Friday, January 29, 2010

Finals.

It begins again. See you in a week. (note: that is not a Red Bull, but a Keystone Light. Pretty much the opposite of Red Bull.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to Improve Legal Education in America

In a series of recent conversations with fellow blogger WK, we explored some ideas for helping to improve the standard of legal education in the United States. As noted in the Wall Street Journal law blog recently, law school applications are up. The economy is still stagnant, and people are looking for an option to avoid the realities of the job market for a few years, so they're applying to law school. At Cornell Law, applications are up 52% this year. So with that in mind, here are a few things I think would really go a long way toward improving the quality and usefulness of law school.

Treat Law School Like Trade School

For most law students, the chance of getting a job with a BigLaw firm or a prestigious clerkship are pretty slim. Given the recent economy and the troubles that the financial sector have endured lately, those chances are growing ever slimmer, as big law firms are forced to downsize, restrict hiring, and limit recruiting. The reality, however, is that this doesn't directly affect the large majority of practicing lawyers and law students. Though the high salaries of the BigLaw jobs make the headlines and stand out in people's minds, they're a far cry from what most of us look forward to. The fact is that most law students graduate and become small firm attorneys or solo practitioners. With that in mind, law schools should gear more of their efforts toward accommodating this market, rather than pretending like everyone has a shot at a clerkship or a Biglaw job. Instead of offering so many classes about legal theory and super-specialized topics, offer more classes about how to run a law firm or how to practice law in a courtroom. Baylor has the right idea with the Practice Court advocacy exercises and classes like Criminal Practice and Procedure. I'd like to see more law schools offering coursework that caters to the reality that most students will encounter upon entering the practice of law. Which definitely includes...

Require Writing Classes During All 3 Years of Law School

But Justin, you say, are you saying that you want to do even more work than you already have to do? Well, not exactly. But the fact is that lawyers, for better or worse, are writers. A novelist who writes 250 words a day will write around 90,000 words a year, which is a novel a year- not bad at all. On the other hand, a lawyer who writes 250 words a day has probably been at work for about 15 minutes (hat tip: Mike). Lawyers write for a living. Motions, letters to clients, responses, opinions, requests, we spend most of our lives researching and writing. So why do most law schools only offer legal writing 2 semesters out of 6? Writing should be an integral part of legal education, and not just in the first year. 

Stop Building New Law Schools

I love the University of North Texas. It's my alma mater for both undergraduate and graduate school, and I want nothing more than to see them succeed. That said, I was pretty annoyed when I heard they were opening a new public law school in Dallas. The legal market isn't generally getting any bigger, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the job market is getting smaller. This isn't the time to be adding new law schools to the hundreds we already have. And while we're at it...


Stop Letting Everyone Into Law School

Law could use a few tips from medicine, I think. There are 158 medical schools in the United States, and everyone knows that medical school isn't easy to get into, even if you go to a lesser-known medical school. There are currently 200 accredited law schools in the United States, with more opening and gaining provisional accreditation every year, as well as a handful of non-accredited schools scattered across the country in states like California and Massachusetts. As I said earlier, the market for legal services isn't necessarily getting bigger, and the job market is definitely getting smaller, leading to more and more lawyers graduating with few job prospects and staggering amounts of debt. The fact is that if you're willing to go to a second-rate law school, just about anyone can get into a law school in the United States. Supply and demand don't magically walk out the door when one enters the hallowed halls of legal institutions, and law schools had better start realizing this if they want the quality of legal education to remain intact.

Strip the ABA of its Title as Sole Regulator

As I understand it (and that's a shaky premise to go on right there), the ABA is the sole body responsible for accreditation and management of law schools in the US. This is problematic for several reasons, chiefly because there's no one looking over the ABA's shoulder to make sure that legal education isn't circling the drain quality-wise.  The Department of Education, or at least some sort of regulatory body, needs to step in and take control of the ABA, which will provide some checks and balances to the unbalanced system of unilateral quality control currently in place.

Another Tip From Medicine- Residency Requirements

In medical school, doctors spend 2 years in the classroom, learning all the fundamentals about biology, biochemistry, anatomy, histology, pathology, and a whole bunch of other -ologies designed to teach them the inner workings of the human body. Then, they spend the next 2 years learning the ins and outs of patient care, doing clinical rounds. After graduation, they're required to spend a minimum of a year or two in residency- learning how to parlay their 4 years of education  into the actual practice of medicine. In short, in school they learn the required material to become a doctor, and then they're required to learn how to be a doctor. Law school, however, has no such requirement. A law student can graduate, take the bar exam, and on the day those bar results come in, they can go out and practice law. There's something fundamentally wrong with this. Most law schools don't teach you how to be a practicing lawyer (Baylor is among few exceptions, and the price for that extra lesson is the proverbial pound of law student flesh). Legal education could do well from teaching students how to actually practice law rather than how to "think like a lawyer" (which, judging by things here lately at good old Baylor, means hating everyone and everything about every 10 weeks or so).

What do you think? Am I wrong? What suggestions do you have for improving legal education in the US?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nature is Awesome

So I found this while browsing around the internet recently. I claim no credit for it whatsoever, I just thought it was a really cool picture and wanted to share it. It really surprises me how big they actually are. I guess I just never thought to consider how tall 300 feet actually is.

At least 1,500 years old, a 300-foot titan in California's Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has the most complex crown scientists have mapped. This photo, taken by Michael Nichols, is a mosaic composed of 84 images.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Roommates

So recent I seem to have acquired some new roommates. First, there is the dog I recently acquired. Blogosphere, say hello to Gabby, the 2 yr old female miniature schnauzer I adopted from my sister in order to help her out- new babies are never easy. Anyone who'd like to help me with socialization by inviting her over to play with your dogs, please drop me a line in the comments. She's a very docile animal.


The other roommate I've acquired recently is a gecko with its tail missing. This little guy likes to hunt on my bedroom curtains. Until the dog gets sight of it, that is. This makes the second reptile that has made its way into my apartment. I swear to God it's like I live in Vietnam. 


Monday, January 18, 2010

K&S Properties and Brazos Place Apartment Complex: The Worst Companies in Waco

Normally I don't consider myself a rabble-rouser. I am more than willing to cut someone some slack or give them the benefit of the doubt if it means less hassle for me. However, certain things I can't abide, and one of them is incompetence in customer service. And so it is with a sad note that I report to you today on the two worst businesses in Waco: K&S Properties and one of its properties, Brazos Place Apartment Complex.

My relationship with K&S Properties and Brazos Place Apartments began in 2008 with little fanfare. I thought I had found a quiet, cheap, convenient place to live near the school.  Boy was I wrong. During the last 2 years, I've had to deal with the following:

  • Maintenance employees entering my apartment without knocking (twice!)
  • A/C leak resulting in black mold and stained carpet
  • At least 2 errant late rent notices despite the fact that I pay my rent early or, at the very least, on time
  • A garbage disposal that was broken for over 3 months despite numerous written requests for repair
  • At least 3 packages delivered to the front office that no one ever bothered to tell me were waiting for me
  • A leak in the upstairs apartment resulted in a nasty black mold problem all over my ceiling, walls, and carpet
    • subpoint: after they had the audacity to blame me (note: I was in Alaska all summer and can't exactly control the flow of water in other apartments), they "cleaned" the mold by spraying it with a bleach/water solution and replacing some (but not all) of the mold-stained carpet.
  • Most recently, my hot water went out on Tuesday and despite a written request for maintenance on Tuesday, an irate call to the maintenance supervisor on Thursday (who hung up on me), and a follow-up written request on Saturday, it wasn't fixed until Monday afternoon.
I write this post not to complain (well, partially to complain), but mostly to warn anyone who happens to Google K&S Properties and/or Brazos Place Apartments in Waco, Texas that they will severely regret doing business with either of these companies. Again, to anyone thinking of dealing with either of these companies, DO NOT RENT FROM K&S PROPERTIES OR BRAZOS PLACE APARTMENTS IN WACO, TX. Worst. Company. Ever.

In other news, I am seriously considering looking into practicing consumer protection and/or landlord-tenant law.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Cause of Death Odds

With all the talk about health care we've been hearing lately, I've recently been thinking about how likely it is that I'll die one day (currently: 55% likely), and how it will happen if/when it happens. For those of you with gambling addictions, I've calculated some of the following odds to assist you:

Choking on some sort of buffalo chicken product: 8 to 1

Heart Disease: 4 to 1

Babboon Heart Disease: 4.5 to 1

Electric Blanket Mishap: 5 to 3

Brain hemmorage after being punched in the face for running my mouth: 3 to 2

Stabbed by dissatisfied client: 3 to 1

Stabbed by satisfied client: 3 to 1

Insurance Scam/Fight Club/Drug Deal Gone Awry: 5 to 1

Practice Court & accompanying coping mechanisms: 2 to 1

Bear F***s my S*** up: 10 to 1

Crushed Under A Pile Of Cash: 200 to 1

Lethal Injection: 721 to 1

Local Election: 26 to 1

Tickle Fight: 38 to 1

Broken Heart: 25 to 1

Bacon Heart: 15 to 1


Lucky 7's, gamblers!