Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Disagreements with Professors

My compressed class ended last week, and now I have only two classes until my next compressed starts towards the end of the semester.

I had reservations about writing about this, but I decided that I will. In my last class, I had a disagreement with a very famous professor. I think part of the problem was that I didn't articulate my idea to the best of my ability, but the other part of the problem was that the professor interpreted my comment as disagreeing with a point that was ardently argued in a piece published by said professor. I was yelled at, and I tried to handle the situation reasonably. In fact, I didn't think I was disagreeing with the professor at all -- merely taking the argument a step further and elaborating on the consequences.

However, this really made me wonder where academic freedom is located these days. In law school classrooms across the country, from the moment we set foot on campus, our thoughts are obliterated and torn apart as part of the so-called teaching process. Some professors are better than others -- some are more encouraging, and keep their true beliefs to themselves for the sake of fostering in-class discussion.

Others, however, hold out a signpost with their ideals staunchly asserted, and are quick to go for the jugular when the slightest notion of disagreement presents itself in classroom discussion. I thought the ivory tower was meant to foster exploration of an issue from all sides? Since this professor is so famous, everybody in class pretty much sucks up and articulates exactly what the professor wants to hear.

For the sake of keeping the classroom from being a royal derriere-kissing fest, and for the sake of your fellow students' brains, please assert your own ideas in classes like this. Be respectful, but try to keep academic integrity in tact -- freedom of expression should not be lost in the classroom.

Now, go forth and conquer!


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sorry About the Hiatus

Sorry about the hiatus -- law school has been keeping me way too busy for a variety of reasons:

1) The acceptance rate of articles for which we have extended offers is a lot lower at this point than we anticipated. We are still actively pursuing articles and trying to get them to land in our journal without sacrificing quality. All I have to say, is landing great articles is a lot more difficult than I expected -- especially for a top 10 law school. I also have to say that I am surprised at the utter crap that gets published. I mean complete and utter crap. Crap that a person could write with minimal effort and thought. Not that I am an expert on this stuff -- I am still just a law student, after all.

2) I'm doing a clinic this semester, and I just have to say, I am surprised at how pervading tax issues are in so many aspects of the law. I have been actively trying to graduate without taking a tax course, but I may actually succumb next semester and take one before I graduate.

3) Compressed classes are keeping me way too occupied too. Who knew that doing 2 credits in 1/3 the time of a normal semester would mean six hours of class per week, plus about 250 pages of reading per class. I barely have time to eat, let alone sleep.

Sorry again for the hiatus -- I hope I haven't lost some of you. For those of you transferring this year, I hope your transitions are going smoothly. I'd also love to hear about them -- you can always drop me a line.

Wishing everyone the very best,


Friday, August 18, 2006


I am still recovering from a state of complete and utter shock. About five minutes ago, I opened a letter from the Office of the Registrar for Law School X. The letter blathered on and on about budget stuff, and my eyes quickly glazed over. It wasn't until I flipped over the letter, and saw on the back in small print, that all of the budget stuff was pretty much getting at the fact that tuition has now increased to $19,500/semester!!!! This is INSANITY, I tell you...INSANITY!

But that isn't the best part. We are apparently not the most expensive degree program on campus (on a yearly basis, at least). The MBA program has the distinction of costing $41,000/year...but they only have to pay that for two years.

Even the Medical School isn't as expensive as the JD program, and I think they might even be ranked slightly higher in the USNWRs.

A little notice of this seemingly significant tuition bump would have been nice...granted, about $5000 doesn't seem like much until you realize you are paying close to $40K/year just in tuition.

Tuition costs are simply out of control. There is absolutely no other way to describe this.

Frankly, what the hell do you get for $40K/year??? Access to some famous profs and some dusty books in the library, and that is about it. Think of everything the med students get -- access to high tech labs, cadavers to dissect, starched white lab coats with their names embroidered on the right breast pocket, and stethoscopes. And they pay less tuition. First thing Monday morning, I am marching into the registrar's office and demanding at least a gavel or some other legal type object with my name imprinted on it. Then maybe I will feel a little more comfortable signing that loan promissory note that already has my name typed by the signature line.

And clink go the golden handcuffs now tightly locked around both of my wrists . . .

Monday, August 07, 2006

Practical Thoughts on OCI

I received several email inquiries, and I would like to address the substantive parts of those questions in one big post.

First, bid on as many firms as you possibly can, and then some.

I like to think of OCI as one big pond, with all of law firms as fish, and all of the law students as fishermen. To catch a lot of fish you need a big net, right? Well, the same goes for fall recruitment. The students I have seen come away from fall recruitment without jobs were typically those who did not cast their nets wide enough. Don't be that student -- remember that the wider and farther you case your net, the more likely you are going to catch something. Don't be too picky, too "status conscious" and for goodness sake, do not feed into the hype of firm X or Y. The more interviews you go on, the more likely you are to find a place where you would like to work, and people with whom you would like to work.

I knew several students who wanted to do environmental law, and only bid on firms who did environmental law, in parts of the country far from our law school that were not thriving legal markets. Guess what? These students ended up without jobs (despite their stellar grades). While many law students can be choosy, the reality of life is that you cannot be choosy until you have at least one offer in your back pocket. If you cast your net too small in a remote area of the country, your chances of catching one of the fish decrease dramatically.

The same goes if you want to transactional/corporate work versus litigation. Don't rule out all of the big litigation firms -- certainly rank transactional firms higher, but still maximize your bids. Remember that all of the bids you waste are opportunities you are letting pour down the drain. Most large law firms do a little bit of both anyway -- they don't call themselves "full service" for nothing. Plus, it is just a summer. It will be better to be employed doing something you don't necessarily like, than to not be employed at all. You can always leverage an offer into something else during 3L fall recruitment. And you never know, you just might like what you didn't set out to do.

Second, pound the pavement and the mail.

Once you are at fall recruitment, pound the pavement to pick up as many additional interviews as you can. Drop your resume with recruiters and go out of your way to take the slots of students who cancel their interviews. I had several friends who ended up working at firms that they didn't bid on (or didn't get interviews with) during fall recruitment. They got callbacks by being that student who showed so much interest in a firm, that they found a way to meet people and ask questions.

You should also mail your resume, cover letter, and writing sample to firms who don't necessarily interview on campus at your school. If you already know you will be in the area from out of town, by all means send the recruiter an email saying, "I will be in City X the week of Y date, and I would love to have the opportunity to meet with you." I received several screening interviews this way that lead to callbacks in and of themselves.

Third, pay selective attention to the hiring criteria listed by the employer

If the qualifications an employer lists as the type of student they are looking for have anything to do with class rank or journal, just overlook them (especially if you are a transfer student -- your grades/law review invitation should certainly satisfy these criteria). Basically, you can completely overlook the qualification portion unless they are looking for someone with a tech background to do IP work, or something similarly specific.

Fourth, don't forget that you are just as much a student at your new school as the non-transfers.

As an aside, and I just have to mention this because some have written about feeling "bad about taking a slot from someone else" at their new school, when an interviewer only has so many people they can interview. To this I say, do NOT worry about "taking a slot from a student" at your new school. You ARE a student at your new school, the employers are there to interview YOU. If an employer mistreats you because you are a transfer student, you should immediately inform your career services office. This represents a form of discrimination that law schools will not tolerate.

Fifth, don't feed into the Vault Rankings or the hype like you do the USNWR.

Every school has copies of The Vault rankings in their OCI waiting areas, and year after year I see students getting carried away about going to a highly ranked firms. Take these rankings with a grain of salt, and accord them much less deference than you did the USNWR.

First, firms really vary by region. I can guarantee you that the top firm in NYC or Chigaco is not necessarily the top firm in DC, and vice versa. Students also tend to get fixated on certain firms for no apparent reason, creating hype about a particular firm, and lusting after it. When they take a step back, they realize they know absolutely nothing about the firm. Try to make informed decisions to the extent that you can (law firm websites don't exactly assist you in this process, but use them as much as possible).

Remember that you get paid pretty much the same (especially during the summer when bonuses and benefits aren't factored in) at Vault Firm #1 and #100. The real question you have to ask yourself, is "do I want to work with the people at this firm?" and "will I enjoy the work?" Even if these questions are negative, it is better to be employed than to be unemployed, and OCI isn't the end of your career -- it is only the beginning.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Law Review on Resume

Continuing on the OCI talk from yesterday, many transfers are speculating whether they can include the fact they made it onto Law Review at their previous school. Well, dear transfers, the answer is YES, and you SHOULD.

The resounding majority of employers I have come into contact with say that you should include it as "Invited to join Law Review X" or "Graded onto Law Review X". Obviously, you cannot say you were a staff member, unless you accepted your position and actually did work for the Law Review over the summer. If you did, as some do, then you should list it as "Position X, Law Review X, Spring-Summer 2006".

I hope this clears up the confusion.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Transfer Law Students & Fall Recruitment

By now, many of you potential transfer students will know which law school to which you will be transferring, and where you will be spending the next two years of your life. Some of you may also be getting ready to interview on campus in a couple of weeks, at places where you have never even attended a single class. And yet, in just a few short weeks, potential employers will soon be peppering you with questions about this new law school that you have chosen to attend. I am breaking my summer hiatus to impart a few words of advice for those transfer law students out there who have chosen to do the "big law firm" thing, and who will soon be facing fall recruitment as a transfer law student.

1) Remember that law firms who give you a hard time are places you wouldn't want to work anyway.

At my top ten law school X, fall recruitment works in such a way where we bid on law firms by ranking them. We are then given about 25-30 interviews based on our rankings, and the firms who get us have no choice but to interview us. For those of you at schools who work this way, you may run into employers who turn their noses at transfer law students. Be prepared for this, but keep in the back of your mind that you wouldn't want to work for them anyway, if they are that snobby about whom they hire. There were several firms I interviewed with (who shall remain nameless) that claimed that they didn't have an "accurate understanding" of my grades from old law school Y (I am pretty sure a GPA very close to a 4.0 means pretty much the same at most law schools, but that is just my perspective...or the glaring, "top 5% of law school class" might mean the same thing at most law schools too...again, just my perspective...) because they didn't hire there. One thing to look at in selecting firms to interview with is to see if they also recruited at your old law school. If so, you will be less likely to encounter the types of firms who will ostracize you for being a transfer. These same firms tended to say, "If you don't get a callback, why don't you try for us next year after you have some top ten law school X grades?" (Meaning, we only want to hire the top students from here, and we want to make sure you will be one of them before we hire you.) In the back of your mind just keep thinking, "I will stay at the firm that felt I had something to offer, and supported me before I had any law school X grades." At law schools that allow firms to select who they will interview, you are much less likely to encounter the above. You will know going in that the firm chose your resume out of a stack of several hundred, and saw something in you they liked.

2) Come up with a very good response for the question, "so...why did you transfer?"

During the screening interviews, and even on the callbacks, you will be asked the dreaded question, "so...why did you transfer?" My career services office told me a good response would be, "well, Law School X places such a high rate of law clerks, that I felt it provided a better opportunity for me to clerk." This answer was tepidly received -- some firms like you to clerk, some don't. Some see it as a waste of recruitment resources (this is really a discussion for another post). This answer also brought on a spate of follow-up questions, “where would you like to clerk? With whom would you like to clerk?” and etc. Unfortunately, I had not properly prepared for these questions, and I just looked unpolished. If you choose to use this answer, make sure you are prepared for the follow-up questions. For that matter, make sure you are prepared for any follow-up questions to any answers you provide, period.

3) Never ever ever ever ever never bash your old law school

The best response to the aforementioned question plays up the positives of both of your chosen schools, while not bashing your old one. Never ever, under any circumstances, bash your old law school. Chances are the firm employs people who attended that school, and it is just plain bad form to say anything negative in an interview.

I am not saying don’t be honest. There was an interview where an interviewer asked me, “Why did you decide to choose new Law School X?” I felt really comfortable with her, and my answer was basically, “because they accepted me.” She laughed, and said, “You know what? That is why I chose to go there too. They accepted me.” We had a great chat after that, the interview ran late, and I ended up getting an offer there. So use your best judgment, but sometimes being just plain honest pays off.

4) Remember that everything really does work out for the best, and your dream firm might not really be your dream firm after all – how much do you really know about the firm anyway?

Every law school has their hot firms – places where people literally fight to get an interview, and where everybody goes, “wow, she got an offer from X firm!” Just keep in mind, that you know hardly anything about these places before stepping foot in them. Reading all of the literature out there and postings on their websites really does not paint a very good picture about what it is really like to work at the firm. You aren’t going to have any clue until you go on a callback interview, and even then you will only meet roughly 6 people – hardly enough to have an accurate picture of what the firm is really like.

Keep in mind that some of these places everyone seems to covet for some odd reason might not be the best fit for you. Also keep in mind that if they make billions of dollars a year, there is a reason – they expect you to work extremely hard.

I know law students are, by their very nature, competitive creatures. Just try not to let this cloud your judgment when you are selecting a firm. Most associates leave their first firm within 2 years – probably because they selected the wrong firm from the get-go. If you can help it (and you can) try not to be one of them.

Before going on a callback try to formulate questions that show your interest in the firm, but also will help you eventually figure out if you want them. Some questions might have to wait until after you receive an offer – but don’t be shy about asking those questions either. This is an important decision, and you should make sure you are adequately informed.

If I think of anything else this week, I’ll post it…and as always, feel free to ask me any questions.

Most of all, GOOD LUCK!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Grade Grumbling

Ah yes, the grade grumbling has already begun on my law school's listserve. It seems that most students, on average, only have about 1 grade posted so far. The last final exam was given at my school during the first week of May, so many students are mad that it is taking professors more than a month to get grades in. Along with the complaints are that potential employers want to see grades already, bars want to see grades, and those who might be considering transferring want their grades too.

What I want to tell them is that my old law school seemed to take forever to post grades too. As it happens, at almost every law school grades take what seems like forever to post. Northwestern, and a few other schools seem to be an exception -- at Northwestern all grades are posted at the same time, so students there just have to wait until they get an email from the registrar saying grades are ready. For the rest of us, we have to hold our breath each time we log-in to check our grades online to see what has posted, and what we still have to wait for. So many times I've held my breath, and either squeeled with excitement, or felt like I was kicked in the gut over a really high or low grade.

So the grumbles continue, and it is also about that time where the rumor starts circulating that professors are fined a specific amount of money for each day they are overdue on turning in their grades. I heard said legend at my old law school too, and I just don't think it is true. If someone wants to point me towards written confirmation I would be overjoyed to see it, but I just don't think that is the case.

Finally, one student at school proferred that perhaps we should all delay paying our tuition for the number of days the last student had to wait for her grade the previous term. While this is interesting idea, I doubt the effects would be felt on the professors, who are ultimately in charge of turning our grades in ontime. Stifling law students need for instant gratification (if getting certain grades really is gratification) seems to be uniformly difficult at law schools across America.

Good luck with the grade wait...I recognize for many of you your transfer dreams hang in the balance, and for others employment prospects hang on the line too. We're all in it together...hang in there.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Urban Landscapes, Humidity, High Heels, and Pantyhose

Brief post, because I have been working oh-so-hard as I started my summer associate job last week.

First, urban landscapes were simply not designed for women wearing high heels. The vents, manhole covers, and other assorted small holes in the sidewalk are booby traps just waiting to snag your heel and render you shoeless. If you do this in a group of your colleagues, you will get looks of sympathy from the women, but laughter from the men.

I have yet to share my rant about pantyhose with you, but I am going to do so now. I believe that if the so-called glass ceiling exists, it exists in the form of pantyhose. Pantyhose keep women back, with every run in a stocking there is an assignment or an opportunity that pantyhose keeps a woman from pursuing. Pantyhose, while sheer and delicate, binds women in a way that keeps them from achieving true gender equality. Mind you, I have never classified myself as a feminist, but pantyhose makes me miserable, and if I am forced to wear them because of some traditional, arcane, antiquated ideal that women should keep their legs covered in the office, then I will never ever make partner. Once the humidity sets in, and going outside feels like trudging through a swamp, pantyhose become the most uncomfortable garment known to mankind. I would sooner walk 5 miles in the most uncomfortable shoes I own rather than wear pantyhose on a day with 100% humidity. Pantyhose are simply an eternal burden women in contemporary society must bear that ranks right up there with corsets.

So I'll get to my point, and that is that it is impossible for women to be entirely comfortable in a humid urban landscape wearing high heels and pantyhose. Now, the men I know will raise that neckties aren't exactly slippers, but give me a necktie anyday of the week.

With love from the urban jungle sans pantyhose,


Friday, May 12, 2006

Should You Transfer Law Schools?

The decision whether to transfer law schools is a difficult choice for many students. Those transferring for reasons other than trying to transfer up the USNWRs fall outside the scope of this post.

First, what are your career goals?

When I thought about transferring, I thought about the doors that would be open to me if I transferred, and the doors that would remain shut if I stayed put. I didn't choose to attend law school so I could work for a big elite firm, but I decided (with mounting debt) that I would really like to have the option. Sure, the money would be nice, but the training would be good too. The prospect of working for such a firm coming from my previous law school seemed small, and I knew many people with decent grades who seemed to be having some difficulty finding jobs. Although my grades placed me at the top of the class, I worried about my employment situation. For many, this is a huge reason to transfer. I often heard while I was at my old law school that the law school you attend becomes increasingly insignificant the longer you are out of law school. While there might be some truth to this if you become a rainmaker, or do some amazing things with your career, the law school you attend will forever be enshrined on your resume, and it is one thing all future employers will see and consider. How they weight it, one can never be sure. I remember one of the most striking differences when I transferred last fall. I had started participating in fall recruitment at my old school just in case I didn't make the switch. When I started participating in my current law school's fall recruitment, the number of employers participating was more than six times the number of employers who participated in my old law school's fall recruitment. It was extremely eye-opening -- at my new school firms fought over us, took us to dinner and drinks during on-campus recruiting, while at my old law school we were lucky to get interviews with top firms. At the new school, employers sent us emails inviting us to events, and inviting us to apply to the firms, while at the old school I never heard from a single employer. The employment opportunities my new school afforded me immediately paid off my decision before classes even started. This is way I said to apply early in a previous post -- you want to make absolutely sure that you can take full advantage of your new law school's fall recruitment; otherwise what you gain in transferring decidedly diminishes.

Second, do you want to clerk?

Following up from the previous subject, because clerking is highly integrated with the first question, whether you want to clerk should be a big question to ask yourself. A prestigious clerkship with a well-known judge can catapult your career to unfathomable heights. This is something I didn't even know, and was never ever discussed at my previous law school. In fact, I didn't even really know what a clerkship was, or its implications at my old law school because nobody ever discussed it with us. Looking at the numbers from my previous school, less than 5% of the students clerk after graduation, which could explain why I was so in the dark. At my new school, the number of clerks is insanely high -- and students pursue very prestigious clerkships with Circuit Court Judges, and we have at least one Supreme Court Clerk this term. While I knew that my chances of becoming Supreme Court Clerk were insanely small even after choosing to transfer, I just liked the fact that hypothetically, this was an opportunity that I could potentially take advantage of at my new school. If I stayed put, this was yet another door that remained closed.

Third, do you want to go into academia?

This question also follows from the previous two. At my new school some students are able to become law professors immediately after graduation. If you get a fabulous clerkship, this can fast track you into academia as well. If you clerk and work for a prestigious law firm, again -- these are factors faculty look for when hiring a new law professor. Not to mention, the school you graduated from. Academia was another option I wanted to be able to consider, and I knew if I stayed put the best I could probably hope for was to eventually become a professor at the previous law school I attended. I didn't want to keep future teaching options limited, so this was another factor I considered. Of course most law professors graduated from Yale, Harvard, or Stanford, but they come from the rest of the top schools to varying degrees, and attending any school ranked higher than mine meant more opportunity.

Fourth, what will you give up if you leave your old law school?

For many students who are considering transferring, they may be leaving behind academic scholarships, Law Review membership, and the GPA insurance policy the first year grades afforded. When you transfer, you start completely over -- the GPA goes back down to 0.00, you have to claw your way onto Law Review at the new school (each law school's procedures differ on this), make new friends, and in many cases you will not receive scholarship money at the new school. These factors get even trickier if you are already at a school ranked in the middle of the Top Tier of the USNWRs. You have to ask, "is it better to be on Law Review at GW Law School, or will transferring to Penn and not being on Law Review be better?" For most of us who were at lower ranked schools, the answer is that we will probably be better off (when I say "better off" I mean that we will have more opportunities available to us) going to the top school without being on Law Review rather than sticking around our old school and doing the Law Review thing. Although Law Review is a golden key to the kingdom of the legal profession, so is going to a big-name, tippy top school. There are, frankly, opportunities you get by virtue of coming from certain schools rather than others, even if you are within the top 5% of your class. Certain judges have publicly said they do not hire clerks outside of top ten law schools, and many many law firms do not recruit at schools that rank below a certain level. Going to a top law school is a golden key unto itself. Ultimately, the question is, "will I have more career opportunities over the course of my career staying at my old law school, with all of the benefits I have already earned for myself, or giving up those benefits and starting fresh at a new higher ranked law school?" All of this said, if you went to law school to hang a shingle on Main Street of your home town, then transferring may not be in your best interest. But you still have to ask yourself, when the local people come to inquire about your services, are they going to be more likely to hire someone from the local law school, or from an Ivy League school? You will have to answer this question for yourself. You may also be concerned with leaving friendships behind, as well as leaving behind classmates you came to trust. I would be the first to say that friendships and people are important, but rest assured you will find those people to trust and confide in at your new school. You may not start off your 2L year knowing who they are, but you will likely have other transfer students you will meet at your new school, and those will be people you immediately bond with. They will be in the same position you are, starting fresh their second year, and looking to connect with people.

Fifth, be conscious of the hierarchy.

When I was at my old law school I was very conscious of the hierarchy this profession imposes on law students, and I would say that I am almost more conscious of it at my new school. Even though I can now say that I am a law student at top ten law school X, I am still aware that there are opportunities I don't necessarily have because I am not at Harvard, Stanford, or Yale. I think the top students here still have most of the same opportunities, but there are just benefits to being at the top of this profession-imposed hierarchy. The extreme optimist in me says, of course you can do anything you want coming from any school in the US, if you work hard enough and play your cards right. While this might be true to a small degree, life is just plain harder at the bottom of the hierarchy. I remember feeling like I had to fight for every opportunity at my old law school, and now I feel like many opportunities are just handed to me at my new one. I will be the first to say that the law school hierarchy imposed by both the profession and the USNWR sucks, but part of being in the legal profession is learning how to play the game and use things to your advantage.

Other thoughts...

There are many many many factors and reasons to transfer beyond those I touched on above. If you are unhappy at your law school, and you are looking to make a change (and you have great grades) then I would say take a chance on a new school. I cannot do my new school justice, but I definitely feel as though my new school is a much better fit for me than my old one. I know I was probably lucky in this respect, but my new school has been nothing but good to me, and I am grateful someone looked at my application and took a chance on me. I chose to attend my new school site-unseen -- the first day I spent on campus was for Journal Orientation before classes began, and my tuition check had already been signed and delivered. My new law school also happened to give me an academic scholarship, so all hope is not lost if you are leaving one behind. Granted, the amount afforded didn't come close to taking care of tuition, but it was something -- and it made me feel more wanted.

If I think of other things as transfer law school application season heats up this summer I'll post them, and as I see your comments I will respond. Good luck to everyone throwing their hats in the ring this year, and I hope to see some of you at my new law school in the fall.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Practical Thoughts on Transfer Student Apps

While this is by no means comprehensive, and entirely based on personal experience, since it is transfer law student application season, I wanted to share some thoughts on the process. These thoughts, views, and opinions are entirely my own, and based in my transfer application experiences last year. They are by no means entirely representative, and may not be applicable to your situation, but might present some good general advice.

First, apply early and apply often.

If you have good grades from your first semester, do not wait to start filling out applications and applying if transferring is something you really want to consider (whether you should or want to transfer is a topic for another discussion, and will be the subject of my next post). Although the transfer application process is much shorter than it was when you were applying to law school the first time around, once many schools start making admissions decisions early in the summer for the few transfer spots they have, it can be that much more difficult to get in later in the game. While all hope is not lost if you apply late (or if your grades from the second semester are not posted until July) as many schools will not have filled all of their slots, making your application the earlier the better holds true for transfer apps as it did for first year applications. Plus, it gives schools time to communicate with you when they need additional documentation. For instance, one of the top 10 schools to which I applied extremely late, contacted me the first week of August to tell me my Dean's Certification from my undergrad institution had not yet been received -- by that point, my application was pretty much worthless because most of their positive decisions had no doubt already been made. You also have to consider that some of the primary reasons for transferring are to try for law review at your new school and to participate in fall recruitment. A late decision can mean not participating in either of these two important activities, which would seriously undermine your reasons for transferring in the first place.

Second, dare to dream.

One of the worst feelings is that "what if" that plagues you when you choose not to apply to schools you would love to attend, but didn't think you would get into. Sometimes, you really just never know. I didn't apply to Harvard, Stanford, or Yale, and I regret that decision only because I don't know what would have happened had I applied. I thought I was lucky to get into the top ten school I currently attend, and I was thoroughly surprised when the call from the admissions office came -- but it makes you wonder "what would have happened if..." That said, you have to stay realistic -- just don't be too realistic. It is possible to climb the USNWR by leaps and bounds -- I am proof. Just think and weigh which means more to you -- the time, effort, and money of filling out the additional applications coupled with the peace of mind when you receive the answer, or the thought that you will never know that you could have gone to the law school of your dreams if you hadn't been lazy or stingy and just applied....

Third, grades, grades, grades, and class rank.

Grades and class rank are the #1 factors law schools look at in the transfer application process. If you are not near the top of the class your chances of transferring correspondingly decrease. Transferring to a school in the top 14 is extremely difficult if you are not in the top 5-10% of your class. It is probably still possible if you are in the top 15%-20%, and as you approach the top third, it gets extremely difficult to impossible (unless you are already at a top school and you need transfer for other reasons -- those kinds of applications are outside the scope of this post). Of course the USNWR rank of your school matters, but to a lesser degree, when they look at your class rank -- someone who is at the top of her class at a fourth tier law school will probably have more of an uphill battle than someone at a first tier law school, but she should still be in a good position.

Fourth, Law Review isn't as important as you think.

Getting onto Law Review is probably less important than you might think at first. Given that the process for getting onto Law Review differs at each school, having the Law Review credential on your transfer application is not necessarily as reflective of your legal skills as your grades and class rank. I will divulge that unlike JCA on Sua Sponte, I did not make Law Review at my previous school (ranked similarly to her previous school) and yet my new school (also ranked similarly to her school) still accepted me. If your grades and class rank are top notch, schools will be willing to overlook that you didn't make Law Review, so don't let that keep you from applying. The way I looked at it, not making Law Review at my old school presented the opportunity for me to pursue Law Review at a new school if I chose to transfer.

Fifth, location, location, location.

Schools in less desirable geographic locations tend to be easier to get into in general. Not to detract from the quality and caliber of schools located in certain areas, it just holds true that certain schools in California are harder to get into because people like living there. Meanwhile, schools in snowy, cold, less urban places tend to be easier to get into because many people do not necessarily like to live in the snow, or in the middle of nowhere (especially if it is a snowy middle of nowhere). If you are flexible in terms of your geographic location, it has been widely hypothesized (and probably widely reflective numerically in the USNWR) that schools in the middle of the country tend to be easier to get into than schools located on either coast. As I said above, California and certain big cities on the East Coast have more panache than some schools not just in the middle of the country, but in less urban regions in general. Schools located in these places are just as good as they are on the coasts in desirable urban areas, and probably represent the same or similar employment opportunities, so don't shy away from trying a new location. It is only two years of your life, and you can probably handle just about anywhere for such a short duration of time. If transferring is really something that is important to you, this is something to consider.

These are just some thoughts in a nutshell. As I think of specific topics while transfer apps are in their high season, I may post them individually. My next post will be on deciding whether to transfer.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And with that...finito.

Just turned in my last paper about couple of hours ago. I'll realize that I'm done in about 24 hours. Pheeeewwwwww....I'm done, I'm really done. Yay!

The Semester That Will. Not. End.

Here it is, the middle of the night, and I am still chugging away at my final paper that is due tomorrow by 5pm. In the past two weeks I have written a 30+ paged paper, turned in my last assignment for a Practicum, taken two final exams, and I have a few pages left to write on this final paper. I'm tired, and not to whine, but I am ready to call this semester over. The weather is great outside, I can hear everyone having a good time, and I am ready to join them.

The catch? I'm a 2L. I start work in a week and a half, and I have to stick around to do post-semester Journal stuff. Welcome to a life with the law! You want it to go away sometimes but it just won't. I feel like Sisyphus, and I haven't even graduated yet.

This is a short one tonight -- gotta catch some sleep before I try to polish this puppy off, turn it in, and wipe my hands of this semester. After tomorrow at 5pm, I swear the complaining stops. For about a week, anyway....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

We Beat Out HLS. But I'm Not Happy.

So, my wonderful fantabulous law school beat Harvard Law School to the punch on something. But, I have to say that on I am not on my law school's side:

A proposed ban on wireless at Harvard Law is generating controversy. Apparently students prefer to instant message than pay attention to classroom discussion. The school is considering a ban on wireless in the classroom. Socrates is probably rolling over in his grave. Other law schools may be tempted to follow HLS' lead.

Okay, for the record it seems HLS is following our lead. This year was the first year my law school decided to do this very thing. Unbeknownst to me, being a transfer and all, I arrived starry-eyed on campus only to be greated with this email upon my arrival:

TO: All students

The law school has expanded its wireless management capability to be able to turn on or off a student’s wireless access based on whether that student is in a class or in an exam. This management tool (a combination of hardware and software manipulation) will allow us to manage the wireless network to a finer degree, for instance, allowing some network functions to continue, such as file transfers, without allowing other functions, such as web browsing. One of the benefits of this change is students will be able to save their exams to the network independent of whether the exam is blocked or unblocked. Students can choose to leave wireless on at all times and the access control will be determined by their activity.

Another benefit of this new technology is that web access can be limited during class times for students enrolled during a given class without limiting such access to others. Over the past several years, instant messaging, email correspondence, and web surfing have become an increasing problem during class periods, one noticed and objected to by faculty and students alike. Some web-based activities can be useful during class sessions, and indeed some professors have made use of web technologies for class sessions. Other activities, however, create competition for student attention, distract fellow students and, most faculty believe, lower the overall quality of class discussions considerably. Accordingly, the decision as to how much web access a student will have during each class session or exam will be made by the professor teaching that class.

Director of Information Technology.

Fabulous. And let me be clear that it is pretty rare that a professor will turn on the wireless during class. Honestly, at my old law school I did spend time using the internet in class. Admittedly, some of that time was spend clandestinely, emailing and other tabboo activities. But there were pluses too, in that I could look up cases on Lexis, read statutes we were discussing like the Federal Rules of Civ Pro, and paste them directly into my notes (which saved time doing it later).

I understand that the faculty is seeing wireless as entirely subject to abuse, but they should let the grading curve be stabilizer. People who do nothing but surf the web may be less likely to get a good grade in the course. When grades in this degree program are so important, why not let that be determinitive of the outcome over the duration of the course?

I'll tell you why -- because despite my past abuses, I somehow found my way to the tippy top of my law school class. I think this should say something about the malfunctions of traditional legal education rather than placing the blame on outside influences. If the socratic method were really that great of a learning tool, would surfing the web in class lend so little effect on grades? If my professors were so absolutely riveting, or the class discussion so fascinating, would I succumb to the temptation of getting on the internet for non-class related purposes?

I realize these questions are easily answered in the fact that fundamentally students should respect their instructors, which necessarily implies that one should pay attention in class. It is for this reason that I have not publicly spoken on this topic before.

But I cannot escape the nagging feeling that this decision is decidedly paternal. If we are going to be lawyers, i.e. professionals in three short years working on cases with millions of dollars at stake, shouldn't we be allowed to choose for ourselves which path to pursue? I am not arguing that using the internet in class is the right choice; I am simply asking that the school not take that choice away from us. The school should have enough faith in itself as an institution that we will not waste the $35,000 we pay in tuition each year to learn how to be professionals. Perhaps we can start our education by being treated like professionals, rather than being treated like high school students, or worse (remember the good old days when you couldn't have a cell phone or pager at school? And if you were caught with it they took it from you?). Let's not regress (even if some of our fellow collegue's behavior often feels as though it has).

And for those faculty who feel strongly enough about this, then they should ban laptops in class altogether, as some professors at this school already chose to do. Education obviously existed successfully for hundreds of years without laptops in the classroom. If the greatest legal minds in the country are sticking to an antiquated legal education paradigm, then leave it to the next generation to man the shift to the new paradigm.

And the debate rages on: More professors ban laptops in class
And on: The Good Law Student, the Bad Professor, and the Ugly Computer

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sweet Dream

My Sec Reg exam is tomorrow, in 9 hours and 28 minutes. Here is the sweeet dream I will be dreaming about tonight until I wake up and take my last exam of the semester (my original post can be found here:

Office of the Registrar
Your Law School
123 Main Street
Springfield, AB 12345

Dear Student:

We are writing to inform you that due to an unforeseen two-week nationwide holiday, finals for the spring semester have been cancelled. The faculty joins us in our sentiments that you have studied enough over the course of the semester, and therefore rescheduling final exams for this semester will not be necessary.

We know you are curious how our decision will affect your class rank, if at all. For your information, we are changing our official policy to make every student #1. When employers write to inquire where you are in the class, we will universally acknowledge that you are the #1 student in the class. Externally, we will continue to say that we do in fact rank, and we will continue to publish our GPA ranking percentiles on our website. The fact that these will be misleading will remain our secret. Please do not spoil this good fortune for others by divulging this information to friends outside of the law school, potential employers, or heaven forbid publishing this information on your blog.

We hope you enjoy your summer, and that you will not work too hard slaving away for a firm to pay us back the more than $100,000 you will spend for tuition for the duration of your law school career. Please find some time to enjoy yourselves. If you are studying for the bar, we are very sorry for your misery, and we hope you find some time to spend with your long forgotten family members before you again disappear into a firm for the next several years while you pay down your debt.

Again, best wishes for a fruitful and successful summer. We will not be in communication with you, as there will be no grades to post. Instead, your transcript will simply reflect an "A" for each course you chose to undertake. We will also retroactively be changing your grades to all A's to reflect our new "unofficial" policy to make everyone #1 because you all deserve it. For those of you who already had straight A's, congratulations. Now everyone can be just like you.

Congratulations on another successful year in law school.


Tammy Bakerschmidt
Dean of Students

PS. Law Review membership has been expanded, and everyone who decides they would like to join may do so. Please contact the Editor-in-Chief to inform her of your decision to join. Please note that you may also explicate your Law Review membership on your resume for employment purposes even if you choose never to do anything for the journal. We feel that this collaborative and non-hierarchical approach will make our Law Review one of the most important law journals in America.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


I have hit a rut in studying, and I know I am not prepared enough for my Sec Reg exam in T-minus 34 hours and counting down....

I have the entire body of law in my head...I just need to get to that point where it all gels together. So many rules, and exceptions -- a very treacherous area of the law, I tell you.

How long does gel take to set? Hopefully less than 34 hours with two nights of not a lot of sleep...

I went to the computer lab tonight to print out my outline, and the 1Ls were there frantically cramming for Property. It brought back so many memories. I wanted to be able to share a good outline with them or something, but since I transferred my stuff would be worthless to them, as Property was a full year at my old law school. They all looked about ready to call 1L the past. I don't blame them. Looking back, 1L was more of a primer for making you realize at times, what you didn't know --- how much you didn't know. Moving onward, it became more a question of how to make a body of law manageable, and working efficiently.

I'll stop waxing nostalgic. I need to get through my Sec Reg outline one more time before bed.

Best of luck to all of the law students out there studying away.

The Undergrads Won.

With my International Law exam behind me, I have been resolved to spend as much waking time as possible reviewing Securities Regulation.

I thought I was once again safe in my apartment, because the undergrads were supposed to be out of the dorms by today, and the last of the graduations were finishing up around here today as well. As a 2L it has been striking to see all of the graduations going on, and realizing just one more year left until the ink will dry on our JDs...

So much for the undergrads having to be out of the dorms by today. There were so many parties going on around here that the 5 different songs blasting from various forms of amplification made deciphering any one song at any given time impossible. In addition, parents picking up their kids apparently joined in the fun, as they were all camped out on lawn chairs in the yard across the street.

I swore as I huddled in the corner of my kitchen on the floor because it was the quietest part of my apartment, while wearing bright orange ear plugs and clutching Gilbert's Securities, that this time I would do something -- this time I would stand up for myself -- this time I would call the City Police! I had resorted to this point because I was too lazy to get dressed and go to the library, where in all honesty it was probably packed, and I would end up running into people I know and chatting the day away.

So I did, I called the police at 7:45pm after listening to the music pounding through my earplugs for almost 8 hours (yet somehow managing to get through more than 200 pages of Sec Reg in the process). Ten minutes later, the undergrads stopped, and their parents whisked them away for parts unknown, and I had to call the police back and tell them they stopped.

So I admit defeat -- the undergrads foiled me in the end, leaving me alone with Sec Reg. As the minivans and oversized SUVs pulled away, I have to admit I almost missed them. For all my bitching about them, at least it was nice to know SOMEONE was having fun out there...even if it wasn't me.

Now it is just me and Sec Reg.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Thin-Skull Person

Thin-Skull Person.

I rolled back into town from my secret hiding spot on Wednesday, and managed to study for my first closed-book exam enough to feel like I wouldn't fail. At about 11pm last night, just as I was contemplating going to sleep in time to wake up at 6am to go over my outline one last time, wouldn't you know it... A live band erupted complete with symbols, drums, and a very loud, very bad male lead singer. I sat on my couch with my mouth agape, listening to the aforementioned cockroach-like undergrads whoooohooo-ing in their drunken haze across the street from my very large, very uninsulated windows. I briefly contemplated calling the police, until it dawned on me that after inquiring where I lived, the police would probably say, "you live where? Yeah, we don't enforce municipal ordinances in a five-block radius around that area because we have determined that it is simply futile." They would have a nice chuckle, and hang up the phone. I briefly considered calling anyway, and asking if that kind of response would authorize me to resort to self-help. Yeah, probably not.

After 15 minutes, resigned to the fact that natural sleep the night before my exam was decidedly outside of my reach, I walked to the medicine cabinet and pulled out the sleeping pills. Those, coupled with ear plugs and a pillow wedged tightly over my head were my only chance at some ZZZs -- I fell asleep somehow, despite the fear of accidental asphyxiation and the occasional base pounding through my artificial sound barriers.

After waking up at 6am (furiously reading my outline, trying desperately to commit it to memory) and drinking 8 cups of coffee, I took my exam. At the end I found out I had computer problems, which zapped my entire afternoon -- and my attempt to begin cramming for my next exam. On my way home from dealing with the computer people at school, an older man raced up to me. I was walking at a very brisk pace, eager to get home to just relax a teeny bit after being put through the stress that is the law school examination process.

He was panting because he almost had to run to catch up to me. When he touched me on the arm I turned, confused because I didn't recognize him. He was holding something in his hand, so I thought I had dropped something behind me, and he was trying to catch up to give it back to me. No such luck.

As I turned, he said, "oh, you aren't an Econ major, are you?" Good call, considering I was wearing a T-shirt that said "XYZ LAW" on the front (in my defense, I didn't pay any attention to what I was wearing this morning when I woke up bleary-eyed, in a sleeping pill hangover coupled with severe caffeine jitters). I said, "no...I'm not." The man proceeded to guess my nationality, first guessing (incorrectly) that I must be Italian. It didn't even dawn on me that this man, with the few gray hairs left on his head, and the deeply wrinkled skin, was hitting on me, until he finally asked, "hey -- do you want to go get a cold drink on me?" I had already guessed this man must be at least 75. Not only was he old enough to be my father, he was old enough to be my grandfather. In my naivete, I thought he was just a lonely man striking up a conversation with a girl on the street. Then again, what kind of lonely man strikes up a conversation with a girl on the street? Yeah. I really am naive sometimes. I managed to choke back the creeps and mask my shock enough to tell him that I really need to go and study, but thanks for the offer. He actually pressed me -- to my surprise, and I felt that his behavior felt oddly like he was trying to trap me in a corner, despite the shining sun and wide expanse of blue sky around me. As I saw the light turn green and the little walk man appear on the crosswalk signal, I mumbled something about going to study and walked quickly away, as he shouted after me, "but you look so good....you look so gooooood.........."

Across the street I spotted one of the other members of the editorial board on my journal, and half ran up to him. He was standing there talking with a few other people I happened to know, and he said "who was that? We watched him chase you for a block-and-half." In case you have already pieced it together dear readers, I do not exactly attend law school in a cosmopolitan town. This isn't like the big bad wolf approaching innocent prey in a big city. As you will recall, however, Little Red Riding Hood was approached in the big bad woods, read: RURAL AREA. Maybe little towns are more apt to hide the crazies than the cities...or maybe it just shows that you can't escape odd people, no matter where you go.

Now, I'm not exactly young, but I'm not exactly old either. Apparently I definitely look young enough to be mistaken for an undergraduate, which also means that I must look like I could be in the 18-22 age bracket. I think this just adds to the creepyness. Call me a "thin-skull" plaintiff, but I found this event to be semi-traumatizing.

And I'm gonna be a lawyer soon. Very soon. I think it is time to start hardening up, and being more of a ballbuster. I have to figure out how to do that. Maybe working at the big law firm in the big city will harden me up some, but I need to learn how to handle and confront difficult situations head-on. My Negotiation class was supposed to help me with that this semester, instead I think it just highlighted the problem. Maybe I will have to look for one of those self-help books. I wonder if they have one entitled, "How to Squelch the Nice Person Within...10 Tried and True Secrets For Learning That It is Okay to be Mean."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Foiled Again!

Foiled Again!

I did it -- I traipsed off to my cabin in the woods for some peace and quiet, and some quality law-focus-time, when I felt it. The sniffles. Then the coughs. Then the sneezes! I got out...but not in time. Not in time to escape sickness-free. Aches, and zapped energy -- I spent half the time just staring at the incomprehensible drivel I faithfully typed because my big paper was due yesterday. I did it...I muttled through, and managed to get some studying in for the rest of my exams to boot. But this is not to say that I wouldn't have gotten twice as much done if I hadn't caught the dreaded cold before I left school. If I find out who passed on said illness to me, I will not be kind. In fact, I will find some way to hold you responsible for the -.2 in this semester's GPA that will result from this!

In other news, I cannot be a normal person and turn in assignments in the normal way. Being in a cabin in the woods 350 miles from school, and being the procrastinator that I am, there was no way that I could hand a hard copy of aforementioned big paper into my professor by 5pm yesterday. So I emailed it to him, and asked for his preferred option to remedy the situation. I could either a) fax it to him, b) fed ex it or c) bribe a friend to turn it in for me. Well, wouldn't you know -- never heard from my professor. So in addition to already emailing it well before the deadline, I ended up going with option b. Fed Ex. Still haven't heard from my prof -- don't know if he cares, don't know if I am facing a reduced grade because of my tendency to never be in this law school town. I suppose we'll see the aftermath reflected in my GPA.

Finally, the aforementioned cockroach undergrads are still enjoying the nice weather. I can hear them laughing and fighting outside in their drunken insanity. While I sit in here, staring longingly out the window, going over the gun-jumping guidelines and various forms of anti-fraud liability.

One week left to go...please let all go well...please...

Thursday, April 20, 2006



Today is going to be a short post -- finals they are a comin'.

So to give you a hint as to whose house is pictured in my Cabin in the Woods post on April 18th: He was a former United States President, and he was a lawyer.

I know that reaaally narrows it down. More hints to come.

Still chugging away at my final paper, and my first final is one week from tomorrow. Procrastination rears its ugly head, and you keep telling yourself, "I don't need to study, I'll be fine!" Until you sit in the classroom and realize..."no, I'm not fine..."

Taking classes that have final papers instead of finals always seems like a good idea when you register for the course, until it comes time to actually writing them. Then you realize how long they take, how much motivation they require, and you start thinking, "why can't I just have an exam?" This is about the point where I am. Exams, bring them on...papers, extensions please? But you know if you take an extension on a paper you will never ever do it until they threaten to not let you graduate because you need the credits. For the amount of work many of us will face upon graduation, we sure can be lazy. Myself included.

Onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cabin in the Woods

Off to a Cabin in the Woods...

I have difficulty concentrating in the law school environment as finals rapidly close in. So, a la The Paper Chase, I am off to sequester myself in a secret location, where only 4 people will know my whereabouts in case of an emergency.

Two weeks from this very day I will have written a very long paper, written a smaller paper, and taken two final exams. I will also be about to write one last really long paper, hating that I still have one more thing to do, and muttering under my breath, "you mean it ain't over yet???"

I will also be cursing the fact that I have to stick around this city for a week after finals for the journal, and reading through all of the 1L journal applications. I must admit that I am somewhat looking forward to reading the 1L journal applications -- it will be very interesting to be on the other side of things finally. I also have to say that I will probably feel a bit of guilt knowing that I hold someone's fate in my hands -- but, no good deed goes unpunished. If only the 1Ls comprehended what they are getting into to....just kidding. This random strain of thought is to be continued when I am actually going through the process.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. You get super bonus points from me if you can guess which famous person once inhabited the cabin pictured above. No hints...yet.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Not Even 2 Seconds of Fame...

Not Even 2 Seconds of Fame...

Today has been incredibly hectic. After class, there was an international law reception for members of the international law journal, and the international law society. The newly appointed boards of each were to be introduced, and all of the international law faculty was there for us to mingle with. Being a newly elected member of the international law journal's Ed Board, I attended, and had my 2 seconds of being introduced.

I find it relatively amusing that the professors I feel most comfortable talking to, are usually those with whom I do not have a class. I feel as though by seeking out my current or past professors, it looks like I am sucking up. I have this great aversion to people who suck up to professors for the sake of self-aggrandizing, and I prefer to avoid the slightest possibility that I might do something of the sort myself. On the other hand, I feel like I may have missed out on getting to know a lot of my professors -- professors with whom I may have had a connection. A huge part of what I have had to learn over the course of my higher education is that professors are people too -- and many of them are curious about us as we are about them.

Speaking of which, the professor I wrote about in my very first post had us over for dinner this evening. This was the first time I had been a member of a class a professor invited over for dinner. Apparently this is fairly common at this school, and I think it is so wonderful that the professors care about us to the point of wanting to get to know us outside of the classroom setting. If any professors ever come across this, I hope they understand how much it means to students for professors to take an active interest in them.

For me, this couldn't have come at a better time. I think I have been getting a tad burned out as of late. Since I went to law school for two years as a part-time law student, this is actually my third year in law school, even though I am considered a 2L at my new school. I definitely feel ready to graduate, and staying focused has been getting more and more difficult. I would very much be looking forward to summer break, if I weren't starting work immediately after the semester ends. The lure of a paycheck again weighs more heavily than R&R at the moment.

I just keep thinking about how nice it would be to take a proper vacation...not soon enough, not soon enough.

Back to the books!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Well, 'tis that time...

Well, 'tis that time...

I wish I had something witty and exciting to say with regard to the fact that finals and crunch time are upon us here. Isn't it funny how my performance in the next two weeks will determine my grades for the entire semester. It has been like this for the past two years, and I can't say that I have entirely gotten used to it. Cram, cram, cram as they say...

I have a huge paper to write before I can settle down and study for finals. I think the best way to be successful during finals is to have a plan, execute the plan with rigid adherence, and then settle down and wait for the grades.

Also on my mind is the fact that I will be working in a city far, far away one month from now. For those of you who don't know, which of course you don't, because I haven't told you, I am a transfer law student. At my old law school I went to law school part-time at night, and worked full-time during the day. Although my life used to be a hectic blur, I adapted to being a full-time student all too well. All too well, in that I am busy all the time, and still somehow procrastinate.

Procrastination has been a life-long challenge. But, like I said, "'tis that time..." Time to buckle down, hit the books, and get it done...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Minus the Crack, If You Please...

Minus the Crack, If You Please...

There is an epidemic rearing its ugly, er, void among female law students these days. A trend that has only been exacerbated with the passage of time, rather than being abated (as I hoped and prayed it would be).

Ladies, please -- pull up your pants! Or try them on before leaving the store to make sure
Illustration by Darcy Paterson

they fit over your rear... your ENTIRE rear.

Countless times I have found myself sitting behind a fellow female classmate, only to glance downward and
spy more than an inch of crack climbing upwards, outside of said colleague's favorite pair of super-low-rise designer jeans.

There are three methods I have noticed that my esteemed colleagues use to cover up said faux pas -- usually when a slightly cool breeze happens to hit them in said nether region, and they realize that perhaps they are flashing more than they should to those sitting behind them.

The first strategy is to nonchalantly pull the back of the t-shirt down over the rear. I have news for you ladies, those who have born witness already know what is going on under there! We know your jeans have ventured too far down -- and perhaps you are squeezing into a size too small because you plan to start going to the gym next week. Like you tell yourself every week.

The second strategy is to again, nonchalantly, slide down in the chair as though to get really comfortable in the chair. Unfortunately, this pose can't last for the entire lecture, especially if you get called on. You eventually have to straighten-up, and bam. There it is again.

Finally, there is the blasé attempt to pull up the back of said premium denim. I think some of my fellow students actually practice doing this in such a way so as to not bring attention to the problem if it hadn't already been noticed.

Ladies, gals, females, women. Please, can we try to not to fall prey to the confines of designer denim? It is just class -- we are there to sit, listen, take a few notes, and get the hell outta there. Honestly, I won't complain (and I doubt others will either) if you save your Sevens, Citizens, R&Rs, or True Religions for the club instead of the classroom. Just throw on a pair of jeans that you can actually sit in, and call it a day.

Trust me, I think the guys will thank you too.

On or Off Campus?

On or Off Campus?

I can't help but compare, repeatedly in my head, the undergraduates at this university to cockroaches. They refuse to be quiet, go inside, or be sober. It is now 2am, and the parties in the neighborhood are still going strong. I wonder if I was this annoying when I was an undergrad? Granted, I attended a similarly large public school, but I think we were decidedly more academic and entirely less inebriated.

Given the distracting state of the undergraduate population, this got me to thinking about whether law schools are better off being situated on campus. My old law school, while part of a greater university, had its own campus at least 1/2 mile from the main campus. My new law school, while encompassing its own city block, is adjacent to the main campus.

During class this week I had to present my final project on a day that just so happened to be one of the first really warm days of spring. The fraternity across the street from the law school decided to start blasting Notorious B.I.G. two minutes into my presentation, and of course the professor didn't bat an eyelash and expected me to continue seamlessly. Meanwhile, the other students in the class started bumping and grinding to the music, while I proceeded to trace Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence at the turn of the twentieth century.

Flash forward to this evening, and the undergrads keep taking shots on their front porch, while singing loudly and drunkenly to Journey. I would have thought Journey would be a bit old for current undergrads, but then again I suppose it shows how music transcends generations.

So, should law schools be situated on or off the main university? In large urban centers like Chicago, Washington, DC, Boston or New York, I suppose it doesn't really make a difference. Students there don't tend to live right on-campus anyway, and you have more that commute to school. But in more rural university towns removing the law school to far corners of the city might help students focus. Granted, I don't know how many times I had to trudge to one of the other campus libraries for a source for an article I was dealing with on the journal this year.

I think when I was at my old law school, I missed the buzz of academia in the air that being part of a greater university community brings to the mix. I missed walking across a campus, seeing the various disciplines represented, and feeling like I was part of a greater whole.

So, while my apartment is a mere five minutes walk away from the law school, I think I am going to have to throw in the towel, stop battling with the drunken undergrads, and move away from campus. Every five minutes I think about going out there in my pink polka dot pajamas and asking them to please, for the love of God, just go to sleep. Goodbye five minute walk, hello commuting and parking issues. The things we put up with for a good night's sleep.

I haven't even mentioned my downstairs neighbor who loves to wait until 3am to blast music -- just when I am hitting that good part of REM sleep (what he does until that time, I will never know). But I'll save that for another midnight post.

Isolation or drunken communion --- which is worse?

Friday, April 14, 2006


Friday, April 14th, 2006


Well, this is the start of something. I don't know what exactly, but you have to start somewhere, and this is it.

Yesterday in the last day of my seminar, as I watched the clock count down to the end, a stream of older people flooded into our tiny seminar room. The room is at the very top of the law school, in a room I affectionately call the "Crow's Nest." From the three windows on each side, you can see the wide expanse north, south, and west of the greater University, which feels strikingly academic -- as though you have reached the top of the ivory tower and have nowhere else to go but down.

When some of the faces streaming into the room started to look familiar, I realized they were all law professors. And when the dean of the law school materialized, I knew we were about to experience something few witness in their law school careers. As the influx began to subside, our professor looked to the floor, and told us, "They are here to tell you this is my last day."

He kept lecturing, but now to everyone, and not just the nine students in the class. As he finished, the entire law faculty erupted in applause. I looked around the seminar table, and stood to join the faculty in applause, and one by one we stood, until we were all standing, giving the professor a standing ovation. Our professor looked at each of us, and at the faculty he worked with for just one year shy of forty years, and tears started to well in his eyes. I started to choke up too -- I think most of us did. In that moment all of us, students and faculty, all at different stages of our legal careers, came together in appreciation for one person's life, dedicated to education and inspiring others to move forward in the legal profession.

In that moment, without any warning, we were witness to one of the grandest traditions at our law school -- on the last day of class, during the last class the professor will ever teach here, the entire law faculty sends him out with a standing ovation. I am grateful students are able to bear witness to the tradition -- to allow it to inspire us to do more, and be more.

And so with an ending, becomes a beginning. I can't promise that I will be faithful, or that my thoughts will always be poignant, entertaining, or funny. But they will, over time become a middle, and after awhile, an end. Hopefully there will be something in all of this mess others can take away and find useful. By way of banal background information, I transferred from a low East Coast Tier 1 to a top 10 law school. I am now a 2L at my new law scool, and reflecting on the decision I made to transfer.