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Archive for November, 2008

Great Links For Law Students

Posted by rdebelak on November 27, 2008

Life of a Law Student – 15-20 minute lectures by topic for all the standard 1L courses and some upper level stuff.

Federal Rules of Civ Pro
– Run by Cornell’s Law Institute, this saved me from taking my rule book to class every day. Just link the site into your notes as needed.

Penal Law – Online resource for students having to learn the MPC. Though the MPC isn’t published online, this includes inquiry and analytic structure resources.


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1L Instruction: a Criticism from Someone Who Doesn’t Know Better

Posted by dmjstephens on November 26, 2008

I know that my professors are brilliant.  I receive instruction on a daily basis from amazing legal minds that will likely accomplish more professionally and academically than I ever will.  Their pedagogical strategies have trained thousands of competent attorneys, yet still occasionally make me uneasy.

My most accomplished professor is a genius, one of the foremost experts on the subject in the world, and a relatively nice and funny person.  Her teaching strategy, however, is extremely harsh.  Any answer even remotely deviating from what this professor is looking for is met with immediate dismissal.  Often the correct answers are being given by students, many times quite skillfully, but are not heard over the professor’s interruption because they didn’t start with the right three words.  I understand that the purpose of this is simulate the demands of a courtroom and intimidation factor of a judge.  I also get that your 1L year is sort of a mental boot camp to get you to think like a lawyer.  In this light, the strategy is quite effective.  However, I question whether the purpose of the 1L year is to teach a student the law, not how to be a lawyer.  

As a professional, I know I will look back on this class and be grateful that I was subjected to the harsh realities of the legal world so early.  As a student though, it is not so useful.  It doesn’t take a social psychologist to tell you that people are not going to participate as much in or pay as much attention to a lecture in which their earnest (and often correct) contributions are met with exasperated breaths, facepalms, and looks to the ceiling as if the instructor is praying for God himself to make these dense 20somethings understand.  So his answer was a little different than what the absolute truth.  Take him from where he is and put him on the correct path with questions and encouragement.

We’re all serious here. We’re going to pay attention and take our notes regardless of how warm and fuzzy our professors make us feel.  That’s not all there is to it though.  If a student is engaged and happy in a class, he isn’t going to dread studying.  He is going to come to office hours with questions.  He is potentially going to have a passion for the subject.  There is no passion in unhappy classrooms.  Passion is what students and lawyers need to work the hours they do and not burn out by 30.  Most great people are self motivated, but some need a spark.  No sparks are emitted in the blunt collision of 1L enthusiasm and harsh faculty.

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My Newest Vice

Posted by dmjstephens on November 26, 2008

I’m normally a huge energy drink before civil procedure, coke at lunch, coke right before contracts kind of guy.  Law school has finally made me realize that my childish caffeine intake mechanisms were not going to cut it.  It’s time to grow up and drink coffee.

I realized this after getting a free cup at the law school last week.  It was Starbucks, and I have to admit that it was the first cup of coffee I ever tasted without regretting it.  Instantly, I was hooked.  Somehow I was immediately able to stand the taste, and it no longer mattered if I was drinking Starbucks or gas station Folgers.  I loved it all.  

I felt like a coke-head smoking his first crack rock.  I wanted more and more.  I wanted to make it so strong I’d have to eat it with a spoon.  It was like I was a superhero.  I have never felt so sharp and alert in my entire life.  On the bus ride home I felt like I could rip my seat out, throw it through the window, jump out and run home.  I felt capable of sitting down, memorizing all billion Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and loving it.  I could have run a marathon though my heart would have exploded.  I was invincible.  

This only lasted a few days, then it turned into just a normal caffeine boost but with a better comedown since it has less sugar.  Either way, I’m a convert.  I guess this means I’m an adult now.  I’ll always love coffee, if for no other reason than it was the final vice in my complete set.  I’ve noticed three vices that a number seemingly disproportionate to that of the general population of law students share: cigarettes, booze, and coffee.  

You some cigarettes to relieve stress from papers, reading, and outlining.  You drink coffee to give you energy to do papers, reading, and outlining, because you never get any sleep due to the stress.  You drink because you want to cut loose after a week of working hard doing papers, reading, and outlining.  They are the three magic tickets to becoming a 45 year old going on his 3rd heart attack and on his way to cancer.  I’m not sure if it’s better or worse to see it coming.

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2 New Ways To Sneak Liquor Into Class

Posted by rdebelak on November 26, 2008

While there is the unimpressive coffee mug to smuggle your choice beverage past your AA sponsor, you should also know there are more sophisticated options. In pursuit of sharing this information I want to start what I hope will be a weekly article.

No one will ever suspect you are drinking the clandestine remains of the weekend’s Grey Goose binge straight from that Evian bottle. Remember, Who Dares Wins.


And since you’re already carrying that insurance-claim-inducing backpack around all day, get the Camelbak water-pouch attachment for $60. Note the hands free bluetooth usability, so you can just sip on the hose while you’re on call.

Don’t forget to loudly mention your kidney condition as you excuse yourself every seventeen minutes.

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Mr. Hillary Makes News Again

Posted by rdebelak on November 26, 2008

I ran into Richard Hillary, our SBA president, this morning and he showed me this.

Apparently it’s almost all factually incorrect– by a long shot. Richard said he isn’t due in court for two more months, may not have to go at all, and wouldn’t represent himself. Repeat: he didn’t go to court, even though the local paper is reporting that he did.

Now, I haven’t checked with the court, but it baffles me how this sort of discrepancy could have happened, especially considering this reporter interviewed another student. Did they not check to see if he actually went before they printed it?

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UT Top 10

Posted by rdebelak on November 13, 2008

Dean Sager is trying to push UT into the top 10.  I am always skeptical about the ability of schools to maneuver through the rankings due to the political nature of the USN&WR, but I had a 20 minute bus ride home this afternoon to create an exhaustive bullet list of reasons I hope this campaign is successful.

  • I am a student at UT Law.

Best of luck to him.

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