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January 11, 2005

My Sympathies to Those in Con Law

I handed on my copy of Sullivan and Gunther's Con Law textbook to a 1L yesterday so she could avoid purchasing it. For those of you 1Ls having to work your way through this poor excuse for a textbook, believe me, you have my sympathies. If it's any consolation, to two links above describe my struggle with its poor editing, its needless prolixity, and its utterly unhelpful text heirarchy.

Of course, there's a new (and longer) edition now, so who knows, it might be better. Any opinions?

June 11, 2004

Con Law Disaster

Now that the grades have been posted, I think I can feel free to vent my frustration at the worst thing that has happened to me academically last term.

Kind reader, you may remember the level of terror I had of the Con Law exam? Entries like this? I'd not had such gut-shaking trepidation since my undergraduate finals. But now, I don't feel anything but a numb anger.

When I and my colleagues opened up our exam packets, we found that Professor Con Law had almost exactly copied, word for word, over a third of the exam from questions on his past papers. Moreover, he'd copied them from exams that were available on the university share drive, with model answers, in an open note exam. Needless to say, a lot of people had the model answers with them.

Indeed, I had the answers to one of the questions in my satchel, and considered taking it out. Then I remembered that before each exam we sign a sheet of paper saying that we swear to abide by some code of conduct that I doubt many of us have ever read. Certainly I hadn't. So I kept the answer far away, fearing that little hidden clause that would fail any of us who admitted to having used the model answer.

In the event, it didn't matter that much. One third of the exam was a question that my study group had used as a mock examination three days previously. As such, I had quite a lot to say about the topic. And as such, it probably doomed me.

By the time I got out of the exam, I was nearly livid. Forget the fact that after reading over 1,200 pages of bloody Gunther and bloody Sullivan, Prof. Con Law couldn't find it in him to get up off his duff and come up with some new questions. (Those that hadn't been lifted directly from past exams were for the most part thinly-veiled paraphrases.) Forget the fact that this was going to skew the curve unfairly in favor of those who practiced a certain style of study--review of past exams. No, simply put, I was enraged by the fact that a professor of Constitutional Law at a major university, who is old enough to know better and should appreciate his responsibility, put many of us in an ethical dilemma in the middle of the exam. After all, if we had the mock exams with us, would it be unethical to look at them? Whatever side you come down on as to the question, it does exist, and it was needlessly distracting.

I didn't think I could be so upset: after all, this was the exam I'd poured my heart into, the one that I felt real physical concern about. To a great degree, this was my semester. And then it got worse.

We'd all wondered what would be done about this situation. A few ideas were floated, ranging from the extreme (re-sit the exam) to the nuanced (give no points for anything that was on the model answer) to this resigned (do nothing, everyone had the same chance). I'll admit at this point that I doubt there was a good answer, just a choice of evils: whatever was done would hurt someone.

A few days later, we got a letter from the academic registrar, explaining that Prof. Con Law had heard that we were concerned. He apologized, but explained that he hadn't realized that we had more than two years of mock exams on our share drive, or that the answers to those questions had been published.

Let's take a look at just how weak that explanation is. First of all, if you're a professor, you have access to the same share drive we all do. And this particular professor had three very competent TA's--and please, none of this should reflect upon them, they were paragons of diligence--any of whom could have told him what was and was not on the share. But even if he were working alone, isolated, and techno-illiterate this would be no excuse. Anyone who has the responsibility for a law school class, particularly a bundle of hyper-competitive first years, should bloody well realize that its their responsibility to know what's been released to the public, and what's available.

(Indeed, given the persistence of online storage space, the fact that various societies keep their own archives, and the competitiveness of 1Ls, an argument can be made that it's unwise to reuse any question that's been on a released examination or had a model answer posted. But this wasn't a case of prior answers being posted on the Journal Of Bohemian Esoterica Law Review's internal academic archive: these were documents on the university's official server, documents that had Prof. Con Law's name in the filename.)

His solution to this wholly avoidable boondoggle? He was going to remove the offending sections completely from the examination.

Now, to those who haven't taken a law school examination, some explanation may be in order. This one was a three-hour exam, with multiple essays divided into three parts. Needless to say, it was unlikely that any but the very best would do perfectly on all of them. But in order to maximize your chances, you put more time into the areas you feel you'll do best at, and give your weak points a cursory examination. Or at least, that's my strategy, and it's typically successful.

In this case, it was a disaster. I almost certainly put more time into the sections that were dropped than the ones that remained. And statistically speaking, I can't be the only one who did so, even amongst those who didn't use the model answer, or hadn't been exposed to it. (Some students didn't even recognize that this was a past exam question.) Far from being a good strategy, every extra second I took from a 'valid' section of the exam was simply a waste: it amounted to nothing.

As solutions go, in no way could this be considered nuanced. Then again, it didn't take much work to fix it this way.

Please don't feel that this is a grade complaint. In the end, my Con Law result will be only a very fractional drag on my average, and perhaps not even that. What annoys me is that every grade that was given in that class is de facto illegitimate. No one was graded on the exam that they actually took. Instead, we earned our results based not on our knowledge or our skill measured by a test that we approached strategically, but how lucky we were to choose certain questions on which to concentrate. (After all, each question's weighting was labelled on the exam, and most of us wrote with those expectations.) Even if you did well on all the sections, the grade is curved: you can't know that someone who did very well on a deleted section shouldn't have done better than you.

Of all the ideas bounced around after the exam, the best one I heard was just simply to mark everyone pass/fail, and to zero the grade out of the average for those who were in my Con Law class. The response was that this simply wouldn't be fair to those who did well. But in the end, no one did well on that exam, because no one can say that they actually took the exam that was graded. Any result there, good or bad, is a fiction.

I now actually resent my Con Law class, and every second I spent in it. I resent the fact that I wasted my time on a game of roulette when I could have had four more days to work on Crim Law, Reg State, or Perspectives. And I deeply, deeply loathe the fact that a person who had the responsibility for writing an exam that might determine whether his students get onto Law Review, whether they get that summer job they were hoping for, whether they achieve the dreams that they may have had for decades couldn't give a damn enough to trawl through hundreds of pages of the book he assigned to come up with something new. It's not like he was short on material.

May 07, 2004

Catching Up On Blogging--Can You Tell?

Eugene Volokh takes a crack at some questions by David Frum regarding gay marriage, and to my mind skips past one problem:

4) A Massachusetts woman marries another Massachusetts woman. The relationship sours. Without obtaining a divorce, she moves to Texas and marries a man. Has she committed bigamy?

No, because Texas law doesn't recognize the original marriage, so according to Texas law, the woman is unmarried. Again, no public policy of Texas is interfered with by Massachusetts' own decisions.

Certainly. But is she guilty of bigamy in Massachusetts? How about if she and her husband return to Massachusetts? Volokh skips over this a bit, because he's answering questions on how Massachusetts would affect the policy of other states. But it's still an interesting question.

May 06, 2004

Con Law Down

Well, Con Laws over. It wasn't fun. There's probably something to say about it, but I do have a solid policy of not discussing exams until well after they're over, if at all.

That said: that 150-some page binder, nicely tabbed, with my outline? Useless.

One day, eight hours to Crim Law. I'm tired enough to drop. Why did they have to schedule the most brutal of the exams first?

May 04, 2004

Ambiguous, or Merely Vague?

Today I have received four emails with the subject lines:
She Doesn't Think You're Good Enough
His is Longxer Thaxn Yurs
Not Happy? Try this...
You have a small one hahaha

However, they were merely spam ads for viagra and various pills to 'enhance my manfulliness,' as one of them put it. They were not taunts from fellow classmates about the paucity of my outlining or the impending doom that is my Con Law exam. So thank God for small favors (and write me a reminder to rework my spam filters).

Right now, I think my time would be better spent channelling the ghost of Justice White than actually studying. I mean, at least the prior plan has some hope of success.

May 03, 2004

T-2d to Con Law

It's almost time for things to begin. The Threat Level has been elevated.

I know nothing about Con Law. With the possible exception of the fact that 'substantive due process' is about as sensible as 'slatternly virginity.'

April 30, 2004

Bust

Today, I simply flaked. I've not cracked my texts, and it's after seven. I just couldn't force myself to look at them, and actually remained in bed until noon. Let's put it this way: I've been so non-productive I've not even scanned my daily websites.

This isn't good: I still have two large sections of Con Law to review, and I need the weekend for Criminal Law.I was hoping to have it done by today so that Monday and Tuesday would be nothing but review. This doesn't look likely.

The worst part about spirals like this is that you kick yourself for the fact you've not done the work, and that doesn't inspire you to do it. So in the last fifteen minutes I've started four loads of laundry, I'm ordering food, and I'm prepping to be up until the early hours in repentance. One way or another, Con Law outlining ends this evening...

April 19, 2004

OK, Am I Wrong, or Is It Just John Kerry?

This is the kind of thing that's really frustrating to read when you're studying Con Law. From John Kerry's new ad:

Title: Direct Response Choice

Narrator: The Supreme Court is just one vote away from outlawing a woman's right to choose. George Bush will appoint anti-choice, anti-privacy justices. But you can stop him.

Now, is Kerry trying to tell me that if Bush is re-elected, all of a sudden Scalia is going to become a judicial realist and start concocting constitutional reasons why abortion is not only subject to control by the states, but positively must be outlawed by them? Is the Supreme Court really in the business of outlawing things, rather than saying things may or may not be outlawed? Can I cite a presidential candidate to Prof. ConLaw as authority for the Supreme Court having the power to outlaw abortion?

Well, I suppose I could, but I'd have to be an idiot. Thankfully, Kerry and his campaign don't have to pass a Con Law exam. Of course, with Kerry's luck, there wouldn't be a separation of powers question.

Or am I just wrong? Someone tell me, because it's just over two weeks until I have to know this stuff. And it's not like Casey isn't enough of a mess without John Kerry whispering in my ear...

April 14, 2004

Triage

A small whiff of smoke suddenly rising in a dull and dusky desert. Then, looking towards where the sun should be setting, a rising cloud of black dust which seems oh so far away. As you watch it, you realize that with every second, it's taking up an ever-greater portion of the horizon. 'Sunset' has come early. When finally you can't see both ends of the approaching storm at once, you realize that not only is this cloud moving faster than you expected, but it's not so much a cloud as a dust storm, and it's going to take the flesh right off your bones.

Until today, this was roughly my feeling about my Con Law exam.

Today I've managed to concentrate on it, and at least figure out how much has to be done. It's manageable: I made headway even though I stopped to fix a computer, bought a new belt, filed an extension on my taxes, and spent part of my evening at a mock trial. It's not pleasant, but it's doable.

You'll probably not see as much of me around here for a while, though. Sorry for the interruption--it's these little 1L exam things.

April 02, 2004

"An Unmitigated Disaster"

This would describe the current state of my Con Law outline. And I'm about 100 pages behind in the reading, although in my section that means about a day.
Frankly, no other course is better off as far as prep-work goes. Expect my 'CODE RED' warnings to appear much earlier this term.

Which is of course why I'm heading off to England this weekend in order to see one of my best friends get married. I'm doing all sorts of things to tell myself that I'll use the plane flight time productively. I've printed out a bundle of old outlines to reference, printed out a past exam for each class, and even cut up my Con Law book so I can take just the pages that I need with me.

But who am I kidding? At least I hope I'll come back more at peace with the world and ready to buckle down...

February 24, 2004

Rereading Lochner

So we're up to Lochner in Constitutional Law. What it's made me realize is exactly how fragile judicially-based freedoms actually are. Once your particular Solons change, you're pretty-well screwed.

So here's a question for Massachusetts, for which I don't know the answer. When the Courts of the early 1900s was indulging in true conservative judicial activism in the name of a 'right to contract,' no lesser a liberal luminary than FDR suggested packing the Court: putting in place a greater number of justices so that he had his own majority. The idea wasn't particularly original: it had been proposed as a measure to control the House of Lords during Victoria's reign.

Now, I've checked, and California sets its number of Supreme Court justices in its constitution, but Massachusetts seems to do so by statute. "The supreme judicial court shall consist of one chief justice and six associate justices." ALM GL ch. 211, § 1. So supposing that the legislature and the governor are truly worried about judicial usurpation of their powers, why not indulge in a little court-packing?

Of course, I could be missing something in the Massachusetts constitution. It's a long and complex document, and I'll admit the possibility I've missed the point. But given that the SJC has set the goalposts too close for an amendment to take effect before gay marriages must be recognized, why not change the court instead of the constitution?

February 15, 2004

Not To Be Tossed Lightly Aside, But Hurled With Great Force...

I've blogged before about how Sullivan's Constitutional Law textbook is poorly-edited. After 80 pages of reading today, I'd just like to repeat that if, as a 1L, you somehow end up with a choice of professors, avoid like the plague any class that requires you to use this text. We'll leave aside that fact that punctuation and spelling seem to have been left aside as a non-issue. (The count today? Two sentences without verbs, one of which was almost certainly meant to be a question.) The book has several highly annoying features:

1: Entire paragraphs that are nothing but questions. This is common to law textbooks (what is it about law that makes de rigueur rhetorical questions to which no answer is ever attempted?), but this text will fill a quarter of a page with them. If those questions were then answered, in order, in the paragraphs ahead, it might make sense. This is not always the case.

2: The lack of any structure whatsoever. Some cases are in bold and used as 'main selections.' These may be in sections of their own, but sometimes they're cases that answer a single subheading of a section. Notably, these cases will be listed in a larger, darker font than either the heading or subheading that precedes them. No introduction exists to explain what is considered more important, or to give guidance as to how the book is to be used.

Furthermore, there's no apparent rhyme or reason to which cases are in the notes and which are 'main' cases. Length is no indicator--there's 'notes' cases with excerpts that go on for over four pages. The only difference seems to be that the editing of 'notes' cases is more strict, which means dozens of ellipses and brackets.

Finally, if the cases in a section are in coherent order, I've not discovered it. References to cases fifty pages backward, or worse, forward in the text are given, sometimes without reference. The editing of the references is similarly abysmal. Today's reading included one reference that was off by two-hundred pages, and another off by five.

We're about a fifth of the way through the book. I'm considering just reading the whole thing cover to cover in a few weekends, so as never to have to touch it again.

(If you blog and have suffered through this monstrosity, I encourage you to link to this text with the words "sullivan constitutional law textbook" in the text: if we're lucky, the magic of Google would put criticism before the eyes of the editors.)

February 08, 2004

Amen, Brother!

Reading through the cases for Con Law this week reminded me of an amusing work in the Green Bag, Neil M. Richards' The Supreme Court Justice and "Boring" Cases. It is a truism not only of the Supreme Court Justice but of the Con Law student that for every thrilling case which decides our rights, there are a hundred more cases which are purely and simply tedious:

But as we look to identify individuals who will be good choices for federal judgeships, whether at the Supreme or lower courts, we should also look to temperament, maturity, and demeanor. It is not enough to have someone who can craft a brilliant opinion in a major constitutional ruling; we need someone who can stay awake and who pays equal attention when the tax cases, in Justice Douglas' cogent formulation, are 'droning on and on.'

The Green Bag, incidentally, is a must read. Perhaps not the most important scholarship you'll find on the net, but certainly some of the most interesting and entertaining.

February 05, 2004

A Question to Which I Do Not Have An Answer

As almost everyone already knows, and I've not commented on yet, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has legalized gay marriage. I've said it before: I'm not particularly against gay marriage per se, but I object to this kind of 'interpretation' of new rights by judges. My support for the Federal Marriage Amendment is more of a game-theory lesson (if a judge gets smacked down by an amendment which will take innumerable years to reverse, he's less likely to behave as an imperial judiciary next time) than any particular feeling about marriage. I'm not likely to get married any time soon--so it's not really my game.

Anyway, one thing I'm wondering about is the authority of the Supreme Judicial Court: does the SJC's power of judicial review arise explicitly from the Massachusetts constitution, or is it the result of interpretation (like Marbury v. Madison)? And if the latter, what is the result if the Governor pulls a modern-day Andrew Jackson and merely refuses to enforce it? (Note, this is more game-theory speculation--it's obviously not going to happen.)

A better question: why am I wondering about this when I'm behind in my reading? Ah well. At least looking through the Massachusetts constitution got me some Westlaw points.

February 04, 2004

Serious Artistic Value

Frequent readers will know that Serious Law Student and I disagree on many things: anonymity, politics, music, you name it. It appears, however, that one Columbia professor of Constitutional Law agrees with her on Justin Timberlake[1]:

By describing the "whole performance" of Timberlake and Jackson as "onstage copulation," FCC Chairman Powell may have been laying the groundwork for an obscenity charge. Such a charge would likely fail, however, because the performance had serious artistic value.

Who knew?

OK, teasing aside, this is one reason I have a very hard time taking Constitutional Law seriously. One of my classmates posited a 'straight face' test earlier this week, which I'm going to modify to be: 'does anyone think that a non-lawyer, presented with the judge's decision, could try to justify them with a straight face?' No matter how hard I try, baring one's hooters in public just can't fit within my definition of 'speech,' unless teenage mooning from the back car seat has somehow become a form of high oratory. The trouble is, as much as this makes sense to me, I'm pretty sure I'm on the wrong side of the Court on this issue.

Which is why whenever a judge reacts with horror (see Question 4) at the suggestion that people think judges have a preferred political outcome to which they work their way by clever if disingenuous logic, I think they're not being entirely honest with themselves. I doubt they do so regularly, but it is incredibly difficult to reconcile Supreme Court thought without believing this to be the case. Within the strange world of the law, 'speech' may include taking off a bra in public, and the debate then becomes whether the Constitution protects 'obscene' or 'indecent' speech. But until you've had 1,000+ pages of Con Law run into your head, the answer's pretty simple: nipples don't talk.

(Professor Dorf's article found on If Cardozo Were Alive)

[1] I'm also going to hope Prof. Dorf won't be annoyed here if I point out his facts are a bit wrong. He states that "Janet Jackson's breast was adorned with a pasty; if Pap's can be read to say that there is a constitutional right to display naked breasts in public so long as they are decorated with pasties, then perhaps the halftime show falls on the protected side of the line." However, it is clear that her breast was adorned with no such thing. (WARNING: It's the infamous nipple, care of The Drudge Report. Definitely not work safe.) Rather, she was wearing a rather elaborate piece of body jewelry, which leaves her nipple exposed and visibly pierced. How this changes his analysis of Jackson's anatomy with respect to City of Erie v. Pap's A.M. is beyond this poor student's analytical ability.

February 03, 2004

Constitutional Law Madness

Yes, I just finished my Constitutional Law reading at 3:30 AM. I'm on call tomorrow at 9:30 AM. I am doomed.

So of course, I'm cooling off by participating in a meaningless internet quiz-type thing. Here's a map of all the places I've 'visited,' where that means 'hung my hat there for at least a night.' Looking at the world map, I guess I'm not that well-travelled. But then again, I've lived a lot of places, rather than just visiting.



create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide



create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

January 27, 2004

Wormwood, I Haven't Forgotten You

Dear Wormwood:

Please do not think that I've not heard your plaintive moaning with regards to our correspondence. "Yes, yes, we understand you like the technical aspects of blogging, and RSS is nifty tech. True, true, a postmodernism generator is cute. But you do remember, once upon a time, that you promised to blog about law school, correct? Have you really grown so big-headed that the point of our project has escaped you?" And your complaint has a great deal of merit, for which I have to apologize. My heart really hasn't been in it.

Partially, I think it's just the glumness one gets from attending a law school in a city with a harsh but graceless winter. New York doesn't have the Januarys I've loved in the past: cold, clean snows blanketing the horizon, wind whipping white 'dust' devils over ice-topped lakes.

Winter in the city is summer in the city with the annoyance of cracked lips and muddy boots. Even in a blizzard, it's almost as if snow falls from the sky pre-grey. Walking outside at night is an education in natural selection: oil-black rats are much more visible hopping through drifts of white. Frozen landscapes in the countryside are accompanied by a clean, almost filtered scent to the air, but here winter's only mercy is that large bags of trash left out on the street are too frozen to rot.

As I said, Wormwood, I've been writing about technology largely to spare you in case what I'm suffering is some seasonal depression. No point in inflicting upon you what is probably more vitamin deficiency than rational thought.

With that in mind, what has been happening?

Classes: I think most of my classmates would agree that the classes in the second semester at Columbia are much more theoretical than practical. Of the four major classes, Regulatory State and Perspectives on Legal Thought remind me more of undergraduate lectures in economics and philosophy. Not that this isn't interesting in itself, but it's territory that many of us have covered before. Indeed, my 12th grade government class read Hobbes, Locke, Aquinus, Rawls, Bentham. [1] Even in the face of good lectures or interesting reading, there's a certain 'been there' feeling that keeps me from feeling the same degree of excitement I felt when this was all fresh. (Then again, perhaps I'm temporarily jaded.)

Don't get me wrong: there's a good and solid argument for these courses, and I'm sympathetic to it. Given the role of lawyers in our society, as not only advocates but judges and politicians, it's for the good that we get a broader historical view, and that this is informed by economics. But they're not the 'classic' law school courses: property, evidence, etc. They're more familiar, and they don't inspire the same feeling of terror. (To be fair, that one is a lecture course, and the other rather kind in its Socratic method, goes a long way to explaining this feeling. I imagine that as exams get closer, the trepidation level increases.)

That said, there's still Crim Law and Con Law, with plenty of reading for them, particularly the latter. I'm certain that Con Law will become more engaging as the semester progresses. No matter how important Marbury v. Madison or McCulloch v. Maryland may be, they're difficult to read with any passion. So much seems so settled. [2] Still, these courses remind me more of last term, so that's good.

Grades: Finally all my grades are back. All I can say on this is that overall I'm pleased, and that so far the great law school maxim is true: you do best in the classes you were sure to do worst in, and vice-versa.

Job Search: A task on which I should have spent far more time already, I'm getting a few resumes out the door every day. One thing I'd advise, Wormwood, is that you start the process far more quickly than I did, because otherwise it will become that nagging task that you leave at the bottom of your list, buried under a huge pile of reading. It's just as important, and you should treat it as such. Progress on this front remains hopeful: I've had my share of interviews, and we'll see how it goes.

I hesitate to go further, Wormwood, as already I wonder if the blizzard that is rumoured to be arriving tomorrow and my chronic lack of sleep are combining to make what I'm writing less encouraging than it ought otherwise to be. In any event, I'm glad I did bring myself to mention a few of the things happening here at law school, before this descended into a purely political blog.

Yours,
AR

[1] Admittedly, my high school government teacher was a bit unusual: he taught a 'great books' curriculum and used Socratic method at least as well if not better than many of my professors at Columbia. But then, I'm not criticisizing the Columbia program as much as I'm explaining why I'm not feeling as engaged as in months past.

[2] At this point, I'd like to break with my common habit of not being overly critical of my courses to be scathing in one respect: the textbook Constitutional Law by Kathleen M. Sullivan and Gerald Gunther should never be inflicted upon any student, anywhere, possibly under 8th Amendment restriction. First, it has all the weaknesses common to the University Casebook Series. The book itself is a physically unhelpful size, nearly 8 1/2" x 11", impossible to fit alongside a notebook on a classroom desk. The formatting of the text is diabolical: it's extremely difficult to figure out what is a heading, a sub-heading, or what is not within a hierarchy of headings to begin with. By the time you get to the fourth or fifth levels, there is no way to keep things straight. A simple table of typefaces would go a long way to curing this defect. If a single effort was made in terms of helpfulness to the student, it certainly doesn't show.

While the weaknesses of the series aren't helpful at the best of times, the writing in Constitutional Law makes no effort at all to be accomodating. Even outside the cases (Con Law will never be for those who like plain language), the wording is unnecessarily prolix (two uses of 'exegesis' is sure to please wordhounds like me, but it's sadistic for a casebook), complicated, and in some cases just downright confusing. For anyone who has the casebook at hand, I put forward the second full paragraph of p. 78 of the 14th edition, a paragraph which would be better structured if the order of sentences within it were reversed. I'll concede that Constitutional Law is almost certain to be cryptic in many respects--no one who ever read Gasparini would accuse Supreme Court Justices of silver-tongued clarity, and their task is often more one of precision--but shouldn't a good casebook help, not hinder this?

Perhaps I'm missing something and the book will grow on me, but after 150 page, it's easily my least favorite casebook thus far.

January 12, 2004

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.

January 11, 2004

For Those in My Con Law Class

OK, this is blog as public service announcement, so if you're not in my Con Law class, you can ignore it.

I've gotten a few emails from people who, like me, didn't pick up Prof. Con Law's materials for tomorrow's class. Thankfully, a friend loaned me her copy, so I've got it. (Thanks to said friend, by the way.) I was going to scan the materials in and post them here, but they all seem to be available online, so what I've done is link to the relevant sites instead.

Again, if you're not in my Con Law class, this is of no use to you, but if you are, feel free to pass it on. (Links are in the extended entry.)

Continue reading "For Those in My Con Law Class" »

December 24, 2003

Constitutional Law Books and Website Layout

I figure I'll try to get a bit of background over the holidays, so I've ordered the Aspen E&E Constitutional Law books, on the recommendation of some of my readers. I'll post a more thorough review later. Thanks for anyone who's put forth recommendations, and if anyone has any further advice on CrimLaw or ConLaw, please feel free to share.

Also, I'm working on a site redesign at the moment, so updates may be a bit far between. While I'm going to try to make the site more attractive, I'd also like to make it more usable, and I'd appreciate your help. If you have any suggestions about making the site easier to use, features that you like/don't like, or any other recommendations, I'd be happy to hear them.

Giving The Devil His Due

My Sympathies to Those in Con Law (4)
Brooks wrote: I agree. It's useless an takes too... [more]

Con Law Disaster (21)
A. Rickey wrote: And once again, we see the fantasti... [more]

Catching Up On Blogging--Can You Tell? (5)
natasha wrote: i just found out my husband is marr... [more]

Con Law Down (8)
2005 WSOP wrote: The thing that seperates us from an... [more]

Ambiguous, or Merely Vague? (8)
Eve wrote: very nice and informal comments. i ... [more]

T-2d to Con Law (7)
Sherry wrote: I was wondering what the red button... [more]

Bust (2)
A. Rickey wrote: Yeah, unless I'm mistaken, you had ... [more]

OK, Am I Wrong, or Is It Just John Kerry? (4)
Fr. Bill wrote: Tony, you are quite right here, of ... [more]

Triage (0)
"An Unmitigated Disaster" (5)
cristina wrote: that, and no one else can drink as ... [more]

Rereading Lochner (18)
A. Rickey wrote: [First, the housekeeping matters. ... [more]

Not To Be Tossed Lightly Aside, But Hurled With Great Force... (11)
John B wrote: I fully support this attempt to bri... [more]

Amen, Brother! (0)
A Question to Which I Do Not Have An Answer (3)
Ken wrote: The Massachusetts Constitution prov... [more]

Serious Artistic Value (6)
Adam Wolfson wrote: oops, didn't notice the closeup lin... [more]

Constitutional Law Madness (3)
Martin wrote: Amazingly (see monograph) we cover ... [more]

Wormwood, I Haven't Forgotten You (6)
A. Rickey wrote: Mark: Granted, the paper's nicer... [more]

First Day Down (3)
Knight wrote: I don't think you got zapped. You h... [more]

For Those in My Con Law Class (3)
DG wrote: I'm clearly not in your Con Law cla... [more]

Constitutional Law Books and Website Layout (5)
Michael wrote: Great Books for studying for the fi... [more]

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What I'm Reading

cover
D.C. Noir

My city. But darker.
cover
A Clockwork Orange

About time I read this...


Shopping

Projects I've Been Involved With

A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care (A new round-the-world travel blog, co-written with my wife)
Parents for Inclusive Education (From my Clinic)

Syndicated from other sites

The Columbia Continuum
Other Blogs by CLS students

De Novo
Theory and Practice
Liberal Federalism?
Good News, No Foolin'


Althouse
Nancy Pelosi covers her head and visits the head of John the Baptist.
Vlogging in from Austin.
Omikase/"American Idol"


Jeremy Blachman's Weblog: 2007
Happy Passover
Looking for Advice re: LA
Google Books


Stay of Execution
What I've Learned From This Blog, or My Yellow Underpants
The End
Mid Thirties


Legal Theory Blog
Program Announcement: Summer Programs on the Constitution at George Washington
Book Announement: Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy by Whittington
Entry Level Hiring Report


The Volokh Conspiracy
Making the Daily Show:
Civil unions pass New Hampshire House:
Profile of Yale Law Dean Harold Koh:


Crescat Sententia
Hillary II
Hillary
Politics and Principal/Agents


Law Dork
Election Approaches
Following Lewis
New Jersey High Court: 'Same Rights and Benefits'


IrishLaw
Homecoming
Surveying the revival
Birds of paradise


Half the Sins of Mankind
Cheney Has Spoken Religious conservatives who may ...
Does Ahmadinejad Know Christianity Better Than MSN...
Borders as Genocide In discussions of climate chan...


pf.org
Progress
For lovers of garden gnomes...and any China-freaks out there
We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming


Ideoblog
Does SOX explain the flight from NY?
More Litvak on SOX effect on cross-listed firms
What did the market learn from internal controls reporting?


The Yin Blog
Iowa City = Riyadh
Jeffrey Rosen's "The Supreme Court"
Geek alert -- who would win between Battlestar Galactica and the U.S.S. Enterprise?


Letters of Marque
Graduation
And there we are
Oil!


BuffaloWings&Vodka
Signing Off


Dark Bilious Vapors
Jim (The Waco Kid): Where you headed, cowboy?
Bart: Nowhere special.
Jim: Nowhere special. I always wanted to go there.
Bart: Come on.
--"Blazing Saddles"

Technical Difficulties... please stand by....
The Onion should have gotten a patent first....


Legal Ethics Forum
Interesting new Expert DQ case
Decency, Due Care, and The Yoo-Delahunty Memorandum
Thinking About the Fired U.S. Attorneys


Ex Post
Student Symposium- Chicago!
More Hmong - Now at Law School
Good Samaritan Laws: Good For America?


Appellate Law & Practice
Those turned over documents
CA1: courts can’t help people acquitted of crimes purge the taint of acquitted conduct
CA1: restrictions on chain liquor stores in Rhode Island are STILL okay


the imbroglio
High schoolers turn in plagiarism screeners for copyright infringement
talisman
Paris to offer 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations to rent by the end of the year


The Republic of T.
The Secret of the Snack Attack
links for 2007-04-04
Where You Link is What You Get

Distractions for stressed law students

The Other Side: Twisted AnimationsSomething Positive, a truly good webcomic

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