29.12.06

1L Finals: Part 2


The funny thing about blogs, besides the hilarious content, is that new posts always come before older ones, so when there is a two-part entry, such as this very post, the second part is above the first. So if you’ve missed the fist part, see below. This second entry is coming to you from the Valgardson farm in Taber Alberta, where I’ve traded in my casebooks for a hammer and screwdriver (which I am using to help build a garage) and have to drive into town in an old 1970’s Ford truck and connect to the internet in the Super 8 parking lot in order to post on my blog.

First off, I’d like to wish everyone a very merry Boxing day, which, since its main purpose is shopping and because of my recent move to the mother of all capitalist countries, has become my new favorite holiday. Also, in reference to the first part of this entry, I would like to make clear that Theresa bringing my hot chocolate is not evidence that she is my slave (since I didn’t even ask her to do it), but was merely a kind gesture by a loving wife who was passing the school on her way home from a shopping trip. But as we all know, my blog isn’t about love and fun times, but strictly about business, so lets get back to the topic of exams.

So, after all of our pep talks and hours of studying, the big week finally arrived. Law school exams are much different from my undergrad experience, which is defined by gymnasiums filled with row upon rows of desks and mediators who walk up and down the isles between the desks to make sure that not one eye wanders or one word is spoken. UVa Law’s exams are taken on the computer and may be completed in any of a number of rooms, none of which are supervised in any way. This mean there are about 739 ways that a student could cheat, from talking to IMing to internet searching to spending submission time to work on answers, but because lawyers are known for their integrity (and perhaps a little bit because the only punishment for any honor code violation is expulsion), none of these possible cheating methods are ever employed by first year law students.

Our first exam was Criminal Law, which was taught during the semester by Dean Jefferies, whose dry humor and passionate outbursts in opposition to unjust laws that often resulted in a raised voice and blackboard pounding made for a very entertaining and informative semester. The highlight of this exam was the students who, in response to Dean Jefferies’ revelation of his law student habit of dressing up for exams because it made him feel more intelligent, came to this exam wearing a shirt and tie. Now they may have dressed in this fashion because they really did believe it made them smarter, but if you ask me, this was just another stunt in a long line of acts that reveal their addition to brown-nosing that is so prevalent that the school’s blind grading policy and professors’ custom of not attending their own exams did not even convince them of the futility of their actions enough to override their innate tendencies to do every little thing they could imagine to try and raise their grade a few fractions of a point.

Next up: Contracts. Overall, Hynes was a good professor who, although he has the tendency to accidentally convey that he does not love his daughter or make other verbal slip-ups, did teach us a virtual tanker-load of contracts law and was able to successfully elevate Section J’s revelry with Section C. On thing Hynes could work a little on is estimating how many thousands of words the type A personalities who usually attend law school will typically write in response to his fact patterns; for example, on the test that he designed to be three hours took the entire four that he allowed, without any time to spare, making contracts the marathon of our finals.

Cival Procedure was our third exam. I particularly enjoyed that, by making one of his fact patterns about a failed Rock star that turned to law school, Garrett effectively wrote an exam about himself.

Last of all was Torts. At the beginning of this exam, Professor Armacost informed us that she tired to write the test so it will be fun for us to write. It is nice that she had such good intentions, but I think it is a little na├»ve to believe that a group of highly stressed 1Ls at the end of a long exam period would describe any kind of test with any adjective that could be remotely considered a synonym of ‘fun.’ The closest thing that I have ever experienced to a fun exam was a genetics test I wrote a few years ago that had a Lord of the Rings Theme, complete with pictures and questions that asked us to outline the genetic pedigree of Hobbits and help Sauron selectively breed a new species of poisonous berries (I am not making this up). Unfortunately, or Torts exam replaced the dwarfs and wizards of my collage days with mauling tigers and negligent doctors, which made the test more ordinary than I hoped. Hopfully, I was able to remember enough magic language to come out with a half-decent grade in that class.

So that’s that. I successfully navigated the mine-field that is first year law exams. Now all I have to do is sit around and wait for three months before I official receive a transcript full of B+s.

23.12.06

1L Finals: The Greatest Show On Earth


So, as some of my esteemed colleagues in Section J may recall, UVa Law class of 2009 has just competed its first round of final exams, which means, of course, that we can all come out of the library, rub off our eyes that have probably been damaged beyond repair from countless hours staring at their computer screens son intently one might thing that our laptops were dispensing some sort of life-saving safety tips during an airplane crash landing, and step outside into the December sun to realize that yes, even though Christmas is only 3 days away, it is still t-shirt and short weather—or as some of our more pretentious classmates might say, its more like remove your suit jacket and sport the white-shirt-and-tie look that professor Haynes has made so fashionable. Oh yes, now that exams are over, it feels so good to be able to stop trying to write legibly and go back to what I love most: one hundred and thirty-four (that, and writing out numbers long hand so that I can feel intelligent). So, because I’m sure that most of Section J have already just about finished repressing their memories of these past horrifying weeks, I decided to take a few minutes to remind us all just what exactly the end of a fist semester at law school is like in order ensure that my section-mates don’t suffer any pent-up rage that will probably burst forth in a number of years time when we all remember what we were put through and sent at least two or three of us on a murderous rampage (I’ll let you decide who).

First Memory: Kraus’ rousing pre-exam pep talk, where he recounted a story of those lazy ‘ol 3Ls who already have their job lined up, slack off during the year and still get a higher grade than that poor 1L, with her 128 page, color coated, tabbed, alphabetized, cross-referenced, indexed, categorized, cross-categorized, embossed (just in case they loose their sight during the test) and compartmentalized outline. The speech was quite inspiring, especially the way he emphasized the difficulty of the exams enough to put the fear of God, or at least recruiting attorneys, into all of us peons until he could feel the exact moment the stress level in the room slipped out of orange status into the zone where it becomes “more probable than not” that someone will collapse onto the floor in the fetal position, sucking his thumb and whimpering, and then alleviate all of our collective worries by assuring us that grades really don’t matter and, most amazingly of all, actually convincing us of that fact. Yes, the speech was good, but really, the most salient thing I took from the talk was that I can’t wait until I’m a 3L: looking back at my collage carrier, I think I was born for it.

I quite enjoyed both of our final legal research and writing classes, where in the first, Section J competed in true capitalistic style for fabulous prizes by beating the rest of the class at finding relevant cases. Considering that before this class, I didn’t even know what the “within 40 words” feature was, I was as surprised as anyone (if not more so) that my teammate Liz and I were able to snag a nifty, old-fashion outlining kit, complete with encouraging stickers that Liz thoroughly enjoyed and I finally found a use for as a way for Theresa and I to keep track of our scrabble victories (that’s right, I’m a geek). Right now, Theresa is up 3 to 1 (unfortunately, it seems like I’m not even a very intelligent geek). The very last class was just an excuse to eat pizza, which I really think we should find more of at UVa.

Despite all of the vicious emails that were floating around because of the parking snafu that arose out of the Circus’ unannounced and unexpected arrival in the Law School’s parking lot during the beginning of exam season, I believe that the whole affair was a large conspiracy to give fretting first years a chance to realize what a horrible mistake they made when they decided they might enjoy becoming a lawyer and join the noble carnie profession. That’s right, I believe the Law School administration was giving us the opportunity to run of and join the circus. I for one, decided to capitalize on this once-in-a-lifetime chance, and figured I could do something like tame the lion or be shot out of a cannon or something like that. So, I marched my way down to the blue lot, asked the bearded lady for directions, knocked on the door of the ring-leader’s trailer, and handed a copy of my resume to Wolf-boy, who apparently double as a secretary. Later that day I receive this reply: “Thank you for your interest in the Big Top Circus. You have an impressive resume and are to be congratulated on your hard work. However, we are not in a position to enter into employment discussions with you at the present time. I would encourage you to reapply in the fall of 2007 for a 2L position.”

You may or may not believe this next statement, but not once did I see a single undergrad in the library during the admittedly few hours I used the area for my scholarly pursuits (I mostly studied at home), but did on occasion politely overhear a conversation or two about how some Law students believe that their study time might be more effective if such students refrained from using our pristine faculty, and conducted their business in spaces dedicated to their programs. I am particularly disappointed that I was unable to meet the student who apparently brought half of the grocery store to his library table, as well as a coffee maker and toaster oven—disappointed because I spent my library hours munching on horribly untoasted bagels and lukewarm… hot chocolate and would have greatly appreciated a chance to borrow his equipment. Except, of course for that time when Theresa popped over to the University and brought me some nice warm cocoa—that’s right, single folks, my wife came to the school and brought me snacks, so have fun having to go all the way from the library to the cafeteria and buying your own heated beverage, suckers: I’ve got it made. Or else, I guess, you could always bring a coffee pot.

This post is getting too long. I'll post the second part shortly

22.12.06

No, I Have Not Lost My Fingers

But with all the outlining and exam writing I have been doing, I think I came close.

Just when I thought that my blog was getting to be old new and no-one read it anymore, you guys pulled through and… sniff… complained that… sniff… you… sniff… I promised myself I wouldn’t cry… that you missed my entries… sniff sniff… What happened is that once I passed the 6 mo. mark, I felt like there was no need to continue, seeing that I had already beaten the odds. Ok really, it stopped posting because it was finals time, and after I have spent hours typing up outlines and whatnot, the absolute last thing that I wanted to do on my study breaks is continue typing on my computer to post new entries, especially when I have an adoring, beautiful wife who is anxious for every minute we can spend together.

But finals are done, for better or worse, and Section J celebrated in their customary fashion: Drunken Debauchery and terrible, terrible Mexican food. I, being the kind who is not usually a party to said activies (by which I am only talking about the ‘drunken’ part) have taken the huge void left by the absense of anything meaningful to do, have gone back to my nerdy ways in front of my computer screen to post this simple message.

Oh, and although I thought that this was common knowledge, it is becoming increasingly clear that many of my section mates still do not know why I refrain for our school’s poison of choice, so I will take this opportunity to clear up any confusion once and for all: I’M LDS

And I will be posting during break.