Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Taking a 2 day break

Loyal Improvilaw readers:

Due to the looming trial level brief deadline, I will be taking a 2 day break from blogging, eating and sleeping.

Thanks for understanding,


Sunday, March 25, 2007


Two friends from back home came to visit me this weekend. While I really wanted to see them, and missed them a lot, and had a great time while they were here, I am going to be swamped the rest of the week as a result. My schedule tomorrow:

10-11:00 Criminal Procedure
11-11:30 Meet committee member to discuss org newsletter
12-1:00 Judicial Intern information session
1-4:00 Finish journal cite-checking
4-5:00 LexisNexis class
5-8:00 Work on reading for Tuesday
8-9:00 Eat dinner. Make sure S.O. still remembers me
9-10 Go through mail, pay bills, clean house
10-11:45 Watch TV, hang out with S.O.
Midnight Go to sleep and prepare to do it all again tomorrow.

Sometimes, I feel like there just aren't enough hours in a day. My schedule for Tuesday is even worse!

Here's to hoping that your week is filled with free time,


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oh yeah, I am supposed to be learning stuff here

Sometimes, I forget that the real purpose of law school is to learn to be a lawyer. It seems like a lot of what we do all day outside of classes can have little to do with academics. You go to hear various presentations, worry about finding a job, try to socialize with other students, etc, and through most of it, there isn't a lot of talk about lawyering. Or legal theory.

I chatted today with two students who would like to try and change things so that teaching and learning are more the focus of discourse at the law school. I honestly hadn't thought about "learning and teaching" in so long, that I had to just sit and listen to them for a while. My school claims to have a more "practical" approach to legal education. That's terrific. Unfortunately, only about 10% of the professors seem to teach us anything practical. The rest of the time, it's just a bunch of theories. I find some of them really interesting, but no one talks about THE LAW outside of class.

Before I started law school, my ridiculous idealism led me to believe that we would be having discussions about THE LAW in coffee shops all the time while wearing plaid skirts with tall brown boots, and possibly berets.

I don't even own a beret. Maybe that's why all those sophisticated legal discussions never occur.

Note to self: purchase beret, plaid skirt and smart looking brown boots. Tortoiseshell glasses too!

Monday, March 19, 2007

SBA - to run or not to run?

Last semester, we voted for SBA representatives after we knew people for about 2 weeks. At the time, we all thought that all SBA does is plan Bar Review. Later, when I found out that they had a lot to do with Orientation and budgets for the student organizations, I wondered why I had voted for the biggest drinkers in the school to represent us. If someone's biggest life skill is that they can play highschool drinking games better than anyone else, should they really be put in the position of representing our class?

I am not sure.

As a result of my pondering this, the fact that women are totally underrepresented on SBA and that there are NO non-traditional students in the group, I am considering running.

However, I don't feel I am that popular or that I can drink enough to pull it off. What do you think? I could care less about planning drinking and partying, but I really care about this school and what happens within it. Should I come for the policy and stay for the beer, or forget about this altogether?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Are you a feminist?

Are the days when the word "feminist" was considered repugnant over? Do we still need feminism? Why?

I was searching for online freebies (a hobby for poor law students like me) and came across the NOW website. I have only looked at it once before. Perhaps because feminism is no longer popular. I am not sure. Anyway, I was saying "hell yeah" to all lot of the t-shirts and stuff in their store, and wondering about whether I consider myself a feminist (I do) and whether anyone else still does (if they do, they aren't saying so).

Do we still need NOW? I think that some people I know do. I know some women who seem to have given up all their "power" in relationships with men. I see others for whom the glass ceiling isn't a social or institutional construct - it's of their own making.

Hopefully, some of my readers will respond and we can get some discussion going.

Voter registration time is coming!

I have worked for a voter registration organization since 2004, mostly volunteering in the late spring through mid-fall registering people to vote at music concerts all over the Midwest. I really like it, but I would also like to see the organization grow. Big. Rock the Vote is corporate sponsored and spends a ridiculous amount of money just to register one voter. The organization I worked for registers each voter for less than $3.00. (This is the lowest per registration amount among all voter registration orgs.)

I wish that I could figure out a way to work for this organization during the school year in more of a law-related capacity, but I haven't quite worked that out yet.

So readership, are you registered to vote? If so, do you actually get out there and cast your ballot? If you aren't registered, why? Comments welcome!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Property law

Why oh why do they have to use terms like "servient estate" and "dominant estate" in property law? For some reason, I can't get this terminology to stick in my head and keep having to force myself to remember which is which.

For the record: the dominant interest is the one who has a right to do something (like cross your land to get to theirs)
The servient interest is the one upon whose land the easement exists. (Like the owner of the path from your land to the road)

Fun, isn't it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NY Times Select now for free to Student and Teachers

Well, it's about time! Students and teachers (anyone with a .edu email address) can now access New York Times Select online for free. New York Times Select is the subscriber-only part of the NYT website. Previously, you had to pay $49.95 (or $7.95 a month) just to see these articles. I just couldn't afford that much. I can't imagine that there were many students who could.

To apply for a login, just use your school email address. The nerd in me is rejoicing at this, because the newspapers where I live just aren't as fabulous as the Times. Then again, what paper could be?

Prestige whoring seminar today

Remember how some people refer to trying to get into the highest US News ranked school as prestige whoring? Well, once you get into lawschool, there is a new kind of prestige whoring.

Today, I am going to an informational meeting on moot court and journal participation. As you may know, getting on law review is one of the most prestigious law school credentials. Years after you have started practicing law, you will still be asked whether you were on law review during school.

I don't think my writing is that great, but I think I will attempt to write on to law review. Usually, students receive a packet with write-on materials right after their last exam at the end of 1L. I doubt I will get it, but as my long checkered academic history tells us, you never know unless you try! Law review is a great way to improve my writing (and citation), and to get to be a little bit more intellectual than you might in regular classes. At least I think it is. We shall see.

I will post more about the meeting when I return from it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring has sprung!

When I woke up this morning, it was so beautiful outside that I wanted to skip my criminal procedure class. Not that I learn much in there anyway. When it comes to being monotone, this professor wrote the book. I am sitting here now blogging when I should be paying attention. However, he isn't saying anything that's not in the book. I should be reading the book in a park somewhere and enjoying this beautiful day.

I hear that the weather will be going steadily downhill the rest of the week, but for now, I feel great and am loving wearing sandals to school.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fun little quizzes

Even though they are time-wasters, I love taking quizzes like this:

Your Career Type: Enterprising

You are engertic, ambitious, and sociable.
Your talents lie in politics, leading people, and selling things or ideas.

You would make an excellent:

Auctioneer - Bank President - Camp Director
City Manager - Judge - Lawyer
Recreation Leader - Real Estate Agent - Sales Person
School Principal - Travel Agent - TV Newscaster

The worst career options for your are investigative careers, like mathematician or architect.

Hilarious Yale Law Review article on law school culture

This Yale Law Review article is hilarious. I can't believe they actually published it. As an extra added bonus, they mention my favorite band on page 1689.

It basically analyzes the different players in law schools. It was written a while ago, and refers to gunners by the old school term, "turkeys."


All nighter update

I finished the argument section for my trial level brief by about 2:30 am this morning. However, due to my massive caffeine consumption, I couldn't fall asleep until about 5 am. I had to get up at 7 am. I usually study in the library on Mondays until about 6 pm, but when class ended at 11, I was out of there.

I had a nice lunch, a nice nap and even get to watch the national nightly news tonight. After chugging down a glass of chocolate milk, I am now ready to take on the world. (Meaning - read my Civ Pro II cases for tomorrow)

In other news, my expressions of law school angst (both in person and blogged) seem to have hit a nerve. A few really good people have reached out, some who I didn't know read this, or who I didn't know realized this blog was me. Turns out that a really bad day at law school is pretty much universal.

Note to those people: please respect my anonymity and keep my identity to yourself. Thanks!

Some things to remember about law school

I just re-read this post by The Rising Jurist, which reminds me that I am not the only one who suffers during 1L. It's seems to be pretty much universal.

This point certainly seems spot on, considering my own angst over the past week:

Be kind. It must be all the Type A personalities clashing and competing, but law school just attracts jerks. There's no way around it. You will be surrounded by people you despise the entire time you're in school. As for them, deal with it. As for you, don't be that guy. Yes, you're a law student. Yes, you will someday be an attorney. So what? Don't act like an ass. You never know who among you will be the next federal judge or senator or hot-shot partner at the local legal dynasty. So try not to step on too many people on your way up the ladder. Exception: You may find yourself faced with some spoiled rich kid whose chosen you as the next little person she has to crush on her rise to power. Feel free to yank the silver spoon out of her mouth. Some people have to be stopped, lest they become the next judge, senator or hot-shot partner. Your call.

TRJ's advice to 1L's is pretty good, and now that I am more than halfway through it, I think its worth reading again.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

In the midst of my first law school all nighter

Let's face it. I like to think that I am pretty on top of stuff, but sometimes, I screw up. I sure did this weekend. For some reason, I thought that the argument section of my trial level brief was due on Wednesday. No biggie.

I went out for drinks on Friday with a girl who was visiting for admitted students weekend.
I went out for drinks on Saturday (and dinner) with my sister and her husband and drank a lot of wine.

This morning, I woke up at 10 am (11 am really because of daylight savings time) and had a leisurely morning of coffee drinking, hangover nursing, and internet surfing.

Got to school at about 4:20 and realized that my argument section is due tomorrow. At noon.


I had a basic idea of the issue, but arguing it is another story. I began furiously paging through our legal writing text for some info on how to write this damn thing, and found none. I then stormed over to the stacks and found some legal writing "how to" books and browsed through those for an hour or two. Then I started re-reading cases so I could develop a coherent argument. I finally started typing at around 9 pm.

It's now 12:40 am and I am still working on this damn thing. I have no idea why. The argument section is technically non-graded. It only counts toward our participation grade (10 % of the total). I seriously don't care anymore. Whether I work for another 2 hours or 7 hours, the end result of my efforts is sure to be a B.

OK, back to work. I have exactly 6 hours before I have to be awake for my Property class tomorrow.

I am seriously too old for this crap

I think that it would have been a lot easier if I had gone to law school 10 years ago. I can deal with the workload and the stress of the job hunt, but the rest of it drives me nuts. I don't think that I am a typical non-traditional student, but I still don't always fit in. I don't know about who is dating who unless I find out by accident. I don't get invited to parties very frequently. People make a whole set of assumptions about me yet I continually fight myself to not make assumptions about them.

Despite being treated like an old lady socially, I don't get any credit for having years and years of professional management experience or years of volunteer leadership experience when it comes to dealing with people on regarding classes, clubs and other stuff I do all week. They think that since they've been in law school for a year or two more than me, that I am supposed to "look up to" them somehow. That my experience outside of law school is not valuable. I don't think I act like the "traditional" non-trad. I am assertive though, and people tend to act more passive-aggressive in law school than straightforwardly assertive.

I seriously don't know what to do about any of this. I have tried listening more and talking less. I have tried just not attempting to have friends at school. I have tried to be myself. I have tried being super nice and super friendly. (That gave me a "super" headache)

Maybe I should just give up. I will go to class, and study and hang with my non-law school friends, and that will be it. No law school organizations. No attempt at friendships. Nothing.

Friday, March 9, 2007

I am "The Guardian"

Because I didn't feel like reading more cases for my brief, I took one of those personality-typing tests. Here are the results:

Your Temperament is Guardian (SJ)

Guardians are the cornerstone of society, for they are the temperament given to serving and preserving our most important social institutions. Guardians have natural talent in managing goods and services--from supervision to maintenance and supply--and they use all their skills to keep things running smoothly in their families, communities, schools, churches, hospitals, and businesses.

Guardians can have a lot of fun with their friends, but they are quite serious about their duties and responsibilities. Guardians take pride in being dependable and trustworthy; if there's a job to be done, they can be counted on to put their shoulder to the wheel. Guardians also believe in law and order, and sometimes worry that respect for authority, even a fundamental sense of right and wrong, is being lost. Perhaps this is why Guardians honor customs and traditions so strongly--they are familiar patterns that help bring stability to our modern, fast-paced world.

Practical and down-to-earth, Guardians believe in following the rules and cooperating with others. They are not very comfortable winging it or blazing new trails; working steadily within the system is the Guardian way, for in the long run loyalty, discipline, and teamwork get the job done right. Guardians are meticulous about schedules and have a sharp eye for proper procedures. They are cautious about change, even though they know that change can be healthy for an institution. Better to go slowly, they say, and look before you leap.

Guardians make up as much as 40 to 45 percent of the population.

What's interesting to me about this is that the other test I took said a very different thing.

People of this type tend to be: friendly, strong willed, and outspoken; honest, logical and demanding of selves and others; driven to demonstrate competence; creative with a global perspective; decisive, organized, and efficient.

The most important thing to ENTJs is demonstrating their competence and making important things happen.

That site said good careers for me would be:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Network integration specialist
  • Management consultant
  • Politician/political manager
  • Franchise owner
  • Corporate finance attorney
  • Personnel financial planner
  • Real estate developer
  • Marketing executive
  • Intellectual property attorney
  • Investment consultant/planner
  • Economic analyst
  • Chemical engineer
  • Educational consultant
  • Judge

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Go out and make the world a better place kids

Oh wait, you can't afford to do that. You have student loans and lots of them. This education isn't free kiddo. Yep, we lured you here with high-minded ideas about truth and justice, but we didn't want you to go out and actually help those poor people! We do an annual clothing drive for them, and the 10 sweaters law students donate is enough charity, isn't it? Those clinics happen to focus on social justice issues, but the real purpose is to prepare you to get jobs working at Wal Mart corporate HQ.

You want to work at Legal Aid now? Oh no! You can't do that. See, we made sure that you've got $100,000 in debt. Those Legal Aid people will only pay you $28,000. Do the math bleeding heart liberal - you can't pay back that monstrous debt with $28,000 per year! The joke's on you do-gooder. When we talk about public interest law, we are talking about wanting to help the underprivileged - we don't actually want you to take a job doing that! Wake up and smell the poverty 1L. It's time to sell out.

Why the heck did you take that summer job at Legal Services? They aren't paying you a dime. While your classmates are good little boys and girls and took firm jobs that pay $2,500 a week, we are going to have to give you a $2,500 grant for the whole summer so you can at least pay your rent, you pitiful slacker.

After you graduate, if you keep this up, we will try and make the world think that we give a damn with our lousy LRAP. The year after you are done with this place, we are gonna kick in $978.00 toward your student loans so that the rest of the world thinks we care about you and what you are doing. Don't be fooled we don't. After that, you are on your own. I know that we recruited you saying we wanted our students to be compassionate and go out and make the world a better place, but we didn't mean it. Now buck up and get your ass over to Dewey, Cheatem and Howe and get a real job!


Your Law School

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Tiny Bookstore Manager makes over $50,000???

While I was looking for information on professor's salaries, I found the IRS Form 990 (Statement of income, expenses, etc for a 501(c)(3) org) for the law school's tiny little bookstore.

Turns out that the manager of the bookstore only works 35 hours a week and makes $52,000 plus $10,000 in contributions to his/her retirement plan.

The bookstore is only open for 5.5 hours a day most of the year. The only time I see it as being busy is at the beginning of the semester when all of us buy our books for the semester. I have purchased stuff from the bookstore before, and was always waited on by someone who looked like a student getting work-study.

Here is a damn good question: Why isn't the manager the one working the counter if she is getting paid so much? I would like to offer to take her job for $45,000. The school would save $5K a year, and I would have a job that is likely to be more lucrative than the public interest position I intend to pursue after graduation.

Better yet, perhaps we should just buy our books from the University Bookstore, located less than a block away and eliminate the law school bookstore entirely. I might end up paying 2% more for books, but I would also be able to pay with a credit card and be able to shop from 8 am until 8 pm or so (more than 7 hours longer than I can here).

As a bonus, the school could take the $60,000 they are saving (not to mention the cost of the student help and other operations costs) and put it into the LRAP every year. This would more than triple the amount that they could give to public interest students.

What is more of a social value - law students avoiding a block-long stroll to the bookstore, or us encouraging and fostering public interest work?

Seems that this school is choosing the former.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Community Justice Week

The law school is having Community Justice Week, which started today. Basically, it is a public interest oriented week packed with various events. Today, I attended a panel discussion which featured two public interest attorneys. One of them started a public interest firm which provides low-cost legal services on a sliding-scale to people who normally could not afford an attorney. His part of the panel was really interesting. One thing that I really liked: when I asked which classes were most useful during law school, both panelists said that the clinics were the most helpful, and didn't mention a single other substantive law class. They both agreed that taking those classes with a professor who was a practicing attorney or one who actually had a current law license was the most important factor in choosing which classes to take.

Don't drink the water

Another day, another friend who is pregnant. Kudos to L. and S. ! Now, don't get me wrong, I am happy for my friends. However, all this fertility is starting to make me afraid....very afraid. I can't be havin' any little ones during law school. It seems like there is a pregnancy epidemic as of late. A quick tally:
M. and D.
H. and her hubby
N. and D.
L. and S.
J. and M.

That's 5 couples I know who all found out they were expecting in the last 2 months.

Time to take my pill!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

A new Packer fan is coming!

I found out today that my friends J. and M. are expecting. Separately, they are both really cool people, but together, there is just something magic about them. I was surprised with the news, because they are newlyweds, but thrilled at the prospect of the person that this beautiful couple could produce.

J. is hoping for a boy. Right now, the house is filled with women (his wife and her two daughters). While the ladies of the house seem to endure his insane fandom (which is about as fanatic as this guy's), I don't think they truly love the Pack the way a Wisconsinites(and J.) does. I think that he intends to raise this hypothetical man-child to be a quarterback and lead the team to gridiron victory just like his beloved Brett Favre.

Anyway, Improvilaw is going to be an aunt again. Ah, another child to spoil!

A blast from the past

Someone asked me why I have such a strong interest in social justice issues, and I remembered my high school music teacher. I remember him having a huge influence on all of us "band kids." He made being involved in the music program cool. At other schools, I have heard that the kids in band are called "geeks" or made fun of. Not my high school. We explored all kinds of music, from blues to country. We played Janet Jackson songs in the marching band. We played Led Zepplin in the jazz band. He encouraged us to explore music, and to learn about not just what was played on the local top 40 station, but to open our minds to other genres. I loved this. As a result of meeting Mr. S, I am a huge music fan, and have seen musicians of all types perform.

Mr. S also was very fair. He made sure that everyone could participate in the music program. He found a way to get all of us instruments, even if our parents couldn't afford it. We raised money by selling candy bars. That taught us how to work for what we wanted. He also made sure that we respected each other, not only for our similarities, but also for our differences. You weren't allowed to be mean or rude, or cruel to other students during music classes. Those who were had to stand up and justify their actions. No one wanted to be pointed out in class, so we just learned to get along and appreciate each other.

I did an internet search today and found out that his wife died in 1996. That he seems to have stopped teaching sometime in the 1990's. He was music director at the Unitarian Universalist church for 30 years. I discovered that he formed a choral group in 2003. A few minutes ago, I found an address listing for him. I think I am going to write him a letter. It's important to express gratitude to those who were a positive influence on your life.

I am kind of nervous to do it though. However, I think he would be excited to hear about how his fostering of my musical interests have taken me all over the U.S. and to a few other countries. I think he would like to know that I am in law school. (He used to tease me and say that I should be a lawyer, not a chemist, and that's what I ended up doing!)

Results of this correspondence will be posted soon.

If you read this, go ahead and do the same thing - let someone who influenced you know how they did, and the effect on you.