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November, 2010:

Study Break: Time to Smile

As the semester winds down I, like many of my classmates, find myself exhausted and stressed most of the time.   With finals on the horizon, we’re spending most of our time outlining and studying for our exams, which are the sole basis for many of our grades.  Yesterday, my friend in the law school’s IT department remarked that it looked like I never left the computer lab all weekend because every time he saw me, I was sitting at the same computer, toiling away at my papers.

yip yip yip yip yip yip
Image by It’s Marie the Bee via Flickr

When I’m studying for hours on end, sometimes I need to take a short break to breathe, relax, and smile.  I am very grateful to certain persons and entities who post videos on YouTube who have made me smile during my law school career.  There is a common theme across all these videos:  the main characters are always doing whatever makes sense to them and it works out in the end.  I think along with making me smile, these videos give me hope that if I keep doing what my gut tells me I should be doing, that everything will work out in the end.

Here are my top four entities on YouTube that I watch during a study break:

  1. The Yip Yips – These two martians always make me smile with their innocence and honest perspective.  I have memorized nearly every classic clip of  these two encountering objects for the first time.  If I am ever in Sesame Street’s neighborhood, I will seriously contact the show and ask if I could meet these little guys.  Happy happy happy boing boing boing boing!
  2. FoamyJonathan Ian Mathers is somewhat of a genius for creating this cartoon squirrel that says what many of us wish we could say.  Foamy’s bluntness and honest perspective on everyday life validates many of my views.  He validates the fact that sometimes life sucks and that people often act in moronic ways.  I look forward to every new video of this creature and the rest of the cast.
  3. Tom Green – I watched a lot of Tom Green videos during my 1L year and tried to pick out how many torts he was committing.  There was a lot of infliction of emotional distress.  I like him because he knows that he’s pushing people’s buttons, but it’s always done with an underlying sense that he means no harm.  It’s usually just to be funny and to see people’s reactions to the unexpected.
  4. Where the Hell is Matt – Matt Harding is proof that the American dream is still alive.  He quit his job and took a trip around the world.  He danced a cheesy jig everywhere he went.  He made a video of his dancing.  Stride liked it so much that they paid for him to do it two more times.  One of the things I like about Matt’s work is that there is no underlying agenda.  He’s just a guy who likes to dance – and he does it in some of the most beautiful places in the world.

Thank you to everyone who makes studying for finals a little less painful.  To everyone who loves a law student – we’re not going to be completely human for the next few weeks.  Thank you in advance for being patient, loving, and occasionally giving us reasons to smile.

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Sponsor A Law Kid – Update – Nov. 24, 2010

I launched Sponsor A Law Kid a little over a week ago.  I was surprised by how much traffic my blog has had over the past week.  The ABA and Above The Law wrote articles about #SALK which literally brought thousands of people to my blog.

At first a lot of the comments were very critical, angry, and downright nasty.  I was shocked by the hatefulness of some people’s comments.  I figured if a person didn’t think #SALK was a good idea, that they simply wouldn’t sponsor a day and that would be the end of it.  I’m not sure that everyone understood that people who sponsor a day get a blog dedicated to the person, company, or cause of their choice.  Some of the comments gave the impression that I was simply asking for money and offering nothing in return.  I am very grateful to my supportive friends and the commenters who followed the angry comments with their support and encouragement.

To date, I have sponsorship for 20 days.  I was very humbled that two families have sponsored days to bring attention to rare illnesses that their children have and organizations that support the families who are coping with these illnesses.

I was especially touched by a lawyer from Cleveland.  He saw the article about #SALK on Above the Law and he came here for more information.  He had no intention of sponsoring a day, but when he saw “the unwarranted insults and anger” towards me in the comments, he was inspired to purchase my most expensive day.  I am still in awe over his generosity.

I hope I can continue to use #SALK to bring attention to special people, companies, and causes.  If you would like to sponsor a day, please contact me at SponsorALawKid@gmail.com.

Unsolicited Advice: Right Size = Right Message

For many years, I have said that I’m a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.  This semester I feel like I’m being beckoned to jump on my fashion soapbox.  I have noticed an ongoing problem in the courtroom: people wearing suits that are too small.  I’ve seen this problem across the board, from law  students to judges, in men and women equally.  At first I thought it was just me, until I shared my observations with two judges.  They both responded with an astounding, “Yes!”

Ernest Peixotto
Image by Smithsonian Institution via Flickr

A person that dresses according to the needs of the body that they have, as opposed to the body that they wish they had or used to have, they exude a stronger sense of confidence.  When a person is presenting their case in court, they need to appear strong, solid, and trustworthy.  If the person cannot see and accept the truth about their own size, how can they be trusted to speak the  truth about the case at hand?

Tim Gunn said it best when he said that you should consider, “silhouette, proportion, and fit” when selecting your clothes.  Some clothes are little more forgiving.  For example, jeans – if they are  touch to snug when you first put them on, they’ll loosen in up a few hours.  A suit, however, has no give.  If you think it’s too tight, it’s too tight.

Most people who are wearing the wrong size suit, are only off by one size, like a woman who is a size 8 and squeezes herself into a size 6.  I want to share some of the visual give aways that you’re wearing the wrong size suit.  I have seen all of these fashion problems in the law school or at the court this semester.

Let’s start with the jacket.  The shoulder seams should sit on the end of the shoulder.  The arms should fit comfortably in the sleeves.  If the upper arm is too tight, there will be bunching, which gives you the “sausage arm” look.  Buttoning the jacket should not take an effort or require you to suck in your stomach.  You never want the judge to be afraid that a button might fly off your suit and hit her in the face.

Like the jacket, there should not be any bunching in the pants or skirt.  When a man’s pants are too tight, he risks having bunching in the crotch area.  Women are likely to have bunching through the thighs if they’re wearing pants and in the midsection if they’re wearing skirts.  The length of the skirt should also be such that you don’t have to pull on your hem when you stand up.

Beyond wearing the proper size suit, I support people using fashion to display their personality.  When deviating from the norm in a formal business environment, such a court room, it must be done impeccably.  One of my classmates walked into his final mock trial today rocking a pair of suspenders and a fedora with his suit.  He looked fantastic!  Other fashion signature pieces could be a bow tie, a necktie on a woman, cuff links, a paisley pocket square, a brooch, or an untraditional hairstyle.  Just be sure that what you’re wearing does not distract the court or detract from your message.

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Sponsor A Law Kid

I’ve always called myself a “law kid.” I think it’s a sign that I knew from the start that I wasn’t a traditional law student and that I didn’t want to be a typical lawyer. As I look to the future, I know I don’t want a job that keeps me trapped in an office all day. I want to be a lawyer who is also a lecturer, writer, and podcaster.

One of my priorities in law school, regardless of how busy I am, is to stay involved in my community. I’m pleased and proud that I’ve been able to volunteer with Ignite Phoenix and Improv AZ, attend #evfn, and find time and forums for singing. I hope these activities will contribute to a happy and successful career after law school.

I will graduate from Arizona State University in May 2011, and I will take the Bar Exam in July. My goal is to be “the lawyer to the geeks” and specialize in internet law and intellectual property. I also hope I can do something to prevent cyberharassment through public speaking. I experienced cyberharassment as an adult and it was awful. I can’t image how hard it must be for a child to go through that.

When I applied to law school, the average debt for a student graduating from my program was ~$50,000. Today, the average debt is over $89,000! That’s insane!  How did my education get $40,000 more expensive?!  I have one semester left, plus studying for and taking the Bar.  I’m reaching out to the online community to help me pay for it.

The Program
Sponsor A Law Kid gives anyone who wants to the opportunity to sponsor my legal education for a day. It will run from January 1, 2011 until July 27, 2011 – the last day of the Arizona Bar Exam. Each day can have one sponsor.
I will also be tweeting every day about the life of a law student, so anyone who follows me can vicariously go to law school for a semester.

The Price
I am using the same price structure as Jason Sadler of I Wear Your Shirt.  The cost to sponsor January 1st is only $1, and the price for each subsequent day goes up by $1 (Jan. 2nd = $2, Jan. 3rd = $3, Jul. 27th = $208).

Why Sponsor A Law Kid?
Why should anyone give up a couple bucks, or a couple hundred bucks, to help pay for my education? In exchange for your sponsorship, for each day that I’m sponsored, I’ll publish a blog that tells the world how awesome you, your organization, and/or your products are. Also, it will give you a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that you’re part of something awesome.

I can’t promise you that I’ll keep you out of jail once I’m a lawyer to give free legal advice – that would violate the code of ethics. However, when I make it on the legal lecture circuit, and I have to decide where I’m speaking next, it will be hard for me to decline an invitation from one of my law school sponsors.

How Do I Sponsor A Day?
Please contact me at SponsorALawKid@gmail.com to claim the day you want to sponsor.  You can pick your date based on price, or might want to pick a day because it’s a special day for you or me.  I will be running a half marathon on January 16th ($16), and my graduation day is expected to be May 12th or 13th ($132 or $133).  Pi Day is March 14th ($73) and Star Wars Day is May 4th ($124).

What Else Can I Do?
Spread the word! Send this to everyone who might be interested in sponsoring a law kid or following a sponsored law kid. I’ll be using the hashtag #SALK to tweet about my law school exploits.   Please follow me on Twitter and I hope to have a Facebook cause for this up soon.

The Sponsor A Law Kid Facebook page can be found here.

The most recent update about Sponsor A Law Kid can be found here.

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MPRE Afterglow

I took the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam – aka the MPRE – this past weekend.  It must seem ironic that future lawyers have to take a test of the ethics of being attorneys before we can be admitted to the Bar.  Given that we’re going to be entrusted with our clients’ money, property, and secrets, we better know what we’re doing.  About halfway through the test, the reality that I will hopefully be a lawyer a year from now was pretty humbling.

I opted to take my test at Phoenix College instead of Arizona State University.  I took the LSAT there, and since that worked out well, I decided that that place has good mojo for me.  I wish I could take the bar exam there.  I also figured that there would be fewer of my classmates there, which would keep my stress down.

pencils

Image by hownowdesign via Flickr

Besides showing a photo I.D. at the testing location, we also had to attach a passport photo to our admission ticket.  While I was at Walgreens taking my picture I debated between making the cracked-out-on-caffeine face or the sullen I-love-my-job face.  I told the clerk that it was for a test, not a passport.  He responded, “Well, as long as it isn’t for anything legal.”  I opted to play it safe and make the I-love-my-job face.

Since our careers were somewhat riding on this test, a lot of people were nervous about not doing anything that would result in our scores being cancelled.  One guy in my room raised his hand and asked if it was ok if he got a cough drop from his pocket.  It was cute.

Taking the MPRE proved to me that going to law school has made me more superstitious.  Before law school I would carry my grandfather’s handkerchief and wear my grandmother’s watch when I was nervous.  Now I carry my grandfather’s handkerchief, my grandmother’s watch, and my grandfather’s rosary with me – and I’m not Catholic.

Speaking of Catholicism, a woman I met before the test had the best advice about what to do if you get stuck on a question.  She had practiced law in Colorado for twenty years and needed to take the MPRE to be admitted to the Arizona Bar. A judge told her, when in doubt, pick the answer that matches what a Catholic nun would do in the situation.

When I’m working hard on a project, I have a tendency to put my elbow on the table, rest my head on my hand, and put my fingers in my hair.  This had a tendency to counteract my hair product and make my hair fluffy.  I had some major fluffy hair by the end of this test.  I’m glad I checked the mirror before I walked out of the building.

On a related note, my sister took the MPRE this past weekend too, though I didn’t know about it until afterwards.  She is going to law school across the country.  Looking at us from an academic/professional perspective, you would never guess we were related.  I thought it was really cute that we took the same test on the same day, 2000 miles apart.  I hope we will celebrate passing MPRE scores for Christmas.

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Igniting My Legal Passion

Last week I was sitting in copyright class – bored, tired, and grumpy.  About ten minutes into class I looked over at my friend Ken and asked, “Are we done, yet?”

I keep an eye on my Twitter feed during class in case anything interesting happens.   Yes, I’m on the internet in class – it’s part of networking.  I saw that my friend Jeff tweeted that he was “stunned” by a recent submission for Ignite Phoenix #9.  It was a submission from a 16 year-old who was the product of rape and who wanted to talk about her experience growing up without a dad.

185/365 From a little spark bursts a mighty flame
Image by Mykl Roventine via Flickr

Whoa!  This girl already has my respect just for wanting to talk about such a powerful topic.  My mind instantly went into hyperdrive with a myriad of legal questions.

  • Do we have to get parental consent to let this girl speak on stage about this topic?
  • Does Ignite Phoenix’s relationships with its presenters constitute contracts?
  • Can a 16 year-old enter into contract in Arizona?
  • Do we need parental consent to put a minor’s presentation on YouTube?
  • Was that guy who spoke about Star Wars at Ignite Phoenix #6 an adult?  He looked about 14.
  • Can we let her use the rapist’s name or image if he wasn’t convicted?

Then I thought, “Bah- why aren’t I a lawyer yet?!”  I hate having my hands tied because I’m still a law student – a cute law student, but a law student nonetheless; and therefore, I cannot give legal advice.  I told Jeff to let me know if he needed me to look up any laws for the Ignite Phoenix crew.

As frustrating as this experience was, I’m really glad I had it.  It reminded me of what my passions are and the type of work I want to do after I graduate.  I love working with random questions, real-life issues, collaborating with creative and innovative people, and finding a way to make things happen.

As I walked out of class, I was still the sleep-deprived student who walked in, but my energy was back.  It has been stressful to think about what I’m going to do during my life after law school, but this experience showed me that I’m on the right track.   I tweeted, “I got a glimpse into the professional life I want to have as a lawyer today…now I just need someone to pay me to do it.”

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