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January 11, 2005

School Started, Life Over

School has begun again for me and that means my life is pretty clearly over. Nearly every second of every day appears to be booked with obligations. The trouble is, with journal, a 20 hour/week job, writing for ACS blog, a clinic that requires 10+ hours/week, and 14 hours of class, far too many of the seconds in my days appear to be double-booked. I mean, that's 44 hours booked already, without even figuring the time necessary for journal work, ACS blogging, or reading. Clearly I can't do all of these things, but I don't know what to give up. Crap. Question for anyone with knowledge/an opinion: What is the use of taking Federal Courts? I was advised to take it if I want a clerkship, which I'm pretty sure I do, but it looks like it's basically going to be something like “advanced CivPro with a special focus on Erie doctrine.” That's fine, but is it really worth the time and effort? Any thoughts on the long-term value of any of the above activities relative to the others would also be welcome.

Posted January 11, 2005 08:11 AM | 2L

Fed Courts: almost like a prerequisite for a federal clerkship. Some judges (as you will see on the FLCIS website) even say that you must take it, or want to know if you have in your cover letter. I don't know why. You just read the same cases over and over again. How many times must one read Marbury?

Short of clerkship reasons, or an interest in federal jurisdiction, it's not a necessary class. As you said, it's advanced Civ Pro, with a healthy dose of Con Law I. Also, if you take either Admin. Law or Separation of Powers, you get a lot of the same stuff, too.

Posted by: Scott at January 11, 2005 09:17 AM

I took Federal Courts last fall but had never heard that people took it to get a clerkship. Maybe ours is different; we didn't even read Marbury. Our professor pretty much focused on "how to get a case into federal court" and "how to get a case out of federal court." It wasn't so much procedural as it was Supreme Court cases. Lots of abstention stuff. Lots of 1984/Bivens stuff. Personally, I thought it was a great class. Disclaimer: I'm a nerd, so take my opinion for what it's worth.

Posted by: E. McPan at January 11, 2005 02:01 PM

I'm in it now, and it's a really good class. Great for if you want a clerkship, but also if you ever want to do anything in the federal courts - i.e. file any complaint in them. It's about separation of powers and how strong the Supreme Court is. My class is more like advanced Con Law than Civ Pro, but it probably depends on the professor. For example, we do a lot with standing and mootness, in addition to the 1984 and Bivens stuff. I think it's definitely a good class for a civil rights/public interest-type person (like you) to take.

But if you're thinking of adding it to your 14 credits, clinic, and job - don't do it. :)

Posted by: monica at January 11, 2005 04:43 PM

I took Fed Courts with Adam Samaha (then at Minnesota, now at Chicago) and it was a fascinating class. Samaha used Martin Redish and Suzanna Sherry's casebook. I haven't held a Federal clerkship nor have I really been in federal practice, but it's still a worthwhile study in separation of powers and court administration. It involves looking at some of the "guts" of jurisdictional and procedural rules, but for that reason it's a good study in why those rules exist what they're supposed to accomplish, and whether they actually do accomplish those ends. Depending on how it's taught, it can also be an interesting historical study.

I didn't take the course at GW, so this may be useless to you, but I'll try to remember some of what we covered. It's been four years now since I took the course, so I'm not certain my memory will be all that great. I'm assisted by having the casebook here, though. Let's see. Judicial review issues (standing/mootness/ripeness/political questions); power of Congress to regulate the courts; Legislative courts vs. Article III courts; 1983/Bivens; state sovereign immunity; abstention; Anti-Injunction Act; Habeas Corpus (including AEDPA)... I can't remember if we did any extra work on jurisdictional topics. That got hammered into us pretty well during the two-semester first-year Civ Pro course, so maybe not.

I enjoyed it a lot, but like E. McPan said above, I'm also a nerd, so consider that. And I agree completely with monica - do not try to add such a thing to your existing courseload. And, finally, I didn't take it at GW. But you should be able to ask the prof what the course covers or get a copy of an old syllabus.

Posted by: tph at January 11, 2005 09:26 PM

Um, no advice re: your class, but I have to say that your "to do" list makes me feel ashamed for being so whiney and worthless about trying to write my diss. I'm hoping that I can convert the shame I'm feeling right now into at least 3 hours of productive writing tomorrow . . .


Posted by: Anonymous at January 12, 2005 02:53 AM

Thanks everyone for the input. Fed Courts is already in my 14-hour schedule; I was just wondering if perhaps I should drop it. Your comments (and other advice I got yesterda) has convinced me to stick with it. I just have to find something else to cut. The trouble is, I want to do it all. I can't, but I want to, so what to do?

j9: It's terrific to hear from you! I hope you get three hours and more! It's great to hear that you're working on your diss! How much longer, do you think?

Posted by: ambimb at January 12, 2005 08:20 AM

Looking at the schedule, the one thing I'd give up if you can would be the clinic. I can't remember if it's one of those clinics that is the end all be all of your universe, if so, keep it, but from my experience clinics are huge time sucks that turn law students into slave labor.

Posted by: Beanie at January 12, 2005 10:51 AM

no way - i'd give up the part-time job. the clinic is already a job. i don't know about at GW, but in our clinics, we're in court like twice a week and actually representing clients. it's a fantastic experience, and i'm sure it would be doubly so at a school without Northeastern's emphasis on practical skills.

Posted by: monica at January 12, 2005 12:44 PM

Thanks to everyone for the input. As most of you advise, I'm keeping fed courts and the clinic (the clinic sounds awesome -- more on that later), but I'm cutting my part time job hours in half. Also, I may take fed cts. pass/fail, just because it might reduce the pressure in the finals stage. We'll see....

Posted by: ambimb at January 18, 2005 07:43 AM

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