Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Legal Creativity

The professor who teaches my contracts class encourages creative submissions that comment on the cases we have read.

We read this case. I wrote this rap poem about it. The prof, much to his credit, assumed a hip hop artist's demeanor, and performed the poem, much to the delight of the class.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Law School Hijinks

I received this email today from the director of the First Year Writing Program at my law school. It's both disturbing and amusing.

The law school administration has noticed that an unnamed first year law student has posted flyers with the heading "Give me Proof," offering to pay another student "to proofread certain Legal Writing assignments." Paying another student to work on your legal writing assignments violates the school's disciplinary regulations. Any student found guilty of this practice will be subject to disciplinary action.

First year students are encouraged to meet with their Writing Seminar Teaching Assistants for help with their Writing Assignments. The TAs have been selected and trained to help first years to improve their writing skills. The TAs also know what the instructors are looking for in the assignments. Thus, paying a student to work on your paper not only violates the school's disciplinary regulations, it also is a waste of money and not a very effective way to produce a good final product.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More blogsense

I'm just not going to comment.

From my civil procedure class

We're discussing what the "use" means in the context of 18 U.S.C. 924(c): "Whoever, during and in relation to any crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime ... uses or carries a firearm, shall be sentenced ... if the firearm is a machinegun ... for thirty years."

The professor was, in his words, "trying to make you into connoisseurs of ambiguity." To this end, he solicited suggested meanings of "using" a machinegun in the commission of a crime.

One girl, a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, gleefully proposed a hypothetical, in graphic detail, of a cocaine dealer who would snort lines of coke off his fully-automatic AK-47 as traditional way of sealing a drug deal. The question becomes whether he was "using" the machinegun in connection to a drug trafficking crime. The answer on the part of everyone else was sustained laughter.

The professor then proceed to mention Justice Scalia's hypothetical of the criminal who only "used" his machinegun to scratch his head during the drug deal. The good justice concluded that such "use" didn't quite qualify as "use."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Why I hate Starbucks

(click for a full-size picture)

I like their coffee. I just hate their customers.


Overheard a conversation today between two college-aged girls on the subway:

"Stop holding on to my pants! You're going to tear them."
"I'll buy you a new pair if they tear."
"But I got these on clearance. It was the last pair."
"You want everyone on the train to know that?!"

Ruminations on education

In the system of American legal education, much emphasis is placed on the process of learning. It seems to me that this is in keeping with the goal of a legal education – to teach its students to think like lawyers. This process is complex, and perhaps a few definitions will help towards understanding it.

Knowledge can be seen as the ability to mentally retrieve information. When legal knowledge is challenged and defended, this leads towards a deeper understanding of and use for this knowledge. Yet, the ultimate ability to understand the law and to apply it to diverse cases requires one to “think like a lawyer” – or in the ancient sense – wisdom.

To facilitate the mental retrieval of information, one creates multiple mental connections to that information, which, in itself, is helpful. In law school, this is accomplished through complicated reading assignments, often discussing a sole concept from both case law and academic treatises. The Socratic method completes this process. It is a beneficial mental exercise, enabling the student to consider one problem from multiple angles, all the while refining the same underlying legal principles. This is legal wisdom – derived from information, through knowledge and ultimately understanding.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My own irrelevance

Paul Mirengoff of Powerline wonders if the liveblogging of the Roberts confirmation hearings is "the 61st minute for windbag senators." What ever happened to CSPAN 3? Also, each blogger has his own bias, not unlike the bias of the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. What's so special about bloggers?

My view is that blogging simplifies and diversifies the information dissemination process, but not to such a radical degree as to render either the traditional media or "windbag senators" obsolete. First, only people who are interested enough will read blogs and/or newspapers; they comprise a self selective group. Second, these people have, generally, their own biased opinions about the issues in general and senators and the nominee specifically, and usually turn to the media - including blogs - to validate these opinions with selected facts.

Judge Roberts

John Tierney, writing in the New York Times, proposes an unique line of questioning for the nominee for Chief Justice. Some of my favorites are:

When you were a clerk at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren Burger was disliked for his pretentiousness. What nickname did the clerks have for him? Burger King?

Does President Bush have a nickname for you yet?

When justices have birthday parties, should they invite all the other justices, or can they invite just the ones they like?

If Vice President Dick Cheney and Justice Scalia invited you duck hunting, would you go?

If Judge Judy isn't afraid of television cameras in her courtroom, why is the Supreme Court so chicken?

Ashley or Mary-Kate?

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Friday, September 09, 2005

En flânant à Boston

Flâneur, a sort of an observant pedestrian, alone in the crowd. I am an amateur flâneur, and here are some of my observations.

Boston is different from Hanover. Boston is not New York, and size is not the only differentiating factor. Boston is a place, Hanover is an idea. New York is both a place and an idea. Boston lacks the global mystique of New York, yet manages to fill that void with a tangible presence and notable absence of the overly processed and commercialized mystique of New York. Hanover is all mystique and little substance. If New York sells its soul and body, Hanover is a ghost that haunts those who leave, and Boston creates its soul from the reality of its inhabitants, neither imposing nor posing. If New York is a trendy club, defining by bling and bustle the behavior of its patrons, Hanover is a fraternity basement, an illusion created by an idea, and drawing the resultant masses with the Edenesque promise of coolness, knowledge and free beer. Boston is an old-fashioned pub, providing a framework for existence, nurturing its clientele, who in turn define this place that allows them to flourish as themselves.

Grad student...

I haven't updated this blog in months, and at the urging of several friends, I've decided to start again.

I just finished my first week of classes at Boston University School of Law. Academically, classes are stimulating, the reading is extremely dense; a 5 page reading assignment might seem simple, but it can take a full hour to read it twice, brief the case, and perhaps comprehend some of the issues the professor will extrapolate upon in class. At the moment I understand all the material covered thus far.

The students at BUSL are an interesting lot. If my writing seminar is a representative sample, the vast majority of 1Ls just finished undergrad in 2005. There are more females than males here, but several of the females are married/engaged (ring finger action). Nothing reminiscent of Legally Blonde yet, but there are some incredibly naive folks here, as made clear in class discussions, especially in criminal law, when we were discussing sentencing in light of retributive or utilitarian philosophical underpinnings.

Professors here seem to be left of center, but aside from calling certain theories as "forward-looking," the classroom scene avoids politics rather well. And no mention of the Supreme Court vacancies either.

One of the best things is that my weekend starts at 9:35am on Fridays. Except there's really nothing to do before the evening, so I plan to finish all my work for Monday in the next 6 hours or so.