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."