Monday, October 11, 2010

On Outlining

If you talk to most law students as their first semester starts to roll along, you'll probably encounter the subject of "outlining." It's a topic particularly near and dear to my heart because currently I'm mired in the practice of doing said outlining for my in-class practice midterm in Contracts. Which is tomorrow. >.<

Don't fault me though, I spent all break doing Torts outlining. I've been darn productive.

Anyhow, back to outlining.

It's an interesting paradox that my perception is that most law students produce documents which really don't look anything like the outlines of 5th grade, neatly typed up with happy little bullet points, and a concise 2-3 pages long. No, no. In law school, ones outline is actually a lumbering behemoth scores of pages long, encompassing every shred of knowledge you've managed to accumulate on the subject from your book, your notes, your friends notes, commercial resources, practice exams. When you work on The Outline, you do so with the prayer that successfully making the thing will be equivalent to successfully finishing the exam. All of us (or so I think) at Friendly School of Law grin and laugh at the labor and ultimate product being sunk in to the outlines, but really, just like neighbors who have just watched each other receive deliveries of various expensive home appliances, we quietly catalog each other's new assets and ponder how ours stack up.

In all of my classes, we're allowed full open notes, something of a blessing and a curse. Generally, there is no scenario in which using every resource one could during an exam period can lead to good things. The Law, even the tiny little slivers of it that get labeled and shunted into 1L schedules, like "Criminal Law" or "Torts," is huge. Unfortunately, exams are short. In the space of the 3-4 allotted hours, you could simply get lost in all of the theoretically helpful material that the no-limit rule allows you to bring. Which would be bad. Particularly if you were intending to do other things. Like write the exam. It seems to be a case as if all of us neighbors buying home appliances have unlimited money and can get whatever we like. Which is great, until you realize that you've now got to figure out where you're going to put your swimming pool-sized dishwasher.

I don't mean to say that I think that large or long outlines are a bad thing. My torts outline isn't even halfway finished (which is to say it's not entirely finished for this first half of the semester), but it's already something like 14 pages. I think the incredibly underrated key is organization. If you can actually _find_ something in that 100 page monster of yours, you'll be a much happier camper than if you're busy flipping through the whole thing page by page...

Meh. Nevertheless, at the moment it's not so much a big deal as it is a personal goal to get underway. Maybe I'll be slightly less miserable in November for doing some of this work now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On The Search For Meaningful Extracurriculars

So, sure, everyone likes to have fun. I'm certainly not an exception to that rule (for proof, just watch me playing Halo/Assassin's Creed for hours on end). But this is Professional School. And we have to be ever advancing ourselves towards successful careers in the field of law. Despite the School's Beer-And-Softball persona, we have to go out and find ourselves some Meaningful Extracurriculars.

I have an interest in doing corporate litigation once I leave here, so when I got in my mailbox a flyer for Trial Advocacy Team tryouts, I hastily went to sign up. The task was to come up with a 5 minute presentation arguing any subject one chooses, so long as you take a side. In my attempt to show how clever, creative, and brilliant I was, I put together an argument for why two birds in the bush are worth more than one in the hand. Once I had delivered my opinion, I was asked for a few minutes a series of random questions testing my ability to advocate against natural positions. I feel like I did fairly well, but unfortunately, I found myself competing against the rest of the Smartest Class In The History Of Ever, and didn't get an invitation to join the team. Luckily for me, there is also a Moot Court team, so maybe I can try my hand at some appellate argument and have better success.

I had a friend shake her head at my hellbent attempts to make my way onto some kind of team or Position of Responsibility. Maybe I'm over-stressing over the whole thing, but I don't think so. After an Undergrad career surrounded by other classmates who were trying to figure out the most direct path between them and New York Banking Job, I feel like I have a reasonable view of what it takes to succeed in a competitive environment. UVA may be incredibly collegial and filled with people who have smiling faces and genuinely care about their fellow classmates, but it's definitely competitive. It's a strange paradox that no one wants to be seen as the guy breaking form with the school mentality, but no one wants to be the person who gets left in the dust because they never did anything but camp out by the Thursday keg and play cornhole. It might just be that I'm a 1L, and haven't been properly acclimated to law school life yet. Even though I've been here for only half a semester, it sure feels like forever. Anyhow, for now, one problem at a time: I have a torts practice midterm I'm going to take in a little bit, plus a host of other things to do on my list.

Okay, okay, I'm not Dead...Yet.

So, a few days ago I got an email from an old friend demanding answers. Particularly answers as to why there have been no witty, brilliant posts from me about law school for the past month.

The answer is: Law School Is Freaking Busy.

Now, by busy, I don't mean overwhelming, stressful, and Un-Fun. Just busy. Between, stimulating classes and a lively section with lots of social events, I'm hardly finding time to sleep. Strangely, though, I have to say that while this is a level of busy-ness approaching my most taxing time back in Undergrad, I really really enjoy it.

Perhaps too much. Because I haven't been blogging.

I'll be better, I promise. For now, the blog posts may be short, but I'll do my very best to keep them regular-ish. There's a ton worth saying about law school though. So I wanna get to it. First return post in a minute.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Been a Long Time...I Shouldn'ta Left You...

So, I've been busy.

Ironically this means that there's plenty to converse about, but hardly any time in which to do so. Even now, I sit at my computer, it's a bit after 8, I have a ton of reading to do for classes which probably won't be keeping up with the syllabus yet again, and an LRW assignment to finish. Fun fact: this post will take several hours as I'll be slowly doing my assignments in between typing. Keep an eye out for updates!

Even that sentence has a ton of stuff I could spill out to you, oh bold reader, who hasn't quite realized that you, as a reader of this blog, are an endangered species, and will probably soon be tagged and paired with a fellow reader of the opposite gender in order to procreate and flush out my readership. I would have my people just clone you but I understand that that's still considered rather unsavory in some circles. Also, this way seems to be more fun for you, and I'm all about looking out for you guys. You're endangered.

Now. Onward!

So, Orientation wrapped up well. We ended early enough so that we could get to the first classes' reading assignments, which were, of course, posted online (and in an official-looking glass box in the law school). Back then we hardly knew each other. We were so young.* We all headed dutifully off to our various residences and sat down to do our very first law school readings.

[Pause here to do LRW...






...Anddd we're back online!]

So, you may not know this, but it's about a day later than before the break. >.<

Such is life in law school.

Now, let's talk about LRW, shall we? LRW stands for "Legal Research & Writing." It's our one and only practical skills class, currently. Essentially it's like a scavenger hunt in the library for a pass/fail grade. Our first assignment was simply to find cases relevant to a negligent misrepresentation on an employment reference. Because it's deemed that we should know how to get from point A to point B in a library without needing a seeing eye dog (though that would be an extraordinarily literate dog--and also probably kind an odd ball at parties**), we're not allowed to use computer resources except to print out cases (a merciful gift from our professor, who will let us print to the lexis and west labs, which have free printing). This meant that my "research team" of myself and two other students got down to searching the good old fashioned way: by picking our way through the ALR Quick Index trying to figure out what the heck we should be searching for. you know what the ALR is? I guess most of you are probably not fellow law students. Which means that my law school humor, and insistence on making law jokes is probably going to become confusing annoying or both. You may want to get yourself a copy of Black's. That's a law dictionary, btw. Anyhow, with that done, we simply had to cite all of the cases, ALR references, and a Restatement in proper Bluebook form. Easy right?

No. Wrong. SO WRONG. The Bluebook is a monster wrapped up in book form. No one but lawyers could conceive of a citation guide so detailed it goes into double subsections. So, instead of happily typing up my assignment, I spent the next few hours trying to successfully confirm that I was doing the bluebooking right. Which is ridiculous, because LRW is a pass/fail year long class. Honestly, we shouldn't stress about it. And yet there were plenty of section mates up to shoot emails back and forth to and GChat.

I sleep less that I probably should, every day feels like one of the more busy days of undergrad, I routinely expect two hours of reading per night per class, but I couldn't be happier. I think I finally found something I might be good at.

I meant to write more, but I've gotta read...I'll keep catching up soon.

*I know some of you may be saying "wait what?" "Back then" was two weeks ago. I have news for you. LAW SCHOOL SCREWS WITH YOUR SENSE OF TIME. So does looking, unshielded, into the time vortex. But that's another story....

** "Your petting me does not imply consideration for a contract of human/dog service. Your petting me constitutes a gift, and subsequent care-taking of you, the human, by myself, the dog, is without consideration, as there was no consideration even under the bargain theory, the most expansive conception of consideration, in which something must be sought and given to constitute proper consideration for a contract. Now give me food, I can't reach the table."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Musical Interlude! [Orientation Part 2, and My First Day to follow!]

Read this post to the tune of "Run this Town" by Jay-Z feat. Rihanna and Kanye.

For those of you who don't know, this is a reference to the practice "Gunning" (see earlier posts), this doesn't have anything to do with firearms or anything.

Gun This School

Feel a calmin' in the air,
'Cause the teacher's standin' there,
I'm addicted to the gun,
It's a dangerous love affair,

I'm not scared of the cold call,
And I won't be one to stall,
Only thing that's on my mind,
Is who's gonna gun this school tonight,

Is who's gonna gun this school tonight,
I'm gonna gun this school,

I am, yeah I said it I am,
Don't care much for students, think Proffessor's the man,
Forget about the question, I'm not done talking,
Points here, points there, I'm not done talking,

I run my own study group, specifically for gunners,
I would stay satisfied but I gotta one up,
This is my classroom, forget about the teacher,
Talk for hours like I'm a Baptist preacher,

Put your hands down, your question's so whack,
What, you don't look up every word in Black's?
Yeah I'm talking 50 section (A) section (1), Civ Procedure,
Judge reversed your verdict, you'd better reconsider.
Hold up,

School's a game, but it's not fair,
I break the rules so I don't care,
Ripping pages outta books,
Now we'll see how well you fare,

Sure it means I have no friends,
Throw decorum to the the winds,
The only thing that's on my mind,
Is I'm gonna gun this school tonight,

Hey, hey
Hey, hey
(I'm gonna gun this school tonight)

I am, yeah I said it, I am,
I know all the answers, do it like a grand slam,
I should work for Uncle Sam, I should go advise them
Tell them how to run the courts, I should go advise them,

Uh, huh, and ain't nobody smarter,
In all of North Grounds, I am such a baller,
In the classroom gettin' looks from section-mates, they jealous,
Ain't my fault they all just way too under-zealous,

And they ain't getting no grades,
When final exams come, I am gettin' all A's,
When their transcripts blow,
I'll be laughin' and enjoying my 4.0.

School's a game, but it's not fair,
I break the rules so I don't care,
Ripping pages outta books,
Now we'll see how well you fare,

Sure it means I have no friends,
Throw decorum to the the winds,
The only thing that's on my mind,
Is I'm gonna gun this school tonight,

It's crazy how you can go from being Joe Blow,
To being smartest in your class--no joke,
They applaud for me when I'm in Civ Pro,
Next time I'm in Crim, please no photos,

Laughs and snorts, man you don't even know Torts,
I have all the answers anyone could ask for,
It's a short class, maybe I should talk more,
Quibble over commas, for the next hour,

But i know that if I stay gunning,
All these firms only gon' want one thing,
I could spend my whole life "Paper Chase" running,
When I get my job my salary will be stunning,

I got a resume and a Harvard class ring,
As I'll be sure to tell you when I'm talking,
I take limos to class while y'all are walking,
It's okay, I understand--stand there gawking,

Don't give a crap about the drama that it might bring,
I'mma live till I die--straight gunning,
When teacher's talking, I am disagreeing,
Have you ever thought about the point I'm seeing?

What's that, huh? You think I'm wrong?
I'll have your job (Gun!) before too long,
I was sitting on supreme court when I wrote this song,
You think that you are gunning, huh? Too bad that you are dead wrong.

Hey, hey, hey, hey,
Hey, hey, hey,
We gonna gun this town tonight.
This blog is updated approximately whenever I feel like it. Those of you who expect some kind of schedule will be sorely disappointed, and probably don't realize how scatterbrained I am.

© TheSharklord. Yes, I reserve my rights. Look, touch, but do not steal. Or I will find you.