classmate he recalled who had been quite excited about the brief presidential candidacy of Sen. Dick Lugar during one election cycle (“I’d never seen anyone so excited about Dick Lugar”) – but after an internship where he witnessed a bitterly contested state election recount, he realized the political life might be for him. He went to a firm in Washington, DC that did some political work, but was rebuffed in his initial attempts to work with the partners in that area. Finally, an election law case came up, and he was pulled in based on his internship experience. That case led to others, and eventually he made a name for himself and moved over to the NRCC.

Cronin has incorporated politics into her career largely on the side – as a partner at a large firm, she has the normal responsibilities that other partners do, and has had to make time for politics. Her advice is to develop an expertise – in her case, she spent time learning about campaign finance “when no one knew how to spell campaign finance” and made herself valuable by virtue of her knowledge. She volunteered to help candidates, something she says few lawyers think of doing, and this helped her network and meet more people who could provide future opportunities.

Hantz spent eight years as a political operative before even going to law school, running field efforts and coordinating events on the ground. She got “burned out” by the campaign life and moved to a career in real estate; after four more years she realized this was not her passion, and went to law school. Now, as an environmental and natural resources attorney, she spends time on the side fundraising and lobbying for Republican candidates.

Lehane discussed how law school gave him a credential that helped him stand out from the pack, even though he had never practiced law. “It conferred legitimacy – in my case, certainly not warranted,” he joked. He found that it opened doors and made people want to talk him, and that even though converting on the opportunities depended entirely on the job he was able to do and work he produced, the law degree did help him get that first step. The legal education, he said, was helpful when dealing with the press and having to explain legal matters to them, and in analyzing issues. This benefit was something he “did not anticipate or expect, but [has] found to be of value.”

Cronin joked that the best thing about law school was that “it lasts only three years,” but that the education made her realize the limitations of just being a lawyer. “Ultimately,” she said, “you can create a career for yourself more interesting than law school makes it seem… that you’ve got to figure out a way to do more than this is what you get [from law school].”

McGahn emphasized that the best way to move from being just another lawyer to getting involved in politics is developing skills. “If I can do it, anyone can do it,” he joked. “Create something that makes you in demand… something you’re passionate about… [nothing is more important than] putting in the hours and learning something.” Lehane suggested working on a campaign – “the ultimate meritocracy – rewarding people who can get things done.”

The panelists disagreed on the right path for students to take coming out of law school who feel like they may want a career in politics down the line. Cronin argued that a law firm job, at least for a few years, is definitely the way to go: “Take the very best job you can,” she said. “Spend three to five years doing that – you may not last much longer than that. Take time on the side to get involved in political organizations. For now, you’re the hottest commodity you can be – maximize that… it’s too early to compromise yourself.”

Lehane disagreed and said that for graduates who know where their hearts lie, it may be worth taking the risk. “You won’t have a problem coming out of this place finding a job.” Cronin responded that it is very hard to come out of law school and spend a couple of years outside and then get a big firm to hire you.

The panelists spent some time discussing their thoughts on the 2004 presidential election. When asked about the influence of Ralph Nader, McGahn joked that the conventional wisdom is “anyone to the left of Kerry will vote for Nader: ten people in New York City, and five people in San Francisco.” “If you see Kerry in a Democratic state, you’ll know he has problems,” McGahn said. “It’s an electoral map strategy, not a popular tally.”

Lehane said the key to the election will be the upper Midwest. His top three picks for Kerry’s running mate: Tom Vilsack, Dick Gephardt, John Edwards. McGahn’s pick for VP: “Dick Cheney.”
Now that the Law School Parody show is over, I feel relatively comfortable posting the lyrics to one of the songs, that got virtually no reaction from the audience, but I enjoyed crafting the parody lyrics for. I don't know if it was too fast to be understood, or just not very compelling on stage, but this seemed to be the moment of the show when everyone suddenly had to go the bathroom...

"Learning Legalese," to the tune of The Vapors' "Turning Japanese"

My eyes are bleeding, from all this reading
I wish the casebooks were not twelve inches thick
All this dissenting, is unrelenting
I need a study guide -- and I need it quick!
It's got me throwing up and laying down and staying in; I'm failing out.

I'm learning legalese, I think I'm learning legalese, I really hope so
(learning legalese, I think I'm learning legalese, I really hope so)
Meeting of the minds, retainer, eminent domain, right of assumpsit
Lawyer-client priv’lege, discharge, automatic stay, habeas corpus
Affidavit, deposition, amicus curiae, jurisidiction!

I'm a beginner, books should be thinner
I kicked the tax code and I fractured my toe
Although I'm gifted, this can't be lifted
I need an outline for this outline -- I know!
Must get these books to class, I need my Mom, to help me haul them all around (big fat woman walks on stage -- which never happened in the show... maybe this alone is why the song failed to inspire!?!?!)

I'm learning legalese, I think I'm learning legalese, I really hope so
(learning legalese, I think I'm learning legalese, I really hope so)
Arbitration, breach of contract, fraudulent conveyance, prima facie
Prosecution, statutory, stay of execution, sui juris
12-b-6 dismissal, joint and several, three-pronged test, fee simple transfer

No words with less than fourteen letters
No teachers speak a language I understand
No one told me Latin would be necessary
No one told me law school would be quite this scary ...
No one... That’s why

I'm learning legalese, I think I'm learning legalese, I really think so, think so, think so
(learning legalese, I think I'm learning legalese, I really think so)
Learning legalese, I think I'm learning legalese, I really think so
(learning legalese, I think I'm learning legalese, I really think so)
I've got a new post up at De Novo in response to some law school advice by Slate's Dahlia Lithwick. I'll whet your appetite:

A classmate recently shared a conversation he had with one of his professors. “Think about the biggest risk-takers you knew from college. Are they in law school?” Of course not. Law school is the next step for the risk-averse when a college degree isn’t enough. Ever since we started school we’ve been on the express train; we’ve been building our resumes since seventh grade: take the hardest classes you can find in high school; join as many extracurriculars as you can; start practicing for the SAT; fill out those college applications; choose the right major; keep up your grades; join as many extracurriculars as you can; get the right summer internships; start thinking about grad school… do you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a rabbi? Well, the first two at least. A friend of mine actually had his parents present those three choices to him: he’s now in his fifth year of rabbinical school.
Click the link for the rest.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

While googling for something unrelated, I stumbled across a website devoted to assisting Harvard LLM students in their transition to law school here. There's a similar site for JD students, but this one was apparently an experimental spinoff a few years ago that never quite took off. Anyway, there's a "Unofficial Guide to LLM Life" on the site that I thought would provide me with all sorts of material for a funny little piece. But there's really not much there that isn't fairly straightforward and unable to be misinterpreted for comic gold. The best they've got is this piece on haircuts -- "One random piece of advice relates to haircuts. One LLM complained about the difficulty in finding a good, inexpensive hairdresser in Cambridge, or explaining to them exactly how you?d like your hair styled. One solution is to bring photographs of your hair as you like it to show the hair dresser." I don't know why I found this amusing, but I did. But, I figured if this wasn't going to be that funny on its own, I might at least be able to parody it and turn it into something worthwhile. Hence:

The Really Unofficial Guide to LLM Life

Welcome to law school, and, in some cases, to the Northern hemisphere, where you will be startled to find that water runs down the drain in the opposite direction. Here are some things to know as you begin your time here in the United States.

1.1 The Academic Year

The academic calendar is divided into three semesters: Fall semester, which runs from September to December (although you probably call this "Spring" if you are from somewhere below the equator); Winter semester, which is a three-week period in January (you probably call this "Vacation" if you are from any school but this one); and Spring semester, which runs from February to May, but feels like Winter because this is Massachusetts, which is the Indian word for "Cold and Windy, Ten Months Out of the Year." Your classmates will also be impressed if you know the translation for the Indian word "Boston," which is "Place of Intolerable Accents." Or the translation for "Harvard," which is "Land of the Brilliant but Modest." No, actually that last translation is absurd in how incorrect it is. But you will endear yourselves to the natives if you tell them that's what you think it means. They might even stop spitting on you when they pass.

1.2 Courses

You are only here for a year, which means there's a chance, although small, that you may actually find enough interesting classes to fill your schedule, as opposed to the JD students, who end up cross-registering for Portuguese or Modern Yoga in their third year, just to fill out schedules already padded with classes that have no hope of being interesting but at least the professor does not take attendance. Your course guides will include many classes not offered in this, or any, academic year, only listed because once, in 1892, a professor thought he might offer it one day, but never did. Note that any class that sounds truly compelling will have filled up long before you get a chance to register, and the ones you are left with, although you may blame the professor's incoherence on your non-native English skills, there'll actually be no one in the room who knows what the heck he's saying. So don't worry -- even if you failed the TOEFL, you'll still be on equal footing.

1.3 How Much Do Things Cost?

Too much! Your textbooks will cost approximately $1/page, your classes will cost $1/second, and your breakfast cereal will cost $1/flake. No, it's not really that bad. But if you're from a country where things are relatively cheap, plan to spend as much in a day here as you would in a month there, plus tax and gratuity. Housing will set you back about $2/square foot/month, which is why the law school dorms are just $4/month. Cafeteria food will seem reasonably priced until you just vomit it all up every afternoon and realize you're not getting good value. Library fines are exorbitant -- your best bet is probably just to avoid the library at all costs.

1.4 Where Will I Be Living?

Many students live in Harvard Square, under park benches. This would be more reasonable if it wasn't winter all year long ("Winter All Year Long" is also the name of the school's theme song, which can be found on the upcoming CD, "A Cappella Music For The Hearing Impaired," available from a retailer near you). Apartments vary in cost from "Are you kidding me?" to "Can I please file for bankrupcty?" The farther away you live from campus, the cheaper your rent. Some students choose, therefore, to live in Vermont (where the new theme song, incidentally, is "Thought We'd Finally Get Some National Press By Sending A Man To The White House, But Guess Not," which can be found on the upcoming CD, "Campaign Songs for Campaigns That Never Took Off," also featuring Gary Hart's hit, "The Press Can Keep An Eye On Me -- Oh Wait, No, Oops").

1.5 What Will I Be Eating?

Food as interpreted by Cambridge restaurants will be largely unfamiliar to you, regardless of your country of origin. Burrito = Egg Roll = Blintz = Cardboard Toilet Paper Roll. Indistinguishable. For real ethnic cuisine, you'll have to cook it yourself in the well-appointed dormitory kitchens, which contain a dirty pot, a broken stove, and a wooden mallet. Just like home! Don't expect to find anything delicious anywhere; you'll have to subsist on greasy pizza and fragrant potpourri.

1.6 How Will I Get Around?

Rickshaw. No, not really. You'll wander the beautiful streets of Cambridge, and get lost among the CVS pharmacies and Fleet Banks, which appear on every corner. If you bring a car, you're just being silly. There's nowhere to park, and no one is Boston observes traffic laws. In addition, the corrupt local government means that no one who runs you over will ever be punished, unless you're Irish. Sorry.

1.7 What Things Will I Have To Buy?

Prostitutes. Have you seen your fellow students?? No. I'm kidding. That was a cheap joke, and not true at all. Jokes are the only thing cheap here in Cambridge. You'll need to buy soap and deodorant, unless you're French. You'll need to buy a gun, because this is America, and all Americans carry firearms on them at all times. And you'll need to buy earplugs, unless you enjoy the sound of trucks rolling by outside your window.

1.8 What Is It Like Finding A Job After Graduation?

About the same as it was like before you got here. Did you really think a year at Harvard was going to open doors for you? Come on. Law firms want fresh, young American meat, not someone who comes to this country with well-developed notions of justice and fairness, and a sense that people shouldn't work 100 hours a week to support their greedy, hedonistic lifestyles. Silly LLMs!

Enjoy your time at law school!

Monday, March 15, 2004

There's an organization here called the "Student Funding Board" -- basically, they decide how to allocate the school's money toward extracurricular activities, based on budgets presented and presentations made. Besides just really enjoying the power that I suppose comes with managing the six-figure budget and controlling the fate of your fellow students, I can't imagine why anyone would have interest in being on this board. If you're on the board, you can't be on the board of any organizations they fund -- meaning that basically you're distributing money to organizations you're not in. I don't personally care whether the Committee on Sports and Entertainment Law gets $5000 or $7500 next year, and I can't see why there are people who care enough to be on a board that decides it, and read proposals and hear presentations and study budgets... heck, even for the organizations I'm involved in I'm not sure I really care how much money we get. Whatever you give us we'll spend it, but it's not like my quality of life will change based on whether the a cappella group gets $500 or $1000. This whole thing just seems silly -- yes, I guess they need to actually have a process to decide how the money gets allocated; and, yes, I guess it's better for students to do it than administrators (although I'm not really sure why -- I haven't thought through this point), but who are these students who are so motivated to devote their time and energy to doing this? And why??
I attended the following event tonight:

Attorneys in Politics. Professor David Barron will moderate this exciting panel of 4 attorneys (2 Republicans and 2 Democrats!) who have combined their passion for politics with their law degrees. The panelists are Christopher Lehane '94, National Political Consultant for Gore, Kerry and Clark Presidential Campaigns, Don McGahn, General Counsel of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Cheryl Cronin, Brown, Rudnick and Counsel to Boston 2004, Bobbie Hantz, Gottesman & Hollis, Republican Activist and Former Exec. Director of the New Hampshire Republican Committee.
I'll have a news article about it in this week's law school newspaper, and post it on here once I've written it. Basically: it was interesting, but nothing extraordinary, although it is kind of disappointing that, besides Lehane, these are the best three examples of people mixing law with politics that they could find, better than anyone who's an alum... surely there have got to be more graduates from here doing political work that would be willing to come talk... it was a very well moderated panel, incidentally, by a very solid professor I had last semester for Local Government Law.
Evan Schaeffer links to a blog written by law firm partners about their associates. (Evan suggests that too many links over there will make them realize they're no longer writing in obscurity and they'll stop -- so I'll refrain from a direct link, but googling any of the excerpts I post here should do the trick if you want to read more. I'm also not completely convinced this isn't all being done in humor and not completely seriously.) Evan finds the whole thing evil, but I find it pretty thought provoking. A few excerpts that maybe I'll write some thoughts about later, but for now just the excerpts:

"Please re-write this-- the point we are trying to make seems buried," is apparently heard as an insulting tirade attacking the associate's intelligence, mother, and ethnic background. "Your hours are a little light this month-- perhaps you could come in this Saturday," is heard as a Simon Legree-like threat to break up the associate's family by sending a member down river... Get out of the firm that makes you work harder than you want to. Get out of the practice area that you've just realized is like a trip to the dentist every day you go to work. Get out of law all together, if it's not what suits you. All of us get into this profession because we are fairly bright, and very determined. I'd be the last to say that doggedness isn't a valuable personality trait, but very often I see lawyers who are miserable in their work, and are doing only because they are determined to hang on. That is a terrible way to feel about your profession-- if you hate it, there is no way you can be getting paid enough to keep doing this work, and the sooner you figure that out, the better.
the big firm experience was oddly lonely much of the time. Nobody talked much about what they were doing-- except to complain-- because nobody wanted to give anybody else a leg up. You never wanted to go to someone with a question, because to do so might suggest weakness, and put you behind in the race for the prize. Once a year some were chosen to become partners, and some were not. The ones who were not were damaged goods-- like crippled beggars that you tried not to look at. For all the talk of the place being "like a family" what it was really like was a pack of wolves. The cripples were culled from the pack pretty ruthlessly, and you tried not look when it was happening.
Thinking about it, one of the reasons we have never made the same mistake with an associate twice is the endless variety of associates that are out there. Each has a fatal personality flaw; typically it is exactly that flaw that we focus on and base our hiring decision on. This one places family life above all; we decide that he will be highly motivated and are surprised when his mornings are consumed with pediatric appointments and school plays. Another is single, but spends her time searching for the person that will make her life complete, rather than billing. One is smart-- and second guesses everything we try to tell her. Another is hard working, but lacks the confidence in his own judgment to do anything without first being reassured repeatedly that it is what needs to be done.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

I'm heading to sleep early tonight, because after a week of performing in the Parody show, I'm pretty exhausted, and my 8:30 Corporations class beckons too soon. But starting at midnight, if all goes as planned, I'd like to invite you to head over to De Novo, a new group blog effort I'm part of that's basically the successor to En Banc. (Incidentally, Unlearned Hand, who started En Banc, has a thoughtful and engaging post up today a bit about why he ended En Banc, and a bit about the plight of finding a life of purpose while at law school. I identify with a good bit of what he says.) In any case, when En Banc ended, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be part of whatever incarnation it next took -- I wasn't sure that I'd really figured out what the group blog format provided that I wasn't getting out of posting here, besides some new readers (of course, new readers are great, and so it was surely worth it just for that), but as we started talking about a possible new blog, we realized that what's cool about the group blog format is that it can bring diverse voices together under one roof, and, especially by including a comments function for readers to react, create a little bit of a conversation. We've decided to experiment with the idea of a "symposium" -- we invited some of our favorite legal bloggers -- professors and practitioners -- to contribute pieces regarding their perspectives on legal education, a topic we thought would be of interest to most of our potential readers. What's cool about the legal blogosphere is that there are students, there are professors, and there are practitioners -- who in "real life" probably wouldn't have the opportunity to engage in too many conversations on relatively equal footing, yet we link to each other, we respond to each other's posts, there's a dialogue already across lots of legal weblogs. We're hoping that our symposium can organize and foster even more dialogue, and bring a bunch of people's thoughts together and begin what could end up being an interesting conversation. This might be a failed experiment. It just may not spark that much interest. That's fair. I don't know if people really care to read a bunch of essays about the value of legal education, and whether what we've put together really will start a conversation or just pass in the night unnoticed, like some of my less successful attempts to be funny. But we thought it was worth a shot, and maybe we've stumbled onto something that has a waiting audience. Maybe not. It's cool either way. In any event, check it out. Of course, like I keep saying, nothing changes here. Unless you want it to, in which case you know where to reach me. I have a song parody burning a hole in my chest but I really want to get to sleep, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow. :)
The lobby of my building offered free refrigerator magnets tonight, advertising "Yellow Cleaning Services." Who in the world decided that was a good name for a cleaning service?? When I think of things that are yellow, I don't think of clean things. I suppose it's better than "Brown Cleaning Services" -- or, perhaps the worst of the possibilities, "Brown and Yellow Cleaning Services" (or "Yellow and Brown Cleaning Services), but what about "Sparkling White Cleaning Services," or "Disinfected Cleaning Services," "Fresh Smell Cleaning Services," "Brighter Day Cleaning Services," or, if they really want people's attention, "Naked Lady Cleaning Services," "Money Back Guaranteed Cleaning Services," or, in the tradition of e-mail spam, "Enlarge Your [whatever] Cleaning Services."
Spring Break Early!

From talking to some of my friends at other law schools, it seems like this week is a popular one for Spring Break. And yet I've still got two more weeks here in Cambridge, two more weeks to wait before my fellow students can fly down to Florida, spend a week on a beach in Mexico, snorkel in the blue waters of – I have no idea where people snorkel, sorry –go home and see some family and friends, or catch up on Corporations reading (fun!). Nevertheless, there are advantages to having to wait two more weeks for spring break – first, it will actually be spring (and so the ground – outside chance – might not be covered in snow); and second, it will mean fewer weeks after break until the year is over and we can enjoy our summers… working for law firms… yeah, that doesn’t sound quite right. But for people who, like me, don't have spring break yet, but who really just can’t wait, I’ve come up with a few ideas on how to celebrate Spring Break early, while we’re still at school:

1. Wardrobe. Just because you’re not surfing off the San Diego coast doesn’t mean you can’t show up in Tax class dressed like you are. Bathing suits, tank tops, bikinis, flip-flops. So what if there’s ice on the ground and a chill in the air? It’s Spring Break wherever you are!

2. Atmosphere. Print out your case briefs on fancy paper with a festive Spring Break border of streamers and balloons; beads and beer cans; police officers and handcuffs. Edit your journal articles to include the words “dude,” “beach party,” “sneak across the border in a rental car,” and “doing lines of coke in the back of an abandoned warehouse in Miami-Dade County with the guys who ran the 2000 election recount.” I don’t know where that sentence came from. I don’t mean to insinuate the people who counted hanging chads were doing coke, or that they are in fact still doing coke, with law students, over Spring Break, in the back of abandoned warehouses. But, as you can see, inspiration is not coming easy this evening, so you’ll have to bear with me.

3. Schedule. Class at 10? Ten at night perhaps. Convince your professors to move your 8:30 AM classes to midnight, and replace the fluorescent classroom lights with a disco ball, the blackboard with black-light, and the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act with the latest trashy romance novel. And your midterm writing exercise with a beach party.

4. Relaxation. Here at Harvard, we can convert our Dean-built ice rink to a beach. Right now it's a puddle of mud. How about we turn that mud into sand… and enjoy sunbathing with a good book… written by Glannon… under the warm sun… provided by the halogen lamps they don’t allow in the dorms. Maybe the Dean can use some of the “student happiness fund” to turn our free coffee and tea into free margaritas and daiquiris. Stick paper umbrellas in your Nantucket Nectars. Eat cafeteria food and feel like you’re in Mexico, experiencing the ravages of explosive diarrhea.

5. Recreation. Instead of swimming with the sharks in Ecuador (again, I’m not sure if people really swim with sharks, and if they do swim with sharks, I’m not sure if they do that in Ecuador), swim with the gunners in the gym. Instead of volleyball on the sand, try Ultimate Frisbee on the ice. Instead of tennis at the resort, try throwing your casebooks into a big bonfire and using it to roast marshmallows. I know that’s not really a sport. But it might be fun anyway.

6. Economics. “Your suggestions are great,” the easily amused portion of you are thinking, “but Spring Break is pretty expensive, and staying at school won’t feel like Spring Break since I won’t be spending hundreds of dollars on airfare, hotel rooms, and strip clubs.” “Ah, but at law school,” I respond, “you’re wasting money just as prodigiously.” On classes, which, by my rudimentary calculations, cost 159,000 Italian lire per hour.

So it may be weeks until Spring Break. But why wait?
The law school parody show finished its run last night. To the two Yale Law students who came up to me after the show and said they read this and like it: thanks -- you made my day. To any of my fellow cast members who happen to read this: awesome job -- working on the show was an awful lot of fun, and I think we had an enormously talented cast and crew, and, more important, a cast and crew made up of awesome, cool, good people. I will miss spending the bulk of my 6:00-midnight hours standing in a dark corner, waiting for a light cue. Well, maybe not. To the random unidentified e-mailer who wrote at 6:55 last night inquiring about what time the Parody starts (7:00): sorry -- hope you figured it out.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Waddling Thunder responds to my posts below about the law firm partner who posted on the Princeton Review board about work vs. life at a big firm. WT writes:

My sense is that if something about the law firm life gives you a real kick, then the appalling hours are probably tolerable. The pleasure might come from being part of a piece of litigation, or knowing that you're part of a deal that makes people money, or that you're competing against other smart, hard working people, but you need to really enjoy some part of the whole thing. Unlike many others, though, I do believe practicing law can be a calling, something people are really meant to do.
I don't think I disagree. If this stuff is your passion -- and you want to be there, and you enjoy the work, for whatever reason (although "knowing that you're part of a deal that makes people money" strikes me as a fairly appalling reason, but that may just be me), then of course it's a great job. That's the goal, isn't it -- to find the job that feels like a calling (at best), or (at worst) at least feels somewhat pleasurable to do every day.

But even if you love the job -- the partner on the Princeton Review board was answering a question where someone asked if one day a week he'd be able to go do a family thing at 6:30 at night. And his answer was a pretty unambiguous "not if you want to succeed here." It just strikes me that you need more than a "real kick" out of the work to truly be happy when it's the only thing you can really do with yourself. I get a real kick out of writing stuff. If you chained me to my computer and told me I had to write 18 hours a day, I don't think I'd get a real kick out of it anymore. And I say this, obviously, as a completely uninformed outsider. I've never worked at a firm; I don't know if it really is impossible to have some sort of balance in your life or not; I don't know if maybe the work is rewarding enough to overcome the hours -- maybe it really is; I can't possibly know yet. All I do know is that one of my biggest fears is waking up one morning and hating the life I'm leading, regretting the choices I've made, and having no clear way out from where I've ended up. So quotes like the one on the Princeton Review board scare me, just a little.

UPDATE: Chris at cogitation responds too, from the perspective of someone who worked long hours at a big consulting firm.

Friday, March 12, 2004

I know I've parodied this song before, but the syllables fit so well, and there are no better choices I can think of... this one's inspired by tax class today.

"Depreciation" to the tune of "Locomotion"

Everybody's paying a lot less tax now
Come on filer, do depreciation
We're all reducing basis at a speed too fast now
Come on filer, do depreciation
Some more acceleration so we're getting a break
Less income for the IRS to come in and take
So come on, come on, do depreciation with me.

We used to match that cost but,
Come on filer, the rules, have changed.
Allowed deductions rearranged

Straight line depreciation was the rule for years now,
Come on filer, do depreciation
But A.C.R.S. numbers give you more to save now,
Come on filer, do depreciation
We'll shorten all the schedules and increase the rate
Erase the salvage value and it all will be great
So come on, come on, do depreciation with me.
Scheherazade at Stay of Execution responds to my post below about one partner's thoughts on work-life balance at a big law firm. She relates a conversation from when she spent a summer as an associate at a big firm:

The junior partner I was talking to said, "Well, work doesn't have to be your whole life. If you've got something -- maybe you want to tuck your kids in at night, or maybe you play the violin and you want to keep practicing it once a week, or maybe you get up early to swim -- and you are very careful and disciplined, you can make room to keep doing that one thing you're passionate about. You have to make accomodations to do it-- get up early, bring work home -- and nobody says it is easy, but you really can do it if you are committed. But you only get one thing."

I thought a lot about that conversation. I thought -- this work is pretty interesting, I like doing it. But is this work, plus only ONE THING in my outside life, interesting enough to keep me stimulated and happy and balanced, the kind of person I want to be?
Coincidentally enough, I had a similar conversation with a partner at one of my callback interviews. He was saying how the firm really likes its associates to keep a balance in their lives -- I believe his language was something in the vicinity of, "we tolerate, and even encourage our lawyers to keep something in their lives outside of work, whether that's going to the gym for an hour every morning, or playing in a pickup basketball game once a month, or occasionally reading a book for pleasure. It's definitely good to have something you do outside of the office, and makes you a more interesting and well-rounded person inside the office too." I mean, the sentiment was nice, his intentions good -- but his examples of interests outside the office just seemed so small and insignificant -- "occasionally reading a book" -- that it undercut the point he was trying to make, and made me very, very frightened.
There's a thread on the Princeton Review law school discussion board -- which is usually not a particularly helpful source of information, but occasionally lets me know whether people have gotten their grades in the mail yet, or similar stuff like that -- where a corporate litigator at an unnamed New York firm is taking questions. Or someone is pretending to be a corporate litigator -- I assume it's for real, but who knows. Anyway, I thought this Q&A was worth sharing, without comment -- this is just this one guy's answer, of course, and I'm sure perspectives vary, among firms and among partners at firms, but it was interesting enough to me, just to hear what appears to be one person's honest perspective, that I thought I'd cut and paste:

Assume an associate wanted to leave by 6:30 one weekday evening each week for a scheduled family event. How flexible would the firm be... ?

It takes a very special person to successfully balance being a young associate here, on the partnership track, and also be a good partner at home and a good parent. I have seen it done and I am seeing it done and it is rare. Very rare. Usually, something gives and that something is the relationship or the work. I do not know for sure but I have my intuit as to how well the parenting holds up, too, and my opinion is that the children suffer, as well. Personally, I didn't have a successful long term relationship until I was a senior associate. If you want to say I sold my soul for this life, I will argue some with you but I do acknowledge that there were huge holes because of the course I chose. Because I was truly committed to my career, the women I dated "made way" for me, my Saturday nights at the office, my breaking of dates due to meetings and last minute motions, etc., if they wanted to go out with me. Thankfully, I had no kids at that age as I sure I would have ignored them, too. It is "a good thing", to borrow our new felon's phrase, that I didn't fall in love, marry and started having children until I was a senior associate and partnership was within reach.... No, leaving one weeknight a week at 6:30 won't get it done here. First, there will be plenty of times when you will have to stay well past that hour and I don't want to hear that you have to go home because it is the usual "mommy" or "daddy" time. Neither will the clients, who are paying substantial money to have the best lawyers work 24/7/365 and a quarter for them. This life isn't for everyone.... Second, the other associates will just bloody crucify you. For example, I have found that the female associates in our group - and they are wonderful, tough lawyers - really give it to the women lawyers who have to leave early for hubby or the children. For several reasons, I have had some heart-to-hearts with some of the more vociferous objectors and they tell me that every time a women in my group doesnt't pull her full weight, it reflects on all women and they can't have that, since they have worked, are working and will work too hard for anyone to hold them back or diminish them because of their sex. My associates are carnivours and they will devour anyone on our team who will not deliver and who will not work as long and as hard and as well as they. And on that note, and entirely coincidentally, I have a 6:30 meeting to attend and there isn't anyone who won't be there because they have to be home.