: 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

Crossclaim Showdown via 634


Like flashcards but with more LOLcat. It continues at No. 634, Crossclaim Showdown: Boy George, Solange, and Beyonce; see also Lindsay & Vanessa present: FRCP Rule 18a. We wish Jansen a speedy recovery from his first semester.

The Problem of Discovery

Martha Neil with the  ABA Journal  has a pair of articles up on discovery, OK, Discovery’s a Problem, But What Can Be Done About It? and Litigation Too Costly, E-Discovery a ‘Morass,’ Trial Lawyers Say, prompted by an interim report released by the American College of Trial Lawyers: ACTL & IAALS PUBLISH INTERIM REPORT ON PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH DISCOVERY

Some of the themes of the report:

  1. Although the civil justice system is not broken, it is in serious need of repair. The survey shows that the system is not working; it takes too long and costs too much. Deserving cases are not brought because the cost of pursuing them fails a rational cost-benefit test, while meritless cases, especially smaller cases, are being settled rather than being tried because it costs too much to litigate them.
  2. The discovery system is, in fact, broken. Discovery costs far too much and has become an end in itself. As one respondent noted: “The discovery rules in particular are impractical in that they promote full discovery as a value above almost everything else.” Electronic discovery, in particular, clearly needs a serious overhaul. It is described time and time again as a “morass.” Concerning electronic discovery, one respondent stated, “The new rules are a nightmare. The bigger the case, the more the abuse and the bigger the nightmare.”
  3. Judges should take more active control of litigation from the beginning. Where abuses occur, judges are perceived to be less than effective in enforcing the rules. According to one respondent, “Judges need to actively manage each case from the outset to contain costs; nothing else will work."
  4. Local Rules are routinely described as “traps for the unwary” and many think they should either be abolished entirely or made uniform.

Reality Check


Grades from CivPro are expected today. Here’s the message I got from the student enrollment services site, where they will be posted:

HTTP Error 500 – Internal Server Error

Due to heavy load, Enrollment Services Online is unable to perform your request at this time. Please try again in a few minutes. If the problem persists, please contact the administrators.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

ES Online Web Team

There will be some rejoicing in law student land tonight and much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Of course one of the benefits of the evening program is that we will know this grade with 3 chances to improve on it before the semester is out. It will be really interesting to see how people react, however.

It is finished

Ah, nothing like a law exam to remind you of how much you didn’t figure out. We came, we saw, we answered, or at least tried to. If the jurisprudence I displayed were to be given any credence, it would most certainly be considered activist. As Ragazzo is fond of quoting, “Nothing so focuses the mind as having to make it up.” I have absolutely no idea how I did. I would be ecstatic with a B. I think most of us were so happy to have it over with that grades haven’t even crossed the minds of many of us. On to criminal!

Some of us are heading up to Austin this weekend to decompress on the lake. Hopefully none of use will need to learn the intricacies of insurance law or maritime jurisdiction quite yet as that will mean we’ll have sunk Tamara’s Dad’s boat. If I get to it I’ll post my outline and whatever other impressions I had of the exam.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls…

It tolled for me. I think that’s one of the first times I’ve heard “Mr. Gilman” and realized someone was talking to me – just one of those hey, guess what you’re really an adult moments, like buying socks. The Ragazzo treatment wasn’t so bad. I had read the case. I knew the facts. He let me slide on a point or two. I only got one amazing.

Here’s my feeling on the whole socratic method thing. When done well, and I think Ragazzo does it very well, it’s bar-none the best kind of educational experience, particularly for the law. You’re forced to think on your feet, to go in unexpected directions, to match wits with someone who knows a lot more than you, to stretch, in other words, and to find your bearings in unfamiliar territory. Most importantly, you have to know your material in a way that you typically don’t in most educational settings. In most undergraduate courses, particularly liberal arts, being familiar with the material is sufficient, if you say something halfway intelligent about it you know it. In law, knowing takes on whole other dimensions. You have to be able to take it apart and put it back together again, mess with it, break it down to the essentials, see how it works in different situations, with different fact bases. You have to own it. Bullshitting is typically not an option. The nice thing about socratic method is that it informs you of exactly how much you don’t know, before the exam.

When it comes down to grades, however, the whole socratic class thing is an ego trip. By that I mean my ego trip, not Ragazzo’s. I’m splitting time between class prep and exam prep and having gotten called on out of the way I can give more attention to exam prep and there’s a heck of a lot to do there. Before tonight, I didn’t want to be embarrassed, so I boned up on the material, which isn’t a bad thing, but the time for synthesizing, identifying standards, seeing the ebb and flow of cases, just hasn’t been there.

Anyway, enough midnight blawging. T-minus 11 days and counting.

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