No idea.

This sentence is in today’s contracts casebook reading. Does it have a verb? Is it english?

“The material plenty of modern life is said to depend on cheap contract.”

02 Feb 05

We have a winner.

This school-wide email takes the cake so far for misdirected outpouring of compensatory sympathy. What I like about it is a) its presumption that one person’s bad judgment (leaving her bag unattended) is cause for community spirit and b) it sounds like a George W Bush speech. Just substitute “war on terror” for “laptop” and “country” for “community”.

What sets UCLAw apart from many other law schools is the community that exists here, the way we care about one another. So when there is a violation against one member of our community, it is an affront to us all.

Last Tuesday afternoon, a bag containing a laptop computer was stolen from a busy hallway in our law school. The victim of this cowardly act was [careless student]. We recognize that when any one of us suffers, we as a whole are diminished. So we have decided to take action. Not against the thief, whose reprehensible deed has already been done, but in solidarity with our fellow law student. We refuse to let one person bear the burden of this assault on our community alone.
As individuals in community, we choose to act for good. On our part, it would take just one dollar, an inconsequential sum, but when multiplied across our law school community it could counter the significant loss that she has suffered. Evil need not prevail, we can act with just one dollar, and goodness can win the day.

03 Feb 05


Worst of all, this person managed to raise like $500 this way.

Posted by: MB at May 14, 2005 11:45 AM

I would like all of my classmates to donate one dollar to me as well. I carelessly made C’s last semester, and as a result my BIGLAW position was stolen by someone else.

Posted by: Poor Me at May 16, 2005 10:28 AM

180 for the previous poster.

Posted by: 180 at May 16, 2005 11:06 AM

It sounds more like a Kerry speech - let’s redistribute wealth! Woopee!

Posted by: EMD at May 16, 2005 12:20 PM

I find this a sign of immaturity and stupidity. When I was in law school (at a prestige school in the Bay Area) this would never had happened. We all had enough money that we did not have to beg for more from our fellow students. You should all be ashamed.

Posted by: LawProf at May 16, 2005 06:19 PM

We all know who you are. Your law school reference gave you away. And your as big an asshole now as you were when you were a law student!

Posted by: MS at May 16, 2005 07:59 PM

First of all, the loss of the laptop was not an act of carelessness by the owner. The computer was not left “unattended”, but stolen right out from where the owner was standing in the hallway (in broad daylight, while classes where getting out, no less). This makes this particularly act of theivery all the more egregious. I agree that someone who leaves their laptop unattended in the library or a classroom has no right to complain when it disappears, but that just wasn’t the case in this instance.

Second, it should be noted that the UCLA student whose laptop was stolen happens to be one of the most kind, caring, considerate (and as a result, one of the most popular) students in the 2L class. This student has committed many hours of service to making UCLAW a better school for us all. Had this laptop theft happened to some insignificant careless schmuck at the law school (of which there are plenty), I doubt there would’ve been an effort to raise funds, and there certainly would not have been such an outpouring of support. (I, for one, gave $5 to the fund).

Post-Script: BTW, the student in question did not hoard all the money that was raised, but instead shared it with similar students who had gotten their laptops stolen throughout the year. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge someone you obviously don’t know, especially when you can’t even get your facts straight. I just hope next time you catch a run of bad luck, the solidarity and gracious demeanor of the UCLA student body is still alive and well enough to help you in your plight, and hasn’t been diminished by your witless banter.

Posted by: DSP at May 16, 2005 09:33 PM

“We all had enough money that we did not have to beg for more from our fellow students.”

Thanks for the elitist memoir. And on to the laptop... I agree with earlier poster who brings up the valid point that we have no idea what the circumstances were regarding the theft.

Posted by: SK at May 17, 2005 09:22 AM

Regardless of its physical proximity, it was obviously “unattended” enough to be stolen unnoticed.

In the course of a school year, a lot of students have to endure difficulties a lot more severe than the loss of a totally replaceable piece of machinery. These people are not sending out melodramatic school-wide emails demanding compensation. It’s tacky and childish.

Posted by: MB at May 17, 2005 11:32 AM

MB, what you say is true. However, i think the success of the stolen-laptop fund, marked by the student body’s response to one student’s cry for help (however tacky or inappropriate) speaks a great deal to the school’s character. Instead of using this act as a point of ridicule, the success of the drive should instead stand out as a testament to the type of collegiality and commraderie among UCLA students that is not often found at “prestige schools in the Bay Area” or elsewhere.

Posted by: riddance at May 17, 2005 03:38 PM

MB, the letter sounds like it was sent out on someone’s behalf, so the individual in question isn’t the one making the plea. It’s also not a “demand” for “compensation.” If you don’t want to donate a dollar, don’t. But your criticism is totally unfounded.

Posted by: CB at June 29, 2005 02:31 PM

Social security aside.

I haven’t really seen anyone mention it yet, but I was wondering how much the republican push for social security reform is a well-timed attempt to win huge points with what will soon be the largest segment of the population: retired people.

True, Bush can’t run for president again, but this is the kind of legislation that’s so big, a party can run on it for years and years. Cf. the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was instrumental in insuring the long-term popularity of the democratic party among black voters (and as Johnson feared, the long-term erosion of white support in the south)

The great thing about pandering to retirees is that there’s no opposition this time. Does the democratic party really want to come out forcefully against social security reform and be branded a hater of grandma and grandpa? So it’s a deft political move in two directions—the scale of the group on one hand, and the difficulty of mounting pointed public opposition on the other.

04 Feb 05



Some days at UCLA, it helps to remember that everyone—professors, staff, administration—is a state government employee. I don’t get mad at the people who work at the DMV, I just take deep breaths and endure. I should remember to apply that technique on campus when appropriate.

04 Feb 05


B.A. Baracus.

There is a persistent urban legend that the first 6 weeks of 1L are the worst period of law school. I don’t know if it’s true, though I do feel worse about school now than I have so far—it seems like a lot of people are having a similar malaise.

This semester the “section” system of having all your classes with the same people is getting tedious for me. I don’t dislike my classmates individually, but it’s like we’re on this never-ending road trip in a station wagon that fits 80. The enforced togetherness can be dreary.

I also find myself wondering how much of the law school experience I really want to buy into. I enjoy getting the education, but as for some of the career path accoutrements that everyone says you “must” do, I have no enthusiasm at all.

As an adult, the only times I’ve regretted personal choices is when I didn’t trust my gut instinct—when I let my brain talk myself into something, it’s never a happy result.

I think the inherent lack of perspective from being in school cramps one’s idea of the possibilities on the outside. Surely it can’t be that all the law school students who didn’t do law review, who didn’t get judicial externships, or who didn’t get above a 3.0 GPA, end up on skid row. Because that describes 80% of all attorneys.

06 Feb 05


Before & after.

Your grocery list, before taking your legal writing course:


peanut butter

soy milk


diet soda

Your grocery list, after legal writing:

IV. Analysis

The plaintiff established Last Week that tortillas were enjoyed with peanut butter. Therefore it is strongly recommended that tortillas be purchased, as well as more peanut butter, if peanut butter supplies suggest that would be appropriate at this time.

As to the issue of beverage, both soy milk and diet soda have been considered in the past. Restatement of Grocery Lists. There has not been found evidence that is strongly dispositive one direction or another as to which has been preferred on a weekly basis. Thus it is recommended that both be procured in the short-term.

The need for granola has been amply demonstrated in many grocery lists prior to this one. It is strongly urged that no deviation from this course of action be taken.

Seriously, the writing teacher today went over the scoring key for the last graded memo. I asked, genuinely curious, “how many points were given for grammar and readability?” And the answer was “none”. Good to know for the next time.

07 Feb 05


Before & after II.

To be fair, the modern legal writing curriculum advises you against adopting what might be termed the classic “legalese” style that most people are familiar with from reading product warranties & such. Opaque or redundant phrases like “notwithstanding anything hereunder” and “wanton, willful and unlawful” are deprecated.

Still, despite the lawyerly penchant for outline-style numbering of headings in documents (I, II, III ... A, B, C), any group of items that might well lend itself to a bullet list is inevitably spun out into a full paragraph of prose.

That was a habit I used to have, until it was drilled out of me when I was working—you always have to assume you have access to the shortest attention span possible. So lengthy, expository prose, while perhaps accurate and beautifully written, is never preferred over a bullet list, simply because the list is more likely to be read.

Perhaps there’s an economic explanation. Most businesspeople are salaried and are not directly billing their hours back to a customer; so they are motivated to get the most done per unit of time.

Whereas for a lawyer in private practice, billable hours are everything, so there’s no motivation to create documents that communicate concisely, for either the writer or the reader. (Cutting the other way: it’s usually more time-consuming to write a really good short document than a long one.)

The truth is, most legal documents could be shorter. Once, when I needed a non-disclosure agreement, I commissioned one from my lawyer with the stipulation that it fit on one side of a business card. He did it, and I used it.

08 Feb 05


Plus—clear, concise, economic prose cuts down on the need for lawyers.

Posted by: Russ Mitchell at February 9, 2005 10:29 AM

Before & after III.

My major objection to the UCLA legal writing curriculum is that it puts zero emphasis on critical & analytic legal thought—all its time is spent on research fundamentals & use of caselaw.

This is not at all a bad thing—knowing how to use caselaw is a worthy endeavor for the 1L—but I do notice that the class only meets 3 times a week and still feels well-padded. It’s not like there’s not time to address some more sophisticated topics.

Apparently law schools have been under pressure in the last 10 yrs to fix up their writing curricula since law firms were tired of hiring recent grads who couldn’t write. The new approach seems to arise from the assumption that writing is the prerequisite skill for thinking; however I think it’s the other way around.

The net effect is that at the end, 300 people will have gone through a year of law school without completing a single piece of writing requiring critical, creative thinking. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing.

When I am king of legal writing*, the nuts & bolts will be served first semester, and 2nd semester people will have to be more self-directed in finding, researching and writing about a topic.

* ie., never

09 Feb 05


Life is hard.

Overheard as I walked to lunch (imagine world-weary cadences):

I mean, it’s hard as a 1L to even IMAGINE having a day off. I don’t know what I’d do with myself. I’d probably just get up and sit there in a stupor.

I don’t mean to pick on this gentleman. But law students of the future, believe me, this type of attitude may fit the urban legends of what 1L is about. But truly, it is a choice you make, not your inevitable fate.

Aside from the question of whether not taking days off benefits your performance (it doesn’t) a 1L who honestly feels he doesn’t have the ability to take a day off is doing something wrong.

14 Feb 05


Winner, least appealing job marketing.

Found in our student mailboxes today:

Howrey Simon Arnold & White is pleased to invite UCLA 1Ls to a Reception to learn about our summer associate program called Howrey Bootcamp...Howrey is one of the largest firms in the country...This will be a general information session for you to hear about our Bootcamp 2006...Applications will be accepted through the Bootcamp website starting August 1 for Bootcamp 2006.

(Not to be confused with the Skadden Arps Summer Sweatshop or the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Coal Mining Arts program.)

Here’s some of your Bootcamp scheduled activities:

Antitrust Law Basics

Discovery Motions Demonstration

Offsite Dinner Event

Deposition Exercise

Indoor Golf Tournament

Gee, it sounds a lot like school, except for the golf tournament (and the $12K stipend)

16 Feb 05


Iraq aside.

I was reading in the paper about Iraqi “pop up” militias who are ad hoc groups that are aiding the US in fighting insurgents. While US troops appreciate the help, there’s concern that their allegiances are too flexible to be fully trusted.

One thing you’re reminded of in constitutional law is that our country’s progress to being a ‘beacon of liberty’ has been neither quick nor smooth. In the first hundred years we had:

+ a first constitution that failed & had to be replaced

+ a second constitution that legitimized slavery

+ a civil war

+ no voting rights for women

and so on. Why do we expect that countries like Iraq will step, Cinderella-style, directly from the sooty fireplace of dictatorship into the glass slippers of democracy. Maybe our strategy is to help them consolidate their revolutionary war & their civil war, just to save some time.

Well, at least the Iraqi women didn’t have to wait 150 years to vote.

16 Feb 05



Contracts was cut short today by the wet-vac crew, as the lecture hall had flooded in our extreme rain. The professor gamely acted as if nothing was unusual but had to pause to roll up her pant cuffs and continued lecturing about restitution, standing in a very large puddle.

For my part, I had to skip my last class today so I could go home and lash a tarp to my chimney, which slowly turned into an indoor fountain as I sat last night, researching Federal Rule of Evidence 702.

Yesterday I went hiking in conditions that started as rain but turned into high-velocity hail pellets the size of BBs. That was real nice.

22 Feb 05


My new favorite case name.

United States v. Various Slot Machines on Guam, 658 F.2d 697

22 Feb 05


Celebrity subpoena.

Here in LA the Michael Jackson trial is all over the news as it gets wheeled to the freak-show launchpad. A whole lot of people on the A, B and C list are about to be very unhappy because Michael Jackson is planning to call them as witnesses in his molestation trial.

It’s one thing to tell the E! Channel that Michael is a good friend and you simply can’t believe the allegations. It’s quite another to be compelled by law to show up in court and testify under oath about what you really think. Perhaps ... just maybe ... the story will be a bit different.

My guess is that very few of these people will make it to the stand. Jackson’s defense can’t really afford to call “character witnesses” who wilt under cross-examination.

23 Feb 05


Truth, beauty.

I’ve become very curious about whether Prof Property colors his hair. I mean, he can do whatever he wants. I color my hair, I certainly don’t mind if he does. It’s just that he’s such an old-school playa—he’s over 60, from the midwest—it’s hard to imagine him heading down to a salon in Westwood for highlights.

Yet, for a man of his age, he has no grey hair, in fact he’s kind of a sandy blonde. Though today I was noticing along his part that the roots of his hair are indubitably and uniformly grey for about 3/4 of an inch. The color job seems improbable on the basis of character, but scientifically speaking, it’s the only reasonable explanation.

24 Feb 05


Hypothesis: Power of the Spouse,

Posted by: Russ Mitchell at February 26, 2005 08:50 AM


Prof Contracts is from Canada. Which is the only possible reason I can think of that she refers to yesterday as “last day” and tomorrow as “next day”. As in “Last day, we were talking about restitution.” Is this in fact a Canadian thing? Any first-hand knowledge out there?

Another reason to cherish our world’s cultures.

25 Feb 05


“Last day” derives from drinking so much Moosehead the previous day that you thought you were gonna die. “Next day” derives from the joy of knowing you have survived to get tanked on Moosehead and go ice fishing again.

Posted by: Russ Mitchell at February 26, 2005 08:41 AM

Quick tips for 1Ls.

How to drive your professor crazy

Ask her a question that combines two topics, one from her class, one from any other. Eg. a question in torts or property that includes a little civil procedure. The professor, deeply confused, will act annoyed and announce “Mr. X, this isn’t a civil procedure class”—as if you didn’t know that—and move on.

Translation: “Mr. X, I’ve had the same amount of civil procedure training as you, except mine was 20 years ago and I probably didn’t get as good a grade. That’s why I teach this course. Don’t make me humiliate myself.”

WARNING! Your professor may have taught classes in the past you’re not aware of. Maybe your constitutional law professor taught civil procedure. In which case they will do a judo chop and knock you flat on your ass.

How to make your professor’s day

Ask her a question that combines two topics, one from her class, one from any upper level class she also teaches. This requires a little advance research. For example, if your torts teacher also has a land use class, ask about how zoning laws interact with toxic torts. The professor will smile broadly and say “Mr. X, that’s a great question. It’s one I cover in my upper level class, which some of you may want to take. But the short answer is ... "

28 Feb 05


Breaking news.

“Due to residual fumes from the sewage leak last week, the Office of Career Services will be closed today but will reopen tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.”

28 Feb 05

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