October 2004 Archives

The result of research

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So I'm typing up my walkthrough for class and I'm was looking at some ATF regulations. I seem to recall that they added "Explosives" onto their name recently, so I took a look online to make sure.

During my 3 second search, I came upon this. Am I the only one who has some questions about this page?

Frat-boy Machismo

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So this movie graphically demonstrates Bush's frat-boy macho personality defects better than I ever could display with words. Courtesy Pnut.

Catblogging

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As my friend Stella kindly pointed out, there's a new trend on the blogosphere: catblogging.

Without further ado, here's my first entry:

(click for a larger image)

Wish List

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Historically, every year my mother asks me for a list of gifts for Christmas. I'm bad at coming up with things because I don't really want much. I'm not someone who really thinks of gifts as that important. Without going into the wishy-washy aspects of that opinion, I'm just more into spending quality time with people rather than getting stuff. Besides, generally if I want something I either buy it or just go without and just forget it (at least until the price goes down).

This year, though, I've taken some steps, not only to have a list for mom, but for anyone around the world (not that I think anyone other than a relative would want to give me anything).

So, if you suddenly feel the need to be particularly generous, head on over here and have a ball shopping for me.

Note: sometime today I'll be posting this link on my sidebar, too. Not too high, though.

Interesting

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Here's something to think about: I don't remember much of Monday or of Tuesday before the exam. I hope that nothing really important happened during that time.

One last test bit:

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Favorite professor quote from the exam instructions: I don't want your names on it because I don't want to know who you are. I don't want to see your faces while I'm marking everything off.

I will survive!

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Well, I have now survived my first law school exam. Or if not survived, I'm at least tenously hanging off a cliff by my fingernails, waiting to see how my score comes out (insert gratuitous Shawshank reference here).

I feel ok. I'm at least certain that I passed the test, and I suspect I did better than that. For the curious, the test was on contract formation (offer, acceptance, consideration, promissory estoppel, promissory restitution and restitution). I came out of the gate pretty strong, reading the fact pattern carefully before I started writing, and once I did, the time just flew by, as fast as my fingers. For those not familiar, there's little that's more exciting than having to attempt to use (not even just recite back) everything you've learned in two months in an extremely dense subject in a total of 50 minutes. Crazyness.

Ever see that movie, Panic Room? There was a live performance in the UW College of Law room 142 at 2:50 pm local time.

We'll see how it goes, but right now I'm looking forward to doing my Torts reading and nursing a couple pints with some Bach in the background for the remainder of the evening.

Incidentally, Correction: I've recently uncovered my ding-a-ling-ness. As it turns out, there were 9 A- grades in my torts paper, plus 3 A grades. I still did ok, but I didn't do as ok as I thought. I suppose you could call me a flip-flopper because I won't delusionally cling to my preconceptions. Hmmm...

Blue Fairy?

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Ah, seven days in the law school library, studying. Today I feel like a real law student. Not like a little wooden law student with a big nose.

Insulated

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So this post will be sort of half, "Cool!" and half, "Bummer." The first part, that directly relates to the second, is that I got my two papers back yesterday.

A word of explanation for those who will be critical of one of my grades in particular (read: My Mom): There really isn't much in the way of grade inflation in law school. I know that this is difficult to comprehend in today's educational system, but in law school, getting a C is considered just fine.

That being said, I got a C on my rough draft of my closed memo. I'm ok with this. Sounds like that's comparitavely pretty good as far as the class as a whole comes in. I've got a lot of room for improvement, obviously, but I will be doing a lot of editing and work on the memo before turning in the final draft. The comments pretty much make sense, and I'll get some more direction if I don't understand anything. I'll probably go in anyway and make sure that there's nothing on my paper that I need to improve that wasn't written down. For the record, one person only got an A on this draft. BTW, the teacher I have has the reputation as being the ultimate legal writing drill sargeant, tougher than anyone else. See here.

The other paper we got back was our torts paper, and I was expecting, at best, a B. As it turns out, I got an A-, the second-highest grade in the class and one of 2 people in the A range. This is phenomenal and I love it. Interestingly, I've never been so happy to get an A on anything in my life.

Which brings me to my second point. For some reason, I regularly feel like things are going so great for me and not for everyone around me. I have my problems, too. I need to improve my writing paper, I have a lot of work to do, my wrist still gives me problems, albeit a bit less, and my relationship, well, that's my relationship.

But for some reason I feel regularly that people around me, my friends, primarily, though at times my family, are going through a lot worse things and I can't help but feel bad about that. I think it might be a mild form of survivor guilt, but I susually wonder why things are going so great for me and not for others. It's not because I'm inherently more motivated than those around me, because I'm really quite a slacker. It's not that I'm smarter than them, because while I do tend to think I'm smarter than the general population, so are my friends (or, more often, smarter than me), so that evens out. I don't think I'm luckier than my friends because I don't believe in luck. Likewise for religion, and I'm an atheist anyway so if there is a god, I doubt s/he would reward me for that.

I suppose when it comes down to it, what I will do is all I can do. I will continue to do my best to be successful and take opportunities where they come while being supportive of those around me who are going through rough times. I just wish that there was something else I can do, but in the end that will have to be enough

Carpal Tunnel Report

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Well, the wrist splint seems to be working in that my hand doesn't hurt so much. The downside, hopefully for today only, is that I overdid it at the gym a little. My arms, specifically the backs (or triceps, for those of us that care about such things) of them are hurting. Bad. Probably worse than they ever have. It doesn't hurt until I get to a particular place in my range of motion, so I'm sure I didn't pull anything, I just wore them out to some extent. It'll likely take a few days to straighten them out.

On the upside, Friday night I got to go see The Kinsey Sicks live, in Laramie, and for free. All are rare, so all together is really, extremely rare.

It was a great show, particularly since my friend Travis got pulled up for a drag queen lap dance. Never fear, pictures do exist, and I'll make my best effort to get them on this site. You know, just in case Travis ever decides to run for public office. We bet each other a dollar to see who would get to the federal bench first (if either), and I think someone's just been drop-kicked out of the running. Unless the social stranglehold of the religious right is relieved in the future. Either way, I win! (Frankly, I'd rather pay the damn dollar.)

I've been somewhat remiss in updating my sidebar with the links to some of the blogs I read regularly, as well as other potentially nifty sites. I'll try to keep it down to a manageable level.

Jon Stewart, one of my favorite people to watch and host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, apparently appeared on CNN's Crossfire recently. Mr. Stewart ripped the show, as they say, a new one. One of my favorite exchanges:

Tucker Carlson: You're not as funny as you are on your own show.
Jon Stewart: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

Here's another (Making the point that the show is political theatrics):

STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?
CARLSON: Thirty-five.
STEWART: And you wear a bow tie.

It's definitely worth watching, though the film is over 13 minutes long, and will take a while to download without a fast connection. Trust me. Check it out.

Speaking of checking out, Google has a great little desktop search engine in beta. It doesn't search all files on your computer, only useful ones, which is perfect for finding that Word file you can kinda remember or that email that you remember you got at some point. You can download it here. I highly recommend it!

Now, back to studying. I get two papers back Tuesday. It ain't gonna be pretty.

Interview

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I did an interview months ago about internet safety and domestic violence for the local NPR Station. I didn't think that they'd actually air it, because they hadn't yet. I actually forgot about it. Until I started getting complements right before class yesterday. Apparently they did air it. You can listen here.

Whoo!

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Do you like my title? I quoted the most politically and militarily powerful person in the entire world, the leader of the free world, the President of the United States. From the debate last night.

That's not why I'm writing, though, today it's the close call my blog had. Travis alerted me to the fact that the comment feature was working (since he's pretty much the only one who uses it...*ahem*), and it turns out that the problem was also preventing access to my login to the blog mechanics. Clearly it got fixed after an online chat with Yudi, but I was a bit worried for a bit. My data was safe, but how useless is that without being able to get to it? I was afraid for a bit that I'd have to upgrade movable type, but I don't want to do that because they only allow one user on their newest version, and since I have an occasional guest blogger, I'm afraid that wouldn't work out. Pain.

Anyway, everything's working now, so feel free to comment. At all. Some.

Finally, some exercise

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I finally made it to the gym today. It's been about a month an a half since the last time I could exercise. I don't know if I'm getting better at preparing for my classes, but I think now I can squeeze in an hour a day and be fine. In fact, I suspect that I will have to for my own sanity. I've pretty much been frozen at my weight as it was at the beginning of my little hiatus from the outside world. Not gaining weight is good, but I would like to continue with my progress. Time to do that.

On a related note, one of the strangest yet coolest things happened to me today. I'm on the exercise bikes, and in front of me is this mat area. I see this old guy (and I'm not just being general, he was pretty old - I think maybe upwards of 70 or so) start walking through the gym and it kind of looks like he's just going to go through it and out the other side. He's wearing a button-down shirt, khaki's, black dress shoes and suspenders of all things.

Well, this guy nears the mat and flings himself onto it in a well-executed summersault. Then he does a couple more rolls and stands on his head. Perfectly. He then does some bend-at-the-waist leg lift-type exercises. I'm sitting on my piddly little bike that doesn't move thinking, "this is great! I hope I can do that when I get to be that old." Then I remembered I can't do that now. Except for the flinging. I think I could do that part rather well.

Anyway, he did a couple exercises with a medicine ball and wandered off into the forest of overpriced equipment.

Pretty cool.

From the doctor

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So I went to Student Health yesterday because my right hand has been bothering me. I was unfortunately correct in my initial assessment that I have developed some repetative stress disorder, consisting at the moment of an inflammation in my wrist.

I walked out of there with a wrist splint to wear at night and a directive to take as much ibuprofen as I need to get the inflammation down. That's going to run me into some cash, considering how much I'll end up taking. I'm thinking about adding a paypal donation button on my site for my uber-rich family and friends.

With any luck, Doc says it will be temporary, and a few months of getting used to the change will help. We'll see, but I sure hope so.

First Closed Memo

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So I turned in my first closed memo yesterday. When I was doing the final printout of my paper a couple other students mentioned that Prof told them that there may be a couple students who could complete the paper in under the 10-page maximum, but that in general, if it wasn't at the limit, we were missing something.

My paper is 8-3/4 pages.

I started to stress a little, but then I decided to just trust myself. I could scramble to find some fluff to put in, but Prof is much smarter than I am and would measure content, not length, I'm sure. I spent a lot of time on the paper and did my best, so there was nothing in the last hour or two that I was going to be able to do beyond what I'd already done.

My conclusion: let it lie. I turned it in. Then I talked to another student who was at about a page less than I. Made me feel a bit better.

Is Hoover back and running our country?

And US-Style media is affecting the rest of the world - again. Note to US readers: in Britain, being made redundant is being laid off.

Did we get our dose of foreign media today, boys and girls?

...

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More tidbits

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Along with my criticism, there's an idea circulating the web that when Bush said "Dred Scott," he actually meant "Roe v. Wade." I have to admit, it did seem far-fetched, but there's an interesting case for the idea here.

On another note, this is pretty darn funny. At least somebody's apologizing to the rest of the world.

Few Things About the Debate

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The web is, of course, flying with stuff about the debate last night. I ended up watching a RealPlayer feed from C-Span.

There are a few things that are bothering me, though. The one I've just come across is this statement by Professor Althouse of the University of Wisconsin Law School:

He claims he'd be better at fighting terrorism, without giving any regard to the cited fact, that Bush seems to have done something to have staved off terrorist attacks. Of course, Kerry doesn't credit Bush for that.
The problem is that Prof. Althouse is making one of the most basic errors of logical reasoning. Saying that because there are no terrorist attacks Bush must have been doing something right is akin to saying that we're sacrificing humans to make the sun come up each day, and it does, so it must be working.

Overall, I have to agree with Professor Balkin of Yale. Kerry or Bush could have had some opportunity to jump on the other for not answering questions. Plus Bush's response to the question on judicial nominations and his reference to the Dred Scott case was pretty poor. He really needs to stop talking about things if he can't talk about them intelligibly.

Hmmm, If that happens, I see a problem with his political career...

REM and the web

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I read in USA Today that R.E.M. has been losing share and to combat this, they've posted their newest album. I'm listening to it now. I think it's really cool that they did it, even thought I'm not entirely sure I like the album as much as their earlier work. Doesn't seem to have the edgy feel, though I admittedly haven't finished it yet. Still, I think it's a great idea. The best thing is that I can listen to it several times over a week or so to determine if I like it and let it grow on me before deciding if I like it. Everyone should do this. I know there will be some unscrupulous people who will take advantage of it, but I like to think that most people will legitimately pay for the work if they like it and understand the purpose of these sneak peaks.

Perhaps I'm an idealist.

For the last in my series on my current classes, we have Criminal Law.

I came into criminal with great anticipation because at this time I hope to be a prosecutor. Our instructor, Professor Johnson, is new to teaching although he has a great deal of experience as a prosecutor.

In the first couple weeks Prof. Johnson's novice was apparent. I think that teaching is such a different activity that it takes a little time for people to find their groove, as it were. Add in the fact that it often takes some time for the students to build a productive relationship with a professor. I always liked criminal, but you could sense sometimes that there was a different dynamic. You could tell that Prof. Johnson was clearly an expert in his field, but sometimes he percieved that there was difficulty in getting what he was trying to get across. I don't think that was because of him, though, as much as the inherent difficulty of the topic. (I know I'm not that bright, so it takes a while for me too get things.)

For a while I was discouraged because out of all my classes I seemed to say disproportionaltely more stupid things in Criminal. As I said, I hope to practice criminal law, so this was discouraging. The irony was that I felt that I understood the concepts but was having trouble because I was piping up each and every time I was unequivically wrong.

Such is no longer the case, on either count. Prof. Johnson has had more energy these last couple of weeks and has really engaged the class in debate. Out of all our classes, I think we have the most passionate discussions in this one, probably because of the importance of the outcomes of the cases to the actual people involved. Prof. Johnson's humor has always been somewhat dry, cutting and self deprecating, however that element of his personality has shone through a little more lately giving a bit of a glimpse (and he's funny) of his personality.

I have to say, I look forward to Criminal. Yesterday we had a fantastic session and the class clapped for him. I'm excited to see the rest of the class.

[UPDATE 10/8/04: Criminal today was great. I think Prof. Johnson, with his dry sense of humor, will soon rival Prof. Burman for the funniest professor.]

So that's my series about the 1L classes at the University of Wyoming. I have to say that I'm enjoying it immensely. For anyone wondering if UW is a really good option, I must say that I think it's great. I'm recieving a rigorous legal education, the culture is unique in its friendliness, openness, warmth and trust. There are a lot of opportunities for extracurricular activities and events as much or as little as one would like. Signing off so that I can go to Torts.

It is now 12:30, my time. Starting at 1:30, I'll be live-blogging from the session of the Wyoming Supreme Court. The two cases are Michael Barnes v. State of Wyoming, a criminal case, and Est. of Joshua Douglas Jones v. Est. of Nicholas James Schabron.

The latter is of interest because it relates to the death of eight University of Wyoming athletes who were hit head on by a drunk driver, Clint Haskins, who excaped with injuries. All eight of those in the other vehicle were killed. The estate of a passenger is suing the estate of the driver for wrongful death and negligence.

The former case is of particular interest because a 3rd year student will be making the argument for the prosecution. It involves a domestic violence case which had a lot of procedural issues, not related to the DV.

12:35 - They begin. The first case is the one with the car wreck. This is an appeal based on summary judgment. The plaintiff/appellant believes that conflicting statements in a deposition and in and affidavit filed by the defendant in support of the motion for dismissal should be enough to show a difference in material fact. Defendant argues that there is no difference because it doesn't matter.

12:55 - It looks like the defense has a better case. There's nobody who survived who knows what happened, and the forensic evidence seems to be absent, and the assertion that the defendant could have done something seems to be pure speculation.

1:20 - They're finished with arguments in this case, and it seems like the others that I've talked to have the same sentiment that I do: unless there's more of a compelling legal argument than we know about, Defendant will win.

1:45 - Next up, a case involving a defendant in a small town who was convicted of aggravated assault (or something) and is asserting that because the witnesses are all prominent law enforcement officers in the community, his attorney was negligent in not moving for a change in venue.

1:55 - The appellant's attorney seems to be arguing that voire dire should include asking jurors for whom they voted. Hard to believe.

2:20 - The state's attorney (the student I mentioned earlier) is doing quite well. She's clearly nervous, but she's handling the case like a pro. Not that I know what a pro looks like, but you get the idea.

3:40 - Rebuttal arguments are over (things didn't change much). It appears to me, unless the briefs are quite different, that the appellee, the state, will win this case. Now the justices take questions, pretty cool.

Finally, with this post, I'm caught up.

I elected to make today's entry about writing and research. This is partly because I have my one-on-one meeting with my writing professor this morning for my "closed memo," or what I like to think of, My First Really Important Project this morning. I'm also combining the classes partly so that I can keep the series down to five days and because the grade in these classes are weight-averaged.

Writing and research are considered by many to be the most important skill any lawyer can have. When I got into law school, I told people that I was going back to school to be a professional writer. This is why I approached these classes with a lot of anticipation. My other reason was that I've considered myself to be a pretty good writer for a little while now.

Well, that illuseion has been dashed upon the rocks of high expectations. Writing class is hard. It's a lot of work and Professor Bridgeman expects all of us to do very well. One problem is that since this is one of the only classes we actually get feedback, I think a lot of people's emotional stake is firmly in this class, and when that feedback isn't terribly good, it's difficult to swallow. I mean, let's face it, we're all smart people who have done very well in undergraduate, and sometimes graduate, studies. It's difficult to adjust to getting a paper back covered in ink.

Which is not to say that it's a bad thing. I've talked to a few people in my class and for the most part the consensus seems to be that working us like crazy is really making us learn our stuff, and learn it well. I have it on good authority that students coming out of Prof. Bridgeman's class are uniquely qualified as skilled legal writers. Considering that Law Review is one path to success and that if you don't have the grades you can get on through writing, it has immediate positive application.

My only criticism is with the Citation Exercises. Not that they are bad or too hard, but that the system is flawed. For those interested, the citation exercises are a series of exercises, ranging from 10-20 questions, for which we are given some source and we must put it in proper citation format. The program demands absolute perfection, with not a period or space out of place. This wouldn't be an issue, except that the program itself is wrong some place. As an example, there was a space in quoted material that the program demanded but that wasn't in the source program. In another question, a whole word was different. In yet another two questions, there was inconsistency. (Earlier exercise: "Estate of," later exercise: "Est. of.")

This is extremely frustrating. For the most part, it's really pretty small, however there's a big psychological impact to this kind of thing. After a couple of these errors, there's a sense of futility and resentment. I do approve the citation exercises, but they need to be perfect themselves to avoid this.

On another note, I was acquainted with Prof. Bridgeman before law school, so I'm having trouble mentally adjusting to different roles. In fact, I can recognize adjustment issues, particularly in my social interactions and how I feel about my own actions. I thought that it wouldn't be that big of an adjustment, or that I could deal with it easily, but I was wrong. This is not to say that I'm not dealing with it, just that it's a bit more than expected.

Anyway, on to Research. This class is very practical and hands-on. We started out with the paper research tools, and we are only recently moving on to the electronic databases. I have to admit that there's a certain nostalgic charm to the paper resources, however. There's a strange feeling of satisfaction when you have a few letters and numbers and can walk into the library and pick the precise book you need and turn to the precise page and find the case you're looking for. Perhaps I'm a bit of a romantic, but that satisfaction just isn't there on an online database.

Regardless, I'm enjoying the class. I've gotten good scores on my assignments so far and even though it's a 1-credit class, I've tried to be as conscientious as possible. Research is another one of those extremely valuable skills that I really want to master.

Professor Person is extremely knowledgeable and just plain nice. I get the feeling that she just really loves her job. Not just teaching, but even helping students in the library. I've not had to do this, but I think that if I were to go ask for help, whe would be very enthusiastic about giving it.

So, there's my legal writing and research class. Tomorrow, the final class in the series, Criminal Law, and the newest 1L professor.

Wireless

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Pro: I get a really good wireless connection at the law school library right about now.

Con: It's after 10 pm and I'm still at the law school library.

Today in our ongoing series, Property.

Ah, Property. Now, keep in mind that I don't know much about how classes are held in other schools or what the subject is composed of, but there's really no way to get around the content. What I mean by this is that Property, at a certain point, becomes the bane of the existence of law students everywhere, if my own class is any indication. The problem is this: The way that ownership of land works is completely counterintuitive and requires a crash course in many unfamiliar concepts and language terms. I'm not getting into it, but it suffices to say that it's really, really hard.

This means the Professor Romero kind of get's the short end of the stick, as it were, in the class assignment. Let me tell you, I wouldn't want to have to explain this stuff! I was kind of glad that he went through a lot of sample problems, even though we can't spend the entire semester on it like I would probably need to really get it down. (Can I suggest property flash cards for anyone looking for a gift for me to celebrate the upcoming holiday? You don't know about the holiday? It's very important and ceremonious; it's called Fri Day.)

I was fortunate enough to be in Prof. Romero's "briefing session" at orientation, and it was really very helpful as a one-on-one session. My biggest criticism of the class in general is that occasionally it is difficult to hear what Prof. Romero is saying. I'm usually fine as I sit in kind of the middle of the room, but I can tell it would be hard sometimes being in the back.

Overall, I predict that Property will be one of those classes that I will have the most trouble with, simply because of the complexity of ideas and the new vocabulary. This isn't that different than other classes, but really is a question of scale. The other classes have some difficult concepts and vocabulary as well, just not to the same extent. Bottom line: Property is a pretty tough subject.

Well, on to something different: I have come across a lot of really cool weblogs that I have been following (to the extent that I'm able), however I've been negligent in updating my page to reflect all the coolness I'm exposed to daily. (For the record, Duty: I have a duty to update my web page. Breach: I haven't. Causation of Harm: This has resulted in those of you whose only real participation in the blogosphere is my site to miss out on some cool writing.) So, some time soon I'll make sure to do that. Things are a little crazy, so it might not be until the weekend.

I'm thinking about writing my little essay that I promised yesterday regarding gender roles, the perception of lawyers and how it relates to the current 'president' as a guest blog for Notes for the (Legal) Underground, if accepted. I'll mention it if I do and it is.

Class Series Part 2: Torts

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Two reasons to discuss torts today: The first is that I just had a paper due yesterday, so it has been on my mind, and the second is that tort reform is a big deal in the political world these days, and I particularly have something to say about its mention in the VP debate last night.

Just about everybody in our class likes torts. The only reason that I say "just about" is because I haven't actually talked to everyone, but everyone I know likes it. A big part of the reason for this is our professor, John Burman. The presentation in class is focused on plainly going over the elements of various claims and applying those elements and rules to the facts. It's not convoluted or difficult, but it gets us to think in the manner most effective to do our job.

Not only that, but his class presentation is funny, with a witty sense of humor that a lot of people can really get into. This would make a dull subject more interesting, and torts isn't really dull, so we get the best of 2 worlds. Prof. Burman also supervises the civil legal assistance 3d-year clinic, and you can clearly tell, even in a 1L class, that he is passionate about his work there and in helping people in general. This kind of passion is infectious, and I'd wager that a lot of us will come out of that class feeling like the legal system is a great tool for promoting justice and helping out those people who have been wronged. For those of us who went into law school for that very reason, it's great to have some continuing reminders in the midst of the crush of the first year that we have a goal beyond tomorrow's reading. All in all, it's a great class. Hard at times, yes, but it's law school, what can one expect?

Now, as promised, my rant about the debate.

I only caught the last 30-40 minutes or so because of a law school function, but I wasn't particularly happy with it, really. My impression was that it seemed pretty even, but the preliminary word around the blogosphere seems to be that Edwards came out ahead.

Before I get to my main point, there is a little something else. People who know me are aware of my feelings about equal rights for persons of non-mainstream sexual orientations. Namely, that they're not there yet and we need to work on this as a form of oppression, get rid of it, and probably revive the civil rights movement in general with this as another frontier (on top of the other frontiers, which are in desparate need of revival, but that's another dozen posts or so).

I caught the exchange about gay marriage, and I'm much more liberal than Kerry-Edwards with regard to this issue (no surprise there). Here's the thing: As much as I may joke about Cheney not being entirely human, caring, whatever, I believe that if it were truly up to him, he would be much more moderate on this issue. This isn't some poor Cheney kind of statement, just that I think his hands are tied on this issue to a large extent because of politics and because of his personal experiences, he would prefer to be a bit more liberal. But he won't.

Now, on to the tort reform statement. If you go here, you can see a transcript of the VP debate. One statement from Cheney irked me in particular: "Over 50 percent of the settlements go to the attorneys and for administrating overhead."

What a lot of people don't understand is that if someone wants to sue a doctor for malpractice, they just don't have the money. Unless you're a millionaire, you just don't have the $250,000 to $500,000 to carry a suit through. There are costs all over the place to bringing suit, from expert witnesses to paying for the court reporter in a deposition (not an inconsiderate amount; court reporters are highly skilled professionals and charge accordingly). Now, since you don't actually have that kind of money, who will put it up? Somebody has to, and there aren't any non-profit agencies out there giving out "intrest free lawsuit loans."

The truth is that your lawyer will probably be putting up the cash. Now, let's say you're a pretty well off lawyer (not as common as you might think), or even that you work at a pretty well-off firm. The bottom line is that $250,000 is not insignificant money. Now, a lot of lawyers in malpractice suits and other tort claims work on a contingency basis. This means that the lawyer only gets paid if s/he wins the suit. A pretty standard portion is 30%. This may seem like a large chunk, but you have to remember that an attorney, in basically working for free, is taking an enormous risk. Incidentally, this is the reason that there really aren't many frivolous lawsuits. Lawyers simply can't take the chance of losing that kind of money and time (which is really another kind of money). A solo lawyer has to pay the mortgage, and those in firms are answerable to that firm, even the partners.

So, back to the money. Now, when the judgment comes in, assuming it does, the lawyer gets reimbursed for the costs of the suit, which I think most people would agree is fair. After all, s/he put up the costs in the first place. I don't know if the costs come out of the award before or after the fees, but let's just assume that there's an award of 1 million dollars in Wyoming (difficult to get). Then we take out $300,000 that goes to the lawyer just for costs. If the lawyer's fees come out of the remaining amount (which I'm not sure about), then right there you have the lawyer getting $200,000 more. Total: $500,000, pretty close to what Cheney said. I don't know what the "administrating overhead" to which he referred is.

Here's the irony: That $200k may not actually be enough to cover the time the lawyer spent on the suit at his/her normal hourly rate. These suits are pretty work-intensive.

So, bottom line is that the statement is highly misleading.

Next up, at some point, an argument on gender issues and how that relates to the currently declining image of lawyers in this country.

Ok, ok, I know I'm a day late, but I'm going to back-date this post to make it all better. Plus, I'm hoping to do two posts today to make it up.

I should also mention that I'm basing all of these on personal observations except where otherwise noted. I don't take too much stock in things that people say unless a) they can prove empirically; or b) that's pretty much it.

Today, we'll discuss contracts class. I think the majority of law students since 1973 go in with serious trepidation of contracts class. I blame the Paper Chase. Professor Kingsfield is exactly what we all have come to expect from law professors in general and contracts professors specifically.

Thankfully, that's not true in most law schools. Not that there are no professors who could play Kingsfield with their eyes closed, but that I don't know that they're all in contracts.

Thankfully, we don't have anyone like that here at our school. Some may differ, however, about our contracts professor, Prof. Welle. The confusion is reasonable, because she is visibly one of the toughest 1L professors at the school. Keep in mind that we don't know if she really is, of course, because we haven't actually had a real assignment (graded) yet.

One thing that is true, she will drill you in class. When you get called on, you should be ready to perform to your best ability. This results in some intimidation of the class. Having been called on a time or two, I can say that the adrenaline does indeed rush, but when it's over, as long as one doesn't flall flat on one's face, one feels pretty good.

Truth be told, contracts is one of my favorite classes, though another truth be told I only have one which I don't care for, and even that one is interesting when we get to cases. One reason I like it is that I get a feeling that Prof. Welle is genuinely excited about the subject and about the prospect of getting us to know all there is to know. I can even see some frustration if she feels like we're not getting something. We're behind in class now, and having designed and presented a curriculum, I know what it's like to get behind.

Another quality is that she is very plain-spoken. One never needs to wonder where one stands with Prof. Welle, and that's pretty cool. She really pushes us to make sure that we know everything, and I think that I'll be extremely prepared to go on in my legal career after this class.

So that's contract class. One more note: Guess who my faculty advisor is? Yep.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that my favorite quote from a law professor comes from Prof. Welle: "If you're not working harder than you've ever worked in your life, you're not working hard enough."

Again

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Oh, look: US media got scooped again. Wait a second, is one scooped if one fails to ever report the story?

Aggravation

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I'm extremely aggravated that I have to hear about something like this from a foreign news source. This is the type of thing that should be plastered over every paper in the US.

I did get a chance to watch the debate, and I have to agree with the general consensus that Kerry got the best of Bush. Some of my favorite moments:

"Well, actually, he forgot Poland." -Bush's response when Kerry said that the war in Iraq was originally only begun with three countries.

"I see on the TV screens how hard it is." -Bush referencing the everyday fighting going on in an effort to bring Iraq under control.

Other highlights include when the moderator specifically quoted Bush, who then said that he actually said something different, and all the times Kerry baited, and finally succeeded in getting Bush to say 'Nucular.' I particularly thought it was funny that the first time he said it, there was a pregnant pause beforehand and then he said it really quickly.

Nobody who says 'nucular' should have his finger on the button.

[UPDATE: Edited for awkward language.]

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