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Some initial resolutions

Only about a month and a half until I travel to New York. I think it's time I make some resolutions. Of course, sheer inexperience suggests that many of these may be wrong, or even impossible, resolutions, but I think you should start out with goals. We'll start with seven.

1. I will keep up with the reading. Every law student I've talked to has told me that this is the most important thing about first year law. While I'll follow the same triage system I used at Oxford ('what's really important, and what can I skip?') the goal is 100% of the reading list covered.

2. I will keep within my budget. Believe it or not, I think this will be more difficult than (1). New York is an expensive city (though not as expensive as Tokyo) and I'm out of the habit of sacrificing for student life. Still, I'm working on putting together a budget and I should be able to keep to it. Working in the library costs nothing.

3. I will not take this too seriously. On the one hand, I want to treat Columbia as a chance to be at my most competitive, working with people who I'm pretty certain are better than me at many of the important skills of the legal profession. On the other hand, I know how easy it is to drive oneself into the ground over 'failures' that are actually pretty successful. We'll see how it goes, but I don't intend to kill myself for a diploma.

4. I will keep an open mind. Even more than Oxford, Columbia is pretty legendary for its leftward-leaning tendencies. Whenever National Review does a piece on conservative newspapers being stolen and the administration doing nothing, etc. etc., Columbia is usually the first or second school mentioned. It's difficult not to think 'I'm going into enemy territory.'

But this would be nonsense. And if my beliefs about liberty and the limitation of government aren't up to that kind of challenge, then I shouldn't be there.

5. I will see New York. After five years in Europe, I'm shocked at how little I actually travelled, how little I actually went ahead and tried to discover. While I'm in the Big Apple, I promise I'm going to go see Brooklyn Bridge, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and all the stupid 'tourist' things. After all my years in Oxford, I never went to the top of Carfax Tower, and I refuse to repeat that mistake.

6. I will do things that require my Japanese skills. This shouldn't be that hard, if only because Columbia has the Center for the Study of Japanese Law. But I've promised this before, and yet every translation I do this summer ends up being a 'refresher' course of some kind. Not again.

7. I will not get stuck in the 'professional' mindset. The idea of 'professions', jobs which you cannot practice unless you've had a certain minimum amount of training and passed some monopolistic examination held by other members of the profession, has always smacked of medieval guilds to me. I know people who are very proud to be 'professionals', and it's sparked all sorts of nonsense. The business fraternity at the University of Alabama considered itself a 'professional' fraternity when it was nothing of the sort--you don't need a license to practice business, and a bloody good thing that is, too.

In the end, while I'll keep an open mind, I'm still fairly convinced that 'professions' are market-restrictive practices, and that if it weren't for the close linkage between politicians and lawyers, the Bar would have died away years ago. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, and I'll take pride in doing a good job, but I have no intention of getting big-headed for becoming a 'professional.'


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Blimey, and I thought business school was going into enemy territory. Of course, I could have gone to Chicago, but I understand my ideas aren't up to being physcially beaten and 'accidentally' dropped down several flights of stairs by Milton Friedman's besuited economist bodyguards. That's how they debate in Chicago you know. Hey... maybe you could advocate regime change in Columbia, should keep you busy ;-) M
Hey there, I followed a link here from JD2B, and you happen to have two of my interests - law and Japan. Last year I was a JET (what's your Japan connection?) and this year I'm working in New York. I found it a lot easier to keep within my budget in Japan because I was much more conscious of money in general, what with constantly calculating the exchange rate. Although maybe when school rolls around we'll be too busy studying to spend money (ha!)
Love how you managed to name-drop both Oxford AND Tokyo! Fancy!
8. I will stop saying that I went to school at Oxford. It will get really old really quickly.
Wow. Gotta love the hostility from people I don't even know. :) I lived in Oxford off and on for the better part of the last ten years. It would be difficult not to mention it. But welcome to the blog folks, hope you enjoy it. As for the comment from Laura, my undergraduate degree is in Japanese, and I spent a year in Osaka and a year in London working for a Japanese trading company. This summer I'm doing freelance translation in order to make a bit of money before law school.
Re: New York Forget about the touristy things. All you really have to do is visit the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, and the Observatory at the top of the Empire State Building. If you really, really have to see a Broadway show, see Rent or Movin Out if you like Billy Joel. After the above, look for the non-touristy things, like ethnic restaurants and the amazing nightlife.
Thanks a lot, Jose! I'll keep that in mind. I'm definitely investing in a digital camera.
As the poster above, I did not mean to be offensive; rather, as someone who has just finished my second year of law school, I just think you should chill out a bit before starting in the fall. Have some fun this summer . . .
I'm of two minds on the "chill out, it's your last summer of freedom" advice. I know that last summer there was not a hope on earth of me chilling out. OTOH it's also true that whatever you do to prepare, however comfortable and confident you are walking in that door, law school will find a way to cut you down. So in that sense it's a waste of time. But if you would be going crazy forcing yourself to veg out and stare at the television when you feel you could be more productive, then do what makes you most comfortable.

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