Saturday, January 01, 2011

Full Circle

A little over two years ago, I was devastated when my firm laid off me and half of my class as the economy tanked. After that, I was very lucky to land at Sun Microsystems, and even luckier a year later to move to a music startup. I eventually became Corporate Counsel at an amazing company of amazing people (including a General Counsel that I adore to this day) in the industry I love. It was basically my dream job, but like relationships, careers are all about timing. I learned how to be a lawyer for a startup, and that meant learning how to do business operations, junior biz dev, chase endless signatures, and edit HTML. But because I was such a junior attorney (less than 2 years out of law school), I couldn't ignore that something was missing: legal knowledge. I could negotiate our artist agreement and NDAs, but our payment processor agreement had to be send to outside counsel. This wasn't anything new - the lack of complex knowledge has gnawed at me ever since I left the firm.

In the summer of 2010 I received an email out of the blue from the IP partner at my old firm. (One of the two that walked into my office to lay me off!) Did I hear that him and a few corporate partners had moved to a new firm? What was I up to, and did I have any interest in interviewing? At first I turned him down - I was at my dream job! - but over the next month I found it eating away at me. I was learning how to be corporate counsel for this company, but these days, in this industry, in this economy - no job lasts forever. Was I learning how to be a lawyer for a company in my future? Was I learning enough to be General Counsel? Was this the only opportunity I would have, while I was still young enough to need the education, to gain entry to a top-50 law firm under the mentorship of an outstanding lawyer that I liked and respected?

It's probably a sign of how sheltered and blessed I've been, but making this move was the hardest decision of my life. I was so torn that after I went through the round robin of interviews, an embarrassingly big part of me hoped I wouldn't get an offer so that the decision would be made for me. Do I have regrets? Of course. Do I think I made the right decision? Yes. I've learned more in the past 3 months about being an IP attorney than I did in the past year. I'm on track to bill 2400 hours, and I've supported almost 30 venture capital financings. I feel like an athlete in training season - I learn little things and I have big-picture epiphanies, and the very next day a situation arises where I apply that knowledge. I'm totally awed by what I don't know and by what the partner and a senior associate give me, and by what I know I'll learn.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Open Floor Policy

One of the things I really like about this media company is the work environment. Unlike my last job, where I was in a small office, we have an open floor plan here. The office is a large room with very high ceilings, and desks scattered around in clusters (plus the obligatory couches, coffee tables with turntables on them, and yes, ping-pong table). There are about 15 people at our location. It's big enough that I can safely tune out the code discussions of the software engineers, but I'm close enough to my GC that I can listen to her phone calls.

This is an enormous benefit to me - I learn so much about our company, about business development, and about negotiating the deals. Whenever we're working on an agreement and we have a question about customer service or technical integration, we walk across the room and ask the right person. Everyone is instantly accessible. It's probably distracting, but it also means people are kept on the same page and updated on changes. I absorb a lot about what other people are working on just by overhearing discussions, so I feel like I'm in the loop. It's much more of a cooperative environment, where the floor is always open.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Industry

When I interviewed for the position at this startup, one of the guys informed me that, if I didn't know already, the music industry is very old school. For example, he said, none of the industry attorneys will use the track changes feature to redline agreements. They mark them up by hand and have them emailed to you as a PDF. This seemed amazing to me, but believable. To be fair, I know older attorneys in the technology sector who still do that.

Sure enough, my experience has been of emailed PDFs with semi-legible question marks and brackets in the margins. Still, I didn't entirely understood what old school really meant, until I got an email from an industry attorney in LA. It was about a paragraph long, acknowledging receipt of our change requests (a proper redline).

At the bottom of the email below his name, it said: "Dictated but not read."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Progress with Reversals

I'm very happy to report that I secured a part-time gig at a very cool company. It's a media company that works with musicians - and I'm a big music person. I also really like that the GC (who I'm working under) is a woman. That's a special treat because it's rare, and because she's cool.

I was connected with this opportunity by one of the partners at my old firm, which has led to an odd situation. Where I was once a lowly associate under this partner, I'm now the client. I enjoyed working for him and genuinely like him, but I'm still adjusting to the transition. As an associate, my focus was to do exactly what he asked and to do it fast.

Now I have to ask him to do things!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Live Search

I'm working on registering a trademark for my client. I spent some time on the PTO website (where federal marks are registered) searching their database. It's not flashy, but it has several levels of advancing search capabilities, such as boolean, different fields, etc.

Then I went on the California Secretary of State website to search whether my client's name was registered in California. I spent some time there too, hunting for the database. Finally I called the phone number and navigated a few levels of menu items (press 4 > 4 > 0), wanting to ask where to find the database search on their website. A woman answered on the first ring, and politely asked me what trademark I wanted. I told her, I held for about 30 seconds, and she told me it wasn't registered.

There is no online database; that's how you search for a mark! I couldn't decide if I was horrified or charmed...

Friday, October 23, 2009


Time to share some observations and advice on the market. Caveat being that I don't know whether my own experiences are part of a trend (local or global? industry-specific?), or the product of my own luck-making.

- Salaried positions for entry-level attorneys are scarce and extremely competitive. I applied for an in-house transactions position, and saw that an attorney I know knew someone in HR. He agreed to send my resume in, but informed me that someone else had also asked him to do a resume-pass!

- I don't expect to hear back from any position to which I cold-apply. By cold I mean simply send in my resume and cover letter. The only way to have a chance is to go on LinkedIn, search the company name, and filter by my network (or shout-out on Facebook). If I find someone who's a 2nd degree connection to an employee, I ask if they'd mind forwarding my resume in. If I do that, my odds of being contacted have gone up by about 50-75%.

- There's contract work out there. Maybe the economy is ticking up, or maybe I've been lucky, but companies need help. They're being cautious and they don't want to commit to anyone, but they have work. (And when the economy relaxes, won't they think of you first?) The goal is to meet with attorneys and ask them be part of your army. Treat them right, don't let them forget you, and they will feed you when they hear about contract work.

- I'm actually about to retain my first paying client. The good part is that doing the work myself is an enormous educational experience - you learn so much more when you have to find the answers yourself. The bad part is that it's a little scary and lonely, having nobody to look up to. But I'm realizing that if I'm respectful, my network will mentor me through it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Happy Client

Yesterday the news was out - the Oracle acquisition was approved in the US. I don't think there will be any changes until the EU approves it.

In other news, I've discovered how to make every client happy: email them. Whenever I get a sweet email from a client, it's because I've been responsive. Even when I don't have any news, I send emails to let them know I haven't forgotten about them. And it makes sense, because it drives me a little crazy too when people don't get back to me. I've gotten some really heartfelt feedback from clients, and they always mention the responsiveness. When I took Ethics in law school, they noted that the single biggest complaint that leads to attorney discipline is failure to respond to emails and phone calls.

The other part of making a client happy is speed. I'm a goal-oriented person, which means I like to finish things. (I live by to-do lists.) I usually power through assignments quickly, and this has backfired a little. I do many product release due diligence projects - reviewing new products to ensure we have all our rights in a row - and although clients are instructed to give legal 30 days to do it, there are times when their release date is in 5 days. And I've gotten a reputation from the person in my group that assigns them as someone who can turn them around quickly. This is great, except that I seem to be getting quite a lot of the assignments that need to be turned around quickly! I don't mind too much; crunchtime performance makes the clients that much happier, and there's nothing like a happy client. As every list-maker knows, the best part is crossing things off.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Sun's Office of Career Planning

There are many odd things about being in an acquisition, not the least of which is having an enormous support system for job searching. It's also wonderful. I have an interview coming up, and I don't want to jinx myself so I won't say much - except that I'm so excited about the position and the company that I've barely slept for several nights.

The resources at Sun are amazing. I got advice from someone in HR about phone interviewing; my mentor gave me in-person interviewing tips and reviewed my resume; a coworker reviewed a relevant open source license with me. I've gotten several offers to be a reference.

I'm hard-pressed to think of another situation where this might occur. It's a little like leaving law school, I guess; except everyone is much better connected, and your professors are looking for jobs too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pocket Guide

In an epic quest to increase my knowledge, a bit ago I started scouring the earth for resources on drafting agreements. What I really wanted was a book that would review individual provisions and tell me what they meant. (Eg, What's the difference between perpetual and irrevocable?)

I got PLI podcasts on negotiation, and a two-volume collection on IP Licensing. The most valuable resource I've found so far, however, is a little book by a local SF attorney. It's The Tech Contracts Pocket Guide by David Tollen. It's about 122 substantive pages, which to an attorney is like a magazine. He writes it for business people too, so it's in plain English. It's focused on software licensing, but it does give insight on business contracts in general. For example, here's one section I really liked:

A perpetual license should survive the term of the contract, but it ends if someone terminates. An irrevocable license should survive any termination, but it ends when the term ends. And a license that is both perpetual and irrevocable should survive the term and any termination.

While reading it, I came to appreciate how much I've learned at Sun; all my underlining was in the footnotes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Red Lights

I've been repeatedly learning a lesson about working in-house: don't let your clients bully you. This is difficult because attorneys want to make their clients happy; even in-house, where your "clients" are other people at your company.

For example, I had a program manager (an engineer) insist that we have the rights to use this code in a new Solaris build. I had to dredge up the agreement and review it while fending off the barrage of emails telling me they needed this approval today because it was mission critical to a pending release. I was frantically emailing up the chain to get confirmation of our licensing rights, as the agreement the client provided wasn't a solid strike.

Finally I got on the phone with a senior attorney, who praised me for flagging it and calmed me down. She reminded me that if the release was delayed a day, it wasn't the end of the world. This isn't the first time I've gotten worked up because of clients trying to rush my approval. Part of it is inexperience - I assume that the clients must know better, because I haven't been here that long. There's a lot of pressure not to get in the way of a deal. But there's a balance between business and legal interests, and the reality is that sometimes, doing your job means being a roadblock.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Speaking Up

On Tuesday I gave a presentation to the VPs of all the legal groups at Sun. I've been working with Sun's Vendor Manager on a new program for engaging outside counsel. I did much of the nuts-and-bolts - rewrote the policy on our wiki, generated the roll-out email, etc. - but the Vendor Manager is usually the one presenting our progress. She was out of town at a conference, so she asked me to do it.

Before I went on, I felt a little nervous, but not too bad. (Presentations in law school are actually good practice.) But there was no getting around it - when I stood up there with my notes, my voice was shaking and it was a bit nerve-wracking. Still, I had rehearsed, and once I got a few slides in I felt comfortable and my knees quit knocking. The only thing to do is practice what you're going to say, so that when it comes to the real deal, you don't have to think too much.

I had one laugh line: Our new policy has 12 steps, and I said, "I assure you, that's purely coincidental..." I paused, and got a chuckle.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


At work I've been updating our retention agreement for outside counsel. This led me to read some materials on legal drafting (specifically the work of Bryan Garner, familiar to many law students). I know it's geeky, but I find it extremely satisfying to edit contracts in this way. I cut down Sun's retention agreement by 2 pages! Same info, fewer words. And turning a giant, impenetrable paragraph into a second-person, outline-format provision? Exquisite.

My problem now is that once I started looking at agreements through that lens, it was really hard to turn it off. No agreement was safe - at work, for my fiance's company, etc. My fiance finally put his foot down when I begged him to let me redline the license agreement for our wedding venue.

Monday, April 20, 2009

On Oracle

I was on a call early this morning when Mike dropped by my office. Being on the phone, he wrote a message on my white board:


You'll recall that I bonded with Sun's GC because we both blog. He clarified later that some of the info revealed to us was bloggable, but some not. I'll stick to the bloggable...

The buzz here has been pretty positive - my own feelings, based purely on branding, is that Oracle is pretty cool. During the first of several meetings this morning, someone asked if Mike could tell us about Oracle's corporate culture. He didn't go into details, but he did say that when a company with 80K employees acquires a company with 30K employees, what results is a new culture.

My googling seems to reveal quite a bit of compatibility. We live in the same hood, for one, and Silicon Valley has a culture. Perhaps most tellingly, when I searched the Oracle network on Facebook, the first page of results gave me several people who were also part of another company's network because they were former employees: Sun Microsystems.
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

An Open Door Policy

Being one of those people who are usually cold, I learned to keep my office door closed to trap in the heat emitted by my immense monitor. It worked; my office was toasty. I observed carefully and found that about 50% of people kept their doors closed, probably for the noise. (I also play Pandora all day at work on external speakers, and worried about the sound getting out.)

I kept my door closed, even though it did feel a bit isolating. Then I got a few comments from people - calling it my cave, my sauna, etc., so I decided to open up. It's more distracting because you hear people in the hall and you see them walking by. People do drop in more often, but that's important when you're new at a workplace. An open door is a worthwhile distraction - yesterday Mike popped his head in to praise some work I did.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I came very close to being on a jury. I was summoned, and when I checked online, my group had to report. This is the third time in as many years that I've been summoned - the other end of California's massive prison system, I suppose. But I never had to show up before!

It was actually pretty fascinating, even aside from the legal angle that would naturally interest me. There were about 40 of us in the jury room, with 24 in the hot seats - the jury box. It's odd to hear people answer really personal questions in front of 40 strangers. We heard the stories about being assaulted, being threatened by a boyfriend (a few), getting DUIs and possession charges in the 1970s (several), having their car broken into (many). Hearing things that these people's friends probably don't know, like that their brother has been arrested twice. It really humanized everyone, knowing what they were walking around with inside their memories.

It truly was diverse, people just out of college and people in their 70s, African American, Asian, Indian, Scandinavian (?). There was a woman who worked at Jack-and-the-Box, a Deputy District Attorney (excused by the defendant), a writer from Mother Jones.

While I wasn't looking forward to taking the time off from work, I was a little disappointed when they got their 12 before I was questioned.

The New TLA (Three Letter Acronym)

It was a little surreal: I was about one mile into my commute to work two weeks ago, listening to NPR the way I do every morning. "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that IBM may be in talks to acquire Sun Microsystems." I managed to maintain control of my vehicle, but it was extraordinarily shocking. With a company as big as Sun, it's not exactly an anticipated possibility.

Naturally everything at work was airtight - no superior was making any comment - except for the chatter around the water cooler, of course, which was bubbling. In the kitchen, the 4 daily newspapers were carefully fanned out, all turned to the IBM news. I slipped into the offices of the Corporate Law folks across the hall from me, but they were sealed up too. All they could do was tell me that in their experience, the merger of two enormous companies could take anywhere from 9-12 months. (There are plenty of antitrust issues too.)

But it's been about 2 weeks, and things have quieted. We were told to keep our heads down, and mostly we are, because what else can you do? I feel a great sense of equanimity. I'm a contractor, after all, so my job security isn't established. And I've been laid off once, and survived it. What more can they do to me? Meanwhile, I couldn't help but wonder how many times in my career I could experience such a mega-merger firsthand. I feel calm enough to be interested in watching it unfold.

Friday, March 06, 2009


At the firm, I was repping tiny startup companies and clutching at the skirt of BigCo, pleading for provisions. Now I am BigCo. (Might as well come out with it: Sun Microsystems.) It's taken some getting used to; I'm still learning to say No in negotiations, and that sometimes it's okay to have residuals in an NDA.

Some other things I've had to adjust to:

* The lawyers I work with have time. They use this time to explain things to me, such as two hour training sessions on drafting software license agreements.
* Dressing casually to work really means casual, not business casual. Tie-dyed shirts, light-colored jeans, etc.
* Communicating with your clients is tricky when they're in India, or South Africa, or Europe. At first I found it unsettling, but then I adjusted to the 18 hour delay in emails.
* 1 in 4 Sun employees works from home on a given day (or so I've heard). This meant getting used to calling people rather than dropping in to their office. That's actually something I miss a lot about the firm.
* Staff meetings have 50% of the people calling in, many of them from outside the country. This translates to some time wasted on technical difficulties - yes, even at an technology company.
*On many nights, at around 6 PM, the strangest thing happens: everyone goes home.

PS: I was kindly cited as an entertaining law blog on this site for paralegals.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


During my period of unemployment, I went to a party one night where I met a bunch of new people. In conversation, I struggled a bit when they asked me what I did - not wanting to spill out my sob story and all that. But after a few people I had an epiphany, and said, with real comfort, "I'm an attorney." It's nice knowing that no matter where I go or what I'm doing, I'm still that.

So my first week at work. The training has been extensive; learning the acronyms alone could be a career path. I'm really, really excited about a 40-page manual they gave me. It's the playbook for one of our most frequently negotiated agreements. It breaks down the agreement line by line, and explains the legal significance of it, where we can make changes, what those changes mean, why we push back, alternative language if they push back, what to say when they push back. You get the point. I can't describe how awesome I think that is! I always wished for something like that at the firm. At the firm it was like trying to learn a language as an adult without taking any classes. They drop you in and you pick it up where you can.

When I described this to a friend of mine, he said, "Oh! Just like what telemarketers use!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I've been meeting with some attorneys (friends of friends) to talk about the industry. One of them is at a big corporate law firm, and he knew I had a blog. (He informed me that he writes Blogging Policies for his clients, and that he was coming around to the belief that an employee's blog posts should be attributed to the company for Securities law purposes.)

He asked me at one point, wasn't I mad at my law firm for doing this to me? It's odd, but that question upset me a little. I'm not mad. What's the point? Having that anger inside me would only be hurting myself. When I let myself get heated up about it, it does hurt. It hurts me, not them. Somehow his assumption that I'd be pissed made me wonder if I was naive for not being angry.

As we shook hands, he added, "You're not going to attribute what I say to my law firm on your blog, are you?"

I wouldn't dream of it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Birthday Present

So, good news! I've been hired, though it's not a salaried position. It's a contract position, but it's for a very big, very badass software/hardware company. I'm not going to name it, but if you've read this blog the following will probably let you figure it out. Nevertheless, I have to give credit where credit is due.

I met the in-house counsel of this company while I was in law school. We connected on LinkedIn, and my blog link is on my LinkedIn profile. As it happens, this person was also a blogger, so we stayed in touch. People are always talking about whether blogging pays. My answer is that it can be a networking tool.

Anyway I'm pretty excited. They told me I'm free to keep looking for something more permanent, but when I asked they said it wasn't impossible for a contract attorney to get hired in...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Privacy Tweaking

I went to the first Tech Policy Summit of the year on Tuesday, a talk about privacy sponsored by Facebook. The speakers were my supervisor Jim Dempsey of CDT, Chris Hoofnagle of the Berkeley Law and Technology Center, and Chris Kelly, CPO of Facebook.

I was especially interested when Kelly talked about how many users tweak their privacy settings. I think Facebook's privacy settings are fantastic, very finely grained; they should be market. But I'm not exactly the average user, so I've often wondered if other people utilize it.

Kelly reported that they'd run a survey and found that about 25-30% of the general population tweaks their settings. Interestingly, he noted that approximately 60% of teen users change their settings! (I direct a stern look towards those claiming young people don't care about privacy.) Is it perhaps because teens are more savvy?

In attendance was California PUC Commissioner Rachelle Chong, who offered this with a shrug: "They change their privacy settings to avoid their parents."

Of course.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Love Affairs

The more I think about it, the more this feels like the end of a personal relationship. Like the first time I had my heart broken, I'm determined to make this teach me to recognize true love. In that vein, the best cure for a broken heart (I've learned) is to find someone new.

I need to continue my training while I search for a new job - which could be awhile, in this economy. So for the meantime I'm volunteering at two places: the Center for Democracy & Technology and at a startup called Loopt. I know people at these places, but the reality is that when you're volunteering your time, who's going to turn you away?

In addition to the training, these activities keep me from having too much time to think about my situation. When I was searching for a job at a firm, I couldn't count the number of times people shook their heads and warned me, "It's really, really competitive." I did it anyway.

Which is a little disturbing: Now, everyone keeps telling me I'll find something! But they're my friends, my family. When I listen to the news and glimpse the numbers, I see I'm in the same place, seeking the same impossibility. And I'll do it anyway.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waking From the Dream

The economic crisis hit home for me. At the firm there were rumors of an announcement last week, but it never came. On Monday, two partners swept into my office, and I knew.

I was laid off.

They emphasized that it was not personal, that everyone really liked me and my work product. It makes sense; I was the only first year in the IP group, and because they made cuts across all departments...

I've never lost a job before. If you've read any of these posts you know how I felt about working there; I was living my dream. This felt like being served divorce papers by someone I was in love with: I felt shocked, hurt, lost.

I believe them when they say it wasn't personal, but I still feel ashamed. It's been really hard telling my family and friends; I feel like I have an infectious disease. I didn't realize how much of my self-worth was wrapped up in this job.

The only person I've been feeling sorrier for besides myself is my SO. He has to deal with me and feel all my pain, without any of the autonomy or soothing self-pity. I've tried to spare him from the tears, but I can't pretend to be happy. At times I feel like I'm having a nightmare: everything's horrible and impossible and I can't wake up.

But I'm climbing out of the abyss. I'm gathering the old strings of my network and updating my resume. I know eventually I'll get another job, and the economy will get better, and I'll live my dream again - a new dream. And someday I will look back on this and think, 'What an amazing opportunity I was presented with.'

Friday, December 12, 2008

Voluntary, Collective, Delicious

EFF is "cautiously optimistic" about rumors that Warner Music maybe exploring the long-awaited collective licensing model for music file-sharing on college campuses (which I've gushed about).

Universities would pay Choruss, a new nonprofit collecting society, in exchange for an end to the "John Doe" subpoenas seeking student identities, DMCA notices, lawsuits against students, and legislation mandating copyright surveillance of campus networks. Students who pay will be free to download whatever they like, using whatever software they like, in whatever format they like (and presumably keep it all when they graduate, since there would be no way to claw back DRM-free MP3s). The monies collected would be divided up among artists and rightsholders, based on relative popularity. The rest of the details are still to be determined, including whether it would be a mandatory fee for all students, or an opt-in fee (complete with continued lawsuits for those who fail to pay?). It's also not clear what the fee would be, although those familiar with the talks suggest less than $5 per student per month.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Law in Motion

My firm is moving to a new building in February. Currently we're in two buildings, and we're moving to a Google-esq complex with gym, cafeteria, outdoor pool. Amenities aside, the goal is for all of us to be in one building. It's amazing how proximity affects relationships, even on this scale: it's a lovely 5 minute walk to the other building, yet I'm significantly closer to the folks in my building than the other.

Because the lease on the building I'm in runs out before the other building, we're moving over to the other building for a spell. It's a tight fit: I, for example, am sharing a corner conference room with a fellow 1st year. My firm is pretty unique in that everyone - from summer associate to partner - has about the same size office.

Until now. As my bunkmate noted, "At least we can say we're the first ones in [Firm]'s history to have a corner office."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fine Print and Qualified Assertions

I'm pretty fond of website feedback (eg, my Squeaky Wheel segment on my other blog). Now that I'm working with websites, it warms my heart to see how responsive they are to their users, especially early adopters. One of my clients contacted me very urgently to request that we add a Creative Commons licensing scheme to their Terms of Service. Users can almost always slap CC licenses on their content if they want, even if the website Terms are silent, but this guy was insistent. His users were complaining that some other site had it in their Terms.... I wasn't sure what amazed me more: that users were demanding Creative Commons or that they actually read the Terms of Use.

The other day I had a meeting with the corporate team on a financing, to report back on the findings of our diligence.

"So I've gone through everything you gave me..." I began. The partner interrupted me, laughing. "Spoken like a true lawyer," he said.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I passed!

I distantly remember feeling confident when I walked out of that exam, but the passage of time eroded that warm fuzzy feeling. The final three days before the results were released were hellish: I was irritable, couldn't sleep, and was plagued by dark fantasies of failure. I feared the humiliation, that at work I'd be wearing a scarlet letter.

I left the office early but got stuck in traffic, so I arrived home a few minutes before 6 pm. I headed straight for the liquor cabinet and got myself a drink before getting stationed in front of my laptop. The website counts down as you refresh: Result will be released in 4 minutes. Then the fields pop up, and you enter your numbers, and it says: "The name above appears on the pass list."

I went out that night with my workmates (all of whom passed), and we greeted each other with "Good evening, Counselor!" And predictably woke up with a college-caliber hangover. It was worth it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Firm

I've now been working for almost one month, so I'm ready to set down some observations. (And I finally found the time!)

The first week was a bit overwhelming. I've never worked at a large firm, much less at this firm, so everything was new to me, from the document management system to the coffee machine. My fellow fall associates, who I'd worked earnestly to get to know, I rarely saw. The partners have written a book called the Corporate Partnering Manual, which comes in an enormous binder. It took me over an hour to figure out how to assemble and put the tabs into the book, which was a bit discouraging. ("I can't even put the manual together - how will I ever practice this!")

I was the only first year (of our group of 9) to start in the IP group - they all went into Corporate. The IP group is comprised of three partners and 6 associates, myself included. It's a small group, and they took me in. I work regularly with the partners, one-on-one. They go over agreements with me for diligence, patiently explaining why, for example, the copyright and trade secret clauses usually have a knowledge qualifier and trademarks and patents don't (it has to do with whether intent is relevant to an action).

I have experienced none of the horrors promised me. Yes, I've only just started, but the truth is I love it. Despite what they told me, I am actually using substantive knowledge I learned in law school. I work a lot (I've been slammed, despite the economy), but I don't mind it because everything is new and exciting, even the endless stacks of diligence on my desk.

One thing the sources did get right: everyone is very forgiving, because they don't expect me to know anything. On my second day, the name IP partner pulled me aside and told me not to be afraid to ask questions.

"If you don't feel like you're annoying people, you're not asking enough questions," he said.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Jungle

A few weeks ago, I thought to myself, "I should get a book on being a first year associate, since I have no idea what I'm about to get into." Lo and behold, a book fell into my lap. I read The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, and here are my thoughts.

First of all, there are good pieces of information in here, especially the very detailed pieces. For example, when you're working on a project for one senior partner, and another senior comes to your door to ask if you're busy, the correct response is, "Yes, but how can I help you?"

The author also suggests keeping a list of your projects and successes, for when annual review time comes. He doesn't cushion the blow about the hardships of practicing law. I found myself dreading my new job, until I snapped out of it. This book is about the stereotypical evils: working 12 hours a day, the various offensive types of co-workers, the politics of gender and race.

But I refuse to submit to that fate. I'm excited about starting, I really like the people I'm starting with, and I don't think every big firm is the same.

The worst part of this book is the endless, insufferable footnotes - containing everything that an editor would have cut out. However, after I ceased reading anything in parentheses or in a footnote, and ignored the italics, it went smoother. The book is a comprehensive parade of horribles, but it provides advice on surviving them.

I feel prepared for the worst after reading this book, but I can't, and won't, vouch for its accuracy.

For that, I'll have to get back to you in a few months.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Questions of Morality

I received a positive determination on my moral character evaluation. (Mentioned here.) I guess it was sometime in January that I first submitted it - 8 months ago.

The envelope was a slim one from the State Bar of California. When I opened it and announced the news to my SO, he ducked his head in shame.

"I know," he confessed. "I held the envelope up to the light and read it."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My FAQs of the California Bar Exam

Here are some of the [silly] questions I had, which I was forced to ask of previous testers.

Q: They limit the things I can bring into the exam room. What if I want to bring my lunch?
A: The secured exam area is larger than the exam room. In Oakland, it was the hallway that led to the exam room. Everyone stashes their bags with lunch and notes in that hallway, and they have security guards posted to prevent random folks from wandering in.

Q: Should I bring an extension cord? What if there aren't enough outlets for my laptop?
A: They run electrical lines on the ground next to the tables. There were actually two outlets per person!

Q: How do I upload my exams? Does the exam room have wireless?
A: The exam room probably will not have wireless. After you get back to your hotel or home each evening, start up your computer. The SofTest program will automatically prompt you to upload your exams, which it will do automatically when you're connected to the internet and have the program open.

Q: What happens if there's an earthquake during my exam?
A: This year there was an earthquake in Los Angeles. The CA Bar released a notice, with this relevant information:

Grading of the examination will be conducted in accordance with the Committee of Bar Examiners (Committee) standard procedures. During the grading process, however, the Committee’s psychometric consultant has been asked to perform a psychometric study on whether the earthquake impacted applicants’ performance on the first session of the examination and to report his findings to the Committee prior to the release of results from the examination. The Committee will consider its consultant’s findings and determine what action, if any, should be taken to ensure that all applicants are treated as fairly as possible.

Q: Can I bring my cell phone in my pocket?
A: Nope, don't risk it. If you get caught with a phone, it's a Rule 12 violation that will be reported to the Moral Character Committee.

Q: What's this Rule 12 violation they're constantly threatening during the instructions on exam day?
A: I have absolutely no idea.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


So I've returned from a lovely bar trip, ready to share my bar experience.

I stayed at a hotel across the street from the testing center. The first night I fell asleep pretty easily, with the clock alarm, my cell phone alarm, and a text message from my SO, all set to wake me. Unnecessary, as I woke a few minutes before they went off.

The test center was a huge warehouse, with giant ultra-bright lights shining down on row after row of narrow tables. People were crowded about and waiting outside the testing area that first day, naked pillows in hand (pillow cases being prohibited).

We showed our mailed registration cards; the applicant number was your seat number, ordered chronologically by when you registered to take the test (if you want to be at the front of the room, register immediately). There were about 1000 people in the Oakland test center. No one freaked out or harassed a proctor, that I saw. You become friendly with your seat mates.

The laptop program loaded correctly for almost everyone, as far as I could tell. I felt adrenaline, but wasn't overly anxious. The only internal lurch I felt was when the proctor said, "Proctors, please distribute the exams." ::Gulp::

They passed out the packets. We were told to begin. I opened the first page of the essay packet: ethics. As promised. I relaxed; it felt exactly like I was taking one of the Barbri practice essays. I had a watch, but I finished before an hour and then turned the page again: Con law and Crim law crossover. I adored this question. It was about whether the president had the power to create a law mandating businesses to respond to "national security requests" without a warrant. Could the president do that? Was it a search under the 4th Amendment? I'm quite interested in and have experience with privacy issues, and I genuinely had a good time hashing out all the arguments both ways. The third was a contracts problem, common law as promised.

At lunch my barmate didn't want to talk about answers, and that was fine with me.

By Day 2 there was no anxiety; I was hitting the snooze button on the alarm. Multiple choice, 800 decisions to make. For each fact set there was only one question, unlike Barbri. I found the first set challenging, the second easier.

Day 3, we were all prepared for the Civ Pro and/or Evidence with CA distinctions, which were introduced two years ago and had yet to appear. They were promised to us; they did not appear. Remedies, Property (tenancy), Community Property.

The Performance Tests were also shocking: each contained only one part. For the first we were instructed to write a memo evaluating our client's case in a false imprisonment claim. The second was applying an 8-factor test to determine whether a custodial interrogation occurred, necessitating Miranda. No closing argument + P&A, no combo anything. One question, both with exceptionally simple cases and files. Beautiful.

For each 3 hour segment I had plenty of time, particularly the last PT that I edited to perfection. The MBE was a bit tighter, but I still had time to review 20 or 30 questions when I was done.

They called that final time and we all clapped and cheered, smiled and congratulated each other. For so long you've thought about this moment, that moment of being done.

Overall I felt good. We'll see: November 21.

Next post: answers to the bar exam FAQs they never mention.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Yes, I am done! I'm bursting with things I want to post about (my answers to the true bar exam FAQs, what was going on in my mind, how hard it was, etc.) but right now I'm on holiday as they say, here in Europe.

I'll be back August 20th, but I wanted to drop a line here to say I survived, and that I felt good about how it went, and most importantly, to give my deepest thanks to the folks who dropped me a line (by blog comment, email, phone call, Facebook post, or text message) wishing me luck and giving me encouragement. It really made a difference and warms my heart to think of it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Deep Breath

A week from today I'll be done, and not a moment too soon as I feel like I'm losing my mind a bit. If you're studying for the bar, I know what you're thinking: only just now? Yeah, just now:

I've been obsessing for several days about how absurd it is that I've been in law school for three years and I never came up with a shorthand abbreviation for "judgment." How could that possibly be? (I settled on "jmt.") While we're on the subject, why doesn't MS Word auto-correct "judgement" (with the E) into "judgment"? Do you know how many times I've typed that wrong?

I made about 30 flashcards yesterday. I know I did this because I remember deciding to do it, and I remember reading through my torts notes. All the same, when I went through the cards today, I had no recollection of writing them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One Week Till Go-Time

A fellow bar-slave of mine came over to my place the other day for a visit, and she was, naturally, immediately drawn to my study location to examine the scene. She's using outlines, not flashcards, but she commented that my flashcard piles were much smaller than those of other's she'd seen.

"Well," I offered with a sly grin, "I only make flashcards of the stuff I don't know."

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'd Rather Be a Hammer

Penultimate day of Barbri: essay workshop. Professor Sakai reiterated Professor Honigsberg's command that we act as sheep and follow the herd in our essays. His version:

"As my dad told me, 'It's always the nail sticking out that gets hammered down.'"

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lay of the Land

I was in Oakland yesterday, and naturally I had to scope out the territory. The Oakland Convention Center is in a giant Marriott hotel. A friendly security guard took me back to the convention halls and unlocked the door so I could peak in. A giant empty room with hard floors. It reminded me of taking the MPRE, which I should have realized would be good practice.

I almost got sick on the ride there. But once we arrived I calmed down and felt ready.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Closing In

Friday was my last substantive Barbri lecture. We had Thursday off with a regular homework assignment, and jeez, that was sweet. I felt like I was able to devote my highest energy levels to studying. After three or four hours of lecture in the morning, it's hard to attack the homework with real vigor.

Community Property was the last area of law, and the only one I'd never taken a course on in school (although there is some overlap from Wills & Trusts). At the first run through, all these substantive areas seemed overwhelmingly detailed, even the ones I'd taken. My brain is in 5th gear by now though. I read the Mini Review, then the next day I hear the lecture and make flashcards from my notes. I go through the flashcards once, and I can answer an essay question pretty well after 24 hours in the subject.

My brain feels primed. I think I've become sharper from a month of studying, but my SO suggested it was all the blueberries I've been eating.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Physical Manifestations Requirement

Three comments having to do with the physical impact of studying for the bar:

1. I have a second gray hair. I discovered the first one about a year ago in law school. I'm 26 years old.

2. Speaking of hair, I have this nervous tic when I'm doing a lot of concentrating and studying, which is that I rub my eyebrow. My right eyebrow currently has a gap from incessant rubbing.

3. Finally, I'm experiencing a bit of pain on my middle finger. You know that spot on your middle finger of your writing hand, where you got a callous as a kid from holding a pencil? I haven't taken written notes since college, and that callous no longer exists. Frankly, the only pen-n-paper writing I do in daily life is for a grocery list. Filling in the blanks of the in-class workbook, writing over 500 flashcards, outlining essay hurts!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Affectedly Modest, Reserved, or Serious

I had a fond memory from Civ Pro my 1L year today. (Seriously!) I remember my professor teaching us about California's answer to a complaint, which is known as a "demurrer."

He had us repeat it out loud as a group, to be sure we wouldn't embarrass ourselves some day by pronouncing it "demure-er," as in more demure. The correct pronunciation is "duhmuhrer."

Monday, June 30, 2008

Subject to Numerous Exceptions

After over an hour of 47 pages of Civil Procedure in my Conviser Mini Review last night, I almost lost it when I read this paragraph:

Judgments are generally enforceable while post-trial motions are pending unless the court orders otherwise. Thereafter, if the judgment is appealed, a federal court will stay execution if a bond is posted, unless the order was for an injunction or receivership. In California state court, subject to numerous exceptions, enforcement of the trial court judgment is automatically stayed with the timely filing of a notice of appeal. However, enforcement of certain judgments (eg, for money, sale of real or personal property, appointment of a receiver) will be stayed only if trial court so orders or if an undertaking is provided. The California appellate court may also issue a stay.

Reading that paragraph is the kind of thing that could make you hit The Wall.

On the other hand, occasionally I feel a bit sad, knowing that after the bar, I'll never know this much law in this many areas ever again. It's like preemptive nostalgia.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I saw the Wall today. As in, "Late June is when you'll probably hit the wall in your studying."

The assignment for today was a practice half-day MBE, so 100 questions in 3 hours (mixed subject). I glimpsed the wall when I saw the rest of the assignment: simulate two remedies essays.

I got about 60% right on the MBE practice, and I'm not sure where that leaves me. It's really painful to check your answers when you have a binge of incorrect answers all in a row. (Each time I think to myself, "cluster f*ck.")

I always feel worse when my answer is physically distant from the correct answer: when I said "A" and the answer was "D." It's silly because the answer choices don't work like that, but all the same some part of me helplessly thinks, "Damn, I wasn't even close!"

Sometimes I think the best part of the real MBE will be not having to check my answers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Water People

Our Real Property professor, Paula Franzese, is probably my favorite so far. She's fast and she's funny, and she sings for us. (She's also the only woman we've had so far.)

Today was the last day of Property, and during the last segment she was covering the miscellaneous water rights. Our outline provides the text of the rules with blank spaces for us to fill in the words.

For example, the outline provided, "The water belongs to those who own the land _____________" and we dutifully wrote in "bordering the water course" when she said it. The next line: "These people are known as _________________." Paula says, "water people." There was some giggling, but we dutifully, robotically wrote "water people." Paula paused.

"I'm kidding. They are not known as water people. They're riparians." And we all laughed, and scratched out "water people" in our outlines.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Bar Review Burden on SOs

It's exceptionally valuable having a supportive significant other while studying for the bar. Mine has involved himself in my studying by quizzing me with flashcards. I realized this morning just how involved he's been.

My boyfriend's band has a show in two weeks, and he usually has a friend of his video record their gigs. I've started assisting his friend, but I'm not exactly a film school student, so my boyfriend decided to hunt for someone to help me.

Managing three cameras would be pretty intense for an amateur; besides, he informed me with perfect innocence, "I don't want the recording to be an undue burden on you."

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Little Things

There's something about the Barbri books that's been driving me completely nuts: page numbers.

The In-Class Workbook is a prime example. The book is divided into multistate subjects and state subjects, and these subjects are divided alphabetically within the book (small comfort). There are page numbers within each subject, but no universal, book-wide page numbers. (I rationalized this by telling myself that Barbri wanted each professor to be able to refer to their "own" page numbers. Today, however, Epstein - contracts - informed us as an aside that he had no control over them.)

Without universal page numbers, the table of contents is useless for finding the subject each day. This book is approximately 2 and a half inches thick! Can you imagine how annoying it is thumbing through it to find the subjects? Yes, the subject is listed at the top of the page, but everything is in a different font and size because the materials are the professor's proprietary notes.

And there's not even a uniformity to adjust to:

The Essay Exam Workshop book: overall page numbers, but no subject headings at the top of the pages. Must use table of contents.

Conviser Mini Review book: Divided between multistate and state, with universal page numbers. No table of contents, therefore universal page numbers are useless. Must use subject headings at the top of the pages.

I also found their abbreviation system intolerable (CGAB, CICW, CEWB, etc.) until I realized I didn't have to figure out what they stood for: the abbreviations are on the upper-right side of the cover of the book. Positively sensible.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Today we watched Erwin Chemerinsky's DVD lecture. Chemerinsky is the god of Con Law, revered by many generations of attorneys who were taught Con Law by him in Barbri. (I flew 600 miles with a stomach virus to hear him speak.) The most remarked upon quality of his lectures is that he uses no notes whatsoever.

Without using any books, notes, or even a podium, he guided us through out handout, referring to "major subpoint 3" or "subset c," or, my personal favorite, "little 4." He recited the notes word-for-word.

Our DVD emphasized this point by filming him for the first 20 minutes from the feet up, before zooming in on his face as they typically do. At that moment, my friends on either side of me both leaned in to whisper, "Does he have a teleprompter?" and "Does he have it all memorized?"

His lecture is about 8 hours long!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Non-Acrimonious Acronyms, part II

Courtesy of Wikipedia, two relevant pieces of information:
In 1974, both San Francisco-based "Bay Area Review" (BAR) and Chicago-based "Bar Review Institute" (BRI) were bought by publishing giant Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, and promptly merged.

And, source of the Conviser Mini Review book:
Richard J. Conviser became president of the merged subsidiary.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Staying Awake

I've started Barbri this week! I'm doing the taped version ("DVD version" would be more accurate). The teaching professor appears as a giant Wizard of Oz head on the projector screen.

We started with Evidence; here's a highlight from our professor while discussing the use of a document to jog the witness's memory on the stand:

"Lawyers call this 'refreshing the witness's recollection.' Lay persons call this 'bullshit.'"

Also, here's a selection of the emailed thoughts of some attorney friends of mine, on studying for the bar:

"It really isn’t that bad. Bar summer is A LOT easier than actually practicing law at a firm – I can tell you that for shit sure."

"It's a terrible, stressful experience, but I do think that it prepares you well for the bar. In short, taking Barbri sucks so that taking the bar doesn't have to."

"Barbri isn't all that bad – just a bit mind-numbing. Don't spend too much time studying."

"Just stay awake and you'll do great."

I take the bar July 29-31.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Non-Acrimonious Acronyms

Graduated! These three years went by quickly, but still, I feel like a different person. When I think back to who I was when I started, it feels like a long time ago. The timing is right for me - I wasn't sick of school, but I was tired of it, and I'm ready to move on to something different. I'm excited to start working, but first: the bar...

I did PMBR last week - Preliminary Multistate Bar Review. (My boyfriend: "Isn't 'multistate' two words? Shouldn't it be PMSBR?" MS Word: it's one word. Firefox: it's two words. I've heard of PMBR for three years but I didn't know what it stood for until last week.) I took the 6-day review. PMBR gets you ready for the multistate bar, which is one day of testing the same for all law students nationally. For PMBR, in the morning you take a 50-question exam on one of the 6 subjects (Con Law, Evidence, Crim, etc.). In the afternoon, the instructor goes over the answers.

It's kinda crazy having all that law from 1L year come bubbling to the surface (fee simple subject to condition subsequent? A Terry stop? Seriously?).

But really, it wasn't so bad at all. You've forgotten a lot of things, but at times it's amazing what your brain dredges up. No point in getting freaked out, because that won't help. Better to be cool.

Next week: Barbri. Just don't ask me what that stands for.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bay Area Blawgers 3.0

Sadly, I'll be out of town for the 3rd Bay Area Blogger's meetup. But the invitation is open to others:

The High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law is pleased to sponsor Bay Area Blawgers 3.0, the third gathering of legal bloggers in the Bay Area and friends. This time we're thrilled to co-host the event with the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at the UC Berkeley Law School. As we have done in the past, we'll spend about 1 hour of our time in a structured discussion, with the balance of our time for informal chit-chatting. The details:
When: May 20, 6-8 pm
Where: Goldberg Room, UC Berkeley Law School. Directions and parking.
Who: Everyone is welcome, but this event principally will cater to active legal bloggers. Bloggers and friends who have said they plan to attend include: Tsan Abrahamson, Robert Barr, Eli Edwards, Cathy Gellis, Eric Goldman, Beth Grimm, Kimberly A. Kralowec, Ethan Leib, Cathy Moran, Dana Nguyen, Aaron Perzanowski, Elizabeth Pianca, Mark Radcliffe, Jason Schultz, John Steele, Kevin Underhill and J. Craig Williams. (This list will be updated as new blawgers and friends RSVP).
Cost: Admission is free.
CLE: This event qualifies for 1 hour of general CLE credit. Santa Clara University School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.
RSVPs: RSVP to Eric Goldman (
Some background materials:
* Announcements of Bay Area Blawgers 1.0 and 2.0.
* Recap of the first gathering
* Photos from the second gathering at Fenwick & West's San Francisco office. More photos.
* List of possible discussion issues
* Census of Bay Area Blawgers

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Who Knew?

From a CALI exercise: someone can be your stand-in at your marriage.

Occam's Razor

Wednesday I had my last law school class, a Corporations pseudo-review session. (My professor: "I don't want this turning into a pop-quiz of the professor. Don't go asking me for the elements of the Business Judgment Rule.")

A week from today is my Corporations final, my only one. (I also have a paper due in another class, but all it needs is a polishing.) When I was a 2L a 3L friend advised me wisely to take as few exams as humanly possible in the last semester. I'm reading an Emmanuel's supplement and taking CALI exercises online.

Also, I cashed in my Westlaw points! (Westlaw and Lexis are the legal databases. Students are granted free access and opportunities to earn "points" that cumulate throughout law school. Reminder: they expire 30 days after you graduate!) I chose a 10-blade kitchen knife set (about 3000 of my 4000 points).

I guess you get what you pay for: it only had 9 knives.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Moral Teasers

You've seen it before: the folks at PMBR, or student groups in the promenade, sitting there behind a table with a bowl of candy. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Nerds, Starburst two-packs. You have zero interest in whatever they're offering you, other than the candy of course, in which you have an immense interest.

I hate this moral dilemma! Do you:
1. Feign interest and listen to their pitch as you take a piece of candy,
2. Grab the candy openly and shamelessly and walk away,
3. Wait till they're not looking and snag some candy as you slip by, or
4. Give them apologetic, questioning eyes and take the candy with your head down.

I hate this dilemma so much that I usually suffer through the last option, which is: not take any candy at all. Such a tease!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


My Corporations professor, after a reading assignment on shareholder distributions (dividends and selective repurchases):

“If anyone had fun doing tonight’s reading, please see me after class." He paused. "There are therapies for that.”

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Short-Form Mergers

My Corporations professor, an adjunct - he's an Antitrust partner at a firm - was recently offered a permanent position to teach the course. Last week he admitted he was horrified to learn that we law students refer to the class as "Corps."

"I know this class isn't as exciting as some others, but really guys - we have come up with something better than that!"

The amusing part to me was that he didn't know we called it that! I've known it as "Corps" from my first year, and I assume the reference is passed down every year. (Other examples: Civ Pro for Civil Procedure, Crim for Criminal Law.) As weird as it may sound, I don't actually think there are negative connotations.

I mean really, how else are you gonna abbreviate it?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Like a Phoenix

The oft-repeated summary of life in law school:

1st year: Scared to death
2nd year: Worked to death
3rd year: Bored to death

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

P2P, Renewed

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the recent news in net neutrality. Comcast has agreed to work with BitTorrent, the P2P megasource, and to begin ceasing discriminating against BitTorrent traffic. I credit the pressure from the FCC investigation and the overwhelming business sense: P2P is becoming a vital way to transfer video legally.

In other news, Warner Music is exploring subscription-based music downloading on the ISP end, the idea of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred von Lohman, which I stumbled on almost exactly a year ago. Jim Griffin, who's heading the project at Warner, "forecasts that such ISP add-on fees could generate as much as $20 billion annually to distribute between artists and copyright holders."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sun, Light

Last week the GC/VP of Sun Microsystems Mike Dillon came for a Q&A as part of an event my student group hosted. He was fantastic, and he has a (Sun-endorsed) blog! Here's an excerpt from a post I particularly enjoyed on recommendations for life as in-house counsel:

Always be the calmest person in the room. Too often attorneys inflame a stressful business situation, rather than providing calm and dispassionate counsel. In this regard, a quote from former U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson is one of my favorites: "One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to be supplied is light, not heat."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Step Before Running

My last Spring Break! Probably for ever. I went to Vegas (for a friend's wedding) and on a road trip to Big Sur and Santa Barbara. I focused on total abandonment of reality, which was largely successful except for a panicked moment at the hotel to register to take the Bar. You register as a 1L, so this was choosing my test center. The nearest is in Oakland; the San Francisco test center is written-only (Oakland allows laptops). Don't even get me started on the absurdity of that.

For the record, my panic was over whether I was going to be forced to truck it out to San Mateo (my second choice), not about taking the Bar itself.

The Bar is just too extensive for a small and immediate emotion like panic.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bar Smarts

I was reading my Legal Drafting notes this afternoon when I noticed an amusing slip. Our prof had advised us we should never bring any outside knowledge into the performance part of the bar exam. You only want to work within the closed universe the testers provide. My notes read:

"Don't be creative. Don't bring in actual knowledge."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Checking Up

I've been contacted by former employers in the past week about my moral character evaluation. I haven't received word from any of my personal references, but if anyone is wondering, apparently they at least check up with former employers. (California requires attorneys-to-be to fill out a 37 page application with questions like, 'List every address you've lived at for the past 8 years.' The fee is $431.)

This got me thinking about the first legal job I had as a legal assistant after college. I was working for a solo practitioner in medical malpractice. After one deposition, my boss lamented that he still hadn't figured a way to prove the doctor at issue had a continuous doctor-patient relationship with our client. I tentatively suggested the "It's Time For Your Checkup" postcards our client had received. My boss reacted with excitement and delight over this simple and obvious answer. At that moment I decided I had what it takes to be a lawyer.

How naive!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Post Symposium

Our Symposium on Net Neutrality was a success! You can find live-blogged details here by my co-writer on Webbed Footprint. We'll be posting the recorded event on our website soon as a podcast. Thanks to everyone who attended in person and online!

I'm still recovering from the energy expenditure of hosting this incredible event, and the subsequent celebratory debauchery. I did get to hang out with this cool guy, however:

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

No Immunity

UPDATE: This photo appeared on Boing Boing!


From the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Director Cindy Cohn:

We're asking folks to take a picture of themselves with a sign that
says something like: "Stop the Spying - No Telecom Immunity" and
indicating their city and state. They can also do a short video. We'd
like them to email the photo or video to us and we'll post them on
our website and a corresponding Flickr website
we've set up with tagging, etc. We'd like folks to be creative
(include babies, different settings, etc), but respectful too. When
we get enough, we're hoping to convey them to Congress in some
fashion. I'm hoping to get enough to put together a collection of
them on a big poster board that Senator Dodd and others can use on
the Senate Floor but we may not have time.

Send an email to!
EFF info
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Legal Posturing

I'm currently taking a course called Legal Drafting. Every other week we take a three-hour exam from real Bar exams. They consist of the Performance Exam section of the Bar. You're given an assignment (write a memo, an appellate brief, etc.) called a task memo. You're provided with two stapled packets: a Library of cases and statutes, and a File, consisting of lower court briefs, deposition testimony, etc.

Our professor instructed us on the first thing we should do when we get the exam: tear off the task memo sheet.

"Why, you ask, should you tear off the task memo?" He demonstrated with a powerful flourish the ideal motion. "First, because it will help you avoid 'mission creep.' Mission creep is when you lose track of the assignment. Secondly, you should tear off the task memo because it will freak the hell out of everyone around you."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Well Fed

My Corporations professor discussed agency on the first day of class. He proposed a hypothetical where his assistant (he works at a firm) bought lunch for a meeting and paid with a firm credit card that she'd been told specifically never to use for that purpose. The firm eats the food and then refuses to pay the bill. The question was whether his assistant was an agent of the firm such that the firm could be held liable for the lunch.

My prof asked, "So, will I have to pay for the lunch?" He let us marinate on it a moment and then said with a smirk, "You know I’m gonna have to. Because there’s no such thing as a free lunch."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Network Neutrality Symposium

Do you live in the Bay Area? Would love for you to attend my student group's symposium! Anyone who comes and tells me they read it on my blog gets a special surprise gift...

Net Neutrality refers to free access to the Internet without discrimination based upon content, how often a user accesses the Internet, or the type of services and programs used.

The University of San Francisco School of Law Intellectual Property Law Bulletin is sponsoring The Toll Roads: The Legal and Political Debate Over Network Neutrality, a symposium to increase awareness about network neutrality, bringing together lawyers, academics, economists, and technologists for a balanced debate on the issue. Panelists include Tim Wu, Richard Clarke, Lawrence Spiwak, and many others.

When: January 26th, 2008 8 AM - 7 PM
Where: Fromm Institute on the University of San Francisco main campus
Cost: Professionals (6.0 Units MCLE Credit): $100
Non-professionals: Free - $75 (see registration page for details)

(And with this I'm officially outing my school on this blog.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Predictably enough, after five days of vacation-stasis I'm bored out of my mind. The lack of activity makes me anxious because I feel like I should be doing something, and I'm not. I already restored my habitat: cleaned my apartment, took out the recycling, watered my poor plants, caught up with neglected friends. What do I do with myself?

I decided to write a paper. In the hopes of getting it published. I figure this will be the last moment for a while that I'll have the time to write something academic. And all the attorney bios I've read list (at least one) published work!

Next week I'm vacationing to Maui; if I'm gonna write this paper I'll be challenging (again) the age-old rule that You Can't Get Any Work Done on the Beach.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I confess I've been cheating on this blog with another blog!

I co-launched a new blog with a friend of mine. It's about the nuances of social interactions online. For example, I (as "Sansserif") posted on the differences between "LOL" and "haha!" during an IM conversation. My co-blogger ("Youareyou") has written on such topics as the irrationality of a new Facebook group called Six Degrees of Separation.

Here it is if you'd like to check it out: Webbed Footprint.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

CC Birthday

A few photos of Larry Lessig from the CC birthday last night:

Posted by Picasa

Yes, he did show up in person!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Creative Commons

I'm off tonight to celebrate the 5th birthday of Creative Commons, Larry Lessig's brainchild that offers an alternative method of copyrighting creative works. Instead of "all rights reserved," it provides licenses requiring attribution, or non-commercial use, etc. (My blog is CC licensed, and Flickr lets you CC license your photos.)

Last year a friend and I were sorely disappointed when Larry appeared only as his avatar on Second Life. This year I'm hoping he'll actually show, since he's definitely in the area. I heard from a friend's girlfriend that his Contracts final at Stanford was so brutal he brought his students muffins.

Muffins aren't going to ease my disappointment if he doesn't make it again this year. Although I guess free alcohol might...

Double Check Mate

Another set of finals completed! I have no idea what I was thinking, setting myself up with four finals my 3L year. Actually I do know what I was thinking: I wanted to take more IP classes because I love IP and because I figured there wouldn't be much to learn. Next semester I got smart: I'll only have one final.

A final thought on multiple choice exams. There are some people who refuse to go over their answers because they're afraid they'll change an answer; they trust their first instinct. I always force myself to go over as many questions as I can (for this exam, consisting of 100 MCs, I had exactly enough time to review them all). This requires great will power, especially when it's your last exam of the semester and only about three people are still taking the exam by the end of the 2 and a half hours.

I almost always end up keeping the same answer on the questions I marked as 'questionable.' This last exam I changed a few other answers, however. One question followed several others about survival and wrongful death actions. It involved a 6 year old child whose mother had been in a coma for 2 months. What could the child collect for?
A. Lost support
B. Emotional distress
C. Mother's wages
D. Nothing.

The first time through I chose A, as in a wrongful death action. The second time around I realized: the mother wasn't dead, so the child couldn't collect anything.

Catching this one little trick made the entire agonizing review worthwhile.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Night Shift

It's pretty well accepted that sleep is good for learning. (As previously discussed by me.)

Last night I had my first final in Sports Law. Every semester I have post exam stress disorder, most frequently in the form of dreams, as I've described here and here. I felt pretty excellent coming out of this final, and there was very little anxiety over it.

Nevertheless, last night I distinctly remember being in a quasi-sleeping/dreamlike state: I was rehearsing the names of cases from Sports Law and reviewing what they held. To me this represents direct evidence of my brain at work while I sleep! Amazing!

The best part is that I half-woke from this midnight review and, aware of what I was doing, promptly scolded myself: 'That final is over! No need to learn those cases, kid.'

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Out of Line

What is up with some of these outlines? Granted, I'm pretty concise in my note taking - I'm no Transcriber. The most pages of notes I have this semester (not the most attentive semester of my law school career I admit) is 65 pages for Remedies. Some of my other classes have half that. That includes my dorky briefs for every case in the reading plus class notes.

Some of these kids have 70 page outlines! A friend said it best: can you really call that an outline?

My outlines have never been real favorites; my Remedies outline is only 19 pages. I've been accused of being "cryptic," but jeez, I try to keep my outlines within the boundaries of my attention span.

Monday, December 03, 2007


The November MPRE (Multi-state Professional Responsibility Exam) scores were released today. Yes, I passed. Getting my score was a pretty intense experience though! My heart rate was up, hands shaking a bit. I can only imagine what it must feel like to check whether you passed the bar.

The experience was a bit confounding because the PDF lists your score...but not whether you passed. So you're all jacked up and Adobe opens up and the document pops up...and you're like, 'Wait, did I pass or what?' You're looking for big block letters, "PASSED," y'know?

Passing score in CA is 79. (Next year it will be 86.)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Penultimate Finals

Finals, nigh! I'm working hard and playing hard; balance is key. I've said it before and I'll say it again: reading period rocks. No class, the opportunity to narrow your focus onto one thing to the exclusion of everything else in your often do we get the chance to do that? Clearly I'm a 3L, right? Already waxing nostalgic for this sweet academic life...

I would like to congratulate a very good (retired) blogger friend of mine LawyerLike on his recent bar passage! (Those crazy Canadians have a bizarrely rational system whereby they take a multiple choice test and then work for 9 months before being born again as lawyers. On the other hand, they have to call the judge "my lord.")

Good luck to everyone on finals!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cat Fights

Exxon was sued at one point by Kellogg's, the cereal company, for trademark infringement. The mark at issue was Exxon's tiger vs. Tony the Tiger ("...the taste of Tony's Frosted Flakes...").

I really enjoyed the way Exxon's artist described the evolution of the tiger following the Exxon Valdez oil spill:

"Today's tiger is now cast in a more humanitarian role. He is polite to the elderly,* plants trees for ecology and has an overall concern for the environment."

Even better, however, is the asterisked footnote from the editors:
*"It is unclear if Exxon's tiger was rude to the elderly prior to this time --Eds."

Kellogg Co. v. Exxon Corp.
, 209 F.3d 562 (6th Cir. 2000).

Monday, November 26, 2007


I traveled about half an hour outside of San Francisco yesterday for a hike in Muir Woods to a quasi-German Beer House. Surrounded by the bird song and the fresh air, with an amazing view, a friend and I found ourselves sitting at a picnic table...playing with his iPhone. I investigated its features for about 10 minutes before we caught ourselves, laughing at the irony.

So we lifted up the iPhone and took a picture of the setting sun.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Disease and Confession

Finals in about three weeks! I've been outlining all semester, but in a very lackadaisical way. Everyone talks about 3L-itis, or whatever you wanna call it. Whatever it is, I have it. I think it's exacerbated by the fact that by this point in the game, studying doesn't require as much effort. You just figure out how to do it efficiently and you spend so much less time doing it.

Same with reading, although I have a confession: I still brief the cases in my notes when I read for class. Embarrassingly dorky! They say by 2L year all you do is book-brief - take notes in the margins of the text and underline. The other day I had this scary thought: what if, when I get into law practice, I can't understand the cases I read without briefing them?? An argument in favor of book-briefing...?

The bar results have come out; everyone I know personally passed. My Facebook is bursting at the seams with congratulations. My school has had nearly 100% passage rate for the top 20% for years. In one year I will be an attorney.

Monday, November 19, 2007

On Billables

An attorney friend of mine:

"I make the same mistake with billing as I do with dieting. I tell myself, 'I'll make it up tomorrow,' but you never do."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What's Shakin'?

I failed to mention an entertaining moment in Sports Law last week. As you know, if you're in the Bay Area, we had a big, juicy earthquake around 8 pm last Tues.

I was in class, where we had a guest lecturer talking about NCAA rules. When the quaking began we all looked at each other and started murmuring, questioning whether it was a quake. At first it felt like the rumbling when you walk along a highway bridge-overpass, with large trucks speeding past, and then it increased to a back-and-forth shaking.

This quake was interesting because it was fairly prolonged; you had to time to process the movement, question it, acknowledge it, marvel at it, and then start to get nervous! We immediately checked the quake map link on Craig's List, and moments later it appeared as a 5.6. (The largest I've experienced in my two years here.)

Naturally, the guest lecturer continued her speech unfazed once the shaking ceased.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Stupid Game

I enjoyed parts of an article from Reuters on PirateBay, the Swedish P2P downloading website. In May of last year the MPAA claimed victory over Pirate Bay after Swedish authorities confiscated the site's computers, but PirateBay was up again three days later.

"Sweden is not a state in the United States," says one. "It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are ... morons."


Pirate Bay also wants to raise $50,000 to buy an island and create its own nation-state where piracy would be legal. So far it has about $20,000, Sunde said.

Its three founders face criminal charges related to piracy, but they're not worried because the stiffest sentence they could get in Sweden if found guilty is a $300 fine, Sunde said.

"I don't believe what we are doing is a crime," he said. "It is a stupid game," he added, referring to the legal proceedings.

You Don't Say

Bill Patry describes a study conducted by the Canadian government on his blog that indicates that P2P downloading actually increases the purchase of music:

"Our review of existing econometric studies suggests that P2P file-sharing tends to decrease music purchasing. However, we find the opposite, namely that P2P file-sharing tends to increase rather than decrease music purchasing."

"We find evidence that purchases of other forms of entertainment such as cinema and concert tickets, and video games tend to increase with music purchases."

Lathering Up

Two affiliated branches of the Lever soap company sued the US for failing to prevent the soap made in the UK from getting into the US. Apparently the soap was made slightly differently in the UK as it was in the US: the UK brand didn't lather as well.
The court explained:

"The manufacturing choice evidently arises in part out of the British preference for baths, which permit time for lather to develop, as opposed to a US preference for showers."

Lever Bros. Co. v. U.S., 877 F2d 101 (1989).

Is that true??

Friday, November 02, 2007

University of Oregon Resists the RIAA

The University of Oregon became the first University to challenge RIAA subpoenas seeking the identity of file sharers on the network as Recording Industry vs. The People describes.

The only way to really challenge a simple subpoena is by saying it's burdensome and over broad. Accordingly, the University's motion to quash says, "The University cannot determine whether the content in question was accessed by one occupant as opposed to another, or whether it was accessed instead by a visitor." The motion argues that interviews and forensic investigation would be necessary, thereby burdening the university.

In an interesting twist, Oregon's Attorney General Hardy Myers is representing the University, apparently the first time a State AG has done so. (The last Oregon AG became governor.)

I don't see it being very successful - there are only 17 names, and dozens of other universities have been able to do it - but I think it's a good thing to check the RIAA, and to force them to, well, tighten up their game. In the same way, counterclaims by incorrectly named defendants forces the RIAA to use greater care in pointing fingers.

More to the point, the AG's motion notes that they are not required to create these records, as opposed to produce them. This reminds me of the TorrentSpy case, where a federal district court judge "ordered the company to begin saving their logs since the company's servers 'save' the logs in RAM memory for about 6 hours before the info is tossed or overwritten. Essentially the magistrate judge Jacqueline Chooljian of California's Central District is ordering the company to hold onto information it normally decided to toss as part of its privacy policy promises to its users." (from Wired.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Barack on Net Neutrality

This I like, from BNA Internet Law News:

If elected president, Barack Obama plans to prioritize
barring broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast from
prioritizing Internet content. Affixing his signature to
federal Net neutrality rules would be high on the list
during his first year in the Oval Office, the junior senator
from Illinois said during an interactive forum Monday
afternoon with the popular contender put on by MTV and
MySpace at Coe College in Iowa.

Direct Deposit of an Intern Salary

Next semester I'm interning for a start-up company, but my friend/boss asked me to do some research for him now. I agreed as I'm ravenous for the experience.

The due date approached on my work, but he gave me more time to complete it. A series of email exchanges:

Me: "Thanks for the extra time. This statute is ridiculous. You realize there's only about 5 people in this country who understand it? And I'm not one of them...yet."

Him: "For sure. When I was at [XYZ major law firm] and I had a hairy problem, I'd always remind myself that my clients weren't paying me [high hourly rate] to figure out the easy stuff!"

Me: "Point taken, I totally agree. So, how 'bout that [high hourly rate]? Direct deposit works for me."

On a related note, the other day I noticed, for the first time, this amusing verbal play: up-start vs. start-up. Depending on how well it does...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Go on...

I'd like to welcome a friend and classmate of mine to the world of blawging:

Go on, give him a hit!

Truly Consensual

Notes from my Legal Ethics text...

The Model Rules of Professional Conduct have loosened a bit on allowing spouses to represent opposing clients (a prohibition now allows clients to give informed consent). One reason given is that approximately half of new entrants to the bar are women, and half of female practitioners are married to attorneys!

In 1992, California became the first state to establish a rule against attorney-client sexual relationships. The ABA has since adopted a similar rule, and the comments argue that the client's emotional involvement prevents them from giving informed consent to this combination of sex with a professional relationship. The text editors ask, "Does it follow that only emotionless sex is truly consensual?"

Deborah L. Rhode and & David Luban, Legal Ethics, 4th ed. (2004).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

You learn something every day...

Booty: property necessary and indispensable for the conduct of war (eg, food, transportation, communication)

Pillage, or plunder: the taking of private property not necessary for the immediate prosecution of the war effort (eg, Marc Chagall painting taken by the Nazis).

Menzel v. List, 49 Misc. 2d 300 (NY 1966).

The plaintiffs fled their home ahead of the Nazis. The weird part is that when they returned 6 years later, the German authorities had left a receipt for the painting.

In the end, the plaintiff got her painting back, and the gallery got the present value of the work ($22,500) from the person from whom they'd bought the painting (for $4,000).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why blog?

Why law students should start a blog.

The link above is aimed at law students thinking about solo practice, but it's still relevant. Also, I should add that when I was interviewing for my firm, I heard through the grapevine that a partner expressed pleasure upon hearing that I had a law blog! Granted, my firm is an IP boutique in Silicon Valley with (probably) less fearful views of the internet, but still.

So go for it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


For Trademarks, we read a case about a hotel chain that created a "McSleep" brand of hotels, and was subsequently sued by McDonald's for infringement. The court found a likelihood of confusion by customers, who would believe that McDonald's was affiliated with the chain.

In the notes following the case, the text editors got a laugh out of me when they considered the relatedness of the products: fast food versus hotels. They wrote, "No one who would have booked a night at a McSleep Inn would have slept on the floor of the local McDonald's restaurant but for the confusion." (This is true, but I think the point is that McSleep is capitalizing on McDonald's good will.)

Later, the editors note that McDonald's has since created some hotels in Switzerland; the travel brochures describe it: "Each room is feng shui-influenced and designed in subtly matched colors creating a soothing atmosphere." The editors add wryly, "Presumably that means no large portraits of Ronald McDonald over the beds."