Sunday, February 29, 2004

Yeah, but we could totally take the Clippers

In keeping with the spring quarter's determination to shoot itself in the foot, and then the other foot, and then a couple times in the leg...of our nine-member basketball team, only five showed up tonight for the game. What that meant, obviously, is that all five of us played 40 minutes of mediocre basketball. Now, make no mistake, we'd've probably lost with constant substitutions, but hey, we're working for a new excuse each week.

Next week's excuse? We're all going to wear top hats and snowshoes. Then, we're going to take it up the court by dribbling with our elbows. I dare you to feel good about yourself when you beat us then.

A Moment of Clarity

Property is not a law class. It's a math class taught in a law school.

With that realization, I think I'm that much closer to getting it in Property. All of our classes are about the study and application of rules to facts, but Property is laid out in a more sterile, case-eschewing way. That is, yes, we read cases, but there are more "O to A, then to B" kind of examples than in the others. Contracts does operate in hypotheticals (more often than not starring Buyer A and Seller B), but it seems a lot less axiomatic than Property.

That said, now I know how to approach it. It wasn't until tonight's reading (um, I mean this whole weekend's reading, Prof. Property) that I realized the whole estates system is just that, a system. It follows its own rules, has its own names, and can be navigated like an algebra problem if you know your stuff. There's something to be said for a Zen-like "letting go" and just absorbing the legal nonsense until you can see the structure. Yeah, or chug another beer. No, really.

I leave you with this comically abstruse excerpt from our Property text (Dukeminier and Krier's 5th edition of "Property," at page 276):

"Example 8: O conveys "to A for life, then to B and her heirs, but if B does not survive A to C and his heirs." Note carefully: B does not have a contingent remainder. B has a vested remainder in fee simple subject to divestment; C has a shifting executory interest which can become possessory only by divesting B's remainder."

Now take a shot.

Law School in Film

In keeping with the filmic theme of the weekend, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Jim Dedman's ongoing Project Greenlight saga. Having attended a school where would-be filmmakers were constantly writing, shooting or talking about writing or shooting, I'm glad to see that the creative spirit is alive and well here in Texas. Good luck, Jim, and we look forward to an advance alumni screening. :)

This got me thinking about what genre the great American law school film would be. Since "The Paper Chase" and "Legally Blonde" are all I can summon to mind in the way of law school movies, it seems like there's a lack of industry-wide consensus. The Paper Chase seems basically like a dramatization of Scott Turow's book "1L," where a draconian Professor (of Contracts, I believe) tortures the overachieving, outline-making, study group-obsessing 1Ls of Harvard Law School. Per Hollywood, no doubt, our protagonist happens to date the prof's daughter, where Scott Turow was married while a student. "Legally Blonde," however, is obviously not a spot-on representation of life as a 1L. I won't belabor the point, but the only part of that movie that really bugged me was when Elle Woods, our chipper Californian ditz, got a 179 on the LSAT!!! That still pisses me off. I'll grant the writers her 4.0 in fashion or whatever, as well as the creative videotaped personal statement, but honestly, a 179 for her is a complete divorce from reality. No, I'm not bitter. :)

But what kind of movie would accurately convey the fits and starts of life as a 1L? A gritty documentary? Perhaps. A romantic comedy? Definitely not. A Coen Brothers/Woody Allen-type comedy noir? I think that'd be close. Actually, I'd like to see the law school experience described in several different genres. Hmmm. Interesting. In the meantime, however, the extensive law student blogosphere will have to suffice.

UPDATE: I've just been informed that there was a spinoff TV series made in the late 70's called "The Paper Chase." My God, a TV show about law school. It could work, but it would have to hover somewhere between "Felicity" and "Scrubs," I'd imagine. Oh yeah, with a dash of "Dawson's Creek" and "Saved by the Bell." :)

This is bad news

Film fever has hit Waco and the nation---it's Oscar night! Or, for you indie stalwarts, it's day-after-Bravo's-independent-spirit-awards night! A quick aside on Bravo's latest pseudo-underground thing: how "independent" can it be when it's sponsored by Starbucks?! Give me a break. Throw in Microsoft and Nike and you've got the great Pacific Northwest triumvirate of corporate pillaging. Not that I have any problems with those fine institutions, but still, it's the principle. And I swear if "Lost in Translation" wins tonight AND at the ISAs, then there's something conformist about their independence.

The bad news part of this post, however, is that I just found out last night that I have HBO in my apartment. The Cotto-Sosa lightweight championship bout I watched last night is only the beginning. Gone are the days when Sunday night was just for Contracts and basketball...this is truly bad news.

Which brings us to tonight's law league game. Fate must be conspiring to keep our cheering section attendance low (remind me to thank Fate for that), as last week was the series finale of 'Sex and the City,' and tonight at 9pm, most people will be watching to see how many acceptance speeches endorse John Kerry. Come on, Hollywood, you're not gonna leave Coldplay out there all alone, are ya?

Sadly, Michael Moore's copious girth is not nominated for anything tonight. But in his honor, here's a fun parlor game: whose endorsement of General Clark's candidacy went the furthest toward helping Wes carry Oklahoma--Michael Moore or Madonna?

That's what I thought. "I despise the bubble celebrity relevancy..."

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Far and Away

So I'm watching 'Far and Away' on TV and thinking that Tom Cruise's Irish accent sucks. What's worse, though, is that I zoned out for about five minutes and now I'm really confused. I'm assuming Joseph lost the fight with the Italian and he and Shannon got evicted. What I don't understand is why she's now cavorting with the Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. lookalike somewhere near Oklahoma (where there are no Audi dealerships, by the way). If he's so rich in Boston, then why's he in the land rush? What gives?

Friday, February 27, 2004


Three weeks down, six and a half to go.

My to-do list for the weekend:

1. Find Contracts textbook. I haven't used it in so long that I'm afraid Smackers might have found a new litter box.

2. Watch "Body Heat" as research for Property. Watch it again. And again. Then return.

3. Look at Chirelstein's Contracts hornbook for the first installment of the Great Hornbook Challenge.

4. Revel in how much it must suck to be a UCLA fan these days. First you drop five in a row to USC in football, and now you get swept in consecutive seasons by the Trojans in basketball. Westwood, Ho, indeed.

5. Don't get totally smacked down in the basketball game Sunday night.

6. Find out actual words to any Pearl Jam song. I swear, I can't understand a thing Eddie Vedder says.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Shooting for 1,000

At this writing, SoTheBearSays has been viewed 881 times since the night of February 19th. And I'm only like 400 of those hits! Just kidding, seriously, that really amazes me. When it was suggested that I add a hit counter, I was nervous, 'cause I was afraid it would hover at like 60 or something and I'd feel really pathetic. But now my self-worth is still at a healthy level due to the visitation of the (mostly) anonymous electronic masses. :)

Today is the 26th, one week since the hit count began. Everyone call a friend and tell them about this Baylory goodness, and let's see if we can make 1000 before the new week begins...

Beating the rap

My number finally got called in Property. If you're a semi-regular reader, you know that of all my classes, Property is the one about which I worry the most. I knew it had to happen one day, I just wish it could have been back when we were going through the Estates System worksheet. I mean, really.

Alas, I was up, and it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. In law school, you have to savor the small victories--the partial right answers, the "not quite"s, the "almost"s. Basically, when you're not bringing your A game, being anything other than completely wrong is good. When you're sitting (or standing, rather) in the proverbial hot seat, you can't be expected to go 100% for 20 minutes. Thus, you've got to go for "informed" and pepper your answers with high-percentage shot moral victories.

Finally, a note on style. I'm not saying I have it. But from what I've noticed, being boldly wrong (or partially right) will go a good deal further than being timidly right (or partially wrong). It may not make sense, but I try to channel the professor and "lecture" them on the law when I answer. It sounds more impertinent than it is, and that's a poor way to explain it.

By way of one episode of 'Seinfeld,' Jerry gets into an argument with his girlfriend over whether he's watched 'Melrose Place' or not (he claims, vehemently and falsely, that he hasn't). Yada yada yada, she's a cop and forces him to undergo a polygraph test to prove that he's never seen it. Desperate for advice on how to beat the lie detector, he asks George Costanza how to lie convincingly. I think George's reply can help many a 1L who is called upon to stand and deliver: "Jerry, if you BELIEVE it's true, then it's not a lie."

My take: Believe you're delivering the right answer, and you may not flounder (as much). There will inevitably be a gap between your preparation of the case and the expectation of the professor. Fill that gap by psyching yourself into believing what you say.

We'll see how long this strategy works. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Great Hornbook Challenge

I've decided that the hardworking investigative journalists here at SoTheBearSays need to, you know, do some investigating. So...starting later this week, I'll begin a web-exclusive series on the leading hornbooks in each of our classes--Contracts, Property, and Civil Procedure.

I'll flip through (or at least look at the back cover) of those most nefarious of study aids, the treatises, and report back to y'all on the various strengths and weaknesses (and overall impressions) of each. It looks to be grand fun, and hopefully a little helpful as well.

Expert testimony and free samples are welcome. :) Check back for updates.

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez

For fellow Supreme Court and constitutional law junkies, here's a cool new way to waste time. The Oyez Project was started by Northwestern University Professor Jerry Goldman and has been recently revamped. They have tons of information, including audio files of oral arguments, profiles of the justices, and much more. There are a host of other links and a summary of the major cases on the current Court's docket. For the hardcore Court-watcher, there's also an "on this day in SC history" feature. For instance, on this day in 1957, Justice Stanley Reed left the Court. If memory serves, Reed was the last holdout in the old guard's war against the New Deal--the "switch in time that saved nine." You're enthralled, I can tell.

Anyway, there you go. Listen to well-paid appellate lawyers get asked questions and sound stupid. It's fun. :)

Skip this if you want, I don't care

I was sitting in CivPro today thinking about the sacred mysteries of jurisdiction, when I had this idea. In Kulko v. Superior Court, the wife (a Californian) sued her ex-husband (a New Yorker) for several things in California State Court. She wanted Californication (my apologies to Flea) of her Haitian divorce decree, more child support, and custody of their two children. We're supposed to submit California's claim of in personam jurisdiction over the husband to the Presence Test, then the Minimum Contacts Test, etc.

I'm wondering if maybe she could have at least made an in rem claim over the two children. Granted, the divorce and child support matters are purely for personal jurisdiction, but could she have "attached" her children prior to judgment and won a custody battle over them in California court? That is, could the case have been called 'In re the Kulko kids' (not to be confused with the annoying brood of Culkin kids) and involved purely a true in rem proceeding over "property" that the ex-husband "owned" that happened to be in the forum?

Alas, at 2.5 weeks in law school I know less than nothing about family law or children as chattel, but it seemed like a question worth asking. And then, yet, it didn't. So I didn't ask it.

No Contracts--With Consideration

As part of my blog's commitment to public service, I thought I'd remind all of my first quarter readership that Contracts is cancelled tomorrow (Thursday) morning, and a decision is pending on Friday. Coming on the heels of a LARC memo and increasingly complicated reading in Property and CivPro, I'm sure we're all breathing a little easier...for the moment, at least. And hey, I can watch tonight's new 'West Wing' with a clear conscience.

Get well soon, Prof. Contracts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

One for the road

Since I'll be busy most of the day, I'll leave y'all with this number to show you that our cover band (most recently named) "Judge Rehnquist and the 5-Vote Majority" can kick it old school.

"Desperate 1L"

(To the tune of the Eagles' "Desperado")

Desperate 1L, trying to cover your bases,
You been out briefing cases for so long now
You’ve got an outline
And five more you got from Rothers
Your hornbooks and flashcards
Keep you reading all night.

Don't you come to CivPro unprepared
Or he’ll beat you til you’re able
To say that you’re too dumb or just don’t care.
So you’ve never gone out drinking
And you’ve cancelled your own cable
’Cause you’re desperate for the one grade you won’t get…

Desperate 1L, oh, you ain't gettin' no younger
”Thinking like a lawyer” is drivin' you mad
And weekends, oh weekends well, that's just more time for workin'
Your old pal Emanuel is your only friend.

And you won’t go out with us anytime
’Cause you can’t bring notes and you can’t have mine
They wouldn’t do you much good anyway.
Now you’re stuck on writing legal prose
Ain't it funny how your self-worth goes away?

Desperate 1L, why don't you come to your senses?
Drop out, study business, get an MBA.
You may be gainin', but they’re two grade points above you
You better leave that hole you dug you, before it's too late.

Monday, February 23, 2004


That's the latest estate classification we have to study in Property. Ok, not quite, but that's what they can feel like sometimes. I dunno, for some reason I have a slower time of it in reading Property than either Contracts OR CivPro--and that includes the halves of hours spent pondering who, exactly, is suing whom, and in what court. And jeez, guys, let's all get on the same page as a nation on the name-flipping of the parties on appeal. In the course of one case, the same person can be a...

1. Seller or Buyer
2. Promisor or Promisee
3. Offeror or Offeree
4. Plaintiff or Defendant
5. Appellant or Appellee
6. Petitioner or Respondent

That's just the tip of the iceberg.

And don't get me started on the naming of the courts in each jurisdiction. One state's Supreme Court is another's Court of Appeals, and one state's Court of Appeals is another state's Superior Court. And in Texas we have TWO courts of last resort--a Supreme Court and a Court of Criminal Appeals.

"We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final."
-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson.

Oh yeah? If the buck really stops up there, then why don't we just read SCOTUS opinions? Better than all the "fallible" courts we're reading now. Plus, you could at least have some familiarity with the cast of characters. Excepting Judge Learned Hand (who we haven't read yet) and Judge Benjamin Cardozo (who we have), I haven't the foggiest clue about any of the people whose life's work we study. And even Cardozo ended up on the USSC, so he doesn't count.

"But Chris, the common law is a patchwork quilt of judges, situations and local color."

Yeah, yeah, but what if I want a plastic tarp that's all one hue? Fuschia, perhaps.

A CivPro Morality Play

Professor CivPro: And so what is the purpose of the "minimum contacts" test for exercising jurisdiction? [Silence] Anyone? What about you, Mr. Fahrenthold, what's the answer?

Me: Well, to protect the defendant from being called to litigate in a distant or inconvenient forum and to ensure that individual states don't overstep their constitutional bounds.

Prof: So it's the defendant's contacts that we judge as minimal?

Me: Um, yes.

Prof: There is no "um" in yes.

Me: Yes.

Prof: Yes, there is no "um" in yes, or yes that it's the defendant that we make reference to?

Me: Both.

Prof: Fair enough. That seems obvious to me, though. Was it obvious to the entire Court as well?

Me: That there's no "um" in yes, or the other thing?

Prof: About the contacts.

Me: Well, in dissent, Justice Brennan takes the view that too much attention is paid to the defendants' contacts to the forum, and that a more permissive eye to the plaintiff's ties to both the state and the other party is warranted by "fairness."

Prof: Oh, so you're saying liberal Brennan and his trial lawyer-loving cronies on the Court are up to their old tricks?

Me: No, I said "permissive," not liberal.

Prof: But that's what you meant, right? I mean, we're talking about Brennan, the heir to Earl Warren and a President Kennedy appointee.

Me: Well, Justice Brennan was actually appointed by Eisenhower, a Republican, but I take your point.

Prof: Oh you do, do you?

Me: Yes, I do.

Prof: Well, I think you're brilliant, Chris. Congratulations, son, you just made Law Review.

Me: I did? Isn't there a write-on competition or something?

Prof: Yeah, but what the hell, I like you.

Me: Well, thank you, sir.

Prof: And here's a puppy for your trouble. His name's Barney.

Me: Sweet.

Prof: I'll see you all next week. And take time to reflect on your classmate Chris' manifest brilliance.

Me: I also read Hemingway.

Prof: Oops, you just blew it, Chris. Don't overreach, nobody likes a gunner.

Me: But can I keep the puppy?

Prof: Hell no, you're back to square one with me. See you next class.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

My sympathy for PC students just went to zero

In the BCS, it's best to lose early.

And the same is true in Law League basketball. In fact, the New York Times' computer ranking has us #1, just ahead of Southern Miss and Boise State. No joke.

Ok, so we lost our first game. But there were mitigating circumstances, and I'll enumerate those here:

1. We showed up at the SLiC, when the game was in Russell Gym. After seeing no opponent, we hopped into a pickup game with some undergrads for about 15 minutes before a PC student came by and found us. So most of our team had logged 10+ minutes prior to a 40 minute game. I blame Ralph Nader. Somehow, I'm sure this is his doing.

2. "Jackass" must be a 2L course. I mean really, Captain Headband should at least buy my teammates dinner first, if he's going to so flagrantly violate them.

3. I just had eye surgery.

4. Ok, #3 had absolutely nothing to do with our loss.

But really, I think we had fun, and I'd imagine the other guys did, as well. Then again, I don't think I saw any of them smile. There was a fundamental intensity gap, and I don't really think we're that intent on making it up. Unleash the fury, Mitch.

In sum, we've got a game each Sunday night for the next 5 weeks, so really, come on down and watch us...we're a work in progress.

To the PC team: Y'all have fun in Evidence, now. I'm going to go back to my LARC I memo. Hahahaha. Sucks to be you.

It's Gameday!! 9:00pm at the SLIC

This just in--the Spring Quarter 1L basketball team has its first game tonight...against the Practice Court guys.

Gametime is 9:00pm on Court 1 at the SLIC. Come and represent for your quarter, Sex and the City be damned. Ok, TiVo or tape it if you must. And I won't tell you who Carrie ends up with in the meantime, ok? So come watch us win, or suck, or suck less than the other team and win. Yeah, win!

I don't remember this one in Seventeen

Jim Dedman's brought to my attention (by way of Sua Sponte) the latest craze among practicing attorneys and CivPro students...

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?

Here's what it told me:

"YOU ARE RULE 20(a)! You are Rule 20, an important part of the Federal Rules' policy of permissive joinder. You are designed specifically to allow as many parties in an action as can be tried efficiently, and you'll include someone as long as there is some factual overlap between a claim involving them and the rest of the case at hand. You are popular, out-going, and are never far from friends. However, your overly gregarious nature and magnanimous approach to all things cause your closest friends to wonder that, even when you're surrounded by your compatriots, there is a part of you that feels cold and very alone."

There's an eery prescience to this quiz that's kinda creepy. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Green Day + Stress = Material for our 1L cover band + wasted time

An encouraging word to all my comrades, or what our professors are really thinking...

"Wrong, Now Please Sit Down"

(To the tune of Green Day's "When I Come Around")

You didn't raise your hand
But you'll answer if you can.
You've been searching for the issue
And you'll never find the rule
As you look around feeling sorry for yourself.

Well now I'm having fun
And your torture's just begun
Eyes are roaming and you're foaming
At the mouth so now you're going
To think real hard tomorrow about ditching class.

You're screwed, so fold your laptop down
'Cause you know you'll hear the sound:
"Wrong, now please sit down."

I've heard it all before.
If you're clueless, there's the door.
You're a loser, I'm the chooser, and that means I'm your abuser
Don't try to argue with me, 'cause you know I'm right.
You think you've seen the worst
But this quarter's just the first.
You may hate me, but your J.D. means six figures and the bling-bling
Unless you're still this stupid when you take the bar.

No greater joy than smacking down
All your egos with the sound:
"Wrong, now please sit down."

En Route to Waco and a Happy Birthday

I'm being ferried back up to Waco this evening after a post-op checkup, so I'll be around for both the Sex and the City finale (which I appreciate as a cultural event, mind you) and assorted Contracts worrying.

Also, here's a very Happy Birthday to one of our own in the first quarter class. As my present to her, the TPPF's homepage is now one of my links. Don't say I never gave you anything. :)

Who Is John Galt? And what's he doing in LARC?

Excepting a small (tiny, really) quiz in Property, our first on-the-record assignment is due next Wednesday. It's a running start in Baylor's practical preparation fixation (obsession?) heretofore known as the "LARC memo." Basically, we're given a memo from a "Senior Partner" at the firm at which we're "Associates." Feels cool, huh?

In this case, the Partner has the file on a "Howard Rourke, the president of Fountainhead State Bank." Read a little Ayn Rand, Prof. LARC? :) In any case, after a brief background on his claim, the Partner has asked us to examine the relevant cases (which are conveniently included) and make a recommendation on what, if any, damages our "client" can expect to recover.

I won't say this very often, but it's assignments like these that I think pre-law track undergraduates are particularly prepared for. Granted, it's a simple matter of solving a problem using the materials you're given--and we've been working in the subject matter for two weeks now--but familiarity with the form is something that comes from seeing them, lots of them. Everyone that clerked for a firm or government has seen dozens if not hundreds of these memos, and that provides at least a small measure of confidence in dealing with them.

Now I'm certainly not saying that pre-law folks will do better on the first memo than other students, it just seems that they might have a small head start.

That said, it's kind of intimidating to me, at least, having the first writing assignment be an advocacy exercise. The closest analogue I can think of is back when we Texas public school students took the TAAS test in elementary school and the writing prompt was something to the effect of "Write a letter to your principal about why they should offer hot dogs in the cafeteria." It's all about advocacy and winning for your client.

I would much prefer "write 10 pages on the development of the theory of liability in the New York Court of Appeals in the early Twentieth Century." Alas, that prepares you to teach law, not practice it. And what do we do at Baylor Law? We make Baylor lawyers.

I'm all for that, though, and to be honest, for about 15 minutes this morning I actually cared about Mr. Rourke and his daughter, Dominique, and wanted to make sure that our understanding of the law prevailed. Then I realized they weren't real. That hurts. :)

Friday, February 20, 2004

A quickie before pre-op

I meant to ask last week whilst discussing CivPro, but what exactly does the phrase "pig in a poke" mean? Contextually, I gather that it refers to duping someone into buying something worthless, but really, what the hell is a poke? And what's a pig doing in it? These are the things that I think about.

Prof. CivPro: "So, Mr. Fahrenthold, what is he left with?"
Me: "Just poke, sir."
Prof. CivPro: "That's right, just poke."

God, I think that's funny.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

A Polier Scandal Primer

Jim Dedman, Beaumont attorney and Baylor Law alumnus, has a good intro to the Kerry non/quasi/pseudo/simmering scandal over Alexandra Polier, a former campaign worker. What makes Jim's analysis a little more fun is that he takes on the Friendster profile angle. It's truly a brave new world for sex scandals.

I'm not kidding about that Friendster bit. It's juicy stuff.

Property's Not So Fun Anymore

I remember calling my Property class a cool, philosophical undergrad seminar-type class where we spend tuition dollars by the barrel pseudo-debating over interesting "issues" like genetic engineering and stuff.

Not anymore.

The estates system seems like a 938-year old joke that western civilization is continuously playing on law students. I'm one of those guys that actually likes the history parts of our casebooks, and I think it's cool to see how we have our roots in English common law, etc. etc. Then we left behind the quaint "what is property?" part of the course and have begun learning the Anglo-American system of estates. No no, it's not "stuff" anymore, it's a "fee simple absolute." Wrong again, Chris, it's not a "thing you get when/if something else happens," it's a "fee simple subject to a condition subsequent."

One of my chief complaints about political science (and really, any non-professional graduate discipline) is that there is so much jargon for the sake of writing papers about the jargon. Take a Critical Studies or Postmodern Thought course and the weight of synthetic things to study is enough to make one noxious.

But the same persists in the law, I suppose, so I can't get too mad. Actually, I can. There was a time when "fee simple determinable" was the most succinct way to express the idea that you get something as long as something else is happening. We just never updated the language, which is a far cry from CREATING language to express made-up things. Oy. So yeah, how 'bout that A-Rod trade? :)

Vision Held Hostage, Day 3

I missed Contracts this morning. Not for lack of doing the reading, or waking up, but mostly for lack of seeing. I'm a little better off now, though I worry I look like those zombies in "28 Days Later."

In any case, I should be back in the saddle again this afternoon, post-Property, and we'll return to our regularly scheduled minutiae. Oh yeah, and the Law Buddy Picnic at George's! Alas, I did not get my wanton underwear model for a law buddy. That is, unless "Scott" does some work on the side--but that's really not what I had in mind.

One of these days, when I'm a famous attorney, scholar, or both, I'll do some pro bono speaking work at local high schools and such. Much like those athletes that get an STD and make the rounds preaching safe sex or whatever, I'll give speeches on taking out your contacts every day. Many thanks to those of you who have called to offer best wishes or your own eyes for transplants, and I'll see y'all soon.

p.s. Someone please tell me if we finished Acceptance today in Contracts.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

My (first) law school ulcer

R.I.P., cool no-glasses look.

Yeah, so I went and gave myself a corneal ulcer, which is almost as fun as the regular kind. Alas, I can't wear contacts for months, my eyes are super-sensitive to natural light, and I have no one to blame but myself.

Sounds like a true law school malady. Now I HAVE to stay in the library, I HAVE to wear scholarly glasses, and I HAVE to hate myself for getting into this. See? It makes perfect sense.

So, that said, if anyone wants to come read like twenty sections of the RSK to me tonight, that'd be super.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Of Sniffles and Contacts

Yeah, so I didn't post Tuesday 'cause I couldn't look at a computer screen (or any fluorescent light) long enough to type anything. I'm in the process of getting or getting over a cold in addition to what happens when you wear your disposable contacts too long. From just this small experience, I can divine that nothing is worse than being sick in law school.

In Property, we are given two "free" days (days simple absolute, haha) on which we can ask not to be called on. I almost approached Prof. Property to use one of my "peremptory strikes," but given the relative lightness of the reading and how early in the quarter it was, I decided to bite the bullet. Luckily for me, my number wasn't called.

No such luck in CivPro. Having waddled through the day with 1.5 eyes in commission, I was feeling something like a cross between a Christmas tree in a dumpster and death on a Triscuit. Nevertheless, International Shoe Co. v. Washington waits for no man. There is no try in CivPro, only do, and so I did my best to look attentive. That, and I think our class felt we had something to prove to the Prof after yesterday. That said, I was called on after it was noticed that I was "frowning."

Whether it was the service of process on corporate persons or my eye about to digest itself, I'm not sure, but frowning I was. That was it, though, and the rest of the class passed without incident. In Spring quarter 1L world, a class without incident is a good thing.

An unfortunate side effect to feeling like ass is that I missed the new student barbecue at the Law School. Several members of the faculty were in attendance, and I'm told a good--if interesting--time was had by all. More importantly, however, we have no Contracts tomorrow morning, so I finally get to sleep in. Tuesday night is a sacred thing to the Spring-starters of 2004.

Monday, February 16, 2004

We're Cozy. Yeah, that's it. Cozy.

I met a third-quarter student (a 1L who started in August) today in the Lounge and learned something about Baylor Law School that I hadn't known before. There are about 95 people in the Fall's entering class, while there are 55 in mine and a little less that start in the summer. I figured every class was about the same size. (This was dumb of me, as I know we're about 400+ and the math didn't add up, but oh well.) Since not very many of our classrooms will abide 95 people, the Fall class is split in two. Therefore, while I go to class with everyone that entered this February, Third-quarters only see half of their comrades. Kinda sad, no?

While I realize that it's functionally the same for the Fall-enterers in terms of who they hang out with, it's different in that they don't have a monopoly on the first-quarter experience like we do. We're the only ones doing it right now. There is no "other" first-quarter class with its own stories, heroes and villains. Not a big deal, but its nice to know that I'm looking at everyone similarly situated when I sit in class. I don't know why, but I like that. It also means that when I see someone I don't know, I'd look really stupid if I asked them what Contracts reading we have for tomorrow. And that's what it's all about--me not looking stupid.

Then I reflected on the fact that the University of Texas Law School has about 500 entering students, all divided like EIGHT ways. I'm convinced they stay about 1500-strong so they can say they have at least one thing in common with Harvard Law School.

A Day Off

Since we don't observe Presidents' Day here at Baylor (we don't want any "State" mixing with our "Church"), I've decided I'm going to take it easy today. I'm sure Profs. Property and CivPro won't mind. I'll raise my hand at the beginning and lead us all in an antiphonal reading of Washington's Farewell Address and Lincoln's Second Inaugural. Then we'll have a "What does Lincoln mean to me?" campfire-type sharetime. If that doesn't take up 65 minutes, we can move on to that great parlor game, "Which President Would You Rather Party With?" Dubya aside, I'd say Teddy could knock a few back in his day. And I bet after a few shots, he'd invade something on a dare. Sound familiar? (Just kidding, that's a little love for my non-interventionist friends.)

On second thought, I think I'll just slave away all day and be serious. Yeah, that should be fun.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Odds and Ends

A few new developments this weekend, some more notable than others, none really notable at all.

My roommates got a cat. They've named it Leo, but I refuse to call it that. It's gotta be Smackers, Homeboy, or Moving Target.

I made my first charitable donation. KWBU, the Waco affiliate of NPR, has been having a pledge drive for about the past two weeks. The great programming over at National Public Radio will now remain on the air due to my $25 contribution. Ok, maybe they'll get a new stapler or something. Better yet, they should have to do "All Things Considered" with mariachi background music for a week. Sadly, $25 doesn't buy me a lot of clout over there. Now I'm wondering what the law school would name after me for 25 bucks. A wall socket, perhaps?

We've determined that Section 21 of the Restatement of the Law of Contracts is funky. So hah.

A basketball team by any other name...

As promised, the Spring 1Ls will be represented in the Law League Basketball Whatnot. If you still want to play, there are 2-3 spaces left on our team, and hey, how cool would it be if we fielded two? That's right, an all-1L title game. "But Chris, there are only like 5 teams." Aw, shut up, you're ruining my moment. But seriously, the signup list is in the Students Lounge until Thursday, Feb. 19th. Play. And don't worry, we all suck too. Then again, I know there is a team of PC students that are probably stressed enough to throw elbows in the paint, so I'll understand if you just want to come cheer.

Now the fun part--naming the team. I've already received several great (and suggestive) suggestions from current students and alumni, so send 'em if you've got 'em. Otherwise, we'll have to be the "Spring Quarter 1Ls," and then the only cleverly-named thing we'll have is our law school cover band, the Pre-Trial (Loco)Motions. We've got this great number where all our groupies start pumping their right fists in the air and playing a wicked air-bass line with their left. You might have seen us at Treff's last night. :)

Onward to study...

Saturday, February 14, 2004

You know what's romantic?

Studying at the library on Valentine's Day. Who needs dinner and a movie when you've got your imaginary (no no, hypothetical) friends Buyer A and Seller B?

I'd like to see a law school version of those crappy little heart candies with the words on them--you know, the ones that taste like ass, are hard as hell, and yet have persisted for lo these many years. The law school Valentine candies could say things like "Sucks 2 B U" or "Remember Sleep?" Then there are the cheeky ones--"Depose Me," "Charge My Jury," and "So How 'Bout We Go Back To My Place And Not Talk About The Law."

Oh, and I signed up a team for Law League basketball today. More on that to come. We're going to seriously kick some upperclassman ass.


Here's a conversation I might have had if I had gone into work today:


Me: Ughhhh.

Caller: Um, hello, is Chris there?

Me: Ughhhh.

Caller: Well, this is ____ from the Waco Trib and I was really hoping to get 15 minutes with the candidate sometime before Wednesday.

Me: Ughhhh.

Caller: Is that so? Well, the story's about [insert big fat Arlene-breaking scandal], so I thought you'd want to comment.

Me: But Pennoyer represents the constitutionalization of territorial jurisdiction.

Caller: What?

Me: Ughhhh.

Caller: I'm going to write a horrible story about you, and then I'm going to make copies of it and send them to your mother.

Me: Mr. ____, please stand when you're addressing me.

Caller: Whatever, go to hell, Chris.

Me: Ughhhh.

Moral of the story: snow, Saturday, and a late night of, um, playing Bingo have me feeling a little less than human this morning.

Dancing by the fire, or sipping by the pool?

There are two major schools of thought when it comes to post-first-week decompression. One says you should--of rights--decompress, and the other says, you oughtn't. I'm of the former persuasion and have just spent the past 5 hours doing so. That being said, if anyone needs me before noon (hahaha, client counselling team helpers, y'all are far better folk than I), I'll be well into unconscious.

Anyone who wants to:

1. Go over Harris v. Balk, Hess v. Etc.
2. Go over Monday's Contracts, or
3. Watch movies and bitch about law school,

Please just give me a call. I'm in the Student Directory under "Prof. CivPro's 2/13 Question Bitch."

Friday, February 13, 2004

A Waco-y Winter Wonderland

It's snowing!!! Like, no really. Big, fat flakes that stick to your hair and clothes (but sadly, not the roads or grass). Those of you in Connecticut or Chicago may scoff at our amazement, but we don't care, it's snow.

So what's our class cancellation policy, again?

The Perfect Storm

In what can only be described as a freak occurrence, scheduling shifts throughout the week have caused us to have all four classes on one day. That's right, 260 minutes of law school on a Friday. This is either:

1. A classic first week hazing stunt by the funny people in the Dean's office.
2. A classic first week hazing stunt by the funny people on the Faculty.
3. An unmitigated evil due to it being Friday the 13th.

Or I guess these things just happen sometimes. :)

To lift the spirit of the law student, here's something that should get you out of the Harris v. Balk blues, courtesy of the funniest 1L at UT Law.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Law Buddies

As a quick break from Contracts and CivPro, I'm filling out our law buddy matching form thingy. Basically, we 1Ls are paired with an upper-quarter who will sort of shepherd us through the hazards of beginning law school at Baylor. Sounds like a great idea to me, I really dig this kind of stuff.

One of the questions is "what is you favorite movie?" I know I'm overthinking this, but I keep trying to answer based on the kind of person I think they'd match me with. Let's see, what's the wanton underwear model law student's favorite movie...? I'm at a loss. I'm gonna go with the Big Lebowski and let the chips fall where they may.

Back to CivPro...

I got a papercut on my tongue. My tongue hurts. A lot.

Check out the American Canon of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure over at McSweeney's. As a two-time entrant in the Bad Hemingway Contest, I laughed my ass off. Plus, the Lost Journals of Doogie Howser, M.D. are hilarious. Many thanks to EmptyThoughtBubbles for the tip.

A Short Note on Anonymity

I don't have it anymore--if I ever did.

The goal of SoTheBearSays isn't to bag on people or profs, so I think I'll be ok. It's a disconcerting thing, however, to be reminded of just how public the internet is. By this I mean the "oh, you're the one with the website" conversation I just had for the first time with someone I hadn't met. I assumed it was inevitable, but I figured it would take a little longer than this. My aim was always plausible deniability, and being the only Chris from USC kind of shoots that all to hell. :) That said, the old policy of other characters (especially classmates) remaining nameless will continue, as will my hope of zero retaliation in class. We'll see about that one.

In any case, here's a hearty welcome to my new readers, be you faculty or classmates.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


My going to the game last night instead of reading for Thursday's Contracts has been punished. I'm missing tonight's new West Wing. Don't get me wrong, I'm taping it, but hey, it's an inconvenience.

Life's rough. :)

"Don't give me that Juris-My-Diction crap"

Argh. I think I've finally got a handle on "Pennoyer v. Neff," which is a good thing, since we'll be spending several days on it in CivPro. Of course, I thought I had a handle on it yesterday morning, and I was at a complete loss when it came to finding the key issue(s). Studying in law school seems almost like an inverse of the old quip, "If you look around the table and can't tell who the sucker is, it's probably you." Chances are that if everybody's clueless but you, you're probably the MOST clueless. Not always true, but still.

Three more hours of meditation on the 14th Amendment, however, and I think I'm in the driver's seat. Of course, I could be in the driver's seat of a monster truck hurtling toward a cliff, but that's how it goes. This case is apparently the universal introduction to CivPro (if the blogosphere is any indication), and I can't help but think it's because it's so damned near incomprehensible on first, second and third readings.

Oh, and in the cool event file, Bill Jones, former counsel to Governor Perry and a Baylor lawyer, will be speaking at the law school at 3:30 today. I probably would have gone anyway (since counsel to a politician is a career I'd like to know more about), but Prof. Contracts made it mandatory. Damn. And I wanted to get conscientious student credit. Maybe next time.

p.s. The Ferrell Center may be just down the street, but the "feral center" is right here at the law school. I've seen at least three random cats in the past two days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Unwise? Perhaps.

In honor of no Contracts, LARC or Property tomorrow, I and several of my classmates are going to the basketball game tonight between Baylor and the University of Texas. In addition to a few Pac-10ers, we are a smattering of UT grads, Baylor alums, and Tech faithful (who apparently just hate Texas...a lot).

You might question the wisdom of taking 2-3 hours to go to a game when there's CivPro to read, and you'd be right. But I'm going to chalk this one up to "class cohesion development." Um, yeah, and networking. Would we really be any closer to understanding territorial jurisdiction in Pennoyer v. Neff if we stayed home?


Oh well, we'll annoy the undergrads in front of us as we debate the issue during timeouts.

The 6 Types of Law Student

I'll try to maintain a modest balance between posts that are about law school and those that aren't. Until the complete newness wears off, however, be prepared to hear more than you probably cared to know about life at Baylor Law.

Professor LARC outlined the 6 types of law student per his observations in 4 years of teaching. There are:

1. The Disgusting Elite (He says no one's ever graduated Baylor Law with a 4.0, but these are the 3.9s.)

2. The Star Students (Solid performers that will make excellent lawyers, these folks generally can get a clerkship.)

3. The Single Focus Student (Very good at one or two classes, but not an all-around virtuoso)

4. The Survivors (The great middle, these can be further divided into Risers and Faders.)

5. The Graspers at Straws (The ones who just don't get it, but trying and trying to "think like a lawyer" slowly drives them insane.)

6. The DOAs (Rather self-explanatory, huh?)

We look around and wonder...

Monday, February 09, 2004

New Lawyer Shows

I was watching about 15 minutes of the Grammy Awards last night, and I saw a teaser for a new show from CBS debuting in March. Called "Century City," it's a lawyer show set in the year 2030 (or somewhere thereabouts). Sadly, has yet to give it its own page, but there is a video preview of the show available.

If they go heavy on the futuristic stuff, it could get very tired very fast (genetic engineering, AI, etc.). Then again, if it's a primarily legal drama-driven piece, it could definitely give us David E. Kelley watchers a new weekly indulgence. (And really, let's hope it's not set in Boston, too.) Now what would be cool is a weekly lawyer show that profiled the classic cases we law students learn. I've even got a name for it!..."Common Law."

In one episode, a man could be hunting a fox with "hounds and large dogs" on unpossessed land somewhere in New York, when another guy catches and kills said fox. Attorneys (in 1805 period piece costume, of course) would argue over whether the catcher was guilty of trespass. The First Act would be the facts of the case, acted out in a sort of preamble/flashback. The Second Act, following the first commercial break would be the trial. And then, in the Final Act, the Appellate Court would hear the case and rule like the casebooks quote them! I think I'll pitch it to the WB.

But seriously, I hope this CBS thing doesn't suck.

First Day of Class

I feel much better about my first day here at 4:30pm than I did this morning. Take heart, Brendan, it's not so scary once it actually starts. Before I get to each class, I want to note a sad passing. I'm afraid the courier bag has to be retired. There is absolutely no way to carry 3 large texts, a pamphlet, my dictionary, the Commerce Code, and the Rules of Procedure in that bag without dislocating my shoulder. To those of you who never liked it in the first place: the courier bag never liked you either. :)

Contracts: After one day, this still seems like it will be the most difficult to think through. The material is straightforward, and command of the material seems particularly important in this course. (not that every other course doesn't demand it) That is, of my three classes, this seems the most difficult in which to wing it if you aren't prepared. The professor is courteous, demanding and will not abide "um" while answering. Looking down at one's notes is also unacceptable. I look forward to it, I just wish it were later in the day.

Property: If a 1L class can be said to be fun, Property is that class. It came the closest to an undergraduate seminar-type feel, and the professor enjoys the discussion aspect of the Socratic Method. Make no mistake, she's tough and unyielding, but today, at least, she showed a bit of a sense of humor. Plus, Property seems the most philosophical of the three, and so it's more fun to prepare for than CivPro.

Civil Procedure: Which brings us to the infamous young professor from Friday. Today, he was much nicer, for lack of a better word, and actually made a serious effort to lessen our anxiety. His 3 class rules were given in true CivPro fashion:

1. Don't be late.
2. Don't be absent.
3. Don't be unprepared.

"The exception to Rule 2 can be broken down into three elements. First, you must notify me ahead of time. Second, you must have a valid excuse. Third, your excuse must be externally verifiable. Of course, the exception to Rule 2's exception is that if you were providentially hindered from executing 2.1-2.3, then your absence and failure to notify are excused. That is, if you died in a bus accident on the way to class, I would excuse your not telling me beforehand. You could thus go to your Maker secure in the knowledge that all was forgiven on the CivPro front."

After an overview of the parts of a case, state and federal courts, and the necessity of rules, we were let go. Not a bad first day. Back to reading the Uniform Commerical Code...

Sunday, February 08, 2004


In the first victory of my legal career, I've just been informed that I won a coffee mug in the Westlaw raffle. Super. I hope the small joy of winning something isn't overshadowed by a bunch of Westlaw spam, as giving my email address was the cost of the raffle.

For now, at least, I'm a winner--a winner with a supercool Westlaw mug. Alright, Lexis, let's see what you can do.

What I've Learned So Far

In the past 24 hours, I have learned:

--Law students can talk about nothing but the law and the relative football strength of their undergrad institutions (luckily for me, haha).

--20 pages of Property cases are much longer reading than 50 of CivPro narrative.

--Never have your spleen removed at UCLA, lest the scientists make billions of dollars off of your cell line. (see Moore v. Regents of Univ. of California, 51 Cal. 3d. 120)

--I suspect Contracts will be the most difficult of my 3 substantive classes.

--If I feel overwhelmed with a whole weekend to prepare, then come Tuesday, I'll be screwed.

--All we 1Ls seem to be lowballing each other, trying to say how not-smart we are. Like we're all John Edwards in Michigan or something.

--If the seminary gets a Starbucks, the law school should have two.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Game On

Two seconds was all it took.

Two seconds to scare us all shitless and make us want to impress him in equal degree.

Professor CivPro's "orientation" was anything but--in fact, it was more of a dry run for class on Monday, complete with ejection of two poor souls who stumbled in one second behind the professor. "You're late; hit the road." Two seconds, and we've already got casualties. So of course we listened intently to the discussion over procedural posture while doing our best to remain continent.

So the next lecture from Professor Some-2L-Course was a breath of fresh air. Just think of this man as Timothy Leary meets Roscoe Pound. And for some reason, he thinks that Seinfeld, Xena: Warrior Princess, and Wrestling are what kids are watching these days. Some of my favorite quotes from this peripatetic professor:

"If you don't read the cases and you don't know them, you will suck as a lawyer."

"We are dedicated here at Baylor to ensuring that you don't suck."

I wish I had him this quarter. :)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Kindergarten Redux

Orientation was interesting. It felt like a throwback to the first day of Kindergarten or something. Seriously, 1Ls filing into the lounge, pointed out for all by our great big registration packets. Then come the nervously enthusiastic introductions, the "where are you from"s, the "do you know..."s. The sizing each other up. :)

After a speech from the Associate Dean (memo to myself: avoid Federal Taxation like the plague, it sounds like hell for a non-business major), we got the IT/Library/Facility schpiel. (memo to myself after consulting the catalogue: tough shit, Chris, Federal Income Tax is a required 2L course).

I left not realizing I had just spent over 3 hours in my new home, and I already have reading with a promised lecture and grilling on it tomorrow. No, really:

"Prior to class on Friday, read the complete texts of United States v. Johnson, French v. Jeffries, Price v. Wilson, and Cole v. Chief of Police. Take notes on the cases and be prepared to answer questions about them."

I haven't decided whether tomorrow will be my day to shine or my day to try to be invisible. That decision will probably be made for me at 8:00am.

p.s. Somebody should tell me how to underline text in html. The cyber-bluebook would approve.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

And So It, really.

For those of you who have questioned my law school blog status, grown tired of incessant politicking, and patiently waited for the main event, your wait is over.

Today, reading assignments for the first day of class were posted on the web, making my long absence from academic responsibility one step closer to being over. Sad, no?

This will be followed by Orientation on Thursday, whereupon I'll finally get to meet the 54 other members of my entering class. Then we get our pledge pin, a paddle, and a testosterone-laden nickname like "Moose" or something. Ok, all but the last part. Then, on Friday we have a little lecture called "Introduction to the Study of the Law." I love crap like that. In that moment, my classmates and I aren't future realtors, divorce lawyers, tobacco defenders or dropouts. We're students of the law.

But for now, I'm loving the fact that I only have a supplemental packet to read for LARC and about 20 pages for Contracts. And so...

"A contract is a promise or a set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty...

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Am I The Only One?

Um, I hate to allow something so banal on my blog (ok, sex sells, so I'm not), but I think I just saw Janet Jackson's right breast for a split second on the Super Bowl Halftime Show. I'm pretty sure it wasn't just wishful thinking, 'cause there are an awful lot of celebrity breasts that I'd like to see that I'm not. Either way, it was really weird. Weird, but cool.