22. Bluebook: Id.

doj22I think everyone in law school should be able to appreciate this joke.

For friends who are not in law school: “Id.” is a short form of citation that refers the to source cited immediately before this citation.

Typically when citing a case, you would have to italicize the case name: For example: A v. B, some random information about volume and page number, (2016). Note, the period after the citation is not italicized. However, “Id.” follows a different rule: its period IS italicized. It is one of those random rules that your writing teacher will love to grill you over.

The funny thing is, it is really hard to tell the difference between an italicized period and a non-italicized period. I can only imagine what pain it would be check through a brief to see whether all periods after “Id” are italicized…

To make their lives easy, Writing teachers will typically require students to underline rather than to italicize. Apparently in old days when typewriters is both a machine and a job that you could find, people used to indicate italicized words with underlines.

21. Too Much Curiosity

doj21Curiosity is good but sometimes can divert the train of thought onto a different path.

Because law school teaches students through story-like cases, sometimes students might find the story to be more enjoyable than the law themselves. There might be times you come across a case with Hollywood-like scenario that left you thinking, “so what happened next?” Five minutes later, you might find yourself in Wikipedia, looking for the background of the story. Pray that there is nothing in the Wikipedia that could further trigger your curiosity.

Despite what is depicted in this comic piece, I think curiosity is a bless; it makes the law school experience more than just about getting a job at the end of the third year. I hope my curiosity for legal knowledge remains with me and do not fade over my journey in law school.

20. Con Law Class

doj20When I first heard about Constitutional Law class, which law students dearly refer to as “con law,” I thought I would be reading controversial cases, such as those about the 1st Amendment and Civil Rights issues. However, after the first week of class, I realized that Con Law resembles more of a college-liberal-art-requirement class on American History/Comparative Politics than it resembles a typical law school class. Professor spend majority of time talking about: 1) the governmental design of US comparing to the designs of other nations and 2) the historical ground that gave rise to the Constitution.

Granted, there are quite a bit of controversial issues, but there were also many topics beyond what I was expecting: non-delegation, power to appoint, and standing.

While Con Law is an interest class; it does throw first-year students off because its exams doesn’t follows a typical law school class format like contracts, torts, and civil procedure do; con law tends to be more policy and short answers questions.

Nonetheless, I enjoy the class; after all, con law will make you free smarter about yourself when watching C-Span

19. High School Prom vs Barrister’s Ball

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Barrister’s Ball is fun! It is a night that law school students get out from their typical classroom attire (sweat shirts and pants) for a memorable night (for some, while for others its a night not to be remembered).

A easy way to describe Barrister’s Ball: its “Law School Prom.” With that said, there are some obvious differences between Barrister’s Ball and High School Proms. Besides the items depicted in this image, some difference include no-drama, a lot more people going stag, and (of course) alcohol.

I can go on for three more hours (which will roughly produce 15 pages of analysis) about the differences. However, a legal brief deadline is slowing creeping up and I will take a break right here.

Hope to see you at Barrister’s next year!

18. Know Your Justice: Antonin Scalia

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This morning I received a text from my friend, “Scalia passed away.” My first reaction was, “I thought April Fools is not until 2 month from now?”

Justice Scalia is arguably the most controversy justice in the current Court. I have friends who see Justice Scalia as if he were Donald Trump while other friends who absolutely adore Justice Scalia as the champion of originalists.

Personally, I maintain a neutral view on Justice Scalia. I think there are great lessons to be learned from Justice Scalia, both inside and outside the context of law of academics. I admire Justice Scalia’s unwavering integrity; he always stood up for what he believed in and did not falter to political pressure.

Ironically, Justice Scalia left most of his legacy in his dissent opinions. While those opinions are unlikely to be frequently utilized in legal context, Justice Scalia’s firm stance on the original interpretation of the Constitution will continue to influence future generations of public servants.

I have always thought about starting a quasi-series on famous justices and judges; I think there is no better way to start this series than to dedicate the first-in-the-series to one of the most iconic Supreme Court Justice: Antonin Scalia, a true Defender of Justice (though his definition of “justice” may vary from yours).

Humbly, with deep respect

17. the OCI Date

doj17-2OCI standard for On Campus Interview. This is an opportunity for employers to get on campus recruit the law students. This is great for students becacuse you don’t have to submit a bunch of applications to each employer separately but rather to one centralized location that OCI employers have access to.
Going on these interviews is like going on dates, using my roommate’s words. Frankly, it is kind of true; interviewee wants something from the employer but it is taboo to just ask for it directly.
As a general tip, “don’t get nervous for a date!”

14. The Good Law School Student

doj14I swear on my future law license that an almost-exact incident happened to me. At that time, our Office of International Student Affairs was looking for JD students to host LLM student, who tend to be all international students, for Thanksgiving. I always believed that it is the spirit of Thanksgiving to open your doors to newcomers. So, I volunteered to host 15 LLM students over for dinner.

There was only one small issue: I only have 1 desk and 1 chair in my apartment. To accommodate 15 students (some of whom were also planning to bring their significant others) I decided to rent out a party room. A few hours after I have submitted my deposit, the manager called and told me that they have made a mistake of doubled booking the party room and had to cancel my reservation. At that time, I had already purchased food and etc.

To my surprise, my wasn’t upset after hearing this news. Instead, the first thought cross my mind was, “was there a valid contract between the manager and me?” That is when I realized, I have fell deeply in love with law school (or that law school had completely taken over me).

“At least this is an interesting fact pattern for a contract exam,” I thought (*wink to law school professors).

16. the Best Law School Advice

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Before coming to law school, I asked pretty much everyone around me about how to do well in law school. Some gave really specific advice like buy 4 different highlighters, while others told me to “study smart.” But there is ONE advice that nobody told me, and frankly I think this is one of the most: don’t get sick in law school!

During my first semester in law school, I got sick 3 times. When you are sick, your productivity goes down, and you think more about going home to nap than you think about the course material. Concentrating in class becomes harder.

Some general advice: prevention is the more important treatment. Pay attention to two things – sleep and diet. Our body breaks down during the day; sleep allows time for your body to recover, and nutritious diet provide the resource for recovery. Stay healthy, Defenders of Justice!

P.S. Don’t talk on the cellphone while driving; you might run over something!

13. Case Illustration: the Queen v. Dudley and Stephens

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Once in a blue moon, we read an old English case that you can’t find in WestLaw or LexisNexis – this is one of them.

The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens is a criminal law case about a survival story on the sea. Four shipwreck survivors on a boat found themselves out of water and food; in desperation, they turned to the youngest cabin boy who was about to die for food… It’s such such a famous case that I have heard it even before coming to law school.

Well, the story has a somewhat of a happy ending: on the 24th day, the sailors were finally rescued ”as [they] was having [their] breakfast…” one crew member recalled.

12. Law School Analogy: Hunger Games

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Sometimes being in law school feels like Hunger Games. 1) Everyone is competing against each other to be a victor (of grades). 2) Students still have to work together (in form of study groups) with each other in order to survive in law school.

Luckily, the feeling of competitiveness quickly dissipate. I heard it is the reverse in medical school: classes starts easy with everything being pass-or-fail. However in their 3rd year, med students are then graded based on their performance relative to others. Then their grades then will determine what kind of residency they will be able to get.

Anyway, everyone (actually “most people”) will get a job at the end of the day. Enjoy the studies!

P.S. I have been publishing the blogs out of order, this problem will be resolved soon.

11. The Cardinal Sin

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When I first got accepted to law school. My sister’s boyfriend who had graduated from law school told me, “Eric, don’t commit the Cardinal Sin.”
“What Cardinal Sin?”
“The Cardinal Sin of ****ing someone in your section,” he said, “You would be stuck with them for an entire semester if things didn’t work out.”
Apparently dating someone in your law school can get really awkward according to my friends’ testimonies. After all, it doesn’t take long for message to permeate the small law school community. Luckily there aren’t too many rumors and gossips flowing in Northwestern Law School, perhaps it’s because the student body group tend to be older due to admission selection bias.
If you find urge to date but want to avoid professional inbreeding, try out some dating apps. It is a great way to meet people outside the law school community.

10. Case Illustration: Hawkins v. McGee

doj10In law school, we study cases after cases; I did a rough calculation, each semester an average law school student would study 100-120 cases per class; if you were to take 4 classes per semester, then you would have studied 400 cases during a period of 4 month. In reality most of the cases only stay in students’ memories for maybe a few month before fading into the forgotten realm.
However, there are a few special cases, so definitive and iconic, that they tend lividly live on. Here is one of them; this was the first case I learned in my contract class. It is so famous that I have heard about this it before even entering law school.
Hawkin v. McGee is a case about a doctor who messed up a hand treatment; instead of recovering the patient’s hand, Dr. McGee deformed the patient’s hand when he tried to patch the hand with a patch of the patient’s chest skin. Hence, comes the case’s nickname, the Hairy Hand Case.
P.S.: Unlike traditional myth, you won’t get hairy hand from excessive masturbation; but then you don’t need me to tell you….. through personal experience; Happy Weekend!

9. Brick Books

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First of all: I have been publish my webcomic strips super out of order…. published #18 way before #9, 10, etc etc. The reason is that I have a lot finished stripes on reserve marked with number, but then there are special times that I have to publish a stripe to respond to special events, and that throws my publishing off schedule. In the future, I am going to avoid marking numbers on my unpublished works and this issue will be resolved.


Ok, so I started to browse YouTube videos about law school when I first got in. I was impressed by the big books that students showcased in their videos. Finally, when I got a hold one of those myself, I felt like a true law school student. However, the sense of pride did come with a cost, specifically on your arm muscle. The weight of the book (each one of books typically weigh about 5-10 pounds) usually quickly becomes incoming law students’ target of complaint.


Nonetheless, the initiate sense of pride I get from picking up one of these books has yet to fade, and I hope that sense of pride never will.

8. The Exodus

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In law school, I would study in library in between classess. At first, I was always conscious about the time; after all, I don’t want lose myself in the mesmerizing law cases and miss my classes. After a few weeks, I realized that I don’t really need to pay attention to the time; when class is about to start, there would be a sudden surge of human current towards the exit. So now whenever I see that a huge wave exiting the library, I know that class is about to start.

My friend David used the term “exodus” to describe this phenomenon. I thought it is funny-yet-descriptive, and thus dedicate this Defenders of Justice piece to it.

7. Curve

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I remembered back in high school, curved classes were the best classes! Teachers set the highest score in the class as 100% and grade everyone elses grade accordinging. For example, if the highest grade in your AP Physics class is 50 out of 100, you are in luck with your 45 points because tyou just scored a 90%.

Then, law school happened… In curved classes, professors can only give a limited number of A’s; the rest of students would have to make happy with a B’s and C’s. Since everyone would want to compete for the few A’s, intense competition is expected in curved classes.

Despite the challenge, I think the curve system is an important and integral part of the law school. It provides quantifiable standard for third parties and prevent grade inflation. And where is the fun without some friendly competition?!

6. Law School Exam: Tort

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Law school exams are the BEST (minus the fact that it is a 3-hour typing festival and will be graded)!!

Relatively speaking, lawyers are not the most creative bunch, comparing to bankers who geniusly created financial products like CMOs and CDS that led to the economic meltdown (Ok, to be fair, the bankers didn’t create the buble; they just bursted it and made a bunch of money in the process).

However, the lack of creative does not apply to law school professors! For some reason, they are able to conceive the most unlikely scenerios to test their students’ knowledge of law. Especially for tort, somehow professors are just able to create these absurd fact patterns. As much as I have complained about exams, I got to give it to the professors – it takes some real creativity to come up with these crazy fact patterns.

5. The Initiation

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Grades just came out yesterday – moment of truth right here! Personally, I didn’t do as well as I expected – to say the very least. It is not the best feeling, but more likely than not, I am not the only person who feels this way.

Think positively for a moment: this is the defining point in our law school career! First of all, things can only go up from here. Second, we now share something in common with the older students. Third, it’s a humbling experience. Suddenly, everything that the upperclassmen/women have said started to make sense. (ie: “don’t let grades define you,” “I bombed the first semester,” etc). Only after you received your 1L grade, you “officially” become an actual law school student.

Based on my conversation with 3Ls, most of them had this very experience as well. They went through those tough times, just like those who went before them. When you become a 3L, you will be telling the same story and giving the same advice to the then-1Ls; they would not appreciate the things you have to say until after they will have received their 1L 1st semester grades.

Welcome to the club!

P.S. – Of course this doesn’t apply to the type-3 students.

4. Law School Analogy: Harry Potter

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Somehow in my mind I always connect law school with Harry Potter. The first time I visited a law school, I remembered passing through a dimmed hallway called “hall of the heads” because there are many bronze head sculptures of ancient people on the wall – those head sculpture were definitely looking at me. The chairs and desk are much like the wooden ones you see in Harry Potter. Then there are a bunch of full-size portraits of people in robes.

The fact that my school divide all students into 4 different sections really reminded me of the 4 houses of Hogwarts (sometimes we jokingly refer to the section with most “gunners” as the Slytherin’s) Though, unlike the sorting hat which tries to group like-minded students together, the administrators will divided the students in such a way to ensure there is diversity.

Also, people in this community can do this kind of magic called “law” that regular people can’t do…

3. Types of Law School Students

doj3There are three types of law school students. First, there is a group of students who don’t try very much; they usually pad the bottom of the curve. Then, there is a group of library dwellers who work their behinds off (such as me) so that they can have a somewhat competitive grade. The final group, similar to the first group, also don’t try much, but it’s because they are too smart – they are the ones who can ace the tests by pulling off just one all-nighter before the exam.

In general, the vast majority fall into the second category. Law school is the most studious place I have ever been in my life, and its studiousness seems to be contagious. Personally, I skipped a fair share of high school and college reading assignments (a moment of confession), and I was worried that I would do the same in law school. It turned out that wasn’t a problem at all! When everyone around you are talking about how much they have been studying, there is a tremendous amount of peer pressure to join the ”cool kids’ club.”