Friday, October 31, 2008

PSA: Candy in the Library

The good kind. HTH!

BONUS: We're sorry that we yelled to a bunch of 1Ls "If you're not done with your outlines by now, you're screwed!" the other night. You may have gotten the wrong idea.

Truthfully, you should be done with your outlines by Dandelions - anyone who has not taken at least 5-6 practice exams by this point for each class has no chance especially in this economy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Plutocracy Shrugged?, Or, Spreading the Wealth Around

Just a pre-election blur . . .

Remember all that jazz on ATL a few months ago about how, if when Obama is elected President and enacts his tax plan it's going to cost you - a BIGLAW associate - 34k a year in new taxes? First, consider yourself lucky to have such a job ESPECIALLY IN THIS ECONOMY.

Second, well, that wasn't exactly accurate - in fact, if you make the usual 160k/year your taxes won't change much except for a maybe a thousand or so more in additional social security taxes (those ATL figures, in case you were wondering, were for a 5th year associate - and is not entirely accurate anyway . . .), depending on what Obama does with raising the payroll tax cap and some maths.

Third, coming to the main point and dispensing with the akward incipit, what Obama really wants to do is *modestly* raise the highest marginal tax rate - the rate that people pay on each dollar of additional income earned - from the paltry 35% it is now to a few points higher. This, as his campaign has repeated ad nasuem, does not affect you if you make less than $250k/year.

I bring this up beacuse the Nation had some great graphical representations a few months ago of what, exactly, exactly a 35% MTR means:



Our take: We need to spread the wealth around. The simple fact is that the gap between the rich and poor in this country is getting brighter all the time. Simply, tax rates are low right now and raising them could not only be used to directly help those in need but also to rebuild this country's crumbling infrastructure and correct many (well some) of the mistakes of the Bush administration that turned respectable surpluses into massive deficits.

So, yes, Obama will raise taxes. Yes, we really need the money for many things (even though overall federal revenue actually might not change that much; that's a story for another time . . .). And yes, if you make $250k ++ (ed. OK people, 200k+ for individuals, it seems like this is where the 2% income tax surcharge is coming in) you will still be wealthy. Some how we think making 62.5 cents on the excess dollar instead of 65 will still leave people with some motivation to work. As for raising the social security tax; that's pretty much inevitable if you want keep social security, and I don't think anyone believes that getting rid of it is a realistic option . .

There are worse things than paying taxes. Like pointless wars, a sputtering economy, an energy crisis, . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good News for Those Heading to Gotham, Especially in this Economy

Dig this:

AT its most generous, New York bestows a rare gift upon visitor and resident alike: it makes you feel young. Stride down its granite-steel-and-glass corridors, and your viewpoint is instantly that of a child, eyes directed forever upward.

But New York offers a deeper sense of youth, too, the earnest expectation that one day, out of the blue, your real, true life will finally begin. A subway scene inspires a novel, an encounter at the bodega nets a stock pick, a salsa class sets you down a new career path — whatever it is, it will seem predestined, a turning point, the kind of epiphany that, as Cindy Adams would insist, can only happen here, kids.

Unfortunately, the corollary of youth is poverty, and New York has a way of reminding everyone from hourly wage strivers to uptown trust-funders that it is always possible to have more, and to spend more. The million-dollar studio apartment, the $50 restaurant entree, the $1,000 bottle of vodka — these are a capricious city’s perverse challenges to would-be Gatsbys.

SO - during our daily browsings a few days ago we came across this gem in the NYT (no it's not the Charlottesville piece), it's about how to enjoy New York City if your of modest means; good information for all of us once BIGLAW totally collapses. Still, $250/day isn't exactly what we'd call cheap, but it could be worse. It might be a good read for those who are wondering what to do if / when they are not getting wined and dined this summer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fed Tax Is Really, Really Broad

NB: Today's Agenda

Today:
1. Finish Casualty Losses
2. Charitable Contributions
3. Interests Deductions
4. Taxes

Should prolly pay attention . . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bill Belichick Must be Running Obama's Campaign Now

Obama is now in the midst of an all out ad blitz. McCain is, well, virtually out of money and making feeble attempts to drum up the base and pander to centrists at the same time in unwinnable states like Pennsylvania. Roffles.

But, really, Barack Obama is not Tom Brady. Shouldn't he just run it up the middle three times and then take a knee? And perhaps let Bill Clinton handle the day-to-day campaigning from here on out while Barry and Biden have hot cocoa on the sidelines? Just saying . . . don't forget to vote, gang.

Sorry for the lack of real posts and stuff - we've been out of it, what with being comically behind in our classes and all. Good times.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Rescinded Offer Situation, Or, Pondering Whether the NALP Rules Still Apply IN THIS ECONOMY

It's been the talk of the town lately (including four - FOUR - posts about it on Above the Law). For those of you who have been living under a rock, or who are too worried about even getting a single offer because no one told you that it was completely unnecessary to do the maximum number of OGI interviews to care about it being rescinded, we'll bring you up to speed. Apparently at least one - and possible more - law firms contacted students to whom it had given offers for 2L summer employment and said, in effect, that they had oversubscribed and the offer was no longer valid. It seems like the main culprits so far have been, according to ATL, Akin Gump and Proskauer Rose. [Ed. Apparently Proskauer told some people that they should consider other offers, but did not rescind - also reported that Bryan Cave has been actively encouraging people to turn down offers]. [Please make it public if you have contrary or additional information].


"Hello, Michael? It's Arthur Edens from Kenner, Bach and Leden - you remember how we gave you an offer to join our 2009 Summer Program? Well . . ."
NB: The look of concern on Michael Clayton's face. He played by the NALP Rules; his firm didn't.


We have also heard, anecdotaly, of a firm calling its offerees and saying, in effect, "Look, we want to give full-time offers to all of our Summer Associates, and now we're getting to a point where we have to many to do that - SO, you can still come work here if you want, but we can't guarantee you a job when you graduate so you may want to work elsewhere."

ATL is advising students to not "sit" on their offers and accept one as quickly as possible, even if they are waiting to hear back from other firms.

Students, Law Schools, and Legal Employers alike have agreed, in our understanding, to be bound by the National Association for Law Placement ("NALP") guidelines. For the Fall 2L recruitment context, this means that
Employers offering positions for the following summer to candidates not previously employed by them should leave those offers open for at least 45 days following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first . . .
May employers nonetheless make an "exploding offer"? No, they may not:
Q. May an employer make an offer under the condition that the offer remains open only until the target number of acceptances is reached, at which point the offer is withdrawn (explodes)?

A. No. NALP members are expected to adhere to the provisions of the NALP Principles & Standards specifying that offers shall remain open at least until the applicable response deadlines. NALP understands that employers affected by economic pressures or uncertainties cannot accommodate a higher than targeted number of acceptances. In the same spirit, it remains essential that students seeking employment have adequate opportunity to investigate their options and should not be pressured to make decisions in advance of the prescribed dates. Employers can manage the offer process to increase the predictability and flow of information consistent with the Principles & Standards . . .
What are we to make of this "NALP understands" language. Does that mean that a firm could rescind an offer or not hold it open after a certain date w/out notice? Here's what NALP had to say about rescinding the offer:
NALP's Principles and Standards do not condone rescinding offers. However, in recognition that rescission does occasionally occur, NALP presents this article with suggestions for ameliorating the situation.
NALP then provides some "guidelines" - like noting that "mutual understanding is key" and "there are alternatives"; but it seems like all of the "guidelines" apply to situations where the offer rescinded was "extended by a legal employer and accepted in good faith by a candidate"; where there is "a signed offer and acceptance letter." Clearly, not the case here - and that would bring us back to language above about not being allowed to have exploding offers. It would seem like rescinding offers at a specialized date

As for the Employers - So our initial take is this - any firm that has actually gone ahead and rescinded offers has broken the NALP rules. UVA Law Career Services should make a not of this, and provide this information to future students during the recruiting process next year, at a minimum. The fact is that if the firms that are doing this had planned ahead about how many students they could budget for this summer and doled out acceptances accordingly (putting some candidates on hold after their callbacks is perfectly permissible, the NALP guidelines say), then they wouldn't be in this permission. Mostly because of the bad economy, but partly because shortsighted planning.

On the other hand, it would seemed to us that a firm that simply warned students about not being able to offer anyone full-time jobs wasn't in violation of the rules, and was, in fact, trying to abide by the spirit of the rules by facilitating "mutual understanding" in a difficult situation. Still not ideal, but better than the alternative.

As for the students - this "no sitting on the offer" business that ATL keeps propagating ("It's Friday. If you're still sitting on multiple offers by Monday you are simply crazy."), is far more complex than it would seem. Basically, there seems to be two somewhat contradictory underpinnings of this advice. First, you should accept an offer ASAP because holding multiple offers opern for too long hurts your fellow students. Second, you should accept an offer ASAP because you are likely to lose it if you don't; therefore it's in your own best interest. These are two different concerns, and we'll try to disaggregate them.

Holding Offer(s) Open Hurts Your Fellow Students
This is completely true. Many firms place students on a "hold" list after their callbacks while they are trying to figure out how many students (see above), and by holding your offer open that you don't want, you're hurting those students, many of whom may not have a single offer yet, even though NALP permits you to do it. So there's a good reason not to do it - but to me this shouldn't stop you from holding ONE or TWO offer open if you're still waiting on another. Like say (arbitrarily from the top of the Vault rankings) that Wachtell is your first choice, and you are on "hold" with them - well it makes sense to hold open an offer with Cravath and S & C, in case that offer from Wachtell doesn't materialize (and you should be sure to continue to follow up with / express interest in Wachtell, of course). Why hold open with two firms? Because one of them might rescind, supra.

There's is no doubt that the above is both legit under the NALP. And keeping 1-2 offers open in this way hurts your fellow student a little, but it's not because you're being indecisive, it's because you're waiting for your own first choice to materialize. It helps a lot if you can try to get a timeline from Wachtell (in the example) and give a timeline to CSM and S & C; we have heard that firms at least attempt to be accomodating in this area - that goes a long way to mitigating the harm to students on the hold list for CSM / S & C. Obviously not ideal, but again, we think that you should put a lot of thought into your 2L summer job for obvious reasons, and that the NALP guidelines are designed to facilitate this, while at the same time being mindful of the concerns of your fellow students.

That's about all we have to say about that, and we think the above approach is acceptable, while any much more than that is not.

Holding an Offer Open Hurts You
First and foremost, the claim here is that you run the risk of getting it rescinded, supra. But in a way, that almost suggests paradoxically that you should keep as many offers open as possible (the max is five under the NALP rules, FYI, subject to some date limitations). Why? Well, how are the people who accepted with Akin Gump feeling right now? Probably a bit uneasy. Moreover, if a firm can rescind offer without notice prior to acceptance, whose to say they can't do it without notice after the acceptance. It's not like one option is more not-allowed under the NALP guidelines than the other, after all. Keeping multiple offers open as long as possible would seem to be a good way to keep your options open. Think of the calculus here: Accept an offer and you're locked in, you could have a firm rescind open offers or worse; keep them open within the NALP guidelines you're keeping your options diversified, so if one goes bad, you might have a chance to mitigate it. At the very least, ATL's suggestion that students ought to play into the hysteria and a few firm's violating the NALP guidelines by accepting an offer by Monday (when some people are still going on callbacks) is dubious.

The argument goes a bit further:

Next summer, when 20% of summer associates are whining about not getting an offer, we'll be forced to ask how that happened. And part of the answer will be that some people who got cut started off on the wrong foot and could never make it up. The people who have already accepted, are already part of the "team," they have a leg up on the 2009 summer competition. Those kids have already shown their firms that they are excited to be there. The people who are sitting on multiple offers right now are showing their firms that they are trying to better deal their future employer, or they are indecisive, or they are woefully unable to understand market forces. None of these impressions are the ones you want your employer to be thinking about over the summer.

Our response: there's something to be said for showing you want to be there. But, doesn't waiting for a firm that's put you on hold and accepts you at the last minute and then going there show that you "want to be there" too? It might be a valid point that ATL is making, but it doesn't follow that one should accept at a place that isn't a good fit. And, again, we think that at least some of the people "sitting" on their offers may understand those "market forces" all too well. And what a somber note. We like cooperation to get things done, not competition.

Finally, we realize that some might argue that there's an underlying attitude here that smacks of entitlement, not being cognizant of economic realities, etc. Well, we disgree - this really an issue as simple as employers, law schools, and students agreeing on some rules that were thought to be mutually beneficial to everyone. It seems like as a result of unforeseen economic circumstances and perhaps at least some short-sighted but well-meant planning, law firms have breached those rules. Should law students be forced to do the same?

UVA Law Blog Election Endorsements

None of these should come as surprises - but we thought that - after having followed the election for the past, well, 20 months (too damn long, America. We support some system where we just put the candidates on network TV for a little while until we know enough about them to decide, and be done. Also, a national primary, and no more electoral college either), we feel we'd mark up where we stand. Before the election we'll have a longer post about why Obama > McCain, but well wait until the Law Weekly runs its bit.

For the moment though, here's how we think it should go:

President - Barack Obama (D): We've written about this ad nauseum, so a few things will suffice. Boiling it down to the most important issues . . .

Obama is most notable for espousing the logic of withdrawal and long-standing opposition from the beginning of a disastorous, criminal, and absurdly expensive war in Iraq. The illegal war in Iraq is America's largest foreign policy debacle since Vietnam, and it is important to remember that, from the beginning, John McCain supported it and Barack Obama opposed it. And, not surprisingly, Obama has a well-defined and internationally supported plan to bring the war to an end, while McCain, as the NYT, infra, points out, still clings to a foggy and distant notion of "victory" as a precondition for withdrawal that could cost the US much more in resources and lives.

Obama has a plan to fix the sputtering economy that - yes - involves increasing government revenue (and decreasing defecit) by raising income taxes on wealthy people to help those indeed; McCain, on the otherhand, is beholden to plutocrats and himself has admitted that he doesn't understand the economics behind his proposed policies, adding that, in the mist of a global crisis, he thought the economy was strong.

Obama - himself the former President of a presitigious law review (almost as well regarded as the Virginia Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law) - has the knowledge and intention of appointing to justices to the Supreme Court that will protect civil liberties, including a women's right to abortion; McCain along with Palin - to the questionable extent that they understand the law at all (the subject of an upcoming post) - will apoint judges who will do the opposite.

Additionally, Obama is light years ahead of McCain on alternative energy and the environment; McCain's "drill baby drill" policy will only exacerbate the energy crisis in which the country currently finds itself, the recent dip in gasoline prices notwithstanding (those high prices will be BACK soon enough people).

Finally, Obama's campaign has maintained the high road in this election; McCain's campaign has not - we think this to be an important indicator of how the candidates will behave in once in office.

For all those reasons and more . . .

Senator - Mark Warner (D): Warner did a fantastic job as Governor of Virginia, helping to clean up the fiscal mess created by his predecessor (and now opponent) Jim Gilmore. Warner showed himself to a smart and adroit executive, a fiscal conserative who got the Commonwealth through difficult times while maintaining a lot of things that make Virginia great (such as the higher educaiton system). As governor, Warner showed his bipartisan appeal by not only getting through a budget that took care of Gilmore's $6 billion shortfall, but also starting new economic intitiatives, creating new jobs, and enacting other programs that revitalized struggling parts of the state. Warner has both the business accumen and an appreciation for fairness that will serve the US Senate well in tough economic times. Plus, he's running against Gilmore, who is, frankly, not a good choice for the Senate given the defecit that he racked up as Governor from 1998-2002, along with other problems.

For all those reasons and more . . .

Congressmen - Tom Perriello (D) - Perriello supports a quick end to the war in Iraq; he also supports a universial health care and a more fair taxation scheme, and has a sensible plan to revitalize the fifth district. He has is a strong supporter of alternative energy sources and the environment. While we find his antipathy toward gun control concerning, we think that this is outweighed by his commitment to postive change in Congress in other ways.

For all those reasons and more . . .

See also: FFJ's Endorsements.

In related news, the New York Times endorsed Obama today as well. Along with that endorsement, they have a cool gaget where you can seee whom the newspaper endorsed in all previous Presidential elections. The last time they endorsed a republican? Eisenhower over Stevenson in 1956 . . .

Anyway, the incipit of the NYT piece says it about as well as anyone could ever hope to:

Hyperbole is the currency of presidential campaigns, but this year the nation’s future truly hangs in the balance.

The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.

As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.

Nothing hyperbolic about it - we agree - it really is an easy choice. Vote for Obama.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

J'Acusse!: Law School, Weekly, et al, Paint Too Rosy a Picture of OGI Process?

Many you have contacted us - through comments, email, in personam (!), et seq. - and voiced not only frustration with the 2L OGI process, but also with the coverage of SAID process. In particular, you're trying to get a handle on an overall sense of how the process is going. Others pointed out that the information coming out of various surces seemed to paint a picture of an OGI that was going "great" - when in fact it is, well, not for everyone.

Singled out in particular by multiple readers was an article that came up in the Virginia Law Weekly last week, titled Two Students Offer Reflections on Interviews. Needless to say, the two students that were offering reflections seemed to be enjoying a smooth ride. Consider the inset quotation:
Katherine also had a few parting words of advice for people doing OGIs next year. “I wish someone had told me how totally unnecessary it is to take the maximum number of OGIs . . ."
This, coupled with the article's conclusion:
Verdict: Although OGI may be a stressful, time constricted, whirlwind of interviewing, resume exchanging, and business card collecting, in the end it is not only a valuable experience and resource, but also a vital part of upperclassmen life; one which leaves the students in strict recovery for the following week, yet happy to have done it.

Another article in the same issue also concluded on an upbeat note:

In reflecting upon the interview process, Dean Lawson recognized that “our staff does a tremendous job, puts in countless hours of overtime making sure everything runs smoothly.” All this hard work has paid off, as Bland and Fuchs’ comments reinforce Lawson’s perception. “The feedback we’ve gotten from employers is that everything went well.” Overall, Lawson said she and the Law School’s administration have “been pleased with everything this year.”

Certainly, not wrong per se - but we think definitely not showing the whole picture either. Indeed, the VLW ran several pieces last week, but none of them really pointed to the reality of large number of students beginning to become seriously frustrated with the OGI process because, well, it hasn't gotten them employed. (To be fair, one piece, titled a Simplistic Solution to OGI Woes, did highlight problems and propose solutions - but they were mostly administrative in nature - and didn't go as far as advocating the elimination of prescreening, which we support). Any in event, we're here to suggest that other side of the story.

How bad is it? We can't really say - all of our information is inexact. But the deluge of people who are frustrated with the the hiring in this economy does at very least suggest that the process is not going as smoothly as it was last year. One student offers his reflection:

I went to UVA Law with the understanding of the culture that everyone who isn't . . . a total write-off . . . would be able to get a job [at a large law firm]. I think with the economy changing that is no longer the case.

We also ran a poll a few weeks ago (remember it's dated - although people could come and change their answers and a few did). Before the poll got posted on an ATL comment, it received about 100 responses, almost all in the Charlottesville area. The result?48 % of students were having some trouble getting an offer, and 30% were voicing serious frustration with the process. Perhaps those numbers have gone down a bit in the past few weeks, but still it's telling. Law firm hiring, as David Lat pointed out in his talk, his being adversely affected by the economy. Cue the fall of the legal profession and the end of the world as we know it?

According to the VLW, Virgina Law Women of Color is conducting an OGI survey this week We anxiously await the results, and hope to get a more clear and complete picture of what is going on.

More later.

Monday, October 20, 2008

FFJ: How Interviewing for Big Law is Just Like Dating

From FFJ:

I do... want to bill 2400 hours a year for you!

I do... want to bill 2400 hours a year for you!

The parellels between the 2L interviewing process and dating are so obvious and many that it’s probably not worth pointing out. But since the majority of this audience is either not in law school and thus has no idea what the process is like or a typical law student and thus has no idea what dating is like, I’ll make the comparisons for y’all.

1. Picking Your Potential Mates/Firms:

I guess to be more specific, interviewing is like online dating. To pick the firms you’re going to interview with/date, you have to go online and pick them out of a list of seemingly identical firms. Unfortunately, UVa doesn’t provide some search method to help you match interests.

(In the ideal world, CASE would go like this: Where do you want your firm/date to live? What specialties/interests do you want your firm/date to provide/have? What is your ideal firm’s/date’s size/size?)

Anyway, after you pick who you want to interview/date with, you wait to hear back from your firm/date to find out if they want to interview/date you. If they don’t want to date/interview you, you’ll never talk to them again and avoid eye contact if you ever bump into eachother/googlebomb the firm’s good name on internet message boards.

But, if your firm/date wants to meet you, then teh awkward first date/OGI is on!

2. The First Date/OGI


If you were a Supreme Court Justice which justice would you be?

Firm #1: If you were a Supreme Court Justice which justice would you be?

So, OGI is like a first date (except your date/firm is seeing 29 other dates/annoying law students that day too). You guys set up a time at a fairly neutral place. You make sure you get there a little early. The first few moments when you meet are a little awkward but after an exchange of pleasantries, the date/interview is on. The interviewee and student talk about each other: their interests, specialties, law school experience, etc. Basically, you try to just keep talking the whole time to make sure things don’t get awkward. If your firm/date doesn’t care for you, it’ll become apparent quickly as they shift the topic away from you and talk solely about themselves. At the end of the date/interview, if things seemed to go well, you say your goodbyes and hope they call you back in a couple of days.

3. Waiting for the Callback

So, I guess to make this scenario work, we have to imagine that the law student always plays the role of the female and the firm the male because the student can’t call the firm back, but rather, must wait for the firm to call her back to express its interest in another date (we could also keep this metaphor going and mention how when things work out well, the firm’s screwing the law student over during her time as an associate, but we won’t). Often, a firm with whom your first date went grandly won’t call you back, leaving you feeling a bit empty and sad inside. But don’t get too down on yourself, no matter how well things seemed to go, there’ll always be a few dates/firms that inexplicably got away.

But, if your date/firm liked you and called back, then you get to have a second date…AT THEIR PLACE!!

4. The Second Date

Now, let me preface this by saying the interviewing process doesn’t exactly follow the dating process. It’s been my experience that the girl comes back to your place after the first date and always calls you back. I’m sure that’s been all of your experiences too, so just play along and act as if you don’t always take the girl home at the end of the first date (I’m sure that’s really difficult for you law nerds).

Anyway, second date/interview is a big deal. If things go well, you can probably turn this into a longer-term deal. So you get to know a little more about eachother. Maybe the firm/date sees some of your flaws which they didn’t notice during that short first date. Often, the second date/interview will include a dinner/dinner where the date/firm can judge you on your eating habits/eating habits. Keeping with our girl = law students (and let’s be honest, even the dudes are pretty feminine at LS, author excepted) and boy = firm metaphor, the firm/guy pays for the meal.

But, if all goes well and you chew your food w/ your mouth closed, you’ll probably hear back from the firm/date who’ll ask for a longer-term relationship with ya!

5. Receiving the Offer/Facebook Relationship Status Change Request


Looks Like Somebody got an Offer!

Looks Like Somebody got an Offer!

So, after the second date, you have a pretty good idea how things went and whether your date/firm is going to ever want to talk to you again. If they like ya, they’ll offer you a job/request to list themself as in a relationship with you on facebook. If they don’t like you, they’ll awkardly send you a letter in a couple of weeks/never call you again (or so I hear, since no woman has ever desired to reject me).

As has been my experience in dating, often you’ll have multiple firms/girls pining over you. It can be tough choosing between a handful of women/firms. Each one seems to have some great characteristics that you really like. Often, though, there are some tradeoffs you have to choose between (read: great ass v. seductive blue eyes/ great QoL v. great $$$, if only one could find both characteristics in one girl/firm!). Sometimes, as has been my experience in dating, girls/firms will let you hook up with/work for another girl/firm to help you make a decision about which one you like better. When you have this option, you should always take it!

6. The Early Relationship Bliss Period/Being a Summer Associate

So, when your relationship first begins, everything’s still new and exciting. You’re getting to know eachother, still trying to impress eachother (or as has been my case in dating, she’s still trying really hard to impress me while I w/o any effort am naturally charming and impressive…swoon!) and you probably really like eachother. Likewise, when you first go to work for a firm as a summer associate, everything’s new and exciting, the firm wines and dines you for 13 weeks, and you probably still like working. If the relationship/summer goes well, (again the firm plays the guy role), the firm/guy might ask the law student/date to work full-time/marry the firm/guy. Oh, and like half of marriages in the U.S., in a few years the shine wears off the realtionship/job and one party or the other fires/leaves/divorces the other. Swoon.

Calling All Political Gunners, Federalist Society Members, Mike Stark, et seq.

Have we got an opportunity for you:

The Virginia Law Weekly seeks contributors for a special election edition to be released on Friday, October 31. Submissions can cover any topic related to any part of this year's election. Send submissions of between 500 and 700 words to editor [at] lawweekly.org by noon on Sunday, October 26. Any questions can be directed to the same email address.

Of course, we'll have an article, and, of course, it's pretty persuasive . . . anyway, this is your chance to come and pen an editorial for what the ABA has called the best law school newspaper in the country three years in a row.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

SPOTTED: 1L's Stressing Over Their Memo . . .

They may even outnumber the biology majors in the library tonight . . . and we have literally never seen the Westlaw lab this full.

You guys know LRW is pass-fail right? You can't afford not to be cramming for exams at this point ESPECIALLY IN THIS ECONOMY.

Our tip is to save the conclusion / statement of the facts / etc. for the last. And type it in single space - it makes the whole thing go faster . . .

Cavaliers Win War of Attrition in an Ugly, Ugly Game

You know it's going to be a rough day when the tailback who comes home with the game ball only manages to get 44 yards rushing.

Scott Stadium witnessed a war of attrition on Saturday, when the Cavaliers, despite being outplayed in every aspect of the game, managed to come away with a tough win in overtime.

Tough defense alone kept UVA in the game


Our thoughts:

*Why, oh why, did Virginia decide, with a 1.58 left in the first half, not to run any real plays? Moreover, why did they choose, with the ball around their ten yard line, to run such a bizarre pattern of plays: run, run, pass, [first down], take a knee? With North Carolina in the infamous prevent defense, why not exploit it?

* What is up with UNC's prevent defense, anyway? UNC prevented the Cavaliers offense from driving down the field all day, leading by a score of 10-3 in the last two minutes. [The field goal attempt coming from an interception], and then, all of a sudden, they started allowing the Cavs to get huge chunks of yardarge. Result? First down, first down, touchdown, overtime . . . Cavaliers victory. When the Tarheels switched to the "prevent-the-win" mode, they let the Wahoos travel 82 yards virtually unhampered. As for the Cavaliers, they should have done this at halftime . . .

* Make no mistake, UVA's offense did not play well by any stretch of the word (the defense, on the other hand, looked pretty good). But they did take advantage of just enough mistakes to hang in there and pull out a hard fought win; despite being outpassed, outrushed, and, until the last two minutes, outscored and outcoached.

* Yes, it was a big, close win over a ranked opponent, but was it really appropriate to rush the field? The Tarheels have lost 9 of the last 11 to the Cavaliers - is this really the sort of win that merits such a display?

* BONUS: We caught up with McLaw Review at the game:
McLaw Review: Admit it, your blog exists solely as a means of disagreeing with me. First you go after McCain, and then you go after BarBri... [McLaw review is a Republican, BarBri rep]; you know I have considered starting http://rule12fiswrongabouteverything.blogspot.com/ ?

Rule 12 f: Hey! This blog gets in excess of 20 unique hits per day! We're just giving the people what they want!

Related:
UNC's Struggles Continue in Charlottesville With an OT Loss

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ITT: The UVA Law Blog Gang Explains Why You Might Not Want to Give BarBri/Kaplan Your Money Just Yet

So, you may have heard this from us before, but in light of all the 1Ls clammering to give BarBri / Kaplan an interest free loan to "lock in" those "low" course rates for three years in the future (and get those awesome study guides), I think it's worth throwing up on the blog.

In a sentence, we urge: think. Be careful.

The program basically works like this. You pay a fee now in the form of a deposit, which I believe is $250 for BarBri. This fee does three things. First, it counts as your deposit toward the full cost of the really expensive course. Second, it allows you lock in the current rate for BarBri, which will theoretically save you money down the line. According to my 1L section's BarBri Rep, you would, for example, save $300 if you were planning on taking BarBri in New York. Third, you get gratis (i.e. free) study materials, including access to BarBri's review lectures.

Subjective Value of the Monies

At first blush, it might seem to be a good deal - because all you're loosing is the Time Value of Money of the $250, which might not be that great IN THIS ECONOMY. (Though, zOMG, John McCain is gonna cut the capital gains tax in half! That'll help!).

Anyway, I would submit that you lose much more than that and that you should strongly consider whether or not you want to give one of many test prep corporations an interest free loan three years in advance for consideration that is somewhat nominal:

Even as a 2L, $250 - or 15 meals in the Law School cafeteria - is worth much more to us now than it will be in a year or so, because many of us (incl.me) haven't had any income in a while, but, hope to have some this summer. So it's not just the ability to invest the $250 that makes it worth more now than an equivalent or somewhat greater amount in the future, it's the fact that the income stream of many 2Ls is going to be clustered at a point after which they would have to put down a relatively large deposit.

You might consider this a unique circumstance of being a first (or in loyal uvalawblog's readers' case) second year law student. I think that's something that's not accounted for in BarBri's pitch . . . In any event, you have to consider on top of that the fact that an additional $250 in your pocket *now* is $250 you don't have to take out of loans - typically private loans since your federal ones will be exhausted at this point. I don't need to tell you what the absurdly high interest rates on these are, but let's be nice and assume a locked interest rate of 8%. That means that taking out $250 to pay the BarBri deposit now means that you will owe $314.92 at graduation, and the amount will continue to increase 8% each year until you decide to pay it back.

Now, of course, you're thinking, this whole analysis makes a difference on the basis of if and how my employer covers Bar review course expenses. Well, be careful, and consider the following options.

I Will Not Be Going to a Private Law Firm
If you're planning on working for the government or some legal aid place, you probably won't get your Bar-study expenses reimbursed. C'est la vie. So signing up for BarBri / Kaplan in advance seems like a great idea right? Well, not necessarily - BarBri is, we believe, the most expensive Bar-prep course out there - do you really want to commit to the most expensive option *three years* in advance just to lock in a cheaper (but still really expensive rate)? Since BarBri lost it's antitrust case there has been competition in Bar-prep courses, and you might well - with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt and a government salary to look forward to - want to choose one of the cheaper options - or at least do some research before you commit.

Also, the fact that you don't know if you will be doing this or not is another good reason not to commit to it.

I Will Be Going to a BIGLAW Firm
The first thing I have to say is: you hope. But as Lat put it the job prospects for BigLaw in the next few years are going to be "crappy". You don't have that BigLaw job yet, so don't get cocky - believe us (we're 2Ls) it's tough out there, and nothing is guaranteed. You 1Ls - 50% of you will be in the bottom of your Law School class, and if you're part of that 50%, things WILL be tough out there. It's a drag , but that's capitalism / competition in a recession for you.


Anyway, say you do get a BigLaw offer. Well, it might turn out that your firm simply direct-bills the prep courses. Meaning that while you'll get your deposit back (I think), it did you no good to spend the money three years earlier and, of course, actually hurt you. A lot of firms direct bill - see this chart from ATL.

And, even if you're at a firm that gives stipends - all of the stuff about the subjective value of the money still applies. More importantly, since you don't know whether you'll be at a stipend-firm or a direct-bill firm in advance, why risk it?

Finally, a word about those 1L lectures / study guides
You really don't need them - or at least don't lay down the deposit because of this. We've seen a few of the study guides and I would say they are inferior to the ones on sale at the book store (or the ones on reserve at the library that you can read for free - this was our strategy, btw). As for the lectures, we never went, but we will say this: burning an entire day listening to a civpro review won't be as helpful as taking the practice exams; plus we had Nelson and so the lecture apparently only covered 1/3 of the material anyway . . . But moving on, we have friends in the top 25% or whatevers who didn't use BarBri's study guides so . . . there are plenty of study guides out there, that's all.

/Hopes 1Ls read this before it's too late./

Don't get us wrong - we have nothing against BarBri or Kaplan and will probably use them when the time comes - we just think that everyone should make an informed decision or at least see the potential otherside of the argument. We also realize we may have missed something in this hastily-typed piece, so if you have a critique or just want to blow us out of the water use the comments section.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LIVEBLOG: David Lat - "Big Law and the End of the World as We Know It"

NB: We are counting the number of time the speaker says "ESPECIALLY IN THIS ECONOMY". [He said it four times, and Troy Felver said it once].

NB 2: Mr. Lat points out, correctly, that by the time he actually started speaking - a little after five - Caplin auditorium was pretty full and there were people standing in back. We meant to note that but we can only types so fast . . .

4:37
: The man himself is here, looking sharp in a dark blue suit and a nice tie in a full windsor knot. His shoes have a WLRK shine to them. He's chatting up a few students about the election. In regards to debate, "This one could be especially interesting, because McCain has nothing to lose." We agree - Obama should probably just take a knee every time the moderator asks a question. Not too many other students here - of course, we're the obnoxious guy in the back row, pounding away on our laptop.

Let's hope that Lat doesn't pull a Scalia and make us put away

4.43: OMG - Mike Stark and David Lat meet. Stark is dressed in a tasteful yellow button-down and is carrying a 20 oz. bottle of Coke Zero. Stark is already talking his ear off about politics. . . some other students have intrepidly tied to edge their way into the circle. Caplin Pavilion is also staring to fill up. Lat: "It's great to meet you in person."

4.52: Stark just finished talking with Lat. Is it the personality-monopolizing we saw at the Scalia FedSoc thing all over again? Still plenty of empty seats, but we're waiting on a big VLR contingent.

5.00: And we're off. A hush falls over the crowd . . . surprising that there is not a bigger crowd; Frank Easterbrook packed the place, but right now I'd say it's about half full. And really, David Lat is more monolithic than the Easter Bunny, at least in our humble opinion . . . [see above though]

5.04: Troy Felver, 2L, is giving the introduction. He seems very intellectual . . . thanking people, blah, bah, I'm not typing this Troy . . . On ATL "We enjoy the wickedly sardonic comments, but return for the public service it provides . . . ESPECIALLY IN THIS ECONOMY it provides nervous law students comfort that they are not alone." He goes over Lat's godlike resume and tenure as the editor of Underneath Their Robes.

5:07: "No matter what the rankings say . . . you guys were voted America's coolest law school on ATL" - so Lat begins - AND "don't tell anyone this . . . but UVA's libel show is the best produced of all them."

UVA also has it's own category on ATL, says Lat. Your welcome, says us. UVA has also provided me with good material for UTR, says Lat.

5.08: Lat calls out Mike Stark, as a UVA, and also calls out aquagirl at Cleary. Conclusion: UVA rocks. "To be a good blogger," he adds, "you need to have a bit of ADD." Hrmmm...

5.11: He's going to briefly describe his career . . . he's a guy who has tried it all, govenrment, law firm, clerking, blogging - this is going to lead into "Big Law and the End of the World as We Know It" . . . he's telling us now we should all go clerk on the 9th Circuit. Yowsers . . . that's an easy job to get, right? Cause OGI be gettin' us down . . . "take refuge in government."

5.15: "Then I went to Wachtell Lipton - a law firm in New York - you probably all know that already . . ." Nope, they don't come to OGI . . . and we don't have a Wachtell conference room. He talks about being there from 2000-2003, the last economic downturn. Now he is talking about the USAO. If you're a 1L, ESPECIALLY IN THIS ECONOMY, think about working there this summer, he said.

5.18: "Back in 2004, there were fewer blogs out there . . . soooooooo" he's telling the story of the founding of UTR. Gossip about judges is scintillating, and allowed Lat to indulged his "gossipy-fun" side. "Switched everything about myself" to mask my identity, says Lat - including gender, firm/government, time-zone . . . but then "I kind of got really into the persona, got carried away, and knew more about shoes than my mother did." Posner speculated that he was not a chick because "no professional women would talk like this." They eventually tracked him down with an IP address.

5.22: "When I met with Jeffery Toobin, he was expecting a gorgeous leggy woman . . . what he got was a Filipino guy" . . . lead to his outting, and he eventually let Toobin out him, hoping that it wouldn't be a big deal at the New Jersey USAO . . . well, not so fast . . . though "I didn't actually get fired." Lat: It wasn't like I was divulging any secrets or contravening US policy. USAO just wanted him to shut down the blog, and go back to work as a prosecutor . . .but he missed life on the interwebs too much.

Still only two "ESPECIALLY IN THIS ECONOMY" lines . . .

5.25: If I could do law school over again, I would spend less time in the libray and more time hob-nobbing with classmates." Networking is important says Lat . . . why doesn't he add *when* it's important.

5.27: [Once I started blogging] I got to meet Hillary Clinton. Yay Hillary!" An endorsement?

5:30: "No one is getting rich off [ATL] . . . I think people go into media because they love it."

"We've been covering the rise and fall of the legal profession - what we're seeing in the law firm world now is what we are seeing in the economy at large."

He's going to open it up for questions. . . .

5:31: "I'm a total facebook friend whore - so add me! "

No one has asked a question, so Lat asks himself one: "What will law firm hiring be like next year?" Answer: "Crappy." He advises us to ask our cab drivers what they think, as they usually have the best grip on what's going on the economy. His cab driver had real estate investments . . . emphasis on the "had".

1) IN THIS KIND OF ECONOMY, you should try to be as informed as possible, and gather as much info as you can - in the old economy it didn't matter where you ended up, but that's not true now - look into how much debt the firm has.

You should really investigate things - don't be afraid to ask tough questions, but for 2Ls, be sure to wait until after the offer. Once you have an offer in hand, "then you can kick the tires."

Don't mention that you read ATL everyday, until you have an offer . . .

Said "IN THIS ECONOMY" again. Up to four

5:36 2) Think about your options than being at a firm. "My gut feeling is that we will be in a bad economy ofr about three or four years."

Remember that Law isn't a terrible investment, we are "far better off than our friends over at Darden." We're very well situated at UVA, "I would be giving a very different message if I were at a lower ranked school I would be giving a very different talk." Don't overlook government, "I hear that the DOJ is changing its criteria." Don't overlook midsize firms, smaller markets, or clerking.

The title of the talk is tongue in cheek, says Lat.

5.40 Mike Stark ask a question: Are you ever surprised at the level of emotional stuntedness of the people on your site? Lat: "Nothing surprises me at this point." He then responds to charges to elitism . . . he then takes up the comments, noting that they *are* moderated, and comments are removed with an appropriate request.

He notes that most of the inappropriate commenters are acutally people who are at top law schools or top law firms . . . "it's more of a mirror of [that] society" says Lat,

5.43: Another Q: "You didn't come to the blogging world with a journalism background . . ." Lat: "My legal background I think was very helpful . . ."

Keep in mid career alternatives, journalism is something to think about if the law profession totaly tanks. And journalism is always a good fallback . . .

5.46: We ask about the rumor that some of the heavy hitter firms might be raising their salries to differentiate themselves from the competition for top law students.

Lat: Here's what I think will happen: bonuses will be where the men are separated from the boys, he would be really interested in what the bonus expectations are this year. Wonders if firms are going to avail themselves of the Cravath model of regular and special bonuses . . . firms might just keep the regular bonus. Or, it's possible that firms will announce a schedule, but make it in practice tough to actually get that bonus.

"I think that there will be differences in compensation, but I don't think we will see any raises. I am especially interested in what Wachtell does . . . who had a very good year, but also tends to be a really conservatively managed firm . . . when i was there in an economic downturn bonuses were were below 50% . . . but now they are closes to 100%"

5.50: "What newspapers do you read?" Lat, after quoting Sarah Palin in jest: "Law.com, WSJ Law Blog, and so forth . . ." He notes that ATL is still a relatively small company that is not really focused on investigative journalism - it doesn't have the resources.

He notes one of the main editorial functions of ATL is aggregation - filtering through the news to get to the good stuff.

He also credits the readers - "If half a dozen readers email us the same story, we do a full post on it, because it is what people are talking about."

5.54: Question is interested why Gawker's site info isn't public? Lat: I'm not sure. Decemeber was a good month for us; the company is doing well, even though the traffic isn't that large, the CPM (advertising revenue indicator) is much higher because of the focused nature of the blog. ATL is actually in expansion mode. He's always happy to answer any questions about the traffic of his blog. "If you ask me, I'll tell you."

5.57: Will off-shoring legal work hurt us? Lat: This has been a hot topic - "My short answer is it's going to be huge factor - you can do a lot of things more cost effiectively where labour is less expensive - and thanks to technology, efficiently as well."

A plus side would be that "you can focus your energy on tasks that are perhaps of a higher value" with someone else doing the dreg work.

6.00: Q: Is the student obsession with the prestige of law firms to their detriment? Lat: This is a good bit to conclude on.

"At a certain point you have to get off the treadmill . . . and ask what *I* want to do. . . what depresses me is people who have been phenomenally successful at the legal profession who at age 50 or 60 are not happy about their lives or legal professions."

"When you're on the treadmill, you can be so focused on what is next, that you can't see that you're ridiculous."

Caution: Beware of the flight to quality - heading to the highest ranking firm possible. "Well I generally tell people to go as high as you can in the law school context, but in the firm context it's different." Dig enough to find the difference between firms, focus on these - and remember to kick the tires. "In the information age, law students and young lawyers get the legal profession that they deserve."

It's, of course, "a little bit different than it was before IN THIS ECONOMY" That's five, and he's done, time for some snacks....

Cost of a D3 Permit

$468 dollars - that's for the rest of the year (pro-rated! at $38/month), presumably it's more if you had bought it earlier (?). This is a huge increase, even greater than the increase in tuition! And, of course, you have to be in a lottery to get such a pass!

(EDIT: In fact, a commenter points out, it's prorated at $39 (which is 1/12 of $468). So presumably if you bought it after this lottery, for say November through May, then you would only pay $273 for the rest of the year). Still not cheap!

Question: Who in their right mind, with gas prices being as they are, is going to pay for such a thing? Get a bike people. It's cheap, fast, and good exercise, not to mention good for the environment and America since you don't use petroleum that comes from areas controlled by repressive regimes. Or at least just park in the blue lot. Basically, with these prices it's like you're paying almost another month's rent as premium for living away from school. I know FFJ agrees with me.

The Law School from above - still not enough parking!

So - we guess - we applaud the school for doing this as it should encourage people to start walking/biking/taking the bus/carpooling to school.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

10月15日隨即的事情: 法律上的人去法學院,Virginia Football Not as Bad as Previously Indicated

* David Lat (the Above the Law guy) is coming to the Law School. We think it will be interesting, and that’s not just because we’ve provided Above the Law fodder on a few occasions in the past. Allah-willing, there will be some sort of live-blog coverage. 5 PM, Caplin Pavilion. Be there or be square.


* Proving Suggesting that a recent snap of a string of ignominious losses was not an aberration, the Cavaliers smashed their Carolina based opposition, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Losses to Duke and Connecticut – while still atrocious, to be sure – do not seem to be so bad in light of victories over fairly respectable outfits from Maryland and East Carolina. Al Groh & Co., probably the result of good karma that came from removing the ban on free speech.

In related news, President John Casteen III sent out an email to all Virginia students telling them to brace for cuts across the board totally 7% of the budget, or over $10 million dollars (and students should be prepared for the tuition increases that come with them, trust us!):

We will be depending on the strength and resilience of all our employees to help us through these difficult times. The current situation will require us to make tough decisions, but it also may create a new fiscal discipline and greater strategic thinking. In some cases, we will have to decide what we can and cannot do. It is my sense that this discipline and analysis will make us more efficient in how we work.

Nothing in the email indicates whether or not Al Groh's $3 million salary will be affected by the cuts.

* We just got back from the Bay Area, the weather is beautiful but dry, the people are pretty, the scenery is beautiful, the bums mostly keep to themselves, the “local sports teams are difficult to watch” (the headline from a local paper on Monday, no joke), the 54 electoral votes are going the right way, and, especially in Palo Alto, everything is at least four times as expensive as it should be, except real estate, and then the number jumps to seven or eight. You also drive everywhere; walking is verboten and, from what we have heard, public transport is more of a comic foil or way to liquidate government monies than an actual method of getting around.

Did we mention how beautiful everything is?



* Speaking of prominent lawyer type folks visiting, everyone should check out Vincent Bugliosi, who is coming to Charlottesville on Thursday. Bugiolosi wrote (among other things) a fantastic book on the debacle that was Bush v. Gore, as well as a book about prosecuting President George W. Bush for murder, which will be the subject of his speech. We covered him previously; the book is excellent.

Monday, October 13, 2008

There Goes My Hero . . .

You know your campaign his having trouble when washed up rock artists - like Heart - don't want you playing their song at your hate-filled rallies.  

Such is the subject of Professor Chris Sprigman and Siva Vaidhyanathan's op-ed piece in today's Washington Post, Cue 'Barracuda':

Artists have frequently spoken out against John McCain's presidential campaign for using their songs without their permission. Last week, the rock band Foo Fighters complained about the campaign playing its 1997 hit "My Hero" at rallies. Van Halen, which complained in 2004 when George W. Bush used its 1991 hit "Right Now," has objected to McCain's use of the same song. John Mellencamp complained about the use of his 1983 song "Pink Houses." Warner Music Group demanded that McCain remove videos from YouTube that mock Barack Obama as a "celebrity" using the classic 1967 Frankie Valli song "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." Jackson Browne filed a lawsuit to stop the Ohio Republican Party from using his 1977 hit "Running on Empty" to attack Obama on McCain's behalf.

* * * 

We sympathize -- to a point -- with artists who object to the use of their songs by political candidates. Artists should speak up, loudly, when they feel the use of their songs misrepresents their views, particularly if such use could create the public impression of an endorsement.

But the one thing they should not do -- and should not legally be permitted to do -- is file a copyright lawsuit to prevent the political use of a song.

Oh Noes!  We would go a different route - John McCain *is* a hero after all, so shouldn't he, by common law right, be able to play the song whenever he likes?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

OGI Post A Million: Business Casual?

One of these guys is dressed business casual - but which one???

You know what grinds my gears? Every single law law student shows up to "business causal" or even "causal" labeled firm events in a suit and tie. Why? It's always seemed weird especially when the firm folks are going to be in their work clothes - usually legit business casual. Worse, it makes slobs like us look bad. Just sayin'.

Anyway, we're off to California *rocks out to Phantom Planet and Votes No on Proposition 8*

Thursday, October 09, 2008

隨即的事情: Wendys is not, as advertised, "Way Better Than Fast Food"

*It's sad for us to have write this, but it's true.

We went to Wendys to break the fast (goyam, read this), and were thoroughly, thoroughly dissapointed. Not only did Wendy's nix the dollar menu (relabeling it a "value" menu - Rule 12 f was not fooled!) but their regular "combo" meals are now hella expensive. To give you an idea, my double cheeseburger value meal was almost $6.50 with tax. That's for a *small* fries and a *small* soda. Outrageous. Just because the economy is awful, doesn't

We call shennanigans. That's way more expensive - by a dollar or even more - than the combo prices at McDonalds, and McDonalds still has a legit dollar menu.

The worst part was that it wasn't even that good - the fries were floppy and not warm, and there was no way I could get catchup to go. The soda was flat, and the burger was decidedly inferior to the $60 steak I had in midtown yesterday. FAIL. Srsly though, the burger was the best part, but it still fell far short of the Chick-Fil-A sandwhich we had last week (yes you can compare them, don't start), and the BigMac eclipses it by every quality, including the price.

The worst part? It didn't even fill us up. We had to take make some hot dogs afterwards. The first sin of the new year was putting overpriced Wendys in our body. Food for thought as we waddle around Charlottesville, weighed down by 1200 k/cal of third tier fast food.

* Are UVA Law students exteremely good looking overall? Perhaps. One thing is certain - the 60/40 gender ratio makes it tough to find a date to PILA auction. Being financially insolvent doesn't help either. Anyway, all the cute girls are either not single, or, at the very least, the type that get creeped out being asked on a date in the fishbowl. Life is tough.

* 美國的經濟: 一個三級的東西正在衰弱呢。 Go capitalism go!

* If you're good at Halo, you probably also have a . . . problem having sex. Correlation or causation: [ Scientists Find that Gene That Makes You Good at Halo Also Makes You Premature Ejaculator.]

* If this is true, Palin is even dumber than we thought. [Sarah Palin's SAT Score?]

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Only in Manhattan


Location: 50th and Park Ave, Starbucks.

Cost of a Large Iced Coffee Frappacino: $8.85 (plus tax).

NY Minimum Wage: $7.15/hour (minus tax)

Finally, somewhere more expensive than Scott Commons. At least this way we can drink our coffees with out being surrounded by plebeians).

Ah, callbacks. . . .

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Let's Talk About Character

This just in. The GOP has now tacitly acknowledged that it can no longer win this election on policy issues, and, in an insult to intelligence of the average American voter, has declared that it plans to spend the next month on character issues, that is to say, attacking Barack Obama:

Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aaggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama's character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said. . . . The Arizonan's campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls . . .

"We're going to get a little tougher," a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. "We've got to question this guy's associations. Very soon. There's no question that we have to change the subject here," said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Fantastic. The concept of the lowest common denominator may be foreign to John McCain, whose academic record and statements about the economy have already indicated a poor grasp of mathematics, but its familiar territory for the Republicans in elections. They're good at it too, whether its portraying crippled veteran and Georgia Senator Max Cleland as someone who is unpatriotic or casting John Kerry as an anti-American Francophile because he speaks French and opposed the United State's criminal actions in Vietnam.

That's another point - the article above says that the GOP will start playing up Senator McCain's military background and time as a POW more. This raises two questions:

1) Is such a thing even possible?

That McCain was a POW in Vietnam is the one thing that every single American knows at this point. I don't how it could be made more of an issue at this point - everyone already knows about and, having talked to some of the ordinary, non-college educated sort of my generation it may about the only thing that Americans know about American military involvement in Indochina (seriously).

2) How will the GOP make it relevant?

I have to cut in and echo what ten thousand people have already said - who cares? McCain's actions were heroic, even I'll admit that and I think that Vietnam War was a criminal waste of American and Vietnamese lives. But I not only don't see what these heroic actions have to with being President, I haven't seen any attempt by the GOP to even make them relevant. All you get is this flash of photos from McCain in the Vietnam era and then this slogan that he's "ready to lead."

What?

Since McCain opened the character door, I'll ask - what does dropping bombs on NVA and VC and civilians who got in the way, and being tortured in a POW camp and detained for years, have to do with leading America? No allegiance here to Hanoi and VC, but Vietnam was a criminal mistake in my (and many other people's) opinion and it would be sound US policy not to repeat it. One could argue that McCain's experience with the Vietnam War would make him less likely to support such ventures in the future, but, wait, he is one of the brilliant lawmakers who helped get US forces into Iraq, another criminal operation of US foreign policy, and if his experience in Vietnam has made him more likely to vigorously sustain and encourage questionable US military commitments abroad, then I would, respectfully, declare that a negative attribute instead of a positive one.

The same sort of rationale is at play when some of the more articulate supporters of McCain argue that his experience will give him insight to military conflict and conclude that he will "not be afraid" to use the American military, and, concurrently, will have respect for the soldiers that he necessarily puts in harm's way as a result. Putting aside for the moment that it doesn't exactly follow, I'll say this: rubbish. McCain helped tow the Bush line (lie) of WMD and Iraq that help perpetrate 911 and was preparing to attack the United States again, and that US forced would be "greeted as liberators". Like all the lawmakers that supporter the war, he bears some of the responsibility for the thousands of American casualties that have resulted. Some people took the right kind of notice when, in 1964, the Johnson Administration used a murky set of events in the Gulf of Tonkin to escalate the war in Vietnam - the lesson being that military interventions based on less-than-all the facts run into deadly problems. Others, like Bush and the Republican party, came away with the opposite lesson, that the American people could be lied into supporting a war. McCain - in voting and continuing to support the war - has aligned himself with the latter camp.

The thing that is unnerving is that the GOP doesn't really have to articulate a reason why McCain's military/POW is relevant - they can just keep bring it up, and contrast it with Obama's "otherness," and, I suppose, his conspicuous lack of military experience, and leave it at that. I like to hope that wouldn't be enough for most people - especially the "swing voters", lower middle-class, hardworking American types who goto church but are struggling to make ends meet - but this is basically the same constituency that "elected" Bush in 2000 and 2004, so who knows.

We'll see. To end the digression, one thing is very clear. The McCain campaign is turning to character - and, really, more attacking Obama than bolstering McCain - because it has already lost the campaign on the issues. A three-trillion dollar illegal war, obviously disastrous before, is becoming untenable by even the most stalwart supporters as the country careens toward bankruptcy. Lax regulation and tax breaks for large businesses at the expense of ordinary people, obscurable and even supported by many before, is now an unmitigated disaster as the result has been the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And continued reliance on petroleum, cute and even a tempoary (if illusory) boon to America, is now such a joke that nobody with a modicum of knowledge about economics and energy (this, of course, does not include McCain himself) pretends to take seriously the proposal that we should just drill, drill, drill our problems away.

If McCain wins, it won't be because he was right on the issues, or even because Americans agree with him on the issues. And that's pretty scary.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I Don't Know What I'll Do This Summer

Maybe it's just us, but we find this to be a work of subtle genius. It's the video that won Steven Luther $10,000 - or 20 lunches at Scott Commons - from Access Group's One Les Worry contest. Just keep watching . . .



Thoughts for 1Ls: The market sucks, and you won't get a firm job. On the plus side, a lot of 2Ls might not either. Thanks, Bush.

Thoughts for 2Ls: We swear we interviewed with the dude from Billingswoth & Grand. Found out we were Jewish . . . DING!

Related Coverage:
Public Works: Law Firm vs. Public Interest

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

OGI, Callbacks, et al. make me a worse person

Ever since OGI started:
  • Whenever I hear my phone ring, I’m a little disappointed if it’s a friend/family member calling. Seriously. As soon as I look at the number and see it’s not a 212 area code, my heart drops a little. That pretty much makes me an awful person although I know I’m not the only one at the law school guilty of it. And when a 212 number calls but it’s not a callback invite or job offer, the rest of my day is basically ruined.
  • I’m happy when my mailbox is empty. Firms don’t ding you over the phone; they do it through snail mail. Which is to say, no mail = no DING!’s. So ever since this game began back in August until October ends, when I go to the mailbox my mantra is “No news is good news.”
  • I want the firms to like me more than my classmates. Like it or not, during interviews, we’re competing for spots. A lot of these firms have a magic number of UVa students that they want to hire and they’re only giving out that number of callbacks/offers. So inevitably, during interview season, when one law student says “good luck” to another, they really mean, “good luck, but you better not make them like you more than they like me.”
  • I get pissed at other people’s success. Bear with me, I don’t mean anytime I hear someone got an offer, I’m jealous. But, the logical conclusion of my point above is that when someone you know hears back from a firm you interviewed with but haven’t heard back from, you’re not happy. I know, I know, again, that makes me an awful person. But the unfortunate reality is we’re competing for spots and so a friend’s success often = your failure. So, when I’m chilling w/ friends and their phone rings, they start speaking uncharacteristically formally and step out of the room, I’m getting jealous. I’m an awful person.
  • I get depressed when I see other law students at the airport or hotel. Sorry guys. It’s just an annoying reminder of how unique we law students are when I get on a plane and there’s no one else on board but classmates. It’s annoying enough you can’t go anywhere in C-ville w/o seeing other law students, the last thing I want is to keep bumping into y’all 350 miles away. Law school is like a 24/7 reminder of the fact that yea, you’re special…just like everybody else.

    More FFJ rants (in a much more readable format) plus endless coverage of the Jacksonville Jaguars Juggernaut @ fredfromjville.wordpress.com.