This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bitching and mooting

I am currently a very unhappy law student. In fact, I'm pretty damn angry. I'm angry that I made the wrong decision in which law school to attend. Angry that my efforts to make this law school a better institution are met with indifference and even hostility. Angry that my problems are met with indifference. Angry that I've incurred a significant amount of debt for a degree that I honestly feel I could have completed by correspondence course with greater success.

I had this big plan when I applied to law school. I wanted to do work in international law. I honestly didn't know what form that might take. I figured I'd find out what I liked while in law school. I applied to four schools, and had two more applications ready as a last resort (two lower-ranked schools I knew I could get into easily). I was accepted at three of the schools, and wait-listed at one. The four schools I applied to had international law programs. Or so they said. Three of those schools seem to have international law programs. One of those most definitely does not. Guess which one I chose?

Granted, I'm glad I went to this university because of my graduate program. That was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Being a state school, the expense was minimal, and what I received from the program is worth ten times the law school tuition I paid. However, I should have gotten my master's and then gotten the hell out and gone to law school somewhere else. Somewhere that isn't more concerned with using every penny to construct a new building that won't even break ground until after we graduate. Somewhere that currently has a real dean. Somewhere that doesn't have a record number of crappy adjuncts teaching courses next semester and record number of faculty on sabbatical (probably because they're trying to secure new gigs). I had a half-way decent undergraduate gpa, and a fairly good LSAT score. I had offers of scholarship from other schools. I had a significant scholarship offer from a school in Chicago, which would have made my tuition cheaper than what it is currently. I obviously make extremely bad choices. I have no doubt I would have gotten my money's worth from the other schools, even the two that would have cost more. The only thing I'm getting out of my tuition here is a diploma.

All of these feelings are nothing new. I quickly realized my mistake 1L year. Even so, I've done my best to be involved and try to fight for changes. But today I'm extremely upset by the acting dean's complete dismissal of our efforts to compete in Vienna. There are eight of us working on this moot. Three of us are willing to pay our own way to Vienna to compete. We've put in a lot of time working on the first brief, and the time we'll put in to write the second brief and prepare for oral arguments will be significant. She flat out told me she thinks this is a frivolous activity and it's nothing more than our desire to take a European vacation, which completely pissed me off. We aren't asking for money from the law school (heaven forbid we take money away from the new building we'll never get to use). We just want to be able to raise the money ourselves. She told us we aren't allowed to do it, because that would be money that those lawyers/law firms would otherwise give to the law school (even if they don't give money to the law school in the first place!), and we aren't even allowed to raise money from local businesses that aren't law firms. Which is complete bullshit.

This competition might not be the most important thing in the world, but it is important, and I'm angry at such an incredible opportunity, and the hard work of our team, being so quickly dismissed. It's important because it's *something* international, it's *something* concerning alternate dispute resolution, which are two programs that our school is completely lacking. Only 16 students each year get to take a course in ADR, and there have only been three international law courses offered over the past two years. After concentrating on diplomacy and conflict resolution in my master's program, in the context of international organizations, I was so excited to translate that into legal work. Which most certainly didn't happen here.

However, the experience we will gain by participating in this moot and the contacts we will make will be worthwhile, and certainly something we will not get from our school otherwise. And it's tough work, I know it is. The teams spend 12 to 15 hours a day preparing for the competitions. We'll be spending a lot of time preparing before we go. The only "vacation" time we get will be once we're out of the competition, and frankly, I don't intend on getting knocked out so easily. Not to mention that I pointed out if this were just about a vacation, I'd wait until the semester is over so I could go with my husband and child (and not the dude on my team, who I will probably spend most of the time bickering with).

Anyway, if my law school thinks they'll ever get another penny from me after next semester, they're bloody insane. I will gladly make large contributions to my graduate program. I would even make donations to my undergraduate program (directly to the department, not to the school itself). But the law school can suck it. I'll even make donations to student organizations, and will send a letter accompanying it every year reiterating that the law school itself can go suck it.

So, we're left with footing a 600 Euro registration fee ourselves. Any creative fundraising ideas? I'm going to the gym now to punch and kick things. Any advice is greatly appreciated!


Cecilia said...

you could go big, and send a link to this post, cc-ing the dean, to abovethelaw. this fits in quite well with their coverage of tier 2 law school dissatisfaction (remember Loyola 2L)?

i also think you might have a first amendment challenge - i mean, she's not letting you privately fund raise with law firms? that's insane.

CM said...

That is unbelievable! You're trying to do something that's good for your academic careers AND for the school, AND you're willing to do all the work, and they still say no?

I was thinking the same thing as Cecilia -- maybe you could go over the dean's head to the local press, university paper, or someone else at the university.

Allison said...

I really don't understand how the Dean can tell you who you can and can't ask for money. What was her basis for that? Is that anywhere in school policy? If you are at a public institution, I think you do have a 1st Am claim. It's one thing if the dean didn't want to help you fundraise, but it's quite another if he/she is telling you that YOU can't do so.

(In)Sanity Gal said...

I'm agreeing with Allison on this - why can't you ask for money from a firm?

What about your school's SBA? Is the Dean in the control of that as well, or would they be able to help? I think the SBA at our school has emergency funds or something like that for these sorts of situations.

I'm going to keep brainstorming fundraising ideas.

Trannyhead said...

What a bummer.

I was lucky - I went to a school that had a big int'l law program (which was my specialty). But lots of schools don't have them. And more schools like to try to sound competitive by saying that they have EVERY single program when they really don't.

So sorry it's sucking. And I'm with everybody else - I don't understand why they'd say "no." Especially since it's not costing them anything!

Cee said...

I hope going to the gym helped. I can't believe they wouldn't even let you raise the money! So ridiculous. We organized a volunteer trip two years ago and our dean wouldnt let us ask firms for money...we were angry and had to pay our own way. We went ahead and did it and the program was such a success that the school now offers some financial support for the program.

I wish I had advice for you- but once you graduate and land some job that you enjoy, it wont matter how awful the school was right?