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First Day Down

Dear Wormwood:

So, the first day of classes are out of the way. For the sake of posterity, and so that I can see how wrong I am in my predictions by the end of the term, I'll record my first impressions.

Constitutional Law: Too early to tell, really. Today's lecture was mostly a discussion of 'what is a constitution?' As an obviously introductory session, I've not been able to get a grip on what the course is like yet.

Criminal Law: Based on the first day, the course reminds me a lot of Torts last semester. Only downside is that I took a lot of notes in a lecture room with 1970s ergonomics. I can see myself popping tylenol like a fiend by the end of the term.

The course itself reminds me of Torts simply because Prof. Crimlaw (like Prof. Torts last term) wants to focus on concepts and structure to a greater degree than just 'elements' of a particular criminal statute. I get a sense that, just as the Torts exam wasn't a standard issue-spotter, CrimLaw won't be either. How 'usual' this is I don't know: while Gilberts or other such guides suggest that this isn't the normal fashion of a law school course, my experience thus far is that there isn't a 'normal.'

(For the sake of honesty, I should probably note I got zapped in Socratic Method here today. Still, honesty is a highly overrated virtue in a diarist, so no point in dwelling on it.)

Perspectives in Legal Thought: By contrast, Prof. Perspectives eschews the Socratic Method entirely, which makes a big change. It's been at least seven years since I've taken notes on a pure hour-long academic lecture, and my note-taking skills have atrophied. About half-way through I was remembering the old patterns: if a professor says 'three reasons for X are', then break out the bullet points, etc.

Prof. Perspectives made the class sound fairly unusual for a 1L course, Wormwood, so you may find my impressions aren't much use to you unless you're looking at Columbia particularly. In rough overview, the course covers various controversies in the philosophy of law. To give a hint, tomorrow's readings are Aristotle and Plato. One good reason to look forward to the course: if you've read Prof. Solum's Legal Theory Blog but occasionally crave background for the discussion, this seems to be the course to give it to you. (Incidentally, Solum was quoted in the reading for today's text, in contrast to Scalia.)

Given that much of my interest in law lies in this area, I'm looking forward to much of the course. Some of the questions I've been asking for some time (e.g. why is legal education conducted as it is; what are the disadvantages to the rule of law) look to be raised over the next few months.

The only other impression I can give you so far is that the reading for this term looks, at first glance at least, to be literally crushing. I carried all my books from the apartment to my locker this morning, and for those of you still in the application process wondering what you can do to prepare for law school next year I can offer an unorthodox suggestion: take up weightlifting.


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Our ConLaw focus was on the methodology of interpreting a constitution. I'm trying to remember who wrote a book about the "fetishization" of the Constitution... that book would be extremely helpful.
I'm curious which of the dastardly bunch you got for these classes!
I don't think you got zapped. You had a conversation with the prof which was beneficial to the class :) Perspectives does seem cool.

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