Bruce Gottlieb

Bruce Gottlieb

A weeklong electronic journal.
Sept. 9 1999 9:00 PM

Bruce Gottlieb

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Today was a much nicer day. Yesterday, I was embarrassed by a very smart professor in front of 140 classmates. But today I had three classes, and I more or less understood what was going on in each of them. What's more, I was not called upon even once.

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Today was also the first meeting of Civil Procedure, which looks to be unexpectedly interesting. It's one thing to take a class in Contracts or Property. At least my grandmother knows what these words mean. But what on earth is Civil Procedure?

Oddly enough, I still don't really know. So far, it's a class about whether or not a particular court has the right to decide a particular matter of law. (To summarize, we've learned that you don't have to pay your lawyer in Oregon so long as you move to another state and don't leave any property behind in Oregon. But I expect this to be revised in class tomorrow. If not, Oregon lawyers are in big trouble when the secret gets loose.)

At any rate, I believe the course will eventually move to broader questions about the rules that civil courts follow. But on the other hand, Professor Hay admitted today to uncertainty over how to formally "attach" a piece of property, which is one of the basic procedures at issue in the Oregon case. So obviously my understanding of rules in civil court isn't going to be that broad.

The class looks good mostly because Professor Hay is as sharp and engaging a lecturer as he's reputed to be. He began class by country-boyin' it a bit, pretending to misunderstand the case and permitting his brilliant law students to bring him back to the path. It was a big hit, especially after several of my classmates were thoroughly roughed up in Contracts earlier this morning. Also, he gave us only three pages of reading for tomorrow.

This afternoon I visited a group of computer hackers I'm profiling for another magazine. Writing up my story ought to take most of this weekend, which brings me to another point. I'm very intent on keeping my hand in journalism even while at law school, but everyone keeps saying I'm crazy. I figure that journalism is a more interesting way to pay the bills, especially compared with being a so-called teaching fellow in an undergraduate course.

Most courses at Harvard College are taught two or three times a week in lecture by a professor, and once a week in discussion section by a so-called teaching fellow. I would probably teach in the economics department, since that's what I studied in college. These jobs are relatively easy to come by, since law students are sometimes supposed to be better with undergrads than econ grad students, many of whom speak English as a second language.

I would like to avoid being a T.F., if possible. For one thing, I don't think it fair that any economics student at Harvard College should have me as a teacher. As an economics student at Harvard College, my younger self spent a lot of time griping about the absurdity of being taught by someone whose chief qualification was having taken the same course a few years ago. For another, I disliked discussion section in most of my undergraduate courses. There was a lot of windbaggery there (and I was as guilty as any). I have no wish to meet my younger self in a classroom.

This evening I headed off to meet some older law students at a local pub called the Thirsty Scholar. Classes don't start until 9:50 tomorrow.