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December 15, 2003

Contracts Done. One to Go

Well, that's a second exam done. Now on to Civ Pro...

It actually went fairly well. One thing about taking mock exams is that you're inevitably taking a test for a similar course, but it's not the one your professor actually taught. So long as the prof writes the exam to the course, you'll always do a little worse on the mock than you do on the real thing.

At least, that's my take on it now.

December 14, 2003

Contracts: Code Red

A little over ten hours left to the exam. Sorry, but my normal curmudgeonly wit is in tatters. So a quick good/bad analysis?

Bad: Contrary to what I thought, I know nothing about contracts.

Good: Even though it's again raining, the wind outside my window is making hellish noise, and my air conditioner is pinging like madness, I think I'll be able to sleep. The first exam (whatever else went wrong) got rid of the jitters in the whole process.

Let's just hope I wake up on time tomorrow...

Contracts: Condition Yellow

Only this condition yellow doesn't look so good.

I thought I knew this stuff. I still figure I have a pretty good grip on it. This despite the fact that upon reviewing the mock exam I took this morning, I must conclude that either:

1. Revision elfs changed all the brilliant answers I'd written to the wrong ones in between finishing the mock and opening the file again tonight; or
2. I have been transported into an alternate universe in which the law of contract is subtly different from what I thought it was this morning; or
3. That sign on sign on my forehead that says "DOOMED" in big black letters isn't violating any truth in advertising laws.

The positive way to spin it is that at least tonight I know how wrong I was this morning. Much like you can spin the bubonic plague as getting you closer to your life insurance policy.

Ah well. At least I'm not the only one going nuts. Buffalo Wings and Vodka has written his Christmas list for the Supreme Court. Even her confusing-to-the-point-of-malice opinion in Gasperini v. Center for Humanities, Inc. can't make me think that Justice Ginsberg deserves a Cop Rock boxed set...

December 12, 2003

Studying for Contracts

One down, two to go. This studying thing is basically a stacking problem: how do you allocate cram-time most effectively. At the moment, I'm on 75% contracts, 25% civpro, but that mixture is become more contracts dilute with every hour.

The aforementioned metaphor is an example of why you shouldn't study contracts in the company of an organic chemist.

I'd tell you how it's going so far except (a) I honestly don't know, and (b) I can't say anything for fear that maybe one of my professors reads this blog and recognizes something that would identify my exam. That probably breaks some form of honour code, and thus isn't worth the risk. For all you Wormwoods out there, don't worry--I'll write a whole post-exam post-mortem once my grades are in and I have no such worries.

In the meantime, I've made a promise to myself that however bad my civ pro studying is going, I am going to try to get tickets to the Lord of the Rings premiere. I mean, have priorities...

November 27, 2003

Behave, my rebellious brain

Why is it that every time I get a good head of steam going with my revision, the more creative side of my brain starts distracting me with good ideas for the application of knowledge that I've not learned yet? Today has been all about contracts. I don't think I know half of what I need to know for the course yet, but it's coming together. And now I can't focus because this idea for a novel keeps cropping up. Just what I don't have time for.

The basic idea is a series of modern fairy tale vignettes involving various outrageous contracts, with a few recurring characters to tie the scenes together. I think about twelve or thirteen stories would be enough to get me through the majority of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts.

I know, it's sounds a bit strange, but it's not unprecidented. I'm thinking, of course, of Russell Roberts The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance, which so far as I know is the only romance novel published by MIT Press. If he can use a semi-plausible love story to illustrate free-market economics, certainly I could treat promissory estoppel through fairy tales, devil's bargains, and magical realism.

October 29, 2003

This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, full of resources

Some days the humour fades, the eyes get heavy, and the spirit seems weary and unwilling. No matter how one tries to put a brave face on it, the smallest things start to bring one down, even when you are caught up in your work and feeling like you understand the law--or at least your lessons. Today my nemesis was the pressure to pay $100 to Barbri for bar examination test prep, not because that's on my horizon at the moment, but because it's the last day to do so before they threaten to raise prices. LSATs, tuition, commercial outlines, Barbri, Bar exam fees--there are times when it feels like your whole point in existence is to pay for exams.

In this mood I wandered into Contracts, where I sit in the front row. Prof. Contracts, a cheerful curmudgeon who is constantly telling us to look at our cases with a healthy dose of cynicism, bore the full brunt of my own. "You know, I started this education with the thought that 'LAW IS A RACKET.' It makes so much more sense when you look at it that way." Then I obstinately chomped on a jellybean provided to me by Barbri as yet another of the peripheral bribes one finds here.

To his credit, he asked what I meant and listened when I said that sometimes it seems there's an obscene amount of money floating around this school and the legal system in general. He commented on the parts of the debate that are old: whether the bar exam is guild-like, and whether the third year of law school is actually necessary. Then he started class, and briefly commented on what he'd just been talking about.

His response was just to quote Edmund Burke, in his statement to Parliament regarding their soon-to-be-rebellious colonies. Along with English descent, a tradition of democracy, religious fervor in the north, manner and mores in the south, and the trials of distance, Burke specifically cited the strength and prevalence of a legal education as one of the foundations of Americans' love of liberty.

In no country perhaps in the world is the law so general a study. The profession itself is numerous and powerful; and in most provinces it takes the lead.... I hear that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone's Commentaries in America as in England.... This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, full of resources. In other countries, the people, more simple, and of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance; here they anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.

And then we went on to discuss the parol evidence rule and the meaning of the word 'chicken.' But whatever, it put things into a bit of context for me, into a bit of purpose. There's a time and a place for cynicism, but you don't live there.

October 21, 2003

Another good saying

As I've said before, although I love Contracts as a class, it's almost more fun playing 'Spot the Quotation' with Prof. Contracts. I missed Blazing Saddles, got The Jew of Malta, and today learned what 'having the smell of the lamp' means. Apparently, it means overly academic. ("This case does not have too much of the smell of the lamp about it.")

I have to find some chance to use this.

October 20, 2003

Eccentric Legal Knowledge

Prior to my contracts reading regarding Laredo Hides Co, Inc. v. H & H Meat Products Co., Inc, 513 S.W.2d 210 (Texas 1974), I didn't know the difference between a heifer and a cow. In case you'd like to know, a heifer has had no more than one calf, whereas a cow has had two or more. Apparently their hides are worth different values.

I apologize to my readership for not having anything new up this weekend: after the Legal Methods exam I spent a fairly law-free weekend. Oddly, everyone I've talked to have said they did very little in the way of work this weekend. I guess after the exam, we all needed a bit of brain rest.

October 09, 2003

Limp Bizkit and the Breach of Contract

Limp Bizkit is being sued for cutting short a concert to 17 minutes, as reported by the Smoking Gun. I have no idea of the accuracy of the report, since I don't know the site.

Given the 'quality' of their music, I'm having a hard time deciding whether reducing their concert to 17 minutes makes them liable for breach of contract, or cuts down their liability under tort law. (Is there a tort of intentional infliction of bad taste?)

Thanks to my brother for sending me the link.

September 29, 2003

Joyous Shock of Recognition

Ah, there's a reason I love my contracts class. Not only is Prof. Contracts funny, but he's got a habit of making very archaic references. For instance, a few weeks ago I learned who Heddy Lamarr was. (He thinks she has a nice nose, it seems).

Today I was quite pleased to pick up on another one of his quotes. While asking us if, in one of his past cases, he'd behaved ethically, he then mentioned that, "Oh, well, that was in another country, and all that." This comes from Marlowe's The Jew of Malta:

FRIAR BARNARDINE. Thou hast committed--

BARABAS. Fornication: but that was in another country;
And besides, the wench is dead.


For some reason, that gave me almost as much joy as actually understanding the case he was talking about. Class isn't just contracts, it's a 'spot the reference' test.

Maybe it's just me.

September 09, 2003

Sex, Lies, and Contracts

Now who says contracts have to be boring? I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's discussion of Fiege v. Boehm.

To put the case in a nutshell: Ms. Boehm found herself in a delicate position and, having stepped out with young Mr. Fiege, secured a promise from him to pay for her medical and miscellaneous expenses, loss of salary, and $10 per week until the child was 21, in exchange for her not charging him with bastardy. [1] However, Mr. Fiege then found out that his blood type was O, Ms. Boehm's was B, and the child being a straight-A kiddie... well, you do the math. He stopped paying.

The court's finding (and this is a 1956 case, remember) is interesting for its consequences. Judge Delaplaine finds that, whilst forbearance of making a claim is not sufficient consideration to support a promise if that claim is invalid, it is good consideration so long as at the time her claim was doubtful but of such nature that both sides thought there was a bona fide question between them. End result? She gets her cash.

Which proves that Ms. Boehm was not as clever as clever may be. Let us assume that she'd been taking long auto rides in the country with three separate men during the interval in question. If she made the same deal with each man separately, there'd be a question between each of them: after all, they know no better than she who the father is, and while she is the only one who knows of the existence of all four parties, that's not directly relevant as misrepresentation. (At least, so it seems.) She could have been one well-off single mother.

A more literary, but less scholarly, interpretation of the same concept might be found in a work by the good Mr. Ennis. Those of you who know what I'm talking about here should not click this link. It'll make you cry.


[1] This seems to be a now outdated criminal statute with a number of special considerations, such that agreeing not to charge the man in question was valid consideration for a contract, under normal conditions.

Giving The Devil His Due

Contracts Done. One to Go (3)
michael wrote: Congrats. One more to go. I think... [more]

Contracts: Code Red (0)
Contracts: Condition Yellow (0)
Studying for Contracts (0)
Behave, my rebellious brain (3)
A. Rickey wrote: Yeah, well, one of these days I'll ... [more]

This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, full of resources (5)
Paul Gutman wrote: Ah yes, but your firm will most lik... [more]

Another good saying (1)
KEVIN wrote: WHY COMIT SUICIDE WHEN YOU CAN W... [more]

Eccentric Legal Knowledge (0)
Limp Bizkit and the Breach of Contract (0)
Joyous Shock of Recognition (5)
jewelry store wrote: really, about anyone else being <a... [more]

Sex, Lies, and Contracts (1)
Katherine wrote: LOL we talked about the case tod... [more]

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