The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Exercise to food to moneyIt is such a beautiful day and between catching up on Property (two weeks into class and I'm one week behind - THAT is talent) and reading about International Arbitration for work, I decided I needed to get out of the house. I dusted off my bike, aired up the tires and went for a nice ride. I headed toward the C&O Towpath and Capital Crescent Trail. I have decided that those are the same trail to me since I can never figure out how to get from one to the other. Then, I came up with the idea to attempt to figure out how to bike to school. Bad idea...got pretty lost. That's okay, it was a pretty day and all was well until the ride home. You see, heading out of my area towards Georgetown is all downhill...weeee...fun! Um, this of course means that when I am nice and hot and tired and on my way home, all is uphill. Man, it was not pretty. Every hill I came upon seemed steeper and steeper. It was one of those moments where you feel like your legs are moving but you are not actually going anywhere. Yep, I walked it the last 1/2 mile. Needless to say, I felt pretty pathetic the whole way home.
This leads fabulously into my next point...my recent bad habit of EATING. Granted, we all have to eat, but there really is no need for the amount of food they put in front of us at work. I just finished my first week and have actually eaten more so far than I did all last semester. They brought in breakfast three days last week. That's hard to pass up, but lunch is the real problem. They set all of this money aside for each of us to have lunch with practically everyone in the firm. Great to meet everyone, get insight, learn, socialize, etc. I have also tried new restaurants I had not been too before, which is good. Seriously, though, lunch at five different fancy restaurants in five days sure is a lot of food. I will say two things: first, the steak with lobster ravioli at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. is amazing and second, I am doing salad from here on out! Yeah, let's see how long that lasts.
Another bad thing I noticed about these lunches is that they are training us not to look at the price. Seriously, I have ALWAYS looked at prices of meals as a factor my decision as to what to order...even when I am not paying. Somehow, in a mere week, they broke me of that arguably good habit. I went to dinner and drinks with a friend on Friday night (um, because I had not been out to eat enough last week). Anyway, I told him I was picking up the tab because I just got my first paycheck and because he's been a little down in the dumps lately. I was soooo not expecting the $90 total (probably about $70 was mine too) from some little Arlington bar! Note to self: AT WORK money is no object; AT HOME money still is:-)
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Letters from FirmsAt dinner this evening, we discussed the upcoming fall interview program. I am currently in a pretty
I already researched and sent out letters for a 1L summer. Of the 70 letters I sent out, I think I recieved 75 rejection letters. Seriously, I actually did, in fact, recieve a rejection letter from the firm in which I am currently employed. Funny. Anyway, there are many tones and languages of rejection letters. Basically, though, it boils down to the "we really are impressed with you, but are full/aren't taking 1Ls" and the "we are, um, impressed, but NO." I decided in order to research the firms I want to work for...I start the narrowing process by getting rid of all firms that didn't give me a good enough reason why they don't love me. Seriously, put some personality and meat into your rejection letters people!
Anyway, this all comes to mind because I received a rejection letter today dated May 23rd. Um, really? And to think, I was going to wait around and see if (insert firm name) would ever get back to me. Part of me thinks it's great that they did, at least, follow through. (Although it is presumably after their summer associate program is set in stone.) The other part of me thinks the "although your record of achievement is impressive, we regret we are not in a position to pursue employment discussions with you at this time" was WAY too bland. Couldn't I at least get a "sorry this letter comes so late in the process...hope you found something!"
Searching for WonLSometimes, it's really fun to see what avenues people take to arrive at this website. No, my friends, I do not sit and type random phrases into google hoping to get to myself. WonL does it for me:-) For those familiar with SiteMeter or any other program that records who logs onto my site (calm down, stalkers, it only records your IP address)...you will also know that it records links that people click on to arrive here, including any search terms they used. While I tend to not get anything outlandish, every so often, I do get some funny ones. I often wonder how disappointed these people must be when they DO NOT find what they are looking for:
Okay, so I do have this problem, but that's what safety pins are for. (Note: I'm only ranked 4th on this one, but I think the kid ranked first should be eliminated just for being creepy.)
Hmmm, I could possibly come up with one of these...for a fee.
I know that it is shocking that this place exists...but I have been there, I promise!
I do admit that my study group rocked, but I'm not sure we could be "the study group" and I am definitely sure we used none of that B-word.
Apparently, there was a glitch in Wal-Mart's system (...wait, Wal-Mart has a system?) anyway, you cannot see the link, but can see what they were searching for...apparently at Wal-Mart!
Although I cannot pronounce this, I am #1 when it comes to typing it! To the person who googled him: now do you see why y'all lost touch?
Sure, but, I would recommend pants to complete the ensemble.
Yeah, they told me that too. *cough**bullshit**cough...I assure you, exams are harder.
This one is good...Dang it, though, Ambimb is beating me!
And, I have now apparently been linked to the world of pornography. (At #1, might I add.)
Um, maybe because your roommate takes three showers a day.
HOW? I'm not sure, but it's all hot air, I tell ya!
I have a sneaking suspicion that none of these folks will add WonL to their favorites out of shear disappointment over not finding anything remotely similar to what they were looking for. However, if anyone is still around...welcome!
Monday, May 23, 2005
My first day......was like Paul in the American Revolution running the halls "the summers are coming! the summers are coming!"
...was like that first day at school when the new "gifted and talented" students are introduced to each other and then paraded around for everyone to see.
...was like sorority rush with the "hi my name is Law-Rah" hand shaking and painted on smile for two hours.
...was like the zoo when they put all the new monkeys in a room together to see how they acclimate not only to their surroundings, but to observe their behavior around each other.
...was like that time I worked at Victoria's Secret and they made me watch that video on how to fold underwear. (Okay, perhaps it was not too much like the lacy stuff, but we did have two hours of training via cheesy videos.)
...was like Christmas with all of the gifts and gadgets and the candy jar on my desk that "mysteriously refills itself every evening."
I have come to the realization that people were not exaggerating when they talked about the life of a summer associate. Dear Lord, I'm not sure that even I am ready for this level of corporate America. Oh, who am I kidding, I ate it up. I have not actually begun working yet. Granted, I am an employee and on the payroll and did have to show up today. However, we are in orientation until the distribution of our first assignments on Wednesday. This means I cannot comment on anything work related. Wait, I really have no intention of doing, anyway. I will say, that it was a lot to take in and I can see from day one that it is going to be an INTENSE eleven weeks.
I can also tell you that if today was any indication, then I sure have found a great fit. Our little "class" of worker bees are an absolute riot. We spent a whole lot of hours together being indoctrinated through videos on ergonomics, risk management, sexual harassment and other absolutely boring subjects, but we actually made it enjoyable. (By the way, did you know it is improper for a boss to send a card to an employee on Valentine's day saying "we should still be friends and just have sex." Who would have thought?) Not only are my partners-in-crime fun, but the atmosphere of the firm, as a whole, is extremely laid back and, dare I say, casual. I got that impression from the interview and that's is why I was so drawn to them. Well, that and, um, they offered me a job. I am pleased that such fun portrayal of firmwide personality was not just a farce. I think it is going to be a great summer working with brilliant people and hopefully on challenging projects that I will come to love.
Reality check: I am going to be spending the next 11 weeks working 60+ hours a week AND taking Property...let's see how long this positive outlook remains such!
First day...Okay, now I'm nervous!
Saturday, May 21, 2005
RevelationsMy "mentor" from my work-to-be emailed me yesterday to introduce herself and tell me she was excited to meet me on Monday. Immediately two things rushed to mind...
1) Crap, I start work on Monday...this is HUGE.
2) Wow, such a contrast between my "summer-apprentice-type" job while in Architecture school and while in Law School. (This is a discussion that warrants a post of it's own, that I promise to write when I have time or creative energy. Remind me!)
For now, I will return to enjoying my last few days of freedom. (By freedom, I mean doing ALL of my Property reading for next week.)
Friday, May 20, 2005
Legal Underground ChangesBig news around the blawgosphere right now: changes over at Legal Underground.
Some background...we can all admit that blogs/blawgs are becoming increasingly popular. Blogs are everywhere and most people are logging on daily. In fact, I am willing to bet if you are reading this blog, you may also have your own, or read another one or two, or at least know of some. Let's face it, blogs are becoming another arm of the media. Along with such widespread exposure, is bound to come some negativity. We have all heard of situations where people have lost their jobs due to content of their blogs. We have also encountered situations that bring weblogs to the center of lawsuits. Evan is bringing up another possibility: that blogging can serve as a negative marketing tool for a lawyer. There has been much discussion on this over at Legal Underground.
To sum things up: basically, the bulk of Evan's business (he runs a law firm) is in conjunction with other lawyers. With Legal Underground gaining such notoriety over the passage of time, he is afraid these potential clients/lawyer-joint-venturers will be given the wrong impression of him through his blog. He is not worried about someone saying "wow, this guy has a pretty irreverent attitude toward lawyers...we should steer clear of him." He is more worried about someone saying "um, if this guy spends this much time on his blog, is he really going to be able to dedicate himself to our case?" I think this is a valid fear on his part. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for Evan as a blogger and legal professional. However, I must admit that I until now, I have viewed him as blogger first, with a law firm on the side (which I did not believe to be a bad thing.) If this is not the image he is trying to portray, then perhaps a few changes here and there are not such a bad thing.
If anything, Evan's decision has sparked a plethora of discussion on the issue in both his comments as well as on other websites. What I find most interesting is that the discussions seem to be centered around what each individual think's Evan's situation REALLY is. I, for one, think Evan may know that best. With varying degrees of education and legal expertise, none of us is in the same position to gague Evan's situation and the best course of action for Evan. Why don't we leave that to him?
One argument focusses on the misplaced notion of blogs taking too much time. People look at the content of a site and for whatever reason assume it took the better part of a day to post. My mother, for one, thinks this is all I do. (Sometimes, I think she wonders if I even go to law school.) In reality, I only post in down time. This blog never takes priority over studying, work, socializing, etc. Basically, I substitute it for TV time since there is never anything good on these days anyway. That being said, I can fully understand Evan's fear that someone in his world may get the same mistaken impression on a much more important level...one that could cause him business.
I think Evan has done something that people have yet to realize in blogging: he has foreseen a negative impact and made the difficult yet possibly necessary decision to change course. That goes back to his level of interaction with the blawgosphere and his ability to analyze situations clearly. This makes me respect the man even more, if that is possible. Although I am sad about no more "Law School Round Up"...I do wish Evan the best of luck!
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Wait, the judicial branch isn't supposed to MAKE laws!I recently had a conversation with my brother regarding why lawyers
It starts with a beach scene, waves crashing on the shore, clear water and white sand, woman walking down the beach with her hair flying in the wind. A voice comes on "do you ever feel alone in the world"? (I bypass the "not so fresh feeling" thoughts and assume the commercial is going to be about some dating website.) "You should take comfort in knowing you have somewhere to turn." The words Christian Hill creep up from the bottom of the screen. (It is at this point I have a realization the ad is about one of those new fundamental churches.) A little man with wings flies up to meet the words that are now large and glowing and at the top of the screen. CHRISTIAN HILL is now followed by "Attorney at Law". (I have no idea where to begin defending the practice of law with idiots like this out there.)
And so the conversation began. Initially, the discussion focussed on brother's problems with the judicial branch overstepping their bounds into the legislature. In his words "they are only supposed to enforce the laws, not make them." In a simple world this would be true. On the other hand, what about issues of first impression? When the legislature makes a law, they make it broad enough to cover the people and situations they intend it to cover. This begs the question of what to do with those that fall just outside of the coverage of the line of the law. When the framers of the Constitution set up the separation of powers, did they really mean for situations like this to force the legislature to reevaluate laws for each potential lawbreaker? Or should the judicial system be afforded enough power to handle situations such as these? If the courts are given such powers, concerns then turn to the more pressing issue of where to draw the line to encompass how much power the courts have in "making" law.
This seems to be the uncomfortable sticking point for everyone, including the courts themselves. The contradicting schools of thought with regards to the amount of judicial power often times falls upon the judges themselves to sort through. In the first situation, courts will manipulate the wording or context of a law or situation to make the two fit together. Often times, this is for the sake of fairness. In another situation, courts will take note of the unfair nature of a situation, but claiming their hands are tied, they will leave the law making to the legislature. ("Judges have only a limited power to amend the law; when the subject has been confided to a Legislature, they must stand aside, even though there be a hiatus in completed justice." Cheney Bros. v. Doris Silk Corp. 35 F.2d 279.)
What, then, determines which road a court will take?
Some tend to firmly believe the amount of power a court exhibits in lawmaking has to do with the judges themselves. This leads to great debates over things such as Supreme Court nominees because their personalities and political affiliations may influence the lawmaking in our country. This war between Judicial Activism and Judicial Restraint is one that is presumably nowhere near any resolution.
On the other hand, others believe the control exerted over the law relies on the situations themselves. This can be seen in contract law with the creation of the concept of "good faith" to fill in the holes left in the law for the sake of fairness to a certain party under certain circumstances. There is also debate as to whether courts should be allowed to manipulate the written law for each circumstance. Should we take the textualist view and declare that what the law says is what goes? If so, do we then ignore the other crucial aspect of a law...the intent that the legislature had when passing the law?
Are the courts in the above situations really "making" laws, or are they expanding and interpreting laws? Furthermore, although the judicial system was originally set up to punish wrongdoers...hasn't there been such an expansion entrusting the courts with the right to interpretation? These questions may be such that no one can answer them. (Especially not myself after only one year of law school.) But they are questions that when laid out begin to show the complexity of the legal system in our country. Complexity that makes a statement like "they are only supposed to enforce the laws, not make them" seem illogical.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Vacation and PropertyThanks for asking, my trip to Houston was fabulous. I had a great week bonding with my two year old niece and her new baby sister, my Goddaughter. And then, the rest of the family showed up. Yep, when it comes to MY family, nothing compares to our quality time...a nosy grandmother who doesn't realize how loud she is when she says things about little Spanish kids in white tuxedos...a baby spitting up AND a 24 year-old brother spitting up (did I mention it was in the to-go box from dinner)...a grandpa threatening to disinherit me if I do anything with the ACLU...an aunt telling me I "may know laywer stuff, but don't know a damn thing about baseball" because I said the Nationals would win this game...a sister-in-law of a sister-in-law who won't have her own children, but loves to pretend other people's are hers...and a wife of a friend who apparently has mental breakdowns when around, um, people...seriously, nothing compares to family time:-)
Moving on to the end of my vacation and the beginning of school. Yes, sadly, this evening marked the beginning of summer school. I'm pretty bummed about being back so soon and having to spend my summer taking a class. On the other hand, as one of my classmates said, "at least we are all going to be together." Awww. Sure, although it was nice to see my friends again, it is not worth being back. Plus, I did a really stupid thing tonight. Thinking I was ahead of the game, I strategically chose a seat for my class that was in the back for all of the days that I will probably be late. (Good move considering the eight people that showed up 10+ minutes after the start of class all ended up in the front row.) Anyway, I did sit next to one of those guys in class that cuts up a lot, but what can ya do? In my quest to find the perfect seat, I failed to realize that the clock is above my head. This enlightened moment came halfway through class when I noticed that prof. was taking note of all of the faces and gestures I made. Crap, this means I am going to have to behave myself. Gonna be a long summer!
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Urban SprawlI am finally getting around to reading The Da Vinci Code. As I am engulfed in the chase around historic cities and references to various architectural masterpieces in the forms of both Churches and urban layouts, something hit me upside the head...I am in Houston! When I was in my fourth year of Arch. school, we learned of precision with which so many wonderful pieces of art and architecture were planned. Aside from all of the cities abroad, we did study some cities in the US. We learned about the grid of NYC and the French and English influence that was 'ruined' by the American way. We learned of how Savannah, GA strategically placed their squares to enable their soldiers to communicate of approaching danger. My favorite, of course, was learning of Washington, DC being built from memory after the original architect of the city lost himself. In the end, there was always a slide of Houston. Houston, TX...what happens when a city is not planned. My urban design professor always relied on Houston to teach us what urban sprawl was. I see it clearly now.
Since HDOT has decided to plow a new highway through my brother's neighborhood, he is looking to move his family. Of course, it would seem only logical in such a city to move outward. We went to look at houses the other day. Noticing my brother's excitement for this new venture of his, I had to work hard to contain my general disgust at the concept of cookie cutter homes. Not just one or two, though. There are neighborhoods upon neighborhoods of these little pre-designed villages. I guess it is not quite as bad as it could be. I just hastily got excited when he said "we are probably going to build." I didn't realize he meant "we are probably going to find a neighborhood with 60 empty lots and no trees, pick one of five designs from show-houses and fill out a checklist of colors and materials for our home." (At least these neighborhoods have a rule that you cannot place any two same-type houses within a certain distance to ...um...maintain character.)
We went into about four of these show-homes. Of course, they are decorated to an extravagant degree in the hopes that someone will walk in and immediately fall in love with the house failing to realize the Titanic themed media room is a custom add-on. Sorry, they call them upgrades. (Much like a CD player in a car.) The houses are not actually THAT bad. We went into a two story house that was pretty unreal. I think there were four or five bedrooms and a study. The living area was two stories in hieght with windows overlooking a large plush green backyard. There was also a catwalk of sorts intersecting and overlooking the living room on its way to the play room, which was on the other side of the media center. The kitchen was huge and, of course, there were two seperate dining rooms because you just never know who you will be entertaining. As brother and I descended the spiral staircase into the foyer, I inquired about price. This, being the most expensive and "upgraded" of the houses, would break $200,000. I gasped! Considering I have a friend who recently bought a two bedroom apartment in an old building outside of DC for $250k! Brother looked at me and said, "so, I guess urban sprawl isn't all THAT bad."
Sunday, May 08, 2005
The past few days are pretty much a blur. The bulk of the people I know (myself included) have been engaging in the consumption of alcohol as a way to decompress from the stress of our first year of law school. When the drinking binge started on Thursday with "Four Beers and Four Shots for $10", we should have known things would not be pretty. I will not admit which of the below pertain to me (if any), but here are some pretty clear signs you are drinking too much:
1) Waking up in a pool of your own blood with your nose looking very "not right".
2) Not being completely sure what happened, but fairly certain it did not involve fisticuffs.
3) Making out with one of your best friend's friends who you are in law school with and who may or may not have a girlfriend.
4) Sporting your high school softball jacket at 3 o'clock in the morning.
5) Waking up, looking out of the bathroom window and seeing some guy lost in your backyard.
6) Having to clean up the red plastic beer cups from all over your house considering the party was elsewhere.
7) Having a bouncer pick you out of a crowd to specifically tell you that you are too drunk to enter the establishment.
8) Proving said bouncer correct by showing everyone that you cannot see straight enough to light your own cigarette.
9) Accidentally punching out a classmate's window.
10) When you call your friends and they answer the phone "hey drunkard, what's up?"
11) When you start to alienate people.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
DoneExams are over and I don't even know what to think. This morning, I woke up, went to Starbucks because I am out of coffee, and just sat and read the paper. I am not used to having "no" responsibilities. (Let's exclude the fact that I am co-hosting a BBQ today and have to go get the keg, still have to get my car to the shop from being hit, still haven't done my financial aid for school, and I'm sure there is much more.) The thing is, though, none of these are pressing enough to interfere with my down time...except maybe the keg.
I feel so relieved that all of this is over and I can begin to get my life back. I am actually washing clothes and cleaning my room so I can see the floor again. Today, I am living for today. I am not thinking of yesterday or the day before or how I did on those LONG tests. It's over. I am also not thinking about tomorrow or next week when I start summer school and hit Property head on. For now, I am only thinking of going shopping, and drinking with my classmates at our section wide BBQ. To those of you done...CONGRATS! To those of you still trucking...these are the feelings you have to look forward to...good luck:-)
Thursday, May 05, 2005
ExhaustedLast exam is tomorrow...had a class-wide review session tonight...felt good going in...didn't feel as good coming out.
I heard a song today that sum's up in one sentence how I feel: My give-a-damn is busted!
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Dreaded TortsContinuing onward to my comparisions of exams to dating:
I knew this one was coming. Torts was the dreaded date with my mom's church friend's brother's neighbor's son's chess partner. I knew I didn't want to go and I knew there was no chance in hell of enjoying myself. Nevertheless, they had been talking about this for so long, it was inevitable. The first time he was mentioned (on the syllabus as being a closed book exam) I just knew it would not work out. After I caught a glimpse of an old picture, things just went downhill from there.
Well, it was about that bad, if not worse. He was tiresome, obnoxious and had sub-par communication skills. In fact, more than once in the evening, he rambled on for quite some time and when he finished, all I could say was "huh?" I had to duck out twice for a breather because I was so miserable. I could have answered every single one of his questions with a simple 'yes' or 'no' and that was that. For some reason, I felt that I had to go into great detail though. Whatever. I am so glad that one is over. It was just as bad, if not worse, than I thought it would be. Worst part: I didn't even get a free dinner! Argh...
Monday, May 02, 2005
When it rains it poursOkay, seriously, enough is enough!
In one week, I have locked my keys in my car and had to stand in the rain after studying at school for 12 hours...failed to meet a deadline to pay for my flight to my Godchild's Baptism...had to go to the airport to deal with Delta and my flight that got jacked up to $500...dropped my cell phone in a cup of coffee, was told by Cingular kid that my phone was ruined, got a new phone complete with new service and plan and everything, lost all my phone numbers...and then my car got hit at school last night. Did I mention that I am in the middle of exams and really don't have time for all of this right now?
Back to torts.