Archive for May, 2011

In Defense of my Hometown

May 21, 2011

One day last semester we covered Arthur v. City of Toledo in legislation.  I was born in Toledo.  I grew up in the Toledo area before heading off to college.  This was a case about my hometown.

In brief, here’s what the case is about.  Public housing was located in the inner city.  The local housing authority authorized the extension of sewers to allow the construction of public housing outside of the inner city.  The local voters, by referendum, repealed the authorization.  People sued over the referendum claiming it had been racial motivated.  The Sixth Circuit allowed the referendum results to stand because racial motivation had not been proven.  Not that there wasn’t racial motivation in not wanting public housing outside the inner city, just that the plaintiffs had been unable to prove it.

As I sat in class during this discussion, I felt like raising my hand and explaining, for the record, that Toledo is not a racist community.  I didn’t.  I just sat there trying to read my classmates minds.  “Bunch of racists up there in Toledo,” I was sure they were thinking.  Well, there’s not.

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Fighting a Losing Battle

May 21, 2011

Here’s a New York Times article about how some less prestigious law schools offer more scholarships than they intend to renew.  Not that they’re going out and cancelling aid.  It’s just that with grade curves many students are finding it nearly impossible to meet minimum GPA requirements to keep their aid.  I wrote about this sort of thing last fall.  Response from a more prestigious law school that they didn’t even know such things were done.

1L Reflection: Don’t Drink Too Much

May 20, 2011

Those were the words given to us at orientation by a faculty member.  Don’t drink too much.  He really emphasized the point, how law school was different from undergraduate studies.  It wasn’t a problem for me.  I lacked the time, energy, and money to do anything crazy.  Plus, I’m old.  But I thought there might be some terrific horror stories from some of my classmates.  I thought someone would get wasted and we’d all be hearing about the consequences for the rest of the year.  That didn’t happen.  I didn’t hear a peep about anyone getting in trouble because of drinking.  For the best.

Taps

May 20, 2011

This is my local White Castle.

When I came back to campus in January, it had closed.  Now, it’s never opening again.  It was at most a ten minute walk from my apartment.  I won’t say that an adjacent White Castle was the deciding factor in moving where I did, but it certainly didn’t hurt.  Probably the saddest part is that I never ate there.  There is some irony in me complaining about a restaurant I never got around to patronizing.

Honor Code Report

May 20, 2011

Last month I got a memo from one of the associate deans about possible honor code violations in the preceding three years.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • 12 potential violations reported
  • 4 were dismissed after initial investigation
  • 1 became moot when the involved student dropped out (I’m guessing this was the book thief)
  • 7 went to administrative disposition
  • 0 went to the Honor Council

Of those seven that went to administrative disposition

  • 4 were found guilty
  • 3 were found not guilty

Two students were put on academic probation.  I think that was in reference to the four found guilty.  Six of the original twelve had grades reduced.

So we’re not a bunch crooks.  That’s good.  Somehow, I would have thought these number would be higher.  Out of 600 odd students a year, only 4 are reported as possibly violating the honor code.  That almost seems too good to be true.

1L Reflection: Lunch with the Faculty

May 19, 2011

I remember hearing at orientation that lunch with faculty members would be part of the law school experience.  It was so much a part of the experience that some professors apparently established a schedule so they could cycle through everyone.

It didn’t happen.  I never had lunch with a professor.  I never went to office hours, other than for the legal writing conferences.  I think I asked one quesiton of a professor after class, and that wasn’t actually about the  class itself.  I did say “hi” to my professors if I passed them in the hallway.

What to do with the Books

May 18, 2011

As an undergraduate I got in the habit of not selling my books back at the end of a term.  I figured they’d be good references for future classes.  Indeed, just the other day I grabbed by engineering economics book to look up the basic time value of money formula to figure out student loan interest.  There was never any money in selling back books.  What cost me $100 or more would earn me back pennies on the dollar.  Plus, they looked impressive as they gathered on my shelf.

You may have noticed I’m continuing the habit in law school.  But I’m having some doubts.  I think the money is better, around 50% retained value for some books.  The bigger reason is because if I have a question next year or sometime in the future about, say, contract consideration, I’m probably not going to pick up my casebook.  I would turn to my course outline or a current hornbook.  I wouldn’t want to trudge through a bunch of cases again, cases that become less current every day, and attempt to distill a legal principle again.  I’ll just want the answer.

Something for me to ponder…

1L Reflection: Attendance

May 17, 2011

At the start of the year we were told many things.  One of them, emphasized by every student panel we heard, was not to skip class.  The students told us how shocked they had been as 1L’s to see how many people skipped class.  I imagined an epidemic of class skipping.  I imagined large swaths of the classrooms empty.

Lots of people skipping lots of classes didn’t happen.  I guess we took the advice to heart.  Day in, day out, it sure seemed like everyone was there.  I missed two classes.  One was for a job interview and another was because I mixed up which day con law was cancelled for Passover.  Occasionally I’d notice an empty seat where someone normally sat, but attendance really wasn’t the problem I thought it would be.

I think the faculty may have reacted to class skipping in earlier years.  Every class had an attendance policy.  It was typically something like the professor reserved a right to adjust student grades if there were excessive absences.  Contracts was simple: miss more than three classes and you couldn’t take the exam.  A lot of the professors simply put in the syllabus that the attendance policy would be in accordance with the college’s standards.  From what I could find, the college’s standards on attendance were that every professor would have an attendance policy.  So I’m not sure what that added up to.

1L Down

May 10, 2011

The last exam is done, the books are on the shelf, and the first year of law school is over.  One down, two to go, but first it’s summer break.

My Engineering Brothers

May 9, 2011

Today was an absolutely beautiful day so I went for a run to campus.  In the middle of it there were hundreds of students stretched out on the lawn to soak up the sun.  It looked like a beach.  Except for one thing: beaches don’t have groups of civil engineers setting up transits for their land surveying lab.  Ten years ago, as an undergraduate, that would have been me.