小北的不老歌

Monthly Archive: September 2007

Graduation

I applied for graduation today. Truth is, I wish I have already graduated. Reading, preparing, and studying for classes now involve little more than the mechanical repetition of the formula that I found to be most useful in dealing with exams. But at the end of the day I retain very little substantive information. 1L year was a year of experimentation and exploration, so that was very valuable; 2L year was reinforcement of the basic law school survival skills acquired from 1L year, plus new things learned through journal work. What’s there in 3L year? I am struggling with what’s “hearsay,” what’s “nonhearsay,” and what’s “not hearsay” — things that I can’t see myself dealing with anytime soon. The only thing I learned from my evidence class so far, other than the rules that I won’t be using, is that for every argument there can be a counter argument, and when judges are willing to overlook certain things to reach a certain result, they will. But I learned those in my 1L year.

Commercial transactions, like the tax class I took last year, is largely statute based. The more I look at statutes, the more I think they are like computer programs, complete with its variable definitions, conditional statements, and function calls. Judges and lawyers are like computers who compile, interpret, and execute those programs. My problem is always that the programs either core dump or fail to compile.

In a somewhat related note, the reactions to the speech recently given by the Iranian president at Columbia just shows how single-minded Americans can be when it comes to things that they were taught to believe as the absolute truth. I admit that I don’t know much about the guy, but I also believe that his remarks were fairly well-reasoned and not completely irrational like the maniac that the media has accused him of being, and that most of his critics and the protesters rely on hearsay evidence (hence the somewhat relatedness) in forming their opinions, which, had the American media been less biased against nondemocracies, would have been less of a problem.

At the end of the day, it is really easy to pretend to be politically correct in this country. Do not openly discriminate against people who aren’t like yourself, whether in terms of race, gender, religion, beliefs, etc. This rule can be relaxed if discrimination is against people who do not completely buy into the idea of freedom, liberty, democracy, equality, or any other principles upon which this country is allegedly founded. Disregard said rule completely if those who disagree are from foreign countries (and never mind the hilarity in the U.S. Congress ordering that French Fries be renamed Freedom Fries–could have just called them “Chips” like the Brits do, but wait, that’s too British and un-American).

Weekend

Haven’t been home in two weeks. Now that I have few things to worry about until graduation, life is good again. Even the train ride yesterday, delayed again for an hour and half, didn’t seem that bad. I got to read ahead for classes, and even reviewed a few sections when I absolutely ran out of things to do on the train.

It’s good to be home. Anna is growing faster than I ever thought she would. She can now carry on a fairly long conversation that actually made some sense–or not. When we were in Alaska, I was amazed by a conversation that went on as follows:

Anna: why do dolphins live in the water?
Ping: because dolphins can’t walk.
Anna: why can’t dolphins walk?
Ping: because they don’t have legs.
Anna: then why do turtles live in the water?
Ping: . . .

Now I am sitting by the window watching traffic go by on Lakeshore Drive and the bluish gray Lake Michigan not far away. Life is all good again once you know how to appreciate the things you have and let go of others.

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Anna hates hair clips.

Them Fuckers

Shortly before midnight, I finally finished grading the assignments that the associate editors of the law review turned in last month and decided to walk over to Big Ten Burrito for some late night food.

On my way there I saw a young guy in his early 20s dressed in a suit walking up State Street. He approached me and asked if he could use my cell phone because he had just lost his.

“Sure,” I said, and handed him my phone.

A quick call later, he handed my phone back to me and asked, “so you go to law school here?”

I realized I was wearing that t-shirt again, and nodded, “you go to business school?” I presumed that he just came back from one of those late night corporate presentations that new MBA students have to go if they want a job.

“Nah, I graduated, from undergrad here. I work for [Prestigious Investment Bank, or PIB]. Investment banking.” He replied in rapid succession and didn’t hide his pride, “I just came back to do recruiting.”

A second later he added, “them lawyer fuckers. Always try to screw us over.”

I did not know how to respond. Maybe I should clarify that I am not a lawyer yet?

Before I responded, he added, “them DPW fuckers. You ever heard of DPW? What’s the name, Davis Polk? Ever heard of Davis Polk? They work for us. Them fuckers tried to screw us over.”

I nodded to confirm that I had indeed heard of Davis Polk, but decided not to disclose that I almost became one of “them fuckers” this summer.

“Those fuckers at Davis Polk charge us so much money . . .” he went on about how “their own legal guy” argued with DPW over a bill that DPW handed them not long ago. In all fairness, though, the bill was for less than 100k, not a big amount by either law firm or investment bank standards. But he apparently thought it was outrageous.

When he was about done, he didn’t forget why he was here, “hey if you want a job at [PIB], let me know. We use lawyers.”

“Thanks, but no. I have an offer from a law firm.”

“So which firm is that?”

. . .

“Huh? Never heard of it. I’ve only worked at [PIB] for a year so I don’t know all of the law firms we use. You ever heard of Cravath? They work for us too. Them lawyer fuckers. They all work for us.”

I often wondered how long it takes for i-banks to transform a person from an ordinary student–with whom you can carry on a normal conversation on campus, to an i-banker–someone you’d avoid talking to unless getting paid for it. Now I know the answer.

I am a . . .

Statist!

According to “the world’s smallest political quiz,” I am neither left nor right; I am a statist, defined as someone who “wants government to have a great deal of power over the economy and individual behavior. They support centralized planning, and often doubt whether liberty and freedom of choice are practical options.” Left-leaning statists are “socialists.” Right-leaning statists are “fascists.” My score puts me dead center.

Not sure if I agree with the conclusion and the explanation, but I am not disputing that I never really liked those libertarians anyway.

Take the test here: http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html

Commercial Transactions and Evidence

Now that I’ve withdrawn from the clerkship application process,* I’ve officially lost all motivation to study. Two weeks into the semester I still have little idea about what’s going on in Evidence. I have some vague idea about what’s going on in Commercial Transactions, but too much is going on in that class.

In other news, I finally installed Windows Vista and Office 2007 on my laptop and desktop. That took a lot time, but time is something I expect to have a lot later on this semester.

*: Disclaimer: in case anyone thinks I’m all sour grapes with the clerkship process, I am not. I still think a clerkship is a great learning opportunity and one of the highest honors a law student can get, and the process went as well as it could be for me up to the point I cancelled all my interviews–it’s just that federal clerkships are theorectially available but practically foreclosed to someone who’s married with a kid and hates to be separated from the family for a 4th year. Having to go entirely without pay for a year as a noncitizen while two loans need to be repaid and the kid is grow up fast finally tipped the balance. Did I mention no sour grapes?

有些事情其实没什么选择余地

一夜没睡,坐在床上看脚尖到天蒙蒙亮,才发现有些事情,在很遥远的时候会盼啊盼的,希望有机会能做成,而临近眼前的时候才发现,其实根本没有什么选择余地,为了不拖累家人,必须要放弃。 一年级的时候总想着有机会就转学哈佛耶鲁,等能转了,又发现其实根本就不会去转学。昨晚萍儿电话里问我,以你的成绩,当时决定放弃申请转学,现在回头看看后悔么?当我轻轻地说出“不后悔”的时候,我也知道了眼前这个问题的正确答案。

梦做到头了,就想开了,于是倒头就睡,三个小时真正的美梦之后,匆匆忙忙起来赶去上课。

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后记:既然到此为止,不如做个记号,记下走了多远,为以后想申请的中国同胞们提供些参考。

申请的绝大多数是巡回法官,主要集中在三、四、六、七、九巡回区,一、二、十和DC投了少数几个。剩下的是少量地区法官,全在纽约南区和夏威夷区。初步结果是有六位巡回法官先后表示了不同程度的兴趣,从第一到第十区的都有。其中四位在得知非公民身份后以不同方式委婉地表示不予考虑,一位略有犹豫但表示不是大问题,还有一位说完全不是问题(如果有同学想知道这两位体谅的法官是谁以备日后申请,请单独和我联系)。地区法官一般发通知较巡回区要迟,所以截至第一天晚上只有一名夏威夷的地区法官来约面试,有意思的是他们似乎非常清楚相关法规(也没什么奇怪的,法院么),一听非公民就说夏威夷最适合非公民来做法官助理了因为你在这里可以拿工资而美国大陆的法院就不行。(以后有公民身份限制的同学们别忘了申请夏威夷的法院)。个人的基本申请条件老读者都大概知道了。

助理

今天中午开始法官们给申请者打电话约下周的面试,很久以来盼望着这一天,曾幻想过自己会是多么紧张而欣喜地接听每一个电话。

一下午下来,手心捏出了不少汗,面试也约好了几个,但每次临订机票的时候却迟迟不愿下手,到了最后关头,却总是因为这样那样的原因而犹豫,因为这一步迈出去了就没法收回。于是一晚痛骂自己没出息,一路走来总是说要知难而上,当初申请的时候知道做助理会有这样那样的困难,但当困难是地平线上的一个小黑点的时候总是对自己说这些都是可以克服的。等小黑点变成了面前的大山,十分现实地放在眼前的时候,又想着当逃兵。

和萍儿打了很长很长的电话。今晚要好好考虑一些事情,做一些取舍。何去何从,明天看吧。