Hey guys,

Just a quick one for me today–i simply MUST share this video.

If you’ve been paying attention to my facebook/AIM profile, you’ve probably seen it already. But if that’s the case, you’ll also enjoy seeing it again. I think I found it even MORE funny than I usually would have because we JUST had our lecture on the “Standard Precautions” (i.e., how to not get stuck by a needle, and what to do if it happens.) We talked all about blood-borne pathogens. Good thing this kid wasn’t there–he probably would have freaked.

Enjoy.

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Law: Jobs

October 30, 2007

This week marks the beginning of the period in which 1L’s here can talk to the career services office about our job search.  For the next month, we can get ourselves educated on the who, what, where, why, when, and how of job searching, then, on December 1, we can contact firms.

This week is full of job search related events.  Today was a session on government positions, tomorrow is a general overview of JD careers (along with a friends birthday), then comes how to perform your job search, and a profile on small/medium sized firms.  All of this is designed to educate us on what all is out there and to make sure that even though that do not want or cant’ get (lets cross our fingers that this isn’t me) a big firm job will still have employement when summer rolls around.

All of this on top of finishing our closed memo, a journal subcite, and professors racheting up the workload.  I think this is the time of year when the class will start to seperate itself.  I am currently facing a general lack of motivation.  We just had break and I am really not interested in the cases I am reading and the law that I am learning (let alone putting it together to form any concept of what the law is).  I think those that can push through this and get to thanksgiving in good shape are the students that are going to rise to the top of the class, and those that stumble here will be the onces that fall, lets hope I am in the front group, or at least somewhere in the nice fat part of the curve.

Well this is an interesting topic, and one that I feel has both med and law school utility: what to do about living arrangements. I’ll talk specifically about my situation, but understand that they probably apply to law school as well.

Going into the summer, I basically felt that I had 3 options: Live alone, live with another med student, or live with a non-med student friend. Each of these have their pros & cons, and I eventually decided to live with a non-medical school friend. I have yet to decide what I would like to do next year, but suffice to say that the writing of this post has been spurred by what I would call “a serious contemplation of alternative options.” Take that as you please.

a) Living Alone: The advantage to this route is obvious: you don’t have to even deal with the dynamics of another person. It’s quiet when you want it to be; it’s relaxed when you want it to be. The disadvantages are also pretty clear: potential loneliness and, more importantly, no one with whom to share bills!

My former college roommate–also in medical school–went this route. At the beginning of the year he found it hard because he had yet to really make friends; however, he has since made friends and changed his opinion. He really enjoys living alone, and has indeed recommended it.

I very nearly chose this option myself, but found the cost to be prohibitive. But I also didn’t put much time into finding financially feasible housing.

b) Living with another medical student: Of the three options, this is the one that I really did not receive much serious consideration on my part.

First of all, I didn’t really know anyone else going to UIC–the thought of living with a random roommate did not appeal to me at all. My randomly selected roommate during my first year at Duke was GREAT. We had a really fun time, and I can’t really remember any disagreements whatsoever. But Kurz! Why didn’t that make you more likely to try again? Basically, it was an issue of probabilities. So many people HATE their random roommates, but I was lucky enough to not fall into that category. Why chance it? The odds were surely against me.

Secondly, I’m not sure if I’d want the stress of living with another overworked/freaked out medical student. Every time I’d see him studying, I’d wonder if I should be as well. And would he question my work ethic? After all, I’m pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADD (I know, I know…EVERYONE thinks that. But I’m actually being pretty serious with this one–that’s an issue for another day). And would it get competitive? Those were just issues I wasn’t prepared to deal with.

I have brought this back into consideration for next year, especially since now people actually KNOW each other. Still not my favorite, however.

c) Living with a non-medical friend: Ah, the choice I decided to make. To me it just made the most sense…a chance to live with a friend, a “non-med school environment” at home, and still someone to share bills with. It seemed like a great way to prevent my life from being wholly consumed by medical school and my future profession.

Except–as I’m coming to find–that is essentially impossible.

There’s just no escaping it. Almost every conversation that I have revolves around medicine in some way. I’ve missed more family parties, get-togethers with friends, and minutes of Bears Football than I care to admit. When I’m chilling out, I watch DVDs of ER (OK, so that’s just a personal quirk…however it actually does help cement knowledge. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. That’s also a post for a different day). I wouldn’t say I’m bitter–I love what I’m doing. And all of us in medical school knew what we were getting into (kinda…).

So instead, living with a non-med roommate provides [unwanted] insight into a world that I’m not really a part of–that is to say, freedom. Granted, I’m being overly dramatic. My roommate is working 5 days a week and has started into a career. But weekends are still his…a fact that is kinda being thrown in my face this very moment (He’s out drinking…I’m at home writing a post at 2am after a long night of studying). When he gets home at night, he’s essentially on his own time–minus perhaps a little lesson planning. When I get home after 6 hours of lecture, I eat dinner and then relax a bit before getting back into the books.

It weighs on you a bit.

So then, what will I do next year? As I mentioned, I’m not quite sure yet. But in all honesty, I’m leaning toward living by myself. If my roommate is currently reading this, it’s pretty much news to him. Sorry bud–we’ll talk more soon. Of course nothing is settled and I have a LOT of time to start figuring this out. But this is my current sentiment.

Law: Rest and Relaxation?

October 26, 2007

As I said before, this week is fly out week, meaning we all get a short break from school before going back and putting our nose to the grindstone between now and Thanksgiving.  The past two days I have been at my Undergrad spending time with my fraternity brothers, other close friends, and seeing a few administrators that I have not seen in a while.

Today was my “chill and see people” day, for which I had the following general plan:

Sleep till 11

Head over to an admin building, talk to a friend that works there, meet another friend for an early lunch.

Get back around 12:30, swing by another friend’s for fifteen minutes, stop at the provost’s office for fifteen minutes, back at the chapter house by 1:15.

Hang out with people until dinner, dinner in a group, drink heavily, watch greeks sing and dance, drink, slep.

Here is what my day actually consisted of:

Get up way to early at 9:15 because I forgot my CPU is an hour fast.

Saw friend, went well.

Stopped at next person, went for an hour and a half or so.

Tried to make a quick fifteen minute stop, stayed for half hour (this actually went really well and I chatted with a partner from Akin Gump for a bit.)  Shoot the breeze with the director of development and head of the Board of Trustees Student Affairs Committee.

Lunch

Stop to talk to the Provost, goes for an hour and a half (really interesting though). 

Go back for dinner, get ropped into going to the Board meeting the next morning (oy), dinner (fantastic).

Drink

Greek Fun

Drink.

Basically, every one of my “short meetings” went an hour….  And I got ropped into a legit meeting for tomorrow, we’ll see if that actually happens.

Law: Oy

October 23, 2007

Paragraphs don’t copy well from word 😦

I was just trying to get my spelling right.

Well…

October 22, 2007

We need to teach Clegal how to use paragraphs. But otherwise good post–I look forward to our continued malpractice discussions.

(I guess we can give him a break on writing conventions…he’s at home.)

Kurzman’s post provides an interesting opportunity to discuss and relay some random information that I have picked up thus far this semester.As Kurzman said, I don’t really have much of an interest in personal injury work because, although owning a Gulf Stream is nice, not having to explain to your friends how you sleep at night is even better.That said, whenever I hear random tidbits about Med-Mal or PI cases in class, I try to jot them down because the Poly Sci/debater in me finds them interesting. Here are a couple of somewhat relevant somewhat interesting tidbits I have picked up in classes and from speakers.

 First, by and large, jury’s like doctors. This makes sense if you think about it – jurors are people that get sick, those same people go to the doctor, and they trust their doctor to help make them feel better. This plays out in an interesting way. The tendency is for jurors to take the doctors appraisal or word as more credible/believable. An interesting related note though is that jurors also feel bad for people that suffer terrible wrongs – especially the death or serious injury of theirs children, and tend not to hesitate to award large damages in these cases.So what we have as a starting point is that jurors tend to believe doctors, but also tend to award large damages when things go wrong, especially to certain populations.

Next, one of the most plaintiff friendly courts in the country is in Illinois, where Kurzman goes to school. Madison County, a poor area with mostly elected judges is among the most plaintiff friendly courts anywhere in the nation, so my first bit of legal advice to Kurzman would be, practice north of I-88.The econ student in me feels the need to look at the plan that Kurzman has pitched and talk about the positives and negatives.The positive is clear: It saves the hospital time and money in litigating malpractice claims and keeps doctors from making enemies out of their patients.

Similarly, potential plaintiffs are spared the stress of a lawsuit and don’t have to cough up the 1/3 of their award in the form of a contingency fee. The ideal of this system is clear: Assume a world in which each injury has a fair and logical figure (this is somewhat of an abstractioin, so work with me here). This figure represents what would be considered the “most fair” settlement to the patient taking into account all factors. If we take this figure, and deduct 1/3, we get the amount the that the patient would actually receive in their pocket. If we take this figure and add the cost of settling the lawsuit, we get what the suit will cost the hospital. Everything in between these two numbers represents the area within which both parties would be better off settling without the held of lawyers. Let’s take an example:Lets say that a hypothetical injury – YellowSubmarineitis has a fair settlement value of $100K. A patient settling would receive about $66K and the hospital might spend 12K to defend the suit (lets say its really complicated and outside counsel needs to work 20 hours or so on top of other fees). Any settlement figure greater than 66K but less than 112K offers both sides a better deal than litigating, so any settlement within this window is in the best interest of both parties and should facilitate the type of agreements that Kurzman favors.At first glance (and I confess this is a somewhat back of the envelope analysis that I am doing as I haven’t sat and thought about the issue for very long) I can only see one obvious problem.

 The problem I can foresee is that the hospital comes from a distinct negotiating advantage. The hospitals negotiation is represented by its in house counsel (or risk manager or similar position) who not only understands the legal issues involved, but is also a repeat player. Repeat players are at an inherent advantage in these types of negotiations (and future litigations) since they have some reconceived concept of both the likelihood of success at trial, the cost of tying the case, and the potential value of lawsuit. This isn’t a major issue for a small practice, but for a large hospital with full time legal staff, the advantage can be very large. Let’s return to our hypothetical injury. Suppose that the typical YellowSubmarineitis case that goes to trial returns a jury verdict at or around the ideal value of 100K. Knowing this, the hospital has a pretty good idea of the window in which it is negotiating and can avoid long-term losses from negotiation. If the patient demands 180K, the hospital knows it is in their best interest to turn the offer down. If the patient asks for 80, they know they are in a good place, and can negotiate knowing they have already saved.The patient on the other hand has little way of knowing these things. 60K is a lot of money to a lot of people, and perhaps if the injury is not too large a patient would agree to this amount, which represents a net loss for them for no reason other than the fact that they were not represented by counsel.

Most people trust their doctors and don’t want to extract their “pound of flesh” and MAY (not will but may) be willing to take some form of earnest money in exchange for waiving their right to a claim when they could otherwise receive more.Defense side advocates (of which I generally am one) can easily claim that this is a net positive – people get what the feel is enough, not what juries say or lawyers negotiate. This is of course a fair statement, but it seems like one sided logic – the patient getting less than they would otherwise pocket (even after attorney fees) is ok and evidence of fixing a broken system, but does the hospital ever pay more than they would otherwise expect? Doubtful. This is one of the reasons we have legal counsel in these situations – to eliminate the massive advantage that repeat players enjoy. Perhaps the hospitals always offer settlements within the mutually beneficial range – perhaps but doubtful. Perhaps this system represents giving people what they feel is fair and not what a jury says is right – a fairly compelling argument, even if the sacrifices are decidedly one-sided.Regardless of what the Personal Injury bar says, I must say this is an idea that seems long overdue. This idea seems to rest on a sound logical foundation, and from the point of view of the two parties involved, I think this makes great sense, but I do worry for the overall equity of the system – then again, something has to be done to bring medical costs back into check, and this certainly looks like a promising start.I hope some academic picks up this idea and runs with it. I am curious which side is benefiting more from these settlements and if they are almost universally in the “mutual win” territory.

First–congrats to Clegal on the fantasy football W. He didn’t just beat me–he pounded me into the ground. But as he said, I’m near the top of the league, so I’m not gonna fret too much. I digress…

This past weekend, AMSA of UIC (American Medical Student Association) hosted the midwest regional conference. As an exec board member of AMSA (in an invented position but whatever…), I had the opportunity to play a role in helping pull it off and it was a great success. I must admit that before this, I was very skeptical of the usefulness of such a conference; however, it proved to be great for learning some new things and making contacts.

There were many aspects of the conference worth highlighting, but given the nature of this blog I would like to focus on one in particular. I was the liason (speaker greeter/escort) for a talk entitled The Patient Safety Initiative. While I initially thought this might be a bit dry, it quickly became my favorite talk of the weekend.

The speaker was Dr. Tim MacDonald, one of the primary risk managers at the University of Illinois Hospital. Still a practicing physician a few days per week, he had actually gone back to school to earn his law degree–making him a great resource as part of the risk management program. This program primarily deals with the response to the occurence of a medical error–i.e., those things that lead to malpractice suits.

A new idea–originating at the University of Michigan–is one of “Rapid Disclosure and Compensation.” In years past, doctors would generally avoid admitting mistakes to patients unless absolutely necessary (something too obvious to be ignored. And i’m also generalizing because surely there were doctors who wouldn’t do this). Eventually, the mistakes would be uncovered, leading to a massive breakdown of patient/doctor trust and a lawsuit.

The current trend in medicine is instead setup to maintain that level of trust. It has been demonstrated the patients are–for the most part–willing to accept mistakes at the hands of the doctors; however, they demand honesty and admission of error (and SOME financial compensation). The way the program works is this:

When an error is discovered, it is immediately remedied and the patient is informed about the details (What happened, what they’re doing to fix it, what future treatments will be necessary, etc.). All of the hospital bills (current and future) are waived, and a financial settlement is immediately reached (significantly less than those involving lawsuits and also avoiding the extreme cost of litigation itself). All in all, a great deal of money is being saved–and patient/doctor trust is being maintained. UIH hasn’t had a malpractice lawsuit since the program began. Good deal all around–except for the lawyers of course.

One point Dr. MacDonald made was to say that lawyers do not like this system. Lawyers for the plaintiff are paid on commission, and therefore they are losing serious money. Defense lawyers are paid based on how long a trial drags out. By cutting out unnecessary litigation–especially the plethora of unwinnable cases–defense lawyers are also losing money. These same lawyers also like to claim that this new type of system doesn’t work, but all of the data seems to state otherwise.

So take THAT Clegal and you damn ambulance chasers (No, Clegal is not one of those but I’m just making a point). Looks like the future of malpractice in medicine may be changing for the better. Find another profession to fuck over.

Gloating

October 21, 2007

The last two years it has been a rare week when I pick up a win in fantasy football.  Today was one such rare week as my team finally put up a good score (I use team losely because 2 players had over a third if my points).  That score was against Kurzman, and thus, I feel I must gloat.

Of course, Kurzman is also near the top of the league and I am hovering at the bottom, so take the gloating for what its worth.

Anyway, with that explination:

Take that KURZMAN!!! IN YOUR FACE.

Now that we have fall break, the challange is deciding what to do with a week off so that I will thoroughly enjoy myself, be ready to go back, but not feel completely worthless.

So I am looking at my Outlook, firguring out what all I have going on in the next few weeks, and I realize, in two weeks the prep for job searching officially starts!  Two weeks from now we can start working with OCS to find ourselves jobs.  A month after that, we are supposed to be in the process of finding jobs!

 On the plus side, finals are after Christmas, so I still have time to actually learn something about the law.

So I have decided that my productive thing for this week will be getting ready to apply to jobs (specifically, firm jobs). 

In order to do that, I have put together a resume draft.  After I finish editing it, I will move onto my cover letter.

Yesterday I was looking at vault guys to resume’s and cover letters and I was struck with how much easier this would be if people were open and candid. 

Wouldn’t this whole process work much better if we all just put dropped the formality and put exactly what we were thinking on our cover letter?

Mine would look something like this:

“My name is Clegal, I’m a first year law student at Harvard.  I learned about your firm because I went on NALP and searched for all of the firms in Chicago and you were one of them.  I am willing to work in most departments to see what it is like, I see that you are good at X and Y and have big clients in those areas, so if I work for you I would like to be in those areas.  I am from Chicago, so you don’t have to worry about me leaving your firm to move to another city.

What I bring to your firm wont be noticable for another few years.  If you hire me, I wont do stupid things at firm events or embarass the partners.  I will thoroughly enjoy every free meal and firm event and will tell everybody I know about how your firm is spending all sorta of money to bribe me to work there.  If you are a big name firm, I’ll even come back next summer and do it again if you want! 

I’m a 1L, I’m very busy, but  getting a summer job at a firm is very difficult and if you need me, I will drop whatever I am doing and fly back to Chicago to interview.  Please call me whenever or email me.

I hope to hear from you

Clegal”

Honestly isn’t always the best policy.  This whole thing is stupid, how do you sort out 1L’s before they have grades?