Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fifteen Questions

  1. What’s the over/under on Dean Edley’s remaining time at Boalt? What is the relationship between that number and Obama's vote percentage in the New Hampshire primary?

  1. Is it wise for Berkeley’s pre-law “fraternity,” Phi Alpha Delta, to spray paint a 20-feet-by-5-feet sign on the pavement at Euclid & Hearst advertising their group, thus announcing their desire to become lawyers by breaking the law? Cal. Penal Code § 602(f).

  1. Two weeks into the semester, which classes are the biggest hits and the biggest disappointments?

  1. Can we fast-forward through the women’s draw of the US Open? Between the early-round blow-outs, Sharapova’s shrieking like she’s giving birth every time she hits a forehand, and their unidimensional matches, why take up valuable TV time with the women’s matches when we could be watching Boys 16’s qualifying?

  1. Who will cause more grief for the tree-sitters this Saturday: Cal fans or Tennessee fans? Do Tennessee fans need to be reminded to put on a shirt and shoes before entering the stadium?

  1. Is there a chance the University could actually lose this stadium renovation trial in September? And what does the plaintiffs’ case represent more of: a) the NIMBYism of wealthy white homeowners b) fringe anti-modern environmentalism c) a mayoral shakedown for money?

  1. Will there be any clerkships left by the time all the alums are done being hired?

  1. By the way, why does Boalt do so poorly in clerkship placement anyway?

  1. What major renovation is left to do, and what’s the best improvement so far?

  1. Why does the Registrar’s office get so much grief? They’ve been nothing but nice and helpful to me for three years running now.

  1. Is MoFo ever going to schedule my callback interview? The OCIP interviewer called in September to congratulate me and promised the recruiter would get in touch soon to schedule something. That was in September of 2006. I still haven’t heard anything.

  1. Which firm promises to have the most stringent and ridiculous hiring requirements? Keker, Munger, Irell, Quinn, Gibson, Simpson, Cravath, or Williams & Connolly?

  1. Which firm promises to have the best schwag, chum, or freebies?

  1. Has Hillary wrapped this thing up?

  1. How much joy can one take from the GOP scandals without becoming a bad person?

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OCIP, First-Phase Tips

I've heard people begin interviewing today. I recall one of the hardest things in an interview was responding to the inevitable: so do you have any questions about the firm? By the end of OCIP (i.e., 30 interviews later), I feel like I had some pretty good questions. Here are some:

Question: Can you describe a typical day or week in your practice?
Rationale: Forces attorney interview back to talking about themselves (often good; it's hard to blow an interview while you're the listening party). Also gives you an impression of hours and responsibilities without bluntly asking "What are your hours?" and "What do they let you do?"

Question: What practice areas does your office excel in?
Rationale: This question is for big firms only, and is meant ot be used where their website indicates dozens of practice areas, but you aren't sure which practice areas exist in the office you are interviewing for.

Question: What is your favorite thing about working at _____ / working in [field]?
Rationale: People like to talk about their favorite things. This also helps you understand what attorneys in that office are passionate about. I think being a happy lawyer requires sharing some of those passions with your associates.

Question: How many attorneys are working on each project you are currently assigned to?
Rationale: Will you be a cog or a leader? You may not want to work on a team of 30 attorneys. Or, perhaps you do not want the responsibility of working with a partner alone. This question can help you get a feel for how the firm staffs cases, and indirectly, what attorneys do on them. Hint: on a 30 person team, the first-year associate is not writing the motion for summary judgment.

Question: How's business?
Rationale: Ok, this needs to be less blunt. But for firms with recent mergers, or firms that were overly leveraged on credit markets work, this is something I would want to know. If you're interviewing for NY transactional - does the firm have any work right now? It's not fun to get paid to stay home during the summer (which happened c. 2001-02). I think another fair way of putting it is: what is the firm's business strategy? Where do they see the organization in 5, 10 years (revenge for asking you that)? I remember being blown away when Kirkland SF told me: "In three years, we're tripling the size of this office to 150." My jaw dropped. & i was impressed - that takes ambition.

If I remember some more, I'll update the post. I hope you find this helpful, and best of luck in finding a place where you will have a happy career as an attorney. My best tip I save for last: show enthusiasm for practicing law. Firms don't want to pay your loans and watch you leave.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Shallow Al

I returned from Europe late last week not particularly eager to discuss anything remotely legal. But the resignation of AG AG is too big to avoid. Like in many other situations, my thoughts are captured much more eloquently by someone else. In this case, the words of Prof. Balkin sum things up rather nicely: "He abused his office for political gain, repeatedly misled Congress under oath --and probably out and out lied on more than one occasion." The thing is, this Admin probably thinks he did everything right.

Unrelatedly, in Rome I went off on a Quebecois who made some sort of a snide remark about American politics. In a very impolite way, I replied that Canadian politics is so irrelevant I don't know enough to even mock it.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Or, in the alternative

I encourage you to read the post below on a first week at Boalt. It's very studious. The slide into something less than diligence begins a few weeks after this first one. If you don't believe me, trust my favorite 1L room mate, Josh Keesan:


After a stroke of inspiration in 1L contracts class, I set foot on a new path: legal rock star. I began to write songs about the bedrock concepts and cases of 1L year, primarily as a means of amusing my classmates. The response was so positive that I put together an EP, which is now for sale under my name at the iTunes Music Store.

Check me out at, where you'll find a bio, photos, and clips of some of the songs off of my album. Thanks for your time!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

the learning curve

I'm shocked and awed that I've managed to survive my first week of law school. When they told us at orientation to take lots of naps and never sleep, I thought they were kidding. I now see the folly of my views. Already, I've begun to slide toward a surreal world composed entirely of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Restatement of Torts, and the Model Penal Code. You think I jest. I assure you, I do not. When I went to bed last night, my last thought was a question of whether, under the rules of civil procedure, I was allowed sleep.

This week has been a learning experience. I've learned where the couches are. I've learned which student groups have a fridge and a microwave available to members. I've learned that the reason why law students spend so much time in the library is that the books are just too darn heavy to bring home.

Most importantly, I've learned these three things:

1. All concepts in tort law can be explained using Lego pirates. Lego pirate 1 raises his sword to Lego pirate 2: assault. Lego pirate 1 stays up all night drinking rum instead of swabbing the deck, and Lego pirate 2 slips on a dead fish and breaks a leg: negligence. Lego pirate 1 is decorated with lead paint: strict liability.

2. The further a student sits toward the back of the lecture hall, the more likely the student is to be looking at Facebook or checking Gmail.

3. In anticipation of 200k salaries as starting associates, law students indulge in the best. This is clearly present in the selection of beer for "Keg in the Courtyard Parties." I've seen Pyramid Hef and Sierra Nevada this past week - we are obviously well past the days of PBR and Bud.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

OCIP 2007

Open thread to discuss OCIP. Ask questions, provide answers, talk about firms, interviews, etc.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Journey to the End of the East Bay

In the previous thread, Patrick asks:

"I am in incoming 0L who just leased an apartment on Durant, near Shattuck. Does anyone know where I can got good and hammered within walking distance, for cheap?"

Excellent, excellent question, Patrick. Beckett's might be your best bet, on Shattuck, but also try out Raleigh's on Telegraph. Albatross is a bit farther (on San Pablo), but is my personal favorite (fun board games), and Triple Rock (Shattuck @ Hearst) is chill but good. Blake's (Telegraph) and Kip's (Durant) are best if you prefer the 18-year-old scene. Any other suggestions? Those are the usual suspects--anything more interesting?

Let's use Patrick's question as a jumping off point. What can someone new to Berkeley do to have some fun? I'm thinking more of nighttime fun (i.e. bars), but suggestions for daytime fun are welcome too (hikes, parks, etc.). And no need to tell 0Ls that the real fun is on the other side of the Bay--I think everyone already knows that.

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