Posts Tagged ‘Constitutional law’

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.

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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.

Of Commercial Study Aides and Exams

May 7, 2011

Something I don’t understand is using commercial study aides during open book exams.  During my con law exam, one guy had one book open in his lap and another open on the desk.  A girl was flipping through one of those laminated fold up study guides.  I recognize commercial study aides have a role in preparation, but I have to side with my old torts professor about using them during an exam.  As she put it: they’re the kiss of death.  I would think especially for something like con law.

It’s such a broad topic and we covered such a relatively little slice of it.  The Barbri outline for the class is 149 pages.  When I flipped through it, I saw we had covered about ten of those pages.  Property was a little better, but I’m sure we covered less than half of what Barbri thinks is important.  I’ve got to think that’s relatively typical of many first year courses.

What good is a study aid when most of it isn’t even game to be on the exam?  And what actually will be on the exam is likely only a fraction of what was covered in class.  So lots of times the relationship between the exam content and a commercial study aid is a fraction of a fraction.

Plus, a commercial study aid is written as the author sees things.  True, the basic ideas of any law school class ought to be the same, but every professor has their opinion as to what is important and how it should be approached.  That’s lost when a commercial study aid is leaned on too heavily.

I’m Back

May 5, 2011

Where, you might be wondering, have I been the last three months?  In two words: law school.  I got bogged down in the grind that is reading, class, and outlining.  A few highlights:

Grades came out the first week of February.  I did pretty well.  Contracts was the outlier.  It was ugly.  Sports teams will say after a particuarly gruesome game for them that they’ll watch the tape once and then throw it out because there’s nothing they can salvage.  That’s how I felt when we went over the first semester exam.  My conclusion was that I hadn’t yet figured out how to take a law school issue spotting exam by the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Luckily the rest of my grades made up for it, and because contracts is a year long course, the its grade isn’t factored in until the end of this semester.  So for a semester at least I’ve been quite pleased with my class rank.

Classes went okay this semester I think.  Another semester of contracts was fine.  Having gotten the theory last semster, this semester we delved into the actual specifics like offer and acceptance, warranties, terms, and all their friends.  Constitutional law wasn’t what I expected.  I’m not sure what I expected, but the class felt like it was just the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment rather than the whole constitution.  We spent two months on those.  Con law has the problem of being too big for just a four credit course.  I think I would have just picked the topic list differently.  Legislation was a bit different.  The professor even said as much.  At its heart, I guess it could be described as how to interpret statutes.  But we thew in a lot of civil rights, lobbying, direct democracy, and election law too.  The professor said the course would cover the legislative process from the election of legisators to the enacting of a bill into law. It did do that, but it felt a bit like a grab bag.  Property was okay.  The professor loved policy justifications.  I don’t.  Plus, she’s been in academia her whole career.  I prefer professors who’ve had some real world experience.  The class didn’t always click for me, but I think that was largely my fault.  Legal writing felt like discussing how to ride a bike, then being given a bike and told to ride it, and then, surprise, surprise not being ready for the Tour de France.  It was very much an interative process: write, meet with the professor, revise, repeat.

This semester really felt like a grind.  It was hard for me to get excited about the classes.  The new car smell was gone.  It wasn’t exciting to be back on a college campus like last fall.  It was just a lot of repeitive work: read, class, outline.  Over and over and over again. Plus, I wasn’t having much luck finding a job for the summer when all my classmates seemed to have lined up awesome opportunities.

But around the middle of April, my luck finally changed.  It was the best week of my law school career to date.  It started with a last conference with my legal writing professor.  I should say our previous conferences had such gems as me being asked, “You’re not a writer, are you?” and “Do you know what a comma splice is?”  Not my finest moments.  My hopes were not terribly high.  But the professor actually like my brief!  He even said that one of my arguments had changed his mind!  Latter in the week I had a third interview witn an intellectual property law firm in town.  It wasn’t much of an interview: after five minutes of small talk, they offered me a job for this summer.  There is the very real expectation that I should be able to keep working there during the school year, next summer, and after graduation.  Finally, the week ending with me meeting the university president, E. Gordon Gee, at a scholarship lunch.  So that was a good week.

Now I’m in the middle of exams.  Property was Monday, con law is tomorrow, and legislation is next Tuesday.  I’m ready for the semester to be over.  I’ve been ready since I found out I had a job for the summer.  After exams there’s the law journal competition/application process, and then orientation for work is the final week of May.  After a year of reading, going to class, and outlining, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Back in the Saddle Update

January 18, 2011

It was a good weekend.  Saturday I participated in the Hocking Hills Winter Hike and Monday I went to the auto show in Detroit.  As for studying:

Read for constitutional law – Done!

Read for legislation – Done!

Legal writing – Not done on the weekend, but done today

Work on resume – Not really done.  Looked at my resume and still need to decide if some tweaking is in order.

Weekend Study Resolutions, Presented by Back in the Saddle

January 14, 2011

First week of the second semester, done. 

Read for constitutional law – One of the things about constitutional law is that it’s always changing.  The Supreme Court keeps issuing new decisions.  fortunately, rather than revising the casebook each year, there’s an annual supplement.  The case I need to read this weekend is from the supplement.  It’s close to forty pages.  I’m hoping that’s because the page layout is smaller. 

Read for legislation – We’re going to be reading a case study of last year’s health insurance reform, so I’ve got a summary the professor’s research assistant put together.  I’m actually looking forward to this one because I’d like a nice summary of how the law was created.

Legal writing – Need to read the next two chapters of the book for next week.

Work on resume – I did a mock interview this week. It went well and I got some great feedback, including on my resume.  That’s what I want to work on.

Of Foxes And Life

January 7, 2011

For constitutional law, the first day assignment was to read the US constitution, and for legislation, the first day assignment was to read about the legislative process.  Both of those make sense as great places to start the class.  I don’t know if I could think of a better starting point.

For property, we started with a fox hunt in the early nineteenth century.  In Pierson v. Post (2 Am. Dec. 264), one fellow is busy hunting a fox.  Just has he’s about the claim his prize, another fellow comes along and snatches the fox away.  Naturally, the first fellow wants the fox back, and the second doesn’t want to give it up.  The result (on appeal, no less): a fellow does not possess a fox unless they physically hold it or have mortally wounded it.  And with that, so starts property.

Interestingly enough, the notes after the case reveal that Professor Bethany Berger discovered that the case wasn’t really about a fox.  The first fellow was nouveau riche, the second fellow old money.  The second fellow didn’t approve of the first fellow flaunting his wealth through the fox hunt, so he snatched away the fox.  Such is life.  (55 Duke L. J. 1089)

Start At The Beginning

January 4, 2011

It’s the week before the next semester starts, which means I’ve started on first day reading assignments.  The assignment for constitutional law: Read the US constitution.  Makes sense with me.