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Archive for January, 2008

The 51st State

From the department of “This Might Be News But Not Really Because No One Is Taking It Seriously,” today’s NY Sun had an article on a new movement afoot in the New York City Council to have New York City secede from New York State.

Crazy, huh?  But wait, haven’t we heard this before?

Norman Mailer tried to run for mayor of New York  in the 1960s on a similar platform.  This idea has been around since the middle of the 1800s.

So why hasn’t it happened?   Should it happen?

Where are the New Yorkers out there? I want to hear your take on this.

– Hamilton Fish, loyal Brooklynite

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John Edwards has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination.  He is not endorsing anyone for now.  NYT.

Although I think he has yet to pull the trigger, Rudy Giuliani is set to follow Edwards’s lead and drop out of the race for the Republican nomination following his loss in the Florida primary.  NYT.

The Washington Post has an article on how these departures will alter the primary landscape.  The link isn’t working for me right now but you can find it off the paper’s front page here.

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Married 1L

As a married law student, I’m a minority among my peers.  Since the estimated median age for first marriages in the United States is 27 for men and 25 for women, most of my fellow law students have a few more years before they’re likely to take the marriage plunge.  You might think that the commitment required of a [new] marriage would compound the stress of law school, but being a married law student has some great benefits.   

1.  My marriage keeps me grounded.  It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of law school, but it’s dangerous to define yourself by a set of numbers and job offers.  While grades are important, spiritual pursuits, family bonds and serving others are things that most people value in the end.  Seeing my wife everyday and working towards a happy marriage reaffirms my commitment to those pursuits and helps me remember that law school is simply a means to those ends. 

2.  The benefit of structure.  You’ve probably heard that platitude that if you want a job done you should give it to a busy person.  I’m far from the paradigm of efficient planning.  I am the king of procrastination.  But scheduling time-outs from law school to be with my wife has the benefit of taking my mind off of the law for a while to focus on better things.  Structuring my day around my wife like a 9-5 job keeps me sane and happy.  I like the structure that marriage forces me to have as a student. 

3.  Companionship.  When I want to vent to someone about the Socratic method or my legal research, my wife is there.  Marriage brings comfort and companionship after hellish days at the law school. 

Marriage takes a ton work.  A ton of work.  But I’m a better and happier law student for it.

Adam Alba

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Blogging the State of the Union

President Bush just gave his last State of the Union address.  We decided to try an experiment: chat through the SOTU and see what we could see.  Next year maybe we’ll take on the challenge of live blogging, but for now this’ll have to do.

The President basically dove right in, starting with the “uncertain” state of the economy and moving quickly through the bullets of his domestic policy agenda.  Obviously almost none of this list will actually get done before he leaves office, especially given that we’re in an election year and all of Congress is worried about its own job security.  Anyway, here’s the domestic policy summary:

  1. Make tax relief permanent
  2. Get rid of wasteful programs in the budget ($18 billion)
  3. Cutting earmarks
  4. Help homeowners with mortgages
  5. Health care: expand consumer choice, not government control
  6. Medical malpractice reform
  7. Strengthen No Child Left Behind
  8. Funding for DC students to attend private (and religious) schools ($300 million)
  9. Free trade agreements
  10. Train displaced workers and help them find new jobs
  11. Promote innovation in clean energy
  12. Double support for research in the basic sciences
  13. Ban unethical medical practices: buying, selling, patenting, cloning human life
  14. Up-or-down vote on judicial nominations
  15. Permanently extend Charitable Choice
  16. North American summit in New Orleans
  17. Reforming entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid)
  18. Immigration: secure the borders and establish program to deal with illegal immigrants

On foreign policy, the President went into a little more depth.  (more…)

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What Does it Take?

I am hesitant to write this post, because politics, just like the law, is easily susceptible to the slippery slope problem. I worry that once I post an opinion piece on the election, it will give license for future posts (mine and of others) to be political advocacy rather than political discourse. Having said that, this piece in no way espouses my particular views on the subject (well, some do) but I am more interested in getting your take on some of these questions.

Last week’s New Yorker had a well written article by George Packer on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. While the article focused more on Senator Clinton’s experience argument, it started out with a political philosophy question of sorts: What is the role of the President?

At first blush, that question might seem easy to answer, but a closer look reveals that there it is indeed a complex question. A President is so many things – not just the elected leader of the country. Just look at the many different types of Presidents we have had throughout our history. Each successive President brought about a different style and identity to the Presidency, from the very passive and unimpressive to the active and heroic. Packer sees the divide as dichotomous: presidential leadership that is visionary and presidential leadership that is managerial. The Obama and Clinton campaigns fit nicely into these two constructs.

So my first question to you: Should the President be an inspiring visionary or a competent chief executive?  (more…)

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Ah, the ascot. That informal yet formal piece of cloth that our founding fathers considered essential to their attire and Thurston Howell considered essential to surviving his three hour tour. We don’t see ascots that much anymore, nor their closely related cousin, the cravat.

Many of you are probably saying to yourselves right now, “What on Earth is Hamilton talking about?” That’s a fair question, since I would assume that many, if not most of you don’t wear ascots or even know people who wear them. That’s why I think this story is so interesting. (more…)

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Today’s WSJ Law Blog has a post entitled, “Should a One L With Poor First Semester Grades Drop Out?”  A 1L at an unnamed fourth-tier regional law school wrote in to New York Lawyer for advice after doing “below average” in his classes.  New York Lawyer gave some reasonable advice that included separating grades from comprehension of the material, consulting student career services, examining career goals, etc.  The letter was a reprint from 2004, but obviously it’s still valid now, and especially timely since we got our grades (well, most of them) on Friday.  (Free registration required for the New York Lawyer link, but an excerpt is available on the WSJ Law Blog.)

The real story, I thought, was in the comments from Law Blog readers–at last count, 153 of them.  Some commenters are obviously pretty bitter about their own experiences, others contribute elitism masquerading as realism, and a few hopefuls offer words of encouragement.  Some excerpts, taken at (mostly) random:

“Definitely quit now- my brother was in the same situation and did not quit, and is now having a very difficult time finding a job. One semester of debt is far easier to swallow than three years of it, and frankly, lawfirms do care about grades and school ‘brand name.'”

“My advise, quit now before you are stuck with high loans and no job.”

“Take the hit for the first year of tuition and drop out. This person is not employable. ”

“Go get a job. Life is too short and lawyering is rarely, if ever, any fun. Take a walk in the woods. Go fishing. Hitchhike to Yosemite. Find a rich girl to marry. Anything but muddle through 2.5 more years of law school to face an uncertain future.”

“If you really want to be a lawyer, then finish law school. The alternative is living with regrets.”

“Please. Before you hastily listen to the advice of these hysteria-driven posters, at least consider what you would do if you dropped out of school. Would you be working at a job you enjoy, or at least on the path to a job you enjoy? Or would you be forever wishing you could have been a lawyer, and lamenting your bad semester as the great failure in your life? If it’s the latter, try harder this semester.”

“Stick with it. I’m the proof. I graduated many years ago from what was then a third tier law school (now a high second tier) and in the bottom third of my class. I studied hard but had a really hard time with the exams. I actually had to repeat first year. When I graduated, I passed the bar exam on the first try, unlike some of the people who had better grades than I did. I then went to work for a state agency for 3 years, followed by 2 in-house corporate positions. Because I developed an expertise while in those jobs in what has become a very busy area of the law, I was able to move from the in-house position into a second tier law firm, made partner, and eventually became an equity partner at a very prestigious and successful first tier firm. It took time, and I was woefully underpaid in the early part of my career (in the state job, I was making less than a starting sanitation worker). It also took me the full ten years to pay off my student loans. But I made it and you can too. Law school grades are only relevant for the first few positions you apply for. After that, it’s networking, speaking, writing articles, developing your reputation, and working up to handling high profile matters. Be persistent, and good luck!”

“Hey kid… money ain’t everything.” -Vision Quest.  And to posters kicking a 1L down on his luck and asking for help: you need to seriously analyze why you are still carrying around the shame of those beatings you took on the playground.”

Maybe everyone is right!  Hmm–doubtful.  My two cents: think three times before writing to a website for advice about your future.

Sai Jahann

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