Oh you Harvard Law School kids! We poke some fun at the (rather silly) proposal to rename the HLS sections, which are currently identified by numbers. And then we get grief for it in the comments, including a claim that we “have very little understanding of irony or satire” (even though the survey didn’t seem very satirical to us, aside from a single throwaway line about Hogwarts).*
Anyway, to satisfy any defensive HLSers, we’ll now publish a tip we received that makes the Law School seem slightly less ridiculous:
[I]t’s not the HLS administration’s idea to do this; it is basically the idea of a single 1L. I was at the student government meeting in which this idea was first proposed, and it came from a 1L section representative. Because 1L participation is strongly encouraged, no one wanted to shoot him down (even though many people thought the idea was silly).
Someone suggested sending out a poll to see if other students agreed, and if so, the student government would pass on the poll results to the administration. My hunch is that students will vote against it, and regardless the faculty/admin almost certainly would not support the idea. That’s the back story.
We’ve always admired Harvard Law School. It struck us as a place of high seriousness. It didn’t succumb to the latest trends in legal education. It didn’t train philsopher-kings; it trained LAWYERS, dammit.
So what if its students were kinda miserable? They got the best, most rigorous legal education money could buy. In short, HLS was bad-ass.
But recent events call into question our veneration for Harvard Law School. The Law School seems to be getting squishy on us. They have revamped their 1L curriculum, to place greater emphasis on touchy-feely topics like “international law.” And now we learn this (from an HLS tipster):
HLS is considering renaming the sections, previously assigned numbers (Sections 1 through 7), with actual names. Just when I think people can’t get more ridiculous…
See attached PDF for a Student Government survey. I like how they would consider naming sections after prominent donors!
Here’s our favorite question from the survey:
Our tipster suggested “porn stars, Care-Bears, and favorite sections of the MPC.”
Not bad; but we have two more ideas. Section names should facilitate healthy inter-section rivalry, as well as “trash talking.” Here are our suggestions:
1. Feeder Judges: You might as well name the sections after things HLS students actually care about. That’s why naming them after random dead alumni (see option F) is so stupid. Who wants to be in the “Jonathan Witherspoon IV Section”?
Naming sections after feeder judges makes much more sense. It lends itself well to assertions of team spirit:
“I’m in the Boudin section. Judge Boudin sent all of his clerks to the Court this Term. He rules!!!”
“I’m in the Kozinski section. He sent all his clerks to the Court too. And the Ninth Circuit is way cooler than the First Circuit — what a backwater!”
2. Celebrities With Legal Problems: The beauty of this section-naming scheme is that the category is continually expanding. The well never runs dry. And it’s terribly fun. Who wouldn’t want to be in the “O.J. Simpson Section” or the “Winona Ryder Section”?
Once again, there’s excellent trash-talking potential:
“We’re in the Michael Jackson Section. We’re the Kings of Pop — and of Torts!”
“Too bad you can’t keep your hands off teenage boys. We’re the Anna Nicole Smith section. Sure, we sleep around. But at least the people we sleep with have undergone puberty!”
If you’d like to see the HLS Student Government survey, we reprint it in full after the jump.
For all of the references in his introductory remarks to being “dignified,” Judge Larry Seidlin was anything but. We’re mortified.
Words don’t do him justice. Just watch this video clip of his ruling in the Anna Nicole Smith matter:
Some highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be):
(1) Judge Seidlin’s theatrical sigh, around the one-minute mark;
(2) the start of the full-blown breakdown, at about two minutes;
(3) the judge’s tear-suffused repetition of “I want her to be buried, I want her to be buried”; and
(4) Judge Seidlin’s wannabe poetic conclusion: “It’s a long order. It’s a long order.”
While we were in line at a coffee shop yesterday, footage from the Anna Nicole Smith case was playing on a television above the counter. The customer in front of us turned around and said: “That judge is CRAZY.”
We agree. Judge Larry Seidlin, of Broward Circuit Court, has to be the most ridiculous judge to preside over celebrity litigation since Judge Lance Ito.
If you haven’t been following the litigation, here’s a good CNN write-up:
Judge Larry Seidlin, with his distinctive Bronx honk, down-to-earth approach and plain language, is as much a part of the show in Broward Circuit Court as the case he is presiding over.
Seidlin is hearing arguments over the status of the earthly remains of recently deceased tabloid fixture Anna Nicole Smith. But arguments over child custody and paternity have made their way into the courtroom.
Some legal observers, and even one of the participants, say Seidlin has allowed the proceedings to become a circus.
E.g., Jeffrey Toobin, of CNN and the New Yorker:
“This may be the most ridiculous legal proceeding I have ever watched,” Toobin said. “This judge is one of the least competent judges I have ever seen. He is letting this thing meander all over creation, mostly because he seems to enjoy being on television.”
Court TV’s Lisa Bloom concurs, observing that it’s all “wearing a little thin.”
But legal affairs reporters aren’t the only ones with low opinions of Judge Seidlin:
According to the Miami Herald, 22 percent of the lawyers responding to the 2004 Broward County Bar poll found Seidlin unqualified.
A blog of the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward concludes that Seidlin is, among other things, a victim of “his inner comedian.”
We’ve all seen judges like this (and we’ve all laughed, with exaggerated loudness, at their jokes). CNN suggests a motive for Judge Seidlin’s hamming it up in the Anna Nicole Smith proceedings:
The judge’s offbeat folksiness combines the directness of a Judge Judy with the touchy-feely common sense of a Dr. Phil. He could be auditioning for his own television show….
“He’s very entertaining, there’s no question about it,” [said Court TV's Lisa Bloom]. “But it’s not about entertainment. At Court TV we keep in mind that these are real people here.”
This is confirmed by TMZ.com, which reports that “Judge Larry Seidlin’s dream is to become a judge on a TV courtroom show” — and notes that his surname “is extremely similar to Judge Judy Sheindlin.”
Here’s a telling fact: Judge Seidlin is a former New York cabbie. You know when you climb in a cab, with a splitting headache, and just want to sit back with your eyes closed — but the cabbie insists on talking your ear off? Judge Seidlin sounds like he was one of THOSE cabbies, back in the day.
Please, Your Honor — spare us. We’re not interested in your thoughts on the war in Iraq (referenced in a lengthy spiel on Wednesday).
Just drive. Thank you.
P.S. Not all taxicab drivers turned judges are so problematic. See, e.g., Thomas Hardiman (W.D. Pa.) — who drove a cab before going to law school. But Hardiman, of course, is a federal rather than state judge. If Anna Nicole Smith Case Is a Circus, Judge Is Ringmaster [CNN] All Rise!!! Judge Seidlin Says He’s Ready for TV [TMZ.com]
Last night, gsbarristers.com, the website of Gallion & Spielvogel — the extremely prestigious, highly regarded, supremely pedigreed, boutique law firm — looked like this:
Yup, that’s right — just lots of blank grey space. Avinti.com is an internet hosting company and service provider, which presumably hosts the Gallion & Spielvogel site.
This morning, however, gsbarristers.com sports a whole new look:
Très understated. Perhaps Gallion & Spielvogel is taking the Hollywood talent agency route, with a minimal to non-existent web presence?See, e.g., CAA (where we once worked for a summer).
We sincerely hope that this is NOT the case. We pray that the current site is merely a placeholder, to be replaced on some future date with a more elaborate presentation. We’re already missing paeans to the name partners’ “coveted,” “extremely prestigious” clerkships, as well as encomiums to their stints at Sullivan & Cromwell, “one of the most prominent Wall Street law firms,” where they represented “many of the world’s largest corporations,” and “any number” of corporate executives.
We want the old gsbarristers.com to return. Please, guys, come back — we miss you! Gallion & Spielvogel [current, official website] GSBarristers.com [older version of website, via Archive.org] Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Gallion & Spielvogel (scroll down)
* The Guber Downward-Facing Dog Trial coming soon. [De Novo; MSN]
* If you don’t know who’s the “real lawyer” at the table, it’s you. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Kosher-ness may be inapplicable to porn, but I would not want to venture a guess as to Mr. Cohen’s idea behind his trademark. [Likelihood of Confusion]
* Another reason hedge funds are shady? You don’t say. [Professor Bainbridge]
Does she use a ruler to whale on the summer interns, when they pass her in the hallway and fail to greet her?
Maybe; we wouldn’t be surprised. But we actually had something else in mind.
From yet another former member of the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department, who had the pleasure of working under section chief Shanetta Cutlar:
I can remember how Shanetta used to offer the ombudsman’s services at EVERY staff meeting (don’t tell me no one was aware of the low morale)…
How Shanetta ordered the entire staff — attorneys, paralegals, investigators, staff — to take 2 hours of mandatory training in beginning word processing (mostly how to use the spell checker)…
How Shanetta announced in a staff meeting that whenever she reviews a document, she reads it with a ruler, to ensure there are no extra spaces…
What a great use of her time. No wonder she never had the time to with us.
Your taxpayer dollars at work: Paying the six-figure salary of a schoolmarm with a J.D.
P.S. We’re thinking of changing the name of this site to the “Aaron Charney and Shanetta Cutlar Blog.” We could blog full-time about nothing else. And we have enough material in our inbox about these two matters to keep us going for days (with more tips constantly arriving). Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)
How do you solve a problem like length limits on law school final exams? It’s a vexing issue. If you think we’re exaggerating, read this PrawfsBlawg post (which generated an avalanche of comments, including many from frustrated law professors).
Well, fear not. The geniuses at “the world’s premier center for legal education and research” take due process seriously when it comes to exam grading — as well they should, since that Torts grade will determine the trajectory of YOUR ENTIRE LEGAL CAREER* — and they have solved this difficulty.
From: Catherine Claypoole Date: Nov 29, 2006 5:16 PM Subject: [STUDENTS]: Length Limits on Exams: Memo from Vice Dean Andy Kaufman To: [Harvard Law School students]
To all students:
During the investigation of several discipline cases last spring, the faculty became aware of substantial student concern that length limits on examinations were being enforced unevenly. Moreover, the faculty became aware that this concern was justified. Accordingly, the faculty has agreed that, starting this exam period, length limits ordinarily will be stated in a uniform way that is easy to enforce that is, by setting a page limit followed by a prescribed format as follows:
– font:12 point Times New Roman (including all footnotes)
– characters: normal spacing
– lines: double-spaced
– margin: 1″ margin on left and right, top and bottom
There is of course no need for you to remember this format. The cover pages of exams with length limits will provide this information….
Good luck with the rest of the term.
Best regards, Andy Kaufman Vice Dean for Academic Programming
Our favorite detail is “characters: normal spacing.” The administration knows that within the HLS student body, there are lots of ex-college newspaper editors who know a thing or two about kerning.
Our second-favorite detail: there’s a Harvard Law School dean named Andy Kaufman.
These rules make sense, at a certain level; but the annoying thing is that someone must police them. While some violations might be apparent to the naked eye — especially naked eyes that can tell the difference between an italicized and non-italicized comma — other transgressions might be less conspicuous. Will teaching assistants have to whip out rulers to confirm that the margins are truly one inch all around, and not, say, 0.97 inches?
This is way too cumbersome. HLS profs, just adopt Dan Solove’s brilliant system for law school exam grading. Nothing could be easier or more efficient.
* No, 1Ls, we’re serious. That Torts grade will determine whether you grade on to Law Review. Which will determine whether you get a clerkship with a “feeder judge.” Which will determine whether you get a Supreme Court clerkship. Which will determine whether you end up arguing before the Supreme Court yourself, as a million-dollar partner or member of the SG’s office, or chasing ambulances in Salina, Kansas.
(Not that there’s anything wrong with Salina, for those of you who are from there. We’re sure it’s a lovely town.) Enforcing Word Limits [PrawfsBlawg] A Guide to Grading Exams [Concurring Opinions]
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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