Monday, April 30, 2007 behind hurts!

Well, just got back from my torts final and ouch!!! I knew the law and I think that if we were just graded on our substantive knoledge of the law, I did pretty well. But, I got trapped by the clock and didn't have chance to re-read my essay for quality of writing or ease of read. I'm pretty sure my argument were pretty inconsistent and spotty when read. So, in balance, I'm stuck between mastery of the law versus a poorly written essay, I'm not sure how the grade will turn out. Oh well, on to contracts!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Study Break

Well, I think I've hit a study wall since I'm posting and reading more on HBO than I am preparing my analysis outline of the breach element of negligence. So, I think I'm going to take the dog for a walk since the sun looks like it is trying to break through the clouds to try to clear my head.

Before I go, I wanted to share an observation. I've been listening to my U2 collection on my ipod and wanted to share I’ve come to the conclusion that my favorite U2 album is Pop. Of all their albums it seems to be the least liked among the fans, but I dare say that I like it even better than The Joshua Tree. Heresy, perhaps; but true.


Sure was nice out when I walked down to FUEL to buy a cup of coffee, the air smelled exactly as spring air should.

Anyway, my first year as a law student is almost over. Classes ended Wednesday and I have two weeks of exams before I can say that I'm a 2L. My property professor likes to joke that after your 1st year you are a LA - after your second year you get your WY - and then your 3rd year you get the ER. He’s not a very funny is he?

I managed to land a job as a law clerk this summer. I guess I should feel good, not many 1Ls land paying law gigs during the summer. The firm represents various police and firefighter's associations in their contracts with cities and counties. They negotiate, administer the contracts, defend the members in disciplinary actions, and so forth. I am not really pro-union so it will be an interesting experience working in a law firm that works for unions. If there is a situation where I do believe in unions are good for their members, than it would be in situations like the police and firefighter are in; i.e. when the government has a monopoly power and the workers really have no market leverage. When you combine worker powerlessness with a strong government motive to keep costs low, the workers could get the shaft pretty quickly if they didn't stand together. Regardless of personal politics, I'm sure it will be a good learning experience for me. The pay sucks though. It is difficult taking this job knowing what I could earn doing contract HR work (about 4x more), but I'm willing to trade money for legal experience.

Anyway, back to the books. I have my Torts exam on Monday, followed by Contracts on Thursday; next week it will be Civ. Pro on Monday followed by Property on Thursday and then FREEDOM! Well, sort of.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


US New and World report came out with their college ranking a couple of weeks ago. Despite a lot of talk from college administrators alleging that rank does not matter and that students should choose schools by finding the place that best fits them; administrators sure spend a lot of time discussing how they did. In contract last week, while listening to NPR, I heard a professor at some California school (UCLA, USC or something) argue that schools should stop participating in the ranking process. He urged school to return the surveys US News sends them unopened. He alleges a couple things: one that the rankings don’t actually tell students anything about eventual school they will attend; two, they subsidize a huge money maker for US News and get nothing in return; and three, they make the school take efforts to manipulate their standing such as raising the SAT and LSAT scores required to attend which really have no impact on the teaching quality at the school but just restrict access in exchange for rank. I tend to agree.

Not that I haven’t benefited from these US News Rankings. Both the U of I and my grad school at Seattle U promote how they do in the rankings. And they should. Seattle U Law moved up higher in the top 100 to something like 80th or 82nd this year. To put this into perspective, U Washinton’s law school in ranked 40-something while Gonzaga Law and U of Idaho law school were unranked and are in the 3rd tier. In addition to this top 100 ranking, our legal writing program is ranked number 2 in the nation this year, we were number 1 last year, and haven’t been ranked lower than number 2 in the last 5 years. These ranks will go into our marketing brochures, it will look good on resumes, and the school should be proud to be the ranked so high in so short of a time (the school is only 35 yrs old, it’s only been at SU since the ‘90s.).

Desipte how well Seattle U is doing in the rankings, should I believe them? Do I really believe that Seattle U is a better school then Gonzaga or Idaho just because we are ranked higher? Do I really believe that our legal writing program is better than Harvard’s or Yale’s? No, not really. Don’t get me wrong, I think we are a good school. I am not really sure, however, that just because US New and World reports says so that I actually go to a qualitatively better school and that I will be a better lawyer than someone from Gonzaga Law. Nor do I think that a Yale grad would really be intimidated by my ability to transition a rule paragraph to a legal discussion so seamlessly in a memo, do you? So, if the rankings don’t measure whether I will be a better lawyer by going to a better school, what are they based on?

In my opinion, perception drives the ranking process. Why is Seattle U legal writing ranked so high, for example? Well, because we wrote the book. Yes, the most popular legal writing handbook used in law schools was written by Seattle U professors. It’s a good book for sure, but does that mean the program is necessarily tops? More likely is that when some Dean at some Law school at “Insert East Cost State U” receives his survey and he gets to the legal writing program question that he just writes down Seattle U because he see the legal writing book on his shelf, he knows that it is the book his school teaches from, and therefore concludes Seattle U program must be good. He does this despite that he had probably never met a lawyer from Seattle U, probably knows nothing about the school except for the book we wrote, but he had to put down something and had no other reference for quality. I think this is the way it works, but maybe I’m just cynical.

This doesn’t mean that I would discourage people from Seattle U. It is a great program. Here you will learn the law, you will make friends, and from what I’ve seen our graduates are in demand. However, I don’t think this has anything to do with our rankings and I don’t think a new student would make a good education choice if they merely looked at the US News list and noticed we had moved up a couple places this year. I think students should realize that Deans are hypocritical when they say it doesn’t matter what a school’s rank is and then turn around and crow about how good their rank is. You should listen to the first half of the message, it doesn’t really matter what a school’s rank is. If it is accredited, if you are smart, and if you like the place then you will do great. In fact, you are much more likely to do well than if you pick a place merely on rank and then find out you hate it. (I would say this logic applies to every school below the top ten in the list. If you have the chance to go to a top ten school, go, despite if you don’t really like the place – financially it will be worth it. As for school 11-200, make sure you pick the one that fits you best, not the one that was randomly scored the highest by some dean at Timbuktu U).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pro-Life is not an Oxymoron.

Sometime there is nothing lonelier in this ultra-liberal Seattle than being a moderate democrat. If you are a conservative then at least you have a close, but small, group of friends. If you are a moderate democrat, however, and won’t partake of the bile and rhetoric launched against conservatives, than you are an outcast. I realized, today, the problem that keeps me out of so many social circles in this town is that I actually like conservatives.

My realization came today while discussing the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the partial birth abortion ban with a classmate before the beginning of my property law class. The conversation went awry when she started to complain about the labels, the pro-life and pro-choice bandied about by each side. I asked her what labels she would use and she responded, “how about pro-choice and anti-choice”. My response, “well, that’s not a neutral choice of words; it paints the opposition with pretty negative brush stroke.” At this point she starts to get upset, “I don’t care. These so called pro-lifer are just hypocrites” she then proceeds to go into a diatribe about the death penalty and Texas. I rebutted her arguments. I could tell that she was getting upset with me because I wouldn’t agree that the republican were a bunch of hypocrites, she thought I was blind, nay stupid. It was unfathomable to her to that I agreed on a pro-choice stance but wouldn’t also agree with her characterization of conservatives.

I think the crux of the problem with the ultra-left wing of the Democratic Party (and, just as a disclaimer, I think it is probably true about the ultra-right wing of the Republican party as well, but that is another post) is that they don’t really know or like any republicans. The result is that they spend all their time with each other complaining about republicans and convince themselves that they are right on their issues merely because the republicans are wrong. I don’t think this way.

It might have something to do with growing up in Idaho, the most conservative state in the Union, if not for Utah. As a result, I have a lot of friends and family who are conservatives: pro-life, NRA promoting, red-wearing elephants. I love and admire these people who are pro-life. Therefore I can’t and won’t stand for people who label my friends as hypocrites or dismiss them as people who “just don’t get it.” I heartedly disagree. My pro-life friends believe with all their hearts in life and live out their lives according to those beliefs; furthermore, these people “do get it”. They are just as smart and aware as any democrats who walk the streets of Seattle. But, despite this, I still disagree with my conservative friends.

My respect for conservatives requires that I think long and hard about the substantive meat of the argument and not the superfluous dispersion my classmates and many others I’ve met in this town through about. This central issue, of course to this abortion debate is no less than the meaning of life. There could be no smaller question. To pro-lifers, life begins at conception and that this life is just as valuable as that of my next door neighbor who is mowing his yard at this very moment, it is even more precious than that of killer or child molester, and therefore they desire to protect the unborn life with all the force of law used to protect citizens in this country. I, rather, believe that human life does not begin at conception. During the 1st trimester the fetus is just as likely to abort as develop into a child, it can’t think, can’t smell, can’t breath, and can’t even push its own blood around the few cells of its body. A human, it is not. Yet, I’m never going to convince my pro-life friend with science, I can’t even get them to buy into evolution; and they aren’t going to convince me with faith. So, we are at a stalemate. This essential dilemma needs to be acknowledged by both sides if we are ever going put this divisive issue to peace.

I fear, however, that it will not. There will still be the ultra-left screaming like harpies at the “hypocrites, idiots” and the trolls on the right yelling at the “murderers, baby killers”. What’s a moderate, conservative loving democrat to do?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Blood, Discomfort, and Hope

I was just looking at my planner and I still have around 40 hours of work to squeeze into the next three days!! Geez, I’ll be glad when finals are over. It doesn’t help that a large chunk of my day today is occupied with non-school work; I’m donating platelets this afternoon.

I’m not exactly sure how I let myself get wrangled into becoming a platelet donor. I have always been a whole blood donor ever since I figured out in high school that it was an easy way to get out of class for an hour or so when the donation drives came to school. I have been donating ever since. Recently, however, instead of asking me for blood, one of the schedulers asked me if I would be willing to donate platelets. It’s a big commitment; it takes around 1-2+ hours at a time, and a lot of blood donors don’t have time or the inclination to give so they are in desperate need of regular platelet donors. I hesitated, but given my penchant to say yes whenever someone ask for help, gave an scheduled a time. Unlike whole blood donation, platelet donation is a long process that is rather uncomfortable; it is easy to see why a non-profit struggles to get people to sign up given that they can’t pay people for their time. So, once they find someone willing, they reschedule them whenever they can. Thus, I’m a regular donor now.

So, this is the picture of a platelet donor. They are sitting immobile for three hours in a chair that is the offspring of a recliner and a hospital bed, hooked up to a whirring, beeping and humming machine, covered in a blanket, and trying to keep their mind occupied on something other than their tingling lips or the cold blood rushing through their veins. Sound like fun? It is no wonder that it is tough to find donors.

The process is fairly simple. Whole blood is extracted from you, spun around in a machine to separate out the components, and then piped back into your veins after the platelets are collected. Our bodies, either via creation or evolution (pick one), were not designed to go through such an experience and it’s shocking thing the first time. While the blood is drawn it cools and despite the sophistication of the separating apparatus it does not keep the blood warm during the process. When the blood is piped back into your body, sans platelets, it is a couple degrees cooler then when it left. The result of this cool blood entering your body is that you can actually perceive the blood reentering your circulation, you can’ feel it per se, but your body is aware of it. It is such an odd sensation to actually be aware of your own blood in your veins that is difficult to describe on paper. The cool blood also drops your body temperature a couple of degrees making you cold. The process also includes dosing you with an anticoagulant; you will be bleeding for two or three hours and they can’t have your blood start to clot. A side effect of the anticoagulant is that your lips and extremities begin to tingle.

But, in the end, you have to remember why you do such things. Everyday there are hundreds of people who rely on whole blood and blood products to save their lives. Platelets, in particular, are needed for children who suffer from leukemia and are undergoing chemo, people undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass, bone marrow transplant, for burn patients, or for a variety of other procedures. These procedures could not be achieved without blood products, these lives would be lost. Put in that context, an afternoon of discomfort and time away from the law school library seems a small price to pay.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Good Luck

I just wanted to take a moment to wish Maria Goodloe-Johnson luck. Ms. Goodloe-Johnson is the newly selected superintendent of Seattle public schools. She faces a system in trouble. Enrollment in a city of over 600,000 is only 43,000 and dropping, the people have lost faith in our public school. She faces a budget swollen with operating expenses, parent who come with a “not in my school” attitude that hinders any change, and growing achievement gaps between school with unfortunate racial overtones. This will be a demanding job; she’ll be worth every cent of her 200K plus salary if she can restore this vital part of our community.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Where o’ Where Have You Been …

My blog has been anemic as of late. I can count the post I’ve made in the last three week on one hand, at least two don’t even count as full posts as they aren’t more than a simple, unexplored thought. I went on vacation and then, after coming home, was hit with a cold. This one, two punch knocked me off my blogging feet and it’s been difficult to get into a routine. This has lack of blogging will only be further exacerbated by the end of semester that is rapidly approaching (my first test, Torts by the way, is only three weeks from today). I need to buckle down to weather the next few weeks and the blog posts might be the easiest thing to jettison from an already packed day.

There has been plenty to blog about though. I did a job shadow with a Partner in a medium size firm (~6 partners, 30 associates) with offices in Seattle and Tacoma. They primarily do defendant bar stuff, the majority of the business comes from insurance companies who hire them to defend their customers from lawsuits. Although the firm specialized in medical claims (defending Drs from malpractice), on my job shadow I was exposed to lots of different topic in a brief afternoon. We visited a home site that was in trouble with the city due to garage built on a city property (by a previous home owner), we looked over an issue regarding a home that was being foreclosed on by local city for road construction on behalf of the home owner that was being forced out, we read through a contract for the sale of a business, and I was able to join in a meeting where an associate stopped by to talk about a couple automobile accident cases he was thinking of taking on. The lawyer apologized for not being able to show me a trial, or an mediation, or something “more lawyerly”; but I was happy for the content of the day. It was nice to a see a typical day, to see what lawyer do day in and day out. The law, largely, is not trail tactics and elegant arguments, it was nice to see the mundane work I have to look forward to. I also attended a small firm, solo practice career fair and talked to a number of lawyer about their job which is always something someone starting a new career should do. I could have devoted a blog to each and given you more, but this will have to do.

My parent came up for Easter and I gave up the weekend in the library to be with them. We had a great time, it was beautiful weather and I took full advantage of it. We walked the dog in the UW Arboretum, I took them out to West Seattle and watched people play volleyball in the sand and rollerblade along the beach, and we went shopping at Ikea, twice. I didn’t get much done on the school front. There is a nagging part of me that is beating me up for wasting a weekend so close to exams, but I smack that little voice every time it starts to whine. I need to remember that 5 years from now I’ll appreciate the time spent with my folks out on the beach must more than a couple hours in the library reviewing the fundamentals of the parol evidence rule. Law school will so easily devour anything of yourself you give it. If you let it, it will consume any relationship or interest you have outside of school and poop out a grade at the end, it’s just not worth it. I already know of people who have lost relationships because they have been so focused on school to the exclusion of everything, and everyone, else. I won’t be that person.

Finally, I have a beer review. I bought the Summer Honey Ale from Big Sky Brewing (those brilliant people behind Moose Drool) and I am giving it a mixed review. It is a good summer ale, perfect for a hot day after you’ve just mowed the lawn or sitting by the pool. Except for that, I can’t think of another situation to recommend this beer. True, I am biased against blonde ales, but even then it is a little bit light on the flavor. It does have some very sweet notes but they don’t linger well with the hops after the liquid has left your mouth. Overall, I’d give it a five/ten as it’s perfect in a very narrow range of situations, but overall there are much better choices out there for a general drinking beer.

Monday, April 02, 2007


If you were on Madison today, driving near the Broadmoor Country Club, and saw some dufus trip over his own feet while jogging, tumble, and then get up with his elbow mangled like so much hamburger ... I just wanted to let you know that I was happy to have the audience!