1L Spring Summaries

Best Week Ever #5: disease, fees, and fart machines.

I mentioned that this semester feels busier. That was an understatement. Comparing first semester to second semester is like comparing Enya to a Revlon Ball.

My classes this semester are hilarious. Here’s a rundown:

Property: Even compared with the other UMN faculty, Professor P has a monster CV. I was expecting a reincarnation of Ben Stein in Bueller’s Day Off 1, and was pleasant surprised. Professor P is formal, but not boring.

Property is an extremely practical course. I now know what my obligations are if I find something valuable, and how to successfully capture any foxes (or bats) that I might come across…

The reading is interesting so far, but we start Estates and Future Interests this week. Our SSG has made several dark references to Future Interests, so we’ll see if my enthusiasm survives the week…

Civil Procedure: Civpro never disappoints. On Wednesday the law school’s auditorium was turned into a court room for a motion hearing. The case2 involves a pastor who came to Minnesota for a religious conference. The pastor dumped pipe ashes into a pot on his friend’s deck. The ashes started a fire that burnt down the friend’s house.

The angry homeowner was present Wednesday and sat next to one of my housemates. The awkwardness was delicious.

The losses calculated by the homeowner were creative. The plaintiff priced his used mid-90’s model cars using 2008 models. The plaintiffs also wanted compensation for a lost job and wages3 at $320/hour for the husband, and $125/hour for his retired wife.

The judge questioned the compensation:
Judge: “One of the arguments was that the loss of job isn’t compensable under Minnesota Law. Do you think the jury could connect the fire with the loss of a job?”
Attorney: “You’re speaking to a defense attorney your honor, so my answer is absolutely not! But consider the source…
Corporations: The reading for this course is a bit bizarre. Each assignment starts with what is essentially definitions in paragraph form. “Shareholders do this. A proxy contest is this. Etc.” After five pages of definitions comes the case, which is usually a scandalous hot mess (porn emails, sexual assaults, swearing, swindlers…etc.)

I dropped out of the business school my first semester of undergrad, so all of the terms are new to me. A few of my classmates with business degrees are bored to tears, but I’m still interested.

Criminal Law: Ah, the Law & Order class. The reading is heavy on theory but mercifully short. It is hard to pay attention in class because the professor puts all of the slides online and doesn’t cover much beyond them (hey! The slides are thorough!)

What makes Crimlaw amusing are my classmates. We have Crimlaw with another section full of… strong personalities. I appreciate that they are so engaged with the material, but they seem to rub my section the wrong way. The tension (and facebook threads) are hilarious.

The ridiculousness started when one of my classmates planted a remote fart machine under the gunner’s seat. My classmate set off the fart machine during class. Erm. Yeah. Some people thought it was the best thing ever, while  others were extremely offended by it.

Legal Writing-Statutory Interpretation: Sometimes I wonder if the sole purpose of legal writing is to terrorize my schedule. Our brief this year involves a statutory interpretation question, so UMN decided to smack us with an additional statutory interpretation class with its own meeting time and assignments.

The reading for statutory interpretation involves sifting through dense committee reports about whales and assorted randomness. Most people stopped reading two weeks ago, so the class is carried by the four people who religiously outline and annotate everything, including Chinese takeout menus…

The biggest problem with statutory interpretation (and some of the library exercises) is that the librarians assume first year law students use books. (shocking, I know.) This makes the $15 Xerox packet for Statutory Interpretation especially useless.

If I pull up a committee report on Westlaw, I just hit CTRL+F and cut through the irrelevant debates. But instead, I have to pay for a packet of the committee reports and floor debates in 5-pt font, and pray I don’t miss something hidden on page 432. This is why we have the four super-annotators…

I didn’t have to deal with the microprint this week because statutory interpretation was canceled. The wrench in this week’s schedule was the Fees Committee. We met for 7 hours on Sunday, and 3-4 hours on Wednesday night. Preparing for the meetings and writing rationales ate up a few more hours.

Despite the time and mind-drain, serving on the Fees Committee is a lot of fun. The Committee is comprised of students from all over the university. The clash of personalities makes American Idol look like a lovefest, but I get to see how undergraduate organizations work and engage in… rigorous debate.

I was sick for most of the week, but I was more productive at home among tissues than I would have been at school.

I also dragged my snot-clogged-self to the gym for the placebo effect. The good thing about being diseased is that it forced me to stop and take care of myself. 14 hours of sleep. Water, sleep, chicken noodle soup…

I feel better now and I’m ready for my “break week.” This is the week before the big honking public hearings for the Fees Committee…which should be interesting.


1An example is Professor P’s “Welcome to the Pleasure Palace!” hypo.

2 Case 0:07-cv-03905-JRT-RLE

3 The plaintiff’s attorney (essentially) said at one point, “Just because we are double dipping doesn’t mean we aren’t entitled to anything… erm, assuming we are double dipping of course.”

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    Best Year Ever: Outline of 1L Spring Semester | Dennis Jansen
    March 12, 2015 at 8:45 am

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