Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Daily Docket: Snippets of News at U of L Law

A gigantic gelcap of generic DayQuil is the only thing keeping me vertical this morning, so I'm going to try a stream of consciousness blog post with a few items that are floating around in my congested 3L head.

  • Bar exam news: some of last year's graduates from U of L Law attended a swearing in ceremony on Friday, following their successful results from the July exam. According to unofficial sources, Louisville posted another year of excellent pass rates. Roughly 91 percent of first-time takers cleared the bar. 
  • Student loans: Obama's proposed "pay as you earn" program for educational loans should be front-page news for any current or prospective law student. My debt from U of L will be around $60,000 even after a scholarship and a discount for in-state tuition. That's a lot of coin. But even without Obama's proposal, I am grateful I stayed here instead of going to Indiana or Washington & Lee, two other schools where I was accepted. Both would have meant student loans at least twice as large. 
  • Howard Fineman: the well-known political writer for the Huffington Post is visiting campus this week, partly due to his status as a U of L Law grad. He worked several years as a reporter at The Courier-Journal, my former employer, and I'm mulling over questions that I might ask him when I pick him up at the airport this afternoon. The obvious one: with so many journalists fleeing newspapers to pursue law degrees, are you glad you went the other direction?
  • The annual Decedents' Ball (see promotional poster from previous year's event, above right) for law students is this Friday. Also, Lawlapalooza (featured in last week's post, below) is tomorrow. 
  • I'm working at a will clinic for low-income residents on Thursday, hoping to finish out my required thirty hours of volunteer service before I graduate. Every single hour has been worth it. 
  • There are only six class sessions remaining in the semester for most of my courses, and it's incredibly difficult to focus on them when 1) graduation is that much closer, 2) you are fixated on providing legal services to actual clients at an actual law firm with hundreds of thousands of actual dollars on the line, and 3) your head is still full of generic DayQuil. But focus I must. Until next time... 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Latest law school video pitches Lawlapalooza

Haven't heard of Lawlapalooza? It's the local legal community's annual battle of the bands, and a fundraiser for the Judge Ellen B. Ewing Foundation. I wrote about it last year at this link. Some students and faculty this year created a YouTube video promoting the Oct. 27 event, which made me feel good because at times I've felt a strange compulsion to create my own cheesy law school videos (or see my complete list of law school videos). It's good to have company.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Law Student: Busy, Busy

So you want to go to law school? Better get your calendar ready. Life is about to get busy. My day started at 6:25 a.m. and is almost over as the clock ticks past 11 p.m. Between those two goalposts, here is what I did:
  • 6:25 a.m. -- Check email, take a quick look at Secured Transactions reading assignment, sip cup of tea, pay a few bills. 
  • 7:15 -- Shower, make breakfast for kids, pick out dress clothes for deposition later in day. 
  • 8:00 -- Arrive at law school after dropping kids off at Brown School downtown. 
  • 8 to 8:55 -- Study Secured Transactions like hell hath no fury. Hope I am not called on in class. 
  • 9 to 10:15 -- Pound notes into my keyboard during Secured Transactions, and give thanks that I am not called on in class. 
  • 10:15 to 10:25 -- Walk to post office (highlight of the morning) to ship a law school book to some guy who bought it from me on Amazon. Score $70!
  • 10:30 to noon -- Put finishing touches on 6,400-word essay (excluding footnotes) for law review, and wonder why I agreed to go through the torture of writing two different law review notes. 
  • Noon to 1 p.m. -- Study like mad for Negotiable Instruments; wolf down cold leftover mac and cheese from kids' dinner two nights ago. Hmmm. 
  • 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. -- Feeling pretty good in Negotiables, actually enjoying the material in a geek-out sort of way. Professor somehow makes topic interesting. 
  • 2:15 to 3:30 -- Put on tie, prepare for mock deposition exercise by frantically reviewing dozens of pages of documents and notes about a fictitious car wreck. Run into another student in the library and briefly talk about law school ping-pong tournament that we've both entered. Enter library, run into student who is opposing counsel. He asks me if I'm ready. I say yes, but only because there is no other choice. 
  • 3:30 to 4:30 -- Depose another student's wife in a second-floor classroom in front of a video camera, feeling bad for her the entire time but relishing the chance to dig up information in an adversarial setting. This is why I want to become a lawyer, damnit. 
  • 4:30 -- Check email from senior partner at law firm where I clerk. Find message about opposing counsel filing tons of discovery documents in mass tort case that I am managing. Ponder how that, and related deadlines and obligations, are going to dominate the rest of my week. 
  • 4:30 to 5:45 -- Realize that the format of my legal citations for the law review essay is absolutely inadequate,  and spend lots of time trying to fix things. 
  • 6 p.m. -- Come home, hang out with kids and wife, watch them eat dinner, and later play Chutes and Ladders with my 5-year-old. I win. 
  • 7 p.m. -- Soccer game at Mockingbird with my men's indoor team. One of our key players has just returned from cancer treatment after being off for several months. He is an inspiration. I score two goals, and we win 5 to 3. Beer on me after the game.
  • 9:10 -- Damn law review essay still isn't finished. Switch to red wine, think about reading for Criminal Procedure, and instead spend an hour fixing the last citations and polishing the main text of the essay. Send final draft to top editors. Major sigh of relief. 
  • 10:30 -- Draft a lease for a friend who owns rental property and asks me for help. Good networking opportunity. Losing steam. Try to stay focused. 
  • 11:15 -- Crap, the blog hasn't had a new post in a week. How does that happen?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Photo of the Week: Hiding Out at Ekstrom, Channeling the Wisdom of Frank Haddad, Jr.

Frank E. Haddad, Jr.(1), perhaps Louisville's most legendary criminal defense lawyer, once said that successful trial attorneys need to be concerned about matters, but not worry about them.
"When you worry about matters, you don't last long; you either start drinking, or you get nervous or break down.You've got to develop a constitution not to worry."(2)
I am learning to follow Haddad's wisdom, and I think this is one of law school's greatest gifts so far. I've always been willing to carry a heavy load of responsibilities, but I've never been able to fully master the art of being calm in the storm. This semester, there is no choice. I have five classes, two of which are crashing down on me with assignments, plus a part-time job as a law clerk, rental property to manage, a volunteer coaching gig with my 5-year-old's soccer team, weekly Cub Scouts with my 9-year-old, the Don't Forget Your Awesome Wife thing, blog posts, pay the bills, leaves to rake, etc.
So, this morning, I'm hiding out at Ekstrom, U of L's mega library (and Photo of the Week, above) right next to the law school. I'm skipping class to work on a writing assignment, which makes perfect sense. I haven't missed a class all semester, and by my third year I have enough friends to get daily notes from any class I want with a simple Facebook message. It's a temporary fix, but it'll allow me to come a bit closer to meeting my obligations. I'm concerned, but not worried. Want to share your own strategy for coping with the madness? Post it in the comments field below.

1: To read a terrific magazine profile of Haddad, click here.
2: Burton Milward, Jr., Louisville's Legendary Lawyer: Frank E. Haddad Jr. 60, available here

Monday, October 3, 2011

On this Date: Looking Back at 1L and 2L

A year ago, I was writing about my second-year classes, and posting an interview with Kimberly Ballard, the law school's director of academic success. Two years ago, still a very green 1L, I was writing about my first brush with mid-term exams, and a successful but somewhat unlikely campaign to buy a golf hat from my Torts professor for $1,040. Today, as I sit in the law review offices writing this post, I am increasingly finding it hard to keep my focus on law school, and away from the bar exam and job prospects (latest guilty pleasure: looking at Facebook profiles of recent graduates to see who is working and where). In addition to classes, I am also working on an interview with Jim Chen, the dean of our law school for the last five years. I sat down with him for nearly two hours last week to discuss education, law reviews, and what it is like to be one of the only individuals in the world who have worked for both Clarence Thomas and Barack Obama. Did you know that he also used to live in Iceland?