MI Bar Exam Passage Rate July 2012: 55%

November 3, 2012 Leave a comment

This article from Above the Law came up the other day when I searched for the Michigan Bar Exam passage rate for the July 2012 exam.

According to results from the MI Bar Association and posted on AtL, only 55% of test-takers passed, with a slightly higher figure of 62% of first-timers passing.  Holy cow.

I guess I consider myself especially lucky that I am part of the 55/62 percent on this one.  The bar exam is hard, but I felt prepared thanks to the Kaplan Online Course.  It would be interesting to know which students who failed did and did not take prep courses, to see if that could have been the difference.  AtL and other sources are claiming the new essay grading scale is likely the culprit, but I’m not convinced since the questions weren’t a surprise outside of maybe one or two of them (like asking about alimony between two super rich people and asking about creating class action suits when it wasn’t even in the prep material).

The bar exam is really tough, and it would suck to have to go through that again.  My congratulations to those who made it through with me, and my best wishes to those who have to take it again.  I know people who have taken the exam several times and have become excellent attorneys, so we can’t look at failure of the bar exam as any real indication of how well one would be in the real world.

Categories: Uncategorized

RI’s Guide to the 2012 Michigan Ballot Proposals

October 30, 2012 4 comments

I sent in my absentee ballot today, and it was a long one, with a full page and a half of candidates and six statewide ballot proposals.

I’ve seen a few commercials and advertisements for both sides of the six proposed state constitutional amendments, and observed Facebook friends expressing great puzzlement over what the heck any of the proposals would actually do.  Today I’m going to try and dissipate some of the confusion, and provide some guidance (attempting to be neutral for some part of it) to my Michigan voter friends, as well as my recommendations, on how one should vote next Tuesday.

Do you want to change this on November 6th?

Read more…

Categories: Elections, Politics

Choosing the Coach-in-Chief

October 18, 2012 1 comment

Fall is the best season for sports.

The baseball playoffs are winding down towards the World Series (Go Tigers!), football is in full swing, hockey (during normal years, there’s still hope for this one) and basketball will soon begin, and it’s almost Election Day.  Yes, I consider the election its own sport; just look at it, it has TONS more commercial interference (through campaign donations) than the Tostitos Baha Fresh Staples Bowl at FedEx Field sponsored by Viagra and Pepsi.  At least Super Bowl commercials are funny (unless they include Big Bird).

Regardless of which political “team” you root for, I think all sports fans need to take a fresh look at Obama and Romney from a very important angle – who would be the best “Coach-in-Chief?”  Who do we want in charge of the country that boasts so many dominant professional sports leagues, makes up the leadership of international pastimes, and runs up the medals board at every Olympics?

Check out that form!

First, let’s look at Obama.

– Die hard Chicago White Sox Fan, and shows it.  He’s thrown out the first pitch at several Sox games, and at the 2009 MLB All-star game, most of which were strikes.  He didn’t look half bad doing it either, unlike Kerry’s infamous awkward football catch fail in 2004.

This is the reason Kerry lost the election, hands down.

– Publicly draws up March Madness brackets with ESPN, giving us the chance to compete against the President (but really we all just pick North Carolina every year and end up tying anyway).

– Ordered the building of the official White House basketball court over the hoity-toity tennis courts, and balls with NBA and college stars on a regular basis.

– As a negative hit, three sports leagues have had labor lockouts during Obama’s presidency – the NBA, the NFL, and now the NHL.  The NFL has had two separate lockouts (the players and refs).  Doubtful that a president has any power to influence the greed of players and owners alike outside pushing for the elimination of contractual collective bargaining options, but hey, I’m trying to be somewhat neutral here.

– When the NFL and its referees finally came to an agreement a few weeks ago, Obama issued an official statement calling it a “great day for America.”

– Obama was 110% behind the push for bringing the Olympics to Chicago. He even flew to Copenhagen (that’s in Denmark) to make a personal pitch.

– Even Mrs. Obama is sporty – aside from pushing the “Let’s Move” Campaign to make kids more athletic, she crushed Jimmy Fallon in a series of races and challenges, including an epic potato sack race!

Fallon was just far too outclassed here.

Now let’s look at Romney’s known sportiness.

– He’s a Michigan fan.  There aren’t many obvious indications about how hardcore a Michigan fan he is (like photos of him at a game or in U of M gear), or whether it is just because he grew up in the mitten state, but it has  angered many Ohio State voters.  Points here for being part of the greatest sports rivalry, which could help boost him among general college sports fans, but given that Ohio is basically the state that will decide the election, that might have been something he should have hidden for awhile.  Probably doesn’t do anything to hipster Ann Arborites who always vote blue regardless of the candidate.

– Immediately after the Tigers won the ALCS, Romney tweeted his congratulations.  It was quickly answered by thousands of heckles and criticisms.

– Romney goes HARDCORE at family gatherings – he hosts a huge family reunion every year called the “Romney Olympics,” where he faces off against his fellow Romneys in various games of endurance, strength, and skill.  One event in particular is the “family triathalon,” an event in which Romney refuses to lose to such an extreme extent that he cheated by kicking his daughter-in-law (who had given birth to his grandchild a few months before) to open up the opportunity for a win.  I thought this was a joke on some liberal website, but there is a video of Romney’s son (the daughter-in-law’s husband) telling the story.  So,points here for loving family sports – who doesn’t like those Thanksgiving Day touch football games?  But he’s a cheater…and he kicked a woman to win a contest…who was married to his son and recently gave birth.  Winner winner chicken dinner?  Nope.

– Romney went to the London Olympics…and made fun of it, pissing off our longest and closest ally, England.  He basically did the same thing as going to a dinner party hosted by his best friends since preschool, and told them that they overcooked the ham too much and it sucks.  And that his kids are smarter than them.

“So, Mr.Leader, you must be like the King or something around here, right?”

– There’s really not much else about Romney and sports that I could find, except that he ran cross country in high school.  He probably plays other stupid wannabe sports like Lacrosse and dressage (something that has to do with horses, but you don’t get to bet on them).

Who cares about health care reform, tax policies, or military funding?  This election should be about what really matters – Sports!   Sports fans, vote for the person who is more likely to protect what you hold most dear. That’s an easy decision.  President Obama has a long record of being a hardcore sports guy (he also brews his own beer in the White House), and under his reign no political harm will come to the sports world.  Obama is one of us.  Romney is, well, he CHEATED IN A FAMILY RACE!  

Cheater, or die hard?  Who do you want as Coach-in-Chief?

Categories: Elections, Politics

A Typical Conversation with the Opposition

October 11, 2012 2 comments

I had an interesting argument with a conservative friend the other day that I wanted to share.  Most of this is what was actually said, with a little embellishment and some cleaned-up language, but it summarizes what I constantly hear as claims from the other side of the aisle as to why we should vote against President Obama.

Friend (F): We have to vote out Obama, we are one-hundred times worse than we were when he entered office in 2008.

Me (M): That’s a bit of an overstatement, isn’t it.  And Obama technically didn’t enter office until 2009, in January.

F: No, it’s true, America is way worse than before Obama, and I can prove it to you.

M: Okay, let’s see what you got.

F: First, we’ve lost so many jobs, and the unemployment rate skyrocketed under Obama.  It’s worse today than it was in 2009.

M: The unemployment rate was 7.8% in January 2009 when Obama was inaugurated.  The September 2012 report showed it was 7.8%.  That’s exactly the same.  So technically, we’re exactly the same in the unemployment rate as we were when he came in.  Yes, unemployment did rise in Obama’s first year, but it peaked at 10% in October 2009 and has been at a steady decline since then.

F: See, it went up, I told you he caused us to lose jobs, and his policies ruined the economy.

M: But you have to look at economics in the long term.  Unemployment was at 4.4% in March 2007, rising 3.4% between March 2007 and January 2009, in a constant upward trend.  The trend continued through October 2009 up to 10%.  So really the rate increased only 2.2% during the first 8-9 months of Obama’s presidency but for the most part then only fell after that until now.

F: Obama came into office but didn’t do anything to stop the rate increases. Someone else could have.

M: You think it’s possible that a president could have entered office and instantly transformed an economy so that unemployment rates would stop within a month?  You think presidents have that much power?

F: Well no, but it is possible that something could have been done, and Obama just blamed Bush for the problem.

M: So it wasn’t possible for Obama to immediately fix the rise in unemployment?

F: Not exactly, but he could have enacted a policy or law that would have slowed it down and eventually reversed the trend.  McCain would have.

M: But what policy could possibly have been enacted that doesn’t need Congressional approval that could possibly do that?  The president doesn’t have unilateral power to enact just any policy or law.  Remember that both the House and Senate were Democrat controlled, McCain would have been able to pass nothing without the Dems’ full support, good or bad.  And slowing it down and reversing the trend, isn’t 9 months considered ‘eventually’ enough for you?  After all, here we sit on a downward trend, under Obama.

F: Obama had nothing to do with the downward trend, the unemployment rate you claim is not accurate.

M: Why isn’t it accurate?

Read more…

Categories: Elections, Politics

Pre-Gaming for the Presidential Debates

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The title may imply that I’m writing about debate-based drinking games, but that’s not where I’m going (although that does sound intriguing…incoming alcohol poisoning on the words “China,” “jobs,” and “middle class”)

It’s almost time for the grand shenanigans that are the U.S. Presidential Debates – dramatic presentations of showmanship and question dodging.  But between the 20-minute “thank you for having us here”s and softball questions regarding whether or not “more jobs is a good thing for America,” the debates allow us to see a little part of who the candidates really are, and for what policies and values they stand, right from their own mouths.  Up until this point we’ve been inundated with commercials from each campaign – with even more made by independent organizations with their newly found voices via Citizens United – and the opinions of talking heads.  The debates give us a new chance to make up our own minds on whom we wish to cast our sacred vote.

Some people think debates don’t matter, but many folks say Kennedy won the election because Nixon looked so ugly on television.

The first debate is on Wednesday, October 3 at 9pm Eastern Time.  First, I must let out a huge sigh of disappointment that our two-party system won’t allow the “other” candidates like Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or Roseanne (I can hear your shock on reading that one – Ms. Barr is the candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party) to speak.   It’ll just be Barry and Mittens this time, but just imagine how awesome and enlightening a debate with all the major candidates would be!

Anywho, I have a little exercise we should all try before the debates that I think will significantly improve our gain from watching.  Many of us think we have our minds made up on who we’re voting for, be it on party lines or the like.  But even if you do where your vote is going, take a few moments and do this exercise.  It’ll likely firm up why you’re supporting that candidate and give ammunition to use in persuading others to jump on your preferred candidate’s wagon.  Here’s what you do:

1. Write down the candidate you currently support.  If you’re completely on the fence, just write down President Obama, since he’s the incumbent.

2. Write down concrete facts and statements  describing why you support that candidate.  “Fencers” should write what it is about the candidate that would persuade you to vote for him – basically what you like about the guy.

3. Write at least one thing you do not like about the candidate.  Every candidate has at least one weakness for each voter, and this is the chance to identify what irks you about each guy.

4. For each fact or statement in 2 and 3 above, write how you know the statement is true.  Where did you hear this information?  From a commercial? By watching C-SPAN? From a speech?  Why is it true?

5. Finally, write at least one thing you do not know about the candidate but want to know.  This can be about his political ideology, personal life, policy proposals, anything.

Now do the same for the other candidate.  Even though it’s the candidate you don’t support or the one you like less than the other, be sure to write down at least one thing about that candidate that would make you vote for him.  It’s important to understand that every candidate has both strengths and weaknesses, even if there is a snowball’s chance in hell you’d vote for him.

Look at what you wrote down.  Are there things that surprised you?  Do you know enough about your candidate that they deserve your vote?  How can you find out those things you don’t know about the candidates?  Keep this exercise handy when you watch the debates.  The candidates may say things that could change your answers.  After the debates, at the end of October, do the exercise again and see if anything has changed.

If you’re interested, I’ve posted my answers after the fold.  Enjoy the debates!

Read more…

Categories: Elections, Politics

RI’s Super Quick Guide to Finding a Summer Intership*

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

If you’re a 2L, it’s best to start this during your fall semester (in other words, right now!) Beginning of January at the latest, if you’re a 1L.

Be aware of deadlines! – TONS of internships have October/November deadlines for 2Ls, and early January deadlines for 1Ls.

1. Convince yourself it’s okay if you don’t get paid.  Experience is your payment!

2. Make a list of all the areas of law you are interested in.  Better if the list is specific (ex. labor union vs. labor law; public defender vs. criminal law).

3. Make a list of all the geographical locations you want/can be in during the summer.

4. Keep checking your school’s career services page for opportunities, go to campus programs on job search skills (especially resume and cover letter building), and update your job search docs (resume, writing sample, reference lists, cover letter templates).

5. Research any firms, organizations, government agencies, and people who work in the field of law and geographical locations on your lists.

6. Check to see if those groups/people have formal internship programs (might be a paid one in there! Score!) by looking at their web pages or sending a friendly inquiry via email to the general counsel (or other important sounding person depending on the size).

7. If there isn’t a formal program, call or e-mail the general counsel offering them a FREE LEGAL INTERN!  Include a resume if e-mail.  Tell them you are really interested in that organization and field of law, and would love to help out during the summer.  I did this during the summer after my 1L year, and it turned into a paid position a few months later!

8.  Rinse and repeat until you find something to do. If you’re lucky, you might get a stipend or some sort of pay.  Most likely, it’ll just be an awesome experience!  Be sure to talk up front about your expectations and goals for your internships, and don’t be afraid to walk away from an opportunity if it’s not going to teach you anything about the organization/field of law – you’re not paying all this tuition to serve coffee!

*Guide created from personal experience, talking with other law students/graduates about their experiences, and guides distributed by the Penn State Dickinson School of Law Career Services Office

Categories: Law School, Work

Not Another Argument Against Technology in the Classroom (Part I)

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I cannot deny that I am addicted to technology.  I watch way too many tv episodes on hulu, send email from my phone, walk around with white headphones in my ears, have two laptops (netbook and full size), and love playing with the occasional smart board or touch pad I pass by.  I am the last person to be saying that technology is a bad thing.

I also believe that technology belongs as part of the classroom experience, and the education trend to move to more usage is a good thing.  Laptops, smart boards, projectors, those cool little digital overhead dealies, videoconferencing, wikis.  However, I argue that we are on the borderline of misuse of such technology, at least from my perspective at my institution of legal education.

Read more…

Categories: Law School, Technology