小北的不老歌

Monthly Archive: January 2006

Michigan Drama I

One of the two dramas that unfolded in the past few days is an exchange of emails between a Michigan 1L and his Constitutional Law professor. Coincidentally, this student was the center of a hot debate in online law student forums last year due to some disputes on his self-selected minority status on his application.

Email from professor:

[Dear students,]
I am terribly sorry to say that, despite my best efforts, I find myself behind in my grading. I have almost completed grading the exams for Constitutional Law and hope to finish no later than the morning of Friday, 1/27.

I will post the grades with exam ID numbers on the ctools website as soon as I’ve finished grading — by Friday, at the latest. I know that prospective employers will want your first term grades asap, and I will make every effort to speed the grading along.
[Professor]

Student wrote back, cc;ing everyone in his section and the associate dean.

Professor,

The morning of Friday has now come and gone. A few questions and requests:

1. When did you begin grading our exams?

2. Was it not foreseeable that by giving a 20 page exam with a 6,000 word limit that you were thereby committing yourself to an extensive grading project that would require you to begin grading the exams before whatever your answer to #1 above is?

3. In our review session before the final you sermonized about the professional responsibilities of an attorney. Because we would hold such weighty responsibilities in our professional careers you said that you would impose similar responsibilities regarding the exam. In particular, you made it clear that you would brook no excuse regarding an exam turned in after the 8 hour time limit. You made it clear that we were responsible for planning ahead and ensuring that the 8 hour time limit would be honored. Do you feel no reciprocal responsibility toward us, your students? A responsibility that extends beyond ex post facto apologies?

4. Please stop saying “I’m so sorry”. A) The phrase has lost all meaning from constant repetition throughout the entire semester. B) Few students believe you. C) Fewer students care whether you subjectively impose upon yourself an appropriate level of guilt.

Sincerely,

Student

And in a public email directed at the entire section, the professor responded;

[…]
One final note on professional civility: Although I am sure that this admonition is entirely unnecessary for most of you, I remind you that the rules of professional conduct of every state bar as well as the model rules of the ABA require that “[a] lawyer shall treat with courtesy and respect all persons involved in the legal process.” (Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 6.5).

This general admonition is generally taken to require that attorneys “treat all other counsel, parties and witnesses in a civil and courteous manner, not only in court, but also in all other written and oral communications” and to “abstain from disparaging personal remarks or acrimony toward other counsel, parties, or witnesses.” (Local Rules of the U.S. district court for the Eastern District of Michigan).

I insist that law students follow these standards of courtesy, civility, and respect in and out of my class. In grading exams and, indeed, in teaching the course, I operated under the standing assumption that every student does their best to understand the material, attend class diligently, do the reading, and otherwise generally act in good faith. Therefore, throughout the term, I have endeavored to respond to student questions and requests with professional courtesy and civility, without invective, sarcasm, or imputations of bad faith. While perfection in class attendance, class preparation, exam-taking, etc., is not to be expected, civility and courtesy are always required.

I expect the same standard of professional conduct from you in discussing the examination procedure, grades, or any other topic. I am happy to listen to any disagreements that you might have with my grading procedures: I will not tolerate such disagreements registered with “disparaging personal remarks or acrimony” (to quote the local rules of this federal district).

On similarities between Chinese and Jews

I was studying in a coffee shop on campus with a Jewish friend of mine when he looked up, frowned at a group of Jewish students behind him, and remarked,

“If I yell at them, will you back me up?”

The Jewish kids, apparently undergraduates, were in a heated discussion over how to prepare for some concert promoting the Jewish culture. They were loud, even for the buzzing coffee shop. I can understand why my friend was starting to feel annoyed. But I wasn’t feeling bothered by them — I have a way of concentrating in even the noisiest environments, plus most Americans are loud in public (compared to Europeans anyway).

“No way. It’s going to be a fight among your own people. I would stay out of it.” I said in a chuckle, not wanting to disclose my true feeling towards the loud Americans.

Visibly disappointed, my friend shifted gear. “Why wouldn’t you as a Chinese interfere? Didn’t we have a discussion about this?” A few days ago when we were really bored we had a discussion on U.S.’s role in the world’s affairs, as all bored law students would do, and I asserted that the U.S. had better stay out of other countries’ business or else it will leave a mess everywhere, but he vehemently disagreed, and argued that a third party has the duty to interfere.

“See, we Chinese might not be known for other things, ” I replied, “but we are known for being a relatively reserved and quiet people.”

“What?” he laughed, “I don’t think so. You people can be loud at times too.”

“But that’s only when we argue amongst ourselves. We are always pretty quiet when it comes to dealing with outsiders.”

“Ha, that’s exactly what those kids behind us are doing. We Jewish people are loud when we argue amongst ourselves too.”

I concurred. So Jews aren’t that much different from Chinese anyway.

Blog Back Online

Folks, my blog is finally back online. I took it off for personal reasons, mixed in with a bit of laziness, but didn’t realize I had quite a few more readers than I imagined. So here it is again.

Meanwhile, here’s what happened with me in the week that I went missing.

  • Sat in a lecture by the former General Counsel of the CECC. As a long term goal I would LOVE to be in a similar position in the Chinese government’s equivalent, if there ever will be one.
  • Agonized over my grades. Overall, I did not do as well as I had hoped and probably just barely made it into the top quarter. I am not bitter — people around me are just that much smarter and deserve higher grades. I gave my best last semester.
  • Read up a lot on South Africa. I am taking a class called “Constitutionalism in South Africa” this semester, taught by two South Africans. One is a supreme court justice there, the other a human rights commissioner. The course material itself is not difficult to understand, but it marvels me how a country so sharply divided and deeply in trouble just less than 20 years ago could peacefully evolve into a cooperative democracy with the supremacy of the constitution replacing supremacy of the parliament (i.e., the ruling party.) Maybe all hope is not lost in China after all.

Slo, o, o, ow

A friend commented that the first week and half of this semester has been really slow. I totally agree. The reading assignments have been very reasonable, almost to the point of too lenient. I’ve found myself having nothing to read (in the casebooks anyway) almost every evening. Now I am in a serious need for a hobby.

I was really upset for much of today over the news of Minolta getting out of the camera business. My very first camera, and just about every camera thereafter, was a Minolta. I have come to enjoy the ergonomics and the user interface of Minolta designs, especially in an era when just about every other shooter uses a Canon or Nikon. For a short period of time I’ve had a Canon Elan II but ebay’ed it after a couple years because I just wasn’t using it that much, plus the fact that I was still emotionally attached to Minolta.

It’s a funny feeling to say that I am emotionally attached to a namebrand or a camera and emotionally reject others. I know. If someone told me that she had a feeling for Gucci and refuses to buy Chanel (the reverse might be a bit more reasonable), or if she just couldn’t let go of her 10-year-old dirty greasy Jansport backpack full of patches, I would immediately distance myself from her and classify her as one of the more emotionally unstable friends that should be at either the far outer rim of my circle of friends, or the very dead center (which is perhaps already over populated).

So I’ve decided that I needed a new hobby, now that my best reason to keep photography as a hobby is gone. I am not into painting, singing, dancing, knitting or anything that requires excessive body movement, so it’s a real challenge…

I guess I will stick with photography for a while, at least until my Minolta cameras fall into disrepair.

RIP Minolta

So it is official. Minolta is dead. In fact, Minolta was as good as dead the moment it was purchased by Konica. May the spirits of Minolta live on.

I don’t understand how a company that makes such excellent products can go under. I am keeping all my Minolta gear, for now at least. Hopefully Sony comes up with a line of Zeiss lenses in Minolta mount.

法学院系列谈(六):西北大学法学院 by Anonymoose

西北大学法学院 – Anonymoose

西北大学法学院位于芝加哥市中心, 是前十几名里法学院中地点较便利的学校之一.. 学校侧重于商业有关的法律, 学生可在KELLOGG 商学院选修部分课程, 对BIG FIRM 工作有利, 但在CLERKSHIP 和 ACADEMIC 上略次于MICHIGAN等传统名校. 招生要求非常偏重LSAT 高分和工作经验, 相对来说对GPA要求较FLEXIBLE.学校允许已获LLM学位的同学加入两年制的JD PROGRAM, 但仍然要求LSAT分数,另需工作经验, 竞争也较激烈.

和排名类似的学校相比, 西北的功课负担很重. 第一学期五门必修课,门门按ABC算分,包括绝大部分TOP 14学校只管及格的法律写作课程. 而有些学校是只有四门课,三门算分. 美国学生努力的程度是惊人的. (MOOSE 曰:这辈子没见过这么多用功的老美, 一些人开学第一天已经在图书馆读书到天黑,周末也不间断). 中国的JD同学成绩在中上游, 但是付出的努力也相当可观. 平时从早到晚都在图书馆或家里看书. (MOOSE 的某以(图书)馆为家的中国同学正好路过,看到此文,曰:我上学期还算比较懒,这学期要更努力. MOOSE: 晕) 就象小北谈到的, 因为每班几个A,B,C的分布早已经定下, 所以大家一用功,标准也就水涨船高, 而造成更用功的恶性循环. 建议考虑LIFESTYLE 的朋友们来西北前要三思.

西北学费约$38,000一年, 是美国法学院中最昂贵的之一. 生活费虽然低于NEW YORK, LA, SAN FRANCISCO, 但是还是比DUKE, UT-AUSTIN等校高出很多. 为了节省时间, 而且避开冬天的寒冷,大部分中国同学都住在离学校步行5-15分钟的地方. 房租最低约在750-950之间,可以租上一个STUDIO. 1000-1400月租可以租1 BEDROOM. 大多数人不备汽车,因为停车位太贵太难找, 而用学校78美元一学期的地铁卡,或者临时叫TAXI. 因为学习太忙 虽然身在市中心, 大家对城市的了解还是有限于学校附近, 加上可以去吃中餐买菜的CHINATOWN. 据说到了第二,或者第三年, 压力会减轻一些.

第一年夏天找BIG FIRM工作远非易事. 例外是本科或研究生读工程或自然科学(物理, 生物), 因为可以考PATENT BAR, 比一般同学工作好找不少. 大部分学生还是为教授做研究, 给PUBLIC INTEREST 免费工作, 或较幸运的, 给JUDGE 免费做事.

西北最大的优点之一是中国同学关系很密切, 高年级同学很乐于助人.. 作为1L, MOOSE希望继续这个传统. 二,三年级的中国同学通过1L “非人”的考验, 工作找得比较出色, 也是隧道尽头的光明. 读JD在时间,金钱,和精力上都是很大的付出, 甚至有时有骑虎难下的感觉, 只有靠希望才能坚持下去. 年轻有精力强的优势, 而有工作经验可能对自己想学什么,做什么方向的业务更确定. 无论如何, MOOSE希望大家作出适合自己的决定, 并祝一切顺利.

Sir, I know how heavy 30 lbs feel.

An email I sent today. I am fighting this to the end. If I had realized this earlier I’d just take a picture of the books, mail them at that store, take the receipt as evidence and hit them with a lawsuit of some sort. At least that should get me up to speed with all the civ pro stuff this semester.

=================

To Whom It May Concern,

I would like to file a complaint against possible fraudulent practices by the UPS Store located at the basement level of the Michigan Union, 530 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

At approximately 9:30AM this morning (01/17/2006), I went to the above-mentioned UPS store to mail four books, one of which to be mailed via USPS Priority Mail and the rest 3 via USPS Media Mail. After I packaged each book, the store manager weighed them and told me they each weighed more than 5 lbs, and the total weight was more than 30 lbs. The total cost to mail these books, excluding supplies, was in excess of $30. I said this couldn’t be right, because although I did not know the exact weight of the books, I knew they weighed significantly less than 30 lbs. He assured me that there was no mistake, and that “books nowadays weigh a lot without you noticing.” In addition, I asked whether he was quoting me the Media Mail rate for 3 of the books, and he assured me that he was indeed.

I declined to mail the books there and took them to the USPS Office located on South University Street. As weighed by the USPS office, each book weighed less than 3 lbs and the total weight for all 4 was around 11 lbs. The total cost to mail them was less than $12.

I emailed the law school mailing list relating my experience, and received a number of emails telling me about similar mistreatments by the UPS store. I am attaching one of the emails below. I believe my experience is not an isolated incident, and that the Union should investigate this matter for the protection of the students.

I can be reached at this email address or xxx-xx-xxxx. I am fully prepared to give a sworn statement and aid your investigation in any way. In addition, my classmate John Doe was at the UPS store with me and can serve as a witness.

Sincerely,

Littlenorth

法学院系列谈(五):Ohio State University Law School, by Joe

小北按:小北敬佩Joe作为一个刚毕业的中国女孩在美国法学院里打拼的经历和勇气,昨天忍不住第一次发信去联系,今天收到长长的回信,一气读完觉得感慨颇多,于是转为下文和大家共享,特别感谢Joe小姐(很男性化的名字)的热情。

==============
As far as I know, according to those consulting me how to apply, I find an overly high and unrealistic expectation on law school. And some of them just commingle imagination with ideal and degrade the hardship they may cross in the proceeding. A sophormore student and his family kept on asking me how much money they should prepare for law school—this is a common problem. Indeed, law school costs a lot and it excludes a lot of Chinese students for this reason, but this is not the only problem, necessary cannot make it sufficient for them to get into law school. Especially for those who cannot secure their LSAT above 160, concerning too much on the financial problem do them no good but impose pressure on their family.

Law school is not as hard as I thought before, although so much pressure to handle, especially the time pressure reading and writing, it is not so hard as overstated in the BBS. But the other extreme opinion is that as long as we have the brave heart, it will definitely be conquered. To some extent, it will, but not always, you know what I mean? Optimism is a good way to combat depression and establish hope, but over-optimism is a little problematic.

What I concern are those just graduated from undergraduate college and apply law school, through a direct way we may save time and money, but I also know the common problem among this group, including me, that we lack the culture background and life experience that is important and valuable for your study in law school.

As far as I know, may be not right, OSU has never admitted students directly from China, except this year, me and another guy, although now we can find Chinses JD nearly in every law school. Most of the Chinese JD have already have a diploma in science or other majors in the US, not to mention those having working experience, which is extremely beneficial. Because I have a LLB diploma in China, I can tell the differences between these 2 systems of legal education, the Chinese formula focuses more on concepts and theories, while the US one highlights the methodological and practical way. So it may be a little bit disadvantageous for those without much experience. Although most of us adapt to it sooner or later, it may be better to have learned the background.

For OSU, it is a nice law school for me. The mildness and hospitality of the Middle people, it is absolutely a welcome place for those with their first step in the US heading law school. It will relieve much of the pressure and isolation for a foreigner. And these years, it invests huge amount of money to employ distinguied law professors to boost its reputation and ranking, and it has taking effects now. In the first semester, we have Contracts, Torts, Legal Research, Criminal nad Civ Pro, while second semester Property, Constitutional law, legal writing, ContractsII and legislation. All the courses for 1L are mandatory. This is a rather big university, with different colleges spread in the university area. Good enviorenment to study for its quietness.

Joe