Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Took my last final this afternoon!! Criminal Adjudication. The professor wrote it, intending we'd take it in about three hours, but he allotted us four just so we'd have plenty of time. I know so little about criminal adjudication that I took the full four hours, right up until the last second. Hahaha

But now I'm done!!! The semester is over, which means three down, three to go. As my parents told me tonight: I'm "half a lawyer."

The other reason I'm cheering today is because I advanced to the second round of our intramural moot court competition! Yeehaw! There were over 150 entrants in this first round; I survived with a combined brief and oral argument score high enough to make it into the magic 64. I did this round on my own, but all future rounds will be with a partner. I'm thrilled to be working in the next round with my buddy Jeff Miller. The guy's phenomenal. Mark my words: we're taking this thing all the way! The second round begins at the beginning of next semester (end of January).

Now Rosie and I just gotta clean up this place, pack, and hit the road!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yay! Just one left!

Finished my Copyright final this afternoon. After my first two finals this semester, I felt mostly numb - not sure if I had done well or not. But after today's exam, I actually felt really good. There always could be something you didn't see, or forgot to include, but on this exam, I felt like I really touched all the bases. Woohoo!

Now I just have to wait 'til February to find out how I did...

Last final tomorrow: Criminal Adjudication.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gordon on Exams, Part 4 of 4

The exam questions are usually absolutely hilarious fact situations that just slay students and send them into paroxysms of helpless laughter. Law professors learn how to write these witty exams at a seminar for new professors, "How to Make Up for Your Humorless Teaching Style on the Final Exam." Try not to let the laughing get out of hand.

If your professor has stressed theory all semester and has insisted that there are no legal rules and that only an idiot would believe that there are rules, her exam will test you on the rules and the rules alone. These rules are printed in heavy black typeface in the commercial outlines, and are therefore called "black letter law." Do not confuse them with black letter theory, which will do you no good whatsoever on the exam.

You should use the "IRAC" method on the exam. "IRAC" stands for Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion. Be sure to discuss each part of the formula, except that you can skip the Conclusion, because it doesn't matter which way you come out. Also, there is no time to do the Application, because the exam is so chockful of issues that you barely have time to list them and try to state some semblance of a rule using only key words. It shouldn't really be called the "IRAC" method, but "IR" looks kind of stupid and makes it sound like law school exams test only memorization skills. Which, of course, is what they do.

Be sure to confront any ambiguities in the exam. They probably wound up in there accidentally, but the professor will never admit this and will insist that they were deliberately placed there for pedagogical purposes (a phrase you will hear a lot). For example, suppose Don throws acid at Pat. (Notice that "Don" begins with a "D," as does the word "Defendant," and that "Pat" begins with "P," as does the word "Plaintiff." These professors are geniuses.) The exam doesn't tell you whether the acid made contact--i.e., a harmful or offensive "touching" (what a moronic word)--with Pat. You should confront this ambiguity and write the following:
The facts don't say whether the acid touched Pat. If it did not, it was an assault. If it did, it was a battery. Of course, it was clearly a battery if it was--battery acid!!!
Professors just love humorous asides like this, and will probably give you several points of extra credit.

After the exam, do not review--or "post-mortem"--the exam with other students. This is very depressing--especially if you can't even agree whether it was a torts exam or a contracts exam. On the other hand, if some persistent bozo absolutely insists on reviewing the exam with you, be sure to point out several issues that were not on the exam. This will cost him several days' sleep and, probably, thirty pounds.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gordon on Exams, Part 3 of 4

[Editor's note: Although this section is somewhat outdated as far as technology, the anxiety described is unfortunately spot on.]

Then the two-week exam period begins in earnest, and the typical student begins to feel like a nine-lived cat run over by an eighteen-wheeler. To take their minds off the crush of exams, students engage in a variety of activities, such as:
Trying to concentrate while panicking.
Having anxiety attacks while panicking.
Having diarrhea while panicking.
Panicking while panicking.

I strongly recommend that you type your exams instead of writing them. There are several advantages to typing. For instance, you can bring a "memory *1694 typewriter," and when the exam begins you can push a button and your typewriter will reproduce your entire outline. This is very handy.

You might find it a little difficult to concentrate in the typing room, because all those typewriters pounding together sound like a herd of elephants doing an impersonation of Gregory Hines. If somebody starts typing before you have even finished reading the first paragraph, don't get upset. It probably means nothing, except that someone is a genius and how are you supposed to compete with a genius and what are you doing in law school anyway!!! Take a deep breath. Take several deep breaths. Now you are hyperventilating and are going to pass out. Cease breathing.

The sound of the typewriters is not the only reason you're having trouble concentrating. You have not slept or eaten for two days. Also, you have not changed your clothes or bathed for a week, and things are beginning to get a little bit itchy. You are wearing a hat to hide the fact that your hair looks like the La Brea tar pits.

Try to hum a tune (to yourself, so that the person next to you doesn't bash you on the head with his typewriter) to help yourself relax. Suddenly--and you have never noticed this before--you realize that "La Bamba" has exactly the same chord progression as "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" and "Twist and Shout." This will probably be hard to do, but let it go for now. You can think about it later--like during your next exam. Twist a little closer to your typewriter, and try to write something quasi-intelligent. Do not shout.If there is a power failure or your typewriter breaks, don't panic. Calmly remove the paper from the typewriter, gently pick up a pen, and scrawl across the page in ink mixed with blood: "TYPEWRITER BROKE!!!! I WRITE NOW!!!!"

Then pass out. To avoid power and equipment failures, you might want to bring in a wheeled cart with about seventeen extra typewriters and a twelve-volt car battery. Better yet, drive a pickup truck full of typewriters into the exam room and open the hood for access to the battery. It would be thoughtful to place a drip pan under the transmission. Also, be sure that the carriage on your typewriter is working, so that you don't end up typing 2,000 letters in one very black spot. This can make your answer hard to read.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Gordon on Exams, Part 2 of 4

Since professors won't tell you how to do well on your exams, I will. Because you cover so much material, you need to make an outline for each class. You can do this alone, assuming you have about an extra thousand years to kill. An easier way is for your study group to divide up the classes, with each person outlining one class. This differs from the prior approach in that it is humanly possible. You are likely, however, to open up your study group's contracts outline the night before the exam and find a sentence like this: "An offer is the manifestation of gooberness to enter into a something or other (I didn't catch what the professor said here) so made as to justify another person in understanding that [illegible] is invited and will gyre and gimble in the wabe. Or something like that." You then realize that the classmate who wrote this dropped out six weeks ago and is inaccessible by telephone, and you run around the room screaming like the lunatic that you are. So it's really better just to buy the commercial outline and forget it.

Then, memorize the outline. As you pour it in the top of your head, most of it will run out your ears. Keep scooping up the stuff that runs out your ears and pour it back into the top of your head. Eventually, a little of it will begin to stick. You should also use acronyms, or "pneumatic devices," to help you memorize. For example, the prima facie case of a tort action for negligence has several elements: an Act or omission, a Duty, a Breach, Actual cause, Proximate cause, and Damages. The first letters of these elements are A, D, B, A, P, and D. Now, think of a sentence using words beginning with those letters. For example, Ann Drop-kicked Bunnies And Pretty Duckies. See? You will never forget the elements of negligence again. You can use this technique to remember everything you learn in law school. Using this method, one student was able to reduce his entire civil procedure outline to one word, and finally, to one letter. Then he forgot the letter.

Next, get some of the professor's old exams from the library and try to answer them. As you read them, note that you don't have the foggiest idea what they are asking. You can't even tell what the subject matter of the class was. Put the exams away. This year's test will probably be easier.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gordon on Exams, Part 1 of 4

Exams can be really stressful. Every second you spend away from your studying, you feel like someone else is getting ahead of you. But 18 hours/day can be draining, so you really do need a break. Hence when I recently got my hands on a hilarious article by Professor James D. Gordon, of BYU law school, it provided some much needed comic relief. This article was amusingly published in the prestigious Yale Law Journal back in 1991. The theme of the piece is the silliness of law school; Gordon pokes fun at nearly every aspect of law school life. Though his style can occasionally be a bit over-the-top for my comedic taste, I have to admit I roared as I read through his section on exams. Maybe it just hit a little close to home this week.

In an effort to lighten the mood for all my classmates who read this blog (and hopefully for you others as well), I'm going to post the exam part of the article here in installments over the next couple of days. And since I'm studying for my copyright exam right now, let me make the disclaimer that I'm posting these sections on this blog for fair use purposes; I invite any comments on Professor Gordon's remarks. This is totally academic, not infringement.

Without further ado, I bring you installment #1:

Studies have shown that the best way to learn is to have frequent exams on small amounts of material and to receive lots of feedback from the teacher. Consequently, law school does none of this. Anyone can learn under ideal conditions; law school is supposed to be an intellectual challenge. Therefore, law professors give only one exam, the FINAL EXAM OF THE LIVING DEAD, and they give absolutely no feedback before then. Actually, they give no feedback after then, either, because they don't return the exams to the students. A few students go and look at their exams after they are graded, but this is a complete waste of time, unless they just want to see again what they wrote and have a combat veteran-type flashback of the whole horrific nightmare. The professors never write any comments on the exams. That might permit you to do better next time, which would upset the class ranking.

Another reason that law professors give only one exam is that, basically, they are lazier than three-toed sloths. They teach half as many hours as other professors, are paid twice as much, and get promoted three times as fast. Then, they whine like three-year-olds because they have to grade one exam per class. I mean, this is every single semester, year in and year out. The constant grind is enough to kill a person, I tell you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Halfway home

Took my second final today. It was a nice short 2-hr exam for my seminar class, "Jury Trials in America: Understanding and Practicing Before a Pure Form of Democracy." Yeah, the title takes longer to write than the final.

No, but seriously, it wasn't too bad. Since we've already had lots of readings, discussions, practice sessions, and papers, the exam was just more of the same. And it was only worth 60% of my grade. That may sound like a lot to my undergraduate readers, but remember that normally in law school, the semester grade is calculated thus:

000% Reading
000% Attendance
100% Final Exam
100% TOTAL

So as you can see, finals are a big deal. So this one was refreshing in some sense. Now I've got two down and two to go. Up next: Copyright.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

One final down!

I took my evidence final today. Four hours of hearsay exceptions, character witnesses, expert testimony, conditional relevance, and more! Yikes! Before you ask, I have no idea how I did. In fact, my grade reflects not so much how I did, but how everyone else did. Yay for grading curves!

One down, three to go! Up next: Jury Trials in America.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Holiday Jazz

There's a lot of great internet radio stations out there. I just found a new one that has a bunch of great holiday music, including a really hip Holiday Jazz station. Check it out.

Vocal Point on YouTube

This is a clip of 2005-06 Vocal Point rehearsing for a back-to-school performance early this fall. The song, "He is Born," was written by one of Vocal Point's alumni, Aaron Edson, and honors the birth of Jesus Christ. The group performed this song in their championship-winning ICCA set. I love these guys.

Monday, December 04, 2006

December = Decisions

December 1 is a huge day for second-year law students all around the country. According to National Association for Law Placement standards and official timeline, all offers made by law firms must be accepted or rejected as of December 1. So the 98% of us who are pursuing work in the private sector, mostly at big firms, are now all locked in. We've signed our lives away. All decisions are now made, so we can now ask each other where we're going.

So where am I going?

Weil, Gotshal & Manges [while, gott-shull, and man-jz] is a New York -based law firm with over 1,100 attorneys across the US, Europe, and Asia. I've received and accepted an offer at their New York office for an internship next summer. The internship will last approximately 12 weeks, and will ideally end in a permanent offer of employment for the following fall (post-graduation). Find out more about Weil on the firm's website.

So Rosie and I are headed to Manhattan next summer! Crazy, huh?!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Getting Gigs

After a brief dry spell, I've managed to squeeze out another article on the CASA website about directing groups. Check it out.