Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kiffin Me Softly

As avid football fans (or East Bay residents who try to avoid riding BART during Raider games), I'm sure you've already heard that Al Davis fired Lane Kiffin as the head coach, replacing him with Tom Cable, the current O-Line coach.

(a) Al Davis is a moron who doesn't know what he's doing and the sooner he croaks, the sooner the Raiders will do well.

(b) Cable sucks. When he was at UCLA, he managed to make Karl Dorrell's play calling seem ingenious.

(c) Davis is such a cheap, morally corrupt person that he's claiming to have fired Kiffin "for cause" to get out of paying the remainder of the contract. Anyone with half a brain knows the organization was leaning on Kiffin to resign to avoid paying the remainder of his K. Cheapos.


Monday, September 29, 2008

No Soup For You!

The bailout is off, at least for now. I do not know if the measure would have stabilized our economy, or ruined it. I do know that a 110 page crap shoot is not leadership.

Nothing makes up for lack of preparation -- not money, not smarts, not even luck. I don't know how many times we have to sit through that lesson (think: 9/11, Katrina, Afghanistan, any Sarah Palin interview) but obviously we have not learned it yet. In the face of copious writing on the wall, this administration and this Congress (I'm looking at you, Pelosi) are guilty of a total failure to anticipate a massive domestic crisis or brace for its consequences, which affect us all. They are willing to drive our country straight into the ground, and it makes me so angry I don't know where to begin. Or whether I even want to begin.

Has the world gone crazy? Is anyone driving the bus anymore? From McCain's 22 hour journey to Washington, to Bush's Iraq-esqe speech at the White House, to the utterly impotent Democratic leadership in Congress (whose boldest move toward a solution has been to roll over and believe the Executive's tales of gloom and doom if we don't grant it unbridled discretion now, now, now . . . ) the whole thing is surreal. Absolutely surreal.

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John Deere Letter

A Boaltie asks, "how do you go about rejecting an offer?"

Answer: Call one of the attorneys you interviewed with, probably the one who gave you the offer or recruited you. Sometimes firms may inquire where you are going. Don't take this the wrong way, it's just one of the ways of gauging the legal market.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Breaking News: Rest of Nation Follows Berkeley's Lead, For Once

Who knew that ginkgo biloba was the only thing holding Boalt back?

No sooner are the stinky trees gone, do we learn that both Harvard and Stanford Law Schools have decided to defer to Berkeley--at least as far as grading systems go. According to Above the Law, Harvard is abandoning its eight point (!) grading system in place of an Honors/Pass system. And Stanford, which took the same step several months ago, is replacing graduation honors (e.g., graduating "with distinction") with course-specific "book awards" that sounds suspiciously like AmJurs and Prossers.

Five thoughts come to mind:

1. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I don't mind Harvard and Stanford copying our system. But they should at least acknowledge it--not use this "some other law schools" crap.

2. Okay, so maybe they're actually copying Yale. But Yale prizes, though legion, aren't given for every course. Also, Stanford's "1 out of every 15" award is essentially a HH score with a 7% cutoff. The only difference is that it's indicated in the "honors" section of a transcript (where it's more noticeable).

3. I'm curious to know which grading system came first: ours or Yale's. I suspect the latter--but only because Berkeley's first stab at grade reform (in 1967) was Top (10%), Middle (80%), and Bottom (10%). Incidentally, I can't think of a worse system than that, although I'm sure enterprising readers have the requisite imagination.

4. Is our system better than these new versions? Due to the HH grade, we now have more grade differentiation than YLS, HLS, and SLS. And that's not even counting all of the AmJurs/Prossers awarded each semester. After all, it's only really the number of HHs you get (rather than H/P distinctions) that makes a difference in our super-secret class rank calculations.

5. SLS is abandoning individual Coif membership. For Boalt alumni, this award is pretty much the only way to indicate particularly good grades on your resume without looking like an ass. Up until now, Yale was the only law school to have fewer graduation awards than Boalt (that is, it had neither Coif nor in-house awards). Is this a good or bad development? Personally, I don't have a problem with graduation awards--why not give some kind of public recognition to people who earn reasonably good grades? If anything, I would say that the 10% cutoff (for Coif) seems a bit high to me. If class sizes were equal, then about 50 students per year at Columbia get awards that they would not have gotten at Berkeley.

(Note: Okay, I know the last two points have been done on Nuts & Boalts before. But all the people who posted on those are now doing doc review.)

Stanford Adopts Retroactive Grading Policy [Above the Law]
Not to be Left Behind, Harvard Changes Grading System Too [Above the Law]


Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Oh the Humanity" Check Design Coming Soon

Wait, what the hell just happened to my checking account? I get home from a Gobama fundraiser [insert snide anonymous comments about what happened to my checking account here] and I read that I'm now a loyal JPMorganChaseBearSternsWashingtonMutual customer?

And I wish all the best to my classmates at Heller. That whole thing is incredibly tragic and impacts quite a few Boalties.

Heller's Hell

You know you're in bad shape when even the local newspaper picks up on the fact that you're a sinking ship. Ouch.

But, where shall all of those attorneys go? See here.


Update: Goodbye Heller - it's all officially over now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Section LL's E-ticket Ride

"Seismic engineers apparently have solved one of the world's great retrofit puzzles: how to keep UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium from crumbling into a pile of concrete rubble during a major earthquake."

For an excellent article on the new retrofit plans for the stadium, click HERE.

Boalt Basics (ASP Session)

Remember the last lecture on Boalt Basics? Kiddos, this is not 'Nam. This is dining. There are rules. Here is a black letter re-cap: No, no, no, no, NO!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2008 Clerkship Post-game

Comments in a thread below ask for a place to further discuss clerkship opportunities at Boalt. One of those comments, from someone who obviously knows what they are talking about, contains a thoughtful series of observations and suggestions. I am quoting that comment in full, as it provides as good a place to begin as any.

As an alum who failed to secure a clerkship until after I graduated, I agree that Boalt's clerkship "support" is quite lacking.

First, Boalt professors rarely volunteer to contact judges on students' behalf. This puts students in the very awkward position of having to broach the subject. Clerkship hiring is based largely on personal connections. It's increasingly rare for students to secure an interview without knowing someone who knows the judge.

Second, many (if not most) Boalt professors seem willing to go to bat only for very highly ranked students. I worked very hard as a GSI for a professor, only to have them reach out to their judicial connections for a higher ranked student who did not serve as their GSI. I have heard similar stories from my classmates. As a result, the very highly ranked students (top 10% and above) tend to do extremely well while the marginal candidates (top 25-15%) tend not to. A student outside the top 10% will rarely get looked at by a judge without someone reaching out to the judge on their behalf.

Professors should get pushier about helping students secure clerkship interviews. A few years ago I attended a conference which had dozens of federal judges in attendance. I watched Yale faculty members introduce students to judges at the cocktail reception. Our esteemed faculty clerkship coordinator, who was also in attendance at this conference, did not even make an effort to say "hello" to the Boalt student attendees.

Third, Boalt does not have a very good alum network. The Career Office should do a better job of fostering alum networking. ES in the CDO has done a very good job of hooking current students up with Boalt alums. I have made a personal commitment to try to help Boalt students in any way I can, and hope others will do the same. An application has a much better chance of getting pulled from the pile if it mentions a former clerk's name in the cover letter.

Fourth, the school should study and re-evaluate its policy of ranking students for clerkship purposes. The new OSCAR system makes it too easy for judges to filter applications by class rank. Schools that do not rank their students are non-filterable.

*I have posted into the comments a compendium of the commentary thus far from the other thread. Efficiency, and all. One place, you know?

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An Electoral College Tie? Goodbye Legitimacy of American Elections!

One of the more interesting political developments of my lifetime has been the increasing uncertainty in American elections.  It used to be over when it was over, but since 2000, you never really know.  Each side deploys hundreds of lawyers to the closely contested states (how do you get to be one of those?) and awaits the potential streetfight that may result from the words "too close to call."  A lack of legitimacy in elections is a staple of third-world governments, and it's a little disconcerting to see America slip toward that path in our collective zeal to see our side win no matter the cost.  Think 2000 was a fluke and those days are behind us?  Well, buckle your seatbelts:

"What really strikes you is how easy it would be for a tie to occur.  Take the 2004 map and switch Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado into the Blue column, which is what the poll numbers indicate.  Then, take New Hampshire and give it to McCain, which is what two recent polls suggest is going to happen.  There is your tie." (Washington Times article here.)

269-269.  An electoral college tie.  Apparently, it's possible under a number of different scenarios given the current toss-up states.  It's still not exactly likely, but can you imagine the possibilities?  You'd think they'd just break an electoral tie with the popular vote, but you'd be wrong! 

According to the constitution, the House would pick the president and the Senate the V.P.  Given the current make-up of each body, and assuming Lieberman would defect, this would leave us with President Obama and Vice President Palin (with Dick Cheney breaking the senate tie in Palin's favor).  

But this is not the most likely scenario.  A number of disputes remain about the process of a breaking a tie, including how many votes each state would get in the house vote (originally, they had only one each), whether the sitting or new congress would be the decider (constitution says "immediately," which suggests sitting, but a subsequent law sets up January 6th as the day for the vote, which would be the new congress), and one can assume, a number of smaller disputes about the result of each state similar to what we saw in Florida 2000.  The most likely scenario is an extended legal battle over one or all of these issues that would push us well past January 20th with an undecided election.  In that case, Speaker of the House Pelosi would become Acting President Pelosi.  From there, it's anyone's guess!

Constitutional procedure is a bit of a hobby of mine.  It's always interesting to see how these arcane procedures would apply in modern times.  But the prospect of a tie is truly terrifying.  I'm a fan of the electoral college, but I doubt it can survive any more blows, and this would be a big one.  It's fun to speculate, but let's hope this election is decided by November 5th, for the sake of our entire system's legitimacy.  


You Cheated? After We AGREED?

OverLawyered has this to say about relationship exclusivity contracts (HT: ATL):
I have often wondered if, were courts to fully embrace contract marriage, they might also recognize a status short of it: something akin to a relationship contract. That’s the issue facing an Illinois court right now, as Nicole Basarich is suing Robert Lane, with whom she cohabitated for more than sixteen years, for “violating the[ir] agreement for an exclusive relationship” and for failing to pay his portion of the mortgage. Forget the latter claim: I’m fascinated by the former.
I've never wondered that (and I take that to be a good sign), but now I'm fascinated, too . . . one argument suggests that such a contract would be against social policy. But wouldn't that apply to marriage, as well?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Finally...A Story About the Fruits and Nuts of Berkeley

In the LA Times. In hindsight, I did enjoy the olive bar a wee bit too much.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Free Speech: It Ain't Always Free

University of California lawyer Michael Goldstein just clobbered the tree sitters in (perhaps) the only way a University lawyer knows how: by attempting to extract from the protestors what this SF Gate article dubbed a 'pound of flesh' for the cost they incurred. Specifically, Mr. Goldstein is after something to the tune of $10,000 per sitter, to compesate the $800,000+ UC Berkeley spent on police and security measures during the twenty-two month string of shenanigans.

A rhetorical question: Absent Mr. Goldstein, does the University magically absorb the cost? Or pass it on?

"It's really vindictive," said an attorney for some of the sitters, Dennis Cunningham. "They don't have this kind of money."

But I don't think so. This isn't venomous or unreasonable, this is retribution. What were the University and its students (like me) supposed to do with the tree sitters? Thank them? Encourage them to keep spending money? Feed them, for crying out loud? The bottom line is that I certainly don't have ten grand to spare, either -- the difference is I didn't glibly inflict the cost.

Seriously, I am so thrilled to hear this I don't know where to begin. Maybe with a disclaimer: I love trees, worry about the 'hand of progress,' generally believe that folks in suits should be handled with extreme caution, etc. But come on. Berkeley, California, is NOT the place to stage a progressive protest. It's like going to your grandmother with an owie and demanding a sympathy kiss; people in Berkeley are going to approve of activists -- it's their nature. To relish in that is to accept a gimmie. It's returning to the mother-ship. It's crawling back into the womb.

The truth is that if the delinquent idiots who have been populating our hillside for the last twenty-two months had any nerve -- if they had any stones -- they would never have crawled up our trees in the first place. They would have taken their youth and energy and passion somewhere it could do a shred of good, like Mississippi, or Idaho, or the Congo. Or even Oakland, if distance isn't their bag.

So, to the tree sitters: Thanks for absolutely nothing. Thanks for wasting your well-motivated yet impotent political energies. Thanks for the continuing low-level helicopter flights over Boalt Hall, and for taxing our already weary law enforcement and court systems. Thanks for making liberals like me look bad. Thanks, finally, for getting your worthless cause kicked to the curb.

But thank you, most of all, for being citizens of this fine country. With any luck you will be made to reckon with your bill -- so I won't have to. Perhaps Mr. Goldstein accepts installments.

Life Returning to Before the Glass-Steagall Act

"Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the last big independent investment banks on Wall Street, will transform themselves into bank holding companies subject to far greater regulation, the Federal Reserve said Sunday night, a move that fundamentally reshapes an era of high finance that defined the modern Gilded Age."

For the remainder of the article, click HERE. It is definitely worth a read.

So, I ask: how do you think changes at Goldman and Morgan Stanley are going to impact those of us who are going into corporate transactional work? The NYT thinks that the free-wheelin' days are all over for those on Wall Street. What's that going to mean for us?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Nerd's Fury [updated with "official response"]

What in the hell is going on with AirBears? I swear, I can put up with a lot of the incompetence that goes with the territory of running a school, but this it too much. How can Boalt, which is part of BERKELEY, one of the top tech schools in the FREAKIN UNIVERSE, not have an operable wireless network?? It literally boggles my mind. This isn't South Wichita Community College. The implications of this go beyond me not being able to check up on celebrity gossip in class; people rely on the internet for a bevy of functional and utilitarian purposes during classes, such as taking notes online, sharing documents, checking wikipedia for more info on a case during class, opening the non-casebook version of the case in Westlaw, etc. These people (myself included) are completely hamstrung when Airbears isn't available. It's inexecusable - for Berkeley, for what we pay to go to BLaw, and for our needs during class.

Now I know IT is often a thankless job, and no one respects IT more than me, but it's time something is done about this. Spend all available resources at fixing the problem. Declare Defcon 8. I don't care. The rumor is that IT says it's a rogue laptop broadcasting a rival DHCP network that's denying access, but that seems like a crock of camel turds. If that was the case, then why are we denied access from all parts of the building at times? Checking my IP, I see that occasionally I get a 192.168.x.x IP assigned to me, but when I reload I have a seemingly valid IP address. After consulting with my fellow nerds, the problem doesn't seem to be a disgruntled student with a renegade notebook, but rather a failure of the Airbears to re-loan IP's that have been checked back in. Once you're in, you're in. But until Airbears can give you an IP, you're sans what Lindsay Lohan did last night, or maybe even more importantly, the ability to do ANYTHING that requires access to the outside world.

Administration - PLEASE FIX THIS. Everyone else - feel free to bitch and groan here, and maybe we can make enough noise to get this taken care of.

[see the comments for the official response to the Airbears problem]


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dean Edley Townhall

[Update I: Matt has created a summary of the meeting, which is posted in the comments.]

[Update II: BHSA plans to supplement their paper petition with an electronic survey (a wise move), which should be coming through your in-boxes soon. If you are a current Boalt student, click here to respond.]

[Update III: This via Boalt's IT folks: "Having problems with AirBears? Please see this page for more information." (Yes, the irony is palpable.)]

Stay tuned for live blogging of Dean Edley's townhall after the jump (TJ is tackling it).

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Donde Esta El Zapatero?*

If you haven't seen the interview of McCain showing a complete lack of knowledge about the Prime Minister of Spain, watch now. It's frightening.

The whole thing reminds me of Mr. Burns in the episode Deep Space Homer. Mr. Burns begins the worker of the month (or week?) announcement thusly:
"Compadres, it is imperative that we crush the Freedom Fighters before the start of the rainy season. And remember, a shiny new donkey to whoever brings me the head of Colonel Montoya. Huh? Wha? Oh by that I mean to announce the worker of the month." (Or something to that effect).

Of course, an old, senile, evil, wealthy, corporate baron who runs for political office to further his business interests (and abolish regulations) is funny in a cartoon. In reality, it's just depressing. We have a candidate running on "foreign policy experience" stating that he won't necessarily meet with a NATO/EU member. Is this a joke?


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lockergate '08 or How BHSA Finally Realized What Its Job Is

I'm guessing you've all received BHSA's e-mail regarding the locker situation (posted after the jump). Looks like we're gonna have a good ol' fashioned standoff with the admin! Everyone who cares about this issue, make sure you stop by the Laub Lobby to sign their petition. While there, you can sign my petition to officially rename the Laub Lobby the "Bob Loblaw Laub Lobby."

Now the more important question: Should anyone care? I recently discussed the locker situation with a friend, and she shared some interesting insights. First, she said (reasonably) the locker fees were minimal. Second, a fee is a good way to preserve a scarce resource. Third, due to the prominence of online and used book exchanges, the BHSA is strapped for cash, which it (presumably) uses to make us all happier. Thus, 1) the locker fee is a reasonably good idea; and 2) it's so small that no one should care. She conceded one could argue against them based purely on principle, but in a world with so much more to care about, why would you?

My friend makes some very good points. The locker fee would have been a good source of funds for an organization we all should support. In fact, now that the fees are gone, I plan to make a $25 donation to it just because. Hopefully others will do the same. Second, the fee was small. And it does seem kind of ridiculous that, after all we've been put through this year, the fight we're going to pick with the administration is over $25 a person.

But I still maintain this is a good thing. Even though the issue is somewhat silly, I was a little touched by BHSA's e-mail. I mean, for once the student organization heard the students' voices and is now going to amplify them to the administration. Isn't that their job, even if what the voices are saying is kind of dumb? Moreover, this is a fight we'll likely win. I doubt the administration is going to risk alienating the student body over something as small as a couple hundred lockers. Hell, they can even put them in the Hearst Annex just to shut us up. It's where problems go to die! Yes, it's likely this petition will succeed. And even though that victory is small, it would be a soothing balm over the wounds caused by constant construction, the end of the BBB, changing administration, eviction from our offices, the vanishing of that pleasant smell that used to radiate from the trees (mmm!), etc.

A locker is a small luxury, and winning them will be a small victory. But at this point, I think we could all use one. Cheers to BHSA for helping us out.


A Scene From the Lecture Halls

Excuse me, Professor? I'm sorry, but could you please repeat everything you just said? We can't hear you over the noise.

The noise, in this case, being the sawing, banging, grinding, and dragging of steel pipes beneath the floor in the center of Room 105.

The solution seems simple: just e-mail the Assistant Dean of Students, who is in contact with the construction workers and has promised to make them 'pipe down' as needed. Except that in fact it is no solution at all: AirBears isn't working any better than the paper towel dispensers in the men's rooms, the outlets in Booth, or the line at Cafe Zeb.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Boalt Basics

People, people, people.

The line in Café Zeb runs east-west, toward the hall. Not north-south toward the wall!


Monday, September 15, 2008

When the Economy Hits Home

In light of the economic conditions today, it may be appropriate to start an open thread on the market.

There's a lot to discuss here, so let me get us started.

First: to what degree is this going to impact our jobs? The simple answer is that there's going to be a contraction in the number of positions available. But to dig deeper, what firms are going to take the greatest hit?

I can't imagine firms who rely on Lehman, WaMu, AIG or Merrill are thrilled. But then again, firms that don't rely on those companies for work may see their clients shift to firms that do. Are there firms that are safe, or is everyone screwed (except for the bankruptcy lawyers)? Or will it just be the lesser-known firms getting poached by the bigger players? It's hard to imagine Wachtel associates switching to baked beans and stale bread they find in the dumpster behind the Safeway...

Second: How has the economy impacted the interview habits of Boalties? Did it / will it reduce the number of people who ONLY applied to small plaintiffs' side firms? Did / will boutiques not get any attention? What kind of info/data is available on various firm finances? How have firms approached this issue? Is it even being discussed? And how is that going to change over the next couple weeks?

Or is everyone just trying to stay blissfully ignorant about the world that is crashing around them?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sometimes the Government Does it Better

First, three items from my RSS feed:
  • Sad news of a head-on collision between a commuter train and a freight train in southern California.
  • A letter from San Francisco Paramedic Jonathan Meade (here, at bottom of page) to the Chronicle, which reads in part: "Believe it or not, the inability of the Fire Department to properly manage [medical services] is common knowledge among firefighters and paramedics, doctors and nurses, our supervisors and our mayor."  
  • San Francisco has announced that the right to provide the City's Emergency Medical Services will no longer be granted exclusively to the Fire Department. It will now be sold to the lowest bidder.
Mr. Meade is right, but the problem is hardly local to San Francisco.  Most city fire departments are obdurately fire oriented -- they continue to prioritize fire first and emergency medical services (EMS) second, even though EMS accounts for well over two thirds of their daily operations.  That is what produces the weird combination of over- and understaffing that rushes heavy rescue trucks to slips and falls at nursing homes.  But assuming San Francisco has finally decided to call the Fire Department's bluff on the quality of the city's EMS, the move to privatization is hardly a step in the right direction.  It will do little if anything to correct the problems with the city's ambulance services, but it might impair San Francisco's response to natural disasters or mass casualty events like last night's train wreck.  Here is why I think so.

The decision to inject competition into San Francisco's EMS providers comes at the heels of several heavily publicized studies which showed, among other things, that one in four of the city's true emergency 911 callers had to wait more than six and a half minutes for help to arrive. Given that the chances of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest (never mind a gunshot to the face) approach nonexistence after six minutes, San Francisco's response time is unacceptable by every modern standard.

The delays were found to have two primary causes.  The first has to do with San Francisco's mishmash layout, and the way emergency response resources are distributed across the city. One or two emergency responses in the Mission can tax the Fire Department such that a third call might require an ambulance from the Marina, or farther. That scenario is no hypothetical; San Francisco paramedics complain that they run out of ambulances on a near-daily basis. How privatization (where the incentive to staff leanly is even stronger) will address that issue is unclear to me.

The second problem is on the dispatch end.  About 40 percent of San Francisco's 911 calls take over two minutes just to dispatch. That leaves less than four and a half minutes for responders to receive the call, locate the incident on a map, board a vehicle, and drive safely to the scene. If that seems reasonable, try thinking in terms of 270 seconds.  According to the studies, language barriers between callers and dispatchers are the major stumbling block.  Abuse of the 911 system for non-emergencies, and its concomitant clogging of the phone lines, is another significant factor. It seems safe to say that neither of those dispatch efficiency problems will be addressed by privatizing ambulance operations.

In fact, only one thing about the plan does seem certain, at least to me.  It has to do with the reality that only one in three patients pay their ambulance bill. If a private company takes over San Francisco's EMS, it will not be long before that company raises the genuinely legitimate complaint that it is being forced to provide a free taxi service for drunks and the homeless, when it could be providing (and collecting payment from) genuine medical emergencies. Those costs will accumulate, and the burden on the private entity will grow. In order to keep the system rolling, those bills will be picked up by the city (either through cash payments or some form of "health insurance") -- just as they are now, albeit via the Fire Department budget. So, the city will stay on square one when it comes to providing medical services to the indigent, but it will give up the payments from patients or their insurance companies that would offset the cost.  In other words, San Francisco's plan ensures that some private entity will profit from the paying patients, while setting the stage for the city coffers to cover the poor.  This is zero steps forward and one step back by any calculation.

There is a final, more disturbing issue.  Whether that lucky, low-bidding private entity will set aside any of its profit to prepare for an earthquake, bridge collapse, or train wreck, is (to me) the question of the day.  Even if the answer is "yes," will that company do a good job while maintaining its status as the lowest bidder?  Think about that one for a moment; what kind of city would you like to live in?  For all their shortcomings, city fire departments nevertheless operate in the spirit of community planning and public service.  For-profit ambulance companies operate in the spirit of profit. To which set of principles would you prefer your city turn, come the quake, bombing, or commuter accident of the century?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin on Foreign Policy

I don't think I was brought on staff here to provide political analysis, but I just couldn't resist this. The first in Charles Gibson's three-part interview with Sarah Palin aired last night. Some highlights:

1. She clearly does not know what "The Bush Doctrine" is. To be fair, neither does Prsident Bush.

2. There is an Alaskan island from which you can actually see Russia. Good enough for me!

3. My personal favorite was her response when asked to sum up what experience she's gained from living so close to the former reds:

"Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relations with all of these countries, especially Russia. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relations with our allies, pressuring also, helping us to remind Russia that it is their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along."

Well said, Sarah! Would you also like to tell us about how you personally believe that the U.S. Americans need to provide maps for the Iraq?

I'm really not bashing Sarah Palin as a person. Why should the governor of Alaska have to consider the Bush doctrine? Or Georgia's admission to NATO? Or U.S. military operations in Pakistan? She shouldn't. Neither should I! But neither of us should be vice president.


Ten Open-Ended Thoughts

  1. Wouldn't it have been savory if the tree sitters had nested in Boalt's recently razed Stinky Trees?
  2. When Top Dog 'catered' the Career Fair, they didn't just hand over their kolbassas, wursts, and wieners. Instead they gave mini-vouchers to the visiting law firms who in turn used them to feed only the students who dropped by to mingle and exchange pleasantries. In other words, the firms used their control of a communal resource to impose self-serving transaction costs. Brilliant!
  3. The Federalist Society's free pocket Constitution is noticeably thinner than comparable publications.  Yet nobody seems to notice.
  4. Barton Fink may have been filmed at the Hotel Durant.
  5. Whoever owns the laptop that keeps screwing up Boalt's AirBears network must be neutralized before the situation comes to a boil.
  6. Assuming the world hasn't imploded, how much will an "Obama 2008" t-shirt be worth on eBay in 2040?
  7. When writing in casebooks, pens make you feel messy; mechanical pencils make you feel smart.
  8. Speaking of feeling smart, did anyone call Billings Learned Hand out when he began self-applying his middle name?
  9. Why is it so difficult to release the Spring course list before the Fall semester beings?  Or the Fall course list prior to the Spring semester?  Or anything at all, before ever?
  10. What happened to Boalt Briefs?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

2008 OCIP Callbacks

[Invisible hand, moving up. And up. And up again, for the final time.]

[Further Update: "Anonymous" sends this link to the best and worst of the Am Law websites. It's a fun read, although I couldn't agree less with the some of the rankings.]

This is the 2008 OCIP callback thread. If you are unsure about what that might mean, look here, and here.

We will follow my learned brother's tried and true procedures from the past:
(a) When you get a callback or a ding, look to see if that information has been included in the main post. If not, post it into the comments using the following format: Firm Name, City, + or - to indicate offer or ding respectively.

(b) I will move your information into the main body of the thread. After adding the information, I will delete comments that state only an offer or a ding.

(c) I will keep comments that offer something substantive, ask or answer a question, or crack me up with jaded cynicism.
Please pay attention to (a), folks. The CDO anticipates more than 7,000 interviews during the next two weeks. Even if the results of only half those interviews make it to this post, well, you can do the math. Although I plan to stay on my toes, it will be magnificently unhelpful if you flood the comments with results that are cryptic, ambiguous, or already posted. Spare me that, if you can -- I am just as swamped with school and OCIP as you are.

On a policy note, Armen's remarks from three years ago are relevant: if this thread makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable, just click on by. You'll miss very little of substance, and you'll spare yourself a few weeks of fractious discontent. If you find the thread useful that's great, but if you don't, that's okay, too. Lastly, a year after I first met my classmates (you), I continue to wonder on a near-daily basis how on earth I landed among such an extraordinarily talented and personable group of human beings -- you are going to blow this thing out of the water!

Akin Gump, LA+, SF+
Allen & Overy, NY+/-
Allen Matkins, LA+, SD+, SF+/-
Andrews Kurth, DA+
Arnold & Porter, DC+/-, LA-, SF+
Baker & Hostetler, NY+, DC-
Baker & McKenzie, SF+
Baker Botts, AT-, DC+, DT+
Bartko, SF+
Bingham McCutchen, BO-, LA+, SF+, SV+, WC+
Boies Schiller, OK+
Bryan Cave, LA+/-, OC+/-
Bullivant, SF+/-
Chadbourne, LA+
Christensen, LA-
Cleary, DC-, NY+/-
Cooley Godward, DC+/-, NY-, SD+, SF+/-, SV+
Covington, DC-, SF+/-
Cox Castle, LA+
Cravath, NY+/-
Crowell, DC+/-, OC+
Curtis, NY+
Davis Polk, NY+, SV+/-
Davis Wright, OR+, SEA+/-
Day Casebeer, SV+
Debevoise, NY+/-
Dechert, DC+, NY, SF+, SV+
Dewey LeBoeuf, NY+
DLA Piper, DC+/-, LA+, SF+, SV-
Donahue OAK+
Drinker Biddle, SF+
Faegre & Benson, MN+
Farella Braun, SF-
Federal Defender, SF+
Fenwick, SF+, SV+
Filice Brown, OAK+
Finnegan, SF-, SV+/-
Fish & Richardson, DC-, MN+, SF+, SV+/-
Foley & Lardner, LA+/-, SV+
Folger, SF+/-
Freshfields, LON+, NY+/-
Fried Frank, DC+, NY+
Fulbright Jaworski, DC+, LA- , NY+/-
Gibson Dunn, DC-, LA+/-, SF+/-
Goodwin Procter, BO+, DC+/-, LA+/-, SF+/-, SV+
Greenberg Glusker, CC-, LA-
Greenberg Traurig, SV+
Greene Radovsky, SF+
Gunderson, SV+
Hanson Bridgett, SF-
Heller Ehrman, LA+/-, NY+/-, SD+, SF+/-, SV-
Hogan & Hartson, DC+/-, LA+, NY-
Holland & Knight, DC+, SF+
Hooper Lundy, SF+
Howard Rice, SF+/-
Howery, LA+
Hughes Hubbard, DC+/-, NY+/-
Hunton & Williams, DC-
Irell, LA+
Ivins, DC+/-
Jenner & Block, IL+/-
Jones Day, DC+, LA+, SF+/-, SV+/-
K&L Gates, LA-, SEA+
Katten Muchin, LA+/-
Kaye Scholer, LA+
Kecker & Van Nest, SF-
King & Spalding AL-
Kirkland, DC+/-, IL+, LA+/-, NY+, SF+/-, SV+/-
Knobbe, SF+
Kramer Levin, NY-
Latham Watkins, CHI+, DC+/-, HK-, LA+, NY+/-, SD+, SF+/-, SV+/-
Lieff Cabraser, SF-
Littler Mendelson, SF+
Loeb, LA+
Luce Forward, SD+/-
Manatt Phelps, LA+/-, SF+
Mayer Brown, IL+, SV+
Mayers Nave, OK -
McDermott, DC+, LA-, SV-
Milbank, LA+/-, NY+
Mintz Levin, BO-, NY-, SD+
MoFo, CHI+, LA-, SD+, SF+/-, SV+/-
Morgan Lewis, DC+/-, LA+/-, NY+, SF+/-, SV+/-
Munger, LA+/-
Nixon Peabody, DC+, LA-, SF+/-
Nossaman, LA+, SAC+, SF+
O'Melveny, CC+, DC+/-, LA+/-, NB-, SF+/-, SV+/-
Orrick, LA-, NY+, SAC+/-, SF+/-, SV+/-
Patterson Belknap, NY-
Paul Hastings, DC+, LA+/-, NY+/-, SD+, SF+/-, SV+
Paul Weiss, NY+/-
Perkins Coie, LA-, PO+, SEA+/-, SF+, SV+/-
Pillsbury, DC+/-, LA-, SF+/-, SV+/-
Proskauer Rose, LA+/-, NY+/-
Quinn Emanuel, LA-, SF+/-, SV+
Reed Smith, LA+, SF+/-, SV+
Ropes and Gray, DC+, NY+, SF+, SF+
Ross Dixon, DC+/-
Schiff Hardin, SF-
Schulte Roth, NY+
Sedgwick Detert, SF+/-
Severson & Werson, SF+/-
Shartsis Friese, SF+
Shearman Sterling, SF-
Sheppard Mullin, LA+, SF+
Shute Mihaly, SF+
Sidley, DC+, IL+, LA+/-, NY+, SF+/-
Simpson Thacher, LA+/-, LON-, NY+/-, SV+/-
Skadden, BO+/-, LA+, NY+, SF+/-, SV+/-
Snell Wilmer, OC-
Sonnenshein, SF+, SV-
Squire Sanders, SF+
Steptoe, DC+/-
Stoel Rives, PO+, SEA+
Stroock, LA-
Sullivan & Cromwell, DC-, NY+/-, SV+/-
Thelen, SF+/-
Tonkon Torp, PO+/-
Townsend, DC+, SF+/-
Wachtell, NY+
Weil Gotshal, NY+, SF-, SV+/-
White & Case, SV-
Williams & Connolly, DC+
Willkie Farr, NY+
Wilmer Hale, BO+, DC+/-, LA+, NY+, SV+
Wilson Sonsini, SF+, SV+/-
Winston & Strawn, DC+/-, IL+, LA+/-, NY+, SF+/-


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Revisiting California Associate Compensation

This article explains that prominent California law firms (including many OCIP participants) are revising their lock-step salary models. While salaries and bonuses aren't expected to change immediately, the way they're doled out might, as California firms consider switching from a lockstep associate compensation model to others based on skill level. Why would they do this? Because, according to the article, associates are becoming more savvy to the realities of the economy and its attendant layoffs (read: vulnerable), and firms are beginning to tinker with compensation plans and other intangible aspects of the job.

"I hear . . . more and more from partners that they can't give first-year associates work," said one recruiter in Los Angeles. "Clients can talk to a young associate and figure he or she doesn't know what he or she is talking about, and they say, 'We don't want to be serviced by younger associates. We don't want them going to school on our nickel.'"

The plan strikes me as a perfectly reasonable way to address non-performers, and to curb a sense of salary entitlement among recent grads: once a firm pays $160,000 to first year associates it may be hard to go back. That doesn't require the firm to pay a penny more at year two. (Am I insensitive?)

On a side note, the article is based in part on a polling of compensation plans at California's 25 top-earning firms. The results are of that poll are locked away behind a "premium subscription," which costs over $200 per year. If you have access, I'd be grateful for a peek. Please e-mail me.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Duke Has The Worst College Football Team In America, As A Matter Of Law

The University of Louisville recently sued Duke in Kentucky state court, alleging Duke breached a contract to play a four-game series against Louisville. Duke pointed to a provision in the contract that stated Duke it would be liable only if Louisville was unable to find a replacement opponent of “similar stature." Duke explained that, as a matter of law, its football team could not be any worse, so any replacement team would satisfy the terms of the agreement.

At oral argument, a Duke lawyer said:

I think the Court can absolutely positively take judicial notice that Duke is probably the worst football team in Division I football. Everybody knows that. That’s no secret. The longest losing streak, the inability to ever win games. . . We certainly don’t have to go out and take six months of discovery to establish that for you. . . So the bottom line is how much discovery, if any, should anyone have to take, want to take or need to take to make the simple analysis of whether or not that was a team of similar stature? It’s judicial notice that they got beat by Utah. Maybe that’s part of the dispute –- that they wish they’d played somebody weaker like Duke, which would have been an automatic W.

On summary judgment, the court agreed:

The term ‘team of similar stature’ simply means any team that competes at the same level of athletic performance as the Duke football team. At oral argument, Duke . . . persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower. . . Duke won only one football game, and lost eleven, during the 2007 football season.

(HT: WSJ Law Blog.)

Victory! - And it's over now.

The Court of Appeals has removed the injunction preventing Berkeley from cutting the trees down around the stadium. For preliminary information, see coverage here.

Paired with an existing ruling that allows the university to remove the trespassing tree sitters, we could see chainsaws on campus as early as first thing tomorrow morning. Bring the popcorn!

Invisible hand moving this back to the top. And again.

All tree sitters have come down from their perch.


Kevin? Kevin Smith?

[Moving up, hopefully to the sound of telephones ringing.]

Anonymous said . . .
New clerkship thread please!
9/04/2008 3:25 PM

Ta-da! I really have no clue what you clerk applicants are up to, but here is a thread for you.


Friday, September 05, 2008

You're Gonna Go Far! (All the Way to the Bar!)

On Tuesday we button up OCIP, and it's a safe bet that we all deserve a solid night of sloppiness. The time has come to doff that suit, don that drinking cap, and set free the snide remarks and cheeky smirks we have all been bottling up inside.

Thalassa, 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 9th.

(1L's, 3L's, PI peeps, and Dean Prosser, you're invited, too. Naturally.)

Lockergate 2008

BHSA and the school administration have broken their silence and sent an update on the locker situation [posted in full after the jump].

Included in the plan is mandatory locker sharing and charging a rental fee for 3Ls.

Any thoughts?


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Why Palin Is Suddenly Scaring Some Dems

There’s a bizarre unease among the Democratic commentariat today – a vague feeling that Palin did something pretty good last night, and whatever it is, it might be trouble. No one seems quite sure what it is, so let me try to articulate:

Palin is the first person on a Presidential ticket in thirty years who isn’t rich. Who is genuinely middle-class, without any need for artifice or guise.

With the country in a populist mood, it makes her “elite-bashing” surprisingly authentic, honest, and effective. (Even if still mindlessly stupid).

Of course, the GOP has been bashing elites ever since Nixon told us in 1952 that he and Checkers had earned every penny they’d got.

But the problem has always been that most Republicans are charter members of the elite – multi-millionaires like Romney, McCain, the Bushes, Cheney, Quail, Reagan….even old Tricky Dick, who by 1968 had made more than enough to live in comfort as a Manhattan lawyer. (TNR pointed out that the average Wasalia citizen would have to work for ten years to afford Cindy McCain’s outfit last night).

To be sure, the GOP still does an amazing job of pretending to be jus’ folks, with the ludicrous “cultural” signals we’ve come to know and love: clearing brush, mispronouncing words, trashing your own Ivy League diploma, etc.

But there is a natural limit to the effectiveness of this message, because the messenger himself isn’t an average American—he’s an elite in every possible meaning of the word. This tension is something most Americans vaguely understand -- sometimes clearly (1992), sometimes not so much (2000, when their gullibility particularly infuriated liberals).

Dems, of course, share this problem from another angle: professing economic solidarity with the middle class, but nominating candidates who are still, well, rich (as a commenter to my Biden post noted).

In short, everyone is for the regular guy. But no one is a regular guy.

But now we have a regular old girl.

Palin’s family has never made serious money, not before she took office, not after. So, for the first time in a generation, her elite-bashing doesn’t need to come with an asterisk or a caveat, and that's the 'authenticity' people are sensing today.

(Postscript: I personally thought her speech was insipid and grating – like watching someone interview for the Women’s-Wear-Over-50 counter at Macy’s. The burgeoning scandals and her embarrassing lack of experience will frame her candidacy in the end, I'm confident. But I thought I’d try to explain why we're stuck with this "She's a New Star!!" narrative for a couple of days at least.)


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Cynic's Summary of Huckabee's RNC Address in 25 Words or Less

Mike Huckabee just gave his address at the RNC, and *surprise!* it was nearly identical to every other address at the RNC. It's almost like Karl Rove wrote out a speech at one sentence per flashcard, and each speaker just shuffles the cards around on the floor, picks them up, and reads them off in the order that they're in. Awesome. Here's what he said (very very slightly paraphrased):
"Hello Republicans! The media is elitist and liberal. I respect Obama, but he's ivy league educated and gets all his policy ideas from his recent European tour. McCain is a PoW. Democrats will tax you 140% of your salary. McCain was tortured because he was a PoW. Gay marriage, abortion, taxes, liberal, liberal, liberal. McCain being a PoW hero earned your child his or her school desk. Vote for me in 2012. Liberal."
(Disclosure: That may or may not have been more than 25 words.) Now, I realize that America's executive leadership hasn't exactly set a pristine example, but it's almost embarrassing to see a complete lack of policy discussed. Even wrong policy is better than no policy; at least you know what you're getting yourself into. But this is a campaign resorting 100% to scaring people away from them damn liberal agitating God-haters with pre-determined catch lines and cardboard slogans. It's almost like you could replace the speakers with customized magic 8-balls. Or better yet, a customized magic 8-ball iPhone application... wait; I think I just found my calling. Politics here I come!


Best. Sentence. Ever.

From the NYT's profile of Palin's stint as Mayor of Reno 911, it's hard to find a pithier example of the intersection of evangelical politics, blissful ignorance, and old-fashioned conservative contempt for America:

Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.

Update: I am enjoying this whole thing way too much.