Saturday, December 15, 2012

Again I have been thwarted by technology. I wrote a post on the iPad and promptly lost it on the blogger app. Winning. Results came out a few weeks ago, passed everything and got a sole credit for Principles of Sentencing. Meh, I am just happy I never, ever have to sit another Corporate law exam. The corporate law exam has to be my worst law school experience to date. We had to answer two out of the three given questions. Choice it always nice, however, after reading the first paragraph of question no.1 it was clear I had no idea what they wanted, so I was pretty much stuck with questions two and three, not really a choice. The first question I did was pretty straight forward, sure I missed stuff but I hit the main points. Then came the mother of all head benders. It was broken up into part a and part b, no problems there, actually part b was all about agency, I was all over agency as the moot I had just completed contained an agency issue. I had more or less neglected all my studies to moot to the Law Exam gods I owe a thank you for the moot/exam cross over. Then came part a. Now it looked simple enough until the problem was qualified with something along the lines of ‘do not consider Part XYZ of the Act’. It was at that point I kind of lost it. In the morning of the exam I looked at my 3,000 page Act and thought ‘I won’t need that’ BUZZZ WRONG! Yes I know, how can I think I would not need the Act for the subject taught on it? Well, I had notes, no need to bring in extra stuff I never look at any way! The point the story is I eventually worked out what part of the Act I was not supposed to apply, leaving me with absolutely nothing to say. I spend 30 minutes looking at my notes, the paper and then my stark white exam booklet with only my name on it. All this while everyone else around me was furiously pouring out all their knowledge on to the paper. For those of you who have sat a law exam, to stop writing for even a minute it petrifying let alone half a freaking hour! That was the longest 30 minutes of my life. It is summer holidays and yet again I will be in the library studying for a moot. This moot has been a challenge from day one. A fellow mooter and I decided to do this moot alone, without any assistance from the law school, then when we asked if they wanted to help it all went to shit. It was on then off, funded then unfunded, then it was sponsored then un-sponsored. In the long run the law school is giving their assent and giving us a coach but it has to be self-funded. When we started this we had plans to approach law firm for sponsorship, I am confident we could have made this work but the law school put a swift halt to that. At this point the gap between the ways and means of my fellow law students became clear. All 5 of the members had family that are funding their trip. All but me. The joys of being a semi-mature age student. Then a member of the team did something out of the blue. She paid for my flights. Never has an act of kindness like that happened to me before. I will pay her back, slowly, but it will happen. I will find a way of passing on that kindness to someone else as I know that will mean more to her than just repaying the money. I will find a way to do just that. The team is holding a fundraising dinner for me. I feel so blessed and loved. I have so much more to catch you up on so I guess I will have to post again shortly 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reflections.




(this post was written over a month or so.)

On the way home from running another competition, on the 11:13pm train, the one where all the chefs go home on Viva La Viva by Cold play came on and I got all nostalgic.  I am in my 4th year of law school, four years of my life has been devoted either to getting into or surviving this ordeal.

When I first heard the song I had moved back from a smallish country town with Mr Ovum, I had got my old job back at the Cackle Berry and had started my Justice Degree.  I used to be in some kind of awe of law students and lawyers. This has undergone a drastic shift.

I still love my job, still wake up eager to get there and sink my teeth into whatever problem or task I have been given. I have grown my network of friends (funny what being on the LSS will do) while keeping the best of the non-law folks.

Regarding the assessment from the last post, I had to push through three levels of appeal to get my points across. I passed the subject overall since the grade was changed, which is nice since that would have been the one and only fail on my transcript. However it was a long involved process and even though I eventually got what I needed some issues are unresolved. I could push it on further but I don’t have the time or inclination to do so. Also, I guess there is something to be said about being happy with what you have got.

A week ago the Mooting coordinator sent out an email calling for expressions of interest from the ‘senior and experienced mooters’ to moot in the Kirby Contracts moot, memorials are due in 9 days and orals a month after. Because I love to punish myself I opted in and was put on the team! At the very least it is some more experience before the ICC moot at the end of this year (which is coming up much faster than I anticipated – can’t believe it is week 7 of semester already, how did that happen?). But mooting with such a full schedule is quite punishing, it means more weeks of 5 hours sleep a night, not getting home until 1 or 2 in the morning.

Mooting has to be one of the best methods of legal education; my understanding of contracts (well certain areas of contract law) far surpasses the superficial knowledge I had to cram into my head in order to get a good grade. However it comes at a cost. Mooting is such a roller coaster. One moment you crack a legal argument and then the next moment you have wasted hour and hours on a research path that got you nowhere and leaves you feeling frustrated and angry. Through the course of this moot I have even put serious thought into whether I should be allowed to practice with so many gaps in my legal understanding of contracts.

Also, I guess once you chose a field or three you can get very, very familiar with that area of law. We spend upwards of 4 years at law school learning the subject across a broad field law, now these areas of law are all interrelated but how can a person be across all these areas in a meaningful way (and yes I know they are out there)?  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Much like Marlowe, I am hurtling to the end of my degree faster than I anticipated. I should have four (one thing I can take away from my law degree is much better writing skills than I had to start with, such as writing out the name of a number under 10 and using the number for numbers above 10) semesters  to go but I have over-loaded and will probably finish at the end of next year.

My feelings towards law school have generally morphed from keen enthusiasm to apathetic distain.  This, I suspect has been compounded by one particular mark in Intellectual Property Law. Brace yourself dear readers.

My mark was 6/40. Read that again. Yes six out of 40.  Can we say appeal to review board? I am not going to say it was a brilliant piece of academic enlightenment but it was well above a sound grade make. Even if I did submit a draft in a haze of stress and lack of sleep. So what happened? I failed to play the game.
 
Why would I share such a mark with you? Well, I think it was wrongly marked under the auspices of an ‘academic mafia’ that can be the universities. I usually take my grades as they come as they tend to be fair and on point, but this, this is just out of control.

In essence the assessment was to be a submission to the Federal Court regarding the decision of the Commissioner of Patents about the ‘substantial physical effect’ required to have a patentable ‘Business Method’.  I ran two arguments, one they were looking for and another I felt had a stronger prospect for success:

1.    There was  an effect substantial enough to warrant the patent; and
2.    The scope of what was required for ‘substantial physical effect’ was
        incorrectly restricted beyond what the line of prior case law contemplated.

I ran the second argument with more force than the first one. The (all deleted because I was taught that if you can’t say anything nice...) that marked mine had a PHD on the subject and written papers on the first line of argument.  That is all well and good but he clearly glanced over my paper, it did not fit with what he wanted so gave a truly insulting mark.  The criteria sheet had the ‘no relevant cases cited’ circled but then in the generic feedback the cases given were the same ones. 

I accept the paper had flaws, that is fine but wow! The criteria also stated something along the lines of ‘of a postgraduate level’... hmm ...I think an undergraduate subject marked on postgraduate criteria is fundamentally wrong.
So yeah, having that formally reviewed.  As a part of the process we have to give reasons why it should be reviewed so I have systematically gone through both the ‘inadequate’ criteria circled and ‘sound’ thresholds and applied them (another useful tool of law school is clearly IRAC). 

That mark knocked me for a six, but then I thought about it some more and came the conclusion that no, I am not an idiot, I researched and thought about the line of argument, applied the law and came to a conclusion. Not playing the game of pandering to the academics should not result in such a penalty.  In any even my reasons may just be the most beautifully written thing ever to come from my keyboard. I will keep you posted on what the re-mark result is.

I got a fairly large whack of study done on the 24 hour road trip to the middle of nowhere which was nice.  I am not as prepared for exams as I would like to be but I should be ready for them by the time they come around. 

I am off to Europe the day after my last exam, in under a week. I am not excited about this yet, probably because I have three exams to get through first.  The flights were booked about eight months ago and a Justice subject exam fell right on the day we leave.  I asked the Justice school to take the exam early or later but was met with an email to the effect of ‘tough titties’.  Thankfully I was able to drop the subject without academic penalty. However this means I have to take 6 subjects next semester to still be on track for an early graduation. 

The Justice school is adding to my feelings of ‘fuck it’ in general.

Another factor adding to my head space is actually working in the field and doing pretty well, I am being given more and more responsibility and doing a pretty good job of it. 

I accept I am not ready to be a lawyer yet but seeing the huge gap between what is taught and what how it actually works in the real world quite saddening. On the bright side I can see the tools law school is imparting as essential such as:

1.    Research skills;
2.    Drafting;
3.    Application of the law;
4.    Reasoning; and
5.    Identification of a legal issue and the place to start the research.

Time to go turn my notes into something I can use. – Obiter

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Just can’t seem to muster the requisite energy to get into study again. It is the pointy end of semester, well getting close to. The last two weeks have been consumed with running the Junior and Senior moots which result in an average of 5 hours sleep a night, this is because I am at uni with the other two people running the moot until late in the evening putting scores in order and sending emails. Thursday was the last moot for the semester (thank goodness) after attending the after party where there were many free drinks to be had, went home and proceeded to make up at 4pm the following day.


Like a post by Marlowe, running comps can be an epic and thankless task. Students don’t really understand the amount of work and organisation that goes into running these events. They pull out last minute, whinge when they don’t win, fail to read the question and/or do not do the question justice. For the love of Lord Denning, if you are going to moot, read a book about how to moot at the minimum and save yourself the shame of looking like a tool.

Study has had to take a back seat to running the comps for the last few weeks and I am caught in that god awful ‘how the F*ck do I catch up?’ head space. The family is going to the middle of nowhere Australia (Dubbo) for my Nan’s 80th? birthday, I signed on to this 28 hour round trip exercise in boredom with the hope of taking nothing but IP law to read and catch up on. Yet still I think playing I-Spy with my 22 year old younger brother may win out..

By some strange stroke of luck at work I have been given a very, very interesting personal injury file to work on from the ground up. It involves expired time limits which could be extended, vicarious/non-delegable duty/ strict liability facts that not even the High Court can agree on in a similar fact scenario. The solicitor told Counsel about the facts and the response was to the effect of ‘forget it, you don’t really have an action’. I was pretty bummed out about that as I had spent a great deal of my weekend reading, researching and thinking about this case. I went to the solicitor and explained what I thought we could do and was met with a ‘you’re a clever little fu*cker aren’t you’. Made my week because I most definitely do not consider myself to be clever.

Being given ownership of this file confirms, for me, that I made the right decision in not applying for clerkships and staying where I am.

That ‘oh shit’ moment. Part of my job is putting together the briefs for Counsel, this only sounds interesting (for those not yet in the field). What it actually entails is hours of compiling, alphabetising and tabbing all the evidence to go to trial. Not in any way stimulating, however it does give you an understanding of what is going on. I was handed what I thought was the one matter and proceeded to spend 3 hours putting it together only to find out it was actually for two matters. That seriously messed up my day. However, even when I am having a crappy day at work I remind myself I could be peeling onions and mopping floors, perspective is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Well Hello! No, not I am not dead, just run off my feet. Between being one of three people running all the internal law student competitions for the year, working three days and study (with Surivelaw in the mix) I have very, very little time to do anything else! On the bright side I have handed in most of my written assessment for the semester giving me time to blog YAY! At one point I had 7,500 words due over a 6 day period. That reduced me to an over caffeinated blubbering mess... Work is still pretty amazing, recently I had to do an application in the District Court that even my managing solicitor was a bit nervous about but it came off nicely. It seems the ‘easy’ matters are always the ones that get very complicated and the ‘difficult’ matters turn out to be a dream. I have an excellent phone manner, after years of working in sales it is second nature to ask ‘how is your day shaping up’ to start a phone call and banter about how things are busy blah, blah, blah ensues. However this one Police Prosecutor took a bite out of my for doing just that with words to the effect of ‘how dare you ask you rude, arrogant person’ then continued to chew me out. By the end of the call I had her on more or less ‘good’ ground and asked ‘what would make your day better?’ apparently a coffee and chocolate would fix whatever her issue was. So, I found a legitimate reason to go up to the head quarters and lo and behold gave her a coffee and block of chocolate. It went down rather well, however there was a very real possibility I was going to end up wearing the coffee and waddling out with a block of chocolate up my bottom. Off to collate scores for the Senior Moot , YAY! – Obiter

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Meet the profession AKA an exercise in self-degradation

In the midst of doing some highly productive study for evidence I have decided to put a stop to such momentum and blog.

Recently I attended a ‘Meet the profession’ evening being held by the Law Student Society. As a member of the society I was more or less obliged to part with the $40 and schmooze/brown nose at the event. Maybe it is 4 years of law school which has made me more than a little cynical about such events or maybe in past careers I have had to build a business with actual networking not a contrived and sterile event that leaves me feeling like I wasted my time.

Firstly I must qualify the above statement by telling you that I can see some benefit to attending the event, but only if you are looking for an insight into what it is to work at various firms, and even then to take what you are told with a grain of salt.

The evening starts with various people with either blue name cards (who are the ‘profession’) or white ones (who are the ‘students’) milling around awkwardly, however as the free wine and beer took its hold things got a touch more loose and social. Law students seem to be a desperate bunch, with each one of us trying everything we can to make sure we are not still working at a fast food joint or retail outlet once we have our law degrees. The students then start trying to ‘make an impression’ on these lawyers, however after a little digging it became apparent many of the lawyers were recent graduate who would hold little or no ‘pull’ come application time. I found this game to be depressing and hardened my resolve to be my own boss.

It is about this time of year applications for clerkships open and close, it’s a cruel game where students apply to as many firms as they can ‘tailoring’ each cover letter to the firm to make it sound like they handpicked the firm to apply to because they really wanted to work at ‘Medium to Small Not Very Interesting Firm’. The clerkship game makes me feel ill. Not because of all the work being put into it with the slim to tiny chance of getting a clerkship where you will then be pitted against 15 other clerks all vying for the same 2 positions. No, it is because we are reducing ourselves to begging for the opportunity to put into practice what we have been killing ourselves studying to do.

Instead of walking out of the evening feeling like I had met key people I want to form a close professional relationship in that they may ‘put in a good word’ for an application. To me it was a law version of the Hunger Games. (stop sniggering at my poor, pop trash taste in books)

I am also very aware I am in the privileged position to go to such an event with no view of networking because I have an excellent job I will very happily stay at once I graduate.

Now to regain that momentum I lost. – Obiter

Friday, March 2, 2012

On being in court as a Clerk

I am sure we all think things we would never, ever say. I often do, but recently I have had this fear the filter between my brain and mouth will fail. It started with the little things such like when doing Jessup the judges are addressed at ‘Your Excellency’ where in the real courts in Australia they are addressed as ‘Your Honour’. More than once while addressing a Magistrates ‘You Excellency’ has almost fallen out of my mouth, it came out like your ‘Exel-Onour’, pretty sure I am the only one that noticed but still.. Then there is this very particular way of talking to a judge, all too formal and full of wankery I am yet to wrap my head around.

A fair whack of my job is sitting in court waiting for all the barristers and solicitors to be called on to have their matter mentioned and subsequently moved through the criminal court process before the clerks. This can mean sitting in a court from 9:00 to about 11:00 or 12:00 before my file is called. Usually what I need to say is along the lines of:

‘Good morning Your Honour. For the record my name is Ovum spelt O V U M initials O a law clerk for Great Firm seeking leave to appear on behalf of Ms Smith. (Magistrate gives me leave, unless it is a particular Magistrate who likes to toy with clerks and answers with a ‘Depends Mr Ovum’) ‘Your Honour, case conferencing has commenced and we are seeking an X week adjournment to allow case conferencing to continue’. They usually grant the time sought and I get to go back to the office.

When asked by a Judge weather I am aware of a particular thing on a case which I have little to no knowledge about instead of simply saying ‘I don’t know, can I make a call?’, the correct protocol is to say something to the effect of ‘my apologies Your Honour, I do not have those instructions or carriage of the matter, may I seek a adjournment so I can call the Solicitor who can give me the proper instructions,? Thank you.’

Yes it may seem simple enough but when you are expecting to say a very quick 3 lines, get given a date and that is all any deviation from what I am expecting terrifies me, especially because often have little to no idea of what is going on with the file. When they are asking a question my internal monologue is ‘shit, shit, shit, I don’t know, shit, the magistrate is going to spank me, shit’. I am constantly scared when answering I will just babble like a fool or get it wrong. Mooting has actually helped with this but wow it is still terrifying.

I thought my job was going to help with my mooting, turns out the mooting has actually helped with the real world - funny that.

Today is one of those days where you left your house/car keys at work, travel in only to realise the swipe key is also on the desk, you are also locked out of the house and nobody is home so blogging from uni and maybe a little forced study is in order.

Going to be a long, boring day – Obiter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It never ends!

I have not posted in a while because my plate is never endingly full. Jessup finished. Left a gapping whole of empty in my previously Jessup occupied life but then work filled it. Check out the post on survivelaw.com that pretty much outlines what happened.

I am only just getting into the Law Student Society where I am a competitions director this year (I underestimated the sheer amount of work that will need to go into this). I have started to try and get through the work but every time I go to log into an account the freaking password has been changed – this is bugging the poop out of me.

Amungst this I am Torts Peer Mentoring again, but it is something I genuinely enjoy. Law school goes back on Monday, I am so not ready for it 

I am still loving my job. Many funny little stories such as almost knocking myself out with the ‘dolly’ while moving floor in the building. I have been given a desk that is mine, ALL MINE! This is kind of a big deal, since I was sharing with someone who worked organised chaos! You know the type, a thousand documents on the desk but they know where everything is. Whilst I prefer the 5 file on the desk max rule.

Also and further, I will attempt to being posting once a week (LOLS).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jumping Jessup Stress

Jessup memorials have been handed in, I have jumped out of a plane, closed a million dollar sale, been smacked down in court and yet the adrenalin that was pumping before it was due was just as insane if not more so.

Some highlights:

It expired when?

We have access to the tea and coffee room after hours, this is a good thing as we needed to be fuelled on caffeine beyond the normal end of semester/exam period. One morning a team member said ‘this coffee tastes like dirty Windex’ this particular brand of instant coffee is actually pretty damn good, so it needed some investigating.



Note the expiry on that bad boy …. It expired TEN years ago! No wonder it tasted horrible..

Why you no smell?

When you don’t leave the law library for about 4 days people tend to get a little funky. This team has hygiene down to a fine art. I was sent for supplies that included; towels, soap, tooth brushes and paste, conditioner, and other assorted shower goodies. However, by the time we have access to the shower it was only cold water. Fun stuff, it worked out in the end as after a cold, cold shower we were all WIDE AWAKE. Showering at about 3am at the university was interesting; it felt like some twisted academic boot camp.

I AM GOING TO KILL YOU

We are generally a pretty cohesive team, when the memorials are due in 1 hour and stuff is still not started tempers and thresholds for bullshit runs a little low. I am not, I repeat NOT a violent person, however this twerp was so close to pushing me over the edge. All is good now but I will never, ever work with this person ever again.

Not over yet.


Now the oral practice beings.
Again, it feels like we are starting at the bottom of a long climb up massive mountain.

In other news (Kitchen talk)

I finally did it, three years of silently copping my head chefs bad temper and snarky attitude and I lost it. This is the moment I have been playing out in my head for years. It went almost to plan, almost. I grabbed a huge roll of plastic wrap and SLAMED it down on the bench, got it attention and (here it where it deviates from the plan) said a few coherent words to the effect of ‘enough, stop acting like a child, enough throwing pans, fucking grow up’ then I started making sounds miming out the his bad attitude… yup any effect I had at that point was lost as I looked like a crazy person who had lost his mind. Smooth.

However I did save my dignity as a person afterwards, when he asked if ‘everything is all good’ I told him, in a calm even tone how this was not a onetime offence, his behaviour is grossly out of line and it affects everyone in the kitchen and to check himself.  There is much more to it but this is a law blog not a ‘I hate hospitality’ page.


Back to the wondrous fun that is Jessup (this is a lie, I am lying. There is nothing wondrous about this competition)

Also. Mr Ovum came out. Things went O.K not badly, not well either. The Mother is the issue, but she will come around in time.
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