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Archive for August, 2010

One Other Piece of Advice, to Students in General

Monday, August 30th, 2010

I’m sure the karmic retribution for this post will be a vacating of my classes in the future as a teacher (ha!) but I still feel it must be said.  Here goes:

If you’re in school, go out of your way to get the very best education you can.  I don’t necessarily mean schools, either (although I’m pretty sure that would help you) but what I mean instead, is, get the very best educators you can in your classes.  Go out of your way to take the very best, most rabidly passionate people you can about a subject.  Sometimes it won’t be convenient to take a rockstarian professor.  Sometimes their classes just aren’t available when you need/want to take them.

BUT – if you can go out of your way to take that prof, just do it.  Do yourself the favor – you’ll be that much more engaged in the curriculum moving forward. It’s worth the mess. EVEN IF they beat you up in class by challenging you, and EVEN IF they are going to shaft you with an icky grade.

Right now, I’m not following my own advice and I HATE that about myself, but I just can’t make my situation fit.  For that, I am bummed.  So, I wanted to make the best I could of this situation by telling you NOT to do what I did by sticking to “convenient” over “best”.  Always go for the best, if and when you can.  It will pay off in the end!

Best Law School Supplements…For My Law School Homies

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Ok, if you’re not in law school, this post is going to be pretty worthless to you.  But, if you’re in, I thought I’d share what classes I’ve taken, what texts they used…and maybe even more importantly, what supplements I used for each class…in hopes that it might help you pick out your own.*

*Disclaimer: I didn’t get an A in most of these classes.  Some I lucked out in…most I didn’t.  I also didn’t review EVERY supplement in a category – just pulled out the best things that worked for me.  (Gotta love the disclaimer as a law student!)  Ok, here we go!

Civ Pro: Bluntly, this was one of my worst classes in law school thus far (not bad teaching, just bad comprehending on my part).  But, the text we used was Yeazell’s 7th Edition, and I used Examples & Explanations as my main supplement in that class.  While it didn’t do much for me, maybe it will for you.  I still see Erie in my nightmares…and if you don’t know what Erie is, consider yourself LUCKY.  Ignorance definitely is bliss here – except on the final exam in Civ Pro!

Contracts & Sales: Contracts book was Fuller & Eisenberg’s 8th edition.  I did buy Murray on Contracts (hornbook) and used it occasionally (and it is the only hornbook I’ve purchased thus far.)  I also bought and used the 4th edition of Contracts Examples & Explanations.  I have an old Gilbert’s copy too.  As for Sales, we used Keating for this course, 4th ed.  I didn’t really use any supplements for that part of the course. However, I also used the Law in Flash series for Contracts, and it helped.  Thus far, this has probably been my best success academically in law school (but then again, I actually care about this content too, which always helps..)

Legal Writing: no supplements, other than the Blue Book.  You’ll come to loathe this book too, esp. if you end up on law review.  And why they have two different style guides for writing (one for the courts, and one for law review) I’ll never know, other than some sicko previously wanted to confuse law students who made it into law review with more complication in their lives.

Criminal Law: We used LaFave’s 4th edition as a textbook.  I also had the Legalines book for the cases.  I also had Law in a Flash for criminal, which I think helped a little.  It was a weird final, so I’ll leave this one at that….

Property: Text for this was Casner et al 5th edition and a bunch of supplemental material given to us by the professor.  I had the Casenote Legal Briefs for this, and used CrunchTime: Property for this class.  I did OK in it, but I’m still not totally sure about the whole “A to B for the life of B until C stands on her head and does the hokey pokey and unless D sings “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” on Christmas Eve” thing…bundle of sticks is about what I get now relative to that course.

Constitutional Law: Text was Stone 7th Ed.  I had Emanuel’s Con Law for this class, and it saved me.  This was probably the fuzziest class I took thus far in law school, and Con Law permeates every other class.  Do yourself a favor (unlike what I did) – study your butt off in this one.  It will pay off.  Con law really is in every other area of the law.  I also had the con law Law in a Flash cards for this, and they also helped some…

Admin Law: Text was Breyer 6th ed., and I had the CaseNote series for it as well as Examples & Explanations (E&E) which helped a little.  The exam again wasn’t my favorite (mainly multiple choice…ick), nor my best performance.

Family Law: Text was Areen 5th edition, and I had the CaseNotes book for it and again E&E.  While my performance wasn’t great in this one either, the best thing I can say about this class is that I definitely DO NOT want to practice Family Law…EVER. (With one tiny exception: maybe Prenups would be OK.  They are, after all, contracts, and more preventative measures which I totally support for couples.)  I think they should still call this are of the law “Unfamily Law” instead.

Mergers & Acquisitions: Behind Contracts & Sales, this was probably my other favorite class thus far of law school.  The text was Carney’s 2nd edition.  The only supplement I had for it was the Nutshell on M&A.  I LOVED this class and I recommend the Nutshell, because it can go a little more into stuff like Revlon duties…some of the cases in the textbook are like reading a technical manual.

All the other classes thus far I either didn’t buy a supplement for, or no supplement was available.  In general, I recommend supplements…especially for part time law students who honestly don’t always have the time to read the cases in the text 3 times.  My law profs aren’t probably happy with that response, but honestly, I’m just keeping it real here.  Sometimes life gets in the way and we just can’t read and re-read everything as much as we’d like.

Now, if you’re a lawyer who has “been there, done that” recently, and can give me some feedback on the best supplements for the following courses I’m taking this semester, I’m all ears:

Closely Held (so, Corporations, Agency, or both?)
Antitrust in Healthcare (there’s not even a real textbook on this one, so I doubt there will be a supplement)
Patent Law (this is the first time I’m taking any kind of IP law, and while I’m Patent Bar eligible, I’m not sure yet whether or not I will like IP law enough or not to sit for it…)
Professional Responsibility (I’m buying E&E, but are the Law in a Flash cards worth the price here?)

Caught

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I got caught this morning trying to articulate my logic why I wouldn’t take a certain client on as a “lawyer” this morning in professional responsibility.  I won’t say who the person is, but I will say it was on a first amendment issue.  While I love the first amendment, I don’t love this person, at all.  And that’s why I wouldn’t take her/his case.  I didn’t really have a good explanation as to why this morning, so I’m going to go ahead and articulate now that I have had the chance to think it through.

I have zero desire to practice most types of law, including this first amendment case.  But, I am also a firm believer in this (which was the part I failed to articulate this morning): you are like those you hang with.  You are like and become like those you associate with.  This blog post by another author also articulates this. I’ve also seen this in a presentation I developed and researched recently on social networks and personal/public health.  Birds of a feather really DO flock together.  You can also become like those whom you hang with and around.  Your friends and associates and yes, I think even clients can have a strong effect on you–be it a positive one, or a negative one.  In this “case” this particular “client” had, at least in my book, nefarious business he needed protected.  Thanks, but no thanks.  Not my gig.

Maybe that’s why there is rampant alcoholism, depression and other mental illness and generalized unhappiness within the legal profession.  And, it is probably why the general public perceives lawyers better only than used car salesmen.  Yes, as lawyers, we are trained to not put our own moral lens onto our clients and judge them, but I say – hey, we’re human.  We are always going to have values, morals, and opinions of our own.  To totally abandon those to do your life’s work as a lawyer – is that, or should that be appropriate?  I honestly don’t think so.  I’m not a Vulcan.  Last time I checked, I was human.

We humans have to have some level of morals, values and guiding force by which we live, and part of that includes our life’s work.  I don’t want to spend my life defending egregious behavior.  I don’t want to spend my precious and finite time here on this earth promoting sketchy morals, just because it fits in the construction of a ‘right’ under the Constitution or some other law.  Nor is that why I went to law school.  (Oh, and the counterpoint in the class said they’d take the case because this particular person was wealthy.  Is that a good reason…because they can pay?  Should it be the ONLY reason?)

Thankfully, we aren’t required to “take” a particular case.  And yes, everyone has different values, morals and ethics, and those might be unlike mine, which is totally cool – that is what makes life interesting.  But I think everyone must choose their friends, associates, and people who are around them very wisely.

While I was caught without an explanation this morning, at least I came up with one after thinking about it.  If my opinion is wrong, so be it.  But I’m not going to toss out my own moral, ethical, and value/beliefs in order to make a buck.

(And it’s probably a good thing that my first profession isn’t law! I might starve.)

The Judge is Right

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Ok, I know – a hopping Friday night when I’m home reading 78 pages of Professional Responsibility for my law school class Saturday morning.  (Never let it be said my life wasn’t exciting…)  I’ll try to think of it more like Breakfast Club and less like Saturday morning law school class.

But, I just read an essay in my PR book from Judge Posner about why law school should not be three years, but instead two.  I think he’s right.  Read on to understand why.

Enigmatically to me, law school is the only professional school I know of whereby you never have to get anywhere near actually practicing the profession to graduate.  Medicine?  Absolutely have to start practicing in the first year. Pharmacy?  Students get exposed to the practice pre-professionally at Butler.  Vet school? PT?  OT school? Nursing?  Can you think of any professional school where you DO NOT have practice it as part of the curriculum?

Only one: law school.

This was not always the case.  In the 1800s, one ‘apprenticed’ with a real lawyer in order to become one. Now, why I bring this up is what Judge P says in his essay, “…law is becoming more like a business at the same time that law school is becoming less like a business school and more like a graduate department in the humanities and social science.”  I think I agree with this.  Two trends: 1. don’t lawyers pretty much rely on businesses to get a lot of their business? (And even if not directly, their clients need jobs from companies that can pay them, so they in turn can pay their attorneys…) and 2. more and more lawyers are being laid off and starting their own businesses.

Now, granted, I’m only 1/2 way through the law school curriculum, but I have yet to see a class offered whereby I can learn how to run a business or even start an independent practice as a lawyer at law school (not that I necessarily would take it, but it would be nice to at least be offered the option).

Here’s what I think law school should consider reformatting to:  2 years in the classroom, and the 3rd year out in practice, on rotations or like a residency, in the field, with real law practices, or with real lawyers out in the working world.  Pharmacy does it.  Medicine does it.  Vets do it.  Why not law?

The practicality of learning the law really doesn’t meet the law school classroom, with one exception: law clinics.  But law clinics are not required.  So, for all you unaware out there: a law student could in theory graduate, pass the bar, set up shop the day after and literally have NEVER practiced law a day prior in their life!  THIS SCARES ME.  Doesn’t it scare you?  If not, it SHOULD.

A lot of lawyers are calling for reform of law school curriculum.  I agree.  I really don’t think it is professional to have students going through law school never really having to see what it is truly like to be a lawyer.  Not all of us have the luxury to quit our day jobs and ride off into the sunset of rotations or practical experience on our own, but if law school required it and took us out of the hypothetical (and at times, nearly worthless) experience of the classroom for real world education, I think I’d be ok with that, and so would my colleagues.

Judge P, you definitely have this one right!

Blogpete: Rabidly, Passionately, and Socially Entrepreneurial

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

The repeat of a blog has a new name: blogpete.

I’m blogpeting my post from one of my other sites, yuspie, to bring you something I’ve been working on since the beginning of this year, and I’ve really enjoyed.  Here goes!

This year, I’ve had the honor and the luck of being one of two fellows in the Program on Law and State Government at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis.  When I interviewed for the fellowship, I kind of took a risk by saying there was one (and really only one) topic I was interested in studying this year, which was this:

economic development.

But, that gave me the shot at this opportunity, and I have met, talked to, and learned from so many wonderful entrepreneurial and legal rock stars that it has been one of the very best things I’ve been involved in at law school.  Here’s the brochure on the program. And here’s the link to the online registration.

In a nutshell, we’ll be exploring 3 big buckets o’ stuff:

1.  Entrepreneurial Education – at undergrad, grad and law school levels;
2.  Social business – and the new L3C or Low Profit Limited Liability Company Business entity type (available in some of our neighboring states…but…ugh…not here…at least yet…;
3.  How gov’t entities can actually take, collect and make use of data to improve government services.

This is going to be AWESOME!  We’ve got national leaders coming in to talk about the L3Cs, and so many other state rock stars that I think it is really going to be top shelf.  Even without the program, I’ve learned so much about creating and fostering entrepreneurship throughout this fellowship year.  I’ve also had the privilege of meeting and getting to know my fellow fellow and our faculty mentor, who are both phenomenal.

I personally think everyone in the state of Indiana who cares about entrepreneurship, economic development and supporting business (i.e. lawyers and law firms) should be at this live event.  I’ve already learned a lot, and look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with the fellowship symposium attendees!

Future of the Book?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

A LOT of chatter on the blogosphere about the future of the book, now that Amazon announced a couple of weeks ago that digital books were now outselling paper books – this blog included.

Here are my (totally biased) thoughts as both an avid reader (mainly of nonfiction) and writer (mainly of again, nonfiction):  Paper books may go away.  However, the world is still going to be hungry for rich, one-of-a-kind content.  Also, the delivery of the content might change how we actually read.

Case in point: serial stories on hand held devices…mini chapters and reading on hand held devices – like this story, where it is hot in Japan. I think this will especially get hot if we move more towards mass transit in big urban centers.  Just go to China and hop on the subway – EVERYONE is glaring at their hand held devices while riding.

I’m not really sure if the role of the author will change, other than he or she could do more possible wiki/collaboration on book ideas, (which is a copyright attorney’s nightmare), but other than that, at the end of the day – book, iPad, or anything else in between – rich content will still rule.  We’ll still need writers.  We’ll still need good writers.  We’ll still need good stuff…so if you’re still big on writing, get to it – we need your stuff!

Breaking the Rules

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Normally, my rule on this particular blog is to NOT discuss my first profession, pharmacy.  But today, I’m going to break that rule, because I want to talk about some other fundamentals that we need for the future of this profession.

The freshmen at Butler University today had the privilege of hearing Daniel Pink talk about the frosh book this year, A Whole New Mind.  They were lucky.  They heard stories about the future, which maybe all of us didn’t get when we were freshmen.  But if you’re familiar with Pink’s work, you know that he believes the left brain skills are a must have, while the right brain skills are also must have in the coming years.

One of the students in the audience (probably a pre-pharmacy major) asked why right brain creative skills are important to a pharmacist.  While Pink’s answer was good (he discussed empathy primarily, along with good communication skills as a pharmacist), I thought I’d take the liberty of expanding the answer to that question as a pharmacist….so here we go:

Being right brained, creative, able to look at the big picture, is a valuable skill in ANY profession.  Now, more than ever, we need creative, clever healthcare professionals to be able to become change agents.  To not only count by 5s and get the right medication in the right bottle at the right time to the right patient, but s/he must also be able to start and try new ideas.  Actually, when you think about it, pharmacy used to be completely creative in the sense that it was almost 100% entrepreneurial.  Everyone a hundred years or so ago went to pharmacy school and then went back to working at the independent pharmacy.

We’ve gotten 98% away from that mindset as a profession.  The majority of pharmacists now work for someone else, so we as a profession have in essence done a 180 degree turn from our roots.  However, there is tremendous opportunity here with the people who get the left brained skills, and bring the right brained creative as the icing on the top of the cake, because the profession is morphing as we speak.

The most valuable asset a pharmacist can bring to the table is the knowledge in her head.  If she can write, clearly articulate, empathize with patients, and create new ideas in terms of cognitive services, she will be light years ahead for her own professional career development AND for her employer (whether it is herself who is the employer or someone else.)  Those who dare to try new things and ideas out–including in the clinical setting–are going to be the change agents and leaders of the future, period.

So, right brainers of the world unite! I don’t care what major you pick as a freshman…pharmacy, accounting, finance, business, art, design, WHATEVER–don’t forget to use BOTH sides of your brain, and if you master that, you’ll be way ahead of your peers and a huge advocate for change and development within your profession in the future.

Welcome to Next Semester

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

I’m 10 pages in on my first reading of the fall semester of law school, and already…I’m…irritated.  (I really want to say pissed off, but that wouldn’t be professional.  So I’ll stick with irritated.)

First off, I’m reading for closely held.  This is the course where they supposedly teach you all about different business structures and what the reason for business existing actually is.  Here’s why I’m miffed:

1.  They’re quoting stuff from the 1970s, assuming it is relevant to business today.
2.  They’ve got equally condescending footnotes in the book about assuming that students would confuse Warren Buffett for Jimmy Buffett.  Really?  Do you really think we are that stupid?
3.  They lay out that the primary purpose for a business is to “make money”.  That’s it?  That’s the ONLY purpose?  Then they give a quote from Ben & Jerry’s about their company having the audacity to give a portion of their profits to causes and asking if that hurts the shareholders.
4.  I think I paid over $140 for this piece of crap, and it was a required textbook.  Now there’s some corporate greed in action.

Business can’t just be about “making money” anymore.  Yes, businesses make money, but they also make LIVES–they create opportunities for people to have jobs, careers, passions, and have the ability to make communities better, richer, and provide better quality of life NOT ONLY for the business’s customers, but also for the business’s employees.  If you want to see what life is like without ‘evil, greedy profit-making’ ventures, just head up to Anderson, IN.  It’s a ghost town.  Business has closed in a lot of Anderson.  Is it better off?  NO.

Furthermore, businesses that care about the TRIPLE bottom line (and no, that term isn’t in the index of this overpriced, outdated textbook either), are going to be more sustainable over time.  The triple bottom line addresses people, place (the environment) and profit.  Businesses that pay attention to the triple bottom line care about all 3.  Some companies – around 3000-3500 in the US, actually provide sustainability reports to their shareholders on an annual basis.  It is not required, but they believe it is the right thing to do.  I agree–if you’re a company, big or small, it is I think incumbent upon the owner(s) to understand the impact their business has on the world around them.  Just Gordon Gekkoing it anymore by maximizing profit isn’t the only bottom line for business.  Pick any bailout as an example.

Lastly, this antiquated yet overpriced book has no mention in the index either of low profit limited liability companies (L3Cs), which have been around for years now.  These companies generate profit, but they put MISSION ahead of mere profit.  So, this book oversimplifying what corporations do is really just, in my opinion, egregiously wrong.  Business these days is much more complex than just maximizing profit. And I argue, the companies that will still be standing years from now (hopefully after this awful textbook ceases to be published) are the companies who are actually paying attention to the business and how it relates to the world around it – not just maximizing profit.

If you talk to any entrepreneur, who built their company from their own two hands, and believed in it when no one else ever did, you’ll quickly figure out that it was never just about the money.  Most entrepreneurs do it for the love of the idea, for the love of making the world a better place, and ok, yeah, maybe a sustainable business so it can create some prosperity for the investment of the passion, time and trouble.  I suggest in the future to have law school textbook writers actually garner more opinions from real entrepreneurs, rather than just putting in the “Buffett guy” and a bunch of dusty, musty outdated notions of what business is in their books.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with Warren Buffett.  He’s the man, in my opinion!  But, he also buys businesses, he doesn’t necessarily create them.  Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, build and create businesses.  As for Jimmy Buffett, I can’t say I’m the biggest fan – I’ve never been a Parrot head.  And no, the two of them aren’t closely related…just check the 23andMe website.)

Give me something worth buying!  This textbook sure isn’t worth the $.  This is one of the major problems with law school – relevancy.  This book is brand new, but totally outdated already.  And sorry, I’ve already edited and written portions of other textbooks (outside the law) so I know from firsthand experience that textbooks can be made RELEVANT.

Welcome to the new semester. Ugh.

The State of the Universe & 2

Friday, August 20th, 2010

First off, happy birthday to this blog!  Today it officially turned 2.  All I can think of is the terrible 2s, and I certainly hope my blog doesn’t turn into that over the course of the next year.  It feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye.  To all the awesome readers and followers of this blog – thank you so much for your ideas and inspiration over these past 2 years.  It has been phenomenal to have such outstanding and thoughtful feedback from all of you!

Secondly, today I had the chance to attend a state of the universe talk.  (Actually, it was a state of the University talk about Butler, but the email invite got cut off at “state of the universe” talk.  I like that better anyway – it sounds bigger picture.)

I was glad to hear Butler is doing well (we’re hitting another record this year) but as I sat and listened to all the wonderful things going on in the university universe, I couldn’t help but think about the bigger picture universe.  Unemployment is still at a record high.  Tuition across the country is going up, sometimes by double digit levels (my law program last year included).  Furthermore, I just read this article in the NY Times this week about how 20 somethings don’t seem to want to grow up.

Can we blame them?  This is a tough world to be an adult in, in this current state of the universe.  While pockets of brilliance and success are flitting around, I can’t help but be concerned about the ether we are all floating in…

So, I will continue to do what I do best, or at least do what I think I can to help: which is, encourage others to reinvent, morph, push the envelope, do more with less, and become better versions of themselves by becoming change agents.  I think now more than ever, “That’s the way we’ve always done it” really quite frankly isn’t cutting it.  We need to begin thinking of new and better ways of doing things…or outside forces instead will dictate to us how we do things.  Frankly, I’d rather create my environment rather than be forced into something less than optimal.

We can still own innovation and entrepreneurial thinking – we just have to seize that spirit.  We need more of that spirit in this state of our universe.  I hope we can spread it – just like a happy plague.  At least I shall try – with my hopefully-not-so-terrible-2s blog.

Mania

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

When I did a PharmD rotation out in Boston a few years ago, I had the luck to attend a lecture at Brown on birds becoming…manic…right before they migrated south for the winter.  I was reminded of that lecture today.  Both this morning and this evening, I sat on my sunporch watching the hummingbirds at the feeder. I’ve noticed this week they’ve increased in terms of number of them at the feeder, as well as aggressiveness while protecting their territory while eating.

More, mania.

I think they migrate south for the winter too.  But, I think I could use a small dose of mania myself right now, for next week marks the beginning of yet another academic year, both at work and at law school.  I’m still not sure if I’m mentally ready.  It felt like summer was about 2 weeks.

If this is your last official weekend of summer too, please be sure to maximize it if you can.  A little pinch of mania probably isn’t a bad thing, especially for next week, at least for me and my colleagues going back to school.  If you’re not going back to fall semester yourself, but have a family member going back instead, please be kind to them.  They’re in transition right now.

Specifically to the Butler students, welcome back. May you have a successful academic year!

Let the mania commence…!