Saturday, March 19, 2011

From The Hall*um Negotiation Competition

Happy Spring Break everyone. In honor of it, I'd like to show you what happened during the first round of the Hall*um Negotiation Competition. Thanks to Am*r and W*att for providing the link.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan: What You Can Do To Help

As the crisis in Japan continues to worsen, there are several ways you can help:

American Red Cross (Can specify money goes to Japan):

Japanese Red Cross, Unicef, Save the Children:

Boalt students organized by APALSA were able to raise $807 from a bake sale yesterday and the continued support from the Boalt community is something that I am sure is appreciated.

Additionally, I would consider taking a moment to reflect on the ongoing actions of the brave individuals who are likely performing a suicide mission in order to try and keep the damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant from melting down completely.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Love Potion Number ___

The WE RANK STUFF! magazine US News and World Report rankings are out. Talk amongst yourselves.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Congress needs to act, IMMEDIATELY

I hate few things more than Big-10 basketball. Hitler comes to mind, but even that may change after the embarrassment that was the Wisconsin/Penn St. game yesterday. Penn St. ended up winning by an incredible 36-33. Very seldom do collegiate athletes display such hatred for the sport they play. The 69 total points missed the O/U by a shocking 52 points.

Wisconsin made only one free throw the entire game! Come on Penn St., this is America, not the UK. Our bubbles are much smaller here, and it isn't considered rude to play a little physical defense. And don't get me started on Wisconsin - they won't even CONSIDER shooting until the shot clock is down to 3 or so. When you're shooting 9.5% from 3, this "let's take it slow guys!" approach may not be the smartest. Wisconsin scored TWO points in the first half of the first half. Penn St. scored TWO points in the second half of the first half.

Here are some fun numbers from the world of sports to compare to this act of treason:
1. There were 138 points (DOUBLE 69) scored when John Isner beat Nicholas Mahut in a TENNIS MATCH. This is a sport where you have to score at least 4 times to get a single point.
2. When the Red Sox completed their reverse sweep of the Yanks in 2004, a total of 86 runs were scored in the ALCS. I mean, this is baseball. I love baseball as much as the next guy, but you don't follow it for the high-flying offense.
3. There were 16 college basketball games yesterday alone that had more than 69 points scored by HALF TIME.
4. VMI scored 85 points in a single half against Central Pennsylvania this year.
5. I once bowled an 81 in a league game.

Anyway, I hope someone does something about this. I don't care who it is - Congress, NATO, Gabon, whoever. I also don't care what it is. Lower the shot clock to 8. Put live badgers on the court. Let the audience use those stadium t-shirt cannons to lob heirloom tomatoes at the players. Not even Pac-10 ball sucks this bad (and Pac-10 ball sucks pretty bad). I am hurt and offended that our leaders allow what frankly should be considered an act of international terrorism to occur. Anything less than the stocks or a pillory won't be enough.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Message From The Administration About Your Smoking Problem

Howdy folks,

It's your friendly, happy administration here letting you know that you need to stop smoking. Obviously, you cannot smoke inside. But, what we want to remind you is that you cannot smoke anywhere near the law school. Outside on the patio? Nope. On the sidewalk on Bancroft? Are you joking, you tobacco stained loser, of course not. Next to the Archeology building? Don't know where that is? I'm sure you do, you dirty, dirty smoker. Don't you dumb smokers know that smoking kills people. Smoking kills lots of people. It's probably already killed you, but you don't know it yet. God, I am so pissed! We live in a healthy, productive society and fuck you smokers for putting your smoke through our windows and in our vents and just making this world a dirty, unattractive place. So, guess what. We have a policy. Our policy is that you smokers should quit immediately. But, because we can't determine law school admission by smoking preference, we've decided that we'll just not allow you to smoke anywhere near the school. Got it?! Seriously, I'm looking at you, J*y.

Fuck it,
The Administration

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Monday, March 07, 2011

The Ugly Truth about Employment Statistics

First, a confession: I graduated from Boalt in May 2010, and I am unemployed. I got good grades. I have a solid resume. I was Editor-in-Chief of a Journal. I was on the AAJ Trial Team. I externed in federal court, interned in several public offices, and spent a summer at a big firm. I passed the California bar. I have applied to hundreds of jobs and worked dozens of personal connections, all without success.

Last week, in a hilarious turn of events, I was rejected from a VOLUNTEER position with a City Prosecutor's office. It's like if a guy came up to you and asked if he could just show up at your house and clean it for free every day, and buy you groceries, and kiss your ass a little, and you're like, "I'm sorry, there has been overwhelming interest in this position, and I cannot accommodate you at this time."

That, my friends, is the state of the legal market. That is the state of my life.

I bring this up not to bitch or engender pity. In fact, I remain fairly upbeat and optimistic about my future, despite mounting evidence that I should reconsider. No, I bring this up only as a warning to others following in my path. I want to give it to you straight, because I am not sure our school will do the same.

I have been fielding calls from the CDO this week. The calls go like this:
CDO: Hey Dan, I'm just calling to check in! What's your status?
ME: Well, still looking for a job. I tried [insert futile effort], but no luck there.
CDO: That's too bad. I can send you some links to help you search for alumni connections.
ME: Thanks, I'm sure that'd be helpful.
CDO: But Dan, do you have any kind of income right now?
ME: Does charity count?
CDO: Any kind of income at all--part time, contract work, even non-legal stuff? How are you getting by?
ME: Great question. I'll let you know when I figure that out.
CDO: Well, keep us apprised.
A while back, I read this article in the New York Times. It explains how so many law schools can continue to report 99% employment rates, even after an apocalyptic downturn in the legal market. Basically, they count anything: part time work, contract work, non-legal work, movie theater work, prostitution, even patent law. Also, if a student doesn't expressly report they're unemployed, the school will count them as employed.

I am not going to claim Boalt is guilty of the worst of these crimes. In fact, I think that just by calling to actually confirm that I'm unemployed, instead of taking a "no news is good news" approach, the CDO has gone the extra mile. But I also know that the CDO seems very concerned with whether I'm receiving "any income," and I know they didn't start calling this frequently until the numbers were due.

To some extent, this is just part of bureaucracy, and I don't mean to malign the hardworking individuals at the CDO or in the Berkeley administration. They have a tough job right now, and they really do try to help. At the end of the day, though, they're part of a system, and that system's survival depends on convincing people to come to law school, even when it's really not a good idea.

The fact is, no matter what anyone tells you, you can go to a great law school, do well there, work really hard to find a job, and still end up unemployed and living with your parents in your shitty hometown where you said you'd never return. I'm just saying, that can happen. You will probably learn a lot from the experience, and you will hopefully find a way to come out a stronger person. But I refuse to call this state of being "employed," and I don't think my law school should either.

UPDATE: I debated whether to share this, but I figure if you're going to publicly bitch about your life on a blog, you have some responsibility to share good news as well. After moving to my aforementioned shitty hometown, I did manage to secure a part time criminal law job that has full-time potential. It's a far cry from what I thought would be waiting for me when I started law school--and moving home is the one thing I said I'd never do--but at this point, a job is a job. Even if the statistics are misreported, you should take some comfort in the fact that there ARE jobs out there. They just might be pretty far away.

UPDATE II: In case anyone is still bothering to look this far down, it looks like some changes may be afoot in the way employment data is reported--although not soon enough. (via Armen.)

Friday, March 04, 2011

On the MPRE, Yet Again

This is one of those tests that going in, you have no idea what you need to do to obtain a passing score.  Things don't improve much during the test.  Nearly every question will feel like you're guessing within 2 or 3 plausible answers.  But then you get your results and see that you passed by an obscene margin.  Word to the wise, no more than one day's worth of studying, and even that's pushing it. 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Live Blogging the 3L "How do I be a grown-up?" Meeting

5:38. Decided to liveblog the private sector meeting
5.39: Jason De Lo*enzo, who is apparently the "3L Adviser" Nix that, GL Adviser is talking
5:39. JDL, the GL adviser, is kinda hot, right?
5:40: We're talking about Law Career Economics, IBR, Targeted Repayment, and Strategic debt reduction and other goals -- I assume by this he means not being miserable
5:41. Did you know, in 1992 average debt was 37K, now 109K -- yeah, that's my debt ...
5:42. People seem to have had a lot of hot dogs at the event before this
5:43. I'd say there's like 40 or so people here, pretty good showing. glad to have Johnica back from YouSeeDeeCee
5:44. We are now talking about IBR -- his slides are going to be available to us and I'll send them out to the 2011 list-serve.
5:46. Joe Ro*e is kind of ridiculously smart
5:47. None of this makes any sense to me -- Oh, Tall*y is talking! He asked if there were tax implications of taking an IBR subsidy. No one knows. WHERE IS GERG*N?!
5:49. Note that IBR applies to subsidized, unsubsidized, and grad plus loans
5:50. This is way above my head right now
5:55. Sorry, spent the last 5 minutes trying to find pictures of this guy on facebook -- successfully I may add
5:56. The most important thing to to w/ IBR is in your first year making sure that your adjustments are based on your actual returns b/c your pay stub is an inaccurate measure of your first year ability to pay. Really, this thing that he's talking about is really great.
5:57. Also, don't get married. What's that? You're gay? You win this round!
5:58. Everyone is laughing now b/c on his most recent slide the max debt they are even considering is 150K
5:58. Sara G* ftw: "I feel like I missed the pre-req for this."
5:59. Oh, note that the little trick at 5:56 only really helpf you for the first two years.
6:01. Oh, sweet, his thing now is talking about how to get rid of our expensive loans first. You're lender will generally put ALL of your loans onto the same cycle -- be SURE to put your high interest ones first.
6:03. Should we invest in stocks? Statistically, the stock market (S&P) has yielded 7.4% since 1940 whereas you get an 8.1% benefit by paying off your loans -- risk averse? Don't invest.
6:05. Should I buy a home? And if I do, what's the difference b/t putting 10% down and 0% down. The premium for putting 0 down used to be TINY, now, it's much higher (stupid financial crisis). It's a difference between $800 a year vs $9K/year now
6:07. Oh heeeey Prof. Bart*ett
6:07. Note that you can get out of IBR payment whenever you want, and you can also go back int it whenever you want.
6:08. So, this dude works for this: (based on his facebook profile which I totally didn't stalk ...)
6:09: TALL*Y: you are deferring interest in using IBR, but by so doing it is simple interest accrual NOT compound. WOW!
6:15. What about consolidation? If you consolidate, you lose the targeted reductions benefit.
6:15. TALL*Y: how many people in here would want to consolidate? Answer from everyone: ZERO
6:16. And, now the profs: (also, this guy is coming back in April) Now Tall*y: both him and Bobby (heart) had a much lower "real debt burden" (oh, Ta*lor with the party foul)
6:21. Tall*y: at what point do you take a slow route to repay in order to invest? You want the spread to be pretty decent, and that you REALLY want to diversity over time . Variable rates over time even out for those of us who are young (oh great, so all those straight through gunners get to benefit from this ... but then again, they never had a life and never will, so, you win some you lose some)
6:25. Consume things with durable appreciation value -- although if you understand what that means, you're probably fine
6:28. Check our firms 401K program and see if they have matching -- to the extent they have it, use it to the full! And to the max! Note that those contributions also reduce adjusted gross income. Once you don't get matching, it's not necessarily worth doing it in the first few years b/c our taxes are lower now than they may be when we are thinking of taking it out
6:30. Tall*y out, Bobby in: his experiences paying off his loans at Gunders*n. The secret to his success was that he drove a "68 Bel Air. He's also wearing jeans, I think? WORRY ABOUT THE GOLDEN HANDCUFFS! Firms want to make love to you, in that not lovey way. Speaking of lovey, hellllo professor.
6:34. Bobby: house as piggy bank. It's work, but it's worth it. Also, it's WAY easier to get used to new income than to downgrade, so don't upgrade until you actually have the money.
6:36. His first mistake, taxes his first year (he payed a "shit ton"): if you don't own a house you have very little to shelter your income. USE THE MED FLEX PLAN. HAVE BABIES! oh wait, DON'T have babies. Babies ≠ net gain.
6:37. Oh, also, you something about withholdings -- that I really don't understand.
6:38. W4 is your friend -- he changes each month (that's more often than I change my toothbrush, or sheets . . . err).
6:40. But watch out, your tax bill is going to give it to you really hard if you don't stay on top of this game -- a la Tall*y who got stiffed with a 15K tax bill
6:43. Get used to having a real budget ... boring ...

Oh, that's all folks. Hopefully this was helpful. We'll get you the slides and notes from this and from the public sector one. The videos will go up somewhere.

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I am Medicine and I am Poison

Rule number one of not getting yourself torn into little bitty shreds on N&B is probably to avoid making things too personal. I’m breaking that rule as I write this post tonight, which involves a topic that’s intensely personal to me—both as a budding young member of the legal profession, and as someone who just yesterday lost another family member to a needless disease.

That disease being, alcoholism.

To recap what most of us already know: Alcoholism, and other forms of substance abuse, disproportionately affect those in the legal profession. Most statistics show that substance abuse is twice as likely among attorneys compared to the general population, with about 18% of all lawyers admitting to having a problem with drinking (that number goes up to 25% if you’ve been practicing for 20 years or more).

Why lawyers are more prone to substance abuse is an interesting question. A 2009 article in the ABA Journal seemed to suggest that personality traits like perfectionism, overachiever tendencies and a workaholic nature may help high-functioning alcoholics succeed professionally despite their disease. Common sense offers other reasons as well: Low job satisfaction, being unable to function socially without alcohol, and depression.

Given these statistics, I'm disappointed by the lack of alcohol education at Boalt. We bury this issue in courses on professional responsibility (and let’s be honest, how many of us are even lucid in those classes)—or maybe an occasional message from our resident shrink. Meanwhile, the social culture here is unashamedly dependent on alcohol.

Let me make myself clear before I get added to some kind of “Kip’s Revolt” hit list. I’m not advocating against Bar Review, having a good time, etc. I am a social drinker myself, despite the heavy toll alcohol has taken on my family. But after two years of walking the halls—at a professional school, mind you—hearing “OH MY GAWWD I got so hammered last night!!” and getting emails from journals, plying me with “Free booze… oh, and did we mention, more free booze??” and attending meetings where red cups are being passed around under the tables, I’ve become concerned.

I don’t want to be preachy. I suppose I have no better takeaway for my fellow Boalties than just: Be careful guys, okay? If you have inklings that dependency might be an issue, look into it… the earlier, the better. And you aren’t alone… contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a disease that only affects 40-somethings. It often takes root in the behaviors of people in their 20s and 30s, who are under extreme stress (just like us).

As a final note, I’d caution against assuming that everyone around you likes to drink. Alcoholics, and those of us who have lost loved ones to the disease, are typically a silent bunch. We like to fit in, and fly under the radar. When you’re sharing stories about how funny and drunk you were, or insist that someone else have a drink, try to be mindful that some of your peers may be struggling already because of alcohol, in one way or another.