March 18, 2008

Law School Building Expansion Project In The Design Phase

By Sarah Rizzo

The Michigan Law School’s building expansion project is currently in the design phase after the Board of Regents formally approved the proposal in December. With an estimated cost of $102 million, the project will include the construction of two buildings. The Board of Regents will vote again in the future on the design and construction schedule.

In December, the Board also voted to approve the hiring of Hartman-Cox Architects of Washington D.C.; Integrated Design Solutions of Troy, Michigan will work with Hartman-Cox on the expansion designs. Hartman-Cox’s previous projects include law buildings and libraries at Georgetown University, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Connecticut. Integrated Design Solutions is currently working on the University of Michigan’s art museum renovation. The schematic design drawings are in the drafting process.

The construction of additional buildings has been in the works for several years. In 1999, the law school commissioned a study about the Law School’s evolving space needs. Students were interviewed about what changes they thought would be useful. Brent Dickman, Director of Finance and Planning, said “it became very clear that there needed to be more common areas, office space and classrooms.?

The project will be funded with Law School resources, University investment proceeds, and gifts from private donors. According to Dickman, there is still more fundraising to be done, but there is a plan in place.

The project aims to enlarge the space available and to meet the demands of the increased student and faculty size, as well as to facilitate different teaching styles. The expansion calls for a 100,000-square foot, $80 million academic building to be built on the south side of Monroe Street, north of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. A 16,000-square foot Law School Commons building will be located on the south side of the existing quad between Hutchins Hall and the Legal Research Building.

The buildings will house classrooms, clinics, seminar rooms, office space, study areas, faculty offices, and lounge facilities. Plans include special clinical program facilities that incorporate elements of modern law offices, such as client conference rooms. The expansion project will also include the replacement of the gray metal siding on the Legal Research Building and various upgrades to Hutchins Hall.

The building committee has set up seven design groups to oversee elements of the project: clinics, south hall classrooms, law school commons, sustainability, south hall administration, faculty support spaces, and IT infrastructure.

Student representatives sit on the design groups to provide input. “I was happy to serve in an advisory capacity for the design groups. I think that the new buildings will provide extra student space that will be very helpful for students in future years,? says Sarah Bullard, a 1L student representative on the building committee. “The Building Committee cares a great deal about the student representatives’ input and pays a lot of attention to all our opinions,? adds Bullard.

Student groups are also offering their input into the project. The Environmental Law Society formed the Green Building Initiative to lobby the building committee to set higher environmental standards for the new buildings. The group wants the renovation plans to allow for the structures to be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System (LEED). No decision has been reached about LEED certification, but the Building Committee has voiced its intention to make sustainability a priority.

It is unclear whether construction on the two buildings will be completed at the same time. Dickman says there seems to be a general consensus amongst committee members that the new buildings will look and feel like the current Law Quadrangle. Hartman-Cox has previously worked on a number of Collegiate Gothic style projects.

After design plans are finalized, they will be submitted to the Board of Regents for approval. The final stage in the process will be the Board’s approval of the construction schedule. “Construction could begin in as early as 18 months or in the Fall of 2009,? says Dickman.

Senator Levin Helps Clinic Students Seeking Clemency for Client

By Anna Magazinnik

On February 18, two Michigan 3Ls interviewed Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) for a DVD that they will use to supplement their petition for clemency for Thomas Cress. Cress, who is borderline-mentally disabled, has served twenty-two years of a life sentence without parole for the rape and murder of a Battle Creek teenager. Cress has steadfastly maintained his innocence and passed a lie detector test. For many years, students from the Michigan Clinical Law Program have been trying to free him. Having exhausted all of his legal options, the students are appealing to Governor Granholm for clemency.

The case against Thomas Cress essentially rests on the testimony of witnesses who claimed that Cress confessed to them. However, three of the witnesses later admitted to having fabricated their story to receive reward money. Meanwhile, Arkansas resident Michael Ronning, who had been in Michigan when the murder took place, confessed to the crime for which Cress now sits in prison. Ronning has been convicted of and tied to numerous rapes and murders in several states. According to Doron Yitzchaki and Timothy Kuhn, 3Ls working on Cress’ clemency plea, Ronning’s rapes and murders exhibit similar characteristics to the one Cress has been convicted of. For example, all involved women with red hair, and all of the bodies were found partially buried within two miles of where Ronning lived at the time. However, when the Chief of Police came to the prosecutor to ask about reopening the case given all of this new evidence, the prosecutor destroyed the DNA evidence that had been collected from hair found in the victim’s hands. The destruction of this evidence was discovered a few years later, at which point the prosecutor claimed it had been “routine.?

Although the Court of Appeals initially ruled for Cress, finding that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to grant a new trial, the Michigan Supreme Court in 2003 overturned that decision 8-1. In doing so, the Court did not even address the issue of the DNA destruction. In 2007, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of Cress’ Habeas petition, effectively concluding all of Cress’ legal options. Although the Michigan Supreme Court did not consider the destruction of DNA evidence, in her dissent Justice Kelly said this was the particularly troubling aspect of the case. Even with the DNA technology available at the time, an expert testified that the hair excluded Cress as a suspect. Yitzchaki and Kuhn note that this underscores how important the DNA would have been with the better technology available now. They therefore hope to convince Governor Granholm that the prosecutor’s destruction of the DNA evidence robbed Cress of the ability to demonstrate his innocence.

This belief is shared by both the former Police Chief and also the detective in charge of investigating the Battle Creek rape and murder. It is also shared by Senator Levin, who was one of the sponsors of the Innocence Protection Act, passed in 2004, which prohibits prosecutors from destroying DNA evidence after securing a conviction. Senator Levin cited the case of Thomas Cress as demonstrating the need for the legislation. In his interview with Yitzchaki and Kuhn, Senator Levin stated that what most caught his attention about the case was that he knows of no other case where the people in charge later decide the convicted man is innocent and go to bat as strongly for him as the former Police Chief and detective are for Cress. In fact, in addition to interviewing Senator Levin, Yitzchaki and Kuhn will also include on the DVD interviews with the former Police Chief and the detective. Coupled with all of the new evidence in the case, such as the confession by another man and the recanting of the testimony by several witnesses, Senator Levin said that the combination of the circumstances show how unusual this case is.

Yitzchaki and Kuhn hope that the unusualness of the case will help set Cress apart from
the flood of other petitions they expect the Governor to receive now that she has set up a special clemency committee below the parole board, suggesting the state is getting ready to grant many such petitions. One possible reason for this is simply that the state does not have the budget to hold that many people in prison. According to Yitzchaki and Kuhn, Governor Granholm has so far only granted a few petitions for clemency and all have been for medical reasons and not due to false convictions. But they are hopeful that the involvement of influential people such as Senator Levin will highlight the particular injustice surrounding Cress’ continued imprisonment. If they are unsuccessful with this attempt at clemency, a new petition can be made again every two years. However, the best time for a favorable outcome is toward the end of a governor’s term, when most such petitions are granted.

The DVD is being made with the help of four University of Michigan undergraduate film students with an interest in law school. One of the students, Josh Noffke, a freshman, is also putting together a website which should be up soon at The website will feature an online petition as well. Yitzchaki and Kuhn hope to get as many people involved in the petition as possible.

Constitutional Cocktails: The Lethal Injection Debate Explained

By Dan Jones,
ACLU Publicity Co-Chair

On March 5, the ACLU chapter of the University of Michigan Law School hosted “The Constitutionality of the Three-Drug Cocktail: The Lethal Injection Debate,? a panel discussion of pending Supreme Court case Baze v. Rees. Professor Kim Thomas, moderator, was joined by Columbia University Hospital Anesthesiologist Dr. Mark Heath and accomplished capital punishment defense litigator George Kendall.

Dr. Heath opened his remarks by disclosing that his research on lethal injection has made him an opponent of its use. He then described the four-step process by which lethal injections are administered. First, an I.V. is inserted into the prisoner. Dr. Heath explained that inserting I.V.s into prisoners isn’t as simple a procedure as one would guess. Numerous slides showed the failed IV injection points on the skin of executed prisoners. One prisoner endured up to nineteen attempts. Dr. Heath speculated that the difficulty of inserting I.V.s into prisoners can be attributed to a number of factors, including the prisoner’s anxiety, the cold temperature of the room where the procedure takes place, and, oftentimes, the incompetence of the personnel who do the task.

The second step of the process is the injection of the drug thiopental, a general anesthetic. Even though the guidelines for administering thiopental call for a dose strong enough to lead to long-term unconsciousness, insufficiently low dosages frequently result from errors in dosage calculation or drug administration. Dr. Heath used as an example an executed prisoner with a post-mortem dosage in his blood so weak that there was a 95% likelihood that he was conscious as the next two drugs were administered.
The third step of the process is the injection of the drug pancuronium, a paralytic which restricts all voluntary movement but does not affect brain function. If pancuronium is coupled with an insufficient anesthetic, a prisoner may experience suffocation (as breathing is a voluntary movement) before the potassium takes effect, or may experience the excruciating pain of lethal injection without being able to manifest his suffering in any way. Unlike the administration of the anesthetic, the purpose of this step is not to benefit the prisoner, but solely to give an appearance of serenity to observers of the execution. Dr. Heath characterized it as a “cosmetic? procedure.

The final step of the process is the injection of the drug potassium, which kills the prisoner. According to Dr. Heath, a prisoner who is conscious while having potassium injected into his body would feel as if a blowtorch had been applied to half his torso.

Dr. Heath’s final point was that the personnel who carry out lethal injections are often grossly unsuited for the task. However, most physicians would decline invitations or requests to participate in lethal injection procedures.

George Kendall opened his portion of the discussion by emphasizing just how narrow the legal questions involved in Baze v. Rees are. First is the question of which of two competing standards should be used to determine whether a punishment is cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment: whether there is an unnecessary risk of pain and suffering, or whether there is a substantial risk of wanton infliction of pain. Second is the question of whether the program in Kentucky runs afoul of the proper standard. Kendall speculated that, even if the Court finds the Kentucky system unconstitutional, some states will not employ good faith in their efforts to change their systems so as to conform to the judgment. Kendall closed his lecture by pointing out that most state capital punishment programs have been designed by small numbers of individuals in closed rooms, insulated from the democratic process. He thinks that a realistic goal for capital punishment defense litigators is obtaining the most humane means of execution for their clients.

Finally, the panel compared the standards states impose for euthanizing animals to those used for executing human beings. Though many states ban the use of paralytics for the euthanization of animals, many of the same states require their use for the execution of human beings. The panelists expressed hope that states will meet, or perhaps even exceed, minimum veterinary standards in the execution of human beings.

February 19, 2008

Get Your Priorities Straight: PRS Registration Explained

By Rebecca Oyama and Charlie Clinch

When registering for this semester’s classes, how did you fare? For some, the registration process is a confusing lottery. The first of this two-part series will explain the registration process and what makes it distinct. In the next issue, we will address common critiques of the system and offer up some possible remedies.

The Basics

In “Round One? of registration, students have one week to submit requests for seminars, practice/simulation courses, and clinics. Students may request up to seven classes in these categories, but the system enrolls each student in no more than one of each type of class. Seminars are generally capped at fifteen students, but may vary according to the seating capacity of the classroom assigned. Placement in most seminars is determined by seniority and the use of “priorities,? of which each student has two that can be used at any time. For each course, the system first places students who elected to use a priority for that course in random order regardless of seniority. Any remaining seats are then assigned based on seniority (3Ls, 2Ls, then 1Ls). If at any time a class fills, a waitlist is created based on the same criteria. Students on a seminar waitlist must respond to an email if they would like to remain on the waitlist or they will forfeit their position.

A “special sign up procedure,? called “Professor Pick,? allows professors to bypass the normal placement procedure and functions as a wildcard for students, especially those new to PRS. By designating their class as Prof Pick, professors are able to hand select their class based on interviews or short statements of interest. The waitlist is also up to the professor’s discretion in a Prof Pick class; as enrolled students drop the class, the professor is not bound to a rigid waitlist order. Using a priority on a Prof Pick course, then, is unnecessary, and priorities that are used on such classes are returned to students. This return policy has provided some students with an incentive to “use? a priority with the idea of conveying to the professor a sincere commitment to the course, but there is no way to know if it is ever actually taken into consideration.

“Round Two? is a subsequent week-long period during which students submit their selection of “upper-class courses? that have more available seats and no Prof Pick designations. Students may also request “open? (not full) seminars and practice/simulation courses as they did in Round One, or add their name to the bottom of a waitlist in the event that the course is full. There are no waitlists for upper class courses and the size of each course is determined by the capacity of the classroom in which it will meet.

Lastly, in Round Three, students use Wolverine Access to add or drop upper-class courses from their schedule. At that point in the process, students can no longer enroll in an open seminar, practice/simulation course, or clinic, although they may still add their name to the bottom of a waitlist.

We’ve come a long way, baby

According to Curriculum Coordinator Amy Bishop, who administers the law school’s course scheduling and registration, the Priority Registration System (“PRS?) was developed roughly ten years ago to replace a paper-based system that used to line the walls of Hutchins Hall for the entire registration period. Students had to look up course information on lists, fill out forms, and obtain sign-offs from various professors and administrators before the process was complete. An in-house programmer designed PRS to mimic the old system electronically and transfer students’ course data easily into the University’s Wolverine system for Round Three (“Add/Drop?) to take place. Despite the appearance of a completely automated system, each round of PRS can take a different amount of time to run and still requires a staff member to check or modify the course data before results can be released, usually about four days after the end of each round. This could explain the fluctuation in wait time for PRS results, which has been a source of confusion for some students in the past.

According to Ms. Bishop, the most common mistake that she hears from students is that they forget to register during the PRS period and thus miss their shot at the lottery. Another common problem occurs when students do not successfully save changes after making a modification to their request. The PRS system automatically sends a confirmation email after recording any change, and Ms. Bishop urges students to check their inbox before assuming their request accurately reflects recent changes. Other students have voiced uncertainty about the actual layout of the PRS Round Two request page. (Note: your second choice should always be placed beneath your first choice; if you put it only to the right of the first choice, the system will give it to you only in the event that you do not get your first choice. Many students place their second choice both to the right of the first choice – first line, second spot – and under the first choice, in the first spot of the second line.)

The process at other schools

As complicated as our process may sound, PRS appears to offer some advantages over those used at our peer schools. At NYU, there are no waiting lists. Instead, the school relies on a system that at times resembles Ticketmaster the moment U2 concert tickets go on sale. If a student doesn’t get into a requested course, the system will notify the student when extra spaces open up. It then assigns a specific time (e.g., Thursday at 10 p.m. – no, really) at which the student will have the opportunity to go online and try his or her luck against any others hoping to get into the class. One has to wonder whether students schedule their bar nights around the registration calendar.

Other schools also don’t allow students the benefit of priorities. At Harvard, Georgetown, and Berkeley law schools, registration requests are strictly by seniority. For example, at Georgetown law 3Ls and LLMs register a couple of days before 2Ls (1L schedules are predetermined). Berkeley employs a hybrid version of our PRS system, where each student is assigned one 24-hour window during a week-long period when they may register for 12 of an average 14-15 credits total. 3Ls register at the beginning of the week, then 2Ls, and so on. Once everyone has these courses set, the process to register for the remaining credits begins.

Moving forward

Our system is complicated partially because of the difficulty of accommodating the needs of more than 1,000 students and the desires of some professors to mold their course enrollment. Given these variables, it is understandable that students – especially 1Ls – find the process confusing. In the next issue, we will look at ways to make the system more user-friendly and effective.

Five Tips to Bounce Back From ‘Bad’ Grades (Taken from

If you weren’t happy with last semester’s grades, here are some quick tips that can help put a smile on your face next time you check Wolverine Access.

1. Visit your old professor: Make an appointment with your professor as soon as possible to go over your exam. The key to make these appointments successful is to go in without a chip on your shoulder. Go in with the attitude that you really want to know what you did wrong and make it clear that you are not there to get your grade changed.

2. Visit your new professors: After visiting last semester’s professors, make an appointment to see your new professors. Go in a few weeks after the semester has started to ask some questions you’ve come up with from their classes. The visits have another purpose other than getting answers to your questions. You also want to get as much information about how they give exams and what they’re looking for in an answer. Each professor is different. Some just want you to spot all the issues, while others want deep analysis with lots of policy arguments. Find out as soon as possible so you can start preparing for their exam.

3. Write down what went wrong last semester: Take a few minutes to sit down with pen and paper to write what you did wrong last semester. Start from the beginning of the semester and work your way to the day of the exam. Did you spend less time outlining? Did you not do enough practice exams? Were there any outside factors that could have affected your performance? Be as thorough and brutal as possible. If you don’t know what went wrong you won’t know how you can improve. Keep this list posted in your study area.

4. Make a plan for this semester: After you de-construct last semester, make a plan for this semester. If there were outside distractions that may have affected your exam performance, make plans to eliminate those distractions. If you didn’t have enough time to review your outlines, plan to finish your outline earlier this semester. Also take into consideration what each professor is looking for on their exam and plan accordingly. Are the tests closed book? Plan for more time to memorize your outline. Do they use lots of objective multiple choice questions? If multiple choice gives you hard time, then gather as many practice multiple questions as you can.

5. Forget last semester: After you’ve made your goals and plans for the upcoming semester, forget about last semester. There’s nothing you can do to change your grade and dwelling on it will only you hold you back this semester. Forget that past and focus on what you can do on the future.

Bouncing Back From ‘Bad’ Grades

By Sumeera Younis

When considering how you feel about the grades you received this semester, keep in mind that 90% of you will not be in the top 10% of your class. Let’s face it, the numbers are stacked from the beginning. Perhaps even more reassuring is what Professor Steve Croley often tells his first year Civ Pro classes: “People who get A’s become professors, people who get B’s become judges, and people who get C’s become millionaires.?

Die Ego Die

If the Spears family is where sanity goes to die, perhaps law school is where egos come to die, and that is not a bad thing. Before I received my first set of grades in law school, one friend put it this way: he was going to be happy with whatever grade he got because there were a lot of really freaking smart people around us. Getting an average or below average grade doesn’t mean you are dumb, it just means that someone else did better on an exam. Professors or law firms might try to convince you that letter grades mean something more than that, but whether you did really well or really terribly, don’t delude yourself into thinking that grades are more than what they are. Let’s face it, we know morons who get all As, and some of the best people we know get Cs and we know everything in between. Grades are just one part of many, many parts -- they are by no means the defining element of your intelligence or your worth.

We go to Michigan,
We are Kind of a Big Deal

As jack-assy as that may sound, it should offer some sense of perspective. We are not some higher more refined being because we attend Michigan -- anyone who has been to Rick’s on a Thursday knows that -- but the reputation and respect of our school does help us out. As I was researching how people across the country cope with bad grades, I realized that a lot of them talk about us ‘top tenners’ with a great deal of contempt., because they face a ton of problems we don’t. For them, being in the top 15% isn’t a matter of having one more line item on their resume, it is the difference between being employed and unemployed. Even with low grades at Michigan, you have a strong likelihood of getting the job you want if you just learn to highlight the many other things that make you awesome. Maybe doing moot court or writing for the RG are more your thing -- use your energy to focus on those aspects as well, while still trying your best in school.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

No, seriously, just be happy. Studies show that there is no correlation between higher grades and/or salaries and actually liking life. Try to keep the endgame in mind. At the end of the day we are all searching for something that will leave us satisfied, that will make us happy about life. If that thing happens to be a Supreme Court clerkship, just keep in mind that the steps to get there should also make you relatively happy. I recently read an article that said “Law students began with higher subjective well-being than comparison samples of undergraduates and other new professional students, but by the end of their first year that had plummeted. Meanwhile, the law students became more motivated by externals—grades, appearances, money—and less by intrinsic values such as personal growth and contribution to the community.? Chances are if you are miserable all through law school, just fighting to be on top and not having any regard for the people you are around, you are setting up a crappy template for the rest of your life. You don’t just get to that dream job and hit the off switch and become an amazingly chill and loveable person. This doesn’t mean that being smart or good at school automatically qualifies you as sucking at life, it just means to keep things balanced today, so they stay balanced tomorrow.

And if all else fails, remember this. A friend of mine always asks, “What do they call the guy who finishes last in his law school class?? He smirks and responds, “A lawyer.?

January 29, 2008

Professor Forman, Jr.’s Dream: Less Incarceration, More Education

By Austin Rice-Stitt

Supreme Court clerk, Georgetown Law professor, co-founder of the See Forever Foundation and the Maya Angelou School in Washington, D.C., and former MLaw visiting professor James Forman, Jr. delivered the keynote address on MLK Day to a packed house in 250 Hutchins.

Professor Forman, Jr.’s talk, “Race, Crime, and Schools: A Civil Rights Struggle for this Generation,? was a story about his life and the American criminal justice system told through stories of Forman’s interactions with three individuals.

The first story was about a conversation that Forman had with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when he was clerking for her in 1993-94. The topic of the conversation was his future. Over Justice O’Connor’s objections that public defenders have no power, and that Forman could be more influential doing traditional civil rights work, Forman explained that he was drawn to work as a P.D. because he feels like criminal work is the “civil rights work of his generation.? While the last decades have produced new opportunities for black Americans, Forman pointed out that the government is also locking up more black citizens than ever before. According to Forman, when Brown v. Board was decided in 1954, 30% of those incarcerated in America were black. That number now stands at 50%, though black people compose only 13% of the total population in America. O’Connor told Forman to “do his best,? and he went on to work for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia from 1994-2000.

Forman’s second story was about Eddie, a troubled 16-year-old, Washington, D.C. resident who became Forman’s client after stealing a T.V. Eddie was not in school at the time, and his reading skills were that of an elementary school student. Forman recalled that Eddie simply “wanted to go home.? Charged with finding a suitable program for Eddie, Forman was struck by the lack of options. The State’s solution was to send kids like Eddie to juvenile prison, which costs taxpayers $50,000 a year and yet has proven largely ineffective at rehabilitating. It seemed odd to Forman that the government, though unwilling to fund adequate schools or provide other services for kids like Eddie before they get in trouble, was willing to spend whatever it took to prosecute and incarcerate Eddie. Eddie pled guilty and was locked up, and Forman recalled thinking that Eddie likely would be victimized while in prison, and that he was likely to commit further crimes and possibly harm people upon his release.

Eddie’s fate was fresh on Forman’s mind when his friend David Domenici told him that he wanted to create a school for troubled youths. Domenici and Forman’s conversations led them to found in 1997 the Maya Angelou School in Washington, D.C. Initially funded entirely from private donations, the Angelou School, billed as a place “where all students, particularly those who have not succeeded in traditional schools, can reach their potential,? became a charter school a year after its formation.

When they were setting up the school, Forman and Domenici began by talking to both kids and parents, who said that they wanted a school with small classes and a relevant, rigorous curriculum. Along with Rigor and Relevance, Forman stressed a third R: Relationships. Remembering his own feelings of inadequacy at the Boy’s Club, Forman explained how many youngsters feel vulnerable and out of place at school. He said that such kids can gradually come to feel comfortable in the classroom with the proper attention and support from educators. “We know what to do,? Forman said.

The success of the Maya Angelou School is proof of the effectiveness of its methods. In 1997 four teachers taught 20 students; today, the organization is responsible for educating over 300 students in two high schools. The student body is roughly 50% special needs, while 40% have come through the juvenile court system. Notwithstanding the problems that the kids bring to the classroom, a higher percentage of students are graduating and going to college from the Angelou School than the national average. Nearly 80% are the first in their family to go college. In 2007, the Angelou School took over operation of the Oak Hill Academy, located inside a juvenile prison in Maryland. Also in 2007 the first Angelou middle school opened up with an enrollment of 75 students.

The subject of Forman’s third story readily acknowledges her debt to the support provided by the Angelou School. After spending a year in a half locked up at Oak Hill on an accessory to murder charge, Samantha became one of the first graduates of the Angelou School. Samantha told Forman that “the thing about See Forever was the support. Knowing I had that support kept me going.? She told Forman that the school helped her learn to think about the consequences of her actions and instilled in her a good work ethic. Samantha now works at the Oak Hill Academy and is the first president of the Maya Angelou Alumni Group.

In closing, Forman compared the juvenile justice systems of Texas and Missouri. Texas’ system, which relies mostly on punitive measures, has a 50% recidivism rate, while Missouri, which has a more therapeutic approach to dealing with troubled youths, has a recidivism rate of only 8%. “We know what to do,? Forman said again.

From Backpack to Briefcase: On Transitioning to Working Life

By Sarah Rizzo

Law students have the privilege of never having to sit through another law school exam after graduation, but other “tests? await the new law firm associate. To help Michigan law students prepare for this transition, Lauren Krasnow, a 1994 graduate, gave a talk last week entitled “Backpack to Briefcase.? Krasnow worked at a number of premier New York law firms before becoming a legal recruiter with SJL Attorney Search. She spoke about about succeeding in the firm and lifelong personal career development. Here are some highlights from her talk:

Make Sure Your Skills Are Developing

Most law student do not look forward to the “document review? or “due diligence? assignments that await them after graduation. Krasnow suggests, however, that these assignments can be powerful tools to build critical skills through experience. Such work can develop a litigator’s legal writing and fact analysis abilities. Transactional lawyers can gain an understanding of transactional forms and an in-depth knowledge of companies. Thorough knowledge of the “nuts and bolts? make you a better lawyer in the future.

Curiosity is key. Krasnow advises associates to care enough to ask questions about how your work fits into the bigger picture. Associates should be proactive about understanding the complexities of the deal or case. “Exercise your judgment muscles,? says Krasnow, “and ask ‘How would I structure this deal differently?’ or ‘How would this litigation strategy work?’? She also notes that taking unpopular assignments to gain experience is often notices by superiors.

One of the biggest mistakes Krasnow encounters among law associates is the idea that their firm name or law school will trump experience. This is not true. Whether planning on becoming a partner in the firm or making a lateral career move, Krasnow says associates should work to gain as much experience as possible. Document your experiences by making an ongoing “matters or deals list? that details your role in the transaction or case, the clients, and the work performed. This helps associates realize their learning development and is useful for lateral career moves. Within the highly competitive lateral market, Krasnow finds that it is important readily and clearly to identify your experience and what you can offer a present or future employer.

Find a Rabbi / Yoda

Your “assigned mentor? will not always fit the bill here. Krasnow has frequently witnessed the personal and professional benefits of developing strong mentoring relationships in the workplace. A Rabbi can help a law associate navigate the firm’s political environment, provide great work and feedback, and develop a reputation among partners.

Krasnow advises law associates to foster relationships with people that take an interest in their professional work and goals. Often, such a relationship develops organically rather than through firm mentor matchmaking. No doubt, Krasnow recognizes that it is not easy to find a Rabbi. She says law associates must keep their eyes open for those who respond and appreciate their work. Critically, associates must recognize that these relationships are earned.

Learn Everything You Can About Your Firm . . . Whether You Plan to Stay or Not

Firms are not immune to office politics. Krasnow says law associates should familiarize themselves with their firm’s big clients, rainmakers, and news. For example, Krasnow found client knowledge helped her identify pertinent news stories related to the firm. Whether bringing this information up with a colleague or client, the engagement with her work was appreciated by the firm and clients. She adds that a comprehensive understanding of your firm will help you become integrated in the firm and develop relationships. Such connections are critical for partnership consideration, but can also help make lateral career moves. Clients can provide paths to in-house counsel positions and former associates and partners can assist a move to a new employer.

Krasnow also advises that associates understand their firm’s practice area rates. Not all practice areas are valued equally. If a practice area does not bring in a lot of business, it may not be as highly valued in the firm. This can lead to dissatisfaction for some associates. Krasnow suggests that associates understand the economics of a practice at a particular firm. It can help you determine if a lateral career move is appropriate, and when choosing among other opportunities, it a factor to consider.

Stay Connected to the Outside World

Like it or not, Krasnow confirms that networking is a powerful tool for professional development and future career moves. She has found that it is like investing: the earlier you start, the more benefits in the future. As such, Michigan law students not only come in handy for group study sessions before exams, but they can be a rich resource for networking after graduation. Krasnow recommends maintaining relationships with Michigan alumni: attend a local alumni reception or periodically catch up with classmates. Other opportunities to foster industry connections are plentiful. Krasnow says she has found CLEs, conferences, and bar associations to be personally and professionally rewarding. Again, do not hesitate to get involved in such activities early in your career.

Make Non-Negotiable Self-Reassessments Regularly

In Krasnow’s experience, law associates are not always in the driver’s seat on their career paths. This can lead to job dissatisfaction and limit future options for change. She often hears from fifth year law associates who say, “I wanted to work two or three years at a law firm to pay off loans, and then decide what I want to do.? She warns law students not to wait “to decide what they really want to do.? Begin to work on this decision early. Krasnow says, in her experience, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may become to re-tool your career.

To get in the driver’s seat of your career, she emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and planning ahead. Law associates should make a non-negotiable promise to reassess their future career plans and goals four times year.

As a legal recruiter, Krasnow has seen many individuals make a career move decision reactively after a lousy day at work. This is not smart. Instead, during regular self-assessments ask what skills you are missing and identify what you like and dislike doing at your job. If you think you want a change, think hard about why you want a change. “Make the move when you are in a position of strength?, she recommends.

In today’s world, a career is dynamic, and for many, involves multiple changes in employers and sometimes job fields. Krasnow’s talk provided helpful advice for law students to succeed in the firm and make smart career changes.

December 04, 2007

The Secret Of My Success: Christopher Jeffries Speaks at Law School

By Cisco Minthorn

I really didn’t want to be late. I woke up, looked at the clock and knew I would have to hurry. I threw some clothes on, splashed my face with water and ran out of my Lawyer’s Club room. As I entered Hutchins Hall and race-walked to room 138, I saw a table, upon which was an untouched bounty of Zingerman’s sandwiches. “Great!? I thought. “I’m not late!? I was first in line to get my share of the food. I didn’t want to appear greedy, but I was starving and I wanted to get a seat up front. I didn’t have time to be polite -- I boxed out my peers as if I were Shaq going for a rebound until I could grab my lunch and a can of pop.

The first one in the room, I sat in the front row and eagerly began to gobble down my chicken salad sandwich. I wanted to finish before the man of the hour came into the room, because when he did, I wouldn’t want to miss a word. Desiring to become what our guest speaker is – a real estate developer – I was especially eager to hear him speak. As I feasted upon my sandwich, I could overhear the murmur of various conversations going on in the room. “Who is this guy?? “How old is he?? I heard someone say. “Sixty, I think.? replied another. Many thoughts were racing through my head: “God, if he just gave away $5 million dollars, how rich is he??; “How did this guy get from where I am to where he is??; “Geez! Getting to be a big-time developer takes a ton of financial backing.?; “Ah, the guy probably comes from money.? All the while I envisioned this person as a stereotypical, rich fat cat – a short, portly gentleman with sparse grey hair and a monocle.

Then, a woman came in the room and sat in the chair next to me. She appeared to be in her early sixties. She was well dressed and well spoken. We exchanged pleasantries – she told me she was “eager to see Chris again? (they’ve been friends since law school). We talk for a bit – she said something to the effect of “Chris’s story is really inspiring? -- then I went back to devouring my sandwich. An announcement went out to the crowd that Mr. Jeffries was running a few minutes late. Instantly I was concerned. He was already late, and I had a group presentation in my next class – on North Campus! “Oh God! What if I don’t get to stay for the speech??, I thought. “Can I miss class? No, I can’t do that, I have a group presentation!? “Oh, but I really want to hear what this guy has to say – how he became who he is, how he got his start, how he made it.? “Man, I just can’t leave; I’ve got to stay for as long as I can. Besides, Res Gestae is depending on me to write this artic…? “Hang on; what’s that going on in the hallway? Hey, there’s that law school photographer who is at all the important events. Finally! He must be coming down the hallway right now…yes!?

From my seat I could see into the hallway. There was an entourage of well-dressed, important-looking people. Even though I’d never before seen him, I could instantly tell who the man of the hour was -- there was an aura about him. He glided into the room, hugged the woman sitting next to me and went up to the podium. He wasn’t the stereotypical fat cat at all – he was over six feet tall, handsome with a full head of hair, and trim as an athlete. And so he began to speak.
He was an impressive public speaker -- his words were thoughtful and deliberate. He told us where he came from – Flint, Michigan -- and how he went to college at Columbia but chose Michigan over Columbia for law school because he was eligible for in-state tuition. The few thousand dollars he saved coming here meant a great deal to him back then. Turns out he didn’t come from money. Now I was starting to understand why that woman said his story was inspiring.

Mr. Jeffries went on to tell us that after graduating from Michigan Law in 1974 he made a conscious decision to practice law at a small firm – “15 or 20 lawyers? – instead of a big firm as most of his peers did. He didn’t want to be just a number at a big firm; he wanted his first job to be one in which he could gain valuable experience right away. It was a good decision. He made partner in five years. “After practicing law for a few years and helping mostly small business clients,? he said, “I felt as though I could do what they were doing better than they did it. Plus, going through contracts with a fine-toothed comb was getting tedious and I craved something more creative.? Hence, Christopher Jeffries decided to leave the practice of law and enter the world of business. He started with a leveraged buyout venture – a deal which gave him the capital and experience to start doing real estate deals. At first, he developed low and middle income housing; then eventually he moved into the luxury market. Now his company, Millennium Partners, develops only high end mixed-use developments in the most glamorous U.S. cities.

I wanted so badly to hear Mr. Jeffries speak because I wanted to come away with a lesson in real estate. And, yes, I did learn about some recent industry trends, but I ended up coming away with a much more important lesson. His speech was timely, coming at the tail end of the 2L interview season. I realized that so many of us in law school think that our success depends on going to the “right? firm in the “right? city -- as if our success in life depended solely upon our first job out of law school. Mr. Jeffries’s experience proves us all wrong. Here’s a guy that was at one time worried about paying a few thousand dollars extra for law school, but now was able to give away five million; he started his career at a small Southfield, Michigan firm but is now a major player in the country’s hottest markets. It’s not about which firm you work for directly out of law school or in which city you first practice. Success depends on hard work, ingenuity, and the ability to take risks -- the same qualities that got us to this fine institution in the first place. As Mr. Jeffries put it, “well-trained lawyers will succeed in anything they do.? An education in the law will take each of us far. Alright, I know you’re thinking “Well, that’s just one person, his story is a one in a million kind of thing, blah blah blah.? Ok, maybe. But Michigan Law success stories are all around us. That woman sitting next to me for instance? She’s a former CEO.

UM Law Professors to Compete with Internet

By Austin Rice-Stitt

UM Law’s experiment with blocking students from accessing the wireless network during class time came to an abrupt halt with a Nov. 20 email from Assistant Dean for Student Affairs David Baum. The email to all law students said that the internet blocking system, which was discontinued on Nov. 26, had grown “less and less effective? and that the costs of keeping the system in place “outweigh the benefits.? Professors will now be responsible for establishing and enforcing an internet policy in their classes, according to Dean Baum.

Dean Baum said that the decision to stop using the system was made by the Administration and then “brought to the faculty for discussion.? The faculty “did not object? to restoring access.

The wireless access blocking system was put in the fall of 2005 in response to professor concerns that students were becoming less engaged during classes, according to Dean Baum. Prior to the installation of the blocking system, Prof. Don Herzog reported that he observed a class at UM Law where “literally 85 to 90 percent of the students? were engaged in various online endeavors including “shopping for clothes at Eddie Bauer.? Prof. Herzog was “just stunned.?

Dean Baum confirmed that there were some students who disagreed with the initial decision to restrict access, but he said that there were also students who appreciated the Administration’s efforts to “save them from themselves.?

But more and more students were finding ways to get on the web in spite of the blocking system, according to Dean Baum. Roaming internet access from cellular providers is becoming cheaper and easier, and Dean Baum was concerned by reports that students were also beating the system by trading passwords. Trading passwords, according to Dean Baum, “runs counter to the University’s recommendations for appropriate and responsible use of technology resources,? and is a security concern because passwords also give “access to grades and financial information,? among other things. Dean Baum said that the administration saw that “enough people were finding ways around [the blocking system] . . . that we felt like it was creating a double standard.?

Additionally, the inability of the blocking system to adjust to class cancellations had become a headache for the Administration. Access is supposed to be restored when class is cancelled, but Dean Baum confirmed that restoration “often wasn’t happening? and that the Registrar’s Office staff was spending too much time trying to restore access to frustrated students.

Dean Baum said that he wasn’t sure if UM Law would choose to block the internet if the practical costs were less substantial, but he feels that it may be counter-productive for the school to compete in a virtual “arms race? with tech-savvy students.

Goodbye [LawStudents], Hello [LSOrgEvents] Listserv

By Sarah Rizzo

There’s been a shake-up of Michigan Law email boxes. On November 16, LSSS announced its plan to discontinue the [lawstudents] listserv and launch [lsorgevents] in its place. The new listserv began on November 20.

Unlike [lawstudents], [lsorgevents] is specifically reserved for events that are sponsored or co-sponsored by Michigan Law School student groups, Michigan Law’s journals, and other ad-hoc groups created by Michigan Law’s administration. The new members-only listserv will serve a critical function: keeping students informed of events going on around school. For students who would like to publicize other events that do not have the sponsorship required for [lsorgevents], [lawopen] will be continue to be an alternate forum for publicity.

Andrew Knepley, Vice President of LSSS, explained that there are a few reasons for this change. “It seemed like a number of students were confused about which listserv serves which purpose, and the Senate thought the name change would better approximate the purpose of the listserv.? He pointed out that the Senate believed the name [lawstudents] was counterintuitive; it was an “official? listserv, but included “students? in the name. Also, the Senate wanted a listserv to begin with “L-S? rather than “L-A-W? to avoid e-mail typing mishaps.

The barrage of [lawopen] ticket sales emails, as well as duplicate commercial solicitations, frustrated some students this fall. However, regulation or changes to [lawopen] have not been forthcoming.

According to Knepley, the Senate at large has not ruled out the possibility of regulation of [lawopen] and the creation of [lawsales]. He adds, however, that although [lawsales] initially seems tempting, he also finds flaws. “My personal speculation would be that a large amount of people would rather not receive e-mail solicitation to purchase various things and would opt out of the [lawsales] listserv, and if so, an unregulated [lawopen] would remain the best option to reach a large part of the student body at a low cost.?

The issue of [lawsales] remains open, and Knepley says he is “interested to hear student feedback on such a scheme, possibly on a [lawopen] discussion.?

Michigan Supreme Court Could End Health Benefits for Many Same-Sex Couples

By Anna Magazinnik

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide by July 31 of 2008 whether an amendment voters added to the Michigan State Constitution in 2004 defining marriage as between a man and a woman prevents public employers, including the University of Michigan, from offering health care benefits to same-sex partners. Pride at Work v. Granholm, filed by the ACLU of Michigan in 2005 on behalf of 21 families, seeks a declaratory ruling that the amendment does not bar domestic partner health care benefits. The trial court ruled in favor of the ACLU, but the appeals court reversed. The Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments on November 12. On November 14th Jay Kaplan, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan LGBT law project, visited UM law to speak about the case.

According to Mr. Kaplan, the appeals court essentially adopted an opinion issued by Michigan’s Attorney General that the language of the Constitution prohibites recognition of same sex relationships in any context. To obtain health benefits, domestic partners have to show among other things that they are over a certain age and that they have lived together for over six months. The court found this showing similar to the requirements for showing a marriage and agreed with the Attorney General, who entered the case as a defendant, that recognition of the domestic partner relationship is prohibited by the 2004 amendment to the Constitution. The ACLU argued that health insurance is not a benefit of marriage, that a marriage is a bundle of many rights, and that offering health insurance, by itself, cannot create a marriage. Mr. Kaplan pointed out that many benefits require a showing of age or other conditions without creating a legal marriage. In addition, he said employers also provide coverage for many others, not only same-sex domestic partners, so that there is no special treatment of same-sex couples amounting to an unconstitutional recognition of their relationship. He disagreed with the Attorney General’s position that the intent of the amendment was to prohibit any incremental approaching of same sex marriage. The ACLU also argued that if there is ambiguity concerning the language, voter intent should be a determining factor in interpretation. Mr. Kaplan described his personal participation in many public forums leading up to the vote in which the main supporters of the amendment, Citizens for the Protection of Marriage and the American Family Association of Michigan, insisted that the issue was only about marriage and that health insurance and domestic partnerships would not be affected. Finally, the ACLU also raised equal protection issues in order to preserve them for a possible federal court challenge to the amendment.

Mr. Kaplan said that despite the generally conservative trend of the Michigan Supreme Court in its prior rulings on LGBT issues, the justices, in their questioning, suggested the possibility of a favorable ruling. Justice Markman, a conservative judge and part of the “solid block of four? that the ACLU believes are not likely to find in their favor, was concerned about the idea that health insurance contains everything that a marriage contains, saying that “a few sticks does not a bundle make.? However, the justices also asked whether the case was even necessary because the ACLU developed an alternative method by which employers could provide health care benefits without basing them on domestic partnerships. Under this plan, an employee can “designate another? to receive benefits so long as that other meets certain criteria including that the person not be a family member and have lived with the employee for a specified period of time. However, Mr. Kaplan noted that this program requires a great deal of hoop-jumping and was being used by employers only in a limited capacity as a pilot program.. Moreover, many employers do not use the program in fear that it will also be found unconstitutional.

The appeals court ruling that the amendment prohibits public employers from extending benefits to domestic partners when into effective immediately, which Mr. Kaplan pointed out is extremely unusual when such a case is pending appeal. As a result, many people have now lost their health coverage. The ACLU interviewed many such people, some of whom are now considering moving to another state. If this occurs, the University of Michigan could lose a number of employees. In fact, The University’s amicus brief argues that recruitment of professors would suffer without the ability to offer the benefits to domestic partners (Gay, Mara, “Court Set to Hear Benefits Case,? The Michigan Daily, posted online, 11/6/07).

Student questions for Mr. Kaplan raised many broader implications of the case. Many questioned the very issue of bringing such a case, and whether it might, through potential backlash, harm the LGBT community. Mr. Kaplan responded that there has been a movement recently in the community to ask for rights separate from recognition of intimate relationships. He said that to some degree, this might represent a regression to a willingness to “be accepted? so long as one does not show pictures of one’s partner or actually express oneself fully. Mr. Kaplan did say, however, that before filing an action in federal court, if the Michigan Supreme Court returns an unfavorable ruling, the ACLU would consult with other national LGBT groups to determine the best course of action. As an alternative, he suggested that the ACLU may instead concentrate on local communities and incremental changes, while continuing to persuade employers to use the “designate another? program to offer health insurance benefits to same-sex partners.

From Duby to Jacobi to ... You?: The Mr. Wolverine Preview

By Kerry Monroe

Did you spot one of your classmates practicing his dance moves in what he thought was a deserted corridor? Hear another discussing which professor he would want to be stuck on a desert island with?

Don’t worry; you’re not going crazy, and neither are they. These lucky gentlemen have recently accepted nominations to participate in the Latino Law Student Association’s (LLSA) annual Mr. Wolverine contest! They will be acting, dancing, and strutting their way into your hearts on January 25, 2008.

The contestants are:

Tom Bousnakis
Joe Jones
Stasek Levchensky
Joe Neely
Ondrej Staviscak Diaz
Josh Van Der Ploeg

Matt Gale
Rob Kim
Manoj Ramia
Zaki Robbins
Travis Zollner

Andrew Adams
Dan Gunderson
Andrew Knepley
Greg Yankee

Mr. Wolverine, one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year, is sponsored by the Grand Rapids firm of Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt, and Howlett. The proceeds will go to LLSA’s Project Communidad, a source of summer funding for 1Ls doing public interest work in the Latino community.

For the first couple weeks of the winter term, the contestants will be hard at work in rehearsals three to four days a week, preparing for their performances. But according to contestant Tom Bousnakis, there’s no real competition: “I have the sultry looks of John Stamos, the fierce attitude of Gloria Gaynor, and moves smoother than Vanilla Ice. Who can possibly compete with that??

Dean Sarah Zearfoss and Professor Mark West will emcee this year’s contest. The competition is comprised of group dance numbers, professor impersonations, skits, and a “Firm Wear? category, in which contestants and their escorts grace the stage in professional wear reflective of their personal styles. The top five contestants, selected by such esteemed judges as Dean Virginia Gordan and Professor Bruce Frier, among others, are then posed on-stage questions.

Professor Frier was a judge last year as well, the first time he attended Mr. Wolverine. He was most surprised by “the depth of show biz talent among our students -- especially the spectacular dance numbers!? According to him, “Much the best part of the evening, though, was the extraordinarily funny film that Mark West and Sarah Zearfoss showed, of typical faculty members in their offices. The two sheep in Kyle Logue’s office were a particularly fine touch.?

This year’s competition will feature a brand new video introduction, and LLSA promises us surprise comedic and musical guest appearances as well! And for the first time ever, an LLM student or visiting scholar will be chosen to participate, as a fun way to incorporate these much appreciated, but often underrepresented, members of our community.

“I personally think Mr. Wolverine is one of the most important nights of the year for the law school community,? said contestant Andrew Knepley. “It’s one of the only chances we get to bring nearly everyone together in one place. Although that makes me pretty nervous, I’m also very excited to finally get my opportunity to vie for the glory that is . . . being Mr. Wolverine.?

November 13, 2007

Right to Die Debated at MLR Symposium

By Sumeera Younis

On November 8, the University of Michigan Law Review hosted a symposium titled Death, Dying and the Constitution. The first half of the symposium took a look back on Washington v. Glucksberg, with four scholars debating whether there is a constitutional right to assistance in suicide. Both sides passionately defended their stances, making for a heated debate.

Constitutional Law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky framed his argument with the story of his dying father, who asked to be put to death in the last stages of his terminal illness. Chemerinsky argued that there is no viable state interest in prolonging the life of someone who is days away from death. Chemerinsky reasoned that it is better to allow that person to choose to end his or her life than to subject him or her to extended suffering.

Kathryn Tucker, Legal Affairs Director of Compassion & Choices, a choice-in-dying advocacy group, largely agreed with Professor Chemerinsky. Tucker discussed the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, conveying stories of terminally ill individuals being allowed to have peaceful deaths surrounded by family members and loved ones. She argued that many of the concerns that critics have with a patient’s right to choose are overblown and that the success of the Oregon model empirically disproves many objections.

The opposing viewpoints were argued by Yale Kamisar, the Law School’s own Clarence Darrow Distinguished University Professor of Law Emeritus, and Herbert Hendin, M.D., President and Medical Director, Suicide Prevention International, and Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Professor Kamisar challenged the characterization of euthanasia as “death with dignity,? arguing that this phrase implies that that people who do not support it want undignified deaths for the individuals. Prof. Kamisar described a different reality than the one Tucker had discussed. He noted that 15 to 25 percent of the people who had assistance in ending their life under the Oregon Act faced complications which traumatized them, not allowing them to die peacefully at all. He also argued that asserting that only terminally ill patients had a right to assisted suicide was arbitrary, questioning whether paraplegics, handicapped individuals or people with other difficulties should also be allowed physician assisted suicide under this rationale.

Dr. Hendin noted further that it was disingenuous to say that a terminally ill patient’s only options are to suffer horribly or choose to die preemptively. Dr. Hendin argued that in most cases patients are able to transition to a natural death through counseling and various palliative medications.

At the end of the symposium many questions were left unanswered – literally, as questions were cut short because of time constraints. The Glucksberg decision has been criticized for being unclear and inconsistent but if the debate on Friday was any indication, there will not be a simple fix for this complex issue any time soon.

BLA Speaker Tackles Subprime Mortgages

By Sarah Rizzo

Today, it is difficult to open the newspaper without reading about the elusive subprime mortgage crisis. Thankfully, on November 1, the Michigan Business Law Association welcomed Ross School of Business Professor Robert Van Order to provide some much needed information about the crisis, in a talk titled “Sub Prime Markets, Securitization and Housing.? Van Order, who came to Michigan after stints as the former Chief International Economist of Freddie Mac and the Housing Finance Analysis Director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), explained the crisis, why it occurred, and what is going to happen next.

Subprime lending is the practice of making loans to borrowers who do not qualify for market interest rates because of their poor credit history. “Subprime? refers not to the loan’s interest rate but to the borrower’s credit rating, based on his or her credit history. Van Order reports that subprime loans grew from about 10 percent of the market to up to one-third of the market after 2003.

According to Van Order, the markets in which subprime loans are securitized and then traded publicly have more or less collapsed. The securitization of subprime loans is not new; indeed, securitization has been a mainstay of the mortgage business for 30 years.

In the late 1990s, investors began to package subprime loans into big pools of securities, pooling them together with other loans of varying levels of risk and return. With final investors largely distanced from the original loan, an asymmetrical information problem arose, and it became difficult for investors to know the true value and risk of the securities. In some situations, “principals? (those responsible for collecting loans for securitization and then selling the shares in the collected pool to other investors) purposely pooled risky but theoretically high-yield loans with more stable but less lucrative loans. This allowed some less scrupulous lenders to profit on both ends by making predatory loans to less creditworthy borrowers, securitizing them together with “good loans? and then selling the securities, thus passing the risk of default on to unwitting investors.

Van Order partly attributes the problems with securities trading today to pure uncertainty by institutional investors. With the deterioration of historical models, as well as agency problems whereby unscrupulous fund managers purposely mix good loans with bad, investors do not know what they are getting in the loan pools. While it has never been a secret that subprime loans are risky, uncertainty has spooked investors. Whereas risk can be properly assessed in the markets, uncertainty cannot. Consequently, investors do not want to buy at all.

The subprime loan problems are no longer isolated to subprime-mortgage lenders, either. As Van Order pointed out, the crisis is spreading unpredictably across markets and countries. He adds that these strange spillovers are hard to understand because of “the lack of public data available.? Van Order remains skeptical of enacting policy changes today. Critically, he does not rule out the possibility that investors can solve this problem.

Investors are not the only ones being affected by the subprime mortgage crisis. The large number of students who attended Van Order’s talk speaks to the problem’s relevancy in the field of law as well. Van Order discussed law firms’ participation in the pooling of mortgage loans into securities, and several lawsuits have recently arisen over investors’ inability to sell back troubled securities to the originators.

October 30, 2007

Laptops Headed Back Out?

By Austin Rice-Stitt

Students in Adam Pritchard’s Civil Procedure class better hope that their laptops come to life quickly, because the online quiz has started and they’ve got less than a minute to lock in their answers. Prof. Pritchard, the tech-savy, pony-tailed securities guru, does not adhere to the Michigan Law policy of blocking internet access during class; rather, he uses the internet to give quizzes that determine a quarter of each student’s final grade. But while Prof. Pritchard has embraced in-class computering, other professors are heading in a different direction by banning completely the use of laptops during class.

Mark West’s 28-member Japanese Law class is laptop-free. Prof. West, who dresses a lot better than you do, finds that laptops “contain lots of little diversions and distractions that take away attention from class.? But Prof. West is even more concerned that laptop-wielding students “tend to type things that I say verbatim. They don’t process the material in their brains; the words just go straight to their fingers.? Old-fashioned note-taking is preferable, according to Prof. West, because “writing is a slower process? that “forces [students] to choose what matters.? While he does not think that laptops are bad in every class and that there are “great ways to integrate them into the classroom,? for most of what he teaches “laptops do more harm than good.?
This is the first time that Prof. West has banned laptops in his Japanese Law class, and he says that he will have a better idea about the effectiveness of the new policy after he sees how students do on the exam. But he likes the way it’s going: “. . . so far, I think students are a bit more engaged; they don’t have that screen to hide behind.?

Ellen Katz, voting rights aficionado and keeper of many fishes, also cites students hiding behind screens as part of the impetus for her ban on laptops in her 30-member Local Government Law class. “If I call on a student using a laptop, the student is far more likely to look down and to scroll through an outline than simply to think about the question and respond directly to it,? says Prof. Katz. “Some of my colleagues have told me about students who announce they are unable to answer questions because their laptops are ‘off.’?

Prof. Katz does designate two students as each day’s laptop note-takers, and those students are asked to post their electronic notes on the CTools internet site. Prof. Katz has not heard from students whether they find the communal notes useful, but she has enjoyed the mostly-computer-free environment. Online crossworders should be aware that Prof. Katz is “pleased with the no laptop policy so far and plan[s] on using it in future classes.?

One professor who will not be restricting laptop use is Contracts expert and part-time soccer coach Omri Ben-Shahar. Prof. Ben-Shahar finds “faculty intervention in this matter to be inconsistent with the sensitivity that the faculty otherwise has to
individual autonomous choices and academic freedom in other areas.?

Prof. Ben-Shahar does not share Prof. West’s concern about students who use laptops to create a verbatim transcription of the day’s lecture. Instead, Prof. Ben-Shahar feels that laptop distraction is caused by “access to internet and games,? and is not related to “the use of word processors over pen-and-paper? for note-taking. He says that he works to “discourage such distractions by calling on people that seem to be busy with their screens.? Students should be warned that Prof. Ben-Shahar can “see the green shade of solitaire reflected in their eyes? and can, with scientific accuracy, identify “the IM-induced smirk.? Prof. Ben-Shahar also tries to discourage computer distractions, awarding students who contribute to in-class discussions by raising their grades.

Even as Profs. West and Katz are feeling more love from their laptop-free class members, Prof. Pritchard is probably going to give you an online pop-quiz tomorrow, and Prof. Ben-Shahar is “pretty sure that 10 years from now the question of banning laptops will be forgotten.? Is laptop note-taking here to stay, or are professors starting to fight back? Does anyone care? Join the discussion by sending your thoughts on this pending issue to

Bleu Copas on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

Submitted by
Samara K. Schwartz

At Fort Bragg, Bleu Copas was a gay soldier jumping out of airplanes alongside straight soldiers. “My homosexuality didn’t make me any less effective as a paratrooper.? And a satirical test conducted by The Daily Show, which involved a striptease, revealed that Bleu’s sexuality didn’t interfere with his skills as an Arabic translator either. Yet Bleu was dismissed from the Army in December 2005 under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? policy.

On October 11, Bleu spoke to a packed Hutchins Hall 218 about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He used his own story as a case study, putting a face on a policy that he reported has resulted in the discharge of 11,000 service members since its introduction in 1993. The talk was co-sponsored by Outlaws and the ACLU. Co-chair of Outlaws Foz Bullock said “Copas is living proof that LGBT people are unfairly treated in the military.?

Joining the military was a natural choice for Bleu, having been raised on stories about service. As an undergraduate at East Tennessee State University, he participated in ROTC. The events of September 11, 2001 gave Bleu the opportunity to serve, and by the following summer, he had entered basic training. Afterwards, Bleu spent a year and a half studying Arabic – “the hardest thing I’ve ever done,? he said.

When deciding to enlist, Bleu was familiar with the intricacies of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and recognized that the policy would be a compromise, even though he had always lived in secrecy about his homosexuality. “I still feel like I upheld [my] end of the bargain by never telling,? Bleu said.

To this day, Bleu doesn’t know who told. While awaiting deployment to the Middle East, Bleu had been selected as one of 300 service members to represent his unit in the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus, which he said is used as a visual recruiting tool for the military. One day, thirty choral members were informed that an email was circulating concerning a gay soldier in their midst. “My stomach switched places with my heart,? Bleu recalled. “To my knowledge, I was the only gay serving in the chorus.? Later, he confronted his platoon sergeant and said that this inquiry had been a blatant violation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

But the inquiry didn’t end there. Messages began to flood the inboxes of other command leaders and now mentioned Bleu by name. The informant remained – and remains – anonymous. Bleu did communicate with the individual through instant messaging, and he tried to glean from their chats some clue as to the person’s identity.

Bleu sought advice from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, looking to them daily to understand how to contend with an inappropriately enforced policy and illegally obtained evidence. Bleu’s email account was even broken into and a handful of messages collected. Though Bleu complied with the investigation and even aided it – he produced the Yahoo Messenger chats – he chalked up his dismissal to his unwillingness to answer questions. A JAG defender had informed Bleu that he could decline to respond, and Bleu did so. Ultimately, Bleu asked to have an attorney, at which point the questioning stopped. Bleu learned afterwards that the questioning officer – the only judge of Bleu’s fate in the military – had concluded that Bleu’s apparent reluctance to participate evidenced dishonesty.

Bleu admitted that his discharge was not a significant professional loss; less than a year remained on his contract. And challenging the investigation could have had a much larger price tag: a potential criminal proceeding.

Instead, it’s the government that shoulders the burden of the price tag. Bleu explained that the military has spent more than $365 million to fire and replace homosexual service members. Bleu’s training took two years, including a year and a half to complete security clearance. He reported that at least 60 Arabic linguists have been discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell since September 11.

Even so, Bleu said that 65,000 homosexual service members remain in active service. He also said that this is, to a great extent, not perceived as a problem. Bleu offered some numbers: studies have shown that 25 percent of soldiers know of someone who is homosexual in their unit, and 79 percent of soldiers are okay with this. “It’s sad that the people who make this policy are so detached from the foot soldiers,? Bleu observed.

That other countries allow GLBT individuals to serve openly reveals the policy’s limited influence, Bleu noted. “Members of British and Israeli task forces are serving openly alongside our forces,? he said. “Almost all of my co-workers knew. And it didn’t cause a problem or hinder our mission.? This was especially true during Bleu’s Arabic training; on his dormitory hall, every other room was home to a gay soldier. “I don’t know why we decided we could learn languages,? he commented with a smile.

Numbers also reveal that lesbians are particularly vulnerable under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Bleu said. Though women comprise only 15 percent of the military force, they represent 30 percent of those discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Bleu remains confident, though, that much will change within five years. Timeliness and a receptive administration will be key to the passage of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1246), which would repeal the policy, Bleu said.

Even though Bleu questions the legality of the investigation he underwent – “[It] shouldn’t have even happened. If the policy had been used legally, I would still be in the military? – he takes issue with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in principle. “You’re taught from the beginning the values of honor and integrity,? Bleu said. “Because of this policy, our service members are forced to contradict these values daily by living a dishonest life.?

Samara Schwartz is a 1L and the Admissions and Faculty Recruiting Chair of Outlaws.

Law Relationships, An Endangered Species?

By Sumeera Younis

Law school is a place where lawyers are born and relationships die. In this stress inducing, ego-filled, super-busy environment, can a relationship ever survive? To quote Michigan’s favorite Tom Cruise look alike: “The short answer is no, the slightly longer answer is yes.?

Within the first month of law school my section had twice as many single people as it started out with. Although I was forewarned that law school takes its toll on relationships, I wasn’t quite ready for what happened. All around me people were breaking up. And, there were several break-downs as people dealt with their break-ups. There wasn’t one simple reason for why people were breaking up but loads of different ones. Law school took up so much time that some people couldn’t maintain old relationships. Many people had moved to Michigan for law school, and their relationships buckled under the strain of long-distance love. Others just saw a sea of sexy brains and cut themselves free.

In contrast to all the relationships that ended, our section also saw two of our classmates get engaged after enduring one semester of law school together, and many others paired up and are still going strong. All the things that can contribute to old relationships ending can serve as the foundation for new love. Since law school takes up so much time, it can be natural to pair up with someone you are constantly around. Being away from home and in a new environment, while also dealing with the underworld of law school, can create a strong bond. And frankly, with all the break-ups that happen early in the semester, two rebounds are bound to bump into each other.

If you are already in a relationship, there is no need to pack up all your partner’s things in a box and cue “Bye, Bye, Bye.? Although law school can end relationships, the road to a law degree does not necessarily have to be littered with broken hearts. By now we may all be trained to be terrified of C’s, but there are three C’s that you should come to love: Compromise, Communication, and Cuddling.

(1) Compromise. If you are in a serious committed relationship, then you are not going always to be able to do everything your single classmates do. Sometimes you will have to miss a bar night or have lunch at home instead of at . Other times you will have to put away your books and make time for date nights or bite your tongue instead of talking about Pennoyer v. Neff.

(2) Communicate. All this compromising might lead to a big case of resentment. To avoid confrontation and to deal with conflicts as they arise, it is important to let your partner know when you need more time to do law school related things or when you are simply feeling overwhelmed. Be clear that this is not an indication that you love them less but a way in which you are trying to keep the relationship stronger for the long run.
(3) Cuddle. Hey, it’s not all bad! One of the best things about having a partner is that you have someone there to be romantic and fun with as well. Don’t forget that there are definite perks to relationships that make all the hard work worth it. Kind of like law school.

Save Your Bids! BLSA Date Auction Moved

By Sarah Rizzo

I’m at 100, I’ve got 100, who’ll bid 120?? Unfortunately, bidders will be disappointed to learn that the Black Law Students Alliance’s (BLSA) annual fall Date Auction has been postponed. An October 18 e-mail announced the postponement with little explanation. Originally planned for Thursday, October 25, BLSA members jointly decided to move their major fundraising event closer to Valentine’s Day. This quashes any rumors that the auction was cancelled permanently.

The move to February 2008 more accurately ties into the Date Auction’s theme and prizes, according to one BLSA member, which include gift certificates from local businesses, as well as a date just in time for that special day! The money raised at the auction funds BLSA-sponsored programs throughout the year, including legal scholar talks and events.

One BLSA member stated that the Alliance is working hard this year to host additional smaller fundraisers besides the Date Auction and Soul Food Lunch. This will further the organization’s goal to provide a firmer foundation for BLSA’s future. The Date Auction’s postponement, says the BLSA member, will not negatively impact funds. Watch out next semester for information about the Date Auction, as well as BLSA events during Black History Month.

October 09, 2007

No More Reading (Room): Study Space To Close For Renovations

By Nate Kurtis

Last Tuesday, Dean Caminker announced in a 12:51 a.m. e-mail message to the Law School community that the Reading Room will be closed for renovations beginning after exams this term. Renovations to the lights in the Reading Room, which are part of a larger plan to update the lighting and wiring in the Law School, will “improve energy efficiency, brightness and evenness,? according to Dean Caminker. The fifty-foot vaulted cathedral ceiling will also be restored, and the study tables will be refinished.

“The lighting in the Reading Room is in desperate need of renovation,? said Hadi Husain, 3L and LSSS President. “If you compare our Reading Room to that of peer institutions –Yale’s reading room is similar— you can see the need for refurbishment. Of course, none of this would be possible without the incredibly generous gift from Mr. Munger,? added Husain.

Charlie Munger, a founder of the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, gave $3 million for the renovations. Mr. Munger was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan for a year and a half before he was drafted into World War II.

In an e-mailed response to questions on the renovation, Dean Caminker noted that “[t]he idea of upgrading the lighting (and the accompanying electrical infrastructure) was Charlie Munger’s. In his words, he likes ‘fixing things that are broken and that no one else will fix.’ Well, the lighting is ‘broken’ in the sense that it is not very functional and is energy inefficient and relies on decaying wiring, and no one else is likely to come along with an interest in investing in our infrastructure. So the lighting project fits nicely his description of his philanthropic interests.?

During the planned renovations, the Reading Room will be closed to studiers and unnecessary foot traffic, though professor offices and the elevators will remain open. Law Students will be able to study in the Smith Addition, the underground part of the Law Library, which will remain open until the Reading Room’s normal 2 a.m. closing time, according to Law Library Director Margaret Leary. Ms. Leary believes that there will be enough space in the underground Law Library to accommodate students who wish to study. While the Reading Room is open to the public to use, the Smith Addition will remain off limits to non-law students.

Student reaction to the announced closing of this popular study space has been mixed. “I’m disappointed,? said Emily Breuker, a second-year MBA who came to study in the Reading Room last Friday for sentimental reasons after learning about the planned closing. She added, “[The Reading Room] feels much more academic than the Business School library, which is tables and very florescent lights and is not always quiet, and so I feel more intelligent when I’m in here.? Mitchell Crispell, a Freshman in LS&A, explained, “I like how there is an expectation of silence, and it is very beautiful. If I want to look up, it’s very pretty.?

Sehar Siddiqi, 3L, goes to the Reading Room to study between classes. She notes, “It’s actually just more convenient. You don’t have to walk all the way down and find a quiet space. . . . Here, you just grab a table and work and it’s easy. During the day, the lighting here is pretty good, so it’s useful.? Siddiqi adds: “I’m not sure, seat-wise, how [everyone studying in the Smith Addition is] going to work out because, while it appears that there are a lot of carrels, at least on Sub-2 quite a few of them belong to my journal. . . . On Sub-3 a lot of those carrels are reserved for journal work as well, so my biggest concern is seating. Maybe not on a daily basis, but there will be crunch times when it will be hard [to find a seat].?

The Reading Room is not only used for studying. This jewel of the Law Quad, which was ranked 94th in a recent American Institute of Architects survey of the best-loved American architecture (See “Law School Is Not A Beauty Contest … Or Is It?? in the February 20, 2007 issue of the RG), is featured on admissions tours of the Law School and is the site of at least one event each Preview Weekend. “I predict nothing less than the decline and fall of Western civilization as a result of the cleaning of the lamps in the Reading Room,? cautioned Sarah Zearfoss, Dean of Admissions, sarcastically. Dean Zearfoss went on to explain that she does not “think the cleaning of the Reading Room lamps will affect either [admissions] yield or our ranking. Last time I checked, USNWR had taken the lumens per wattage category out of its calculus. The Admissions Office staff, being rather clever, will re-route the tour so that we don’t actually have to wear hard hats--and we have already planned something new for Preview [Weekend]. Finally, because every single member of our community is as charming and engaging as the Reading Room is beautiful, I think we will be able to make up for the temporary loss of the space.?

The Reading Room was chosen as the first step in this infrastructure upgrade because the work in that space will take the most time. The renovations will then continue into Hutchins Hall and the 9th floor of Legal Research, where work is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2008. At present, there are no plans to update the wiring or lighting of any classrooms as part of this project.

“On the whole,? concluded Dean Zearfoss, “I think a one-semester cleaning and upgrade once a century is a fairly small inconvenience.?

New Campbell Board to Create Permanent, Transparent Scoring System

By Austin Rice-Stitt

The Campbell Moot Court competition has tested the oral and written advocacy skills of Michigan Law students for over 80 years. Unfortunately, delays and an opaque, ever-changing scoring system in past years have tested the patience of competitors as well.

But this year’s changes to the Campbell Moot Court brief and oral argument scoring system may be the last, according to Director of Student Affairs Christine Gregory, whose office oversees the competition. This year Ms. Gregory gave the Campbell Moot Court Executive Board “a different assignment: to establish a scoring system that would, hopefully, become the permanent scoring system.? Ms. Gregory hopes this year’s board will be “as transparent as possible and create a scoring system that everyone understands and that doesn’t change much from year to year.?

The Executive Board, a group of current UM Law students charged with administering the competition, seems to have gotten the message. Board members Bradley Moore, chair, and Meghann Dunlap agree that “one of our mandates is to create a new permanent scoring system.? Though previous Boards were not required to explain their scoring methodology, Bradley emphasized this Board’s focus on “transparency.?

The Board handed out information packets to prospective competitors at informational meetings on September 17 and 18 that included detailed scoring sheets that will be used to evaluate briefs and oral arguments. “It was important to release the scoring packet at the first information session,? Bradley explained, “to show everyone exactly what they will be evaluated on.?

“It’s important to be transparent, especially when students put so much work in,? explained Meghann. “Competitors want to feel like they’re given a fair shake.?

To develop this year’s scoring methodology, “the Board put a lot of effort into talking to people at other schools who are involved with running moot court competitions,? Meghann said. The Board also drew on the expertise of its own members, many of whom have experience as moot court competitors. “The chance to develop a new scoring system is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity,? said Bradley. “When you get this involved with something, you want to see it be successful.?

This Year’s Board

While six students all had equal voice in last year’s Board, this year’s Board has seven members, including a designated chair. “It’s been great,? Meghann said when asked about having a chair. “It’s nice to have someone setting the agenda for the meetings and making snap decisions when necessary.? Chair Bradley Moore sees his role as being that of a facilitator: “I’m surrounded by great people, and everyone is stepping up and taking care of the things that they’ve been assigned. I’m just making sure that everything gets done.?

In addition to creating a chair position on the Board, Ms. Gregory emphasized that the criteria used to select this year’s Board was also a little different. “I think in the past the recruiting might have focused more just on GPA and faculty recommendations,? Ms. Gregory explained, “and now we’re taking a more holistic approach. The idea was to recruit board members that are comfortable with their classmates, have a good rapport with the student body, and who have experience in moot court competitions.?

Indeed, this year’s Board includes two semi-finalists from last year’s competition, Liz Polizzi and Stephen Oertle, and another board member, Sam Zun, participated in the competition last year as a timekeeper. Bradley confirmed that “it’s been really helpful this year to have input from Liz and Stephen, who did the competition last year, and also to have board members who bring a fresh perspective.?

First Round Scoring

Most of the delays and scoring irregularities in past competitions have occurred in the first round, when volunteer alumni judges are asked to score and return briefs by mail. This year’s Board hopes to avoid problems by starting early and by communicating with volunteer judges. Bradley, Meghann, and Ms. Gregory all emphasized that this year’s Board is focused on getting things done early, and the Board hopes to send first round briefs out, and get them back, sooner than in years past. Meghann also believes that the Board can urge scorers to return briefs on time through “constant communications with scorers to check in.? Bradley confirmed that the Board will rely on “consistent, professional follow-up? to get briefs scored and returned.

This year’s Board also plans to ask slightly less of each first round volunteer brief scorer. While scorers last year were asked to read and score six briefs, Bradley says that this year’s Board would like to keep each reader’s assignment to four or fewer briefs. Also, while last year’s Board tried to get each brief read six times (before eventually settling on four), this year’s Board is soliciting only three scores per brief.

The Campbell Moot Court competition is open to second- and third-year UM Law students. Registration closed on October 1st. The Board can be reached at

Looking For A Public Interest Job? Tools and Advice For Your Job Search

Submitted by MaryAnn Sarosi, Office of Public Service

Why can’t the government and public interest job search be as easy as the firm job search?

If you want to know the answer to that question, Grasshopper, you’re better off foregoing this article and going straight to the horoscopes. If you want some pointers for the summer job hunt, read on.

First of all, you don’t need to have a job in hand now. The public service job hunt schedule is NOT the same as the law firm hiring schedule. Students often secure jobs well into March! Having said that, you do have to do some homework before applying for jobs. The homework should include:

• Checking out the OPS Student Toolkit web page,, the practice area pages and downloading the Making a Difference Guide on the OPS website and checking Jobnet regularly.

• Studying Last Year’s Summer Employment List. Find out where other students worked this past summer. Get ideas and tips from a student who has already worked at the summer job of your dreams. The OCS web site lists students who are willing to speak with other students about their summer jobs with public interest organizations and state, local, and federal agencies. You can access the information by clicking on “ Student Summer Employment List - Geographic by Employer Location? (PDF document) or “ Student Summer Employment List - Alphabetical by Employer Name? (PDF document).

• Looking at the job summaries written by past Dean’s Public Service Fellows

• Looking at the SFF list of funded jobs to see where fellow students worked last summer. This list is on the OPS website and a hard copy can be found in the career resources library in room 210 HH. After looking at these resources, call Jackie Julien at 647-3256 to make an appointment to see MaryAnn Sarosi.

• Checking the jobs listed on After registering for a password, you can search for "opportunities," which are job descriptions for positions already listed and/or by "organization," i.e. type of employer. Opportunities with numerous government agencies as well as prosecutors' and public defenders' offices are listed.

• Familiarizing yourself with the Office of Career Services website; of particular interest is the “useful links? section

• Studying our federal government employment resources. We have a list of agencies along with deadlines for applying. Also, we have links to other resources that list government employment opportunities that you should check out. Examples include: - Government Honors and Internship Handbook (For 2007-2008, the username and password are oreo and cookie) and (a wealth of information that offers job seekers an in-depth look at the government’s myriad functions and roles, as well as a glossary of terms unique to the federal application process, and tips on landing a government job. Particularly helpful is the “Appendix: Federal Departments and Agencies: What They Do and Who Does It.?)

The student group, OPIS, has set up a mentorship program for 1Ls and 2Ls interested in talking to 3Ls with experience in government or public interest. If you’re a 3L, I encourage you to sign up to provide assistance to 1L and 2Ls. If you’re a 1L or 2L, take advantage of this wealth of experience. Please contact Kate Pomper at to sign up.

My office will also underwrite some of your costs to go to job fairs such as the upcoming Equal Justice Works Job Fair (October 6th and 7th in Washington, D.C .) OPS will reimburse $75 toward housing/travel and we will pay for registration IF you submit receipts within 3 weeks after the event. For a list of other public interest career fairs, go to

That’s the general advice I can provide in the confines of an 800 word article. Of course, if you’re seriously considering pursuing a summer job in government or public interest, you should make an appointment to see me or one of the OCS attorney advisors. We can then tailor our discussion to your interests and needs.

Looking For A Law Firm Job? Expert Advice and Suggestions

By Sarah Rizzo

The 2L’s quest for a prized summer associate position with a firm and beyond often feels like navigating an obstacle course. Anxieties are fever pitch, questions can resemble curve balls, and exhaustion is frequent. Naturally, no one could provide 2Ls with more relief and guidance than those who have successfully reached the finish line. Michigan Law welcomed two speakers, with the great advantage of hindsight, to explain what they wish they knew when they were in our shoes.

As Chief Executive Officer of Greenberg Traurig, Cesar L. Alvarez makes it his job to know the ins and outs of the legal market. However, this information is relevant to more than just law firms. Alvarez broke down the trends to help 2Ls distinguish between law firms and make better career choices now.

Location, Location, Location

The U.S. provides ample choices for places to practice law, and many law students choose a location based on family, hobbies, or even the weather. Alvarez highlighted another factor to take into consideration: future population growth and movement. According to Alvarez, it is often easer to establish a career in areas with growth and movement. Data shows that in the future, the three fastest growing states will be California, Texas, and Florida. Also, he pointed out that key financial and governmental centers witness high growth rates. Not sure where you want to go? Take advantage of the dynamic trends in growth areas and your career will benefit.


Alvarez likened choosing a law firm to diversifying one’s financial investment portfolio. “It is like investing in one stock versus a mutual fund.? Diversified law firms, in both practice areas and locations, will be able better to withstand industry slumps. A downturn in one economy or practice is less likely to hurt a diversified firm. As such, Alvarez advised law students to “invest? wisely!

Play Matchmaker

Law firms have cultures and personalities. Alvarez advised matching your personality and your goals with the firm that will get you where you want to go. First, this requires taking a personal inventory of your goals. Then, instead of asking the “What is the firm’s culture?? question, take a more indirect approach to assessing a firm. He advised looking at its governance and management mechanisms. Is the firm business-oriented or political? How are decisions made internally? What is the function of committees? What changes have they made in response to the advancements of the last 20 years?

Does the Firm have 20/20 Vision?

Alvarez stressed the importance of joining a firm that can articulate its future. Today, firms are more business-oriented. Although businesses have long realized the importance of an organizational vision, not all law firms have reached the same conclusion. As such, he recommended asking a few people at the firm to describe its vision and compare responses. If the answers are too diffuse and unfocused, the firm may lack a strong common identity. Today, according to Alvarez, it is important for any enterprise to have shared goals. Candidates may find it helpful to talk to individuals about the firm’s leaders. Is management bottom-up or top-down? What is the attitude of the leaders? Does the firm have bureaucratic elements? Is there decision by indecision?


So you’ve decided the location and type of law firm that fits your needs. Now it’s smooth sailing, right? Not quite. For many 2Ls, the transition from law school to the law firm is overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Mark Hermann, a partner at Jones Day in Chicago, is no stranger to working with summer and new associates. Indeed, his book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law, highlights the frequent mistakes and blunders he has witnessed firsthand. His message to rising associates: all hope is not lost. Delivered with a comedic punch, Hermann’s advice can help 2Ls avoid common pitfalls—and save partners a lot of frustration.

Don’t Be Part of the Crisis

When Hermann smells roses now, he looks for the coffin. Throughout the years, he has come to expect associates to deliver materials at the last minute. Making a partner needlessly have to take home work at night or over the weekend does not impress. The Curmudgeon’s rule of thumb: “If humanly possible, send the draft to a partner/senior associate three days before it needs to be delivered to a court/client.?

Most importantly, Hermann said don’t forget that the legal market is a free market. Sloppy work will soon lead to no work at all. Make the senior associates’ or partners’ lives easier by delivering your best work well in advance. For those who make the partners’ lives easier, the reward will be more work.

Keep it Smart and Captivating

Hermann stressed that associates should decide intelligently the cases to use to support their arguments in briefs. For example, cases where the appellate court reversed the trial court in a similar situation are the strongest. With an implicit threat built into the case, judges will be hard-pressed to decide otherwise. He bemoaned briefs that have actually cited cases that hurt the client. Finally, never underestimate a strong introduction. A litany of chronological facts will put the reader to sleep. Hermann urged associates to avoid the generic and strive for a gripping and powerful opening sentence. Often, the additional effort will pay off.

Don’t Forget Administrative Excellence

All too often, Hermann has had to spend time deciphering cryptic billing time entries like “SOL research.? Don’t be an annoyance to the partner; write down “statute of limitations research? on your time entries and check grammar. Indeed, Hermann explained that time entries are more likely to be seen by the CEO than any other work for the client. Bottom line: don’t skip corners when it comes to the small stuff.

Publications and Building a Practice

“Each article is a pain in the neck to write.? Nevertheless, Hermann highlights the importance of publications for building a practice. In his experience, publications beget more publications, and in time the rewards can be great for one’s practice. Speaking engagements and scholarly recognition will bring you to the forefront of clients’ minds. Further, the firm will be delighted to highlight your expertise for its “beauty contests? in the legal market. Hermann advises associates start by picking something they know; critically, it need not be revolutionary. By keeping at it over the years, you will build the practice you want to have in the future.

From SCOTUS to POTUS; A Roundup

By Eric Reed

On October 2nd, the Law School chapters of the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society hosted the annual Supreme Court Roundup. This year, professors Joan Larsen, Richard Primus, and Christina Whitman joined moderator Dean Evan Caminker in discussing the Court’s upcoming docket.

Professor Joan Larsen began the Roundup by addressing the challenge to voter identification law that the Court will hear this term. Larsen described the Indiana law that requires residents to present a state-issued photo ID in order to vote as “the most restrictive voter ID law in the country.?

Proponents of the law argue that requiring voters to show a state-issued ID will prevent voter fraud. Opponents point out that there is no evidence that significant voter fraud has occurred in Indiana. Opponents also feel that the law is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote. They argue that the law was intended to, and in fact does, disenfranchise large, predominantly Democratic voting blocs.

“These laws look fishy,? Larsen conceded. “All of them are passed by Republican legislatures. There isn’t a single Democratic legislature which has passed a voter ID law….?

Potential voters who don’t have a state issued ID are not allowed to vote, but the law does require the state to provide free IDs to residents who can’t afford them.

“This isn’t, at least technically, a poll tax,? Larsen said, “so we’re not talking about money. But we are talking about time.?

As long as opponents of the voter ID law lack proof that the Indiana state legislature enacted the law for a reason besides preventing voter fraud, Larsen does not expect the Supreme Court to strike it down. “There’s no split here. All the Courts of Appeals have upheld voter identification laws,? Larsen noted. “The Court has never suggested that the states or Congress must make it maximally convenient [to vote]. If they were to apply something akin to strict scrutiny here, I think they would open the floodgates.? Instead, Larsen expects that the Court took the case in order to further clear up voting issues in advance of the 2008 elections.

The talk continued with Professor Richard Primus, a man immortalized in turkey and horseradish at Zingerman’s Deli. Primus spoke about a suit brought by political parties in the state of Washington against the state for forcing candidates to compete in what is known as a “blanket primary.?

Primus began by detailing three types of primaries. In a closed primary, only members of the relevant political party may vote. This ensures, for example, that only members of the Green Party have the opportunity to nominate or eliminate perennial candidate Ralph Nader before the general election begins. In an open primary, a voter may choose to vote in any one party’s primary. The third system, blanket primaries, throws the doors wide open, allowing anyone to vote for any candidate and holding all primaries simultaneously. Voters in a blanket primary are not restricted to voting only in one party’s primary like they are in an open primary.

“States tend to want [blanket primaries],? Primus said, explaining that blanket primaries usually reward moderate candidates. Because non-party members can vote, blanket primaries dilute the votes of hard-line partisans and prevent them from controlling elections as much as they do in closed primaries.

But political parties, particularly small ones, oppose blanket primaries. “Every election has some small chance of randomness in the voting,? Primus said, explaining that around one percent of voters mark ballots mistakenly or at random. Because small party candidates often receive one percent or less of the votes in the crowded closed primary, “that randomness has a chance to swamp your election,? explained Primus.

Political parties are challenging Washington’s closet primary law based on free speech and freedom of association grounds, arguing that the blanket primary substantially impacts their ability to elect a representative candidate.

“At a deeper level,? Primus said, “what’s at stake is the idea of states as laboratories of democracy.? The case, he continued, raises the fundamental question of just how much latitude states get in structuring their own elections, and at what point the courts will say that the experiment has gone too far. The question, for this term of the court, remains to be answered.

The final remarks of the afternoon came from Professor Christina Whitman, speaking on one of the most politically charged issues of the day: the Guantanamo Bay detentions.

“One of the nice things about the Bush administration is that we have issues of presidential power coming up every term,? Whitman joked during her opening remarks. The upcoming case on this issue, she explained, once again addresses the limits of presidential power over detainees of the United States, as well as the power and limits of the federal courts.

“The question has to do with the access to judicial review of [the detainees’] status,? Whitman said, “whether or not they’re enemy combatants.?

“One of the interesting things about this case,? Whitman said, “is that the court originally denied cert[iorari] back in April.? This earlier denial means that at least two justices have changed their opinion of the case, according to Whitman, as it requires one more justice to reconsider a case (five) than to grant certiorari (four).

“This is a remarkable change,? she said. “I think there was a previous case, but not in modern times.?

It’s important to remember, Whitman said, that the Supreme Court will adjudicate only the issue of jurisdiction. The central question is whether Congress can strip federal courts of their power to hear habeas corpus cases where the defendant is not an American citizen and is not being held in the United States. “The only question here is whether the court can hear the challenge,? Whitman said, emphasizing that the case is not addressing the constitutionality of holding the prisoners.

Whitman and Caminker agreed that the court is unlikely to decide whether the detention itself is constitutional. “I think they’re going to try to make [the holding] as narrow as possible,? Caminker said.

Party Like It's Friday the 13th!

Submitted by Adriel Sanders and Sarah Gleich

Last year many students cried foul when the Law School Student Senate sponsored Halloween Party sold out in a record 16 minutes. Despite LSSS’s attempts last year to measure demand we were shocked ourselves at how popular the event was. In response, we have decided to expand the party threefold.

We have moved from the Links to a new location at Whitmore Lake, Barnstormers, which will be able to accommodate up to 750 costumed law students and their friends. Also, unlike the previous venue, there is a giant airplane hanging from the ceiling, but please resist the urge to ride it; it’s strictly for decoration purposes only. Another cool aspect of this venue is that it has not one but TWO dance floors, so come ready to party like a rockstar on levels one AND two!!

In addition, we have stepped up the entertainment. Our awesome spinmaster, DJ Graffiti, is back for another year and is bringing some new features. He will be setting up video screens and game players from Rockstar games for those who are not interested in dancing. Partiers will be able to compete to win prizes and prove their awesome-ness to the whole student body.

As always buses will be provided as the sole form of transportation. And, food and refreshments will be provided, too! This is the 1L coming out party to the law school so make sure you’re there in spirit and costume.

3Ls Stepping Up to the Nannes Challenge; Only 136 Spots Left!

Submitted by Brian Ferry and
Matt Maddox

This year’s Nannes 3L Challenge got off to a fantastic start on Thursday, October 4 at the Happy Hour Kickoff bash. Third-year students flocked to the patio at Bar Louie to enjoy 80 degree weather, drink specials, and free appetizers. Many 3Ls generously pledged their support at the Kickoff and helped the Challenge meet almost 1/3 of its goal in the first day!

The Nannes 3L Challenge is made possible by the generous support of alumnus John Nannes ’73. For the first 200 3Ls who pledge to support the Law School Fund annually for the first three years after graduation, Mr. Nannes will contribute $250 to the Law School student organization(s) of the donor’s choice. The money goes to the student organizations THIS YEAR and it is in addition to any money that the student organizations receive from LSSS and other sources.

The Challenge allows 3Ls to have an immediate impact upon student organizations that directly shape their law school experience. This has proved to forge a powerful connection between the idea of giving back and the ability to make an important difference in the life of the Law School community through philanthropy.

Last year, the class of 2007 filled all 200 spots and cashed in on the full $50,000. It is up to 136 more 3Ls to pitch in this year and continue this great tradition. Students can direct the $250 that Nannes contributes to any one of the many student organizations on campus, or to the Law School Fund or SFF.

Why Nannes?

• The Law School currently receives less than 2% of its budget from the state (in 1953, the state provided 40.9% of the Law School’s budget). Tuition revenue alone is not enough to cover the remaining expenses.
• The Law School Fund supports the debt management program for alumni working public interest jobs, and provides need-based financial aid for current students.
• Do it for the students! The $50,000 available to student groups through the Nannes Challenge is more than LSSS appropriates to all the student groups combined. Through the Challenge, your favorite student groups can double their war chests, paving the way for more activities, better speakers, more food, and more social events!
• Currently, UMLS’ educational programs rank at the top, but our alumni participation in annual giving lags significantly behind our peers.

How You Can Make Your Pledge:

First, get a Pledge form. You can contact a member of the Nannes 3L Committee (listed below), pick one up at the Reading Room desk, or complete a form online at

Second, fill out the Pledge form and be sure to designate the student organization(s) that should receive the $250 matching contribution.

Third, drop off your Pledge form before October 25, 2007 in the box located in the Reading Room, or submit it to any member of the Nannes 3L Committee.
So 3Ls, step up to the Nannes Challenge and fill the remaining 136 spots before October 25. Your pledge will provide immediate funding to student groups, and you do not have to pay anything until your first year after graduating! Help to make this year’s Challenge another smashing success.

2007 Nannes Committee: Ro Adebiyi, Dario Borghesan, Marianne Chow, Sarah Donaldson, Samantha Ford, Andrew Knepley, Ian Labitue, Wallace Lee, Sarah Molenkamp, Anjali Patel, Derald Seid, Vivian Shen, Scott Wilcox, and Shekar Krishnan

September 25, 2007

Rear Admiral Houck ‘85 Speaks at Law School

By Eric Reed

Students and faculty had a rare opportunity to question the military Tuesday afternoon, when the International Law Society (ILS) hosted Rear Admiral James Houck on campus. Rear Admiral Houck graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1985 and has served in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) since. He currently holds the position of Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy, and Commander, Naval Legal Services Command. The admiral’s visit began as a talk on the JAG Corps yet quickly shifted to an hour-long question-and-answer session as students peppered the officer about issues ranging from Guantanamo Bay to Iraq to how the Navy runs one of the world’s largest law firms.

“The Navy JAG is quite literally a global law firm,? Houck said during his introduction. With 1,300 lawyers in service and another 900 members of the support staff, the Navy JAG Corps is “quite literally everywhere in the world,? and handles legal issues ranging from soldiers’ credit questions to target selection in combat to cabinet level policy issues, noted the admiral.

Today, Houck explained, the role of the JAG program is undergoing significant changes. “Our practice definitely got bigger and more interesting, unfortunately, after September 11,? he said. “The Navy and Air Force are having to do things that we never imagined in a million years that we’d be doing. As we sit here talking we have about ninety Navy JAG officers in theater, in Iraq.?

“Lawyer’s are so integrated now in the battlefield, in the battle space,? Houck explained, that officers of the JAG corps frequently accompany Naval commanders and give advice regarding the legality of target selections and firing orders.
After his initial comments, Houck began to answer questions from the audience, which immediately focused on the two topics that would come to dominate the afternoon’s discussion: Iraq and American activities at Guantanamo Bay.

“It’s quite an impromptu, seat of the pants party that’s been put together down there,? Houck said, responding to a question on United States policy at the naval base in Cuba. While he indicated that conditions at the base began as little more than “some old, exposed outdoor cages,? the prison has been updated with “three large, state of the art facilities? to handle new demands and to treat prisoners as well as possible. “The way the detainees are being treated, the way the staff are conducting themselves, is I think something that most people would be accepting of,? Houck said.

This answer did not, of course, address the legality of American detention policies at Guantanamo, nor White House efforts to block habeas corpus rights to prisoners, an issue which both Houck and his audience addressed several times during the afternoon.

“I think we’ve come to the point where several senior people in the administration … have said that if we could close Gitmo we would do it,? Houck said. However with prisoners that nobody wants, and which the government cannot simply release, Houck indicated that “there’s a good chance that [the prison at Guantanamo] is going to be there for some time.?

Students repeatedly asked the Admiral about his personal opinions regarding American detention policies, but Houck refused to comment, indicating that as an active officer it would inappropriate for him to give either his personal or legal opinion to anyone outside of the military. “If the elected officials … feel that any conversation they have with us [military officers] will soon end up in the newspaper, then that’s easy, they’ll just shut us out,? Houck said in response to repeated student questions regarding his opinion on American activities at Guantanamo Bay. Houck’s recalcitrance on this issue clearly disappointed and frustrated many students, who seemed eager finally to put their questions to a uniformed commander of the United States military.

During the two hours which Rear Admiral Houck spent talking with students, topics ranged from Iraq and Guantanamo to how JAG officers work within the Navy on a daily basis. Yet, despite an expected outcry against a Navy officer visiting the Law School’s campus, one issue remained curiously absent from the Tuesday afternoon event. Contrary to expectations, the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell? policy, required by federal law, raised few questions and even less debate during the two hours Houck spoke with students.

ILS Co-President Marta Castaing opened the talk by addressing what many believed would be the elephant in the room, announcing that the ILS intended the event as a forum for discussing issues of international law, and not as an endorsement of the Navy’s hiring policies. The students who did ask Houck about the “don’t ask don’t tell? policy were generally left empty-handed when he indicated that, as with Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and any other sensitive issues, he could only give objective information rather than his personal opinion on topics such as the constitutionality or ethics of the program.

“Our own courts have ruled on the law and have upheld it. … It’s an example of the kind of thing that is not appropriate for an active duty military officer to comment about,? he said, referring to his own opinions, personal or legal, about United States policy. “Were I not wearing this uniform then I would be in a different position. I would be much freer to talk.? Still, he did indicate that while he has no way to know if “don’t ask don’t tell? actually interferes with the military’s ability to accomplish its mission, there is a very good, and much more relevant, question of whether the policy deprives the Navy of qualified, skilled service people. The answer to this question, he said, is one that must be debated by politicians and policy makers, not by the military, which should and must simply follow the orders it is given by the White House and Congress.

Elections to be Held for LSSS 1L Reps and Junior Board of Governors Rep

On Wednesday September 26, 2007, elections will be held outside 100 Hutchins Hall for four 1L representatives and one Junior Board of Governors representative. Here, in their own words, are their intentions.

Junior Board of Governors Rep

My name is Alex Brown. I’m from Kansas City and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (’06). I’m running for the Junior Board of Governors. If elected, here are a few things I will work on:

1. Extended hours in the library and subsections
2. Free coffee in the mornings
3. Wireless internet for all Lawyer’s Club dorm rooms
4. The option to reserve the Lawyer’s Club recreational room for parties

I’m excited to hear your thoughts and to work hard to improve our law school community. Thanks for your support!

1L LSSS Reps

Josh Van der Ploeg

I came to U of M with a huge respect for everyone here. Although I’ve only been here a few weeks, I already love this place and all the incredibly impressive people I’ve met here. I want to represent you in the LSSS to advocate for each unique member of this diverse group of people. In college, I served on the Student Senate for two years, which helped me develop an eagerness to act as a voice for a larger group. My desire to get involved and my outgoing personality will serve as assets to work on your behalf.

Joe Jones

My name is Joseph Jones, and I am running for position of 1L rep for Section EFGH. I would love to be 1L rep for our section and I think I would be a great choice. Not only have I served on student governments prior to law school, but I am also pretty visible and friendly (tall kid, who talks a lot ). I am easy to talk to and easier to reach (I’m probably your Facebook friend) and I will help you with whatever problems you may have. Thanks and please vote on Election Day!
Jenna Selsky

There are many ways to have fun: apple-picking, reading a book, Rick’s, burritos. What do all these things have in common? You can do all of them while you study “The Law.? While grades are important, no one should spend three years of their life holed up and miserable with their Civ Pro book. Vote for Jenna Selsky and you will for sure not be that holed up, miserable person. Plus she cares.

It's Not Easy Being Green: Environmental Law at UM

By Sumeera Younis

I’ll admit that I’ve never considered myself an environmentalist. My obsession with turning off the lights has more to do with being brought up by immigrant parents who were trying to keep the bills low than any real understanding of its effect on the earth. So, when I was asked to cover former EPA director Carol Browner’s talk at the inauguration of the Environmental Law and Public Policy program, I thought I would stop by, write a quick story and move on. Instead the event became the first leg in a journey of discovering a little bit more about environmentalism and how the Law School plays a unique and important role in the global environment.

Carol Browner, the longest serving Administrator in the history of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is chair of the Audobon Society and a principal at the Albright Group, a “global strategy group? headed by United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In her address, she discussed some things that the average person can do to help the environment, emphasizing the importance of being politically proactive regarding environmental issues. One way to do that is by contacting congressmembers and vocalizing that the environment is a serious concern for constituents. If politicians feel that they are being held accountable for environmental issues, then they are more likely to promote and implement environmentally friendly policy.

Lobbying and letter writing is not the only way to effect political change. Perhaps the easiest way to show how you feel about the environment is with your pocketbook. No, I’m not suggesting that you start sending tons of money to political campaigns. (As if we had any money to send in the first place.) Instead we can buy products that are environmentally friendly. Notebooks made on recycled paper, energy-efficient light bulbs and things in environmentally friendly packaging are some simple examples of products that are better for the environment. By buying environmentally friendly products, consumers send a signal to the marketplace. This can influence many of the decisions that corporations are making.

Browner discussed the impact of each individual’s effect on the environment, but if one person can make a difference in the environment, then what would be the global effects of corporations or educational institutions ‘going green’? Many universities across the country have explored this issue and have decided that the answers they found were significant enough for them to make serious changes in the way their institutions operated. In the last decade campus green initiatives have been rapidly spreading across the country.

Going green is not only good for the environment, it is good for the university’s purse. The President of Harvard, Larry Summers, said: “The best investment in the University is not the endowment but the Green Loan Fund.? The facts seem to support Summer’s claim. When corporations from Wal-mart to Goldman Sachs suddenly started going green, researchers hypothesized that businesses were actually being motivated by a different green, and they were right. One company was able to save over 3 billion dollars over two decades in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. The energy, resource and fiscal savings from going green are huge. So, whats holding the law school back from joining the craze?

In fact the law school has been thinking about the environment. According to Dean Caminker, Michigan Law’s establishment of the Environmental Law and Policy Program recognizes the “indisputable importance of environmental issues as viewed from the legal perspective, the need to ensure practitioner familiarity with the field, and the opportunities for collaboration with other University of Michigan units, programs, and schools dedicated to addressing environmental issues and sustainability on a global basis.? Toward those ends the Law School recently hired Professor David Uhlmann, who will direct the new Environmental Law and Policy Program and will also be teaching environmental law. Before joining the faculty at the Law School, Uhlmann graduated from Yale Law School and worked for the DOJ, Environmental Crimes Section.
As a newly minted environmentalist, I still think the school can do more. As the Law School approaches new expansions and looks at building renovations, I hope they do so with their “green goggles? on. The Environmental Law Society on campus is highly charged to effect change this year., “The ELS has developed a broad network of experts generously willing to volunteer their time, and we are working hard to research and articulate viable alternatives,? said Jamie Knowles, ELS member. Knowles is also active in the Law School’s burgeoning Green Building Campaign, an informal organization of students within ELS who seek to work with the Law School Building Committee to achieve LEED certification for the new building currently in the early planning stages. “Because the Law School pays its own operating costs, energy saving measures will pay dividends for many decades,? Knowles added.

In the conclusion of her talk, Carol Browner encouraged students to consider spending time working in public service. She said that it gives people an opportunity every single day to stop and think, “How can I make my community and the world a better place?? It looks like we are being presented with that question and opportunity here at the Law School. I will leave you with the same words that Browner left us with and the same words that have been echoing in my head since. “Making a little difference in the world can make a huge difference in your life.?

Questions about this article may be sent to

Primus Enters the Pantheon

Should you see Professor Primus in the next few days, be sure to congratulate him! Not for surviving the summer, though how any professor makes it without all of us around to pose absurd hypotheticals and pester them about finals is a mystery. And, not for getting married recently, though he certainly deserves a pat-on-the-back for that one as well. No, the reason you should congratulate Professor Primus is because the sandwich he designed, the Primus Inter Pares, has been added to this year’s menu at Zingerman’s Delicatessen! That makes it the first sandwich purchased at the SFF auction to be added to the full menu. (Kinda puts getting married into perspective, doesn’t it?)

The Primus Inter Pares took its place along side such legendary sandwich fare as the MJ’s Fond Farewell and Tarb’s Tenacious Tenure yesterday in a small ceremony with Professors Primus and Brensike Primus in attendance. Having his sandwich added to the Zingerman’s menu is the realization of a five-year dream for Professor Primus. “I’m not sure that there is anything for sale in Ann Arbor that is more exciting than that,? noted Professor Primus (see “The Constitutional Politics of Turkey Sandwiches? in the September 11, 2007 issue of the RG).

In an e-mailed comment explaining why the Primus Inter Pares was added to the menu after not having sold enough during its month-long trial period, Rick Strutz, the Managing Partner of Zingerman’s Delicatessen, explained that “In the big scheme of things we’re just a little delicatessen on a corner in Ann Arbor. We have a Radical Vision of changing our world, though, helping to make it better tomorrow than it is today; but we are realistic too. ... We probably won’t find the next miracle cure, and we probably won’t end homelessness in the world (but we’re trying in Washtenaw County). At the end of the day, we sell sandwiches, and food that makes you happy. So, when we had the chance to make one person’s dream come true with a sandwich ... well to us, that’s kinda a no brainer.?

Whether the Primus Inter Pares will be on the menu again next year will still depend on how well it sells between now and then. This means that all of us have a lot of sandwiches to eat before then. And Professor Primus has some eating to do, too, if he is to maintain his boast that he has eaten every sandwich Zingerman’s makes, since several other new sandwiches joined the menu yesterday as well.

“Primus enters the Pantheon ... long may he remain First Among Equals.?

September 11, 2007

No Vacancy: Student Groups Struggle To Find Space In The Law Quad

By Mitch Holzrichter

Student groups play an increasingly important role at the Law School, but as their numbers grow, they struggle to find office and activity space. Student groups have last priority in the competition with faculty and administrators for limited space in Hutchins Hall and Legal Research.

Talk of a new law school building to be erected in the coming years offers a chance for the law school community to examine its policies on student group office space. LSSS and the Law School Building Committee recently established a committee to assess the needs of student groups and the criteria for determining which student groups receive the premium space in Hutchins Hall and the basement of the Reading Room.

The committee is comprised of 2L Tatiana Melnik, a student representative on the Building Committee, 3L Cisco Minthorn, a representative in LSSS, and one representative each from the Federalist Society and the Black Law Students Alliance. The committee, which met for the first time on Monday, September 10th, will work with Christine Gregory, Director of Student Affairs. Gregory had no comment on the issue at this time.

Growing Needs of Student Groups

“No one at the Law School today knows how current [student group] offices were assigned,? said LSSS President 3L Hadi Husain. “So many groups have formed in recent years that the current situation doesn’t work.?

Two student groups in particular, the Federalist Society and Student Funded Fellowships (SFF), have voiced concern over their space situation. Both groups have grown in size recently and have taken on more work for the Law School, but have done so without sufficient space.

The Federalist Society is hosting the national Federalist Society Symposium, which will bring as many as 1,000 law students and scholars from around the country to the Law School in March 2008. “Office space is a must to run a symposium expected to draw 800 to 1000 attendees,? said Symposium chair 3L Mike Ruttinger. The Law School has provided temporary space to the Federalist Society until the Symposium, but the Federalist Society will lose its office space again after that.

“We would like to see student group space allocated more widely, and well-articulated criteria set in place to determine which groups receive available offices,? said Ruttinger.

SFF has also criticized the current space allocations. SFF had an office, shared with the Native American Law Students Association, and storage space on the seventh floor of Legal Research. SFF uses its space for application materials and to collect and store auction items, among other things. But over the summer, SFF lost its current office and storage space. SFF received a new office on the tenth floor of Legal Research but was not given storage space.

In an email to SFF in May, Christine Gregory wrote, “[W]e cannot provide you with a permanent place to store your [auction items]. … I recommend that you go through the ‘stuff’ in the office at the beginning of the academic year (or sooner if possible) and identify items that can be thrown away, recycled or stored for future use.? The “stuff? referenced by Gregory is merchandise donated by alumni and faculty and collected by SFF throughout the year for the SFF Auction, which raises over $60,000 for public interest grants each year.

“Quite frankly, SFF needs space to store confidential applicant information, to have meetings, to work, and to collect items for our auction and other programs,? said SFF co-chair 3L Kate Redman.

Examining priorities

The new LSSS committee hopes to advocate for additional space in the new building and to determine criteria for the allocation of existing space.

“[The Building Committee is] considering ways to maximize the amount of space groups get going forward,? said Melnik. “The Building Committee recognizes that student groups bring life to the law school and want to help foster this life as best it can. But, because the planning of the new building and the re-organization of the current building is very early in the planning process, I can’t really give any specifics about the amount of space that will be allotted to groups. I know it will be more space, but how much more, I don’t know.?

However, faculty offices and classrooms will continue to take priority. “Clearly, classrooms are first priority because there is always a struggle to find room for all the courses,? said Melnik. “Faculty space is also important because professors don’t want to come teach here if they can’t have an office. But, space for students is definitely on par with those concerns.?

Husain noted that the committee will not rearrange current space allocations in the next few years, but will develop allocation criteria for future use. He personally believes that three criteria should be used: the size of the group, how active the group is, and how the group would use the space.

Husain also explained that although the committee will look at peer schools’ policies, many such law schools have entirely new campuses with new facilities and new space. Those other schools are not confined within an architecturally beautiful, but cramped, quad.

“Student Group space is indeed a priority for not only LSSS but the law school in general,? said Minthorn. “Our student groups are among the most active anywhere and are key to making the Michigan Law community the vibrant place it is. We are excited to delve into this multifaceted issue and to work out a solution to the space problem that is fair and equitable for all.?

Mitch Holzrichter is a 3L and a member of SFF. He can be reached at Res Gestae currently shares space in 116 Legal Research.

April 03, 2007

Truly Moot? First Round Delays, Lack of Transparency Mar Competition

By Austin Rice-Stitt

Participants in this year’s Campbell Moot Court Competition waited two weeks past a December deadline to hear if they had advanced to the quarterfinals, and the interval between that announcement and the deadline for submission of a revised first-round brief plus an additional brief was cut from a month to just over two weeks. The delay followed from difficulties getting first round briefs scored by volunteer alumni judges; finally, professors were asked to finish the scoring.

Approximately 50 teams of two submitted a first-round brief by October 30 in advance of oral arguments on November 14-17. Though a document distributed to participants entitled “Campbell Rules? said that “[t]he eight quarterfinalists will be announced in December,? contestants did not receive any correspondence until January 12, the day before twelve quarterfinalists were finally announced. Quarterfinalist teams had 17 days to adapt their first-round brief to new information that was added to the problem after the first round, and to compose an additional brief arguing the other side of the issue.

The Campbell Moot Court Competition is run each year by an Executive Board of around six upper-class law students who are chosen based on faculty recommendations. In advance of this year’s competition, the Board received positive responses from “around 50? alumni volunteers, each of whom was apparently asked to read and score six briefs, or about 120 pages. Because all of the volunteers did not score and return their briefs in a timely manner, the Board eventually had to rely on help from faculty to get each brief scored a minimum of four times. The Board insists that delays are a normal part of the competition, noting in response to questions submitted by the RG that this year’s delay was “not substantially different from previous years.?

As to why there were twelve quarterfinalists instead of eight, as stipulated in the Rules, the Board explained that they “had originally intended for there to be twelve quarterfinalists? and that they “increased the number of quarterfinalists to match [their] original intention.? Traditionally, Executive Boards have not had to explain how they dealt with specific issues that arose during the competition, nor have they been required to release brief scores or a detailed account of how the scoring was conducted. The process for scoring briefs is not transparent, and appears to be inconsistent.

The Board is overseen by the Office of Student Affairs, which provides administrative support to the Board but largely refrains from interfering with their executive function. Christine Gregory, who took over as Director of Student Affairs last fall, said that it has been customary to allow the board to function with “autonomy and flexibility? and to “put their own fingerprint? on the competition. Ms. Gregory is not aware of any reason to allow the Board to shape the competition, apart from the fact that the Board has traditionally had that power.

Ms. Gregory acknowledged that problems getting briefs scored and returned on time are not uncommon, and she agreed that the competition might benefit from more continuity from one Board to the next. A standardized system for scoring the briefs, Ms. Gregory reasoned, might actually make the Board’s job easier, as they would be free to focus more attention on other aspects of the competition. “The challenge,? according to Ms. Gregory, “is to document lessons learned so that the competition can improve. I’m sure that some of these problems recur from year to year, but there isn’t a record of them that I’m aware of.?

The Law School Student Senate (LSSS) may also take an interest in Campbell. LSSS Representative Scott Warheit, a participant in this year’s competition, says he plans to encourage the Senate to look into this year’s irregularities with an eye towards improving future competitions.

Missing: Twix, Bathrooms; Found: Answers, Info

By Sumeera Younis

We have one of the most beautiful law schools in the country, some of the most acclaimed faculty in the world, incredible classmates –heck, we even have a Duby. So students often find themselves puzzled when they are walking up and down the second floor of Hutchins Hall trying to find a bathroom. “It can’t be,? they think, “No bathroom on this floor?? Being the logical law students they are, they know this can’t be possible, so they walk up and down the halls some more, thinking there may be a secret passage to a land of many, many bathrooms. Soon they find themselves broken, dying to pee, and shocked that the great University of Michigan Law School has a bathroom shortage.

Maybe it isn’t that dramatic, but hearing Michigan students talk about the issue of bathrooms would make you think it was. The truth is that despite the many amazing attributes our school has, we deserve to be in the hall of shame for some of our facilities’ shortcomings. Recently I visited the University of Toledo Law School just south of us in Ohio and noticed that all of their classes are in “smart classrooms.? They have chairs that swivel and are cushioned! They can download the notes their professor writes on the board to their computers! It felt like I had gone to a magical place of learning where anything was possible. And the bathrooms were practically in the classrooms. Ok, ok, so I exaggerate a little bit, but their facilities did blow me away, especially considering the fact that their tuition is a fraction of ours and we are ranked substantially higher than they are. (Rankings are a whole different discussion, though.)

So, are we doomed? Our facilities suck, no one cares, and we are doomed to hold it or, dare I say it...walk a whole flight of stairs just to fulfill our Constitutional right to relieve ourselves? After compiling a list of concerns that students expressed, I went to the facilities director, Brent Dickman. Other than the bathrooms, most of the other concerns involved temperatures in classrooms, flickering lights, and the drinking fountains. These are all maintenance issues and can often be corrected quickly if they are relayed to the right person. Whenever you have a maintenance issue you can pass it along to Lois Oerther ( who has been very helpful in making sure the concerns are addressed promptly.

Brent Dickman is also a great resource in answering questions regarding facilities issues and has been able to offer some insight into student’s biggest concerns. Below are his responses to our students’ three major facilities issues.

Why aren’t the vending machines ever stocked?
There were concerns about stocking of vending machines and having a coffee machine in the basement. We have a vendor that owns and stocks the machines. The coffee machine that was in the basement had very little usage, and it wasn’t profitable for the company to keep it here. We do have issues with the company keeping machines stocked. I don’t know why that is, because they are losing money every time this happens. One would think they would do a better job of keeping them stocked. But Lois does call and keep after them when they fail to stock the machines. She has also mentioned the lack-of-bottled-water issue to them.

Why don’t we have better bathroom facilities?
Adding and upgrading bathrooms has been part of our master plan for quite some time. It is not an easy problem to solve. Adding bathrooms to the 1st and 2nd floors of Hutchins requires space that isn’t there. It will require us to convert a classroom or existing administrative space, which requires us to have space elsewhere. It’s a problem that will get solved as part of our larger renovation/expansion plans.

When can we expect to see better elevators in Hutchins Halls?
We are now working with engineers to design new elevators for Legal Research and to design aesthetic improvements to the Hutchins elevator. The University pays for elevator replacement and is only funding the Legal Research replacement this year. The Hutchins elevator will be replaced in a not-too-distant future year. But, at least it should look a little better by the time the students return in the fall.


Facilities issues can’t always be fixed right away, but the only way they will ever be fixed at all is if the administration knows that they are a concern, and this happens only then students are vocal about their needs. Our university has a lot of amazing qualities, and many of them came about because students expressed what was important to them in their legal education.

A girl can only dream, but one day we too may have swivel chairs!

Law School Rocks! ... For These Folks

By Tim Harrington

What sets the University of Michigan Law School apart, other than our status as officially cool —at least cooler than Boalt Hall– in the March Madness tournament? Well, for one thing, we have a rock band: T.J. Hooper and the Learned Hands. Yes, we’re not just musical, we’re funny too! According to band member and 1L Jennifer Pepin, that’s a much wittier name than The 2nd Restatement of Rock, the band hailing from George Washington University’s Law School. Oh, they also have a website: Detect a theme here?

I sat down with Pepin on a bench in the sunny Law Quad, and she explained that the band consists of four, five, or maybe six core members, but added that there was a fluidity to the composition of the group. A complete list can be found in their Facebook group. She mentioned in particular the founder, Andrew Moll, on guitar; Dave Lupton-Laurence—“or Laurence-Lupton, I can’t remember,? on bass guitar; Adam Dubinsky, on ukulele; and herself on cornet—it’s “like the trumpet but louder.?

Pepin reports that she’s played the cornet for fewer than two months but that the twelve-year old upright bass player she jams with on Wednesday nights has said that she’s better than all the eighth graders in the Slauson Middle School band. Other core members of the group include Dave Alles on Emo guitar, who can play any Top-40 song from the last 20 years, and “this guy named Paul—he’s tall—who plays bass.?

The band’s influences include Andrew W. K. and Rick Springfield. Pepin insisted that she didn’t list Andrew W. K. in order to kiss Professor Krier’s @ss. She said they really all did enjoy his music, as well as the new Modest Mouse, which they “all happen to be listening to right now.? The Rick Springfield influence apparently is more subconscious. The band worked on a song written by Andrew Moll called “I Wanna Be Mao,? an ironic appreciation of the merits of dictatorship, that sounded just like “Jessie’s Girl.? After discovering the similarity the band decided to rework their musical homage to the late Chinese leader. As for other songs, Pepin reported that they are currently trying to craft another original that is so awesome that the law school just isn’t ready for it right now.

T.J. Hooper and the Learned Hands haven’t played any gigs yet, but they did earn $6 busking outside Sweetwaters, where they played the “talking blues?—blues with spoken vocals. The band taught the Erie Doctrine to passersby, and a local lawyer gave them $2 (cheap bastard). Pepin reports that the band doesn’t feel ready to play a gig yet, but that word has gotten out of their existence. Members of the School of Social Work and the School of Urban Planning have approached them to ask about playing at a fundraiser.

For the record, I am in Pepin’s Jurisdiction class, and I fully intend to review for our exam with the entire band…what better way to study?

For now, they are practicing hard when they can get together, despite various obstacles, including getting kicked out of the Lawyer’s Club Lounge for being too loud, but mostly…law school. Ironic, isn’t it? The very thing that brought them together is the same thing that threatens to drive them apart. Despite their struggle to “gel,? Pepin is hopeful. With the exception of the incomparable Duby, all members of the band are returning next year, and Pepin is excited about the class of 2010—she’s been “putting the pressure? on Dean Zearfoss to admit a drummer.

The band has looked for a drummer in the past but doesn’t have one at the moment. Pepin met some promising candidates during the two preview weekends last month, including one who had toured with the Pixies (in what capacity it was unclear). While none was a drummer, there were several “kids who knew a thing or two about rockin’.?

As the semester comes to a close, we probably won’t see much of the Learned Hands—or is the appropriate abbreviation the T.J.’s?—but we will at least know a little more about the talented and—occasionally—intriguingly enigmatic people with whom we go to school. After all, these rockers are still law students. True to form, Pepin ended the interview by saying she needed to go “ogle? some Federal judges in room 218 and get some breakfast (at 11:45 a.m.). “Do you think they wear robes all the time?? she asked. “I’d wear mine to the grocery store, …I look good in black.?

Moot Court Final Results

Congratulations to the winners of the 83rd Annual Campbell Moot Court! It was a hard fought competition, and the results are as follows:

The Champions and recipients of the Best Brief Award are Jeremy Suhr and Robert Stockman, Counsel of Record for Dylan Dope, et. al., Petitioner. Stockman also received the Best Oralist Award.

The other Finalist team was Caitlin Bair and Jessica Berry, Counsel of Record for the Peter Piper, Respondent.

The Law School hosted three esteemed judges for this final round, the Honorable Judge Deanell R. Tacha, Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals; the Honorable Judge Steven M. Colloton of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals; and the Honorable Judge Gerald Tjoflat of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The competition was sponsored by the firm of Dickenson Wright PLLC. One of the oldest law firms in Ann Arbor, Dickenson Wright has supported this competition from its inception eighty-three years ago.

To watch the final round here.

No Shark in Library Changes

By Nate Kurtis

As law students, we have all had to research and study in the Law Library –and there are those of us who seem to never leave…. Given how important the library is to our daily lives, it is practically criminal how little we know about just what goes on down there. (It’s not Vegas, you know. What happens in the Law Library does not have to stay in the Law Library.) To help solve this dearth of knowledge, we started asking around with the people down there, but they kept shushing us. So, instead, we sat down with Margaret Leary, a librarian and Director of the Law Library.

Res Gestae: Let’s just get some stats out of the way first: the Library website says there are 25 miles of books here. Is that end to end, pages –what are we talking about?

Margaret Leary: That is miles of shelving in the library.

RG: Miles of shelving?

ML: Miles of shelving that have books on them. So, if you put the books, just as they are on the shelves, and somehow got all the shelves stretched out it would be 25 miles long. It’s a lot of books; it is well over 600,000 printed volumes.

RG: And expanding how fast?

ML: Well, that gets more complicated. We add about ten or eleven thousand volumes a year, but we also take volumes out. We take volumes out for two reasons: one is that they get replaced by other things, for example the advanced sheets of reporter volumes get replaced by bound volumes. The second reason we take things out is that we are reducing the size of the paper collection very deliberatively. We are taking out duplicate copies of things. Over the course of years, we have reduced the number of copies of the national reporter system –when I came here a long time ago we maybe had ten copies of the national reporter system, now we have one or two. We are eliminating duplicate copies of law reviews. As material gets more and more available online, our policy is that we keep what we need in print to satisfy the demand for the print; but, to use law reviews as an example, once those all became available in PDF on HeinOnline we really only need one or two paper copies to own forever.

RG: I hear that you are in the process of completely reorganizing those 25 miles of books. How long will that take? And, why are you bothering to shuffle around 25 miles of books in the first place?

ML: It’s going to take a long time, but I really hope we’ll be done at the end of ’09, and possibly ’08. The reason we’re doing it is to make things easier for everyone who uses the library, to make it easier to browse our library by topic. Right now, for example, the treatise collection is arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name, which is not very helpful if what you are really looking for is a range of books on criminal procedure, for example. A secondary benefit, that won’t be so visible to users, will be that each item will have its own unique call number on the spine. There are thousands of volumes in this library that don’t have that, which makes it hard for us to reshelve them and keep them in the right place, which in turn makes it hard for our patrons to find the resources they need.

RG: So far we’ve just been talking about research materials, but that isn’t the only reason people come to the library. Are there any plans to make the library a better place to study, and especially do group work?

ML: The first step in doing anything like that is find out what people really want, and that step is a little tricky because of course we have a lot of students, and they don’t always want the same things. We held two focus groups this winter and invited students to come and share their thoughts. We’ve also been looking at other libraries.

What we hope to do is keep this a quiet place to study, in general. When we do anything that is noisy, we always get complaints. When students and patrons who are using the library are noisy, we get complaints. So, we know we need to keep a large area that is quiet. But, we also know that students really do want to work in groups. So, we need areas were people can gather as a group and talk to each other. We have the two study rooms on sub-three, which are heavily used, especially during exam times, and we want to create some additional areas that are like that. One place we are thinking of is the area on sub-one behind the reference desk. That area is already glassed in, so the noise created there would be confined to that space, and we think we can take all the books out and add in some tables and comfortable chairs and make that a place where noise is allowed.

That is a short term project. Longer term, and I recognize that the Law School’s need for a whole new building comes first so I’m not telling you something I think is going to happen tomorrow, but I think it would be possible to reorganize the way space is used in this building, and look at the building as a whole and think about all the needs we have and how they’ve changed. For example, students don’t want as many private carols as we have. Those were an idea that was popular in the 1970s, but now we are in a whole other century and students want to have more comfortable seating and places where they can talk together, or just sit without being all closed in by a carol. We are also looking around to find places where we might put more comfortable lounge seating like what we used to have in the sub-three lounge. Before we turned it into a computer lab it was very dimly lit and had really giant, comfortable chairs, and was a very nice place to take a nap. Not that we are necessarily looking to make a napping area.

RG: I think we need one!

ML: We may need one, but maybe not in these nice, bright subs. We also want to make sure we have electrical outlets everywhere students need them. I’d be very interested in any ideas students have. They can e-mail me (, or just walk in.

RG: You mentioned more electronic resources, but I always have trouble finding them. Any chance you are going to reorganize those while you’re at it with the books?

ML: Yes. This gets to the question of our website. I’d love to show you now, but it wouldn’t be a very good interview. I guess, what, you’d put: “big empty space while Nate looks at the website.? We have thousands of resources on our website that are organized and categorized and searchable for you to use. But, the trouble is, you look at our home page and who knows that there are thousands of resources underneath there?

We are working right now to revise our website. What I would like our website to do is to be organized for the benefit of students. When we first developed the website maybe five, ten years ago, we didn’t have a particular audience in mind, we wanted it to be helpful to everybody, and we still want that. But I would love for the library website to be the place where students go for information they need, not just to write a research paper or solve a clinic problem, but if you need information about choosing courses, or finding a job.

I would love for our website to be a place where law students go to find a sense of community –just as they come to the library to find a place to study. We could have more study aids on the website, and we could maybe have something like a wiki where students could help build resource guides for different classes. Now, the librarians have already made some of those, but maybe student-made ones would be more meaningful or useful to students. And maybe also a tab that says ‘PDF Web Sources,’ because if you have a pdf, you don’t have to go back to the paper to do blue book. That would be another way to get to those resources. Maybe a tab for 1Ls that focuses on what 1Ls really need to know: what are law exams really like? What are good books to help you understand how to study for exams? Other things they want to know.

RG: Are the rumors true that the library tour is being redone?

ML: Are those rampant rumors?

RG: Not really.

ML: Yes, we are redoing the tour. One of the pieces of advice we repeatedly got was: dumb it down, make it simpler. We are going to break it up into smaller parts and make a lot more of it virtual instead of walking around. We’re also going to make it easier to take it in small bites, so if all you need is to figure out the paper digests then you can just do that part without doing the whole thing.

RG: Does the library currently have any other long term plans in the works?

ML: A giant thing that I hope we can do in the law library, and this is a little farther down the road, is I really would like us to take part in the Google Books project. The University Library is a path breaker on that, and the contract is with the University of Michigan and not just with the university libraries, so the law library could participate in that. We have a very rich and deep collection in foreign comparative and international law, as well as federal law and law of the us states and the colonies that proceeded them. To get our collection completely digitized by Google would be an absolute boon. It would be great for our patrons, and it would be great for people all over the world. There are still copyright problems, but we can figure out ways to solve those problems, and there is a lot of material that is not copyrighted.

RG: Well now, books and electronic resources and study areas are all well and good, but what about some of the more daring suggestions that folks have made for improving the library? I’m referring to ideas such as putting a shark in the light well or a swimming pool in sub-three.

ML: [laughs] Now you’ve got me; I forgot to give you a disclaimer at the beginning of the interview: I’m humor impaired. The shark…eh… I don’t like the idea of a shark in the light well because I don’t like the idea of putting water in that light well because I don’t want that light well to start leaking. And, what was the second one? A swimming pool? Yeah, well you could have that. You could just turn off that sunk pump. I don’t think you’d want to swim then, though. I’d rather have the people and books there myself.

RG: You could still have people and books.

ML: Where would the swimming pool be?

RG: Well, that would be what they are floating on.

ML: Oh! Everything on a raft? Well, that would make it easier to reorganize the collection; put the books on the rafts and shift the rafts around. You’d have to get some really good waterproof rafts….

Women’s Law Blog Resource Unfolds

Submitted by Anjali Shenoy

One year ago women from twelve of the nation’s top law schools, including Michigan Law, shared an idea to combat a long-standing problem: the rates at which women lawyers opt out of the legal profession. The solution? Ms. JD, a new online forum for women law students and lawyers to connect and converse about topics that affect women in the profession and the world at large. The blog is, according to the site, “dedicated to reinforcing and expanding the representation of women in law school and the legal profession.?

Reaching issues in areas ranging from work-life balance (not just a women’s issue!) to high heels, and incorporating articles written by everyone from students to the Dean of Harvard’s Law School, Elena Kagan, the interactive blog solicits contributions and encourages comments, debate and discussion. Ms. JD works to bring to light the many issues facing women in the legal profession and to spread the word about why these issues matter, not only to women, but to the greater legal community. Moreover, the website brings into focus the victories women attain every day for themselves and for society.

On Saturday, March 31, the Ms. JD board held the first annual Ms. JD conference at Yale University to mark the launch of the new site, which is already filled with contributions and commentary from students, administrators, and academics alike. I encourage everyone to take a moment to check out the site at The site welcomes all contributions and comments. For more information, email, visit, or email me at

March 20, 2007

What’s in an Honor Code? Exams Face Changes

By Adam Gitlin

The Law School has a set of “Rules of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures,? violation of which carries the risk of punishments ranging from censure to expulsion. Even so, the personal integrity of each individual law student remains the primary incentive to obey any of the Law School’s rules of conduct. Yet, as recent events have shown, the advent of widely available wireless internet access, as well as recent actions taken by the faculty and administration in response to what appear to be violations of the honor code, suggest that reliance on honor and good conscience may not suffice in all cases.

Until recently, when professors gave “unblocked? exams, the understanding was that students would be unable to access the Law School network during exams, and therefore would be unable to use the Internet during those times. But the IT Department has confirmed that lately other wireless internet signals are “bleeding? into the classrooms, a phenomenon difficult to monitor and impossible to control. The upshot, Associate Dean Kyle Logue explained, is that “it is not possible to have in-class unblocked exams without at least the possibility of at least some students having access to the Internet.? Therefore, the administration has decided that in the future, “unblocked? will mean that the exam-taker will have not only hard-drive access, but Internet access as well.

Dean Logue expects that once faculty are aware of this change, those who offer unblocked exams will have to rethink whether to trust students not to use the Internet during exams. “It probably means that fewer faculty will actually use the unblocked, in-class format.? Some faculty, it appears, are apprehensive about the adequacy of the honor code.
This is not to say that faculty were previously relying on Electronic Bluebook (EBB) as the only means of enforcement. But some faculty, knowing that students could have unfettered use of the Internet during unblocked exams if they are willing to disregard the honor code, “may decide that the temptation to access the Internet will be too great —or, even if no one actually accesses the Internet during exams, the likelihood that students will perceive that inappropriate Internet access is taking place is too great— to justify the risk,? Dean Logue said.

Is this lack of faith in the integrity of law students shared among our “peer? schools when it comes to wireless internet access during exams?

Duke Law School, which also uses EBB, hasn’t had any problems related to bleeding yet, so perhaps the question is not quite ripe there. At the University of Pennsylvania Law School, ExamSoft allows only word processing during exams —the equivalent of ‘blocked’ exams here at Michigan— so as not to discriminate against those writing by hand. “Because of the nature of the exam rooms,? says Associate Dean for Student Affairs Gary Clinton, “there is a strong self-policing effect.? Both schools ultimately rely on the honor code, however, since proctors are only in the room when exams begin and end.

Still other schools appear to rely wholly on student integrity. The University of Virginia Law School, for example, does not block Internet access during exams at all, and directions on every exam explain that Internet use is forbidden unless specifically authorized by the professor.

Stanford Law does not even use exam software —students who use laptops can choose Word or WordPerfect, Mac or PC. Students are permitted to access neither the Internet, nor their hard drives, such that any sources they use must be in hard copy. Stanford does turn off wireless during exams, but it too has seen an increase in bleeding. However, as Catherine Glaze, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, succinctly put it, “We don’t use exam software and rely on the honor code to deal with that.?

When compared to these examples, Dean Logue’s prediction that most professors will choose to block exams, assuming the ‘temptation’ to ‘cheat’ will be too great to resist, seems to imply that the faculty and administration do not trust or expect law students to be honorable for honor’s sake, at least not as wholeheartedly as other law schools do.

One recent event lends credence to those doubting the faculty and administration’s confidence in students’ integrity. Professor Reuven Avi-Yonah’s Transnational Law exam last fall had an essay question about Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case too recent to be included in the coursepack, but available via the course’s TWEN site. Its posting was advertised only in class, but Professor Avi-Yonah covered the case at length. On the exam, this was the perfect chance for those who had attended class regularly to distinguish themselves from those who had not.

During the exam, the administration acknowledges, a significant number of students did violate the rules by accessing the Internet —some to find the full Hamdan case, some to find synopses, others still to find short analyses, like those available in online encyclopedias. Pursuant to the Rules of Conduct, several students brought the matter to Dean Baum’s attention. He discussed the matter with Dean Logue and Professor Avi-Yonah, and Professor Avi-Yonah decided, pursuant to that consultation, to exclude the Hamdan question entirely from his grading of exams, basing students’ grades on the two other sections of the exam. This information was not broadcast to the entire class, but discussed only with those students who followed up on the issue to find out how it had been resolved.

Ostensibly, this solution mitigated the potential unfairness created when some students sought information from the Internet in response to the exam question. But what of those who had come to class and had no need to cheat? Some students who knew of the case and Professor Avi-Yonah’s views on it understandably worked harder on that question than on others, believing they had a competitive advantage in answering it, and one that would go a long way, given that a third of the weight of points in the exam depended on one’s answer to that question.

The administration’s approach to the problem raises a few questions. First: Why this of all solutions? As a matter of basic criminal law, it accomplishes neither retribution nor deterrence. Cheaters are rewarded by having relatively more weight put on the parts of the test for which they were prepared, and non-cheaters are punished by exclusion of the question that would have allowed them to stand out. And the message sent to the student body is that if enough people violate the rules, knowingly or unknowingly, the administration will elect to do nothing.

But more disturbingly, why didn’t the administration even attempt to ask those who used the Internet to step forward? Most likely, not all students intended to break the rules, and had either forgotten them, or assumed that, because they found themselves technically able to access the Internet, Professor Avi-Yonah had specifically requested that they be permitted to do so. Asking students to step forward would have allowed these people to explain themselves, with presumably reduced punishment. Do the administration and faculty have such little faith in us that they not only expect us to break the rules, but further expect that once asked to own up to having broken them, we won’t? Such a lack of faith can be, as any parent can attest, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Does our Law School trust its students less than other schools trust theirs? Unlike all the other schools contacted for this article, our proctors are present for every minute of an exam. True, this offers a luxury, in that when we find an error on an exam, we can report it to a proctor, who can set the wheels in motion to procure additional instructions from the professor. But insofar as the proctors are there to prevent cheating, it seems that the administration sees them as necessary, but not sufficient. As Dean Logue explained, “[T]he presence of proctors might not be enough for some faculty members.?

Maybe trust from the enforcer requires a credible threat of actual enforcement. Of course, if more professors block exams in the future for fear of cheating, and violations of rules on unblocked exams continue to generate responses in the fashion described above, we’ll never know. Wireless bleeding offers an opportunity to reflect on what the honor code means here; let’s hope the faculty and administration consider carefully the messages their actions, conspicuous or covert, convey to the students and the Law School community.

Students Rock Court and Trial Competitions

By Liz Polizzi

Though we may not be quite ready to go out and save the world with our amazing oratory skills and deep scholarly insight into the finer points of federal jurisprudence, that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start practicing our chops. For those who just can’t wait, a host of moot court competitions offer the opportunity to grapple with all the issues of the day, from sex crimes to patent infringement, while refining our Clarence Darrow imitations, relatively risk-free.

Here at home, the final round of the Campbell Moot Court Competition, slated to be held on Thursday, March 29, promises an exciting girls-against-boys head-to-head, when Jeremy Suhr and Robert Stockman take on Caitlin Bair and Jessica Berry in the case of Dope v. Piper (see sidebar for more details), before the Honorable Steven M. Colloton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; the Honorable Deanell R. Tacha, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; and the Honorable Gerald B. Tjoflat, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Meanwhile, various Law School student groups have been sponsoring teams to compete in several major, national moot court competitions around the country.

On February 10, Outlaws sent two teams to the National Sexual Orientation Moot Court competition at UCLA Law School. The case was about a gay couple who wanted to adopt a foster child in the fictional state of New Texico. The team members were Stacy Braverman, David Brown, Anya Pavlov-Shapiro, Jennifer Carney, Jordan Long, and Ryan Taylor, all 1Ls. “As 1Ls, the experience was valuable as an exercise in research and writing for a brief, and in the elaboration of an oral argument,? said Brown. “In other words, the preparation meant a lot, while the actual ‘moot court’ was sort of the whipped cream and cherry on top.?

Also on February 10, Scott Simpson, Kyle Palazzolo, and Meghan McCall participated in the National Trial Competition. The mock trial involved a case of sexual battery. The competition was sponsored by the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Betsey Wiegman, Josh McCaleb, and Kristen Klanow made it to the semi-final round of the Child Welfare and Adoption Moot Court, in Columbus, Ohio, on February 16-17. The competition was cosponsored by the National Association of Counsel for Children, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the ABA Center on Children and the Law, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy. The problem involved a putative father who sought to assert rights to a child who had been put up for adoption in a different state. “It was a really great experience,? said Wiegman, “largely due to my fabulous teammates, Josh and Kristen, and our equally fabulous coach, Vivek Sankaran.? The team also won third place for their brief.

Grappling with a lawsuit involving the hot topic of international climate change, Shane Conway, Bobby Mauger, and Heather Gott journeyed to White Plains, New York, to compete in the National Environmental Moot Court Competition on February 22-24. The team was sponsored by the Environmental Law Society.

Over spring break, Katherine Konieczny and Mary Hanna-Weir participated in the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition, at the University of Minnesota Law School. The team was sponsored by the ACLU, and the problem considered the constitutionality of voluntary race-conscious school assignment plans at the primary and secondary level.

Representing the Intellectual Property Students Association, Keeley Vega, Tom Rooney, Liz Stameshkin, and Rebecca Cantor went to Chicago to compete in the Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Competition on March 16-18. The problem dealt with a patent and copyright infringement case.

In addition to the competitions that have already transpired, the Entertainment Media and Arts Law Students Association and the American Constitution Society are both sponsoring teams in competitions at the end of March.

Michael McGovern and Tim Caballero, advised by Professor Jessica Litman, will compete in the BMI / Cardozo Moot Court Competition at Cardozo Law School in New York, on March 22-25, sponsored by EMALSA. The problem is loosely based on the copyright and trademark issues surrounding GoogleBooks.

Finally, on March 31, 1Ls Leslie J. Onan and Ron Spinner, and 3Ls Kelvin M. Lawrence and Tom Ferrone, will head out to New York to compete in the Constance Baker Motley National Moot Court Competition. The problem includes two parts, the first considering whether a newspaper can be enjoined from publishing the details of a secret intelligence collection program run by the NSA, and the second contemplating whether the government can constitutionally prosecute a newspaper under the Espionage Act for publishing such details.

ABA Concludes Visit

By Ishai Mooreville

All officially accredited law schools in this country get a visit every seven years from the American Bar Association to make sure each of them is performing up to its accredited status. This past week, from March 11 to 14, it was the University of Michigan Law School’s turn to get some external evaluation from ABA Staff Members.

Though the Law School’s accreditation is in no serious doubt, the purpose of the visit is to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that students are indeed receiving a legal education inside Hutchins Hall. Last week the ABA team sat in on classes, met with students, and spoke with faculty and other administrators to evaluate the Law School.

“They are here to be able to describe the school’s operations to a larger accreditation
committee, who will evaluate the school according to nationally promulgated standards,? said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Kyle Logue.

The site-visit team is made up of current lawyers, judges, law school deans, and professors. Part of the rationale for visiting every ABA law school once every seven years is to guarantee that every law school is treated fairly during the accreditation process. So, if a particular school’s accreditation is challenged, or even removed, there can be no charges of bias against the ABA.

“The purpose of the site visit is not to assess the performance of the school, but rather to develop a comprehensive report that is then shared with the accreditation committee
for it to review according to the standards,? said Logue.

So what is the site-visit team actually looking for? They’re looking to see if the Law School is continuing to meet certain pre-defined standards to which all accredited law schools must adhere. They want to know, for example, whether the curriculum includes certain courses, whether the students are actually attending class, and whether basic teaching standards are being met.

According to the ABA website, the site visit team even looks at a few students’ final exams and grades to make sure everything is on par.

Only two law schools in the nation are currently on probation for failing to meet ABA standards: Whittier Law School in Costa Mesta, CA, and Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. The most recent additions to the accredited club were the University of St. Thomas in 2003 and Ave Maria Law School (formerly located in Ann Arbor) in 2002.

While the ABA Team is not responsible for making formal recommendations of improvement to the schools they review (and ultimately their final report is confidential), they have informally advised Michigan on areas where the Law School could improve, such as having more regularly scheduled classes on Friday and improving its class offerings in professional responsibility.

Now that the ABA staff visit is complete, those who toured Michigan will issue a report to the formal accreditation committee of the ABA, who will make their final decision in the next few months on whether the Law School will maintain its accreditation. But students shouldn’t worry too much about the value of their future degrees: Michigan has been accredited since 1923, when the whole ABA accreditation system began. Barring some unfathomable decline, Michigan Law will certainly retain its status.

February 20, 2007

The Best-Kept Secret in Michigan: Curacao

By Adam Dubinsky

If any of you have had the pleasure of seeing Tim Harrington since winter break, you have probably had one question weighing on your mind: what happened? Did he fall into a toaster oven or something? That boy is tan. What gives? How does one return from winter break bronzed, rested, and unfazed by the prospect of another semester of law school? The answer is shocking and requires delving into the depths of scholastic opportunism.

In the past two years, if you’ve wanted to get anything done through official channels at this Law School, you’ve had to work with someone from MNOP ’07. Among student organizations, perhaps the RG alone has remained a bastion of independence from the hegemony of MNOP ’07. But, on the other hand, if you’ve ever wanted to do something sneaky, something unofficial, something out of bounds, something out of the ordinary, you’ve had to get in touch with a summer starter. Summer starters are the kings and queens of self-help—they know the ins and outs of our administrative procedures and they know how to get around them. Year after year, knowing a summer starter is your key to getting out of waiting in line, paying for tickets, and feeling bored. When one summer starter class communicates with another summer starter class, sparks start flying. The moon wobbles in its orbit. Creatures of the night flee their dens in the light of the midday sun. When generations of summer starters unite, only mad dogs and Englishmen do not run for cover…and neither does MNOP ’07.
Tim Harrington and I, citizens of MNOP ’07, have long had our fingers on the pulses of the summer starting class. Within the four walls of Hutchins Hall, I have exclusively dated summer starters. Section ABCD realized early on that Tim Harrington would make for a great companion on its annual party bus. From the beginning, Tim and I have oft descended into the summer starter demimonde.
It was there that we discovered the crown jewel of summer starter secrets: Curaçao. Every year, several summer starters spend three weeks of winter break in Curaçao, a Caribbean island thirty-five miles north of Venezuela. They come back tan, refreshed, and sometimes still hung-over. But here’s the catch: They come back with four law school transfer credits. Yes, four (4).
In the old days, they needed the credits to graduate. The Law School offered a short ethics course at the end of the summer to catch them up with their credit requirements. Curaçao was originally a creative and superior solution. Now, however, the summer starters do not need the extra credits. Tim and I thought bronzed-in-January gods like Chris Hopfensperger, December ’06, were a dying breed. We admired their tans and their pictures from break, but put Curaçao out of our minds. Our MNOP ’07 responsibilities pulled us back down to earth, where we prepared to finish out our last semesters. But summer starters are not so easily cajoled into sleep. ABCD ’07 caught wind of the Curaçao program and set out to defy gravity.
Vivian Shen and Sarah Molenkamp first understood the potential of Curaçao. They realized that not needing the credits was no reason to set aside the opportunity to receive the credits for spending three weeks in the Caribbean. They began their research. The Curaçao Study Abroad Program, they discovered, is offered by the University of Baltimore Law School in conjunction with Hofstra University School of Law and the University of Netherlands Antilles. Each year, the program offers one required two-credit course and a choice between two electives, also two-credits. Because the semester is condensed, students take four hours of class a day, five days a week, leaving the remaining twenty hours of each weekday for exploring the island.
And what an island. Curaçao is the largest island in the Netherland Antilles, a group of Caribbean islands within the Dutch kingdom. Aruba, also within the Dutch kingdom, is right next door. If you ask most people who have been to both islands, they will tell you that Curaçao, which has yet to be accosted by massive throngs of tourists, is the better place to visit. Aruba has beaches and a few clubs, but so does Curaçao. And Curaçao has much, much more.
There is an ostrich farm where you can not only eat, but also ride an ostrich after you hold a baby emu in your arms. There is an aquarium where you can not only look at fish through glass, but also strap on some snorkeling gear, get in the water, and feed (and pet!) sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, giant groupers, sea lions, and dolphins. There is a floating market where Venezuelan boats align themselves along an entire bank of the capital city Willemstad, selling impossibly fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables. There are two days of Christmas and a thunderous New Year celebration that leaves the entire island smelling like one giant firecracker. And there are iguanas everywhere.
The iguanas were rather like puppies, scurrying up to our bungalow at meal-time to beg for food. Yes, I did just say bungalow. We rented four-person bungalows a mere two minutes by flip-flop from the beach. They were not only home to beautiful and timid nocturnal geckos (who stayed outside on the walls), but were also reasonably priced—renting the bungalows for three weeks set us back around $500 each. The program does lighten the wallet a bit, though. Our plane tickets were $800 and tuition ran about $2800. Of course, if you or your significant other have summered at a firm, that is about a week’s salary. If not, financial aid is available. Furthermore, tuition includes tours of the island, a cruise, and nigh-edible pastries between classes.
Six of us—Vivian, Sarah, Aref Wardak, Jordon Seidel, Tim, and I—made the trip to join about thirty law students from around the country in Curaçao. We all took International Family Law and most of us took International Refugee Law, though European Union Law was also offered. The classes were interesting, but not demanding—though we were taking finals when classes began at Michigan this semester, our winter break was still a break. And, not only in my case, so is this semester. Thanks to my four credits from Curaçao, I am taking only ten credits in my last law school semester and making up the difference playing video games. And Tim—well, you’ve seen how tan he is. Don’t let anybody tell you that he’s been going to the tanning salon since he’s been back. That’s just crazy talk.

Adam Dubinsky is a 3L who wants you to have fun and take it easy! E-mail him at to find out more about Curaçao.

New Building Plan Changes Direction

By Ishai Mooreville

The University of Michigan Law School has inhabited the same building, Hutchins Hall, ever since it was completed in 1933. Since then, the student body has increased from around 500 to more than 1200, and the faculty has gone from 18 members to more than 70.

Given these facts, administrators have decided it is finally time to add a second academic building to the Law School’s campus. What the building might look like or where exactly it would be located are still undecided, but the need for more space has made future construction all but assured.

Under the supervision of Dean Evan Caminker, the Law School has recently hired the architectural firm of Hartman Cox to complete “pre-design? work for a new Law School building. The firm has previously done work for the law schools at Georgetown, Washington University in St. Louis, and Tulane. If all goes well, the firm could begin designing a new building within the next four to eight months.

“We’re very excited about collaborating with them, given their prior successful work in law schools and their experience working on and with a variety of traditional styles of architecture, including Collegiate Gothic,? said Caminker.

Caminker aims for the proposed building to provide new activity and study space for students, additional classrooms and seminar rooms, faculty offices, and some administrative space, all of which are in great demand.

One of the most important decisions to be made concerning the new building is where it will be located. Among the options are the southeast corner of the Law Quad (above the Law Library and opposite Dominick’s), in the areas south of the Reading Room, or even across Monroe Street in the parking lot of the new Public Policy School.

Should the building be built across Monroe Street, there has been talk of constructing a pedestrian bridge to connect it to Hutchins Hall so as to relieve students of the burden of walking outdoors during the winter months, but that is only speculation at this point.

This is not the first time the Law School has begun the process of constructing a new facility. Prior to Caminker’s appointment as dean in 2003, the Law School hired the renowned architect Renzo Piano, designer of the soon to open New York Times Building in Manhattan, to sketch plans for a new building. His design called for a new building on the last untouched corner of the Law Quad, above the Law School Library, along with extensive renovations of Hutchins Hall, and the construction of a new “piazza? entrance to the Reading Room, which was to be covered by a glass roof.

However, the total costs of implementing Piano’s plans were estimated to exceed $100 million and would have rendered portions of Hutchins Hall unusable for multiple years, causing great hardship to both students and faculty.

Caminker and the Law School have decided to scrap those plans and start anew, looking for a building plan that is both less expensive and less intrusive to the Law School community during construction.

Cost is likely to be one of the biggest barriers to new construction, with Ann Arbor reportedly having one of the most expensive average building costs in the country. The strength of local unions coupled with state regulations and a lack of competitors are all factors that contribute to this set of circumstances.

Hutchins Hall may also receive extensive renovations at some point, but there are currently no specific plans for such changes.

While the cost of the new building remains to be determined, the Law School began fundraising for its construction in May of 2004.

Though it is still early in the process, Caminker is looking forward to the prospect of expanding the Law School’s facilities.

“We’re very excited about our new ideas and our new architect, and we look forward to working intensively on the project with the goal of creating Law School space that is as functional on the inside as it is grand and inspiring on the outside.?

Ishai Mooreville is a 1L.

March Madness Hits Career Services

Submitted by the Office of Career Services

During the month of March, the Office of Career Services presents its “Market Series.? The Market Series features headhunters/legal search consultants who will speak about the market for legal jobs in the cities of New York, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Among the topics the speakers will address are trends in law firm hiring as well as hot and cold practice areas. Moreover, the speakers have agreed to meet individually with students as time permits.

The Market Series schedule and other OCS events in March and early April are as follows:

Market Series: Chicago
March 12, 2007, at 12:20pm in 250 Hutchins Hall

Frank Kimball ‘77, a renowned legal search consultant on the Chicago legal market and former hiring partner of an Am Law 100 firm, will provide information useful to students interested in interviewing with employers in Chicago during Early Interview Week and the Fall Interview Program. Mr. Kimball will also meet with individual students on March 12th, 13th, and 14th - students will sign up for individual counseling at the end of the March 12th presentation.

How to Succeed in your Summer Job
March 13, 2007, at 12:20pm in 218 Hutchins Hall

100% of those students who attended this program last year and who were eligible for an offer received one! Frank Kimball ‘77, a renowned legal search consultant in Chicago and former hiring partner of an Am Law 100 firm, will discuss how to navigate successfully through your summer job in order to optimize your chances of receiving an offer, especially for those working at a law firm. The talk will include information on how to manage your time, how to handle criticisms or negative evaluations, and how to avoid mistakes that students have made in the past.

Market Series: New York
March 13, 2007, at 6:00pm in 250 Hutchins Hall

Similar to the program on the Chicago legal market, Carol Kanarek ‘79, a renowned consultant on the New York legal market, will provide information useful to students interested in interviewing with employers in New York during Early Interview Week and the Fall Interview Program. Ms. Kanarek will also meet with individual students on March 14th and 15th - students will sign up for individual counseling at the end of the March 13th presentation.

Market Series: Palo Alto/San Francisco
March 20, 2007, at 6:00pm in 132 Hutchins Hall

Jon Escher, a renowned consultant on the Bay Area legal market, will provide information useful to students interested in interviewing with employers in the Bay Area market during Early Interview Week and the Fall Interview Program. Mr. Escher will also meet with individual students on March 21st - students will sign up for individual counseling at the end of the March 20th presentation.

Early Interview Week Orientation Meeting
March 22, 2007, at 12:20pm in 100 Hutchins Hall

This meeting will discuss the Early Interview Week Program, scheduled for August 27th - 30th, 2007, which will be held at the Holiday Inn on Plymouth Road. Come find out about the logistics of more than 600 employers who will be interviewing Michigan law students during a four day period.

Market Series: Los Angeles/Orange County/San Diego
March 22, 2007, at 6:00pm in 132 Hutchins Hall

Rick Kolodny ‘81, a renowned consultant on the Southern California legal market, will provide information useful to students interested in interviewing with employers in Los Angeles/Orange County/San Diego markets during Early Interview Week and the Fall Interview Program. Mr. Kolodny will also meet with individual students on March 23rd - students will sign up for individual counseling at the end of the March 22nd presentation.

Strategic Planning for your Career
March 23, 2007, at 12:20pm in 138 Hutchins Hall

Rick Kolodny ‘81, a renowned consultant on the Southern California legal market, will speak about the practical information law students should know about law firm and in- house career trajectories. His topics will include selecting a practice area and how that decision affects your future career options. Mr. Kolodny brings a unique perspective with his background as a former associate at a law firm, a former General Counsel for a company, and now a legal recruiter.

Market Series: Washington, D.C.
March 26, 2007, at 6:00pm in 132 Hutchins Hall

Dan Binstock, a renowned consultant on the D.C. legal market, will provide information useful to students interested in interviewing with employers in the Washington, D.C. market during Early Interview Week and the Fall Interview Program. Mr. Binstock will also meet with individual students on March 27th - students will sign up for individual counseling at the end of the March 26th presentation.

Market Series: Detroit
This event is still in the planning stages. We will email students about this talk once plans are finalized.

Law Firm Bidding Strategies and Interview Tips
April 4, 2007, at 12:20pm in 250 Hutchins Hall

David Greenwald ‘86, a partner at the law firm of Jenner & Block in Chicago, will offer useful information to students as they begin to think about Early Interview Week. He will discuss bidding strategies and how to interview effectively when you only have 20-30 minutes. For students interested in interviewing with law firms, this session is a must!

Journal Me This: Insider Advice and Perspectives

By Mitch Holzrichter

Law journals hold an important place in the life of any law school. They continue to be the most prominent media for publishing legal scholarship, and accordingly they represent something special to professors, judges, and practitioners.

Potential employers, whether for academia, clerkships, or firms, look to journal participation as a mark of accomplishment and distinction in an otherwise equally-qualified group of law students. According to the Office of Career Services, 64% of Michigan students who received U.S. Court of Appeals clerkships in 2005-2006 were members of the Michigan Law Review, and another 20% were members of one of the other five Michigan law journals. Only 16% had no journal membership. Journal membership remains a strong part of any student’s resume.

Time, Why You Punish Me?

First-year students about to enter the journal selection process, beware the time commitment. Journal membership often requires more time than any other student organization, though this commitment varies considerably among the journals. The three main components of journal membership as a second-year student (before you begin work on the editorial board) are: (1) orientation, (2) cite-checking and source-gathering, and (3) note-writing.

Many journals host an orientation program in the days before Early Interview Week (EIW), which all new members (or “associate editors?) are required to attend. Orientation programs introduce members to the publishing process, the requirements of that journal, and how to source-gather and cite-check.

The Michigan Law Review (MLR) hosts a four-day orientation program before EIW, and the Journal of Law Reform (JLR) requires a three-day program, with full days devoted to orientation, cite-checking, and source-gathering. The Journal of International Law (MJIL) and the Journal of Race & Law (R&L) similarly host multi-day orientations, but for partial days. The Journal of Gender & Law (G&L) hosts a one-day orientation program during the first weekend after classes begin. The Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review (MTTLR) hosts several lunches after EIW to orient its members.

The core of journal membership is editing (source-gathering and cite-checking) the issues for that year’s volume. The more issues a journal publishes, the more time an associate editor should expect to spend source-gathering and cite-checking throughout the year.

MLR publishes eight issues per year, and each associate editor has one editing assignment per week. One current 2L associate editor estimated she spends 7 hours per week on those MLR assignments. JLR and MJIL each publish four issues per year. Kate Zell, 3L, the outgoing JLR Editor-in-Chief, estimated that associate editors spend 20 to 40 hours per semester source-gathering and cite-checking. G&L, R&L, and MTTLR each publish two issues per year. Emily LaCroix, 3L, the G&L Publication Manager, estimated that G&L members spend 15 hours per article, and typically work on two or three articles per semester. Jeetander Dulani, 3L, the R&L Editor-in-Chief, estimated that associate editors spend between 20 and 40 hours editing per semester. Tom Loos, 3L, the Managing Editor of MTTLR, said that MTTLR attempts to keep the time commitments of its associate editors to 20 hours per semester. Dulani also emphasized that the journals attempt to keep assignments evenly distributed among editors.

In addition to cite-checking, most journals require their members to write a “note,? which is a student article. A note is an opportunity for students to be published early in their legal careers, especially because most journals work with their members to all but guarantee publication of the note. “Having the chance to publish something as a law student was one of the main reasons I joined a journal,? said Daniel Silverthorn, 2L, who is now a MTTLR Articles Editor. But for some students, the note requirement may be an unwanted burden.

MLR requires its associate editors to complete a full draft of a note. JLR and G&L both require a partial note, which consists of a draft of a significant section of the note. R&L and MTTLR each require associate editors to research and propose a note topic and to perform a pre-emption check on that topic. Writing even a partial note can be very time-consuming, and many journals encourage their members to couple their note research with a seminar paper or other outside academic work.

Additionally, some journals have commitments that extend beyond a student’s 2L year. MLR requires all members to commit to two-years of membership. G&L has additional journal membership requirements which may be fulfilled in either 2L or 3L year. All journals invite 2Ls to return during 3L year as “contributing editors? if they do not join the editorial board.

In addition to these tasks, journal members are typically expected to contribute time and efforts toward symposia or other events hosted by the journals. Taken together, the time commitments can be significant.

There are 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, But to Leave a Journal…

A savvy (or sleazy, depending on your point of view) law student may ask: why not sign-up for a journal before EIW, and then quit once a summer job is secure?

Prematurely withdrawing from a journal leaves that journal under-staffed, and is unfair to other students who applied with a sincere desire to work on a journal but were not selected. Withdrawal also appears disingenuous to potential employers, who may have relied on journal membership in selecting which students to offers jobs.

When a member fails to fulfill his or her responsibilities, other students on that journal suffer. “If someone isn’t able to fulfill their requirements, their fellow classmates are the ones to pick up the slack,? said Dulani.

But the journal editors are quick to emphasize that most students take their journal membership seriously. Tara Plochocki, 3L, the MJIL Managing Editor, believes that “when students get on a journal through a competitive process, they’re excited to be there.? “The expectations are strikingly clear,? she added, emphasizing that members know and accept the commitments of journal membership before joining. LaCroix agreed, adding, “Being on a niche journal, you’re there to be committed to producing scholarship in that field.?

Most journals have adopted internal policies, which all members are required to sign, to thwart premature withdrawal and to encourage members to satisfactorily fulfill their commitments. These policies typically include several stages, and only when a member’s conduct significantly harms the journal would the journal take action to remove that member. Then, if a student withdraws voluntarily or is removed, the journal notifies the Office of Career Services.

The journal editors emphasized that a journal will only take action “when there is consistent failure to do your work.? Removing a member is only a last step after serious failures, and most journals try to use their disciplinary policies sparingly. “Flexibility is important to us, especially when there are personal circumstances involved,? Zell said. Loos added, “We do everything we can [to avoid the disciplinary process].?

Some journals believe that the Law School requires the journals to report the removal or withdrawal of a student to Career Services, the student’s potential employers, or even to the state Bar. “The Bar cares, and technically students are supposed to report [their removal],? said Dulani.

David Baum, Dean for Student Affairs, observed that whether a student should report a removal from a journal would depend on the particular bar and the questions it asks. He noted that “[m]any such questionnaires include a question about employment history and inquire about how each job came to an end. Whether participation on a journal qualifies as ‘employment’ is, I suppose, a matter of interpretation. Consulting with a lawyer might be advisable. Lawyers at Student Legal Services in the Michigan Union are available to all enrolled students at no charge beyond the cost of tuition.? Dean Baum adds that “if there is any question about whether or not to disclose termination from a journal on the application, an applicant should err on the side of disclosing it and honestly explaining the circumstances. The fact of such a termination will almost certainly not preclude someone from passing a character and fitness examination. However, if the bar examiners feel that an applicant has failed to disclose information that he or she should have, that would be viewed as a ‘candor problem,’ and that really can create a significant issue.?

While the Law School does not require a journal to report the removal or withdrawal of a member to the Office of Career Services, the student’s potential employers, or to the state Bar, Career Services Dean Susan Guindi acknowledged that many journals do inform the Office of Career Service when a student has been removed or has withdrawn from a journal. Most often, she said, it is a 3L who is removed or who quits, out of “senior-apathy.?

But she emphasized that the Office “won’t use [that information] to undermine a student’s employment.? She added that the Office of Career Services is there to help students, not hinder their career chances. Guindi also noted, “The Law School does not report such information to the Bar. The Journals are student-run organizations, and so the Law School neither monitors them nor reports on individual member’s behavior.?

If a student “misstates? the dates of journal involvement on his or her resume, OCS will reach out to the student and encourage him or her to correct their resume. Zell agreed with this approach, noting that students “shouldn’t take credit for what [they] didn’t do.? She added, “We ask associated editors [who have withdrawn or been removed from the journal] to remove their journal membership from their resumes or to put the actual dates of their membership,? thereby reflecting when a student quit or was removed.

The problem of removal or withdrawal is rare, and the journals do everything possible to avoid disciplinary problems. “We may comply with what the Law School says, but we’ll use as much discretion as possible,? said Loos.

“At the end of the day, community is what makes the journals successful,? said incoming JLR Editor-in-Chief Chad Lindner, 2L. Remember, if you are joining a journal, you are joining a small group of law students who are dependent upon your work, and with whom you’ll spend many hours in Sub-3 in a very unique experience.

Mitch Holzrichter is a 2L and an associate editor of the Journal of Law Reform.

Washtenaw County Workers’ Center: A Law-and-Organizing Initiative

By Jennifer Hill

The Washtenaw County Workers’ Center (WCWC), which Michigan Law School students helped found just last year, is celebrating significant accomplishments this month. The WCWC is a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting low-wage workers, mostly immigrants, who are seeking to improve working conditions and develop a strong voice while on their jobs and in their communities. The workers who come to the Center are natives of Washtenaw County as well as immigrants from Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Mali, Algeria, and many other places. The Center is part of a movement that has seen the a small handful of workers’ centers increase to more than 150 across the country in the last 20 years.

This monh, the WCWC received its 501(c)(3) tax status, a milestone for a new nonprofit organization. In addition, the WCWC was awarded a research grant to study conditions in the county’s low-wage industries and, in particular, the relationship between immigrant workers and native-born workers. The WCWC also elected its first formal executive board, a 15-member panel that includes 2L Josh Ludmir.

Other Law School students participate as members of the Steering Committee, which prepares and carries out trainings, and on the Worker Rights Committee, which plans how to respond to problems workers are facing. 1L Mustafa Unlu, a volunteer, got involved “somewhat serendipitously? after attending a Labor Law Roundtable meeting early in the year. “I love the academic work, but that alone does not help us understand our role as forces for societal change,? he said. The workers’ center opened up a new range of activities to Mustafa and fellow law student volunteers. “Going out on house visits, talking with low wage earners who have all sorts of problems at work, and being a part of the process in which the community self-organizes and learns to assert its rights definitely builds a greater understanding of the community. This process has helped me appreciate the value of the rights and liberties which we have been covering on a theoretical level in class.?

Minsu Longiaru, a staff attorney at the Michigan Poverty Law Outreach Program participated in the workers’ center movement while a student at Harvard and later as a Skadden Fellow with the Greater Bosto n Legal Services. “Workers centers combine services, advocacy, and organizing,? she explained. A worker’s first encounter with the WCWC likely takes place at the monthly Worker Rights Committee meeting, where individual counseling is combined with rights education and planning. “When a worker comes in with a problem, he or she makes a plan to address the problem that may involve gathering co-workers together who also are affected, sending a demand letter to the employer, meeting with the employer to try to negotiate a solution, or, if that fails, organizing pickets or other forms of community pressure.?

Right now, WCWC volunteers are working on cases that involve unpaid wages, discrimination, medical leave, unpaid vacation, health and safety, and other issues. The legal approach is not the traditional one. Jennifer Gordon, founder of The Workplace Project and a Fordham University law professor, described two principles underlying the law and organizing model in an article entitled “We Make the Road by Walking? :

[L]egal assistance should go to workers who want to be active participants…, rather than to those who expect to be the passive recipients of a service. Second, once a worker is committed to fighting for better working conditions, problems must be addressed through a team approach [involving] as many workers from the affected workplace as possible, an organizer, and when necessary, a lawyer or supervised legal advocate.

Over the last several years a number of workers’ centers around the country have achieved significant gains for low-wage workers. For example, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) recently won a victory when two high-end Manhattan restaurants paid $164,000 to 23 workers to settle lawsuits alleging discrimination and failure to pay overtime. ROC-NY organized protests and coordinated legal assistance that included help from students in the CUNY Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic, the Urban Justice Center, and the law firm of Koob and Magoolaghan. As part of the settlement, the restaurants promised to pay legal wages in the future, guaranteed they would not retaliate against the plaintiffs, and, in return, sought a promise from the center not to hold rallies at the restaurants for five years.

The WCWC is reaching out to ROC-NY, the CUNY Immigrant Rights Clinic, and others to discuss how to move forward with worker rights advocacy here in Washtenaw County. Law students can get involved by attending one of the monthly Worker Rights Committee meetings in Ypsilanti or a Labor Law Roundtable meeting at the Law School. Mustafa, among others, highly recommends the activism. “Volunteering for the workers center rates among the most memorable and meaningful experiences I have had at the Law School.?

For more information, contact Mustafa Unlu at or Josh Ludmir at

February 06, 2007

Grades: Some Perspectives and Advice

Submitted by
Dean David Baum

Based on more than a decade of counseling law students, I can tell you that nothing causes more anxiety around this place than grades. I’ve also learned that there are many myths and misconceptions about grades. My goals in sharing the thoughts below with you are to dispel some of these myths, provide you with some useful advice; and, by putting grades into perspective, alleviate some of that anxiety.

Myth #1: Receiving a poor grade means that I didn’t learn what I was supposed to learn.

Many students disappointed with a grade will come into my office and say something like this: “I worked so hard in that class. I did all of the reading. I went to class every day. I wrote a great outline. During the study period, I studied for four days solid, and I went over everything. I really thought I knew the material, but I got a poor grade, so I guess I didn’t.? The fact is that most students here go into the exam room having thoroughly prepared and possessing a genuine understanding –and even a mastery– of the material covered in the course. Receiving a poor grade doesn’t negate that. In most traditional classes at this law school, the grade assigned is almost entirely a reflection of a student’s performance on an examination, compared against the performances of the other students in the class. (It is true that many professors make adjustments to grades based on class participation and attendance, but these usually are only very slight.) So a poor grade doesn’t mean that you didn’t learn the material; it means simply that the professor felt that your particular examination answer wasn’t as strong as many of your classmates’ answers. There are some things you can do about that, which I discuss below. But realize that if you leave the Law School having truly learned the material in all your courses, then, GPA notwithstanding, you will have received the world-class legal education for which you came.

Myth #2: Receiving a poor grade indicates that I am going to be a bad lawyer.

Writing answers to law school exam questions is a very specialized exercise which is one way of testing a particular skill: legal analysis. To be sure, having the intellect and ability to conduct legal analysis is a fundamental part of lawyering. And certainly a law school exam is a relevant way to test for that skill. But even a student at Michigan Law School who receives mediocre grades develops adept legal analysis skills that put her at least even with –and most often ahead of– most other practicing lawyers. And I can assure you that when you go out into practice, you are never going to be asked to sit down in a room with a fact scenario and write an essay within three to four hours without consulting with anyone else and having limited or no access to relevant materials. What’s more, high quality lawyering requires a wide range of other skills and talents, such as oral and written communication, good judgment, leadership, active listening, general problem solving, the ability to sympathize, interpersonal skills, negotiation and facilitation skills, organizational skills, and so on. All of you came with many of these talents and skills, and you have many opportunities here to develop them further. More on that below.

Myth #3: Receiving a poor grade (or even a few) means that I will not get a job.

Anyone who tells you that your grades have absolutely no impact on your job search during law school is not telling you the truth. The fact is that grades do matter to employers. But keep in mind that they matter to different employers to different degrees. I have heard that some employers will not hire students who fail to achieve a certain GPA. But countless other employers evidently do not have such cut offs, because even students who finish in the bottom half of the class at UMLS get jobs. Indeed, the Career Services Office regularly reports that the employment rate for our graduates is in the high nineties. So, the best advice I can give you is to be open-minded about your job search and work hard to find the best opportunities for you. Also, take full advantage of the excellent resources UMLS offers to help you do this, most significantly the top-notch staff in the Career Services and Public Service Offices. This advice applies regardless of what your GPA is. The more time and effort you spend looking for the right job, the more likely it is that the job you take is going to be one that is interesting, challenging and a good fit for you. You will find out that as you progress in your legal career, your law school grades become less and less important, and your professional experience and accomplishments matter more and more. So, yes, grades do matter in your job search, but they matter a heck of a lot less than you think they do.

How do I know that all of this is true?

In large part I know these things are true because I have known hundreds of students who have earned less than stellar grades and who have gone on to become amazingly successful lawyers. But I also speak from personal experience. I was a very hard-working and serious law student. In every course I took, I completed virtually every reading assignment. I briefed practically every case. I almost never missed class. I put together comprehensive outlines. I was in study groups where I both learned and contributed a lot. I studied hard for exams. I went into each and every exam that I took feeling as though I knew the material cold. And I did know the material cold. My problem was that I was not a terrific law school exam taker. Consequently, I got some C-range grades in law school. And I had a whole bunch of B-range grades, and not so many A-range grades. This was tough on my ego, having come here directly from a rigorous and competitive undergraduate program with a very high GPA. But things worked out. I got summer associate positions with law firms during each of my two summers, and I got an offer from a large national firm in Washington, D.C. to return as an associate. I forwent that offer to pursue a clerkship in D.C. with a Superior Court judge (essentially, a state trial court judge). It wasn’t a prestigious clerkship, but it was absolutely phenomenal. I learned a tremendous amount about the practice of law and developed a special relationship with my judge who to this day remains both an inspirational mentor and dear friend. During my clerkship, I received an offer to work at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. I accepted that offer and practiced there for five years before returning to the Law School. All humility aside (and thank you for indulging me here), I was a very good lawyer. I was as able and effective as all of the very talented people alongside whom I worked. I prosecuted cases successfully at trial, post-trial, and on appeal in local and Federal courts. I won awards and commendations. And, most importantly, I loved my work, which was wonderfully captivating and challenging, as well as completely fulfilling. So, I am one example among countless others of someone who made it in the profession in spite of having received mediocre law school grades.

So, if you get a poor grade(s), what should you do?

There are a number of things you can do:

• Find out how you could have written a better exam answer.

Read any model or “A? answers published by the professor. If your professor conducts a session to go over the exam, attend it. Review your exam answer with your professor. With respect to this last suggestion, understand that you should not approach the professor with an eye toward having the grade changed. The Law School’s Academic Regulations preclude a professor from changing a grade unless he discovers that he made some sort of objective, quantifiable error (such as adding points wrong or failing to read part of your answer). Your focus should be on learning what you may not have understood substantively and how you could have written a better examination answer. I’ll add that this is particularly useful if you received grades below the class mean. If you are consistently receiving grades of “B? or higher, then you are doing a fairly good job writing exam answers, so you certainly shouldn’t feel as though you need to do this after every exam. Instead:

• Take other steps to become a better exam taker.

Besides finding out what went wrong on exams you’ve already taken, get some additional instruction about how to write better exam answers. Then practice doing it. One great way to get some help is by working with a tutor. Each year, Christine Gregory’s office solicits and hires students who have done well on exams to work with other students. Tutors get compensated but are available at no charge to you (beyond the tuition dollars you have already paid). If you request a tutor for a particular class, Ms. Gregory’s staff will try to place you with someone who has previously had that class taught by the same professor. One way of working with a tutor is to write answers to old exam questions and get her feedback on those answers. Ask the tutor to comment not only on your substantive analysis but on your answer-writing technique. Was the answer organized well? Did you have too much “fluff?? Did you over-analyze some issues and under-analyze others? All of this assumes that you are still doing the reading and regularly attending class. It is hard to write a great exam answer if you don’t, and what’s more, you’re cheating yourself out of that world-class education.

• Work on developing other lawyering skills and learn about the practice of law.

Besides continuing to take your doctrinal courses as seriously as you can, as an upper-class student take clinical law and practice/simulation courses (like Negotiation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Advanced Legal Research, etc.). Volunteer in the Family Law Project or at a law office in Ann Arbor or Detroit for a few hours a week. Consider doing an externship one semester. Participate in competitions. Attend attorney lunch talks and symposiums. Join a journal. Take a leadership position in a student organization. Put extra effort into writing a seminar or independent research paper. All of these suggestions will help you develop and hone the other lawyering skills I mentioned previously, prepare you for the practice of law, and even make you a happier law student. They will also give you more and better things to talk about during interviews and make you more marketable to prospective employers.

• Make time for yourself to do the things you want to do, and take care of yourself.

Every law student knows that if he wanted to, he could spend virtually all of his time working. Don’t do this. You’ll burn out. Your grades will improve only marginally – or maybe not at all. So play; rest; recreate; spend time with friends; call your family; exercise; watch TV; read a novel; volunteer at a soup kitchen – you get the idea. You’ll have a much better shot of living a balanced life once you become a lawyer if you figure out how to do it now.

• Come talk to us.

I’ve already mentioned that you should go talk to our Career Services professionals and to faculty. I also want to invite you to come see Christine Gregory or me. We are eager to discuss your particular situation with you and offer further advice and perspectives. I’ll add that very occasionally, students receive very low grades (“C-? or below). If this happens, Ms. Gregory and I can inform you about rules that enable you to do more work to get that grade replaced by a “C.? Beyond all that, we want to help you determine how to have the richest possible experience during law school. And that’s really the point of all this. Law school is, of course, about so much more than exams and grades. Sure, work hard in your classes and try to earn the best grades you can. But realize that there is so much more to you, too, and remember to enjoy and experience the rest of what this amazing place has to offer.

To make an appointment to see Dean Baum, call 734-764-0516. To make an appointment to see Christine Gregory, call 734-615-0019.

Three Sizes Fit Most: V-Day Advice

These cold winter days are the perfect time to warm up with a hot Valentine’s Day romance. Are you afraid this dreary, snow-covered city has nothing for you and your love? Ha! We have some hot date ideas for any law student’s needs.

The Study Date

Wake up your sweetie with a hot double espresso to rev you up for hours of… studying. If you are at a serious place in your relationship you might want to go to Starbucks, otherwise snack bar coffee should be fine.

After your Valentine’s classes, you might want to skip lunch because there is no time to waste if you want to get those book awards. (What is more romantic than matching book awards?) For a study break, you can find each other’s alma maters on the stained glass windows in the Reading Room.

Dinner is a must, and the perfect way to keep your brains gearing while eating a great meal is eating up a storm at Leopold’s over an even crazier game of chess! Finish off that meal with a romantic sundae for two. We especially recommend Washtenaw Dairy, where a little ice cream goes a long way.

The Fun Date

The perfect beginning to a fun Valentine’s Day is a perfect breakfast. Try chocolate chip pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head. If you want to be daring with a romantic touch, add some baby heart pancakes.

Walk your valentine to class reminiscing on fun times and funny jokes. Skipping is not mandatory but highly recommended.

While your valentine is enduring a long day of classes, make sure to brighten up their day with a singing Valogram from The Headnotes; and, after class, meet them with some cheesy Valentine’s Day balloons.

A great way to end the night is with a few drinks and karaoke at Blind Pig. If the day has gone really well, the perfect ending to the night is you serenading your valentine with “I Got You Babe.? We all know there is only one place to go after that….

The Steamy Date

You want to wake up your hottie, sexy-style. And by sexy style we mean sexy time; and, by sexy time, we mean with hot griddle cakes, omelet eggs, drizzling syrup, hot steaming coffee, and orange juice. A nice RG to read on the side will add the perfect steamy touch.

Next, escort your love to class where they can do that whole law school thing and you can begin preparing for your afternoon. After class, you don’t want to set the bar too high --save the super steam for later on tonight.

This is the perfect time to satisfy your date’s afternoon appetite so they are fully charged for later on. Red Hot Lovers may seem like the obvious choice, but have you seen Rick’s by day? Suddenly transformed into the swanky American Café, it is the perfect romantic spot.

Finish off your night with a couple’s massage at any of the local spas. A romantic dinner afterward is key. If you want something a little fancy the Earle is a good choice, or try out any of the quaint selections on Main Street. Make sure to serve lots of compliments sprinkled lightly with suggestive remarks. After dinner… well we got you this far, the rest is up to you!

Old People Form Group: Beware SQUALSA

By Austin Rice-Stitt

Whippersnappers beware: the old people in your law school class have banded together to form Michigan Law’s newest basement group, SQUALSA. The “Senate-Qualified Law Students’ Association? was unanimously approved by the Student Senate in mid-January, and the first meeting was held on January 29th. The RG was curious about what, exactly, all these old people are planning to do with their new group, so we sat down with co-founders Ted Whalen and Maili Shaffer to find out.

Res Gestae: Thanks for taking some time to talk with us. I want to start with the question that I know is on everyone’s mind: Is there going to be bingo?

Ted Whalen: Of course.

RG: How old do you have to be to play?

Maili Shaffer: We started the group with people who are 30, or who will turn 30 before they graduate, in mind. But the group and its activities are open to everyone, and we hope that the law school’s younger members will come out as well. Just because you’ve never had a real job and you’re still being supported by your parents doesn’t mean that you don’t love bingo.

RG: Exactly. In addition to the lack of organized bingo opportunities, what do you think are the biggest problems confronting old people at the law school?

Most students at the law school face the same challenges –making friends, doing well in class, getting along with professors– but every type of student brings different issues to the table. It can be difficult, especially at first, for older students to feel that they are a part of the social fabric of the school. Older students aren’t always into doing the same things in the same ways as younger students, and older students also have other commitments like families and long term partners to deal with. Also, we don’t all live at the law school like many of our younger counterparts.

RG: Are you saying that there aren’t ample opportunities for old people to meet each other? What’s about bar night at Rick’s?

MS: We expect that SQUALSA will continue to be well-represented at bar night, and the youngsters will be disappointed if they think that the formation of SQUALSA means that us older students are going to stop grinding the hell out of our classmates to really, really bad music at Rick’s. But we are also planning to hold social events that appeal to an older crowd – events where people can have conversations and where kids and spouses can come without getting beer spilled on them.

RG: I see. What’s up with that name, SQUALSA, anyway?

MS: It could have been a lot worse. It’s an homage to the Constitution because of the 30 year old age requirement for Senate members. It’s kind of tongue in cheek though –we don’t actually take ourselves very seriously.

RG: But it isn’t completely a joke?

TW: No not completely. We had a great turn out at the first meeting –about 40 students– so the interest is definitely out there. Most of the people who came to the meeting were 1Ls, so we’re hoping that more 2 and 3Ls will get involved and help us out. We may be old, but unlike the youngsters, we don’t know everything.

Interested in SQUALSA? Send an email to Ted at or Maili at

Music Review: Wincing the Night Away

By Andrea Hunt
Staff Writer

You gotta hear this one song. It’ll change your life, I swear!?
-Sam (Natalie Portman),
Garden State

The song was “New Slang,? by the Shins, and since Sam’s bold declaration three years ago, fans have been waiting for the Shins’ response —do you really think your music changes lives? Fortunately, the Shins seem to have ignored Sam’s hyperbole, producing an album that is what the Shins truly are: introverted and low-key, not life-changing.

Wincing the Night Away is the band’s long-awaited follow-up to 2003’s Chutes Too Narrow. Rumors of a new album circulated like a cold sore at Rick’s. It was slated to be released in August 2006, then November 2006. Perhaps Shins front man James Mercer needed some rest —the title, according to Rolling Stone magazine, references Mercer’s insomnia.

The four years since Chutes Too Narrow gave the Shins lots of time to experiment, with mixed results. The drums and bass in “Australia? overpower the vocals, but this sort-of Southerner enjoyed the banjo. “Sea Legs? is also percussion-driven and is a sharp, but pleasant departure from the Shins’ earlier sound. “Black Wave,? on the other hand, is like a melancholy “Sphagnum Esplanade,? which was already pretty dark.
The album’s first single, “Phantom Limb,? was available on iTunes on November 14, 2006 and everywhere else a week later. It’s a catchy, fun, and, apparently, Sapphic song –Mercer has stated that the song is about a lesbian couple in high school. Though the decidedly vague lyrics do little to support his claim, the reference to northern girls frozen into coats may, for some of us, always trigger images of these snowy Michigan months. The music video for “Phantom Limb? is much easier to interpret and can be seen on The scene where they cut off the goat’s head is equal parts shocking and creative. (Now you have to watch it, don’t you?)

The Shins seem most comfortable when they aren’t trying to shock or change lives. They bring out the introvert in all of us, the dreamer who trips down South U, softly singing, eyes closed, occasionally bumping into people and maybe cars; the thumb-sucker who winces when the professor scans the seating chart, looking for a victim. What made “New Slang? so great wasn’t that it changed lives, but that it was a theme song for the inner dreamer. “Red Rabbits? and “A Comet Appears? carry on that tradition. Their minimalist orchestrations, coupled with Mercer’s wistful, plaintive vocals and characteristically opaque lyrics, beg you to lay in the Law Quad, staring up at the sun (when spring comes, of course). Just watch out for errant Frisbees.

January 23, 2007

Deans Dish: Prop 2 and Mr. Wolverine

By Nate Kurtis
and Bria LaSalle

In December, Prop 2 went into effect in Michigan, banning the use of gender and racial preferences in public education, contracting, and hiring decisions. While the legal challenges from both sides continue, Michigan’s public educational institutions have been faced with the task of ensuring their policies are compliant with the new constitutional language. The RG spoke with Dean Caminker and Dean Zearfoss about Prop 2, the Law School admissions policy, and, of course, Mr. Wolverine.

Res Gestae: Dean Caminker, while the Grutter decision was a definite win for the Law School’s admissions policy, it was also part of the impetus behind the proposal, and passage, of Prop 2. Would you now characterize Grutter as a Pyrrhic victory?
Dean Caminker: Absolutely not. In a pragmatic sense, the Law School’s successful defense of its careful race-conscious admissions policy preserved the option of affirmative action in higher education for both public and private universities across the country (private because the legal rule applicable to public universities via the Fourteenth Amendment applies as well to private ones through Title VI). The fact that several states, now including Michigan, have enacted popular initiatives prohibiting racial preferences in this and other contexts is (in my view) unfortunate, but the Grutter victory remains of enormous importance. Moreover, in a symbolic sense, the Grutter litigation demonstrated that large and historically conservative interests -- the military and Fortune 500 corporations -- have come to understand the imperative of workplace and governmental diversity in our increasingly multi-ethnic and globalized society.

RG: Looking back on the events between Grutter and Prop 2, were there opportunities to engage the proponents of Prop 2 in a dialogue that might have avoided this Michigan constitutional amendment? If so, could you comment on why such a dialogue did not take place? Was there a sense that, having had the Law School’s admissions practices OK’d by the U.S. Supreme Court, there wasn’t very much weight to the no-preference side of the coin?
Dean C: Unfortunately, it proves difficult to construct a meaningful dialogue on many racial issues, including this one. Some proponents of Proposal 2 were undoubtedly motivated by moral views concerning race consciousness, and it is difficult to hold a collective conversation about moral perspectives. Some proponents of Proposal 2 were undoubtedly motivated by a sense of unfairness; here, I think, there was room for dialogue, as many people misconceive the point of higher education admissions and wrongly assume it should reflect notions of a strict "meritocracy" rather than serve particular pedagogic and professional missions. But these are complicated concepts, and in a society where most political debate today takes place in a 30-second sound bite, it unfortunately can be a struggle to shape an effective popular dialogue about public policy. And in the end, there will always be policy issues about which, even with perfect information, well-intentioned people will disagree.

RG: In light of the recent Appeals Court ruling, do you believe that the admissions policy will have to change?
Dean C: There will likely be continuing litigation advanced by civil rights organizations that will ultimately shape the contours and interpretation of Prop 2. At the moment, the Law School is continuing to evaluate applicants in a holistic fashion, but race is no longer being taken into account as a factor for consideration. The faculty will discuss new, long-term alternatives later this spring, seeking to devise the optimal admissions policy that will continue to admit and enroll a first-year class that has outstanding academic credentials and capabilities and that remains diverse along many different dimensions, including race. We will keep our eye on the courts, following any forthcoming guidance as to the dictates of Prop 2.

RG: Proponents of Prop 2 have said "the color of a person’s skin is a poor proxy for diversity." Do you agree with that statement?
Dean C: Race certainly is not a perfect proxy for many attributes, including political ideology or intellectual outlook (which is what many people mean when they say things similar to the quote you provided). But race still matters in our society, in some obvious and some more subtle ways, and people of different races will often have different experiences growing up that influence they way they think about various problems or challenges. It would seem odd, to me, to teach in my constitutional law class a session on the widespread practice of race-based peremptory challenges to prospective jurors without having a broad range of experiences represented in the classroom -- including students who had served on juries, students who had worked in the criminal justice system, and students of different races, so that a variety of experiences and perspectives could collectively be brought to bear on the topic.

RG: To what do you attribute the 16-point voting spread in favor of Prop 2?
Dean C: It’s probably not irrelevant that many, many people believe that they or someone they know was denied admission to a selective school or denied a job or government contract because of an affirmative action program that favored minority applicants. Of course, for the most part they are wrong in their beliefs. We probably reject over 100 white applicants for every single underrepresented minority admittee whose race made any difference in the admissions process. How many of those white applicants possibly were denied a spot in the class because of race-consciousness? One out of 100. But how many believe they were denied a spot for this reason? All 100 of them.

RG: Thank you Dean Caminker. One last question: Who is your pick for "Mr. Wolverine"?
Dean C: Mark West. Hands down.

RG: Thank you. Dean Zearfoss, do you want to comment on anything Dean Caminker said?
Dean Zearfoss: No, I agree with everything Dean Caminker said. Except for "Mr. Wolverine," I don’t agree with him on that.

RG: Well, if not Mark West, who do you think should be "Mr. Wolverine"?
Dean Z: I think, obviously, it should be someone in a position of authority. And, obviously, it should be someone with great hair. So: Dean Baum

RG: Ok, though come to think of it, I’m not sure either is in the running. Anyway, Dean Zearfoss, do you believe that the admissions policy, as it now stands, will have to be changed?
Dean Z: We changed our policy as soon as Prop 2 took effect. But it was a very minor change. The change is: we use the exact same policy, but race is no longer one of the many factors that we take into account. And we will continue applying that policy at least through the end of the season. As Dean Caminker explained, the Faculty Admissions Committee is considering what to do for a longer term policy. One very possible outcome will be that we continue with this policy because it is a very good policy. We like this policy. We liked having race as a factor; we thought that was important. But even without race as a factor, it is a very good policy that gives us the tools to select an excellent class. So, it is quite possible that there won’t be a completely, radically different policy. But, it is also true that we are considering all options; people are giving us ideas and we are talking to other people to pick their brains. We’ve been thinking about these questions for many, many years, but we’re not taking anything for granted, and we are really thoroughly considering all the possible options.

RG: Is there a sense, then, that the admissions policy --as it stands and has been articulated: the holistic, totality of the circumstances-- really doesn’t require any particular weighting, and lets you admit whomever you want? Would that be an accurate statement?
Dean Z: Well, yes. We can always admit whom we want, but there certainly is a difference following Prop 2. It’s not like this policy, post-Prop 2, will result in the exact same decisions as it would have pre-Prop 2. It definitely will make a difference that race is not one of the factors. It is just hard for me to know at this stage what the precise outcome will be. It may not make a huge difference. I don’t think it will make the kind of difference that Prop 209 seemed to make at Berkeley and UCLA, when the next year they had almost no one in the class who was African-American. I don’t see that happening here at all.

RG: How is it possible to remove race as a consideration from the decision? Even if it is removed from the application, you are rumored to be only human. If you were to learn an applicant’s race, either through meeting them or through an essay, how could you separate that from everything else you would consider?
Dean Z: I do that all the time. I know that people are married. I know that people are disabled. There are all kinds of things I know about people that aren’t factored into the decision process. On the one hand, I’m at the very beginning of employing a policy where race is not a decision-making factor, so I can’t claim to be at all certain how this is going to work out. I’ve been doing this a couple of weeks and in that time I haven’t had a lot of applications that, as far as I know, appear to be from minority applicants. So I don’t know. I understand the exercise: sure, I’m only human. But it doesn’t seem impossible to me to say race is not a factor. I mean, people’s gender, for example, has never been a factor in our process. We’ve never given gender any weight in the admissions process at this law school, and so to not give race any weight seems analogous.

RG: You mentioned possibly finding a more permanent policy. How would that policy be chosen? By committee? When would you hope to have that policy in place?
Dean Z: It is a committee, and we’re in the process right now. Actually, we’ve been working on it informally and thinking about it for some time. We hope to get it done by the end of the semester. As to who makes the final decision, once the committee is done writing and is satisfied, the new policy will go to the whole faculty, and the faculty will vote on it.

RG: Had you admitted anyone before Prop 2 went into effect?
Dean Z: Yes. Probably around 40%, which is typical for that time of year.

RG: Do you foresee any strange results from having admitted students both in the pre- and post-Prop 2 world?
Dean Z: No, I really don’t. It’s not ideal to switch systems in the middle of the year, just because it’s hard. We spend a lot of time every summer coming up with our processes. It’s a complex system, and it’s hard to change everything when you’re also in the midst of getting five hundred applications a week. Getting a ton of work done and simultaneously strategizing is difficult. But I think we’ve succeeded in changing our process, and I think it will be fine.

RG: Less than one year ago, you commented in a piece in the Dayton Law Review that, though changes to the admissions policy could be made, you doubted that any would be made for a long while owing to the fact that the Law School’s admissions policy was the only one in the country that was known, absolutely, to be constitutional. Do you care to revise your statement in light of recent events?
Dean Z: Well, I turned out to be wrong; we’ve in fact made changes to our policy. Even though the policy is constitutional within the context of the U.S. constitution, the state constitution is now such that our old policy would violate the current state constitution. But I don’t care to revise my statement, because it was absolutely correct when I made it.

RG: Looking forward, now that the people of Michigan have "spoken," is one solution to sever the University’s ties to the state? Would you support such a move?
Dean Z: No, I wouldn’t. Everyone who knows me knows I wasn’t happy at the outcome of the election. I thought our policy was a really good policy. If I hadn’t thought that, I would have been working to change it without an election. But I also think it is an incredibly important part of the character of this university, of this law school, that it is a public institution. It is one of the things that makes us different from our peers. And I’m proud of its history. I wasn’t happy about the election, but I’m very proud of its history, and I feel confident that we’ll make it work. We will go on being a great law school despite the change in our admissions policies.
Dean C: [Besides, t]he University of Michigan is a public entity by virtue of the state constitution. It would therefore require an amendment to the constitution for the University to change its status.

RG: Alright. But, speaking hypothetically, if the University were to secede from the State of Michigan, there wouldn’t really be much of a reason to keep it in Michigan. Where would you move the University if you could?
Dean Z: [laughs] I happen to love Ann Arbor, and that’s why I live here. If I didn’t work at the Law School, I’d find something else to do in Ann Arbor. Now, the Law School is the best game in town, but I’d figure something else out. And, I’ve got to tell you, at my son’s elementary school, there’s a culture of winter toughness. There is a constant dialogue between the months of January and February about whether it is or is not appropriate to wear shorts and t-shirts to school. I would like to see a little more of that kind of toughness at the Law School. I think it’s character building, cold weather. Look at all the character I have, after all!

RG: I’d be willing to bet you’d have that character even if you lived in a warm weather environment.
Dean Z: I don’t know, where would you move?

RG: I’d move it all to Maui.
Dean Z: Well, you came to Ann Arbor, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. You are obviously drawn to cold weather.

RG: There wasn’t as good a law school on Maui, at least at the time….
Dean Z: You know, it is expensive in Hawaii. And, let me tell you, I read this interesting book over the break about volcanoes and stuff. I don’t know. I don’t know that Hawaii is a good bet these days. You’ve got global warming, you’ve got volcanoes, you’ve got tsunamis. The Midwest is quite safe. I like that about Ann Arbor. It’s a very safe town.

RG: I guess you’re right. But, even if we stay in town, can we at least put a dome over the Law School? That way we’d still be around Ann Arbor and the cold weather, but the Law School could enjoy warm temperatures year-round.
Dean Z: Okay. I’m not really much of an architecture person. But, if it can look good, okay. I won’t object. But I like the cold weather.
Dean C: Look, I’m a born-and-raised former beach volleyball player from Southern California. If can handle it, so can you. Suck it up.

RG: Alright, alright. Dean Zearfoss, you’ve MC’ed the "Mr. Wolverine" competition every year since its inception.
Dean Z: Yeah. Isn’t that weird?

RG: Definitely! Especially since January, just after a big application deadline, is such a busy month for you in the admissions cycle. Why do you take the time to MC the "Mr. Wolverine" competition?
Dean Z: I’m going to give you an answer that is not actually smart-alecky, which is against my usual practice. I really love the spirit of this contest --I think it’s a lot of fun! And, it helps remind me why I love this law school. With the exception of Ron Garber’s performance last year, that is…. You can put that in, because he knows how I felt about that. Anyway, I really feel like it shows what a great community we are, and it helps remind me why I love this law school. And, I’ve got to tell you, it kinda invigorates me to do this job. Also, it reminds me that I’ve got to look for good dancers, and good singers, and choreographers when I’m reviewing these applications. I might otherwise forget.

RG: Let me see if I have this straight. The Law School is great -except Ron Garber’s ass.
Dean Z: [laughs] That’s right.

RG: In the past you’ve been known to use a "Mr. Wolverine" contestant’s application against him during the competition. Can we expect similar material this time around?
Dean Z: I only did that the one year. And then last year no one could even hear what I said. I wasn’t using application info, anyway. This year I’m not going to say anything about the contestants at all because Paul Mata is keeping us on the clock. He’s a harsh taskmaster.

RG: Would you support a forum whereby we male law students could hear the dirt on our female classmates?
Dean Z: Well, Nate, the sad truth is: there’s much less dirt on the women. Sorry about that. [laughs]

RG: Why do you think that is?
Dean Z: I’ve got to tell you, there are a lot of public urination charges in the male camp here, and not so much with the women. It’s very rare to see women with public urination charges in their past.

RG: Would you be more or less likely to admit a woman with a public urination charge?
Dean Z: I am required by law to no longer care about the gender of any urinators.

RG: Fair point. And, thank you both very much.

Kill a Tree, But Save Some Cabbage

By Sumeera Younis

I must have spent hours during study week thinking about that warm cashmere sweater: How it would comfort me once finals were finished, how it would look perfect under my new blazer. But who was I kidding? With hundreds of dollars in textbook purchases awaiting me, I knew I couldn’t splurge…. Or could I? I have come to realize that buying textbooks doesn’t have to break the bank.

One reason textbooks are so expensive is publishers keep cranking out new editions. Once a publisher has sold books from one edition, they start losing money because people start buying the books used. Congress has even looked into this issue, though that was back in 2005, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

While we wait on Congress, I’ve looked into different ways to get your books and how much each would cost. I compared the prices of two books that most people purchase at some point in their law school career: The Modern Law of Contracts by Frier & White and International Law, Norms, Actors, Process- A Problem Oriented Approach by Dunoff, Ratner, and Wippman.

There are several bookstores on campus, and they sell our textbooks at list price. A used copy is generally twenty to thirty dollars cheaper, but those go fast. Most times you’ll be stuck with a brand new copy of the book. It has long been suspected that all the bookstore managers of Ann Arbor meet in a dungeon somewhere and conspire to keep all the prices of books the exact same high price, so there is not much point in shopping around at campus bookstores. Your pocket will take the hardest hit if you purchase straight from the bookstore.

Contracts: $101.00
Transnat: $113.00
Amazon v.
In the world of online textbooks, these are the two heavyweights: Amazon and You can find almost any textbook on the planet on these websites, but there are a few things you should look out for. Make sure you are ordering the right edition. In some classes, the professor spends a lot of time referring to the casebook or asking you to look up something during lecture. If you know this is the case, then having the right edition becomes hugely important. In other classes you don’t notice it at all. If you do decide to buy the older edition of a textbook, make sure you are paying bottom dollar --you can get these textbooks for around twenty bucks.

Also, both Amazon and have rating reviews for both sellers and books. If the seller is bad at shipping on time or misrepresents his items, it will probably be reflected in his reviews. There is also a description of how much highlighting, writing, or wear the book you are ordering has. The main consideration to keep in mind while ordering online is shipping time. I’ve had problems getting things in a decent time from, but Amazon’s shipping has worked really well. If you know what classes you are taking before break starts, you can find a list of all your books on the registrar’s website and order them with plenty of time for shipping.

Transnat: New: $103.96, Used: $74.95
Contracts: New: $101.00, Used: $70.00
Transnat: $80.00
Contracts: $70.00

I will admit I am guilty of this as well, but holy bursting inbox, Batman! How many e-mails for textbook requests can a law student read before moaning about it in the RG? Please use a different forum for next semester, I beg you! Law students everywhere (and by everywhere I mean at Michigan) would love you forever (and by forever I mean the first week of classes when they wouldn’t be getting slammed with book spam). If nothing else, use the Law School classifieds. But all griping aside, some of the best deals I’ve found on textbooks have been on LawOpen. You can make quick cash if you are selling, and get a great price without the added cost of shipping if you are buying. You can really finesse the LawOpen system by waiting for that period when people realize they are going to drop a class but have already taken the shrink-wrap off the book, when Ulrich’s won’t take them back. This is pure money because you get a brand new book for a lot less. Prices vary on LawOpen, but I have been able to get a $114.00 textbook for $25.00 and it was in great shape!

You have probably passed the Booktrader room hundreds of times in your law school life and not quite known what it was, or been slightly intimidated by the gorgeous Grace Lee manning the cash register. Located in the basement of Hutchins Hall, Booktrader is a student -run operation where students can buy and sell books. You can give your books to Booktrader to sell for whatever price you’d like --half the retail price is recommended. Once the book is sold, Booktrader will take a commission and give you the rest of the profit for the book.

Although Booktrader offers a great value, there are a few drawbacks. For instance, it doesn’t open until the first day of classes. Since professors often assign homework before the first class, this leaves you a little behind the game. Still, the prices might be worth the risk of being called on the first day of class and having no clue what is going on. You might also run into a lot of older editions at Booktrader; so, once again, make sure you are getting the right edition if that is important to you.

Contracts: $50.50
Transnat: $56.50
Who really needs textbooks?
Have you ever spent hours going through your reading only to realize the only thing you learned was that Britney Spears has a new man? (And you sure didn’t get that from your textbook.) Have you ever highlighted in every color known to man and not even known the class you were reading for? It makes you wonder if books might be a little overrated. I mean, yeah, everyone’s doing it. You see all your classmates walk into class and put that red, hundred-dollar textbook next to their laptop, and you think: Wow, what a magical feeling. But do you really need it? A great way to save money on text books is not to buy them at all! If you find yourself desperate around finals time, the library keeps our textbooks on hand, and you can just mosey in there and visit them.

Contracts: $0
Transnational Law: $0
(Keep in mind: we have not computed lost income for any variance in grades that might result from using this method.)

Unconventional Methods
If you are not quite ready to go through a semester without books and still don’t want to shell out the big bucks to buy them, there are several options open to you. You could always try copying the book: The transnational law book has 1090 pages, and at ten cents a page you’ll be set back $109.00 with no fancy red binding to show for it. I’m not sure how legal this is either. You could try breaking into your professor’s house and borrowing the book. There are some unforeseeable transactional costs here, such as finding out where the professor lives, buying the right equipment to break in with, and facing the possibility of being barred from the bar.

Contracts: Lockpicking Set: $20,
Digital Camera: $120, Defense
Attorney: $2,000+
Transnational Law: 18-20 years

There is a lot we can do right here at Michigan to make the textbook plight more bearable. Professors can use the same editions for longer periods. (How much CAN Crim Law really change in a year?) Booktrader can open a little earlier so we can get the stellar half off deals and help our classmates make a few bucks. Some students at other universities have even taken to ordering their books from overseas because they are much cheaper, or have directly contacted publishers to get unbound copies which are also substantially cheaper.

There is no quick fix to beating the textbook blues, but there are more options out there than plunging yourself further into debt. If you do well enough in your book search, as I did, you’ll have the additional perk of being able to indulge in a guilt-free cashmere sweater. And, if that’s not your poison, Duby might have another Game Cube up for grabs.

The Better, Stronger, Faster: 138 Hutchins Hall

Hutchins Hall room 138 has reopened after an eight-month remodeling project. The room has been reoriented, and features technological upgrades, a new heating and cooling system, and greater accessibility.

Perhaps the most obvious change is the reorientation of the room to a short, wide space. Although the capacity of the room decreased from 100 to 60 people, and reorientation necessitated an additional exit, the new design is a response to professor requests. Past lecturers had felt the previous configuration distanced them from their students. Now, no student is more than four rows back, so no more sleeping through Jurisdiction. Sorry.

The new front row of tables can be turned around to form an oval with the second row, or combined with the teacher’s desk to make a conference table that seats sixteen, making the room suitable for both full-sized lectures and smaller seminars. The new energy-efficient air-handling and air-conditioning system independently manages the front seminar space and the full room. The new multi-level ceiling design partitions airflow and provides a closer feel for seminars in the front of the otherwise cavernous space. Additionally, the front row of tables are high enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

The new room 138 boasts all-new audio visual equipment including a projector, a document camera, and an image camera. This equipment is all built into the room, an improvement that the Law School’s AV team can appreciate as they rush past to set up projectors and such for professors in the still-ancient 150 Hutchins. The new gear, along with the projector screen, lights, and two kinds of window shades, are all controlled by a Crestron unit at the teacher’s table.

A welcome upgrade for students are the electrical outlets at each seat. Over Spring Break, these will be joined by computer data ports to provide Internet access. It is not yet known whether Internet access will be disabled during class times.

There is still work to be done before 138 Hutchins will be finished. The teacher’s table is currently too low, a new carpet will be installed in a few weeks, and further electrical system upgrades are required. Still, it looks good so far, and we welcome the opening of the new room 138 for lectures, seminars, and lunch-time events.

MLK Keynote Delivered to Appreciative Crowd

Professor Bryan Stevenson of New York University and the Equal Justice Inititive in Montgomery, Alabama, delivered the keynote address for the 2007 MLK Day Celebration on Monday, January 15. For those unable to attend, Professor Stevenson’s speech may be found at the following address until February 15, 2007:

Drug Dogs Bust Brensike's Class

On January 19, 2007, Professor Brensike’s Criminal Procedure class hosted Sarge and K.P., two drug sniffing-dogs from the Ann Arbor Police Department. The dogs, named after officers who have died in the line of duty, came to class as part of a unit on the 4th Amendment, and the ramifications of drug-dog searches. No students were busted, though Professor Brensike had warned her class earlier in the week to leave their drugs at home. Officer Kevin Harding, who accompanied the dogs to class, demonstrated their abilities with the aid of a rather large bag of marijuana.

Beyond the Quad: Mini-Seminar Program Enters Its Third Triumphant Term

By Malak Hamwi

Students looking to speak to their professors outside the ivy-covered walls of Hutchins Hall are often unsure how to engage their favorite faculty member.

“At most law schools you’ll hear people say, ‘It would be really great to see faculty outside of school,’? Dean Baum said. “But faculty aren’t going to show up at bar night.?

To address this reality, and encourage more informal student-faculty interaction, the Law School has developed the Mini-Seminar Series, where participating professors host between 3 and 6 discussions per semester in their homes or at non-classroom venues for as many as twelve students.

The program is the brainchild of Dean Caminker, who got the idea after numerous conversations with alumni. Many older Law School grads spoke highly of classes they had taken in professors’ homes during their three years at Michigan. Many years ago, it was more common for professors to hold seminars at their houses given the slower pace of their jobs and household demographics, Dean Caminker said.

Some alumni also lamented that they had not taken a course with a certain professor they admired, since they either did not have the time or were not interested enough in the professor’s area of expertise to take a 3-credit course on the topic. Dean Caminker decided that mini-seminars would afford students the chance to acquaint themselves with faculty members they may not otherwise encounter.

“Students really want to get to know their professors, and this gives them bits of exposure to faculty,? he said, adding that Michigan’s suburban environment, where most professors and students live nearby, is an asset that should be exploited.

The pilot program launched last winter with four mini-seminars. All participating professors were volunteers, receiving only a small stipend to provide refreshments for the students during the scheduled meetings. Thirty-one students enrolled last winter, and their glowing evaluations, coupled with positive faculty feedback, encouraged administrators to try the program for the entire 2006-07 school year.

Dean Caminker sent out another feeler e-mail over the summer, and about 30 faculty members volunteered.

“So many faculty signed up that all couldn’t be accommodated,? Dean Baum said.

Last semester, nearly 80 students signed up for one of the 10 mini-seminars offered. Professors Michael Barr, Daniel Halberstam, Ellen Katz, Doug Kahn, JJ Prescott, Steve Ratner and Joseph Vining all hosted not-for-credit mini-seminars in their homes on myriad topics like how to get a job as a law professor, eugenics, and poverty in America. Although no classes during the pilot semester were for credit, some professors – like Richard Friedman, Don Herzog, Chris Whitman, Becky Eisenberg and Rechel Croskery-Robert – opted to make their seminars worth one credit. All one-credit mini-seminars are mandatory pass/fail and do not fulfill either the seminar or upper-level writing requirements for graduation.

Professors are allowed considerable freedom in choosing their seminar topics, which are not required to strictly pertain to legal matters. Last semester, for instance, tax professor Douglas Kahn and assistant professor J.J. Prescott hosted a seminar on classic and modern plays, where students read aloud from “The Wild Duck? and “The Merchant of Venice.?

This semester, some students will finish the second half of their mini-seminar (half of last semester’s offerings straddled the fall and winter semesters) while other will sign up for one of the five new picks – including Professor Omri Ben-Shahar’s “Private Law in the Information Age,? Eve Brensike’s “Anatomy of a Criminal Case,? and Richard Friedman’s “Rules of Play.?

Given the popularity of the series, only 2Ls and 3Ls are invited to register for the mini-seminars and are limited to one seminar per year. Although the program is still somewhat of an experiment, administrators are optimistic that the series will become part of the regular curriculum and a selling point for prospective students.

“It’s off to a great start,? Dean Baum said.

The deadline for requesting a mini-seminar this term is today at 5:00 pm. Interested students should send an e-mail to Amy Bishop ( with “Mini-Seminar? typed in the subject line. The message must include: the student’s full name, uniqname, Emplid number (listed on your U of M ID card), the mini-seminar number (400M11, 400M12, etc.), mini-seminar title, professor’s (or professors’) full name(s), and the order of requests 1 through up to 5, 1 being the highest.

Come Back, Sinks! Come Back!

As half of you know, and the rest have heard, the sinks disappeared from the men’s bathroom on the first floor of Legal Research. This was no prank. Mid-December maintenance on one of the sinks revealed a plumbing problem, so all three were removed. Once off the wall, the beloved basin sinks were found to be rusting badly, and were retired from service. The good news is that, once finished, the men’s bathroom will sport all new sinks and faucets.

Before those new sinks can be installed, all new plumbing and a counter must be installed. Plant Operations is responsible for general maintenance, for which the Law School pays a yearly fee. But plumbing upgrades and the installation of new counters and sinks are jobs closer to “building enhancements,? which the Law School handles and pays for itself. Ultimately, Lois Oerther, the Law School Facilities Manager, negotiated a deal whereby Plant Operations would pay for the plumbing services and the Law School would purchase and install the new Corian® countertop.
The timing certainly could have been worse, since the work was supposed to be finished over winter break. “I told them I had to have it done by January 10,? recalls Oerther. “Obviously that didn’t happen.? The sinks and counter were delivered in early January, and a plumber is standing by. The hold up has been funding from Plant Operations. That was resolved last Thursday, and construction is scheduled to be finished this Friday.

Despite the lack of sinks, the men’s bathroom remains open for business. In place of soap and water was a while-supplies-last box of a dozen or so bottles of Purell® Instant Hand Sanitizer (whose commercials carry the disclaimer “not a substitute for soap and water?). Whatever help they were, those bottles were gone in a few days, leaving some men to bemoan their shitty hands over LawOpen. It apparently never occured to these guys to use the bathroom by the lockers, the bathroom in the library, or the unisex one on the first floor of Hutchins, which all sport working plumbing.

August 28, 2006

Tips for Early Interview Week and Beyond

Submitted by the Office of Career Services

According to employers and legal consultants across the country, the job market for law students is quite robust, and there is a high demand for new talent. Thus, Susan Guindi, Assistant Dean for Career Services, is optimistic that this year’s Early Interview Week will prove successful for Michigan Law students.

How to maximize the number of interviews you have

During EIW, employers’ interview schedules are posted on the doors of their interview room. If there is a blank space or a student has crossed his or her name off the interview list, you can write in yours. (Just make sure that the employer hasn’t blocked off this time.) Bring extra copies of your resume and transcript because the employer you’ve just signed up with won’t have them. Last year a student made a habit of walking around and looking at schedules several times a day. She picked up six interviews that way.

Another way to show your interest in a firm is to visit its hospitality suite, if there is one. Most firms expect the students who are interviewing with them to drop by the hospitality suite before their interview. If you’re interested in an employer but don’t have a scheduled interview, the hospitality suite is a great way to meet the firm’s recruiting staff and attorneys. Express your interest in the firm but note that you couldn’t get an interview time, and then provide your resume and other documents they request. Often the firm will send their junior associates who are recent UM Law School graduates to staff the hospitality suite. Consider your time speaking with the firm’s representatives as a type of prescreening interview. You could get asked to come back at a later time for a more complete interview.

What to do next/what else you can be doing

During this week and next, your resume and cover letter should be going out to employers that do not come to EIW. A list of more than 150 employers who do not come to EIW but want to receive applications from Michigan students can be found on the OCS website. Keep an eye on the deadlines for these jobs, some of which are coming up soon.

In addition, your resume and cover letter should be mailed to employers you have found in various sources such as, the Small and Medium Sized Firm List on our website, and the In House Directory. The companies run the gamut from Major League Baseball to Guess Jeans, from the Screen Actor’s Guild to American Greetings Corporation. These databases will be updated as we receive new information, so please share any information you have by emailing it to:

Westlaw also has the "Law Student Jobs Online" (LSJO), postings with opportunities for 2Ls and 3Ls. The "Summer Associate Law Firm Directory" is particularly helpful in finding firms that may not be in the NALP Directory as well as firms outside the United States. You can find law firms by location or practice area or both. Another function allows a student to search for firms that allow split summers with a public interest or government agency. Westlaw is also very helpful in locating lawyers using not only a lawyer’s undergraduate institution, but also membership in a sorority or fraternity, or representative clients.

EIW is not the final chapter in on campus interviewing

Every year additional employers will come to campus to recruit students after Early Interview Week. These employers include government agencies as well as smaller local and regional firms. We will email you more information about this Fall Interview Program in the coming weeks. The bottom line in finding a summer job is to be persistent and proactive. Make an appointment with a Career Services counselor. We’re here to help.

The Office of Career Services may be contacted by phone at (734) 764-0546 or by e-mail at

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