Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Boalt to the Future II

Since griping about the Boalt administration's apparent disregard for major student bitterness (re: fees, class scheduling and CivPro II, etc.) seems to be the topic du jour (or de semaine), I'd like to throw in my own gripe: the exam schedule and rescheduling process. I know, it's way to early in the semester to start thinking about exams, but I'm trying to sort out my post-exam vacation schedule, so I just had to check, ok?

Now, I'm the rare (not unique, but not majority) law student who actually prefers in-class exams to take homes, so I don't shy away from classes that have in-class exams. As it happens this semester, all five of my classes have in-class exams. That's a lot of exams to schedule in a two-week exam period. And as it happens, I have three exams on three consecutive days in the last four days of exam period (MTW, exam period ending on Th). Awesome.

Now let's look at the Boalt exam reschedule policy. One can reschedule ONLY in three situations:
1) you are schedule for two exams during the same exam block.
Tacitus says: well, duh. You can't be in two places at once.

2) you have two exams in two consecutive exam blocks.
Tacitus says: OK, this makes sense if you have two exams on the same day. It makes less sense if you have an exam in the afternoon of one day and then the morning of the next, but it's nice of the exam schedule designers to be generous about this, I suppose.

3) you have three exams on three consecutive days.
Tacitus says: Awesome! That's my situation. Sweet relief!

But then, you read the fine print on the exam policy:
1) Rescheduled exams will not be given earlier than the original exam date.
2) Decisions as to which exams are rescheduled are solely at the discretion of the Dean of Students, though student input may be considered.

Condition 2) makes a certain amount of sense, I suppose. But Condition 1) doesn't help me out so much. I have the option of taking the exams on three consecutive days, or lengthening my exam period beyond the normal period. I have a lighter than average first week of exams (two exams in six days of exam blocks), and a heavier than necessary second week (three exams in four days of exam blocks). So I am stuck staying beyond the general exam period, or just taking my terrible schedule, all because of a seemingly arbitrary rule that exams shall not be rescheduled earlier than their original date. If someone can explain the sense of this to me, I'd love to hear it.*

And while we're on the subject, why have scheduled exams at all? What with downloadable exams and an honor code and all that, why not simply have people self-schedule their exams over the two week period? If cheating is a concern (and if cheating is a concern, I think you also concede that you have no faith in the honor code. If that's the case, why don't we just scrap it?), then have some proctored rooms available all the time...

These are just off-the-cuff musings, but the larger point is: it seems that Boalt has been doing a lot of things in certain ways just because "that's the way we've always done them." And a lot of these things are the ones the students gripe about most: registration for classes, class schedules, exam schedules... Where Boalt has been willing to innovate, students have by and large been pleased (everyone I know preferred being able to download and turn in their take-home exams on-line last semester). Why does the Boalt administration seem so afraid of change? Perhaps it is generational, but I think we should be able to do a lot more than we do on-line: order transcripts, make schedule changes, even submit forms for approval to the dean. This makes things easier on us students (no more dealing with the registrar's bizarre office hours!), and in turn makes us more satisfied students. Perhaps even "willing to pay higher fees" students. Well, maybe not that.

*On second thought, I don't want to hear it. I just want to complain. Good.


SOTU Speaking

Thoughts on the SOTU Address? Well register for the Boalt Forums, that's why I created them. (Or post here I guess).

Personally, I think the highlight came from Chris Matthews before the speech, "Maybe there needs to be a reality TV show to find the next spokesman for Democrats." Here here. Otherwise, noted negative: outright lies about the NSA program. Noted positive: Bitchslapping Lou Dobbs about free trade and immigration.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Star is Bored

Well, I finally got off my ass and created a discussion board to serve as an interim until the school creates one. The URL is: http://boaltbored.proboards53.com. The link is also on the sidebar and of course you can Google it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Heart of Goldsmith

The OLC at the DOJ post John Yoo. (Hat tip: Bashman, who I still think looks like UCLA Men's BB headcoach Ben Howland. How intriguing!). Combine this with the lawyers at the State Department and the JAG lawyers who don't swallow any tripe given to them by the party elite.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Multiple Visions

While listening to crappy 70s music, I wondered what other Boalties see in the future of this school (and the University). The Dean has made his plans known (here), but now I'm curious what the students think of the school's future. Feel free to react to Edley's plans but I'm more interested in gripes and praises that school should deal with or emphasize.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wild Wild Westly

The LA Times has this article about the Westly campaign, which is a great preview of the Dem primary to come. My two favorite blips:
His stops around Chico include a brewery, school and town-hall forum. [minus the town-hall forum sounds like a great weekend at Chico State.]


Responding to the first Westly ad, Angelides spokesman Dan Newman said the controller was trying "to reinvent himself." He cited Westly's role as co-chairman of Schwarzenegger's campaign for budget measures on the March 2004 ballot.

Consider this an open thread to offer thoughts on the race ahead.

Closed Hatch?

I really wonder at the defense strategy of Richard Hatch (I thought CBS paid taxes? Come on.) Actually I wonder why the IRS wasn't willing to make a deal with him. Hmmm do I smell Rudy fans lurking in the Service?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Grade Above

While the gerbils on a wheel mechanism of uploading grades at the registrar's office is in full swing, I want to say a few words to 1Ls. Before I even took my first set of law school finals, I wrote this as my first post at De Novo. The highlight is:
Why have a top 10% at all? More accurately, why should the school sanction a gradation (see title for not so subtle humor) of its students? Let firms calculate all they want. Bottom line is the school's policies DICTATE that you're all equal as graduates of ______ School of Law (to a certain degree).

Is there enough of a gradation for firms to make meaningful decisions about whom to hire? Yes. Is there enough gradation for clerkships/teaching positions? Yes. Is there an arbitrary line between the P crowd and the H crowd? No not really. The line blurs...instead what we have is a continuum. I mentioned the 40/60 distinction earlier...but that's per class. There are countless (actually quite countable) combinations of P, H, and HH. But given the 40/60 line it's almost inevitable that everyone will have some P's and some H's (including HH). This is true with all grading systems, but again the difference is that there is no ranking and there is no number that spits out to put you in a category. Firms, judges, hiring committees can look and weigh each grade however they want, but us Boalties look at each other and in a naive sense, see ourselves.

This was before I got my grades and immediately went to the tattoo parlor to permanently record the appropriate number of H's. Now going through the third semester of this process, I think I can safely say that while we all hope for those pairs, the grades we get really don't alter our relations with our classmates. And if it does, you should go back to Hastings. More seriously, 1Ls, please don't go out and kill youself if the grades don't turn out as you had hoped...the odds are stacked against you.

UPDATE: Moved up to permit discussion of grades per commentor request.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Another Crappy Meme

Igots of The Color of Law tags me to answer the following meme. As an aside, based on his answers, I think if I knew who Igots was, I'd punch him. Wheel of Fortune? I mean come on, that's the redneck version of a game show. Just look at the occupation of the contestants compared to Jeopardy contestants...now there's a gameshow you can set your watch to. Further aside, although not part of the original meme and although I don't expect others to carry on, one answer from each category will be patently false. Good luck figuring it out. First person to guess all the false answers correctly gets lunch on me.


Four Jobs You've Had In Your Life
1. Door to Door salesman
2. Docent at a museum
3. Bartender
4. RA

Four Movies You Could Watch Over And Over
1. The Big Lebowski
2. Blood Sport
3. Cliffhanger
4. All the other movies listed in my blogger profile.

Four Places You've Lived
1. Armenia
2. Glendale, CA
3. North Hollywood, CA
4. Westwood, CA

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch
1. Simpsons
2. Family Guy
3. Everybody Loves Raymond
4. Jeopardy

Four Places You've Been on Vacation
1. Moscow
2. Vegas
3. Laughlin
4. Yosemite

Four Websites You Visit Daily
1. G-mail, but only to write love letters to its creators
2. Dictionary.com
3. http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl
4. Token Pornsite

Four Of Your Favorite Foods
1. Key Lime Yogurt
2. Costco Hotdogs
3. Anything at Zeb except the Tuna sandwich
4. Tina's Burritos (at your local supermarket's freezer)

Four Places You'd Rather Be
1. Hotel Durant
2. Argentina/Chile/Brazil tour
3. Australia and Oceania tour
4. Praha

Four Albums You Can't Live Without
1. Beatles - Revolution
2. Dre - Chronic 2001
3. Dre - Detox
4. ABBA - Super Trooper

Four People To Tag With This Meme
1. GG
2. Boalt Action
3. P. Panda
4. Mad J.D.

Rated More Nuts

Sen. Stevens (R-AK) wants a voluntary rating system for internet porn. What the hell would such a rating system look like? I have my fetishes suggestions, but I'd like to defer to the judgment of anonymous commenters.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

God, the Universe, and Everything

At the beginning of the year, I selfishly asked for more coverage of natural and man-made disasters in the media to keep at the forefront the vanishing belief in the government's responsibility to ensure the safety and security of EVERYONE. With the unfortunate death of two more miners in West Virginia, the current administration is now revisting safety measures first proposed in the Clinton era. How lovely! Pat Robertson's God probably does not care as much about the workings of the Mine Safety and Health Administration as He does about Israeli politics.

But he does increase your salary if you donate to the 700 Club. Or at least that was the testimonial of one donor last night as I flipped through the channels. She said, "I just got my checkbook out and wrote a check to the 700 Club, now I make 30 times what I used to make." God works in upper-level management so He can get these things done. But perversion of religion is nothing new to the South. Lincoln caught on to this in his second inaugural, "Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged."


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Useless Info Of The Week

Did anyone else realize that the Daily Cal actually has a regular feature entitled "Pathogen of the Week"? This week's subject is Gnathostoma hispidum. Does anyone really read this stuff, and on a weekly basis? Don't we have more important, you know, actual news to discuss. Like rising student fees, bookstore schemes, etc.?


Monday, January 16, 2006


Friday, January 13, 2006

Show me the Money

The discussion below regarding the markup on textbooks sold here at Boalt to fund the BHSA had me thinking for quite some time. I must confess, at the time of this writing, I have more questions than answers. But these are my general thoughts. And I must warn, I am likely to get a wee bit technical given my more than passive interest in student group funding. [Quick refresher: Boalt does not release textbook information in advance, forcing us to buy books at the bookstore. So the bookstore sells textbooks at a markup, which funds the student groups here.]

Just from a subjective/normative perspective, I am almost completely opposed to the use of textbook markup to support BHSA. More accurately, I am opposed to the school having policies that force us to use the bookstore so that they can get the extra money for BHSA. There is a fundamental sense of fairness that the school is violating. Call it hyperbole, but I feel like I'm a member of the Communist Party or something (no vote, just join). None of this is to suggest anything negative about the BHSA or all the other student groups. I don't intend this to be a post that criticizes them and likewise I don't want any comments about how great they are...I'm taking that as a given, and I believe it to boot. But, the school has decided to fund those groups in a way that has NO student decision in the matter to the best of my knowledge. This is problematic.

Throughout the University of California, Student Bar Associations (the equivalents of BHSA), and other student associations, are funded through mandatory fees approved by referenda. The problem with Boalt's procedure is that it avoids the label of a mandatory fee, and avoids any University regulation as such. See UC Policy 80.00 et seq (compulsory contributions) and 90.00 et seq (voluntary contributions). These policies exist largely to comply with SCOTUS rulings on viewpoint neutrality and other First Amendment issues with respect to the use of student fees. See, e.g., Rosenberger v. Univ. of VA, 515 U.S. 819; Board of Regents v. Southworth, 529 U.S. 217; and this excerpt from a Justice Stevens concurrence as quoted on the VC is also worthwhile. The gist of these cases is that as long as the funds are distributed without any regard to the viewpoints expressed by the organizations, then they are generally presumed valid, even if compulsory. But they require some sort of a referendum procedure to ensure fairness (I haven't shephardized Southworth to really know the precise requirements here). That's where the UC policies come in. I'm not making some sort of a Constitutional argument here, but it is the best way to ensure that all student views are respected, and our funds are taken and used according to rules and regs previously established. Whenever there is a policy that circumvents other clearly laid out policies and favors sneakiness over openness, I'm suspect. Glasnost I say.

In the end, I think this is also in BHSA's own self interest. Hypothetically, let's assume the current take is $10,000. And assuming a student body of 1000, that's about $10 a student (doubt it, but it's a hypo). Even a referendum for $11 in compulsory student fees will of course generate more funds. It's easy to play around with fake numbers, but combine this with advance notice of textbooks (allowing us to bargain hunt) and you can see how it will lead to a far better result for both the BHSA and the student body here. Compulsory fees can also be raised with future referenda should the need arise. I'm also not opposed to part of those fees funding student services such as the bookstore, etc.

Although I think the Uni is not obligated to have any form of a refund procedure, I think the policies do allow individual campuses to establish one. I think it's fair to have one if someone disagrees with how those moneys are spent. I doubt more than a handful of Boalties will exercise that options, but still, it's better than the current IRS wage garnishing scheme the school's running.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Armen's List

Please feel free to use this to set up used book sales and purchases. Let's see how it works.

Still Young Goodwin Liu

Watching our own Prof. Goodwin Liu testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the Alito confirmation, I wonder why the faculty has not yet given him tenure. Consider this the official Give Goodwin Tenure post.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Alito Bit of Cuba

Feel free to mouth off on the impending comfirmation of Judge Alito as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

So When He Filmed Terminator...

This is just too rich. How did I miss it? So the gov does not have an M1 or M2 rating on his driver license. Awww, and here I thought he was just unqualified to govern.

Fun Firm Funds

While no one has seriously answered Earl Warren's question below (either because we still don't know anything about firm summers or if we do, we're subject to air-tight confidentiality agreements), co-blogger Tom Fletcher points to this article reporting that O'Melveny is now matching Gibson's salary increase discussed below.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Our Grotenhouse

Well looks like we now have a dude as our Lexis rep, taking the place of Daneal. My personal thoughts are inappropriate for public consumption.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In Praise of $C

As a Bruin this may sound disgusting to say, almost as disgusting as that ESPN ad with the guy in the Michigan shirt and the chick in the Ohio State shirt making out, but I really hope $C shows no mercy today against Texas. I really can't stand Texas. More accurately, I can't stand people who attend that shitty conference talking shit about the Pac-10.

Fight on Trojans!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Book to the Future

For the past year and a half, I had casually assumed that the reason we were not told in advance which books a professor will use in class was because of the technological inadequacies of Berkeley. But word from the Grapevine is that D.O. specifically told a student that they don't release the names of the books in advance to get us to buy the books from the Boalt bookstore.

As much I love to subsidize this school, I think this is probably one of the biggest transgressions on the part of the school against its students. Let me explain. On the macro level, I'm always suspect of anything that intentionally deprives me of choice. Yes, this liberal even applies that to all areas even though I think such a depravation is warranted in areas such as primary and secondary education. But this is not some overarching social program. It's just thuggish behavior on the part of the school. "Oh you want protection? We'll give you protection if you buy our goods." [replace "protection" with "legal education"].

On a more micro level, the school is royally fucking over its students. And I really hope Dean Edley and other administrators and/or faculty are reading this. Here is how the school's policy affects us. First, there is only a miniscule opportunity to purchase books below the listed price because the student store carries about as many used textbooks as the fingers on my right hand. And I'm not from Chernobyl. The reason for this is a vicious cycle. We can't purchase our books from online outlets such as Amazon or Half.com, but we're more than welcome to sell there. These outlets of course fetch better prices than the cookie crumbs the bookstore offers. I suspect the few Boalt students who are inclined to selling their books either find ways of directly selling to students using the beautiful flyering you see in the lockerroom or they sell online. I just haven't heard of anyone selling back to the bookstore. The important point is that the effect of this is to force us to pay the maximum price for our books. Some of us are independently wealthy. Most of us are not. With the strict budget allowance, I think it's essentially disgusting that the school would deprive its students the opportunity to bargain hunt and maybe save a few precious loan dollars for an extra cup of coffee during the 84-hour sleep deprived study-thon at the noise depot that is the Reading Room.

I have a few ideas, some serious, some not. For example, at the UCLA store website, you can access your list of books for a quarter based on your SID and last name. Similarly, you can see the books a class uses by clicking on textbook at that course's listing. UCLA law does not work any differently. While UCLA law is not a part of this system, they at least list the textbooks ahead of time online. I think professors should be mindful of the school's policy and e-mail the book(s) they intend to use in class ahead of time to those enrolled or waitlisted. Students can and should e-mail the professors ahead of time to get this information. I know that the Big Rakowski sent an e-mail with the textbook info for Tax II. Anyway, I'm fairly pissed off that the school would intentionally try to swindle its students. Am I a kook for being this pissed off?

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