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Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 10:00 pm
i'm a law student now and i don't want to read and brief for contracts. i've forgotten what it's like to have free time and fun. so i am starting a blog. check back for michigan-y adventures and updates. life is good here in ann arbor.
Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:33 pm
so i survived my first semester at michigan. no regrets about the the school. no regrets about ann arbor, even after the sky dumped 10 inches of freezing white stuff all over everything a few weeks ago. no regrets about studying the law in general, either. it's strange to think that a year ago i had just gotten my lsat score back and had yet to start the application process. i know that a lot of people here already have acceptances in hand (or are patiently waiting at the mailbox every day). to those of you who are considering attending the university of michigan, please pm me with any questions. there's lots to love and hate about the place. it's perfect for me and might be for you, too.
Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:35 pm
like i said, there's lots to love and hate about michigan. here's a list of pros and cons.
- People. I had trouble finding friends with my interests right away. This might be a me problem, rather than a Michigan problem, but the fact that Ann Arbor is a small boozy football-loving town probably didn't help matters. The class feels very young. More than half of the people I know took at least a year off, but many of them live in dorms and like to go to crappy bars. I feel old.
- My advice: Keep an open mind. Accept invitations. I went to a football game and found out (confirmed my suspicions, rather) that football is not my thing. I went to the law school Halloween party, though and had a great time seeing everybody in a social setting. I refuse to go to Rick's, but I have found a few local pubs that I don't despise. I'm accepting the culture. And as a result, I've made a good group friends.
- Note: Enjoy the perks of being in a small midwestern town. People in Ann Arbor (not just law students) are a lot nicer than people on the coasts. I'm more familiar with the west coast. Sales clerks, students, barristas, doctors, etc. in Ann Arbor have less attitude than people out west. They're very genuine.
- Weather. I worried about this less than I should have. People warned me, but I didn't think weather was a reason to pick a law school. I still don't. But Michigan is mother-effing cold. I hate it. I hate that the sun refuses to shine for days on end and I hate that I have to wear ten layers of sweaters to go anywhere. If you want to go to Michigan, don't let this deter you, but be warned. It is cold.
- My advice. Again, embrace the perks. I've been drinking lots of hot chocolate and eating comfort foods like oatmeal. I'm also enjoying wearing the cute winter clothes I had no use for in Tucson.
- The law school feels very small. It can feel claustrophobic, especially around finals. Coming from a large, public university, the difference is noticeable to me. Everybody knows everybody else. It's easy to spend the entire day in the law quad, even if you don't live there. First semester I had class at 8:45. I got to campus at 8:15 and didn't leave until 6 or 7. Sometimes I'd come back after dinner to use the library. It's incredibly stressful seeing one's classmates in the library at 11:00 at night and knowing that they're the same ones who were there at 11:00 in the morning. I'm not sure if some of them ever leave.
- My advice: Study in coffee shops (another Ann Arbor complaint: there aren't enough decent coffee shops. There are a few that I frequent, but I've yet to find one that's completely free of law students) instead of in the library. Go to the gym. Live off campus (this is just my advice. There are people who live in the Lawyer's Club and love it. I am not one of them. I will blog about this later).
- Note: I'm not sure how particular this complaint is to Michigan. I've heard that, in general, law school is a lot like high school. The classes are small, the buildings are small. It might be aggravated by the fact that Ann Arbor is small, too, and a lot of the students are young. People are very engrossed in their law school lives. If you're not from Ann Arbor and you don't have a family, there won't be a lot of distractions. This can be a good and a bad thing. I had to make distractions because I can't study all the time. I also had to remind myself constantly that it's okay not to study all the time. People have their own habits and routines. Do what works for you. If what works for you is not living in the law library, then by all means...don't live in the law library, but don't be intimidated by the people who do.
- People. The people make the school. I went to school expecting the worst. And I got the worst. My section seemed to be filled with obnoxious gunners, hardcore libertarians, and weirdos from small liberal arts schools. I heard rumors that the other sections weren't so bad, but I was stuck with mine. Four months later, I like (mostly) all of them. The gunnerish impression that people try to give off the first few weeks of school wore off, I realized there is more to people than political orientation, and a few weirdos are always good to have on hand (they make class more interesting and are something to gossip about with the study group). One thing about Michigan: everybody has something to contribute. Whether they turned down spots at higher ranked schools or barely made it into Michigan, everybody I know somehow manages to blow me away with their pre-law school accomplishments, their dedication, their ambition, their in-class insights, or their drunken bar night ramblings. For those of you considering higher ranked schools: you won't be resigning yourself to a less intellectually stimulating environment. People here are smart and they work hard. For those of you considering lower ranked schools: everybody feels like they're in over their head sometimes. It's kind of what law school is about. In addition to being brilliant, most everybody here is genuinely friendly. The dean of admissions claims to do her best to weed out the douchebags, and while a certain level of douchebaggery is to be expected at law school, people are by and large fantastic. A large portion of my class is very laid back (note: laid back != lazy. These kids have cultivated some intense study habits. But in class and conversation, they know better than to talk about their outlines). The best thing about the people at Michigan is that there is a lot of character diversity. There are a lot of people here I probably won't ever be close to, but I've managed to make a good group of friends that share my interests. And I'm a big weirdo, so that's saying something. You will probably have an easier time making friends at Michigan than I did.
- Professors. My perspective on this topic is limited, since I've only taken four classes with four professors. My professors were brilliant. They were also accessible. Three out of four hosted a party of sorts at his/her own home. I visited two out of four during office hours and found them to be helpful and surprisingly interested in talking to me about my thoughts on the class and my life outside law school. Two out of four took groups of students out for meals and drinks regularly. Four out of four responded to emails promptly, held review sessions, and were generally awesome. Only one professor stuck with the traditional version of the Socratic method, grilling a few students for the entire hour. She was kind of scary and intimidating and we were more hesitant to speak up in that class than others. About halfway through the semester she asked us to evaluate her because the class wasn't going as smoothly as she had hoped, and the next day she addressed our concerns in class. She responded to suggestions that students made and actually altered her teaching style to fit the class. Seeing that kind of forthrightness and flexibility was great. I actually signed up for a seminar with the same professor next semester.
- Classes. They were not always my favorite thing in the world, but they were more often than not engaging and they were certainly manageable. My lawyer-father told me nightmarish stories from his law school years. He also told me about the son of one of his colleagues, a 1L at OSU this year, who was mocked and chastised for not preparing adequately for the first day of class (he didn't know what 'assumpsit' meant—Hawkins v. McGee, anyone?). This sort of thing does not happen (or did not happen to me) at Michigan. The professors would rather spend classtime having a quality discussion than hammering facts and definitions out of a single scared student. They expect and assume that you come to class knowing that stuff, and they're forgiving if you don't (as long as it's clear you did the reading). Some professors seem to abhor facts and definitions—they spend so much time on hippy dippy theoretical discussions that you wonder if you'll ever learn the law. That happened to me in contracts and I had a small panic attack before the final. I was surprised to realize how much black letter law I did learn over the course of the semester. While I'm talking about classes, I'll go ahead and say that the workload was manageable also. Especially during the first half of the semester, I had weekends to myself and time for things like lunches with friends.
- Clubs and activities. Same as with people, there's something for everyone. I'm interested in public interest opportunities, and was worried that the emphasis at Michigan would be too corporate. Sometimes it is. During the first week of school, it seemed that all the 2Ls were losing their minds over OCIs (on-campus interviews). During the last week of school, it seemed that all the 1Ls were losing their minds over cover letters, interviews, and the all-important December 1 deadline. There is a small population of public interest minded folks at Michigan, however. I joined OPIS (organization of public interest students) and got to know some older students and other 1Ls who will not be following the traditional career path. Since the initial OPIS meeting, I've attended job panels and various talks put on by OPIS and gotten together for dinner with people interested in the same area of law as I am. I am also part of the Labor Law Roundtable, the purpose of which is to facilitate law student participation in the Washtenaw County Workers Center, a new non-profit organization whose mission is to help empower immigrant workers in Michigan to assert their rights and improve working conditions through basic legal education and training and strategic organizing, and Street Law, a group that provides information and lessons in the law to disadvantaged people in the Ann Arbor area (youth, homeless, prisoners, etc.). This is just a small sample of the public interest opportunities that are available at Michigan. There are groups that focus on family law, women's rights, LGBT rights, etc. The office of public service is great at making students aware of available jobs and scholarships, as well as the various talks, panels, and conferences that are always going on. Don't let my blog give the impression that everybody at Michigan is obsessed with public interest—that's just my area. There is also a culinary club, a wine club, intramural sports teams, blah blah blah. There are also plenty of students who don't give a shit about extracurricular activities outside of getting trashed with other law and graduate students, so if that's your thing, Michigan's got it.
- Ann Arbor. I already talked about how small Ann Arbor is and how there's not a lot to do. I spent my undergrad in Tucson and didn't want to spend another three years in a college town, I really didn't. But as far as college towns go, Ann Arbor is rather lovely. There's a cute little downtown area, lots of bars and pubs, a decent music scene, and delicious dining options. The New Yorker, in an article about the overpriced but disgustingly good Zingerman's Deli, called Ann Arbor 'cosmopolitan' (if The New Yorker says so, it must be true...). Also, Hutchins Hall and the law quad are amazing. I'm currently back in Arizona with my parents and I actually miss Ann Arbor. After four months, it feels like home. That's probably more of a testament to the fact that people can be happy anywhere than it is to the qualities of Ann Arbor. Nevertheless, it's certainly not going to be a difficult place to spend the next 2.5 years.
Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 4:13 am
went to work with lawyer-dad today. turns out family law is not so boring. it's kind of a mess, actually. while i listened in on a client review meeting with his paralegal (violating all kinds of ethics codes, i'm sure), i decided to get my act together and work on my resume. good thing, too, because it turns out i have to submit it to the employers i want to interview with at the midwest public interest law career conference by tomorrow at 4pm. holy yikes. i thought i had a few more weeks, at least. i submitted my resume to nine employers through the MPILCC system and i'm going to contact about ten more on my own tomorrow. i haven't been this nervous since admissions season last year. i'm also getting pretty excited. i'm going to apply at the public defender's office in alaska! (SUCH a hippie, i know.) more details on take-your-daughter-to-work day, the job search, and the conference later. will return PMs soon, too. winter break is turning my brain into LOST-watching, fiction-reading, lazylounging mush.
here's to 2008.
Re: seagull is starting a blog
Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:29 pm
today was my first bad, real bad, law school day. i think i mentioned something about a few posts ago about how profs here aren't out to embarrass their students. well, i still think that's true, but i should have added that we're perfectly capable of humiliating ourselves with just a little help from the man at the podium. i don't even want to go back to con law. oh well, lesson learned, and my advice is if the first case assigned is ex parte mccardle then there's a good chance that the first question asked will be "who is mccardle?" and you're going to look like a moron who couldn't even bother to pretend to be prepared if you say "mcWHO?" i was flustered enough to miss every question he proceeded to ask me. my excuse: con law at eight am is cruel and unusual.
last night was fairly awful, too. went out for drinks with friends and a few sectionmates. law students, like law professors, can be terribly dull. for those of you who have yet to go to law school, please remember that when you do, the following topics absolutely should not be discussed in any kind of social setting: grades, exams, lsat, gpa, law school or class rankings, basically all the things that we talk about on this forum. it's tempting, but trust me. people will hate you.
one of the sections, not mine thank goodness, received grades today. it's very tense here, like exams all over again.
the silver lining: i turned in five job applications on tuesday and already have an interview lined up. my first!
[edit: my post might paint a bleak picture, but remember. i've been in law school since last september and today was my first terrible day.]
Posted: Sat May 03, 2008 8:25 pm
so i'm too embarrassed to mention my new 2L status on facebook, but there's nothing stopping me from bragging about it here. i handed in my last final thursday at 3:23 pm picked up my packet for the law review writing competition friday at 10:45 am and am hoping to be finished with that and out of here by 7:00 am on wednesday.
i feel bad about leaving my last dour post hanging around at the top of my blog so long. i meant it at the time, but it's misleading because, on the whole, this last semester was far superior to the first. i mean, it was brutal, especially the weather (it didn't stop snowing until two weeks ago), but it's like i finally got the hang of my life in ann arbor. also, i got to experience the enlightenment that is a constitutional law class with richard primus. the casebook was over 1,000 pages long. we met at 8:00 every morning. including fridays. the socratic method was never more painful. but the subject made everything else (like torts, pfffft) seem so trite. my elective this semester was also fantastic: i signed up for education law, hoping it wouldn't be as boring as it sounded, primarily because it was one of the few that fit into my schedule, and was happy to learn on the first day that it was pretty much more conlaw! actually, on day 1 i was terrified of the fact that it was con law, because, y'know i hadn't taken conlaw yet and the prof mentioned lochner like seven times and i had no idea what she was saying, but after a few weeks i got comfortable with how much i didn't know or with tricking myself into thinking i knew everything about the first amendment, and ended up loving the class. i recommend it to anybody at michigan now or in the future: education law with katz. in addition to reading (and not briefing or outlining--oh blessed be the wisdom that comes with first semester grades) for my fantastic classes, i also spent a lot more time with student organizations, in particular the michigan immigration and labor law society (MILLA) and street law. expect more information (and heavy recruiting of new 1Ls!) on this topic in the near future.
at present, there are flowers on every single tree in ann arbor, bob dylan is spinning on the record player, and the very first friend i made in my section is sleeping on my couch--she'll be crashing here for a few days. life is fairly beautiful. y'know, i never planned on fitting in here. as it happens, i had some good times, made some good friends and three of us are road-tripping from michigan to arizona next week. an entire year of every single class together didn't tear our friendship apart; might as well see what three days in a very small car will do. i'm looking forward to it, possibly naively:) that's about all the blogging i have energy for right now, but i'll be around this summer.
oh right, i forgot to mention. for any future michiganders worried about job prosepcts: every person i know has a job. most of them are working for firms or judges. i had two public interest offers and three government offers and i'll be working for a state judge in arizona.
Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 10:00 am
since i started law school, my life's been pretty boring. i mean, i live in michigan. i study a lot. every time i t try to do something spontaneous (like drive to canada, buy a plane ticket to new orleans mid-finals, seduce my looker of a civpro prof), somebody lame is there to talk me out of it.
my boyfriend, on the other hand, is not boring. in a burst of post-graduation lunacy, he decided it would be a good idea riding his bike around the united states. not his motorcycle, his bike. as in huffy. okay, not a huffy, but still it's got two wheels and no engine and is very slow. he's camping, couchsurfing, and staying in cheap hotels, taking beautiful photos, and recording his adventures at http://bike360.wordpress.com/
. so if you're a fellow cyclist, or just interested in a stranger's wanderings, check it out.
Posted: Mon May 19, 2008 10:18 pm
first day of work. many details to come. for now, let it suffice to say that i had a small panic attack this morning walking up the oversized steps of the arizona courts building. the doors were huge, ornate, and carved into the walls were a few words: where law ends, tyranny begins. last time i was anywhere near such a place, i was seventeen and fighting a (totally-deserved) speeding ticket in a local traffic court. i was also trying to conceal the drugs that i (retardedly) had in my bag. i guess i've come a long way.
two other catch-your-breath moments:
- when the judge i am working for came to meet me in the clerk's office, i ignored him for a few seconds because i expected him to be in a robe, or at least a suit. certainly not a hawaiian shirt.
- when i got my first assignment. there are stacks and stacks of documents. stacks. that need to be read within the week.
it was the best first day of work i've ever had!
[update: today my judge was not wearing a hawaiian shirt and i realized he is larry david if larry david were not a jerk.]
Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:51 am
i'm five days shy of having been at my job for two months. it's been a pretty stellar experience thus far, except for the whole not-getting-paid business. most of my friends ended up at firms this summer, there're a few working at the DOJ, and another few doing public interest-y things. based on my conversations with these people, i am convinced that working for a judge was the best decision for me. i cannot recommend it enough. it's been all research and writing with the judge offering feedback at every stage. i think one of the most valuable aspects of working at a court is seeing how things work from "the other side of the bench." for instance, i've read countless briefs, all full of what-not-to-do's (i.e., forget to proofread, copy and paste from old briefs without changing the parties' names, quote things out of context in a manipulative way--c'mon, we're going to check your sources). i've also seen a few things that i wouldn't do myself, but which established attorneys can get away with (i.e., quote casa blanca in your opening brief). the chance to watch judges get a case, formulate questions for oral argument, and work their way to a conclusion is something i'm sure i'll value when i'm preparing to argue my first case.
i do have a little advice for anybody that decides to go this route:
1) you should like your judge, at least a little bit. you'll probably spend more time in the chambers than you do awake at home, and it might be unpleasant if you don't get along with the people there. you have no control over the judicial assistant or the older clerks, but you can choose whether you want to work for the judge.
2) i won't say it's better, but it is easier to work with a judge who thinks about the law in a way that's not totally foreign to you. i knew when i accepted my job that the judge and i had similar political leanings. i lucked out in the respect that we also have similar thoughts on the role of the judge in the legal system. of course, working for somebody with different ideologies could be a great learning experience, but the fact remains that everything you write is going to have the judge's name on it, and it's easier to get a decision down on paper if you think it's right. you'll also be advising the judge on what you think the answer is in your own cases and it's easier to persuade a like-minded person.
3) try to find a position where you're working for the judge and not the clerks. each judge runs his or her chambers differently. several of the other interns at the court work for the clerks and they do A LOT of cite-checking. since they're working on drafts already assigned to the clerks, most of their feedback comes from the clerks. clerks are great and all, but judges wear robes and write letters of recommendation and are pretty much a fantastic resource.
i feel a million times more prepared for whatever job i end up doing next summer.
Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:32 am
i just checked out the tls stats (finally). dear lord there are some high scorers on this site.
Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:44 pm
i wrote a silly mini-essay on law school myths and truths as part of an application for a scholarship offered by this (LinkRemoved) organization. i didn't get the scholarship, but they went ahead and took the liberty of posting part of my essay on their site (i probably consented to this at some point). i discovered this fact while obsessively googling myself at work today. (i'll say that i was just googling because i finished bidding for OCI today and i wanted to make sure my reputation on the internets was clean. really, though, i'm just faintly narcissistic and perform this little act of egocentrism on a daily basis.) i haven't read all of the entries yet; i skimmed a few, however, and they look similar to what i wrote. so they're probably pretty universal and potentially interesting to future 1Ls.
did you catch that i finished bidding for OCI?! my bids were not entirely uninformed, either! as somebody who didn't know the name of a single law firm until two weeks ago, i consider this quite an impressive feat. i am not committed (at all) to the idea of a summer associateship. ideally, i'd like to do immigration/labor work for a progressive organization. i opted to to participate in OCI, though, on the off-chance that i don't secure a fellowship/scholarship for next summer. i'll let ya'll know how it goes in the coming weeks.
i'm really looking forward to heading back to law school. primarily because i've planned a crazy drive that will take me through the deep south, a part of the country that i've never really explored (with the exception of new orleans). i'm particularly excited about spending a day in nashville and welcome any dining/entertainment recommendations that TLS's tennessee folks might have. also, the boyfriend mentioned several posts back in relation to a lunatic bike trip has (unfortunately) decided to end the trip and (fortunately) decided to move his life to ann arbor with me. yay! although it was not terrible doing the long-distance thing during 1L (in fact, it was probably in many ways easier than having to deal with a real and present significant other), i'm thrilled about this new turn of events.