Today marks the first of my four Spring finals.  Todays final is in analytical methods, a court that functions asa survey of accounting, finance, game theory, economics, and stats as applied to the practice of law. 

At first our exam was going to be two long questions which I thought was awsome.  Give me a couple of questions and a lot of time and I feel like I’ll come up with something good.  Unfortunately, the professor announced today (yes exam day) that it will now consist of 9 shorter answers.

I am extremely uneasy about this exam – historically it has not been that difficult, but the homework in this class has been an extremely random game of “guess what I’m thinking.” 

I’m predicting a solid B+ and that the exam will be about 1/3 econ, 1 finance question, 1-2 accounting questions, 2 states questions, a game theory quesion, and one that is sort of “across dimensions.” 

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Law: Free Money?

April 29, 2008

I love betting, which is odd given the fact that I am generally risk adverse.  For some reason, I would prefer to invest in bonds than stocks because stocks are too risky but I also strugge to pass up a craps table even though I know its a losing proposition.  I don’t know, maybe I love action.

Anyway, today a friend of mine exposed me to a site that will let me gamble on just about anything.  The site, can be found here.  Just to clarify, this isn’t a normal “X on Y to Z”.  Instead, this is a site where you buy a share in a team/event/answer.  If you are right, your share pays $100.  You can also trade your share in real time.  Essentially this site gives odds, in real time, and lets you not only get in, but make money from the float in the odds. 

I may just get addicted. 

I say this not because I want you to know I love to gamble in small doses but because it appears as if the site is offering free money.  Right now, shares of Obama for Democratic nominee are trading at $77.  Look, I want Obama to go down in flames as much as the next person that doesn’t feel like giving people perverse incentives them worrying about the fact that they never act in a desired way libertarian/conservative, but seriously, guys, he isn’t going to lose. Math and logic both say Obama wins.  This is basically free money.  Slap me with as many shares of Obama as you can find sellers for and call me ton o’ fun.  Seriously.  This is free money.

Law: Stages of Prep

April 28, 2008

When Kurzman and I were younger, we (mostl I) did what every teenage guy does – made fun of other teenaged guys.  My prefered target didn’t take getting mocked too well.  Apparently (Kurzman was there for this, I was not) at some point his anger because so repetitive and formulaic that they decided to lay out the “stages” for his anger.  I don’t remember what they were other than that one of the steps was to blame another friend of ours, regardless of who was doing the mocking.

After today’s class review I’m starting to see test prep as similar to our friends anger – a forumla I repeat over and over.  My prep goes like this:

1.  The OMG Phase:  This is where I think about all four of my classes and go “there is no way in hell I’m goig to be able to learn enough about all of those classes do get different grades.  Damn, damn, damn, I’m going to be “that guy” tha manages to fail out of HLS.

2.  The Planning Step:  This is where I calm down and look at the calander.  At this point, I go “ok here is how I plan to study for these finals (time wise) and this is what I want to get done (objective wise).”  This is also the stage where I buy study aids.

3.  The Procrastination Phase:  Yes I realize I’m flipping between “Steps” and “phases”, deal with it.  This is the phase where I have a plan and I’m just not feeling like executing it.  I know what I need to do, I’m just not having much (if any) success getting myself motivated to do it.  Not only does this happen in general exam prep, but this also happens to me when preparing for any secific exam.

4.  Fear II:  This is my second freakout.  Here I go “I didn’t allow enough time and I wasted a bunch of it.”  How am I ever going to study for this exam?  I didn’t realize the outline was this thick!  I’m so screwed! These are he common thoughts in this phase of exam prep.

5.  Prep:  This is where I start to freak out and ignore all my friends/family/responsibilities and start to get some real exam preperation done. 

6.  Fat Cat Stage: This happens whenever I reach the (not to distant) prep goal that I set for myself (usually outlining the case to my satisfaction).  I still have some time left but gosh darnit I accomlished what I wanted to.  At his point I normally bounce back and forth between reading over the outline I have created and watching TV/movies.

7.  Regret:  This is where I regret having not studied more and having once again allowed myself to enter the Fat Cat Stage.

8.  Second Wind: This is usually a few hours the night before and exam and a few hours before the exam.  This is where I am once again invigorated and determined to spend additional time preparing.  During this phase I usually read over my outline, but darnit I’m doing it with a vengence.

9.  Take the Exam

10.  Freak out about how I did and wish I would have studied harder

Law: Plan of Attack

April 27, 2008

Last semester I came to the realization that the most important part of preparing for finals is a good plan of attack.  I have never had the best work ethic when compared to my peers.  I work harder now than I ever did before, but I don’t work as hard as the hardest workers here.  I would say I am in the 30th percentile in terms of how hard I work.  This means that for me, more important than any other element of finals is determining how I want to study for a class and what I think I need to know.  In undergrad, this was VERY easy.  I would go through the note, make one sheet of paper front and back of things I didn’t know, and I would memorize it.  A little bit of quizzing myself later and I was ready for the exam. 

Today I started to think of how I want to appoch these things.  Last semester my plan was simple – buy a commercial outline, read through it and combine it with another students outline from the class, then memorize that document.  This semester the approach is different, mainly because I only have one class that has commercial outlines available.

As of now, here’s the plan.  Next week monday and Tuesday, I’ll study my butt off for my Wednesday in-class exam.  Then from Wednesday to that next saturday (three full days) I’ll bust my butt to get ahead for my last final (basically make the outline).  After that, its two days of makin a K’s outline and four days of dedication to getting ready for my admin test (outline and reading a horn book).  Then take the admin, review the K’s for a day, take theK’s, review the last class, and take that final.

How will this work in real life?  I have no idea, but I’m hoping for the best

Law: Fantastic Things

April 22, 2008

Sometimes I read about what Kurzman wants to do with his life and I start to get that funny feeling that you get when you talk to people at old people cocktail parties.  Kurzman wants to be a doctor (one of societies favorite and most esteemed professions), I want to be a lawyer (lawyer finished below drug dealer on a recent societal impression survey).  Kurzman’s profession is about making people better.  My profession is about finding a way to let somebody get what they want – almost exclusively when somebody else doesn’t want that to happen.  Kurzman wants to cure cancer.  I want to go to trial with interesing cases and win.  Kurzman specifially plans to help make the life of children better.  I will most likely spend the first part of my career trying to make corporations better off.  Seriously, five years from now, when we are at weddings or other social events together, I have to imagine that the conversation will go something like this:  and what are you up to Kurzman?  Oh, not much, I’m working at X hospital as a pediatric oncologist.  Thing about that for a minute.  There are a lot of specialties that people have no idea about, but everybody knows pediatrics and everybody knows oncology (I’m remember our spelling lecture boy and girls – it applies to capitalization also) .   Oh, you help kids with cancer?  Wow! At this point, guys will all scratch themselves in an effort to determine just how emasculated they have been by listening to Kurzman’s accomplishments.  Some of these people won’t be sloches themselves, for exampling helping to run entire cities or teaching ages ranging from youngins to high school.  Then it will unfortunately be my turn, and I will have to say something like “oh, I work as an attorney downtown.”  To which the unavoidable question will be “what do you do” and I will answer with some practice….. it doesn’t matter what I say, it all boils down to “I help Corporate America get what they want.”

I’m fine with what I plan to do.  I’m actually excited.  Corporate America does some great things -mainly, it employes a whole bunch of people.  That said, it doesn’t make for the best conversation when the guy next to you is saving the world.  Thanks for that Kurzman.

What made me think of this?  Well, yesterday my friend ran (and finished) the Boston Marathon 3 hours and 18 minutes.  Thats insane.  Seriously, thats a gigantic accomplishment.  Did I meantion he trained for this, from start to finish, while being a law student?   Crazy.  Seriously, my friends are trying to cure cancer and running marathons.  I dont even have the coolest looking blog in my law school section.  That one appears here.

Anyone that I talk to on a regular basis knows that I have been having a really difficult time trying to find a research position for the summer. Well, that search is FINALLY over–I have a PI, a lab, a project idea…and a research proposal that I need to have written up by May 1st while also balancing FINALS.  🙂   Good times.

With this first post, I’m going to talk about the search and give a little background on my thoughts. In a subsequent post, I’ll describe what it is that I’ll be doing.

When I began the search, I focused my efforts primarily on the Children’s Memorial Research Center in Lincoln Park. I definitely want to go into pediatrics, so it seemed like a great place to try to get into. After “cold-emailing” a few researchers expressing interest and attaching a CV, I interviewed with a lab performing work on cystic fibrosis. And as some of you know, this interview went QUITE well: I got along well with everyone, I fully understood their research, and we even know some of the same people down at Duke. In other words, I thought it was a slam-dunk. Needless to say, I received the email equivalent of a thin-envelope that weekend. The main reason, as she explained to me, was something I’ve been fighting against for the past few years now:
“Well, the problem is that you didn’t do any research as an undergraduate.”

Time and time again, I have interviewers that bring up this point. And technically, they are right: I did not conduct any formal research projects on my own. It all goes back to a decision I made during the middle of college: Research or Work? At the time, my dad had lost his job, and I made what I believed to be the responsible decision to WORK rather than pursue research. What’s more, I found a job working in a microarray facility (Translation for Non-Nerds: A lab that provides data to researchers about their experiments) which allowed me to gain a lot of insight into research–I thought it’d be a happy medium. I even got to do some side-projects for my boss because of the flexibility of the position. And I was being paid. I thought I was golden.

Fast forward to my medical school interview at Boston University. It was my first interview, I was nervous, and the interviewer was being a bit of an asshole. He directly critcized me for not pursuing research–especially since I was at such a research-oriented school (Duke). When I tried to explain how I actually had very similar experiences to other students doing projects on their own, he instantly shot back, “That isn’t research; you shouldn’t try to equate the two. You didn’t form ideas on your own, and didn’t design projects to test your ideas.” His statement wasn’t completely true–especially the latter parts of it–but at that point I didn’t really care all that much. He had jaded my opinion of BU so much that I just didn’t give a damn.

When I told my boss–whom, by the way, earned her Ph.D. in Genetics–she was furious. Having done plenty of her own research before becoming the director of the facility, she surely knew that what I did was pretty similar to other students’ research projects. Just a few months later, a coworker of mine had a very similar experience while trying to get into a Ph.D. program at Duke; he was told that his work at the facility and research should not be considered related. This made our boss even MORE angry because she had worked with that particular researcher, and claimed that he had no idea what any of his data meant: He just shipped her the samples, and our lab did the experiments and she analyzed the results. So while he got to say he postulated X and the results were Y, it was our work that actually got his name on that paper. Oh, the irony.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. Getting into research can be a bit of a catch-22: you need research experience to be able to get a research position. Now, I fully realize I could have made more of an effort while at Duke; however, as I mentioned, I made the choice that I had to make at that time.

And the Children’s Memorial thing just irked me, especially because otherwise the interview went perfectly. I fully understood what was going on, and the project that the PI suggested seemed a DIRECT followup of work I had done at the microarray facility at Duke. She even made a point to say that I was probably the only person that she’d be able to find that fully understood that particular project. But the lack of experience derailed that whole thing.

At the height of my annoyance, I remarked to my friend, “And please…researchers are just med school rejects. If they can handle the techniques, I’m sure I can do it too.” Now, I realize that the first part of that statement is rather rude, and frankly I don’t actually believe that–I was just angry at the time. But the second part still hold true in my mind: I’m more than capable of learning the necessary tissue culture techniques–I don’t exactly consider myself an idiot.

_____

Now as it turns out, that rejection may have been for the best. A month later, it was announced that the Children’s Memorial Research Center had suspended its formal summer research program for students, so there would be no official route through which I could find a stipend. I probably could have found more ways–and the PI could have just agreed to put me on the payroll–but it still would have made things more difficult.

Plus, I absolutely LOVE the position that I am now taking for the summer. Cystic Fibrosis research would have been quite interesting, but it’s not exactly something I was dying to do. My project, on the other hand, involves research into cancerous processes. I recently came to the [re]realization that I would like to get involved in oncology, so this should work out well (The oncology thing will be the subject of another post–it involves some pretty intense emotions that I had been repressing for a while, but that have recently resurfaced. Pediatric oncology is WHY I went to medical school, and it’s once again at the forefront of what I want to do with my career).

Well, that does it for now. Next time I will be discussing my future project a bit…rather than just ranting about my troubles finding a spot. But I can now rest easier about my summer–I’ve finally got something to do. The fact that it’s worthwhile, interesting, and related to my future is, of course, a major plus.  🙂

Law: Da Bears

April 16, 2008

This post doesn’t get a category.  It just doesn’t. 

This week the NFL released its schedule for the 2008 football season.  The prime time games are no suprise – a steady diet for 5 Patriots and 5 Chargers games along with a bunch of Cowboys and Colts games.  I can’t really fault the NFL for that, as the difference between teams from year to year gets more and more drastic, it makes sense to go with the small amount of teams that have done it and done it in impressive fashion. 

Additionally, there is a lot of talk about the curse that hangs over the team that goes to the Super Bowl and doesn’t win.  God knowns Chicago Bears fans talked about it so much I almost missed the unexplainably obnoxious Boston fans threw up.  I cannot express in words how much I hope this curse holds true this year.  I’m stuck in Boston with what can only be described as the worlds most self-entitled sports fans (this will be another non-law related post soon) so at least I can see them remember what its like to be where they belong on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

That wasn’t what my post was actually about.  This post was actually geared towards the Bears schedule.  I looked at the schedule and I couldn’t help but think:  “Has there ever been a Bears season/schedule that seemed to be flashing so boldly and brightly that this is an 8-8 season?”  I’m not saying I know this team will finish 8-8, I’m saying when you think about the squad and you look at the schedule, it realy seems like an 8-8 season is right around the cornor.

First, we have the dreaded 3 game road trip.  Additionally, we get the joy of the Colts, Jags, and Titans.  Yey.  Even the Texans/Saints seem like games that will be a challenge.  The only games that I look at right now and say “we should be a favorite” are the matchups with the Falcons and the home game against the Lions. 

Given the fact that I’ll be hanging out in Milwaukee this summer (not that I ever need a reason to say the next sentence), I hope we can beat up on the Packers too, but that will depend on Mr. Rogers.

Law: Ames Debrief

April 16, 2008

Today was Ames.  There was a little bit of stress stemming from my partner not showing up, but I legitimately understand how she could have made the mistake she did and at this point I just feel bad for her. 

On the plus side, Ames is done and it was 100% painless.  There was a point in the middle where I believed I might have made a mistake and told a judge he was wrong, but opposing counsel agreed with my interpretation so all was fine.  Overall I thought things went well.  The judges asked a lot of questions and although they didn’t agree with my initial position they were an almost impossible read given the fact that they peppered both sides with many many questions.  They seemed to take it as a given that a majority of circuits were incorrect. 

I won’t be winning best oralist, but I didn’t embarass myself.  In an scarey and odd turn of events, I must say that I believe if a group of people I generally enjoyed came up and asked me if I had any interest in participating on their Ames team, I would be strongly tempted to say yes.  Then again, its easy to say that now when 2L year looks like gumdrops and cupcakes from where I’m currently sitting. 

 

Tomorrow is my Ames oral argument.  After this, I will have officially completed First Year Legal Writing.  Unfortunately, my grade for the course is still up in the air.  Why?  Because my partner caused our brief to be turned in 20 minutes late.  Oh well, just is life. 

Anyway, in preperation for tomorrow I reread both my brief and my opponents brief.  Additionally, I outlined what I want to get out and what the cases stand for.  Now its just a matter of putting together a competent presentation. 

Word around the grapevine is that a friend of mine absolutely killed with her oral argument yesterday.  I don’t like being outdone and I didn’t do well AT ALL in practice, so it will be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow.  Hopefully very well, only time will tell.

I’ll let you know how it goes and after that I promise to attempt to resume regular posting.

It’s happened to all of us. Someone says something to you, and you know immediately that you will NEVER forget those words, who said them, and why they said them.

I had one of those moments the other day while visiting my grandfather at the hospital. Without going into specifics about his condition, let me just say that it’s a rather difficult situation that still has a lot of unknowns–it’s pretty serious.

At the end of the visit, I went to hug him goodbye. As I did this, he held my hand and said to me:

“Study hard so you can make me better, ok?”

I could have just started crying right then and there–and I surely did so later. Sometimes when we’re spending all of our time in libraries learning obscure facts about the human body, it can be easy to forget just how intense some of the moments in this profession are going to be. We don’t just learn these things so that we can jump through another hoop and pass another test; rather, we learn them because in the not-so-distant future, peoples’ lives are literally going to depend on it.

It’s a strange thing being a first-year medical student. Because I don’t come from a family of doctors, I have suddenly become the person receiving calls from family members asking for clarification on grandpa’s condition: “Why did they take his adrenal gland, too?”    “Does the appendix really not have a use?”    “Why couldn’t they use a smaller incision?”     “What makes the lymph nodes important?”

Some of the questions I can answer just fine, or a least steer them in the right direction. But when my grandpa told me to study hard so that I could make him better, I felt completely helpless. I have no idea what’s going to make him better. I’m not even sure if anything can make him better. I’m 3 weeks away from being a second-year medical student, and I still don’t know a damn thing.

It’s rather humbling. And petrifying.