Friday, October 12, 2012

If You Can't See the Crazy Person...

There's this saying in New York:

If you can't see the crazy person on the bus, then it's you.

It's the same for the MUNI buses in San Francisco. I have the distinct pleasure of using the city buses fairly often at this point in my life. I have no choice because I've been run into poverty by the vulturous parking police (Did you know they charge you a fee on top of your parking ticket for processing? A fee on top of a fee. Way to go, San Francisco.) and the absolutely incompetent taxi drivers who roam the streets. (If I have to give you directions or tell you to pay attention because you're ignoring the car headed straight for my door, you need to find a new job.)

You all know how much I love the public transit system. The most disgusting people in the world ride the 19. No, really. Once I sat in between a mouth-to-mouth crack deal and, another time, across from a man picking his silver dollar-sized, bloody, oozing, open cheek sore. My favorite bus ride involved a crazy, homeless prostitute screaming at two women because they told her to stop harassing a girl who had Aspberger's. The pro kept saying she was going to break out her vaseline and the women told her to get off because they had their steel-toed boots on. It was a goldmine of ghetto. (And yes, this occurred in the Tenderloin, which is the ghetto of San Francisco.)

But, I digress.

When I climb the grime-caked steps to the most agonizing twenty minutes of my day, I glance around for an entirely empty seat. No neighbors. No loud music. The radius must be devoid of human life. I'd prefer to see a rodent than another human being. After I secure a deserted location, I sit, smiling to myself about my good fortune and hoping that it will continue through the rest of my ride.

Others board in a similar manner. No one actually wants to see, touch, smell (or taste for that matter) another being on their already dismal bus ride. Inevitably, single seats fill up first and those late to the party must make a conscious decision about which person looks: 1. the least crazy, 2. the least intimidating, 3. the most respectful, 4. the least talkative, 5. the thinnest and therefore most space-conscientious neighbor, and 6. the prettiest. Of course, these are my criteria. But let's be honest: who doesn't include most of these?

Fascinatingly, while no one wants to actually sit next to anyone, the last person to have an adjacent empty seat has effectively lost the working-class adults' dodgeball-team-picking equivalent. The last person sitting by him or herself on the bus is either crazy, demonstrating some sort of anti-social behavior, or is ugly. Like, abnormally ugly.

For a great while, that person was me. I realized something was amiss when I had taken the bus a number of times to and from my doctor and no one wanted to sit next to me. They'd rather stand, than situate themselves next to my warm thigh.

Something had to give. I went through my criteria, hoping to expose the flaw in my person or character:

First, I lost twenty pounds. This didn't help much, unfortunately. People still avoided me. Then, I started wearing make up exclusively for my bus rides. Fewer people avoided me. Every so often, a brave soul moseyed over to my area, and timidly sat down. A few men on the 19 asked for my number and sadly trudged off in disappointment after I told them I was with a woman.

Second, I stopped being overly friendly. No more talking to strangers about happenings in San Francisco. Don't speak unless spoken to and don't make eye contact. Making eye contact on the bus is the social equivalent of a high-five over a urinal.

Third, people aren't actually intimidated by me. As a defense mechanism, I started to butch it up a little bit more--dark clothing, military backpack, beat up Chucks. I became the person to sit next to if you didn't want to get robbed.

Still, no one sat next to me. Process of elimination: I was the crazy person. So, I withdrew from law school.

Miraculously, my bus luck started changing! After a couple of weeks, my eyes brightened with life. The dark circles under my eyes disappeared. 'Walking on Sunshine' played from my conservatively-volumed iPod. My soul rejoined my body because I wasn't excising it in an attempt to achieve the farce of the American Dream. I started to sit up straighter from not carrying law books anymore. I lost more weight. My hair shined. My teeth stopped yellowing from coffee. My mind stopped shorting from caffeine overload. My wallet grew fuller due to sobriety. I stopped questioning myself, my intelligence, and my future and I stopped letting other people do it on the daily.

All of a sudden, I wasn't the crazy, rocking law student on the bus. People started to sit next to me because I was normal.

This is what normalcy feels like: a stranger's warm thigh on a dirty bus headed to my low-paying, managerial job at a cafe in Russian Hill.

I promise to keep Tales of a Neurotic Law Student going. My next post will outline the reasons why I left.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Motivation to Start the New Semester :)

We're too expensive, too needy, too slow, too many. Why hire a lawyer when you can get your legal documents off of a faceless website with a high turnaround? Because we're quality customer service you can rely on, that's why! Uhh... Sure.

Courtesy of Above the Law. Just so you know what you're getting into :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It Gets Better at UC Hastings

It will get better. But you don't have to wait for the future to make a change in your life now. Make today better.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Dirty Little Secret Which Everyone Knows About

I have a fantasy which came to fruition once I came to law school: I want to steal something. 

I mean, I really want to steal something.

You can ask anyone--I've never stolen anything in my life. One time, I told one of my besties to turn out her pockets at a CVS so she would stop shoplifting. I hate the idea of stealing. It's uncouth, disrespectful, and just plain mean. No one likes mean girls.

But ever since 1L, I've harbored this secret desire to steal something. You know, under the law it's quite easy to steal, so long as you find the appropriate ins and outs. Technically it's not illegal if you can establish ownership somehow. My favorite way to legally steal is through adverse possession.

I, J-Hizzle, will adversely possess a plot of land by the end of my lifetime. This is now on my bucket list.

The doctrine of adverse possession allows a squatter to assume title to a property so long as s/he has exercised use that is:
1. open and notorious
2. continuous
3. exclusive
4. adverse.

1. Brag to everyone in the community that you're using the property;
2. Mooch at length without interruption;
3. Chase other similarly-minded persons off your property;
4. Don't ask for permission or just openly disregard trespasser signs.

Adverse possession is the American equivalent of usurption. Challenge accepted.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Distribution of First-Year Associate Salaries

To supplement my last post, I include this link and graph for your perusal. This just confirms the falling entry level salary of first-year associates.

Distribution 2011:

Distribution 2009:

Thanks to J-Koo for the link source.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't Expect Bank When You Graduate

Lawyering is lucrative, right?

Well, new statistics from NALP--The Association for Legal Professionals indicates that the average starting salary for associates is $78,653, while the median comes in at a round $60,000. Apparently, this is a 35% decrease in starting associates' salaries. Thirty-Five Percent.

Now, maybe you are optimistic and are hoping that NALP skewed the statistics and included all of the broke, homeless law grads in its assessment.

Wrong. Those figures were yoinked from grads working full-time for at least a year.

We all know how much I love comparisons, so let me put this travesty in perspective for you:

The following jobs start at or pay out $80,000 a year or more (depending on location) and don't require seven years of schooling:

-Construction Managers
-Police Officers
-Fire Fighters
-Stock Brokers
-Marketing Managers
-Physician Assistants
-Entertainment Agents
-HS Physics Teachers
-Financial Analysts
-Computer Software Engineers
-Physical Therapists
-Health Service Managers

Yes, these careers all require particularized training and we all know that finding a job is never a guarantee. But what are we doing here, busting our booties at school and at work in the hopes of landing a job that will barely cover our student loan payments? Why don't we pick something equally stimulating, quicker to fruition, and just as lucrative?

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from entering or remaining in the field. Without a doubt, I'm going to keep going because this is an area that I really and truly love. I find it fascinating and I think we all have the potential to do really good work for society once we graduate. But, with the ABA and other lawyerly organizations putting out articles like this, it's a bit difficult not to feel disheartened!

The money-centric coverage of the law profession seems a bit overkill. Are they just trying to discourage people that are seeking bank post-graduation from applying to law school? Or is the field really, truly hurting right now? Has the coverage of the lawyer 'crisis' become as Type A as lawyers themselves?

My 1L class was brainwashed into believing that we would be lucky to secure any summer position, let alone receive a stipend for our efforts. Many of my peers naively accepted the first offer they received out of fear that they wouldn't get anything else. Many of those same individuals received far better offers shortly thereafter. Moreover, there were many more positions available than we were led to believe. Most everyone should have been able to secure some sort of summer employment (paid or unpaid) without bar.

Despite the frenzy of the profession, we just need to put ourselves out there. Opportunities may not present themselves, but they are still out there for our plucking. We will find jobs. As one of my friends Ameetball says, 'All we can do is keep calm and carry on.'

Friday, June 29, 2012

ObamaCare Passed Through SCOTUS

That's all the care I'm gonna need. <3 Law School Ryan Gosling.

For other fun Obama Care Memes, click here. My personal favorites are 8, 9, and 16. All of the people that keep saying they're going to move to Canada need to cease and desist.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sustaining a Relationship During 1L

There is an immense irony to life. My next post was going to be about how people in law school can sustain long-term relationships through law school with enough work. In the beginning of the semester, there was a lot of talk from people about how difficult it is to be in a coupledom while attending law school. According to 'every' book and 'every' lawyer, law students should ditch their significant others if there is any ambiguity in the parties' commitment. Other people heard that law school was the greatest test of the strength of your relationship; if you survived the first year, there was a good chance that you guys could make it long-term.

As proof of this, I had been planning to use my section as a case study for healthy relationships. I am clearly not up on all of the relationships in my section. There are almost a hundred of us, after all. Therefore, I'm going to be working off my limited knowledge of the love lives of my peers. As a disclaimer, this analysis is colored by my own bitterness and bias right now. It's not the word of God. Don't take it as such. Also, this post is exceedingly disorganized. Apologies.

Several of my peers got married last summer to preemptively solidify their commitment to each other in the face of the law school beast. From what I understand, those people are still in newlywed bliss. While many non-marital relationships stayed consistently strong, a lot of people broke up with their significant others in the first semester, present company included.

Perhaps it's because we were unprepared to face the stress of the first semester. Everyone goes a bit crazy in the first couple months. Unless you have legal experience, you are probably completely unprepared to understand and appreciate the complexity of the law. Personally, I found the content and the environment to be mentally and emotionally overwhelming, purely because I had no idea what to expect. Moreover, attending school five days a week with seven days of studying sets up crazy hours which can make it difficult for you to prioritize social necessities. Nonetheless, hell is unbearably lonely and most of us ended up back in our original relationships by mid-year.

Of course, most of the people who lived together had an edge on those of us who lived further from our significant others. While a lot of people who lived together had their issues here and there, most of them are still together. I hypothesize it's because returning to the sanctity of your home and the comfort of your lover removes you from the hectic environment and full-time job of law school. Living together provides a measure of stability and security. The majority of these people are doing pretty well.

Those of us who didn't live with our significant others had a slight handicap. I'm not just talking about the long-distance people. The ones who didn't live in the same apartment or the same city often had a more difficult time sustaining their relationships. This is logical and obvious. Good luck contributing to your relationship when:

1. It's difficult to find time for yourself, let alone your s.o., in a crazy hectic schedule.

2. You must expend a lot of effort to see them. People would disappear for entire weekends in order to visit their person. This means that you need to complete a lot of extra work during the week. So, study fifteen hours a day instead of twelve. Have fun with that.

3. Law school is inherently stressful and most people do not understand or have the capacity to understand the content without full immersion. Therefore, good luck explaining to your s.o. what exactly you're doing in Civil Procedure or Torts. I had to explain to mine a number of times the difference between briefing a case and my moot court brief.

I started talking about relationships with some of my peers a few weeks ago because my fiance and I were planning on moving in together this summer and it's just one of those social scripts that naturally follows such news. Surprisingly, a lot of people in our section quietly dropped out of their relationships by the end of this semester. Some stopped dating anyone altogether. Others either continued or began indulging in one-night stands because they didn't want to emotionally invest themselves in something other than law school.

I was shocked. I thought things were going pretty hunkey-dorey in the love department of Section 1. In fairness, I hadn't seen a lot of people for the month of finals when everyone was hiding in study rooms. I wasn't up on the gossip. But still, how wrong I was!

This post was originally slotted to be an uplifting and motivational treatise on how you can keep everything together through a really stressful and unpredictable period in your life. But, as some of my faithful readers may know, my fiance left me a week after my last final. As one of the reasons for the split, he cited the fact that we had both changed so much over the past year that we couldn't possibly meet in the middle again.

It's true. Law school has changed me. I have no doubt about that. I make law-related jokes that my family and friends don't get anymore. I savor my time on stupid websites which dish lawyer gossip and post funny law student anecdotes. I think in IRAC and CRAC and form topic sentences for discourse in my dreams. My tolerance for stupidity has decreased immensely. I have run out of patience for people who speak or move slowly because my time is valuable. Moreover, I have lived like a twenty-something, more or less by myself, for a year in one of the most amazing cities in the world. I cannot deny that I have changed and I am completely happy with the person I have become. I would have liked for the two of us to evolve along the same course, but it didn't happen.

So, I am bummed right now for myself and others in similar straits. I take my hat off to the long-distance folks who made it work. Despite my situation, I optimistically believe that law students can sustain a relationship with enough effort and contact. Looking at my section, it seems as though living together is the winning move. Just a consideration for future law students.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reasons to Study for Finals: Future Malpractice

First, This NY lawyer was suspended by the bar for submitting 'shockingly poor' briefs. He used the excuses 'My paralegal did it!' and 'But I suddenly had a lot of work!' to no avail. Get your shit done now, people. This way, in ten years, you won't get called out for your 'shockingly poor' practical skills.

Second, Some dip decided to undermine the sanctity of the courtroom with his idiotic conduct. I'm too lazy to summarize so here's the relevant info: 'At the deposition, Sahid “repeatedly interrupted the questioning and made improper objections and lengthy speeches that had no merit,” the appeals court said . . . He insulted plaintiff's counsel, [the judge overseeing the case] and her clerk, and even the court reporter, who was eventually compelled to leave the deposition due to the abuse of defendants' counsel.”' ABA Journal The best part of this is that he is also a New York lawyer. We are really earning our reputation right now.

Lastly, speaking of shockingly poor practice, we must acknowledge the behavior of a CA lawyer who settled a personal injury suit pre-verdict for $350,000. Upon learning that the jury was going to award $9.4 million, he quickly claimed mistrial due to his own professional negligence. The judge allowed it but permitted the defense to bring a counterclaim for damages. Apparently, when the lawyer found out he had made an incredibly stupid blunder, he lost his marbles in the court house. After dropping more than $9 million, one way to earn respect from your peers is to flip the frak out.

Happy finals my loves! Do the work now so you don't get sanctioned later! :P

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Billy Shakes!

When I decided to go to law school, my fiance's dad laughed and said: "There are too many of them. The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers!" Let's hope there aren't too many of us out there when we graduate. I would hate if we had to start offing each other Hunger Games-style. 

In a tribute to William Shakespeare on the supposed day of his birth, I have tracked down the infamous passage from Henry VI, Part II:

Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows
reformation. There shall be in England seven
halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped
pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony
to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in
common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to
grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,--

God save your majesty!

I thank you, good people: there shall be no money;
all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will
apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree
like brothers and worship me their lord.

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable
thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should
be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled
o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:
but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal
once to a thing, and I was never mine own man
since. How now! who's there?
Enter some, bringing forward the Clerk of Chatham

The clerk of Chatham: he can write and read and
cast accompt.

O monstrous!

We took him setting of boys' copies.

Here's a villain!

Has a book in his pocket with red letters in't.

Nay, then, he is a conjurer.

Nay, he can make obligations, and write court-hand.

I am sorry for't: the man is a proper man, of mine
honour; unless I find him guilty, he shall not die.
Come hither, sirrah, I must examine thee: what is thy name?


They use to write it on the top of letters: 'twill
go hard with you.

Let me alone. Dost thou use to write thy name? or
hast thou a mark to thyself, like an honest
plain-dealing man?

Sir, I thank God, I have been so well brought up
that I can write my name.

He hath confessed: away with him! he's a villain
and a traitor.

Away with him, I say! hang him with his pen and
ink-horn about his neck.

Exit one with the Clerks

What a sad life we would have lived in Elizabethan England.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fun Tidbits for Your Viewing Pleasure

Study Break!

A new meme has hit the internet in the last few weeks. This guy was running a marathon and managed to be picture perfect. We should all feel shame for our sweatpants and athletic gear Finals wardrobe, lack of adequate personal hygiene, and poor diet regimes. This guy is gorgeous in one of the most physically and mentally demanding experiences humans engage in. We should all aspire to be him. Seriously.

Also, this song is awesome and I'm kind of in love with it. I first heard it when Gotye performed it on SNL last week. The music video is ridiculous and SNL went and parodied it that same night

Enjoy my loves. <3

Finals Vs. the Real World: Prioritzing

I have a gala to go to tonight. It's for a great organization in San Francisco called Public Advocates and I expect to meet some of the movers and shakers for public interest law. At the time that I received the ticket for the event, I was overjoyed at the opportunity to go out in the real world and meet interesting people who do really good work for the city. I've now reached a point of apathy.

I slept in today purely because I refused to leave the comfort of my bed. As finals draw closer, I find myself less inclined to leave my bed as it protects me from some sort of impending doom. I woke up to each of my five alarms and silenced each one in some sort of sleep haze. There's a point in my sleep cycle where all customs go out the window. I stop caring whether I'm pillow throwing or sheet ripping or just downright disgusting. My apathy for sleep custom is like a switch that gets turned off once I hit the nine hour mark. It's quite fascinating actually, because I can usually hold myself together until then. Today, I hit that mark and then extended it by a few hours.

Due to my laziness, I missed the four hours I had allocated for study time. I showed up to our section's award ceremony about half an hour late because I had to become somewhat presentable in a short period of time. Therefore there was no morning beautification ritual (i.e., leg shaving, etc.), which means that I now need to allocate even more time to getting ready for this gala in addition to the traditional hour-long beautification ritual that goes into looking extra pretty for special events.

Moreover, the gala is about three (four?) hours long, which means that valuable study time is being cut away from. And there's an open bar, which means that--regardless of how much I drink--I will likely be somewhat incapacitated tonight. Note to Self: Do not order from the open bar. It's not worth it during finals. Resist.

In any case, it should be a good networking opportunity. I should look at this as a strategic trade-off to make valuable business connections for the future. That's far more important than studying for a final because, in today's market, who you know is far more important than what you know. You can always learn how to perform well; you can't usually get in the door to demonstrate your abilities without a connection.

Nonetheless my Finals' Self is screaming at me right now for making such a stupid allocation of a commodity so close to our Torts exam. Oh well. At least there's free food. I can always come home at 9 p.m. and hit up the library for a couple of hours in my cocktail dress. As K-Money says, "Dress for Success."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Breaking Down Finals Time

I've been having a hard time sleeping lately. Usually my bedtime is at 11pm but I've found it creeping later by about half an hour every night for the last week. I'm not sure exactly where this behavior is coming from but I think it might have to do with finals.

Our first final is in ten days. Ten. 

That's less than a week and a half.
--It takes a bit over a week to complete the hike up and down Mount Everest with a consistent pace and adequate rest.
That's one full trek of Mt. Everest.

That's 240 hours.
--The average marathon runner (male/female across age ranges) completes a marathon in about five hours.
That's 48 marathons.

14,400 minutes.
--Let's say the 'average' 5K time for a reasonably fit adult (male/female across age ranges) is about 24 minutes.
That's 600 5Ks.

864,000 seconds.
--Michael Phelps swims an average 50s 100m fly. (Set World Record at 49.82s).
That's 17,280 butterfly sprints.

Now for the unfortunate part: Subtraction. 

In the next ten days:

Our section has 6 hours of class. A 2 hour review session. A 2 hour 'awards' party. (10 hours)

The average healthy adult will sleep 7 hours a night. (70 hours)

The average adult will consume 2hrs/day with household activities (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.). (20 hours)

Let's set aside 2hrs/day for eating. (20 hours)
--Less if you get takeout, but you still have to spend time making your choice, ordering, engaging the delivery person, and unpacking food. You can merge this time with studying though, which is the choice of most law students.

Let's set aside 3hrs/day for hygiene (showers, teeth-brushing, picking out clothes, dressing, make-up, bathroom use, etc.). (30 hours)

Now, I've probably forgotten some stuff but let's look at the numbers now.

10+70+20+20+30 = 150

240-150 = 90 hours.

Ninety hours of studying.

Subtract your Facebook use, your tweeting, your chatting, your socializing, your stress-busting workouts, your yoga classes, your massage at the Student Health Center, your play time with an adorable rescue dog in the library, your blogging about how little time you have.

Halve your ninety hours of studying because you're being needy.

Those 45 hours are why I've been having a hard time sleeping.

In a positive light though, 45 hours is:
3,240 Phelps 100m fly sprints
112.5 5Ks
9 marathons.
For kicks, the fastest completion of the trek up Mt. Everest was 16 hours. The guy got up and down Mt. Everest well within 45 hours with the right preparation.

Being properly prepared all semester--i.e. taking good notes, reviewing the topics, and keeping up with the work--makes the 45 hours we have left more than enough to kick our final's ass.

Ten days until Torts. Yeah, we got this. Guess I can get to sleep now.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pride and Performance

Before law school, many of us had hobbies we liked to indulge. I love writing personal essays and this is one I wrote for a creative writing class in college. It has to do with law school...sort of. Enjoy reading :)

I started singing in the church choir when I was five or six. Always ambitious, I thought that if I paid homage to God twice a week—once at church and once at choir practice on Saturday—I would have a better place in heaven, up with the angels. Of course, this is also when I thought I was going to become a nun because I was so good at being pious. (I changed my mind once I discovered boys.)

Every weekend, I sang my little heart out and Kathleen, our director, would sing my praises to my father over the din of Sunday Catholics trudging out of their pews. For my first communion, Kathleen asked me to lead the church in song, mainly because I was well-behaved and had an adorable bowl cut. Ecstatic that someone important had recognized my god-granted singing ability, I pulled on my little white dress and veil that morning, congratulating myself on my superior achievement. Heck, to celebrate, I even dove into my sister’s supply of mascara, smearing it all over my cheeks until she came to rescue me from almost certain hookerdom.

As I mounted the stage for the first song, taking care to hold my dress like a princess and to primly place each white, patent leather mary jane on my way to the altar, a gaggle of my nemeses—the other, more girly choir girls—swarmed around me, assuming their positions directly in front of my microphone and edging me out. By the third song, when one of the Megans threw her hands up once again in my face, I’d had enough. I stomped off the stage and firmly plunked my behind in the pew next to my mother, turning bright red with the wheezing tantrum that was about to explode from my asthmatic lungs. I felt betrayed. Kathleen had sold me out.

Worse even, the gaggle of nemeses paraded around in their little white dresses to coos of admiration and their communions were not even that day! Those imposters! Sensing weakness, they crowded around my seat and informed me that Kathleen thought I would like some help—you know, just in case my little eight-year old self got a case of stage fright. Stage fright! I didn’t even know the meaning before she underestimated my superior soprano voice.

Sure enough, the big man in the sky punished me for my vanity that day, because I could never breach a stage again without going bright red and numb from the eyes down. Papers shake and curl in my sweaty hands. Perspiration forms on my upper lip. People swim in and out of my vision as I wobble in place. Heady self-consciousness requires something firm to hold onto. Most ironically, my undergraduate department chose me to be the graduation speaker. I’m pretty sure it was payback for never opening my mouth in class. They were dying to hear what I had to say after four years of classroom silence. Indeed, I’m sure many of them second-guessed themselves when I showed up to graduation red-faced, wet, and dehydrating by the second under the polyester gown in the heat of a New York summer. But I digress. (For the record, I knocked it out of the park. Check out the link up above if you want to see what I said.)

Seeing as how I abandoned my religion once I discovered boys (Hyperbole.), beautiful people make the agony of public speaking even worse. The piercing, crystalline eyes and sexy-casual demeanor of a hot spectator stand in stark contrast to the sopping mess I become when I take the stage. In an upper-level college seminar, two ex-boyfriends and an ex-girlfriend watched me stutter my way through a presentation on landmine removal in former war zones. I might as well have stepped on one during the second slide for all of the interest it would have stimulated in my discussion. Once I heard the embarrassed coughs and saw the cell phones come out, I knew I had lost them. I gave up trying to ad lib and just started reading the slides off directly so I could finish with some measure of dignity knowing that at least the information was out there.

Afterwards, my professor—another beautiful man—shook his head and asked me privately what I intended to do about law school, with the performance anxiety and whatnot. Stuttering, I retorted—to the best of my ability—that I planned to push paperwork for the rest of my life. I would be like Demi Moore in A Few Good Men: beautiful, silent, and deadly with a pen.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Idle Amusements

Law students suffer. It's just a fact of life. No one can understand the misery that is law school until they are dragged kicking and screaming over the hot coals of this unique hell. I do not exaggerate. No one can truly explain what law school is like until they have endured it. But deep down we're all a bit masochistic and we all thrive off of the constant barrage of complaints, so the pain is really no big deal.

Nonetheless, we need to get our kicks wherever we can. In the off moments between studying, gossiping, eating, and partying (in that order), we amuse ourselves with tidbits of internet joy. We have Jezebel, The Onion, a number of blogs, food porn (shameless plug for a classmate's food blog), youtube videos of cute animals (wait until the end of this one), and a plethora of legal humor sites. A personal favorite that made Civil Procedure bearable is Law School Ryan Gosling, a spin off of 'Hey Girl' where Ryan Gosling says sexy things about law school that make even the driest text exciting.


There's a tumblr that's spread like wild fire through my section. #whatshouldwecallme 

I have absolutely no idea who started this tumblr but sprinkled among tons of pop culture references are a few law school truths, leading me to believe that whoever started it suffered through law school. I have a hard time believing that they are currently enrolled due to the gross amount of daily posts. Unless, of course, they stay in the library 6am-11pm like some of the more hardcore law students at my school. No law student has that much free time unless they're currently on uppers.

Check it out and giggle in good health <3

Monday, April 2, 2012

Type-A Love in the Elevator

As a neurotic law student, I have many quirks and pet peeves. Passive aggressiveness tops my list of pet peeves. Undermining my intelligence is directly below that. Thusly, riding the elevator in the University's apartment building, coincidentally named 'The Tower,' is always an exercise in self-restraint. (For those of you who need to brush up on your British History to get that joke, google Anne Boleyn or any of the other wives of Henry VIII.)

The apartment building happens to be gorgeous. It was built in 1920 and served as a hotel for a couple of decades. It's known for its Art Deco style. High ceilings. A gorgeous stained glass window over the entry doors. Expansive windows. Wood paneling in the common areas. Crown molding. The details are what make the Tower so gorgeous. They also distract from a hundred years' worth of filth.

Many people consider it a shit-hole. I'm from New York though, so this gorgeous building evokes in me the nostalgia of times long past where New York was bustling with the construction of Art Deco buildings.  I always wanted to live in a place like this. But now that I've been here for six months, it's time to leave.

You see, the downside of this building is that it's inhabited with neurotic law students such as myself. We're all Type-A. The people that put on airs of being Type-B, cool, level-headed students are filthy, lying, study ninjas. Those are the ones you have to watch out for...

Hundreds of Type-A twenty-somethings inhabit the Tower. People never leave their doors open because they're always furiously studying. The only sounds of life come from the great outdoors where the homeless scream to the heavens and jacked cars explode with their built-in alarm systems, indicating their almost certain death. The only point at which these Type-A twenty-somethings meet is in the elevators (or at the gym but that's an entirely different rant for an entirely different day).

For the first few months I lived in the tower, one to two of the three elevators worked at a time. Interacting with people was a necessity. Entering a Tower elevator is an experience.

First, no one speaks and no one introduces himself. You'd think that, as Type-A, law students, everyone would want to interact with each other. After all, your peers could be your future meal ticket at a big firm. Networking in the legal profession is key to success. But no, Type-A law students do not talk in the elevator. They are too engrossed in their phones, their thoughts, their musings on life, whatever goes on in their gigantic Type-A brains.

Second, door-holding is a thing of the past. I couldn't understand why no one holds the elevator for each other. I cannot count how many times I've rushed to enter a half-open elevator with one person inside, but it closes in my face. Why did that skinny (expletive) fail to hit the <ll> button indicating 'open?' It's pretty much a social norm. You see the person hustling and you press the button. It's not as if they haven't seen me. Oh no, almost every time I've been shut out, I have stared straight into their evil eyes. They lazily lean against the elevator wall, stare at me, and then pick up their iPhone to start texting. They're probably texting their law school bestie about how they shut out some sweaty, chubby brunette running for the elevator. The one elevator that was working at the time. And they live on the 20th floor. Unfortunately, after about five months of this nonsense, I caved. I stopped trying to change the culture of the Tower by holding the elevator open for people. I stopped asking an aggressive "Really?" when my peers let the elevator close. I stopped hustling. I now saunter. Moreover, when I see some poor law student entering the building, I pick up my pace, enter the elevator, and hope to god that security detains them long enough that the elevator door will close and I won't have to be near them. I have changed my character since being indoctrinated with law school.

Third. My biggest pet peeve. The Lobby Button. Oh, I cannot even begin. I live on the twelfth floor of the building. That's about half way up so I'm usually the first person to get in an empty elevator and we pick up people as it descends. Almost all of the time, I'm headed to the lobby. I push the lobby button as soon as I enter the elevator. Every student that enters observes the elevator panel. They look at it. They pause. And then they press the lobby button.

Are you serious? It's lit up. You looked at it. It's as if they don't trust that somebody else has pressed it until they felt it for themselves. Yes, only your magical touch will make the elevator descend to the lobby. You are the king of all lobby buttons. I feel like this undermines my intelligence. I'm the only one in the elevator and you still need to make sure that I was competent enough to press the button.

Even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous this rant is. But, I have counted the number of times that I have entered an elevator, pressed the button, and somebody else does not feel the need to re-press it. Four. Four times in six months.

As I need to find meaning in everything, I have determined that this is a good indicator of which law students are team players or Alpha fe/males. Team players trust that other people are capable of performing at or above their level. Alphas feel the need to constantly assert themselves. Their pressing of the lobby button says, "Hey guys. I know you think you were right, but I'm going to recheck your work just in case."

tl;dr I need to move.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Me, You, and Outlining

The semester is winding to a close at this point. We have another three weeks of school and then finals start. At this point, everyone should be outlining or else having panic attacks about why their outlines aren't complete.

When my fiance decided to surprise me by coming to San Francisco for a week, I couldn't have been more thrilled. We've been doing the long distance thing for close to a year now and we snatch every opportunity to see each other. Of course, long visits require a certain allocation of free time. This means that sweeping romantic gestures, while highly encouraged, require extensive preparation and time management.

I am absolutely thrilled that I get to see my honey bear for a week. But my neurotic law student sense is tingling. I only had two days to prepare for his arrival and that was only enough to send out summer job applications and complete my initial, cursory readings. When will I get to finish that Property outline? What about the second round of Torts reading? Can I just get by with highlighting instead of briefing? Thank God that Moot Court's over but what about my Education Law class? I'm pretty sure we're going to have, like, six cases to read this week and I can't miss anymore classes.

As such, my fiance and I have found ourselves in the Gold Room this sunny, beautiful Saturday in San Francisco. I'm busy wrapping up Torts and moving onto outlining Property while he bangs out some sort of physics theory proof. It's a good thing that he also has work to do over his spring vacation, because otherwise my working alone in the Gold Room while he ventures into SF sans moi would be super pathetic.

Alas, that's the life of a law student. And grad student apparently. At least we have activities planned post-studying. Yes, I even made an itinerary for his stay. Don't judge.

tl;dr It's easy to make long distance relationships work so long as you both have no social life because you're in grad school.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Number Crunching: Debt and Salaries in the Modern Age of Lawyering

I get most of my lawyer information from ABA publications. The articles are written for lawyers, which means that they're concise and well-written because time is money.

(I've taken to computing my study time into dollar signs where I fantasize about paying myself per hour and figuring out how much I would make in a year just from studying. There's a hierarcy of per hour wages dependent on the quality of the studying.)

This morning I opened up my e-mail to find an article entitled "Average Debt of Private Law School Grads is $125K; It's Highest at These Five Schools."

Of course I followed that up with US News and World Report confirmation. USNWR might as well be the word of God in terms of rankings. Everyone says the rankings don't matter but when it comes down to it, EVERYONE looks at USNWR to get a good overview of program caliber. Even the administration of the school. The day that the rankings came out, the Dean of our school sent out an e-mail apologizing that our school dropped another two slots on the rankings but suggesting that the rankings were arbitrary and didn't take into account our strategic planning efforts. #DamageControl

So, for the curious, the most indebted of private law school graduates:

Law school (name) (state)Annual tuition and fees*Average indebtednessU.S. Newsrank
California Western School of Law$42,600$153,145RNP
Thomas Jefferson School of Law (CA)$41,000$153,006RNP
American University (Washington) (DC)$45,096$151,31849
New York Law School$47,800$146,230135
Phoenix School of Law$37,764$145,357RNP
Southwestern Law School (CA)$42,200$142,606129
Catholic University of America (Columbus) (DC)$41,830$142,22282
Northwestern University (IL)$51,920$139,10112
Pace University (NY)$40,730$139,007142
Whittier College (CA)$39,090$138,961RNP

*Annual tuition and fees are for full-time, in-state programs.

Of course, now we wonder about public school debt. According to US News and World Report, UC 'School of Public Interest Law':
Percentage of Grads with Debt: 88%
Average Indebtedness: $102, 030
Using an online loan calculator (the credibility of which is debatable because I just used a Google search), payment over 10 years at 6.8% means monthly payments of $1,174.16. 

For the record, our school was at the very bottom of the fourth page. There are 99 schools ahead of us in average loan debt.

US News and World Report suggests that if you'd like to pay down this debt faster and find a good job in a specialized field, go into Health Law or Intellectual Property. These fields are complicated and require a certain degree of specialization. 
According to PatBar, the average salary of an IP associate is $125,000 in the first year.  That's fantastic!

Wait, rewind. According to US News and World Report, many law schools report that their first year post-grads are making an average of $160,000 in the private sector. How does that work? If IP pays the most at $125,000 and it's a highly specialized field where very few grads find jobs because of experience requirements, then how can most Tier 1 schools report that the average salary of their first year grads is $160,000? It seems as though there's some number fudging going on. 

I turned to The Association of Legal Career Professionals to remedy this confusion. Unfortunately, they had the numbers from 2010, when the legal market was stronger than it is now:
2010 Associate Salary Survey (Private)

Overall median first-year salary was $115,000:

$72,000 in firms of 2-25 lawyers, 
$117,500 in firms of 501-700 lawyers, 
$125,000 in firms of 251-500 lawyers, and 
$160,000 in firms of more than 700 lawyers.
$160,000 in Chicago, LA, NY, D.C. 
$130,000 to $145,000 in Boston, SF 

2010 Public Sector and Public Interest Attorney Salary Report

The median entry-level salary varies: 

civil legal services organization -- $42,000, 
public defenders -- $45,700,
local prosecuting attorneys --  $50,000, 
public interest organizations with issue-driven missions -- $45,000. 

tl;dr Law schools report whatever they want to. But we knew that already, didn't we.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Cold Call

There is a phenomenon in law school called "The Cold Call." It is the most feared experience of the first semester of 1L. By the second semester, no one cares. Your cold call doesn't determine your grade during 1L. Moreover, everyone's given up trying to impress each other. Your peers will judge you for everything that you say and do anyway. In and out of class, no one is safe.

Most professors savor the moment when they cold call an eager, fresh-faced law student. Even the most confident break down over the course of the hour where our professors stare us in the eyes, ask probing questions, and pause in anticipation of the answer. The pause is the best part. The whole class waits for you to open your mouth. No one moves a muscle. No one types. No one breaths. Everyone stares straight ahead. Some turn around to look at you. No biggy.

When I was cold called in Criminal Law--although it was the third time I had been cold-called last semester and I should have been a pro--I'm pretty sure I had some sort of panic attack.

I had lunch with my professor the day before and he asked me if I had done a case yet. Reluctantly, I said no and he told me that my day of reckoning was coming. (My words, not his.) The next morning, as I was showering, I considered just not showing up for class. If I'm not there, he can't call on me, I reasoned. But I knew he was going to be looking for me and I sat at eye-level in the center. I walked into class shaking, sat down in my seat, and pulled my books out of my bag with trembling hands. I tried to start typing notes but my fingers kept spazzing on the keyboard.

I had read the case four times. Briefed it. Re-briefed it. Knew that shit like the back of my hand. I can't remember the case name now but I know it was about burglary. Did I mention it's my professor's favorite case of all time? He re-reads that case for fun. He loves burglary. (I personally prefer rape and murder, but to each his own.)

The common knowledge definition of burglary and the legal definition of burglary are very different. We all have the vision of the burglar: swift like a jaguar, perfectly camouflaged for every environment, stealthy, smart, quick-footed. He would have to be in order to breach the sanctity of our homes, gaining access to the most intimate parts of our lives. Burglars cannot be stupid or slow or fat. They must be the picture of fitness, deftly twisting and turning their way through the laser beams that cross in front of the Hope Diamond. Burglars are crafty. And they steal things. At least that's what I thought when I read the case about burglary.

Burglary is not the act of stealing. It is the entry of a building with the intent to commit a felony. It's a pretty broad crime. And when I was put on the spot in front of my ninety some-odd peers, all I could think about was my pre-law school definition of a burglar. The professor's questions kept flying past me. I answered yes or no with no further analysis, silently praying that the torture would be over shortly. He asked me something along the lines of "Can a man burglar his own house if he enters with the intent to kill someone?" All I could think was: 'That's the most ridiculous question I've ever heard because burglary isn't entry with the intent to kill.' After that, my next thought was: 'You're a fucking idiot. Pull it together. Entry with intent to kill is burglary. But, can a man burglarize his own home?' From there, I blacked out. I don't remember a thing. The next thing I remember is my friend Victoria leaning over and asking if I was okay.

I wish I could answer that question for you right now. I guess technically he can but it just doesn't seem right. Moreover, if you're going to burglar your own home, you're probably about to do something that is far more serious than burglary. Like murder. I think first-degree murder takes precedence. No one goes to jail for the rest of their lives because they burglarized their own home.

In any case, he had me on the spot for forty minutes while I sweated through my clothes, turned bright red (really, people asked afterwards if I was dying), and mumbled incoherent answers for all to hear and judge my intelligence on. My first cold-call went far better than this one, but when I fondly reflect on law school I will always remember my epic fail at the burglary case.

It didn't really matter though. When the final came, I didn't for one minute forget what burglary was. Our professor loves burglary and it was all over that test. Shazaam!

tl;dr Blacking out during your cold call just means the information was sent to your subconscious brain. No worries :P

Torts: The Act of Suing People

Humans are fallible. That's the mantra we all live by. Humans make mistakes and, unfortunately, we tend to make mistakes quite often. We get distracted. We overlook minutia. Sometimes things don't align quite properly in our brains and we have moments of idiocy. Even the most detail-oriented person slips up.

I'm not a fan of suing people for minor mistakes. I think it breeds social discontent and economic problems. People become resentful when they engage in lawsuits for benign reasons and when they pay unreasonable settlements. This resentment breeds, mutates, grows, and infects them and the people they interact with. No one wins in unfair or unnecessary cases.

So when the admissions department at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY accidentally sent out acceptance letters to 122 early admissions students instead of the 46 that were actually admitted, some people got their panties in a bunch. They hastily sent out an e-mail retracting the acceptances and refunding application fees. All should have been well with the world. 

But alas, in our tort-centric world, mistakes are not easily overlooked. Some parents are threatening law suits for getting their children's hopes up.

tl;dr Really? Modern Parenting-Fail

Don't Look at Porn on Your Family Computer

According to this article on the ABA GPS Solo Family Law publication, if you're a family lawyer and your client brings forth evidence that their spouse intentionally downloaded porn on the family computer, you can demonstrate that s/he is an unfit parent and restrict child custody in divorce proceedings. Possession of pornography is not illegal. Distribution to minors is. Keeping porn on your family computer makes it accessible to children.

Possession of child porn is EXTREMELY illegal. Basically, if you can prove that it's child pornography, your client's soon-to-be-ex-spouse is screwed. (pun intended.)

If you happen to represent the pervy client, refer them to a criminal lawyer. They're going to need all the help they can get.

tl;dr Watch your daily dose of lechery on your laptop or at work. (Actually, you probably don't want to do that last one either because most companies have installed spyware on company computers.) Bummer.

Rehabilitative Measures for Cheeky Juveniles

Finally! SF schools realize they need to curb their trigger fingers for suspending and expelling students. The most idiotic school punishment is taking kids that have committed minor infractions and giving them a break from school. Most every kid looks forward to staying home from school. Do you really think that allowing "nefarious" students a pass to be truant is really the right way to deal with them? Do you think that repeatedly nefarious students have stable home environments and will be monitored by their generally absentee parents? Illegal or annoying behavior typically stems from improper parental supervision, whether that be physical or emotional. Any parent can convince themselves that they're the best parent ever, but when it comes down to it, delinquents were corrupted somewhere along the line... Bad behavior doesn't mean juveniles are bad people, it just means that they're a bit counter-social.

So! SF schools have recognized that identifying kids as delinquents generally puts them on a path to more serious behavioral problems. Instead, they're focusing on rehabilitating students that have valid reasons for their delinquent behavior. They allow students the opportunity to defend themselves and enter into an open discussion about their behavioral issues. Wow! Treating students like human beings. Who knew?

tl;dr Kids = Mini-adults. Treat as such.

Education Law. Also Known as Kids Being Stupid.

The best part of EdLaw is that we get to read cases about children in sticky situations. Some of them are fairly tame (do we expel this child for some benign reason?). Others are straight up distressing (parents beating children in homeschooling environments). Others are just plain ridiculous.

This kid made a website detailing plans to kill his teacher via hitman. Oh yeah, he also turned her into a Hitler .gif. He tried to pull the First Amendment card. He failed.

This kid gave a detailed plan to hack the school's computer system in a public newspaper. Boy-genius turned white-collar criminal. Whoops.

Lastly, my personal favorite. This gutsy young man brought a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign to a school pep rally. The administration didn't find it particularly amusing.

And, a most recent current event that I find amusing.

A school expelled one of their seniors for dropping f-bombs on twitter. While the tweet occurred off-premises, the student had signed onto Twitter at the school and the computer security system picked up on the profanity.

tl;dr Let them be children. Except for that hitman one. That's just creepy.

Inappropriate Google Searches

Sometimes law school yields extraordinarily inappropriate Google searches.

For example, my Education Law class requires statutory interpretation. As such, we read a number of statutes from the California Education Code every class.

While reading Cal. Ed. Code s. 48900, I happened upon a word I did not know. A word that had its own subsection of the statute. Cal. Ed. Code s. 48900 outlines grounds for suspension or expulsion of students enrolled in California public schools. While it includes the usual suspects like assault, robbery, extortion, sale/possession of illegal drugs, I happened upon s. 48900(p) which explicitly outlaws the unlawful offering, arrangement to sell, negotiation to sell, or sale of the prescription drug Soma.

Now, as a lifetime student relatively uneducated in drug subculture, I was exceedingly confused. What is this Soma? The only SOMA I'm familiar with is South of Market district in San Francisco.

So I turned to my law school bestie (sorry J-Koo) for the answer: Google. Apparently Soma is some sort of muscle relaxant that kids use in school to get through the day. They drift through classes in a pleasant haze. Additionally, it's an adequate date rape drug. That's probably more what the legislature was trying to prevent. In any case, I included my search history for your pleasure if you'd like to read more about it.

what is soma?
soma ca high school (FAIL)
soma outbreak ca high school (FAIL)
soma teen use
soma teen distribution
soma teacher ca distribution (FAIL)
soma illegal distribution california high school students (NOT CA, but just as good)

Reviewing my search history, I started to experience a wave of panic. What if someone else reviewed my search history? Did I alert the FBI as a suspect for Soma distribution? What if I ever decided to become a teacher and some sort of crazy search recorder released my information?

My neuroses meter started beeping like crazy. Frantically, I went to my search history and erased everything. Maybe no one would notice. Maybe nothing would be recorded. So what does a good neurotic person do? Post the results on her blog with a full explanation.

I, J-Hizzle, do not intend to distribute Soma to high school students.

In any case, this drug must be a serious problem if CA specifically outlawed it. I checked Westlaw for NY statutes and there were no references in the Ed. Law to prescription drug Soma. New York high school students may use Soma. I never heard any whispers of it when I was in school. Moreover, when I was doing my certification, there were no references to it. I suppose the West Coast is just more in vogue than the East Coast.

Of course, back in NY, we had to worry about more important drugs than Soma. Like heroin. Between 2006 to present day, there has been a HUGE outbreak of heroin and prescription pill popping among high school students (and apparently college students if you review the link below). Unfortunately, a boy from my high school passed away the year after we graduated from a heroin overdose. The high school I did the majority of my field work at had a huge heroin outbreak in 2008 where a bit less than a third of the senior class had to enter rehab during the middle of the year.

ny heroin outbreak
ny heroin outbreak long island high school students

More inappropriate Google searches:
--violent serial killers (I spent three hours on Wiki for that one the other day)
--violent sexual assault
--drug paraphernalia ca schools
--prostitution child

Really, this all applies to my education. Unfortunately.

tl;dr I hope the FBI doesn't check my search history.