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March, 2011:

Recommended Classes for ASU 2Ls

When I was a 1L, we had an Assistant Dean of Student Life named Michael Bossone whose whole job was to be there to give guidance regarding academics, career decisions, and life in general.  When I was picking out my classes for 2L year, he was there to help me compare my legal interests to the course offerings.  He was an awesome resource.  ASU College of Law school eliminated his position after he left at the end of my 1L year.  I’ve heard that this year’s 1Ls are looking for some advice on what they should take next semester so I thought I’d offer my two cents.  This is a compilation of my opinions and those of some of my fellow students on what’s being offered next semester.

2L year is generally the year that they work you to death.  It’s a good time to take care of bar courses since most of the slots in the small seminar courses will be taken by the 3Ls.  These classes come highly recommended:

Reviewing

Image by mason13a via FlickrCriminal Procedure – C. Hessick

  • Criminal Procedure – C. Hessick
  • Evidence – A. Hessick (This class is a pre-req for a lot of other classes & clinics)
  • Estate & Gift Tax – Becker
  • Constitutional Law II – Matheson
  • Professional Responsibility – Cohen or Winer
  • Trademark – Halaby
  • Sports Law

If you’re interested in taking Karjala’s Copyright or Patent class, it’s better to take Sylvester’s Intellectual Property class first to get a solid foundation for the material.  Karjala doesn’t spend much time on these basics but jumps right in to challenging the judges’ logic in the cases.

2L year is also a great time to do an externship.  If you want to be judicial clerk after graduation, it’s imperative that you do a judicial clerkship during your 2L year.  Be aware of which judges like to hire their former externs as clerks and which ones have a policy against hiring their former externs as clerks.

Always consider which professor is teaching the each class, and try to select the professors with which you will mesh the best.  For classes that are offered every semester, there may be a different professors assigned to teach in the fall and the spring.

Some classes are better left for 3L year, because that’s when senioritis has set in, and it’s better to take the classes that don’t have written finals and/or the professor doesn’t assign an atrocious amount of reading.  Here are some of them:

  • Advanced Legal Writing
  • Decedent’s Estates
  • Lawyering Theory & Practice – one the easier skills classes to take
  • Advanced Legal Research
  • Trial Advocacy
  • Applied Evidence and Trial Advocacy
  • Creative Writing for Lawyers

3L year is also the best time to participate in a clinic.

As you’re selecting classes, be mindful that some seminar classes are only offered once every other year.  That means you’ll only have one chance during your law school career to take those classes, so it might be worth it to arrange your schedule around those classes.

Remember, if the school doesn’t offer a class in a subject you are interested in, you can always do an Independent Study.  It’s also an easy way to add 1 or 2 credits to your course load.

Good luck registering for classes.  If you have any questions regarding class selection or if any 2Ls, 3Ls, and graduates want to leave feedback on any class they’ve taken, please leave them as comments.

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Sponsor A Law Kid Update – March 22, 2011

I’m 81 days into my Sponsor A Law Kid (SALK) campaign and have 127 days to go.  So far, I’ve sold 46 days to 33 people and businesses, and it’s paid for about 1/3 of this semester’s tuition.  It’s been quite a journey and I’m grateful to have been part of these people’s lives.

When I embarked on this campaign in November, my friend basically said to put up a blog post and a Facebook page and see what happens.  I sold quite a few days right off the bat, but then things fizzled out a bit.  Over winter break, I decided to send some emails to people who might be interested in sponsoring a day.  I made a list of every product I use or businesses I patronize on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, I use mostly national brands that don’t sponsor individuals.  Then I started flipping through local publications that I read when I have the time, and I sent emails to everyone who had an ad that included an email address or website.  I would easily spend 8 hours sending emails to get 1 or 2 responses that would say “Yes.”

One day over break I was lounging around my parents’ house when my phone rang.  It was a representative for Bashas’, a family-owned grocery store chain in the Phoenix area where I regularly shop.  They received my message about SALK and she was calling to offer me a $1,000 scholarship in lieu of sponsoring a day.  I was speechless and so touched by their generosity.

When I returned to Phoenix, I decided to see if any of the local news stations would be interested in using SALK as news story since school would be back in session soon.  I sent an email to every news station and pitched SALK as a potential story.  I was shocked when I got a call 20 minutes later from Channel 15 asking if they could come over to do an interview to air that night.  One of the viewers that night was a woman who used to be a receptionist at the agency where I worked before law school.  I hadn’t seen her in years.  She loved the idea of SALK so much that she sponsored a day to raise awareness for soldiers with PTSD.  Somehow the Phoenix New Times heard about my campaign and featured SALK on their 365 Ideas blog.

I had sponsorship for most of the days in January.  On the first day that didn’t have a sponsor, one of my classmates offered to sponsor it at a much reduced rate to promote a cause for him.  I admired his gumption, so I accepted the deal.

One thing I’ve learned from SALK is that it takes more time and energy than you’d expect to write on someone’s behalf.   My sponsors trust me to write about causes that are close to their hearts, and I take these obligations seriously.  It takes considerable thought to determine the best way to accurately express their sentiments.  I am honored by the opportunity to share their stories, whether I’m writing about a rare illness, paying tribute to a loved one, or promoting someone’s passion.

Nowadays I’m too busy to solicit sponsorship, but I’m glad when the emails pop into my inbox from people asking to sponsor a day.  Moreover, I’m always happy when I see that others are finding my sponsors because of my blog.  My only regret related to SALK is that I didn’t think of it sooner and have more time to invite people to be part of the SALK family.

SALK Day 78: Arizona Animal Races

Today’s sponsors are Micah and Danielle Larripa, two of the most wonderful people I’ve met during law school.  Micah is my classmate and a proud member of the U.S. Marine Corps who is perpetually “living the dream.”  Danielle is his beautiful wife.  They asked me to write about the “awesomeness of obscure animal racing events in Arizona.”  I did some digging and here are the top 8 animal races in Arizona.

  1. Just anther day at the Ostrich Races

    Image by Zach Inglis via Flickr

    Ostrich Races:  The ostrich races are part of the annual Ostrich Festival in Chandler.   There are races where ostriches pull chariots and races where participants ride the giant birds.  It’s a hilarious crazy event where you’re likely to see the birds spinning in circles and races where every jockey falls off their bird.

  2. Pug Olympics:  I had to throw in a pug event for the Larripa’s pug, Scout.  This annual event takes place every January in Mesa.  From what I can tell, they let the dogs run wild on agility equipment.
  3. Dog Sled Race:  This race is part of the annual Winter Games at the Hon-Dah Resort Casino in Pinetop.  The Winter Games also raise money for the local humane society with a purebred dog show a “mountain mutt” dog show, and a dog weight pull competition.
  4. Pig Races at Schnepf Farms:  The pig races are part of the pumpkin and chili festival every October.  Hillbilly Bob calls the races as the little pig race around the dirt track.  This is a great family event where attendees all get pig noses for being there.
  5. Desert Dachshund Race:  This event looks adorable – dachshunds zipping down a race area in little colorful race bibs.  This race occurs every October and benefits the Sahuaro Dachshund Rescue.
  6. Goat Dressing : This isn’t a race, but it’s an animal event that was too hilarious not to put on the list.  The Arizona Gay Rodeo Association hosts the Road Runner Regional Rodeo for the International Gay Rodeo Association every February.  Along with the standard rodeo events (bull riding, barrel racing, roping, etc.), they have Goat Dressing – an event where teams of two compete to see who can put a pair of panties on a goat the fastest.
  7. Mascot Race:  Ok, so this is not exactly an animal race, but I’m sure that there are people dressed up as animals.  Mascots from local restaurants race one mile as part of the annual Gilbert Days every November.
  8. Warrior DashThe Warrior Dash is an event for humans with animalistic spirit.  This hellish 3.4 mile race is peppered with twelve obstacles including a cargo net, a river, barbed wire, and fire.  Participants receive a Viking helmet and a beer upon crossing the finish line.  The Warrior Dash has races in 30 cities in and out of the U.S.  It’s coming to Arizona for the first time this spring.  And in case you were wondering, yes, I’m doing it.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsors are Micah and Danielle Larripa.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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Why Lawyers Should Use Twitter

I have a friend who has been a personal injury lawyer for decades.  He’s a solo practitioner with enough cases to keep him comfortably in business.  He was my lawyer after I was involved in a car accident and he did a wonderful job settling my case.  He has a great reputation and gets the majority of his business through word-of-mouth.  He has a website and occasionally writes a blog.  He recently asked me why he should be on Twitter if he doesn’t need it to drum up business.

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

I think my friend doesn’t see any value in sitting on Twitter all day reading and responding to others’ tweets.  I think he’s right on that point, but I don’t think he sees some of the other benefits of having a Twitter account.  I’ve been pondering his question for a few weeks and I’ve come up with the top three reasons why a lawyer in his position would want to have a Twitter presence.

  1. Promote Your Blog – I love that my friend writes a blog, but if no one knows when he has something new posted, who is going to read it?  I have a lawyer friend who mostly uses his Twitter account to announce when he has posted a new blog.  I love when he writes, but he doesn’t publish on a set schedule.  I appreciate the notice when he has something new for us to read.
  2. Stay On The Radar – By using a Twitter account, a solo practitioner remind others that they exist in a non-intrusive way.  It also makes it easier for people who promote you within the Twitterverse.   For example, I recently had a friend ask me for a recommendation for a real estate lawyer in Arizona.  I didn’t know any lawyers who practice in this area, so I put the question out on Twitter.  (Note – I only put the question out on Twitter.)  I received two recommendations within 24 hours.  I appreciated the response that provided a name, a Twitter handle, and a website more than the response that just gave me a name.  It gives people a way to get to know you before they initiate a conversation with you.  If you saw a tweet where someone mentioned you, you could post a thank-you tweet and continue to build goodwill for your firm.
  3. Stay Abreast of Legal News – I get multiple legal magazines every month and I don’t have time to flip through them all.  Instead, I follow various entities on Twitter who post links to articles and blogs on the latest legal news.  It’s a more efficient way to know what’s going on in the legal world.

When it comes to social media like Facebook and Twitter, it’s important for lawyers (and any professional) to look at it as a tool, and evaluate it whether it can assist them in their business.  With Twitter, it’s about having public conversations in an online community and people can engage where they are comfortable.  In the big picture, I think it’s better to be partially involved and engage a little bit, than not to be involved at all.

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So I Have A Gun . . .

There is a time and place for guns.  I live in Arizona – a big pro-gun state.  We love guns so much that the state legislature is in the process of having the Colt revolver declared as the official state gun.  When you go shopping, some stores have signs that say “No handguns” because we can carry our guns just about everywhere unless they specifically tell us we can’t.  My school is even considering allowing guns on campus.  They’ve tried  to outlaw cigarettes on campus but guns are ok.

I moved to Phoenix shortly after my grandmother died.  Since I didn’t have a job yet, I was the one who was responsible for being on site for the cleaning out and selling of her house.   When I was doing my final walk-through to make sure that we had everything out of house, I discovered an oddly shaped fabric case on a high shelf in her closet.  It was my father’s hunting rifle.  I never knew he had a gun.  I took it to my house and it has been in my closet ever since.  It’s a beautiful weapon, but I don’t fire it.

guns and ammo

Image by darkly_seen via Flickr

Now, I am all for responsible gun ownership.  I have shot a number of guns: rifles, handguns, and an M-16.  People laughed very hard at me when I learned the hard way that I didn’t have my gun pulled all the way into my shoulder before firing it.  I have had my fair share of gun-related bruises.

I heard that a friend of a friend always opens her door holding her gun.  It was handy for making solicitors go away.  I don’t like being bothered at home, so I decided to try it.  The next time the doorbell rang, I opened the door with my dad’s gun in my hands (just holding it, not pointing it at anyone).  There was a little Hispanic man going door-to-door offering to help with my lawn (and I don’t have a lawn).  He was so surprised to see a person with a gun.  He looked so scared.  I realized at that point that I don’t want to live in a world where people answer their doors holding guns.

I think one of the problems with the U.S. is that we’re conditioned to believe that the unfamiliar is scary and that people inherently want to hurt each other.  It lends itself to always being on guard and looking for the bad instead of being rational and enjoying the good in life.

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SALK Day 74: Pursuing Passions

Let’s talk about passion.  It’s a powerful feeling.  It drives you to stay up until 3am, working on a project for fun.  It’s that gut feeling that you’re doing something that you were meant to do, and it’s so powerful that you can’t explain why you feel this way.  It just is.

Ignite the moment...

Image by ViaMoi via Flickr

It can take time to figure out what you’re passionate about.  You have to try different things, encounter different people and situations.  I never know when I’ll find something that ignites my passion, but when it happens, I get a burst energy that can overcome the power of sleep deprivation or a bad day.

This past year I’ve had to ask myself what ignites my professional passion.  I love it when I’m working on a legal project, determining a viable answer, and being frustrated that I can’t give legal advice yet.  That’s usually followed by the blaring thought, “Why aren’t I a lawyer yet?!”  When I feel that burst of passionate energy, I’ve tried to slow my brain down enough to identify what was driving that feeling.  It led me to learn that two things make me exceptionally happy – being a helpful reassuring source of knowledge and being a performer.   I am grateful that I have opportunities to be both of these things.

I’m graduating in 60 days, and I don’t have a job lined up yet.  One of my reasons for going to law school was the fact that I didn’t like my job anymore.  I’m being somewhat selective about where I’m applying for jobs because I decided I’m going to pay over $60,000 for a career change that’s going make me miserable.

It’s a joy to watch other people sharing or engaging in their passions.  Today’s sponsor and my friend, Stefi, is such a person who embraces her passions.  It’s not something she consciously thinks about; it’s just what she does.  Sometimes she gets so excited that she literally bounces up and down when she talks.  If you say something that she really likes, she might express her happiness by proposing marriage.  It’s very cute to turn around and see that she’s holding a ring out to me because of something I’ve said.  I love that she risks being seen as weird.  I’m so pleased to see that I’m not the only one who came to law school to find and follow a passion.

Happy Birthday Stefi!

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Stephanie Green.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

 

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SALK Day 73

This post has been temporarily removed at the request of the sponsor.

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Law Student’s Take on the Zebra TM Dispute

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.  I am a law student.  In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice.  It is simply my experiences, opinions, and stuff I looked up on the internet.

(cc) respres

Daniel Rothamel, a.k.a. the “Real Estate Zebra,” is a real estate agent and blogger in Virginia.  He’s being sued by The Lones Group Inc. in Bellingham, Washington, a company that helps real estate agents market themselves.  The Lones Group writes the “Zebra Report” and “Zebra Blog.” Their suit claims that Rothamel is infringing on their trademark and their zebra theme trade dress on their website.  In its complaint, The Lones Group is seeking over $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees for violations of Washington State law, federal law, and common law.

Under the Lanham Act (federal trademark law), a trademark or service mark includes any word, name, or symbol used in commerce to identify and distinguish the source of goods and services.   Trademark rights allow a company to prevent others from using their mark in commerce because it will create consumer confusion.  When a company registers their mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), they can exclude anyone in the country from using their mark. The first person to register the mark, regardless of when they started using it, gets national protection for the use of their mark.  If someone else was using the same mark before they registered their mark with the USPTO, that company can keep using the mark, but only within the area where it was using it when the other company registered the mark.  Without registration, a company can only exclude others from using their mark where they have used their mark in commerce.

According to the complaint, The Lones Group has been publishing its newsletter, “The Zebra Report” since 2005 and has been writing its blog, “The Zebra Blog” since November 2007.  I looked up Rothamel’s domain information and it appears that he’s had his blog since October 2006.  A quick word search on the USPTO website showed that there are no registered trademarks for “Lones Group,” “Zebra Report,” “Zebra Blog,” or “Real Estate Zebra.”  If there are no registered trademarks or trade dresses, The Lones Group can’t claim automatic national protection for their marks.

It appears that The Lones Group is trying to establish priority of use of their mark of “Zebra Report” and the use of zebras on their website to claim that they can stop Rothamel from having his blog.  Rothamel has priority over the use of “zebra” in connection with a blog and the real estate industry.

I see two big issues with this case.  First, I’d argue that The Lones Group and Rothamel have products that are too different for any consumer to be confused.   Rothamel is a real estate agent and The Lones Group helps real estate agents with marketing.  There’s no likelihood of confusion.  Based on what I’ve read from the real estate industry, there has been no confusion.  Second, the marks themselves don’t look that similar.  The Lones Group’s zebras are real pictures of zebras and Rothamel’s zebra is a cartoonish drawing of only a portion of a zebra.

The Lones Group has filed the lawsuit against Rothamel and the agency he works for, Strong Team Realtors.  The Lones Group is probably going after the realty company because they have more money than Rothamel, but I think their case is weak.  Unless Strong Team Realtors is paying for his blog, I don’t think they can be implicated in this case.

Additionally, if this case goes to trial, The Lones Group may have the burden of proving that Rothamel’s blog counts as commerce.  There must be a bona fide offer for a sale to qualify as using a mark in commerce.  Rothamel writes about being a real estate agent, but I think there’s an argument that the blog itself is not “in commerce.”  Rothamel mentions his employer but it doesn’t look like his promoting himself as a real estate agent.  I have not read every blog post on his site, so I could be wrong.  He does not seem to be selling any advertisements on his blog either.  Having a website, by itself, is not sufficient evidence to be in commerce.  If Rothamel’s use of “zebra” is not in commerce, it can’t be a violation of the Lanham Act.

I also think The Lones Group has a jurisdiction issue in regards to the claims under Washington state law.  The jurisdiction rules require you to have sufficient contacts with a state in order to be sued there.  Rothamel lives in Virginia and is a licensed realtor in Virginia.  The fact that his website is accessible to people in Washington, with nothing more, should not be sufficient contact with the state for Rothamel to be sued there under the state law.

Here’s what I think is really going on.  The URL for The Lones Group’s “Zebra Blog” is http://thelonesgroup.wordpress.com.  I think they want Rothamel’s domain (http://www.realestatezebra.com) and possibly his Twitter handle (@realestatezebra), and that they’re afraid he’ll say no if they offer to buy them off him.  If that happened, they wouldn’t have a prayer if they brought a trademark infringement case.  I think they’re hoping for a settlement where they get his domain in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.  And it looks like their approach has worked because Rothamel posted a blog tonight in which he shared a letter offering to stop using his domain, Twitter handle, and any reference to himself at the “Real Estate Zebra” in exchange for them dropping the suit.

Damn it!  I hate it when it appears that people are misusing the law to try to force people to give them what is not theirs to take.  I think Rothamel had a winnable case but he I’m guessing he probably couldn’t afford the potential legal fees if the case went to trial or worse, if he lost.

While I heard about this situation through my friend Jay Thompson, I don’t know Daniel Rothamel or anyone at The Lones Group, nor do I have any personal interest in the outcome of this case.  Based on the information in the complaint, my own research, and the knowledge I acquired in my trademarks class, I don’t think Rothamel is infringing on of the The Lones Group’s trademarks or trade dress.

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SALK Day 62: Vote For Sonoma!!

I was born and raised in a little town called Sonoma, California.  I love my hometown.  Visitors come to Sonoma for the award-winning food and world-class wine.  I hope they also experience what a charming place it is and meet its residents who are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  The city is filled with beauty and closely held traditions.  My family still lives in Sonoma and I look forward to visiting them every year at Christmas.  Every summer, I miss being there on the 4th of July.  The whole town gathers around the Plaza to watch the parade and then in the evening, we all troop out to an empty field with blankets and popcorn to watch the city’s fire work display, put on by the fire department.

(cc) Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

This year Sonoma is being honored as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations.  This program recognizes cities “that offer an authentic visitor experience by combining dynamic downtowns, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a strong commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization.”  Until this week, I really never thought about how beautiful Sonoma is compared to other cities and the efforts that its residents put into preserving the gorgeous old buildings and reusing them without disturbing the outer facades.  You can tell that many of the downtown businesses used to be someone’s home.

This week I got to take a trip down memory lane by looking up pictures of Sonoma on Flickr.  I love the look of all the old stone buildings.  The center of the Sonoma is the Plaza, the home of city hall and a lush green park with fountains and a duck pond.  I love that I grew up in a town that has a traditional town square.  Sonoma is also one of the most historic cities in the west.  Everywhere you go, you see historical sites and preserved buildings dating back to the 1800s.

Sonoma should be the fan favorite of the 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destination, but it is currently lagging behind Paducah, Kentucky.  Please cast your vote for Sonoma every day through March 15th.

(cc) juanlondres2 & Steve Parker

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Pam Gibson, former city manager of Sonoma. For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 61: Two Men And A Truck – Movers for Moms

Two Men And A Truck is the largest local franchised moving company in the United States.  Beth King has been a franchise owner of Two Men And A Truck since 2004 with locations in Peoria and Goodyear, Arizona.  Two Men And A Truck is a full-service moving company for home and business moves.  They also provide packing and unpacking services and sell packing supplies.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK truck in front of a home

Image via Wikipedia

This year King is partnering with Two Men And A Truck locations in 9 other states on a program called Movers for Moms.  This program collects creature comfort items and essential items that will be delivered to women living in shelters on Mother’s Day.   The purpose of the program is to recognize all mothers, including those who may not be expecting anything this year.

I love this program.  I can’t think about how much I love my Mom without my eyes welling up with tears.  I think it’s so wonderful that Two Men And A Truck, many of which are female-owned, are doing something to make all mothers feel special this Mother’s Day.

Movers for Moms encourages people to donate any item that all mothers enjoy such as nice soaps, hair products, soft pillows, slippers, etc.  Essential items such as food and toiletries will also be welcome. No gift is too small.

2011 is the fourth year that Movers for Moms has been in existence.  Last year, Movers for Moms collected more than 20,000 items for women in 14 shelters in Michigan, Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, and New York.  This year, their goal is to collect and deliver 50,000 items.

Two Men And A Truck will be collecting donations for this year’s Movers for Moms program until the week of Mother’s Day.  Donations may be brought to the Peoria (623-933-2180) and Goodyear (623-932-6090) locations during business hours.

Please contact Two Men And A Truck to partner with them on this project or to make a donation to Movers for Moms.  You can email them at info0209@twomenandatruck.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  Movers for Moms also has its own Facebook page and Twitter account.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Two Men And A Truck. For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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