Monthly Archives: August 2011

Earthquake! (and Hurricane!)

My classmates and I thought it was quite appropriate to begin law school with two natural calamities- an (admittedly overblown) earthquake and Hurricane Irene (whose rain I am watching outside as I write this). It looks like we will survive both of these, and we all survived the first week of law school as well- with a few good stories out of it.

On the first day of class, in my first class- Torts, taught by Jonathan Turley- Prof. Turley had been in the classroom for about twenty seconds, long enough for him to walk to the front of the room, drop his book on the podium, and say, “Well, I guess the best way to get started is to get started. Let’s begin with the end of the roster.” And the cold calling began. “Ms. Woods, did you read the first case assigned?” Ms. Woods had read it, but she could not define the first Latin term that Turley had asked about. He was none too pleased. He then turned the beginning of the alphabet. “Ms. Aaron, do you agree with the court’s decision here?” After Ms. Aaron gave a satisfactory answer, Turley turned back to Ms. Woods: “Ms. Woods, I suggest you purchase one of the eighty available legal dictionaries and give it a read. Do you not care enough about your legal education to understand the first sentence of the first case you read for your first class in law school? Please leave my classroom, buy your dictionary, and prepare better for next class. Leave now.”

Well, at this point, about two minutes into our first law class ever, you literally could have heard a pin drop in the room. We were petrified. Absolutely terrified. What have we gotten ourselves into? Ms. Woods stormed out of the room, and Turley went to the board, and wrote, in big letters “JUST KIDDING”.

The release in the room was palpable. Ms. Woods and Ms. Aaron were plants- upperclassmen- to show us how Turley would NOT be teaching his class! But we had been Turley’ed, and none of us will likely forget that in the near future.

On our first day of Contracts, unsure of what to expect, without saying anything to the class, the professor simply started by playing a video, which turned out to be a scene from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Let’s just say, we weren’t expecting to begin our legal study of contacts by watching Ariel and Ursula. But we watched the scene in which Ariel agrees to give her voice to Ursula and Ursula agrees to transform Ariel into a human for three days, with a few other stipulations as well. We analyzed this scene for the entire class. Was there a contract? Was there mutual assent or a meeting of the minds? Did Ursula unduly pressure Ariel into agreeing? Did Ariel have the ability to negotiate Ursula’s terms? Did Ursula also sign the scroll that Ariel signed? Did Ursula’s subsequent interference with Ariel and the Prince nullify the terms of the agreement?

Generally, things have been just great. Classes require A LOT more work than undergrad in simple preparation for class every day, but that’s what I was expecting. Nothing is especially difficult, though- just time consuming and requiring of our full attention. There are 490 new JD students with me, selected from over 9,000 applicants. That’s a pretty low acceptance rate, and our Dean posted some of the really cool things my classmates have done- including a world ranked tennis player, a professional cellist, employees of the FBI, White House, Senators, the Manhattan DA, CBS News, the World Bank, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Clinton Foundation. Makes me wonder how I got in! All my fellow students whom I have met seem incredibly bright and engaging and interesting. I’m very happy to get to know so many of them and am looking forward to hearing all the amazing things they do in the future.

I also went through Elliott School orientation this week, as much as I could at least, scheduling around law classes. I’m REALLY looking forward to getting into that program next year. DC has been really great to live in; it’s a very exciting place. I can go for an afternoon run down the Mall and around the Capitol and next to the White House, which makes for a more interesting run and an easier one to do.

I think that’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

Finally, here are just a few pictures I thought people might like to see:


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Starting Law School

Well, it’s been about eight months since I touched this blog, and I thought I would post again to update any readers about what’s going on. If you’re still subscribed to “The Road Away” and expecting posts from Egypt or the Middle East, feel free to unsubscribe — I’ll be recording my experiences at The George Washington University Law School over this coming year, and then my experiences as a joint degree student at the Law School and GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs for the following three years.

Since I returned for Egypt at the end of December, I graduated from the University of Kentucky, spoke at graduation, had a wonderful last semester at UK, and worked at Challenge House in Hopkinsville, among many, many other things. Also since I returned from Egypt, huge changes have occurred in that country- changes that altered the entire political dynamics of the Arab and Islamic worlds. It was fascinating to watch after just returning, and I treasured being able to communicate directly with young people in Cairo as the revolution was unfolding.

And now, I’m living in Washington, DC, at school at GWU. I’ve been here less than a week, but have been incredibly busy with law school orientation and arranging the details of a new school year and living in a new place. The thing about DC is that everyone is from someplace else. I’ve met many wonderful people already in my law school class, and they are from everywhere- New York City, Florida, Alaska, South Dakota, the Czech Republic, China- who each bring unique and interesting life stories and experiences that enormously enrich the rest of our relationships with one another. DC is also just a great place to live… when I walk out of the Law School, I am looking at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and when I walk out of the Elliott School, I can see both the Washington Monument and the State Department. You can’t say that at any other school or in any other city. This is certainly a special place.

My first class is tomorrow morning- Torts, taught by Jonathan Turley, whom you may recognize from his appearances on Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. I have Steven Schooner for Contracts, Bradford Clark for Civil Procedure, and Cynthia Lee for Criminal Law. I’m really looking forward to getting into class… all we’ve heard for the past few weeks is how demanding law school is, and the apparently magical powers of the brief, and I just want to get into the material and start figuring out what works best for me.

We played softball on the Mall yesterday with a big group of law students, between the White House and the Washington Monument. It was such fun, and such a real experience. It really seems as though GW Law is an accepting, helpful community of intelligent and engaging, yet genuine and sincere and not haughty, people. All orientations are, by nature, a bit awkward, so I hope the process of meeting everyone- my future colleagues- continues.

So, everything has gone well so far in DC, but the tough steps begin tomorrow as I actually start school. I’ll be reading for the rest of today. I hope to post here weekly, not only to give me a distraction from studying, but also to write about my journey through GW Law and Elliott. Hope you’ll follow me on it… it promises to be quite exciting.

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