ambivalent imbroglio home

May 11, 2006
Lights-Out, Then On Again

Dear readers,

It's been fun, but this ambivalent imbroglio is hereby closed for business. It became a lot more about law school than I anticipated, and now that law school is over...

But hey, when one door closes, another opens, right? You are hereby cordially invited to become a regular reader of the brand new blog on the block: the imbroglio!

Thanks to everyone who has visited, commented, and otherwise made ambivalent imbroglio such a rewarding project for me over the last three years. I hope you will join me in making the transition to what promise to be bigger and better things.

humbly yours,


{permalink} 05:27 PM | meta-blogging

May 09, 2006
Cognitive Dissonance Doesn't Even Begin to Cover This

So have you heard the one about the Michael Moore hata who has been begging for money to pay server costs to keep his blog going so he can continue to hate on Michael Moore? Yeah, and did you hear why he can't pay his own server bills? Because his wife is ill and they can't afford to pay her medical bills b/c their insurance is screwing them around! He writes:

I’m fairly broke, and my wife has been in the hospital way too often in the last month. They raised the cost of our health insurance by about $1500 a year and this year our mortgage increased as well. Now Donna needs tests that aren’t covered by the insurance.

Yeah. And what is Michael Moore's next film about? Well, it's tentatively called “Sicko” and it's a documentary about the failings of the U.S. health care and insurance industries. In February Moore asked for people to tell their health care horror stories:

So, if you'd like me to know what you've been through with your insurance company, or what it's been like to have no insurance at all, or how the hospitals and doctors wouldn't treat you (or if they did, how they sent you into poverty trying to pay their crazy bills) ...if you have been abused in any way by this sick, greedy, grubby system and it has caused you or your loved ones great sorrow and pain, let me know.

So just to be clear, Michael Moore is making a movie about how our health care and insurance system ruins people's lives and this major Moore hata is begging for money to continue bashing Moore—money he doesn't have b/c the health care and insurance system has ruined his life.

What's the matter with Kansas? Nothing much—it's just cutting off its nose to spite its face.

{permalink} 08:35 AM | Comments (46) | TrackBack (0) | ai movies general politics

May 08, 2006

May 06, 2006

May 04, 2006
Da, da-da, da: Done!

And just like that, my adventure in law school has come to an end. I completed my final final and, as far as I know, do not have a single further obligation for law school. Ok, I have to be in court tomorrow for a client, and that's technically law school-related, but only in the most technical sense. I also have law school loans to repay for, oh, maybe the rest of my life, but how about we not think about that right now, hmm? Good, thanks.

The feeling is definitely one of anticlimax. So this is it? This is what it feels like? It doesn't help that I've felt pretty done for a week or more now, really. Or maybe I've really been done since about the first week of last December when I finished my last real final. I dunno. What I do know is that now there is no excuse for not doing the other things that I must do: clean up the apartment so the landlord can show it to prospective renters (anyone want a good place to live in an excellent DC location for a relatively decent price?), arrange a moving truck, find a new place to live, mail off the application for the job of my dreams. You know, little things like that. Maybe I should get to work on all of that, you think?

But first, congratulations to Divine Angst who finished 1L today, and once again to Half-Cocked, who decloaked yesterday to announce that he is also finished with law school. I'm sure there are others who have finished (either with the school year or the whole shebang) or are going to finish soon, so best wishes to you all—may that moment of accomplishment be everything you've always hoped for!

{permalink} 04:24 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0) | 3L

May 03, 2006
Hey basket, meet all of my eggs!

Although I've tried to keep my whining to a minimum here, for the past six months or so, L. and I have been thinking of little else besides where we're going to be living six months from now. Yesterday, that dilemma was finally solved when she took a great job in Billings, Montana! And we're moving at the end of the month!

In a way it feels like I just took Jay-Z's choice b: “bounce on the devil put the pedal to the floor.” Suddenly things seem to be moving very quickly and there's no doubt that this is a huge gamble. Most sane law graduates get a job and then move; I'm going to be doing it the other way around. It feels crazy, and it probably is, but hey, what's life w/out a little risk? Or a lot?


Of course, first I have to successfully complete law school and suddenly even that seems like a gamble. My final final is tomorrow and I still don't have a clue what I'll be expected to summon from my brain (or my notes, such as they are. I better get crackin'!

Oh, a note to all of our friends and loved ones who have been so supportive during our uncertainty and who had high hopes we'd be moving to the Midwest: We will miss you and hope you will come visit us often in the Big Sky Country! Take the train from Chicago and we'll meet you in West Glacier! We'll certainly try to visit you as often as we can and will most likely be moving east again sometime in the future.

{permalink} 11:05 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0) | 3L Montana

May 02, 2006
More LRAP: GW needs a real endowment

Once I get started, I just can't stop. But I'm thinking more about GW's LRAP. In a way you could say I came to GW only b/c of its LRAP b/c I only applied to schools w/LRAPs. That means if GW hadn't had an LRAP, it wouldn't have been on my list and everything would have been different. So I have always planned to get a job that qualifies for the LRAP and I hope to be able to take great satisfaction in the fact that GW will end up paying back some (I hope large) portion of my loans.

I've known from the beginning that as far as LRAPs go, GW's is no great shakes—barely funded, very restrictive in what jobs qualify, etc. But its great advantage is that almost no one uses it. GW grads almost never go into public interest law (the average is 1% of each class) so they almost never qualify for the LRAP. That means that even though it's barely funded, odds aren't bad that those few that do qualify will get money. Last year GW funded everyone who qualified for the LRAP at 100% of what they qualified for. I believe that is true for several previous years, as well. So that's great. The only problem is that available funding changes every year. The LRAP has an “endowment” of only $15,000, meaning there are virtually zero dollars dedicated to the program. Instead, most of the LRAP money comes from alumni donors and, recently, class gifts.

One hundred percent of last year's generous class gift went to the LRAP and they were able to fund everyone who qualified. This year, we have to split our class gift between LRAP and incoming student scholarships. One reason for that is that our new Dean has publicly expressed disdain for the LRAP several times; it's not a priority for him. I don't know how much say he has over where class gift money goes, but I know his antipathy toward the LRAP cannot be a good thing for its long-term health. With so little institutional support, is there going to be any money for people like me next year? The year after that?

Yet, solving this problem would be so simple. If 100% of class gifts for the next 5 years went toward the LRAP endowment (not to payouts, but to the principle), then in 5 years the endowment would go from $15,000 to $500,000. The interest alone on that endowment would probably be enough to fund most if not all of LRAP requirements. In fact, that's what should have been done before the school ever started claiming to have an LRAP. If it would be so easy, why not do it now?

{permalink} 03:00 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) | 3L

GW Law Class of '06 Throws Down

Class-GiftI just learned that my fellow graduating (we hope) students at GW have been very generous this year in giving to the class gift. As the chart at right shows, 61% of the graduating class have donated money, with some sections (including 14, of which I am a member) reaching nearly 70% participation. If you're not impressed, just compare that with last year's participation of 51% and you'll realize that the class of 2006 has done a great thing here. Once we passed 52% participation, a group of generous alumni agreed to match all donations 4-1, so the more than $19,000 we've given is going to become over $95,000! Thanks to everyone in my class for their generosity! I take back all those bad things I ever said or thought about you. Well, most of them, anyway. Ok, some of them. Oh nevermind! Just thanks, ok!?

All this class gift money goes either to the LRAP or to incoming student scholarships for “deserving” students—each donor was supposed to designate his/her gift for one pot or the other.

Continue reading "GW Law Class of '06 Throws Down"

{permalink} 01:23 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack (0) | 3L

May 01, 2006
The Roast

If you haven't seen Steven Colbert roasting Yubbledew (and just about everyone else) at Saturday's White House Correspondent's Dinner, watch it now (part II, part III). Words cannot describe...

Be sure you get to the latter part of the second clip in which Colbert makes obscene gestures to Justice Scalia. “Just talkin' some Sicilian w/my paisan.” Yikes!

{permalink} 08:17 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0) | general politics

It's now official: Montana is hiring!

As of just a few minutes ago, the Montana State Public Defender began advertising for multiple open positions in its new offices around the state.

Positions are available in Kalispell, Polson, Missoula, Hamilton, Great Falls, Helena, Butte, Anaconda, Havre, Bozeman, Billings, and Miles City. Open until filled encourage interested applicants to apply by May 12, 2006. Applications will be considered for employment opportunities over the next 180 calendar days.

The two best parts for me are that they're advertising a starting salary of $43,999(!!) and this:

The minimum requirements include Juris Doctor from ABA accredited law school. Ideal candidates will include recent graduates who have a strong desire to work in the Public Defender System with little or no experience up to having at least six years of practical experience in law, preferably in litigation of criminal and civil law involving public defense actions. Admission to the State Bar of Montana is preferred.

(emphasis added) So hey, I'm an ideal candidate! Hooray! Keep those fingers crossed!

{permalink} 05:29 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0) | 3L Montana

April 29, 2006

April 27, 2006
So tired of Moveable Type!

This site and others living on the same shared server have been down much more often than usual recently. Last night I got an email from Dreamhost saying that part of the recent problems is that my account has been using about 120 CPU minutes/day—twice what Dreamhost considers acceptable for a user on a shared server. A quick look at the logs shows that something close to 80% of that usage comes from two Moveable Type scripts—the scripts for comments and trackbacks. Thanks to an array of plugins (so many I can hardly keep track of them all), I haven't seen much trouble w/blog spam for a while—almost none of it makes it through to the blog. Unfortunately, just because I don't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. Thanks to MT 3.2's new “junk” system (in which comments get “junked” if they're spam, rather than being rejected), the spammers can still flood the system with comments and trackbacks. The filters will make sure I don't see it, but all that spam is still slamming the server.

So what to do? Close comments? Trackbacks are gone already. I've rarely found them very useful so I don't think I'll miss them. Close comments on old entries? Yes, ok, but the tools available for that all seem a little cumbersome for a blog w/1400 entries. Other than changing the name of the comment script on a regular basis (a hassle, at best), I'm just not sure what to do.

There was a time when playing w/all this blog stuff was just fun. When problems like this would arise I saw it as a little excuse to tinker and learn more about these things. But now I'm feeling a little more irritated by this sort of thing. Blogger/blogspot or even Typepad are looking better all the time. Is it time to move to WordPress?

{permalink} 10:20 AM | Comments (68) | TrackBack (0) | meta-blogging

Still in the running towards becoming*

Following a recent job interview comes this letter in the mail:

Dear Mr. Imbroglio,

Thank you for participating in the first step of our interviewing process. We are happy to inform you that you have been recommended for a second interview. Due to our lengthy hiring process, we may not be contacting you for several months (or longer) with regard to scheduling this interview. Thank you in advance for your patience . . . .

So... Great? I guess... They sure know how to make a guy feel special!

* Props to anyone who can tell me the origin of “still in the running towards becoming.” Double props to anyone who uses it as the name for their blog.

{permalink} 01:04 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0) | 3L

April 25, 2006
ABA Accreditation

Dave Hoffman has some interesting comments on Concurring Opinions about the ABA's role in accrediting law schools. The relevant part for me has to do with how law school accreditation interacts with the bar exam and professional discipline as mechanisms to ensure a minimum level of quality in the legal profession. Hoffman writes:

I'm unconvinced by the argument that we need accreditation to protect consumers from bad lawyers. This seems like an expensive way to work a consumer protection regime: why not just make the Bar harder to pass? (Yes, I know that I'm parting ways with Solove. But he is, I think, missing the trade-off problem here. We've three options: regulate law school so that it is hard; rejigger the Bar until it is a real barrier and skills tests, or changes the rules to make malpractice claims cheaper to bring and easier to win. Of the three solutions, making the Bar much harder is the most efficient by a mile. Screening is almost always cheaper than remedial action. Screening by a licensing exam is surely better than micro-managing the content of a legal education. The expensive version of the legal education is a signal to potential employers of diligence and acumen, not (really) proficiency in basic legal skills. )

Hmph. I'd say the expensive version of the legal education is a signal of great personal or family wealth or the foolishness of the law student who took on all the loans required to pay that bill. Diligence? Acumen? I don't see the relationship.

Perhaps Hoffman is correct that the most efficient consumer-protection regime would be to make the bar exam a more rigorous barrier and one that actually tests proficiency in basic legal skills. But even if that's true, how could the exam really do that? And even if it were redesigned, how much protection to consumers really get from the fact that each state has its own exam and that exams are only administered twice a year in each state? Consumer protection is one thing; creating great barriers to geographic mobility for lawyers is something else altogether.

And if consumer protection is really the goal of the ABA (and I'm skeptical that it's as important as they'd like the public to think), why not take all three actions Hoffman proposes? Make law school a greater barrier—not by making it more expensive, but by making it more educational (and thereby more rigorous). I would also shorten it to 1-2 years, as I've said before. Then make the bar exam more of a real assessment of basic legal skills, and make malpractice claims cheaper to bring and easier to win. The last reform would also need to include much less secrecy surrounding lawyer discipline; lawyer's disciplinary record should be free and easily accessible to the entire world.

But who am I kidding? I don't have much hope for serious change in any of the above. In light of that, perhaps the best thing about Hoffman's post is that it led me for the very first time to the ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. That's where you'll find all the accreditation standards that ensure we all have to mortgage our futures to get a law degree. The site also has a collection of statistics about law school admissions, basic pre-law advice, and bar admissions information. Did you know that you do not need a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school in order to sit for the bar? I didn't, but that's what this chart (PDF) says. Now that I've almost earned just such an overpriced degree that information isn't very useful to me. I guess it's one of those things to file under “Know before you go...”

{permalink} 11:55 AM | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0) |

April 24, 2006
What's “must-see” in the mid-Atlantic region?

Hey traveling people, I need your help: What places and things should I visit in the next 5 weeks before I leave this part of the country for good?

See, it looks like we'll be moving at the end of May—where has yet to be decided. Yeah, we decided when to move before we decided where. Sound crazy? That's just how we roll.

But wherever we end up moving, it's going to be pretty far from the D.C. area, which means there's no time like the present to make sure we've done and seen as much of that area as possible. So I ask you: What mid-Atlantic places would you put on your “must-see” list? Things I know I still want to do before I go include:

  1. Arlington Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Memorial
  2. Baltmore—harbor, aquarium, and what else?
  3. Colonial Williamsburg, VA
  4. Some beach in Delaware or Maryland maybe (I haven't been to the Atlantic coast once since we moved here!)
  5. ??

I'm obviously thinking of things that aren't too far from D.C. -- daytrips, a few hours of driving at most, probably. I was thinking about heading down to the lighthouses in NC but they are 300-400 miles away, which is definitely pushing it. Still, if there are must-see places at such distances from D.C., please let me know about them. We might be able to fit in a short multi-day roadtrip somewhere in there. And if not, at least we'll have a list of things to do some other time when we make it back this way. Thanks!

{permalink} 08:22 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0) | 3L life generally

April 23, 2006
Another opening in Billings?

It seems the chief public defender in Billings, Montana, has decided to resign as of June 30, 2006. It seems like this can only be a good thing for me, considering that this resignation means there's one less lawyer who will be competing for a position in the PD's office in Billings and that's exactly where I hope to work.

The comments on the article about this are quite interesting. The first, from someone calling him/herself “Former Public Defender,” says that the woman who is resigning, Penny Strong, did not resign but was “forced out.” Someone called “Current Public Defender” responds with high praise for Strong, and a short exchange follows, with “Current” defending public defenders and arguing that it's no surprise that judges and prosecutors didn't like Strong, while variously-named interlocutors (who may all be “Former”) complain about Strong and public defenders generally. Based on this, it sounds like the Billings public defender's office has a lot of work to do in educating the public about its role in the criminal justice system. It also sounds like there's some controversy (possibly fringe) about the Yellowstone County Attorney; exactly what that's all about is unclear.

At any rate, it's all fascinating information for me, so thanks to the kind readers who sent me the link! As I mentioned previously, the Montana Public Defender Commission met this week to decide pay rates and hiring . . . at least I was told that's what they were going to talk about; the agendas are too vague for me to learn much from. Anyway, things are moving a bit in positive directions so my fingers remain crossed.

Oh, I also noticed that the Commission has put its Proposed Public Defender Standards online. I'll be taking a closer look at these soon...

It really is exciting to watch this new public defender system taking shape! And remember, “if it can happen in Montana, it can happen anywhere.”

{permalink} 12:22 PM | Comments (174) | TrackBack (0) | 3L Montana

April 22, 2006
Laughing at BigLawyers

If you'd like a daily bit of humor from the BigLaw trenches, head over to The Disassociate, a relatively new blog whose author describes it as:

one associate's attempt to see the humor, to focus on the lighter side, to find the fun. Somewhere along the way...repaying student loans, billing hours, monitoring salaries, many of us lost the sense of enjoyment, not about the law, but within the profession. Every day is funny, we just need to stop and think about it. I'll try to do that, but feel free to help. And just to be clear, I like working at my firm - I am just trying to get the fun back. Thanks for coming by.

Posts at “The Disassociate” are generally very short (usually one sentence) and generally worth at least a chuckle. One of my favorites is entitled “Crying out of the law” and reads:

When will these damned loans be paid off? If I have to attend one more associates' meeting to discuss the photocopier, toilet paper in the bathrooms and overnight word processing coverage, I am going to slit my throat with my law degree.

See? I told you it was funny. And in view of the upcoming graduation season, check out “Pomp & Circumstance”:

All I have to do now is pass the bar, find a job that will let me repay a $100,000 loan and bill thousands of hours per year. Dare to dream.

Ah yes. The golden future that awaits so many of us.... I hope to never concern myself with billing hours, but otherwise....

Anyway, if you're ever looking for a bit of law-related laughter, The Disassociate might be a good place to start.

{permalink} 11:16 AM | TrackBack (0) | law general meta-blogging

Happy Blog Birthday to Life, Law, Gender!

Denise is celebrating her 2-year blog birthday today—congratulations, Denise! As I said over there, Life, Law, Gender contibutes immeasurably to broadening the understanding of its readers and is unique (as far as I know) in at least the law school blogosphere. Denise writes helpfully and with great honesty about being transgendered and about how political and social developments are affecting the transgender and gay and lesbian communities. Those are obviously valuable contributions to the law school blog discourse, but Denise also has a vast amount of life experience in many other areas, as well, much of which she blogs about from time to time as a way of sharing some of what she's learned along the way. In short, Life, Law, Gender is a great blog and a daily read for me. If you haven't visited recently, I recommend you check it out. Oh, and wish Denise a happy blog birthday while you're there!

{permalink} 10:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0) | law school meta-blogging

Tootsie Pop Conspiracy

From a recent comment on this photo of Tootsie Pop wrappers:

I have a theory on why you can never know how many licks it takes. Have you ever seen the center of a tootsie pop? It's not even round, so depending upon which side you start licking on.. it will always be different. It's a conspiracy I tell you.

More proof that the mysteries of the world are not accidental.

{permalink} 09:54 AM | TrackBack (0) | life generally

Quick! Build more prisons!

Mister District Attorney checks in to tell us what he's been up to recently:

Sorry, it’s been way too long between posts, but I’ve just been unable to muster the writerly wherewithal to post anything. Work is still work. The bad guys still do terrible things to people, and we do our level best to lock ‘em up for as close to forever as we can.

Good to know.

{permalink} 02:16 PM | TrackBack (0) | crimlaw

April 21, 2006
Baffled w/BS

Because I know you care: I just turned in what may be my last academic papers—ever. That's a good thing.

One more final (in two freaking weeks!) and this law school thing will be all over but the shouting. And the debt. Yeah.

{permalink} 04:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0) | 3L

April 20, 2006