Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Standing Eight Count...

Ramblings Post #152
In Rocky fights the Red Menace or whatever number Rocky that was, in the climatic fight the Philadelphia favorite's plan is a masochistic version of Ali's rope-a-dope. But instead of ducking punches for six rounds as Ali did in real life, film hero Rocky lets the imposing Russian Drago pound his brains to mush for fourteen, then though sheer gumption and fortitude...and because the script said so, won the fight with a knockout. Because if you were paying attention, he was way, way behind on points. Well, I'm heading into the closing rounds, and I have fought my way back into this thing. I wish I could say it was a lucky punch...

How it felt...

My first warning should have been when the professor casually joked that students often write as the last line on the exam, "I ran out of time." That this happens often enough for you to a) notice and b) feel it pertinent enough to remember, it should be an indicator that may be, just may be, your test is too long.

For those who don't know, your typical law exam is usually issue spotting. The professor gives you a fact pattern, i.e., tells a plausible story, and you go through it and pick out the issues. Then explain why they are issues based upon the circumstances, apply the relevant law and occasionally even make a decision of how said law would be interpreted and then explain said decision. Simple? Not really. Spotting issues is hard, and knowing why law A would apply but law B wouldn't under circumstance C is trickier than you think. I mean your Sales law professor isn't interested in your Trademark Law analysis even if the circumstances are in the facts, so its a fine line as to relevance. A fine line with a kink and a curve. For this exam I'd spoken to a number of people who'd taken the class previously and learned it's a long fact pattern. Long.

But I'm a trooper. So, I got my notes in order, with my cases laid out in law school shorthand. I had the actual sections of the relevant code included, then re-written into plain English with the relevant parts of the code referenced for each translation, along with the corresponding pieces of the accompanying Revenue Rulings and Regulations. I had the case book and the Federal code book at my fingertips in case I had forgotten something, printed out the powerpoints, and said a short prayer. Then I downloaded the take home exam. I had three hours.

The instructions were your standard law school exam instructions- make sure you reference, clear sentences, blah, blah, blah. I saved the exam to the desktop then printed it out to read because I'm old and I still like paper.

But then everything got real...intense.

That stuff I just wrote about, issue spotting. Yeah, forget that. This was that times a hundred.

I would have written at the end "I ran out of time" but I ran out of time to even write that. My ten minute warning timer went off, then the five minute timer and I was still frantically typing, throwing anything else I could at the screen. I normally like to upload a take home exam with a few minutes to spare in case anything goes wrong. My internet connection might go, my laptop get wonky, anything can happen. So you make an accommodation, just in case. This time out, I uploaded at 11:34:42. My upload deadline was 11:35:14.


Just when I thought I had a handle on this whole legal life thing, this happens. All I can do it wait and see how that turned out.

Barkeep. I got a brand new least liked law professor.

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