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


Oh yes, and then there was this:

Subject: Reminder! re: Ear plugs for final exams

Dear Students,
Just a reminder that due to budget cuts free ear plugs are no longer provided by the Records Office during exams. If you need ear plugs, you may purchase them on campus at the Bookstore. Their hours are 9:30 to 5:00 M-TH and 9:30 to 4:00 F.

Fortunately I found out before the exam. Still, I was out fifty cents.

thus spake /jca @ 9:34 PM...

And I'm DONE with Civil Procedure. (At least until the bar exam. But that can wait.)

It's nice having exams in the afternoon. I don't have to spend $59 a night at the Abigail Hotel, don't have to trek up to The City the night before with a clean T-shirt and a change of underwear crammed into my borrowed-from-husband backpack next to my laptop and outline and casebook. And taking the local train, several hours in advance of an exam with no time pressure, can only ever be anticlimactic. I almost managed to fall asleep.

Things are so different, so amazingly different from last semester. I didn't go into hermetic seclusion before the exam, didn't focus or purify or meditate on The Swan while gazing into the depths of my locker. In fact, I entirely forgot to bring music, which all the same fails to explain why the theme from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon floated through my brain in the middle of my Rule 19(a) analysis.

But I digress. The exam was three and a half hours and wound up featuring a preclusion question, a joinder of parties question, and an out-of-nowhere three-parter with an intervenor and an impleader and the requisite jurisdictional gymnastics under 1367. No discovery, no pleadings, no summary judgment or post-trial motions or any other such areas that I'd been unable to rehearse on old exams. I was, as it turned out, reasonably prepared for this.

And the panic never came, that spike of adrenaline that juiced me through nearly all of my finals last semester. It didn't even occur to me to try to stay calm. I could have been taking an exam in college, in high school even. A hard one, to be sure, a respectable B, but nothing unprecedented.

But the best part came after the exam actually ended, when I dropped off my SofTest floppy disk at the front desk, signed out, and realized that I was done with Civil Procedure. And I was thrilled at the thought. No post-traumatic-exam stress disorder for me this time. I could actually relish the fact that the exam, and the course, were actually over. "No more Civil Procedure," I groaned in joy as I high-fived friends of mine, still queued up to deposit their floppies in the big blue box. "NO MORE CIVIL PROCEDURE!"

While I'm not convinced I flunked, I still am not feeling particularly stoked about my performance on the exam. I haven't a clue whether it will turn out to be adequate, sufficient or sorely lacking. I do know that I had a brief oh shit moment on the train ride home, when I consulted my outline and realized that respondeat superior liability could not in fact preclude a subsequent claim against a primarily liable party. But then I thought: People who walk out of an exam confident that they nailed it to the wall are the ones who get screwed. People who make mistakes and walk away in fear and doubt tend to get lucky.

I would love to get lucky.

Meanwhile, Property is on Monday, followed almost immediately by Edie, for which I still must complete my outline. Now would be a good time to start.

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


It takes a peculiar strain of misanthropy to come up with law school exam fact patterns. Short hypos are easy; anyone can tell a story. But with the proper ill will towards your fellow man, you can create baroque and nightmarish works of pure malice spun fine as glass. Why pose a simple preclusion question when you can turn out a ninety-minute whopper with three separate suits (two federal and one state, guess which order!), five claims, four parties, two precluded defenses, a missed counterclaim, and three issues up for collateral estoppel, two of which were pure issues of law? Oops, he forgot the partridge in the pear tree.

Times like this make me truly loathe law school. I feel like a ball of yarn being batted around by a psychotic kitten, doing my best not to unwind.

thus spake /jca @ 8:49 PM...

I went into The City this morning to take part in the Easter-egg hunt that is Professor Civ Pro's office hours. I felt reasonably confident about preclusion, and was ready to walk away feeling as confident about joinder.

There was a reason why I refused to go near the campus during exam season last semester. There is not a soul at peace in the entire school this time of year; you need to be either piss-drunk or clad in panic-proof armor (or both) to be able to walk through the place unscathed. I was neither. After a few hours in a room with Prof. Civ Pro and about a dozen of my classmates, I was ready to cry. (This despite Professor Civ Pro's comical refusal to learn to pronounce our names; to this day, he still addresses a student named Nguyen as "Mr. Nugent.")

I passed by T., the Moot Court coach/den mother, outside the classroom building. "It's almost over!" she called out to me by way of encouragement upon seeing the look on my face.

"It hasn't even started yet!" I wailed back.

I have three more practice exams to do tonight; J. from my study group suggests that another old exam question is doable, so maybe I mean four. This is my last chance to crank on Civ Pro, my last chance to seriously pull this off. Much of me is ready to just give up and wash my hands of this and admit that no amount of confidence in my mastery of the material will affect my grade. And then there's the part of me that just wants to reach over and throttle the smarmy kids who ask questions solely to intimidate the other folks present, citing to old overruled cases and third-generation subsections of rules. (We're fortunate that we don't have gunners in my section, but if we did, these would be they.)

It's impossible to keep a clear head there. I'm home now, and glad of it. The exasperated quitter and the furious competitor in me can go get manicures or something; I still have work to do.

thus spake /jca @ 4:20 PM...


Google hit of the day: "Louisiana district attorney neckties." This sounds like one for Ernie...

thus spake /jca @ 11:12 PM...

I think I've come to an important realization about Professor Civ Pro's exams, such that now I understand why he appears to grade so arbitrarily and differently from his peers.

Professor Civ Pro assumes that you will know every applicable rule; spewing them back at him gains you few if any points, although failing to do so in the order and language he likes will clearly hamper your score. (The fairness of this standard on a closed-book exam is open to debate, but anyways.) He cares little about your ability to spot an issue and say "hey, this is an issue." He knows it's an issue, he put it there, and he's unimpressed by your ability to take note of this, no matter how much it enables you to show off all the law you've memorized. This pissed me off to no end last semester: I had been so proud of my find on the Erie question, noting that the federal court was not sitting in diversity and that therefore the state law claim was joined under 1367 as per Gibbs. This earned me a whopping 0 points.

But therein lies the secret. I concluded my paragraph with something to the effect of, "even though there's no diversity jurisdiction, we'll assume the Erie analysis applies." When he later reviewed my exam with me, and I peevishly asked him why this had earned me no points, he replied: "I wanted to hear your argument on why it applied, not just an assumption." A number of people had spotted the issue, he said, but none of us had gotten a single point for it since no one had made it to the A in IRAC.

Professor Civ Pro gives points for lawyering. It's not enough to IRAC, to see all the issues which he assumes you'll see and recite back the rules which he assumes you already know. He will give you points to the extent that you convince him of the validity of either side's position. "P will argue against summary judgment since her employment status represents a genuine issue of material fact" is a yawner for him. The trick is to say something that makes him perk up and start nodding, something he might not necessarily have thought of himself. (True story: I earned five whole points -- nearly a quarter of my entire score -- for a single argument on my personal jurisdiction question, one which still seems rather far-fetched to me.)

The hard part, obviously, is coming up with these arguments on the fly in a time-crunch situation where much of your brainpower is already allocated to spotting issues and fetching back rules from memory. I'm as much a fan of creative lawyering and interesting arguments as anyone; that was the fun of Moot Court. But we had six weeks to develop our arguments in Moot Court. The Civ Pro exam is three and a half hours long. And when I'm breaking a sweat trying to recall from memory which four-prong test applies -- is it Provident Tradesmen or Parklane Hosiery? -- creative approaches only infrequently leap out at me from a freshly-perceived and possibly not entirely understood fact pattern. Maybe this means I'll be a lousy lawyer. Somehow I doubt it.

It does help my confidence, though, to feel as though I finally understand what the guy is looking for.

thus spake /jca @ 5:52 PM...

Courtesy of Professor Achtenberg at the University of Missouri, here are some Civil Procedure PowerPoint animations. I'm especially liking the ones on preclusion.

thus spake /jca @ 2:29 PM...

I realized last night, as I grumpily ran through the four-prong Parklane Hosiery test over and over in my mind, exactly why I was so tired.

No, it's not from excessive studying. I'm moving along at a far more manageable pace than last semester, when I was cramming almost all of my outlining and practice exams into two-day periods. My outlines are already complete for Civ Pro and Property, and Edie and Contracts are well over a week away; time isn't tight yet. I'm so chilled out it almost makes me nervous. There are other things I should almost certainly be doing to prepare for Wednesday's Civ Pro exam, but since I have a grand total of five practice exam questions at my disposal (some of which date back to my grade-school days), I don't feel too guilty making them last.

I'm tired, it turns out, because I ramped back up too quickly on my workouts without paying attention to my diet. It's one thing to survive on beef jerky and marshmallows and Clif Bars; it's another entirely to do so while burning 400 calories a day on the recumbent exercycle and the elliptical trainer.

"You should just work out every other day," my husband concluded.

I should eat better, actually. But during exams that's a problem. Cooking would be so much more fun than studying right now; if I caved even just a little and allowed myself to make something simple like salmon cakes, I would rapidly slip back down the slope and wind up making bean soup or baking gingersnaps or something by the time the exam rolled around. I need to spend my time on preclusion and joinder and discovery and judgments as a matter of law, not in the kitchen.

Still, I didn't go to the gym this morning. My head hurts a good deal less, and I no longer feel as though I'm coming down with something. (Wellwishes to Catherine and the Clam and all the other unlucky folks who didn't dodge the germs.)

I wonder whether I should work out on Wednesday morning before my Civ Pro exam at 1:30.

thus spake /jca @ 1:16 PM...


You know what would really suck?

Getting sick.


Time to pop a fistful of vitamins and go to bed early. I'll take my flowcharts with me.

thus spake /jca @ 9:47 PM...

Main Entry: tir·a·mi·su
Pronunciation: "tir-&-'mE-(")sü, -'mi-; -mE-'sü
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian tiramisù, from tirami su], literally, pull me up]
Date: 1982
: a dessert made with ladyfingers, mascarpone, chocolate, and espresso

A moment ago I halfheartedly logged in to Lexis, just to feel productive, and instantly won 250 loyalty points. That little thrill might just have been the pick-me-up I needed to really get to work.

thus spake /jca @ 7:08 PM...

So. Tired.

I'm drinking a big honking mug of that jasmine tea that makes me sneeze, in an attempt to revivify myself for another four or five hours of studying tonight. Or two or three. One, at any rate.

I took my outline to the gym with me this morning, something which it feels like I was only just doing scant moments ago. If I'd had more than just weekends at the gym this semester, maybe it would feel as though more time had elapsed since December. Still, I'm not sure I could have stood it had this semester gone on any longer. This has been the longest year of my life. I've aged at least a decade.

Study session in The City was reasonably productive, with a lot of the juice (at least the preclusion and joinder juice) coming from my flowcharts. My husband, whose prodigious sense of efficiency is overshadowed only by the extraordinary limits on his patience, sat down with me last night to help me bash out actual processes. All seven of my study-groupmates made appreciative "ooh" "wow" and "I need that" noises upon beholding the masterpiece he inspired on joinder of parties. They even liked the preclusion flow, although I made that one myself and my husband thinks it needs improvement. Still, if it works for me -- not to mention my fellows -- we're the ones actually taking the test. My outline is frickin' thirty-six pages; I need something I can fit in my brain-pan, and these are doing the job nicely.

If I can force myself to stay awake. I could cave and go get myself a pearl milk tea, which is perhaps the most fattening, sugary, caffeinated pick-me-up imaginable (and is accordingly satisfying). But it would just be so nice to be able to shake off my afternoon doldrums and get back to cranking. The exam is on Wednesday, it's closed-book, and I should really be done memorizing by tomorrow night so I can really haul on the paltry few practice exam questions the professor has made available.

I take solace in the fact that every passing day brings me closer to the END of the exam period...

thus spake /jca @ 7:02 PM...


A few weeks ago, I stopped by my tax accountant's office to pick up this year's returns. She's a remarkable woman, a mother of twins who -- as I found out that day -- has not only her J.D. but her LL.M. as well. "Oooh, studying for exams," she reminisced. "I remember when my roommate and I would sit down, at either end of the dining room table, with this huge pile of books between us...let me tell you, our place was never so clean, nor our dogs so well-trained, as during finals."

I'm lucky I don't have a dog, I guess.

Civ Pro isn't so terribly difficult to concentrate on, or at least it shouldn't be. I'm a bit bothered by the way Professor Civ Pro has handled the buildup this semester, though. Last semester he was so helpful -- he distributed and graded practice exams, walked us through flowcharts for personal jurisdiction and Erie, and generally was a good deal more supportive through our collective angst. Not any more. This semester he's not offering a review session, nor has he discussed process flows at any point during class. He stopped answering email about a month ago. Worst of all, he refuses to share any of his old spring exams except for the ones already up on the library website. There are four of these, but three of them are from 1989, 1990 and 1991, back when the law of supplemental jurisdiction was something else entirely. The cherry on top: this is, as before, a closed-book exam. So not only do I need to decipher the byzantine flows of preclusion, joinder of parties, and that tricky-dicky 1367, I need to memorize them all as well.

Tomorrow I'm getting together in The City with my study groupmates; ideally it will be a productive meeting. I fear that there are just too many flash cards floating around and too little actual under-one's-skin understanding of how this mess actually works.

I have an outline, it's beautiful, it's not really helping me wrap my brain around the multilayered interactions of all of these rules. Can anyone offer any better advice or mnemonics than "Defensive estoppel, D-1, D-2" (which all the same is fun to chant silently to oneself while working out)?

thus spake /jca @ 6:46 PM...


I feel like a complete self-absorbed schmoe for not being aware of this sooner: Heather's pregnant!! (And has been, since February.)

There but for law school and suspended life plans...ah, heck.

Congratulations to mommy and daddy to be!

thus spake /jca @ 11:00 PM...

This is the schedule:
Friday, April 25 (today): Property review session
Wednesday, April 30: Civ Pro exam, 1:30 pm
Monday, May 5: Property exam, 1:30 pm
Wednesday, May 7: Edie review session
Thursday, May 8: Edie exam, 8:30 am
Monday, May 12: Contracts review session
Tuesday, May 13: Contracts exam, 8:30 am

My joy is palpable.

thus spake /jca @ 8:02 PM...

Last sunrise train. Last Friday classes. Last day of my first year of law school.

"I can't believe it's actually over," K. rejoiced after Civ Pro. "Civ Pro is over!"

"I can't believe it either, because it isn't," I grumbled. "I have so much Civ Pro to do between now and Wednesday."

"Yes, but we don't have to go to class any more!" said K. with a huge smile. This was true, at least. And given that K. likes Civ Pro about as much as I like Property, I identified.

Professor Contracts ended his valediction with the word "etcetera." He received a round of polite applause. Professor Civ Pro advised that we should all pursue justice; he was then applauded and presented with a sixpack of Coors beer, inspired by one of his in-class hypos. Professor Edie passed around bags of peppermint patties and Hershey kisses, for which he received an excessive round of applause in return. Or maybe that was just because it was the last class on the last day, and people who didn't intend to go to any of the afternoon discussion groups or review sessions were finally finished and were applauding themselves as much as anyone else.

My section played no further pranks on anyone. The Che flag prank had been quite enough, and was still spiraling out of control: Professor Property reported to our review session this afternoon looking fetching in a black beret with a red star. (Perhaps a prank/class gift from a previous year's section, or maybe she went out and bought this one herself. Either way, you can't make this up.) "You probably had no idea that your class gift would have this effect!" she chortled to us. "But I'm going to hang it up in my office, even though it might just horrify future students!" She followed this with a giggly comment about being a revolutionary. I leave it to your imagination whether it was a boast or a recommendation.

Thus ended my first year of law school.

It doesn't feel over, mostly because 100% of my semester grades remain to be determined. Still, I think I'm in a much better place psychologically than I was this time last semester: two of my outlines are already complete, and the other two are each almost halfway there. I've lost the driving sense of panic that whipped me into a persistent lather for so many months. Now I'm keeping my focus narrow, staying within the day-to-day rather than shredding myself over abstract projections of personal failure. So I have some exams to take. I wish they were already over. Meanwhile, I now at least have time to work without the distractions of additional assigned reading and sunrise trains.

thus spake /jca @ 8:00 PM...


Fall schedules were posted today, and by some beatific stroke of luck, I failed to wind up on a single waitlist. (C. was not so lucky; she's on three, and doesn't really want to talk about it right now.)

Specifics: I'm in to Evidence, Con Law I, Appellate Advocacy (with my moot court instructor) and the ethics seminar, which is now apparently becoming quite sought-after. "How did you know to register for it in the first round?" O. asked me.
"It wasn't a huge lecture with a 100% final exam," I replied, "so it was a no-brainer for me. You mean it's actually a good class?"
"It's supposed to be one of the best in the school," O. rhapsodized. This would be nice indeed, if true.

Evidence, meanwhile, is taught by someone not in our faculty facebook; apparently he's a judge and teaches evidence to other judges as well as to law students. And as it turned out, I lucked my way into the afternoon section of Con Law. Sure, the professor's politics are over on the other side, but then again so are Professor Property's and at least this individual's class is scheduled such that I can go to the gym in the mornings beforehand.

The strangest feeling of all: pausing for a moment, realizing that these are all classes I chose, and briefly tasting what it must be like to have my life back.

thus spake /jca @ 2:42 PM...

This morning I ran into the individual responsible for yesterday's Che flag prank in Property, and immediately asked her the question that had been on my mind since the end of class yesterday:

"So did you ever get your flag back?"

"No!" she squealed, and then told me the story: she and some friends had followed Professor Property out of class, down to the street, and had been about to approach her when she caught up with a fellow faculty member. "Hold my books!" Professor Property reportedly ordered the other professor, then proceeded to unfurl the flag and display it with all due pride. "Look what my students gave me!"

The story got better: Professor Property apparently stopped two more colleagues to show them her new prize, en route back up to her office; once there, she caught sight of the prankster and her cohorts. "Thank you so much for this!" she sang at them.

Again, this would have been the moment for my friend to reveal the joke. ("The person who lent me that flag told me to be careful with it -- it had real sentimental value!") Again she did not. At that point, she concluded, there was no getting the flag back. Professor Property was taking it door to door, showing it off to all of the professors whom she found in their offices. She then enlisted the nearby students' help in thumbtacking it up to her office door.

Apparently the flag also featured, down in the corner, an excerpt from a letter Che had written his son. "I wish I had read this to your section yesterday!" Professor Property had apparently exclaimed. "It's so powerful!"

"So your friend is OK with never seeing the flag again?" I asked the prankster.

"After I explained that I couldn't get it back, she basically said it was OK," she replied, still a bit bummed that Professor Property had utterly failed to perceive the subtle unkindness of the jest.

I suppose it beats the treatment planned for Professor Contracts, which so far as I know is nothing whatsoever.

thus spake /jca @ 10:44 AM...


Laboring away on my Edie outline, I unearthed this quote from Professor Edie in one of his more flustered moments:

“You’ve got to have some pity on me. This is, like, the worst stuff to teach in the world.”

If I hadn't had such a bad breakup with Professor Torts last semester, I would unreservedly love this guy. Even at an enforced emotional distance, I still could just hug him.

thus spake /jca @ 10:35 PM...

Terrific news -- the Angry Clam made law review! Let's all crack open some Two-Buck Chuck and toast him!

thus spake /jca @ 7:17 PM...

And that's it for Property!

A fellow student told a few of us yesterday that she, on a lark, planned to borrow a revolutionary flag from a left-leaning friend and hang it on the chalkboard before Professor Property arrived in class this morning. We thought she was kidding. But sure enough, this morning she showed up with the flag, featuring a map of South America with the face of Ernesto "Che" Guevara silkscreened over it. G. and I helped her hang it up, then watched for reactions as people arrived. It didn't quite have the effect she planned. "No one's getting it," she whispered to me. Perhaps that speaks to a decline in Che's face-recognition quotient: I certainly wouldn't have been able to name that face had I not been told in advance.

Still, K. and B. asked me if I was responsible for the prank. "Hardly," I told them, neglecting to mention that Che was such a non-icon in my pantheon that I didn't know him from Adam. (No, not you, Adam! The other one.) "Besides, where would I get a flag like that anyway? You wouldn't lend me yours." For the record, K. does not actually own a Che flag, at least not that I know of. The least innocuous item I recall decorating her home, back in the days when we outlined there, was a Green Party sign she'd picked up at a protest in The City -- nothing you'd hang on a chalkboard to poke fun at a professor.

Professor Property, on the other hand, recognized Che immediately. "Is this for me?" she squealed in delight. This was the moment for the prankster to out herself; yet there she sat, silent and poker-faced, suddenly unwilling to own up to the joke which Professor Property was taking completely seriously. "Thank you!"

Che hung on the chalkboard for the first hour of class; P. took him down at the break and left the flag on the table next to Professor Property's podium. "Was that a political statement?" C. asked him. "No," he said, "it's just distracting to have the thing hanging on the board." "If it's a political statement, then say so," C. insisted. Meanwhile the flag sat, undisturbed, rumpled into a ball on the table for the remainder of class. And when its owner failed to come up and collect it afterward, Professor Property happily picked it up and took it back to her office.

I wonder if the prankster's friend can ever expect to see that flag again...

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

The New York Times has discovered Charles Shaw. (Article courtesy of Benn, who needs a blog.)

thus spake /jca @ 12:05 PM...


Tomorrow -- I can scarcely believe it -- is my last, final, ultimate Property class. My droning semesterlong whine of When will it end? is finally reaching an answer: Now. Not a moment too soon, that.

Professor Property, aware of the rapidly-approaching end of the semester, has been crossing items off our syllabus in a mad dash to reach the end of it before running out of class time. Thus, we find ourselves skipping over the shameful, outdated, and historically embarrassing practice of intellectual property licensing agreements in order to address the hot-button, high-utility issue sure to confront us all in practice: slavery. (Although it was interesting to finally read Justice Taney's opinion in Dred Scott, something I'd seen quoted before but never actually studied in full.)

My casebook, never one to disappoint, offers this gem at the beginning of the "Property in People" chapter:

What limits should the legal system impose on the conversion of human interests into exchangeable property rights? Does it make sense to use the vocabulary of property and market exchange to describe interests in human bodies and in people themselves? Is anything lost by using the imagery of property to evaluate these kinds of issues? Should there be a presumption that all interests are exchangeable?

Are you thinking what he's thinking yet? But wait, it gets better:

In recent years, law and economics scholars have used market and property images to analyze almost every imaginable legal problem. See Richard Posner, Economic Analysis of Law (3d ed. 1986). Professor Margaret Jane Radin has argued that the use of market rhetoric to analyze all legal issues has the effect of wrongfully "commodifying" human experience by conceptualizing all human relationships in terms of market exchange. She argues that certain types of property interest are so crucial to individual dignity, self-fulfillment, the ability to form essential human relationships, and the ability to participate as a member of political society that they should be treated as personal interests rather than as exchangeable interests in a market. Margaret Jane Radin, Market-Inalienability, 100 Harv. L. Rev. 1849 (1987).

Gotta love the balanced airing of both sides of the argument there. "Posner exists. Radin says this and this and this and this and this." I have my own issues with law and economics (and would be discussing them over on Garrett's site right now if I knew more about economics and didn't have so much outlining to do), but seeing the school of thought given such short shrift inspires in me a contrarian desire to espouse it wholeheartedly.

The ending of the casebook verges on cute. Following an exam-style policy problem on page 1299, our goodly editor leaves us with three parting questions:

What arguments could you make in favor of the legislation?
What arguments could you make against it?
What is the right thing to do?

By now, of course, we should know. And even if we don't, Professor Property is there to tell us -- at least until 1:30 pm tomorrow.

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


The riding jacket and wool skirt turned out to be perfectly appropriate for the Moot Court reception. The cafeteria folks had come through with some of their best catering, including my current favorites from their repertoire, bite-sized curried chicken tarts and smoked salmon wraps. Things got even ritzier as one approached the bar (bars, actually--one was set up at each end of the reception room). This being the Moot Court department, there was not a drop of Charles Shaw to be found among the Coppola and Turning Leaf.

In addition to cute Best Oralist/Brief certificates and encouraging rounds of applause, we got T-shirts. I now own an article of clothing featuring the name of my law school, something I'd never anticipated would happen. It's a nice shirt, featuring blind justice in a red, white, and blue toga and 2003 MOOT COURT DEPARTMENT above her head. Imagine a department with funding sufficient to produce its own T-shirts and distribute them to adherents for free.

One of my two future teammates, M., was in attendance; the other, D., was presumably doing the smart thing and outlining instead. As our names were announced and we stood up for the applause, I gave M. a thumbs up. He returned it. Unfortunately, he promptly booked out of the reception room as soon as the event ended, so we never actually made it to the personal introduction stage. Not a big deal; there will certainly be time enough for getting to know each other through eight weeks of the grueling until-9-pm practices everyone talked about. "You become a family," was the consensus. I guess we will.

This is the last week of classes; my first exam, Civ Pro, is a week from Wednesday. I should be more worried. But my Civ Pro outline is complete up to date, and I'm on the Moot Court team, and law school in general no longer feels like a protracted nightmare. As incredible as it may seem (and believe me, no one is more incredulous than yours truly), this looks as though it's working out.

thus spake /jca @ 7:25 PM...


If an invitation to an afternoon reception says "business attire," does that mean a suit? Or would a wool skirt and riding jacket suffice? (Assume a woman wearing it.)

thus spake /jca @ 3:17 PM...


In my favorite jammies (black flannel scattered with red rose petals, a Victoria's Secret special), curled up in my particular spot on the couch, which has an actual dent in the cushion from me always sitting here. Seventeenth-century lute music hovering in the background. A cup of jasmine tea that's so floral I think I might actually be allergic to it. Empty Raisin Bran bowl, plants that need watering, bag of marshmallows, bag of beef jerky, strewn papers, hole punch, casebook, laptop. Chalky gray light filters through the clouds and my vertical blinds. The rule against perpetuities applies to a fee simple subject to executory limitation, but not to a fee simple subject to condition subsequent. Husband audibly munches on a Clif Bar, chewing with his mouth open.

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



Word decided to crash, taking with it about an hour and a half worth of work on my Property outline.

At least it's only an hour and a half lost. Shouldn't be too difficult to reconstruct; it's not like easements have miraculously redefined themselves since last I typed.

Still, I'm bitter. Disgusted. Wishing there were some alternative to Word, some good solid outlining-specific software that understood the importance of a course outline to a beleaguered 1L and didn't feel compelled to mock me.

Imagine if you could get out of any commitment in life you wished to avoid, simply by claiming an invalid page fault...

UPDATE: Has anyone tried this product?

thus spake /jca @ 10:25 PM...

I made that swoonworthy smoked duck stew for dinner tonight, with one major substitution: instead of frozen peas, I used a bag of fresh-shelled English peas from Trader Joe's. Wow. There's nothing quite like fresh peas. (I ate a fistful of them raw, straight from the bag. They're crunchy!) I'm almost inspired to plant some.

thus spake /jca @ 8:00 PM...

In the past two days I've been an Instant Winner twice on Lexis-Nexis. No loyalty points, unfortunately; rather, the prize each time has been an additional entry in the spring sweepstakes. This most recent win puts me at 5 entries, increasing my odds of winning a Lexus from 1 in however-many-million to 1 in however-many-million-divided-by-5. I'm not holding my breath.

Is it just me, or is Lexis getting extra generous with the instant-win sweepstakes entries in the days leading up to the winner drawing?

thus spake /jca @ 9:45 AM...


Garrett has weighed in on the 100%-estate-tax debate/thought experiment. These are the times when I kick myself for never having taken economics in college.

thus spake /jca @ 10:40 PM...


Proof by analogy that law school really is an extremist cult. (Link courtesy of Open and Notorious.)

thus spake /jca @ 11:15 PM...

Recent email from the local law school at which I'd hoped to take a three-day IP survey class this summer:

Hi JCA: We just got this information to put on the web. I.P. Overview class for this summer is:

#32211 IP Overview 1 unit
Moot Court Room
July 21 9:00 - 1:00
July 22 9:00 - 1:00
July 23 9:00 - 11:00

Hope this helps.

Alas, I'll be in camera on those days (as well as the rest of July in its entirety). I'd been hoping that they'd schedule this class for three days in June, my downtime month. They didn't. Shame, that; I'm not about to skip three days of judicial externship, no matter how much I like the idea of a quick, concentrated shot of knowledge on a subject with which I'm desperate to gain familiarity. I guess I could just buy the Gilberts and read it, but ahh, this would have been more fun.

thus spake /jca @ 9:49 PM...

Constitutional Law I is looking more and more likely next fall. If the first semester is really trained on historical mechanical things like federalism and the commerce clause, the potential for policy-wonkism is vastly reduced in comparison to a semester spent on individual rights. I've accordingly penciled the perfectly-timed section, 1:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, into my selection grid. The professor makes no secret of his leftism, but I could care less how he feels about Iraq if all we're going to be discussing is Marbury v. Madison and regulatory power. Besides, his class is late enough in the day that I'll actually be able to go the gym beforehand.

My just-gotta-hug-the-guy Moot Court instructor is changing his routine this fall: instead of teaching El-Dubyar, as he has done for a dozen years or so, he'll be trying something new and teaching a section of Appellate Advocacy. I think I'll take it. He may be a moving target rulewise, but there is no pressure to crank in his class. Between the Moot Court competition in October and the MPRE in November, I'm going to be pretty busy cranking elsewhere, and a bit of breathing room will be welcome indeed.

Tentative final schedule:
4 units, Evidence
4 units, Roles & Ethics
3 units, Constitutional Law I
2 units, Appellate Advocacy (non-GPA, graded)
1 unit, Moot Court Team (non-GPA, pass fail)
and no class on Fridays.

Of these, only Evidence and Con Law have nasty 100%-of-your-grade final exams; Roles and Ethics has a take home final worth a third of your grade, the remaining two thirds of which comes from -- kid you not! -- papers and roleplaying exercises. Time to get used to being videotaped, I guess. 'Course, now that I'll have five mornings a week to work out, that should be all the more incentive to drop ten pounds; when the camera adds them back on, I'll look the same as I do now.

thus spake /jca @ 6:48 PM...

The long-awaited invitation to the Moot Court honors reception on Monday arrived this morning in my mail drop folder...and then again this afternoon. "You might get two invitations," Y. had warned me, "one for the class prize and another if you get on the team." Sure enough: one was hand-addressed to me by name, the other bore a printed label with both my name and the name of the team I'm on. Patrick and I went out for pho this afternoon and he got to admire them both (which I imagine must have just been awfully exciting for him...thanks as ever for your patience with me, Patrick!)

I'm looking forward to the dinner, if only to see who else from my section made the cut. I know so far that two other women have been tapped, one to the environmental team and the other to the National Appellate Advocacy team. I can't imagine that no men from my section were chosen; and yet the four I know who tried out have not yet heard good news (which probably means a waitlist at best). It's particularly disappointing that P., my pal from the joyous days of Intel v. Hamidi, seems to have been passed over. At my own tryout, the team people actually asked me if there were any particular individuals I'd prefer to work with; I mentioned P.'s name. Alas, it doesn't seem to have helped. Sorry, P., I tried.

thus spake /jca @ 4:50 PM...


I checked my mail drop at least three times today, itching to find the invitation to the Moot Court dinner. Since all the phone calls, I know it's coming; still, having that piece of paper in my hand will be so...tangible.

Instead, mail drop rewarded me with the second round of course selection forms.

The first round happened about a month ago; rising 2Ls were given two "preferences", with which we could either select two classes or -- if one's lottery number was particularly nasty, up in the 500 range -- "double preference" a particular class. My number was in the early 100s, and the most popular classes were all coincidentally too early in the morning for my tastes, so my choice was simple: I pegged an 11:30 Evidence section on Mondays and Wednesdays, followed by a 1:30 seminar/practicum in Roles and Ethics. Fortunately, I got into both.

At the end of your first year at my school, you've taken 30 credit units. 86 total are required for graduation. This works out to an average of 14 credits a semester for the next two years, which doesn't sound too awful. The two courses I've already selected add up to 8 credits, leaving me at least 6 to play with. Being on the Moot Court team gets you two credits, but I think that might just be one per semester. All team members are also required to take something called Appellate Advocacy, a two-unit non-GPA seminar that sounds like Moot Court II The Sequel (except that in AppAd, El-Dubyar-esque letter grades replace the beautiful P's we all got in Moot Court).

4 credits of Evidence + 4 credits of Ethics + 3 credits of AppAd and Moot Court = 11 credits thus far.

Remaining options include a 3-credit Criminal Procedure section, a 4-credit non-GPA seminar on Scientific Methods and the Law (mmmm! statistics!), and, least appealing but most heavily encouraged by peer pressure, a 3-credit section of Constitutional Law I. (Con Law II, in the spring, has Con Law I as a prerequisite. Apparently both halves make frequent appearances on the bar exam.)

Unfortunately, the thought of Constitutional Law makes me flinch. It's just so incredibly tiring, pretending to play along with the publicly-espoused belief system of the establishment when it tastes so consistently absurd to me. That stupid policy debate on the estate tax, for example: what was the point of that? The law (specifically Hodel v. Irving, 481 U.S. 704) would not conscion a 100% estate tax, period. But that's too simple an answer for Prof. Property, who saw fit to rip into B. and P. when they ventured to suggest that inheriting property wasn't necessarily a disincentive toward a life of productive labor, that the ability to bequeath and devise actually created an incentive for individual industry. Wrong, boys -- you failed to spot the issue! (This happened to me on my Crim exam too, did I tell you? I lost a good ten points on one of the policy questions because I "failed to spot the issue." The question was: "How do you harmonize a defense for battered women who kill with a blanket opposition to the death penalty?" The issue I failed to spot was how they were analogous in the first place, i.e. equating both to state-sanctioned homicide. Go frickin' figure.)

As a general rule, I tend to have difficulty fishing for premises that are fundamentally flawed. These are arguments that don't feel worth my time to make, particularly when facing a professor with a nontrivial ego who's licking his/her chops and waiting to inaccurately rephrase, sneer at, or otherwise dismiss any opposing viewpoints. I particularly don't appreciate being in the position, on an exam, where I'm expected to propose such eye-rollers myself under the guise of spotting the issue. And, to return to my original point, Constitutional Law seems like nothing but an entire semester of exactly this. Two, if you take I and II in succession.

But it's on the bar exam.

But maybe I could just buy a Gilbert supplement and teach it to myself over the summer or something? Or just count on BARBRI, which is supposed to solve all these problems anyway?

thus spake /jca @ 8:58 PM...


Oooh, a reee-source. Deposition Tips, created by Ernie, discovered (nyuk nyuk) by Bill Altreuter.

thus spake /jca @ 8:23 PM...

I stopped by the Moot Court offices this morning to shake the hand of anyone present and thank them in person, but no one from the team was around. Slightly bummed, I told myself I'd just call the guy on my voicemail tonight and thank him over the phone.

I was about to -- really! I was seriously thinking about it! I know, I'm worse about returning voicemail than I am about checking it -- when my phone buzzed again, about five minutes ago. It was a 3L from the team. "I'm sorry if about seven people have called you today," she said, leading me to wonder how many calls I'd missed. (Check: the cell phone says none. Whew. I wouldn't want to send the wrong impression.)

I confirmed with her exactly how excited I was to be on the team, especially for this competition. She, in turn, told me the names of my teammates. They're both male, both 1Ls, both UC undergrads, and -- surprisingly, since there aren't many of us in the school -- both apparently of the same ethnic background as I am. (I can now predict with almost 100% certainty that a team lasagna will be required of me at some point.) Neither is in my section. I'll meet them both at the moot court awards dinner next Monday night.

Here's how the competition works: right about a week before school begins, the topic is released. It's a two-issue smackeroo, double the fun of the moot court class I took this semester. The fellas and I coauthor a brief for either petitioner or respondent (we'll be assigned one) over the first four weeks of the semester, then crank on three weeks of alumni- and student-coached oral argument practice. And, in what will doubtless be fodder for all kinds of swinger jokes (*eepch*), I'll argue for both petitioner and respondent while my co-counsel will argue opposite sides and take turns at the counsel table next to me. The competition is in Chicago in mid-October.

Ah, just imagine! Something in law school to actually look forward to!

How on earth am I supposed to outline property now??

thus spake /jca @ 5:33 PM...


Today at dinner (an über-authentic Chinese restaurant, complete with the fried chicken head and fish eyeballs) with my husband's visitng aunt, uncle, and fellow travelers, I felt my cell phone ring in my pocket. It's a subtle vibrate ring, almost snuggly through my fleece poncho, like a cat purring. The restaurant was loud, and we were with company anyway, so I didn't answer it.

It stopped buzzing, then started again thirty seconds later -- my voicemail alert.

I'll check it later, I thought.

Back home, and about to go to bed, I remembered that the voicemail was still there. (I'm awful about checking my voicemail. If you ever need to reach me, email is much, much better.) I had just poured myself a glass of wine, and briefly set it down on the kitchen counter while I fetched the phone.

Good thing.

"Hi, JCA, this is [name] from the Moot Court team. Just wanted to let you know that we're offering you a position on the Marshall Technology Competition team."

I gasped audibly. Had I been holding my wineglass, it would have fallen to the floor and shattered right then.

The Moot Court guy was still talking on my voicemail, saying that I had a few days to think it over if I liked but that they'd appreciate if I'd get back to them as soon as possible. I realized I was dancing around the kitchen and making strange squeaking noises when my husband, from the living room, looked alarmed and asked me what was wrong.

I hung up the phone in the middle of the voicemail. "Moot Court," I squeak-whispered to my husband. "I'm on the Marshall team."

"You sound so surprised," he said.

I started to cry.

"What? What?"

"Understand," I choked, "that this is not the first thing I've earned at law school...it's just the first thing I got."

To this he could only grin. "You go," he said, then repeated it for good measure. "You go."

I rushed into the bedroom, dug into the pile of stuff under my nightstand, and pulled out an old gift from my stepmother: a picture of my late father at roughly my age, looking skinny, preoccupied, and otherwise very much like a male version of me. I hugged it, still in tears, and thanked him profusely. Moot Court was his thing first, a good five years before I was born. And now I am a Jedi like my father before me.

I need another glass of wine.

thus spake /jca @ 11:07 PM...

Unnerving news flash: Professor Civ Pro gave one (count it, 1) A in last year's class.

No data on the number of A-'s, which is the best I can do given my midterm grade. Maybe there's hope in that. Maybe this is actually inspiring, in that it translates to one's midterm grade being no indication of one's spring exam performance/final grade.

thus spake /jca @ 2:46 PM...

My property casebook, if it was ever worth reading in the first place, has now officially jumped the shark:

[I]t has been argued that inherited wealth is a problem. It arguably deprives children of incentives to go out and be productive themselves. Moreover, it helps perpetuate vast inequalities that violate basic norms of equality of opportunity. Mark Ascher has argued that inherited wealth should be drastically curtailed. Mark Ascher, Curtailing Inherited Wealth, 89 Mich. L. Rev. 69 (1990). He suggests that individuals do not necessarily deserve all the property they accumulate during their lives. "Wealth in the modern world does not come merely from individual effort; it results from a combination of individual effort and of the manifold uses to which the community puts that effort." Id. at 87. He notes that while we cannot control "differences in native ability" or "many forms of luck" resulting from the opportunities that arise in different families, he argues that "we can--and ought to--curb one form of luck. Children lucky enough to have been raised, acculturated, and educated by wealthy parents need not be allowed the additional good fortune of inheriting their parents' property." Id. at 74.

What can you say to this? More importantly, how can I answer exam questions when this counts as issue-spotting?

thus spake /jca @ 12:15 PM...


The lasagna I donated to my school's public interest auction finally came due. Turns out the lucky purchaser is N., a guy from my Edie class. "I bought all the food I could at the auction," he said, "so that I wouldn't have to cook in the weeks before finals." He specifically requested turkey sausage and extra cheese.

I needed a break from outlining anyway. (I always need a break from outlining. For some reason, the effort seemed so much more efficient last semester when we'd gather around K.'s kitchen table to do it. Now K. has decided that she prefers to outline solo, so C. and I are stuck doing likewise. Hopefully it's taking her less time than it's taking me...)

So last night, I set aside a good two hours and cooked. There's something incredibly homey and comforting about making lasagna; you're always doing three or four things at once, but it's less like a panicky law-school-style juggling act than a long-familiar dance step. You thicken the sauce with tomato paste, thin it with a bit of red wine, beat the eggs, stir the boiling noodles, sprinkle the freshly-chopped herbs over the saucepan and the ricotta bowl, and there's a calm to the movement that draws you in among all the women, your relatives and ancestors, who have done this before. Before you know it, as you slather on the last layer of ricotta and sprinkle extra mozzarella on top, time has passed. Time has passed and the kitchen's a mess and there are sticky utensils and cutting boards and discarded saucepans all over the place, and gosh, how did they get there? I was too in the zone to notice them.

N. lives in Emeryville, which is nowhere near where I live. Accordingly, the lasagna got to ride for a good hour in the passenger seat of my car as I blundered my way about the East Bay in search of N.'s street address. Turns out N. lives less than a mile from the Bay Area's only IKEA store, which I was hard pressed to avoid. I miss IKEA. Growing up has meant upgrading, piece by piece, most of the cheap furniture in my apartment. I think we still have one or two bookcases from IKEA and maybe a nightstand, but that's about it. Sic transit gloria mundi. N. seemed at any rate thrilled with the lasagna, particularly when he heard that it contained nearly four pounds of cheese.

Now I'm craving lasagna.

thus spake /jca @ 7:15 PM...


Today, a dishrag of a rainy Saturday, found me in the most unlikely place imaginable: back at school.

I never go in to The City on weekends if I can avoid it, in large part because the Caltrains don't run and any trek cityward involves parking my car in a strange and potentially hostile place. Today, though, I'd been drafted by my old buddy the director of admissions. It was Admitted Students' Day, and he needed more current students at the meet-and-greet luncheon than had volunteered for the job. "I would advise you to take public transportation," he told me. "There's going to be a protest."

"That means BART, I guess," I said, "since the Caltrains don't run on weekends."

"You never know," he replied. "It's supposed to rain, so the protest might be nothing."

So I drove to the BART station in Colma (a comparatively nonhostile place to park my car), read some Property on the ride in, and found the weather even more inhospitable than I'd expected when I emerged from the Civic Center station. The protest, as far as I could tell, consisted of a half-dozen sodden shivering folks distributing leaflets and buttons. I took one of each, just to make them feel productive.

"What do we tell people about the place?" M. and J., from my Moot Court section, wondered as we stood around the still-empty cafeteria waiting for the throng to emerge from the information sessions. "Hey, the weather's usually better," I suggested. Not a second later, an enormous roll of thunder sounded over our heads. "God knows when you're lying!" giggled M.

Admitted Students' Day was mobbed. "Three hundred thirty people here today," the D of A told me. "Last year, for you guys, we only had about two hundred fifty." I looked unsuccessfully for Matt, Blue, T-the-letter, A.D., and SenorT01. Did get to meet two women prospects, though: one younger than me and one a good deal older, both of whom seemed pretty excited to report back in the fall.

Godspeed, kids, and may you learn to manage your fears earlier than I did.

thus spake /jca @ 7:56 PM...


I think I might just stick with this journal next year.

It's a balancing test, of course. On one hand, the journal's politics -- and its mission is much more activism than passive observation-style scholarship -- diverge from my own by about a hundred eighty degrees. On the other hand, it's a new venture, and there's an ineluctable pleasure in watching a new venture take off. The symposium was a huge success; a good hundred people showed up for hors d'oeuvres, Charles Shaw wine poured by yours truly, and diatribes on how scary and awful the Bush Administration is. A hundred people! On a Friday night! Three weeks before exams! Now that's buy-in. And even if it's buy-in to a mission I don't politically share, it's also buy-in to a brand new enterprise that I helped build.

And even diatribes about the Bush Administration don't bother me overmuch. I've heard most of the themes already from my less-conservative friends, and am inevitably amused by the variations as they iterate further and further into the realm of hysteria. "Fascism is happening now!" exclaimed one speaker. So's socialism, I neglected to add, with equal success. Instead, I raised my glass and nodded sagely. Fascism bad. Wine good.

Interestingly enough, the only faculty from my school in attendance (aside from the moderator) were from the clinical programs. Ideologically it makes perfect sense that they'd show up, since they're the ones working in the community the journal is designed to serve. But the paucity of actual nonpracticing tenured faculty surprised me, particularly since they talk the talk so vehemently in class. Where was the vertiginously leftist Constitutional Law professor I just might have next semester? Where was Professor Civ Pro, whom I had personally invited? Most notably, where was Professor Property? Perhaps she is not so sincere in her lather of indignation as she'd have us believe. Funny that actual nonprogressives like myself see fit to support these nice folks' efforts, while their ostensible co-religionists all but boycotted the symposium.

Ah well; their loss. There was plenty of wine to go around.

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


Tomorrow is the inaugural symposium for the journal on which I participate. I'll be tending bar.

I wish I knew how to tend bar in real life. Tending bar at a symposium involves pouring wine, something at which I've had loads of practice. But mixing actual drinks? Alas, I could use some schooling. I can make a passable Manhattan, but my husband tactfully mixes his own martinis, and pretty much all other alcohol in our home is served neat. Arguably we prefer it that way (and I'm not sure what you'd want to mix with Stoli Vanil or single malt anyway, those being my principal forms of "sleep juice" lately); still, it'd be interesting to at least be aware of other possibilities.

The advantage of tending bar at an event like this -- as opposed to, say, ushering or schmoozing with the speakers -- is twofold. No one solicits the bartender for her views on, say, affirmative action (and mine would almost certainly conflict with that of pretty much everyone else in attendance, given the nature of the journal); and, on the off chance that someone should, I'll have a drink at the ready to raise to my lips in time to block the incoming foot.

Yesterday afternoon, the six official student journals (mine, an unofficial seventh, publishes its first issue this month) held an informational meeting on the inter-journal writing competition, an annual event that occupies the last two weeks of May for as many first-year students as are still conscious after finals. I think I'll probably do it, just to have another iron in the fire. An official journal would probably outdo an unofficial one, both on the resume and in practice. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind should the moot court result come back positive next week. (My husband has, in an unprecedented show of faith in my abilities, deemed this the Most Likely Outcome. I'm not sure I agree with him, but am still impressed. Usually the Most Likely Outcome, at least by his reckon, isn't the one I'd most enjoy.)

I wonder, a bit, about the comparative merits of a non-Law Review journal versus competitive moot court. "Moot court is only valuable if you want to be a litigator," rumor informs me, "but everyone respects a journal." And I'm reluctant to stake a sea change in life plans on a single data point, no matter how much fun it was.

On the other hand, the point -- remember the point? way back almost two years ago, when I decided to register for the LSAT and give all this a shot? -- is purportedly to experiment, give myself an intellectual workout, see if there's fun or entertainment or something rewarding to be had from the law school experience. But El-Dubyar sucked, and the journal work routinely assigned to 2Ls smells unsettlingly like El-Dubyar. Plus, the non-Law Review journals seem more like social organizations than serious publications. "We give you double hours for showing up to our parties," a 2L friend told me of her journal. I'm still a commuter student; happy hour, much as I love a drink with friends, is unfortunately likely to conflict with pretty much every express train home.

The moot court team, meanwhile, is work and a half (for, accordingly, twice the credit of a journal). They're not about partying, they're about winning prizes. This doesn't seem wholly unpalatable to me, when the labor is one of love as opposed to cite-checking with that still-mysterious, still-intimidating blue book. "You need to learn it eventually," said my friend, "so you may as well do it now, while we're here to teach you and the alcohol is free."

But would they teach me how to tend bar?

thus spake /jca @ 5:10 PM...


Now it can be told: I did, in fact, win Best Oral Argument.


Yes, good things can and do happen to first-year law students. It's not just a yearlong trudge barefoot across hot coals. Sometimes there's a cool puddle of aloe that you manage to step in, right when you need it most.

P., N., and I also "won" one of our instructor's joke awards: Most Hostile Panel of Judges. Somehow I'd failed to notice the hostility; at the time, they'd seemed to be as into it as I was, and I didn't get a negative vibe from a one of them. "No, seriously," our instructor said. "We had drinks beforehand and they said they were convinced that Intel had no case." And yet I won my round, and N. won hers, and P. only lost hers on a split decision. (They both got honorable mentions.)

Our instructor took us all out for margaritas at Chevy's (no blue ones this time), so I didn't get home until later than I'd planned. We postponed the celebration dinner since my husband was working on a presentation, I had to prep for today's team tryout and I was already so full of nachos and quesadillas that any more food would only add insult to injury.

Today, I didn't eat at all.

Rather, I had my standard bowl of Raisin Bran before leaving for the train, but then skipped my cup of tea and turkey wrap from Ali. My stomach sang bass all through Property, but I was feeling hyped already and didn't want to be nauseous come 2:15. I permitted myself a few swallows of water, to avoid lightheadedness, and a lemon Jolly Rancher since I can just never pass those up, but wound up marching in to my tryout completely empty and clean and ready.

I should say this: Moot Court is by far the highest-flying extracurricular at my school. If Law Review is the yearbook, Moot Court is the football team. Participating on a journal earns you one credit; Moot Court snags you two. While the journals and ethnic clubs hold bake sales, Moot Court competitors jet off to cities around the nation, stay at decent hotels, and eat fully-funded meals, courtesy of the California taxpayer. (Yay, taxpayers!)

And it shows. The school has brought home no fewer than five national championship prizes this year, a state championship, and untold finalists, semifinalists, best briefs, best oralists, and so forth. This intimidated the heck out of me last year on Visiting Students' Day, and has continued to for most of this year. But ever since that Thursday in March, I can see why people would do these competitions. And since yesterday, I can imagine what it must feel like to win.

Tryouts are intense in proportion to the status of the program: you suit up and coif as though you were headed to an interview, prepare a five-minute oral argument on one of last year's briefs, and then field ten minutes of personal-interview questions. They'd spend more time grilling you, but for the sheer volume of people who want to get on the bus.

I wound up skipping the cross-border hacking brief, since I know precisely diddly about treaties and international wrongs. Instead I chose a brief from last year's entertainment law competition, and argued for five minutes that a writing omitting a key term was not a valid copyright license under 204(a) since it failed to effectuate the parties' intent.

And it went well, I think. I felt underprepared, but didn't miss a beat in actually answering questions. My only error was a time-check, since I finished a question with about twenty seconds remaining and had to ask (a bit too sheepishly) whether I had sufficient time remaining to keep talking. The interview was comfortable, too; they asked me why I'd graduated college in three years ("Did you just hate New Haven?"), what I considered my strengths and weaknesses, and the secret ingredient to my lasagna. I didn't disclose it. Hopefully they won't hold that against me, but will instead be intrigued enough to draft me onto the team so I'll make one for them.

I told them, and I believe this, that I would choose Moot Court over a journal next year if presented with the opportunity to do both. I borrowed an adjective from my blog; usually I don't like quoting myself, but it worked. "Moot Court the class was such a transcendent experience compared to El-Dubyar." It is, after all, the truth. I'd be happy to work on a journal too -- I think I'll still do the writing competition, and cross the time-management bridge when I come to it -- but if this works out for me, it would be such a purely positive, positive thing...

I find out a week from today.

thus spake /jca @ 3:23 PM...


Based on some preliminary scouting-about, it looks like I might sign up for a one-credit Intellectual Property survey class this summer at a local law school (emphasis on local -- no train ride involved!). The course, if it lives up to rumor, would be three full days in June followed immediately by an exam. And that's it. If I don't like how the exam turns out, I don't transfer the credit. (I may not do so anyway, depending on how Things Work Out with respect to school and credit-balancing.)

This sounds perfect, except for one unexpected whopper: the price tag.

I'm so spoiled, going to a public law school. Your tax dollars -- if you're a California taxpayer -- are at work every day making law school affordable for folks like me. More importantly, they make it affordable for folks who aren't like me, folks who don't have a nest egg or a gainfully-employed spouse. Yay, taxpayers!

Tax dollars, it would seem, do not fund this local law school.

I'll probably do the course anyway; it's only a single credit, which costs no more than half a month's rent. It's just a bit of a shock to me to have to write such a large check for such a small quantity of education, when I've grown accustomed to more bang for my buck.

'Tis a shame that the public schools don't have a summer session. ('Tis also a shame that they're not local.)

thus spake /jca @ 7:38 PM...


I have a postcard from Germany mounted in an old scrapbook. It features a photograph of a garden sundial with the inscription Es ist immer etwas später als du denkst -- roughly, "It's always a bit later than you think."

Daylight Saving Time kicked in this morning at 2 am, which means it's exactly an hour later than I think right now. It's also the sixth of April, which leaves me precisely 24 days until my Civil Procedure final. I could spend those 24 days preparing and, ideally, find myself in full command of the nuances of offensive nonmutual collateral estoppel by the time the 30th rolls around. But the rest of the problem is this: very soon thereafter, I'll have three other exams to deal with as well, all of which require preparation during the next few weeks.

I've been bringing supplements along with me to the gym, and am considering trading in my Glannon on Civil Procedure for a Gilberts on same. Everyone loves Glannon, it seems, except me. I bought the book on the insistence of my 3L cousin, who swore to me that there was no other way to understand Civil Procedure. The Glannster does give clear explanations, which is helpful if your professor doesn't; mine, however, does, and furthermore insists on exam answers that map precisely not only to his choice of language but to his personal mental flowchart. I can't speak Glannonese to Professor Civ Pro when he wants to hear Professor Civ-Pro-ese.

Plus, Glannon spends far too much time on hypos. I may be unique among law students in this, but hypos do not help me learn rules. They do not even help me learn to spot issues. If I know all the rules already, I'll see them clearly in any fact pattern you set before me. If I don't, then no amount of fact patterns will help until someone just tells me what the damned rules are. The Gilberts supplements don't waste your time on hypos -- they're laid out as one big long outline, peppered with examples and exam hints that I actually do find helpful.

That said, I do need to get started on writing practice exams, particularly for Professor Civ Pro since that's really the only way to figure out precisely what he's looking for. Professor Property's exams are less of a complicated dance step, but apparently require far more brute force; three questions in three and a half hours will touch on every single rule we covered this semester, and then there's a Professor-Crim-style policy question thrown in just to make sure she's made her politics perfectly clear to us. (*sigh*.) Professor Contracts has just handed us our final syllabus of the semester, on which he plans to dedicate the final class meeting to a review of a practice exam answer, which means I'll need to write it before then. And Professor Edie's exam is the scariest of all, since the guy comes across as so kind and happy and goldenhearted in class. Don't be fooled, say the 2Ls who have experienced him. His exams will eviscerate you. And then he'll still be all sweetness and light when you drag your remains up to his office after the fact to figure out why.

No thanks. That's one experience I certainly don't need to repeat.

Still, I'm detached from this whole experience in a way that I wasn't, last semester. In a sense I've already missed my mark; I doubt that, two months from now, I'll be in the position I had hoped to be. This won't prevent me from doing my best to get there anyway, but per my husband's repeated instruction, I'm investing energy not in frothing and berating myself for failure, but in steeling myself for the Most Likely Outcome. It doesn't make the work any less, or any less difficult, but it keeps the panic at bay. No more eyes on the prize. Living in the moment, instead. (Which may prove more profitable anyway.)

thus spake /jca @ 1:04 PM...


oh no...

just when I was getting used to the sun already being up at 6:15, I'll be back to the sunrise train again.

I hate springing ahead. Too bad we can't just fall back, and then fall back again.

thus spake /jca @ 8:27 PM...

This was dinner tonight:

1/2 onion, minced
sauteed in a bit of olive oil
add a splash of balsamic vinegar, then wince and regret it
too late
add 1 smoked Muscovy duck breast from Costco, copious fat layer carved off, cubed
sizzle a bit
add 1 bag Trader Joe's Four Mushroom Mix (no need to thaw it)
add 1 can chicken broth
add a bit of water
add a splash of red wine (Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon today)
sprinkle on some of the spice packet included with the Four Mushroom Mix
bring to boil
lower to simmer
add 1/2 bag frozen peas
fend off husband who is reaching into pot with his FRICKIN BARE HANDS to fish out mushrooms and pieces of duck breast
go check email, play some Cubis, queue up some Sting MP3's
remember that pot is still simmering
ask husband if he'd prefer soup or stew
when he expresses no preference, decide on stew
add several heaping spoonfuls of fat-free sour cream
add another splash of red wine for good measure
return to computer and accomplish nothing for the next fifteen minutes
decide I'm hungry enough
call out to husband "You ready to eat? Because I am"
dish out stew
decide to call it goulash, just because the word is fun to say
*swoon* in surprise at how lick-the-bowl yummy it is.

Normally when I invent recipes like this, they don't wind up tasting this good. I must have picked up some mojo from Lidia, who was making something with mushrooms and green peas this morning on the gym TV while I ran on the elliptical trainer. She gets the credit for inspiring me to think about mushrooms and peas. And that goofy duck breast, which I'd bought on a whim last weekend and which had been chanting "What are you going to doooo with me?" every time I opened the refrigerator door, had nominated itself for maceration just by being.

Should you ever find yourself in possession of a smoked duck breast, a bag of frozen mushrooms, and some fat-free sour cream, try this. It's really amazing. We ate the whole pot. (And I'd leave in the balsamic vinegar, even.)

thus spake /jca @ 8:14 PM...


I've taken the plunge: my Moot Court team tryout is this coming Wednesday at 2:15 pm. I'll have to wear the suit on the train again, but this time at least I've got a four-day turnaround for dry cleaning.

thus spake /jca @ 11:42 AM...

Google of the day: "capricorn woman opportunist."

I think we tend to be.

thus spake /jca @ 10:06 AM...


I should say again, since it's been too long, that Sua Sponte is not a pundit blog, nor do I pretend to be any sort of ideologue. I'm not sure how to respond to all of the comments racking up on my affirmative-action-related posts of a few days past. I do not want to turn this space into a platform for political debate any more than I want it to be a soapbox for personal whining. There are folks who can do these things in their blogs and still create something worth reading. I freely admit that I can't.

I do want to apologize for the decidedly political bleed-over that's been happening to this narrative lately. I am no racist; I wish no ill to any group or member of a group, whether that group is defined by the law, by an admissions committee, or by you yourself. I do not believe that there is any correlation between intelligence, capability, talent, and an arbitrary grouping of individuals based on a more or less common physical appearance or ethnic origin. (Nor do I believe that there's a correlation between intelligence/talent/etc. and test scores, but that's another issue.) I am hoping for a particular result in a case relating to law school admissions solely due to my own experience in the law school admissions process, which is why I mentioned any of this in the first place.

The danger in letting my guard down selectively, revealing only infrequent and decontextualized glimpses into my personal politics, is that I only ever wind up misrepresenting my worldview. Yes, there's more to my thoughts on affirmative action than an article by Roger Clegg. But in attempting to discipline myself (both in terms of keeping Sua Sponte on topic and preserving *some* time for schoolwork!), much of the rest of the story never becomes public. Nor can it, while I remain so disciplined.

This is one of those try-to-please-everyone, end-up-pleasing-no-one situations. I wish I could meet up for a drink with pretty much all the commentators (well, except the anonymous one) and respond to the issues you raise, one at a time. But I made a mistake in using Sua Sponte as a substitute for these interpersonal interactions. Consider your points taken, not ignored; and consider this all a lesson learned by your narrator.

thus spake /jca @ 3:35 PM...


Thanks perhaps to a link from Howard to the live broadcast (could be! who knows?), it turns out that Dahlia did comment after all on yesterday's proceedings.

thus spake /jca @ 11:00 PM...

Did anyone hear how the Intel v. Hamidi oral arguments went? Patrick sent me this article from the Chronicle, and Denise adds this one from the Mercury and this one from news.com, but all three date from this morning and have not been modified since the arguments ended. The docket hasn't been updated, but for all I know that may be routine for oral arguments (does the transcript ever get added in?); the disposition is, of course, still blank.

The most recent piece I've found is this one at Yahoo, courtesy of Reuters. It's very high-level, though. I'm greedy -- I want to know what questions they asked! I want to hear how the attorneys responded! I want to know how close we came!

Is there any hope of discovering a transcript?

thus spake /jca @ 7:17 PM...


Another person I'd like to hug today: Roger Clegg.

Curiously, he argues that the theory of diversity itself is an "also-ran," that a few students piping up with isolated opinions hardly amounts to a compelling state interest. To its credit, diversity seems to be the only interest at issue in the discussions to which I've been a part, with the focus being largely on how it's defined and how its benefits are actually reaped. I still wish Scalia had pushed Mahoney harder on the compelling state interest issue...

thus spake /jca @ 10:00 PM...

Today in the lobby, a group of students distributed name labels of the hello-my-name-is sort, printed with "I support DIVERSITY! Grutter v. Bollinger" and featuring a blue ribbon hand-glued on (someone must have spent many hours doing this).

I wanted to grab one and alter it to read "I support DIVERSITY OF CITIZENSHIP JURISDICTION!" but decided not to, particularly after spotting Professor Civ Pro wearing one.

thus spake /jca @ 4:10 PM...

New link: CNN has posted the audiotapes of both Michigan arguments for download-on-demand.

I disagree with the guy on a few major things, but right now I really want to hug Scalia as he fisks counsel for respondent. He tripped her up just like my moot court judges did to me: she's fallen into the "I believe" trap.

This is as close as he came to my money quote, which still feels pretty damn close:
Scalia: "But they aren't just like every other applicant. Some applicants are given a preference because of their race."
Mahoney: "Your Honor, they are given extra weight in the process because they have something unusual and important to bring to the class. That's what every, that's the way every applicant is considered--"
Scalia: "Which, you say, automatically follows from race."
Mahoney: "Your Honor, they also write essays about diversity."


thus spake /jca @ 12:16 PM...

Brilliant Howard features a link to the Michigan arguments on C-SPAN radio.

Of course, if you're in class and can't listen to streaming audio without offending your professor and fellow students, you can always just follow along with Howard's blow-by-blow coverage.

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

more final thoughts...

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