小北的不老歌

Monthly Archive: July 2007

High Achievers

Work at the Articles Office has picked up again as authors begin to send in their summer writings. One article that caught my eye was by a recent YLS grad who was on the editorial board of three journals including the YLJ and is currently a CoA clerk–and it turns out that he’s already well published and has two more articles in this cycle before he even completed his clerkship. You gotta wonder where did people like him find all this time and motivation and talent to pull this off.

Equally amazing was a submission by an inmate in a federal prison who identified himself by his prisoner number. He probably has a lot of time on his hands, but the motivation is no less impressive because most others spend their time writing pro se motions, not law review articles. And apparently he has the talent too. According to the editor who screened this batch of incoming articles, this was among the better ones.

杂记

上周和合伙人去吃饭,席间聊起做法官助理一事,他很奇怪地说,那有什么用,不如早一年进律所攒经验挣钱来得好,如果不做诉讼律师的话,写判例的经验拿到律所里没有什么价值。

虽说如此,去做助理的决心还是没有改变。两周前和萍儿把沉甸甸的满载申请材料的一个纸箱子运到邮局去寄给学校,再由学校统一附上老师的推荐信然后在九月初发给各处的法官。准备材料的时候回想起两年前的夏天也是到处搜罗推荐信去申请法学院,那时把一点一滴的进度都写在这里,于是回头看看两年前的记录,才发现一路走来,得到了很多也错过了很多,以后的路怎么走还不知道。

有时和萍儿歪在沙发上有一搭没一搭闲聊的时候说起毕业及未来几年的打算,唯一肯定的是回国,却不知道回国以后的路具体如何走。无聊的时候看见网上有人争论得很凶说到底三十万还是四十万人民币的年薪才值得回去当海龟,于是暗想真是家家有本难念的经。因为我是外国人,即使走运能够拿到法官助理的职位,也是要免费干活而不能领工资的,所以经济上要损失不少(即便把律所能补发的补助算在内),但不是凡事都是为了钱不是?

虽然这么说,有时心里还是有点顾忌,和萍儿说笑,说申请这个助理可谓下了血本。第一年的自己的收入没了不说,如果找到的是一个比较偏僻地方的法院而且不愿意为了多挣一份工资而两地分居的话,她可能也要做一年家庭主妇,这样连她的收入都搭进去了。萍儿总是笑眯眯地说支持支持一辈子不就这么一次么而且也就一年不就结束了么。于是心下甚为宽慰。

当然,这一切的考量计划和小算盘都是以我能找到这样一份差事为前提的。既然又是一拨申请,那么不妨把基本进程也记录在此,以供现在和以后的同学参考。申请的绝大多数是巡回庭的法官,从第一到第四,第六到第十巡回区都有些,外加几个纽约南区和夏威夷的审判庭。成绩推荐信和杂志社相关条件还算有竞争力,弱项是:1)学校不是顶尖那几个(耶鲁和斯坦福各有20%以上的学生去做联邦巡回庭助理,哈佛则有10%以上,不过象在哈佛这种地方混个前10%恐怕也不是我所能,2)不是美国人(有的法官会很“爱国”——所以有意避开第五巡回区),说话也夹着中国味(但还是那句老话:不收美国人,要求讲中文的好工作这世界上也不少。;) )。

好了,啰嗦到此结束。有没有戏九月底见分晓。

“advice”

I’d been confronted several times this summer with the same question, “I heard you run a website that offers people advice on law school admissions. Is it true?”

I didn’t know whether I should answer in the affirmative or negative–I do have a website, but it’s just a blog, like millions of other people out there all do nowadays. Mostly I just write down random law school-related thoughts and rants, and never intended them to be “advice” of any sort, especially since I am not even qualified to give advice on any subject (with the possible exception of digital cameras purchases–go buy a Fujifilm F31fd while these little gems are still available).

In any event, I figured if I’d been found guilty I might as well commit the crime. Some of the readers of this blog will be doing the fall interviews very soon. Here are a few suggestions on the interviews I wrote for another purpose, and I am pasting them here.

————-
Two pieces of advice for people looking to spend a summer at a big law firm:

1. Relax (you will get a job), then

2. for those firms that you are really interested in, research your interviewers. Read their bios, google them (as they will probably do the same to you). Find out where they grew up, where they went to school, what they studied before law school, prior work experience, clerkships, sports, hobbies, etc. Find potential common points to talk about at the interview. It’s all about the small talk and how to kill the otherwise awkward 20 minutes between two strangers. If there is absolutely nothing in common between you and the interviewer, a) think again whether you want to work there, and b) compliment his/her shoes.

——–
An additional comment: for big law firms, whatever little tidbits you can glean from Vault/Chambers/Firm Website will have been regurgitated to the interviewer a dozen times that day already, so research the firms only to the extent that the information you gather is helpful to you, and don’t attempt to impress your interviewer with your knowledge of the firm, especially if your knowledge is common to hundreds of other eager candidates. In the words of one hiring partner, it’s “nauseating” to hear interviewees recite from the Vault guide.

缅因

上次去缅因还是在六年以前了,记得从马里兰长途奔袭近十个小时才到州界,因为当时的数码相机比较次,没能留下什么好看的照片,现在鸟枪换炮了,虽然摄影水平没有任何提高,却总是心痒痒地想再去Arcadia一趟来弥补这个缺憾。搬去中西部以后总觉着缅因太远,想着夏天到纽约实习的时候随便找个周末就可以过去,于是拖到这个暑假。上周末突然想起来这桩未了的心愿,遂上网欣赏一番他人拍摄的Arcadia美景,并开始筹划这周末去缅因事宜。

没有料到的是从纽约开车去Arcadia国家公园居然还要八小时,一个周末来回恐怕不够,看来这桩心愿要等到以后有机会再实现了。有时候没事坐办公室里发呆,想像着最理想的工作是不是抗一套摄影器材满世界乱跑去风景名胜拍照卖给杂志社图片社哪怕是挂历出版商也好,但又想到还有老婆孩子还有房子和车子的问题没准还有填饱肚子的问题还是老老实实坐办公室算了。

Law School Class

I may become a visiting student at Northwestern Law in Spring ’08, so I browsed through the school’s course offerings, and then I came across this course:

LAWSTUDY 603 Evidence of Historicity Jesus

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the number of books, essays, and web sites challenging the historicity of Jesus Christ. Their authors point to the fact that no one ever reported meeting or seeing Jesus. They argue that the evidence that Jesus walked the earth is, at best, circumstantial. Although over a billion people today are convinced as a matter of faith that Jesus existed, faith can be defined as a belief in something for which there is no evidence. A law-school approach must be evidence-based. Yet what kind of evidence would be needed to support or refute the actual historicity of Jesus? What about negative evidence (evidence from silence), for example? What does the gathering of this kind of evidence tell us about the role of circumstantial evidence in ordinary courtroom cases? This seminar will examine English-only sources and secondary materials in order to organize and assess the tenor and persuasiveness of available evidence concerning the historicity of Jesus.

Can you spot a winner?

comparison
All default settings. Pretty obvious which camera produces the sharpest image. The first three are 8MP point-and-shoot cameras: Minolta DiMAGE A2; Olympus SP-350; Fujifilm F40fd. The last one is a 6MP DSLR: Minolta Maxxum 5D, with Minolta AF 24-105mm lens (admittedly not a very sharp lens).

Random Thoughts

Work at the firm has picked up again and I got myself another due diligence assignment on the corporate side and a brief drafting assignment on the litigation side. Now I actually don’t mind doing due diligence work that much. It’s certainly not “fun,” but it’s a lot easier than the more substantive assignments. Unlike research assignments for which you don’t know if there is an answer out there and keep wondering if you’ve missed that case or ruling exactly on point, you know you will be able to complete due diligence work no matter what and bill a lot of hours without expending too many brain cells. But my life, and that of countless other summer and first-year associates, could have been much better if all contracts were available in searchable PDFs instead of scanned, password protected, or encrypted documents that must be read line by line, page by page.

The Law Review has selected its new batch of incoming associate editors over the weekend. Calls are going out today and tomorrow. About this time last year I received mine, and little did I know how much time I would end up spending on Law Review projects and assignments and with my LR colleagues. At the time I also did not know how little having LR on my resume would affect my career prospects (as far as the summer gig is concerned, at least). In retrospect, however, the year with the LR changed my perspective on the function of law school (it’s not just a mill that churns out greedy biglaw associates or clueless young bureaucrats by the hundreds), rekindled my interest in academic research (which was subsequently re-extinguished by reality), and made me some really good friends that I would otherwise not get to know. It was well worth the effort–albeit a lot of effort. On the balance, my conclusion is that–like I always told the 1Ls that asked me about LR–if you are offered a spot on the LR, go; but if not, you are not missing much–what I valued from the LR experience can be had at just about any student journal, the moot court, or a lot of the student organizations.

I’ve also gotten my clerkship applications to the school to be forwarded to the judges. I have to admit that, as I looked up clerkship statistics of various schools and judges, there was a brief moment that I wished I’d gone to Yale or Chicago. But over the years I’ve learned to be content with and proud of what I have instead of regreting what I don’t have, so the next minute I was busy stuffing envelopes again.