Monday, October 29, 2007

"Okay, moving on. Even I'm bored by this."

-- Legal Research professor during Westlaw training today.

ALSO: "I could go on all night about this... which is why you won't invite me to parties."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Laptops in Class

First of all, I'd like to state my appreciation for the email function that lets any law student send mass emails to the whole law school. There's a good argument to be made about that function encouraging open debate, but my approval is grounded in the amusing exchanges that happen every once in a while because of that function. Here's the most recent email-based controversy that made me laugh.

The law school is considering banning laptops in class. They sent an email out last week listing their points:

  • in class laptop use encourages students to surf the web,
  • students are failing to contribute to classroom discussion as a result of laptop use,
  • laptops encourage students to become stenographers rather thoughtful note-takers,
  • students surfing the web cause a distraction for other students.
Those are some pretty paternalistic arguments. Here are their proposed solutions:
  • A no-laptop policy: a ban of laptop use (in-class)
  • Honor Code Violation: any non-authorized laptop use will constitute an honor code violation; likewise, failure to report a fellow student’s non-authorized laptop use will also constitute an honor code violation
  • Absence: professor may mark students absent for non-authorized laptop use
  • Grade Deduction: professors may lower students grades for non-authorized laptop use
Are we in high school again? If you have to threaten students with an honor code violations and grade reductions for not paying attention in class, something is wrong. A couple (highly reactionary, but hilarious) emails were sent in response to the school's email. Here are the highlights:

"If laptops are taken away, I'm going to bring my desktop."

"How much money does the school collect each semester in tuition? Frankly, if I want to sleep through class and borrow an outline to prepare for the exam, I think I've paid for that right. And I will take responsibility for my grades."

"If the faculty and administration want to treat this "school" as a business, I fail to see why the students shouldn't respond in kind."

"[I]t all comes down to personal responsibility. The faculty and administration should focus on controlling the aspects of our legal curriculum that they control. They should leave the practice of being students up to the adults who happen to be their students."

So, what do you think?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wall Street Journal Profile

Check out the profile we scored on Peter Lattman's WSJ law blog. Be sure to leave him some comments.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Under Neat That"

From the Grammar Group:

We had a "going away" party yesterday for a lady at our Little Rock claim office. One of the supervisors called a Wal-Mart and ordered the cake.

He told them to write:
"Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that write "We will miss you."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New York Times

"Your Modifier is Dangling"

In the highlight of my grammar career so far, the New York Times interviewed me last week about the Facebook group (I judge you when you use poor grammar.) The article is in this Sunday's Sunday Style section, and here's the part of the article about the group:
“Unfortunately, using poor grammar comes off as less pretentious,” said Sharon Nichols, a 22-year-old law student. “Everything is just so calculated in politics.
Ms. Nichols is one of many young people throwing off her generation’s reputation for slovenly language, and taking up the gauntlet for good grammar. Last year, after seeing a sign on a restaurant window that said “Applications Excepted,” she started a grammar vigilante group on Facebook, the social networking site, and called it “I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar.” Its 200,000 members have gleefully and righteously sent in 5,000 photographs documenting grammatical errors

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ever heard a tornado siren?

Yeah, me neither until today. Scary!

In other words, your lawyer is an idiot.

Judge Lynn N. Hughes, in Faulkner v. Fort Bend Independent School District:

"The plaintiffs are ordered to replead... eliminating from the amended complaint all excessive capitalization, empty formalisms, obscure abstractions, and other conceptual and grammatical imbecilities."

Attractive Nuisance

Favorite thing I learned in law school today: the phrase "attractive nuisance."

Best email I've ever written.

David Lat edits Above the Law, an online legal tabloid of sorts. He's looking for a personal assistant, and I sent him this Facebook message about it.

(Keep in mind the site is VERY gossipy and irreverent.)

Hey David,

I have a (legal, heh) proposition for you. Right now I'm not in the DC area, but I saw your note and wanted to log my interest in working for you this summer.

I'm currently in law school, but I've had some unusual experiences. I started the Facebook group "I judge you when you use poor grammar," of which you are a distinguished member. Because the group became unexpectedly large, I've gotten some experience in entrepreneurship, dealing with the media, and writing for a large audience. Our latest and greatest piece of publicity is an upcoming article in the 10/21 NYT Sunday Styles section.

So I find myself in an interesting position. I have a formal education in political science and law, but an interest in tawdry political commentary and general frivolity (but then again, who doesn't?). It's my sincere desire to contribute to the world of political sensationalism, and preferably not as the object of some politician's philandering.

On that note, keep me in mind if you need an employee for the summer. If you've already found the perfect personal assistant, I'd love some advice on where else you think I might find summer work. Either way, I'll continue my faithful reading of Above the Law. It gives me hope from the stuffy world of law school.



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Legal Research professor, on his insistence on printing paper handouts:

"I'm giving this to you solely because I hate trees."

"I Am America (And So Can You!)"

"After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call….I am hereby declaring that I will enter the presidential primary in my native South Carolina, running as a favorite son," Colbert said on his show Tuesday night. "I defy any other candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina — those beautiful, beautiful people."

Stephen Colbert announces his "candidacy." (CNN)

"Colbert-Colbert — that's a strong ticket," he argued.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Latest and Greatest

Last week, I interviewed with Bob Morris of the New York Times about the Facebook grammar group. His article isn't specifically about the group, but it is about correcting people's grammar. Look for it in the 10/21 Sunday Styles section.