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August 31, 2004

Day One, Year Two

Like a truck slamming into you on the highway. That's how the semester begins. Even on day one, there are reading assignments to do and discuss, and student organizations and extracurriculars are hitting the ground running. Yesterday my classes began at 8:50 a.m. and didn't end until 5:50 p.m. Sure, I had breaks in between, but they were filled with running around to the bookstore, financial aid, registration, and other administrivia. Long day. Packed day, a day when suddenly every moment of my time for the next three months seemed to fill up to overflowing. And of course it's not like that; it's never as hard as it seems to be, but on day one, sitting in class again for the first time in months, it can be a little discouraging to think of all the reading that lays ahead of you, all the classes you must attend, all the hoops you must jump through. Of course, it's also a little exciting, too, because there's a lot to learn, and at least some of it will be fascinating and useful and worthwhile. Yin. Yang. One thing I'm not so sure about though: The conventional wisdom is that the second year of law school is somehow easier than the first year. I'm not sure how that could be true. I mean, yes, it's easier in that you know a little more about what to expect so you don't have to deal with all the newness and uncertainty of your first year, but the workload seems, if anything, greater this year than last. Perhaps that's not true. I guess I'll find out. The schedule for this year includes the following classes, three of which met yesterday. Highlights from the notes:
  • Evidence: Every attorney and every person should know about the rules of evidence—everything you say or do is evidence of something. "That oughta worry the hell out of ya." (We also watched a few minutes from the film, "Brother's Keeper"—I guess we're going to be talking about it in terms of how we could use the different pieces of evidence raised by the murder investigation it documents.)
  • Labor Law: 25 years ago, the stock market was at 1000, now it's at 10,000. Stockholder wealth is up 10 times. 25 years ago CEOs earned 40-1 what average worker earned, now it's 500-1. When American CEOs travel around the world they are embarrassed about this. Meanwhile, employee wages have remained stagnant. 1.3 million more in poverty this year than last. Gap between rich and poor is getting wider b/c people in bottom 20% have no voice. 45 million Americans have no health coverage at all, at least 30 million of those work and either have no health care option or an option that's too expensive so they can't afford it. Every other group in our society is organized because we recognize that we need to be organized to have any political power in America, yet society tells workers they don't need to organize. Why not?
  • Corporations: American business is not about business, it's about the stock market. This single-minded focus on Wall Street is a damaging, long-term problem that will ultimately destroy corporate capitalism in America unless something changes, and it's all because of the historical development of the corporations in America. We read Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518 (1819)—"the emancipation proclamation for corporations" because it's the decision that made them independent juridical persons.
  • ConLaw II: Hasn't met yet.
So far, so good. I expect evidence will be interesting but a little bit of a slog because I'm not a big fan of rules classes, I'll be loving labor law, and corporations is going to be a big challenge because even though the professor seems highly critical of "American Corporate Capitalism," I'm guessing his critique is still a lot more pro-business than mine. ConLaw II should also be interesting, but I'll find out more about that today...

Posted August 31, 2004 07:33 AM | 2L

I thought that the old adage was, "First year they scare you to death, second year they work you to death, and third year they bore you to death." In which case, you're right on track... ;)

Posted by: -Dave! at August 31, 2004 09:50 AM

"25 years ago CEOs earned 40-1 what average worker earned, now itís 500-1. When American CEOs travel around the world they are embarrassed about this."

Really??? I've met a few CEOs in my day, and never once have I met one who was embarrassed about his compensation package.

Posted by: -Dave! at August 31, 2004 09:51 AM

I think Evidence is probably my favorite 2L class so far. I like Con Law quite a bit, too, but I think it's because of the professor.

Posted by: Steve at September 1, 2004 12:44 AM

Dave: You're right. I forgot the old adage went. I'm screwed.

Do you think those CEOs would be more embarrassed if you lived in another country and they met you there and you asked them what it felt like to make 500 times what their average employee made? Maybe not. Such is the cult of cash and wealth in the U.S.

Steve: Evidence is looking better after another day. I learned quite a little bit about evidence this past summer, so that may make it both easier and more fun.

Posted by: ambimb at September 1, 2004 11:33 AM

I could not agree more with the first sentence of your post.

Posted by: em at September 1, 2004 03:23 PM

2L may be a bit 'easier' in the way you mentioned - you know what to expect, you know generally how to approach classes, you aren't in culture shock. But it's still tons of work. And while I expect to be a bit less busy this year (my 3rd), it still began much the same way the past 2 did - fast and furious.

Posted by: Kelly at September 2, 2004 12:51 PM

i loved evidence. my professor also sprinkled it with a lot of practical advice, like "yeah, the rules do say not to let that in. but no judge in the world would do that. it's going to be let in, no matter how much you object." like about the pictures of the dead corpse in a murder case or something.

but the clerk who's my boss now told another intern who mentioned her workload, "oh, you're a 2L? at some point you'll stop reading." i think that's about true. for me, it was mid-july.

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