My name is Self-Appointed Expert, and this is my blog. It is part memoir, mostly fiction, and above all just trying to be funny. Some of is based on stuff that happened to me, some is based on stuff that happened to people I know, and a good deal is just entirely made up. So, if you find yourself offended, just remember - it's a joke. When you give me that look, it's a joke. Consider it my homage to the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, A Million Little Pieces, John Hodgman, and Christopher Guest.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

They Call Me Ms. Personality...Because I have a J.D.: Law School Recruiting, Part I - The On-Campus Interview

The law school recruitment process is a well-oiled machine. Each fall, (literally) thousands of employers descend onto campus and take up temporary lodging in the Charles and/or Inn at Harvard Hotels. The bigger firms get multiple suites: between 1-6 bedrooms where the interviews actually take place (awkwardly, at the foot of the interviewer's bed), a room for bags, and room/suite used for "hospitality" receptions (i.e., free food, logo-encrested toys, and forced conversation).

2Ls fresh out of their first summer law job arrive on campus in the fall and make bids (up to 30) for the law firms of their choice. Generally speaking, they have no idea what each firm does, whether they're any good at it, and whether they (the student) would like to have anything to do with that type of work. So, the students research - reading online profiles, firm websites, vault reports; meeting with career advisors and headhunters; gossiping with recruiters from other firms; and generally relying on the only slightly better informed advice of their elders (the oh-so-wise 3L's, who have between 6-14 more weeks of wining and dining to inform their opinions on which firms are which). After the bids go in, a lottery is run, and preliminary 20 minute interviews are matched up between student preference and firm interview slot availability. Each student gets assigned between 15-25. Then, the real craziness begins.

Over the next three weeks, students periodically show up to class in suits and sneakers, leaving 5, 10, 30 minutes early (or arriving in equal time allotments late), rushing to and from the two major hotels where interviews take place (while trying to keep track of which hotel you're supposed to be at what time; as each is a 7-10 minute walk away from campus and each other), desperately clutching their leather bound folders (which ostensibly contain shorthand notes reminding the student which firm they're interviewing with - but more typically are used to give yourself something to do with your hands during the interview), and (for the women) trying not to lose a heel in the cobblestoned 500-yard dash between school/home and the interview spot.

Having arrived successfully to the right hotel with all shoe components in tact, the student walks to the elevator, finds the room associated with their firm, greets the 3-4 other students they've seen interviewing at all the same firms they've been seeing all week before, pauses in the hospitality suite (ignores all the "hospitality"), and then goes to wait outside her indiviudal interview room. She generally has between 15 and negative 3 minutes to burn until her interview time.

On cue, the line of dark-suited law students in the hallway note on their watches that the interview time has arrived, knock on the door of their duly-assigned rooms, and then, in unison, take a step back to await a response. (Prompting non-lawschool-recruiting-associated hotel guests to inquire whether the FBI is doing some sort of investigation on their floor.) The previous interview ends a few minutes later; the door opens; the new interviewee greets the prior interviewee; shakes the hand of the interviewer, and then proceeds inside the room.

The next 20 minutes are a blur: the law student tries to articulate her strengths and/or explain away her weaknesses while still allowing time for the interviewer to talk long enough to make them feel as important as they think they are. (Time increases with interviewer seniority.) In the end, however, the 20 minute conversation is really just a big dog and pony show designed to cover the fact that all the interviewer wants to know is the interviewee's GPA - which he will discover for the first time when the interviewee inevitably turns over a copy of her transcript at the end of her 20 minute slot. (Employers aren't allowed to see transcripts before the preliminary interview: the idea is that the school doesn't want employers to "screen out" accomplished but ill-graded candidates before they see them. The result is that they get screened out after getting seen.)

Within the next few hours (or up to two weeks, for the really snooty firms), successful interviewees will get a phone call inviting them to either (1) fly out to the firm's home office for a call-back interview or (2) attend an expenses-paid dinner that night at a swanky Boston restaurant (with the call-back call to come fashionably later). Unsucessful interviewees will wait for days, weeks, or indeterminately (I still haven't heard back from a dude who interviewed me on Oct 12, 2005) for a letter informing them that despite all their impressive credentials and the near certainty they will someday be appointed to the Supreme Court, the firm regrettably cannot offer them a subsequent interview. These letters are called "dings," as in what it sounds like when someone spits on you. And you're made of metal.

To be continued.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The final 4 hours of the fall semester.

all i need is a conclusion. yes, i am writing a 5 paragraph essay, straight out of 7th grade. and the only thing that stands between me and being halfway done with law school is this fucking concluding paragraph. anyone have an inspirational quote from mark twain or martin luther king i could throw in at the end? those things were golden before i hit puberty. i imagine they'll still work now. getting boobs doesn't change what makes a dynamite paper.

"the yellow dart."

(See also: here.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

In a Flash!

My favorite part of studying for law school exams, by far, is Law IN A FLASH! flashcards. Basically, Law IN A FLASH! flashcards are these tiny commerically produced index cards that you can buy for $25/box with about 300 cards that teach you all the black letter law of various legal subjects - I've used them for Property, Constitutional Law, and today, Evidence, and have gotten my best grades in each as a direct result.

The secret to the success of Law IN A FLASH! flashcards is that for each rule they'll give you these hypothetical examples to illustrate what the rule means and how you can remember it. For instance, they'll have Snow White refusing to rent an apartment to the 7 dwarfs, and this will teach you that the Fair Housing Act says you have no right dicriminate against midgets (or cripples, or Indians) in your rental decisions. It's great.

Recently, however, the cards seem to have gotten a little more controversial. So far today, for example, my Evidence cards have make references to:
(1) Romeo raping Juliet (Rule 412: character evidence in sexual assault cases)
(2) OJ Simpson killing Nicole and his hypothetical 3rd wife Pauline (Rule 404: character evidence used to show identity/M.O.)
(3) Osama bin Laden stabbing Yasser Arafat because he thought Yasser was going to blow him up with a suicide bomb. (Rule 404: Character evidence used to show self-defense.)
(4) Some dude stringing a string between the towers of the World Trade Center, and whether a tower guard saw him. (Rule 401: Relevance of negative evidence.) (Even more disturbing considering example (3) shows they knew who Osama bin Laden was when they wrote the card.)

It's insane. I've already been offended like 5 times this morning. But, I have to admit, it's also very memorable. And edgy. To be frank, I kinda dig it. My only complaint is, however, that it's not fair that my name, personally, is not mentioned in the cards. I mean, if I could link Rule 405 to a story about my own death, I would totally clean up on any exam question about admissible types of character evidence. And when you're graded on a curve, it's really not fair that some people get stories about their own death and other people don't. I can only imagine how easy it must be for Yasser Arafat to remember Rule 404. If he weren't already dead, he would totally kick my ass on the exam. And that's just not fair.

But aside from that, YAAAAAY FLASHCARDS!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Secret Life of Not Walter Mitty

Sometimes when it's cold I'll bundle up in more layers than are really necessary to keep up with the weather (down coat, wool scarf, hoodie sweatshirt, hoodie jacket, pants, warm socks, gloves, sunglasses) so that I can pretend I'm a celebrity trying not to be recognized by the paparazzi.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

By any other name, totally not as sweet. (For me, anyway.)

Whenever someone I know has a baby, I'm always disappointed when they don't name it after me. Even when it's a boy. Especially when it's a girl.


The last 5 min: a true story.

In another shocking development in the war between me and my likes-to-have-very-loud-sex neighbor, 5 minutes ago I heard my neighbor doing the nasty - so (obviously) I looked out my peephole and tried to listen at my door. (If they're going to be that loud, they deserve to be shamed - if passively.) Anyhow, I don't hear anything more, so I step away from the door for a minute, then decide to take out my trash. In the 2 minutes between their orgasm and my gathering of the trash, my neighbor has opened his door and placed in the hallway outside of his room two items: a small doormat sized rug and an industrial vacuum cleaner.