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


a valediction for 2002, and my first semester

Yeah, it can end now. 'Bout time.

I am six days away from pulling up the lists, checking for my code, and finding out the all-powerful numerical result of my efforts. (Yes, I'm doing my best not to think about this. You'd be surprised how calm I'm managing to stay.)

I can't think of anything I was supposed to do differently this semester. I followed every suggestion, rule, bit of advice that was offered. I sat up and paid attention, took religious notes, did all my reading but never once highlighted any of my casebooks, briefed every case in my little Access database, and never missed a single class. I never once played Solitaire. I made the train every morning and actually studied on most of those rides. I made all my own outlines (wound up not using that one for Contracts except for components), took over thirty practice exams, studied alone and spent exam nights staring at a hotel ceiling, training my eyes onto the prize.

I slept seven or eight hours every night, kept going to the gym, forced myself to down three meals a day, and limited (seriously!) my alcohol consumption back to one shot of grappa or Stoli Vanil at bedtime. I glued a smile onto my face; when my cousin or uncle or Bill Altreuter suggested that this was something I ought to be loving, I nodded vigorously and spoke my agreement. My grinning face was such a fixture that people actually asked me what was wrong if they saw me not smiling.

If I wasn't exactly the Martha Stewart of first-year law students, I must have come about as close as possible.

And now we'll see what that was worth.

I have six days left to imagine that it will all have been necessary, that a glorious hard-earned result will materialize before me like an apparition of St. Yves or St. Catherine of Alexandria, grinning and giggling and tasting like honey.

This might actually happen; but in the meantime, for the next six days, nothing worse has happened. And 2002 is past. Godspeed, and may 2003...well...may it be different.

thus spake /jca @ 11:56 PM...


Oh, so belated. Sua Sponte has missed Yule, Hanukkah, Christmas and Eid altogether. Ah well: Happy Kwanzaa!

Pre-emptive apologies for the sparseness of blogging over the next week and a half. The borrowed 'puter to which I have access tends to spit and hiss when it catches sight of Blogger. It learned this behavior from my mother-in-law's hellion of a cat (my cat-in-law?). "Isn't he the prince of everything!" she squeals in delight as the beast (all nineteen pounds of him) lumbers into the kitchen, licking his chops and hatching plans to steal another steak off her broiler pan.

I realized, after exams had ended, that I'd lost a remarkable amount of weight while studying. I'd been careful to eat well and exercise, but keeping myself that keyed meant burning the calories from somewhere. I saw my face in the Abigail bathroom mirror the morning of my Crim exam and was astonished at how pale I looked. My reflection in windows looked altogether ghostly.

Thankfully, or maybe not so thankfully, my mother-in-law has resolved any problems I might have had with dropping too many pounds over too short a stretch. In the past three days we've had seven or eight full meals, one after another, complete with trimmings. Scampi and filets mignon with three or four vegetables on the side was just the prelude to my mother-in-law's magnificent Christmas lasagna, layered with slabs of mozzarella cheese and flanked with homemade meatballs the size of the clementines I munched on for dessert in an attempt not to stuff myself overmuch with the ensuing cheesecake. Now I'm wondering if I'm not gaining too much weight back. "That's what this time of year is for!" my mother-in-law reassures me, passing around a dish of mixed nuts or torrone or Almond Roca. Her cat certainly seems to agree.

Eat well, folks, and cheers!

(The notable absence of exam stress/post-exams blues in this post was deliberate. I may have more to say about it later, if I feel like thinking about it again.)

thus spake /jca @ 10:02 AM...


Holding my blogbreath for a few days while I simultaneously travel back to the East Coast and attempt to coax myself out of the post-exams blues. TTYS.

thus spake /jca @ 11:37 PM...

Please subdue the anguish of your soul. Nobody is destined only to happiness or to pain. The wheel of life takes one up and down by turn. --Kalidasa, dramatist (c. 4th century)

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

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

--Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

thus spake /jca @ 7:33 PM...


Recently, flipping through my used/new-to-me Property casebook to make sure it didn't have too much highlighting in it, I felt my heart stop for a moment when the book fell open to a case called Jee v. Audley.

Yes, there's a story behind the name. No, I don't feel like telling it now.

thus spake /jca @ 4:49 PM...


The glee kind of never materialized.

I feel hazed, hosed, hung out to dry in the midst of the still-pouring rain (so much for a drought in the Bay Area this year). I went charging through the Crim exam as best I could, spotting all the issues that were to be spotted in a ninety-minute timespan, discoursing on the policy of encouraging the consumption of alcohol vs. severely punishing the harm done by the intoxicated, and coming up with four different arguments as to why acquitting battered women of murder does not constitute issuing victims of abuse "a license to kill." But then I hit the last corollary to the last question: whether it was possible to harmonize favoring a defense for battered women who kill their abusers with a blanket opposition to the death penalty.

As many times as I reread that sentence, I couldn't see the contradiction.

Thought had by me, right at that moment, the only thought of any weight that I managed to think throughout the exam:
I have hit the wall.

I had twenty minutes left in the exam and was not going down without a fight. I finally came up with two plausible arguments for why this might even represent a contradiction (please don't suggest any more; it's already 100% in violation of personal credo that I'm even discussing the exam this much), shot them both down, finished typing within seconds of the proctor calling time, and found that my legs were shaking uncontrollably as I left the room. Joe Cocker jangled in my ears like a knell. I stumbled over to the bookstore, sold back my Torts and Crim casebooks, and bought casebooks for Property and Employment Discrimination next semester. Then I hurried up to the quiet third floor, called my husband, and did my best to talk it out. Plenty of tears in my eyes, very few that actually fell. I needed a good cry, and still do, I think.

I should be thankful that I didn't hit the wall until twenty minutes from the end of my last exam. I should be thankful that I still managed to choke out something resembling a coherent answer. I should be thankful for my husband's coaching, for lunch with wonderful Patrick who hugged me without reserve, for my mother's common sense over the phone on the train home: "You do your best and t' heck wit'em!"

I am thankful for these things. I am thankful for all of the prayers and waves that everyone sent, and I am particularly thankful that the academic dean saw me in a semi-stupor on the third floor and directed me down to the 1L party on the second, where Abdul from the cafeteria plied me with a plastic cup of Charles Shaw cabernet. "Guess what!" S. squealed to me as I approached a table populated by friends. "G. bought an engagement ring!!"

Sure enough, he intended to propose to his longtime girlfriend on the day after Christmas, while they vacationed together in Maui. He took my hand to get a better look at my own engagement ring and joked "See, look at this huge motherf*cker." "It's one carat," I responded with a grin. "So's the one I got her," said G., "and if she says no you'll see it on eBay."

Heading back to the bar for a refill on the cabernet, I passed one of the buffet tables and noticed some familiar small red berries garnishing a tray of sandwiches. A student I didn't know was collecting them into a pile on her plate. "I love pomegranate seeds," she told me, unbidden. "They're, like, my favorite things in the whole world." "Mine too!" I squealed back, and suddenly found myself in a giddy conversation with a complete stranger on the Zen of pomegranate study breaks and the best way to protect one's clothing from juicy projectiles. I didn't even actually get any of the pomegranate seeds off the tray. It didn't matter. G. was getting engaged, pomegranates were wonderful, and exams were over.

thus spake /jca @ 3:36 PM...


Nine practice exam questions later, I'm still tired. But I think I'm getting there. At least as far as criminal law is concerned.

I'm going to head out now, pick up a burrito for myself (have been spending too much money at the vegetarian restaurant lately! Time for a cheapie; we'll splurge on the celebration after this is all over) and catch the 5:27 train up to town. This will be my last night at the Abigail for months, the last night I'll spend with an outline occupying the space on the passenger-side pillow that is usually reserved for my husband.

And then, tomorrow morning at 8:30, will be the last exam of my first semester of law school. Send all the waves, prayers, and good vibrations you can spare -- I need them now more than ever. I'll need to issue-spot like wildfire (including exceptions, defenses, causation, complicity, etc.), then shift gears and ponder policy like an actual pundit (into which law school may yet turn me; we shall see). I shall appreciate your support beyond measure.

I'll be such an unbearable bundle of glee after this is all over that I might actually require restraints.

Until then!

thus spake /jca @ 4:37 PM...

I realized, as I flipped through my outline on the elliptical machine this morning at the gym, that this was the last day I'd be studying at the gym for months. (Or at least weeks.) I am so close to freedom. Just one more day of work -- must work! -- and three hours of exam stand between me and the first substantial break in my law-school immersion since before school started.

I'm getting really tired, I'll admit. I can completely understand why people just crumble on the home stretch to the last exam. It's a different kind of exhaustion from the standard version: I can still burn off a couple hundred calories at the gym without dragging, but when faced with another practice exam, I protest despite myself: not...another...one...please...

But slacking is not an option. I've got five years' worth of practice exams to outline this afternoon, to make sure that my short checklist is a fully-functional issue spotting tool and that my obese outline, larded with issues that might potentially figure in policy discussions, is navigable with sufficient ease to be useful.

Tired though I might be feeling, I only need to sprint for twenty-four more hours.

[deep breath]
[keeps going]

thus spake /jca @ 11:25 AM...


Ugh, eight straight hours is way too long to spend on a sagging couch hunched over one's laptop. I now have 28 pages of outline and 18 pages of policy discussion notes (for Professor Crim's dreaded Policy Questions). If I use a tenth of this on the exam, at least I'll be glad I included that particular tenth.

I would be lunchmeat if this were a closed-book exam.

Fortunately, it isn't. And true to form, I've got my one-page exam checklist (figure a high-level index to the big ol' outline) to guide me through the issue-spotting.

Now it's off to husband's office to actually print this mess. I'm going to be doing a lot of thumb-indexing tonight...

thus spake /jca @ 8:45 PM...

Crim is slow going. Really starting to get tired, and this is a(nother) damn long outline I'm working on here. Death penalty yada yada yada. I needed to take a brain break, and found this:

Which Supreme Court Justice are you?

My results (*giggle*):
#1 Scalia
#2 O'Connor
#3 Thomas
#4 Ginsburg
#5 Kennedy
#6 Rehnquist
#7 Breyer
#8 Souter
#9 Stevens

thus spake /jca @ 1:26 PM...

I had a scary moment this morning when I went in to my laptop, attempted to open my still-in-progress Criminal Law outline, and found that the file had been corrupted. (No Word document should ever be larger than 4MB; this should have tipped me off that something was amiss.) Just yesterday, I had backed up every file on my laptop hard drive...except my Crim outline, which I figured I'd just back up later in the evening after I'd clocked out for the night. No dice. Husband put on one of the Lord of the Rings DVDs as a distracting treat for me, and all thought of law school drained out from my mind.

And then, overnight, the file had mysteriously bloated from maybe 300K to over 4MB. It happily proceeded to crash Word whenever I tried to open it.

Oh, shit.

Forcing myself to think optimistically -- it's far too late in exam season to panic, besides which I doubt I can spare the emotional bandwidth to sustain a good hard panic attack these days -- I chanted silently to myself, good thing the outline wasn't finished, you'll better learn the parts you already did by doing them again, remember this is all a continuing process, you want to be refining your outline anyway. And finally, out of desperation, I attempted to open the file in Wordpad.

It worked.

I lost a few fancy schematics and flowcharts done in WordArt, but since they had mostly been created by K. (who is much better at the beautifying-your-outline thing than I am) it was hardly a major setback. My text was all there. Thank goodness. Thank goodness.

And now, back to work.

thus spake /jca @ 9:17 AM...


Fun Google hits of the day:

"Civ Pro exam hell" (c'mon, it wasn't that bad!)
"Torts Battery flowchart" (sorry, I still have to put those outlines up)
"contracts exam checklist" (ditto)
"C's in law school" (*spit!*)
"LSAT score of 169" (wow, remember when that mattered?)

thus spake /jca @ 6:06 PM...

A quick burst of rain just skipped through my town, and now the brilliant sun is back out again, so of course I was inspired to duck my head out onto the balcony and do some rainbow-spotting. There it was, over to the east. All good.

But then I noticed some movement: a tiny, tiny bird was perched on one of the (long-deceased) potted plants on the balcony. It peeped and turned its head, showing off its needlelike beak and astonishingly red neck ruff and breast. Then it took off and hovered directly above the plant, wings blurring into barely-visible smears.

I love hummingbirds; they're one of my favorite things about living in California. This one seemed to be bearing plenty of good cheer as it buzzed around my balcony against the backdrop of the rainbow. I gladly returned the sentiment.

thus spake /jca @ 3:04 PM...

*rim shot*
So much for the closed-book exam.

As far as I know, I didn't forget any of the things I'd made myself memorize. I hit 1332, 1367, and even -- no kidding! -- 2072 among my statutes, and didn't miss a case. At no point did I blank. I just wrote, wrote, wrote like mad. (Inspired by the Angry Clam, this time I remembered to check my character counts at the end of each question: 14,400 and change for the first, and 10,800 and then some for the second. Not bad for two hours and fifteen minutes.)

The "Actual Thoughts Had By Me During the Exam" feature is temporarily suspended in this post, since I didn't have any actual thoughts during this exam. I was just singlemindedly working, without distraction, the whole time. At one point I found myself running out of steam and had to stop, blink a few times, flex my wrists and check the clock before I could force myself to finish another sentence. But two hours and fifteen minutes is not a lot of time, not when you've got a two-page personal jurisdiction fact pattern and a frickin three page Erie fact pattern. Bleah.

I have a set of lucky charms and totems that I routinely wear into the exam: a crew shirt from my alma mater as a token of my intellectual foundation, a heart-shaped amber charm as a token of my husband's support (he gave it to me last Valentine's Day), my tree of life murrina charm as a token of high energy and focus, and my late father's college ring to invoke his guidance (he was an attorney himself). But for a closed-book exam, I had to supplement this array with a few extra memory-boosting totems, just to make sure I didn't forget any statute numbers.

Fortunately I collect elephants, and had quite a selection to choose from. I picked two that were gifts from good friends: a small jade elephant pendant (which didn't get too tangled with the two other necklaces I was wearing) that had been a birthday gift from my friend M. in Arizona, and a pocket-sized elephant with a Canadian penny sticking up out of its back. "Lucky Canadian Penny Pachyderm," read its packaging. It had been a gift from Layne and Becky, back in June when we'd all met up in Vancouver, and it spent the exam in my pocket just as its jade cousin hung around my neck. A good thing, too. They did their job well.

People are losing their inhibitions and yielding to the temptation to discuss the exam in droves. I overheard R. and J. trading confident assertions that they'd nailed the personal jurisdiction question with time to spare, and had to plug up my ears and leave the room. La la la la. P. in the elevator started talking about Christmas break, which was a much nicer subject to think about without fear of jinxing myself. "We're headed to New Jersey for two weeks to stay with my inlaws," I told him. He was headed home to Los Angeles. I joked that he was in for nicer weather than I was, and he responded, "Anything's better than this place."

San Francisco wasn't terribly inhospitable to me today, though. It stormed all last night, with such a howling wind as I hadn't previously heard in California (with the possible exception of the last time I found myself writing a Civ Pro exam -- maybe there's something about Civ Pro exams that inspires bad weather, or vice versa). I huddled up in my hotel bed, very glad to be indoors and warm and dry, and woke up to find that the clouds seemed to be lifting. By the end of the exam, the sun had come out in full force, almost as bright as it had been in my dream.

Another one down, and now there's only one left! Time for me to set aside my statutory flash cards on the same pile as my torts outline and contracts checklists, and dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the mastery of criminal law for the next three days. Ahhh, the joy of having nothing else left to worry about, such that I can actually concentrate on one thing as well as it deserves! Crim it is, then!

thus spake /jca @ 2:54 PM...


Off to the Abigail for another night of vegetarian cuisine, practice exam questions and continuing memorization.

From 8:30 to 11 am tomorrow, all ye who are so inclined please remember me, pray that I keep my wits and that my memory doesn't leak, and send good civil procedure waves! Yay, personal jurisdiction! International Shoe! Asahi! (Only not with respect to a long arm statute!)

thus spake /jca @ 3:05 PM...

I went to bed last night with the sixteen-tons-I-mean-pages Civ Pro outline on the nightstand, and proceeded to have the oddest dream.

Salient parts of it involved me walking up to the train station on a gorgeous sunny day, stark naked. Normally in a dream this is cause for intense panic and embarrassment; but in this dream, I realized I was completely unclothed and calmly thought: "Hmm, I look good." And as soon as I began to wonder whether anyone else had noticed I wasn't wearing clothes, by some dream-trick I was wearing them.

But I had missed the train. There it was, cheerfully rolling out of the station in the implausible sunlight. Again, normally this would churn me into a mess of nerves, wondering whether I'd be able to make the next train or potentially have to drive. But in this dream, I merely climbed straight up into the air and started to fly after it. It wasn't the joyous swooping flying that happens in the most amazing flying-dreams, but a calm, assured, breaststroke-through-the-air type flying, something that just came naturally and would simply get me where I needed to go.

I landed at a train station somewhere else (Palo Alto?), but suddenly the train no longer mattered and I was at the bottom of a flight of stairs that substituted for a sidewalk up a very steep street. I started up them without difficulty, but eventually came to a railing that seemed to block me from continuing. My Australian friend Rowen then appeared, breaststroking through the air to my left, and said "Go around it!" Sure enough, to the right there was a tunnellike passage that opened back out onto the stairs above the railing. The sunlight was dazzling.

At the top of the stairs was an ocean, filled with all manner of colorful boats. Some sort of amusement park with roller coasters was also visible nearby, carts full of squealing people hurtling out over the ocean and back on tall white tracks. I walked into a building and found myself in a remarkable candy store, full of all kinds of cookies and sweets painted and monogrammed in incredibly-colored, incredibly-detailed icing. Someone handed me a handful of small dark spheres and said "These are the real thing. Hide them." I looked at them stupidly for awhile before quickly hiding them under various papers and piles of candy, right as someone walked into the store with a detector to find them. And then I woke up.

Dream analysts, knock yourselves out! What could this mean? (And how on earth could it possibly have been inspired by the Erie doctrine?)

thus spake /jca @ 11:13 AM...


Quite a big wind/rain storm here today. Our power was actually knocked out for several hours, which meant that I was actually -- eat your heart out Abe Lincoln -- studying by candlelight. (I don't recommend it, it's very headachy.)

thus spake /jca @ 8:24 PM...

Seeking advice on the best way to study for a closed-book exam. I haven't taken one since 1996. Scary though Torts and Contracts were in the abstract, at least I had my security blanket (in the form of outline, checklist, and casebook) alongside to keep me from spooking completely. Civ Pro affords me no such luxury, which is unnerving if I think too hard about it.

I'm already in the process of making statutory flash cards, or at least will be after I get back from the gym this morning (need to blow off some steam). Thus far the only statutory section I can manage to remember is 28 USC 1404(a), on transfer of venue. There are a good dozen other numbers that will need to stay mapped to concepts in my mind. How are other folks managing this?

thus spake /jca @ 9:20 AM...


A recent email from my school announced that they would be posting exam grades on the web, on or around January 6. Good of them, I thought, but something seemed amiss -- the email provided a username and password to access the site, but was sent to the entire first-year class.

I logged in, wondering how they'd manage to keep our grades private if we all had the same username and password. And then, to my horror, I realized that they had no intention of keeping anything private.

"Dude," I howled, rushing into the study where my husband was busy attacking France. "You won't believe what they're doing with our grades."

"What are they doing?" he asked.

"They're publishing them on a website in one big list!"

"Not with your name, though, right?"

"No, just with your exam number...but they're all going to be posted there, on this huge list, and you can see what everyone got!"

My husband burst out laughing at my consternation. "Haven't you ever watched a movie? Ever? This is totally how it's done in law school."

"That's fiction!" I squealed. "They can put anything in a movie! This shouldn't be happening at a real school."

"Dude," he said, "this is law school. It's the most archaic educational model still in existence."

He's right, as usual, which doesn't make it any easier. The thought of learning my grades by seeking out one four-digit number on a list of several hundred makes me feel, at worst, naked in public, and at best, like one more stamped-out prefab gear on the conveyor belt.

But I guess that's part of the point...

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

Tickets are booked for the Two Towers on Thursday after my Criminal Law exam. It still itches the heck out of me that I'm going to miss the premiere since I'll be camped out at the Abigail reminding myself of the difference between false pretenses and larceny-by-trick, but at least I'll see it the following day. The fancrowds should still be reasonably amusing at that point; I wager they won't thin out for a week or two. You know the ones I mean -- the ooh-ahh-ers, the laughers and screamers and criers and applauders at battle scenes.

My husband, nervous at the thought of our scheduled Saturday departure for two weeks back east, opined that we should take Thursday and Friday to get our domestic ducks in a row before leaving the state. This would mean waiting until Saturday evening to see the movie, which was simply unacceptable to me. Particularly after two weeks of law school exams. You'd better believe I'm getting my carrot. "We can see it *again* on Saturday," I concluded. And we probably will.

thus spake /jca @ 8:12 PM...

The always-giggleworthy Jeremy Blachman has come up with a real gem: a Civil Procedure love song. I'm tempted to forward it to Professor Civ Pro.

thus spake /jca @ 4:01 PM...

Friday the thirteenth.

Professor Civ Pro usually says things worth hearing, so I figured I'd make the effort to shlep up to The City in spite of the rain today to attend his last review session. I checked in the front pocket of my borrowed backpack (the pullman bag has been retired since its handle broke last week) to make sure I'd remembered my train pass. I took the pass out of the pocket and set it down on the kitchen table, specifically so that I wouldn't forget it. Of course it makes perfect sense to take a train pass out of one's backpack in order to remind oneself to put the train pass in one's backpack. Still with me? The train pass wasn't, when I reached for it at the station.

Friday the thirteenth.

Two women in no apparent hurry stood between me and the little Caltrain ticket-spitting ATM, both of them attempting in series to feed the machine a handful of rumpled dollar bills. The train had already pulled up by the time they finished doing so. I whipped my Visa card through the machine, kicked myself for being so flaky (can you believe this is the first time this semester that I forgot my train pass?) and sprang onto the train with my freshly-printed ticket just as the doors were closing. It was the 8:17 train. The time stamp on my ticket was 8:17.

"Happy Friday the thirteenth!" the conductor said.

While a crowd of us waited in the steady rain for the MUNI trolley to pull up, a gust of wind came whooshing up and inverted my umbrella with a faint pop. I grabbed at the skin of the umbrella, trying to revert its bones back to their proper position, and realized that as it blew back all the water had streamed off it into this one poor guy's face. He glared at me through soaking eyeglasses. I apologized as best I could before I lost sight of him in the press of people funneling through the doors into the trolley.

Friday the thirteenth.

MUNI is usually pretty crowded in the mornings, but it seems particularly so when the passengers have all come in out of the rain and are literally steaming. I stood near a seat which, fortunately, was promptly vacated, so I was seated when the trolley came screeching to an abrupt stop halfway out of Embarcadero station. Other people, who were still standing, went down like dominoes into a surprised, upset, and very wet heap. "The driver didn't do this," said the MUNI policeman who stuck his head in through the door. "This was a computer error. We apologize." The trolley then sat there, half-in half-out of the station, for another five minutes or so before finally moving on.

Happy Friday the thirteenth.

thus spake /jca @ 10:59 AM...


Ugh, my Civ Pro outline is sixteen pages long. Ten point font. Single spaced. And this is a closed book exam. Seems I've got a lot more digesting to do before I'll be ready for prime time.

thus spake /jca @ 6:13 PM...

Well, that was dizzying.

Prof. Contracts failed to disappoint, peppering both fact patterns with enough details details DETAILS to fray the most solid of nerves (what did I miss? whatdidImiss? Imusthavemissedsomethingwhatthehelltimealready????). I finished -- at least I think I finished -- with three minutes remaining, barely enough time to spell check.

Actual thoughts I had during the test:
How'm I doing on time?
OK, makes sense.
No time to pause for water.
Thank goodness I tabbed my Restatement!
I'm thirsty.
How'm I doing on time?
Shit! Am I done with this one yet?
Gotta be. Moving right along.
After this I think I'll go up to the library and work on civ pro CONCENTRATE, YOU GOOF.
How'm I doing on time?
Need water, have to spare a few seconds for a sip.
Fifteen minutes? That can't be right.
She did NOT just call ten minutes.
Concentrate! Is this complete?
Hurry! Finish!
Is that it?
What did I miss?
What did I miss?

Strictly speaking, I didn't spook. I ran like hell -- God bless the poor folks who had to hand write, I have no idea how they managed in so little time -- but I stayed on point (or at least think I did), stuck to my flow, didn't digress, and hopefully didn't miss much. And now I'm 50% of the way through my law school exams.

It was interesting to note the different tenor of the exam room today as opposed to Monday. Now that we'd all lost our "exam virginity," people were much more relaxed, actually talking to each other and even cracking jokes. I still listened to the Swan before the test started, but didn't need it to put me in the right zone. No static, no freaking out on this one: I've done this before.

I slightly breached my promise not to discuss the exam this time around. P. muttered to me, "Is it just me or were these real softball questions? I kept looking for more things to say." To which I could only shrug -- I'd had no shortage of things to say, my essays straining at the time constraints like overfilled sausages -- and agree as mildly as possible: "Compared to the practice exams, yeah." It was true that these questions seemed more direct than the practice ones, but that could just be due to, well, practice.

Outside, V. approached me in great distress. "I got so messed up on time," he said. "I divided out the number of minutes I was going to spend on each section, but I added wrong! I only had 25 minutes left to answer the second question." Ouch! I thought, but replied: "Time was a real problem. For everyone. You're not alone."

"I mean, I guess I answered the second question, sort of," he agonized.

I started saying all the consoling things I could think of. "This is 25% of your grade, right? And Professor Contracts said himself that there's no fixed percentage credit for the first and second question, so if you did really well on the first one that could help you overall."

V. just looked at me glumly.

"Coraggio," I concluded, which at least put a smile on his face. There's something about Italian -- speaking it or hearing it, either works -- that has a medicinal effect on the downhearted, at least the downhearted who can recognize and understand Italian.

Sure enough, I actually did head up to the library (whence I'm currently typing), which is blessedly free of volubly stressed study groups. I'm not letting myself go home until I finish my Civ Pro outline, since my husband is insisting that I spend more time on Crim before really knuckling down to study for Monday's closed book Civ Pro exam and I'm not comfortable switching gears until I at least reach a place of confidence in Civ Pro. A closed book exam will be a new experience...one for which I'd better get ready.

THANK YOU, supporters, for all your support!

thus spake /jca @ 11:59 AM...


After forcing myself through a few practice questions, I feel a bit better. I'm starting to get into the Professor Contracts groove, starting to tease actual issues out of the novellas he presents as fact patterns. Maybe I actually do have a clue about contracts. Maybe I actually can pull this off.

I'm going to take a train up to the city in a little while, check back in to the Abigail, and spend the rest of the night on the rest of these questions. And then, tomorrow morning at 8:30, I'm going to walk into that room again, laptop in hand, Saint-Saƫns echoing in my ears, and hopefully, composure firmly intact.

Thanks again to all the Sua Sponte readers who are pulling for me on these exams. Please continue to do so -- it's truly helping me. Tomorrow from 8:30 to 11, if you should think of me cranking away on Contracts, do send along all the waves of support you can spare.

Crepi il lupo!

thus spake /jca @ 4:24 PM...


Petulance has set in around here. I've got my own outline, the one I downloaded, my digest of all the cases we covered this semester, and a process flow/checklist for answering exam questions. It's time for me to start doing practice questions, and I just -- don't -- want -- to. My test-taking faculties are grinding their hoofs into the ground like sulking donkeys, refusing to move for either carrot or stick.

I don't want to take this exam. Professor Contracts writes long, rambling fact patterns, full of red herrings that don't appear relevant to the answer. I've yet to find one shorter than two pages, and who the hell wants to read a novel when they're in the hot seat and have to get cracking on the essay? Unlike Torts, this is only a two-and-a-half hour exam. Reading over both questions enough times to nail all the salient facts and filter out the dross could take twenty minutes by itself. *groan.*

I have roughly twenty hours left (minus the eight or nine I hope to spend asleep tonight, which leaves me with what, twelve?) to crack this professor's code. Must. Motivate. Self.

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

Brief, intense spike of panic as I woke up this morning:

--What time is it?
--WAIT, don't I have an exam at eight-thirty??
--[heart pounding]
--[checks wristwatch]
--No, today is Wednesday, tomorrow is the exam.

I have one day left to decipher Contracts. I suppose it could be worse.

thus spake /jca @ 9:13 AM...


Wow. It's astounding how much of Contracts I've gone this entire semester without understanding. I'm currently on a massive sprint to attempt to assimilate (and synthesize) it all by Thursday. Or, barring that, at least to pull it into an outline on which I can look things up during the exam. I'm finding things in my notes that aren't addressed by the perfect outline I found on the Web, which makes for a great deal of forehead-wrinkling as I try to figure out why, what they mean, and whether they matter.

This is the epitome of "learning it for the test." I'll be lucky if I even manage that. How did the UCC ever get so byzantine?

thus spake /jca @ 3:39 PM...


While I was off taking my Torts exam, someone had the honor of being the 10,000th unique visitor to Sua Sponte. Congratulations, #10K, whoever you might have been!

thus spake /jca @ 10:49 PM...

One down, three to go. Res ipsa loquitur.

The elevator at the Abigail Hotel is named Elliot. He introduces himself to you via a brass sign above the door, a flexible grating that you close yourself. The sign reads: "Hi, I'm Elliot, one of Abigail's oldest antiques. I'm very sensitive, so if you have anything bad to say about me, please wait until you get out of me to say it."

The Abigail dates from the same time period as the first apartment I lived in after college, back in Hoboken, NJ. I immediately felt at home among the groaning bed, peeling paint, and water stains of a building with character. Someone with time to kill while sitting on the toilet had peeled away the nearby paint through three different-colored layers, all the way down to some truly funky consignment-store-chic wallpaper striped with narrow ribbons of maroon.

My husband didn't want me walking out in the Tenderloin alone after dark, so I had dinner at the hotel restaurant. It's a dimly-lit, rather expensive but exceedingly quirky vegetarian place that features something called "Rawvioli" on the menu, as well as a wine list with specially-shaped asterisks indicating the organic, vegan, and sustainable-grape-culture options. I'm not a vegetarian, practically speaking (although I do love my falafel wraps); but it sure is fun to pretend to be one, particularly when the waitstaff seems particularly preoccupied with high-maintenance sensitivities. "This isn't butter, is it?" I asked the guy who brought me the bread. "Oh, no," he was quick to protest, "it's tofu-based." It was remarkably good, too, and since it wasn't butter I ate it all without guilt.

Dinner was terrific: porcini mushrooms and chestnuts in a tangy wine sauce over blue corn polenta with garlic, flanked by a bittersweet mixture of braised greens (endive and radicchio for the bitter, fennel and onion for the sweet) and a chilled white bean salad with diced root vegetables. I finagled a cappuccino cup of hot water out of the bartender and took it back up to my room to make my valerian tea, with which I washed down a single sleeping pill. I outlined five more old exam questions before lights-out at about nine-thirty.

It was pouring rain this morning when I woke up. Alas, as complete as my packing list had otherwise been (down to a MUNI token and a new set of MP3's for the Lyra), I had neglected to include an umbrella.

So I showed up a bit wet to the classroom building. I stowed my overnight bag and backpack in my locker, pulled out my laptop and cable to take upstairs to the exam room, and then paused before heading up. Time for centering, focusing, closing eyes and breathing deeply and listening to my official pre-exam theme song.

And then I was off.

Various thoughts had during the exam:
My God, I'm taking a law school exam.
*humming the Swan in my head*
I am tired.
Am I really taking a law school exam?
Quit freaking and just do the damn thing!
Did my laptop screen just flicker?
Wow, I can actually feel the stress. It prickles.
Should I go pee now or wait until the exam is over?
Oh wait -- government immunity!!

I promised I wouldn't discuss the exam, so I won't. (Although I was quite proud of myself for coming up with the immunity thing, ten minutes from the end of the exam as I was going over everything I'd already finished.) I booked out of the room, realized I was shaking with all the tension fizzling out of me, and dove for the MP3 player as soon as I reached my locker. Time for shifting out of torts mode, looking up from the grindstone, and listening to my official post-exam theme song.

The free chair massage at Student Services was lovely, but what really put me in a sweet mood was lunch with Tolkien buddy and Sua Sponte reader Patrick Carroll, who treated me to a new pleasure: Hot Tuaca. It's the perfect drink for a gray rainy day in San Francisco after one has just emerged from one's first law school exam.

I made the 2:30 train homeward, and realized at about San Mateo that the rain was clearing up. By Belmont the sun was shining almost perplexedly through the westward windows of the train. This was rainbow weather. I craned around in my seat until I was looking southish out of an eastward-facing window, and sure enough, there it was, indicating a pot of gold somewhere in the vicinity of Milpitas.

After I got home, I had one last post-exam resolution to keep: do a good deed, to release today's karma and make room for Thursday's. I took several bags of old clothes, which had been camping in my front hallway for weeks, and loaded them up into the trunk of my car to take over to St. Vincent de Paul. First, though, I ran an errand to the post office. They were selling special stamps with a picture of the three World Trade Center flag-hoisters on them, so I bought a few, donating some money to a 9/11 charity in the process. The machine gave me back fifty cents change, which I handed to a nearby woman bearing a "Sick with Cancer" sign. A good thing, too, since St. Vincent de Paul was closed for donations for the day. S'aright s'aright, at least I've got a good deed left to do on Thursday before I run out of ideas.

Next up: Contracts, a wimpy two-and-a-half hour exam for a piffling 25% of my grade in the two-semester class. And yet the outline calls...

But first, a pomegranate.

thus spake /jca @ 6:23 PM...


Torts exam in eighteen hours.

I'm not yet "all torted out" -- am still having fun telling unwitting victims (like my visiting stepmother) all about the six-step analysis to prove negligence, or who's eligible to recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress in California vs. Massachusetts vs. Hawaii, or about the special California exceptions to intentional interference with a valid economic expectancy (you can't recover in a competitive sports environment even if you were clearly winning, but you CAN recover in an election environment even if you were clearly losing).

But I'm trying to take it easy on torts, plan my packing, make sure everything on my person tomorrow is suitably auspicious. We'll head up to the city in a little while, check me into the hotel, and I'm going to study a bit more before making tonight an early, early night.

My exam starts first thing tomorrow morning. If you should happen to think of me tomorrow between the hours of 8:30 am and 12 pm Pacific Standard Time, please pause and wish me well, or as my husband says, "send waves." Prayers for success in any form from any religious tradition are gladly appreciated.

Until then...

thus spake /jca @ 3:10 PM...


Chock full o'torts for the moment after doing a complete essay and outlining another, I'm taking another brain break to work a bit more on my contracts exam-answer flow.

I've got a moral dilemma here. I've rustled up an anonymously-authored outline on Google that is absolutely perfect. It was produced by a student at the university where Professor Contracts taught up until a few years ago. Same professor, same casebook, and a remarkably clear approach. It's basically an exam answer flow just like the one I'm trying to tease out of my scrappy outline and haphazard notes and supplements, with all the rules grouped in logical order by the issues they address, neat, organized, and ostensibly complete.

I feel guilty using it.

On one hand, Prof. Contracts says we can bring any old thing we want into the exam. "But anything beyond your casebook and the supplement, and your outline, will probably prove cumbersome," he advises, which is certainly true if you imagine frantically flipping through Gilberts in search of the UCC statute of frauds while the clock is ticking. Still, he places no restriction, either moral or practical, on using resources outside of those he provides. (Compare Professor Torts, who only permits the casebook and "any outlines you have personally prepared," or Professor Crim, whose exam was voted open-casebook, open-notes, closed-commercial-outline.)

On the other hand, this feels stolen to me. I googled it on a publicly available website fair and square, so it's not as though its author (bless you, who/wherever you are!) didn't wish for it to be used to the benefit of other students of Contracts. But I didn't write it myself, and with my current knowledge couldn't have. Having it at my disposal feels like unjust enrichment. I want to pay someone back for it.

My husband opines that I should use it to study and then make my own flow based on what I learned from it, and if my flow comes out roughly identical then at least it's been parsed through my personal filter. I think I agree with this. The document is probably about 95% on point, and I could probably add a few things. As a study aid, though, it's dead-on, to the extent that if I'd found it sooner I might not have plunked down the $35 on Gilberts. Then again, that's probably not true, since without the help that Gilberts gave me I probably would look at something like this and just go huh?, typical of most of the semester in Contracts.

Ain't exams grand? Imagine ever thinking about this stuff, ever, outside of these few weeks of one's life...

thus spake /jca @ 6:53 PM...

I took a bit of a break from Torts this morning to do a practice essay for Crim, since Professor Crim awhile back had expressed a willingness to review sample answers. I hadn't planned on getting to Crim at least until after Contracts, but my husband got very upset at the concept. "You're going to blow it on Crim if you don't do this as soon as possible," he told me, upsetting me enough that I sat down and started pulling together my issue-spotting checklist.

The question I wrote, though, was not an issue-spotter -- I've been doing enough of those for torts -- but one of the policy questions for which Prof. Crim is renowned. "Would you prosecute? Why or why not?" was the call of the question. These feel like fun to me, like the kinds of questions you'd expect to answer on an exam in nonlaw school. I may have completely tanked on it, of course, but that's why I believed my husband's threat and did the thing now: just to get a sense of what Prof. Crim wants.

So much of this exam game is playing into professors' personal tastes. Prof. Torts loves braindumps of black-letter law, arguments on both sides, and then hazarding a guess as to how the jury will lean. Prof. Contracts wants to hear every last tenet of every rule recited and applied to the situation. Prof. Civ Pro is looking for Big Issues, and if you miss the ones he's looking for, he'll remain unimpressed at any other ones you think you might have found. And Prof. Crim wants -- go figure! -- conclusory statements. "I don't want to hear that it's a jury question," he says. "You be the jury. You be the judge. You tell me."

Four different clients, four completely different styles, ten days, intense production pressure. I concluded to my husband: "This is the hardest consulting gig I've ever done."

thus spake /jca @ 1:01 PM...


Just finished another torts practice exam, and I've got a headache. I'm not sure if it's the lighting in this room (which I hope it is) or something else going awry with my laptop screen (which it damn well better not be). I'll be sure to pack the Motrin for the exam.

I'm starting to feel a bit odd about law school society, starting to withdraw into my own zone. C. is organizing a number of sessions where people take practice exams in a particular class from a particular year and then get together to discuss them. I can see this being potentially useful for Crim, where there will be policy questions on which we'll actually be able to bounce ideas off each other, and possibly Contracts, where none of us is quite sure what the law actually is. But by and large, I can't really see the value of that kind of group studying. I don't care what issues other people spotted on a torts question; at best, I'd have spotted them all as well and then some, which would make the exercise a waste of my time, and at worst, they'd have spotted many more than I, which would intimidate me into a fearful froth. Again.

Plus, there's the incremental effort of going to school. The time spent commuting to town on the train (where there's no place to plug in my battery-challenged laptop) and discussing the questions could, in my view, be better spent at home just taking more practice tests. And who needs the angst of actually shlepping into the city when there's already sufficient psychological duress to go around without even leaving one's sofa?

Today was a milky gray foggy day which congealed into fat, wet, intermittent but insistent raindrops as I walked out to the 12:30 train. Someone had broken up the tent city through which the train tracks usually passed, a clutter of about three dozen pitched tents that had accumulated all semester beneath the highway overpasses. As if in protest, the occupants of the tents had re-pitched them in series along the Seventh Street sidewalk. (If you go to the Greyhound station you'll see them, but I don't recommend it, at least not without protection.) I looked out the window at the tent people, dispossessed twice over, in their sad state in this sullen gray city with my staticky seething law school at its heart, and I thought, I don't want to be here. I need to go home.

I'm not going in for any of C.'s torts reviews this weekend. Better to study alone, create my own personal mindset outside the noise, come into the exam with earplugs and then head straight over to Health Services for my massage as soon as it ends. My laptop may be giving me headaches, but my colleagues will not, at least for torts.

thus spake /jca @ 7:32 PM...

Yet another reason to love Professor Torts:

He breaks the curve.

He's the easiest grader in the school, and no one knows quite how he gets away with it since the curve is supposed to be mandatory schoolwide. 2Ls call him the "B-Plus King." Fully fifty percent of his torts class last year got a B+ on the exam, with another 25-30% in the A/A- range. Imagine coming in at the fortieth percentile in your class -- and earning a B+. Imagine what kind of wonderful wonderful person can bestow such a grade as a law professor.

And the #1 reason to adore Professor Torts (last in the series):

At this morning's review session, he gave the best exam advice one could ask for: "This grade has nothing to do with the kind of lawyers you'll all be. That depends on your passion, your interests, your ambition. There are excellent lawyers who got C's in law school, and *neh* ones who made A's. This? This is just a little intramural contest."

I watched him dance around the review session this morning, the last time I'll ever have him as a professor, and couldn't help but tear up at the thought of his class actually ending. I grew up timeshared between divorced parents, and I remember this feeling well from many weekends throughout my youth: No, wait!, don't go, it can't be over yet.

Even his practice tests are encouraging -- inspiring no confidence beyond that which is warranted, giving me a clear sense of what I don't yet know. I should go do more of these now, and quit sniffling.

thus spake /jca @ 5:32 PM...


"You should have done better on this," Professor Civ Pro told me today as I approached him with my marked-up practice exam. Most of the people in the room had already left, but he still kept his voice low enough that I wasn't embarrassed, but was actually almost reassured, to hear him say it. "I was reading this, like, what happened to her? Did you study?"

This should not have made me feel better, but it did. Maybe it was just the affirmation that my capabilities, such as they are, are apparent to people who interact with me, regardless of how the numbers shake down. At this point it's helpful just to hear someone imply that I have the ability to do well. I came away from the review session with a renewed sense of zeal. I wanted to go home and blitz on Civ Pro until I got it right the way he wanted it. But I've got to manage my time; Civ Pro follows Contracts and Torts, both of which require my attention first.

Poor C. had tears in her eyes for most of the day. I gave her a hug, which didn't seem to help; she's not much of a huggy person, I guess. M., with whom I didn't even get a chance to speak, also looked awfully red and puffy-faced, as did B., whom Professor Civ Pro actually teased about losing her smile. The general campus vibe was almost unbearable. "This place is full of bad juju," I concluded to my elevator companions, and then got the hell out of there.

Memo to anyone studying up on personal jurisdiction, before I move on to Torts: Gray and Feathers are the tests you apply to a long-arm statute, not Asahi. If you go off half-cocked and start applying minimum-contacts tests to statutory provisions on doing business or committing tortious acts in a state, you're, well, wrong. Principal lesson to be learned: just because you've dumped every item on your mental checklist down onto the page doesn't mean that you've actually answered the question.

Speaking of answering questions...it's time to start on the torts hypos.

[climbs onto diving board]
[holds nose]

thus spake /jca @ 6:18 PM...


Whoohoo!! They instituted this stupid policy right about the time I graduated, and now they've thankfully regained their senses.

Down with Binding Early Decision!

thus spake /jca @ 8:35 PM...

Lots of good advice incoming about avoiding the campus. Not only do I not need to wallow in the widespread panic, but I lose three hours in transit to-and-fro that would be better spent studying at home, or heck, going to the gym. I still need to do that today. Health is of inestimable importance at this point. I find that I don't have much of an appetite, but too damn bad, depressive streak, you're going to be well-fed and worked-out of my system so that I can troop through these exams unimpeded.

Here's the schedule:
Tomorrow: Review on campus for Civ Pro, going over the practice exam.
Friday: Review on campus for Torts.
Monday, 12/9: Torts exam, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm. Followed by a chair massage at 12:40, thanks be to Student Health Services.
Tuesday: Review on campus for Contracts.
Thursday: Contracts exam, 8:30 am - 11 am.
Friday: Review on campus for Civ Pro.
Monday, 12/16: Civ Pro exam, 8:30 am - 11:30 am.
Wednesday: Professor Crim holds all-day office hours rather than a review session.
Thursday: Crim exam, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm.

As for discussing exams after they're over, this came up last week as C., K. and I took a break from outlining to dine on Thanksgiving leftovers. We all agreed that going over our answers together would do nothing except ruin our Christmas vacations, so we all swore on the cranberry sauce not to discuss a single exam after it had ended. There's too much else to discuss, anyway...like the next exam, or, in the case of Crim, the fact that exams are actually over.

thus spake /jca @ 1:19 PM...

G R E E T I N G S Capricorn

If anyone can meet a goal at this time, it's you. An expert in making plans and following them to the letter, you are ready to go all out this time. You've got your eyes on the finish line already. If you can keep them there, you'll outstrip the competition before you know it. Don't waste any time on self-doubt or second-guessing. You can do this.

thus spake /jca @ 9:15 AM...


...the end begins...

People have been vanishing from class over the course of the past two abbreviated weeks. I'd like to chalk it up to Thanksgiving-related travel plans, except that the folks whose absence I've noticed are all locals. And then, when they periodically rematerialize to collect class notes, they have stories not of travel but of incredible depression. S., whom I long ago caught in an elevator wearing sunglasses, pondered suicide in between bouts of hysterical sobbing last week. H., to whom I really had no business ranting last month, hasn't been seen much since then. Wow, I think to myself, and then feel guilty when the next thought in the sequence arrives: Thank goodness that's not me. I'm still OK. I'm not there yet.

But I'm getting there, it seems.

Prof. Civ Pro belatedly handed back our practice exams, and while I'm not precisely at the fiftieth percentile, I could spit and hit it without effort. The energetic optimist in me (which I'd like to believe is my actual personality) looks at this and says, good, go to the review session on Thursday where he'll be discussing this question and figure out exactly what's missing, then practice practice practice until you can nail his formula in your sleep. But then the depressive pessimist voices (which I'm really hoping are just a product of school, and not me, not really) start the singsong chant: you'll never make it, you'll never get out, this is where you are, smack in the middle, with no reason to be there and no way of moving up.

Shut up, damn things, shut up shut up shut up!!!

Worse yet, or maybe better yet, it seems as though I'm hardly alone. S. told me that M. and J., two excellently-qualified people in our section, both got reamed on the practice test as well. It's alchemy, voodoo, just a matter of moving on past this test and working harder and pegging exactly what Professor Civ Pro wants in an answer, not what we in our creative capacities might consider to be an elegant approach. We have no business being creative here. We are inside the machine, and we must be well-oiled gears, cookie cutters, taking no liberties and simply stamping out the desired product every time.

"I am going to vomit," said C., and then said it again for good measure. Five minutes later she decided it bore repeating: "I am seriously going to vomit."

"You know," said K., who isn't even in our Civ Pro section, "I think I'm going to take a semester off. Just take some time and have a baby."

"I am so with you," I said. "I need a good cathartic cry right about now."

I haven't had one yet, but am about to head over to K.'s house for an evening of hopefully-cathartic contracts outlining in advance of a practice-exam-taking session that C. is organizing for tomorrow. "I think I need to drink more than I need to outline at this point," I moped.

"We'll drink, don't worry," K. replied.

I'm wrong, of course; I need to outline way more than I need to drink. But one glass of wine has already helped, and if K. opens a bottle right as I'm wrestling with §2-207(2), I won't say no to a second.

Godspeed, fellow 1Ls, and may this be as bad as it ever gets.

thus spake /jca @ 6:51 PM...


Sometime right around the end of today's Civ Pro discussion group, a redheaded woman was mobbed by a throng of 1Ls as she attempted to distribute the moot court topic lists to our mail drops.

The Moot Court Crush was on!

I was not among that crowd; our Civ Pro discussion group leader is excellent, and I didn't want to miss anything she had to say (today's gem: cognitively grouping removal jurisdiction with transfer of venue and forum non conveniens in our minds. "Removal is from state to federal court. Venue transfer is from one federal court to another. Forum non conveniens is usually from an American court to a foreign one.").

Still, as soon as the discussion had officially ended, C., J., and I raced each other over to the mail drops in the administration building, whooping and shrieking (entirely in jest -- I swear) that we were going to beat each other to the best topics.

The poor redhead was still mail-dropping away, working her way backward through the alphabet, which meant that C. and J. had their sheets already but I had to put upon the nice lady (who was looking awfully peaked at this point) to hand me one. I didn't yet know that she'd been mobbed ten minutes earlier. I thanked her as politely as possible before delving into the topics with C. and J.

The biggest ones were constitutional law saws: Virginia v. Black, the cross-burning case; Otte v. Doe on Megan's Law; Newdow v. U.S. Congress on pledging allegiance "under God," and a pair of homegrown potboilers, Lockyer v. Andrade and Ewing v. California on the California three-strikes law. I skipped these; conlaw feels somehow overwrought to me at this point, and given that the class isn't even offered to 1Ls at my school, it seemed silly to me to attempt to teach it to myself when I'll already be snowed under by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the UCC, Title VII and the RAP. (Bleah.)

Instead I bid for a smaller-scale torts case: Intel Corp. v. Hamidi, on whether emailing your former coworkers at their work addresses with commentary on how your ex-employer could clean up its act constitutes -- of all things -- a trespass to chattel. It looks amusing, and was the only real cyberlaw issue on the list. (In case you're wondering, there wound up not being an admissions discrimination topic among the choices. So much for my dilemma. Although, did you hear, they granted certiorari on the Michigan case today? Whoohoo!!)

The three of us hoofed it up to the fourth floor of the classroom building to get our forms into the first-come-first-serve queue as quickly as possible. The throng of folks who had ruined the redhead's day had also beaten us to the punch by about fifteen minutes. "I've got over a hundred handed in already," said T., the program director, as she accepted our forms. Alarmed, I asked her if the email topic was overbooked yet. "That one's not full yet," she said, "but keep in mind that there are about fifty second-year students who will automatically be ahead of you guys in line when they submit their choices."

I hadn't anticipated that. "Why is that?" I asked, perhaps a bit peevishly.

"Because they have to graduate," she replied.

"Oh." I had nothing to say to that. "Gotcha."

I guess it could be worse if I miss out on the email case; the section does, after all, meet on a Tuesday, one of my yucky days next semester. J. and C. both focused on sections meeting on Mondays or Wednesdays, and for all I know I'll probably wind up kicking myself for picking a Tuesday section even if I do get in. *sigh*.

At least it'll give me something new to talk about.

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

To my dismay (and I'm sure I'm not alone in being dismayed), Professor Torts had to cancel our last class today.

The good news is that strict liability won't be on the exam. The bad news is that he's off at a "family medical emergency," the last thing any of us would wish on anyone this time of year. I feel vaguely guilty for not having briefed the strict liability cases, as though I somehow jinxed things. This was the one class that I really didn't want to end.

We shall meet again, I hope. (In the meantime there's always his review session at 9:30 on Friday morning, which hasn't yet been cancelled. Good practice not only for the exam, but for catching the 7:38 train as I'll need to do three days a week next semester.)

In other nice-people news, the Jewish Law Students Association gave me a dreidel and a bag of Hanukkah gelt even though I confessed to not being Jewish. Now that's the holiday spirit!

thus spake /jca @ 12:22 PM...


If I haven't yet gushed about Professor Civ Pro, now is as good a time as any.

He's a tough cookie, to be sure. You don't show up to his class unprepared unless you're in a mood to have your ass handed to you. No matter how much time you spent on your brief, he's sure to ask you something that you hadn't succeeded in teasing out of the baroque prose of the Supreme Court.

But he gets you there. In his class, more than in any other, I've fallen into Prof. Cooper's feared trap of verbatim stenographer-style notetaking. But in this class, it's a virtue. As I whittle my notes down into a working outline, I am astonished at how amazingly thorough Prof. Civ Pro has been, from the beginning. Take a faithful set of notes from his class, shake them, and a tremendous outline falls neatly and almost effortlessly into place.

(Of course, the thing is long as hell. Thoroughness does take up lots of space.)

It just figures, of course, that Civ Pro is my one closed-book exam, which probably means that the beautiful complete outline will likely undergo a good deal more whittling before it's actually useful as a memorization tool. Still, it helps to have such excellent raw material to work with, particularly after a day spent on Contracts wishing I had anything close...

thus spake /jca @ 7:39 PM...

more final thoughts...

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