Monthly Archive: March 2006

Law School Prom Haiku

The law school prom is this Friday. What’s a married guy going to do at a prom? Perhaps it’s again time to get drunk with my married and/or hopelessly single friends.

Law School Prom Haiku

Property in heels
and long satin dresses — will it be
a civil procedure?

Security regulates my ID
before I can say Mmm beer
Very legal practice.

Choosing Classes

Now is the time to pick my 2L classes. I will almost definitely take Transnational Law, partly to get this required class out of the way, partly because I am ready to do what I came to law school for: to learn a little about international law.

The phrase “international law” is usually scorned upon. “There is no such thing called ‘international law’,” one partner at a prominent law firm once told me, “what you have is just a small handful of unenforceable treaties.” I didn’t know how to respond, then I finally came to the realization that I had just been given the answer to one question I’ve always had in mind: Why the weird name “Transnational Law?” Why don’t we just call the darn course “International Law”?

Between trans- or inter-, I guess there is a difference, but can’t exactly pinpoint it, except that I know transaction is different from interaction. The study of law, after all, is about logical games with terms of art as game pieces.

Other courses under consideration:

Law in Cyberspace: I am curious what the laws are like in the virtual world: it shall be a world of the geeks, by the geeks and for the geeks. Now that’s revenge of the geeks.
Enterprise Organization: a prereq for many of the corporate law upperlevel electives.
Federal Income Tax: probably comes in handy once a year in April.
Advanced Constitutional Law: I love this subject, which is full of crap and just about anyone can come up with a theory, but I don’t think I understood this thing this semester, so maybe I need another semester of con law just to hammer it in.
Jurisdiction: What a mess did the framers create with two court systems? Michigan is among the few law schools that only tangentially touch upon jurisdiction in the first year civ pro, so a follow-up jurisdiction class would be a good idea.

Borders, Car and Driver and Sugar Ray

What do Borders Bookstore, “Car and Driver” magazine and Sugar Ray have in common?

Well, the first two are both headquartered in Ann Arbor, as I found out only recently. (I thought the only things national that ever came out of Ann Arbor were UMich, Zingerman’s and Ann Coulter, but apparently I was wrong.)

As to the third, an old-time band from California, probably has little to do with Ann Arbor other than the fact that I went to Borders earlier today to flip through the Car and Driver magazine, and ended up buying one of their CDs.

I can’t believe I just called Sugar Ray old-time. I still remember the days when my Walkman blasted Nirvana non-stop. (For those people who don’t know, Walkman is the stone-age equivalent of ipods. And yes, back then it was very cool to have one of those.) But Sugar Ray was just special to me. It was the first American band that I met face to face. After all those years of listening to the American rock bands on tape copies of smuggled CDs in China, I finally came within 300 feet of one of them in real life. Kurt Cobain, that “son of bitch” (as a friend of mine very aptly called him) who killed himself four years before I arrived in the US, made it impossible for me to meet with Nirvana, so Sugar Ray was the next best thing.

And a group called “Orgy.” These two groups came to campus to give a concert as part of our annual “Art Attack” program in my first year at Maryland. Back then the name of this other band was not in my limited English vocabulary, so I had to look it up in the little dictionary I brought from China, and was abhored to find out what it meant. Terrified, I turned my attention to “Sugar Ray,” the other band performing that night on McKeldin Mall. Both words were in my vocabulary, so as far as rock bands go, that was very unusual, with the sole exception of perhaps “U2.”

The concert was a massive success. They smashed a guitar or two during that, but I figured they probably could afford to do that, being rock stars, so I wasn’t too concerned. I was rather startled to see people running around very unmodestly dressed during and after the concert. At the end of it, there were some people fighting each other, and then there were some people loving each other. It was a good show.

There were two immediate aftermaths of the concert:

First, the school received numerous noise complaints from the town people, and was under so much pressure from the city council that all rock concerts from that point on had to be held in the football stadium instead of the beloved open-air McKeldin Mall at the center of campus.

Second, I went to the CD store next to campus the next day and spent a whopping $4 to buy an audio cassette tape. It was Sugar Ray’s singles “Every Morning” and “Some day,” a total of less than 10 minutes of music on each side. Then I listened to it day and night, over and over. I would have bought a full album if I had more money, but at a time when I was counting pennies to buy stamps to write to my girlfriend, four dollars was a lot. At that time it was also the equivalent of four gallons of gas, two months’ supply of stamps, or an hour of my hard labor moving office furniture with little more than a handtruck, after tax.

My “Best of Sugar Ray” CD today cost me $18.99. I still balk at the ridiculously priced music even today, but for Sugar Ray, it’s worth it. Not for their music, because I’ve perhaps long out-grown that, but for that very first year alone in this country, listening to “Every Morning” and “Some Day” non-stop probably made time go by faster (well…, and the TangChao version of “Internationale” every once in a while).

When I realized what an impulse purchase I had made, I bought a cup of coffee, sat in a big armchair upstairs in Borders, and started flipping through Car and Driver to see what news cars are out there and how many years of hard labor I would have to do to afford one of those toys.

And then I heard myself humming that familiar tune.

“Someday, When my life has passed me by

“Somesay, Better things will come our way…”

Sugar Ray

Stress and release

Law school is like this. There is stress, and there is release.

At about 6:15 p.m. I put down my briefs and case lists, ran to the dining hall, and washed down some steak and pasta with a glass of coke. By the time I mumbled “sorry I have to go” to other people at the table, it was already 6:30.

I ran back to my room to review for the seventeenth time what I have to say for the oral argument today. Stripped myself down to underwear then in the shortest possible time threw on my shirt, suit, belt, shoes… Wait, where is my belt? I probably left it in Maryland last weekend. I couldn’t find the belt so I would have to do without one. At least my jacket is clean so I will just have to keep it buttoned at all times.

At exactly 6:40 p.m. I was standing outside the “courtroom” waiting for my turn for the oral argument, which is part of the legal practice program mandatory for all 1Ls. My opponent was there too, in a nice looking suit as well, pacing up and down the hallway holding his briefs. We exchanged greetings. He was visibly nervous and so was I. It was the second time that we have to argue orally this semester, but this time it is in front of someone from outside law school — a real attorney, a practising litigator.

The hour flew by before I knew it. I remember very little from the actual arguments, except that the judge threw one question after another at me and that I probably said “your honor” a hundred times, all the while praying for the pants not to drop ( I kept my left hand in the pant pocket just in case). With sweaty palms and my last bits of faked smile, I said one more “Thank you your honor,” and walked out of the room at precisely 7:40.

I went straight to a law student cultural show in the union after the stressful oral argument. Many of my friends were performing so I cheered for them while marvelling at how good they looked (girls and guys) when they were all dressed up outside the law school. It was a great show.

A mini-feast on some bibimbap in a little Korean restaurant with a group of friends then followed. Life is all good again, until tomorrow morning, that is.

Running From the Law II

I went to talk to a friend of mine, who had worked for a major law firm for 4-5 years before he quit, about the article I read today. He said that article couldn’t have expressed his feelings more accurately, and it was precisely due to the same reasons described in that article that he left the firm.

Today is the second preview weekend for the new admits at Michigan Law. I peeked through the Lawyer’s Club lounge window to catch a glimpse of the new admits who flew in to attend the event. They reminded me of myself around this time a year ago when I came to the preview weekend – glimmering smiles, eager faces, excited and nervous, ignorant yet proud. Now I look at law school in a somewhat different light, but I guess none of the new recruits would listen to my mindless babbling, so it’s probably better for them to figure out themselves in their 1L year. I am biding my time until I get out, and people are still rushing in as if this is the last pot of gold.

Which reminded me of what that article says about the thoughts of those mid-level associates when they recruit law students. into the firm. The guys already in there are sucking it up and struggling to get out, while new guys on the outside are fighting one another to become the lucky few to get in.

This is scary stuff. Or maybe I am just having a really long day.

Weird job posting

I recently came across this job posting by an American firm:

We wish to add attorneys already licensed in China and attending and graduating three year JD programs in America law schools. It is our goal to create a substantial group of specialists in this area licensed both as Chinese lawyers and American lawyers. We believe strongly that the education and experience obtained from both being a practicing Chinese attorney and graduating a three year American JD program is invaluable in understanding, translating and successfully concluding transactions between the American and Chinese business and legal cultures. Interested in students in law school who are already licensed attorneys in China, are enrolled in the three year JD program and who possess a strong grade point average and fluency in both spoken and written English and Chinese.

This is apparently drafted by some arrogant person who fits the description above. Notwithstanding the blanket discrimination against all Chinese LLMs and all Chinese JDs without Chinese bar admission (yet) and all those American JDs who speak fluent Chinese, I wonder how large their applicant pool will be. I have to say that this is one highly selective firm indeed.