Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Disdain for Poor Grammar Brings UA Student Success

Lovely article by Wayne Grayson in the Tuscaloosa News.
Sharon Eliza Nichols’ quiet, polite voice doesn’t sound like it belongs to the type of person who would author a book called “I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar.”

But when Nichols begins to talk about the experience of writing a book, a more fun, even mischievous, side comes out.

favorites so far.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Death to Dead Law

Dead law is dead. Thank goodness. The exam was today, and I honestly feel like there was nothing else I could have done to prepare. My friend Bud and I pulled an all-nighter, which I think was his first, just to memorize as much as we could (the exam was closed-book). He also calmed me down when I was close to tears this morning because I felt so unprepared (and I've been studying this for weeks).

[SIDEBAR: I've mentioned tears several times in the last couple days. Something about exams and lack of sleep makes them happen; I'm usually not "that girl crying in the hallway."]

Do you ever get that feeling, though, that right when the proctor says "ok, pencils down and stop typing" that you missed something? I got that feeling and then remembered right away the third duty that a trustee has: loyalty, prudence, and impartiality. I couldn't remember impartiality! I remembered that it started with an "i" and was a fairly long word, but I couldn't deduce impartiality from that. Ugh. Hopefully that won't count too much against me.

The rest of the test was fairly straight forward, but it does no good to analyze my performance at this point. It's done; I can't change anything, and I'm stuck with whatever grade I got.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tide Fans

My friend Barron at The New Republic pulled up this article by Howell Raines for me, about legendary Coach Bear Bryant (which goes nicely with this article by Jason Zengerle, addressing racial relations at the historic university).

I bring this up because I was reminded this weekend, the weekend of the SEC Championship game in which we beat the heck out of Florida, just how far Crimson Tide fans will go for their team. I know people planning road trips to Pasadena, CA, where the National Championship will be. That's somewhere around 29 hours of driving.

In the freshman class there seems to be a rush of both girls and guys named Bryant. So the crazy fans aren't just naming their pets after the team or a coach -- they named their kids after him. My favorite is an infant in the church nursery named Crimson. Crimson, the color, like Crimson Tide.

Talk about devotion to your team.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Shout Out

This is so flattering, and I'm so thankful to Aaron Latham and Jeb Richter for doing it. The law school put a little bio on the homepage with links to my blog and the Amazon page for the book. How nice is that?

(You should be able to click on the screenshot for a bigger view, or just go to the law school's homepage if you want to see it.)

"There was no reflection on this habit, no idea that God deserved better than cliches."

Quote of the day:
Now there was no antidote to the stock phrases I had been hearing over the years that had begun to pain me whenever they were uttered. 'The Lord has really laid a burden on my heart for you. How's your walk with the Lord? She has a heart for single mothers. Let's just lift these things up to Jesus. We just pray, Lord, for your wisdom and guidance.'

It all sounded like effeminate earnestness. It was lingo. People picked up the phrases and passed them around like a contagion, which meant they were perfectly happy to use what was lying about and say what everyone else was saying. There was no reflection on this habit, no idea that God deserved better than cliches. -- Not That Kind of Girl
I like this quote because it expresses my frustration with organized, especially evangelical, religion. God deserves better than our words, and He certainly deserves better than cliches.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Deep Fried Babies

A few weeks ago a girl in the newsroom said something so funny I almost fell out of my chair laughing. We were talking about how southern people will deep fry just about anything, and she said:
My grandmama would fry a BABY if she could. She'd then proceed to CAN that baby, because she cans everything in sight -- pears, apples, babies, if that were socially acceptable.
I think that adequately illustrates the southerner's love of fried food and canning food to preserve it.

We now have a quote sheet on the wall of the newsroom to keep track of quotable moments like this one.

Alabama Election Law

My biggest exam this semester is dead law -- technically titled Decedents' Estates -- and it's about wills and trusts. The other big exam I have is in Alabama Election Law.

I know this is a long shot, but if anyone has an outline for Alabama Election Law, it would be greatly appreciated and I'd return the favor in (almost) any way I could. Email me at Senichols [at]

Exams and Root Canals

Has anyone had a root canal? I had to have one a few weeks ago, and while it wasn't painful during the procedure (they gave me so much Novocaine my face was numb up to my eyes), it hurt very badly afterwards. Root canals are done in two stages, so I go back for the second part tomorrow.

To anyone who's had one: What should I expect? Will it hurt as badly afterwards as it did the first time?

This came at a particularly bad time, right before exams. Ugh. At least my biggest exam is nine days away.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fun With Word Verification

Facebook has been making me type in word verifications to send messages lately, and I'm amused by how strange the combinations are. It's always two words that don't go together at all. Some examples from today:
  • Putty tale
  • Together plump
  • Senile tame
I'll start taking screenshots of the funnier ones. For some reason, they make me want to use them as phrases in sentences. I have dead law (wills and trusts) to study, but you guys go for it -- use them in
a sentence.
Alternatively, if you've seen any funny ones lately, leave them in the comments.

UPDATE: Facebook gave me this one today.

"The afloat."

This one doesn't even use real words! Blintzes forma? Challenge: make up a definition for "blintzes forma."

Last one: "Antidote ADA."

Posting More

I've been told I need to update more, and I'm making a commitment to do that now. So here's an update.

The semester has been really great. I went to Las Vegas to visit a friend and his family, and that was wonderful. It made me want to be part of a big Hispanic family, speak Spanish, and have cousins and uncles who are really just family friends (they call everyone "cousin" and "uncle").

Here are some pictures of a light show in old Vegas. My camera broke, so I took them with my iPhone.

We had Thanksgiving at my parents' house in Northport (about 20 minutes away), and my grandma and aunt came. It was a nice family get-together, and a great break from law school.

Today my friend Matt and I are going to church then school to start the hardcore studying. He's my accountability friend for today. You don't necessarily need to be studying the same thing to be studying "with" someone, you just need someone who'll sit with you and put pressure on you to get some real work done. He's that for me, and hopefully I'm that for him (although I don't think he really needs it -- he's more disciplined than I am).

In any event, it's church time. Have a great Sunday, everyone.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Students Sniff Something New

I'm working at The Crimson White, UA's student newspaper, and when we stay late (usually) we get loopy and funny things happened.

Last night we were trying to come up with a headline for a story about police officers staging an event where they burned something that gave off the smell of weed, so people would be aware of what it smells like (kinda redundant for college students, don't you think?).

Proposed, and rejected, headline: Students sniff something new.

SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas at the Law School

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas came to the law school to speak the other day. He lead two sessions: one in the morning geared towards the 1Ls, and one in the afternoon for everyone else. I couldn't make the afternoon lecture, so I sneaked into the 1L session and listened in. He mainly did questions and answers, which I thought was semi-risky for such an important public figure. I guess because he's not a politician, and because he's experienced at doing this, he has more latitude to speak off-the-cuff.

Here are some quotes I wrote down:

  • CT: First year [of law school] was clear as cement!
  • CT: You'd think I was in a concentration camp or something and I had to find a way to fill my time -- law school.
  • CT: In the 18 years I've been there [on SCOTUS] I've yet to hear an unkind word in our conferences.
  • Q: How many hours a day do you work?
  • A: Less than 24 hours a day.
  • CT: I don't like excerpts because people have agendas when they excerpt cases. (Kinda true, right? I've never thought about it. Our books are filled with excerpts from cases mixed with explanation from the authors, but now that I think about it, you can't really present part of a case without showing some bias. It's like piecing together quotes -- you can get them to mean whatever you want.)
  • Q: What do you think the future of affirmative action is?
  • A: It'll always be on shaky ground because of the 14th Amendment.
  • CT: [Totally nonchalantly]: One thing lead to another, and I ended up on the Supreme Court.
Here's the question I asked: It seems like, the more I learn, the more I become aware of how much information there is out there that I don't know. That, coupled with the fact that law school has trained us how to argue both sides of cases, and it's made it harder for me to take a firm position on an issue. How do you decide when it's close, when both sides are persuasive?
  • CT: You just have to vote. You have to take a position. That part doesn't get any easier for some cases. Don't think we're any different from you in that sense.
That's been my main question in law school. How do I prepare myself to argue both sides of any issue, but keep some personal positions consistent? His answer wasn't the most satisfying, but it was practical.

  • Q: What do you think about the RIAA cases where damages for illegal downloads are outrageously high?
  • A: Hey, it's California, it's Hollywood. Who knows!
  • CT (jokingly): I'm off my medication, that's why things are so fascinating.
  • CT: I don't like politics. I like law, I like rules.
  • Q: What's been the biggest change in your life as a SCOTUS justice?
  • A: Well, people look at you everywhere you go. You start to feel sorry for the animals at the zoo!
He raised some good points about excerpts in casebooks that I'd never thought about. I'll continue to ask my question, because it's been the central quandary of law school for me (and growing up in general). But I did like his answer -- sometimes there are no answers that are satisfying and perfect. Sometimes you just have to make it work, Tim Gunn-style.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Facebook-Friending Professors

As my friend Bud, who has a blog about FSU football with a huge following over at Tomahawk Nation, observed recently: "Blogging isn't hard, but being consistent is." Very true.

As I work on my consistency (and I welcome submissions about the law, law school, or even posts by outsiders of this little legal world: email them to Senichols (at), here's something funny that happened a few days ago.

We're bombarded with articles about how technology and the professional world can clash, but here's a first-hand example.

I posted on Facebook the following status: I can't help but think "gubernatorial" is a funny word.
Comment by friend "C": Is it bad that I giggled a little every time we used the word "seamen" (TO REFER TO SAILORS, YOU DIRTY READERS) the other day in class?
Comment by professor of said class, "Prof. N": Yeah, I heard the giggling.

I guess it's good to keep in mind that I'm Facebook friends with professors now.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Oh, Emails

Favorite mass email of the day, from a guy who lost the power cord to his computer:

"Bring it to me and I'll teach you ALL the Rush lyrics I know."

Tempting to you?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Patrick Fisher is a Facebook friend who helped out a lot on the grammar book, which comes out September 29th. In return for his help, I promised a signed copy of the book. He just sent me this Facebook message as a reminder:

Hi Sharon! I see that your book is coming out in a monthish, so I am going to have to claim my just deserts. If you recall, you promised me your hand in marriage. However, we agreed that would never work due to my annularphobia (fear of rings) and your "condition". I believe we settled on an appropriate substitution of: One copy of your book, signed by you, sent to me at my location at time of publishing. My address is:

[Insert address]

For the inscription, I would diffidently accept, with no alterations:

Dear Patrick,

I know I told you I would marry you, but please accept this small token as a humble substitute for my eternal love. Know that I will always treasure our brief tenure as lovers.


Thank you in advance, it's been quite enjoyable planning this for eight months.

This message is hilarious. I kinda love Patrick, and I'll do exactly as he asks when I get some extra copies.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Gmail Down for a Couple Hours

Gmail is ...fallible? Don't say it's true!


I've just been relaxing and enjoying this -- the last senior year of my life -- senior year of everything. It's very likely that I'll never, ever be in school again, so why not enjoy it while it's here?

I've also been working a lot at UA's newspaper, The Crimson White. I'm taking a lot of what I learned about journalism this summer and putting it to use at the school paper. It's cool to watch the process and see everything come together. We publish four times a week: Monday, Wednesday Thursday and Friday.

I do realize that, at some point, I have to get serious about looking for a real (adult! ahh...) job, but not right now. That can wait till closer to Christmas.

For now: ROLL TIDE!

UA Football Player Shot: Can He Play?

An Alabama football player, Brandon Deaderick, was shot last night in an attempted robbery. He's expected to fully recover, and he was released from DCH medical center today.

Football fans are freaking out about whether or not Deaderick will be able to play. What I overheard in the newsroom just now:

  • "If Deaderick plays this Saturday, I will do his laundry for life. And let him name my first-born child."
  • "Hell, if Deaderick plays this week, he can HAVE my first-born child."

I love Tide fans.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Arlington x 2

Better picture of Arlington.

Is our Children Learning?

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" -- W. in Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000


Arlington National Cemetery.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Twitter x 2

The other Twitter post got buried in subsequent posts, so here it is again. Follow me on Twitter: Senichols.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Election Law

We're going around the class explaining why we wanted to take this class, and towards the end of the 30ish people in the class the reasons get kind of repetitive--except for this one: "I thought it would be a better use of my time than...I don't know, joining a gang."

I applaud this kid's creativity. Well done.

Higher Education and the Law

Prof. Murphy: “Strict grading curves are necessarily an infringement on my freedom to decide what grade your paper really deserves.”

Agree or disagree?

Picture of the Day

Float from the DC Gay Pride Parade in Dupont.


Follow me on Twitter for even more 140-character updates from the life of a 3L: Senichols.

Can I get a witness?

Just because something can be announced on Facebook doesn't mean it should be announced on Facebook.

Am I right? Can I get an amen?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


First: no exam! Yessss.

This is going to be a fun class. Prof. Neiman has it set up so that we'll do mock appellate arguments every week on different statutes, using various methods of statutory interpretation, and deciding the cases ourselves. It sounds like a trial ad class, but he says he'll tailor it to statutory issues.

Prof. Neiman is a practicing attorney, which I like. I've had good experiences with teachers who are currently practicing. Their perspective is different, more practical, than a teacher immersed in academia. They usually understand that time is valuable, and so they don't keep a class over time or feel like they have to fill up an hour when the material's already been covered.

I'm also excited about this class because it should provide some blogging material. Anytime students are center stage, funny things happen.

ADDED: I like professors who state the obvious: "If you're planning on skipping out on a lot of classes, this isn't the class for you."

That wraps up my first day as a 3L, and now I'm off to get my edit on at the Crimson White's office. To a good year: cheers!

Secured Transactions

Second class of the semester, and I think I'll end up liking it. It's related to contracts, which I understood and found practical. The teacher, Prof. Lee, didn't feel the need to use the microphone, which I really like. I find the mic malfunctions distracting, and when a prof doesn't feel like they need to use it, they probably don't. Seems like a small thing, but it means a lot to me when the professor is commanding and confident enough to lead a large class without a microphone.

On to the last class of the day: Legislation!

Kelly Horwitz for School Board

Kelly Horwitz, wife of my favorite law professor at UA, Paul Horwitz, is running for school board in Tuscaloosa. If you live in district 4, which includes the law school and areas close to it, get out and vote for her in the election on August 25th.

Dead Law

My first class of 3L year is Decedents' Estates. We refer to it as "dead law" because it's about dead people's estates. Hopefully that doesn't also refer to how it makes you feel to learn it.

I'm anticipating this being one of my harder classes because it's closely related to property law, which I found difficult. Our first section, however, is on health care decision making, so that should be interesting. I'll live through the first part of the class, at least.

Coming back to school this year felt very different from coming back last year. I guess it's comparable to coming back to high school for senior year--you know everyone important by now, they know you, and it's not scary anymore. This is our school and our year. For most of us, it's our last year ever in school, and I intend to enjoy it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer In DC: Great Success

I’ve been thinking about how best to structure this summary of the summer, and an “I learned…” approach probably works best.

First, I learned how to behave around pseudo-celebrities. In the first week there, our boss took the interns out for happy hour at the Fox and Hounds, a place for which Barney Frank and I apparently share the same affection. He was seated at a table over from us, and I was a little starstruck. “Sharon, stop staring.” “Sharon, stop giggling like that.” “Sharon, stop trying to take his picture with your phone!” You get the idea.

The editor of TNR is Frank Foer, a kind of celebrity in himself. His brother is Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

I also learned that interviewing people is a lot different from being interviewed. You have to kn

ow your subject and ask your questions confidently, and when the interviewee doesn’t give a good answer, there are a couple tactics you can take:

1) “The Elise”: Get comfortable with silence, because most people aren’t. If you just don’t respond, most people will fill the silence with their own ramblings, sometimes giving up interesting information.

2) “The Dylan”: Calmly ask the question again. Hey, they didn’t answer the question—they deserve to be spoken to like a child. Ask it again and again until you get a satisfactory answer (or hung up on). Or, you can ask the question in subtly different ways so they feel more comfortable answering it.

3) “The Chris Matthews”: Play hardball. Point out the fact that they didn’t answer the question, and ask it again. If they still don’t, ask them for historical examples of the point they’re trying to make. If they can’t do it, laugh.

4) “The Friend”: Give a little piece of information about yourself that seems personal but actually isn’t, which should make the person feel more comfortable and they might censor their thoughts less and give better answers.

There are probably other strategies, but those are the ones I picked up on. Also, journalism in general is much more difficult than you’d imagine. This was my first experience in interviewing people and writing in a journalistic environment, and I learned so much. Journalism is tough to get into and make a stable living in right now, but my bosses were very encouraging. The day I left TNR, Greg Veis (web editor, my direct boss) called me into his office and basically offered to help out in the future if I needed it. I will need it, Greg, and I appreciate you being interested in the success of your former interns. Zvika Krieger is the other web editor, and he was every bit as helpful as Greg.

I learned a lot about how to write for the web. Academic writing is so much different from journalistic writing. It’s less formal and brevity is valued. In my last week there, I wrote a health care piece for Jon Cohn about insurance companies and the practice of “purging” customers who the insurer deemed not worth covering (too expensive, too many claims). Summarizing the relevant laws and fitting it to the style of a blog was more difficult than I thought it would be, but I think the post turned out pretty well. Jon was on The Colbert Report a few nights ago promoting his book, Sick. Check it out.

I lived in GW’s dorms, which turned out to be a much better experience than expected. I had my own room, the people in my hall were outgoing and fun, and we had a roof with a view of the Washington Monument. It was about three blocks from the White House, and when I walked to and from work (it was about a 30 minute walk--sometimes I took the metro) I walked past the White House. Here's a picture I took of it on my last walk home.

MTV’s Real World was filming in DC while I was there, which added a layer of potential excitement to any venture out. I only saw them once, coming out of the movies in Chinatown, and it was only a couple of the cast members surrounded by cameras. My friend from law school, Barbi, actually ran up and rang the doorbell to the Real World house. She said a cast member answered, gave her a weird look, and shut the door. At least she was brave enough to do it.

TNR does a regular thing called TNRtv where they interview politicians or experts, or debate an issue among the writers. On my last day, we took a picture of the wide view of the little studio they film it from:

And here's what it looks like up close, the way they film it:

(It was very hot in our office and extremely casual.)

The summer was a complete success, and I can't overstate how much I learned, but I am glad to be back. This will be my last year ever in school. It won't be nearly as difficult as the other years of law school, and I'm looking forward to enjoying the last year I'll ever be a student. Roll tide!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Until Logic Did Them Apart"

I've been at TNR for a little over a week, and in DC for about two weeks. I'll post pictures and descriptions of things here later, but for now I want to link to Jonathan Chait's article on the illogic of gay marriage opponents.

In it, he says "There's a word for social policy that disregards the welfare of one class of citizens: discrimination."

I tend to agree, so argue with us. Tell me why that's wrong in the gay marriage context.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Great Places

Three days until I leave Tuscaloosa for Washington, DC for the summer.  I'm done with all of my 2L exams, and all I have left to do are the finishing touches on a seminar paper on health care liability.  I am beyond excited.

My little sister graduates from high school this weekend, and last weekend my parents had a graduation party for her.  Her principal came and his gift to her was my the most original and thoughtful graduation present I've ever seen.  He gave her a copy of the Dr. Seuss book "Oh, the Places You'll Go" and wrote something nice on the inside.

Here are the lines from the first page:

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

You're on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

I think it's appropriate for anyone who's graduating right now or starting a new adventure. Congratulations, everyone.  You're off to Great Places.  

Sunday, May 03, 2009

An Attempt at Positivity

When you live in a competitive, demanding environment, it's easy to fall into "poor me" thinking.  While I don't want to diminish the work that law students do or characterize it as "easy" to any extent, I do want to express how lucky we are to be here.  We're lucky to have the resources available to take advantage of this level of education; we're lucky to have the natural ability to be able to do the work.  We're lucky to have professors and fellow students who challenge us to produce great work.  

So while you get some sleep tonight, think about how very lucky I am to get to stay up all night learning Criminal Procedure with flashcards and ten different colors of pens and highlighters.  

I'm trying very, very hard to be positive here.  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flash Rave: Part II

Last year I posted about a group of students (hundreds of them) from my alma mater, College of Charleston, who stormed the library during finals and had a flash rave.  Within a minute the library was packed with students waving glow sticks and playing rave music from boomboxes, then a few minutes later, they all disappeared.  According to an email I got from the student government president at CofC, it's happening again tonight.  

Things like that make me miss college.  I hope I never get too old and stuffy to appreciate a flash rave.  

UPDATE: And the rave has occurred.  Here's the updated story about it.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


No, I haven't stopped blogging, I just took a break for a while.  My first exam is tomorrow, and since it's Contracts II (the 1L class I dropped last year), I've been stressing over it.  The 1Ls seem extremely on their game, and the fact that 1L classes are curved makes it extra important to do very well.  Contracts is one of my favorite subjects -- it just makes sense to me -- but the sheer amount of information to learn makes it intimidating.  The good news is that I really like the professor and the exam should be fair.  Difficult, but fair.  

Next year I'll be the chief copy editor of The Crimson White, U of Alabama's newspaper.  I wasn't a journalism major, and since I want to write after law school, the experience will be very good for me.  This week is our first week of production for the new team -- kind of like a trial run so we can learn the editing system before next year.  It's my first time working in a newsroom, and so far I really like the process.  It's satisfying to take articles that are already written and make them better.  

Other than that, I'm just preparing for the move to DC for the summer to work for The New Republic.  I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity.  The other interns are Dylan Matthews, a freshman at Harvard who writes MiniPundit, and Elise Foley, a journalism and political science major at Northwestern.  Both are younger than me but have a lot of experience.  Dylan has already worked for Slate and interned at The American Prospect.  I have a lot to learn this summer, but I'm confident that I have a lot to contribute as well.  

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Exam Essentials

Oprah publishes a "My Favorite Things" section every month in her magazine with pictures of things that we simply must own to have a fulfilling life.  The problem is that these are like $1,000 candy bowls, $899 pumice-stone foot-softeners and other overpriced baubles that reasonable people wouldn't buy from a dollar store.  

Law students have their favorite things too, especially around exam time.  And good news!  You can buy these from normal people stores.  

1) Coffee

2) Post-It tabs.

3) Colorful Highlighters 

As simple as these things are, we could not survive exams without them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Overheard in the Law School

"Okay, so this is something I've been thinking about.  What if you got scared half to death...twice?"

"The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

"What if it were, like, a TRICK balloonist?"

I can't explain all of those quotations (and I think they're funnier out of context), except to say that the stress probably messes with our heads.  Clearly exam time is upon us.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


(The title of this post is from my favorite SNL skit of all time, when Will Ferrel was playing George W. Bush debating Al Gore.  At the end of the debate, the moderator asked both candidates to sum up their campaigns in one word.  Gore said "lock-box" [which I suppose counts as one word] and Bush said "strategery.")

The seminar I'm taking is on health care liability, and we all have to do 50-minute PowerPoint presentations on the papers we've been working on all semester.  My friend Robert just gave his, and the last slide had a picture of our professor on it alongside other "great Americans" (his words).

I have to give mine next time, and I'm thinking that flattering the professor is not a bad way to go.   

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

From the Anti-Fun Section of the Alabama Criminal Code

From the Alabama Criminal Code, Section 13A-14-3:

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association or corporation to promote, advertise or conduct any marathon dance contests, walkathon contests or similar endurance contests, by whatever name called, of walking, dancing, riding or running, and it shall be unlawful for any person to participate in any marathon dance contest, walkathon contest or similar physical endurance contest by walking, dancing, riding or running continuing or intended to continue for a period of more than eight consecutive hours, whether or not an admission is charged or a prize awarded, and it shall be unlawful for any person to participate in more than one such contest or performance within any period of 48 hours.

Watch how long you dance in Alabama.  Your marathon dancing just might get you 30-90 days in the county jail.  Also funny:  This section is right after one prohibiting "maiming one's self to escape duty or to obtain alms."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Pope, Billy Graham, and Nick Saban

My Contracts teacher just said this in class:

"If you really get a sense that someone has been defrauded, like if the Pope, Billy Graham, and Nick Saban all came to you and said they were tricked..."


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Broke but Experienced

The usual race for summer employment for law students begins when first semester grades are given.  That means a lot of my classmates have had their summer plans in place for months.  Although magazines and newspapers do offer summer internships, their timelines are way different from legal ones.  Most of my friends had employment figured out months ago, and I was still crossing my fingers over Spring Break.

But the finger-crossing paid off.  I found out today that I'll be interning with The New Republic in Washington, DC for the summer.  The internship is unpaid, but if we write something they print we'll get paid like freelancers (so not much, but something).  I'll still be broke after this summer, but I'll be a broke person with some great experiences.  Woo-hoo!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

From the shaking hands of a caffeine-addled 2L...

Last night was pretty much an all nighter.  Does it still count as an all nighter if you got 3 hours of sleep?  I say it does, because I was back at school at 2 am to finish up the draft for my Health Care Liability Seminar paper.  It's due at noon, but at this point (10:45 am), I think I'm done.

One of my pet peeves is writing just to write, just to fill space so the paper is as long as the professor wanted it to be.  Although this professor didn't set a certain page limit or minimum, my paper is shorter than I expected it to be.  But after going over it a dozen times fixing little things, I think it turned out just fine.  I'm jealous of people who can take complicated concepts and explain them in very few words, so I hope that's what this paper turned out to be.

More likely, though, I'll get a list of things I need to discuss in it for the final paper and presentation.  Which is fine...that's why they call it a "draft."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sometimes, shortcuts are not okay.

This is a screenshot of the law school's online store.  It features my friend Reid, who I assure you is not a woman, but who is apparently modeling a woman's fleece.  

Whoever put the website together used the same picture for the men's fleece as the women's, so I'm sure they did it to save time/effort.  But sometimes SHORTCUTS ARE NOT OKAY.  

*ADDED: If you click on the picture so you can get a better look, you'll see that "fleece" is spelled as "fllece."  To that, I give the same response (minus the caps, because I'm tired): Sometimes, shortcuts are not okay.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Pop Quiz

Pop quiz: How many people actually live in Washington, DC?  

I lost a bet last night because I thought the population was over 1 million.  Although the DC metro area has more than 5 million residents, the District itself only has around 500,000 residents.  If you include the Baltimore metro area, there are more than 8 million people.

Bonus fact: NYC has a little over 8 million people.  

Is that what you expected?

Thursday, March 05, 2009


This is my little sister, Grace, with John Parker Wilson, who was the starting quarterback of Alabama's football team this past year.  

Such pretty hair, on both of them, huh?  JP's hair might be shinier than mine.  

Interesting Article

Dahlia Lithwick on judicial bias and impartiality. [Slate]


Well, we're not allowed to take bags or computers into the room to watch, which will limit my coverage of the arguments.  I can take in a notebook and pen, so I'll record some observations old-school style.

Also, because the Court is hearing only civil cases today, my professor "the Judge" doesn't think letting us hear the arguments is important enough to cancel (or even allow excused absences from) his Criminal Procedure class today, even though most of us have never seen a state Supreme Court case before.  So I'll be getting there late in the first case, if there's a seat left.  

The Alabama Supreme Court is Coming!

The Alabama Supreme Court is hearing arguments on two cases at the law school today.  The first case is Ex Parte DBI, Inc., and is about whether DBI, a seatbelt supplier to Kia, has sufficient contacts for the Alabama courts to have jurisdiction over it in a case about the malfunctioning of a seatbelt.

The second case, Riley v. The Joint Fiscal Committee, is about whether the legislature has the authority to protect certain agencies from proration if state resources are not enough to fund all state appropriations.  

To me, the first case is the more interesting of the two, but unfortunately I have an 8:30 class which will cause me to miss some of it.  The law school told us that we could come in and out all day, but I'm still not sure there will even be a seat left if I come late.  I'll do my best though, and I'll cover it on the blog if I can get in.  

If you're interested, here's the Alabama Supreme Court's website.

I've never seen a big case argued in person before, so this is kind of exciting to me.  I know, I'm a huge dork.  But I'm a huge dork who's going to see a state Supreme Court case argued today!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Well Played

Prof. Marsh is not afraid to call people out for saying something stupid.  He's my Contracts professor, and the other day he said something hilarious to a student:
Student: "Well, you might be able to make the argument that..."
Prof. Marsh: "You MIGHT be able to?  I don't care what you MIGHT be able to do.  Ha, I MIGHT be Elvis."
Prof. Marsh: 10 points
Student: 0 points.  

There's Always Next Year

I just got back from the most frustrating basketball game.  

First, the good stuff.  Alabama played our rivals Auburn tonight at home, and at halftime, Nick Saban was there to accept the Iron Bowl trophy.  At halftime, they made Auburn's class president sing the Alabama fight song from beginning to end.  Then the announcer came on and said, "In case you need a refresher, Alabama beat Auburn 36 to ..." and never gave Auburn's score.  That was kinda funny.  

But, despite being ahead for most of the game, we lost it in the end.  And the main thing that lost it for us was FREE THROWS.  I'd be surprised if we hit 30% of our free throws.  That's something that is easy to fix, and we lost to our rivals because of it.  

There's always next year, right?

Here's a picture of Nick Saban accepting the Iron Bowl trophy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Benefits of Mass Emails

You can warn each other of traps that police set to catch speeding drivers.  Although I guess you could categorize this as mischief, it's mischief of the helpful type.  Email of the day:
The motorcycle cop has been hiding near the law school a lot lately writing tickets to students (end of the month, I guess). So be on the look out. He seems to be hiding the most at the stop sign near the track stadium on the shortcut road between Hackberry and the parking lot.  Also, he has been getting speeders on Bryant behind Newk's and near the main entrance to the law school.
Thank you!

So True

In Contracts yesterday we had some visitors.  I think they were college students visiting the law school, and they went to Contracts to see what a typical law school class was like.  It was not a typical class.

Right in the middle when Prof. Marsh was speaking, the power suddenly went out.  The batteries on our laptops kicked in and the only light in the room was the blue glow from illuminating our faces from our screens.  Prof. Marsh quipped, "Today's the day we have visitors, and now they probably think we didn't pay our power bill last month."

But my favorite comment was from my friend Felipe.
Prof. Marsh: Did the wireless internet go out too?
Felipe: No, thank God.  Now that would REALLY freak us out.
So true.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

An Unmarried Woman

Is this just in the South?  I've been looking through the documents pertaining to our house.  My parents bought it, but my name is on the deed.  But guess what phrase is also on the deed:

A hand paid by the grantees herein, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the same grantor does by these presents, grant, bargain, sell and convey unto... Sharon Elizabeth Nichols, an unmarried woman,...

Is that relevant at all?  Do they do that in other states?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Book Update

On Friday I saw the first print copy of the book.  It's one thing to work on a book by putting together pictures and captions on a computer, but it's way more exciting to see your work actually in print.  St. Martin's (the publisher) sent me a draft copy to look over, and so far it looks great.

Since it is a book about grammar, I'm taking my time to look over it carefully and make sure there are no mistakes.  It would be incredibly embarrassing for the book to go to print and then for us to discover that there's a misplaced comma or a word spelled incorrectly (can you imagine?).  There is no spell check accurate enough for this.  

The release date is still set for September 29, 2009, and you can pre-order the book on Amazon.  Go ahead and do it.  You know you want to!

Valentine's Day

The worst part of two holidays, New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, is the expectation that the day (or evening) will be spectacular.  People always seem to have sky-high expectations for those two days, and since those expectations usually aren't met, we get disappointed.  

My Valentine's Day this year was the exception.  I'm with the "Valentine's Day is a holiday made up by Hallmark to sell cards and little teddy bears (for WAAAYY too much money)" camp, and all I expect from the day is maybe one rose.  This year, we went out to eat at a new place in Tuscaloosa.  The food was great and at the end of the meal, I got two roses.  My expectations were exceeded, so it was a wonderful Valentine's Day.  

How was yours?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

iPhone Blogging

So I got an iPhone last week, and this is my first attempt at blogging from it. We'll see how it works!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


As a philosophy major in college, we were always making up words to describe concepts that we wrote about.  You know how Word underlines non-words, and you can right click and select "add to dictionary"?  I had to do that all the time in college, and now I'm finding that we have to do the same thing in law school.  These aren't fictional words to the same extent as philosophy words were, but I guess they're unconventional enough to be left out of Word's dictionary.

Here's a list of the words (or "words") that Word doesn't recognize, just from today so far:
  • Promisor
  • Promisee
  • Promissory
  • Disaffirmance
  • Appellee
  • Estop
  • Estopped
Those are just from today, and I'm sure I'll find many more to add to that list.

ADDED:  One of the commenters found more legal "words" to add to the list.
  • Dilectual
  • Dispositive
  • Liberative

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Grand Central

In my post about the business card problem, a commenter suggested that I use Google's Grand Central.  The problem is, I need an invitation from a current user to join.  Anybody willing?  If so, my email address is Senichols[at]gmail[dot]com.  Thanks!


The Facebook group got a shout-out from MSNBC in an article about how stress from the economy is pushing "spelling snobs over the edge."  Here's our small part:

But these newly hip word warriors are doing more than writing odes to apostrophes and posting tips for people who don’t know their like or as from a hole in the ground.

The 350,000-member Facebook group “I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar” encourages its members to “seek out the infidels (grammar offenders) and … document their acts of terror. Take pictures and post them in this group to serve as examples to all.”

Kinda cool, even if they did call us snobs.  

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Picture's Worth

Michael Phelps gets caught, and ends up apologizing for, a picture being circulated in which he's using a bong.  (Yes, you got me; I read Perez Hilton.)  

I've often wondered what's going to happen to all those ill-advised Facebook pictures when my generation starts holding political office.  It's starting right now, actually.  I'm 24, and the youngest congressman currently in office is Adam Putnam, the 27-year old from Florida's 12th district. [The GW Hatchet] I'd say he qualifies as being in my generation.  

So was Putnam just more forward-thinking, wiser than the rest of us in his college days?  Those pictures of Joe or Jane doing a keg stand don't just disappear.  My guess is if they don't catch up with Mr. Putnam, they will start haunting other young people with political ambitions very soon.

The next question is this: How will that type of picture be categorized by the public?  Will they be brushed off as a mistake of youth, something that most of us engaged in and then grew out of, or will they be blown up and held as evidence that a particular person is unfit for office?  President Obama didn't have to deal with the proliferation of cameras that are around now, but he was candid about his drug use, and now he's president.  That's evidence that the public is holding public officials to the lower, albeit more realistic, standards to which most of us hold our peers.  

But photographs have a different effect on the senses than words do.  Would a picture of President Obama snorting that line of white powder have had the same effect as his verbal admission?  The picture would have had a more powerful negative effect, right?

I guess we'll see in the next few years.  The moral of the story?  It's the same as my dad always told me growing up: Don't do anything that you wouldn't do with your parents standing behind you.  My own addendum: For goodness' sake, don't do it in public.  


How important is a phone number on a business card for a writer?  I just ordered new business cards about a week ago, but unfortunately, I had to change my number unexpectedly a few days ago and the new cards have my old phone number on it.  Should I just suck it up and order new ones?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Heart Gmail

Could Gmail and Google possibly get even better?  Apparently, yes! [CNN]

Law School and Aging

The US president has, I would argue, the most stressful job in the world.  This is widely believed to contribute to the drastic aging they experience in appearance over 4 or 8 years.  BoingBoing has an approximation of what President Obama will look like in 4 years: 

Here are two pictures of former President Bush, taken in 2000 and 2007:

(Found via Google image search from a random website: SurfCasting.)

I wonder if law students go through a similar transformation, although to a lesser extent.  I've noticed that I absolutely look older than I did at the beginning of law school, but I don't know if that's just because I am actually older or if the stress has made it more severe.  Law students (or professors) out there: What do you think?

Red Lights

If you've ever visited Tuscaloosa, you probably noticed a difference in the way people drive from most of the country.  Not that we have awful drivers, but there is one problem that stands out: people run red lights ALL the time here.  My theory explaining it is that in the Northeast, red light cameras are much more common.  When it's common knowledge that there might be a camera to catch you running a particular red light, you're less likely to push it.  Here, there aren't any red light cameras that I know of, and therefore people take advantage of the lack of accountability and run the lights more.

In Criminal Procedure this morning the Judge (Judge Colquitt) was commenting on it, and he said that in his conversations with the police in Tuscaloosa, they've just said that there aren't enough resources here in terms of the number of officers to focus on traffic violations.  I know that bigger cities have more financial resources, but they also have more crime (in general), right?  In Baltimore, where the murder rate is pretty high, shouldn't the police officers be focused on bigger problems than traffic violations?  I would have thought that police in Tuscaloosa, where the most common problem is corralling the drunk college students, would have more time to monitor smaller things like traffic problems.

I've only had experience driving on the East coast and in the South.   What are drivers like in other parts of the country?  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Theater Majors

Prof. Marsh teaches Contracts, and he's an old-school professor who says exactly what he thinks.  He's not plagued by my generation's concerns that everything they say be PC, so he ends up saying some pretty funny things.

Today his target was theater majors.  Five or six times he said things like "I don't care if you were a THEATER major, you should be able to understand this!"  I don't know whether there were any actual theater majors in the class, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were.  

As funny as that was, I hope he doesn't target philosophy next.

Pros and Cons of Publicity

Ever since the ABA win, I've been trying to write about law school more.  The problem is, ever since the ABA win, when bloggable things happen, I get disclaimers like "Don't blog about that!" or "That's off the record."  

Thankfully, I have a few professors who either don't know about the blog or don't care if I post the goings-on from class.  I'll post a few funny things that happened today in a little bit.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Two awesome things have happened in the past two days.  I'll go with the most recent first: I got an iPhone!  Although I recognize that this is bad for my concentration in almost any situation, I'm still excited.  It's gonna be my crack, I know it, but it'll feel so good.  

Second: The Tuscaloosa News did an article on the ABA blog poll win.  I'm always nervous about newspaper articles; I'm afraid that they'll portray me or my writing badly, that the picture will be less than flattering, that a quote will be taken out of context.  But this one turned out really well, and the only mistake was when they quoted the hit count on the blog.  It's supposed to be daily, not weekly.  But hey, who's counting?  I'm just happy to get the coverage.  

A third sidenote: I received an email from the president of the ABA, Tommy Wells, who happens to be an Alabama law graduate.  Pretty cool, huh?  UA should be known for something other than (well, in addition to) football, and I hope the law program gets the recognition it deserves.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reads that Make you Cooler

This might also help if you're a football addict and the DTs are setting in because you haven't had your fix in a while.

Jamarkus McFarland, a leading football recruit who Oklahoma and Texas were brutally fighting for, opened up his recruiting process to the New York Times.

Inauguration Day!

Did you watch the inauguration today?  I watched parts of it on CNN while I paid my bills this morning.  But what I really, really wanted was to be there.

From the time when I was 12 until about 3 months ago, my parents lived in a suburb outside of Annapolis, MD called Severna Park.  It was about an hour's drive to DC.  Let's see, that means they lived there during W's first and second inauguration, and possibly during Clinton's second inauguration.  I remember having an all out fight with my parents because they wouldn't let me take a day off school to go to the inauguration.  Oh well, it'll happen one day.

As for the speech, I thought President Obama did exactly what he needed to do: he managed expectations.  (Here's the text of the speech, via  Right now, people see Obama as a savior for whatever ails them, and I think it was realistic and practical for him to address that and say that the road to a healthy nation is difficult.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. 

He did two things here. He managed expectations by invoking the values of hard work and courage. But he also very successfully combined his vision of "change" with the older "values" of loyalty, fair play and patriotism.  Obama's a master communicator, and with these two sentences, he brought together the old and the new way of doing politics (according to him -- I'm not sure the "new" way is all that different from the old).  

He also didn't shy away from religion.  I especially like these two sentences: 

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers.

That "patchwork heritage" can only be an asset if we can recognize the value in other ways of life. If tensions still exist that will cause disputes or violence, the asset turns into a liability.  But I think the fact that we elected a man of darker skin color than ever before shows that we're willing to try a new way of life in that respect.  Differences as an asset.  I hope it can work.  

Overall, I think the new president did a great job.  I hope he can make the positive changes that he was elected to make.  

Alumni Newsletter

Today, the people who put together the UA Law School Alumni Newsletter gave me a shout out in the form of a link to my blog.  Thank you for that, sincerely.  I welcome all efforts that will expose my writing to a bigger audience.

But I thought now would be a good time to clarify the roles of the law school and of this blog.  Obviously, since I chose to go here, I believe in this school.  I believe it has a great program, but I'm just a student in this program.  In this blog, I've tried to record and describe the experience of being a law student.  You could say that I've endorsed this school simply by coming here and believing in it, but the school did not endorse this blog as the official UA law blog (or otherwise) when it sent out the link.  It's just sending some reading to alumni that they might find interesting.  We went through the same things, we will have the same alma mater, and we're bound by those shared experiences, so they might be interested in the experience of a 2L who's chosen to keep a blog and share what she's learned.  

To repeat: the law school does not endorse everything I say on this blog, and I intend to keep the blog as an honest reflection of my time here.  This might include some criticisms of the program, but it includes a lot of praise as well.  

Every organization has its problems, and one reason I post my criticisms here is so that fellow students, past and present, can have a forum in which to discuss them.  Otherwise, I hope the blog continues to give some insight into what it feels like to be a law student, and I hope I can make you laugh while you read.  Either way, I hope you find something of value here.  If you have an issue with something I've posted, you're always welcome to email me:  

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Alabama Law Applicants get Free iTunes

The Alabama Law Admissions Office is using a creative tactic to get students to apply.  They're giving away $20 in iTunes!  Dan Slater, at the Wall Street Law Blog, posted the partial email and then comments afterwards:
Admit it! You are an outstanding student. For a select number of students like you, The University of Alabama School of Law is offering some special incentives. But, don’t wait! . . .
For you, we’re making two special offers:

1. We’ll waive your application fee, and

2. We’ll present you with free iTunes® downloads in the amount of $20 if you apply!

We have no doubt that the Loyal Reader who received this generous music offer would make a fine law student — how could he not? he’s a Loyal Reader! — but of course we wonder about Alabama’s motives. Raise the number of applications? The number of rejections? Capitalize on what’s expected to be a big application year?

We await a response from Claude Reeves Arrington, Alabama law’s associate dean of admissions.

When I applied, the school knew that I had already bought a house in Tuscaloosa. They knew my brother was an undergraduate there, that I was born in Mobile, and that my grandparents lived in Birmingham. They knew I was very likely to come there. Is that why I didn't get my $20 in iTunes??