February 28, 2004

Not a Great Legal Writer

A comment on page 12 of my brief (ahhh... Saturday night brief re-write, this is why I love law school):

Work on organizations [sic], your paragraphs read like stream of consciousness.

It's going to be a long night.

Friday Night Fun

Last night, I got a leaking filling replaced at 6 PM. Not exactly a great way to spend the night off. But, my new dentist is cool and will see me at 6 PM on a Friday, so I went. The receptionist is an amazing linguist who wheels and deals in Mandarin, Spanish, and English. The dentist is into high tech gadgets and numbing with a lidocaine swab before giving the novocaine injection (what a brilliant idea, why hasn't any other dentist done this for me?). When I wanted to tune out from the dental work I listened to the medley of Mandarin, Spanish, and English. He even showed me his progress along the way, including the cavity that had formed under the filling (tooth decay is black! I thought it was just those cartoons from childhood that portrayed it as black evil germs). Overall, not a bad experience, which is all you can ask for from the dentist.

My instructions were not to chew on that side of my mouth for 24 hours.

So, E and I had a few glasses of wine and threw ingredients from the pantry and fridge into a pot to make a non-chewable soup. Fortune was on the side of cooking by instinct, yet again. I'm making this the next time we have company over, as it was AMAZING. Sure, if I was planning it, I'd make it from scratch, but now that I know how well it turned out from the can, I'll save the effort.

1 can tomato soup
1 cup water
1/2 pint half-and-half cream
8 oz. tomato paste
2 tsp. lemon juice
seasonings to taste (we tossed in a bit of black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, "italian seasoning", dried minced onions, and garlic powder)

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pot and cook on low heat, stirring and smashing the tomato paste against the side of the pan until the color is even. Allow to simmer until it reaches the thickness you desire. Remove from heat, stir and serve warm (seems like it would work cold as well, although it might need different less spicy seasonings for it to be good chilled).

February 26, 2004

Exhausted Random Bits

I'm the same character as DG. Note, that I am always "insluting" others. [sigh] my work is never done.

What lesser-known Simpsons character are you?

Brought to you by the good folks at sacwriters.com


Best line I've heard all week?

But, we're not non-partisan. We aren't, like, "you should vote." We're like, "you should vote, cause you're getting fucked."

From the founder of Music For America.


Other than that, I'm plugging away on reading and my brief with my sights firmly planted on the post-final-brief weekend of debauchery. The first week of spending one night near school went smoothly, the cheap motel was functional and didn't smell or give me bug bites. Unfortunately, it only allowed me to finish the required reading for the week such that I could be on top of things. I was hoping for some head above water time. Perhaps next week. Or the week following....

February 24, 2004

Oh What a Difference an Instructor Makes

It's no secret that I hated LWR. I'm also not a huge fan of moot court, but my negative feelings are much lesser towards it than to LWR. For the most part, my lower level of vitriol can be attributed to my instructor.

He's a practicing litigator who used to be a DA. He's logical and provides constructive, easy to follow, and individualized feedback. He comes to campus to meet with us instead of expecting us to go to his office to meet with him. He teaches all of the classes instead of telling the TA to lecture. He actually reads our work before the final grading pass.

I met with him today to go over my brief. For 30 minutes he discussed ways that I could make my paper better. I found myself nodding. Everything he was saying made sense. I felt as if he was imparting years of knowledge and experience to me. I was grateful. I was almost excited to get started on the next draft of my brief. Almost.

Compare that with last semester, where I sat through lectures about keeping each paragraph to 3 sentences and IRAC-ing each element of the IRAC (I'm not kidding, last semester I had to struggle to find a way to include a rule, analysis and conclusion in the Issue "section" of my memo.)

In other words, yeah, the professional skills courses for 1Ls at my school leave quite a bit to be desired. Sure, they are their own separate department with an even worse bureacracy than the general administration. Yes, they actually have a lower level of technical expertise than the general administration (which I thought was impossible). And yes, each syllabus (syllabii? syllabuses?) includes way too much work for the two unit course it supports. But, access to a good practitioner who's willing to impart his knowledge and experience is a wonderful thing. This semester, I think the net effect of the professional skills course will be positive.

On a more superficial note, I'm happy that the brief is due earlier in the semester instead of later despite what it's been doing to my life. Two more weeks of hell. Focus. Eyes on the prize.

Ahh... spring break, I can hear you calling to me now. Sunshine. Alcohol. Sand. Sleep. Ocean.

February 22, 2004

Joining the Popular Kids


You were designed to make sure that attorneys in
federal cases make reasonable inquiries into
fact or law before submitting pleadings,
motions, or other papers. You were a real
hardass in 1983, when you snuffed out all legal
creativity from federal proceedings and
embarassed well-meaning but overzealous
attorneys. You loosened up a bit in 1993, when
you began allowing plaintiffs to make
allegations in their complaints that are likely
to have evidenciary support after discovery,
and when you allowed a 21 day period for the
erring attorney to withdraw the errant motion.
Sure, you keep everything running on the up and
up, but it's clear that things would be a lot
more fun without you around.

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Link thanks to Beanie, JCA, and Miscellaureous among others.

The rule fits. Back in the dot-com days, I once had a business card with the job title, "The Enforcer." Today, I made the obligatory appearance at a female friend's place so that when her ex-husband-to-be showed up to do their joint taxes, he'd know to make it snappy and leave without any trouble. My work is never done...
Possible Good News

The AP and Yahoo News report that the FCC issued a report recommending that Congress allow more low-powered local FM radio licenses.

This would be a Very Good Thing for music, although bad for ClearChannel and the RIAA. (Let's all cry together now). Let us hope that their lobbyists don't get their grubby little hands into Congress before they can adopt the report's findings.

February 21, 2004

Throwing It Together

Last night, the impromptu recipe turned out quite well. E suggested brussel sprouts, drooling over memories of the southern-style where each bud is wrapped in bacon. Although pork chops aren't bacon, they are close and the drippings do much of the same job. So, try this recipe if you're hankering for chops. It's easy, and for all of the millions of Atkins wackos out there (like half of my school, men and women.) it's Atkins-friendly, although not on purpose. (We're just carnivores.)


6 Brussel Sprouts per person
1 pork chop per person
1 shallot per person
olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F.
2. Wash brussel sprouts, remove outer leaves, and cut off stems to leave a flat face.
3. Arrange brussel sprouts in a baking pan or casserole dish, flat face down. Drizzle with olive oil.
4. Place pork chops over brussel sprouts, covering as many as possible.
5. Dust pork chops and exposed sprouts with salt, pepper and herbs according to your taste (black pepper, garlic salt, oregano, thyme, and dried basil worked well).
6. Slice shallots as thinly as possible (think garlic from Goodfellas) and sprinkle over pork chops and brussel sprouts.
7. Drizzle pork chops and exposed brussel sprouts with olive oil.
8. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
9. Turn pork chops, re-season with salt, pepper and herbs and drizzle with more olive oil or add a pat of butter to the top of each.
10. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until done. (depends on the size of the porkchops)
Ponder This

R sent an email with the following quote, saying, "I dare you to try to make sense of this."

From the NYTimes article about the "likability" of John Edwards:

"People might start to see him as a touch too polished and smooth," said Andrew Kohut, the director of the Pew Research Center. "His larger problem is his lack of experience and his youthfulness, which is both an asset and a problem when people are looking for the steady hand of experience."

Wow. And I thought I liked him for his je ne sais quoi.
You Must Be Kidding

I'm so frustrated with everything. I was speeding through life at a million miles a minute to finish everything on my list this past week. Despite being very proud of myself for getting the majority of it done...

I forgot one, small thing -- a very necessary form for financial aid was due this week. I received a grant from the school for this year and it made the finances of being in school much more doable. Now, because of my failure to get the form in on time, it is very likely that I'm too far back in the line to get the grant next year. Add the increase in tuition and you've got one annoyed BT.

I was so focused on working out to stay sane, my classes, reading, and moot court brief. You know, all the stuff that's supposed to be important. But, in reality, I should have had just a bit more attention for administrative tasks, seeing as how my mistake probably cost me about $10,000. The form took 30 seconds to fill out. In other words, the mistake was worthy of an hourly rate of about $1.2M. You'd think I'd make sure that was pretty high on the to-do list...

In other news, no doctors have called with urgent requests for appointments so I guess that means my head check came back relatively normal. I haven't lost all perspective. I AM very glad for that.

Oh, and in a surprise to both E, who's a southerner, and myself, who's a 5th generation Californian, I'm 75% dixie. E's only 65%. Go figure.

Off to put some miles on my running shoes before buckling down for a day of moot court and reading...

February 19, 2004

Clinical Trial

Sunday to Thursday... that's quite a break for me. Well, we can all blame the ridiculous balancing act of this week. One of the things I managed to fit in was an MRI to get my head checked. [BTW. It's Official. I'm crazy]

Check-in included a 3-page form inviting me to partipate in an unpaid clinical trial.

"Sure," I thought. "It's only 15 minutes of extra time in the chamber. I'll donate my body and time for science."

The form's last page required a signature. It listed a patient's bill of rights, how you could remove yourself from the trial after accepting, and finally, that by signing, you certified that you had discussed the trial with a clinical trial supervisor, who had explained the risks to you.

I gave the form back to the front desk and said, "I'm happy to sign the form after I talk to the clinical trial supervisor."

A few minutes later, the nurse who took me to the pre-scan area said, "I hear you wanted to talk about the form?"

"Yes," I replied "I'm-"

"This form is silly," he cut me off. "We're not putting you in any trial. We just give them to all of the patients because we're kind of doing a trial to see who would sign the form."

"Oh, I guess there weren't too many risks to explain then..."

February 15, 2004


Too many hours in front of the law books, and this new word stumped me. It shouldn't have.


Main Entry: con·niv·ance
Pronunciation: k&-'nI-v&n(t)s
Function: noun
: the act of conniving; especially : knowledge of and active or passive consent to wrongdoing
The Storm Has Passed

I forced myself to take a nap yesterday afternoon. I read my pleasure book. I was lazy.

For the evening's celebration, E and I tried a new Italian restaurant for dinner and then we went to the symphony. I let the strings wash over me. I am always amazed at the power of beautiful music to rip me from my own thoughts and force me to just listen and feel. After 2 hours of bliss, when I returned to my previously racing head, things were ordered, more calm, and much more reasonable.

We ended the evening as a couple should: enjoying each others' bodies, company, and, of course, the "I choo-choo-choose you" episode of the Simpsons.

I slept a delightfully undistiburbed and restful 9 hours.

And now, I can get cheerily back to work on my reading and moot court brief.

February 14, 2004

Ahhh... Freakout (duh-da-duh-da-duh)

I think I've been building up to my first official law school freak out for the last few days. I'm feeling VERY overwhelmed and incapable of getting ahead. How frustrating it is to be so typically a law student.

This morning I woke with acid reflux and a speedy pulse at 7 AM after going to bed at 2 AM. I couldn't sleep (the acid reflux was the main reason and I can blame the late night zinfandel, but anxiety didn't help). I finished my FAFSA, taxes, and a few other things, went for a 3 mile run and started to make a list of everything I need to accomplish on this long weekend.

I thought that crossing the stuff off my list would help. But, it didn't really. I can see where I'd like to get out of the water, but I'm swimming upstream and the beach is obstinately staying put and drifting further away depending on how much strength I can muster that day.

Friday, I realized that 2/3 of the grades on my transcript for this year come at the end of this semester. I think that may have been the final straw on top of much more school work than last semester, worrying about money, pretending not to worry about my health (MRI results should clear that one out of the picture by the middle of next week), trying to maintain a workout schedule, planning on staying near school one night a week, aranging my summer job and research project, extra-curricular club fundraisers, acting as a mock witness for the local bar's deposition training (which was an awesome experience), and trying to maintain some semblance of a relationship with E, friends, and family.

I hope that my inability to sleep this morning was the apex of my ridiculousness. But I fear that I may not be. I know worrying doesn't help, who doesn't? But, biology is a rough mistress. Too much adrenaline is not a good thing. I know I need to keep things in perspective. But, honestly kids, sometimes it's a little hard.

Here's to hoping that a romantic night with E and a day of no law will set me straight.

Taxes and FAFSA are done! Huge weight off my shoulders.

And, I get money back.

Being a student rocks ('til you have to go work on your moot court brief...)

February 12, 2004

Tales from 2Ls on the Job Search


A ran into a 2L friend-of-a-friend on the street yesterday. She was in a suit. "You look nice, did you have an interview today?" I asked. "No, I'm externing for a judge this semester," she replied. We talked about her experience with the judge and whether she thought it was worth it.

Then I asked, "So, you're not interviewing for spring OCI, I assume that means you already have a job lined up?" I expected her to quickly answer yes. She's got a great technical undergraduate degree, work experience, and I her grades are quite good.

"No, I did fall OCI, I got a few callbacks and interviewed quite a bit on-site, but none of it worked out. The economy is just really bad right now. I want to work for a big firm and it's really competitive. If I had to do it all over again, I'd send letters to the firms that didn't select me for OCI. Now, it's hard because most of them have filled all of their open positions. In years past at least a third of the OCI participants have gotten positions, this year, it's closer to 25% or maybe even 10%."

She seemed to believe that next year it would be much easier for her with her externship under her belt. This summer, she may just continue her work with the judge. I wished her well and walked away, my head spinning.

Oh, wow. I started to stress out even more at that news. Clearly, I can't give up any of the resume fodder or schoolwork. I had no idea that the market was so much worse these days. Sure, I've been getting my share of the we-don't-want-no-stinkin'-one-L-letters, but I've also received a few that say, send us your resume, writing samples, and we'll call you.


A friend of mine from undergrad is also a 2L. H and I went out to dinner with him last night. He's more of the chill, occasional pot-smoker type, who you don't see much of in law school. I asked about his summer plans.

"Oh, you know, I gave myself an hour, went to the career center and selected every firm in the city that didn't require a cover letter. I sent out my resumes and writing samples, and did a few OCI interviews as a result of that in the fall. You know, mainly small firms, but whatever, I wasn't about to do cover letters, I'm too busy." (He is.)

"One of them called me back after OCI and offered me the job. I know for a fact that one of my classmates got the offer before me and turned it down. A few other people probably did as well. But, I don't really care. They seem like a cool firm, I was myself during the interviews and I laughed with the associates and partners, so I'm happy. So, yeah, that's what I'll be doing this summer. At least it's a decent-paying position, last semester I made $12 an hour, which was less than I'd made since high school. Ridiculous."

He also warned that OCI rules your life for a few weeks in the fall, regardless of how chill your approach is.

Somewhere in the middle of quality of life issues (#2) and focus on school and all of the herd-mentality resume fodder that I'll be needing (#1) is the rationale for while I'll be spending one night a week near school in the near future. I'm not quite as chill as #2, but I don't know if I'm as driven as #1, either. I couldn't define my search entirely on a low barrier to entry (I am not that cool), but if I hadn't gotten a job with one of my ideal firms by the end of fall OCI, I think I'd be persuing any other option available to me.

February 11, 2004

Something's gotta give

My workout schedule has been a comfortable 4-5 a week since I got back from vacation.

I have early morning class 5 days a week.

I have to commute in rush hour traffic 5 days a week in the morning.

I have an active social life.

I have a good relationship with E.

I sleep enough.

I eat good food, often cooking for myself and E.

I do all the reading and work on my brief for moot court as much as possible.

I attend extra-curricular activities.

I'm VERY close to being stretched way too thin. And I don't want to give up any of these things.

Last semester, I gave up my workouts towards the end. That sucked. This semester, I'm seriously considering staying one night a week in a hotel near school to kill the commute and give myself one night of optional socializing without the commute after it, serious studying, or whatever else I need. In other words, I'm considering giving up money, or rather taking on more debt, in order to keep my currect quality of life. It's only money, right?

February 9, 2004


I heard through the grape vine that I am a prominent square on the gunner bingo cards in our section.

[laugh] Well... I suppose I should be thankful that I get my own square and am not regulated to the "any one of the 5 chrissy/christy/chris persons" square.

Go big or go home.


I've got to stop raising my hand and opening my mouth. Clearly, it's getting me nowhere. Other than onto bingo cards, that is.

February 8, 2004

Learned Stuff

Lychee, fruit or nut? Leechee? Litchi?

It was on the tasting notes at one of the wineries we visited yesterday (ahhh... living in California does have it's advantages). We'd all heard of it, but none of us were exactly sure how to pronounce it, or what it was.

Turns out, all pronunciations are correct. It's a fruit, but when dried, it resembles a nut. To add to the confusion, both the fruit and the dried fruit are often called "litchi nuts."

Interestingly, an Irish person in the group used the term Lychee to describe star fruit.

February 6, 2004

The way it actually is...

L had to meet with the dean over his first semester grades. His goal is to have as much fun as possible in school and to graduate. It's wonderfully refreshing.

Yesterday, he got off of his cell phone during lunch and smiled, saying...

I know you all study more than me and do your reading and get better grades, but...
I just got a paying job for the summer. {Cue Endzone Dancing}

Apparently, he met the lawyer who hired him on public transit. They went for a beer. The guy called him in for an informal interview asked him about what he'd done and decided to hire him without ever seeing his resume or grades. When L asked, "do you need my resume?" The lawyer replied, "What for? You already told me what you've done and I know I want to hire you."

And that, my friends, makes me very happy.

This is the second Friday in a row where the morning has been punishment. Typically, I don't relish the waking but I don't detest it like E, either.

But Friday mornings after Thursday law school events involving too much alcohol--Why do they give us Friday classes at all? Or why do they insist on law school events being a Thursday night thing? What's wrong with Friday? I don't like this Thursday-is-the-new-Friday thing. Because it's not. I have to get up and go to class early on Fridays.

Next year, I will do everything in my power to choose my classes so that I get a 3 day weekend.

February 4, 2004

SCO's Harvard Visit

Eric Jonas took some docs and Knoppix CDs (linux on a cd that you can boot without installing, i.e. try it out without blowing away your current configuration) to the talk. His well-written summary is here.
Engineers in Law School

Someone started a thread over at the PR Boards about how engineers do in law school. That's a good question, and I've had many thoughts about it but haven't tried to put them all into one post. So here's a few things I've noticed:

In my experience, at saturation points, the workload is the same amount of time and brain drainage. You just can't do more than you can do at your max. Engineering school took my max at points and law school takes my max at points. Sure they're different kinds of thinking (one thing I wish was more true about law school is that there's not enough walk-around-and-think type work), but both can give you messed up dreams and leave you incapable of finding basic english words.

In my experience, the period of performance saturation is longer in law school. In engineering, I'd put in a few difficult weeks for one or two projects a semester and then have a rough week before each final. In law school, it's like having projects every week and then finals prep starts 6 weeks before the exam. I think it's a very personal decision though. I suspect it's possible to get by on much less work and be an average student in law school than it is to be an average student in engineering school. But most people in law school are interested in what they are learning and don't want to get by with less, so the point is moot. On the other hand, I think the amount of work to distinguish yourself in Engineering and Law School are roughly the same: all you can handle, all the time.

How engineers perform in law school, I imagine, on average, is fairly well, but I haven't taken a poll. Seems like the engineers who wouldn't do well in law school wouldn't be interested in going. One of my ex-techie friends had some problems in LWR with the writing requirement, but he got it all sorted before grade-time came around.

The hardest thing is that there's no satisfying list of answers to check against. There's no bright line test to know that it's okay if you go to bed because the work really is done, and you got it right. Often, I have this nagging feeling that I haven't completely understood everything because it just doesn't seem elegant enough to be the "actual" solution. Getting over the engineer's desire for an answer is probably the hardest part of being in law school. Other than that, as long as you aren't too quick to wield Occam's Razor, your background should be good for you.

Also, the social activity and club aspect of law school is time consuming and not very optional. That was shocking to me after the loner culture of an engineering program. Organized social activities take more time than you'd imagine, but you learn quite a bit from the legally-oriented ones and you make plenty of friends at all of 'em. Sure, you can opt out, but a complete lack of involvement would be difficult to pull off when there's constantly one-hour seminars with food and drinks between class, parties to go to and cool lectures to attend.

That's what I can come up with off the top of my head...
In my Day...

Looks like we're entering another space race. Only this time around, I'm alive to appreciate it! The geek in me is SO excited.

February 3, 2004

There's always a filter

I've decided who to interview and hire for technical jobs in Silicon Valley during and after the boom. Too many resumes. Not enough time. Some of the people exaggerate their credentials. Others don't market their skills effectively. What did I do? I trusted people's personal recommendations and threw the rest of the resumes away. I very seriously doubt that I ever got the best person for the job. But it always worked out just fine--interviews would usually catch the psychos and the incompetents, the rest were usually hired. And I wouldn't have been able to do my job if I took the time to figure out who the best person for the job was out of all those resumes. So, I used the filter of people and related job experience.

In law, the filter we hear about all the time is the rank of your school or the rank of your grades within your school. As I said before, I found law school grading to be somewhat arbitrary thus far. But, it's no more arbitrary than your best friend's little sister dating the dog-walker of my cousin's dog. If you are good at networking, you will probably find a better job and eventually, have a more successful technical career in the valley. This seems unfair given the meritocracy that most engineering worlds pretend to be and the fact that networking isn't necessarily linked to the skills you'll be using in your career (the inverse relationship between technical genius and standard socialization being a TRUTH, in my book).

In law school, if you get good grades and/or go to a school with a higher ranking, it is likely that you will get a more prestigious job. This seems unfair if you acknowledge the minute differences in the intelligence, capability, and drive of students from different schools and with GPAs that vary by quite a bit.

But guess what kids--life isn't fair. It's what you make of it and how you handle the unfairness that matters. If you value career opportunities, it is worth quite a bit to work your A** off in order to obtain the ranking and grades that will keep the doors open (see JCA's Post for a more cogent discussion of this point). If you value time, money, relaxation, early retirement, family, or any other number of other things over career opportunities, it may not be worth the effort to buy into the Gospel According to the Law Community.

Me? I love the doors of opportunity. I work hard. I'd love to have the grades and/or ranking to show for it. But I have a fuzzy line that I won't cross. The grades and ranking I don't have may or may not be an indication of my commitment to stay behind that line. That line is drawn by my sanity, E, a reasonably fit body, my family, friends, and a bunch of other things I've decided really matter. So, unless things change drastically, I'll never know just how "great" I could have been in this one area because I'd have to do it at the expense of things I'd never forgive myself for losing.

I've already put myself in the hospital for working too many hours without sleep, exercise, good food, or a social life. I don't want to do it again. What's the point in having doors of opportunity open in the future if you aren't taking the time to go down any of the hallways that are available right now? I don't mean this to say that people who do have the doors of opportunity open to them don't chose to enjoy life at the present moment. Perhaps they are gifted, talented, driven or just plain lucky. I only mean that it saddens me to see how many of my fellow students don't take the time to enjoy the great things about life that they do have because they are too busy wishing for, working for, or wallowing about the lost opportunities due to pedigree. A perfect example of balancing future doors for current opportunities is described in the ever-clever Scheherazade's post about why she {gasp} quit law review.

I understand the grumpiness that comes with a loss of opportunity despite hard work and feeling like you deserve it. But, I also know that the best turns my career took before law school were completely serendipitous. Luck. Being prepared was the pre-requisite, but being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right dog-walker were the final straws. And that's not fair to everyone else who worked to be prepared but weren't in the right place at the right time or didn't know the dog-walker. I suspect that my future career will follow a similar brownian path. And I doubt that the rank of my school or the grades that I get will greatly affect it. I hope I'm right.

Off to go read cases (no sense closing the doors I can keep open while staying behind my line...)
Right On!

Heard in line at the school food counter:

Female1: Oh, I hate this sweater, it's so bulky and uncomfortable.

Female2: {laugh} Did you get it at urban?

Female1: Yes.

Female2: Yeah, that turtle neck is really big. Do you have hickies?

Female1: No. {laugh} (embarassed, high pitched voice) I mean... yes...