Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Everything You Wanted to Know About Law School Finals But Were Afraid to Ask

This is pretty much an open thread to the 1Ls. You guys have finals and job searches coming up fast. So any questions you may have, fire away here. My own thoughts are short and simple.

Job Search: Use mail merge. If you don't know what it is, learn. The market is picking up, so if you want to apply to firms, you can if you are from a diverse background, have technical knowledge, have some other work experience that firms value (econ, ibanking, etc.), or academically you're super bad ass. Apply early to firms and to judicial externships. I know that finals are close, but take the day off and work on your job situation and get it over with. You will thank me later.

Exams: Pricks. I still think you guys are spoiled for not having endured examsoft or 10 month waiting period for grades. After two and a half years, I still don't know what "outlining" means. Do you take EVERY single bit of information regarding the course from notes, book, commercial outlines, law review articles, your own informal sessions with the prof after class, etc. and put them into a single document? Or do you try to distill what you've learned into a series of concise rules that you can apply to facts? Why is this called an outline? Haven't the people who upload their stuff to ever heard of proper outlining using Roman numerals? Anyway, during my first year I tended to keep up with the reading, so I remembered the cases. I used an outline with the latter view in mind. It was mostly to quickly jog my memory and remind me of any issues I may have missed. Which brings us to exams. Do some practice exams. That first law school exam is definitely an experience. They get a lot easier as you go on, but practice issue spotting and analyzing. Remember, getting a particular answer to a question is not where you get points, the points come when you thoroughly explain your reasoning. Don't be shy to grab those AmJur outlines on AmJur day.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Want to Give Thanks For

Boalt's grading system (3L).

What or who do you want to thank? Please include your year in school.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In Your Face, Grace

The latest chapter in the saga of my favorite scavenger-journalist is taking shape. The family of the woman who took her own life only hours after appearing on Nancy Grace’s TV show is suing Grace and CNN. (Barebones) story here. (Oddly, as of this writing, is not reporting this development!) To refresh your memory, a couple months ago, Grace coaxed Melinda Duckett, whose two-year-old son had gone missing, onto her show, promising Duckett that her motive was to create national awareness of the case. Once the cameras were rolling, Grace railroaded Duckett, clearly passing her own judgment based on her own barely veiled theory of what happened. After the foaming-at-the-mouth, fist-pounding tirade was taped, Duckett went home and committed suicide. Then CNN ran the episode anyway, with the classy touch of a ticker telling viewers about Duckett’s demise. (By the way, authorities are now saying they believe the boy is alive.)

Based on what I’ve read, which is admittedly limited, it looks like an IIED claim against Grace and the network. Part of the claim is that Grace misrepresented her intentions to a clearly emotionally distraught woman. I’m no expert on civil liability, but I’d say wrongful death would be a stretch, and there is no mention of it in what I’ve seen anyway. I’m guessing a quick juicy settlement will result (hooray for the looming specter of punitive damages), but maybe it could turn into a full-fledged free speech crusade. I’d welcome comments/predictions from readers more well-versed in tort liability than I.

Sometimes I love the law.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Christmas is coming...

UPDATE: I'm curious about the dead string of comments on this topic. Do Boalt students not give to charities? Or is it tacky to discuss charitable giving, even behind the internet's anonymity? Or would people be more interested in this becoming a formal survey on Survey Monkey?

If it helps to start the debate, my personal view is that I do not donate from the money I borrow for school. On the other hand, I have tried to tithe out of the money I make working. I know this doesn't make perfect sense -- if I'm concerned with not borrowing too much money, I should use the money I make to borrow less. That aside, this is the compromise I've arrived at. I'm curious if other people have reached this economically ridiculous conclusion, or if people are taking advantage of subsidized borrowing to donate more, or if law school debt is a good justification for deferring charity.


... and with it, discussion of charity is heating up. Arthur Brooks' new book "Who Really Cares: America's Charity Divide; Who Gives, Who Doesn't, and Why It Matters" is making waves over at Volokh. With such provactive and season-appropriate material, we may even get a national dialogue. The CliffNotes version of the book, which I lift from Jim Lindgren is:

(Ch. 1) Conservatives give more money to charities than liberals.
(Ch. 2) Religion is involved, even accounting for more giving to secular institutions.
(Ch. 3) Redistributionists are less generous personally than anti-redistributionists.
(Ch. 4) Government intervention (including welfare) suppresses giving.
(Ch. 5) Families with children are more generous and that patterns of giving are taught to children.
(Ch. 6) Generally, Americans are more generous than people in other countries, in donating both money and time.
(Ch.7) Charity has great benefits for the giver (or as the chapter is extravagantly titled: “Charity Makes You Healthy, Happy, and Rich”).
(Ch.8) Charity can be encouraged, and should be encouraged, by better laws, policies, and practices.
(Appendix)The book ends with a 24 page appendix summarizing the main databases used and providing tables showing some of Brooks’ regression and probit analyses.

I'm personally curious how charity manifests in the Boalt community. We spend a lot of time discussing how (and whether) Boalt raises money. What about other charities? How do you reconcile student debt with charitable giving or tithing? What charities have come to your attention as worthwhile?

And feel free to comment anonymously - my usual scorn for anonymous commenting is wholly inappropriate here, and this is a dialogue perhaps best accomplished behind the internet's veils.

Friday, November 17, 2006

In Other UC News...

I just noticed that the UC Regents approved Irvine's plan to open the fifth UC law school (HT: Leiter). Great news. Looking over the 190 ABA accredited law schools in the country, no other state system, let alone state, comes close to matching California. The great state of Texas has UT and Texas Tech. I don't even know what NY has (I guess SUNY-Buffalo and CUNY). This is one way of saying that I'm glad to see the Regents committed to a public legal education. I'm glad DE is heading the flagship school. And I'm definitely glad SoCal will get its second public law school. Watch out come the Anteaters!!! Now I just hope and pray that the state in its infinite wisdom allocates enough resources to this great university to live up to its potential.

In other news, us Bruins have an expression: "My two favorite teams are UCLA and whoever is playing U$C." Perfect weekend. I hope the Bears secure their Rose Bowl bid.

Consider this an open thread on anything.

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...Living In A Van, Down By The River.

Judge Charles Breyer, of California’s venerable Northern District, will be at Boalt on Tuesday to deliver what promises to be a truly rousing motivational speech. The judge has strong views on everything from the United States Supreme Court ("my brother’s court") to patent law ("I don’t like patent cases") to Boalt’s success in preparing politically engaged lawyers (unprintable). He was also a trial lawyer (civil and criminal) for many years, and is thus a forceful and compelling speaker. Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Good Ole UCPD

Video . Story here. Another example of those with a modicum of authority taking it to the extreme, starting with the rent-a-cops that run around checking IDs. And believe me, the UCPD at UCLA do have a serious history of excessive use of force. Westwood is no Berkeley, they don't get to find dead bodies in sororities every other day. They have to take out all the pent up energy at the campus library.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Racial Justice, Ltd. v. Sexual Libations, Inc.

Today a group of wide-eyed 1L’s walked into Federal Court for a class assignment to view a motion, and were officially deflowered as to courtroom antics. We learned several important factors about the way American Justice™ works. (1) The most important issues often have the most incompetent counsel argue for them, (2) Federal Judges get very angry with unprepared lawyers, and (3) giant dildoes are an issue of genuine public concern.

We heard two motions. The first was a Title VII case in which the defendant was filing a summary judgment motion. The Defendant attorney may be good, I’ll never know. He never really had to open his mouth, because the lawyer for Plaintiff quite possibly was the worst lawyer in the history of ever. No cases on point, couldn’t answer the most basic question from the Judge, and most importantly, didn’t even know if she was appealing from a lower court or instead filing a separate action.

The second motion is what made me truly understand some of the misfirings of the judicial process. The motion was for a preliminary injunction with regards to two different corporations. The lawyers were elegant, prepared, and thoughtful. They raised important issues about utilitarianism, artful beauty, and intellectual property. They were talking about massive dildo sculptures.

Is this really how society should work? The best lawyers often are arguing the most useless (yet hilarious) issues, while the mail worker that was the subject of racial discrimination, in his 15th year of litigation, was represented by someone that could not put together a coherent statement on a single legal issue. I suppose it must be true that skill goes where the money is, but I hope that some of my fellow Boalties decide to embark on the path of greatest resistance, and help those that need it the most. And after today, I am more certain than ever that they need it.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Apu's Revenge

In The Simpsons, while taking the citizenship exam, Apu is asked what caused the Civil War. The following conversation takes place:
Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists, there were economic factors, both domestic and inter--
Proctor: Wait, wait... just say slavery.
Apu: Slavery it is, sir.
Well, now the CIS wants to modify its naturalization exam to make it more focused on the democratic values of our nation. "The idea is not to toss up roadblocks, it's to make sure people who apply for citizenship and want to become citizens understand and adhere to the values we have as a society, the values that are part of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights."

Oh I can see it now. Clinton eased the naturalization process in time to get plenty of extra votes for 96, and now the Bush admin is trying to mint new RoboReps. What kind of questions are in store for new immigrants to this great land? I have a hunch.

"Can you cite which part of the Constitution guarantees a right to privacy? BONUS follow up: Separation of church and state?"

"Define Commander in Chief"

"Writ of Habeas Corpus. When was it written out of existence?"

"Can Congress strip the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over constitutional cases? Can the President?"

Any others?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Mitzvah for the Bar

Yay Democrats! But anyway...

I was talking to some 3L friends last week when someone brought up the Bar, asking how and when we register. Collectively, we knew as much about taking the Bar as Rumsfeld did about conducting a war. i.e., no one has any idea what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by, or how to do it. Apparently the MPRE happened last week—I just might have taken it, had I known anything about it.

Last year, I watched my 3L friends go through the same thing. (BTW—they find out results on Friday, Nov. 17th, if you have friends/family that took the test). bar/bri, moral character, the exam itself—the whole process created mass confusion. The exam is stressful enough—the registration process shouldn’t be. So I want to do 2 things here: first, post as much relevant info as I have; and second, make a suggestion for avoiding this confusion in the future.

1. Dates and Deadlines

A word of warning: I’m getting this info from alums who took the test this past Summer. I’m not guaranteeing that everything you need is here, so don’t assume you’re all set if you’ve done everything on this list. If I have missed anything, please mention it in the Comments, and I’ll add it to this post.

  1. Register with the California Bar. Many of you did this 1L year. This is registering with the actual organization, and it will cost you $144.
  2. Register for the MPRE. The next exam is in March, and you can begin registering in January (I think). Go through the CA Bar website, or go to There is a fee for this.
  3. Register for bar/bri. The earlier you get this done, the better. I believe you can put a deposit of $175 down now, rather than the full cost. This allows you to take the MPRE class. Unfortunately, you cannot guarantee your class site and time for the summer Bar course until you pay the entire fee. It is possible to bill your firm directly, if a firm is covering it.
  4. Register for the Bar Exam. Sounds obvious, but a certain alum will tell you it’s not. This has a fee of approximately $500, and can be done at the CA Bar website.
  5. Moral Character forms. The sooner you do these, the better, because they take a long time to fill out, and then it can take six months for them to be approved. You cannot be certified until they are officially approved. If you have any type of criminal or academic problems in your past, these forms take an especially long time. The forms are available on the CA Bar website. You need to get a fingerprint scan too—this can be done at the UPS store on Telegraph.

2. The Bar Czar

A lot of the confusion seems to stem from the fact that there is no central repository of information. While there are announcements in the BBB, no 3L actually reads the BBB, and if we do, it’s only to see if we can get some free lunch—we never make it to the back pages. Even if we do read the BBB, there’s lots of other inconsistent info out there regarding the Bar. Last year bar/bri seemed to have different answers every time you called, and it caused lots of unnecessary stress. Heck, they handed out books on only one day, yet failed to inform most students when that day was.

So here’s my suggestion—appoint a Bar Czar. This can just be the 3L BHSA rep, or it can be some kind of appointed position. All the Bar Czar needs to do is find out every relevant date, deadline, fee, etc. for everything related to the Bar. The Czar would also talk to bar/bri at the beginning of the year and get all the info (do we need gold cards? when are books handed out? how do we direct bill?), so that there’s less need for individual students to contact bar/bri directly.

Then put all this info in a handy chart, and email it to 3Ls at the beginning of the year. Then, in the weeks leading up to any important deadlines, send a couple emails to 3Ls (in addition to BBB announcements) reminding us what we need to do.

Taking the Bar really, really sucks. But with a little bit more organization and information, it can merely suck.


State of California, meet FRCP 65(b)

From San Francisco's own Judge Illston:

"Illston found that the plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, had shown a "substantial likelihood of success'' in demonstrating that Prop. 83 is a punitive measure that should not be imposed retroactively on people who committed sex crimes before it passed. She barred enforcement of the residency restrictions until Nov. 27, when a hearing is scheduled before another judge on a preliminary injunction that would extend the ban."

For more, the story can be read at the Chronicle's website. If people want to know more, I can go on PACER and pull down the order.

And for 1Ls, it's a neat application of both Civ Pro (Rule 65) and Crim Law (retroactive punishments). See - you are learning something!

I'd also like to point out how happy I am that this injunction (and hopefully the permanent injunction to issue later) will stop this enormous waste of money (did anyone read the thing? projected annual costs of $200M!!).

Young at Heart

I just read the e-mail that Ernie Young of Texas is visiting Boalt as a prospective faculty visit. He spoke in the Bundy and Swift seminar last year and struck me as articulate and very, very knowledgeable, though a bit on the conservative side. His expertise is Fed Courts and Con Law. So, if you you guys want a meaningful alternative to Judge Fletcher who is under 800 years old, Young is your man [an alternative to Judge Fletcher is necessary only because he can't teach both semesters and because he teaches at an early hour]. More importantly, he's in charge of getting Longhorns clerkships!!!! More than Fed Courts, we need more professors who want to take on the role of partisan operatives pushing Boalt's candidates through. His resume is here. He will be speaking to students at 4 PM today in the Dean's seminar room. If you're in the library, or anywhere within 1/2 a mile, please show up and say hello. I'm changing my entire plans and staying on campus to do so.

Speaking of conservatives, wow...what a night. Any bets on how long until the Dems fuck it up? Any Boalties considering throwing in their firm offers for a staffer position on the Hill?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Time to...

Update the blogroll...

In a most unfortunate situation, summarized well by Dan Solove over at Concurring Opinions, popular U Chicago law student (and alum) blog Crescat Sententia has been hijacked by an SEO (just read the link!). The comments over at CO focus on possible legal courses of action (or the frustrating lack thereof -- a ton of IP, trademark, copyright and internet law issues apparently arise and fall. I leave the legal discussion to those here who are better informed than I on these areas of law. I wonder, however, if there might be a satisfying market (i.e. non-legal) approach to be taken here. Since these SEOs are essentially basing their business on abetting a fraud on the search engines (hijacking popular domain names with a certain number of hits, then reselling them to users who will likely introduce vastly different content), I wonder if the ever increasing victims of this practice might convince Google and other large search engines, in order to protect the integrity of their results, to set up some kind of office to "reset" their hit counting mechanisms (just as they might do in more conventional cases of "google bombing")? That would reduce the value of the hijacked site, thereby reducing the economic incentive for these predatory SEOs.

In any case, discuss away, and Armen, please update the blogroll to reflect the new address:!

Monday, November 06, 2006

An Idiot's Guide to Voting, the Universe, and Stuff

Keeping up with tradition, these are my election "endorsements." I only discuss statewide offices and propositions. And just as an fyi, I tend to vote no on any proposition unless it's particularly good. I have a quite Platonic view of popular democracy.

Tom here, adding my additional thoughts to Armen's guide to voting.

Phil Angelides -- Sure he's beholden to unions like the teachers' union, who are opposed to any sort of meaningful education overhaul, but at least he's Greek. And I like Greeks.
Sorry, now that Westly is out, I have to vote for Schwarzenegger. Angelides is bought and paid for, and divided government will keep the Legislature from advancing its pet projects and focus on the things California actually needs to spend money on.

Lt. Gov
John Garamendi -- I've seen Garamendi in person on a couple of occasions. First, he spoke about Holocaust reparations when I was still working at the Museum of Tolerance. Second, he testified in my courtroom when I was externing in a case involving a defunct insurance company purchased by the French during the junk bond era. This was a case that first started during Garamendi's first stint as Insurance commissioner in the mid 90s. Chuck Quackenbush didn't do much to pursue it...not that there was much of a need to pursue it in the first place. Anyway, he's actually used the office to REGULATE insurance companies, as opposed to doing their bidding. So if he now wants to sign kudos letters to eagle scouts, fine.
I agree with Armen. Go Garamendi!

Sec. State
Debra Bowen, I think THIS Democratic candidate will use the office properly.
I know nothing about this race, hence, I will vote for the Democrat.

John Chiang, kneejerk Dem vote.
Add a second kneejerk.

Bill Lockyer, see controller
He seemed like a pretty good AG (why is he leaving legal practice...?). He has my vote.

Jerry Brown, mayor of Oak town. With rising crime rates, a police force that refuses to enforce the law in the most crime-ridden parts of the city, how can you NOT vote for this man to be the top cop of California. Fortunately, most of this task falls on County DAs with respect to criminal law. The meaningful alternative is Chuck Poochigian who is a Santa Clara Law School alumnus. Thanks but no thanks.
Jerry Brown really cares. I don't always agree, but I think he will do his best for California. And he's willing to take a controversial position.

Ins. Comm'r
Cruz. He has no other reason for running other than, hey, what else am I going to do the next four years?
I vociferously disagree. Cruz is terrible. The little I have learned about Poizner (from his website) convinces me that he is the man for the job. Namely, he has received the endorsement of every major newspaper in California. When the Chronicle, LA Times, Oakland Tribune, and La Opinion all endorse the same Republican candidate... He's the right guy for the job.


1A --No. That last thing we need is to take away flexibility in the budget any more so than it already is. This is why I hate propositions in the first place. I don't care if you want to set money aside to stop baby seal clubbing, there may be a greater need down the road and you're going to kick yourself when it comes.
I'm leaning yes. We passed the gas taxes for roads. We need roads. Instead, the money disappears down some other voracious money pit. Yes, flexibility is nice. But it can also lead to waste.

1B -- Yes. Bond measure for road improvements. Fine by me. But can we use some of those dollars to get REAL carpool lanes up here in Northern California?
Yes. Infrastructure's important.

1C -- No. Going back to baby seal clubbing, this is the equivalent. Improve and create shelters for vets, battered women, and anyone else who garners my utmost sympathies. But this is nothing more than using bonds to create housing projects. Why not tighten our development laws and require such housing in all new development projects of a certain size? Oh that's right, Hidden Hills would rise up in revolt.
Agreed. And the only time someone needs to slather on this much "feel good" appearance is when the underlying stuff really, really stinks.

1D -- Yes. Bond to help the UC? Y-E-S.

1E -- On my ballot I voted Yes, but I think I should have voted no. Isn't this the one that protects Sacramento from flooding?
We shouldn't have built those towns and homes in the first place, but now that we have, we should not let them be washed away. Yes. But I swear California -- stop building in flood plains!

83 -- No. Requiring GPS on sex offenders. Sigh. Look I'm not some pedophile who's voting for my own interests or anything. I just think criminal punishments need to be for definite periods of time and within the bounds of what we traditionally use, which is prison and probation. I'd support the prop if it was limited just to increasing the criminal penalty. But it's not, it also requires a convicted sex offender to wear a GPS. This is too much. Once someone is off probation, then the state should have nothing to do with them, with the limited exception of preventing them from owning a firearm. Otherwise, they should be allowed to vote, sit for the bar, and yes, travel without uncle sam knowing where they are. If they are such a danger (see murder 1) then increase their penalties. I think this proposition is for the Nancy Graces of the world.
Agreed. This sounds absurdly expensive ($200M/yr!!), and for what? It's not like the monitors would stop any crimes... they'd just point to the perpetrators (maybe). What a waste.

84 -- This looks a lot like 1E, but I voted No. This one must have been for the protection of Sac Valley. So, definitely No. Bye bye Malouf brothers. :)
No. The substance of the proposition is too poorly worded for the state to write this bug a check. It sounds like "Here's $8B for our friends!"

85 -- No, as much as I'm inclined to vote for greater restrictions of freedom based on the religious views of a minority of this country, I'm still going to say no.
Agreed. No, without reservations. Though I note in the comments that people seem to misconstrue Armen's humor...

86 -- No. I hate smokers. With a passion. If only there was a proposition criminalizing cigarettes. I'd vote for it in a heart beat. But raising the taxes on cigarettes by THIS much is just stupid.
No. This is harsh, nearly punitive. And it will just pound on the poor more.

87 -- Yes. I know this one has gotten a lot of attention. One thing I want to make clear, I'm not voting yes to create some bureaucracy on alternative energies. I just want to raise the price of oil. The less people are inclined to buy an excursion, the happier I am in my corolla.
No. This is absolutely ridiculous. And the segment on price gouging is... incomprehensible. I mean it. This legislation stinks. It will not lower the amount of foreign oil we use -- it will raise it by increasing taxes on domestic oil. And the people backing the proposition financially? Those already invested in alternative energy. And here's a thought: when does a new alternative energy venture need public funding? When not a single VC in Silicon Valley is stupid enough to fund it. Those people funded the dot-com bubble. If they're passing, the state of California should definitely pass. Seriously. Vote no.

88 -- Yes. Seems like this undoes the harm of Prop 13 to our schools by increasing ppty taxes.
No. I just voted for the bond above. And this tax, when I studied it more a while ago, looked real fishy. If I recall, it's a flat tax levied on all parcels...

89 -- Public funding of elections. I honestly don't know. I voted no, but only because as a tiebreaker I always vote no, so there are never any tossups. But it might be a good idea down the road when California discovers a rich supply of ________, the world's next big energy source.
No. Corporate income taxes are stupid. And it's not as simple as public election funding. Candidates who don't opt in are severly punished, and contributions get capped. I don't know much more than that, but it sets my alarms off.

90 -- No. This has to be the worst proposition on the ballot. Remember those cases you read in Property that held that zoning laws are not taking? Well this reverses that, along with adding protections against Kelo takings. The hell with that. I want LA to expand the subway without worrying about property values in Hancock Park. I sure as hell want to see more development in Berkeley. In fact, I'm late for lunch at the Outback Steakhouse in Richmond. Don't get me started about the lack of In n Outs here.
Yes. This isn't the worst proposition on the ballot (87 gets that distinction). The whole thing is only two pages long and very readable. The subway is still easily built. What is not easily built is a massive condemnation to "improve the tax base" Kelo-style. Also illegal would be future uncompensated regulatory takings. I'm not impressed by our 100-year history with zoning, nor am I impressed with San Francisco's labyrinthine development rules or other restrictions on property use. If any element proves too burdensome, we can alwys proposition again to fix it. Otherwise, we shoudl vote to discourage the destructive government taking and regulation of property. I also want to call attention to eminent domain's common use in destroying minority communities and its possible deployment against church properties (i.e., those paying no property taxes).

Any word on a Boaltwide election coverage viewing? Maybe some food and drinks courtesy of the Boalt dems?

Lastly, for those in Oakland, a few quick thoughts on our local issues. Yes on M (no opposition), no on N (too much debt for fancy new libraries the city doesn't need [p.s., anyone see on The Wire recently the urge to name new fancy public works after politicians to keep them getting elected up the ladder?]), yes on O (good democracy, lowers cost of holding elections). Yes on the judges (keep these appointed offices in practice if not in name). Shalaby for Parks (anyone notice how the nicest parks are in North Berkely, and Oakland ain't got shit? I think Shalaby might do something about this, and Skinner does not sound trustowrthy. Why? Berkeley City Council. Need I say more?).


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Third Time's a Charm

What the hell is up with the multiple e-mails correcting previous e-mails? Hasn't this school had enough problems with e-mails? (A and B)