Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Legal Tribute to Halloween

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In full Halloween spirit, here are a few fun legal things I found associated with the holiday.

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.  Stambovsky v. Ackley is a thrilling case in property law/contract law regarding the sale of a house inhabited by ghosts.  The court held that if the seller knows of a condition unlikely to be discovered by a careful and prudent buyer and impairs the value of the contract, nondisclosure of this condition represents a basis for rescission.  The judge’s opinion  is riddled with spooky puns for a fun read.

Laws can even haunt your Halloween fun.  Did you know in Walnut Creek, CA you can’t wear a mask or disguise without a permit?  If you pretend to be a clergyman in Alabama, you could be arrested and/or fined.  Possession of silly string on Halloween in Hollywood, CA will get you a $1000 fine!  For more wicked crazy laws, click here.

Halloween comes with a variety of spooky television specials.  Have you ever wondered what the repercussions were for Homer Simpson selling his soul to the Devil or Jack Skellington’s impersonation of Santa Clause in The Nightmare Before Christmas?  Could the Ghostbusters be charged for false imprisonment by the ghosts they trap?  Find the answers to these questions and more here.

Avoid scary predicaments by brushing up on your tort and criminal law as Trick or Treat rounds the corner.  Review premise liability, vandalism, and trespassing to avoid horrific legal consequences (read more here).

Have a happy and lawful Halloween!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Did I Do That? Mid-Semester Law School Review

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It’s mid-semester and you only have a few more weeks before finals.  Time for you to do a good self-review of where you stand on studying, preparation for finals, and anything else you may still need to check off your list.

1.      Outlining – Hopefully, you have been doing some sort of organization to prepare for your finals since the first week of classes whether it be an outline, flash cards, or another method that works for you.  If you haven’t, start using any free time to get caught up.  You do not want to spend time compiling your notes during the time you should be studying for finals.  You may have a beautiful outline, but you need to have time to memorize it back and forward.
2.      Reading – Are you having a tough time keeping up with the reading?  Look at how you are spending your time.  Are there ways that you can be more efficient?  Have you missed a reading? Move on and rely on your notes for that one.  You don’t have time to go back and read areas you may have missed.
3.      Supplements – Pick out areas that you seem to be struggling to grasp and spend extra time in those areas with your supplements.  You can ask upperclassmen to borrow used supplements, check the library for free copies, or look for eBooks that are cheaper than the print copy.  Supplements are great to have, but easily add up in price.
4.      Bar Prep – Have you locked in a Bar Prep course?  Whether the Bar is a few months away or 3 years, locking in a bar course will likely reduce the final cost, may allow you to receive discounts, and you may receive free commercial outlines for core classes and the MPRE.
5.      Old Tests – Have you found old exams for your classes?  Oftentimes, professors will have their old exams available online, through the library, or if you just ask.  This is one of the best ways to prepare for exams.  If you start these exams early, your professor may be willing to discuss any questions you have after class or during office hours.
6.      Scheduling – Have you picked out your courses for the next semester?  Make sure you review the required courses for graduation, the amount of credits needed, classes that would be helpful for the bar exam, and any prerequisites for a course to help design your next semester.  Design your schedule and include a few back-ups for popular courses so you are ready when it comes time to schedule.

Check out some of my earlier posts related to this topic:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Maintain Sanity during Application Season

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My usual advice involves budgeting for financial planning, but budgeting is not for money alone.  You can also budget your time to keep from becoming stressed and overwhelmed with law school applications as well as your fall semester studies.
If you haven’t started planning already, then you really need to buckle down.  Two of the three LSAT test dates have expired for registration.  If you are planning to attend law school next fall, then you must register for the LSAT immediately as the December test date may already eliminate some options to where you apply.  To register for the LSAT, go to
Next, you should have a good idea of the schools you wish to apply to.  Make sure you have all the deadlines marked down and the documents required to apply.  If you meet deadlines early, your application fee may be waived.
Plot these deadlines and create your own deadlines.  Organize a calendar to block off time for LSAT preparation, essay outlining, and research for schools.  Add in a few activities or an internship to help improve your résumé. Using Google Calendar can be extremely helpful, especially for the visual types who like color coding.
Make sure you have gathered all of the necessary documents for your recommendation letters.  This packet should be well organized for your recommender to easily go through.  The easier you make it for them, the more time and better quality your recommendation will be.  Provide these packets to your recommenders early in the semester and give them a tentative deadline.  Do not pester them about it, but as finals approach and you haven’t received a response, give a gentle reminder.  Remember to take the time to thank them once the letter has been received.
Tackle each area of the application bit-by-bit and keep organized.  You will be able to get through the semester stress-free/reduced and meet deadlines by winter break.

For other helpful suggestions for the application process, check out some of my earlier posts:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Law School Applicants: Two Secrets to Success

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Today’s post is brought to us by guest blogger, Adam Gropper, author of the newly released "Making Partner:  The Essential Guide to Negotiating the Law School Path and Beyond."   Adam offers these great, easy to follow tips for those of you interested in applying to law school.

1) Distinguish yourself in the application process by articulating intended career path

When reviewing your materials, the admissions committee is wondering:
a) whether you are likely to be one of those students with lots of job prospects upon graduation, despite your academic results; and
b) whether you are likely to be one of those students to give back financial (and otherwise) to the school.

One way to help the committee form a positive impression about you is to articulate precisely what your plans are upon graduation:
a) what area of law do you intend to practice
b) in what context (ex., government, big firm, etc.)
c) what about that law school makes this plan more of a possibility 

How do develop a plan if you have no clue:
c) if possible, match your future plan with skills in your background and match your interest to a booming legal field
            1) consider items in the news
            2) consider regulatory areas
    3) examples of both = tax, intellectual property, elder law, healthcare law, securities law
d) talk to lawyers and ask them how they decided on the area in which they are practicing
e) prepare a one pager to committee articulating your plan

2) Distinguish yourself in law school by "choosing a major."
a) Your major may be different then your plan as presented to the committee 
b) Decide as soon as feasible because as soon as you decide:
            1) you can make the most of networking opportunities
            2) you can gain relevant experience in the area

 3) You can excel in classes in the area, which will help convince future employers that those are the grades that matter (and you are less of a risk than another student that did not do as well in those classes or did not take those classes).
a) similar process as above
            1) match the major to your background
            2) choose a good growth area
            3) identify multiple paths for obtaining a job
            4) match your interest to a booming legal field 

This post is by guest blogger Adam Gropper, founder of, a blog providing career advice for law students.  Adam is also the author of the ABA's recently published book, "Making Partner:  The Essential Guide to Negotiating the Law School Path and Beyond," which can be found here.

Thanks, Adam!