Saturday, January 30, 2010

And Now . . . Your 2010 Feb Club Schedule

Addresses, etc. for the parties can be found most easily on the facebook or the feb club blog. Have fun and stay safe people:

Click here to download a .pdf of of the schedule in high quality - courtesy of the Law Weekly / NGSL.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Modest Proposal To Make Us All Slightly Less Poor

When the semester began, we were ecstatic . . .

Our loans had cleared and deposited themselves with their sweet, sweet 6.8% interest in our QuickPay(TM) account - this being our final semester and all - thought we were free and clear of paying the ever-increasing amounts of money to the Law School. Everybody dance now!

Alas, our bliss was short-lived . . . We forgot that we had to buy books!

Now, before you interject with a million-and-one ways to get around paying the "list" price for the most expensive textbooks, let us assure you that we do them all. Taking courses with no book? Our bread-and-butter. Buying and selling on A veritable way of life for us. But sometimes there's just no way around it: there's a class you need, and it's a new textbook. Goodbye financial solvency, hello U.S. Federal Budget 2k10!

After bleeding over $250 on two new textbooks, we wondering . . . why are the things so damned expensive? And why is it necessary to put out a new edition practically every single year? Even typing it makes us kind of angry . . . so while we're sitting here waiting for college football to come back, I'm going to throw out some suggestions that could make textbooks a lot cheaper, in avant-garde slogan form:

(1) Remove all of the cases!
Why are the cases published at all? The Supreme Court cases are all available - for free - on the internet, and UVA Law requires everyone to own an interwebs-accessible computer, so why not let us all read them there. What about other cases? No problem - every single student at UVA Law gets free, full access to both Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw. The professor should say: "OK class, everyone go to 531 U.S. 98 for an example of fantastic constitutional reasoning." The class will then have the option of either pulling the case up on their laptop (for why banning laptops in class is bad, see this lengthy screed), or printing it out at the Lexis/Westlaw lab, which is also free. And in this way, you could get any law review articles the professor wants you to read - also free of charge. The Professor need only identify them on the syllabus.

But say the professor is not "down" with all of this use of the interwebs - problem? Nope. The professor can just make a copy of the judicial opinions and put them in a course packet or a *.pdf that students print out. As the US Copyright Office has noted:
Edicts of government, such as judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar official legal documents are not copyrightable for reasons of public policy. This applies to such works whether they are Federal, State, or local as well as to those of foreign governments.
And yet we pay 100s of dollars for them?! - - Just print out the cases you need and send them over to the copy office - no harm, no foul.

And about those "edited" cases - a professor can easily edit cases in a course packet - in fact many professor do exactly that! - or they can simply tell the students which sections of the opinion are important to read.

What's left should be a very thin volume with all of the "commentary" that usually goes into the casebook. And that shouldn't cost very much at all.

(2) No Need for A New Edition Every Year!
Thanks to the age-old principle of Stare decisis et non quieta movere, law is (relatively) static from year to year - I mean, at least as far as casebooks are concerned. The Federal Income Tax provisions have been same for years now, for example, and most of the cases you read are even older than that. And don't even get us started on courses like property, where will you get to read such contemporary gems as Tulk v. Moxhay (1848) and Paradine v. Jane (1647).

Last year's radical changes to the law of Wills, Trusts, and Estates necessitated yet another new edition of the 156 dollar casebook. Good thing, too, because most of the material isn't available anywhere else!

In all seriousness, the minor changes from year-to-year should be handled in a supplement, preferably a free, online one. Otherwise we're stuck with the current lousy situation of affairs: we have to buy a new textbook every year, and can't sell our old used ones. More money for everyone - - - except the students.

(3) Course-packs and paper-backs FTW!
If possible, everything should be done by course-packet. Cheap to make, better for the environment. But we get that professors want to have their work put out there in a more-publishable format. Still, why not have paper-back casebooks. Our Criminal Adjudications Casebook was a paperback, and it was great (we even would have been able to sell it back for some real money because it was in such good condition - except for the problem that it would soon soon become "obsolete" - see point #2). To us, there seems to be no real reason why to make casebooks hard cover (they're not being reused more than once or twice, see point 2). And paper backs are better for the environment (we have been told) in addition to being cheaper.

(4) No more statute books!
OK, we don't buy these anyway (internet) but just for the record, stop making people by expensive (sometimes as much as $45!) books of statutes when they are, again, all available online. In the case of federal statutes, they are not only on Lexis/Westlaw, but also - thanks to Cornell Law School - available online at the Legal Information Institute. Especially vexing: not allowing people to access said statutes online during exams (which in effects mandates buying such a book - or in our case at least borrowing one).

Anyway, these four points in conjunction could make law school just a little bit cheaper for all of us. Obviously these ideas aren't going to be popular with everyone (read: some folks actually profit from expensive casebooks!), but it's ARE OUR Law School. And we're the ones paying.

ITE, Can You Really Afford an Entire Textbook?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rumor Mill: Not Enough Feb Club Hosts

EDIT: False Alarm People!!! We are told that Feb Club now has enough hosts - whew!

We have heard several (unsubstantiated) reports that the Feb Club people still need people to, well, host Feb Club parties. We hope that someone is able to step up.

If it meets people's needs, we offer our ca. 400 square foot apartment for a hot chocolate, endless games of Risk, and London Calling on being played on repeat. This is sure to be a popular event, so it's best to schedule it on a Friday or Saturday. Hope you all can come and get dowwwn.

Feb Club is Why Daddy Left [Feb Club Blog - inactive . . . for now]

Monday, January 25, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Barrister's Ball 2k10 - 100 points for Originality!

We're not very cool, but some of our friends are, and some of these friends were even cool enough to get a facebook invitation to this year's Barrister's Ball:
Please join us for the annual Barrister's Ball. Enjoy dancing, hors d'oeuvres, and drinks all night long at the Boar's Head Pavilion.

Buses will be running from the law school all night. The price of buses is included in your ticket, and there will be no parking available at the event.

Tickets will be sold Feb. 1-5 from 10 AM -3 PM in Hunton Williams Hall.
The theme (see picture): Casino Royale, the most recent James Bond movie that was not terrible. Was this not also the theme of a recent PILA Auction? Indeed, at this PILA auction - hosted at the Double Tree on 29 - people got so drunk in the "1L Suite" that they basically destroyed it and incurred several thousand dollars of damage.

We wonder, also, how much tickets will be, and what they will cover (in terms of drinks / snacks / etc.)

PILA Auction 2007: License to Bid [Law Weekly]
Party On: Venue Options Abound for Law School Events [Law Weekly]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse '82 to Speak at Graduation

We haven't found an official announcement, but check what the events calendar says for May 23, 2010:

Class of 2010 Graduation

Congratulations to the class of 2010. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse ’82 will speak.
Sponsor: Alumni Association

Thoughts? Better than the PGA guy? Feel free to sound off on the comments.

Sheldon Whitehouse [wikipedia]

So, What'd You Do Over Break?

The Human Rights Study Project people went to Egypt and met the former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali:

If Patrick Mott becomes this next UN Secretary General, this photo will be worth a lot of money

We made it to level 50 on MW2 and watched 20 college football bowl games, but we guess that's not really the same...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Donate Your Lexis-Nexis Rewards to Haiti Relief

If you don't want another iTunes or Chile's gift-card, you can join UVA Law Blog in donating some of your excess Lexis points to the relief effort in Hati. Simply go to the Lexis Nexis rewards page, go to the "shop", and click on the link for charitable donations on the right.

Thanks to Above the Law and Nuts and Boalts [Berkeley Law Blog] for the heads up.

In other news, we return tomorrow. That should make it easier, to, um, actually blog things. J-TRMFTW!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sadness: By 2013, A Majority of Law Students Project to Have At Least 120k of Loans

So here's the bad news: According to Visualize Law's projections, by 2013 a majority of law students will have over 120k of debt by graduation. The increase will, of course, reflect the increase in tuition, which will happen everywhere, including here. Of course this is nothing new - many people at UVA are carrying far more debt than that already.

In case you were wondering the total out of state cost of attendance is currently set at $63,000/year - and you better believe it's going to go up next year. There are certainly a number of people paying this full amount (204 first-year students out of approximately 375 received some kind scholarship; the rest received none at all), and a good number of them (it stands to reason) are financing their tuition entirely with debt. $63,000 * 3 (years) = $189,000. And that doesn't take into account interest, of which there will be plenty, and the increase(s) in tuition, which might be staggering.

The good news is that there income-based repayment, and improvements to LRAP are supposedly on the horizon. Plus, Sallie Mae can't take your legal knowledge away from you.

So here's a question for our readers: Assuming starting salaries and job prospects remain the same, how much debt is too much to attend a (IMHO great) place like UVA?

Law School Debt Exceeding $120k [Visualize Law]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

UVA Law: Doing Work in Faculty Hires

At around the same time as the announcement of a new University president, Teresa Sullivan, UVA Law has moved aggressively to get some new professors. Douglas Laycock was at Michigan, but according to Brian Leiter he's coming to UVA. Coincidence? Not really - he is Sullivan's husband.

Of course, Laycock probably won't be coming cheap. In 2006-2007, he was paid $235,000, making him the second highest paid person on the UM faculty during that period. It stands to reason that UVA will offer him more. Your donations and Stafford dollars at work, we suppose.

Seems like Professor Laycock is greatly involved with the gay marriage debate. He published a book called Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts, and testified in favor of the Religious Liberty Protection Act of 1998. According to wikipedia, he believes that "it is desirable, and usually possible, to protect the liberty of same-sex couples and also protect the liberty of religious conservatives who do not wish to support or facilitate same-sex marriages."

Douglas Laycock [Wiki]
Laycock from Michigan to Virginia [Leiter Law School Reports]

Saturday, January 09, 2010

GRADEWATCH 2k10, Part II: Now What?

We got an interesting email the other day:
So... I got my first grade back. Hooray!

An A-

Great right? I think I should be happy. I feel happy. But really, I don't know. Does the single A- doom me never to make law review? (The way people talk about "them" it seems like they all got A+s on everything) Will I be unemployed forever? Or does it mean I should start filling out my SCOTUS clerkship application now? I'm guessing somewhere in between, but I honestly don't know. Besides the fact there is a B+ curve, I don't anything about law school grades or GPAs. What is a good law school GPA? What is average? (3.3?) What do law review people have? What would make an employer tell you it is insult that you even showed him/her your resume? I feel dumb and gunnerish for asking the blog this, but obviously I can't just go around asking people to compare grades or about their GPAs. The only people I want to know mine are family. And I haven't seen this info posted anywhere. So... help? What is a "good" law school GPA?

[Anonymous 1L]
We'll offer our answer first: Well, Mr. 1L, you should be proud of yourself, in theory. (But don't get cocky, kid. There's much more refreshing SIS in your future). Anyway, 3.3 (B+) is the median. According to career services a 3.48 is the top 25%tile (this from the transcripts that CS gives out). So an A- (3.7) is very good. The Law review cutoff (the top 25 students) my year for grading on was somewhere around 3.71. So getting a (single) A- certainly doesn't keep you out of the hunt . . . We all should be so lucky.

Anyway, you're right that grades are a private matter and that the norm is that they should only be discussed, if at all, with one's family and closest friends (and with the thousands of people to whom you will be applying to jobs). But, if you want to vent - anonymously - about a bad grade or exault about a good one on the ole interwebs, we don't see the harm.

Just remember all of you, on average, got a B+.

Monday, January 04, 2010


EDIT: As you all know, grades have begun to trickle in. Everybody dance now!

We've gotten your emails about course evaluations being up, and short courses being completed over two months ago, with no grades. We don't know what to tell you, but we think it might have something to do with this email that we all received from the SRO people on December 12, 2009:

With only four days of fall exams left, I wanted to update you on the grading calendar and procedures. Instructors must submit their fall grades no later than Monday, February 1st. The Student Records Office (SRO) processes grades as received and, ideally, grades should be posted on SIS within 2-3 working days. We also release course evaluations, i.e., post them on LawWeb, at the same time.

As some of you have noticed, a few course evaluations have been posted on LawWeb, but grades have not been posted on SIS. Given that this is the first instance of grade processing using the University’s new SIS computer program, there have been some last minute issues that have delayed the process. The University Registrar’s Office and ITC are working on it and I expect grades will start appearing within a couple of weeks. NOTE: While we have received a few short course grades, we anticipate receiving nearly all semester-long course grades during the latter part of January.

I will send another e-mail to announce when grades are being posted to SIS.

The first emphasized portion seems to suggest that grades will appear as they are submitted - and the email also implies that some grades have, in fact, been submitted. But has anyone gotten them yet? We haven't seen an email announcing it. Does anyone think that, at least this semester, grades will be posted only once all of them are available, i.e. sometime after February 1, 2010?

So, for lack of much else to do over break, please let us know if you receive (any) grades - maybe those who care (1Ls everyone) can get over their anxiety / stop constantly going through SIS's complicated login procedure. Ty ty xoxo~

Friday, January 01, 2010