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


This morning, while collecting a few handfuls of free candy from the Lexis table, I ran into J., my opposing counsel from Moot Court. Since the petitioner's side was one man short, J. actually had to do two oral arguments in succession: one against me, and one against P. immediately afterward.

"Hey!" I called out to him. "How did it go?"

He blushed. "I won the second round on a split decision," he said.

"That's awesome!"

"I had the pity vote after our round," he chuckled.

"No, you were just really good!" I said, which was true. "This whole thing was so much fun. Aren't you going to miss it?"

"Are you kidding?" he laughed out loud. "I can't tell you how glad I am it's over!"

"Awwww!" I smiled, but found myself pop-eye surprised. How weird am I to have loved it?

thus spake /jca @ 1:05 PM...


Anyone who's outlining with a limited amount of adjacent spread-out-books space, or for that matter anyone with a Wi-Fi connection in class, will find these useful if you haven't found them already:

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Article 2, Uniform Commercial Code

Now if only I could find the Restatement (Second) of Contracts online, I'd never have to touch a casebook supplement again.

thus spake /jca @ 9:31 PM...

Hey, it's a rally!

Subject: National Day of Action - April 1st

Dear students, faculty and staff:

Please join APALSA, BLSA, La Raza, and other concerned students as we celebrate and acknowledge the importance of diversity.

Come and Participate in the National Day of Acti

Defend Affirmative Action

When: Tuesday, April 1st, 2003 @ 11:30 - 1:15 pm
Where: [auditorium]
What: On Tuesday, April 1st the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Grutter v. Bollinger, University of Michigan Affirmative Action case. Millions of Americans across the Nation will hold local rallies and marches to celebrate and defend affirmative action. Do not miss out on this opportunity to make sure [our school] is active in this progressive movement.
The program will consist of a live debate, student testimonies and spoken word.
We look forward to seeing you there!

thus spake /jca @ 6:20 PM...

I have been so lax in my outlining duties. I enjoyed Moot Court so much, and everything else so little, that deciding where to allocate my available work hours was a no-brainer. I'm lucky I've kept up with my class reading and haven't started bagging on Contracts like a good 50% of my section.

Now that Moot Court is over, you'd think that I'd have this lovely expansive ocean of time in which to bring all my outlines up to speed and start in on the battery of practice exams I was supposed to be reviewing with professors by now. In truth, I do plan to outline like spit this week, starting with the entirety of this afternoon to be spent on Civ Pro. But this is an ungodly exciting week in the courts, so staying focused will be a bit of a chore.

My Moot Court case, Intel v. Hamidi, will be argued before the California Supreme Court on Wednesday. It's interesting to scan the list of amici and spy a handful of professors under whom I would absolutely love to study -- nearly all of whom have come out in support of petitioner. I do think that policy is probably on his side, particularly since the actual proceedings will almost certainly reach the First Amendment issue (our in-class proceedings were restricted to single-issue arguments, so it was nothin' but trespass to chattels for us). And yet I find myself rooting for respondent...mostly because that "We hold for respondent" shot me through with such sheer searing joy last week. Intel may be chasing bad policy down a rathole here, but aw shucks, they're the home team.

More excitingly -- and this is a topic I couldn't have done in Moot Court, because my opinions on it are so strongly one-sided -- the Michigan case goes to orals before the Nine on Tuesday. I'm praying that someone (Scalia?) will pipe up with my favorite question: in what sense does a diversity interest that is defined to favor Americans of African, Native, or Latin American origin enrich an educational experience more appreciably than a diversity interest that is defined to favor descendants of other groups historically affected by discrimination, such as Americans of Jewish, Italian, Chinese, or Irish origin? I can't wait to hear how the Michigan folks attempt to justify ethnic origin -- a particular, limited range of ethnic origin at that -- as a principal indicator of one's potential contribution to the marketplace of ideas. I'm looking forward to Dahlia Lithwick's report of the arguments, even though I've never forgiven her for predicting my torts grade.

And then outlining. Yes, outlining.

thus spake /jca @ 12:45 PM...


G R E E T I N G S Capricorn

The Stars help you realize your dreams and goals. Today you reap the bounty of a harvest that was planted long ago. Looking back now on all of your hard work and effort, it all seems worth it. A raise or promotion may be in the works. Later in the day, a dividend, inheritance or other windfall comes as a welcome surprise. Tonight, sharing an old gift fills it with new meaning. It just wouldn't be the same without your friends and family members there to help you celebrate, would it?

Creepy ways in which my horoscope is, once again, right on the money:
1. We're getting a sweet tax refund this year.
2. Husband and I are pondering a dinner at Chez TJ to joint-celebrate his upcoming birthday and my Moot Court experience.
3. Ahhh, my Moot Court experience. Suddenly law school no longer feels like a lead weight on my life.
4. As for the old gift, I can only think it refers to my lucky gold bangle, a gift from my late father. Perhaps not coincidentally, he came back from an disappointing albatross first semester of law school by virtue of moot court competitions and a specialization in intellectual property. Was I channeling him yesterday? Could be. Certainly could be.

Trying out for the Moot Court team at my school is a rather involved endeavor. You submit your class brief and your resume, fill out a form that poses questions like "How do you normally handle stress?" and "Are you willing to sacrifice evenings, weekends, and holidays to Moot Court Competition, if necessary? Describe any potential conflicts" [I wonder if marriage counts? --ed.], and then do a five-minute oral argument based on one of last year's competition topics. The available topics do not, alas, include Intel v. Hamidi, but do include some potentially interesting options.

Oddly enough, the one Internet-related topic I unearthed was in the area of international law. Of all things! "The cyber-attack on the [national railroad of fictitious country] and [alleged perpetrator fictitious country]'s failure to exercise due diligence are international wrongs," intones the Pleadings section of the sample brief. Gosh, I guess they could be. Who the hell knows, with international law? I guess I'll be arguing that they are.

P., my good buddy and one of the two other people from my section who wound up in my Moot Court class, doesn't get to argue until Tuesday, but he was more than excited to hear about how things had gone yesterday. I gave him all the heads-up I could remember. He's a hardcore litigation nut, had been planning to try out for competitive Moot Court ever since applying to law school, even intends to fulfill the Civil Litigation concentration (our school's equivalent of a major). He and one other (not unreasonably hyper) guy, as well as the outside threat from another woman on the respondent side, are my main co-contenders for the oral argument prize. Any one of them could handily beat me without either harm or foul.

It will be awfully interesting to see how the prizes pan out. "Don't count your chickens," says my husband, wisely. I'm not. I don't need to. Yesterday was a completely fulfilling experience even absent any resultant resume-padding. But what a thought...to win a prize in orals of all things...

...this must be how people get snookered into competitions that demand the "sacrifice [of] evenings, weekends, and holidays". I can see why they would.

thus spake /jca @ 10:31 PM...


I wound up not going for the manicure this afternoon. It's best not to get one anyway right before you clean house.

"We hold for respondent," said the elder male judge, "based on oral advocacy."

[cue heart soaring]

But I'm getting ahead of my story.

Bill Logan and Patrick Carroll, darlings both, came to watch my oral argument, as did my husband (who had to dodge some traffic around the airport, but made it on time). We hung around in the hallway outside our courtroom with J., my opposing counsel who was scheduled to go twice this evening, all of us fidgeting and waiting for the 6:00 argument to end. T., the moot court program director, patrolled the hallway with an airline-style food cart loaded with bottled water, soda, and candy. "I'm just such a mom," she said. "I want to be sure you have everything you need."

The support was incredible. Even beyond T.'s mothering and a particularly sweet panel of judges, J. and Y., two of the class TA's, had watched a number of the arguments and gave us some excellently-timed coaching. "You need to really customize your argument," Y. told me.

"To the judges' questions?" I asked.

"No," she said, "to your opponent's arguments. A bunch of people who went yesterday didn't do this, so petitioner would get up and argue for fifteen minutes without raising the contact issue, and then respondent would get up and say that the main issue was contact. Just make sure you respond to the points he makes."

I would have. But I never quite got that far.

J. argued well, if his speech was a bit hesitant. I renumbered the points on my outline based on the issues he raised. But when I got up to speak, I never got past issue #1; the judges came at me with a terrific volley of questions. Which was good, since I'm far more comfortable answering questions than I am speaking off an outline. Perhaps they sensed this.

And then things went white-light and transcendental. I said things that I had not prepared, things that wowed the room. I actually used the term "nexus of harm," completely extemporaneously. I stuck to my argument and did not derail once. Not a single umm. One or two hand gestures, merely because my bloodstream seemed to be wholesale replaced with adrenaline. A few "I believe"s which should have been "It is Intel's position that"s. And only one potential instance of condescension to the judge, which fortunately no one seemed to notice.

"But really, that's it," said my husband in the car ride on the way home. "I was looking really closely, but you just nailed it. You were superb."

"I stopped taking notes," my instructor told me while the judges deliberated. "You were just superb."

"You were so into it," said Patrick over a giant blue margarita at the Chevy's on Van Ness. "When you got up, I could just see it by the look in your eyes." He then imitated the look in my eyes. I couldn't help but laugh.

"This," I announced for the benefit of anyone in earshot, "is the first time since coming to school that I have just simply enjoyed myself."

"Imagine," said my husband with a wink, "having fun in law school."

"You should try out for the Moot Court team," said my TA, who was serving as bailiff.

"You should try out for the Moot Court team," said my instructor.

"You should try out for the Moot Court team," said Bill.

"I think," I said, "I'll try out for the Moot Court team."

"It's just too bad the class is pass-fail," said my husband as we drove back down the 101. "You had an A."

"You know what?" I said. "This is such a good thing...so many good things at once, a topic I care about, an excellent instructor, the performing aspect, the lack of pressure...I'm glad it's pass fail. You can't quantify this. You can't fit this experience inside an A."

But hopefully, I can fit it into my schedule next semester.

thus spake /jca @ 10:54 PM...

In four hours I'll be arguing. The adrenaline rush is already starting to build.

"This feels like opening night," I told my husband.

"See," he said, "I told you that being a lawyer was just like acting."

"I wasn't even thinking of a play," I said. "I was thinking opera."

The last opera I sang in was Turandot, with the New Jersey State Opera, back in...wow, it must have been 1997. All of the chorus folks wore burlappy sackcloth costumes, coolie hats and white masks. But that was fine. You could deal with the itch and the sweaty nose. Turandot has some of the most amazing music for chorus of any opera I know of.

Half our chorus was union, half volunteer. But the volunteers were still bound by some of the union rules somehow; if you showed up even a minute after call, you could be cut. This was the first time I'd been on stage at the then-new NJPAC, which at the time was (and might still be) across the street from one of Newark's best Brazilian rodizio restaurants. I had a caipirinha there on opening night, and then coffee immediately thereafter to sober me up before call. Wound up not sleeping a wink that night.

Nessun dorma...

I could use a caipirinha right now.

Or a manicure.

thus spake /jca @ 2:00 PM...

"Hey," said my husband as I tried on the suit to make sure the alterations had nipped and tucked it where they were supposed to. "That suit looks nice."

"I need to get it cleaned," I told him.


"Because it's been in the closet for so long."

"But it's not dirty."

"It's wrinkled. Maybe I just need to get it pressed."

"Where is it wrinkled?"

"Umm..." I looked in the mirror. It really didn't look that bad. The pants draped nicely, the cuffs and pleats were still there, and the jacket lay smooth. "The collar points are uneven."

"Can't you just fix that in five minutes with an iron?"

"I don't know how to iron something with shoulder pads," I confessed.

Still, I decided to wear the suit today. At the very least I could run up to the cleaners on Post and get the collar points fixed this afternoon after Edie. I stuffed my yoga pants into the pullman bag, figuring that if the suit pants got mussed on the train or in class, I could always quickly change and drop them off for pressing at the same time. And I might still have time for the manicure.

But the pearls are still in my makeup bag. They can wait until after class.

thus spake /jca @ 10:38 AM...


People will tell you that San Francisco is a major city, international cultural center, capital-D Destination. They lie. It's a dinky little town that suffers from an embarrassing paucity of one-hour dry cleaners.

I was irked, although not particularly surprised, that none of the cleaners near my South Bay home was willing to take my freshly-altered lucky suit at 4 pm and clean and press it for me before closing time. Fair enough; 4 pm is already pretty late. I'm not sure what dry cleaning a suit actually involves, but I'm prepared to allow that it takes longer than two hours.

But San Francisco, massive mecca of all things urban, should have one-hour cleaners out the wazoo, right?

I didn't even find same day service until my ninth phone call.

Fortunately, I found it at all. So I'll be bringing the lucky suit in a duffel bag on the sunrise train tomorrow and rushing it up to an establishment called "Mack's Valet Cleaners," on Post between Leavenworth and Jones, before my 9:30 class.

For those of you pre-1Ls pondering the life of a commuter student, I submit: you've just spent $90 to get your lucky suit altered, and now all you can do is pray that the folks at Mack's Valet Cleaners don't mistakenly feed it through a shredder and that the folks in the Tenderloin don't mug you between Mack's Valet Cleaners and school. You'll be running for your train in a shell, pearls, jeans, stockings, and short heels, with your makeup in your pullman bag rattling against the power cable to your laptop. You'll be running back up to the cleaners in the afternoon, still praying, wondering whether to bother with the manicure at this point. You'll be changing, coiffing, etc. not in your bedroom, but in a school restroom. And once you're done, you'd better be cool, calm, and collected.

Oh, and don't forget to breathe.

thus spake /jca @ 6:00 PM...

Forget the walkout...it's a study-out!

Subject: To study or to protest...join us to do both

"We are a group of law students who oppose the war against the people of Iraq"

Law school is a notoriously time-consuming endeavor, yet the Bush administration has compelled us to take time away from our studies to oppose the curtailment of civil liberties at home and the illegal war abroad.

We worked with other law students throughout the state to run a full-page ad in the New York Times expressing our opposition to the Bush administration policies and actions.

Additionally, we have taken to the mailbox to send letters, to the phones to make calls, and to the streets to march.

Now, we need to study.
(Sure about that? --ed.)

We will be on the Civic Center lawn facing the UN Plaza on Monday, March 31, from 9:40 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. to let our physical presence speak out against the war while our
minds attempt to do what the Bush administration apparently never did -- learn the law.

Sponsored by the [school] Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

thus spake /jca @ 1:36 PM...


Did you see? Salam Pax made the front page of Yahoo! Apparently Reuters decided that the existence of his blog -- which hasn't been updated in an unsettling day or two -- was in itself newsworthy. He's got to be thrilled to have beaten Instapundit and the Volokhs to this particular flavor of fame...that is, if his Internet service is still live...

thus spake /jca @ 10:51 PM...

Checklist for oral arguments, upcoming this Thursday:

* Grid all those cases once and for all so I'm not stuck saying "In a...federal case...I believe it was CompuServe" when under the gun.
* Pick up lucky suit from seamstress.
* Find one-hour cleaners for lucky suit.
* Decide whether to drive to school on Thursday or not. (Probably not.)
* Decide whether to wear lucky suit to school on Thursday, or rush home after Edie, change, and rush back.
* Pack makeup on Thursday; putting it on in the morning won't do when my oral is at 6:45 pm.
* Make sure husband can find his way to Civic Center parking lot without getting lost.
* Print argument outline in an acceptable font; highlight the parts to which my eye needs to be drawn when returning to script after an involved question.
* Manicure. Because I deserve it.

thus spake /jca @ 1:58 PM...


Claude Steele's research is making the blog rounds. Joanne Jacobs pegs his latest feat of negative-expectancy exacerbation.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's amazing that we're learning this stuff about ourselves, and kudos to Prof. Steele for doing the leg work. But howsabout some research on magic secrets to overcoming negative expectancies, rather than manufacturing pushbutton ones? I know of one person who was working on it a few years back, but I never got to read her dissertation...

thus spake /jca @ 10:34 PM...

Overheard in the women's restroom:

"[standard complaining about grades, school culture, etc.]"
"But here we are, and what can you do?" (Note: this phrase has apparently attained mantra status at my school.)
"Man, if I could do it over again..."
"Where would you go?"
"I certainly wouldn't go here."
(At this point I actually start paying attention, since the conversation is verging on genuine gossip.)
"I'd go to New College, they have such a better philosophy..."
"Where's that?" (I hadn't heard of it either.)
"Right here in the city. It's not ABA accredited, but..."
(At this point I stopped listening.)

Something for all the pre-1Ls to consider, as you evaluate your options for next fall...

thus spake /jca @ 9:57 PM...


Being TV-less has its benefits. I had no idea that the Academy Awards were scheduled for today until I happened to check in to Yahoo and saw that they had announced the winners.

And, it turns out, I'm offended. Sure, I didn't instantly fall in love with The Two Towers the way I did with Fellowship of the Ring, but that was purely because I had just come away from my Criminal Law exam and was caught in a nasty psychological paroxysm where everything in life seemed to suck. The movie itself, I learned upon second and third viewings, was perfectly fine. So it should have won some actual Oscars, not just the nichey little ones that only film professionals notice.

I have not seen Chicago, and now I won't, in keeping with last year's boycott of A Beautiful Mind. Not that it's such a tremendous hardship missing out on Renee Zellweger doing chorus-girl shtick and Catherine Zeta Jones sporting the same haircut I had in 1989. I simply refuse to support the establishment's continued snubbing of one of the few instantiations of pop-culture celluloid that are actually worth my time (and my $9.00).

Up with Peter Jackson!! And may all of my exam-related trauma be resolved by the time Return of the King opens.

thus spake /jca @ 10:57 PM...


Hey, criminal lawyers! Contribute to our society's definition of depravity!

thus spake /jca @ 6:01 PM...

Seen at the gym this morning: a T-shirt reading MAKE LOVE NOT LAW REVIEW.

thus spake /jca @ 3:30 PM...

Among the serving staff at my school's cafeteria is a really sweet, uncle-esque guy named Ali. He's an expert on area Persian restaurants and, every so often when the chef gives him the chance, will sneak a Persian dish in among the day's specials. "This rice has dried fruit in it," he'll say, convincing me to forego my daily turkey wrap, or "Taste the filling for my Persian burritos!" The falafel served by the cafeteria is, by Ali's assertion, his own recipe. (Although I hope the hummus isn't, because it's way too garlicky.)

Ali frequently winds up being the catering guy, whenever some event in the school requires that cafeteria food be delivered and served somewhere other than the cafeteria. He has a sidekick, Abdul, who's a bit younger and not nearly so happy to be there as Ali; so it's usually Ali summoned to pour the wine at alumni receptions.

That's probably where he was on Thursday morning, when I arrived at the cafeteria to collect my chai and my sandwich. Which was too bad, since I wanted to ask him about the spread he'd set up on top of the low refrigerator that houses the yogurt, fresh fruit and sushi (not too exciting sushi, the kind made three days ago with mayonnaise): a series of six or seven different items on display on top of a colorful Middle-Eastern looking cloth, with a sign reading "Happy Iranian New Year!"

There was a dish of what looked like Easter eggs (complete with bunnies and chickies painted on), a martini glass full of some paprika-looking spice, some potted grass, flowers, a few pieces of fruit...but what caught my eye was a small glass carafe of water containing, of all things, a pair of goldfish.

The display was still up yesterday morning, when Ali was back behind the counter. I felt like quite the yokel asking him what each thing was, particularly given his answers: "That's an apple." "Those are eggs." Erm, yeah. But I did, finally, learn the secret of the goldfish: "At a certain time of day -- like five o'clock yesterday evening -- they say the goldfish face towards Mecca."

"No kidding!" For some reason, I'm ready to believe anything about animals. There are so many Incredible-Journey-type stories out there that it's easy to look at a cute little critter and believe them capable of amazing feats of telepathy, not to mention global positioning. If cats and dogs can find their way home over hundreds of miles, why couldn't goldfish bow to Mecca? "Talented fish."

Ali shrugged noncommittally, apparently believing more in the tradition of having goldfish on your Nowrooz spread than in their actual ability to perform salah.

"All my goldfish ever did was die," I remarked, which was true.

Perhaps so as not to ruin the festivity of the occasion, Ali did not conjecture as to the future of these.

thus spake /jca @ 10:29 AM...


Nothing like the joy of being stuck at school until 5:30 on a Friday afternoon.

No, it's not a protest-glut problem, although Patrick reports that a few are still transpiring (and being gleefully outshouted by him) further down Market toward the waterfront. I'm here because I have to smile for the camera: one of the "requirements" of my school's Moot Court course compels us to be videotaped while doing oral arguments.

Personally, I'd rather have a video of my actual oral next Thursday in the courthouse. You know, as a souvenir. I suppose this is meant to be a tool for self-improvement, a sort of practice exam where you're still working the kinks -- and in my case, the gesticulating -- out of your argument. ("Don't talk down to the judge," was my instructor's feedback after a practice oral on Tuesday. "You pointed at me." Mah!) Problem is, ever since we got the DVD player last Thanksgiving, our VCR has been decommissioned and now lives in a box in the garage, one step away from St. Vincent de Paul.

S'aright s'aright. Oral argument does not feel the slightest bit threatening, in part because I'm so in love with my topic. It's not often that cyberlaw shows its face in my school, and there are few things as liberating and exalting to me as -- ahh! -- casting away the I-might-be-wrong-and-probably-am Socratic uncertainty and just talking candidly to people about something I understand. Explaining networks, firewalls and mail servers to technophobic judges feels, to me, like sharing vacation snapshots with co-workers. Even my husband, a signal processing expert, has joined the fun, suggesting some excellent zingers on the difference between signals and noise. I can't wait. I'm going to have to cuff my hands behind my back to prevent the propeller effect from actually lifting me off the ground.

I probably should have worn makeup today. Ah well.

The timing couldn't be more exciting, either: a mere six days after I'll argue the case before faux judges in a San Francisco courthouse, professional attorneys will argue it before the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles. I'm dying to go -- it's only a cheap Southwest Airlines ticket away -- but have Property on Wednesdays and don't want to miss class for the next few sessions while we tangle through the Rule Against Perpetuities. Damn stupid Property, always raining on my parade. I'll just have to crawl Denise and Howard's sites in search of a live feed.

I'm going to miss Moot Court. It's been the one class this semester that would actually leave me in a good mood after letting out. Last semester my late Thursdays were a nightmare; but Tuesdays, despite being busiest, are by far my favorite day of the week this semester. I come home by seven-thirty, plum-tuckered-out and just happy. Perhaps this means I should try out for the Moot Court competition team. More likely, I think, it means that (surprise!) my heart belongs to Internet law. Although it could mean both.

thus spake /jca @ 2:57 PM...


Now we're hearing sirens.

A quick window check revealed a series of eight or nine motorcycle cops (possibly more that had passed before I reached the window), passing in series at top speed, going the wrong way up one-way Hyde Street. The marchers are long gone in the other direction. I wonder what's going on up there.

Update on Yahoo. I'll make sure to avoid the vomit.

thus spake /jca @ 4:25 PM...

This just in on email:

Subject: Protests & Classes

To : All Moot Court Students, TA's and Teachers

From: [name], Director LW&R / Moot Court

Date : March 20, 2003

Re : Classes and Protests


On this sad day for our world, I would like to share my hopes and prayers
for peace and for your safety.

Protests have been ongoing all day around campus. The protests have
mainly afected traffic and have blocked ingress and egress to our campus

However, one of our teachers just called to report that arrests are being
made and that there was an incident of violence against a police officer
near 7th and Mission/Market earlier today.

While the administration has advised that classes will be ongoing, if you
feel unsafe or morally unwilling to attend class today, please know that
your personal choice will be honored.
(Nice to tell us after 4 pm! --ed.)

Oral Arguments will be held during the next two weeks and will not be
rescheduled or cancelled. We all pray for a peaceful resolution before

If you need any assistance, please call me or email me at [email]

Please be safe. Make love not war!!

Hey, at least they're not rescheduling oral arguments! *snort*

thus spake /jca @ 4:09 PM...

Chanting noises got louder. I moved to the window nearest to my sixth-floor lawbrary cubicle and -- how the heck did they get here? -- a protest roughly four blocks deep was progressing down Hyde toward McAllister, where they turned right and marched on in the direction of the parking garage (out of which my friends, if they haven't already, most certainly will not be able to exit for the next twenty minutes at least).

I opened the window, which swung outward from a top hinge, and resisted the urge to throw paper airplanes and courtesy-of-Westlaw Skittles at the crowds. All along the side of this building, other disembodied heads stuck out windows just like mine. I saw an unfamiliar flag: black, white, and green stripes, with a red triangle pointing outwards from the left. I figured it must be Iraqi, but a quick googling informs me that it is in fact the Palestinian flag. *sigh*.

Cops stopped traffic headed up McAllister as soon as the crowd made the right turn off of Hyde. Among the sitting ducks was a municipal bus. I'm gladder than ever that MUNI runs underground in these parts.

thus spake /jca @ 4:07 PM...

Patrick reports from the financial district:

Another protest, this one moving up Market Street from the Ferry Bldg. Large banners the width of the street. at the front. I was crossing Market, so I decided to stand my ground in the middle of the street. March organizers wearing official-looking orange vests told me to move. I told them that they weren't policemen and had no authority to make me. The march stopped! Eventually the protesters got the bright idea of lifting the sign over my head and the march went on, but for a moment they were aghast--a protest tactic being used against a protest. Da noive! If there were 50-100 anti-protesters there I think we could have had some real fun.

Most definitely!

thus spake /jca @ 3:41 PM...

A busy day in Fog City.

Every Thursday and Friday, United Nations Plaza features a little flea-market type deal: merchants under white tentlike booths, selling crystals and homemade scarves and fake African masks and drums. The whole establishment, by the time I arrive, smells of cheap incense (also available for, well, cheap). Trust me, it sounds more charming than it actually is. I keep thinking I'll find something to buy whenever I pass through the flea market in search of a gift, but have not yet met with any success.

This morning I expected to see hordes of protesters when I emerged from the Civic Center MUNI station. Instead, I saw the flea market. No activists were bothering the guy with the fake Oriental rugs, or the array of bongo drums, or the sunglasses that fell off the back of a truck. Just the smell of incense. Oh wait, there was one person carrying a photocopied Not In My Name sign.

I was unimpressed. Was this all there was?

And then I noticed the traffic.

The exit into UN Plaza brings you above ground facing away from Market Street, across Hyde toward the gold-domed city hall building. There might have been some people milling around down yonder, but more notable, as I turned up Hyde, was the fact that all three lanes of it were gridlocked. At the McAllister intersection, the gridlock became even more animated as incoming traffic attempted to merge onto Hyde. Red lights turned green, then back to red, and if you inched up a tire length you were lucky. Nobody was going to make it the three blocks to Market within at least a half hour.

I ran into O., who sits to my left in Edie, while making myself a cup of tea in the cafeteria. "Crazy traffic!" she fumed.
"Protesters," I suggested noncommittally.
"Don't these people have jobs??"
I had no answer to that.

Contracts was emptier than it usually is (by virtue of its unfortunate scheduling at 9:30 am). "They've closed off Van Ness," M. told me, "and part of Market."
"Ooh," I said, thinking of K. and C. as they drove in to school. "I bet nobody can get to the Civic Center parking garage."

Anecdotes trickled in all morning, as people made their way to class. L's twenty-five-minute bus ride took her an hour and fifteen minutes. K. fought her way across Market to find the Civic Center garage almost completely empty. C. had unsuccessfully tried to park at a friend's house and take BART.

"I feel guilty," K. said. "I should be out there with them."
"Mmmmm," C. agreed, "yeah."
I had no answer to that.

Patrick, however, did. He sent me a gleeful email describing how he'd gone up to a circle of singing peaceniks at Embarcadero and chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, Saddam Hussein has got to go!" and "Free free free Iraq!" until the nearby cops were almost visibly laughing with him.

After Edie ended at 1:30, I decided to explore a little. Traffic on Hyde was moving again, and I needed to hit the ATM anyway, so I figured I'd walk down to the one at Eighth and Market and maybe do some peoplewatching.

Someone had thrown black paint all over one of the ATMs; I used the other one. Other than that, the area didn't seem any more or less littered or vandalized than usual. "NO WAR FOR OIL" someone had sprayed on one of the F-Market guardrails. "BUSH = TERRORIST" appeared on a garbage can. "HEALTHCARE NOT WAR! FOCK [sic] BUSH!" read a low wall.

I followed the roads closed to traffic and eventually found my protest, marching up Market at about Seventh Street. Free assembly is a First Amendment right that's never been particularly crucial to my personal wellbeing; this was, in fact, the first protest (not counting picket lines) I'd ever actually seen in the flesh. No, they weren't naked. Yes, they were shouting. But the chants were being led by three or four different point people who didn't quite synch up. And the diction would have sent my high-school drama teacher into conniptions. It took me a few rounds to fill in the missing consonants:


As though someone had stepped on the protesters' collective toe.

They were a pretty collective bunch. "RAVERS FOR PEACE," read a multicolored sign. "POTHEADS 4 " was scrawled on a piece of cardboard. Someone had even spray-painted "YOUR MOM 4 PEACE" on his sign. (Maybe his is; mine certainly isn't, although I didn't feel the need to tell him that.) I saw a red flag, a blue flag with a picture of Earth on it, and American flags both right-side up and upside down. But I laughed out loud when I saw the man in the hot pink satin body stocking pedaling by on his unicycle, tootling a police-style whistle and making a victory sign with his right hand while pointing to it with his left. Or rather, a peace sign. A "V" with his forefinger and middle finger, at any rate.

An older guy, whom I thought for a few moments might be homeless, was marching alongside the marchers shouting "BUZZWORD PATROL! BUZZWORD PATROL!" No one seemed to notice. His was the only counter-protest I heard, although to be fair, maybe other people were attempting and being drowned out by the howl of vowels from the throng.

Back up by school, a much smaller band of more normal-looking folks marched (er, strolled) along down McAllister. "A JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE" read their banner. They may have been Jewish, but in terms of voices, they seemed to be more interested in chatting with each other than in chanting out loud. They also managed to stay very neatly unaware of, or at least unaffected by, the nasty anti-Israel signage being waved around not three blocks away.

"Just think," M. had said this morning, "all those cops are getting overtime pay just to stand around and make sure these people don't break things. Just think how much this is costing us." [About a half million dollars daily, it's estimated.] "Why not lower our tuition instead?"

(In fact, it's going up 28% as of the fall semester.)

"I mean," B. was ranting to S. a few rows back, "I'm opposed to the war too, but dude, I've got to get to school!"

One might argue that the crowds should, too.

thus spake /jca @ 3:02 PM...


And we're off.

You know, every time I see the word "war" in print, that old Edwin Starr song gets stuck in my head again...

thus spake /jca @ 9:38 PM...


Mmmmmmmm! *giggle*

Link courtesy of Jane Galt.

thus spake /jca @ 10:41 PM...

This afternoon after Edie, I trundled up to the office of the dean of students, chewing on an idea.

"What can I do for you?" he asked. (I was right -- he doesn't know me from Eve.)

"I'd like some information on joint degree programs," I told him.

My school, it seems, plays fast and loose with them. Basically, the dean told me, you can complete a masters jointly with your J.D. at pretty much any masters-granting institution that'll accept you. One semester of credit transfers in either direction, and after four years, you get not just a J.D. but also a M.B.A. or an M.P.P. alongside. The catch is that they're about as supportive of you doing this as they are of any damn thing you suggest: "Sure, go ahead, good luck." Have fun researching schools, choosing programs, networking with professors, taking whatever standardized tests you need to get in. We'll be happy to calendar you in for fifteen minutes once you've completed the process, to sign your paperwork.

I guess that's better than the administration actively attempting to prevent you from doing something like this.

But then the dean, in what was perhaps a slip of protocol, wound up saying something direct and rather helpful. "You don't want a joint degree," he told me. "These things you're talking about studying --" (digital intellectual property, cybercrime, jurisdictional issues, Internet regulatory policy) "-- are all law classes. They're not what you'd find in a policy school."

"Oh." I guess that made sense. "But they're not offered here."

"No, that's correct."

I waited for him to say the T-word. He didn't.

"We used to offer a few," he said instead, naming an Internet law expert who had been lured away to another school. "But people like that are hard to replace. They're expensive."

And then came the T-word...in a rather different context than I was expecting.

"But you know, you can take classes in this stuff at [several local schools] and just transfer the credit in."


Up to twelve credits, it turns out. Or, another option: go be a visiting student somewhere for a full year, which would allow the importation of a whopping 30 credits. "There's a two-year full-time residency requirement," the dean told me, but I was on track to satisfy that in just two more twelve-credit-minimum semesters. Ad astra per aspera.

This is heartening. This gives me options. If anything, the glorious array of options verges on the intimidating. These eensy little seminar classes...will they even take me?

Too early to worry. The good news is: they just might.

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


Nobody is Irish in San Francisco, or at least if they are, nobody's admitting it.

It's unusual for ex-of-New-Jersey me to go through a St. Patrick's Day where no one wishes anyone else a happy St. Patrick's Day, one devoid of green-dyed beer and plastic hats and parades. I'm a quarter Irish myself, through my maternal grandfather, and dutifully wore not only a green henley shirt but green socks and a green bra (not that anyone checked, but there it was). And I kept my eyes peeled for any ethnic compatriots doing likewise.

Alas, it seemed that there were more Irish folk (or at least Irish supporters) in my section than anywhere else in town, on Caltrain, on MUNI, or milling about United Nations Plaza for the grand opening of the new Asian Art Museum. (No, the crowds were not disproportionately Asian, which would have explained the lack of Irish spirit but didn't.)

At least I'm reassured that St. Paddy is duly fĂȘted within the confines of my school: Lexis Nexis sponsored another 10,000-loyalty-point contest in his honor. Snakes, beware.

thus spake /jca @ 9:21 PM...


They've released the course schedule for next semester, so my Mendocino comedown has been spent ciphering out potential course combinations for next semester.

The arc of my plans for the next few years remains indeterminate at best. My mother, last week, sat me down and attempted to map out a number of possibilities; a former district manager, she retains the ability to sit down in the middle of a barn -- a barn! -- and sketch out flowcharts on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt. Unsurprisingly, every branch ended in a question mark. Stay at this school? Transfer? Leave law school altogether? Go back to school for something else? Have a baby? Move back east? Get a job? Retire to Mendocino right now? Who the hell knows.

Still, it's best to prepare for the option which, if not most likely, is at least the most easily predictable.

My requirements are not terribly complicated:

1. No sunrise trains. (Absolutely inflexible on this.)
2. Something that fulfills the Ethics/Professional Responsibility requirement, and will ideally set me up for the MPRE in November.
3. No vertiginously-leftist policy wonk professors (although I'll take one if their class is at the right time).
4. Minimum 14 credits.
5. Brownie points for non-GPA seminars.
6. Guilt points for bar courses.
7. Oh-baby-yes points for courses with anything other than one final exam equaling 100% of the grade.

Which leads me to Evidence at 11:30 am on Mondays and Wednesdays, followed by a seminar in Roles and Ethics that -- gloriously! -- features papers, a midterm, and a take home final worth a third of the grade. I'm then looking at two possible Constitutional Law I sections, one taught by a vertiginously-leftist policy wonk professor (at 1:30 pm) or another taught by my buddy the dean of students (at 10:30 am). He may not yet know that he's my buddy. In fact, he probably doesn't know me from Eve. Which is fine by me.

That's eleven credits. For my remaining three, I've slated either Criminal Procedure -- paired with Professor Policy Wonk's conlaw section -- or, more excitingly, a non-GPA seminar that could well make it worth catching the 8:17 train for the dean of students: "Scientific Method for Lawyers." It's a statistics class, the likes of which I never got around to taking in college. It's taught by the school's champion Evidence professor (whose section, alas, would have necessitated a sunrise train) and doesn't even count towards my GPA, a delicious thing to keep in mind should my math anxiety decide to resurface.

Alas, not a whiff of the Internet. I saw it coming, though, so it doesn't sting so badly. It does suck that the one intellectual property class the school does offer, an intro-level massive lecture, conflicts with almost everything else on my schedule; and the mythical single-credit cyberlaw seminar isn't even being offered this semester. Whatever. If this is the prong of the flowchart along which I wind up traveling, my actual personal interests will likely have little to no influence on my path in life for the next two years. I could let this gall me if I wanted to, could convulse in envy over Paul's amazing note or James' view from the empyrean realms or any of the other wonderful places people get to be while I'm in the land of litigation competitions and social justice clinics. But that would be stupid of me.

If I've learned anything over the past few weeks, and past few days in particular, it's this: In life you may not agree with every decision you make. Once you've realized that you've gone against your own grain, though, you've got two options: abandon and walk away (if even to start over), or stick with it and suck it up. But that's the trick. You've got to pick one.

thus spake /jca @ 9:09 PM...

Mendocino was sublime, as anticipated. The Whale Watch Inn is perhaps a misnomer -- three nights there with nary a fluke in sight -- but is just the thing for detaching oneself from the continuum for a bit. Hand-carved furniture, 138 wooden steps down the cliff to the tidepools full of starfish, and fresh-baked banana bread at breakfast. Our room, the Bath Suite (more realistically named than the inn), featured a whirlpool tub in a loft atop a spiral staircase. Mmmm...bubble baths. Repeatedly. All was good.

The laptop was there, but stayed in the pullman bag the whole time. Every so often I did get the urge -- more like a zing of guilt -- to study a bit, which I would indulge...but the experience remained intact.

And for anyone who's ever wondered what I look like -- here's a beauty shot:

thus spake /jca @ 7:13 PM...


My mother's new horse is named Skip In Earnest, Ernie for short. He is an eight-year-old liver chestnut gelding, sixteen hands, with an astonishingly unflappable personality. You can hot shoe Ernie, go at him with a clipper, turn him out with strange horses in a paddock surrounded by a shock fence, and his only reaction is a few blinks of his giant limpid eyes and a wet snuffle. If he weren't so clearly a horse, you could almost mistake him for a cow. Mom recently retired her first horse after much high-maintenance hassle over his health, and to see her with an undemanding horse who already loves her as much as she loves him...it's blissful.

And yet I failed to bliss out in Florida. I'm doing better now than I was at Christmastime, when I never actually granted myself any down time. Still, I wonder if I'm actually, truly, chemically depressed. Breaks like this are supposed to revive and uplift the downtrodden 1L. To be sure, I had great fun spending so much time with my mother, itemizing her tack room at the barn and sharing Kentucky Fried Chicken and watching (first time I've seen this stuff, me without TV and all) American Idol and Married By America. But as soon as anyone asked me how school was going, everything would hush and go monochrome again.

I didn't get any outlining done in Florida. I did study my Gilberts at night, while repeatedly attempting to fall asleep on something close to Eastern Time. I never quite made it, though, which made last night/this morning all the more fun: to catch a 7:00 flight out of Orlando that got me back home by 11:30 this morning, I have been awake since 1:30 a.m. Pacific time. Whee! My eyes look like pinwheels, sort of.

Tomorrow we head up to Gualala ("wah-LA-la") for the part of my break in which my husband actually intends to join, in the event that he ever gets home from work tonight. I think I will pack my laptop, just to have it, just to see if I'm motivated to do any work while there. It could happen. I'm not trying to escape from school the way I was back in January. I'm trying instead to figure out if ever the twain -- school and my Technicolor life -- shall meet.

thus spake /jca @ 6:32 PM...


I need spring break so badly, my entire body itches. I want to tear out of my skin and run, clean and screaming and trailing streamers of blood, run and run and run until I'm surrounded by redwoods and ocean and not another human soul.

Instead I'm going to Florida, to visit my mother, whom I have not seen since last June. She keeps horses. Horses are incredibly comforting, utterly content in their ignorance of restrictive covenants and nonmutual collateral estoppel. I can groom a horse for hours without thinking a single law school thought.

I'll be back on Wednesday, and may or may not blog between now and then. May not blog even then, come to think of it, since husband and I will then head straight out to three nights in Elysium. The hard part will be the comedown next Sunday night, by which point I should certainly be back online to whine and gripe once again.

Happy spring break! And if you don't officially have one, take one anyway, even just psychologically! You can't undervalue such a thing...

thus spake /jca @ 7:24 PM...

I should officially extend a hug to all of the pre-1Ls who have been hanging out here recently, paging through my archives and claiming to draw wisdom therefrom. (How they're finding it, I couldn't tell you. I sure didn't put any there. Maybe it just grows, like mold, on words left out in the open for long enough.)

I owe you, by and large, an apology.

Let me first say, a propos of not much, that I take issue with the people picking on Barbara Grutter (a.k.a. one of the plaintiffs in the Michigan admissions-discrimination cases). Apparently Grutter applied to one school only. Some would say that this was a tactically poor move, and that by failing to cover her bases and apply to safety schools, she deserved what she got (in this case, a rejection). Maybe this is true. Maybe it is a tactical error to focus so exclusively on the one place you know you want to be.

I'd argue otherwise. Sure, it's dumb to put all your eggs in one basket and then express surprise when your one possible outcome doesn't materialize. But one doesn't necessarily put oneself at an advantage merely by decentralizing egg storage. One can arguably wind up in an extraordinarily negative situation, even after having covered one's hindquarters in exemplary fashion, by embarking on a Plan B without realistically assessing all possible outcomes.

I owe an apology to the folks searching Sua Sponte for what my criminal law professor would call "an algorithm," the particular magic spell that will resolve the issues they're facing by demonstrating how I successfully did so. I am sorry. I did not successfully do so. I would not recommend my course of action to a pre-law applicant. I'd almost rather recommend Barbara Grutter's. (Except that, once dinged, you should reapply a few times before you sue.)

Here is my advice, which is worth all $0 that you've paid for it. Sit down in front of a mirror, with your resume and application materials spread out in front of you. Know yourself. Cut yourself no slack. Can you accept a particular offer of admission on the understanding that this is the school from which you will graduate? Don't rely on transfer opportunities. Don't assume you'll wind up high in the class. Don't count on your intelligence, your talents as measured against the pool, your historical performance in an academic environment, and particularly not on your luck. If you get screwed, will it derail you?

It is true that there is a direct correlation between good 1L grades and hard work/intelligence. But know now, know in advance, and ahh, you probably won't hear me saying this any more than I heard the people saying it to me a year ago but here goes: the grades-to-work correlation does not work in reverse. Hard work can very easily not pay off. If you've staked any major plans on a certain result of your labors, and that result fails to materialize, where will you be? How will you feel? Will it be worth it? Answer that question now.

And then, when other people ask it of you a year from now, you'll have an answer at the ready.

thus spake /jca @ 7:11 PM...


Over the past week or so, I've come to realize something heartening.

When my alarm goes off at 6:15, the room is no longer pitch black. I can get up and walk to the bathroom without having to grope walls and trip over shoes. I can't really call it the sunrise train any more, since the sun is already neatly above the horizon by the time I arrive at the station.

Spring is coming, slowly but surely...

Spring break is coming, this Saturday. Hopefully the professors will come up with some suitable treat for those of us who actually bother to show up to class tomorrow.

thus spake /jca @ 6:26 PM...


My Moot Court TA had mysteriously gone AWOL for three days prior to yesterday's deadline. "I have company this weekend," she emailed me. "I have class all Monday until 6 pm." So I sought the aid of another TA on Monday afternoon to do a last-draft error sweep on my brief before I invested big bucks in fancy binding.

"None of my students are getting a perfect paper," he told me as he picked through mine. "It just won't happen."

"Why not? Just because they screwed you over last year?"

"Damn straight. If I went through it, so will you."

This guy is a colleague of mine on the journal, a publication which is about as philosophically distant from this mindset as imaginable. "But you're in a position to change things," I protested to him. "Why make more people suffer just because you did?"

"This is part of how it is for everyone," he replied. "I'm not going to be the last person to have a miserable time. Would you?"

"Hell yeah!" I nailed him on that. "That's the entire point of being an activist. What are you, going to just say oh shit, I'm miserable, so everyone else should be too? Isn't the entire purpose to make things better for the people who come after you?"

He doesn't often admit he's cornered, this fellow (he's my favorite among all the journal folk) but this time he did. "Yeah, fine, true," he said, and then changed his tack: "But honestly, there are so many more important things to fix than law school, that should come first. Like reparations."

Or...whatever. "Law school reparations," I giggled. "Give me back my tuition!"

He smiled and handed me my brief. "You're fine on this," he said. "You totally pass."

As it turns out, he was right on the second point but not quite on the first.

My paper came back (many weeks before I expected to see it again) with five marked errors, by and large of the huge glaring slap-your-forehead kind. I can't help but be miffed, both at my actual TA for failing to spot these things in the previous four drafts while wielding her corrective authority, and at my journal colleague for same. I smelled malice. "He told me outright that he's not giving anyone a perfect paper," I ranted to my husband. "And why would she schedule a big weekend with company and plan on a full day of classes right before the final bound draft is due, when she knew that we'd all be emailing her for error checks since that's what we're supposed to do?"

My husband, predictably, got upset. "It's humanly impossible for one TA to find all the same errors as another," he insisted. He then proceeded to pick through my brief and find three inconsistencies which, as it turned out, were actual errors that neither TA had caught. After an animated discussion wherein I explained to him how unhelpful this was, we both calmed down a bit. "This is an awesome brief," he reaffirmed, nodding emphatically to underscore his point. "You have nothing to be upset about."

He frequently tells me this.

In this case, though, he's right. The entire purpose of a pass-fail class is to eliminate this kind of pressure, for chrissakes. Five errors means I've passed the class, and given our instructor's total chill when it comes to things like evaluating papers, those five errors likely have little to no bearing on my odds in the class competition.

Maybe this is only annoying because Moot Court is the sole class this semester that I actually enjoy. Property is loathsome, Edie is shudderworthy (you won't believe the things the EEOC can make you do if they decide you've been naughty), Contracts is the same as it's ever been and Civ Pro is so nastily opaque that the professor took it upon himself last week to give our class a five-minute lecture on how he was getting a completely clueless vibe from us and this was our fault/our responsibility to fix. *sigh*.

At some point this has to get better.

thus spake /jca @ 9:32 PM...


Vello-binding my Moot Court briefs at Kinko's cost me a whopping $30 -- and I didn't even copy the damn things there. I guess it's just that complicated and labor intensive to snap two strips of plastic together around a stack of paper.

Moot Court is pass-fail, but they do their best to intimidate you anyway: briefs must all top a departmental hurdle called the Ten-Error Rule. If you, on more than ten occasions, fail to insert two spaces after a period, accidentally italicize a comma, or commit any one of several dozen other nitpicky formatting faux pas, you flunk.

Our instructor, as usual, is completely laid-back about this. "No one fails Moot Court," he says. "If you hand in a brief with more than ten errors, your TA will hand it back to you with all of your errors clearly marked up. You fix 'em, resubmit the brief, and you pass." Apparently the worst thing that results from such an event is that you are no longer eligible for a Best Brief award.

Since he's so laid-back, though, we're not sure exactly which errors are real errors and which errors are just him deciding to do things differently from the departmental standard. "Italicize case names, don't underline," he says. "Boldface headings, don't underline." These are, technically, errors. "If you want to try out for a competition team, I'll take a look at your final brief and bring it up to standard," our TA whispered to us last week.

Our "standard," see, isn't what you'd expect in the first place. The instructor, who has been a professional attorney since I was in kindergarten, uses the Blue Book, along with pretty much everyone else in the legal universe. Except my school, that is: we adhere, by fiat, to the standards of ALWD (pronounced all-wood). Presumably there are differences between this and the Blue Book; having never seen a blue book on campus outside of the ones in which non-laptop-users write exams, I wouldn't know.

"Ooh, error there," the instructor would say to me as he flipped through my brief. "Citations need to be in reverse chronological order." Who knew? Scribble, scribble, scribble. There are twenty-three people in my Moot Court section, and the instructor tends not to hand back comments on drafts unless you deliberately schedule sessions with him to discuss them. I know folks who are handing in final drafts on which they have not received so much as a question mark in the margin from the guy. I'm fortunate to have picked up such random pearls as a reverse-chron citation requirement; hell, I'm fortunate that he read my brief more than once. Maybe that will make all the difference.

Perhaps it's silly of me to entertain notions of a shot at a prize. ("People are working so hard at Moot Court," C., who is taking Legal Analysis instead, commented. "It's pass fail! What are you, trying to get a pass-plus?") And yet it could happen. These eight expensively vello-bound briefs in my bag represent either my fourth or fifth complete draft, which was all it took to save my bacon in El-Dubyar. Plus, since we're a double-sized section (usually there are only a dozen students per), we get double the awards -- Best Brief and Best Oral Argument for both petitioner and respondent, along with three honorable mention runners-up in each category on each side. 14 people out of 23 can potentially get something or other. Those aren't bad chances.

At the same time it's scary to part with my brief after all these weeks. Today at 3:30 I hand it in, all eight copies, wish it Godspeed and then it's on to oral argument practice with no further mention made of the brief until next month. Is this thing really done? Do I trust that everything is where it needs to be, that there's nothing I left out? It looks all nice and sleek there with its blue covers in its plastic binding, but what if it turns out to be awful?

It's too late now to change, if so. Time to whip out the blue pen, sign under "Respectfully Submitted," and play on.

thus spake /jca @ 1:12 PM...


Final briefs for Moot Court cannot, alas, be submitted via email. I've grown accustomed to sending off a draft on Monday night and having comments either emailed back to me (by the TA) or aired on the overhead projector (by the instructor). Now, not only must I print eight copies of the item, it's also required that they be vello-bound with card stock covers in a California-Supreme-Court-respondent-specific shade of blue.

I own a printer now, a Christmas gift from my stepmother. Still, I'll probably do all the printing on the giant high-speed laser monsters at my husband's office, both in the interest of time and to save my own ink (the document is well over twenty pages even before the revision I'm about to begin). All of this still means that I need to budget some time for printing and vello-binding into my editing schedule. No waiting until Monday this week for me. Moot Court must get done today.

So of course, I'm playing around with course selections instead.

I'm torn; on one hand, it feels valuable to check out last semester's grade distributions when choosing among professors. Having experienced my school's vicious curve firsthand and without anesthesia, I can't help but want to hedge my bets. A topics in immigration seminar where no one gets below a B? Why the hell not? Immigration law has never seemed particularly uninteresting to me, and safety-in-numbers is just so goddamned important here.

On the other hand, grade spreads tell you nothing about where you'll wind up in the spread when your turn comes. My torts professor was famous among previous classes as the "B+ King," but he sure as hell didn't give me one, and an unsettling number of my classmates are apparently in the same boat. "You are so not alone," P. told me. "I can't imagine that I'm one of the fifteen dumbest people in the class," G. ranted to me. "That just can't be right." Of course it isn't. Yet the numbers say otherwise, and we have no avenue of protest apart from excusemaking come interview season. But would any of us have chosen a different professor, looking at his grade spread? Didn't we all know how smart we were, of what we were capable?

Picking classes is scary, for precisely this reason. I have not yet recovered my faith that exam performance is in any way correlated to either my intelligence or my command of the subject matter. The thought of two more years blindfolded, running an obstacle course laced with barbed wire and broken glass, leaves me chilled. I don't mind the sneering coyness of the Socratic educational model. I can fight my way through the smokescreens to all the actual information I need to feel comfortable that I've learned the law. But I can't support the fact that my trial and error is quantified and centrally featured on my permanent record. If you're going to grade me like this, and my grades are going to matter so much, then just be straight about it and teach toward the test. Or if the method is really that much more important than the numbers, then shift the emphasis there. Pick a story and stick to it.

I think I'll protest by taking as many non-GPA seminars as I'm allowed.

thus spake /jca @ 3:33 PM...


Several fellow student blawgers have talked about the Barrister's Ball at their schools, which leaves me feeling rather antisocial. Ours was last week, and I didn't go.

How lame of me, right? I'm married, so I've got a built-in date (provided I can convince him to haul himself up to the city). But I never did get around to having my black cheongsam dress altered. I couldn't find the occasion to buy tickets. And I basically require a guaranteed lift home to the south bay to convince me to spend a Friday night in town without my car. After 8 pm the trains only run once an hour, at midnight they stop running altogether, and I don't do Cinderella.

The Barrister's Ball was a clubbing-type evening, and I've never been much into clubbing, anyway. Pub crawling, sure -- some of my greatest memories of 1996 trail off into a blissful stumbling-home haze. But I can't dance, as a matter both of fact and of law, and my husband is even less graceful. And what fun is it to dress up and go to a club when all you're going to do is sit at the bar and eat fattening munchies and drink? I could just do that at home in my jammies. In fact, I did.

If they had the BB at a jazz club, on the other hand, that would be something else entirely. Laura once took me to the Village Vanguard, back in my Manhattan days, and the evening still resonates like a Zen chime whenever I think back to it. There must be jazz clubs in San Francisco. (We've been to Slim's, but that hardly counts, if only because we went there to see Jerry Cantrell of all people.)

Maybe it's just me, but when I hear "Barrister's Ball" I think ballroom, chandeliers, parquet floors and an orchestra with a massive brass section on risers playing "Take the A Train" and "Satin Doll." I'd pay ten bucks for that, easily. Twenty even. I'd gladly drag my husband away from work, go out of my way to take my dress to the seamstress in time, maybe even take a dance class or two so I wouldn't step on anyone's feet.

Then again, maybe I'm just old school. Or just old, period.

thus spake /jca @ 12:43 PM...

more final thoughts...

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