Monday, September 19, 2005

Lunch at the Top of the Ivory Tower

Had the chance today to have lunch with a couple of my professors. I gather it was supposed to be a somewhat informal setting for a few of us to get a little better acquainted with the people who hold the seating chart. (Luckily they gave us name tags to avoid the mildly uncomfortable fact that we are unrecognizable when our names aren't linked to that precious chart.)

Much as I complain about the pedgogical philosophy of legal education, I am rather fascinated by my profs and would love the opportunity to find out more about them.

That didn't happen today though. Instead, I sat through one of the more awkward and obvioulsy forced conversations I've ever had the mild discomfort to witness.

It was pretty obvious that the profs thought this was just about as lame as I did. I think they were under instruction not to talk about the law with us, but since they don't know anything about us (and weren't all that interested to find out, it seems) we didn't have too much to say to one another. After about 45 minutes of excruciating small talk and incredibly long silences, one of my profs decided he'd had just about all he could take, and just silently stood up and left the room.

Good times!

At least I got to enjoy a delicious free (read: $37,000) lunch.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Blawg of the Day!

A quick thank you shout out to Inter Alia for naming my humble little blog the "Blawg of the Day" for September 18. Huzzah! It's nice to know people are out there reading this, and even nicer to know somebody actually found it worthy of a link. So thanks.

In other news, after a grueling couple of days I'm finished with my reading for the week. Pardon me while I pat myself on the back for a moment.


That was nice. Now back to legal writing...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dirty Professor Tricks

I feel bad for some of my poor classmates sometimes. The socratic method is such a piss poor way of teaching the law. It's increasingly obvious that they are so lost in class--and it would be so incredibly easy for the profs to help them out. It's not like they're not bright people--they wouldn't be here if they hadn't already had tremendous academic success. And it's also not as if these concepts are incredibly hard. I'm sorry, but the MPC culpabilities for mens rea, from which this little blog takes its namesake, are simply not that difficult to understand--if someone teaches it to you.

In my class we spent 45 minutes trying to label the required culpability for each material element of a statute. If she had just mentioned to the class that "recklessness" is the default culpability when the wunderkind in Congress neglect to make it clear, this exercise could have taken 2 minutes.

The socratic method is so wildly inefficient. If you want mandatory class participation, fine. But you could do it better than this.

By far the best advantage of prepping for law school is that I don't fall for the professorial bullshit in class. I can see when they're manipulating the discussion to avoid eliciting the correct reaction. I can keep my eye on the ball even when they're hiding it as hard as possible, which happens quite a bit. And I seem to be the only one in class who thinks that my effervescent, friendly torts professor is going to screw more people over than anybody else. The ones who try to be your best friend are definitely the worst of all.

But even more than that--Their socratic interrogatories have a context--I can see what they're getting at immediately and that it makes the conversation worthwhile. The casebook's pathetic attempt to contextualize the cases in the "Notes & Questions" sections simply could not be sufficient to properly ground any student for a meaningful discussion in class.

Prepping makes it clear when the professor is playing dirty--and it's a lot more frequently than a hapless 1L would like to think.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The best half-assed brief ever.

Vaughan v. Menlove (Eng, 1837)

Menlove left a haystack near some cottages. Everybody told Menlove that the fucking haystack was going to catch on fire. But did Menlove listen? No. And what happened? Well, the haystack spontaneously combusted, as haystacks are wont, from time to time, to do. Menlove was told over and over again that it would cause a fire, but he says “I’ll chance it.”

At trial, Judge told the jury to consider whether the fire was from the gross neg. of Menlove and said that “he was bound to proceed with such reasonable caution as a prudent man would have exercised under such circumstances.” Menlove thinks it should be examined on its individual basis—whether he tried to the best of his abilities to do a good job. A subjective standard rather than an objective one.

Also, Menlove may or may not be a retard, but he’s definitely a bit of a dim bulb.

Answer—No, Menlove. The court doesn’t care that you are stupid. The standard is what a reasonable person would have done. Now put that helmet back on.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Perhaps a little better....

Professor Torts today asked us to remember that litigation, although a miserable process for all parties involved, is still slightly better off for society than going out and shooting somebody in the head.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I hope these notes prove helpful in class on Tuesday:

Osterlind v. Hill, Mass. 1928.

Facts: ∆ leased a “frail” canoe to decedents who were totally fucking
shithoused. The boat capsized, the dead people screamed, ∆ ignored
their screams and they died. Good times!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tomorrow's to do list

1. Read Examples & Explanations for Con Law and answer questions
2. Play with some hypos for torts from the Restatements.
3. Try not to kill self during Civ Pro while senile prof mumbles incoherently about god knows what.