Friday, November 30, 2007

Other Alarming News

I realize this is a bit too late, but co-blogger Max Power's post on 1L summer opportunities is worth a link. The original post is here, feel free to discuss it in the comments below. You may now go back to your false alarms.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Tale of Two Hard Drives

I had an adventure today worth sharing. It is a story with a moral, so if you are feeling crass and jaded from law school reading, spare yourself and skip past this.

The story begins at 6:02 this morning, when I fired up my computer to begin the day. Instead of hearing the customary and charming Macintosh jingle over the speakers on my desk, I was greeted with an ear-splitting screech. And instead of the usual smattering of news headlines, weather forecasts and google group banter which downloads to my inbox every night, I faced a pale blue screen of death and a blinking question mark.

A blinking question mark?

What the hell kind of philosophical prank did "Sleeping Me" try to pull on "Waking Me" last night? I thought I had so gotten over that kind of existential crap years ago.

The prank (whatever it was) must have worked because nothing I did to my computer jarred its blinking stare. I held down every combination of "shift," "option," "escape" and keyboard consonant I could think of. I pulled the battery out. I inserted CD's. I pushed secret buttons with paperclips. And I did it all without the NPR Internet stream which usually graces those dark wee hours at my apartment. I would describe the pre-coffee vibe on the 2200 block of Durant as....less than cheerful.

I'll fast forward through the rest of the morning, during which I took notes by hand and solicited various Internet tech searches from my mod-mates. I'll skip past the 20 minutes on hold with the Apple tech people this afternoon, past the entirely unhelpful conversation with "Philip" and his strangely Indian accent, past the drive to Emeryville, past being told at the Apple store that I couldn't see a tech person until Saturday evening, past the hour and a half I spent in "stand-by just in case" mode, to the moment the chipper Apple guy with his too-trendy haircut said:

"Dude, your hard drive is dead. Not just dead-dead, but, like, fried-dead-forever-dead. Was there anything important on there?"

Anything important?

Only about 20 gigs of irreplaceable photos, 13,000 iTunes files, every document I have generated in my life, every email I have ever sent or read, every bank statement I have ever received, every letter to every editor of every publication I have ever sent, and . . . my current grocery list.

Yes, some of that rates out as "important." To me, anyway.

There are also every page of notes, memos, resumes, messy outlines, and ugly flow-sheets of (let's face it) marginal utility I have generated in my short law school career. Finals are right around the corner!!!

Amazingly, this is not a hard luck story: I had everything (and I mean everything) backed up. Even my stored passwords, desktop picture and, yes, my grocery list. After a hard drive swap and few hours of watching that relentless little blue status bar creep forward ("56%.....57%....58%....) I am back online right were I left off.

But for an instant there (and this is why I am sharing all this with you) I had peek at how miserable I COULD have been. It was just a glimpse, but what I experienced can be described as pure, dysfunctional terror. It was a brush with a fate worse than awful. A brush with a fate I hope befalls none of you.

If you are like me, you think it is depressing that electronic data has such a hold on you. Do yourself a favor and save that battle for later. Like, sometime after December 19th. In the meantime, consider backing your hard drive up.

"Future You" might just thank "Present You" for your keen foresight.


A Lifestyle Firm

The NYT has an interesting story about perks that various firms offer to keep their employees happy. The money quote:

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, a 600-lawyer firm based in New York, offers employees a service akin to a personal issues coach and psychotherapist through a deal with Corporate Counseling Associates of Manhattan. The consulting firm has a battery of staff psychologists and social workers to provide advice on issues including stress, anxiety, depression and divorce.

This is, of course, amusing because of the Boalties I know at Fried Frank and because it reminds me of Michael Lewis's Moneyball. There, in response to the author's question of why Billy Beane eliminated the position of team shrink, Scott Hatteberg replies, "Some teams need psychiatrists more than others. In Boston we had an entire staff."

If you need a team of shrinks or a Happiness Committee to keep morale up, then there are some serious problems. On a related note, if you don't want me to visit a battalion of psychologist, please vote for N&B.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shameless Self-Advertisement

As noted by a commenter below, the ABA Journal is taking votes on the Top 100 "blawgs." N&B is nominated in the "JDs in Training" category. Please take a second to vote...repeatedly and unabashedly. I expect a mad dash for the computers in the library. Plus what else do you have to do? Study?


The Dean's Movements

New offices, space crisis, construction... I know everyone can't be happy with the results of the office shift. Did any group make out with more space than they had before? Any particularly egregious behavior go down during the negotiations? Thread added per anonymous request.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grades Post-1L at Berkeley Law

Today, David Lat over at Above the Law hit the gold mine of "comment cluster F*#ks" (his term, not mine) when he opened a thread entitled "Do Law School Grades Matter?"

I'm not one for throwing gasoline on the fire, especially given the fact I've seen what appear to be record numbers of you in the library studying diligently for finals. However, due to the number of people who mentioned the ATL thread to me today, I figured there'll likely be a number of you who may want to talk in an open thread about how our post-1L grades relate to our future success when we're "Berkeley School of Law" alums.

Obviously topics for conversation may range from the elitist perspective of "heh, we go to Berkeley" to how our unorthodox grading system may be our future savior (or demise).

Again, if you're not a fan of the topic, feel free to skip the discussion. For the rest of you, unload any anecdotes or reactions you may have, and we'll see if the topic generates a similar response here on N&B.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Family Matters

I guess I don't have to worry about Uncle David not being at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Kidding. He's not related (but it is the same last name).

But as long as we're on the topic: (a) Yes, Armenians do celebrate Thanksgiving. What kind of a retarded question is that? Do you celebrate the Fourth of July? WTF? (b) Why the hell are people saying "holiday" instead of Thanksgiving? Who takes offense to Thanksgiving? (Armenians?)

Monday, November 19, 2007

In Their Own Words

I was asked to create a thread to allow people to post quotes from other attorneys at their firms/jobs. I held off because I didn't really have a quote to start things off. But the comments to the previous post regarding Christmas music at Zeb reminded me of an e-mail sent by a partner to all associates regarding a charity holiday dinner: "I thought it seemed a little early for a holiday event, but with Christmas music playing at Starbucks, it might even be late."

The same partner wrote an e-mail to me last weekend with the subject line "No Country for Old Men." The text read, "See it THIS weekend. Don't ask questions. Bill the time to character development. Or flip a coin. Head's you go."

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The Energy Vortex

A recent report recommends overhauling the "costly and harmful failure" that is our prison system. Not exactly new news. As can be common with this kind of report, which is based on research by experts at universities across the country, the findings are at odds with the public consensus regarding punishing crimes, and the legislative consensus regarding the war on drugs. As best I can tell, that attitude is that drug using criminals are dangerous to society -- their threat should be incapacitated and the individuals themselves receive their just desert.

About two weeks ago the 1L criminal law classes visited California penitentiaries. I was one of the few students who had been inside a prison before (no, never as an inmate), so I was more prepared than some of my peers, whose reactions ranged from disturbed shock (appropriate) to jocular insensitivity (disturbingly shocking).

What I saw was less the system of justice or threat-mitigation our legislators seem to envision than a colossal waste of resources. The lights run 24 hours per day. So do the heaters, the fans, the guards, the gates, the cameras.... It was like a gigantic, gated energy vortex, where the intellectual power of the state stood gridlocked against the creative genius of the inmates. Every camera, procedure and lock seemed to have its foil. A basement room displayed a wall of hand-fashioned weaponry ranging from the rather predictable 11 inch knife smuggled from the kitchen to the startlingly lethal looking daggers made from Styrofoam cups, to hand-made syringes, to a can-opener device an escapee used to cut his way through the roof of the laundry truck on the interstate. There was a cruel, clever genius of both sides of the fence: the guards seemed to take some pleasure in the tightest "rubber glove security measures" and the deviously clever inmates seemed able to find a way around them, all with no resolution in sight. Meanwhile, you and I bankroll the whole process.

I don't have many answers, and I don't have much to offer except my discomfort with the waste. But it seems like there must be something better we could do with all that energy.

As a fellow student said: If the world was going to end and I had to pick three people to take to a new planet with me, I sure wouldn't choose any of you law students -- I'd take a San Quentin prisoner.


Thought I would also share this interesting perspective on the Supreme Court.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kids These Days

While my co-blogger was working industriously to keep you all informed of the fire alarm situation, and Professor Murray was continuing to teach her seminar in the courtyard, I was having a conversation with the highly esteemed Professor Swift. What, you might ask, were we talking about? Course selection for next semester? Study tips for finals? The assignment that we clearly were not going to get to because of the fire alarm?

No, my friends, as dripping wet firemen raced in and out of the building and chaos swirled around the courtyard, a group of students and I talked with Professor Swift about dating.

A few highlights from the conversation:
  • One of the 1L's in my super-mod met her fiancee through a dating website. Rumor has it that he's actually cute.
  • The plaintiff's lawyer in the "Great Expectations" dating service case is Robert Goldstein, Boalt '65. He'll be happy to come in and talk to any of Swift's classes about the case.
  • Swift was also astonished that we don't date multiple people at one time. "My son is dating several women," she told us.
When we finally did get inside to start class, Prof. Swift didn't seem to mind that we'd missed over half of it. "I had a most enlightening conversation about dating," she said.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Heaving more than dung now

Apparently our neighborhood “tree people” are at it again (for full updated story click here).

The highlights include the completion of a second fence surrounding the grove, tree people trying to take it down, tree people attacking officers who attempted to stop tree people from taking the fence down, and a whole lot of an unidentified liquid burning the eyes of campus police.

This all, of course, comes after the university secured a court order allowing the removal of these “tree people.” Key to obtaining that ruling was the unsanitary conditions (read: spilling - sometimes intentionally - buckets of excrement) and the use of propane flame (?!?!?!) in the trees. Anyone up for the use of a big fire hose? Kill two birds with one stone: gets them out of the trees, and gives them the first bath they've likely had since they started the protest last December.

Hope everyone is glad they chose Berkeley. You just don’t get this type of thing across the bay.

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Bonds Indicted

As a bay area sports fan, this year has been tough. The Niners have shown to be a disappointment (to say the least), the Raiders haven't been any better, and I wont even get started on the topic of our Golden Bears. [As an aside: anyone else starting to get the feeling the Pac 10 really hates itself?]

Today, the headlines feature local sports “hero” Barry Bonds. To be honest, I’m not personally a baseball fan, but I’ll take any opportunity to bring a sports topic to N&B. If you have been living under a rock, or have somehow avoided all news regarding this topic, a good summary can be found here.

With yesterday’s official indictment for perjury (x3) and obstruction of justice, things just officially got legal. If you’re interested in the legal aspect of this story, there’s a great not-too-legal breakdown of the charges here. For you legal detail types, the actual indictment can be found here.

What struck me while reading through all of these articles was how serious the consequences could potentially be. Bonds could “face up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of three perjury charges, and 10 years and a $250,000 fine for an obstruction of justice charge.” I admittedly never took a math class while an undergrad, but by my count that’s a potential 25 years in jail.

I wouldn’t consider myself a softy on crime, but this whole circus has me wondering if the media and the government’s interests are really properly prioritized.

I’ll admit that prior to Bonds breaking the record, I had hoped that he’d stop playing or get injured (or something) and none of this would become as big of an issue. Now that he’s broken the HR record, and Bonds has suffered the humiliation of having his ball stamped with an asterisk, I really don’t care anymore. Not to be cliché, but there’s a war going on, there’s an important election coming up, and there’s a big mess in our bay (I'll save you from further links and let you do the research for those topics on your own). What does it really accomplish by dragging this whole thing on? Why can’t we let this guy retreat into nothingness and hopefully never be graced with a camera in his face again? Any thoughts?

Live-blog: Boalt Hall “Fires” 2007

10:50 AM: Fire alarms going off. Confusion among law students: “should I actually put these books down? It’s 4 weeks until finals!?!”

11:00 AM: Many people out in the courtyard. Rumors swirling as to the cause:
- Spontaneous combustion
- Dean Edley has gone mad and decided the easiest way to get his new building is to burn Boalt down and collect on the insurance
- Some pissed off Hastings student has decided to exact revenge for the acts of our beloved Trustifarian (which, by the way, persistent rumor is that he was not in fact expelled)

11:45 AM: Disheveled fireman emerges from building all wet and barking into his walkie-talkie.

11:55 AM: All clear – people are returning to their studies. Appears to be something minor...

12:05 PM: This investigative reporter just confirmed with a firewoman that there in fact was no fire (ho-hum) and the fire alarm was due to two broken sprinklers in the basement. It now appears that the first and second possible explanations are less likely (unless Edley was trying to flood the school – which can be equally devastating…). Possibility three still remains. Anyone else have an explanation?

12:29 PM: Email from school administration - broken fire sprinkler confirmed (which, by administration standards, is a rather quick response). I especially loved the "Because of the complexity of our building it took some time to locate the problem and insure that it was the sole issue." First, I say that this doesn't rule out the Edley explanation - he knows this more than anyone and he's definitely smart like a fox. Second, given the condition of the facilities, I'm sure that the broken sprinkler simply couldn't be the "sole issue."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Can't Take it Anymore

I should be grabbing food, but I'm not hungry. Some interesting and fascinating work this week helped keep my mind off things, but now that's gone. You know what I'm talking about. And I can't take it.

I'm going mad with all the thoughts going through my head. The thought of having one foot already out the door at my firm. The thought of "failure" branded on every professional paper I possess. The thought of breathing in the stench of failure in February. The thought of auditing Whittier's class on the Performance Test. The thought of having a very noticeable last name that begins with "A" missing from the list. The thought coming to work on Monday...

It's so frustrating I thought I'd create this post to piss off others in my situation. I hope it works.

P.S. The title refers to the Simpsons episode, "Lisa's Rival" which in turn refers to Edgar Allen Poe's classic, "The Tell-Tale Heart."

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If It Doesn't Fit, You Must Acquit

OJ's headed back to court:

"This is what we expected," Simpson told The Associated Press before he left the courtroom. "If I have any disappointment it's that I wish a jury was here. As always, I rely on the jury system."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Internet Survey Results

I closed the Internet-in-the-classroom survey after 50 responses. A screen-shot of the results is here.

Roughly half of you favored some sort of restriction -- the number bounced above and below 50% for the last several days. Interestingly (to me, anyway), people who responded during the day tended to favor a no-net policy, and people who responded at night wanted to be left alone.

Simpson and the Courts*

Co-blogger Tom Fletcher graciously passed along this opinion of the 6th Cir. Particularly important to me is footnote 1 of the dissenting opinion.

I have long wanted to write a book or something about The Simpsons and the Law. This was an issue that I had never considered before. A big thank you to Judge Martin and TF.

*"But of course, for that ending to work, you would have to ignore all the Simpson DNA evidence. [laughs] And that would be downright nutty." -- Troy McClure, "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular"

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Is the BLF Auction really happening this year? I looked at the list of auctions and it seems really short and unimpressive. Didn't we have three times as many auctions last year and the year before? Or is there normally a last minute crush of donations in the hours leading up to the event?

Although the faculty auctions totally outnumber the student ones, I notice that no professor I've ever taken a class with is donating anything. Lester, Moran, Peterson, Talley, Rakowski, & Caron - I'm talking to you! Since the rest are at Harvard this year, I suppose they get a pass.

I also notice there's no link on the webpage to donate products and services for auctions- is there any way to donate besides signing up in person in the lobby? The only way I even found out about this website was from a friend who got it from the c/o 2009 email list.

Are people going to BLF?

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Mansion of the Living Dead

This issue has probably appeared here before, but the ABA Journal ran an article today: "Profs Kibosh Students' Laptops." You probably know what it said. Basically the argument goes like this:

Point: You are all a bunch of Luddites! Students carry laptops to make their studies more efficient by centralizing and organizing their notes. Professors who value learning should love them! Besides, the real world of lawyering is rife with distractions, too. Sometimes it seems like law schools take paternalism to the extreme, and this is just another example--like it or not, no one can protect the easily distracted forever. Finally, who is paying the salary in a classroom? If students want to use the time they purchase (for what will soon be about $100 an hour at Boalt) then so be it.

Counter-Point: You are a bunch of spoiled brats! There is a huge difference between watching TV in class, and watching the professor--your tuition only entitles you to one of those activities. Web browsing is distracting not only to yourself, but to the students around you. It adds little or nothing to the classroom, and sucks the soul from the lectures. And your claim that the internet makes you a better student? Please. Do your peers a favor and grow up.

I carry a laptop, and the first thing I do when I get to class is open it, check my mail, etc. Nevertheless (and most of you will forget Bekki ever existed in your lust to kill me when you finish this sentence) if I were a professor, I would kibosh laptops in my classroom.

I have a general leave-me-alone-and-I'll-do-you-the-same philosophy, and I am sympathetic with those who believe students should be allowed to use the class time for which they pay as please. However, I graduated from a small state university full of wonderful people with backgrounds very different from the average Boalt student. It was a great experience, but it was also not the intellectual environment of which dreams are made. I decided to spend a great deal money to come to Boalt because I wanted to be in a room full of people who are brighter than me. And I am, every day. But when those people glue their face to the Internet(s), I feel I am losing on my investment. In other words, browsing the net is keeping ME from getting the experience I am trying to pay for. I suspect my position will not be popular with N&B-ers. But there it is.

On a side note, the article repeatedly mentions the evils of watching porn in class.


Why do professors think that is what we up to? Is that what they would be doing if they were in our place? Or is it the journalist?

A commenter below suggested an online survey. Though I have never conducted one before, I am fairly certain I set it up correctly. I realize the wrinkle that many of you will respond while in class, thus distorting the results. Actually, I kind of enjoy the irony.

Anyway, click here to chime in. Please do not cheat--the results really do not matter enough for that.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Nouveau Riche

We have a new AG who quite possibly thinks drowning someone is just another day at the office. But I'm not going to talk about that.

Yesterday I caught a late flight out of Burbank to SFO (on United). While waiting at the terminal (and if you've ever flown out of Burbank probably you know that I use the term "terminal" very loosely), an elderly couple came and sat next to me. I don't know how to describe the woman. She's been to tanning salons for about as long as I have been alive. Her face was leathery--not in the sense of a leather jacket, but in the sense of a leather belt. It was just really tough.

She of course began talking immediately. Here are the highlights.
-- Her and hubby were waiting to board a flight to Reno.
-- About other passengers lining up for the flight, "They don't look like high rollers."
-- Looks at laptop, then blackberry, that's not enough, you need to play with that thing too?
-- "Maybe you can educate me. I bought an Acer that they were selling on TV, they said that it comes with free wireless, but they only mean it's free for the first few hours. How can they say it's free?"
-- "We own a house in Tahoe. Wanna buy it? It's on the market for 1.5."
-- "My husband's a Thousand Oaks. So is my son, my daughter, my son-in-law."

I wanted to bill immediately.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

"What I Wish I Knew as a 1L"

In case you are a 1L and missed Boalt's very informative Career Development Office summer job panel yesterday, a fellow student has compiled the following notes from the "what I wish I knew as a 1L panel discussion." As the following list shows, this mandatory four-hour event was a highly effective use of a sunny Friday afternoon.


1. Do not eat too many sweets
2. Wear nylons (or don't)
3. When arriving for interview, be nice to the "staff"
4. Learn to control sweat glands
6. Do not throw noodles on wall
7. Send out 300 applications on Dec. 1st
8. Don't send out 300 applications—that's crazy!
9. Lawyers are happy
10. Lawyers are suicidal/drunk
11. Hawaii is desirable
12. "That was my truth"
13. The world is one girl's oyster (she is a 3L at Boalt)
14. Trial by fire: a good thing
15. Sitting on your butt: a good thing
16. You want to "shine"
17. Assert, Assert
18. In general, it is important not to fall on your fucking face
19. Cambodia = great danger = fun
20. Exclude Bikram yoga & flute playing from your CV
21. Anything of probative value is on CDO website
22. Eating every dessert at firm lunches costs 6 pounds per summer
23. With the possible exception of yourself, everyone knows how little you know
24. The CDO isn't worried about us getting jobs
25. Stay in your regional comfort zone
26. "Blow the top off the box" of your comfort zone
27. Follow your inner voice
28. Follow our advice
29. And try not to sleep during LRW

Additions to the list are encouraged.

(Also, thank you to the 2 and 3L's who took time from their sunny Friday to speak. It takes some bravery to sit on a stage knowing you will be asked to say deep things in front of a room full of anxious 1L's who can see your ankles -- just like it take some bravery to chuckle at those things that may have come off as....quirky. Please don't be offended. We are grateful for your time, I promise.)

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