Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Subpoena of the Baskervilles

I realize I've been remiss about a certain subject lately. Anyone who's been blindly feeling their way around Vancouver for the last few days knows that of which I speak: that's right, Fogwatch is back.

Since about Saturday evening, a steady stream of (pirate-free?) fog has blanketed various parts of the city. It's not the all-penetrating behemoth it was back in November '05, but it has continued long enough to catch my attention and bring to mind more than one awful movie.

In particular, coming upon the law school's Curtis Building at night in fog is quite a sight to behold. I can't help but think that this foreboding setting is what architects pictured when they designed it: fashioned after a magnificent tor in dense fog, harbouring some dastardly evil, perhaps recalling a scene from a Sherlock Holmes story.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Crime of Supreme Inconvenience

In what I suppose was the universe's way of testing my dedication to the law as I make my way through a final, more relaxed term of law school - my car was broken into this weekend. It's an awful feeling, I had to file a police report, and my phone was taken. However, it wasn't the hate crime against my Calgary Flames dice that I had long suspected might happen in a city of rabid Canucks fans.

I hate this. It also means that I have to download my "Final Countdown" ringtone yet again. I simply insist on having the same tune as the world's worst magician.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Arrivederci Dracula

My special lady/ladyfriend and I have settled on a summer trip destination. Previous itineraries of Eastern Europe and the pillaging of Dracula's castle will have to wait for another year. Instead, for (at least) two weeks, it'll be the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy.

I like the idea of having several weeks to relax, visit beaches, and - talents willing - spirit home Dickie Greenleaf. Plus, it'll give me an opportunity to use my Italian. And the timing couldn't be better: now, in response to "What do you do back in Canada?" I'll no longer have to say,

"Sono studente della legge," (I'm a law student). Instead, I can say:

"Sono avvocato," (I'm a lawyer), a phrase I've always admired on account of how it sounds like copping to being an avocado.

Night of the Living Admin

This is the first semester in 7 years of university that I've had a night class. I wasn't looking forward to it because, first of all, it's Administrative Law, not renowned for keeping one awake, and the class is on Wednesdays, dangerously close to interrupting Lost.

But now, I sort of like it. This last Wednesday I had the time to take a walk down to Kits beach. Of course, I suppose part of the reason I never took a night class in Kingston is that there were no nice beaches to go to during the day, only the shores of a sludge-ridden "great" lake.

Somehow, the director of Rumble in the Bronx had no issues shooting here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Little-known Law

From Gray's Law Dictionary:

"Interesting Etymologies of Idiomatic Legal Expressions:

In the year 1831, Jacob Open and Jack Shut were neighbouring landowners outside of Swaffham, England. Mr. Open, a pig farmer, had contracted to lease a portion of land from Mr. Shut, who raised flax.

The arrangement was amenable to Mr. Shut, as the land in question was prone to flooding, making it unsuitable for flax but altogether an ideal place in which pigs could wallow. Soon enough, a litter of piglets was birthed.

However, since the birth took place upon his neighbour's leased land, Mr. Open deemed the shoats Shut's and refused to make lease payments, arguing his neighbour to be a bona fide pig-chaser for value without notice.

In retaliation, Jack Shut enforced a lien on the land and seized Open's assets. Doing so, however, meant Shut ran afoul of Inland Revenue laws, as the pig profits were not flax-deductible.

To complicate matters, Mr. Shut had been carrying on a four-month affair with Mrs. Open, wife of Jacob and a notorious philanderess. Most of the late-night encounters took place on the portion of land in question. When the affairs were finally discovered, it prompted lawyers for Mr. Open to sue for "double trespass," a tort over both his farmland and his wife.

While preliminary proceedings were filed in the circuit court, the matter never went to trial as the night before the evidentiary hearing, Mrs. Open shot and killed both Jacob and Jack, absconded with the money and was never to be found. Lawyers for both parties had no need to carry on.

Hence, when lawyers find themselves overly prepared for a trial, they recall this set of events and deem it an Open v. Shut case."

Friday, January 19, 2007

A good reason to pursue appellate work

Tonight's annual Guile comedy debate capped off another busy law school week - 12 hours of class a week being busy enough. My partner and I didn't win, which was actually quite forseeable when we realized we were up against the funniest person in law school. I find you often meet people in law that could easily entertain other careers - this man could be a comedian. He has that effortless style like a Demetri Martin, that's impossible to top.

On the bright side, there was the best kind of consolation for the losing team - monetary consolation. Ironic that the only money I'm likely to earn from this law school isn't for smarts, but for acting stupid - and for acting so in front of the Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Member of the Toblerone Bar Association

I just received an email inviting law students to a reception for the "Nanaimo County Bar Association." I find this funny, because you have to remember that in Canada, we don't have counties concern ourselves with counties like in the United States - only provinces and municipalities. The email says that "Nanaimo County" includes the coastal city of Nanaimo and several other small towns in that area of Vancouver Island. But really, nothing hinges on such an arbitrary border.

It's obvious, then, that they stuck in the word County in order to not be called the "Nanaimo Bar Association," which would be considerably less legal and far more chocolatey.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I wish the law school had a watercooler

One of the great things about living in a city that fancies itself the Los Angeles of Canada is that you get good films sooner than everybody else. Pan's Labyrinth came out this weekend and naturally it got in the way of law school reading. I really, really liked this film - it's Life is Beautiful meets Hellboy... in a very dark alley.

I get an added kick from watching Spanish foreign films. I try every once in a while to ignore the subtitles and see if I can follow along. And if there's one foreign film where you want to to focus as much attention in the centre of the screen as possible, it's one where creatures look as cool as this.

And of course, when I returned to finish up Monday's reading, 24 has to air its season premiere. As far as premieres go in this series, it was decent - no major character deaths, but added points for Jack Bauer's newfound vampirism. I suppose maybe the mitigating factor was the appearance of actor Carlo Rota - not the only television show he's in this week.

Last week the CBC had a hit with its new show Little Mosque on the Prairie, which I'm surprised to report was actually pretty funny - and not just by Canadian standards. Rota's in that show too, but methinks after watching both shows that only one is likely to be embraced by the Muslim community. Hint: it's not the one where every Muslim character on the show was either bombed or tortured.

That said, I'll still watch 24, because it makes for interesting watercooler talk after Charter Law classes.

And now, your moment of zen.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Adesso voglio imparare la legge Italiana

When I was at Queen's University, in my first year I got 97% in Italian and I knew things could only go down from there. (And oh, how they did.) Fall term marks for third year came out yesterday, and I'm glad to report that I've actually created the opposite trend throughout law school. Of course, this term wasn't free from the typical aberration.

If you had talked to me directly after my first, second and third year exams, I would have said my best tests were Contracts, Advanced Criminal Procedure, Corporations and most recently, Conflicts. If you were to ask me directly after receiving my marks for each of these terms, these classes nicely correspond to my worst marks.

I suppose I can appreciate this kind of irony, I just really, really hope it doesn't flow over into my legal career. I can just picture it now:

[Me to client]: I feel really good about our chances with this one, nay, I'm sure of it.

[Client to Crown]: Let's make a deal.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lawyers will be zombie stand-ins

We are off to the races in the final term. And like each new term, there are some surprises, although I guess I didn't expect them to come from Admin Law. Maybe it's early in the course, but I like what I hear, the profs seem easy-going, and best of all - the reading material is free. This is a benefit understated until I tell you I have to pay $92 for 153 pages in International Trade Law.

I can't speak about the Trade Law class itself because the professor was missing for the inaugural lecture. Say what you will about the generosity of lawyers, we extended the famous 5-minute rule a whole extra half-hour before we left. Or maybe this just speaks to the tenacity of lawyers and their inclination to extend measurements of time...

Thankfully, Entertainment Law is shaping up to be as great as I'd hoped it would be. Speaking of entertainment, there was a large crowd of guests at the school the other day, and word on the street is that they were a film crew scouting locations around the building. Now I'm confused, because the only movie I can picture being filmed at the law building is the British film 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to my favorite movie of 2003, 28 Days Later - but I guess if a plot calls for a dank, impenetrable refuge where people can hide from zombies and possibly a nuclear attack to wipe those zombies out, then, sure, the Curtis Building is the natural choice.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lawletting & Miraculous Cures

Classes start tomorrow and already the spring schedule has undergone a change. Gone is Trusts, which I had previously mentioned might be a problem. It was a blight on my Friday mornings anyhow, after a blank slate on Thursdays.

What's surprising is the course I've replaced it with - International Trade Law, only because I'm curious why I just didn't sign up for it originally. I racked my brain for some reason I hadn't - there are no exam conflicts, it works with my schedule, and I like the prof. I just hope come April I won't sound like Gob Bluth.

I'm back in Vancouver now. While I was at the airport (an hour delayed for an hour flight) I managed to finish one of my new books, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. I'm normally not a fan of Canadian fiction - I find the local street name-checking annoying, and I prefer to read about places I'd like to go to - but something about it I definitely enjoyed. Although, I do suspect it has something to do with the lack of new Grey's Anatomy episodes on TV lately (new this week!) - this book nicely closes the gap.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bonne fete a moi

25 today, so lawyer by 26. Not bad!

Taking bets on astronaut by 50.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Generations denied Wensleydale

I don't normally post about legal news because there are so many sites that do it better, but a certain item showed up on IMDb News (a regular stop on my daily internet rounds) whilst I was searching for some Guillermo del Toro/Hellboy 2 news - and I actually knew something about it.

The legal item in question was that ads for cheese are the latest to have been banned from kids' programming in the U.K. A good part of my European Union Law essay was written on British television regulators (Ofcom) and their ban of junk food advertisements during children's programming. After reading Ofcom's lengthy report on how Brit kids are among the most rotund in the EU for my research, I can't say this new ban is such a bad idea.

However, I can't help but think that Wallace of the iconic Wallace & Gromit duo - famously "crackers for cheese" - will be crushed.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Strange Case of Jekyll v. Hyde

About this time of year (see 2006, 2005) I write up a list of ought-to's: a less onerous list of resolutions that both relieves me of guilt should I fail to accomplish them and which is a list that, by virtue of its clever name, must expire upon 2010, when the decade of aught's is over. (I maintain a steadfast resolution to employ puns at every turn.)

Surprisingly, my goal of working out more last year had some legs, as I began to run during the summer. I didn't like it very much, and I avoided running in the rain which, in Vancouver, is like avoiding salt in the Pacific - but the fact is I actually raised my heart rate beyond the level it peaks at during April finals.

But I suppose that ought-to came about from a need to fill a lot of spare time - a natural (and let's face it, not altogether unsavoury) by-product of upper-year law school. This year, things change: I enter the working world, where filling spare time is not going to be the issue - unless I've heard wrong all these years, and lawyers are actually renowned for their short working hours...

My fear isn't the schedule - I really have no issue with putting in long hours for a job I believe in - but only that in doing so I might transform into some hideous malcontent that no one wants to talk to. Like Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, or if you will - Dr. Jekyll into JekyLL.B.

So in that respect, I ought to retain my sense of humour and priority when I bridge that chasm from law student to articled student, a sort of leap from carefree idealism to indentured servitude. In short, I'm looking to continue being myself into next year and beyond. I'd like to be sought after for my musical advice as much as my legal advice. FYI, this new Damon Albarn side project, The Good, The Bad & The Queen gets my thumbs up.

Of course, I'm actually not too worried about this transformation, as almost all of the lawyers I've met in Vancouver so far have been exceptional people. In effect, I've given myself a new year's resolution to make absolutely no changes. I'm OK with this.

Off-topic sentences

Each time I'm home for the holidays, I have to spend time going through old things and discarding what I no longer need or that which takes up too much space. This time I came across my collection of undergrad essays, from English, Economics and Spanish Literature.

Man, I hope my law school essays don't sound like these. I've reprinted the worst of the first sentences I found, and editorialized with what a professor was likely thinking:

"The eponymous hero of Beowulf is more than simply a good warrior." Take out 'eponymous' and you've got nothing.

"To answer the question of whether or not British industrialization would have floundered without colonial possessions at the end of the eighteenth century, we need to consider its full implications." Um, duh?

"Interestingly, the investigation of certain theatrical motivations of playwright Ben Jonson begins with a discussion about economics." The first word must be a typo.

"In both Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus and Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, a multilayered narrative structure is implemented to bring a desired order to complex events." Zzzzzzzzz.

"El carácter mayor de La Casa de Bernarda Alba es muy desilusionado." (Trust me, this observation, though lovely sounding, is obvious and pedestrian.)

"Ostensibly, a king, a prince, a lover and a monster have little in common." Actually, I think I need to hear this one out.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Poke out my CSI

A happy 2007 to everyone out there, but already my year is off to a troublesome start. Let me explain in my typically long-winded way:

A few years ago on New Year's Day I was prone on the couch, watching TV, when I quickly found out I was in the midst of one of those Bermuda Triangles of television: a Law & Order Marathon. I was just finishing up a third episode in a row when I made the call, perhaps in light of more moderate resolutions that year, to watch just one more episode. Little did I know that I was only halfway through my marathon that day.

It turns out that a few years after the O.J. Simpson case, with its own twists and turns, the creators of Law & Order, as they are wont to do, obviously commissioned a plot based on that reality. But just as the real O.J. trial dragged on, so did this Faux-J. episode, in the form of three, back-to-back-to-back continuations. The episode is entitled, "Showtime." When I resolved to watch a fourth and final hour, I had no idea that the Order part of the series would last a whole episode, and that the Law part went on for another two. I spent more time watching the show that day than I have classes in some weeks.

Although I wouldn't put it up there with my proudest achievements, watching 6 hours of that show was pretty awesome - and made me eager to consult A&E's schedule for another such marathon this year. But, horror of horrors, the Law & Order Marathon is nowhere in sight. What is worse: it's been replaced by a CSI: Miami marathon.

Longtime readers are likely aware of my patent disgust with the CSI shows. Indeed, I think 25 million people a week are wrong. I think the show is needlessly dazzling, pithy, Fincher-esque and wraps up too nicely - the law is none of these things. It's easy to argue that shows are meant to be entertaining, but let's be honest, justice should not be entertaining, it should be just. The true thrills to be derived from the law are, in my experience, all intellectual. When lawyers come up with a creative method of closing the case on an accused criminal, it's not done out of smug satisfaction as that show would have you believe - it's simply because that's the way we are taught to do things in law school, to think laterally. Law & Order gets this.

In fact, some of my favorite moments from recent Law & Order episodes have been subtle jabs at how CSI lets its fingerprint-dusters do everything short of hanging the perp. Just before he died, Jerry Orbach's Lenny Briscoe character famously told off such an investigator for trying to solve a case on the spot - and then made the guy go get him a coffee. And say what you will about Lenny, at least he's not named Horatio.

Anyway, I guess my point in all of this is that I'm disappointed I can't watch 7 hours of continuous television.

Update: A History Channel miracle - a Band of Brothers marathon.