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!