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