Monday, November 30, 2009

A Law School Slacker's Guide to Cramming

Now that we are back from Thanksgiving and facing finals, it may dawn on us law school slackers just how far behind we are in studying. For all of you 1Ls, don't despair! You might fear that it is impossible to catch up, but that's not necessarily true.

Having found myself in this position before, I wanted to share tips on how to catch up. The resulting grades might not put you in the running for a Supreme Court clerkship, but they might help you to learn the material that you need to know for exams quickly. These strategies have helped me, but feel free to chime in with your own ideas.

Here it goes:
  1. Base your outline on another person's outline. Don't break the honor code, but use their outline to create your attack outline for the test. In my experience, it doesn't help to try to create my own full outline from scratch if I am far behind.

  2. Buy commercial supplements. I like to use one "case summary" supplement that summarizes the cases you need to know and one narrative-style treatise to explain how all of the cases fit together.

  3. Use your syllabus or table of contents to organize and distill the morass of information into manageable quantities of law.

  4. Keep up hope! Especially as 1Ls, we sometimes feel despondent if we haven't briefed every case and finished outlines before Thanksgiving. Cheer up! Grades can be arbitrary, but no matter how far behind you think you are, you can still take action to put yourself in a better position.
Best of Luck!

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When To Forward Information to Your Particular Email List

I've noticed lately that most people aren't sure when it's appropriate to forward an announcement or general message to your particular email list.

Good times:
- When the school isn't going to send out 1,000 emails about the event to everyone. Career panels that have to do with your journal's topic of interest are a good example of this.

Bad times:
- When we are going to get spammed a billion times anyway. For those of you who need it spelled out: This means controversial town halls, etc.

Spam is spam. Whether it comes from Kenny Loggins on ELQ, Jesse Jackson at the BLG or Ron Paul and the Federalist Society.

Something Something STRIKE! Something

Welcome back from break everyone! Just wanted to get you all talking again. What can we talk about now?

UPDATE: Does anyone else think the statement from the Academic Council is astonishingly poorly written?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, N&B

It's that day again - a day to throw those books and outlines aside and remember what it's like to be human, to give thanks with family and friends, and to shamelessly eat your way through 3,000 calories of pecan pie.

For those passing by today, I welcome you to post something you're thankful for in the comments. Heartfelt, cynical, random - anything goes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Liveblogging the Town Hall

Hey dudes.

We'll be doing it so you don't have to. Live from room 105 at 12:45 (as y'all know from the thousands of emails telling you to go).

So, sit back, relax and let us listen so you don't have to (that's right, today we're that nerdy guy in the front row of Torts who always sends you his notes).

Also, seriously people, we know there's a town hall today. You can stop forwarding the damn emails.

12:52 - Ok, late but here. Packed room. Edley's lining up some questions. Students want more stuff for their money. I think we can all agree with that.

12:53 - Edley cracks a decent joke. No one laughs. This isn't going to be an easy one, dude.

12:56 - And we're busting out the powerpoint slides. He's doing a comparison between the school's position in 04/05 and now. It's a pretty powerful point. LRAP, ranking, % employed at graduation, etc. are all much better now.

12:59 - Edley wants to redefine what it means to be a public law school - Apparently it no longer means cheap.

1:02 - Michigan spends more money than we do. It was way worse back in the day. Also, our chairs are sweet.

1:04 - Edley smacks down Berkeley's Celtic Poetry Department. They stole our money, apparently. No one laughs. This is some very serious stuff.

1:06 - Ok, this is actually what you need to know. The benchmark is our competitors minuse $5k. They're projecting all peer schools to be at $57k by 2013. The crowd is skeptical.

1:09 - "You are irrationally focused on rankings. Shame on you." Edley, right after he's told us we don't lose joint admits to other public law schools.

1:10 - How new revenue will be spent - 40% to LRAP/Financial Aid. About 55% to 6 new faculty members (it's not marked, poorly made graph). 5% goes back to construction bonds? Again, whoever labeled this graph did a horrible job.

1:12 - Edley's being patronizing by asking repeatedly if we understand a simple financial graph. Crowd is getting annoyed.

1:12 - Faculty salaries did not get cut. 27.4% of the rest of our budget did get cut. The law school only receives about $3M -$4M in state funding that excludes faculty salaries. These graphs are so shitty it's hard to be any more exact than that.

1:15 - "There's some whining every once in a while on the blog about where's Dean Edley" - I think he means us.

1:17 - Quick shout out to those of you who are actually in the same room with me and also reading this. I can see some of you. ;)

1:19 "Yes, the price of Boalt is going up. But I'm not spending the money in the Caribbean. We're trying to transform the school in several dimensions, the most obvious being the physical changes." Apparently we used to not have power in class. That would have been horrible.

1:21 - Boalt is getting more exclusive. Everyone pat yourselves on the back. He's softening us up for the Q&A period.

1:22 - Edley finally makes a joke that gets laughs. It's about "faith-based fundraising." Everyone can unite in their disdain for the religious right.

1:24 - Ok, so it's my fault for just noticing this, but a ton of students have signs that they can hold up that say either "I agree" or "No Way." They are red and green. I haven't seen anyone use them.

1:25 - Edley asks Dennis to stand up. Dennis doesn't want to stand up. He finally has to, though, because he has to talk on the mic. Now Edley's leading him around, sort of like he's on a leash. In fact he mimes it. That gets real laughs.

1:27 - Edley's actually in "The Thinker" pose while we listen to Dennis talk about a lot of numbers.

1:28 - Brilliant tactical move by Edley. Dennis is now taking questions at Edley's urging, eating up valuable time that would be used to put Edley on the hot seat.

1:29 - The LRAP and Summer Internship Program are essential and will remain in place.

1:30 - The signs just got held up. Edley sort of jokes about it and is now asking what the other flyer means. I feel bad for Dennis. He just wants to talk numbers.

1:32 - Dennis makes a fair point. The LRAP is designed to help people entering govt. or PI work, but we can't always guarantee it over your whole life. In other words, you're not actually entitled to a worry free life, but Boalt's doing its best to give you one. And now we're talking about negative amortization.

1:36 - Do we realize that these questions are taking time away from Edley taking questions? He makes a Madoff joke, though. Also the green signs seem to be throwing him off.

1:38 - What you are doing with your tuition is helping LRAP for students that have graduated. And now it's getting combative. One student holds up an "oh really" sign and Edley goes on the offensive. Edley's basically telling the 2L that he's misquoting Edley.

1:39 - Great question: "What's your top funding priority?" Edley basically refuses to answer, saying it's more about keeping the portfolio balanced because nothing can be more important than anything. What's the investment strategy? I get what he's saying, but it's a cop out. What are we keeping untouched by cuts?

1:41 - Follow up quotes Obama's prioritizing. Edley fires back "I was there, I know." And now we're arguing about an analogy instead of the actual issue. Edley then states excellence is more important than diversity. Not entirely sure how we got here, but it's not answering the initial question.

1:42 - "I came so Boalt could be a top 5 law school. Not so Boalt could slip to being a top 25 law school. If you provide access to a mediocre law school, you don't accomplish anything." Where are all the "I agree" signs?

1:43 - I think the signs are throwing everyone off. Now we're arguing about increasing fees. I knew last fall they were going up. Where was everyone else? (Not that they should to these levels, necessarily, but the info was out there for enterprising 0Ls).

1:45 - So, if NYU raises fees to $75k, we can expect to see our fees at $68k, is basically what we're being told at this point. "Market minus 10%"

1:45 - "The biggest risk that I see right now is that the head room between what we charge students and where the market is get gobbled up by UC fees that Boalt doesn't get." More Celtic Poetry shit talking.

1:47 - Edley's considered doing a simple income test LRAP, but apparently we couldn't afford it before. They want to revise the "law related" test that will loosen it. "Any job that it's not very unusual to have a lawyer."

1:49 - Say it with me. Barack Obama. Barack Obama. Barack Obama. I think we're at like 3-4 in this meeting. Not too shabby over an hour.

1:50 - Ok, here goes the 1L complaining. We're getting a lot of facts in this question that Edley seems skeptical about. And here come the I agree signs. And a little clapping. Edley's going to focus on the bad figures that he gave. Skeptical silence. "While I calm down, do either of you want to address that?" Dean Tom's now on the hot seat, "Every year we don't get final fee amounts until fairly late in the game." They're building a new website. That always works.

1:51 - "I don't read the materials myself." - Awesome! "Come talk to me and you can see how I spend my time." Let's just say, there is a small minority of pissed off students about this. I think it makes sense.

1:53 - "It should not be a surprise to you that tuition goes up." According to Edley, 80 -85% of us will go into private sector jobs and will be making more money after a few years than anybody on the faculty. "When you graduate your median income will be roughly five times the median income of all CA state taxpayers."

1:54 - "So yes, your tuition is going up and you deserve fair warning...but the background uncertainties are there." This is some forceful stuff. The big closing. He's practiced this and it's effective.

1:55 - Edley goes on - Boalt today is a good deal. And I really regret it if folks think it's not.

1:56 - If we decrease fees internally for Boalt, we will have to slam the brakes on improving Boalt. It will make us less competitive, it will reinforce the anxiety that Boalt will go down the tubes because CA is going down the tubes. He got some "I agrees" on that one.

1:57 - "Most people on the faculty are very supportive and excited by student activism around fee issues. Not necessarily because we think the substance is right, but because we'd rather have a student body that's alive not soporific." This is true.

1:58 - Final message. Take this energy, use it to change politics.

Well, there you have it. Thanks for following along and we look forward to your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Protests Continue

I don't mean to belabor the point, but I think it's worth noting that according to the BLG:
  1. 150 students are occupying Yudof's office in Oakland (1111 Franklin St. if you want to attend).

  2. This is in response to fee hikes, lay offs and police brutality (in that order, I assume).

  3. I'll post on it if it's happening and involves this, so keep us updated.

  4. Unlike Dan, I am against police brutality and also have nothing to say about the relative size of anyone's balls.

  5. And, finally, as one of my classmates said, "Who the fuck is X? and why isn't she in class or otherwise doing law-school-type things? why does she have so much time to run around the east bay and occupy buildings? and why does she think we do too?"

Who watches the Watchmen's Watchmen?

Not that I don't have anything else to do on a Monday afternoon, but I've been begged to create a post on the following video. Anything to please my fans!

This is what I see:
  1. A drunken and screaming man, holding what may be a bottle in a brown paper bag, initiates a fight with another BART passenger.

  2. A police officer prevents the fight by pulling the man out of the train, to the applause of other passengers.

  3. The officer leads the man to a platform wall by incapacitating the man’s left hand—-the hand that may be holding a bottle-—and by pushing the man’s back/upper right shoulder. (You can’t see clearly from the clip; the officer may be grabbing onto the hood of the man’s coat.)

  4. The officer shoves the man into the windowed wall. Impact with the window is made with the man’s (unrestrained) right hand, not with his head. The glass shatters.

  5. It takes an additional 30 seconds for the police officer to successfully restrain the man. The police officer appears to be more injured by the broken glass than the man.
Okay. As far as I can tell, the officer does not intend or anticipate that the window will shatter. It does so because the man reaches out his arm (perhaps as an automatic response to the shove). While I don't know the applicable police procedures, I suspect that police officers are authorized to push a resisting individual against a wall to facilitate handcuffing him/her. As the video demonstrates, trying to incapacitate someone while standing in the middle of a room isn't easy.

Quite honestly, I think the most remarkable elements of this video are (1) the applause the officer receives for pulling the man out of the train; (2) the fact that platform windows are not made with shatter-proof plastic; and (3) the way the passengers walk and stand around right next to the arrested man. What's up with that?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Protest's Balls Grew Three Sizes Today

We've talked about the "strike" ad nauseum, but it became something different today: a good ol' fashioned Berkeley protest. Students have occupied Wheeler Hall, fights broke out between protesters and police, sirens have been wailing all day, and news choppers fill the sky. After two days of a namby pamby strike with confusing motives and limited purpose, someone finally let the wild rumpus start. (Sorry, DE.)

I don't know if this makes me a hypocrite, a bandwagoner, lazy, or an idiot--and I'm sure I'll be called worse in the comments--but the protesters won me over today. Why? I guess because they finally proved that they have some balls.

I've never really disagreed with their cause. They're mad about tuition going up 32%? Of course they are. Me too! They're also angry about 900 layoffs happening alongside lavish building projects and huge salaries for the upper crust? Fair enough. We could go back and forth all day over whether these cost-saving measures are necessary evils or whether the allying of these causes makes any sense, but you can't really blame these people for being pissed. And I never did.

I took issue with the PR. A "strike" that is scheduled to last a couple of days? Weak. Calling it a "strike" at all when students are being encouraged to skip classes they already paid for? That's called a walkout. Striking within the UC system when the various insanities of California state government are really at fault? Pointless. None of it made a lot of sense to me or apparently a lot of other people, so the strikers' rhetoric failed to catch on. Oh, sure, the early adopters in ELQ and elsewhere got a little riled up, but Joe Schmo (yeah, I'll be Joe Schmo) was left confused and a little annoyed.

Today they kicked it up a notch, and all that changed. A strike doesn't make a lot of sense when you have already paid for the service, but a fiery protest in the middle of a rainstorm? I can follow that. Channeling that righteous anger into the spontaneous occupation of a building instead of posting flyers specifying protest dates and times? Now you're talkin'. And making enough noise to reach not just Sacramento but the National media? Now that sounds like a movement!

I guess you shouldn't change your position on an issue based on how loud someone is yelling, but sometimes it's enough to make you listen. The action today, responsible or not, made a helluva lot of noise--much more than the wishy washy strike originally planned. The people who decide these issues will hear that noise, and maybe they'll think twice before cutting funding to public education. Good.

As I finish writing this, it looks like the protest has ended with the arrest of 41 protesters. However you feel about their cause, you have to admire their conviction. Before today, it was hard to take them seriously. Tonight, it's impossible not to.

I Just Want to Tell You Both Good Luck. We're All Counting on You.

Bar results come out.  I suppose it's only fair to have an open thread on the psychological mind ****ing that is the time until you see the results.  The real fun begins on Monday when others look up your name.

BUMP UP.  So?  What's the mood?  Congratulations to all who passed, and chin up to those who didn't. 


John Yoo Saves Half the Library from the "Fire"

I was sitting in the library Atrium when the fire alarm went off and of course I dutifully shuffled into the exit stairwell with about 30 other students. We descended a flight to the marked exit only to find said exit locked.

So, we turned around and marched back up, bumping into other students who were coming down. Right as I was about to re-enter the library proper, John Yoo burst through the door saying, "No, come with me this way. I have the key."

And just like that John Yoo saved us all from our hypothetical fiery death. It was awesome.

Anyway, more thoughts on the alarms.

Check out this scenario:
  1. You know campus police are all busy over at the protests.
  2. You know there're millions of laptops and other valuable shit at the law school.
  3. You set off the fire alarm, run in while everyone's outside, and steal shit.
  4. The man who came up with this theory sees someone younger looking and not dressed like a law student poke his head into an IP class that has just resumed. Perhaps looking for valuables?

Also, I'm gonna try and get some live blog action down at Wheeler later assuming the rain doesn't dissuade me.

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A Tip to Aspiring Arsonists

Just pull a bunch of fire alarms across campus, then start a real fire and laugh while everyone ignores it!

E-mail below:
In case you had not already heard, our recent fire alarm was a deliberate pull of one of the alarms near an exit door. Similar alarm incidents have been occurring across campus this morning. We have been instructed by UCPD that we do not have to vacate the building. However, it may take PPCS a while to respond to shut off the alarms and the alarms are extremely loud. So you may want to leave the building anyway, or to use ear plugs to protect your hearing if this occurs again. Obviously it is not possible to teach or to conduct normal business until the alarms have been turned off.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Bit of Levity

The past couple posts have been, well, intense. To lighten to mood before finals (and tomorrow, for those of us in the know), here is a link to possibly the best dissent of all time. Now some of us feel that Chief Judge Kozinski is a great judge; others, the greatest. But we can certainly all agree that he is not controversial or otherwise abrasive. Feel free to post you favorite Kozinski opinions.

P.S. Students who "strike" are dumb.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BHSA Rep Proposes Edley No Confidence Vote

In a week filled with good ideas, this might be the best one yet.

You might know Dean Edley as the guy behind Boalt's rise in the rankings, the Summer Fellowship Program or the architect of the best LRAP program in the country. I guess one of the 1L BHSA reps was too busy reading memos because the representative in question apparently suggested the BHSA hold a vote of "no confidence" on Edley at last night's meeting. The idea, also apparently, didn't go over well.

Seems like someone caught strike fever.

Anyone want to defend this position? This makes me wonder what other bullshit goes on at BHSA meetings.

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End of Lexis & WestLaw as We Know it?

Anyone who has taken a Lexis or WestLaw "cost-conscious" course knows that the services are an absolute rip off for clients. Charging $150 to click the search button? Isn't this the information age of technology?

I remember having a conversation with the Lexis rep as a 2L where I pointed out that such monopoly pricing of otherwise public information will not last much longer. A company like Google would one day open the floodgates and we would all be saved. She didn't have a lot to say in response, but neither of us thought the day would come before I entered the working world.

Is the dawn of that new day today? Check out that "company like Google" and what they've released here (and one of the early write-ups about it here).


My Notes From the Strike

Hi. I'm new. You'll get used to me, I promise.

I wanted to give you my notes from the strike:

9:17am - Finally here. Seventeen minutes late, but that's ok, justice always waits. Other four protestors outside of Sproul Hall seem happy to see me. They're all students. Where are the workers we're saving? Where is the support?

9:23am - Coffee run. A little depressing as I'm forced to think about the workers in Guatemala who I'm in solidarity with over unfair work practices they're forced to endure while harvesting coffee. It's good coffee, though.

9:27am - One student walks through. We don't heckle. We politely ask, "Aren't you in solidarity with the workers?" She says yes and walks right in. Scab.

9:35am - WORKERS ARRIVE. We thank them for their sacrifice. There are two of them. They look like the salt of the earth.

9:38am - Workers leave. They said they had to "go check on how the strike was going over....there somewhere." Now it's just students, holding the torch of freedom.

9:39am - Vigorous debate ensues over whether or not we should heckle students. Miss the opportunity to heckle several students because we're involved in debate.

9:42am - WE TURNED AWAY THE ELECTRICAL WORKERS. VICTORY! Although, I'm faced with the nagging thought that maybe the electrical workers were going to finally fix Airbears. WHAT HAVE I DONE?

9:50am - Two more students cross the picket line. Scabs. They're both dressed preppy. Figures. We try to emotionally blackmail them into picketing with us instead of addressing the issues. We fail and they cross the line because they are corporate BigLaw scabs, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN CLASS TODAY.

10am - My shift is over. What a success this strike has been. I leave my four compatriots and BLOW OFF CLASS FOR THE REST OF THE DAY! (Of course, this is not why some of my fellow students have not shown up for class or for the pickets. They're choosing to show their valid solidarity from their couches UNLIKE PEOPLE IN CLASS).

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Strike! (Or, Three Strikes? You're Out)

Update 11/18 (Patrick): Someone has kindly forwarded on an open letter purporting to set forth the reasoning behind the strike — complete with an entire section explaining why this strike is "not ironic." Given the ATL coverage, I have redacted names (if you read that as my attempt to protect the strikers from a future when they realize how silly this is, you are correct) and uploaded a pdf here.

Someone in the comments on a thread below (9:44) assures us with regard to today's student/staff/faculty/ground squirrel strike that "these things aren't complicated." But if it is simple, it sure isn't making a hell of a lot of sense to me, or to anyone else with whom I have spoken.

So if you are a student who knows what this business is all about, consider politely addressing and rebutting this email from a fellow liberal, kind, caring, thoughtful classmate:
Ok there needs to be a nuts and boalts post about the strike and how stupid it is.
  1. Students are "striking" because they don't want their fees increased while workers are striking because they aren't getting paid. Seems to me that those two groups are each others enemies, not comrades.
  2. Students, as consumers of a service, cannot "strike." They could boycott or withdraw, but they can't strike. That would be like me claiming I'm on strike from Best Buy when I don't buy something from there.
  3. They are protesting in Berkeley; the decisions are made in Sacramento. Wrong forum.
  4. They are protesting at construction sites around campus. Why? Because they want the university to breach contracts and instead pay out for work without having it completed.
  5. The state is many billions of dollars in debt. Does no one think that might have something to do with the financial situation surrounding the UC system?
I concede that the compensation for the UC Regents is exorbitant and should be cut. But saving those few tens of thousands of dollars can help save some workers' jobs, not affect the fees for students. I'm constantly frustrated by how cheap Berkeley (undergrad) is for the quality of professor, yet the students here act as if they are being asked for their first born.
Those are good points. Add to that the fact that, as another commentator points out, few people seem to understand exactly who is striking and you can see why this grizzled survivor of countless Berkeley protestors might be tempted to roll his eyes.

Ugh. Pride.
Update: Armen points out that this isn't new. At first skim, it looks like one could just apply the entire older post to this topic, part and parcel. People, I love Berkeley, but this isn't why.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Attention. All honor students will be rewarded with a trip to an archeological dig!

. . . Conversely, all detention students will be punished with a trip to an archeological dig.

If you are a Boalt 2L or 3L you are likely aware that there will be a series of meeting this week to discuss how we can improve Boalt's clerkship placement rate. I just attended one, and I'd like to offer a rundown and open a forum.

This year was less successful than years past — not just for Boalt, but for every law school — representing a disappointment but also a moment of opportunity. There are a number of plans, proposals, and ideas floating around out there, but the most high-profile ones target our class ranking system. Two proposals occupy center-stage and I would like to share them here for feedback, encouragement, or rejection. Before I describe the proposals, let me briefly set forth the current system:
Berkeley Law does not generate or disclose class rank for its students with two limited exceptions:
Order of the Coif: This honor is awarded to the top 10% of a graduating class based on students’ 3-year cumulative grade point average (2-year average for transfer students).
Applicants for judicial clerkships and academic positions: Students who apply for these positions may obtain their 4-semester class rank from the Dean of Students. This class rank is calculated for the class of '10, '11 etc. and is reported to students in terms of top 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%, 33%, 35%, 40%, 45% and 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90%.
In addition, students with the ten highest grade point averages in a class are ranked numerically, 1 through 10. If there is a cluster of students at some of the ranks, more than 10 may actually be ranked in this way. This numeric ranking is also disclosed to students applying for clerkships.
Under the Honor Code, both types of ranking information may be used only in the pursuit of a clerkship or an academic appointment. The information may not be disclosed, in any way, for any other employment opportunity.
The competing (but by no means final) proposals are quite complex and are set forth fully in a detailed memorandum you can obtain from Professor Evidence. The memorandum is intended for internal use only so I will not post it here, but I can distill it to roughly these two proposals:
  1. Rank students separately for each year (e.g., top 10% first year, top 20% second year) in 5% increments, down to top 25%, then top third, and top half. Provide a numerical ranking for top 15 students, and maintain the current honor code restrictions on disclosure.
  2. Break the classes into top 10% and top 40% and assign a special award to those students. Top 5 students would receive a numerical rank. Maintain the current honor code restrictions on disclosure.
The objectives behind these ranking systems are myriad. But they all revolve around the core goal to place more interested Boalt students into clerkships while maintaining recognition for those students who truly excel, and while also making sure we don't unnecessarily incentivize gunnerish nastiness. To the extent you have remarks, feedback, suggestions and the like, please feel free to share them here. Particularly if you are a current clerk or alum.


When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Raise Fees

Update 11/17 (Patrick): Deans E and H have promulgated a fact sheet (pdf) regarding fees, complete with a Kashmiri disclaimer and this cheerful observation: "With the sharp spike in system‐wide fee increases, we expect to meet our policy benchmark of 90% of market rate in 2011‐12, one year earlier than we had originally anticipated. You will note that fees for non‐resident students will be at market rates next year."

You can find a more detailed breakdown, courtesy of BHSA, by clicking here (pdf).


The UC Regents are voting next week to increase Boalt professional fees for residents by $6,072 (~22%) next year, part of which we will start paying for next semester. For non-residents, professional fees will go up by $1,827 (~7%). Yudof and his finance committee just released this yesterday:

The proposal charts out an astronomical climb in residents' fees from the current $36,487 to $44,220 next year, and $52,000 by 2013 (non-residents will see their fees increase from $48,732 to $52,220 next year.)

As 1Ls, we feel blind-sided by an increase of this magnitude. For many of us, the comparatively reasonable cost of attendance at Boalt was an important factor in our decision to attend. We anticipated the university would act reasonably and in good faith, entailing increases of - gee, I dunno... 3-5% annually? But 22%?


- L'Alex and Jackie O

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Law School Prom, Minus the Corsage

I thought the BLF Auction was a lot of fun and a big success! Good venue, great food, killer dance moves, people looking all fancy.

I haven't heard any figures but I would hope BLF raised a nice sum for the Phoenix Fellowship. The goal this year was to award two fellowships for the Class of 2013. Based on the bidding war that ensued among 1Ls during the live auction, I'd say BLF has a shot.

Highlights? Best auction items?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Right" Idea, Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Price

Calvin Massey at the Faculty Lounge summarizes an NPR story about how peers and supervisors at Walter Reed Medical Center perceived Major Hasan in years, months, and weeks before he massacred 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. At least some officials expressed concern that should Hasan be deployed, he might "engage in precisely the murderous behavior he exhibited at Fort Hood."

The reasons nothing was done? There are three, according to NPR:
First, Walter Reed and most medical institutions have a cumbersome and lengthy process for expelling doctors, involving hearings and potential legal battles. As a result, sources say, key decision-makers decided it would be too difficult, if not unfeasible, to put Hasan on probation and possibly expel him from the program.

Second, some of Hasan's supervisors and instructors had told colleagues that they repeatedly bent over backward to support and encourage him, because they didn't have clear evidence that he was unstable, and they worried they might be "discriminating" against Hasan because of his seemingly extremist Islamic beliefs.

Third, the officials involved in deliberations [official meetings about what to do with respect to the "Hasan problem"] this year reportedly were not aware, as some top Walter Reed officials were, that intelligence analysts had been tracking Hasan's e-mails with at least one suspected Islamic extremist since December 2008.
Let's do some analysis here. Number one is neither an excuse nor a justification; all number one means is that officials knew the system required revision. This hardly exonerates their failure to question its results.

Number three is irrelevant under any reasonable conception of how the world works: knowledge that an authority is conducting an investigation should make one less likely to reach a final conclusion, not more. Put another way, absent knowledge that others were examining and perhaps handling the problem, officials at Walter Reed were under a duty to act.

That leaves number two. Loathsome, shameful, guilty number two.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

He Gets the Farmville Vote

One of the "perks" of working in biglaw is that occasionally you get attention from political candidates looking for checks.  Today, we had a lunchtime talk with Chris Kelly, the chief privacy officer of Facebook, who is running for AG. 

The Good?  I thought it was refreshing to see someone running for AG who is not termed out (see Ricky Delgadillo) or just simply shuffling from one office to the next (see most previous AGs and remaining candidates in the Democratic primary).  He's clearly very bright and a policy wonk.  He also hales from the tech sector, which along with the entertainment industry and to a lesser extent agriculture, forms the backbone of California's economy.  Given the status of California's finances, I think any statewide officeholder has to understand the state of our economy and use his/her office to its betterment.

The Bad?  He's not a politician.  Some positions are not completely thought out.  For example, Chris states, "I believe deeply that we need early intervention and drug courts for those offenders who are only beginning along a criminal road, before they're too far along that dangerous path."  Well how would this work in practice?  We have a non-functioning juvenile justice system.  This might be a chicken or the egg problem, but juvenile delinquents are not dealt with in any way on their first, second, third, or fourth offenses because of overcrowding in juvenile halls (I realize offense is the wrong word for juveniles, I just can't think of the right term).  So they only get attention from the system when they are very far along down the Recidivism Road.  How would early intervention work then?  On the other hand, the other solution, eliminating mandatory minimums and returning sentencing back to judges is just good policy with or without prison overcrowding.  Just ask Scalia.

Anyway, Chris struck me as an interesting candidate.  You should stalk poke invite him to Mafia Wars add him as a friend.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Call to Arms

Someone in the comments below has asked for assistance. I leave it to you, dear reader, to get the job done:
Anonymous said . . .

On an ethics-related note, will someone summarize the potential causes of action against Don Draper and company after what they did in the final episode of Mad Men tonight? Meinhard v. Salmon, anyone?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Wait, What?

Q: You are the sole partner in your law firm. You are in the process of closing a deal -- the only deal of the year, in fact -- for a new client. You feel your paralegal, who is a single parent, who has worked tirelessly on the deal, and who has contributed far more than the associates, is worthy of a bonus. So, you structure the fees for the deal to shift $200 of the fees from yourself to the paralegal. Your decision could subject you to discipline because:
(a) your decision is likely to betray your new client's expectations.
(b) your decision is likely to piss off at least one of the associates.
(c) your decision is not in the best interest of your firm.
(d) your decision is categorically unethical.
Welcome to the crazy logic of the MPRE. Open thread for tomorrow's test.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pre-Bezerkeley Berkeley

More procrastination fodder from your favorite procrastination 4L...

The Chron has a great series of late 1800s / early 1900s photos of Berkeley.

See them here.

Letters of Note

I read a lot of blogs, but this one — a regularly updated collection historical letters from the likes of Hugh Hefner, Dwight Eisenhower, Galileo, and Walt Disney — is worth sharing. Armen in particular will enjoy this gem from Matt Groening.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

False Lat

Just saw this post about a University of Miami School of Law professor suing Above the Law for three counts: 1) False Light; 2) Invasion of Privacy; 3) Copyright Infringement. The pro se complaint is here.

Maybe I have my blogger goggles on, but I don't see how this goes past 12(b)(6), especially the last two. Copyright infringement for posting a picture pilfered from the law school's website? Putting aside any fair use arguments, does the professor even "own" the copyright? And more seriously, the complaint is written terribly. I wanted to slash my wrists reading that first paragraph. And before the dear professor sues me, this is, like, my opinion man. Although, I'd be happy to put that complaint up against anything written by a Boaltie 1L.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole, with Madison Hamburg

A tipster sent in a poorly written e-mail that has gone out to at least a few of you Boalties calling for a boycott of tomorrow's Supreme Court session. It was sent under the name Madison Hamburg, which google says is a hotel in Germany. Given the writer's impoverished understanding of the Boalt Hall community, it makes sense that it was composed by an inanimate object from a foreign country. I hesitate to publish the e-mail, as it runs the gamut from intellectual bankruptcy to outright racism, but First Amendment and all that, so here we go. I'll post the full text in the comments. It might help to read it before continuing.

The e-mail identifies three issues with the current Court that concern the hotel. They all sort of boil down to "I'm racist and the Court isn't," but I'll leave them separate for the sake of addressing them in turn.

1) There are no "Christian White Males" on the Supreme Court. I was not aware of this, but the Madison Hamburg carefully proves its point by naming each justice and conclusively establishing both their non-White-Maleiness and obvious lack of judicial qualifications in a single word. For example, "Marvin Baxter--Armenian," "Ronald George--Jewish," and "Kathryn Werdegar--Female." Case closed.

The lack of a Christian White Male is important to the German hotel because
it was Christian White Males who founded this country, and it is unfair to completely passover [sic] them, to the detriment of our legal system. Also, overall, they seem to be the one [sic] with the most potential to be a scholarly ethical jurist [sick], and less likely to engage in shenanigan [sic], based on history and empirical evidence. Putting aside, of course, wise Latina females.
Zing. Once again, hard to argue with that evidence. We all know that Christian White Males are unlikely to engage in shenanigan. Everyone knows that, because of all the history and empirical evidence. Isn't that right, Ku Klux Klan? Like just the other day, I was talking to my White Christian Male friends, and I asked, "Hey, do you guys feel like engaging in any shenanigan today?" And everyone just busted up laughing because of how absurd that is. "Leave that to the Armenians!," Tom said, and everyone nodded in solemn agreement.

2) Justice Carlos Moreno. Now I know what you're thinking. "What could the Germans possibly have against Justice Moreno? He's on the short list to replace David Souter!" Well hold onto your dreads, hippies, because apparently he "is not a known legal scholar and was appointed because he is a Latino!" I hate when that happens. It's like, why go through all this trouble to follow the Constitution by electing a legislature that confirms judicial nominees after holding lengthy hearings where everything they have ever done or written is put on trial, if we're just going to undermine that process with this ridiculous Latino loophole?

And not only that, but apparently last year Justice Moreno "exercised his power to officiate weddings in order to marry two homosexual men." I may not understand all the powers our country grants to non-legal scholars solely on the basis of their race, but entering into a plural gay marriage strikes me as a clear abuse of position.

3) Drum roll. I know you thought the last two issues were quite serious, what with our state's highest court being entirely run by unqualified non-White-Male engagers in shenanigan, but the third point is the hotel's "most serious concern," and rightly so. Ron George, the 27th Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, lives in... wait for it... Beverly Hills. 9021-freakin'-0! Right next to Tori Spelling, the talking chiuauas, and Hitler's ghost (probably!). This is "very odd and improper," and "tends to raise concerns about his personality, character, and world view." Obviously.
Our guess is that he likes to hang around the rich, famous and the powerful, shop at Rodeo Drive, and eat at fancy restaurants.
Guess?! He's probably wearing diamond-encrusted leather chaps and a chinchilla coat under that robe!

His residence in Beverly Hills had led to all sorts of problems, including a preclusion for taking bribes, nepotism, and upholding a light sentence for an attacker of Jewish men.
So if you are a Jew (and many of you are) or other minority, think how would you like to be in the position of the victims of said assault.
That's right, all you Jews and other minorities (aka "many of you"), you have a duty to your ethnicity to oppose diversity on the Supreme Court and these egregious injustices against Christian White Males! So says the Madison Hamburg. Four stars.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Curious George Explores Initiatives

The Supreme Court of California will be at Boalt Hall on Tuesday to hear argument in Booth (our condolences to the Justices) and to field questions from students. For those interested in California government, democracy, or a sane and rational universe, the visit presents a grand opportunity to ask Chief Justice George about his views on the California ballot initiative process.

I posted about this a few weeks ago and was promptly shot down in the comments, but I continue to find remarkable the energy Chief Justice George is putting forth here. Consider the op ed he authorized for publication in Sunday's SF Chronicle. His are strong words:
Initiatives have enshrined myriad provisions into California's constitutional charter, including a prohibition on the use of gill nets and a measure regulating the confinement of barnyard fowl in coops. This last constitutional amendment was enacted on the same 2008 ballot that amended the Constitution to override the California Supreme Court's decision recognizing the right of same-sex couples to marry. Chickens gained valuable rights in California on the same day that gay men and lesbians lost them.
Setting aside the proper legal status of animals (about which I have no comment), it seems clear to me that he is correct: the ballot initiative process is cancerous to healthy government, is threatening to kill the state, and — along with 90% of the legislature — should be trashed for the mad-science-experiment-gone-awry type of governmental Frankenstein it has become.

I suspect, however, that at least a few of my fellow students at Boalt disagree. If you are among them, then please: pop the question on Tuesday afternoon and (politely) challenge his views. My guess is the Chief Justice would welcome it.