: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Alternatives to Legal Careers: Snake Proofing


It’s good to know what you’re giving up when you embark on a career in law. Consider what you could have been, had your guidance counselor only informed you of the exciting opportunities available in the ‘snake-proofing’ of hunting dogs.

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Thinking About Going to Law School Part Time?

I got a great question in an e-mail earlier from a prospective evening law student that generating a discussion worth sharing.

I read your blog on part-time law schools ranking and I totally agree with you. Having said that, and after reading other online opinions on evening/part-time law schools I am at a loss as to how can one decide which school they should go with.

It’s probably no surprise that I consider attending a part-time program a great idea. Here would be my considerations looking back from a few years into it: Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook and the Student-Professor Relationship

Rob Vischer at PrawfsBlawg asks Would Phil Areeda have been my facebook friend?,

What does FB mean for the professor-student relationship? I’m not talking about whether the law school should use FB as a professional networking venture; I’m talking about what students know about you and what you know about your students. I still base my image of the law school professor on Phil Areeda, who I’m certain would have had me arrested if I had dropped by his office to chat about the weekend. Even when I started teaching at St. John’s, a senior colleague (whose attitude did not, I learned, reflect the prevailing sentiment of the faculty) warned me that, given my age, students would try to become friends with me, and that I should run screaming if any approached me outside class.

Consider the potential pitfalls of this relationship from the student’s perspective. Because law school grading is on a forced curve and typically has such an amplified effect on job prospects, law professors possess an extraordinary amount of power in the professor-student relationship. It’s a bit like being facebook friends with your boss. If your contracts professor were to extend an offer to be facebook friends would you feel comfortable turning them down?

Sam Kamin, in a comment, spots the correct issue and is awarded all the points.

In short, here’s my rule: I will add students on LinkedIn, which is really a networking tool, but I won’t on FB, which is for looking at pictures of peoples’ cats.

Rephrased in a less cat-fixated way, it’s less a question whether one should interact with students but in what capacity. I have very little desire to know what goes on the personal lives of my professors. I wish them to remain somewhat aloof so that I may continue to pretend that they are something more than fallible human beings with facebook profiles while they make decisions that affect my future employment prospects. I prefer cling to a more formal image of austere and exacting judgment that will inspire me to resolve to work harder next semester rather than reading the tea leaves of their facebook statuses to decipher the reasons for such an arbitrary and capricious evaluation.

In sum: in the social media ecosystem Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for business associates and networking and law profs and never the twain should meet.

The Bluebook in an Ideal World


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Video: Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition at George Washington School of Law

The refining fire of a 1L moot court argument is a time-honored ritual at most law schools. Those who find some perverse enjoyment in the experience go on to competitive moot court tournaments all over the country and even the world. I’m getting ready for a trip to Hong Kong for an international commercial arbitration competition myself later this spring. For students it’s an opportunity to engage legal analysis at a deeper level by wrestling with a particular fact set and testing it in an adversarial process. It’s one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve had in law school and a source of tremendous confidence as a clear demonstration that hard work and expert guidance can get you to a point of competence that your first year of law school may not have lead you to believe you had in you.

We ran across an excellent example of such a competition on C-SPAN of all places, who televised George Washington’s Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition in which non other than Justice Antonin Scalia hear the arguments in the finals along with Judge Marsha Berzon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. C-SPAN finally made the video available on its website as noted by Orin Kerr and Howard Bashman.

There is more information and results on George Washington website on the 2009 Van Vleck Finals and Sua Sponte Blog. I was particularly happy to see an evening student among those arguing.

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