Monday, March 31, 2008

I say high, you say low

I've always had an inherently rebellious streak in me.

When I was 9, I opened one of those little packets that protect things against humidity. Because the packet said "do not eat," I ate it. I was fine.

When I was 16, I bleached my hair. When my parents told me to get rid of it, I shaved my head. When my parents got pissed about that, I told them that I merely did what I was told.

My rebelliousness has also led me to eschew labels. I'm the same guy who has voted for both the Governator and Barack Obama. And think that Coastkeeper is a great organization but drives a gas-guzzling SUV at the same time. My rebellious attitude of defying convention has also been taken by some in law school as arrogance.

But how rebellious can I be, you ask, if I went to law school because I was just another English major with no employable skills or job prospects, and did what a million other liberal arts kids have done before me? Or went through OCIP merely because it was what everyone else was doing? I'll admit--you've got me there.

But I doubt that many other law students have ever answered an OCIP interview question about his greatest weakness with a response of "cheap beer." (I still got the offer) Or have taken the managing partner of his summer firm out to eat dollar street tacos from a cart in South L.A. Or turned down an offer from Boalt solely because he wanted to be able to surf while in law school.

I did not start this blog to earn money. (I have not earned a cent). Nor did I start this blog to satisfy my inner fame-seeking exhibitionist (I purposely avoid writing about my personal life) or to get laid (I have only hooked up once as a result of this).

If I don't blog for money, sex, or fame, the traditional motivators in life, then why do I do it? I started this blog to poke fun at as well as to criticize mainstream legal education, as an act of rebellion. The same rebelliousness is also why I am calling it quits. Despite a loyal readership base, I feel that that it is time to go out while I'm ahead. Its purpose has been served. Time for a new generation of law school bloggers to step up.

What's next, in my life you ask? I will be spending this summer at White Old Rich & Male. And take the bare minimum of classes and spend as little time as possible in the law school as a 3L. And enjoy life to the fullest as a 3L.

My rebelliousness is also why I will definitely apply for a clerkship after the summer. Not because I necessarily want to clerk, but because I want to show the establishment that a non-Law Review rebellious surfer-type (though admittedly with a good GPA, the ability to chat up just about anyone, and dashingly good looks) can be in the same position to clerk in the highly traditional federal judiciary as my classmates who carefully made sure that they did all the "right" things in law school.

After that, I'll probably go back to WORM to be a document reviewing drone. While I purposely picked WORM because it is known as an overall "fun" firm, I know that my lack of deference to authority and my tendency to resist being told what to do will not do wonders for my longevity in the law, no matter now "fun" the firm. Which is why, probably after two years there, the best decision of my life will be made when I quit/get fired.

My inner beach bum will then probably take over, when I move to the beach and start a surf school. (What's scary is that I will not be the first biglaw turned surf school owner UCLA Law has produced--but this should come as no surprise given who and where we are.) I will then also get my chance to write the next great American novel, something I have always wanted to attempt. Maybe I'll set up a small legal practice for locals on the side, run out of my beach bungalow/surf school. The greatest part: even after my detour into the formal world of the law, I will not even be 30, and have my entire life in front of me.

Everyone knows that lawyers are generally a risk-adverse bunch who are envious of bankers. Most will roll their eyes at my life plan and scoff at how unrealistic it is or how I'm an idealist. But I'm rebellious enough where I don't care what others, especially lawyers, think of me. At the end of the day, I don't measure personal success via a 7-series or a S-class sitting in my Pacific Palisades driveway. I am not afraid of falling off the "track" simply because I was never on the "track" to begin with.

And I'm comfortable with not getting a secure paycheck if what I get in exchange is the freedom to be my own boss and having the the rush of being solely dependent on myself. And it gives me great comfort knowing how many lawyers will be secretly jealous of my plan, but cannot imagine doing the same because "they're too afraid to" or "they can't afford to."

So, with that, I am officially hanging up my spurs. I had fun. I hope that you did as well.

Given that this is L.A., it would only be appropriate to end with a movie quote. The last scene from The Sum of All Fears.

Grushkov: "I will miss terribly my conversations with Cabot. Perhaps from time to time, we can talk."
Ryan: "I would like that."

Friday, March 28, 2008

One down

So, apparently, the new US News law school rankings have been leaked. Undoubtedly, there are some people angry that UCLA fell a spot to #16, overtaken by Vandy. Others will be disappointed that we did not crack the mythical "t14." Especially given the efforts that the school and the Dean has made to increase its rankings.

I might be in the distinct minority at the school, but I really don't care that much for its absolute rank--whether UCLA is ranked 14 or 16 or 20. As long as it is the highest-ranked school in Southern California and as long as it is ranked higher than USC, I'll be a happy man.


Email from a reader:
"Just wanted to let you know that you look so scrumptious. Your lady friend as well ;)"

Umm, thanks? I've never been called scrumptious before.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I am on spring break

I'm currently south of the border with TheLadyFriend, some of her friends from college, and some of my friends from college. And no law students.

See you all soon. Be well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The hardest part

Law school is an institution that is heavy on normative influences. Why? Because it is preparing you for the practice of law, a very normative institution that emphasizes propriety and decorum. Which is why there is a desire and a trend in law school to conform to what everyone else is doing. To conform to how everyone else acts. To conform to how everyone else dresses. To conform to how everyone else speaks. Students who come in with varying interests and public interest orientations are channeled and molded on the singular path to jobs as document reviewers and due diligence checkers at big law firms.

But we can't be blamed, can we? Lots of us were probably nerdy in high school and our parents pushed us to achieve so that we could attend the best colleges. In college, after realizing that we are scared by numbers and that we're queasy at the sight of blood, we decided to go to law school. That we are at UCLA tells us that we did pretty well in college and that we spent $1,300 on the right LSAT prep class. In short, we've been guided along the normalizing path since we were all pimple-faced, braces-sporting teenagers.

And now in law school, we shed our personalities and our passions, so that we can become what we think the legal profession expects us to be. We're taught that we need to learn to think like a lawyer. That we need to participate in a student clinic to show our interest in public service. That we need to get to know our professors for references. That we need to do Moot Court. That we need to do Law Review. That we need to apply for clerkships. And that the true geniuses in our class will become law professors. (As a completely unrelated aside, most of my non-law school friends tell me that law students are boring.)

I'm about to set off for a 10-day Spring Break, just as I did last year. I know that most of you are all already committed to torturing yourself for Spring Break. I know that there's a part of you that wants to say "screw it" to "doing what everyone else is doing" but cannot do so because you are simply "too afraid to." I don't ask much--I merely ask you to, probably for the first time ever in your lives, do what you want and not to do what you think others expect of you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A how-to-guide

When I was a freshman in high school, I attended a makeout party in a classmate's house (yes, these parties actually exist). There, I also spent 7 scary minutes in a closet with Courtney S. (hey, you too would be scared if you were a cool but dorky 15 year-old guy who finds himself alone in a closet with one of the most popular sophomore girls in school). We all took a purity test there as well, and the main rule was that "all technicalities count" (hey, we all wanted to seem less pure than we actually were). What "all technicalities count" meant was that Jim in the first American Pie technically got to third base with Nadia.

So, how does my embarrassing repressed pubescent memories of a high school party have anything to do with the Law Review writeon?

No, it doesn't mean for you to lock yourself in the closet with the Editor in Chief. It's because my approach I advocate to you for your writeon diversity essay is called "All Technicalities Count." Having let you guys in on the horrors that awaits you on Law Review, I will now show those of you who've nonetheless decided to do the writeon how to approach the diversity essay in a way that maximizes your diversity.

I have no idea what this year's diversity essay will be about. But last year, it was something like "name one issue that was inadequately addressed by your first year classes and what unique perspective would you bring to Law Review" (though I would not be shocked if this was the same essay prompt this year because of Law Review's general lack of creativity). But regardless of the question, what Law Review basically wants to get at is a two-fold discussion of your diversities: your "intellectual" and "racial/ socio-economic/ sexual orientation" diversities.

While Law Review will claim that there are no right answers to the question, there are some answers that are more "right" than others. So, regardless of whether you actually believe in any of the enumerated list, here are some topics I "highly suggest" you write about.

"Right answers" for the intellectual diversity question include:
1. more interdisciplinary approach, known as the "law and" movement (law and economics, law and philosophy, law and gender, etc.)
2. more public-interest focus
3. more focus on sexual orientation impacts and stereotypes in the law
4. more focus on law as a mask for perpetuating the power of elites (critical legal studies)
5. more focus on the impact of race and discrimination in the law (critical race studies)
6. less black letter law and more theory, history, and policy

"Wrong answers" include:
1. more of the law from the white, rich, heterosexual male perspective
2. less of what the law should be and more on what the law is
3. law school is full of liberals and professors should reign in the liberal slant

Don't believe me? Here is an actual line from another internal Law Review memo: "A nondoctrinal approach could draw from critical legal studies, public policy, law and economics, law and literature, feminist jurisprudence, law and philosophy, political theory, critical race studies, or sexual orientation law."

For the "What unique perspective would you bring to Law Review" question, I advocate "All Technicalities Count." Basically, make yourself technically as diverse as possible. Some examples:
1. If you're only a very tiny bit Native American and once went gambling in a Native American casino, write about how you're "a Native American who spent time on a reservation."
2. If your father/mother is a Fortune 500 CEO who didn't spend a lot of time at home because he/she was jetting around the world for business meetings, write about how you were raised "primarily without my dad/mom."
3. If you went to a fancy magnet school in LA or any other "good" public school in LA, write about how you are "a proud product of local LAUSD schools."
4. If you got into USC for college only because your CEO dad is a big sports booster, write how "due to unfortunate family circumstances, I was forced to go to a second-tier university in a bad urban neighborhood."
5. If while in a sorority at the aforementioned University of Spoiled Children you kissed another girl because of a group of frat boys cheered you on, write about how you are LGBT. It is my understanding that among of the cornerstones of sexuality studies is how sexuality is (a) self-identified, (b) fluid, and (c) can change over time.
6. If you're a descendant of British/French/other European colonizers in Africa, write about your "African heritage." Likewise, if you're Egyptian.
7. If you grew up anywhere in LA County, where the "majority" is statistically the "minority," write about "growing up as a racial minority."
8. If you once went to spring break in Cancun/ Acapulco/ Cabo/ Negril/etc., write about how the "time you spent in a developing country really changed you."

While many of you are probably seething at how I am "gaming the system," I present these recommendations as ways to counter what I view to be an illegitimate evaluation mechanism. There is simply no statistical reason why selection of the best 35 Law Review writeon comments and production tests will not produce the requisite diversity (however you want to define that term). Through my "All Technicalities Count" mantra, I'm not encouraging lying, but merely suggesting ways to get as close to the line as possible without crossing it. After all, you cannot be blamed for any inferences Law Review makes about a 1L with "African heritage."

If anything, following my advice will actually help you for your future: isn't showing big corporations aiming to screw over the little guys how to get as close to the line without crossing into illegality what you will be doing anyway in Biglaw?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Law Review and Diversity

(Note: This post in particular will be condemned by Law Review for it exposes supposedly secret discussions. But because I like my freedom of information, I thought it would be particularly valuable to tell the true story of the diversity essay, something that I was against last year and continue to be against. Because common law views truth as a defense to defamation, the following is a factual recount of how Law Review diversity initiatives came into being. Only in the last paragraph of my post will I give my opinions and conjectures. Law Review leadership: you've got to do a better job to prevent the dissemination of your confidential discussions and memos to people like me.)

Early 2006: A new editorial board of Law Review takes over. One topic that is addressed is diversity on Law Review. A rudimentary outreach program takes place, where a select few minority students in the class of 2008 are "handpicked" and Law Review offers mentoring to those students. A small rift among minority students chosen and those not chosen develops as a result.

Spring break 2006: The writeon for the class of 2008 takes place. Out of 140 students who attempt the writeon, around 1/3 are racial minorities. No diversity statement is used, and thus the selection process is completely blind.

Late-spring 2006: Results of the writeon are announced. 41 students are selected. 39 students are white. Only 2 are minorities (both are East Asian). Law Review is dismayed at the composition, and decides to take steps to counter the impact on racial minorities, particularly on underrepresented students of color.

Summer/early fall: One of the tasks the editorial board does to create a diversity committee to examine ways to increase diversity on Law Review, with increased racial diversity being the main objective of the committee. Knowing framing the issue in terms of increasing racial diversity will be problematic, the issue is framed in terms of "minimizing the disparate impact on students of color."

Fall 2006: The diversity committee starts to meet. Racial diversity continues to be a concern. One member of the committee circulates a memo to members of the Critical Race Studies faculty. The committee starts talking about ways to increase diversity. Among the suggestions are outreach to minority students via the Critical Race Studies program and the ethnic student organizations, providing mentors, and holding special workshops for all minority students to focus on how to do the writeon, and all of the aforementioned proposals eventually gets adopted.

Early 2007: A new editorial board arrives. The memo-writing member of the diversity committee is selected as the new Chief Comments Editor, the head of the department in charge of the writeon. Another committee member is selected as one of the comments editor. The committee continues to meet. The issue becomes framed as of the need of Law Review to edit not just traditional legal scholarship, but also non-traditional interdisciplinary and theoretical scholarship, and hence of the need for Law Review to have members proficient in nondoctrinal theory. The committee also looks at how other Law Reviews at elite schools have responded to a quest to increase diversity. Outreach begins in full force, including the writeon workshop/tutoring sessions for minority students.

February-2007: a draft committee proposal is submitted to the Law Review chiefs. They meet and provide feedback. A final proposal is hammered out. The main focus of the calls for the introduction of a personal statement to sort out applications that are borderline as well as balancing the Law Review packet sources so that they support both doctrinal and nondoctrinal arguments. The proposal is presented during an all-Law Review meeting, and during this very contentious general meeting, there was a heated debate since it is the first time the general members are presented with the planned changes to the writeon process. One of the main topics of discussion is whether the whole intellectual diversity framework is just a guise for race. Finally, by a vote of 24 to 11, the new personal statement is approved to the Law Review writeon. Law Review is careful to stress throughout the meeting of the need for secrecy, asking that the proposal not to be disseminated and all paper copies to be shredded (Whoops!).

Spring break 2007: The writeon occurs for the class of 2009.

April 2007: The members of the class of 2009 who made Law Review are announced. The racial composition of the 36 new staff (before grade-on and transfer writeon) is as follows: 28 whites, 3 East Asians, 3 South Asians, 1 African American, and 1 Latino. [N.B.: the law school admissions office considers South Asians, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans to be underrepresented minorities.] 25% of the new staff are also members of OUTlaw.

Early 2008: A new editorial board is elected. For the first time in its history, the editor in chief and all of the chief editors, the top 4 positions on Law Review, are all occupied by students of color. The diversity committee continues to exist.


Note that I have not stated any conclusions, but have merely stated facts, all supported by evidence. Any conclusions and inferences are up to you to make. But lets hope that the increased racial diversity on Law Review, despite the somewhat damning "legislative history," was due to its increased outreach of minority students. Or that the low minority composition of the Law Review class of 2008 was a mere statistical anomaly. Because I would hate to think that the Law Review of a state entity used race as a selection criteria, a direct violation of Proposition 209. As much as I support affirmative action for admissions purposes, I believe that the response should not be through unilateral actions to defy it, but rather to challenge it through the courts or to present additional voter propositions to repeal it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

5 dirty little secrets

As today is the annual Law Review banquet to celebrate its achievements, I thought it would be appropriate to present its downsides as well (and for there to be something else to talk about at the banquet other than hearing Volokh make grand pronouncements of law).

1. There are many unhappy Law Review members.
The following is a line from an internal memo from the Chief Comments Editor (the person in charge of the writeon) to the rest of the board as to what to say to 1Ls at recruitment events: "But please, if you are in the middle of a cite-checking assignment, remember that Law Review was probably helpful when you were interviewing for jobs." (I'll get to the fallacy of her jobs argument later.) Why did she need to write this to supposedly happy Law Review members? Because more than a handful of its members dislike being on Law Review. Why? Because citechecking sucks. The motivated staff members just recently got promoted to substantive editorial positions. What did the unmotivated and unhappy members get? Managing editor by default. So, they're making unhappy members supervise citechecking, the very activity that made them uphappy in the first place? Great logic.

2. Grades are more important than Law Review.
There are three groups of people who I believe have a legitimate need to be on Law Review: (1) aspiring law professors, (2) aspiring federal appellate clerks, and (3) prestige-conscious masochists. For the rest of you, good grades and not being socially awkward will trump Law Review membership each and every time. Ask any upperclassman with a Biglaw job, and I guarantee that they will corroborate 100% what I just said. Which is why last year, a student who was offered a gradeon spot actually turned it down, an incident that Law Review doesn't publicize for obvious reasons. Having talked to him, I know that he ultimately figured that his grades would land him a job with any firm he wanted come OCIP, without the annoyance of having to be a citecheck slave. Which brings me to...

3. There are Law Review members still without jobs.
What Law Review wants you to believe is: Biglaw ↔Law Review membership. For those of you who just had a dreaded flashback to the LSAT--I'm saying that Law Review wants you to believe that you can get Biglaw if and only if you're on Law Review. What they don't want you to know are the bare numbers. Nor do they want you to know that there are some low GPA and/or socially awkward Law Review members still without jobs. Nor that there were Law Review members who went into fall OCIP shooting for "LA Big 3" but wound up settling for less than they were hoping for.

4. Law review membership doesn't stop people from transferring.
One of my friends last year wrote onto Law Review. He also wound up with pretty good grades 1L year. One would think that Law Review membership is so valuable that members would hold onto the credential for dear life (this is the rationale behind UCLA four years ago instituting the limited gradeon --to hold on to its "stars"). He was accepted as a transfer to Stanford Law and happily gave up his spot on Law Review to go to Stanford. What does it tell you about the value of Law Review membership when other newly-minted members of Law Review applied to transfer last summer as well? Or that the only other UCLA student Stanford accepted as a transfer did not even attempt to writeon?

5. Law Reviews matter less than they used to.
I will admit that Law Review mattered before computers were invented because Law Review articles concentrated information for a judge to cite in his opinion without having to reinvent the wheel. That's why Law Reviews are ranked by the number of times they are cited. But since the advent on the Internet (invented by Al Gore, as we all know), Law Reviews are becoming less and less relevant, leading to less and less cites by judges who can get their research elsewhere. One reason for the Law Review demise is the proliferation of search engines and blogs. Pre-internet, writing, researching, citing, editing, and publication of a Law Review piece took over a year. Now, technology allows professors to disseminate their thoughts instantaneously by clicking "submit," without the annoyance of law student editors dictating their vision of the law to tenured professors--an average one knows infinitely more than even the smartest 3L editor. Likewise, search engines like Google can bring judges a legal answer much faster than a tedious JLR search on westlaw.

And just for kicks, here's another one--
6. This blog is read by many on Law Review.
One of the great things about being technologically sophisticated is that I get to play big brother via my blog and I get to see who my visitors are. And a lot of my visitors are Law Review members themselves. Law Review dislikes me, yet seem to be strangely attracted to this online abode that spews, in their opinion, nothing but absolute falsehoods.

If this whetted your appetite, stayed tuned for something even juicier on Friday, where I will expose the "diversity essay."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's going to get interesting

In an effort to commemorate the annual passage known as the spring writeon, I will be publishing a series of posts on the UCLA Law Review over the next few days. These posts are a product of quite a bit of investigative probing, and contains many things that Law Review would rather you not know.

As part of what I consider to be my grand effort to put together a complete picture of Law Review, so that 1Ls get a complete picture of the organization that they are clamoring to join, I will present the following posts in my series:
Wednesday: "5 dirty little secrets"
Friday: "Law Review and diversity"
Monday: "A how-to-guide"

While most people, including me, will grant you that Law Review publishes some good legal scholarship, people still buy too much into its hype and aura, a notion I hope to dispel. These posts have been extensively researched and I have evidence to back up each claim I will make. (I also invite Law Review to respond to any of my claims it feels is inaccurate/unfair.)

Who were my sources? Maybe they were disgruntled Law Review members (there are more than a handful of them!). Or maybe it came from content Law Review members, but who dislike the secrecy of Law Review and believe in the freedom of information. Or maybe from all the Law Review members I slept with to get this info (look at all the things I do for my readers in the pursuit of truth!) Or maybe I hacked into Law Review office and computers at 3AM (you really need to get that weird Kozinski photo off the famous alumni board!). Or perhaps the most outlandish theory of them all--I'm really a Law Review member, and the whole "I'm just a carefree 2L surfer dude not on Law Review" image I try to portray is all just an elaborate shtick. The possibilities are as limitless as Law Review's paranoia.

But, don't worry Law Review. It's not as if anyone reads this piece of garbage, so you don't have to worry about this affecting your image. My blog has managed to get over 54,000 pageloads only because I have no social life and clicked "reload" 54,000 times as I sat alone in my dark room. Or, in the words of the AAA hotel reviewer in Ocean's 13, "I'm just a nobody."

Check back tomorrow for some feather-ruffling.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Some dumbass rear-ended me today. Apparently he was never taught to recognize that when the traffic light is turning from yellow to red and I have my brake lights on, it means that I am stopping. Oh, well. Another settlement collected by me from someone who realized that buying me off was cheaper than a hit on his insurance.

One thing puzzles me. LA is probably the most car-dependent city in the country. Yet, the drivers in LA are probably the crappiest drivers in the country. For people who regularly put in two hour commutes in addition to their one-block drive from their house to Starbucks, they are really aggressive and don't know how to follow traffic laws. Including the latest one, I've gotten into three accidents in my life (when I was 17, I backed into a woman's grocery cart). And two out of those three were in the last two years in LA.

LA also happens to be the most car-conscious country, and people here think nothing of dropping 100K on the latest automotive offering. Yet from a purely economic perspective, I would think that if I put that much into an investment, I would make sure that it maintains its value. Like bringing it in for regular service, installing a security system, and learning to drive properly so that I don't crash it into some poor law student's piece of crap car while a light is turning red on Sepulveda. Not only will I have to pay off this law student, but I will also then need to spend money to fix up the fancy German automobile I bought to make up for my small "insecurity".

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Public service announcement

Saturday, 3/8 from 6:30-11:00 at Covel Commons is the annual PILF auction. Proceeds go to support summer stipends for students working in public interest. $15 in advance/$20 online/$30 at the door for dinner and open bar, all while helping to support a great cause.

In the meantime, bid for items on the online auction at

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Follow the leader

1L year, people break into their own cliques and do everything together. Sit in class together, eat together, study groups together, bar review together, spring break, etc. While I personally disapprove of it, the idea of spending your waking moments together with the same group of people is understandable, since you're all forced to take all your classes together with people in your section and need a support network to replace the old one you left behind in college.

But what I find absolutely ridiculous are 2Ls and 3Ls who take classes together. They usually consist of couples or groups of friends who take all the same classes together. There are at least three couples who are consistently in my classes, as well as a group of obnoxious 2L boys that I always see take classes together. For me, one of the luxuries of being a upperclassman is that no classes are determined for you and you get to pick whatever you want. But then, these groups are purposely picking the same classes even if they're not that interested in them, just so that they can spend time together and study together, at the expense of their academic development. Whatever floats your boat, people. But it's not something that I would ever want.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Quote of the night at Barristers Ball:

"I am soooo drunk right now."
-repeated countless times by many single female and male law students over the course of the evening on the dance floor.

If you're not socially retarded, you'll understand the significance of the quote, and how those six words leads to a lot of gossip come Monday morning.

All in all, it was a good time.