小北的不老歌

Monthly Archive: October 2006

Courses, Reloaded

After talking to a number of 3Ls, it looks like it’s not a wise idea to not take SecReg next semester. SecReg is a 4-credit class so I have to put off Evidence till later and substitute it with a less intensive class. Here’s what I am looking at

Security Regulations (Cha-ching)
Criminal Procedure Survey (Doink Doink)
Jurisdiction
Law & Econ Seminar

LSAT180考经

写这份不老歌的一个直接好处是起到了抛砖引玉的作用,两年里结识了不少同样有志于攻读法学院的同学,其中能人大有人在,”A Girl from Shanghai”就是这样一位朋友。小北十分荣幸的能请到她把LSAT考180满分的经验和大家分享,给正在准备考试的同学一些帮助和鼓励,愿越来越多的中国同学能考出LSAT高分,希望日后能在美国法学院里看见越来越多的中国同学的身影。十分感谢”a girl from shanghai”的不吝分享,同时也祝愿她在法学院申请过程中一帆风顺,offer多多。

全文如下。欢迎链接转载,转载时请注明原作者”a girl from shanghai”与原始出处。同时也希望有更多的朋友能够和大家分享考试,申请和就读过程中的经验。

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LSAT考经

by “A Girl from Shanghai”

我大概是今年三四月的时候突然决定考lsat,四月份决定报考6月的;然后就开始做题,买了next10, additional 10,并在laws4u下载了最新的(02年开始的)十套左右卷子。头一两套是觉得非常难,连逻辑也做不完,不过做了三四套后觉得上了轨道,虽然rc和lr还是有时会有几题做不完,但基本控制在范围内。然后,然后么还是做真题咯,因为白天要上课实验,都是晚上及周末做的。不过我基本每次都是做完一整套(4sections)的,做完后把错题看一下。就这样平淡无奇地做了两个月,到后期成绩在168,169左右,rc及lr有时还是会有题做不完;在临近考试时写了一两篇作文,做过一次5 sections的(是我自己拼凑的,纯粹为了模拟考试状况)。然后6月份我就抱着死就死了吧的心态去考试了。我觉得真实考试的时候也不是很紧张的,就跟平时差不多。当时觉得蛮难的,阅读没做完,lr可能也有一两道是做得很赶的;而且lsat题多时间紧,所以那种感觉就是做得云里雾里的,不像考其它的考试会觉得每道题都蛮清楚蛮确定的。考完以后非常不确定自己会考得怎样,不过因为平时模考也会有题没做完,所以也就没有cancel,想看看自己究竟会考成如何。考完第二天就回国度假了^ ^,7月份收到成绩,167,一开始有点小郁闷,不过后来想想自己也就准备了两个月不到,且基本与模考成绩差不多,也就觉得可以接受。

然后7月中回到美国不知怎么就决定重考,大概是觉得上次准备得不够认真充分,觉得自己还有上升空间吧。 然后这次从报名到考试又是只有两个月时间。复习过程基本和上次相同,晚上及周末做真题,每周三到四套。只不过因为考过一次,没有新的真题可做,于是除了重新买了next 10及additional 10(做过的书有痕迹,会影响判断),重新打印了02年后的题目以外,还买了本更早的(大概是93 94年到96年的10套吧)。然后我就很郁闷的,因为早的题目听说很简单,后面的题目又是做过的。。。好在lsat题目又多又繁,做过的很快也就忘记了,所以重做还是有效的。 这次准备中,我做题后的review比上次做得认真,除了把做错的题仔细看一遍外,阅读我是每一篇都再认真看一遍理解一遍的。而且我发觉有不少题做错或者有时阅读速度慢是因为词汇的问题(偶当初考gre没好好背红宝),且lsat的词汇还是有不少会反复出现的,因此我每做一套题都会大致总结一下陌生的词汇,然后每天花一个小时左右背单词。 在背诵单词、细看阅读一段时间后,发觉自己的阅读速度及理解能力都有提高;这个对做lr也有帮助的。另一方面lr也是熟能生巧的东西,多做多想也就适应那套逻辑思维方式了。Game就不说了,后来的game都是非常简单的,除非做的时候太困了,不然是不太会错的。 考前一个月的时候听朋友介绍买了一本lsat 180(kaplan出的好像),但是后来也没什么时间看,就稍微看了些lr,发觉里面的题目不少是真题,或者和真题完全一个套路就是稍微改改样子的。 不过大家如果时间充分还是可以看一下,或者会有帮助。

我觉得比较奇怪的一点是在我第二次备考的时候,从第三四套卷子开始就可以做到170分以上,甚而175以上;可能6月的考试还是有帮助的吧。 后期模考成绩在178左右,不过我始终不太敢信任这个成绩,因为觉得要么就是简单的古董题目,要么就是做过的题目。在考试前的一周我做了一套还是两套题吧(我觉得自己6月考得不太好的一个原因是在当时临近考试的一个礼拜基本没做题,考的时候有一点点生疏),考前几天我把过去做错的logic reasoning又看了一下,并把自己总结的词汇再过了一下。

然后我就又去考试了。。。9/30的lsat普遍反应阅读比较难,特别是最后一篇science的阅读,绕得不行,我最后一篇阅读做地很赶感觉不好。LR都做完了,且有几分钟回过去看不确定的题目,改了两三道题的答案,应该是改对了。做完game很想回去看rc,不过有贼心没贼胆。。。

由于9/30是早上考试,且考点离住处很远,前一晚又睡得一般,考完出来面色惨白头痛欲裂;加上最后一篇阅读感觉很不好,其它题也很不确定做得如何,我犹豫了很久要不要cancel,生怕比上次考得还差,还咨询了不少朋友。 不过其实from the bottom of heart是不甘心的,想看看自己又复习了两个月有什么效果,而且考虑到这次做题时间上宽裕了不少,所以就决定保留成绩。

还好没删啊。。。结果是100道错了2道,rc及lr各一道,正好卡进180;我收到email后check了好几次lsac,生怕是自己看错或者他们搞错了。。。我觉得这次发挥也算比较好吧,而且自己一向是那种在压力下会发挥得更好一些的;说实话167也不算很差的成绩了,重考一次就是希望有一个很好的分数,所以可能考试当天是拼了全力的吧。

皑皑,我也觉得自己很啰嗦很没重点,原本也想不出有多少经验可以说。不过我还是稍微总结一下吧:

1. 争取尽早开始按模考形式做题,在指定时间(35min)内做完每个section,每次做4个section,中间只安排一次2、3分钟的休息(就是用来上厕所啦-,-)
2. 做完题后的review一定要认真,仔细思考分析为何做错,做到真正理解;阅读可以细看,梳通句子结构,文章脉络;不仅对考试有利,对总体英语阅读能力都会有帮助。
3. 可以考虑背诵陌生词汇,因为lsat有不少单词会反复出现(尤其是阅读会出现的一些问你作者态度的词,一定要认识,不然亏大了)。
4. 事实证明,反复做题还是有效果的;而关键是每次做题要认真,这样才会有收获。

我考完lsat就开始晃荡,以致于现在才开始申请,时间极端紧迫;又由于第二次考得比较好,突然间自己的expectation也高了起来,好像又多了几分压力。Lsat is only the beginning of the beginning. 没有好offer190分也是假的。从另一方面来说,既然人生有那么多的考验及关口,不妨皆持平常心对待。当然咯,偶还是不能免俗,在祝福大家在lsat中取得好成绩的同时,也渴望得到大家对小女子申请law school的祝福 ^ ^

Amtrak

My weekend trips to Chicago have been the highlight of my week, every week. Spending time with Ping and Anna makes me happier than doing anything else. But the downside is that I have to spend 10-12 hours on the Amtrak train every weekend.

The train back to Ann Arbor this weekend is once again delayed, this time for almost two hours, so the train ride itself took about 6.5 hours. Plus the 20 minute bus ride, 20 minutes of walk from the bus stop to the train station in Chicago, half an hour waiting for the train, and the 20 minutes walk from the train station in Ann Arbor back to the Lawyer’s Club, I spent almost 8 hours on the road today.

I don’t think the Amtrak train has ever been on time this semester. The closest it got was about 20 minutes behind schedule. On a bad day, such as today, it could be delayed for almost two hours.

The official explanation is that since most people in the U.S. travel by air now, passenger trains are given a low priority on the tracks, and they must yield to freight trains. (It used to be the other way around.) And it seems that this is indeed the case. We often had to stop in the middle of nowhere to wait for freight trains to clear the tracks, sometimes for almost half an hour at a time.

When we were driving to Chicago for the fall break earlier this month, my friend J gave me another explanation — or, more like it, a justification — for the notoriously unreliable trains in this country. “You see, trains are in and by themselves difficult to be on time,” he explained, “Only the trains in Nazi countries are on-time, like Germany under Hitler, or Italy under Mussolini. Only a fascist regime would be so controlling as to require its trains to be on time. In a democratic country like the U.S. we are more humane and let the trains run late.”

We laughed, and I pointed out that if political systems can be distinguished by simple signs like the punctuality of trains, then China is a liberal country run by Democrats, because we 1) have strict gun control, 2) legalize, or even encourage, abortion, 3) have nation-wide affirmative action programs (the legality of which is not even challenged), and 4) are skeptical of the war in Iraq.

Courses Next Semester

Hours of moving around classes, checking prof’s bio and feedback… finally I decided that I simply couldn’t decide, and will have to wait and see…

Plan A:
Law & Econ Seminar
Legal Ethics
Jurisdiction
Evidence

Plan B:
Law & Econ Seminar
Legal Ethics
Some practicum
Business Income Tax
Corp finance

Law & Econ Seminar is required as a condition of the Olin Fellowship. Legal Ethics is part of the law school curriculum requirement. I am also fairly adamant about not taking Securities Regulation next semester. But other than these, things are far less certain. What I take for the second semester of my second year really depends on my plans for the third year. If I visit at Chicago in my third year then I will need to defer the tougher courses such as Evidence and Jurisdiction till that time. If I take an externship in Chicago and remain nominally enrolled in Michigan in my third year, then I will try to finish off the litigation-related courses ASAP if I want to clerk afterwards.

读者来信

这几年来留美读法律的中国学生越来越多,相信同学不少和我一样,在国内没有学过法律,也不了解国内律师执业的状况。小北十分感谢这位律师朋友的对此的描述,在此与共同关心大陆律师行业和法律的同学分享。

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抱歉才看到您的邮件,感谢您的来信以及您对大陆律师及法制状况的关注,这种关注也引发我的一些回忆和总结,如果有一天我退出大陆的律师行业,我希望自己能够写下自己的经历,供那些为了民族富强及公民尊严而仍在奔走呼号的人们作为一点思索的素材。

在职业生涯中,常常会陡生困惑,但是,因为忙碌和无奈的缘故,这些困惑都没有得到思索与提炼,久而久之,甚至就习以为常了,这是我不愿意看到的现象,现在或许还没有到回顾的时候,但是,我非常愿意能够简单的为您做一点点关于大陆法制及律师生存状况的描述。

如果法律是一门学科,那么它应当是关乎人类永恒追求的公平正义理念以及行为逻辑的一门学科,至少,我是这么粗浅的理解的,前者——公平正义,常常因为国情的缘故,变得扑朔迷离,后者——逻辑,常常因为立法技术的粗糙和话语权的缺失,而变得逻辑混乱,我这样说好像有些愤青的模样,说话也是逻辑不足,那么,我就具体一点吧。

首先,从简单的说起,关于逻辑的问题。法律自有其逻辑,法律概念和法律规则围绕法律原则与精神,互为补充,形成自己独有的逻辑,事实和证据在这种逻辑框架下得到解释和推理,司法者才能定分止争。

但是,中国大陆不是判例法制,那么它就应当是制定法制(度),这句话如果成立的话(还有人说是中华法制,那我就不和他探讨这个问题,因为这超出了逻辑辩论的范畴),那么对于制定法国家来说,法制(治)的前提就是有一部体系严谨、逻辑清楚、概念周延的法律文本吧,好,我现在要说出第一个大陆法制现实,就是这样一部应该具备的起码的法律文本,根本就不存在。譬如,民事程序法上,一个关于送达的基本制度,就是漏洞百出,连判决书下发后如何确定当事人上诉期限的制度都没有,更确切的说,是不可操作,譬如,法院判决书中载明的日期是十月十日,当事人领取(送达)判决书的日期是十月二十日,按照民事诉讼法之规定,上诉期15天,从送达裁判文书的第二日起算,当事人一般在领取判决书的当时在一审法院的宣判笔录(不对外公开)上签字视为收到,并载明收到(送达)日期,但是,二审法院(上诉法院)不知道啊,当事人等到上诉期届满前一天,就是十一月五日去递交上诉状时,上诉法院只能看到判决书上载明的日期——十月十日,早过了上诉期了,怎么办,上诉法院也不知道,就草率的让你回原审法院开证明,证明送达日期与判决书载明日期不一致,这个证明程序在民事诉讼法(大陆)中根本就没有。这样看似微不足道,但是会影响司法效率乃至公正的立法漏洞,不胜枚举,比如民事程序中的证据制度、公开审理制度中都广泛存在类似现象,至于广泛到什么程度,恐怕没有一个律师有精力去逐一探究,毕竟,这是立法体例和立法者思维定势的问题。那么,实践中是怎样弥补这种漏洞的呢,有经验的律师,会根据判决书载明的日期计算上诉期,那么真实的上诉期可能会远低于法定的上诉期,或者,律师在一审领取判决书时,就要求法院开具送达日期证明,法院爱不爱开,几乎全凭书记员的心情。这是我要说的第一个问题——立法技术过于粗糙,没有基本的逻辑和体系。我举的例子是民事程序法领域的问题,刑法领域,就更是惨不忍睹,几乎找不到公安机关在侦查阶段不违反程序法的案件,这么说要使有一点过分,我就不是个有良知的和基本判断力的公民。当然,这里还有监督机制的问题,那是更宏观的、更虚无的问题,我不愿意多谈。

再次,法官是案件的核心,应该不算过分的表达,毕竟,司法的强制力和其他功能是要通过法官来体现和实现,庭审程序要靠法官来引导,重要事项,比如是否公开审理的问题,可能需要法官当庭就予以确认,而且,按照大陆民事程序法的规定,这样的问题,既不能通过复议,也不能通过上诉来解决,如果真的导致当事人商业秘密泄露,后果是无法弥补的。但是,非常遗憾的是,我亲身遇到一位法官对我说,他不懂也不管什么是商业秘密,所以本案不能不公开审理,我倒是很钦佩他的诚实和直爽,但是,这放在司法程序上,就有点让我感到悲凉,我始终坚持以为,人在喝酒的时候说的话和在法庭上说的话不能用一个逻辑,也不能用一个心态,但是,我们的法官,常常把这二者混淆,更有甚者,法官可以变成一方当事人与另一方激辩,什么居中裁判的理念法官的尊严,丢到爪哇国去吧。其实,我说这么多,意思就是一句话,法官的法学素养、法律业务能力,直接就限制了整个司法程序与实体的进程和结果。

第三个问题,我始终感到困惑的问题,在大陆,到底是一种什么机制来监督法官用至少他认为正确的逻辑和正义观念来审理案件,是良心还是党性,还是别的什么虚无缥渺的东西。我常常问一些法官,到底是上述的什么抽象的东西在鞭策着他做出至少他认为正确的判断,答案不一,但是可以肯定的是,没有任何一个有效制度可以对一名已经作了十余年法官,既不能再飞黄腾达做庭长院长也没有良好机制退出法官这个职业的法官作出除良心以外的约束。这是最为可怕的最顽固而难以变革的东西。
顺便说一点,当一切问题都归结于行政体系或受限于行政权力时,这个体制,还是不是民主体制,没有民主,法制还能否独立残存,我深表疑惑。

最后一点,抱歉,我是想到哪说到哪,也不管什么逻辑与理性了,大陆的法官与律师缺乏一种法律职业认同感,律师大多鄙夷法官的无知和傲慢,法官也常常视律师为洪水猛兽,不仅法庭上,法庭下也同样如此,因此,法官与律师之间就法律问题所作的交流就极其的少,倒是那些酒肉交流频繁和顺畅的多,

我的上述表述和观点所反映及代表的事实与现象,肯定不是绝大多数现象,否则这个司法体系就该崩溃了,但是,他又肯定不是少数现象,问题就在于此,这种尴尬的比例要如何消除,要等到何时,这世界上没有任何国家能够根除司法腐败,也没有任何国家能够找到一个完美的司法体例,但是,我们距离那种起码的公平或者起码的正义和起码完整的体系,太远太远。

中国真的在进步,这一点我从来不曾忽视,但是,我们要用一万年去证明一个很简单的道理,用一万年去走一个曾经错误的道路,用一代代人的青春去证明这些显而易见的天经地义的道理,是不是太长久了点。

言语多有激烈武断谶妄之处,尚请见谅。

Social Structure

I remember come across an interesting math question a few years ago. If a society consists of 20% elites, and 80% ordinary citizens, and in each generation 70% of the elites remain in elite while the remaining 30% become ordinary citizens, and 40% of the ordinary citizens become elites while 60% remain ordinaries. (The numbers might be off, but you get the picture.) The question is, what’s the long-term equilibrium composition of the population?

I think this was somewhere in the Martingale chapter of my stat textbook, which is buried somewhere in that box of books I haven’t touched in a few years. But somehow I was reminded of this recently, watching the elections and all. Some American politicians come from prominent political families, while others had humble beginnings (not unlike what’s happening in the political arena in any country, I suppose). After this many years, has the American society reached an equilibrium composition?

It would be more interesting to throw in more than 2 classes of people into the mix. Will there still be a middle class in the long run? (Apparently if Lou Dobbs is to be believed, middle class Americans are under attack from imaginary enemies in the legislature and from foreign powers who took away their jobs)

Sweet phone call

Anna loves telephones (in addition to books and cars, that is). Any electronic device with a display and buttons (such as a remote control, a calculator, etc) is a phone to her, and she loves pushing the buttons then pressing it against her cheek and go “hello, is Daddy there? Is Anna there?”

Today Anna somehow managed to hit the redial button on mommy’s cellphone, so I got a call early in the morning, thinking it was from Ping and it was probably some emergency because of the time of the day. But then after I picked up the phone I heard this sweet little voice go: “hello, is Anna there? . . . babble babble… hello is Daddy there…”

I giggled back into the phone:” hello, this is daddy, is Anna there?” Then I heard a thump. Anna probably dropped the phone and went on to play with her other toys, not knowing that she has actually made a real phone call.

I ended the call, and thought, what a great way to start a day.

Externship

I am at my wit’s end. I need to be in Chicago next year, and I don’t want to be just a visiting student — I want to do something different. I want an externship to try out what it is like working as an attorney, or, even better, a litigator.

Unfortunately, I can’t work for a judge (Michigan does not give credit for judicial externships); I can’t work for the U.S. Attorney’s office (fur-rainers ain’t no good for prosecuting them illegal immigrants i guess); so that leaves me with the defense side of things. The federal defender’s office offers no information on whether or how they hire externs (not much other information available on their website, for that matter), and I don’t know what defense work is available as externships other than in the defender’s office.

Nonprofits may be an alternative, but … one, I don’t think my views are inline with ACLU and the like any more, and two, I think working in a government unit in the U.S would help me more in figuring out what exactly is good and bad about this way of organizing the justice system.

Think… hard…

You just can’t avoid…

PUBIC INTEREST!

About this time last year my legal practice professor told us not to rely on spellcheckers, and used “pubic interest” as an example. I was shocked to find out how many such typos are out there, even on law schools’ official web sites.

Today I came across this interesting case, decided recently by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Unfortunately a typo escaped the clerk, and the typo appeared in a quote of a Supreme Court opinion. See Buffalo Teachers Federation v. Tobe, __ F.3d __, 2006 WL 2694754, *8 (2d Cir. 2006) (“[L]iteralism in the construction of the contract clause … would make it destructive of the pubic interest by depriving the State of its prerogative of self-protection.”) (Quoting W.B. Worthen Co. v. Thomas, 292 U.S. 426, 433 (1934)).

I hope I won’t make similar typos in the future, but no one can really be sure any more…