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

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Apparently there is a problem with my RSS feed, which means, paradoxically, that some of you won’t get this message, but just in case, there you have it. Hopefully I will have it fixed soon. That is all.

Voir Dire – Ready for Anything and Anybody

Anne Reed at the Deliberations blog has a great post on being Ready For Anything in voir dire.

I thought of that guy when my “jury duty” search picked up this inquiry at one of the forums at Susan’s Place Transgender Resources, “a support resource for the transgender community”:

I have been summoned for jury duty in my old male name. The last two times I was not required to go. I am to check the county web site on the Friday before to see if I am still required to go. It is ironic as I have to report to the courthouse where I plan to file for my name change as soon as I can put together enough cash for the filing fee. Another irony is that my Driver’s license and other photo ID is now in my new name. The only way I have to prove that I am the person in the summons is a letter from my therapist stating my transgender status. I hope that should I have to go to jury duty that they will be discreet about it. I plan to go up to the official and immediately explain my situation. I will go in female mode as I have no male ID now. I did not see this coming!!!!

It’s a pretty good guess that the lawyers who’ll be doing that voir dire didn’t see it coming either. They’re at their desks right now, going over the list of potential jurors, trying to figure out what they can from names, ages, neighborhoods, and occupations. (Every Sunday night I get a surge in searches for sample voir dire questions.) They think they’re ready for Daniel or Thomas or whatever their list says that juror’s name is. But they’re not.

You need to be ready for what you’re not ready for. The juror who tells you she has seventeen cats, the juror who tells you his child was killed, the juror who isn’t a man after all — you can’t botch these moments. Your compassion, your awareness, your intelligence, and your character will be judged on how you handle the next thirty seconds. You need to be at the very least, as the transgender juror hopes, discreet. Warm, engaged, and unfazed would be better.

Lawyer Nightmares, When Your Client Wants to Talk Who’s to Stop Them

As Scott Greenfield noted at Simple Justice in Rusty Hardin Wrongly Maligned For Roger Clemens, “Clemens knew the risks and chose to talk. There’s a limit to what a lawyer can do,” as in there’s a professional obligation to abide by the decisions of yoru client even if you know they’re making a monumentally stupid decision. The lawyer’s job is to advice; as long as the client’s mentally competent, it’s the client’s call.

You’ve got to think the lawyer for this woman just wanted to strangle her when they saw this -

via Carolyn Elefant at Legal Blog Watch

Ordinarily, lawyers spend most of their time counseling clients to keep their mouths shut about their cases. Walsh-Smith did just the opposite, venting about her ex in a professionally produced video that she posted here on YouTube. Among other things, Walsh-Smith revealed details about her sex life (or apparent lack thereof) in the video and claimed that her ex failed to comply with the terms of the pre-nup that he’d had her sign. When I last checked the video, 144,000 people had already viewed it.

Law Schools Consider the Laptop or in-class-internet Ban

Law schools have been wrestling with the following scenario for a while now -

The students sit in class, tapping away at their laptops as the boring old law professor mechanically plods through his lecture. Except one. Instead of hunching over a portable computer or a notebook, he’s playing solitaire with a deck of cards on his desk. The professor halts his droning. “What are you doing?” he demands. The student shrugs. “My laptop is broken,” he says.

Inside Higher Ed: Hey, You! Pay Attention!

LOLcat - Im on ur laptop, bannin its internets
Photo: Gillicious; with apologies for the LOLcat, surely this trend has run its course but I couldn’t resist.

As internet-addicted as I am, I probably come down on an unexpected side of this issue. Theoretically there’s nothing wrong with internet access in class, but in my experience it’s an annoying distraction and I wish more of my professors got rid of it. In fact, I wish more of them banned laptops in class entirely. While I certainly wouldn’t force anyone to get a legal education, I’m tired of sitting through classes filled with student-zombies who haven’t yet figured out that there’s really no such think as multi-tasking, just dividing ones attention between multiple things, thereby managing to do all of them poorly.

Only one of my professors so far has seen fit to implement a full-on laptop ban. It remains one of my favorite classes in one of my least favorite subjects (no small feat there) and the model for how I think law school classes should be conducted. He had a paper-notes-only policy and I actually found I enjoyed the class more and was forced to prepare in a more effective manner. When ones name was called there was nothing but ones book and ones brain. As a result I prepared as methodically as I knew how to for every class, recited my case briefs in the car on the way to school and knew that even this level of preparation would only get me through the first few questions before he would ask me something I never would anticipate. Then I would have to think on my feet, so I had to know the material well enough to give myself something to work with. My prof had no problem implementing his laptop ban. He proclaimed. We obeyed. Simple enough.

The across the board internet-access-in-the-classroom ban Chicago recently implemented on the other hand seems lackluster and possibly even counter-productive -

Late last month, as students returned from spring break, the University of Chicago Law School announced that Internet access would be blocked from classrooms. While individual professors at law schools have created policies banning laptops or allowing them only for specific uses — and while some colleges don’t even have classroom Internet access, or mandate classroom-only use without any enforcement — the move by Chicago appears to be the first institution-wide directive of its kind. Already, there’s been an uproar among students and even senior administrators, while some law professors have stepped up to defend the policy.

So I just thought of about 8 different ways to circumvent that, as did, I’m sure, most of the bright law students at Chicago -

Not surprisingly, many students don’t hold the same view, and most who responded to requests for comment did not want to be quoted by name. “Surfing the Web was widespread in class, but to be honest, class discussion hasn’t changed much since the ban,” wrote one in an e-mail. “People now play chess, solitaire or just go through their pictures in class.” Another suggested that some students even save Web pages to their hard drives to read later in class.

In other words, rather than fixing anything, the policy is an invitation for students to invest in circumvention measures, taxing an already busy student body with yet another unnecessary hurdle.

New Website for Evening Law Student Association at UH Law

The Evening Law Student Association (ELSA) at the University of Houston Law Center has a new website.

I sat on the fence for a year after I took the LSAT, knowing I wanted to become a lawyer but that the type of law I wanted to practice (bleeding heart public interest-y stuff mostly) would never pay me enough to allow me to pay back the loans I would be taking out to get through three years of law school with no income. Then I discovered that some law schools had evening programs, including my then alma mater, the University of Houston.

Going to the evening program has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; not that there’s a lot of competition for that distinction. Though it’s not for the the faint of heart – I’m either working, in class, or studying from 9am to 11pm most days, including weekends – I wouldn’t do it any other way.

ELSA was a big reason I’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. The people I first met through ELSA gave me insight and inspiration into the opportunities and challenges of being an evening student and encouraged me to succeed. There’s a new crop of evening students arriving at Houston Law next month. I hope they have as great an experience as I have.

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