Please vote.

I don’t care who you vote for. But please do it. My Argentine friend was telling me it’s an actual federal crime there to not vote. They don’t come out to your house and put you in manacles, but they make a note on your record and the next time you have business with the law ... look out.

I don’t know who will win. Regardless of the polls showing them nationally even, the electoral college math is still a little tricky for Kerry. My prediction is that if Bush wins, at the electoral level he’ll win decisively—more than 30 votes. If Kerry wins, he will be squeaking it out in less than 20 votes.

02 Nov 04

Comments

There is no joy in Mudville.

... great Casey has struck out.

02 Nov 04

Comments

It’s a republican world, we just live in it.

That was a pretty thorough rout of the democratic ticket wasn’t it. Not just the president, but both houses of congress too. John Edwards can’t even go back to his old senate seat, they gave it to someone else.

I don’t fear the republican rule that much if only because I don’t think democrats have done much to push it back in the last 4 yrs. So what’s really going to be different? Bush got into office in 2000, promised everyone a straight-up republican-style presidency, and he delivered. Whereas the democrats, time and again, just rolled over and rubber-stamped it.

Now, at least, there’s one advantage: when shit hits the fan, republicans will not be able to shrug and say “ah well, if it weren’t for the democrats ...” Maybe, just maybe, one party reaped what it sowed; and the other got enough rope to hang itself three times over.

On the bright side, only 18 or so months until the formation of Hillary’s exploratory committee.

03 Nov 04

Comments

Hillary?

Irony?

If Hillary is the nominee—another Northeast liberal—it’ll be yet another four years of Republican rule.

Keep an eye on Barack Obama. His ten year old book, “Dreams of My Father,” is highly recommended.

Posted by: Russ Mitchell at November 5, 2004 08:39 AM

It will take Obama longer than 4 yrs to develop the kind of national fund-raising capability you need for a presidential campaign.

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Posted by: at October 28, 2006 06:59 AM


Birds, bees, discovery.

Prof Civ Pro: “I don’t know how to teach discovery. It’s like 7th grade sex education class. They put all the parts up on the blackboard but it doesn’t really give you a sense of what it’s really like. But, I’ll put the parts up anyways.”

03 Nov 04

Comments

Entertainment.

Like just about everyone headed to LA for law school, up until the time I arrived I was thinking entertainment law would be a good specialty. After 10 weeks, having learned nothing about entertainment law and almost nothing about all other law, I have lost all interest.

No one, not a one—and this includes a number of entertainment attorneys—has suggested that there is anything novel or interesting about the legal aspect of entertainment law. What pleasure there is seems entirely derived from the refracted glory of your clients (eg the most recent American Idol winner) or your subject matter (eg the most recent crap Lifetime movie) But it does pay well. Yeah, it better.

04 Nov 04

Comments

“But it does pay well.”

It actually doesn’t. Even the biggest and most prestigious entertainment law firms in L.A. (i.e. Lavely & Singer LLP) pay below market rates when compared to other corporate/litigation firms of similar repute. I doubt many, if any, entertainment firms have starting salaries over $100K.

Most ent. firms think they can get away with paying low salaries because “hey, you’re in the ENTERTAINMENT business! woo-hoo!“. You’ll get to meet famous clients and occasionally enjoy perks like tickets to the Oscars or Lakers games. They treat you like you should be happy just because you’ve got your foot in the door of the entertainment industry, as if it were some major deal.

Entertainment law is for the birds. Contract negotiations and right to privacy/publicity issues get boring real quickly.

Posted by: UCLAW2L at November 4, 2004 09:20 PM

I spoke to in-house people at Disney and CBS. They both specifically mentioned a) how little they use their brains and b) how much they get paid to avoid doing so.

Everyone outside the legal field who is reading this is thinking “$100K means you’re not getting paid well? Is this planet Earth?”

Posted by: MB at November 4, 2004 11:56 PM

In-house folks are not the best people to speak to if you want to get a “feel” for entertainment law. First of all, in-house gigs in the entertainment business are quite rare, making them ultra-competitive to get. And because it’s the entertainment industry (read: Hollywood), you better believe that connections/networking/politics goes much farther than credentials/grades/experience. I worked in-house for Universal Pictures this past summer, and half the lawyers there were dumb as rocks. Many of them went to crappy law schools, and I’m surprised half of them even graduated. They “knew somebody” to get in the door. To these types of people, $80K per year is “great pay”, considering with their intellect, they’d probably be making $35-40K, at best, in any other profession.

Secondly, in-house folks, for the most part, work 9-5. Thus, $80K for 40 hours per week sounds awesome. But again, the majority of “entertainment lawyers” don’t work in-house for major studios...they work at boutique firms, and can often pull 70-90 hour workweeks just like their counterparts in BIGLAW. However, their counterparts in BIGLAW are pulling in $125K to start, and after 5-6 years can be making as much as $220K (and let’s not forget annual bonuses ranging anywhere from $17.5K - $50K). Meanwhile, the entertainment boutique lawyer will be lucky after Year 6 to break $150K (including bonuses).

The only way to make REAL money in the entertainment business is to make partner at a respectable boutique (or at a BIGLAW firm with a strong entertainment contingent like Proskauer Rose, Greenberg Traurig, Greenberg Glusker, etc). You can say that in-house folks make REAL money when you break down their salary-per-hours-worked, but they’ll never be “wealthy”, at least not by L.A. standards.

“Everyone outside the legal field who is reading this is thinking ‘$100K means you’re not getting paid well? Is this planet Earth?‘”

Well when median home prices in L.A. county are approaching $600K, and those in the “nice” parts by the beach or on the westside are nearing or topping $1M...$100K per year, after taxes, is not as much as it seems. Let’s not even discuss Manhattan or the Bay Area, where $100K/year is barely considered a “living wage”.

Posted by: UCLAW2L at November 5, 2004 10:43 AM

My point was—ent law pays well relative to the intellectual capital required, which as you confirm is not much. Yes a BIGLAW associate gets paid more; they know more and they do more.

BTW “wealth” is not positive cash flow. Wealth is capital. Wealth is what you’d be worth if you stopped working tomorrow. For most people, even well-paid biglaw partners, that’s a negative number.

Posted by: MB at November 5, 2004 03:06 PM


Outlining.

The time has arrived to begin the time-honored law student exam preparation habit of “outlining”. Since all exams are open-book and you can bring notes, the outline serves as your personal guide to the course as you muddle through the exam. Traditionally this is sold as a lengthy, time-consuming project.

So far I haven’t found that to be the case—the two outlines I’ve done took about 4-5 hrs each—but I am an extremely minimal note-taker. Something really extra-special has to happen for me to be sufficiently moved to write it down. So my outline process basically involves moving all my notes into into a single orderly document.

Whereas judging from the constant tapping of laptop keyboards all around me, most folks will wind up the semester with dozens and dozens of pages of notes. So the process of plowing through and finding the outline within will necessarily be more complicated.

The person who has not done themselves any favors is the Stenographer. Every class, they have typed pretty much every word the professor said into their laptop, and they will end the class not with notes, but with a transcript. Then they can re-read the transcript and start, you know, taking notes. I realize everyone learns differently but that just seems masochistic.

I’ve also heard tales of 20 and 30 page outlines. What possible use is that in a time-sensitive exam situation? I can’t imagine how you have time to leisurely thumb through a massively overweight outline.

04 Nov 04

Comments

It sounds like we take the same style of notes. I never understood how those stenographers wrote so much and still had time to ask stupid questions. Do you have a student resource with a bunch of old outlines? Savor the fact that you can use materials on the test. That is something most law schools dont do.

Posted by: A at November 4, 2004 08:31 PM

Are you the same Matthew Black on atomicvision.com? Cool!

Posted by: at November 4, 2004 09:33 PM

We have access to old exams. I’ve looked at other people’s outlines and they’re not really that useful. There is some value in the process of putting an outline together—it forces you to review the material and pull it together cogently. Well, unless you’re aiming for 30 pages.

Posted by: MB at November 5, 2004 12:00 AM

I’m one of those compulsive note takers. But immediately after an interview, I go over the “transcript” and pull out the essentials. If I don’t do that immediately, it’s a mess.

Of course, if I have to quote someone (I work as a reporter) it has to be exact, hence the stenography. But I found myself doing the same thing in classes I take at Berkeley, maybe out of habit. But it works for me—as long as I pull out the useful info right away.

MB’s method, I will agree, is more efficient.

Posted by: Russ Mitchell at November 5, 2004 08:31 AM


Week 11, gay marriage pt 2.

Some have suggested the ambitious push this year to get gay marriage noticed as a national issue backfired: conservative voters turned out en masse to approve constitutional provisions blocking it, and while they were there, touched the screen on behalf of W.

So I was wondering, why is there so much resistance to gay marriage? Recently I heard Sen Rick Santorum on the radio asking—if we let gays get married, who’s next? Bigamists? Shepherds? etc. The slippery slope argument.

I regret to admit the Senator made me think: why do we have an intuitive sense that some groups “deserve” civil rights but that others don’t? What informs that intuition? Gay marriage backers don’t endorse bigamous marriage. But is that based on anything but the same kind of arbitrary morality that leads others to oppose gay marriage to begin with?

So I arrived at the question that may be so red it’s blue: when we award civil rights to groups, are we performing some kind of compensatory calculation?

Hypothetical: let’s suppose gays were 15% of the US population. However, for 50 yrs they were concentrated in poor urban neighborhoods where gay gangs created ongoing violence and crime. Murder was a leading cause of death among young gays. Drug abuse and alcoholism were widespread. Gays by far formed the bulk of the prison population.

Gays begin to mobilize for the right to marry. Do you think there’d be more public support? I kinda do.

Another question: why did the Equal Rights Amendment (for women) fail when & how it did? It wasn’t a bad idea. But somehow not enough states felt that women were sufficiently disadvantaged at that point to warrant new constitutional rights.

Whereas in the same era, we’ve seen lots of law passed to give American Indians the right to build casinos. What if the bigamists wanted casinos? No way.

Meanwhile there have been plenty of ethnic & religious minorities who have suffered loads of discrimination and abrogation of civil rights, yet we never got around to creating specific statutory or constitutional protections for them. Often they’re the ones who have successfully advanced themselves economically.

I’m hopping around aimlessly now. My point is, what all these trends seem to have in common is that economically disadvantaged groups get preference when it comes to who gets their civil rights expanded or affirmed.

Regardless of what people think about gays or gay marriage, I don’t think anyone, me included, believes that gays are economically disadvantaged as a group. Yes, gay couples are economically disadvantaged inasmuch as they don’t receive the property benefits & protections of marriage—but that’s not the type of gross economic disparity that civil rights improvements have tried to mitigate. The compensatory intuition that leads us in the direction of other types of civil rights for other groups is not present here.

That doesn’t mean gays SHOULDN’T be allowed to marry. I’m in favor of it—probably simply because I’ve known plenty of gay couples and it seems logical, fair and respectful.

My question about compensatory rights is really more about the realpolitik of getting this done at this time & in the current socioeconomic milieu.

05 Nov 04

Comments

MB,

I’ve got some thoughts on this issue. But before I can form them into something fairly coherent:

YOur phrase in the last paragraph, “compensatory calculation,” is throwing me off. I’m not sure what you mean here. Civil rights legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not compensate, but expands rights to those who have been discriminhated against through Constitutional language and/or by law. Arguments favoring affirmative action legislation have, on the other hand, overtly argued for compensation.

Could you clarify what you mean here?

Thanks

RM

Posted by: Russ Mitchell at November 10, 2004 05:09 PM

My hypothesis: even civil rights that are not explicitly compensatory in nature arise from some kind of general cultural awareness that the group receiving the rights is economically disadvantaged. It’s kind of a wild pitch but, there it is.

Posted by: MB at November 10, 2004 06:44 PM


Bleurrgh.

I just read the thirteen cases provided for our graded memo. My eyes are crossing.

But my tip for you tonight: unpublished opinions on Lexis are gold for research. I found a couple that neatly summarize the reasoning of the main cases I had to read. Is that lazy? Good research is all about laziness. The last thing you want to do is have to froth up a legal argument unsupported by authority. My main lesson from my last memo is: don’t think too hard. The answer has been hidden in plain view.

06 Nov 04

Comments

Joining the bar.

I became a member of the California Bar this week. Pay toll, $76. I have really no idea why it’s necessary to charge law students for this privilege. Apparently you have to register within 90 days of arriving at law school or you get to pay $150. So I was driven by no positive benefit, simply the annoyance of having to pay $74 extra for something about as useful to a 1L as tonsils.

08 Nov 04

Comments

Week 12.

At home enjoying the 4-day weekend. Occasional thoughts of graded memo dance in my head.

13 Nov 04

Comments

Evaluation.

We were given our first class evaluations to do today. You fill in a few circles and write a few comments. There seemed to be an emphasis by the registrar’s office representatives to get them done as quickly as possible—does that encourage fairer feedback?—I spent, oh, 4 minutes on mine & was one of the last people to leave the room.

I have to admit, the class was not my favorite so I was a little torn about how vigorous to be in expressing my lack of enthusiasm. The evaluation process seems designed to create an aura of critical feedback & accountability when really it’s highly unstructured and not likely to lead to much more reflection than “I loved it” or “this sucked”.

15 Nov 04

Comments

Malaria.

Prof Legal Writing: “I’m not telling you to lie. But if you need someone to say that you had malaria first semester and that’s why you didn’t do better on your exams ... I can do that.”

16 Nov 04

Comments

Tap dancing.

I made the mistake of cheerily greeting Prof Civ Pro this morning, who then said great, you can take us through today’s case. The very case where, for the first time, I barely skimmed it and thought eh, somebody will walk us through it in class. Bad luck.

The split-second of panic gave way to a triage technique, where I announced the two facts I knew about the case, and each time the professor talked for a few seconds, I scanned the pages looking for more useful details, hoping that I would be able to stay one step ahead of his questions. I ended up giving the impression of knowing quite a bit more about the case than my preparation would’ve suggested. Too bad that technique won’t help on the exams.

16 Nov 04

Comments

1 yr old.

My birthday was this week, making it one year since I literally woke up and thought “hey, I wonder if I could get into law school.” That night I was on the web registering for the LSAT. And now ...

To this day I’m not entirely sure why I had such a sudden motivation. Honestly I hadn’t considered law school seriously in my life up to that point. I know, some folks are focused on it from the day they set foot in college. What I learned from this is: procrastination is never a barrier to graduate school.

18 Nov 04

Comments

very true. I had a miserable job at the studios in Burbank before I wised up and came to law school. good luck with finals.

Posted by: alex at November 18, 2004 06:19 PM

You should have let the word out so we could have bought you a celebratory breakfast at the Heart of Wackiness - I guess that’s what happens when I don’t read every blog every day. So, happy belated birthday.

Posted by: chillyb at November 19, 2004 02:47 PM

Law school is merely your ticket into a whole new league of “miserable” employment. Have you thought about the true ramifications of 2200 billable hrs per year? ;)

Posted by: MB at November 20, 2004 11:24 AM


Week 13.

Eight more class days ...

21 Nov 04

Comments

Haulin ass.

Prof Torts & Prof Crim Law spent a few too many class sessions indulging students with lengthy, aimless discursions so they are now having to clamp down and resort to more straight-up lecturing in the final 2 weeks to get through all the material.

Prof Civ Pro is right on schedule.

Why is it the professors who would most benefit from a planned syllabus are the ones who never have one. Surely, year after year, they find themselves in the same predicament at Thanksgiving. Crazy!

21 Nov 04

Comments

Why lawyers are hated.

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21 Nov 04

Comments

One more thing.

Could everyone please learn the pronunciation difference between “demur” and “demure”. Thank you that is all.

21 Nov 04

Comments

Op-ed excellence.

From an article on the Daily Bruin op-ed (!) page on Monday entitled “Bruins go for the gold when hooking up”:

“Wearing scrubs or carrying a law school book is a surefire way to invite people to the party in your pants. We are a competitive bunch of nerds here at UCLA, and having a goal or career path in mind will get you laid faster than anything else.”

The authors seem to mean “gold” as in “quality”; the second meaning as in “digger” is apparently unintended.

24 Nov 04

Comments

Who the hell wrote that op-ed? I walk to and from class on a daily basis across campus while toting law books. Undergrads couldn’t care less. The only thing carrying a law school book accomplishes is perhaps toning your arms.

Posted by: Procrastinate, Don’t Study at May 11, 2005 10:28 PM

ditto.

Posted by: loss of consortium at May 11, 2005 10:36 PM


Week 14.

Man oh man. One more week to go. I will be assembling my attack plan for exams this weekend.

26 Nov 04

Comments

Big whoop.

At the beginning of the semester I was speculating that law school didn’t seem that difficult, with the caveat that I might turn out to be woefully wrong. I wasn’t. The workload ebbed and flowed but never drifted above manageable. Over 15 weeks I’ve only taken a casebook home to do reading maybe twice. I’ve had my nights & weekends 95% free of law school encroachment.

So where does this myth of the horrors of 1L come from? Does UCLA have unusually low work requirements of its students? No reason to think so. Do I not see it because I have some unusual ability to absorb the material? Definitely not.

What is true is I didn’t buy into the myth coming into school, so perhaps that prevented it from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what do people get out of buying in? All it yields is pure fear & intimidation. Where’s the benefit.

Perhaps—for folks who have their own pre-existing sense of fear & intimidation, mapping that onto the institutional 1L myth creates a safety in numbers effect—I can cope with the fear more easily knowing that it’s not intrinsic to me, it’s part of the experience and everyone has to deal with it.

27 Nov 04

Comments

Exams.

The good news is I did a sample exam question over the weekend and did ok with it. It didn’t make me feel like law school exams will be some hopeless morass of despondency.

The bad news is though professors have been at pains to put anxious minds at ease by reminding them “the exam is open book!“, that is true only nominally during a 3-hr exam. If you had a week-long take home exam, you could get some value out of the books.

But it was clear to me taking the sample exam that you just don’t have time to be flipping through casebooks or supplements. A lean & mean outline will help, but people who can access the material from memory will have a clear advantage, as one of the most common complaints of the law school exam taker is “I ran out of time”.

29 Nov 04

Comments

Ouch.

We did our last two class evaluations today. In one class with a somewhat, shall we say, not uniformly well-liked professor, I happened to see a sheet dropped in that had the lowest possible marks in every category. Now, this professor had his flaws, to be sure, but that’s just ice cold.

I ended up giving him decent marks, because empirically he had a lot of good qualities as an instructor. He just had these occasional in-class freak-outs that were incomprehensible. Imagine dating someone with looks, brains and humor, but who belched loudly whenever you were out in public. While no one expects perfection, certain flaws can be dealbreakers all by themselves.

But what really is the purpose of the evaluation anyhow? These people have tenure. We can’t exactly vote them off the island. It’s like telling a fat person, hey dude you’re fat. Yeah, no kidding. After a while teachers know very well what their strengths & weaknesses are. What is the incentive for a tenured teacher to get any better at their craft?

I know, professors are selected for other reasons besides their pedagogical ability. Still, I can’t really think of any other pocket of work culture in america that features lifetime appointments, and the only basis for discipline or dismissal is a gross breach of ethics or dereliction of duty.

29 Nov 04

Comments

“After a while teachers know very well what their strengths & weaknesses are.”

Big assumption. They should. Many don’t.

Posted by: Russ Mitchell at November 29, 2004 08:24 PM

Do you mean they don’t really know, or like the fat guy, they know but they’re too deep in denial to want to change it (and have no external motivation to do so)

Posted by: MB at November 29, 2004 11:55 PM

Aren’t “deep in denial” and “doesn’t know” pretty much the same thing?

Or does the fat guy fit into the category of “knows, but doesn’t care.”

Posted by: Russ Mitchell at November 30, 2004 07:52 AM

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