Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hug v Kiss, a Civil Action

Tomorrow we have a practice Contracts exam. Thank God it's a practice exam, because I am so lost I don't even know what I don't know. Contracts law is like a barren gray landscape - everything looks the same. We throw words around in class and I think, "yeah, of course", but I just don't see how any of it is different from what we went over the day before. I try to do the practice problems and get frustrated that the questions aren't succinct and lose myself. I get frustrated and give up. I haven't totally given up. I wouldn't still be so frustrated if I'd actually given up.

I'm exceptionally excited about finishing our chapter on rape in Criminal Law. I don't mean that I'm excited about another day of class talking about it so much as being finished with it. It's not so much the class discussion as the requirement that I think about it.

I don't know which I hate more, Contracts or Torts. I'm thinking I hate Contracts as a subject more and Torts as a class more. On a positive note, I would go to Criminal Law class even if it started at 7:50 instead of 8:50, and would probably do so just because I like it. When I'm awake enough by the time I reach Civil Procedure I enjoy that class too. Learning the rules for Civil Procedure is a little like learning all the rules for football - I may never totally get it, but it's fun trying.

Yeah, yeah - go right ahead and make some joke about me being a girl and not understanding and appreciating sports enough, but I tell you this, when I look at a drawn out play all I see are a bunch of X's and O's. You see a game play, I see hugs and kisses.

XOXO - goodnight

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Real Sleazeball

You don't have to be in law school for very long to come to the conclusion that it's not being a shark that makes a lawyer a slime ball - it's just being bad at their job. As a lawyer you represent the interests of someone who knows, presumably, nothing more about the law than what they've seen on Law and Order. By having an incomplete knowledge of the law, taking hazardous shortcuts, throwing your client's case on the back burner until you "get around to it", not putting in the time with your client or for your client, or a myriad of other bad practices, a lawyer takes advantage of their client. Think of it this way, if a doctor had two possible courses of treatment for a patient, don't you think the doctor has an obligation to explain the treatments, the differences, the costs, the risks, etc.? At least there's webmd for medicine. While the law is accessible to the public, the average person will have no idea where to look to find the information they need, and even if they find all of the relevant law on their own, there's a very good chance they have no idea what it means.

The client doesn't know the deadlines required by the court for filing paperwork or what their options are in regards to a lawsuit or criminal charges. If a lawyer does a bad job representing someone it is highly unlikely that after everything is said and done he'll sit his client down and say, "this wasn't really my best work, but I was busy, you understand, right?" In all likelihood the individual client will assume that their lawyer competently represented them and the lawyer will say nothing to them to indicate otherwise. I'm not talking about the rich and famous, or high powered executives, or corporate powers - I'm talking about the regular Joe who needs some help with an issue.

You may be thinking, "I see how this could be a problem, but it really doesn't apply to me," but it does. Say the tree in your yard falls on your neighbors house - they sue you (but your neighbors are nice and there are no trees in your yard anyway). You lose your job and have to go through bankruptcy proceedings (but I'm self employed and business is great). You want to adopt a child. You have to write a custody agreement. You want a divorce. Your spouse wants a divorce. You want a will that properly divides your assets. You're the victim of fraud or any crime for that matter. You're in the wrong place at the wrong time being accused of something you didn't do. You made a mistake and someone's calling you into court for it. You buy property and want someone to look over the paperwork. Chances are, at some point in your life you will consult a lawyer, and when you consult them you expect that they cover all their legal bases. You probably won't be double checking their work - you hired them because you have no idea what you're looking at in the first place. If they don't offer up the best options to you will you know? What impact might they have on your life without you even understanding the alternatives? You could sue your lawyer for malpractice, but you'd need a lawyer for that too.

A shark of a lawyer may be ruthless, but hire them and they represent your interests. The real sleazeball is the one you trust, who seemed nice when you sat down in their office, but neglected to cross their i's and dot their t's. Despite all the stereotypes and jokes, it doesn't take much law school to figure out that the worst type of lawyer you can be is a bad lawyer.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"There is no try"

Vacation is over, back to reality, back to studying.

Law school is a gigantic to do list with ambiguous deadlines.

If you wonder what happened to me over the next couple of months, I'll be buried under a pile of case books. You can try to dig me out if you want, but I warn you, those books are HEAVY.

I take comfort in the fact that when I catch fragments of the med school students conversations on the street I think I'm probably retaining more sanity than they are. I estimate that the glass is at least half full, but quite likely more.

Being graded on a curve is a little stressful. What counts is not just how much you know, but how much everyone else knows in comparison to you. That's real though - that's life. Knowing more gets you more.

The best you can do is try I suppose, right?

In the words of Yoda, "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Life in Autumn Abstract

Do you ever stop to just sense everything around you? We take in so much by sight and ignore things that make life truly beautiful. Do you ever just breathe in the smells, close your eyes and hear the surroundings? I think that the sensory bits of life contribute to the highly underrated beauty of what it means to be alive. We get so caught up in where we're going or what we have to do, that sometimes we forget to just stop and exist.

Exams, classes, homework, relationships - they're all human constructs that propel us from one moment to the next. We call these things our lives, and yet, just living is so much more simple, so much more powerful, so much less complicated.

Today I take time to stop, breathe the smell of the fresh fall air in so deeply I can taste the leaves turning, feel the first day of Autumn on my face, hear the traffic hum by me, and let gratitude for my life, in whatever form it may take, overtake the wall of preoccupations I envelope myself in. Life is sunshine, life is rain, life is one foot in front of the other, breeze on my face, air in my lungs, ground beneath my feet, gratitude and joy for family, friends, and this moment, my moment, my life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sleep? Who needs sleep!

I realize I haven't written very much and I'm sorry. I've begun to wonder when other law students find time for things like, oh, let's say, sleep. I haven't actually given up sleep, I just feel like I need more than I used to and am winding up with less. I wake up, go to class, come home, read, and if I can fit it in I get out of my apartment whenever possible. I feel like I should probably study more, but if I did I'm not sure I'd retain any sanity. All of this makes me miss my job a great deal.

I have reading for another class tonight, but am no longer able to read words as sentences, so I'm giving it a bit of a rest. You know you need a break when you read a sentence five times and are still not sure if it was even English.

Despite being tired, law school is going well, (I think). I need to go back through and work on coherently outlining my schoolwork thus far, but I run into problems with time. It's not that there aren't enough hours in the day, just that I can't function at full capacity for enough of them. I'm going to have to cook this weekend. I wish I could see my family more. I wish I could see my boyfriend more. What's difficult about law school isn't really what you learn in class; what's hard about law school is allocating your time.

I think I'm starting to get things though. At first I thought I was so exhausted I could no longer remember what I'd learned in which class, but now it's running together in a much clearer way. I'm starting to see why one subject matters to another subject. This makes the entire day much more interesting.

Fall break starts soon and I'm hoping a week off will help me reset my brain and body and refresh me enough to finish the semester well. Some of my classmates plan to use this time for more studying and sleeping. I, however, am going to Disney World! Mickey Mouse, here I come.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back for an update!

I have been TERRIBLE about updating recently, so I'm going to give you the spark notes version of the last week-ish.

1. Legal Research may be the most boring class in the existence of classes. I would describe it, but it's too early in my post to put you to sleep. We have assignments due for this class each week, which I hate doing.

2. Law school is actually, not exceptionally difficult. The "hard" part is staying on top of things. Law school is like being stuck in a boat with a hole in the bottom in the middle of a lake with a bucket and minimal means to fix the hole. As a law student, your first job is not to sink. Your second job is to fix the hole. It is not incredibly difficult to bail water out, but you must never stop or you will have more water to bail out more quickly than you would have had you just kept a steady pace. It is exhausting and continuous, but it is not as mentally strenuous as you might think.

3. By week four of law school I am looking for ways to keep afloat and have a social life simultaneously. Sometimes I wonder if I'm maintaining a proper balance. Occasionally I find this stressful, but most of the time I just keep going and hope for the best.

4. I fell asleep in the middle of reading Thursday night. That was discouraging.

5. It turns out my stress manifests itself in strange ways. Saturday before the USC game (which I don't want to talk about) I felt stressed about the amount of work I wanted to get done. In an overwhelming compulsion to do something with a tangible result, I made Snickerdoodles. I felt good that I'd accomplished something, however it turns out cookies do not help my studying much.

6. This Monday was completely fine other than feeling a little under the weather. I'm no longer deathly afraid of being called on in class on Mondays. No tightrope walk today, just a stroll through the park.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 1 - Week Four

Apparently law school at OSU is about as low key as law school comes. Tomorrow I have a quiz in Torts over intentional torts and defenses to intentional torts. Although it's a pain to have to do the extra studying, overall I'm grateful. Law school grades are heavily based off final exam scores. A few quizzes here and there let you know how you're doing mid-semester and take just a little bit of the pressure off final exams.

I've decided that perhaps I need to just schedule my studying in order to keep my study habits in check. I've discovered that not putting a cap on my study time causes my mind to wander and makes it more difficult to keep going. The new plan is to map my study plans out for the week to give me a clear idea of what times are free time and what times are not. In theory this should prevent me from sitting down to my computer to do my legal research assignment for the week and ending up playing five consecutive games of mahjong.

Week four has started off well. I'm beginning to feel like I have a grasp on what habits I need to adjust. I have certain subjects I'm feeling relatively confident in, and others I should probably spend some extra time looking over (would anyone like to explain contracts to me? I'm starting to think an agreement might be legally binding if two parties "spit on it". Seriously, it makes my head spin.) Some days I ask myself, "why am I doing this again?", but then I remember that I actually enjoy going to class and like the idea of mincing words for a living. Out of all of the things that have come as a surprise in the first month of law school, the biggest has been just how interesting the law actually is.

Back to intentional torts! Wish me luck tomorrow.