Monday, November 22, 2010

Bar Results Open Thread

The July 2010 bar results have been released. It seems like Boalt's passage rate was pretty high, so kudos to many of you. I think all of us also know people who got bad news on Friday, though, which makes this period very bittersweet and emotionally confusing. I hope everyone remembers that tests like these are imperfect measures of almost nothing. Let's just be there for each other. Feel free to discuss your thoughts and feelings below.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

For the Rest of Us...

Apparently, immediately after the end of the bar exam--in the very moment when our reserves of conscious thought had been completely exhausted--the geniuses at the California Bar "reminded" us to hold onto some magical white card that has our applicant and file numbers on it, which we will need to access the website where results will be posted tonight. Some people still have those cards. This post is for the rest of us.

An astute commenter in a thread below found an e-mail from Examsoft (subject: Confirmation of SofTest Installation for the July 2010 California Bar Examination) that lists an applicant number and a file number. I have confirmed that the applicant number is the same number we used on the exam, but no one has yet been able to confirm that the file number is the same.

Can some well-organized savior who has both the magical white card and that Examsoft e-mail confirm that the file numbers are the same in both? I would just wait until tonight and hope for the best, but someone just told me that if you don't pass the exam, the website will say something like "file not found," which is probably the same message we'll get if we have the wrong file number. See the problem? Help appreciated.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


As many of you may be most painfully aware, this coming Friday is bar results day for us wonderful Californians. Please feel free to post your thoughts/anxiety-driven rants in the waning days of being a non-lawyer. Good thoughts to all . . . even you dirty liberals.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dean's Lunch -- Liveblog

Sorry guys, running a couple minutes late, here we go

12:49: There are 30 people here, mostly three Ls and professors.
12:49: Dean seems tired, or disappointed with turn out. Still talking about our steady curve of tuition expansion as well as expansion of LRAP and financial aid targeted at need.
12:50: As tuition has been going up, diversity has not gone down. People still like our rank, and that we're "cool," ... and the rankings
12:50: Faculty hires have gone up 35 this past year -- while general faculty on the rest of campus has most definitely NOT been rising.
12:51: Faculty hiring though was getting us out of a hole. 7 years ago we were 128 w/ re student-faculty ratio.
12:52: Other part of investment went to fiscal planning.
12:52 As per KVDH (my hero) email, hallway will be open for new semester
12:53: Long term problems: in 1990, state share of budget was 90%, today it is 25%. This in conjunction with Alums feeling the belief that this was a public school and thus not giving at a rate comparable to other schools.
12:54: The reg and ed fee that we pay to campus is about equal to the amount of state support we now get -- thus, it is kind of a wash. State pays us, we pay the school (instead of the state having to), we raise fees.
12:56: Giving has contracted a bit with the recession but may be picking up
12:57: Currently, we are raising more from Corps and Foundations than we had expected. 40% of budget comes from fees; 30% comes from alumni -- oo, couldn't see that slide good or do other things good either.
12:58: Q: Why are research centers included in student services? A: they are not; neither is library, oddly.
12:59: Tuition this year 44K, 10K to campus, 34K stays. Next year: plan for last several years has been to increase our pro degree fee to 35K, reg ed fee will (assuming the regents vote as expected tomorrow) go up; he's trying to make sure that we get to keep any increase that happens with that general reg-ed fee.
1:00: We have been comparing ourselves to the other "so called publics" in the top 10 (VA and MI). MI has been pegged to 5-10% below average of privates, VA has been slightly below MI. DE advocated for MI tuition or 5-10% under private. The reasoning: be a top 10 law school.
1:02: His strategy has been to keep us T10, give scholarships, and invest in LRAP
1:02: Increase in pro degree fee is going to: 1) cover inflation (things we currently use pro fee to support increase w/ inflation (e.g., salaries), so we have to keep up; 2) 40% back into financial aid; 3) remainder is cost of bonds we got for the reconstruction. NOTE: for the 125 million in construction, the state gave us 1 million. Ten years ago UCLA did a similar thing and it was almost entirely paid for by the state. Now, state only really pays for seismic stuff -- and we are quake-proof already
1:05: Q: is increase in reg ed pushing our overall thing over the planned t-10 minus 5-10%. A: no, we are just making cuts instead -- e.g., teachers.
1:05: Q: Will fees ever go down if recession goes away? A: Probably not. State will not give money to higher ed, just to prisons. Hmm, moral, get arrested?
1:07: Median income for our grads is about 4x median income across state; for SacTown, to fund us is to tax the rest of the state for people who as a general matter will be better off.
1:09: Hey, we'd sell the name of the school for around 9 figures. Google Law at Berkeley?
1:11: Q: how much of the research centers is covered by the general Boalt budget? A: the research centers get about 300K a year out of our 78 million budget -- I think I heard that right
1:13: Q: Where does our money go? A: State money goes almost entirely to pay faculty salaries and librarians -- covers about 60% of faculty salaries; everything else at the school is paid for by us and alums. Much of what we pay could be paid with state or our money, they are fungible.
1:15: People are being really civil, this convo is much better than I'd imagined, kind of a piss poor showing in terms of students though.
1:17: Enter D. Tomi*aga -- how do we compare w/ peers w/ re aid? Other schools are tight lipped (pause) by design (b/c they are tied to admissions).
1:19: Someone is knitting. I used to know how to knit. I used to know how to do a lot of things. Now i just law, and self loath.
1:21: Why do the other law school accept their fees? MI and VA get no help and pay a tax to central campus. They started doing this -- and the alumni fundraising -- in the 80's and 90's. We were flat during that whole time -- kind of our awkward teenage years if you will
1:22: There is literally a 1-1 ratio of faculty to students here. I'm counting the knitting girl as faculty (obviously)
1:23: Edley is getting impassioned. He thinks that there is a reason that there should be a top ten law school at Berkeley and in CA. That the opportunities to work within the UC community deserve a top 10 law school. "We are no longer publicly funded but we can still have a public mission and public values."
1:28: Q: Financial aid: 1) 40% of fee increase back, are we meeting this? 2) Need based financial aid has gone down for most, wtf? 3) Are LRAP commitments sustainable ITE? A: 3) We don't know, we are worried. We think that large firms will pick up (it has dropped 10% over last 2 years). 1) This year: 45%, next year 42%. Hmm, confused Petch. But note, this number may go down if we get a lot of targeted aid donations from alum/corps. 2) We are trying to keep pace. Fin aid pays for: LRAP, ooo shit, I totally spaced out
1:35: Oh, snap. Guy just called Dennis Toma*ga "Dean Tom."
1:36: Reason fin aid isn't all need based is to have diversity of people who are cool and to get navy seals. We don't use matching just to get people with high LSATs.
1:37: Q: Will there be a mid-year fee increase and is this settled? A: He hasn't and won't ask for more than the multi-year plan; the variable is the reg/ed fee. He thinks we should be exempt. Tomorrow they plan an 8% increase in reg/ed. He does not want to do mid-year fee increases. He asked for 1K last year.
1:37-1:48: bicker. bicker.
1:48: What's going on with capital campaign? Things are hopefully picking up! We need for anxiety in legal profession to die down. They want to know where the bottom is (isn't that what grindr is for?).
1:52: Before things started getting better (most.overplayed.expression.of.the.year.) the reading room carpet looked like Jackson Polack, there were 30 types of chairs, and KVDH says that they were all broken. I know I asked this as a 1L, but seriously, how is her hair so perfect and shiny?!
1:53: Why should 3Ls give? It signals to alums that students believe in the school and that they have to step up.
1:56: LAST Q: Will we maintain pace with the other T10 schools? A: Yes. We are getting rockstar faculty (I'm looking at you SM), our students keep getting better (if way more annoying), and we're on good pace (even if this state is broken).



But What About the Proletariat?

I think that this letter is pretty silly. With that out of the way, here is the open letter from Berkeley Law Organizing Committee (BLOC) to Dean Edley:
No More Futile Discussion With Administrators. Action. Disruption. Reclamation.

Dear Dean Edley,

We sincerely hope that in the moments leading up to tomorrow's UC Regents meeting, you took time to pause and consider the real human impact of the Law School's privatization program. Before we came to Boalt, we considered ourselves to be human beings and were attracted to this school in our capacity as such. Now we know that everything we were told about Boalt is an empty promise and that we are in fact nothing more than biological collateral for federal loan dollars being spilled into ill-conceived expansion projects that have little to do with the quality of our or anyone else's education.

As you write to invite us to another Student Town Hall, we submit that our participation within this institution is now, just as it has been, barely a courteous formality. The one hour meeting offered by the law-school administration, we are told, provides “an opportunity for the community to discuss the overall state of the law school as well as student fees.” At least you are honest enough to concede that nothing we say at the Town Hall will have any effect on how the law school is actually run.

There is nothing to ‘discuss’. If privatization is a certainty, then so is insurmountable student debt, the evisceration of workers’ rights, the subordination of human need to the logic of the market. This is a future we will not accept. Privatization in an economy with rapidly decreasing real wages and insurmountable loan debt is guaranteed student death. We refuse to die. Since the administration has already implemented its project of privatization, our only choice is to halt its progress and work to destroy the process itself. So on November 16 and 17, 2010 we will.

We do appreciate that you are taking the time to tell us ‘how it has to be.’ Yes, we are told, fees have to go up, workers are going to be laid off, and financial aid, a full 50% of it in most cases, must be reduced to fund Capital Projects, the bloated salaries of the rapidly-expanding administrative class, and all the other expenses associated with transforming public education into a branded commodity. Privatization, you never forget to tell us, is not a choice but a certainty.

As you pressure the Regents to approve ever more draconian wealth-extraction policies to fund pet capital projects, please remember that the party will not last forever and that the financial numbers along with public policy are most assuredly going to catch up with public university administrators everywhere. While we know that your lofty salary will permit you to retire well before you have to face any real accountability, our only hope is that your legacy reflects as much as you deserve. We will be sure to think of Boalt every time we make a monthly student loan payment on a public interest salary that we fully expect will only decrease in real terms over the coming decades. For a little background on why we think what we do, please consider two things: 1) that the LRAP program produces the highest benefits for those with the least amount of debt (thus those with the most means) and is increasingly relying on speculative federal subsidies despite gargantuan increases in law school revenue, and 2) this informative letter by Prof. Bob Meister:

Regardless, our fates as current students are sealed and no platitudes about a “public mission” or “public interest” will dissolve the ridiculous debt that the vast majority of us will labor under for the next 25 years. When state capitalism collapses, we would dance on the ashes of this inane privatization project, but there is every indication that we will be taken down along with the rest.

Students! Stop the fee increases by shutting down the administration and the Regents! Enough is enough! We will see you at California Hall -- Tuesday, 6:30AM; & Noon Rally. We will see you at the Regents’ meeting; Wednesday 8:00AM, UCSF Mission Bay Campus.

Berkeley Law Organizing Committee (BLOC)
This letter employs quite a bit of inflammatory rhetoric. I guess the biggest gap I see in BLOC's reasoning is that it makes sense that law school fees would increase due to the over saturation of the legal market with lawyers. In a normal world, that price increase would reduce demand for legal education, and then go on to remedy the overproduction of lawyers.

I am sure you denizens of Nuts & Boalts have your own opinions an analysis; post them in the comments!

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Do Tell

I want to pass along this great article by my good friend Daniel Redman ('08) and fellow Boaltie Ilona Turner on DADT. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

TSA Sees London, France, Etc.

A nation-wide chorus of dissent over the TSA's exciting pornographic screening procedures has been building for a while, but this week, it seems to have reached a tipping point. That's largely thanks to this blog entry and accompanying video, which nicely illustrate the ridiculous catch-22 the TSA has created for anyone who wants to get on a plane without exposing themselves or having their genitals caressed (although, to be fair, how often do you get to do either of those things legally, in public?).

The blogger Kenneth the Page, positioning himself as the Rosa Parks of this particular civil rights crusade, opted out of the "Airplane"-inspired boob scanner and found himself subject to an even more invasive patdown that would include some touching of "his junk." When he attempted to refuse both procedures and simply leave the airport, he was threatened with a $10,000 fine and "civil suit," although this was probably just a bluff by an especially stereotypical airport security person. maybe not just a bluff.

My initial response to this controversy was to mock people overly concerned with it. You have to admit, there is an element of narcissism in fearing that a TSA worker who sees thousands of greyed-out faceless naked people on his computer screen every day would get it up for YOUR PRECIOUS BODY. I was swayed, however, by the blogger's tale of misery and by findings linking the penis detectors not just to embarassment, but to cancer.

Luckily, I'm not alone. Hatred for the new TSA procedures seems to be one of those rare causes that can still unite liberals and conservatives, with anti-scanner headlines dominating both the Drudge Report and my leftist friends' facebook feeds for most of the week.

All of this has culminated in the scheduling of a national "opt-out" day for the day before Thanksgiving. Travellers are encouraged to opt-out of the scans in favor of the patdowns, which are time-consuming and will likely create costly backups at major airports on the year's busiest travel day. Travellers are also encouraged to slyly wink at their TSA agent as he approaches the aforementioned "junk," just for kicks. Whether these delays will cause more frustration for the TSA or average Americans who don't care about this issue remains to be seen. But for now, I'm in favor--if only because America could really use a win on a nonpartisan civil rights issue right now, no matter how small (no pun intended).

UPDATE: We seem to be in agreement that no one likes the scanners. Also, they don't save money or time. On top of that, they don't see through skin or detect metal, so it's debatable that they are any more effective than older systems. Why, then, is the TSA so gung ho about keeping them? Oh that's right, lobbying.

BHSA Town Hall -- the Liveblog

50 minutes and counting until the fun starts. Two live blogs in two days this week folks, get excited.

12:44: BURRITOS?! Hurray!
12:45: About 25 people here, including B*ll Fr*edman -- the oldest person in the world
12:46: Hmm, mostly 2Ls in here, some 3Ls, some stranger danger.
12:47: Wise observation from my handsome lady neighbor, "Room full of people who got roped into doing funding for their organization." I know I'm cursing that decision ...
12:49: M*ndi! Looking excited as always, sitting in the jury box. I pity the fool of a counsel who ever let her get past voir dire.
12:50: Oh sh*t, it's starting and I haven't finished my burrito
12:51: We're doing curriculum committee and GA funding, I assume we're doing GA funding second b/c they don't want EVERYONE to leave after the funding part
12:52: T*ny and D*n from curriculum. T*ny is awesome, he gets my vote for student rep of the year
12:53: They are talking about faculty development - they want round tables (no more square tables!). My attention is divided between this and my burrito. Burrito is winning.
12:55: Any thoughts on how teacher's could get better? Let T*ny know! Also, they'll be sending around a survey monkey who will be asking a couple of really simple questions. See the monkey, answer his questions.
12:57: Hm, we want 1Ls to feel MORE comfortable with talking in class -- that seems like the exact opposite of how I remember 1L -- and by 1L I obviously mean BizAss
1:00: And M*ndi FTW: "How much buy-in do you have from faculty? Do they really want to change? ..."
1:01: She is astounded by the questions she gets asked by adjuncts -- like, "how do I grade?"
1:02: FILL OUT YOUR STUDENT EVALS OR DIE!!!! Especially the student-to-student part.
1:03: On a similar note, did anyone else note that only 38% of eligible SF county voters voted in the midterms? At least folks got this voting right:
1:04: D*n's got a bit of a mustache going on -- I wonder if it's for Movember ( or just for hipster cred (
1:08: oh, IMPORTANT note: Professors DO NOT have access to your reviews until ALL of their final grades are in. So, nothing you say will be held against you in grading.
1:10: This is boring, I'm bored
1:15: OKAY, FUNDING STUFF. I'm already confused. There is a board that looks like 1L civ pro w/ Trist*n Gr**n
1:16: M*nica is explaining the history of funding cuts last semester; we have a new method this semester; grad students are divided into super groups; we are law super group (and, now I'm embarrassed). Our money is minimized b/c of this super group stuff. It will effect round 3 funding.
1:18: Note, resolution 1009d happened this summer -- it was based on last year's participation or this summer's when we were at work.
1:19: Good question from the audience, "what are we doing now?" Answer: we are trying to have a voice in committees but right now everyone hates us at the GA b/c we caused such drama earlier
1:20: We are thinking about just pulling out of the GA (that's what she said?) but this is a big process and would take a ton of time to think through it
1:24: Who's the quiet handsome guy up at the front? Is that what 1Ls look like now, and if so, why haven't I been going to bar review
1:25: Okay, you may be able to supplement your GMER (general GA funding) with some of the grants and special GA funding. I'm pretty sure this is all on the GAs website though. Q from audience: can't we just make the admin cover the difference, at least now? A: hmmm
1:29: I think we might really be talking about money right now. There are four funding awards: 1) GMER (food) not merit based; 2) Grants (1 per semester in one of three categories) has some merit; 3) Travel; and 4) Contingency: this is for emergency exciting events and software.
1:32: They're sending out a sheet with all the info we need; and a couple people will be having office hours to help treasurers. I'm officially redundant. And ... PETCH OUT.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Paranoia and Prognostications (About Fees)

Maybe it's because of last year's uproar over student fees, maybe it's because Dean Edley seems to be using the vaguest possible language short of "meeting... come if you want", but today's email from DE seriously creeped me out:

Subject: Town Hall with Dean Edley - 11/16/10, 12:45pm, Booth Auditorium

Dear students:

I write to invite you to attend a Student Town Hall. This will be an opportunity for the community to discuss the overall state of the law school as well as student fees. The meeting takes place next Tuesday during the lunch break.

Student Town Hall
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Booth Auditorium

Christopher Edley, Jr.

By itself, the email seems mundane enough. But that's the problem: this time last year, students were just learning about larger-than-anticipated fee hikes... hikes to the tune of 22% (for residents), that took many by surprise and caused a great deal of frustration (although as a concession to Armen, it's true that information surrounding proposed hikes had been circulating for some time.) What followed was a week of student "strikes" (or were they boycotts?) and a hastily-planned Town Hall wherein Edley addressed a large group of fired-up law students, who came equipped with red and green signs that said things like "I agree" or "Are you kidding??"

Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but DE's email announcement of this year's Town Hall struck me as purposefully understated - the kind of half-assed due diligence that someone in the school administration can point to after a fee-bomb drops and say, "Hey, we invited you kids to the Town Hall. Remember?"

There's no question that fees will go up this year. But DE's vague email sparked my curiosity about just how big this year's fee hikes might be. On November 8, President Yudof issued an open letter to the campus community detailing a proposed systemwide fee increase of 8%. But the letter didn't mention professional fees... so after (very little) sleuthing, I dug up the 2011-12 professional fees budget proposal that the UC Regents will be voting on next week. Specifically:
Law (Berkeley – 12 percent increase in 2011-12).

Berkeley Law plans to use new professional degree fee funds to substantially expand its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) offerings and a larger financial aid program, fund six new faculty, pay debt service on new construction and renovations to the law school complex, and expand public interest and public service career programs. Berkeley Law has recently overhauled its financial aid programs and provides “substantially greater assistance to students from low-income families…. [Berkeley Law] return[s] more of our tuition to students in the form of financial aid than any of our competitor institutions,” although student debt has risen in recent years. The program has seen “no statistically significant change in our minority enrollment since fees started to rise seriously in 2003-04” Enrollment of underrepresented minorities at Berkeley Law has been between 14 and 17 percent since 2005. Berkeley Law’s total proposed charges for 2011-12 are projected to be below the average charges at its public comparison programs.
So there you have it - the relevant details that DE should-have-maybe included in his email. If you're interested in discussing this proposal further, I recommend attending the Town Hall. Last year's was actually pretty fun. :)

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One Week Left!

Unfortunately, California doesn't seem to be as incompetent as New York, which means we still have to wait out the final week. How's everyone holding up? One minute I feel fairly confident, and then the next I shat and get a legal. It's just plain cruel to make people wait four months for results to come out. I find myself preparing for the worst, thinking "well, I'll just take January off and start studying over Christmas break", but the thought of spending another 8 weeks doing that very nearly makes me lose it. I've done my best not to forget what I learned in June-July, and I imagine that if I do pass, one of the best parts will be reformatting C.

Anyway, I'm nervous. Am I alone?


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Big Thanks

A lot of people have asked me how much money was raised at the BLF Auction on Saturday. I'm happy to report that close to 500 people attended and our net profits were over $35,000. This is a marked increase in support and it means that there will be at least three Phoenix Fellows in the class of 2014.

This success is largely due to the generous donations of local businesses and faculty members, along with the high attendance and competitive bidding of students. It's so great to see Boalt students and faculty come together to support diversity and public interest.

Professor Tall*y wins the award this year for Top Auction Prof, bringing in $1600 (along with Professor Lest*r) for a murder mystery dinner and $300 for a poker night along with three other profs.

Thanks to all who attended, supported, and purchased!


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pop a Squat

In the early days of property, I remember Professor P*terson struggling to explain the social benefits of adverse possession. I personally found it very difficult to comprehend of any situation in which some douche bag tresspassor should have legal title over the true owner. This morning, however, I found the closest argument against my position here.

After reading this article, and having spent a fair amount of time in areas with huge numbers of not just vacant buildings, but severely damaged, clearly abandoned buildings, I started to wonder if adverse possession may serve some useful purpose in today's non-agrarian society.

Then I remembered that I hate poor people, and realized that no, no it doesn't.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Ethics for Dummies

I have it on good authority that this picture was taken outside the MPRE test center in San Mateo:

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hide Your Kids. Hide Your Wife. Hide Your Husband.

Oakland won't be happy.

Johannes Mehserle received a sentence of 2 years, but also with 292 days already served. Considering he is eligible for parole at 365 days, this results in a fairly light sentence.

I will update this post with more information as it materializes, but let the discussion commence!

Update: SF Chronicle reports Protesters massing in Oakland as businesses close.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Is the Rumor True?

I heard a rumbling that starting this year WOA will be a graded course. Is that true?

If so, I feel that is great news. For better or worse, and despite our occasional posturing to the contrary, grades do motivate Boalties. Because I feel that WOA and LRW are the most foundationally useful classes in the 1L lineup (civ pro is a close runner up) any added anxiety will be worth it. Better to fret over how to synthesize cases and express an argument than over the application of economic theory to contributory negligence.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

No "Wave" in California

Governor Jerry Brown. Senator Barbara Boxer. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. Attorney General Kamala Harris (probably). In an election where the phrase "RED WAVE" was ubiquitous, California remained a solid wall of blue.

The results were striking. Underfunded uber-incumbent Jerry Brown beat gazillionaire outsider Meg Whitman by 12 POINTS in a year when anti-incumbancy red was the color of our national mood ring. Hardline right-winger Carly Fiorina also failed to beat perpetually unpopular liberal Barbara Boxer by double-digits in the year of the conservative uprising.

So what's the deal? Has California become bluer or did the GOP just select a truly horrible crop of candidates?

Regadless, it will be interesting to see how this new regime goes about trying to fix our seemingly irreparable state. They'll have some help with Prop 25, which finally got rid of the ridiculous 2/3 requirement for passing a budget (despite these horrible ads). But the ties around their hands also got two new knots with Props 26 and 22. These prohibit the state from raising fees without a 2/3 majority or taking local funds, even during fiscal emergencies. So sure, the Democrats can now pass a budget, but they'll have a devil of a time finding any means of funding it.

My take: the fact that all three of these seemingly at odds propositions passed is just further evidence of how stupid it is to put these issues before the electorate. I am not saying a rational arument can't be made for each individual proposition, but I seriously doubt the same majority that voted to ease budget gridlock also wanted to further gum up the revenue stream. I suspect many people simply thought "Oh, I want a budget. Yes on 25." "Ew, I don't like fees. Yes on 26." Issues that complicated demand deeper thought.

How do you feel about this election? Let's have it out below.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Liberal in Winter

They might win tomorrow, but we won tonight. Enjoy your evening, W!

Her Day in Court

I have to give law school props for trying and, in some measure, succeeding. I went in a dedicated liberal hippie do-gooder and came out another Big Law first year associate, going to work in my black suits and white shirts and carrying the obligatory black umbrella. I was pleasantly surprise to discover the other day that I have not entirely gone over the the corporate world.

I went down to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit my first week of work, along with the other shiny young things in my department. Among the arguments we heard was a case involving a Bernie Madoff like Ponzi scheme. The case had gone into receivership, and the appeal was from a woman contesting the receivership plan.

Like pretty much everyone else in the case, she'd lost everything. She was representing herself, because she didn't have the money for a lawyer. Her argument was basically that since she was the last person to invest in the scheme, and since her money had been deposited less than twenty-four hours before the bank froze the account, and since the account still contained more money than she'd put in, she should get all her money back.

Listening to this woman, who had no idea of how the legal system worked or what the law dictated, stand before the court and argue that they should give her money back because that would be fair, was heartbreaking. The problem was that the judge in the trial court had tried to do what was fair - to give all the investors something, even though it would only amount to cents on the dollar. It was hard not to sympathize with her, though, because if she had just put the money in a little later, or if the bank had waited a little longer to clear it, or if the SEC had moved a little quicker, she wouldn't have been standing in that courtroom.

The trial court's ruling was upheld, of course. It's not like the Second Circuit could have done anything else. Which makes me hope that when she got the ruling, and realized she really had lost everything, she at least felt like she'd been heard.

Because sometimes that's all our system can do.