Thursday, May 29, 2008

First Our Professors, Now Our Grades

The imagination-less automatons across the Bay have decided to copy our grading system (ht: ATL). Maybe soon they will adopt our method of assigning enrollment times, Krushchev era Communist architecture, and tree sitters to accompany their crappy mascot (which got a shout-out last night on Colbert).

Relatedly, a commenter writes below: "When are we allowed to begin bitching about the registrar, in re grades?" Answer: Under past precedent, May 31 appears to be the day. Though actual results may not appear until July. (Yep, July.)


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nothing to Lose and Everything to Gain

The California Horse Racing Commissioner noted yesterday that because the gay marriage ballot initiative will not be retroactive if passed, marriages performed in the next five months will be protected. Consequently, he has some legal advice:

"You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. There may be this five month window where any marriages, no matter what happens with the consitutional amendment, are valid."

Right. But, will it even pass?

Friday, May 23, 2008

In Other News

Haven't had an open thread in a while. Summers are learning/relearning Civ Pro. 3Ls are learning/relearning Civ Pro and 13 other topics. Rising 2Ls are imagining their CLR Exec Board stump speech and/or faux connections to east coast legal markets. And 0Ls think they are God's gift to the legal profession. Thoughts, comments, questions, anvils from the sky? The floor is yours.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Call For Stupid Behavior (Firm Summer Edition)

My first day of firm summer "work" was today. And I'm sure I'm not the only one that is wondering what crazy stories people have about fellow summer associates* losing their offers (hopefully stories about someone ELSE---wait, nevermind...about yourself is even better.)

Use this thread to share your (true) tales of people being incredibly unwise in their quest for a full-time offer!

*I hope it is obvious...but please don't mention any names.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In re Marriage Cases

I'm getting word through the grapevine that the Supreme Court of California will announce its decision in In re Marriage Cases tomorrow at 10 AM. List of briefs, including one by our own Prof. Choper here. Thoughts? Predictions?

Personally, while I'd love to be pleasantly surprised, the present court is far too conservative. I'm guessing 6-1 affirming the Court of Appeal judgment.

MOVING UP: In light of the surprising decision. I've been out of the office all day so I haven't had a chance to read or digest it at all, but my initial reaction is a) this is wonderful b) this just gave the conservatives the rallying cry for November.

Get Inn

John Steele wants everyone to know that the Inn of Court is looking for law students to join this great networking organization:

Priority goes to 3Ls with aspirations to be Bay Area litigators -- and Bay Area wannabe PDs and prosecutors are first among equals.

You show up once a month during the school year at the federal courthouse in Oakland. You mingle with judges, prosecutors, PDs, firm lawyers, etc. One month, you help put on a skit. (It might involve theatrics.) After the skit, you all head to a restaurant for a nice meal. In general, Boalties have greatly enjoyed it, and the price is very reasonable (last year $150, may be as low as $60 for students, for eight good restaurant meals).


Join an Inn of Court!

The Earl Warren American Inn of Court is looking for seven good Boalties to be Inn members for next school year. You will meet monthly in the evening at 6:00-9:00 pm on the third Wednesday of each month in downtown Oakland. The annual fee is very modest, about $150, which covers the seven or so restaurant meals. For one month during the year, your team will put on a presentation, which means you will put in about 12 hours in preparation. (At the EWAIC, the presentations are a little theatrical, so have some willingness to play a part in a short skit.) Otherwise, you will simply attend presentations, meet and greet judges and lawyers, and enjoy a nice meal. Attendance is important, so if you join, you are making a commitment to show up. Unfortunately, the Inn has given us a shorter fuse than usual, so please contact John Steele at if you are interested. It's a great way to get out there in the legal community as a 3L.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Worst Legislation Ever?

It's not everyday that you see Congress pass a bill that:

1. Gives billions to wealthy corporate agri-businesses...
2. a time of skyrocketing food prices and shortages
3. Consigns third-world farmers who have cheaper, better products to continued poverty
4. Subsidizes the high-fat, high-sugar diet that is killing 100,000s of Americans
5. Does nothing to address actual hunger in this country
6. Encourages land-use policies that will exacerbate global warming, erosion, and the destruction of natural habitat
7. Fosters the consolidation of an already concentrated farming industry
8. Leaves taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 5 years
9. Raises food prices for the rest of us...
10. ...And in some Twilight Zone universe, is sensibly and honorably opposed by George W. Bush.

Whew, so glad we have Nancy Pelosi in charge now!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bad News From Top Dog

So today just before 4:00 as I strolled home from Boalt, chewing my lip over that Con Law take-home, I bumped into Berkeley Fire Department on Durant Avenue. They looked pretty busy. Which is understandable, because they had CPR in progress on a gunshot victim in the parking lot next to Top Dog

That would be 4:00 in the PM. Not in the AM.

Three* simultaneous thoughts as I played gawker for a moment:
  1. Berkeley Fire Department has its shit together. The scene looked like a page straight out of a training manual;
  2. That poor dude is a goner, though;
  3. My obligations to the Dormant Commerce Clause are a privilege, not a burden. Stress over them probably makes me a smaller person, not a bigger one.
If you are like me, you feel stuck inside today when the weather is great, your exams are not over yet, etc.  Or perhaps (unlike me) the jumpsuit people may be about to rearrange your 90 year old grandmother's plans for your graduation.   Whatever.  At least you weren't lurking around Top Dog today at 3:45. And with a little more fortune, you were not close with any of today's patrons of that fine establishment.

There is no way to say this, but if you are not that fortunate, I'm sorry for your loss. Be the victim a perpetrator, a target or a bystander, this is a horrible thing.  We will learn the rest of the story piece by piece as it comes out.  But the senseless ugliness part?  That's apparent.  


*I also wondered other things, like whether they would have to break someone off from chest compression duty to man an extinguisher if all those unattended hot dogs were to ignite on the grill, how pissed the AC Transit drivers are going to be when they close down the street, and, um . . .  where exactly is that shooter right now, anyway? But those questions seem kind of inappropriate given their context.  Well, maybe not the shooter question.

Little update: Daily Cal article here.

Have Feith but Verify

I watched with great interest the Jon Stewart interview of Doug Feith last night. (Part 1 and part 2). I am now firmly convinced that this administration, more than any other, uses the withholding of information to shape the public mind.

The technique is commonly used by dictatorships that want to convince the population of their general benevolence. The Commies come to mind right off the bat. There was a consistent effort throughout the post-WWII history of the USSR to paint the US and its allies as-for lack of a better word-bad. To pull this off, they had to hide the truth. Travel restrictions to western countries, control of the media, no privacy to communicate with relatives in western countries, etc.

Particularly relevant today, in times of emergencies, the Commies shunned western aid. The population could not get wind of the better technologies, foodstuff, etc. enjoyed by the rest of the world. For example in 1988, following a devastating earthquake in Armenia, aid from the US and other western countries did not reach the earthquake zone for days. Planes full of aid sat on the tarmacs of the Moscow airports, restricted from flying to Armenia. I think the same thing is now happening in Myanmar and may happen in China following the quake there. Stories about the junta stamping their names on UN aid shipments bolster my theory. They don't want the population to realize a) how incompetent the generals are, and b) how much better off the people would be if only they modernized. And we know what happened to the USSR as more and more people gained exposure to the west. No more lines for TP damn it!!!

Which brings us back to Feith's interview. Rather than hiding the good found in other societies, this administration is hiding its own dirty laundry. How can someone claim that there was no deception leading up to Iraq when White House e-mails from the invasion time period are mysteriously missing? When the Pentagon hired goons to repeat its propaganda on national television? When none of the assertions have panned out? His book, I fear, is one of several attempts to rewrite the story of this administration. More than anything, I hope the next administration sets the record straight by releasing all relevant documents to the public. Only a fool would trust Doug Feith's take on it. And what's that expression about fooling?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Graduation, Act I

Borris asks in comments:

Any thoughts on this year's commencement speaker - The Honorable Mary M. Schroeder? Also, is the faculty speaker - Anne Joseph O'C*nnell - chosen by the 3L class as a whole or by the graduation committee?

Those questions are as good as any for the seeding of a graduation thread (though I have my fingers crossed for some kind of tell-all graduation exposé from the likes MRP and EW).

3:'s: Congrats. You are now among the most highly educated people on the planet. Scary, huh?


Friday, May 09, 2008

Bar Bar Bar

Today the Cal bar results come out for February takers. Good luck to all Boalties, and really anyone else. And congrats to the Boalties who passed the NY bar.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Q & A With Our Soon-To-Be ASP

The Shark has posted a Q & A* with our new ASP hire.

No bones about it, she's here to help with the bar exam. And part of her plan will be to talk about teaching, with teachers:

What I have proposed to [Boalt] as an idea, and what I’d very much like to do, is to start thinking about teaching colloquia. I think it’d be fun to bring in professors in education, psychology, people who have something to say about pedagogy, so at least there is some place for people to talk about teaching. It would give faculty members an opportunity to talk about their own pedagogy, what works for them, a setting in which these could be shared.

"Fun"? I wonder if that is some kind of newfangled genteelism for "effective." I also wonder if deciding to bring her mindset on board at Boalt suggests that there may indeed be "an instructional issue" [see comment at 8:05 PM].

You should read the interview for yourself. My intention is not to lift her words from their context, and use them to level an implicit charge against the pedagogical skills of our fine professor-scholars here at Boalt.

But on the other hand, what she says sounds so . . . rational.

*Update: Links fixed.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How to Run Against McCain?

Can we start talking about John McCain now? I liked Hillary once upon a time, and I’ve humored her candidacy to ensure my own domestic tranquility, but, to paraphrase a line her husband used in 1992 (that he himself took from Reagan in 1980), “It’s time for her to go.”

All these months of internecine fighting have not (and please read these next lines in your best Chris Farley voice) “strengthened the eventual nominee,” or “shown our democracy in action,” or “brought new voters to the party.”

They’ve only let John McCain run around the country with a shiny halo undimmed by even the meekest criticism from a docile media. The country hasn’t yet gotten the telegram that he’s no longer a Mr. Rogers moderate. He’s the carnivorous offspring of Strom Thurmond and Glen Beck.

Time matters. At this point in the 2004 campaign, John Kerry was an effete, wind-surfing, brie-tasting, troop-hating pederast. And possibly an informer for Al Qaeda. John McCain deserves the same treatment – except on, you know, actual issues instead of imaginary demagogic ones.

But don’t worry, there’s plenty to choose from. I think there’s ten themes the Democrats should be trying out:

1. Old man

2. Crazy and cranky

3. Crazy and cranky old man

4. McCain of Arabia

5. Flip-flopper

6. W, the Sequel

7. Anti-choice, anti-Social Security, anti-health care (the usual liberal lines; bleh)

8. Slave to the far-right (playing kissy face with Falwell, etc.)

9. The Double Talk Express (various hypocrisies and about-faces since 2000)

10. Clueless on the economic realities of the middle class

Personally, I like a combination of #6, 9, and 10. Don’t look a gift lame-duck President in the mouth. If Biden or Clarke were the nominee, maybe #4. But I don’t trust Obama (or most Democrats) to be able to talk about foreign policy coherently. Heck, I’m not sure I trust them to do foreign policy.

But, whatever is this attack option, it’s time to start loading the cannons. You can’t transform the country into a radiant, hopeful place unless you first dismantle the other guy.


The Twain Effect

Mark Twain wrote in 1872, "We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read."

Yesterday, an Oregon jury announced a $300 million verdict against Payless Shoes in a trademark/tradedress infringement case brought by Adidas. [Hat tip: Bashman]. Looking through the verdict form, I found the following idiosyncrasy.

After finding Payless liable, beginning on Page 3, the jurors are ask to find which of shoes (by lots) infringed TM/TD or constituted unfair practice. The list of shoes is long, so the verdict form provides the following:
As a shortcut, if you found for adidas on each lot and will be checking "Yes" for each lot number, you may check "Yes" on the next question and skip the chart entirely.

[unchecked] Yes - we found for adidas on each lot and would check "Yes" for each lot on the chart. Please proceed to Section III of this form.

[checked] No = we found for adidas on at least one lot but not all lots. Please complete the entire chart and then proceed to Section III of this form.

Guess what the jury did? Checked no, then checked yes for EVERY SINGLE lot.

UPDATE: And I feel the fool. On page 9, the jury did indeed check no for one of the shoes. Yay for the American jury system.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Bus Witch

I need help. Those of you who are familiar with the Bus Witch understand my predicament, for today on the 51, I was hexed.

The story beings with a pretty straightforward encounter, when she and her assorted parcels/baggies/wheely-thingies boarded the bus and kicked me out of my seat: "I need to sit down."

I promptly vacated -- the last thing anyone wants to do is catch her attention, which quickly escalates from ire to fury to wrath -- but it was too late. She started making conversation, and I knew I was in her sights. When she told me I was a nice looking boy, I pretended not to hear. When she repeated herself, I developed a sudden fixation on my phone, managing to snipe this covert (albeit blurry) shot. Then she said, sort of speculatively, "It is alway a shame when nice looking kids die early."


That grabbed my attention, but I kept my head down.

When I still didn't answer, she paused, straightened up, and then said in a firm, clear tone: "You may be nice looking young boy, but with your tattoos, you will die early of blood poisoning." I could swear there was an erie moment of stillness on the 51, and I felt my guts turn cold. Then everything snapped back to normal, she turned to face the front of the bus, and I rode on in silence.

That, folks, is pretty much a hex.

Which means, during finals week and with a few airplane flights and a summer motorcycle trip in the works, that I am basically completely f-cking f-cked. Does anyone here know a cure? A way to forestall the spell? A skillful Good Witch, perhaps?


Tangentially, Boaltie 1L Samika shares some thoughts on law school, at the Shark. I would share a few remarks of my own, but I am currently preoccupied by my imminent journey to the underworld.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

And the Winner Is . . . Professor Lester?

From an anonymous tipster:

According to the University of California (and other public institution) salary database compiled by the Chronicle, who was the highest paid professor at Boalt (and the eighth highest paid person on the entire Berkeley campus) in the 2006-2007 fiscal year? Gillian Lester.

See for your self.

(that should pull up the database, searched by campus for the UCB campus)

My guess is that those numbers reflect some flukey one-time payment or something, but still. Very interesting stuff. You can search by name, or by campus, or whatever.

Of course Tedford is #1 in the entire system with $2,756,654 gross compensation.

Take this Severance and Shove It

Over at Above the Law an email from a laid-off Paul Hastings associate has been posted. Here's the first paragraph of the email:

"The circumstances surrounding my departure from Paul Hastings have been deeply disappointing. It is one thing to ignore an email sent as a colleague is waiting to have her uterus scraped after a miscarriage, but it is wholly another level of heartlessness to lay her off six days after that. [Partner X] is the only one who expressed any sympathy after my miscarriage, and I am grateful to him for that."

And that's just a start, so head over to ATL to read the whole thing. This makes Paul Hastings look really bad (as it should), and no doubt they'll take a bashing in the blogosphere and perhaps even in their recruiting efforts on some campuses. But let's be honest--this could have been any big law firm. Oh sure, all the other firms will assure their associates that this type of thing would never happen at their law firm, where associates are so highly valued! But the truth is that every firm has some type of story like this lurking in a closet--Paul Hastings was just unfortunate enough to have it broadcast all over the Internets. The question to me isn't so much, What the hell is wrong with Paul Hastings? The question is, What the hell is wrong with a profession that has long tolerated this kind of thing?

One other note: Paul Hastings is obviously laying people off, but they are not alone. Most of these lay-offs will be couched as associate performance-related, instead of Firm performance-related. But 2Ls should be quietly watching this issue during the Summer and into next Fall.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fatal Stabbings: Unhappy Thoughts During Law Finals...

From the Chron:
"A UC Berkeley engineering student was fatally stabbed early today in a sorority parking lot a few blocks south of campus, Berkeley police said.

The 21-year-old victim, a man whose name was not immediately released, was found stabbed at about 2:45 a.m. near 2434 Warring St., police said. The victim was due to graduate later this month and start graduate school in engineering at Cal this fall, his friends said, adding that he was from Southern California."

For those not totally familiar with the area: that's about two blocks down Piedmont from the law school, and one block up Channing (the street that intersects Piedmont with a roundabout). The incident took place in the back parking lot of the Chi Omega house.

I'll update the post if there's anything more I find.


Update: further coverage from the Daily Cal (thanks to 3:40). In part

"UC Berkeley senior Chris Wootton, 21, was fatally stabbed outside his fraternity house early this morning. Wootton was found outside of Sigma Pi at 2434 Warring St., where friends say he was a member, around 2:45 a.m."


One final update: the remainder of the information has surfaced. His attacker, a Berkeley City College student, has been arrested (foiled by cell phone cameras). Pictures, his name, and more information about the altercation may be found here.

My sincerest condolences to his family and friends. This is likely going to rock the Greek world here at UC Berkeley for a long time.
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said counselors would be available to help students and staff cope with the killing. I encourage anyone (including commenter at 7:30) to take advantage of this if necessary.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Rebate Checks: Happy Thoughts During Law Finals...

It's week 1 of the federal government rebate checks, and $7.1 billion has been sent out.

I've heard a lot of discussion among my fellow classmates as to what should be done with the money. As many of us face significant school debt, one approach is to pocket the money and take less in loans (or have more to pay them down). However, that approach isn't the way the government wants you to spend it. CNN tells us "the effectiveness of the stimulus package depends on whether taxpayers actually spend their rebate cash. If consumers save the money or use it to pay down debt or buy imported goods, that would provide a smaller boost to the economy, critics of the program say."

So, how about a [hopefully] fun and light-hearted discussion: How do you plan on spending the money?

And here's a handy chart as to when you'll receive your check:

Direct deposit payment
If last 2 digits of your SS# are: Your rebate should be sent by:
00-20 May 2
21-75 May 9
76-99 May 16
Paper check
If last 2 digits of your SS# are: Your rebate should be sent by:
00-09 May 16
10-18 May 23
19-25 May 30
26-38 June 6
39-51 June 13
52-63 June 20
64-75 June 27
76-87 July 4
88-99 July 11

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dude. Enough With the Eval Requests Already

If you are a Boalt student, your @berkeley inbox contains the following email:

"Please take a minute to complete your teaching evaluations. Not only are they important for feedback to faculty, but they also ensure you will have access to the online exam interface. Please do them now so you don't have to email me in a panic on Monday when you can't access your exams. Thank you! "

Anonymous in comments just asked:

Did we just get told that if we don't fill out evaluations, we won't be able to take exams? Not cool.

My first reaction was exactly the same.

My second reaction was to ask: why can't we submit evaluations AFTER we take the professor's exam? That's a rather huge part of the course . . . isn't it? And if a hypothetical professor's exam (*ahem* Torts *cough*) contains typos, confuses the gender of parties in the fact pattern, contains a deeply ambiguous set of instructions, and puts other stumbling blocks in the way of students' ability to perform, shouldn't that information make it into the evaluation process? Especially since student feedback is apparently so important, and taken so seriously? (*cough* the last five years of TeleBears *ahem*)

My third reaction was to wonder: is there some way Boalt's obsessive desire for student evaluations (today's was the fourth email I have received) can be converted to leverage for the release of the evaluations' narratives?