Archive for August, 2005

Game Over

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

I’m sold on John Roberts. Anybody that would tell Bob Jones to “go soak his head” is okay by me.

(link via How Appealing)

You gotta know when to hold ‘em…

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Lately the Blogger text box has looked worse than drawing 2 / 7 off suit. I apologize for the lack of content, but I’ve got nothing in the way of blogging inspiration. I hope this will soon pass. I appreciate your patience (as well as any suggestions for post topics).

What This Country Needs

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

(via the Hipster)

You can do it: My thoughts on the bar exam

Monday, August 8th, 2005

(The following is excerpted from a post I contributed to De Novo’s symposium on preparing for and taking the bar exam which you can read here)

I am a 30 year-old attorney and I work in the office of legal counsel to a state legislature. Due to the nature of my work, I don’t write about law or politics on the blog, so consider today’s post a rare and joyous occasion. You’re more likely to see Halley’s comet again than to see another law-related post from me.

What follows are my thoughts on taking the bar exam.

Not long ago, I was a mediocre student at a top twenty law school. I finished in the top-third of my class, I participated in a two-year legal clinic assisting capital defenders, and I wrote for and served on the editorial board of a legal journal.

A quick aside, if you’ll permit me. I think it is truly bad advice to take courses in law school just because they cover subjects tested on the bar exam. Everything you need to know to pass the bar exam can be learned from the bar preparation materials, whether you get those materials from BarBri, MicroMash, or some other company. Beyond those courses that should make up the components of basic legal literacy (your first-year courses, plus evidence, admin law, and tax) I don’t see any value in choosing your courses solely because they will be tested on the bar exam. Instead, take classes that interest you because you’re more likely to care about those courses and perform well in them. Obviously, people will disagree with me, but you just don’t need comprehensive knowledge of every subject tested on the bar. The first-level knowledge you need to pass the exam can be obtained from the review materials.

My bar preparation did not include PMBR or BarBri. I ordered the self-study kit from MicroMash and I could not have been happier. I chose MicroMash for several reasons: (1) it was much cheaper than BarBri and PMBR, (2) you could get a refund for the cost of the materials if you failed the bar, and (3) I couldn’t possibly imagine sitting in class for several hours every day listening to someone drone on about the bar exam subjects. I had confidence that I could learn or re-learn everything I needed to know without watching videotaped lectures. If the mountain of debt I piled up during school was not motivation enough to get me to learn the material on my own, the BarBri videos weren’t going to be the panacea.

To anyone looking for an alternative to BarBri, I recommend MicroMash without reservation. The CD-ROM filled with tens of thousands of multi-state multiple-choice practice questions is particularly useful in preparing for the Multi-State portion of the exam.

There is no reason that preparing for the bar exam should consume your summer. I did not study at all during May. Instead, I moved my family. During June, I spent perhaps an hour a day reading through the detailed outlines of the state-specific areas of law. I did not take notes, I did not make outlines, I did not write out practice answers. I just read the prepared outlines. I spent the rest of my time fishing, playing video games, reading for pleasure, or playing basketball. My bar preparation did not really begin until the Monday after the Fourth of July. For the next 3 1/2 weeks, I spent 10 to 12 hours per day studying, making notes, reading, re-reading, and outlining answers to practice essays. I divided my time pretty evenly between studying for the MBE and learning the state-specific topics. I spent the two days before the bar exam helping my co-blogger pack up his house and move.

And I passed the Virginia bar exam on the first try – without BarBri and without sacrificing my summer to the bar examiners.

I think that the fear most people have about passing the bar exam is misplaced. Yes, the bar exam is important. It may be the most important test you ever take, but a diligent law student has the tools to pass the exam. I’m not a genius, I’m not particularly gifted in terms of “getting” the law, and I certainly didn’t exert an extraordinary amount of effort preparing for the bar, either, but I passed.

Random Thoughts: This Post Goes to Eleven

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

Stuff that’s been on my mind lately:

1. For you basketball fans, a big antitrust trial between the NIT and the NCAA started this week. That link provides some useful background, and here are some thoughts from the Sports Law Blog from back when the suit was launched. In brief, the NIT alleges that the NCAA, through its cash-cow men’s basketball tournament, illegally restrains the NIT’s chances to stage a competitive tournament. NCAA teams have to take a bid to its tournament if offered, and no team can compete in both events. I would think there has to be a timeliness issue here, but if it can get around that, the NIT has (at least) two things going for it. First, the NCAA “sanctions” the NIT, to the extent that it allows member institutions to play in that event; perhaps it is illegally monoplolistic to limit the playing field. (Maybe a comparison to the browser wars/Microsoft bundling is possible.) Second, the NIT is represented by Jeffrey Kessler, perhaps the pre-eminent sports law attorney in the country. If someone who knows more than I do about antitrust {x=everyone} would like to chime in on the merits, I’d be most interested. Note that Texas Tech Coach Bob Knight is expected to testify for the NIT, and his protege Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is on the NCAA’s witness list.

2. A new biography claims that Jimi Hendrix got out of the Army by “complain[ing] that he was in love with one of his squad mates and that he had become addicted to masturbating.” Insert your own punchline. I’ll go with: Well, who hasn’t? I hope that’s not how he learned his technique for “playing his instrument.”

3. Here’s an interesting assessment in Slate of the new Dove “real beauty” ads. The short-term grade is “A” because of the attention the ads are getting. But the long-term grade is “D,” because the author thinks Dove will become known as “the brand for fat girls,” which is not exactly what most beauty products aim for. I’m not sure what to make of this; just thought it was notable and a fun read (the author really likes the ads).

4. Here’s a nice lesson in how the wording of polls matters. Both of these polls were about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. This Gallup poll asked, “Do you think that senators should insist that Roberts explain his views on abortion prior to confirming him?” Sixty-one percent said yes, and thirty-seven percent said Roberts should be allowed to refuse to answer. Elsewhere, U.S. News and NRO’s Bench Memos cite a Republican poll finding that seventy-six percent of respondents find it “acceptable” that Roberts decline to answer questions about specific issues (like abortion, one imagines). The key difference is that the second poll mentioned that Justice Ginsburg refused to answer those queries before the poll popped the Roberts question, thereby suggesting there’s at least a history, if not a norm, of not answering questions. I’m not making a normative point on what Roberts should have to answer, just pointing out that how you frame the issue matters.

5. You know those blogs that everybody else reads, but you’re slow to catch on to? Well, one of those for me was Ann Althouse’s blog. I used to check it out occasionally, but nowadays I’m going a lot because there’s always something good there, and she posts a ton of content. I feel so late to the party because she just logged her two millionth visitor. Congrats to Prof. Althouse. We’re closing in on one, ourselves. Well, not one million, but close: one hundred thousand. Stay tuned and keep refreshing.

6. Via the Sports Guy’s Intern, here is a list of the 100 Best Video Games of All Time. I know someone who’s going to be happy with the top two picks.

7. My trusty desk calendar tells me today is Picnic Day in Australia’s Northern Territory. Of course, with the dateline and time zones and all, it’s probably something like next Thursday morning over there, so happy belated or early Picnic Day, mates! I know it’s dumb to act as if the only Aussie I know knows everything and everyone over there, but I’m curious about this holiday. It sounds like such a gay old time.

8. Check it out: a Google-style logo maker!

9. I’ve been thinking some about missing women, and specifically which missing women the media pay attention to. That a pregnant woman in Philadelphia is missing seems newsworthy by itself (although maybe not nationally newsworthy), but it seems as if a lot of the media attention is driven by shame/guilt over the mega-coverage given to missing white women like the high school student in Aruba, the runaway bride, or Laci Peterson. I think that the driving force behind media coverage, though, is out-of-the-ordinary-ness, the “man bites dog” thing. There were/are elements to all those white girl stories that made them unusual. I don’t think the media coverage helped a lot, though — were any of those perpetrators caught because of the extensive media coverage who wouldn’t have been caught anyway? I don’t know what the statistics are on the number of pregnant women, of any race, who go missing, but I know that not many of them make national news. I think if there’s a media bias or racism here, maybe it’s not as much about the race of the victims, but the race of the perps. I’m just tossing this out there; I’m not saying I agree with it. But as a hypothesis, I wonder if the media look for “unexpected” stories, and they “expect” black-on-black crime, but not rich white criminals. Note that something like the DC sniper cases can fit this paradigm because the media (and police) didn’t expect black serial killers. Of course, the victims and the crazy randomness of those shootings were newsworthy well before we knew who did them. So maybe a better answer is that extensive media coverage is based on a combination of appealing victims and unexpected perpetrators. Just a thought. I’m not convinced the media, collectively, are racist. What drives the media is money. If Greta could get the same ratings in Philadelphia as she could in Aruba, she’d be a lot less tan these days.

10. Another great blog I’ve started reading a lot more, PrawfsBlawg, is asking (per Prof. Berman, sitting by designation) how blogs can better be used as an academic medium. I have some (probably non-original) thoughts on this. I know of one specialized law journal aimed at practitioners that is going to a web-only model soon, and I think we’ll see more law reviews extending their web presence. Case notes that are more about description and less about synthesis and analysis should be posted on the journal’s web site within days, with links to blog commentary. The more analytical case notes, like the Harvard Law Review has, can follow in print later. (Why doesn’t the HLR have its own blog? It has enough members to write one, surely.) I think we’ll see more professors doing something like the authors of Freakonomics have done: set up a web presence as a follow-up to a book or article. The author’s note will include a link to the site, where new developments and responses can be found. I think this will be a good thing if it leads to less re-warming of old ideas once a professor has found a niche. Instead of writing an update of the same old article every few years, a professor might write several new blog posts on that idea, and have to come up with a new one if he or she wants to write a whole article. (And the professor can always hire research assistants to keep up the web site.) We’ve already seen that blog popularity can drive article readership (e.g., via SSRN downloads). I expect that to be a two-way street in the future: someone will come across an article on Westlaw, and check the author’s blog for updates, kind of a law review article key-citing! I think blogs will have an extensive impact on academic scholarship in the future, both from the authors’ and the publications’ points of view. I think the article selection process could be altered too: imagine pre-emption checking if Westlaw had a database of law professor blogs to search! I’ll have more on this in the future, but those are some preliminary thoughts.

11. Does anyone know a good preventive measure against shin splints? Not post-pain management. I want to avoid getting them in the first place. Thanks.