Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Tale of Two Women

As I'm sure you're readily aware, Republican presidential candidate John McCain has picked Arkansas Governor Sarah Palin. Indeed, this is only the second time a woman has been picked for the VP slot on a major party ticket. The first time was when Geraldine Ferraro was picked to run with Walter Mondale in 1984 to run against Ronald Reagan. While there are many issues and questions that surround Ms. Palin that will eventually be vetted out by the press corps., one issue that strikes me as odd is her comparison to Senator Hillary Clinton and the suggestion that Ms. Palin will be able to draw Clinton supporters who have not yet found a fondness for Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.

Yes, I'm not a woman. So, no, I'm not the target audience the McCain campaign might not be targeting with Ms. Palin. But I simply cannot see any comparison between Ms. Palin and Mrs. Clinton that might attract women voters over to the McCain camp. Unless of course, the McCain camp believes women's voting decisions are not complex and that women were supporting Mrs. Clinton for the sheer fact that she was a woman.

I might be wrong, but I believe many women supported Mrs. Clinton because of her experience in and around public office, commitment to key issues they identified with, toughness in dealing with opposition and challenges, intellect, poise under pressure and spotlight, and of course, yes, her being a woman, I'm sure, did play a balancing factor. But for the most part, Mrs. Clinton, by many measures, was qualified to be President and many women saw this, and thus, supported her.

In stark contrast, stands Ms. Palin, whereby most measures, is not qualified to be President. Sure, she has leadership experience. She's been the mayor of a town with a population of 5,469, and has spent two years as the governor of Alaska, who has a population roughly 80,000 people smaller than San Francisco. Does this mean she's able to navigate the complex issues and many moving parts that comes with being vice-president, or (well, given McCain's age) president? I'm simply not convinced.

Many of her supporters suggest that her accomplishments while governor, though only serving two years, match the accomplishments of a person in office for 8 years. This is supposed to represent her ability to "get things done." Still, however, I'm unconvinced. Again, getting things" done" in Alaska is not like getting things "done" in Washington. There are so many parties and considerations to contend with, both domestically and internationally, that any comparison to achieving anything in relatively isolated Alaska cannot be seriously considered.

What got me the most, however, was listening to Ms. Palin's speech and, comparing it to Mrs. Clinton's speech at the DNC. While both women are very good speakers, Ms. Palin's speech simply lacked the clarity of ideas, details, and passion that Mrs. Clinton invoked in her address to the DNC. It is readily clear, that Mrs. Clinton had spent a considerable amount of time thinking about issues that face America and solutions to these problems. This, of course, did not come about solely because of the last few years of her unsuccessful run for president. This thought process has evolved over the course of the last 35 years of her life. 35 years directed toward public service including time as First Lady of the state of Arkansas, on the campaign trail for her husband in 1992 and 1996, as First Lady of the United States, and her time as Senator of New York state. This includes time when she must surely have questioned her role in the public eye as the spotlight of the national press core shines more brightly and more intensely than even the longest Alaskan day.

In sum, Mrs. Clinton has had a lot of time to contemplate what it means to be President. She's seen the peaks and the valleys of Office. She's been all over over America and has engaged this country in conversation. Mrs. Clinton has a vision for this country. Ms. Palin, fresh-faced from Alaska, has not given us a similar vision. And because of this, I cannot see Ms. Palin seriously attracting female voters to McCain. Echoing the clich├ęd words of Vice-Presidential candidate, Llyod Bentsen, Governor Palin, you're no Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bar Night: APALSA style

For those who haven't seen the flyers, bar night this week will be held at Milk. It's at the end of Haight near Stanyan. It's being hosted by APALSA and their flyers request you not wear sandals or flip flops. Closed toes shoes or you're not getting in the door. And be sure to bring your USF ID, or you will be subject to a cover. Sound like too many things to remember for one bar night? Well, suck it up for this one and come out for this one, cause the remaining bar nights will be a blast (including, from what I hear...a rock climbing bar night later in the semester- sounds pretty bad ass if actually is true). Anyhow, hope to see you out there on Thursday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Bowmans are Awesome!

I don't normally post on music cause, well, this is a law school blog. But what good is it running a law school blog if you can't occasionally tell law students about awesome ways to spend their non-reading time- like listening to amazing indie artists such as the Bowmans who I came across this summer while in LA. I liked the Bowmans so much I felt compelled to blog about them.

The Bowmans consist of twins Claire and Sarah Bowman. From New York, they sing, sorta folk music, though myspace lists them as Americana/Indie/Pop. Not lame folk music, though. But stuff Fionna Apple covers when keeping her singing voice in shape for Santa Monica patrons (at the show I was at, some fan went up after the performance and told Sarah that Fionna Apple had covered them the night before at some venue in Santa Monica.) Anyhow, whatever you want to call it, it's great music and a really recommend you check em out. One of my favorite songs (if you can call it that) is entitled "Porker Song," which is actually a not-too- serious call to stop eating pork. For the record, I still eat pork, but it's a fun song nonetheless. My favorite actual song is entitled "Make it Last." It's a nice melody, presents good imagery, and is easy to listen to. Check it out.

Anyhow, it turns out The Bowmans are coming out with a new CD (well, it's in pre-sale as they're in the process of recording it). As this got me excited, I bought a presale copy ($27). It'll come signed and personalized. Fancy, indeed. Britney Spears and Coldplay certainly don't give you this type of quality. And The Bowmans make way better music. So, check out their page. And, if you like their music, I recommend you sacrifice a few bar night drinks, pony up $27, and help a few musicians live out their dreams. It'll be the best thing you do all day. And your ears, liver, and music sensibilities will thank you for it later.


Claire (left) and Sarah Bowman

Monday, August 25, 2008

1Ls Get No Laptops in Class

Well, technically, I think only section 2 gets no laptops, while section 1 is able to use them. This is the new policy at school. And I think it only reaches the 1Ls. The purpose, obviously is to test how effective learning and class room participation, etc. is when there is/is not a laptop present in the classroom. Section 1 is the control group. The hope is that Section 2 kids pay attention better.

I have a few thoughts on this. First, I think it's an interesting idea (and one that's gaining popularity) because, for me, surfing the internet was a huge distraction. However, I'm not sure if eliminating laptops in classrooms will actually make learning that much more efficient. I say this because classroom learning is still, actually a small part of your learning of the material. I mean, if you think about it, you have your reading, outside thinking (and discussions with classmates), outline making/outline reading, briefing/book briefing, finals study time, and office hours. I learned most of my stuff outside of classroom (and within 2 weeks of my final). I don't think eliminating laptops will necessarily make things better. I mean, kids are still going to doze off in class. Whether they are reading the news online or thinking about the awesome sandwich they're eating for lunch. If the kid is bored, the kid will be bored.

Secondly, laptops are good because people have terrible handwriting and taking notes via word processor is simply more efficient. For a short time, I tried leaving my laptop in my locker and just taking notes by hand. Big mistake. Either my hand would get too tired, my notes too unreadable, or I wouldn't be able to write everything fast enough. Plus, I'm a southpaw so my hand tended to smear the ink over the paper (and over the side of my palm.) So, I decided that taking notes on my laptop was a good thing. Which is weird, because I used to take notes in college by hand. However, in college, there wasn't much active participation in the discussion. As opposed to law school where you're supposed to be interacting with the discussion. This, I found, is much easier when I'm not worried about whether I'll even be able to decipher what I've written.

My final thought was...why couldn't the administration just put a block on wireless access in the classrooms (I don't even know if that's possible). I guess that would just make too much sense. Because the problem with laptops is that people stop paying attention to lecture because they are surfing the internet, not because they are so smitten with their word processing programs. If we can just prevent them from surfing the internet, people can still get the efficiency of note taking on MS Word or whatever Mac users use.

Well, whatever. There are a lot of other factors obviously to consider, but I don't much feel like thinking too deeply (or writing too deeply) about it now. So long as it doesn't effect me, it'll be interesting to see how the 1Ls do. A grand experiment, indeed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Molokai Hoe Training

I have been asked by the founders of this blog to participate in its content by chronicling my training and experiences as I prepare for the World Championships of Outrigger Canoe Racing, also known as Molokai Hoe. The race will take place on October 12th, and will consist of 9 men, 1 outrigger canoe (which seats 6 men at a time) and a 42 mile span of ocean that separates the Hawaiian Island of Molo'kai from the capital island of O'ahu, more specifically the city of Honolulu. I personally find it difficult to believe that a story recording my experience in such an esoteric sport would be interesting to anyone who hasn't experienced the sport. However, as I was asked to do so, I have no problem providing the information and allowing you to make up your own mind.

For those who have no experience with an outrigger canoe, it may be pertinent to start with a short history of the sport and the technical aspects of the canoe itself, as many of the terms are Polynesian in origin and may not be familiar to the casual observer. First, the canoe itself is roughly 40 feet long, weighing no less then 400 lbs. It seats 6 people evenly spaced down the length of the boat. The Steersman sit in the back, the man in the first seat is called the stroker. He sets the pace for everyone else, and I believe it is the most difficult position in the boat. Whoever sits in seat 3 is the "Caller" and calls the "changes." The calling is necessary, as each paddler can only stroke on one side of the canoe at a time, and thus the Caller signals when the entire crew is to change sides, and continue to paddle. Seats 1-5 each stagger on which side they paddle, and the Steersman, will switch at will, so as to most effectively steer the canoe. Connected to the canoe, by two wooden struts called "Iakos" (pronounced yiakoo) is the "Ama," a 10 foot hollow piece of specifically shaped composite material which is used to ensure the boat does not constantly flip, being that it is only 2 feet wide at the center.

The outrigger canoe is considered to be the main means of transportation for all Polynesian travelers as they slowly "island hopped" from the Asian mainland thousands of years ago. The basic structure has literally gone unchanged for the past 5 millennia. The cultures whose history began with their ancestors traveling across vast spans of ocean on these canoes, are still the cultures/countries that dominate the sport, namely the Hawaiians and Tahitians.

As for me, I began racing outrigger canoes in the past year and it has become an absolute passion, to such an extent I am now dedicating over 20 hours a week to training for this one day, October 12th. This will be the content of these entries, and I hope you find them interesting enough to finish each entry....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One 3L's compliment to USF's new 1Ls

Piggybacking off Keenan's post, I'd like to extend a round of applause to this year's batch of 1Ls at USF. Fantastic turnout, folks. We made a push for the unofficial Bar Night last year, and it wound up just being our usual group of friends and one or two 1Ls. This blogger (who made it his mission as a student orientation leader to promote Bar Night, ACS, TMC, and all around law-school-good-times) was personally delighted by the Class of 2011's early commitment to morale boosting alcohol consumption. Terrific start to what should be a terrific year.

Oh, and while I'm here: let's extend a big thumbs-down to Keenan for misspelling "morale" on the Bar Night flier. According to Keenan, TMC stands for the "The Moral Committee." As a TMC enthusiast (though not a co-founder, sadly), I can say that the TMC I know and love does not concern itself with morality in any fashion--unless it be a-morality. Partial thumbs-down to yours truly for not catching the typo in the first place.

Unofficial Bar Night: Success!

Well, the first USF event put on by the USF American Constitution Society/USF Morale Committee went down last night at Martin Mack's in the Haight. We promoted it pretty heavily at the 1L info fair and put up flyers around school. We even chalked the boards. I got there a little after 9pm with some friends and there was already a decent crowd from USF. Before long, that swelled to probably around 60-70 USF folks. Combine us with the regular Friday crowd and the letting out of the Outside Lands festival going on in Golden Gate Park, the bar was packed. So we pretty much stuck to the rear of the bar. Getting drinks seriously, took 10 minutes.

We were supposed to go to Hobson's Choice at 11pm, but a friend of ours told us that folks were waiting in line to get into Hobson's so the executive decision to stay at Martin Mack's was made. There was a good mix of 3Ls and 1Ls, but not many 2Ls. Apparently some 2L was having some house party that evening.

All told, it was a fun evening. And it seemed like folks were having a good time. From what I could see of that night, the unofficial bar night was a success! Thank you to all who came!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What I've Learned: Brian

Hello all. We here at Citizen Kendrick are striving to provide entertaining, yet informative fodder for your blog reading/web searching needs. As the new school year rapidly approaches, we are going to implement new things to CK. You'll see them get rolled out over the course of the fall semester, but here is the first new addition: What I've Learned.

Taken from the magazine Esquire, CK's version of "What I've Learned" will attempt to give brief bits of advice on law school. We hope this installment will be the first of more contributions. I've always found the Esquire feature entertaining and enlightening. We hope you'll at least find our version entertaining.

Without further ado, here is mine-

1. It's only as hard as you make it/you can still have fun.
If you made it into USF Law School, you're obviously more than capable of strong academic achievement. You wouldn't be here without good grades at a good university, and well-above average LSAT scores. Over the last two years, I've become a firm believer in the notion that if you trust yourself, try to avoid extra stress, and learn to work diligently, law school is anything but impossible. USF has a great community--the older students (myself included) are always willing to help, the professors want to see you succeed, there are tutors for all 1L classes, and your classmates will likely be more than happy to join study groups. The close-knit community at USF also offers lots of opportunities for bonding and relaxing. We have great participation in Bar Night, the student groups are active and motivated, and the Fall and Spring parties/BBQs are terrific fun. Indulge yourself by having some fun, and I'm sure you'll find law school to be entirely manageable.

2. Your LRW professor is your best friend.
Hopefully this point was stressed during orientation, but I'll say it clearly: LRW is the most important class you'll take. LRW will help you pass your finals and the Bar, it will help you get a summer job, and it will help you be good at that job when you get there. Learn IRAC/Love IRAC/Succeed in law school. Self-confessional time: In my first year I noticed that during finals where I felt very confident I drifted from IRAC, but when I was less confident I forced myself to stick to IRAC. Lo and behold, my grades were better on the finals where I stuck to IRAC, despite having less of a grasp on the substantive material.

3. Don't be a gunner.
Ok, we all know what a gunner is--the person who practically tears their rotator cuff raising their hand, who always has to be the first to comment on EVERY topic/question/response, and who views class as an opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with the professor while the rest of the students listen. Gunners are no good. I don't like gunners. You don't like gunners. Hell, gunners don't even like gunners. I read a really hokie saying once. But, however hokie it is, it's no less true: "You have two ears and one mouth. You should listen twice as much as you talk."

4. Try to exercise. It'll help with the stress.
It's a sad fact of law school that life becomes depressingly sedentary. Combine that with a poor diet, and it's not surprising what follows--weight gain, lack of energy, even for some a lowering self-image (if your self-image happens to rely on your physical appearance...it's ok, you can admit it if it does, CK won't judge you). Going to the gym helps stave off some of that. But, more importantly, it can be a great stress reliever to raise your heart rate, exert yourself physically instead of mentally, sweat a little, and just get away from the library for a while. Leaving aside any concern for physical appearances, the stress relief of a good workout can really help clear your mind, at the very least.

5. Relax already.
Law school is stressful. Ok, no big surprise there, right? The first few weeks are overwhelming. The time demands are unbelievable. It really doesn't sound like a fun prospect, and it isn't--for a while. But, as I've said already in this posting, the demands of law school become far less daunting when you have the right mental approach to school.

I speak from personal experience on this issue. More self-confession time: I felt completely lost my first semester. I hated law school, I considered dropping out more than once, and I thought I would never catch-up to everyone else. But after that first semester I joined our intramural football team, I made more friends, I became more active around campus. My grades rose. In year 2, I made a concerted effort to be even more socially active, not to view school as a life/death proposition, generally to be less obsessive and less anxious. As a result, my grades rose over those two semesters as well. Now I'm no model student, but the more I've made an effort to have a well-rounded life, the better my grades have been. I've noticed similar results from my friends.

I know as law students we're afraid of math, but think about this: there are 168 hours in every week. If you learn to be efficient with your time, you can probably do all your studying/briefing/attending class in about 60 hours a week. Add in another 40 hours or so of sleep, that leaves 68 hours a week for you. 68 hours a week to have hobbies, to relax, and to be a person, not a law school automaton. That means if you want to take a Sunday off to have a picnic in Golden Gate Park, you have the time. Friends going to a music festival? You can make the time. Even if all you want to do is spend an evening making yourself a nice dinner and drinking a bottle of wine with friends, you have the time. Obviously, you cannot let the academics slide--that's a recipe for disaster. But never-ending obsession with the demands of law school is also a recipe for disaster. Relax already, you'll find that it helps.

What I've Learned: Keenan

1. USF is a friendly environment. Make friends. Law school is a lot tougher going at it alone.

2. Make your own outlines. You learn more by writing it in your own words.

3. The legal world is EXPANSIVE and touches all aspects of this globe. Don’t be afraid to explore beyond the confines of casebooks.

4. Start your first year job search early. Especially judicial externships. Some people have interviews for judicial summer externships during winter break. Plan accordingly.

5. Don't be afraid to speak in class. There is absolutely no reason to feel intimidated. Nobody in your class actually knows what they’re talking about. If people insist they do, they are lying.

Keenan is a 3L. He is a Bay Area native, loves UCLA athletics, and is sad Arrested Development is no longer on television. John Wooden remains his hero.

What I've Learned: Marina Sarmiento Feehan, JD

Yes, good grades are important but bad grades can be overcome. If for some reason, you don’t end up in the top of the class, accept the grades you have and move on. Don’t make excuses for them. Instead, balance your grades out with practical work experience, volunteer work, and journal/leadership positions. Don’t let your grades define you – become a well-rounded person.

The best thing I did in law school was take a legal position off-campus. I learned more during my one semester as a judicial extern for a federal district court judge than I did my entire three years at law school. Not only was it fun and challenging but I improved my writing and got to see live courtroom drama. By seeing the writing and motions of other attorneys, yours will improve. And finally, I understood why 1L’s have to sit through a very boring class regarding the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Those rules make the legal world go round.

Talk to as many lawyers as you can. The more you know about the actual practice of law and the different practice areas, the better you are during interviews and in career planning. Building relationships now with attorneys and fellow law students can only help you in the future.

It’s a small legal community with a long memory. Good manners, strong ethics and common sense go a long way. There are law firms who will not interview attorneys whom they once interviewed as a law student because that person never sent a thank you note or was rude to the recruiting coordinator.

Use the Office of Career Planning early and often. I wish I had. Students that do have better resumes, interviewing skills and job search techniques. Once you graduate, there is no “On-Campus Interview” season where employers come to you. You’ll have to do your own search and it is better you learn job search skills earlier rather than later.

Marina Sarmiento Feehan, JD, who practiced litigation and transactional IP law, is the Assistant Director of Employer Relations at the Office of Career Planning at USF Law. If you'd like more information on career planning, Ms. Feehan can be contacted at msfeehan@usfca.edu or at (415) 422-6757.

What I've Learned: Kristen

1. There are people who care about your success.

2. Law school is humbling.

3. It’s better to admit that you are confused than to pretend that you understand.

4. Don’t be afraid to speak your opinion. No matter what position you take, there will always be people who disagree.

5. What you get out of law school is what you put into it...get involved!

Kristen is a 2L. She loves her UCLA Bruins and, interestingly enough, makes tremendous chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

What I've Learned: Tom Moses

"Things I've Learned"
By Tom Moses
Adjunct Professor, USF
McGeorge School
of Law, 1984

I have never really thought of myself as a "typical lawyer." Even in law school, I never really identified myself as "one of those guys." You know, with the grey flannel suits and the self-righteous attitude and the burning desire for a corner office (although, certainly, I wouldn't mind the latter). I guess I have always tried to keep both halves of my life apart. I call it "taking off my lawyer hat and putting on my real person hat." And, I think, that approach to life and law has kept me sane, sober (relatively at least), and still interested in the profession and the people in it for lo these many years.

What advice would I give to lawyers-to-be? (Besides, of course, the proverbial "Don't do it!") I think that it would boil down to this:

1. Study hard, but play harder. Law school can be, and usually is, very stressful. To succeed, you do have to do a lot of studying, and more studying, and outlining, and briefing, and writing. But, you also have to find the time to do something fun, and really do it! Whether it is running through the park, or biking along the bay, or even just working up to a new level on your favorite video game, it's important to try to maintain some connection with things you enjoy doing. It's all a matter of physical, mental and emotional balance.

2. Have a support group. One can't go through law school without the help of others. No person is an island. Whether for practical reasons (you need some help on a Con Law outline), or romantic (many of my law school friends got married right after they graduated), or emotional (it's always good to have someone to vent to), friends are a necessary part of your law school experience. You'll find that many of the friends you make now you will be the kind that will "stick with you." It's much like the survivors of war or a national disaster--shared pain brings you closer.

3. Make time for yourself. While friends and the social aspects of law school are great, there are times when you just have to be happy being alone. When I was studying for the bar, I made it a point to put down the books, fix a sandwich, and watch "I Love Lucy" and "Leave It To Beaver" reruns--just me and the TV. Or, and my friends thought I was really weird for doing so, I would take an hour off and read a book. (I read all the novels of Charles Dickens for relaxation during law school, along with some James Clavell and Mark Twain.) After a little "me-time," I went back at it refreshed. For what it's worth, I took the bar the year that they added the "performance" part of the test. While the bar pass rate was the lowest in history that year, and many of my friends who studied interminable hours at the law library failed, me and Lucy and Little Dorrit passed!

4. Be kind to teachers and staff. Not all teachers are Professor Kingsfield. Most if not all of them are there because they have a genuine interest in their subject matter and in their students. Take advantage of this and make a connection with a teacher. Having a mentor can be really helpful in your future career. Even perhaps more importantly, make friends with the law school staff, whether it be the registrar or the career placement director. They can help make your life easier at school, and perhaps guide you to a good job connection. Networking is everything!

5. Finally, remember why you're here. Everyone is in law school for some reason. Some are here because they want to "defend the defenseless." Others are here because they want entree into corporate America and the "lifestyles of the rich and famous." Still others might be here because they are intellectually curious or want to make this a better world. There will be times during your law school years when you ask yourself "why am I bothering?" That's when you have to remember to re-motivate yourself. Keep the goal in mind, and it'll help you get out of the depths on those black days.

I wish you all well as you continue on your path towards lawyerhood. I doff my "real person" hat to you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Unofficial Bar Night

To all of Citizen Kendrick's loyal (or not so loyal) readers, make sure you kick off the new year in style--The American Constitution Society and The Morale Committee are hosting the first (unofficial) Bar Night! This Friday, August 22, we're going to be bar-hopping in the Haight--starting at 9:00 p.m. at Martin Mack's and moving to Hobson's Choice at 11:00 p.m. Be there, Be awesome!

And, for some extra fun, check out the fliers now posted around Kendrick featuring yours truly getting a little birthday cheek smooch, and Citizen Kendrick's favorite Jersey trash reppin' the West Coast, along with other glorious images.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The New 1Ls and Law School Musical

Today orientation started for the new 1Ls at our school. Oddly, I served as an orientation student leader. This means that I, and a partner, spent two hours of our day speaking to a small group of new minted 1Ls. (It's not clear whose brilliant idea it was to have me be the first impression of any new law students... but so be it. I got a free dinner and wine out of it.) In our presentation we talked to them about what it's like at USF, what to expect from law school, etc. We told them not to worry: academics come first, but it shouldn't sacrifice your sanity. I mean, we're not Hastings. We care about our people. I have no idea what they thought of my presentation. Hopefully I did more good than damage. We'll see.

The new 1L crop seemed really nice. They asked (for 1Ls) intelligent questions and seemed to be cautiously enthusiastic about law school. It's about where they should be. Somewhere between naive and afraid. I look forward to seeing them wander the halls in a week or so.

Anyhow, this got me thinking about my favorite law school video: law school musical!



Looking back at 1L year, this video is depressingly accurate. Which makes it that much more amazingly funny. It's also a great reminder that if we can't sit back and laugh at ourselves and the situation we put ourselves in here in law school, we'll never make it out alive. So, study hard, and be prepared to laugh at your own collateral estoppel and "hairy hand" jokes. You'll know you're truly in law school once you finally do. Nerd.

And, for the record, I did have a "broke ass Dell" my first year. And it finally broke over the summer. I now roll with a ThinkPad. So far, much better. Hopefully, it stays that way.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2 Men Shot to Death in Car Near USF Campus

Per the SF Chronicle:

Two men were found shot and killed early today inside a parked car bordering the University of San Francisco campus, police said.

The shooting was reported at 5:30 a.m. at 2245 Golden Gate Avenue, a police spokesman said.

Officers were summoned to the scene by a report that the men were sleeping inside the vehicle.

No arrests have been made. Homicide investigators are at the scene of the shooting.

University spokeswoman Anne-Marie Devine said the car was parked on a city street bordering campus and next to the Harney science building. Initial reports indicate that the two victims were not USF students or "anyone affiliated with the university," she said.

As much as homicides are a problem (and indeed, they are), the proximity of this one to USF doesn't actually bother me too much. The victims don't appear to be affiliated with USF, and for the most part, despite being bordered by some shady neighborhoods, USF, aside from general thefts, I believe is a fairly safe neighborhood. What I mean, is that I don't anticipate this being some sort of gruesome trend. Of course you still have to remain smart about things when you're out and about. But around USF, you may occasionally walk into trouble, I don't feel as if trouble will necessarily come looking for you. I believe it's an isolated incident and will (hopefully) remain as such. SF is pretty small. Sometimes the neighborhoods mix- inevitable in an urban environment like SF. But at least we're not near Hastings.

UPDATE: The two men in the car have been identified as Isiah Turner, 34, and Andre Helton, 18, both of San Francisco. They were parked in a rental car between Kitterage and Chabot. Among the many other instantaneous questions that arise, it's unclear from the information released by police if that's where they were killed or if the victims were killed in another location.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

February Bar Results Out: Not Too Shabby USF

Thanks to our friends at Traditional Notions, it's come to our attention that the February CA Bar results came out and USF didn't do too shabby.

Here are the actual results for USF:

USF/ CA ABA Approved/ Overall
First Time
Took: 14/ 503/ 1499
Pass: 10/ 313/ 801
% pass: 71/ 62.2/53.4

Repeat

Took: 38/ 1328/ 3034
Pass: 19/ 577/ 996
% pass: 50/ 43.5/ 32.8

Total

Took: 52/ 1831/ 4533
Pass: 29 /890/ 1797
% pass: 56 / 48.6 / 39.6

As TN put it:

It was noted here last winter that USF beat Berkeley Law in first-time passage rate of the July 2007 California Bar Exam. The Bar is administered twice a year, and the February 2008 data are out. USF beat Boalt once again! And Hastings. And a bunch of others. As a matter of fact, we beat the rest of the ABA schools with the exception of Stanford, USC, Loyola and California Western.

Of course, a lot less people take the Bar for the first time in February, thus the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

What does this mean? As usual, not much. Berkeley will go on having excellent OCI prospects, taking open book exams and failing to disclose class ranks. We'll probably keep on falling in the rankings.

Indeed, these results should be taken with a grain of salt as there was a very small amount of takers, thus a very small sample pool. And statistics being what they are... just statistics. So, while I'm happy that USF did reasonably well on the February Bar exam...we're still crossing our fingers and hoping for the best for our friends who took the July exam. In all, great job to those February takers who passed! And good luck to all of those who took it in July!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

California State Attorneys to Receive No Pay During State Budget Crisis?

If this LA Times article has it right, then California state attorneys (AG's office), doctors, and engineers will receive no pay during California's state fiscal crisis?

According to the LA Times:

A large share of the state workforce will be exempt from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's order to pay government employees the federal minimum wage until a state budget is enacted, but others -- doctors, lawyers and engineers -- will get nothing, according to
documents provided by the administration Tuesday.

The State Director of Personnel issued a statement, citing White v. Davis, which says that the Controller has no "legal authority to issue warrants against the State Treasury for employee salaries except as required by federal labor law." Since state doctors, lawyers, and engineers are not covered by federal labor law, the State is free to do what they'd like with their salaries.

I'll just be honest and say that I've been kinda busy with things at work to take a good look at the actual opinion, but someone who probably does know something about this opinion believes that the state Controller will continue to issue full pay checks. Gary M. Messing, who argued in the California Supreme Court in White, representing CCPOA, writes in this blog post at PacoVilla's Corrections:

The Controller says that he will continue to issue full paychecks to State employees despite the Governor’s pending Executive Order to the contrary. That is the wisest course. The Governor errs in relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in the White v. Davis case to support his proposed reduction of State employee paychecks to the federal minimum wage in the absence of a state budget. Here is why.

Five years ago in White v. Davis, the California Supreme Court addressed a similar situation. Several taxpayer groups sued to prevent State employees from being paid in the absence of a budget. The Court ruled that the federal Fair Labor Standard Act requires prompt issuance of paychecks, which are due on the normal payday.


The rest of his post fleshes out his argument and well worth reading.

Like I said, I haven't actually read the opinion, but I trust that Mr. Messing, a labor attorney, does have a pretty decent idea of what he's talking about. So, until I'm proven wrong, I'll have to take his work that the Controller will be able to continue issuing checks.

As a closing remark, folks always used to say that people flocked to government work for job stability. Especially for attorneys. But, honestly, I've heard that the smaller the governmental organization, the better it is.

As California always seems to be in some sort of fiscal crisis, I can't imagine this being very good for attorney retention and recruitment. I mean, I can't imagine a Big Law refugee or some other private side attorney hoping to switch to the public side might think it a good idea to switch to a job where they might, literally, not make any money. Most attorneys switch to government side because of flexibility in schedule and job security with a trade off of a lower salary. But the ability to make a briefing deadline and the ability to make a mortgage payment tend to both evoke high levels of stress. Given a choice, I think I'd rather worry about making a briefing deadline than lose my house because the state can't get its act together.

Of course there will always be some people applying to be a state AG. But will this sort of political turmoil diminish the quality of candidate who applies? For sure, someone like me, a law student, with no experience will apply for a job- because, well, I have no job as of yet. But will an experienced practitioner with a family take the risk of politics getting in the way of getting a pay check? Probably not.

Indeed, there are many more considerably important issues to consider in this fiscal crisis other than smarmy attorneys, doctors, and engineers getting their relatively cushy paychecks. But, it's certainly something to think about. I hope the Pols in Sacramento can quit foolin around and get something done.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Blogging as a way of increasing a law school's academic reputation?

I was reading Race to the Bottom (an excellent corporate law blog) and came across an interesting paper written by Prof. J. Robert Brown Jr., at U. of Denver Strum College of the Law. Entitled, Of Empires, Independents, and Captives: Law Blogging, Law Scholarship, and Law School Rankings, it's premise is that law schools can increase their academic reputation through serious academic blogging. Because of the decline in influence law journals command and the entrenched nature of the academic recognition process through such scholarship, and rise in the influence of blogs, Prof. Brown suggests that law blogs may be a cost-effective way for lower ranked schools to increase their academic presence.

Well, it's an interesting theory, but I'm not sure if I buy it...yet. First is the problem with getting noticed. Even if you put out a quality product, there's no guarantee someone's going to buy it. There are a ton of bloggers out there. I suppose this is where ingenuity in finding a niche would come into play. But I'm not sure how entrepreneurial law professors are.

Second, even though blogs have risen in influence with the general public, I'm not convinced they've risen in influence with academics, the actual folks who submit their opinions to the US News and World. While blogs may be interesting to read and may bring up interesting points of views, it's the law journal articles that generally fully flesh out ideas and complex legal issues that face modern legal scholarship. As a result, this will always play a dominant role. At best, blogs will play a minimal influence.

Third, as Prof. Brown points out, while blogging isn't anywhere near as time consuming as writing a journal article, blogging still does have a sizable opportunity cost. Anyone who blogs, or has written a post can attest to that. I'm not sure if professors are willing to take that cost.

I suppose though, I'm being a little short sighted. I mean, I am blogging about an academic article, thereby spreading the word of Prof. Brown. Maybe some time down the road, after this process repeats itself, it might influence his school's rankings. So maybe there is something to this blogging thing. Wonder if my school should do it.