Category Archives: Law School

Surviving Sandy and Other Updates

It’s been almost two months since I last posted. Wow, this semester’s been kicking my ass, I guess.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy blew through here yesterday, with a little rain continuing today. The lights flickered once last night, but otherwise it was pretty uneventful here. Living downtown, all the power lines are underground, so I’ve never lost power in the six years I’ve been in DC. I haven’t gone out yet to see if there’s much damage with tree branches down, etc, but given the last couple of years of big storms and the dorecho we had this summer, I think all of the weak branches were already down.

I spent yesterday catching up on the pile of magazines that has been piling up all semester. Then I watched three movies:

I also cooked. Beef stew in the crockpot on Sunday, and chili, yesterday. Now the freezer is stocked, and I have food for the week.

The best part of Hurricane Sandy was that they closed everything yesterday and today: work, my trainer, school. I’ve had two days with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do! It’s been fabulous. I’m even going to celebrate by taking a nap later today.

My Birthday

Sunday was my birthday. I’m 41.

I had a small birthday party at my house on Saturday. It was a good excuse to clean up, throw stuff out, and invite some people over. There was a good turnout and I think everyone had a good time.

And mother nature gave me two days of relaxation, which is the second best present I got.

School

This semester has gone pretty quickly. We’re already in Week 11. I had one midterm, which I should get the grade for this week. Last year, I would have loved to have a midterm, so I had some idea what to expect on exams. This year, it was just a pain in the ass. For finals, we at least get about a week to study. For midterms, it was just business as usual: class on Tuesday, exam in class on Thursday. And a one-hour twenty minute exam isn’t very long for an essay. It was hard to get everything down and organized in that short amount of time.

We’re a week away from spring registration. I don’t think I’m going to try to squeeze all my classes into two nights. It hasn’t worked out as well as I had hoped. First, I still have to go in and do office hours for the law review. Since I don’t to do that from 9:30-11:30 pm, I end up going in a third day, anyway. And because I have to leave work early on Tuesday and Thursday, I end up having to work later on Wednesday, so I get home about the same time I would if I had class.

Oh well, I gave it a shot.

It’s almost November. That means I need to start thinking about outlines and studying for finals. So I don’t have to take much time off work, I’m hoping to get started earlier this year. Maybe I’ll at least be able to get some of it done ahead of time. Luckily two of my finals are at the end of the exam period, so that gives me some extra time, too.

I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to try to do a better job of staying on top of posting.

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Back to School

I’ve been back to school for two weeks, actually, but am just now getting a chance to catch up and write a blog post. Thank goodness for the three-day weekend.

It was kind of hard going back after having the summer off. I didn’t get as much done around the apartment or in DC over the summer as I had planned. It went so quickly!! I guess that’s ok, partly because it means I just wasted some time and relaxed. And, I did get a fair amount done.

This year, I only have class Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then go to school on Monday just for office hours for law review. Wednesdays I work later, head home and then go to the trainer. Last year I had class at 6 pm every night. While it’s nice to have a little free time, it’s been confusing because I have to keep track of what day of the week it is, and where I go on which nights. I double booked myself twice the first week getting used to the schedule.

I didn’t do that at all last year, I think. Maybe it was the excitement (fear) that comes with starting law school. Or maybe I was just hypervigilant about my schedule. Or maybe I’m just getting older and forgetful, even though I try to use the calendar on my phone/computer.

The semester’s been good so far. The workload is reasonable, nothing seems too hard, yet. I’m taking:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Family Law

What’s not on that list? That’s right! No Legal Rhetoric this year! Although I do have to write a comment for law review, but not until spring semester, so there’s time to worry about that later.

It’s Been a Year!?

It’s been a year since I started law school. Wow! A year goes by so quickly.

Yesterday, a few of us were invited to give our advice to the incoming part-time students and to hang out with them over lunch to answer their questions. I remember how excited and nervous I was when I was in their seat. Law school was finally happening; the culmination of several years of planning. First deciding I wanted to go, then studying for the LSAT, then taking the LSAT, then getting the score, then applications, waiting for admissions, lots of paperwork, financial aid forms. And it was all about to start.

That morning, they had their practice lecture on the Hairy Hand case. It was their first experience reading casebooks. I remember how confusing that was and how overwhelming it felt. And while I’m a little nervous starting second year (three doctrinal classes instead of two, and I don’t know any of the professors), it’s nothing like it was the first year. Sometimes you forget just how much you’ve learned.

So, I tried to give the students the good advice I was given and the advice I wish I had been given.

  • Give up on trying to do everything perfectly. Figure out what you can stop doing, or do less perfectly. I told them about the time I went to Target and bought socks because it would take less time than doing laundry.
  • Set limits. Take nights off. Say, “This paper is good enough. I need to go have dinner with my friends.” Stop studying.
  • Don’t get behind. Keep up with the reading.
  • Don’t get involved first year. As a part-time student, I have three years to get involved after first year’s over. Go to meetings and events, but don’t sign up for any roles until you’re sure you have school under control.
  • Outline early. This was opposite advice we’d been given. Everyone said it could wait until after Thanksgiving. It can wait, but I think it created a lot more stress than was necessary. So, I told them to start early, even if it was only a rough outline summarizing each section, or only if they spent a few hours a month doing it.

Spring Break Is Almost Half Over

Spring Break is almost half over and I’m just starting to feel relaxed. I took the whole week off work. I spent a few days relaxing in DC, and am now in Florida for a few days, before I go back and start my reading for next week.

I feel like I’m starting to relax. I find myself repeatedly exhaling deeply, and I think a nap under a tree may be called for after lunch.

I actually slept fairly well last night. For the first few nights, I didn’t sleep well, at all. I kept having crazy dreams. It was like my brain had all this clutter it needed to get out. The first morning, I woke up at 4:46, and finally gave up and got out of bed at 6:30. I had a dream that there was a fine in the dorm room above mine, which started when the guys living there decided to light their hammock on fire to see what would happen. The fire spread to my room. After the firefighters were done, my room collapsed in on itself like a Transformer, until it was about the size of two large bricks. Just as I was lamenting to a friend that I was going to have to buy new textbooks, I woke up.

What the hell was that about?

The next two nights, I had weird dreams, too, but I don’t really remember them.

This morning, I woke about 7. I find that I often don’t need much sleep when I’m on vacation. I guess when I’m not stressed, I don’t need as much time to recover. I also like being up earlier than everyone else. This morning, I watched the sun rise from the comfort of the heated pool.

How Much Does Spinning the Chamber Really Help?

Really? A math word problem in law school?

Ok, here’s a hypothetical problem for you: (Do not try this at home. Or anywhere.)

Let’s say it’s 1945 and you’re seventeen and  just sitting at the lunch counter with your 13 year-old friend. You’re bored. Television is just kicking off and the Simpsons are years away from being reality. So you start thinking. “Hmmm. What can two kids do to pass the time?”

“Well,” you say to yourself, “we can play Russian Poker,” which is more commonly known as Russian Roulette. Luckily you brought your uncle’s revolver and a bullet. So, you load the gun, putting the bullet in the last slot of the 5 chambers, point the gun at your friend’s right side and pull the trigger three times. It’s not going to fire until the fifth time. Right?. Oops. On the third pull, the gun fires, and two days later your friend dies.

Who’d be dumb enough to do that, you ask? Well, a kid named Malone. Commonwealth v. Malone, 47 A.2d 445 (PA 1946). This was a case we discussed in class tonight. Part of the discussion focused on Malone’s failure to spin the chamber in between trigger pulls, which is the proper way to play Russian Roulette, apparently. So, as I was walking to the trainer, tonight, I decided to figure out the difference in the odds.

Malone’s Odds

So, we need to calculate the odds of at least one of the three trigger pulls firing. That is calculated as:

=1 – odds of all three trigger pulls NOT firing

because if all three didn’t fire then at least one had to fire. So, in this case, that would be:

=1 – (0.8) (0.75) (0.67)

Why do the odds decrease each trigger pull? Because it’s sampling without replacement. So, first trigger pull, there’s an 80% chance the gun doesn’t fire. (It’s a five chamber gun, remember.) But, the second time you pull the trigger, there’s only 3 empty chambers out of the 4 remaining, so only a 75% chance the gun doesn’t fire this time.

So, the odds that Malone’s going to blow away a “vital part” of his friend’s body are:

59.8%

Would Spinning the Chamber Have Helped?

So, the question was whether it would have helped if Malone had spun the chamber in between trigger pulls.

Well… First off, it probably would have given his friend a little time to reconsider his decision to tell Malone to go ahead and play the game. But, that’s beside the point.

In this case, the odds would now be calculated as:

=1 – (0.8) (0.8) (0.8)

Since each trigger pull would be an independent event (now we’re sampling with replacement), the odds of the gun not firing each time remains 80%. So now Malone’s odds of blowing away part of his friend are only:

48.8%

Well, that’s on the right side of 50/50, at least. In fact, that’s a relative decrease of 18%. But, would that have been enough to change gross recklessness to recklessness and gotten Malone down to involuntary manslaughter?

Semester 2, Week 1 – Done

Well, week #1 is done! Whew! As I mentioned in a previous post, it was kind of rough getting back into the swing of things. The week went pretty well, except in an effort to save my back, I only took one of my Civil Procedure books with me. Of course, we spent time reading directly out of the other two books. And, since I have to read them on the weekends, I can’t just leave them in my locker. Oh well. That’s why they invented chiropractors and massage therapists.

My Weekend

So, this weekend was about catching up, regrouping, and — hopefully — getting a little ahead.

A month ago, I had booked a reservation for Friday for Restaurant Week. Since Friday was the only night I could do dinner, the choices were somewhat limited, and I booked on OpenTable: DC Restaurants as soon as they announced the dates. I like to use Restaurant Week to try restaurants I wouldn’t otherwise spend that much money at. I’ve had great experiences at 1789, for instance. This time, my reservation was at Chef Geoff’s Downtown. I had heard very mixed things about it, so I ended up canceling the reservation.

I stayed in on Friday and got my reading for Civil Procedure and Criminal Law both done.

Saturday was the trainer (that’s why everything hurts!!), and a really wonderful second date.

Today, was reading for Rhetoric, as well as cleaning off my desk.

But It’s Not Over!

Wait! It’s a 3-day weekend! I get an extra day to enjoy.

Actually, tomorrow will be spent first working on my next Rhetoric writing assignment. Then, I need to run to Target and the grocery store. I’m going to cook some chili so I have something healthy to eat this week.

Speaking of healthy cooking, I started reading An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. I’ve only read two chapters, but it makes me want to cook in a very simple, filling, and tasty way. I’d recommend picking it up.

UPDATED 11/21/13: OpenTable asked me to update their link to go to the DC restaurants.

Contracts Grade – Day 34 – The End

We got our Contracts grade, today. Thank goodness this madness has finally ended.

I did pretty well.

 

Semester 2, Day 1 – Done!

Today was the first day of my 2nd semester of law school.

Last Night

Last night, I started packing for today. Last semester, I had a solid routine down. I packed my bag the night before, including my change of clothes if I was planning on showering at work. I had gotten in the habit of knowing which books I needed which night, and what nights I needed to pack my computer, without having to think about it. But, after only 3 1/2 weeks away from the routine, I felt like I was starting from scratch. It seemed to require a lot of effort to go through my checklist:

  • Computer: yes – going to try to take all my notes electronically
  • Notebooks: no – See above. Ok, maybe one, just in case I need paper to write on
  • Pens: Two
  • Casebook: Yes
  • Other 5 books for Civil Procedure: No
  • Books for Rhetoric: (Didn’t even cross my mind.)

Starting to put it all in my bag, and feeling myself get back in that rhythm, reminded me just how tired I was last semester. And how much of a rut I felt like I was in during the semester. A little part of me wondered if I could do it again. I was SO tired by the end of the semester. People kept saying, “I don’t know how you do it.” Might as well ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer’s the same: “One bite at a time.” Just focus on the next step. The next day. The next writing assignment. Don’t look too far ahead or you lose hope and fell overcome by despair.

But, better to not spend time exploring that feeling, and just put my head down and go forward. One bite at a time.

Tonight

Tonight, I had Civil Procedure and Rhetoric, which is why I was packing for those classes. (At least I got that right!).

This afternoon at work, I noticed a flurry of activity on Facebook about how it was snowing in DC. (Not that I look at Facebook during work, but somehow I knew.) Then, it started snowing out in the suburbs where I work, and it was coming down pretty heavy. While it wasn’t sticking to the ground, it was covering the grass and the trees as I left work. The first week of my first semester involved a 5.8 magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Irene. This semester starts with what looked like a blizzard for a few hours. Is this a sign?

Civ Pro (saving me the trouble of typing Civil Procedure every time) wasn’t bad. The professor seems interesting and friendly. I even raised my hand to answer a question. I got it wrong. Doh #1. And, he misheard my name, and called me “John.” Doh #2.

Rhetoric was fine. It seems this semester is going to be a lot of work. Only two real assignments, but they’re both pretty big assignments. AND… I’m already behind in the reading. The Rhetoric Department uses an entirely separate electronic system to communicate with us, and I didn’t think to look there for the syllabus until this morning. Doh #3. And I learned we have two research lectures this semester. Doh #4. Maybe they will be more useful than the ones we had last semester. Maybe? Probably not. Doh #5 & #6.

At least this is a long weekend, so I have an extra day to catch up.

Contracts Grade – Day 33

It’s been 4 weeks and 5 days (33 days!), and we still don’t have our grade from last semester’s Contracts class. I’m going to start doing a daily count like a hostage situation.

Reporter speaking directly to camera: “Day 45 of ‘Contracts Grades,’ and they still haven’t been released. When will this insanity end?”

(Camera cuts to a crowd of individuals weeping loudly.)

I almost don’t care anymore. Who am I kidding? I’m an over-achiever. Of course I care.

Overall, not a bad day

Six “Doh’s,” but overall not a bad first day.

And that’s one more day closer to graduation. Only 6.98 semesters to go.

It’s been a LONG week!

There was a point where I felt hopeful about this week. It was sometime Sunday night. Then I woke up at my usual 5:45 am Monday morning, and I was already exhausted. It’s been pretty much downhill since then. Or maybe it’s been uphill based on how tired I am.

Where did it go?

I got all my reading done over the weekend. So, I should have been good for the week. And I even took Tuesday off work. Sure, I spent the morning at the hospital delivering a monkey balloon to a friend admitted with chest pain. (She’s going to be fine.) And, I spent much of the afternoon reading the live blogging of the iPhone announcement (An iPhone 4S? Where’s my iPhone 5, damn it?). But, I went into torts feeling like I was getting it, and I was keeping up. And Torts class went fine. Yet, by the end, I felt like I was lost and going to be getting further lost.

I have been so tired this week that several days I haven’t been sure what day it is. In my Wednesday Contracts class, I had a few moments of panic when I realized I hadn’t read for the next class, but then realized that it was Wednesday and the next class wasn’t until Monday. My watch battery is still dead (about 3 weeks now), and the clock in my office is falling behind because that battery’s going. I haven’t had a clue what time it is since Monday.

Tonight, spent an hour or so in the WORST LEGAL RESEARCH LECTURE EVER! Here’s the research librarian’s lesson on secondary resources: “Go to Westlaw. Click here. Here. And Here.” I tried following along, but that was difficult because she left key steps out of her screen shots. (Some of the items aren’t alphabetical, they’re thrown in at the end. And, they’ve changed the screen layout for LegalTrac since she took the screenshots she used for her PowerPoint presentation.) It would have been a more productive hour if you had written out directions and let me do it on my own at home. So frustrating!

Work has been busy, too

It’s been a busy week at work. With Tuesday off, Wednesday felt like Monday. And, I’ve had enough work to do that I have to go in tomorrow. Friday is usually my work-at-home day, which means I can sleep until 7:30 and still be working by 8:00. But, I didn’t have time to figure out what I needed to bring home, and some things are just easier to do in the office. So, I’m going to get up at 5:45 tomorrow to go into work.

This week, I read about 75 resumes and am trying to coordinate interviews across 6 staff and 14 candidates.

At least I have a date after work to look forward to.

This has got to be unhealthy

I’ve survived this week on two speeds: Full and Dead Stop. And, I try to transition as quickly as possible to save time. I’m up to a minimum of 5 medium to large cups of coffee a day, along with a lot of M&M’s. That’s Full Speed. Then, when I get home, I need to calm down so I can get to sleep. That’s Dead Stop. Thank goodness for wine or Ambien. I did make it to the trainer on Tuesday, and had a good workout, although I tired easily.

And, I irritable. When I’m tired, I don’t deal with frustration as well. On the drive home from school tonight, I encountered about 7 idiots, 3 morons, 9 assholes, a few f*&king assholes, and 1 Worst Driver Ever. The guy in front of me at 18th and Florida couldn’t figure out what he was doing, until he managed to make sure no one got through the green light in our direction. Then, 10 seconds after the light turned red, he decided he wasn’t going to turn left, and gunned it through the red light. Really? Where’s a lazy DC cop when you need one?

BTW: Some day, I’m going to start a blog where you can post pictures of DC cops breaking the law or goofing off. Like the day one almost hit me because he was making a right turn on red, while texting on his iPhone.

 

Sorry if this posting is rambling and disjointed. It’s been a long week. I’m tired, and I just got home at 9:45 pm. Now, I’m going to have a glass of wine and watch Modern Family on the DVR.

Just an update

This is just an update, since I haven’t posted in a while.

School Update

School’s going ok. Legal writing is taking A LOT more time than I expected. The final draft of our first memo is due this week.  I’m sure I’ve put in at least 40 hours working on various drafts of this memo. Hopefully it was worth it.

This week, Contracts is cancelled on Wednesday because of the Jewish holidays. So, I get a free evening! (But, we’re making it up in two weeks.)

At some point, I need to start reviewing. Hopefully the next few writing assignments won’t take as much time and I can get back to focusing on Torts and Contracs.

Home Update

Did I mention that Alex’s been much more affectionate since she spent the day locked in the bedroom? If I leave the bedroom window open, it often blows the door shut. I usually leave a shoe in the doorway, so the door doesn’t latch. The cleaning people moved the shoe and when I came home, Alex was in their begging to be let out. Ever since then, she’s been up on me like a conjoined twin. Right this minute, she’s lying on my desk, with her paw resting on my hand while I type.

I’ve still been hitting the trainer twice a week. It’s the one commitment I have worked to keep school from interfering with. Sometimes I don’t know why. Many weeks, there are only one or two days where I can move without stiffness or pain. But, it’s working, I guess. My chest, arms, and shoulders are definitely getting bigger. And yesterday, I was told my butt looked “perky.”

Today is a relaxation day. I’m doing laundry, catching up on the DVR and paying bills. At some point, I need to take some underwear back to Macy’s and get the security tag removed. This afternoon, I have a BBQ with the Lambda student group, and later tonight a birthday party, that I’m sure will be awesome. Tomorrow’s going to be my study day. I may also try and get a movie in there at some point. I hear Drive is really good.

Work Update

I finally have more than one staff member! Two new employees started two weeks ago. Now, someone can be on vacation, and we still can have staff meetings.