A Columbia Law Student Blog - Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil

August 25, 2006

And like that... he is gone

So that's it. RIP Three Years of Hell, June 2, 2003 to August 25, 2006. After all these words, there are only a few things left to say.

Two sites, the Imbroglio and the Volokh Conspiracy, have given me a slightly premature sendoff, and their words are very kind. (The site has received its final Kerr Package.) In answer to Ambimb's question as to why the site is closing, the answer is simply that the project is done. I don't know what my next big task will be. I've got two articles in process (much more difficult now I don't have free Lexis access). There's a few chapters written of a novel, a thought made more exciting by three friends who have already written books. The more I look at law and technology, the more I think that an open-source, XML-based framework for writing judicial opinions would bring caselaw closer to the public (as well as weaken the WEXIS duopoly). Perhaps that's a project worth looking into. Whatever the case, I'm sure I'll have no problem coming up with other tasks to occupy my (soon to dwindle rapidly) free time. This story was always meant to have an ending, and after all these months, it is finally here.

Thank you to the professors and students at Columbia Law School who made this journey such a rich experience. The same goes to the bloggers across the 'sphere who've linked, commented and otherwise spread the word. (A special note should go to Martin, who started me on this path.) My family, although asked not to comment on the blog itself, never failed to give me encouragement (and fodder for quite a few posts) throughout my years here.

And finally, of course, thank you to all of you who've read this site over the last three years and a bit. Journeys are made better with travelling companions, and I couldn't have asked for a finer bunch.

Best regards,


And for those without blogs...

Dear Wormwood:

Our correspondence over these last few years, put together, may be the single longest thing I've ever written. For old time's sake, however, I hope you'll allow me to give you one last list, a few things I hope you'll take with you in your own purgatorial journeys.

At long last, Wormwood, our conversation is at an end. Please take with you my best wishes, and may your time in law school bring you every joy possible.

Continue reading "And for those without blogs..." »

Advice for 1Ls Starting a Blog: A Much Shorter Part II

Dear Wormwood:

I promised you two letters that might help your friend Scrimgouge in starting a 1L blog. The first letter focused mostly upon matters that any blogger, legal or otherwise, might find useful, be they technical or stylistic. But both you and Scrimgouge are now law student, which makes your efforts (and yes, dear Wormwood, I really am hoping that you too might start blogging) a bit different. So with the basics out of the way, I'd like to make a few quick notes and observations on what I've learned from law school blogging.

  1. Eschew anonymity: I've covered the reasons for this in one of my most oft-read posts. I know I bang on upon this, but anonymity certainly isn't as safe as you'd suspect. Besides, it's only polite that when you violate Godwin's Law, your opponent knows where to send the summons and complaint.
  2. Don't be surprised if your first year makes for the most interesting blogging: First year blogs are great, indeed positively addicting. Most 1Ls find themselves thrust into this bizarro land where Socratic Method suddenly makes sense as a pedagogical technique and everything--and I mean everything--starts being seen through the lense of law. On the other hand, 1L bloggers know that most of their readers aren't other law students, but their friends, family and associates from back in the "real world." The need to explain the pressure-cooker anxiety, and the urge to translate the experience to outsiders, makes for excellent writing.

    1L year is all about learning the game. 2L year, you merely refine it. By 3L, you're looking for another game to play because you know exactly how much class you can snooze through with minimal effect on your grades. Why do you think Scott Turow didn't write a sequel?

  3. Give your fellow students (and professors) some space: TYoH followed two pretty simple rules. First, don't mention a non-blogging professor by name. Refer to them instead as "Prof. Contracts" or "Prof. CivPro." It's not much, but it does mean that your blog entries won't end up as Google hits for their name. Secondly, if you have a story to tell about a fellow student, even if you're not mentioning them by name, shoot them a quick email with a draft of the post before you publish. They may not want their lives appearing online. Most of the time, no one will care, but it's a good habit that saves trouble later on.
  4. Blog about what fascinates you: Your text really comes alive when you have an interesting story to tell, or when you're passionate about an issue. All law student bloggers eventually create their own niche. I've posted quite a lot on gay marriage, for instance, but also on the appropriateness of professional status for legal practitioners (much more obscure) and strange tax issues. The Ambivalent Imbroglio should be one of the first reads for any law student thinking of becoming a public defender (or a prosecutor, for that matter). You don't have to comment fully on everything. If you find something interesting but don't have anything to say on it, an entry with a quick link is perfectly fine. Write in depth on those issues you care about.
  5. Engage others: Yesterday I wrote about connecting to other bloggers, but focused mostly on law professors or major players. Yet the real and lasting relationships in blogging will come from your own cohorts, your peers out there on the great wide internet. I've copied fair amounts of code from Heidi's effort. I've made fast friends with Chris. I've pimped Jeremy's book. These are the things I smile about when I remember TYoH, and I'll bet I do so a decade from now. Your cohort will be a source of support when things go wrong, both scholastically and technically. They'll also be something you'll carry away from law school.
  6. Keep a sense of humor: All too often, you'll be inspired to shout. When you do, put the post in "draft" and leave it to the next day. Remember that at the right moment and you'll thank me later.
  7. Keep in touch: Perhaps not advice, so much, but if there's a 1L out there starting a blog and they need a bit of help, don't hesitate to ask. I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun reading your work in the years to come.

And that, dearest Wormwood, is that. I hope that Scrimgouge finds the next three years as exciting as I did.

Welcome to the Continuum! or Passing the Torch

Say hello to Luis Villa, a 1L at Columbia law school. He's another coder turned lawyer, and his musings on code and law strike a cord.

If there's any other Columbia Law School bloggers who would like to tie their blogs into the Columbia Continuum, feel free to email me. (I will be keeping that site working, and maybe even improved, after this site goes quiet.)

UPDATE: Welcome also to Legal Economics, another Columbia 1L. This guy will have no trouble in Reg State. Too bad it's not a required class anymore, eh?

(Please note that the Continuum requires an RSS feed, so if you're on Blogger or Blogspot, you should get a Feedburner account.)

Down to the Wire

Right... self-imposed deadline of tonight to finish this thing off, and still four or five posts that I need to complete. Right now all that quick typing in exams is coming in handy!

August 24, 2006

Advice for 1Ls Considering a Blog: A Very Long Part One

Dear Wormwood:

Who is this Scrimgouge whose email address you've forwarded me? It's certainly very flattering that he's asking you to ask me for advice on starting a law school blog. Nevertheless, there's no good reason for him to ask me at one remove. [1] You know full well I'd speak at the opening of a Doritos bag, and give away advice just as profligately.

Since your friend has asked, I'm happy to oblige. This particular project has run for over three years, and I'd like to think that in that time I've learned a few things that might help out a beginner. Of course, with the start of the fall semester, there is currently no shortage of advice for new law students, and I'm sure that similar wisdom about blogs is a dime a dozen. Hopefully your friend Scrimgouge will find one or two chestnuts here that he hasn't managed to gather elsewhere. Sadly for him, however, whatever angels generally look over my shoulder and force me to be brief have taken a tea break. What follows is quite lengthy indeed.

To help out a bit, I've divided the post into five sections that continue after the cut:
First, the commonplace.
Second, decide what you want to do.
Third, learn a bit about the technology.
Fourth, connect, connect, connect (to the Web).
Fifth, connect, connect, connect (to other bloggers).
Finally, have fun.

I hope it helps.

Continue reading "Advice for 1Ls Considering a Blog: A Very Long Part One" »

Could Be Worse

A friend of mine just gave me a "post bar exam gift": a copy of Ichisada Miyazaki's China's Examination Hell: The Civil Service Examinations of Imperial China. From the first page:

Competition for a chance to take the civil service examinations began, if we may be allowed to exaggerate only a little, even before birth. . . . Prenatal care began as soon as a woman was known to be pregnant. . . .

Legal education system take note: you have something to aspire towards.

Grumpy Old Man Alert: "In My Day, We Didn't Have the 'SONI' System Like You Youngsters. We Read Two Hundred Spam Emails From Every Society Imaginable, And We LIKED It."

Forwarded from a current Columbia Law Student, from one of Student Services' fantastic new staff members:

We have put in place a new system, the Student Organization News and Information (SONI) System, which allows student organizations and journals to email students directly and allows you to select to which student organization and journal email lists you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe.
We hope that you find this system a helpful way to receive information from student organizations, and a good way to cut down on your email traffic.

The SONI system works as follows. All students in the Law School are initially subscribed to each student organization's email list. You may choose to unsubscribe from any list, at which point you will no longer receive email from that particular organization or journal. If you wish, you can later choose to resubscribe.

What a fantastic idea! I'm sure this entry will attract a lot of groans from the Class of 2006 and older, though. They can take heart: scuttlebutt is that you still can't avoid the daily deluge of emails from the public interest folks.

August 23, 2006

New York Pungent

Strange circumstances conspire to bring me back to New York just before the blog ends. I drove through Jersey late last night. A blind man could smell his way up the Jersey Turnpike. My memory of New York will be forever mixed with the smell of garbage. Tokyo has its sweating salarymen with natto-breath crowding the subway. Summer winds blow stinging road dust into your eyes in London. But the smell of rotting dinners sets New York apart, simply because it's always there, and especially strong in the summer. No part of Manhattan escapes it. Walk up from a Times Square subway exit, the cleaned-up area for tourists, and spoilt meat assaults your nose. Walk down Broadway for a romantic meal and you're certain to pass at least three corners reeking of fish. Take a badly air-conditioned cab through slow traffic to a job interview on 54th street and you have a choice: roll up the windows and sweat or arrive with your suit smelling as if you cleaned a drainage ditch in it. Maybe as the years go by I'll grow nostalgic and I'll forget. But for the present, summer in New York is remembered with my nose.

August 18, 2006

The Beginning of the End

Dear Wormwood:

The bar exam is over. I've moved away from D.C. to Another State. [1] And today the last signs of law-student living left me: my free Lexis account no longer works.

I feel I shall soon have withdrawal symptoms.

In any event, it's about time for this project to end. After all, Wormwood, while your journey through law school is beginning, it's time for me to go on about my life. There's still a little left I have to say, mostly about blogging, school, and a few observations to send you on your way. But even of that, there's not much. I'm going home to visit my parents this weekend, but I should be back to writing on Monday.

So by way of forewarning, Wormwood, you can expect the final entry of TYoH to appear one week from today, on Friday, August 25th. Now I just have to get everything in order. There is, of course, a project plan.

[1]: Incidentally, if I hadn't believed it before, this move would have convinced me that the Scion xB is great value for money. Over 30 miles to the gallon and I can fit massive amounts of cargo in the back.

Giving The Devil His Due

And like that... he is gone (8)
Bateleur wrote: I tip my hat to you - not only for ... [more]

Law Firm Technology (5)
Len Cleavelin wrote: I find it extremely difficult to be... [more]

Post Exam Rant (9)
Tony the Pony wrote: Humbug. Allowing computers already... [more]

Symbols, Shame, and A Number of Reasons that Billy Idol is Wrong (11)
Adam wrote: Well, here's a spin on the theory o... [more]

I've Always Wanted to Say This: What Do You Want? (14)
gcr wrote: a nice cozy victorian in west phill... [more]

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What I'm Reading

D.C. Noir

My city. But darker.
A Clockwork Orange

About time I read this...


Projects I've Been Involved With

A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care (A new round-the-world travel blog, co-written with my wife)
Parents for Inclusive Education (From my Clinic)

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Giveaway: Canvas Print for Travel Photos

We’re coming up on our year anniversary this month of our return from our around the world trip. Though nearly twelve months have passed since our days on the road, our global adventures don’t seem that far away.

Our Home Old Town Chicago Giveaway: Canvas Print for Travel Photos

Remnants of our travels surround us. In the historic neighborhood of Old Town just north of downtown Chicago, we’ve created a home for ourselves in the form of a travelers’ den. A hand-carved chess set from Zambia sits on our coffee table, a tea set from Burma at the foot of our ottoman and a wooden shelf from northern Thailand is lined with guidebooks. A montage of black and white portraits of the orphans in Zambia puts our days in check and a world map suspended above a well-worn sofa, inspires adventures to come…Here, we feel at home.

While we dream up our next travel adventure, we’ve been trying to figure out just what to do with the 25,000 photos we captured from our journey. Enter: Easy Canvas. Easy Canvas Prints is a canvas creator that turns your photos into art. We were thrilled when they recently contacted us to do a review of their canvas prints and offer a giveaway to our readers.

Our Canvas Print

Easy Canvas 2 e1322943800207 Giveaway: Canvas Print for Travel Photos

Thumbing through thousands of photos from our travels, it was hard to decide which photo to choose. We wanted something simple yet memorable. With the red-robed, stoic Masai Warrior against the great, green earth of the Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania, this photo stood out.

We were thrilled to receive the 16 x 20 canvas print from Easy Canvas and were really happy with how it turned out. Because it’s on canvas, it looks and feels more like a painting of a photo than an actual photo. For the photograph we picked it turned out to be a good fit.

Canvas Print 1 e1322944161777 Giveaway: Canvas Print for Travel Photos

There are several ways you can customize your print. You can select the border wrap (depth) of .75″ or 1.5″ and you can choose the side of the canvas as either solid color, an image wrap or mirror wrap. We selected the .75″ and image wrap and were extremely pleased with the results.

Reader Giveaway

Now it’s your turn. In time for the holidays, we’re offering a giveaway for a free 16 x 20 print. If you’re looking for a great gift for a traveler friend or just looking for a creative way to display one of your favorite travel photographs, it’s easy to enter. Simply leave a comment below (or on our Facebook page) describing the photo you’d like to turn into a canvas. Feel free to share a description or link to the photo and we’ll select our favorite photograph as the winner of the contest. If you’re looking to make some more of your own prints, “Like” Easy Canvas on Facebook and they’ll give you 50 percent off your next print.

This contest is limited to readers in the US or at least those that have a shipping address in the US. It will run for a week and we’ll announce the winner next Monday, December 12.

Our print and this giveaway are sponsored by Easy Canvas Prints. However, the review of this product is our own opinion.

pixel Giveaway: Canvas Print for Travel Photos

Comments (11)

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  1. roundwego says:

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner! The canvas print giveaway contest has now ended and now comes the hard part – choosing a winner. It was difficult to pick just one after seeing so many great travel photos, but what would a contest be without a winner?

    So, the winner is…@Wendy. Congrats, Wendy! Your picture of La Jolla really stood out with the beautiful sky in the background and the sunlit-green in the forefront. It will make a terrific canvas print.

    Thanks to everyone for entering!

  2. Eric says:

    I hope I’m not too late. I just saw this contest and think it’s great. Here are a handful of photos that captured something special about my visit to each place. Seeing any of them on a canvas would be wonderful. I’m a bit new to the travel community and can’t wait to start displaying mementos from my excursions!

    Eric´s last [type] ..Where are they now… and where have they been?

  3. roundwego says:

    @Wendy – La Jolla is spectacular. Some times I wonder why I would live anywhere other than there. Very vivid – thanks for sharing.

    @Jill – really like the blue hue of the photo. From photos I’ve seen of Morocco, it seems like a photographer’s heaven.

    @Keith – I’m contemplating a Scotch right now after seeing the photo.

    @David – I love how in the subcontinent they make Buddhas as big as amusement parks. Then, I think, they must really laugh at our churches in the West. Cool pictures – thanks for sharing.

  4. jill says:

    Beautiful canvas print (and house)!!

    Here’s a recent pic from Chefchaouen, Morocco that I think would look good on canvas:
    jill´s last [type] ..From 2 to 1 – the conversion to a solo traveller

  5. Scott says:

    Hey guys, while am a bit of a novice in the photo department (planning on this changing next year), this was my favorite shot from my recent trip to Mexico City, and I would love to see it on a canvas. http://bit.ly/tmwXq6
    Scott´s last [type] ..My Dia De Los Meurtos in Mexico

  6. Keith says:

    I love the look of canvas, so it’s really cool to see a service that makes photos in canvas prints. If I won, I’d want this photo of the Machrie Moor standing stones on canvas. It really captures the mystical beauty of Scotland.

    Keith´s last [type] ..To Staffa and the Treshnish Isles: Crossing the Sea with Turus Mara

  7. Meredith L. says:

    P.S. I know the shot only exposes a slice of the falls, but that’s the whole point. Sometimes we’re so focused on the big show that we neglect to see what else is in front of us. I had to pause and look around to notice the rainbow. Life is the falls, but it’s also everything that happens when we’re not planning, it’s about the rainbows we never expected. Now wouldn’t this look delicious on a canvas in my bedroom?
    Meredith L.´s last [type] ..Morning Love Letter (November 30, 2011)

  8. Meredith L. says:

    I spent 13 months living in Buenos Aires, Argentina back in 2008. Here is a shot from the world famous Iguazu Falls in Argentina. The strength of the falls humbled me, I was surrendered into the glory of everything that was around me and everything that I could become when I just knew (and know) there was and continues to be a plan greater and more miraculous than my own. This photo reminds me of that surrender. Thanks!

    Meredith L.´s last [type] ..Morning Love Letter (November 30, 2011)

  9. roundwego says:

    Hi Wendy – Thanks for stopping by. Great photo from La Jolla. It’s a favorite place of ours. Many thanks for sharing!

  10. Wendy says:

    What a great canvas you have! I love how the red stands out against the green background. I’ve been wanting to create a canvas print for a while, but am so undecided on which photograph to use. One of my choices is this:


    It was taken in La Jolla a couple of years ago. I can still remember the November sun and the smell of the Pacific Ocean.