if justice is blind... Sua Sponte
My law school odyssey: three years, three time zones and beyond.


Yesterday at the gym, I picked up a section of the New York Times that someone had left on an adjacent exercycle. It was the Sunday Styles section, which prominently featured a pair of rose-colored glasses and the headline "What, Me Worry?" I've been nagging my husband with unusual alacrity lately, since he's let himself get so upset over the stock market (among other things). It's always reassuring to collect printed material in support of my viewpoint:

Recession, terrorist threat, clogged arteries, a hole in the ozone the size of France? Fuhgeddaboutit! While lots of conscientious Americans are frantically juggling their finances and questioning their doctors [check. and check. --ed.], many are responding simply by not responding.

Perhaps it is because the sea of potential troubles is too overwhelming, some experts on denial say. Or perhaps a little I-know-nothing-I-see-nothing is the typical mind-set of summer, that reverent time when Americans let things slide off their suntan-greasy backs as they lumber toward September, a month far more suitable to the twin straitjackets of anxiety and responsibility.

[...] "I am absolutely positive that there is something to be in denial about, but if I'm in denial about it, well, how would I know?" Mr. Canfield said as he traveled through Manhattan in a chauffeured sedan from appointment to appointment. "Wouldn't I be denying it? Isn't that why it's called 'in denial'?"

The full article is online here.

I wonder what one must do to be a qualified Expert On Denial?

thus spake /jca @ 1:57 PM...


Some more good advice today, courtesy of a fortune cookie at Hangen Restaurant on Castro Street. This must have been an especially lucky cookie, since it came with two fortunes:

#1: Keep your plans secret for now.

#2: Get your mind set...confidence will lead you on.

I'll take it.

thus spake /jca @ 9:30 PM...


More advice from the boards on ways to do well in your first year. Book brief, check. Do all your work before you go home, check. I'm even debating checking out Planet Law School from the library, just for kicks.

But then there are St. Daniel's books. I need to canonize him afresh: he just sent me a voicemail today, apologizing that he'd been unable to print the Restatements books off of Lexis since they came out to several hundred pages. But unlike most folks, who would stop at the apology or perhaps offer some additional suggestions, St. Dan actually went out and bought the books for me as a congratulatory gift. He is verily my patron saint, and if he weren't so devoutly Anglican I'd promote him to demigodhood right about now. (Unofficially, of course. I doubt my pronouncements would carry much weight on Olympus.)

Meanwhile, I'm picking my way through the purple Garner style guide. He buys into that awful Strunk & White assertion that for conscience' sake is a correct spelling -- doesn't it just give you the sense of fingernails on a blackboard? -- but is otherwise wholly spot-on, a witty and entertaining read. Hopefully the other-colored Garners will prove equally valuable, when I get around to purchasing them as well.

A prominent complaint in Alice Beard's journal was that law school, too much and too often, felt like a no-English immersion course in a foreign language. This could be a problem; I only tend to profit from immersion-style learning if I've got plenty of reference and reinforcement material alongside, word lists and flash cards and workbook exercises. Then again, solving the problem may be as simple as acquiring a copy of Black's Law Dictionary (perhaps coincidentally, edited-in-chief by the polymath Garner himself -- guess that would make it the Red Garner?) and developing a new series of semi-sensical mnemonic songs and hand gestures to go with it. To this day I remember which German prepositions mark their object in the dative case only because I learned to sing them, "aus-außer-bei-mit, nach-seit, von-zu," to the tune of the Blue Danube waltz. How much harder can torts be?

Anyone have any good suggestions for first-year memory joggers? The more tuneful the better!

thus spake /jca @ 3:51 PM...



I've just spent some time reading One Hell, Alice Beard's journal of a nontraditional first year at Catholic University's law school. Holy sinking feeling -- my lungs are lodged in my knees right now.

I should start by reassuring myself that many of the worst features of Alice Beard's 1L year won't likely be relevant to mine. She was 49 years old, nearly twenty years older than anyone else in her section, and had great difficulty finding a sense of community among a cohort of students in the same age group as her children. She had left her job as a journalist at age 29 and spent the next two decades raising her children, and had yet more difficulty phasing herself back into school after twenty years of being "just a mom."

(I'll admit that it's scary for me to be headed back after three years of being "just a consultant," two years of being "just a corporate grunt" and a year of "just fighting to find any old job where I don't want to drink myself to oblivion." I can only imagine how it must feel after waiting nearly seven times as long to head back.)

The scariest thing about Alice's journal, though, is not the much-maligned rule against perpetuities, but rather the official reaction of her school to the fact that she kept an online journal. I had the creeping horrors at her description of a scene I've actually experienced myself: walking into an office, smiling and upbeat, only to be greeted by the veiled hostility of a couple guys glowering over something you've written, offensive passages highlighted for effect. She was at a private school, and therefore the First Amendment didn't apply.

Alice Beard didn't have to consent to the censorship efforts of an inept HR flunky acting out on her dreams of being a writer herself, but that was probably the single instance in which Alice's situation wasn't just gut-wrenching. Here's this woman, fighting her way through a wholly adversarial academic culture, taking solace in one of the few creative outlets still available to her...and these obnoxious fratboys are mouthing off to her in hallways, leaving ill-will-filled notes in her mailbox, harassing her on email. Alice, if you ever read this, I wholeheartedly admire the way you stuck to your guns and showed all those eejits what for.

But now I'm worried. Like Alice, I keep a web journal: not a blog, but a series of longer essays that I write once or twice a month. I started Sua Sponte when I realized that every essay I started writing ended up being about applying to law school. This was designed to be a zone to which I could restrict my law-school-related commentary.

What worries me is that maybe even that much isn't safe. Maybe I've already disclosed too much about myself, my school, and my aspirations, such that some day I too might find myself faced once again with those supercilious, you've-screwed-up stares when I innocently walk into an impromptu meeting.

I don't want to shut down Sua Sponte. It feels good to vent, and everything I've read so far indicates that I'll need a soapbox all the more once I actually start school. But what I do intend to do is up the anonymity of the place. I'll be deleting any links back to my personal website, and hereby establish a pseudonym policy: if you see someone mentioned by name here, other than a personal friend of mine or a fellow blogger, it's probably a name I made up. I may even retire my initials from the post footer; will need to consider that one.

I also want to go on record now with a few unequivocal statements:

- I bear no ill will whatsoever toward the law school where I will begin my first year, next month. I am wholly thankful for their tender of a scholarship and will do my utmost in the coming months to reaffirm their faith in my abilities.

- I may or may not bear ill will toward the law school on whose waitlist I currently languish, behind individuals whose qualifications are, at best, questionably superior to my own. (OK, maybe that wasn't unequivocal. Mea culpa.) At any rate, I have officially given up hope of being called off that waitlist.

- I bear no ill will whatsoever toward the two law schools to which I applied where I was not offered admission this year. I understand that long shots are long shots and that their decisions, based purely on a comparison of my qualifications to the top individuals in their applicant pool, were fully justified.

- I am unconvinced of my destiny to pursue law as a career. My law school experience is intended as an experiment, one whose results will indicate whether or not I'm completely off the mark. Any uncertainty expressed over my career prospects should not be taken as disparagement of any institution or individual other than, potentially, myself.

- In no way do I intend for my online commentary to be construed as any substantial grievance with individuals and/or institutions against whom I admittedly bear no ill will. If you piss me off, I might rant about you, but it doesn't mean I like you any less.

- Should the content of Sua Sponte at any point appear to be derogatory, slanderous, or otherwise indicative of ill will towards an individual and/or institution against whom I admittedly bear no ill will, please alert me to the potential offense using the comments function. I will accommodate suggestions in the interest of sensitivity far more readily than I will ever again consent to censorship.

- Alice Beard is an amazing individual, and I'd like to meet her some day.

And now I can breathe.

thus spake /jca @ 5:42 PM...

"Believe it or not" headline from the AP: Moussaoui Withdraws Guilty Plea Bid. At this point I'm really starting to feel sorry for the prosecutors, not to mention Judge Brinkema. I'm not sure if there's any way they can prevent this from turning into one long drawn-out farce.

thus spake /jca @ 12:20 PM...


Many thanks to Stuart for this lovely link to the Moussaoui docket sheet, featuring such gems as "Motion by Zacarias Moussaoui Already 3 Weeks that I Ask You Leonie Brinkema to Order the FBI to Release My Letter to Europe," "Motion by Zacarias Moussaoui to Stop Leonie Brinkema DJ playing Game with My Life," "Motion by Zacarias Moussaoui to Compel the United States Government to Apologize to the Muslim Ummah for the Insult to the Coran Contain in the Letter to Zacarias Moussaoui," and "Motion by Zacarias Moussaoui Nobody can Prepare Sept 11 in 14 Working Days." And it gets even better. A must-read.

thus spake /jca @ 4:31 PM...

Headline of the day, from MSNBC (actually, had I been paying better attention, this would have been the headline of the day a good month ago): Are We a Nation of Greedy Cheaters?

thus spake /jca @ 3:13 PM...

Hey, look, they noticed.

thus spake /jca @ 2:56 PM...

I owe a huge, openhearted thank you to all of the lawyers, past present and future, who have happened upon Sua Sponte and offered their advice and support (as opposed, to, say, commenting that I need to quit worrying, grow up, or get over myself). These goodly J.D.'s all seem to be good-natured, salt-of-the-earth folks, as are many if not all of the legal professionals I know personally. I wonder why members of the profession are so readily rubber-stamped as nasty and self-serving. My experience with lawyers to date, almost without exception, has been entirely otherwise.

School starts in less than a month, and already I can hear the faint beginnings of a keening crescendo of nerves that will probably prevent me from sleeping the night before orientation. (I hate when that happens. Anyone have any good suggestions for calming oneself down that don't involve chemicals?) I'm debating attempting to smuggle myself into the nearest university lawbrary in search of those Restatements of Common Law booklets recommended by St. Dan. I'm continuing to troll the web in search of my section assignment. I need to buy books. I need to figure out the laptop thing. I need to get a plan in place, to set my pace, to warm up my engine.

Lawyer friends, friendly lawyers: how did you do it?

thus spake /jca @ 11:46 AM...


Oh, I am chortling. I am so chortling. A poster on the law boards shared this article from U.S. News (the law board bible, for unrelated reasons) on how MBAs are going out of style. "Management scholar Jeffrey Pfeffer, of Stanford, no less, examines 40 years of research and concludes there is scant evidence those with an MBA better their careers or fortunes."

It's all about law school, baby.

thus spake /jca @ 7:21 PM...


OK, now this is just getting kind of silly. Moussaoui's roommate is pleading guilty to "making false statements." Not perjury, just "lying to U.S. authorities," whatever that means.

This is one reason why I can't wait to get to law school...maybe there they'll tell me, or at least I'll be able to figure out in context, what these specious-sounding charges actually mean. If I'm pulled over for doing 80 miles an hour and insist that I couldn't possibly have been speeding, am I lying to U.S. authorities?

thus spake /jca @ 6:12 PM...



While discussing the Moussaoui case with my husband, I caught myself pronouncing the defendant's name "moosey-wah."

I hereby volunteer for a temporary suspension of my license to speak French. The guy's name is clearly Moussa-oui, which transliterates to English somewhere between "moose-a-wee" and "moose-owie." (Zowie! --ed.)

Of course, this is a Moroccan name, not a French one. My learner's permit to speak Arabic was long ago revoked, but from what I can recall, this is probably a Frenchified spelling of the name Musawi, which likely is derived from the triconsonantal root SWY (siin-waw-yah), whose meaning (unsurprisingly) is a complete mystery to me.

Keying in a siin-waw-yah at this dictionary returns no real definition; but keying in mu-siin-waw-yah (Musawi) produces the definition "leveler." Adding to the intrigue, a Google search on "musawi" returns the following potential translation: "I am equal to them in degree (musawi lahum fi al-daraja)."1

What can we conclude from this? Perhaps that Zacarias Moussaoui's Moroccan ancestors were carpenters, or practitioners of some other profession that required frequent leveling or equalization. Definitely that my Arabic sucks. And beyond a doubt that spelling things in French is an excellent way to confuse the average media consumer. (Unless, of course, they're French.)

thus spake /jca @ 6:54 PM...


Someone must have barked up CNN's tree about their alarmist Zacarias Moussaoui-related headline yesterday; today's coverage of the same news has been tempered to a front-page teaser of "Moussaoui guilty plea puzzles court," a headline of "Moussaoui may be his own worst enemy" and a fun lead paragraph: "A federal judge tried to save the accused man from himself, but Zacarias Moussaoui, the only suspect facing charges in the September 11 terrorist attacks, wasn't having it. It seemed nothing would stop Moussaoui from digging what seemed to be his legal grave." (article)

Too bad the pieces aren't bylined...still, it's fun to watch editors at work.

thus spake /jca @ 3:43 PM...

Someone from the law boards got in to UVA on a transfer. "Getting my bad lsat in 2000 was the lowest point of my law life so far because I knew that UVa was out of the question. But I worked hard and it paid off. Finally I have avenged that f**king lsat."


Meanwhile the vigils continue, the rumors abound, and the heat-seeking missile types are still finding opportunities to rip into the UCs' admissions policies.

Am I on a grudge match track? I think I am.

thus spake /jca @ 1:54 PM...


An interesting study in law reporting...

Zacarias Moussaoui, everyone's favorite raving jihadnik now that John Walker Lindh is off to jail, pled guilty this morning in court. Not surprisingly, the judge laughed in his face; the guy has failed to make sense throughout his entire trial. But check out how the story's been reported.

On one hand you've got the Associated Press (AP story at the San Francisco Chronicle), the voice of moderation: "Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged as a Sept. 11 conspirator, attempted to plead guilty Thursday to new federal charges that could bring him the death penalty. But the judge -- in a rare bench ruling -- insisted he take a week to think about it."

And then there's CNN (CNN article), where, instead of taking some time and thinking about it, the judge's reaction is interpreted as a flat-out dis: "U.S. District Judge Leone [sic] Brinkema told Moussaoui she would not allow him to plead guilty and urged him instead to enter plea negotiations with the government." Their headline: 9/11 Guilty Plea Rejected.

Do flat-out refusals just make better press than entreaties to reconsider?

thus spake /jca @ 3:03 PM...

The To-Do List, v3.0:

- Follow up with St. Dan to make sure he actually sent the Restatements of Common Law, since they still haven't arrived.

- Wander around the Mountain View library, local university bookstores, and Amazon in search of other stuff I should probably be reading in the next five weeks.

- Research the Caltrain-MUNI commute as opposed to the 280-BART commute, which may obviate the need to make major repairs on the Honda.

- Make major repairs on the Honda anyway, just because it could use more wholehearted appreciation in its life.

- Clean up the apartment before the inlaws arrive on the 27th.

- Continue the search for The Shoes. Yes, those Shoes. The ones you can wear every day without getting blisters, the ones that go with jeans and a T-shirt as well as khakis and a sweater, the ones that flatter your feet and click just right when you walk and don't hurt your back and so on and so forth. I continue to believe that The Shoes exist.

(BTW: new low on the gym scale today! Whoohoo!)

thus spake /jca @ 12:24 PM...

Oiy. There's apparently such a thing as a transfer waitlist.

Just imagine going through waitlist purgatory *twice*. ~nausea!~

thus spake /jca @ 9:42 AM...


Well, I've gone and done it...as of about 2 pm this afternoon, my first semester law school tuition is paid in full. The scholarship fortunately meant that the check I had to write was roughly equivalent to only slightly more than one month's rent ("Now that's low risk!" --my mother); still, that would be a sore sum to desert if I did get the waitlist call.

But I probably won't.

I got a chance to shoot the breeze with A.S. in the admissions office today, a nice thing. He's a pleasant fellow, full of off-the-record tidbits that might well be of value to the last few holdouts on the law boards. My school probably won't need to hit their waitlist, said a source close to the admissions process, unless some last-minute weirdnesses come to pass. Which leads me to believe, although the information wasn't volunteered and I certainly didn't ask, that other competitive area schools are probably in a similar situation.

Which, in turn, means that I really ought to quit hoping for a Hail Mary play.

It's about time, really. Time for me to give it up. I'm headed instead to a decent place without shame, a school that has wholeheartedly appreciated me from the outset. I can use more wholehearted appreciation in my life. (I'd wager most people probably could.) Too much of affection is conditional, manipulated, contingent upon constant effort to be something other than just what comes naturally. Rather than continuing to lust after someone who blew me off, I'd do well to recognize the good thing that I've got.

Because, in all likelihood, a year's time might see me aiming even higher.

thus spake /jca @ 8:28 PM...


In the past twenty-four hours, for some reason, I've received a terrific concentration of good law school feedback over the course of several conversations with various trusted advisors. I'll cite some of the best of it here, and leave all the sources anonymous at the request of some (minority rule in action!).

First, some food for thought on the transfer process:

"The bigger question, from my perspective, is to ask 'what is it that you are likely to be looking to achieve after law school?' If you are looking to reside near your law school, doing very, very well at a second tier law school may make you a more attractive candidate to hire than doing middle of the pack at a top notch school.

"Now, obviously, there are people whose overriding goal is to get their law degree from the best possible law school. If you are one such person, you should of course disregard my advice."

On the perils of falling in with the wrong crowd early on in your first year:

"And do yourself a favor: if you do do stuff prior to school, don't tell a soul once you get there.  Stay away from the "this is what I'm doing to get ahead crowd."  Keep your hard work to yourself. Everyone is working hard, and mouthing off about it just gets you into 'stress circles.'  Trust me, you WILL look back after getting your grades thinking law school isn't all that hard at all."

And my giggleworthiest favorite, a one-liner fired off while the speaker was congratulating me on the scholarship:

"Top three percent at [school name]...that's got to be top twenty percent at [waitlist school], no?"


thus spake /jca @ 7:40 PM...

Everyone else is doing it...so here goes:

Google! DayPop! This is my blogchalk: English, United States, California, Silicon Valley, JCA, Female, 26-30!

(Note obligatory exclamation points.)

thus spake /jca @ 11:34 AM...


Overheard during a round of particularly silly jokes:

(Two Supreme Court justices and a sandwich.)

Maybe I'd improve my chances at a top clerkship by changing my name to Carbonara-Antipasto?

thus spake /jca @ 5:53 PM...

He told me so:

What did I tell you about the scholarship money????  I told you, you are going to a top tier school that will pay FOR you!!!  Congrats, but i told you sooooooooooo


(Don, a cousin who really ought to be my brother, has just finished his second year at Marquette Law School.)

thus spake /jca @ 2:14 PM...

Katie is currently cramming for the bar exam, as is my old pal Ross (who shall remain linkless, unfortunately -- you'll just have to take my word for it that his home page, back when it existed, was awesome).

My perspective on this is obviously limited, having not yet started law school, but I can't help but notice that every lawyer/law student friend, relative, or anecdotal acquaintance on my influence list seems to freak out at the mention of the bar exam. I guess I just don't see why a pass-fail, largely-essay test should be the cause of such intense concern.

Okay, so law school doesn't exactly prepare you for it. But since when does actual school -- the kind with classes and grades and stuff, as opposed to Kaplan evening-and-weekend jam sessions -- bear any relevance toward a standardized test? High school doesn't prepare you for the SAT, and college certainly doesn't prepare you for the battery of preprofessional standardized tests available to you upon graduation. Is the problem simply that there isn't enough time between the end of your 3L year and the bar exam test date to comprehensively nail the material in a full BarBRI prep course? Why not do the prep during law school, then, in the intervening summers or something?

I just don't understand getting this strung out over a pass-fail test. It's hardly as though your career prospects are going to hinge on you clearing the ninety-ninth percentile (grimaces and makes X with forefingers in the direction of the LSAT). AFAIK your individual score, far from being a barometer of your potential legal aplomb, isn't even released to the public. So if all you've got to do is pass, and you've already managed to pass (and hopefully do well at) three years of coursework that must be at least tangentially related, what makes the bar exam such a stretch?

(Yes, I'm clueless! Yes, I know! Please enlighten me!)

thus spake /jca @ 12:41 PM...


The news of the scholarship has finally inspired me to start reading Garner, the style guide I bought a few months ago. I now realize that the Garner I have is one of several Garners currently in print. (Collect 'em all!) If I felt like fretting, I could certainly find fretworthy material in wondering exactly how many Garners I really ought to read before school starts next month. St. Dan's restatement books haven't yet arrived, either.

Amazing, how consistently compelled I am to fret!

My mother wound up offering the lone dissenting opinion to date on the scholarship: "But what about what you said before, about how you didn't want to be the big fish, how you wanted to go to school with a group of people where everyone was this smart? Doesn't this just show that now you're not going to get that?"

I suppose I could have immediately latched onto that kind of thinking, if I wanted to, but I was just too happy at the thought of good news to bother with pessimism. "No, no, no," I replied, "this is part of the solution."

"How so?"

"It's a performance incentive, see? And a reassurance at the same time. I'm going in there in an excellent position, and all I've got to do is stay on top of my game and get the grades to be wherever I want to be in a year."

"Ah," she said, sounding unconvinced.

"Look," I said, "the thought occurred to me, of course it did...but then I looked in the mirror and said to myself, these nice people are giving me a whole bunch of money because they think I'm awesome, and I'm going to *fault* them for that??"

Laughter in response. Now she got it. "Right," she grinned. "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

"In a year," I said, "this will still have been a good thing, no matter what."

thus spake /jca @ 2:33 PM...

We've been discovered, Muriel! Sua Sponte has finally achieved level 1.0 on the blog-notoriety scale: it's been blogged by someone I didn't already know. Kudos to Howard, to whom I have now actually introduced myself, for turning over this particular rock and catching me in time before I scurried back into my nest.

thus spake /jca @ 10:47 AM...


I'm still in the sweet from yesterday. My husband treated me to an excellent cheap date at The Dhaba, a chaat house in Sunnyvale where the combo platters are handed to you on a tray, the forks are plastic, and the raita comes in miniature styrofoam coffee cups. We then got a little more extravagant and indulged in the purchase of a long-craved bottle of single-malt Scotch, courtesy of the motherlode.

N.B.: There are few things as satisfying as curling up on the couch with your significant other and watching The Empire Strikes Back while nursing a wee dram of Ardbeg, particularly when this is all happening the same day you've just won a scholarship to law school for being as cool as you'd hoped you were.

The Ardbeg had a particular spiritual significance for me as well. It was one of the original rewards I'd promised myself (along with a portable MP3 player, some new walking shoes, a splashy new laptop, and so forth) back in the spring, pending the occasion of my acceptance to the school that wound up waitlisting me. When things didn't work out as I'd hoped, I found myself on a downer: I hadn't earned any of my rewards. I didn't deserve them, falling short of my own expectations the way I had.

But now I've earned my Ardbeg, or in my husband's equally-apt words, "Now you've got a damn good reason to go to [school name]."

thus spake /jca @ 12:27 PM...



I just got a call from A.S., a.k.a. the Dean of Admissions at my law school.

Guess why?

Two thirds tuition, baby.

This calls for some bouncing blobs.

Apparently, saith Dean S. ("Call me A.,"), fifteen folks get these out of a class of 430. The funding is even renewable, contingent on one's maintaining a GPA of -- wait for it -- 3.0. As in three point oh.

"You'll be getting a letter in the mail," he added, "and I'll be sure a copy is also sent over to Financial Aid and Fiscal Services." This is not a Financial Aid gig, he explained, but rather something run wholly out of the admissions office. This is not based on need. This is based purely on merit.

I had given up hope months ago that this would happen. I'd believed all the ephemeral rumors floating about, telling me they'd award merit scholarships before the first deposit deadline passed. I'd figured I probably wasn't one of the tippy-top people coming in, and had decided that I was OK with that.

But now it's confirmed. I'm already in the top 3% of the class, before school even starts. And now, on those depressive days when I worry I'm going to screw everything up and blow it, I've got a fait accompli I can look at that will tell me: don't worry. just be you.

I will!!!

thus spake /jca @ 5:14 PM...


If I'm going to be a lawyer I'm going to have to learn to type the word lawyer without continually reversing the W and the Y. You don't see this, since I usually catch myself in the act and correct the error on the fly, but the sad fact is that I type laywer pretty much every time I try not to.

'Course, maybe I'd rather be a lay wer. Guess it beats being ordained.

thus spake /jca @ 9:14 PM...

I've got a number of decisions to make, but can't yet make any of them based on the amount of information I have on hand. The flow probably goes something like this:

1. Find out section assignment.
2. Research and procure section-appropriate casebooks.
3. Figure out how much any given day's casebook haul is going to weigh.
4. Figure out if current laptop is just unworkably heavy on top of any given day's casebook haul.
5. (which may also go between steps 3 and 4) Figure out what kind of bag I'll be using to carry my daily haul on the commute to SF.
6. If necessary, purchase new laptop. Sell old one.
7. If necessary, begin serious weight training at gym to avoid daily-haul-induced back problems.

I saw some nice Fila backpacks on sale for $25 today at Costco, but couldn't exactly buy one since steps 1-3 haven't yet come to pass. (Or rather, I guess I could have, but wasn't in the mood to potentially waste $25 on a bag I'd wind up supplanting in a week or two when I'm fully informed on the load capacity it's going to require.)

Law-board rumor has it that those backpacks with the secret wheels and telescoping handle are decidedly gauche. (Costco didn't have any nice cheap ones anyway.) My husband carries a swell $250 TUMI backpack on the days he walks to work, but I doubt he'd let me steal it, particularly since it looks like I'll likely be stealing his car to commute as well.

*sigh*. Another typical case of me making plans before I can execute on them. Why don't I postpone thinking about this any further until I'm actually equipped to do something about it.

thus spake /jca @ 3:52 PM...


How to make top 10% in your first year...about a dozen different suggestions.

thus spake /jca @ 1:28 PM...

Don't complain or talk about your problems. 80% of people don't care and the other 20% think you deserve them. --Mark Twain

Depressive day today, thinking lots of upsetting thoughts about schools and transfer potential and not fitting in and being stuck somewhere miserable and undershooting my own expectations again. No point in detailing these here any more than I already have.

The good news is, I lost a pound since yesterday. It's sadly addictive to stand on the scale at the gym. Kind of like checking the value of our portfolio, except that when the numbers on the gym scale go down, it's a good thing.

thus spake /jca @ 12:50 PM...


I've made some good headway on my to-do list: my health forms are copied, mailed-out and safe in my files respectively, and after a few hours supine on the living-room couch yesterday, pausing only to blow my nose (I'm feeling better, but still have the sniffles), I finished reading A Civil Action.

Things I've learned about The Law from A Civil Action:

- Personal injury litigation sucks.

- Actually, any kind of litigation where you pay your own expenses out of pocket and your fee is contingent on victory sucks.

- Unethical judges suck.

- The Massachusetts legal system is riddled with Harvard guys, all of whom seem vaguely in league with one another.

- If you want to win a case in Massachusetts, either go to Harvard, or team up with someone who did.

- If the EPA looks like it's doing your discovery for you, then take a bit more time, save a few bucks, and don't spend $2.4 million incompletely reduplicating their efforts.

- If you've already lost a case and the EPA comes out with a report stating your defendants were guilty all along, you've still lost the case.

- If your Porsche has been repossessed, your home has been foreclosed, and you're living on a couch in your office, but you still insist on wearing fancy hand-tailored suits, you probably have issues that a career in law wasn't designed to solve.

Conclusion: the book was awfully East Coasty, of course, although I guess you wouldn't expect to find too many California law school grads riddling the Massachusetts legal system. I'm certain that my law school thought we should read it for reasons other than to establish the preeminence of Harvard Law School in our collective mind; I'm just having fun conjecturing, at this point, what those reasons were. To inspire in us a distaste for expensive, high-stakes personal injury law? To demonstrate how singleminded devotion to the pursuit of justice in the face of a bunch of unethical Harvard cronies can make an ordinary Cornell Law grad go bankrupt and insane? Or to show how utterly localized the law is, to somehow console those of us headed elsewhere that even if we graduated from a top school we'd probably stay in the area to practice anyway?

Ugh, that's not a good thought. Not thinking that thought.

I do think that I'd rather be on the defense in a case like this, happily billing my hours to some big ol' company, filling the hired consultant's shoes all over again. Perhaps this is supposed to be the lesson we take away from the book: are you cut from the cloth of the idealist, willing to spend every last penny you have in an effort to punish Nasty Big Business for all of the nastiness it inflicts on Helpless Joe Average? And if not, don't you feel sleazy now after reading about these Harvard guys getting paid big bucks to defend Nasty Big Business who still wound up basically having to cheat to win the case? Don't you feel sleazy seeing how that judge just let his buddy get away with cheating? Do you want to be like them? Eh? Do you?

*sigh*. I don't respond well to guilt trips.

And yet A Civil Action was a good read. It didn't feel like a guilt trip. The author respected, and slightly teased, every character throughout, passing judgment on no one (except through the mouths of other characters, who were presumably expressing their own opinions -- this is, after all, a true story). One quote in particular turned out to be my personal favorite:

Schlichtmann recalled the judge mentioning a settlement in which a company had established a scholarship in the name of a boy killed by one of its outboard motors. What about setting up several scholarships? Better yet, what about demanding that [the defendants] put up the money for a foundation for leukemia research, perhaps at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute? Or maybe endowing a university chair in environmental health?

Gordon liked the last idea. "They all went to Harvard," he said, referring to the defense lawyers. "They'd love that."

"Give somebody else a chance," said Kiley. "Give it to Boston University."

thus spake /jca @ 3:09 PM...


Headline of the day: Justices draw the line with underwear searches. "The bus search case overshadowed the underpants search challenge because of its impact on the government's anti-terrorism efforts." Oh, to have been a fly on that wall.

(Runner-up for headline of the day: A Coup Plot Gone Awry, or a Burmese Comic Opera?)

thus spake /jca @ 10:09 AM...


The Updated To-Do List for July 2002:

- Photocopy blood test results (I should probably keep a copy in case anyone else decides that my personal space requires re-invasion -- 'twould suck not to be able to transfer without getting *more* blood work done, although in a way that would almost seem fitting at this point).

- Send in blood test results and associated forms.

- Send in tuition (I'm thinking I might just hand deliver the Big Check; the thought of Big Checks knocking about the U.S. Postal Service gives me the willies).

- Finish reading A Civil Action.

- Start reading St. Dan's Restatements of Common Law, as soon as they arrive.

- Continue obsessively checking the transfer threads on the law boards in search of encouraging precedents.

- Continue drooling over this laptop until I can muster the gullet to write another Big Check.

- Obtain new brakes and new tires for the Honda, since that's going to be the commute car. Unless, of course, the train thing winds up working out.

thus spake /jca @ 11:10 AM...


I've fallen mildly ill, it seems, or else am having a bitterly prolonged allergy attack (unmitigated by any of the allergy-type meds I've been taking to fight it, even my husband's prescription ones). Bragging about my great health a few days ago must have tipped my karma. *sigh*.

The allergy, or whatever it is, has been compelling me to sleep a great deal (twelve hours last night alone). This, in turn, is resulting in more upsetting dreams, sprouting like weeds across the ample field of NyQuil-induced slumber.

Last night's worst one involved me rushing about in a great hurry, collecting my first semester's exam grades so I could begin my transfer applications. (The scenery wasn't exactly any particular school, and at times was so full of jungle flora as to cease to resemble a school altogether. But that's dreams for you.)

Three of the exams, for classes taught (strangely enough) by my sophomore high school English teacher, Mrs. Howell, came back A's. Mrs. Howell was there, gleefully clapping my shoulder and complimenting my writing in her Texas accent. All seemed good.

Then I picked up a fourth exam, this one graded by my former AP English teacher and drama coach, Mrs. Herzberg. She had given it a 47, which, as she hastened to explain to me, was actually a D+ on the curve.

And then everything, of course, shattered to pieces. Or rather, was completely consumed by rampant jungle flora.

There's worry, and then there's worry.

I'm half-tempted to get back in touch with Mrs. Herzberg, only because I'm sure this would greatly amuse her.

thus spake /jca @ 4:39 PM...


Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due. -- William R. Inge (1860-1954)

Happy Fourth of July!

thus spake /jca @ 11:24 AM...


More good news: I'm apparently in excellent health.

So saith a blood test I had done last week, whose results just came back today. I'm blissfully free of tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis, with antibodies aplenty in my bloodstream to prove it. I had a feeling that I'd already been immunized against the aforementioned nasties, but couldn't find a coherent set of vaccination records among my various parents' files and personal relocations.

I had to provide proof of immunization for the august Health Services department, so in the absence of actual records, a blood test it was. (For those keeping score, this marks the second occasion on which blood has been drawn from me for some law-school-related reason. I guess it beats the extraction of a pound of flesh.) Now, thankfully, I have actual records demonstrating that they can let me come to class this fall without fear that I'll infect my classmates with anything deadlier than enthusiasm.

Best of all, my cholesterol is 175.

thus spake /jca @ 1:52 PM...


Good news -- my tuition bill has, by some miraculous creaking within the University of California's byzantine records system, already been revised. How's this for good sense: The invoice I received on Saturday (postmarked 6/28 and, for some odd reason, dated 7/1) must have gone out just before the General Counsel's office alerted Fiscal Services that I was, in fact, a California resident. By the time I called the Fiscal Services office this morning, they had already wiped the out-of-state tuition line item off my bill, effectively reducing the thing by half. Whee!

The one remaining line-item issue is the student health insurance fee, a numerologically significant (?) $444. The fee technically won't be removed from my bill until the Health Services office opens on August 1 and reads my insurance waiver soon thereafter. This could potentially present a problem, given that the tuition bill is due paid by the 19th of July. But I'm going to place my faith (however illogically) in Maria, the nice lady to whom I spoke this morning, who counseled me just to deduct the $444 from my remaining balance due and send in the rest.

The stub to be sent in along with the Big Check bears a cute disclaimer in boldface along the bottom: If you do not return this reply the Admissions Office will assume you do not plan to attend.

I thought I still had a few more weeks before I'd be compelled to give up my last shred of hope for a waitlist call. Now that I think about it, though, I guess I already have. I've finally swallowed the pill that that school isn't going to come through for me this year. I've quit begging St. Dan to say novenas for me and am more or less OK with the fact that I'm now on the transfer track, complete with the workload and stressload and potential eventual stigma that may entail. It's what I'm doing now, and I'm committed to it.

I'll get to the Home of the Waitlist next year. Or maybe I'll even turn them down.

thus spake /jca @ 1:52 PM...

more final thoughts...

sua sponte
transferring law schools
on the moblog
the short list
otherwise of note
recurring themes
fellow travelers
other blawgs