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??

Why was the book publication date changed?

I've been getting questions on when the book is coming out, why the release date has changed, etc.

The official release date for "I judge you when you use poor grammar" is now September 29,2009. The date was pushed back for several reasons. First, the economy is crap right now, and people are more worried about saving their houses than buying a gift for a friend. Second, Christmas season is the perfect time to market a gift book, and my publisher is shooting for that. Third, several of the stores that ordered the book raised their orders, and we needed more time to print the books.

I'm bummed about the extra wait too, but the date was pushed for good reasons.

Prime Time TV and Law School

Grey's Anatomy has a plot this week that includes a serial killer with brain tumors who wants to refuse treatment.  The doctors tell him that he can refuse to be operated on while he's conscious,  but once he passes out it only takes the consent of two doctors to overrule the patient's wishes and force treatment.  

Health Care lawyers out there: is this true?  When the patient has stated, with witnesses (and he's sane), that he doesn't want treatment, why would the hospital want to force expensive treatment on him?  Wouldn't that treatment best be saved for somebody who wants it, and somebody who society wants around (a non-serial killer)?

Despite the policy considerations of saving a serial killer, the Hippocratic Oath does command that doctors preserve life.  Do they have to preserve life against the patients' wishes?  Do the patients' wishes not matter anymore after they've passed out?

Top 25 Bushisms

The 25 Top Bushisms, as compiled by Slate.  A couple of my favorites:
  •  "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."—Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000
  • "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"—Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000
  • "I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."—Washington, D.C., April 18, 2006
  • "Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."—CNN online chat, Aug. 30, 2000
  •  "I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend."—on the prospect of visiting Denmark, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2005
  • "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."—LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000
  • "They misunderestimated me."—Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000
And, finally:
  • "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."—Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Good Company

The Tuscaloosa News is writing an article about Thank You Ma'am's ABA blog poll win, and they sent a photographer to take a picture of me "where [I] usually blog."  Where do I usually write?  In class!  We compromised and they took a picture of me in an empty classroom.  I'll link to the story when it's online.

I have a friend who blogs on (and created), and I'm sitting behind him in the Health Care Liability class that I'm in now.  He blogs in class too!  Yay, I'm not the only one.  

Health Care Liability Seminar

First question: "health care" or "healthcare"?  

Second question: We're talking about how staph infections get resistant to antibiotics, and whether doctors should be held liable for over-prescribing antibiotics.  But really, do we need to see a slide of pictures of staph infections?

This discussion is interesting to me because it may be relevant to something that happened last year.  During exams I was sick, but I brushed it off as just a cold (law students are pretty susceptible to getting sick, especially during exam time, because of stress).  The bottom line is that I let it go too long before I went to the doctor and when I finally went I had a fever of almost 105 degrees.  I ended up in the hospital for 3 days while they pumped me full of antibiotics, did a spinal tap, and ultimately never figured out what was wrong.  

So, did an extra-virulent strain of bacteria have something to do with that?  Maybe, but we'll never know.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Orientation

The third class in my schedule is Trial Ad I.  Two funny things from this class:
  • Professor's first question: "Is anybody offended by bad language?"
  • "My orientation is one of a criminal lawyer."  I just think it's funny that he describes his occupation, his day job, as his "orientation."  

Judge Colquitt

I've never taken a class from Judge Colquitt before, but I hear that he says some pretty funny things.  Right now I'm taking Criminal Procedure from him, I'll be here to document the Judge's funny comments and save them for you guys to read. 

He just walked in, and the Judge is wearing a traditional suit.  I'm disappointed that it's not seersucker.  His voice, however, fully lives up to my expectations.  He has what's called an Old Southern accent.  It sounds like sweet tea, huge front porches and old money.  This means he says things like "VER-mont" (instead of "Vermont"), and "the triiii-al it-sayelf" ("the trial itself.").    

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's capitalism, baby.

I've been demoted.

Last spring I was working on the book, so the law school let me drop a class.  I dropped Contracts II so I'm having to take it now with the 1Ls.  The 1Ls aren't that insufferable or anything, but it does feel odd to be dropped into a section of new(er) students who all seem to know each other.  

Prof. Marsh is teaching the class.  I took a class of his last semester, and while I don't have my grade back from that class yet, I did really like his teaching style.  He's very practical.  Right now he's talking about efficiency and studying for exams, and I appreciate that he's emphasizing how important efficiency is.  You could spend years mastering the material for one law school exam, but that's not what we're asked to do.  Since you have to learn it in a semester, and since the volume of material that's assigned is so enormous, you have to learn how to read and study effectively in the least amount of time.  Academics tend to get caught up in romantic descriptions of "long term" and "short term" learning, and while there may be some truth to those labels, the real world rewards efficiency.  If you can get there by spending 100 hours (or, say, $100), but I can get there in an hour (or $1), I win.  It's not me; it's capitalism, baby.  

(Sidenote: When you raise your hand and begin an answer with the word "Briefly, ..." that's a clue that it's not going to be brief.  It's also annoyingly sure-sounding and makes me want to argue against you.  Just sayin'.)

Anyway, I'm going to go take notes on arbitration now, but I'll update throughout the day.  Cheers.  

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

ABA Poll

Wow.  I just got the email that Thank You Ma'am won the student category for the ABA's best blog poll.  Thank you so, so much to everyone who voted!

Are some people talented at (almost) everything?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's medicine man, is being considered by president-elect Obama for Surgeon General.  

Dr. Gupta probably wouldn't be where he is, with a prominent spot on CNN, without being a good doctor.  But his position on CNN has something to do with his likeability -- his appearance and ability to communicate well on camera.  Are those qualities that we really value in a SG?  

He could just be a brilliant doctor and a great communicator.  One of my non-law student friends was asking me the other day about my peers in school.  I told him that they're extremely intelligent, and he asked if they also have interesting personalities.  Are they smart and the type of people you'd want at your party?  My answer was, generally, yes.  It's very intimidating, but my class (and the other classes at my school too, I'm sure) are both intelligent and well rounded.  They're the type of people you're jealous of in high school and college: football team captain, speak 3 languages, double major in chemical engineering and political science and a model on the side.  Seriously?  Ugh.  

Maybe Dr. Gupta is just one of those all-around talented people.  And that can't be a bad thing in a SG.  

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sorta Sweet

Last week, I went to the Sugar Bowl with my dad in New Orleans.  It was played at the Superdome and Alabama took quite a beating.  It was disappointing watching our team lose to Utah, but Utah played a very good game and we just didn't.  Next year, baby.  Next year.  

If you're in the 20-28 age range, the Superdome in NOLA is probably a symbol to you for something very different than football victories and defeats.  It was strange being in there post-Katrina.  I'd been there before Katrina and thought it looked like a fun spaceship, but now it just represents natural destruction and human fallibility.  

It's tempting, of course, to look at it with a negative slant after losing a big football game inside the dome.  The rest of New Orleans, however, is looking great to me.  Neighborhoods that were obviously devastated are coming back, and Bourbon street sure hasn't lost its "charm."  I have a soft spot for cities on the water, and NOLA is one of them.  I'm definitely in its corner, and I hope it continues to rebuild, both physically and otherwise.    

I Judge You When...