Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thank you, I'm here all night

I'm gone for a much-needed vacation up the coast this weekend, returning just in time to register/curse the university's server on Tuesday morning. After doing some more thinking, I've finalized the list of courses I want for next year, listed below along with the nicknames I'll inevitably know them as. This practice isn't new, first years take "Crim," "Legal I," and it allows me to justify such bad jokes like, "What's a zombie's favourite law course?" (Answer below.)

  • Securities Regulation - "Sek-Reg," which sounds like it should be a TV show starring David Caruso. And I still wouldn't watch it.
  • Conflict of Laws - "Conflix," just as no client likes to be billed unnecessarily, I substitute the 'x' for 'cts' because it's efficient, and because it looks sharp.
  • Civil Procedure - "Civ Pro." Unfortunately, this course was previously titled Civil Litigation, meaning now I can't add to the list of Lit courses I've taken over the years: Brit Lit, Vic Lit, Romantic Lit etc.
  • Media & Entertainment Law - "Hollywood." A new addition to my list, where you learn about such things as entertainment contacts, marketing and drafting celebrities' prenuptial agreements.
  • And the rest: European Union Law - "Euro," Real Estate Transactions - "Re/Max," International Business Transactions - "IHOP" (because IBT is no fun), Advanced Legal Research - "Library fun," Administrative Law - "Admin fun."
Ah yes, that hilarious joke:

A: "Corps!"

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Present perfect subjunctive? Check

With only a few weeks until course registration, I'm trying to create a shortlist of classes for my final year. The schedule will ultimately depend on class times and exam conflicts, but in the meantime I'd appreciate any recommendations from fellow law types, and a heads up if you've chosen the same one. Without further ado:

European Union Law

When I studied Literature in undergrad, European lit was always my favorite. Let's hope European jurists have a similar knack for producing classics. (Fun fact: before the accession of 13 more member states to the EU in 2005, the list of member countries could be remembered by the acronym "Baffling Pigs." I learned that on an educational field trip to the Bank of London a few years ago, my singular memory of the event.)

Securities Regulation
This is another class I'm really excited about, as it seems to be replacing IP as the "hip" legal area. (Mildly amusing fact: the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, aimed at responsible accounting, is often referred to by the acronym SOX, which isn't terribly interesting until I tell you that I once worked at a company that gave socks as a thank-you to the team who successfully implemented SOX regulations.)

International Business Transactions
I like the sound of this one, because it combines three independently interesting legal words and makes an even better phrase. Sort of like Caramel Light Frappucino.

Administrative Law & Municipal Law
These two I'm deciding between. I've been told by some that Admin law is boring, painful, but ultimately useful, while others say Municipal is the way to go. After two years of law school, four years of undergrad and one ill-fated year of tennis lessons, I've learned that you won't like every class you take. Need some input here, folks.

Professional Responsibility
Lawyer-client relations can hide be a veritable minefield of unethical and improper situations, making this course a veritable mine detector. (Useless fact: if you ever played any of the Metal Gear Solid iterations on the Playstation, you of course know that mines are easily traversed by simply crawling over them.)

Advanced Legal Research
I'm a fan of hands-on research and actually opening up the tattered court reports from days of yore. In some museums, you'd pay a decent sum to see such books behind glass. Incidentally, I've just learned that the Vancouver Art Gallery is by-donation on Tuesday nights. Anyone feel like being a culture vulture?

Conflict of Laws
Another course I've heard great things about. If you've ever wondered why your deluxe two-disc Shaun of the Dead Region 2 DVD doesn't work on your player in North America, then you have the same sort of questions that will be answered in this class, which looks at laws across jurisdictions. Whether or not there is a black-market mechanism that can adjudicate both Civil and Common law systems simultaneously, remains to be seen.

Advanced Spanish II
While this class choice may seem a bit out of izquierdo field, I assure you it's been a long time coming. I left my undergraduate university one Spanish course short of a bonus certificate that qualifies me to work anywhere in the world. Having maxed out on law credits during my first two years, I have room to spare in the third. So, once I finally master the pluperfect subjunctive tense, baffled pigs everywhere had better look out.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Indiana Jones v. the Temple of Negligent Design

I solved my book problem. While wading through Amazon, I came across The Poe Shadow, a meta-historical fiction tale about Edgar Allan (obviously) and... his lawyer (bonus points). I remembered how much I enjoyed The Historian from last summer, a solid B-book and thought, Poe is just as creepy as Vlad the Impaler. Plus, an adventure story involving a lawyer? I'm for anything that might do for law what Indiana Jones did for archaeology.

Though so far, there's nary sign of a whip or fedora. Seem's like the lawyer at the heart of this story prefers ethics as his weapon of choice. To wit:

"Do you not ever feel you are becoming hackneyed by the lawyer's routine? Forget the fees. Wouldn't you wish to protect something you knew to be great that everyone else sought to desecrate? Wouldn't you wish to be part of changing something, even if it meant changing yourself?"

Admirable indeed, but could John Williams write a score around it?

I also found out that Michael Chabon, author of one of my favourite/most-recommended books, (and soon-to-be movie starring Natalie Portman) has a new one out soon. When the Yiddish Policeman's Union finally comes out in January, it'll be a welcome break from either European Union law or Municipal law reading (but more on third year class choices in a future post).

By the way, I hope everyone's watching Hell's Kitchen, now in it's third week. I just noticed the text promos that CityTV is running for it during other shows, succintly describing it as: "Gordon Ramsay makes chefs cry."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Please report any baroque links

Finishing a year of law school is like beginning a new year - you make resolutions. I'm going to start studying earlier, I'm going to make my own CAN, I'm going to see what this whole "library" business is about, etc. My summer resolution was a dose of exercise, the kind apart from the walk between the bus stop and the concrete gates of the law building.

I joined one of those running groups at the start of the summer. If you've ever walked along a beach in Vancouver and seen herds of sweaty, spandexed runners, that's it. As part of the training for these clinics, you race hills. I recently took a few weeks off as a result of a minor setback - some common blinding pain. So I'm not exactly sure what made me think that climbing a mountain was the sort of thing to get me back in the routine.

Vancouverites know this as the Grouse Grind, a "summery jaunt" people have been known to do in under 50 minutes. To me and my poor hamstrings, it's still a mountain, and one that was never exactly begging to be climbed. ____ minutes later (actual time deleted for sake of pride) I was at the top, arriving after those who passed me along the way: elderly, all manner of children and even a man carrying a baby. He declined my request to hitch a ride.

By the way, regular readers will notice this site has gone through a bit of a visual upgrade, courtesy of my brother. And to readers well-versed in late, 17th century French Baroque architecture, yes, that is the edifice of the Palace of Versailles in the title image. I do try and reward a keen eye.

Merci a mon amie AM pour le photo.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Grisham probably wrote one

I'm often asked by people outside of law school - "the Others," as we in law school affectionately call them - what's the hardest part about it? My answer's always the same, it's the reading. Not in the sense of subject matter. In fact, a lot of cases play out like little stories with memorable characters, and there's no shortage of conflict. (What are appeals but lacklustre sequels, anyway?) Rather, the difficulty is in the sheer volume.

This makes the answer to the second question I'm usually asked - what advice would I give to those starting law school - just a tad antithetical. My advice is to read more. I consider it crucial to keep a non-law book - you know, fiction - on the go during school. Law school is incredibly insular in the sense that you're exposed to the legal world, and suddenly anything outside of that becomes as heretical as a round earth in pre-Columbus days. Namely, it's easy to forget that the real world is still outside those concrete walls.

This long set up is really just an excuse for me to bring up some of my summer reading - I just finished JPod by Douglas Coupland. While it may be a stretch to say that book portrays "real life," it is a kick for any Vancouverite who'll recognize the local neighbourhoods the characters populate. It is funny on legal level too, perhaps, when you see how Coupland confronts the intellectual property rights of the subjects he wants criticize. It's irreverent books like this one that remind law students, hey, maybe Latin phrases don't contain all possible manner of saying things.

But now that that book's done with, I'm in search of some more. Anyone have suggestions? I just finished a comical French vacation book (Merde Actually), a grisly Western (Blood Meridian) and a novel about lazy video game developers (supra - see, it can't be helped.) They were all pretty good - there must be at least one novel that combines those genres...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hang 'em beyond a reasonable doubt

Good things about this week:

The Proposition is one of the best movies I've seen in a while. I'm a little biased towards Westerns, I suppose, being from Alberta. (Or for a reason that would merit mention on a law blog, maybe it's that the lawlessness of the West is in direct contrast to the sheer amount of law I study at school - nah, I just like the horse- and gunplay.) Featuring Guy Pearce at his absolute ugliest, the movie seems to combine the poetry and violence of two great literary works - True History of the Kelly Gang and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid - and puts them on screen. I'm sure it adds in violence from other various sources too, because it's really, really violent. Just a heads up.

World Cup action. Being Canadian, it's obviously hard to get excited about soccer, but every four years it fits the bill. As for the low scoring, I wouldn't mind it so much if I could make up for it in a lopsided PS2 simulation, as I did with hockey, but it's still impossible. Oh yeah, and trying to get all of your players red carded and have the goalie your only player left? That doesn't work either.

On Monday, the best guilty pleasure of the summer comes back to TV in the form of Hell's Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay, premier British chef, Satan incarnate and sometimes Kiefer Sutherland lookalike hosts his own cooking reality show - except in reality, the settlements from a verbal abuse civil suit would far exceed the show's top prize. In a perfect world, his catchphrase "button it!" would be a national craze.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lawyers use $90 words

I've been working on the cover letters I'll be sending out to law firms in the next few weeks, letters that will hopefully bring me one step closer to landing articles - the pearly gates of lawyerdom.

As law students, we receive countless pointers on how to craft a winning application package, as if being hired at a law firm depended on a precise combination of salutations and five dollar words.

The sample cover letter begins with "I am pleased with the opportunity to apply to your firm." Thing is, I'm not "pleased" with the word pleased, as it were. These sample letters are the equivalent of Coles Notes - helpful, but don't be caught using them. Plus, I'd like to believe a dose of creativity speaks volumes about an applicant. I origianlly opted for the word "thrilled," but so far the peer editing gang hasn't been keen on it.

So I'm looking for just the right adjective. I'd like some input from you, the reader, and knowing that "thrilled" might be too earnest, help me find a better one, using the below phrases as an upper boundary.


"at a positive loss for words, forgiving the following four paragraphs..."
"feelign something I've never felt before... I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've never quite met a firm like you..."
"jumping for joy, but in a decidedly professional manner..."
"beside myself, but not in any psychologically unstable way that would deny me a chance with your firm..."
"certainly not complacent, no sir!"