One fun thing about law school is the sense of perspective it gives.

Not in the “the trivial doesn’t bother me because I have seen what really matters” sense, but the familiarity you feel when reading the news. Legal issues, cases, doctrines, processes; the names in stories about, say, the Affordable Care Act (I wonder why I chose that flashpoint. It’s not like it’s relevant now. Hm. /sarcasm) all of a sudden have relevance. Wickard, Raich; the precedent the Supreme Court is deciding to abide by or overturn are actually cases I’ve  read. The Stand Your Ground doctrine at issue in the Trayvon Martin killing: I’ve read the legislative history and the policy concerns behind it.

There’s a whole class of articles and news that is much, much more interesting and comprehensible suddenly. An entirely new discipline to learn. It’s fun.

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Judgment Day Cometh

Brief due tomorrow, so an even briefer than usual post tonight.

The information regarding applications for journals next year is beginning to come out, and I wish it wasn’t. Exams are roughly a month away (too soon! And there’s too much to do in the interim in addition to frantic study!), and so the stress of the competition for Law Review is a completely unneeded and unwanted distraction.

Essentially, once the last day of finals is over, I’ll receive a packet from the Michigan Law Review that provides me with 200 pages of reading that must be synthesized into a coherent, insightful, and (here’s the kicker) Bluebook-cite-perfect persuasive argument in roughly a week. All of 40 people are admitted to Law Review each year, and judging from the attendance at a journal panel today at lunchtime, roughly 3/4 of the 1L class (maybe 270 competitors?) will be trying for it. That’s a lot of pressure, especially for someone like myself who can’t rely on his grades to get him through.

The other two journals I would be interested should I prove my mediocrity once again and fail to get on law review are the Journal of Law Reform and the Telecommunications and Technology Law Review. Neither have the prestige of Michigan Law Review, of course, but both are likely as well to be extremely competitive. And the prize for all this post-exam stress? A chance to spend 25-40 hours a week outside of classes and study time editing articles (Michigan Law Review publishes 8 times a year. That’s an astonishing amount of productivity, and probably a lot of late, late nights in the library stacks for associate editors).

Oh joy.

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Screw you, Felony-Murder

A heading in my Criminal Law reading for tomorrow: “Attempted felony-murder?”

My immediate response: %#$! you.

We spent three days on felony-murder earlier in the semester, which culminated in this easy-to-follow, wholly comprehensible chart for its application:

I’ll also give you a “clearer” version of said chart. No, it does not make things any easier on me, either. So no, I am NOT interested in seeing how “attempted felony-murder” complicates things, thank you very much.

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Giving Voice to the Voiceless

Those whom we would banish from society or from the human community itself often speak in too faint a voice to be heard above society’s demand for punishment. It is the particular role of courts to hear those voices, for the Constitution declares that the majoritarian chorus may not alone dictate the conditions of social life.

Justice Brennan – McCleskey v. Kemp (US 1987)

Seems particularly relevant today, considering the chorus on both sides of the Trayvon Martin affair. It’s a shame that the system too often protects those with the money to have a voice, instead of the voiceless.

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The Scale of the Universe

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In a funk.

Just a month left of classes in my 1L year, and there’s too much still left to do.

I feel very far away from everything right now.

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So I still think that I’m really good at the one thing in law school that really doesn’t help or affect my grade (and hopelessly mediocre at everything else): cold calls.

I got cold-called in Crim again today, and once again I felt like I made a pretty good showing of myself. I knew the cases, I knew the policy arguments, I’m not afraid to crack minor jokes, and I treat the entire experience as more of a dialogue with the professor than a top-down, test-me-on-my-knowledge grilling. I don’t generally get hung up on a question, or let the silence grow while I look for an answer/authority.  I don’t mind cold calls. I’m not really afraid of them.

I received notice that I did very well in my associate-to-partner research presentation simulation for legal practice too, likely because I treated it the same way I do cold calls. When I’ve done the research, taken my notes, know the cases, I can spit out something that sounds reasonably confident and informed, almost extemporaneously. That can perhaps be attributed to my teaching days, when I (sadly, and shamefully) prepared far too little for my classes and had to think on my feet to answer my students’ questions. I enjoyed that process, and I enjoy speaking to people about the legal research I’ve done as well.

Sadly, however, that does little for my grade (at least during this 1L year), since it has no bearing whatsoever on how well I do on the test. It also has little to do with the memos and briefs that I write, on which I’ve consistently (and oh-so-frustratingly) gotten B+’s. The latter can perhaps be attributed to my excellent legal practice teacher, who has set a new standard for me in the amount of time, effort, and care he puts into editing his students’ writings (for any context, let alone a legal one), but it still irritates me no end. Writing was supposed to be the thing I was good at, the thing that put me over the top! And yet when it comes to writing legal documents or law school tests, I cannot seem to break free from the pack.

Except when it comes to irrational confidence during cold calls. Sigh.

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