|Watch Me Take The Bar|
|This blog, originally started as a chronicle of my taking the bar, is now a look into the mind of an attorney in solo practice in Port Clinton, Ohio.|
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
What I Learned at the Law School That Was More Important Than The Bar
(BTW, this is not a post along the lines of "Everything I Need To Know, I Learned in Law School." That may be coming, but it'll be later.)
Howdy, everyone. (OK, I use the term everyone liberally. Thus far, it's a few friends I've sent to and some folks searching for PMBR info.)
So, after three days, I sort of disappeared on the reporting from PMBR, and I apologize; I got busy and so I will need to give you more of an update on Robert Feinberg's associate, Steve Palmer, who I believe doubled as the car salesman in " Fargo," and more antics from Feinberg, of course. But, suffice it to say, I have survived PMBR and am in the middle of a two-week block of no classes and minimal studying to relax me and prepare me for the summer ahead.
The other part has involved a journey I've taken in the past several years with a person very close to me (no, I\'m not a victim of domestic violence, thanks for your concern.) I've seen not only what it can do, but how sophisticated abusers can be and how their behavior is sometimes not only excused, but actively aided and abetted, by the justice system. Domestic violence creates a hell on earth for many people, as it has for this person, but in a way, it has been an eye opening experience that is very valuable to me. About that more later, perhaps.
So, Lundy Bancroft. (BTW, for those of you familiar with the University of Toledo, you'll know it sits on Bancroft Street, which led me to suggest the title of the lecture should have been "Bancroft On Bancroft." C'mon, I thought it was good.) He's worked extensively with this issue, as a counselor, trainer and author. He took a wide view of the issue, and pointed out there are reasons society chooses not to confront it, as it brings us face to face with other problems we’d rather not think about (think poverty, roles of men and women and behavior we as a society will tolerate for starters.)
Some other things that were interesting to me, in no particular order:
There was more, but it's not springing to mind right now. Fear not; I will return to this topic in varying forms and ways over the coming weeks and months. As mentioned above, I've recently had the opportunity to do some personal research, and what's going on is frightening.
Anyway, thanks for allowing me to rattle on on this stuff. Expect more on this. And more studying for the bar. :)
(On that subject, btw, my friend Lindsay, one of the smarter cookies in my address book and whose GPA approaches minor miracles says the study schedule Feinberg put forth frightens her. Yikes.)
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
That's Tough! That's Tricky! That's...A Despicable Way To Treat A Meter Maid!
First, I should note that, when I took the torts test yesterday morning (at my apartment...I saw little point in going into the law school to do that which I could do in the comfort of my own home), I got a 24. If you'll recall my post from yesterday, according to Feinberg, if you're getting half at this point, that's really good. So, let's hope that keeps up.
Adventures with Feinberg continued unabated in Room 1013 of the College of Law yesterday afternoon, although, mercifully, the temperature was back to a normal state. The man has two verbal devices I forgot to relate on Monday: "Gang, you need to know your enemies. And your enemies are the national conference of bar examiners. They are trying to make these as tricky as possible. They want to take food out of your family's mouth." Slightly extreme. Better yet, after a difficult question..."That's tricky! That's tough! That's...the Multistate!" He says this so much, the entire room is repeating it with him by the end. It appears to be this guy's intention to create memorization by irritation. I hope it works; else I will just be irritated.
A few other moments worth remembering or forgetting, I'm not sure which: First, if you want to create a collective gasp in a roomful of law school graduates, just announce that last year, 72,000 people took the bar exam and 26,000 failed it. (I haten to note I did not join in this gasp; I look on the bright side, that 48,000 passed it. I guess maybe only slightly more than a third of the class gasped. ;-) )
Feinberg has certain questions where he asks if you picked a certain answer and, if you did, he then proceeds to say what a dumb choice that was, in not so many words. He did that, and people again raised their hands, whereupon, he pointed (from behind his video screen) and said, "That guy's raised his hands every time I've asked the question. Has he gotten anything right?" Heh. Heh.
But, by far, the most memorable was the story of the meter maid. Now, this takes a little explaining. In New York Times vs. Sullivan, the Supreme Court made it very difficult for public officials (think the President, the governor, the mayor, et cetera) to sue people for defaming them unless you can show actual malice. The idea is this will make people feel free to criticize the government. Well, there was a question about a letter that was sent about a police officer and the question had to do with whether or not he was, as a public employee, a public official.
"Well, that's not true!" Feinberg bellowed, "otherwise that would mean every meter maid was a public official. They're not public officials! They're public nuisances! I ran into one of them a few weeks ago." I sensed a major detour that was going to put me no closer to passing the bar. "I had parked somehwere for a few seconds and I came back and here's this guy writing me a ticket.
"So, I said, 'Please, I'm just leaving,' but he said he'd already started writing it. So I said, "OK. Let me ask you a question. Do you have kids? He said he had two, ages seven and eleven. And I asked him, 'When they do, what does my daddy do, are they proud to say their daddy's a meter maid?'" We all gasped at how nasty this guy was. He must have known we were going to do that, because he moved quickly to the next question.
At the end of the day, he laid out what he said should be our study schedule; although, judging from the reactions of the class, it is unlikely many folks are planning to follow it. When the Barbri class starts in a few weeks, he suggests we go to the Barbri class from 9-12; then from 1-5 studying the outlines given in the particular topic lectured on that day by Barbri, PMBR and Conviser. From 7-8:30, we should do fifty questions in that area, and then from 8:30-10, review the answers. People reacted with some horror to this idea. Although it may not be as bad, because I've been getting through these questions pretty quickly.
Speaking of which, I'm off to do evidence!
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
I Meet Professor Robert Feinberg, And The Encounter Is Not Wholly Satisfactory
I began to feel better about my score on the Crim Law practice test as I sat in the forum (which is the common area of the law school) waiting for the next session to start. I was hearing others saying they didn't do too well -- to wit, they got scores like mine. In law school, it's not so much whether you're smart, but whether you're smarter than everyone else, or at least, not dumber than everyone else. It was appearing, from the discussion of my classmates, I had reason to believe I was at least not dumber than everyone else.
I returned to Room 1013 to find the heat problem had not abated in the least. (They did tell us they turned off the heat, which was darned nice of them, considering it's May 9!!!!) Things were actually, I believe, worse, which is to say warmer.
Anyway, Mr. Inoffensive PMBR Rep began the DVD. That this DVD is being played at all may be a source of surprise to you, but PMBR will, of course, find it incredibly effective for them, as they only have to pay one guy, a videographer and Mr. and Ms. Inoffensive PMBR Reps across the fruited plain to put in the videotapes of said guy. Meanwhile, we get to sit in sweltering rooms watching these videotapes. Think of it like a really bad movie in a theater with no a/c. Trust me, all, this is not the type of movie you want to bring a date for.
So, Guy on Videotape is Robert Feinberg, who I later would find out when I Googled him is the founder and CEO of PMBR. (In a way, this is comforting; I always like knowing where my $750 is going.) Anyway, Feinberg is a slightly-alarmed looking, professorial type with a beard.
"Now, I want to say a word about the scores," he said, and we all breathed a collective sigh of pleasetelluswedidn'tjustgothroughlawschooltodiscoverwe'retoodumbforthebar. "If you got around twenty of the questions right, you're doing just fine." This provoked huge sighs of relief. "If you got half right, you're doing very well." Judging from the laughter of my classmates, very few were doing particularly well.
Later on Feinberg returned to the issue of scores, and how he intends to raise them. As part of taking the class, we received 2,000 multichoice questions. By doing fifty of these a night, we should progress to getting about 60% of them right by the end of June and 65-70% of them right by the time of the bar exam, in late July.
PMBR boasts (or claims) a 97% pass rate for students in Ohio who take its class. As a result, I am reluctant to quarrel with his methods, but he does have some verbal instincts that make a person want to scream. First of all, I don't think he passed talking about a question without referring to his unseen audience at least once per question as "Gang." "Question 7, Gang..." "This is only spring training, Gang." "By game day [also known as the bar exam], Gang..." I realize there are people who think lawyers are all a bunch of crooks, but calling us a gang when we don't even have the degree (nay, we don't have physical possession of our diplomas!) seemed slightly unreasonable.
But beyond that was his singsong application to certain words, most particularly knowingly. "To commit this crime, you must act *tuneless tune* knooow-eeeeng-leeeee." Trust me, sit through this a few times and it's going to get old quickly. Not, apparently, to Bob, who also likes to emphasize his points by gushing...."I want to highlight it in yelllll-owww. I want to underline it in redddddddd. I want to circle it in black." Please, by all means, do it, and leave us in peace.
At one point, Professor Bob referred to someone who was in the alleged audience watching him live give this presentation. I don't want to call Professor Bob a liar, but I tend to believe we would have heard them, because we were all laughing at him. Note, I did not say we were laughing with him.
He also discussed the fact that two people who are relatively casual acquaintances have no responsibility to save the other one from bodily harm when they don't cause it. "So," he said, "if you walk out of here today and there's some who goes flying off his bicycle and lands in the gutter, breaking all his limbs and blood gushing from a head wound, and as he lays there in the gutter [gutter added for dramatic effect, I suppose], he looks at you and says, 'Please help me,' you can say, "Get out of my way, kid, I want to go home and study for PMBR." My friend Laura has identified said moment as the way they take the conscience out of lawyers.
We spent three and a half hours watching Professor Bob caterwaul and caper in a manner similar to what I've just described, and sweltering. He finally released us, and the rush from Room 1013 was something to behold.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Was It Just A Dream?
I've been telling all my friends today:
You know, over the weekend, I had a wonderful dream. You were in it. I dreamt we graduated from law school. There was a graduation ceremony. It was a great ceremony, it was over in under an hour; we all wore caps and gowns and got hooded by Dean Closius. They took our pictures. We laughed. We cried. We took pictures.
Afterwards, family and friends gathered for lunch. We ate. We drank. We celebrated.
And yet...it was either a dream, or we're the biggest idiots in the world, because here we are, back in the law school we ostensibly just graduated from at 8:30 on a Monday morning.
No, wait. That wasn't a dream at all. In fact, I did graduate from law school, and in fact, there I was, at 8:30 on a Monday morning, in the University of Toledo College of Law. How bizarre!
And this, I am told, is the beginning of a journey which will hopefully conclude with my becoming a lawyer. The defining moment of said journey will be 78 days from today, when the Ohio bar examination starts. I figured a chronicle of this journey would be somewhat interesting to someone, if to no one else than to me. It may also explain to friends who will visit who are not fellow travelers on this journey, "Where the hell is Michael, and why the hell is he so crabby when we find him?" I'm not saying I'm going to be crabby, but then again, I've got seventy-eight days of studying for a three day test I'll be doing here. What would your mood be like?
Anyway. There are two major classes offered for taking the bar exam, PMBR and BarBri. I'll explain the functions of these classes in a later post more in depth in a later post, but for now, suffice it to say, PMBR is dedicated to the 200 (yes, 200) multiple choice questions I will answer. The class runs from Monday to Saturday, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and some genius decided it needed to start today, two days after graduation.
Sound hellish? It is, and it was, and it was quite literally. The room we entered this morning was not warm, it was hot. While I love the University of Toledo College of Law dearly, I'd like to find the leprechaun, gnome, troll or convict who runs the heating/ac system and shake him. A few weeks before exams, the heat was on in the whole building and it was 75 degrees outside. This was most unpleasant. Today, the saunalike conditions were limited only to Room 1013, which was the room (of course) we were in. I apologize for the lengthy discussion of the temperature, but you would be complaining, too.
The proctor, a completely inoffensive young man in a completely uncomfortable looking white shirt and khaki pants, told us all to begin, and we started in on fifty questions about criminal law. I found myself sitting next to Jeremy Levy, a friend of mine. A few years ago, Jeremy and I were both on the same team for the oral argument competition at our school, and we captured the top prize. Jeremy's a good guy.
The exam took me about an hour to complete, and I walked out of the oven of Room 1013, and outside, into a much more hospitable climate. The answers to the exam were in the back of our books, so I was able to self-grade . I was alarmed to discover I got twenty questions out of fifty right. Visions of other careers in other fields once again danced in my head. (It has, after all, been two years since we dealt with criminal law or any of the first-year subjects taught on the bar exam.)
I spent some time grading my answers and reading the explanations for the ones I got wrong, then headed up to the computer lab to check my email. By noon, it was time to return to Room 1013 and meet (virtually, at least) Robert Feinberg, the founder of PMBR and, I believe, an aspiring singer. But for now, I'm going to check out and head to the new Borders, so more on the eccentric Mr. Feinberg later...
About This Blog
WMTtB Domestic Violence Resources
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A Girl Walks Into A Bar (exam)
Eve-Marie's Legal Insanity
Lack of Scienter
Obsessive Law Student
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