Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reflection on 2L Year

It is not easy to sum up a 9 month period in a single blog post.  However, this post will not be as long as last year's ( because I will not be listing my favorite cases (or, if I do, I will not go off about them, while watching Wheel of Fortune and having a moment of divine coincidence while writing about White v. Samsung and hearing Pat Sajak say, "It's good you make mistakes.  It shows you're human.  Not that there was any doubt about that.").  Regardless, there is still a lot of angst to sort through, and I question the intelligence of writing about "romance" on my blog, but I feel that it has been the aspect of my 2L year that has made it both tolerable and endlessly intriguing.

But first, the classes.  As some of you may know, I started writing a column for BLS Advocate this year.  I wanted to write a column about Exams, and about how students should "Review" exams they have just taken, for the benefit of future students.  Well, THAT, I am going to do.  That may be very boring so I will keep that to the end.

If you have been following this blog for any amount of time, you should probably know that I was on the verge of dropping out last summer.  I was destroyed by the 1L process.  I was destroyed by grades.  I was destroyed by the lack of comfort, the constant sense of unease I felt in not fully understanding the material, going into the exam, and having an internal mental meltdown where everything I learned, all the hours I spent doing the reading assignments, then outlining, then reviewing, then taking practice exams, then sending questions to professors, then annoyingly accosting classmates about "the right answer" resulted in nothing more than a B, B-, or C+.

This year, in the Fall, I did not do worse than a B+.  People told me, "It gets better."  People told me, "It gets easier."  People told me, "They work you to death."  All three statements were true, at least for me.  However, as previously noted, I do not think that necessarily would have held true had I not begun taking medication.

Medication may be controversial, to a degree (psychotropics and amphetamines, at least), but I seriously believe that law students are on way more medication than most people realize.  But that's not what I want to talk about.

"Romance" and law school do not coalesce for several reasons:
1) Dates cost money, and law students generally don't have any income.
2) Dates cost time, and law students generally don't have much of it.
3) When "FWB" comes into play, someone's feelings tend to get hurt at the end of the day.

Annoying personality qualities are revealed.  "True colors" come out.  And the gossip, the gossip of it all at law school is insane.  One friend told me, incredibly, (and perhaps it was incredible that I agreed with her, but I still do) that undergraduate students at NYU are more mature than law students at BLS.  While at first this appears to be an incredible statement, the size of BLS (vs. the size of NYU) makes it a veritable "devil's playground" for gossip.  Most people know a majority of the 1400 students or so here -- at least those that are "lounge lizards" or "library sleepers" or "smokers" -- whether by reputation, appearance, hearsay, or legend.  Most people at NYU do not know a majority of the 18,000 students or so there.  Smaller groups of friends are formed, gossip is not so vituperative, and "incest" (GENERALLY) occurs less often.

Regardless, many people try to make law school and "romance" work together symbiotically, and indeed I have written about "spouse-searching" at law school previously (here  While I do not deny that I will continue to seek out a "worthy" or "willing" partner, I wish I didn't have to.  I wish I could stay single forever--but it gets boring--and worse, some people see it as "failure" or a reflection of a generally poor character, which I think is just so sad.  It's one of those judgments that makes life intolerable.

But being in a relationship also gets boring.  At least in my experience.

Moving on.

Here are the classes I took:
Debtors and Creditors' Rights (Hon. Glenn) - B+
Administrative Law (Prof. Araiza) - B+
Evidence (Prof. Pitler) - A-
Health Law Practicum Clinic (Prof. Porter/Medicare Rights Center) - HP
Interviewing & Counseling (Prof. Schultze) - A-
Business Reorganizations (Prof. Gerber) - ?
Corporations (Prof. Baer) - ?
Consumer Counseling and Bankruptcy Clinic (Prof. Eyster) - ?
Employment Law (Prof. Minda) - ?
Trial Advocacy (Prof. Hynes) - ?

I did better in the Fall than I ever did in my 1L year.  My GPA was a 3.5.  It ruled.
However, I am nervous that the Spring will not offer as great rewards.  The exams were difficult, and somehow, I just felt less focused in a way, more rushed.

A brief review:
Debtor and Creditor was a great class, even though many felt that Glenn's lack of teaching experience may have hampered our ability to understand the bankruptcy system.  Whatever the case, I did not do very well on the exam.  I know this because I reviewed it with him.  I screwed almost everything up--though there were a few questions where I did get "parts" of it right.  Regardless, that exam was the hardest exam I have ever taken.  It was clear, when I made it to the final question (worth a relatively significant number of points) and I only had 10 minutes left to read the fact pattern and write an answer, that my timing had been seriously miscalculated.  Fortunately, that was the case for almost everyone, and I somehow managed a B+.  Getting to meet Judge Glenn and being there the day after MF Global filed for Chapter 11 and hearing his excitement that he would be assigned "the 8th largest bankruptcy case in American history" was cool.  He also invited us into a hearing on use of cash collateral, but unfortunately, I had other obligations.

Medicare Rights Center was that obligation, and I spent 168 hours working there.  It was a good experience, but I felt it was the one internship I have done since starting law school that was not a potential place to work after graduation.  They just didn't like me.  Or, maybe they did like me, to an extent, but we didn't work as well together as we might have.  I have no hard feelings though, and I have a deep amount of respect for that organization.  Moreover, it was the only time I had the opportunity to become "deeply involved" in a case, and the experience of winning was totally sweet.  (By the way, I am batting 1,000 when it comes to winning cases).

Administrative Law was a great class, though not always easy.  Prof. Araiza is the #2 professor at BLS in my opinion.  He is utterly fantastic.  I will take any class I can with him next year, whatever the subject matter, though I hope he teaches First Amendment (aka Con Law III, which, I think, Admin Law should be Con Law IV)...However, I did not do very well on the exam, again!  My answers were not very well organized (though I must admit, I was significantly more accurate about "the law" on my Admin exam than on my D&C exam) and Araiza chastised me when we reviewed it together.  He kept saying, "I don't want to be mean....but what were you thinking?"  It was so funny!  I could never be mad at him.  His standards are high, but it can be one of the most fulfilling experiences when you have a Professor with very high expectations and you meet them, and he is satisfied with your performance.  I was pleased to get a B+.

Evidence is one of those "core classes" that most 2L/3L students will take, though it is an elective.  It is a fun class, and Prof. Pitler made it fun, though many did not appreciate his style.  He has great style, in my opinion, and because I did the work all throughout the semester, because I did all of the "problems" that we were supposed to prepare for class (in lieu of casebook reading), because I always volunteered to answer, he told me at the end of the last class that he really appreciated how well prepared I was.  I did not do great on that exam, either!  I reviewed it with him, and he told me I scored a B+, but he bumped me up to an A- because of my in-class participation.  There was no sweeter bump, as that was a 4 credit class (though it is conceivable that I got the same kind of "bump" for Civil Procedure last year, though my participation was anything but comparable).

Interviewing & Counseling is a class taught by Prof. Schultze, who is a legend around this campus.  His Negotiation seminar is more well-known, but the Interviewing & Counseling course was good--only, it seemed to focus a lot on Family Law.  Later, I would take a clinic with Prof. Eyster, which focused almost exclusively on Interviewing & Counseling in Bankruptcy Law.  Now, that was a very difficult thing to do, let me tell you, but it's one of the best skills you can get.  You can interview someone all day about their legal problem involving a breach of contract or a tort, or who was the better parent, or you can take a criminal defense case and dance around your client and hope they don't admit their guilt--but with bankruptcy, you have a client that has to explain how their financial life went to hell.  Sometimes they don't want to talk about -- this is private stuff!  Having been there myself, I think it's the area I'm most suited for.

Business Reorganizations was probably the single best class I took at BLS and Prof. Gerber is the #1 professor (Araiza is only #2 because he intimidates me - I like him, but I'm afraid that whatever I say to him ends up sounding like the words of an idiot, because he is an intellectual powerhouse).  It was fun, he was nice, and what was really great about him was his review session: we reviewed the exam from last year, and he stayed 75 minutes later than he expected the review session to last - and he answered every single question.  I told him, "Thank you for staying so late," and he said, "I don't have a life anyways."  He is hilarious and great and it is rumored that he will be taking a sabbatical next year--so I urge all current 1Ls (becoming 2Ls at this very moment, as the Property exam is ending) to take a class with him in two years.  I will be happy with a B+ in this class, but I am praying I may score as high as an A-.

Corporations is another "core class" like Evidence, and also 4 credits.  Corporations was very hard, but not as hard as Debtor/Creditor.  However, it was 4 credits, and I did not like the way we got all of our most important cases as the very end of the year.  Omnicare, Time, QVC, Revlon, ITT--these cases are huge, both page-number wise and in how important they are in the course.  Prof. Baer has a very good reputation and I generally agree that she taught the class well, but I felt that there was a bit of a disconnect there.  In particular--we were expected to do an incredible amount of "review reading" and "supplemental reading" which was simply impossible (even with a relatively long reading period for me personally).  She warned me not to miss the forest for the trees, so to speak, and that this was a basic, "survey" course.  And yet!  And yet on the exam we are expected to be able to make fine distinctions based upon long, complex fact patterns with little or no explanation of the practical meaning of certain phrases.  This wouldn't be so difficult if the exam was open note, but it was not!  The exam, which I took yesterday, was the third hardest one I have taken (Contracts with Prof. Taylor takes the #2 position),.  I rushed like hell.  I screwed up stuff about Shareholder Rights Plans (which, even though I named my study group "the Poisoned Pills," I could still not really get what the practical effect of "redeeming the pill" meant).  There are really interesting stories behind some of these cases, and some of the opinions were great (my personal favorite #1 case of the year was In re Citigroup Shareholders Derivative Litigation (2009) which basically alleges that Citigroup "should have known better" than to invest in asset-backed mortgage securities--it is basically the greatest opinion of the past 5 years because it encapsulates everything that was rotten about the Great Recession--and yet, Citigroup cannot possibly be held responsible for the shit-storm we've all had to wade through (and indeed, is directly responsible for many of us being in law school now), though Schlensky v. Wrigley is fantastic if you are a Cubs fan).
While I enjoyed the class (indeed, if I were ever to become a Professor, I would want to teach it), I am very scared about what grade I might get.  I will be happy with a B+--and I hope the boost works in my favor in this class.  If I get a B, I will probably shoot myself, though it is certainly conceivable that, my exam answers earned no more than a B, or even a B-.  With a B, and a boost, a B+ will be O.K.  I really wanted to CALI this class, and I thought I could do it, until I looked at the fact pattern.  I was super confident going in, and then everything fell apart.  There is basically NO WAY I could get an A.  If I get an A-, I will be very, very happy.  (And keep in mind, while all this talk about grades might seem obnoxious, I only care so much because my scholarship is dependent on these things).

Employment Law with Prof. Minda was a long, strange trip.  I opted to write the paper, and I hope he likes it.  Personally, I think this paper is brilliant, but it is a big mess too.  It's 14,000 words.  120 footnotes.  I'd try to publish it, but I'd need to edit it significantly, and of course, in that process all the good stuff would get taken out.  Regardless, interesting class, I enjoyed it.  And while writing the paper was sometimes quite hard (my topic was on the staffing industry, which is shrouded in secrecy) it was extremely fulfilling.  I hope to get an A in this class.  It is doubtful that I will get an A+.  I will be happy with an A-, however, I will not be happy with a B+.

Trial Advocacy with Prof. Hynes was great, though I felt he was a "Taylorist" in the sense that he may have felt there was "one best way" to make an opening statement and conduct direct examinations and cross-examinations.  He seemed to give us more leeway on summations, but he did not give much feedback on ours.  He told me I had "great style" which was nice to hear from someone so eminent (he is the D.A. of) Kings County) and he agreed, tentatively, at the last minute to play himself in my upcoming film, Batman in Brooklyn.  I don't know what kind of grade I'll get, but I'd be very pleased with an A-.

The Consumer Counseling and Bankruptcy Seminar, finally, was great.  I loved the office I was placed into, and Prof. Eyster generally made the weekly seminars an interesting detour.  What was strange about this is that, it was 4 credits, and my health law practicum was 3 credits, and I had to work 168 hours at Medicare Rights Center, but only 140 at my bankruptcy firm.  There was a bit more classwork for this, but we had to keep journals just the same of every day.  I think the clinical program should be revised to make it more equal, since I'll be getting a grade for this class (hopefully A-, if not A) and only got a High Pass for the health law clinic.

This has been a very long post about nothing in particular, but it is for BLS students that may want to know a little bit more about the classes they can take and the professors that taught them.  I hope to write a final column soon about the Journal writing competition and Bluebooking.  I am now going to resume my bender. Thank you.

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