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Sitting in the library the other day, I was catching up with a flirt-friend of mine. After discussing how our semesters and employment prospects were going, he abruptly changed the conversation and whispered, “So, do you want to be my girlfriend?”
“Um, excuse me?” I responded.
“Yeah – it will be great,” he said with all seriousness, “but then we have to break up once finals are over.”
Ahh, flirt-friend was on the hunt for his “finals-fling.” This always coincides with the post midpoint semester phase of students forming exclusive study groups, sending out desperate emails for outlines and purchasing last minute Glannon and Crunch Time books. So in addition to the pre-exam madness, you will spot some unattached BLSers on the lookout for a finals-fling.
To clarify, the finals-fling is a subset of B.L.S.G., but in this case, the boilerplate clause states that the hookup commences once you actually start to outline, involves minimal effort during exam period, and wraps up as soon as you sell your textbooks back at Boreum for an unfair price. Of course, there is room for variation when you are negotiating the agreement: will this be strictly sexual or does this include meals together? Is there a set schedule or can you randomly text one another when you’re done for the night. Are you required to shave your finals-beard / legs? And for those of you who are overly ambitious, will Flash Cards ever come into play?
Keep in mind that you want a partner who has a similar schedule to yours during finals. So if you are a 1L, it’s easiest to make your finals-fling another 1L. And for the upper classers, well if you have 4 finals and a take home to prepare for, it is best to stay away from your cute friend whose only concern is not failing his NYCP exam. When it comes to your finals-fling, you want to make this an asset to your study schedule. For instance, during my finals-fling at the end of my first year, I explained the finer points of the Dormant Commerce Clause to my partner, while he taught me the Rule Against Perpetuities.
However, the opposite reaction students experience once they start outlining is hermitude. [note: there is no relation to the Australian music group]. While cases can range from mild to extreme, hermitude involves going through long periods of self-induced isolation, only to interact with other human beings when sitting down to take an exam. Many students discover that they do their best studying whilst in a hermitude states – some even breaking up with a B.L.S.G. right before reading period so that they can fully commit to several weeks filled without any form of love, joy or laughter. If this happens to be you, try and break up with your B.L.S.G. before Thanksgiving, so that he/she can make a sound hook-up decision for finals.
For me, there have been several finals-fling prospects, but no real contenders. I explained to my flirt-friend that I am too burnt out from my previous B.L.S.G. experiences to even bother arranging a finals-fling into my already busy schedule. I will issue my final opinion for a post-tryptophan induced happiness.
I’d like to offer up a belated Congratulations! to everyone who just passed the bar exam. We can only hope this is one big, necessary step on the long road to gainful employment for all of you. It’s amazing how much has changed in such a short period of time with respect to the job market, and particularly how few people are getting offers before graduation. Some of the smartest, most dedicated, and competent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing are still looking for work. And that just seems crazy to me.
As usual, this got me thinking one night – which anyone who’s ever read any of my work knows is dangerous – about what things might be like under different circumstances. But it was starting to get late and I had a busy day coming up, so I decided to call it a night.
I was torn from my blissful slumber the next morning around 11am by the sound of my phone ringing. A bit peeved, I checked to see who was calling and recognized the generic number for White & Case. That really got me annoyed. By this point, I must have told at least five of their senior partners that I don’t take phone calls before noon. Look, I know you guys want me to work for you and all, but come on, is this really so hard to understand? I ignored the call and went back to bed, wondering whether I could get a round of golf with their hiring partner out of this if I sounded really annoyed when I called back. I’ve always wanted to play the course at Baltusrol anyway.
I finally got up around 12:30. Missed my morning class, but who really gives a crap at this point? With five jobs available for every two graduating law students, it’s pretty tough to get motivated for New York Civil Practice at nine in the morning. Eventually I got myself together and left my apartment in time to make my two o’clock class. I was about to head toward the F train when I saw a black Towncar parked outside my house. Then I remembered that Skadden had offered me a car service for the rest of the year, no strings attached. It was a nice gesture on their part, but if they think I can be bought for that cheap, they’ve got another think coming.
I walked over to the car and the driver, a solemn-looking fellow named Winston, opened the door for me. He mentioned that he had been waiting there since 8:30am and that, after three hours, he called Skadden to ask if he could leave. Apparently they told him that if he left without me, he could feel free to find himself a new career, because he would never drive in this town again. They don’t mess around over there. I apologized to Winston for the wait, telling him that I had forgotten about the offer. I would feel bad, but I know he’s getting paid like triple overtime right now, and, over at Skadden, they’re using ten-thousand dollar bearer bonds to light their hand-rolled Cuban cigars. Cry me a freakin’ river.
I sat through half of Evidence, but decided to leave at the break. I don’t even know why I bother to go at all anymore. It’s not like I still pay attention. I spent the first hour looking online at Patek Philippe watches and apartments on the Upper East Side. So sick of living like I’m one of the 99%. I decided to go to the gym after class, but didn’t feel like walking the block and a half to Equinox. Lucky for me, Winston was waiting patiently right out front of school. So, I jumped in the car and lived it up for the 55 seconds that it took to get there. A guy could really get used to this. After an intense session with my new personal trainer Denise – all paid for by the generous folks at Sullivan & Cromwell – I thought I’d indulge in that wonderful apricot body scrub they have in the showers there. That stuff will change your life.
Left the gym, jumped back into the Towncar and cruised home down 3rd Ave in style. Upon arriving, I riffled through the mail and found a handwritten letter from Tom Perez, the head of the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division, asking me to come work for him. That was nice because I was running a little low on toilet paper. As if I’d ever lift a finger to help out those liberal weenies in Washington. Please…
Having then been awake for six full hours, I started feeling a little tired. It had been a long, stressful day after all. So, I decided to take a nap.
I woke up realizing I had just spent the night in an alternate universe. And what a universe it was! For a minute, I couldn’t get over how great it all seemed, to have everything handed to you like that. But, then again, maybe it wouldn’t be so ideal, right? There’s no denying that you always enjoy things more when you have to work hard to achieve them. I’d like to know that, one day, when I do get a job, I’ve earned it. And after all, if there’s one thing that everyone at BLS knows: “It’s supposed to be hard.”
- Mike Berman is a certified mixologist and a graduate of the Baltimore Bartending School. He can be booked seven days a week to help make your next wedding, birthday party, or bar mitzvah an unforgettable affair.
November! Thanksgiving! Native American Appreciation Month!
Thanksgiving is, literally, barreling towards us. I am sure you all have your normal foods and traditions, and be it a small dinner with the family, an enormous dinner with all of the cousins and their seven wives, or just a dinner amongst great friends, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time. Though it’s also a very stressful time for law students, it’s nice to have a day to eat wonderful foods, be with the people you love (most of them anyhow) and reflect on all the good things in your life.
Thanksgiving, like the 4th of July, is a true “American” holiday.” No matter your religion or your race, sexual preference or outside beliefs, it’s a day when all of us, as Americans can gather and feast.
Not surprisingly, November is Native American appreciation month. I know that this is a bit cliché perhaps, and maybe you are wondering why we get a month, but it’s a nice opportunity to appreciate this wonderful, mysterious, dying culture. After all, if it weren’t for Native Americans, the pilgrims would probably not have survived their first winter. I am a quarter Kiowa Indian, so this month gives me an extra opportunity to appreciate my culture and learn about the values of my people.
If you have time, there is the Museum of the Native American near Wall Street. It’s free to enter and it’s something you can do when you need a break from the books.
Of course, this column is called “Food for Thought,” not “Culture for Thought,” so in the spirit of Thanksgiving and in appreciation of the Native American I wanted to share my corn pudding recipe. Corn pudding is extra delicious, a bit indulgent and an homage to corn, that truly American crop. Maybe you can impress everyone at the table with your legal jargon, your knowledge of negligence per se and this lovely corn pudding.
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn
2 (14.75 ounce) cans cream-style corn
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add melted butter, sugar, and milk. Whisk in cornstarch. Stir in corn and creamed corn. Blend well. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
Bake for 1 hour.
By day, Steven M. Wise practices “animal slave law” — a term he coined himself. But he is best known for his writings “about a world that doesn’t exist” — a world in which nonhuman animals are no longer viewed as property, but as persons.
That might sound crazy, but as one student commented when Wise visited BLS on November 11, U.S. law treats corporations as persons — so why not nonhuman animals?
Wise’s lecture, held at the Subotnick Center, was hosted by adjunct animal law professor Mariann Sullivan, and co-sponsored by BLSPI and the BLS Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF).
“While most of us are trying to figure out ways to work within the current legal framework, which regards animals as mere property with little to no legally recognizable interests of their own, Steve is assembling the building blocks for a future where this is no longer necessary,” said SALDF co-chair Cody Carlson.
“He refers to this as ‘legal personhood,’ but I think soon we’ll be referring to it as ‘common sense.’”
Wise is the director of the Nonhuman Rights Project, which has spent the last six years crafting legal arguments to change the way the law treats nonhuman animals.
“There is a great, thick, high legal wall that separates humans from everyone else,” said Wise.
The Nonhuman Rights Project seeks to break down that wall, by looking to the oldest, most elastic source of law: the common law.
Why not the constitution? Because Roe v. Wade already established that young fetuses are not persons, so courts would likely use that precedent to determine that nonhuman animals cannot attain legal personhood, Wise said. He believes it is unwise to ask for legal rights for animals that human beings themselves have not attained.
To illustrate the promise of the common law, Wise told the story of James Somerset, a slave who used the common law writ of habeas corpus to successfully contest his imprisonment. Wise hopes that a judge would find it to be “just as odious” to take an orca from the wild and put it into a tank as it was to imprison James Somerset based on his race.
The Nonhuman Rights Project intends to begin filing cases in 2013 to begin establishing legal rights for nonhuman animals, focusing first on the animals with the strongest cognitive abilities. This list may include great apes, bottle-nosed dolphins, African gray parrots, and other animals with “an excess of autonomy.”
The Project has everyone from sociologists to scientists to computational biologists working to determine just the right animal to defend and just the right judge to hear the first case.
Wise finished his lecture with a clear message before opening it up to questions from the audience: “We shall prevail. Nonhuman animals are going to get rights. The end.”
“For me, the main takeaway was the role common law can play for progressive activists,” said Carlson, “since as he pointed out, it provides broad discretion to create judge-made law, and is intended to adapt to evolving social mores. Considering that our legal system is still grounded in pre-Darwinian thinking, this is a welcome avenue for modernization.
Anyone interested in performing legal research for the Nonhuman Rights Project on a volunteer basis should contact email@example.com
Once you go down the B.L.S.G. path, it becomes difficult to find a way off. Thanks to this conundrum, I can somewhat proudly say I am an expert in the B.L.S.G. department. Based on my stint at Brook Law thus far I am disclosing some of tricks of the trade. While each B.L.S.G. experience will have its own unique flavor, it is important to always include the most central ingredient for keeping those B.L.S.G. wheels spinning: discretion.
Now would be a good time to explain to your current BLSG – if you have not done so already – that to maintain a successful law school hookup, discretion is key. I get that you are moderately attracted to this person; you’ve actually found someone you want to spend time with outside the confines of 250 Joralemon. Perhaps you are a member of the highly coveted BLS-couples-club, delighted to be in a Facebook relationship, planning your perfect Esq. future together. As for the rest of us who fall short: don’t post adorable comments on each other’s walls, blab about how cute your “study buddy” looks as she tries to avidly pay attention to Pinto in Corporations, or hold hands anywhere near Cadman Plaza.
In other words, I am strongly advising you to avoid all forms of public communication. You might assume that this defeats the purpose of having a BLSG in the first place, but the opposite is true. In fact, this is where the “goggles” in “Brooklyn Law School Goggles” comes into play – if and when the hookup sours, you will be extremely thankful that you will not have to humiliatingly explain to your friends why your study buddy stopped studying with you.
Unfortunately, every time you pass him in the library lobby, you will still silently ask yourself, “Girl – what were you thinking?!?” But in the murky aftermath, you will be the ONLY person thinking that. The awkward aftermath is full of murky waters and tears spilled all over your Evidence textbook, but seriously… you don’t want your peers to have any actual or constructive knowledge of that fact.
Therefore, during the glorious period when things with your BLSG bring you as much of a thrill as practicing the R.A.P., be sure to clearly explain that when you see each other in public, you will act like you don’t give a sh*t. When running into each other around school, be formal and civil, give a nice smile, keep on walking, and send a nerdy-and/or-dirty text message if you absolutely must. And for those of you into P.D.A, do it behind closed doors or somewhere that requires a metro-card swipe. Remember the golden rule: discretion is key.
However, this rule may be a huge problem if one or both of you lives in student housing – especially Feil Hall. If this is the case, and you insist on conducting “study sessions” at 205 State Street, I recommend doing some major cite checking to discover any friends/classmates who live on your BLSG’s floor. Trust me, you will want a good excuse as to why you were spotted riding the elevator down early Sunday morning, clearly hung over with raccoon eyes.
You might think that I am cynical, paranoid and a bit of a playa – all three are true enough that I have now mastered the delicate art of BLSG discretion. One case in point – sitting down with several students during a beer and pizza party, a mutual friend looked at my then-BLSG, turned to me, and asked, “Oh, do you two know each other?”
Next time you’re in the BLS library, open your laptop and google the acronym “A.P.” Chances are nothing much will happen. That’s because the library’s Access Points (A.P.s), which allow students to log into the communal server, have been spontaneously shutting down. This mysterious glitch comes with two unhappy results. First, it has hobbled the school’s Internet system, which means that surfing the Web has become about as much fun as taking a long bus ride. Second, it has left BLS’s stalwart IT department scratching their heads.
You know the IT department. They’re the ones who send you those persistent e-mails about the school’s Internet problem. It’s likely that at this very moment your BLS account contains a notice from Phil Allred, the chief information officer, whose apologetic missives have, over the last month, cluttered inboxes like letters from a worried mother. Usually, they start off with something innocuous and unalarming, like: “Hello. We are experiencing problems with the school’s Internet server…”
As it happens, however, these problems are numerous and complex. Last month, there was an issue with Macs: when the school installed new A.P.s in the library, students using Apple computers were unable to log onto the Internet. According to Allred, their laptops had become confused by the A.P.s’ unfamiliar encryption settings. Now there’s a new problem—one that affects every type of electronic device. “Many A.P.s on our old system are spontaneously restarting,” said Allred. “We have contacted our vendor, SpotOn Networks, who has contacted the manufacturer. So far, they haven’t found a solution.”
Allred harbors his own suspicions, though. According to him, one possible cause of the problem is the enormous number of electronic devices that students bring to BLS every day. Allred estimates that there are twice as many computers, smart phones and tablets on campus than there were just two years ago. All of that traffic could easily slow down the system, and sure enough a little detective work has shown that the A.P.s cease rebooting in the evening hours, when there are fewer students in the library.
While diagnosis doesn’t constitute treatment, it is a start. Allred seems confident that someone will eventually solve the problem. In the meantime, students will have to put up with slowly loading Web pages. Just as the Internet has always provided a forum for the discontented, it’s fitting that since BLS’s wireless network began floundering, the discontented have turned their ire on the Internet. Just spend a few minutes in the library and you’ll see students gnashing their teeth. The threat of violence is palpable. One almost expects to see a spike in the number of laptops brought into Computer Services with cracked screens.
There is one bit of good news. Allred reports that the IT team has been testing access points from different vendors across campus. All tests are now finished, and he plans to propose a new network to senior administration. With some luck, says Allred, the system will soon be running smoothly. And if it isn’t, expect an e-mail from him.
[The following is an editorial co-written by the Cardozo Jurist and The BLS Advocate. The Advocate and the Jurist decided to co-write this editorial because it addresses an issue affecting the law school community as a whole. A version of the editorial is also available on the Jurist's website.]
Our economy is depressed. These are difficult times for all.
While disheartening, we must acknowledge the situation before us. Things have changed in the last few years. Legal jobs are scarce. Law school is hardly a “safe bet” – in fact, it is a perilous one.
In these times, we need an American Bar Association (ABA) that is proactive. An ABA that is present. An ABA that is attentive to the economic climate and what this means for prospective and current law students.
Instead, as Erik Slepak’s story “ABA Drags Feet in Stopping Law Schools’ Reporting of Misleading Post-Grad Job Stats” and Warren Allen’s feature article “The Litigating Classes: Taking Their Schools to Court” illustrate, the ABA has been reactive when the times call for it to be proactive. We find this deeply disappointing.
Understandably, in past years of economic prosperity, prospective law students weren’t as concerned with post-grad employment statistics. But, in these trying times the stakes are higher. Prospective students want to know: How many graduates have jobs that require a JD? How many are employed through the law school’s fellowship program? How many have part-time jobs? They have a right to the answers to these questions.
Until two weeks ago, the ABA did not require law schools to provide such information to prospective students. Some law schools voluntarily offered this information to prospective students. But, many other schools opted only to provide rather basic statistics, like percentage of graduates employed nine months from graduation. This figure gives prospective students no sense of how many graduates have part-time legal or non-legal jobs.
While the schools that offered only basic statistics were technically in compliance with ABA standards, their approach was morally questionable. Prospective students should have access to crucial statistics when deciding where to go to law school. Without commenting on the merits of the lawsuit brought by Jesse Strauss and David Anziska, the suit symbolizes warranted frustration. While the ABA may not have required law schools to provide detailed statistics, that fact is not enough to absolve law schools that provided only basic statistics from blame.
As for the ABA, it is clearly behind the times. Instead of directing law schools to provide such information on its own, the ABA has only done so after enormous public pressure in the form of open letters from Senators Boxer and Grassley and negative media attention. Such conduct demonstrates a lack of initiative, and shows that while the world changes around us, we may be stuck with an ABA that is a few steps behind. That’s unfortunate, and the legal profession deserves better.
We strongly urge the ABA to pick itself up and ready itself for the future. We encourage it to bring in new faces and distance itself from the law school establishment by minimizing the influence of school administrators. The ABA should be a strong, independent organization that recognizes the plight of the prospective and current law student. Unfortunately, that’s not the ABA we’ve seen lately.
A good way for the ABA to start would be to follow up on its promise to examine law schools’ policies regarding merit scholarships. A speedy investigation followed by sweeping reform would be welcomed by prospective and current students alike.
The ABA needs to wake up. A primary cause of this economic disaster was the deceptive practices of the country’s financial institutions. The time to sit back and disinterestedly allow institutions to pursue smoke and mirror tactics has long since passed. We don’t know why the ABA didn’t get this memo, and we don’t much care. All we know is, from here on out, the ABA needs to be ahead of the curve and not behind it.