Sunday, February 29, 2004

You know, if there is one thing that I have learned from law school, it's that justice isn't always just (and is NEVER swift), that life is seldom fair, and that briefs are NOT brief. Wait, that was more than one thing. (See, maybe this law school thing IS worth getting $XXX,XXX into debt for.)

I am writing a brief to uphold the 9th Circuit decision in the Newdow case. (This is the guy in California who wants to remove "under God" from the pledge of allegiance.) The argument section of my brief is supposed to be 16-20 pages long. Meanwhile, I know that I can fit everything there is to say in about 5 to 7 pages. And, after all, wouldn't a judge appreciate that sort of conciseness on my part? I mean, someone called these things "briefs" for a reason, didn't they??? Shouldn't that imply brevity of some sort? Or is the term "briefs" merely used to make the law profession seem somehow sexy (as in, would you like to see my legal briefs baby?). Somehow, I doubt that.

Oh - in case anyone is wondering, I actually don't agree with the side that I was assigned to defend. But I am managing to put together a pretty darn convincing case for it, which just shows you how ready and willing I am to sell my soul. Then again, I figure, if anyone wants to give me money/goods/services for MY soul, they're the ones getting the short end of the stick here. Frankly, I don't think I could even sell this thing on e-bay.

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Friday, February 27, 2004

Today Career Planning and Placement presented "A Day in the Life of a Litigator." Now I know I don't want to be a litigator. Or the wife of a litigator. Or the associate underling of a litigator. Or really know any litigators.

I think the man who gave the presentation was the devil. (But if he were the devil, he probably would've had more hair. So maybe he's just a bad man who got a raw deal with the devil in the hair department.) In any case, he was born without shame. He talked about his love of litigation -- the winning, the entertainment value, the meeting of important peoples. He believes the lawyers representing Martha Stewart are lucky because they probably know her better than anyone else. He's glad he knows Don King, and Mike Tyson. He's proud of having been lead counsel defending tobacco companies against class actions. He told us he's hard to live with because when he has a bad day in court he takes it home with him. He says a litigator has to be Type A. He told us to write briefs like Hemingway and conduct oral arguments like Gump.

I hope his 5th wife divorces him and takes his Porsche.

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Thursday, February 26, 2004

We were recruited by Evan to be on his Legal Underground Defense Team. We're to bring the beer. And not complain. This must be good practice for associatehood. (Really I'm just glad he noticed us.)

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While reading a book on the processes of Constitutional law making, my roommate suddenly looked up and asked, "Why all the beef?" Indeed, why all the beef? And why all the reading of the beef? I'm going to drop out of law school and advocate for a system based on Rock Paper Scissors.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

According to our usage tracker, someone found our site today by googling for "money buys love." Google knows the three of us all too well.

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Bacon, I'm slightly confused as to why you're unhappy that the salads have pork in them; as you well know, pork products are some of the world's most versatile foodstuffs.

In all seriousness, the cafeteria's selection is limited, and that which is there is indeed disgusting. The cup of cookies (!) I ate for lunch this afternoon had a distinctly rubbery texture. I'm sure they sat there over the weekend.

And as for the insufficient quantity of food on Tuesdays, I wonder how long the cafeteria will have to sell out of food each and every Tuesday before someone there figures out that many people have busy schedules on Tuesday and in consequence they should stock more food.

My guess is that they'll make the adjustment next fall, and then kvetch that no one uses the cafeteria and that it should be closed down. They will use the huge quantity of left overs on Tuesdays as their primary exhibit. The joys of monopoly!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Today, no different from any other Tuesday, the cafeteria ran out of food -- no dry sushi, no slightly green egg salad, only the crusty scrapings of cream of tomato remained. Then I saw it. Sitting there all by itself in its plastic bubble container, one last portobello mushroom sandwich. I ran for it.

I should have left it alone. Sour and mushy with a thin layer of mushroom slime and poisonous pink tomato. At first I was sad. Actually, first I was sick. Then I was sad. Then I was really pissed. Why can't the cafeteria stock normal foods? What's wrong with turkey in a sandwich? What's wrong with roast beef? Why do we need to have mushrooms? Why does all the salad have pork in it? Damn you, cafeteria. I want my $6.25 back. You suck.

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So, in my zeal to be exactly like everyone else, I took the "Which Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?" test (linked several times below, so I don't feel bad about not going back to find the exact link). Unsurprisingly, I am Rule 11, the vengeful rule that punishes bad little attorneys. There is a chapter named "Rule 11" in "A Civil Action." (A great book, by the way.) I feel strangely flattered to be the rule that can be responsible for disbarment. Does that make me a bad person? And do I care? The world may never know.

To add my own two cents to the discussion percolating below . . . Christmas, schmistmas. OK, so I am Jewish, but I'd feel the same about Hanukkah. It's just a day that was picked as a holiday. And why be terrified about the career of being a lawyer? Yes, I am aware that when you divide the salary by the hours worked, you're not making a lot at all. Yes, I am aware that the hours are ungodly, that one has to quickly acquire a taste for heinie and that my life will effectively have been sold to The Man. (Or the Woman.) But you know what? This is not a new development. People know this, and people still apply to law schools in droves. They still graduate. They still vie for those horrible, horrible firm jobs, and most of them don't even commit suicide.

Unless you don't care about getting to the top (or near it) of whatever industry you choose to work in, your hours will be long, your stress level will be high, and your life will not belong to you. At least, as a lawyer, you get to work in a nice office (unlike a California longshoreman), doing work that (hopefully) you find somewhat interesting (unlike half of the i-bankers I know), encountering intelligent people and reaping the social benefits of being "Bob Smith, attorney at law." And say what you will, but I have NEVER met a lawyer who wasn't financially comfortable.

Besides, it isn't like you HAVE to work at a firm all your life. You can work for a few years, pay off your loans, and then decide what you want to do. I know an attorney, whose sole practitioner firm is located in the same building as his professional photography studio.

Your JD is not a blank check, or a passport to the life of Paris Hilton. It's not even a guarantee to a secure future. (Nothing helps a pathological fuck-up.) But it's a lot more than most people get in life, and I, for one, am more excited than terrified about my own future.

Yeah. OK. Not that all this excitement actually motivates me to do my work, though :)

PS - I think Skadden could easily have absorbed the $45, but I also think that attorney sounded like a prissy bitch who got put through law school by Daddy. Just my opinion ;)

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Monday, February 23, 2004

Continuing in the vein of reasons my future career terrifies me, check out the comment appended to another blogger's post discussing the same Skadden story I talked about earlier:

I once watched dumbfounded as a NY partner of mine shouted profanities at his secretary and then hurled a stapler at her from across the room. She ducked, and took the whole incident in stride; par for the course, amazingly enough.

I have to work in an environment like this for $125k/year? That'll barely cover the psychologists, let alone the alcohol.

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So I took the quiz of the day at Sua Sponte -- What Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You? I'm Rule 15. That is so bunk. I can't believe I'm Rule 15. No one even knows what Rule 15 is. Amended complaints? Please.

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So, I was surfing the blogosphere (Crim was unusually mind-numbing this morning) and discovered the following post (Christmas Grinching) on "A Mad Tea Party." To make a long story short (although the post and subsequent comments are indeed worth reading in their entirety,) the post consists of a series of emails between a Skadden associate and a staff member re: reimbursement for meals the attorney ate while she worked in Skadden's NY office on Christmas Day. Apparently, the restaurant was outside of the permitted ten-block radius permitted according to the firm's reimbursement policy, and the firm declined to pay for the meal. The reactions from those who left comments are decidedly mixed: some people are horrified that the associate was made to work Christmas Day; others believe the associate got what she deserved by deciding to sign up with a sweatshop like Skadden in the first place, and insist that if her time management skills had been better she wouldn't have ended up in said situation.

I tend to side with those who find the situation upsetting, because I plan to a) work for a large, well respected national law firm and 2) do not plan EVER to work on Christmas Day. I fervently hope that those goals are not mutually exclusive. Incidentally, (this question is primarily directed at those who think she got what she deserved for signing up with Skadden in the first place) am I the only person on earth who doesn't think a salary of 125k/year is so outrageous that young attorneys should view the trade as equivalent to selling one's soul to the devil? Is it a good salary? Absolutely. But it doesn't strike me as obscene or beyond reason; I'm willing to work hard and be paid well, and as best as I can tell I'll still make less than a California longshoremen for a job that requires significantly longer ours and more education.

My real reason for this post, however, is fear. As someone who is seriously considering working across the country from where my family lives, the idea of spending Christmas stuck in an office instead of with my mom and dad is particularly upsetting, and makes me less than sanguine about my future plans as they now stand.

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Ah, the weekend. 'Tis done, my friends. And now, to quote my crim law professor, "Let us get back to the ignorance of law." Or, in my case, just plain old ignorance.

I would have to say, one of the worst things about law school, is the fact that, during any given lecture, the people around you feel completely free to release their bodily odors. After all, we're all sort of bunched together, and it's not like anyone will ever find out it was you. For instance, all last semester, some individual (it's still a mystery as to who) continually produced the foulest stench I can imagine. I, and my friend next to me, spent much of our class time gagging and griping.

SBDs*, my friends (oh God, I'm turning into Rush Limbaugh, aren't I), are NOT a victimless crime. They break down the very foundations of trust and love that are so very prevalent in law school society. Failing that, they are just plain disgusting, and you WILL eventually get your comeuppance. Even if no one ever catches you, karma is a powerful thing!

Do the right thing and hold it in. Pass it on.

* silent but deadly

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Friday, February 20, 2004

So, since the song parody line has been crossed, I figured I'd post something I wrote a while ago. It's completely irrelevant to law school and the law. Unless I get sued. In which case, man, am I glad that crummy legal writing assignment last semester involved the fair use doctrine. (And hurrah, I have managed to make this post slightly law-related.)

Anyway, without further ado . . . yet another song parody. And yes, I am a nerd with frustrated musical ambitions and far too much time on my sticky little paws.


Your body's a nightmare (to the tune of Your Body's a Wonderland, by John Mayer)

We've got this afternoon,
trapped in this room for two
one thing now left to do
Examine the hideous you

Acne on every inch of
your skin, like Rorschach stains,
two slurping lips
and an overgrown tongue

And if you want love,
get naked,
cover yourself up with blankets,
take all your mirrors
and break 'em
this is bound to be bad.

Your body's a nightmare (I think I'm scared) . . . etc.

You look better when the hair falls in your face
I wanna cover you up with the pillowcase
You tell me what to do,
and think I leave to find it,
when, actually, I'm under the covers, in the dark, frightened and hiding.

And if you want love,
get naked,
cover yourself up with blankets,
take all your mirrors
and break 'em
this is bound to be bad.

Your body's a nightmare (I think I'm scared) . . . etc.

Damn, baby,
you frustrate me,
I know you're mine, all mine, all mine,
you're just so ugly that it hurts sometimes.

Your body's a nightmare, etc. . . .

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Overheard at lunch: "I had this dream that I was Law Review Editor-in-Chief. I guess everyone wants to be Editor-in-Chief!"

Um...no. Not everyone has nerd dreams. Really what the hell kind of dream is that? Dreams are all about having glass teeth that wiggle loose then fall out or being offered candy by squirrels. Or like the one my friend Jesse just had about being pursued by a lesbian Jeannine Garofalo. Teeth, squirrels, lesbians; not Law Review.

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Thursday, February 19, 2004

In working on my Legal Writing outline, I've been forced to print out about a billion pages from Westlaw. My toner cartridge is empty and I'm out of paper. I better have enough points for that fondue set now. Last semester I managed to get a tent. But I have no reason to complain -- it's 12:30 and I've managed to half-ass my way through another assignment with my toner cartridge as the only casualty.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Inspired by the songs of Jeremy Blachman :)

"I Am the Very Model of a 1L at the U of Penn"

I am the very model of a 1L at the U of Penn
My section's full of anxious girls and pompous, chauvinistic men
I've got a locker like the one Zack Morris boasted years ago
My days resemble episodes of pseudo-high-school TV shows

I turn into a drunken ass on evenings at the New Deck pub
Outside, the courtyard's littered with my many cigarette stubs
My virtues are outnumbered by my many vices, one to ten,
I am the very model of a 1L at the U of Penn.

I quarrel with my landlord, and I do so most litigiously
I check my e-mail and Course Portal every day religiously
I've got accounts on Friendster, AIM and even Blogger now
I socialize online because in real life I would not know how

I send IMs in class and fail to feel a tingle of regret
Cause classes can be bearable only with wireless internet
The world of chatrooms is a virtual opium den
I am the very model of a 1L at the U of Penn.

My patron saint is Glannon and my gods are Lexis and Westlaw
My failure to bluebook just right will prove to be my tragic flaw
I walk around with interviews, cases and memos on the brain
I bitch and moan and whine about how I might shortly go insane

I subsist mainly on caffeine and free law firm reception fare
I am a future corporate whore but aren't we all, so I don't care
Yes, I'm burned-out, neurotic, slightly nuts, but then -
I am the very model of a 1L at the U of Penn.

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Every night around this time I have a short chat with myself about whether or not I'll go to school in the morning. On Tuesday nights I usually decide to go. On Thursday nights I usually decide to stay home. This being Tuesday, I should be leaning toward the going, but Thursday my legal writing outline is due and I haven't even begun to read the cases, so I'll have to find some time to do that tomorrow, but I hate reading at the library and really in Philadelphia in general, so I'm thinking I'll just take the train to New York, but how will I get back in time for Con Law Thursday morning seeing as Amtrak and NJ Transit normally collude to keep me in New York way longer than I expect? See? Dilemma.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Yesterday, we had an (optional) workshop to teach us how to format an appellate brief. I am tickled pink to inform you it was every bit as exciting as it sounded. Mine eyes have seen the glory of a self-generating table of contents. Now I can die happy.

I kept it exciting by periodically tuning out, then tuning back in and feeling lost for a few minutes each time. (I like the challenge. Also, I like to disturb everyone next to me with my perpetual "Where are we?"s.) Despite the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows and the creamy middles (thank you Homer Simpson), I ended up loading my Friendster page over and over, IMing friends across the room with such mature and intelligent tidbits as "I seeeee youuuu" and playing Yahoo! TextTwist. That's what I call a productive hour and a half.

And last night, I pulled an almost all-nighter trying to get myself to outline the damn brief. At about 4 am, I decided to take a nap (exhausted from trying to make myself actually open up a blank Word document), woke up just in time to make it to my first class, and ended up doing my outline during Con Law. Go figure.

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Oops -- the paragraph that follows is a copy of the comment I placed on Notes from the (Legal) Underground, the blog whose name I (inadvertently) stole. I didn't realize this would be such a problem until reading the rather vituperative comment left on our site by the appropriately named Lurker. I hereby give Evan all of the "proper credit" he deserves, and will endeavor not to be "just plain disrespectful" in the future.

Hey -- I didn't mean to steal your thunder. The name came to me while sitting in my crim class trying to think of a decent title. The blog was originally entitled Pork Roll Party (the writers are, for reasons that would comprise a long story in and of themselves, named after pork-related products), but I decided such a title would be stupid and confusing. Notes from the Underground is a favorite story of mine, and I thought Notes from the (1L) Underground would be a cool title, especially considering we were writing under pseudonyms. I do agree, however, that it looks suspicious, especially considering the location of the parenthetical. It's entirely possible that I had previously read your blog during my constant travels and the name stuck with me, to be recalled (unconsciously) later. I did see your blog (this weekend, in fact), but didn't think it would be a big deal, especially since I didn't think anyone would actually read our rantings. In short, I don't know whether you were "my source" or not, but I do apologize. I'm willing to rename the blog if you so desire. Porkroll.

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Monday, February 16, 2004

Every day it's a little more difficult to get to class. I plan to do all my law learning in the final three weeks of the semester, just like last year. And it's no incentive knowing that the hypotheticals come from Law & Order -- if we're discussing Law and Order in class, I'm way way ahead.

I just heard my upstairs neighbor come into the building. I call her the Bicycle Girl. She leaves her giant, pokey, thousand thorned bicycle in the hallway to hurt me every time I enter or leave my apartment. I'm not sure how she thinks her apartment is too small to hold a bicycle, but the shared 3' wide hallway is plenty enough room. I hate you, Bicycle Girl.

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I was the only one of the three pork products that actually bothered to show up to class today, but I spent the entire class shopping online, so I'm not sure whether I am entitled to claim moral superiority. Class is slightly stressful when one has no idea what's going on; the stress is not enough, however, to make me pay attention. Professor K makes a big show of checking off the people he's called on, so presumably I'll hear my name any day, but he has yet to call on me, and has called on others numerous times. I live in fear of hearing my name and having to plead ignorance (in which case, I'm not sure whether I'd be guilty under the model penal code.)

Bacon's presence was missed today. Last week, she decided to share her well-known love of Law and Order with the professor, who (rightly) agreed that the show is excellent, and further noted that the writing skillfully pointed to important issues in the criminal law. He decided to share the hypothetical presented in the show, and asked whether the person who shared the story could describe it for the class. Bacon's absence (maybe she was out to breakfast?) amused me to no end, and the words of one of our classmates (to remain nameless, of course) from the last time Bacon was called on while absent echoed in my head (her attendance record is less than exemplary) "Bacon, the professor called on you, and you weren't there...oooh!" Bacon, of course, responded by mocking this unfortunate, immature, perennially confused soul, and said person now lives in abject fear of Bacon.

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Friday, February 13, 2004

I think lack of consensus regarding relative attractiveness among our classmates suggests we're all equally ugly. But that's okay because everybody knows money buys love. In thirty years we'll all be bitter and toxic, but those of us with robust annuities will never be alone.

In the mean time, if you actually do think one of your classmates is a sexy hobbit and fear rejection, try this. I think it's mostly used by 9th graders, but they don't call this Penn Law High for nothing.

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I think Bacon said all that needed to be said about the reception this evening, which was nice (although it lacked a sufficient quantity of food in my opinion.) I have a different sort of story to share. I've been playing a little game with my friends for the last few days in trying to determine who in my section is considered attractive. It seems to be an article of faith among 1Ls that there are very few good-looking individuals in our law school, but there are, of course, some exceptions. I asked a bunch of people to name who they thought were the best looking people in our section (of both the same and opposite sex). I was amazed to find how dissimilar the answers were, and I found certain responses absolutely shocking. One particular male was named the best-looking guy by two respondents, but the others found him average to below-average.

This is, I realize, a good thing; the absence of a "most attractive" section X 1L means that the possibility exists for many of my classmates to end up with the person he or she finds most attractive. Still, I am surprised at the lack of universality at the top and bottom of the scale. Maybe we're not as "programmed " by external sources as many think.

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Thursday, February 12, 2004

I am now fat with the chicken satay of Paul Weiss. And I got a travel mug! Next time I'm going to get two travel mugs and make the night truly special.

Today I went to one of the three classes I have scheduled for Thursday -- Legal Writing. I go to Legal Writing because I have to: unexplained absences are penalized. I think more than two bring about failure or leprosy or whatever.

Tomorrow I have Breakfast with the Dean! But I'm not going to go because it's at 9am. And they always serve cheap fruit cups at those things, and I'm allergic to melon. Since I've got the time, I'm going to watch more Law & Order. I'll let Pork Roll tell you more about Paul Weiss.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Another law firm reception this evening. The firm advertised a "panel presentation...Immediately followed by a reception" at the law school. I figured I'd stop in, steal some food and go back to the library. How was I supposed to know that I'd have to listen to attorneys drone on and on about their daily experience -- for an hour and fifteen minutes, before they offered me celery and a cookie! I'm not quite sure what they can say that's different from what everyone else says. "The reason I came to work here is because of the firm culture. Every other NY firm is full of partners that make you work 150 hours a week sans vacation. Contrariwise, life at Smith Jones is nothing but sweetness and light." Tomorrow my co-blogger and I plan on attending a reception for a top-10 national law firm. I'm sure their schtick will be equally insipid, but there's no panel, and it's hosted at what I am told is one of the best restaurants in the city. Details tomorrow.

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I just finished eating a box of chocolates. I think my teeth are going to fall out.

Today I began filling out my JAG application, or rather, I began looking at it, willing it to fill itself out. I don't read too carefully, so at first I thought it required 3 recommendations in addition to a personal statement. And I panicked. The only 3 people employed by the University of Pennsylvania that I see on a fairly regular basis are 1) the woman who sells me my breakfast sandwich, 2) the security guard at the Silverman entrance, and 3) the old caterer who sets up the hot foods at school events who I'm always trying to convince to give me extra salmon cones. And the sandwich woman is surly; so she probably wouldn't be willing to write me anything. Damn. But then I looked at the form a second time and saw that recommendations are part of the optional information section. Excellent. And when I looked again I saw the personal statement can be a resume. Again, excellent. I then commended myself on my reading, and put the application away. Enough employment seeking for one day.

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Tonight I went to pilates. Then I watched Josh the giant black Newfoundland get awarded Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. Then I watched Law & Order. For two hours. I no longer participate in the study of law.

Currently I'm writing a cover letter to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Do I want to work in their dingy offices in Inglewood helping the indigent get their pushcarts back for $11.50 an hour? No. But that's what I'm going to tell them because I need some sort of law-ish job this summer to make sure next summer and the years following that I can have the work bled out of me by some firm full of fat ass porn suckers with man tits. But at least they'll pay me, and I won't have to work in Inglewood.

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I went to a 1L reception hosted tonight by a well-known international law firm. One of the advantages of attending law school in a (relatively) major city is the frequency of such events for first-year students during the second semester. There was a good ratio of lawyers to students (that means relatively few attorneys; the one who I talked to the most is a partner in the firm's London office and seemed like a nice guy). The reception was light on food, but heavy on alcohol. Yesterday's reception (for a different firm at the same restaurant) that I attended with my co-blogger was heavy on food, but had a much more limited drink selection. I'm still undecided as to which I prefer, although the latter is surely better for me on school nights. The restaurant names its martinis after colors, and I sampled the rainbow. Unfortunately, I spilled a bunch of green (Vodka, Pineapple and Apple Liquor) on my sweater, but only one person noticed.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Having had enough of a classmate's nonsensical "contribution" to a class discussion, and irked by the TA's inability to properly manage the class, my undergrad first-year roommate turned to the girl, and remarked in front of the entire class, "Someone has done you a great disservice by telling you that you're smart, and that your contributions are worthwhile. You're not, and they aren't." The girl shut up, and the class continued on... Anyone out there see parallels with your 1L experience? I certainly do.

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