Sunday, 25 May 2008

Law & Order & 19th Century Yobs - NYC Days 7 & 8

First, the yobs. 19th Century toffs who scratched their names into ancient relics in Egypt. I say toffs because it was only the very rich who could afford to travel back then. And naturally, they thought they owned the world and could go around plundering as they wished. (I have a great picture of an example of such graffiti on my phone, but haven't the capacity to get it onto here unfortunately! - 'Patterson 1821' etched onto a block excavated from the pyramids in Ancient Egypt- he might as well have written 'I woz ere' )

The Met is great, beautiful building. I don't know anything about architecture butI loved it. The stuff on exhibition is obviously great, and interesting and all that, but I wasn't really in the mood to really ponder it much. And having been to the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum, museums in other parts of Europe...I'm at the stage where I can't just look at things and say 'oh that's pretty, isn't it amazing that it's so well preserved?'. I need to actually read some stuff before I go to look at things. So I plan to buy some books and then go back several times to the Met, spending days in there soaking it all up.
Yesterday though, I mostly wandered around just appreciating things on an aesthetic level. A few things stuck in my mind, the pillars and recesses of the building, the beautiful marble floors, stairs and walls, some of the really large exhibits like the Chinese garden and a big re-built Egyptian...actually not sure what it was! In the chinese area, there was this gorgeous wardrobe, dark wood, huge hinges, doors that looked like they weighed a tonne. It looked modern, but was from the Ming dynasty (C16th). Amazing, I wish I had ceilings high enough (and a bank balance to match) to accommodate something like that.

Walked up and down Park Avenue, 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue etc. It would be so amazing to live there, but there are downsides. For example the 'corner shop' (ok, restaurant) served a $20 open sandwich. Which really means half a sandwich. Though I suppose if you like on Madison Avenue you wouldn't baulk at spending $20 on half a sandwich.

And I went back to the Union Street Market where we sampled organic jams, ciders, and the yummiest brownie I've had for a long time. Some really nice fresh produce and stuff on offer, all local etc.

Friday afternoon's lecture was Criminal Procedure: warrants, double jeopardy, trial rights etc. The lingo was (for me) reminiscent of all those American lawyer programmes- Law & Order etc. Some interesting aspects - like how even if a warrant is deficient in scope or validity (in the context of the 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure) it can be 'remedied' by the Good faith of the executing police officer. Riiiight, cos that's a sufficient protection! In my head I kept saying, but PACE allows for this and this...etc etc.

The lecturer told a funny story (to illustrate the point that a magistrate approving a search warrant needs to be free from bias, otherwise the warrant is invalid) about a magistrate in Georgia (I think - might have been Virginia). The State decided that it would be a good idea to pay her no base salary, but then pay $25 for each warrant issue. Lo and behold this particular magistrate ended up having a significantly higher than normal percentage of warrants issues (when considered against the number sought, and issuing percentages of other magistrates in the area).

However, in some instances US Law seems to offer better protections that UK Law. For instance, the 5th Amendment (right to silence so as not to incriminate yourself) attaches to any proceeding, civil, criminal or regulatory in nature. And a prosecutor or jury is not allowed to draw adverse inferences from a defendant's decision to 'plead the 5th', which I believe is no longer the case in the UK. (Of course whether in fact jurors do actually draw adverse inferences is an entirely separate issue- but the fact that judges cannot direct them to do this is important.)

Finally, it's a gorgeous sunny, memorial day weekend - which means no more classes 'til Tuesday, woo!

Friday, 23 May 2008

NYC- Day 6- Burglarizing.

First day of class today. As ever, I was about 15 mins late (will I ever be organised enough to get myself to the right place in time, for anything?). To be fair we had just moved into our apartment about half an hour beforehand so time was a little tight.

Classes are at NYU, which is in the nicest location- the village. It's really pretty. Class of somewhere between 50-100, I think there were about 5 classrooms on at the same time. So, I find myself a seat and sit down and wait. And wait some more. And people start to get annoyed. Turned out we weren't meant to be in this room, there had been a switch at the last minute but someone had helpfully removed the sign on the door that said this.

Anyway, someone at BarBri eventually clicks to this and comes in. She apologises profusely, and then loads up the DVD.

Yup, we're being taught by video. 4 hours of a video lecturing on criminal law. It was exactly as fun as it sounds. I can't imagine how much BarBri are raking in- if there were about 70 people in my class, who have each paid about $3000 for the class, that adds up to a lot when you consider that all Barbri has to provide is a few books, room rental, and pay the lecturers to tape these lectures. (Some are live- we have the videos of the the live lectures). And this happens all over the US, Barbri is the biggest provider. I'm sure their actual costs run at a fraction of what people pay. Anyway, that's just an aside.

So we pretty much covered all of criminal law in that 3 1/2 hour slot (1st half hour was intro stuff). I think I might get close to your GDL in 28 days record Swiss Tony! We have 30 lectures, each of about 3 1/2-4 hours, and in that time we are expected to cover the 'general' multistate law and the particulars of New York State Law.

The silly thing about the multistate aspect of it, is that for many areas, like today's criminal law lecture, it's not the law of any states really - because it was sort of common law based, whereas nearly all states have gone on to codify their criminal law.

I learned all about the joys of larceny, false pretenses, homicide and -my favourite- burglary today. Which is what you get when someone burglarizes you. I was typing away on my laptop and I had so many squiggly red lines from where I'd used the British spelling of words, I will have to adjust my register accordingly!

But seriously, burglarize?

Monday, 19 May 2008

NYC- Day 4- shirking already

Went down to the BarBri office today to see about my pass, books etc. They said I could pick them up whenever so I think I'll wait until Thursday, which is when I can move into my summer place and so save myself having to lug a suitcase of books around the city twice. Which is just as well seeing as I don't have a spare case.

Thursday however is also the first day of class, and I think I'm meant to read one of the books before class...looks like I'm starting this in the same way as all my other academic pursuits- lazily!

After going to the Barbri office I wandered round NY, getting my bearings, all bug-eyed like a true tourist. Times Square reminded me of Piccadilly circus...but bigger! High buildings etc. Then I just wanted round, getting on the subway and riding around to escape the rain. I found a cool little organic food market at Union Square, to the soundtrack of a couple of hipster buskers singing 'One more cup of coffee' and 'Jolene'. Good stuff.

I only stopped when the rain got too heavy- I hadn't taken an umbrella so my pretzel was getting soggy!

Boy arrives Wednesday so I have to come up with some cool things for us to do Wednesday night. We can't move in until Thursday, as I mentioned above, so I think I will find a fancy hotel for the night.

Any ideas? I'm thinking I could find a rooftop bar where we could admire the skyline and sip a champagne cocktail?

PS- People keep stopping me for directions. I must have that kind of face.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

NYC- Day 2

I'm staying with a family for my first couple of nights here - although it may turn out to be for a whole week (but that may be overstaying my welcome, we shall see!). It's actually the brother of my dad's friend and his wife and kid. (It's an old-country thing, you know someone somewhere connected to someone in the family, and you can probably count on them for a place to crash or an invite to dinner!)

So there's a kid, 10 or 11 I'm not sure, and he's really cute. I expected a yank 10 year old to be a total brat but he's really not- yay for beating my expectations. And yesterday we went to a kite festival- so much fun! I felt like a kid again. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we flew a kite for a while, lost it several times, ate sushi, rode the subway lots, and wandered round Williamsburg. Williamsburg is a really artsy, hipster area of Brooklyn, v close to Manhattan. It's great for people watching. Lots of cool kids (in fedoras?) that look like they could rock out or have a deep conversation about Nietzsche or feminist art.

I love Central Park! It's great for people watching too (I'm thinking NY is generally- either that or I'm really nosy). There's a John Lennon memorial thingy, that was cool, there are athletic types cycling, running, boarding, skating, you name it they do it in sweatbands. Saw where John Lennon was shot. I'm totally gonna hang out there before/after classes. It's huge too.

This blog is meant to be a law blog (or rather, the blog of someone trying to get to be a lawyer) so I will be posting about the NY Bar stuff, learning about American law, maybe some comparative perspectives (but probably just moaning about how hard it is). I don't start classes until Thursday though, so until then my NY experience will prob be touristy family fun! I'm not taking pics yet, but when Boy arrives I will nab his camera and maybe I'll post things that I see.

Tomorrow I pick up my books for the course. I have been advised to bring a suitcase as there will be about 50 pounds of books! Except a pic of what looks like a stack of Archbolds!

Friday, 16 May 2008

NYC- Day 1

So, I've been in New York 24 hours. I arrived last night, but this is my first full day so counting starts here. I'm pretty pleased with myself as I've managed to:

-find an apartment
-open a bank account
-eat a real New York bagel.

Obviously the last one was the most noteworthy- it was a good bagel (with "schmear" haha).
I think that was quick working on my part, given than I've spent at least 5 of the last 24 hours in the subway!

Managed to get past immigration pretty easily, although I think they were confused by my planning on spending 3 months in the country, not working, with no family connection here. I didn't mention the NY Bar as I'm not 100% sure that I'm allowed to do it on a visa waiver...but I'm sure that's fine. Once I'd shown the guy an American Express and a Visa card he seemed ok, and told me to not overstay my visa and to have a nice day.

People tell you that a lot here- so far everyone's friendly. Listening to people's accents and watching how New Yorkers go about their day is keeping me entertained.

So day one and things are going well- except I seem to have brought the weather with me, it's cats and dogs outside!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

This girl's off to NYC!


Bar prep class = $3200

Bar exam and costs = $700

Flights to Newark, NY = £350

Anticipation of getting on that plane and hitting the Big Apple tomorrow= Priceless.

Ok, so the above doesn't factor in all that stuff on all my many to-do and to-buy lists (crap, still have to get insurance...), and the fact that I still have to see the dentist, doctor and the bank manager before I go tomorrow but...that wouldn't have fitted the Master card ad format!

I also have a very important final rendevous tomorrow- with the barman of a swanky London cocktail bar and some friends. I figure I won't get any sleep on the flight anyway, and the only thing that will make those awful in-flight movies bearable will be blind drunkeness. I intend to hit NY with a massive hangover- starting as I mean to go on.

Posting may be intermittent 'til I'm settled!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

To do list

It is May. This has, for the last 7 years, been the time of exams. For 7 years, the beauty of a summer's day in London (particularly the nice leafy, green parts of North London where my rents live) has been downright spoiled by the need to bury one's head in a book that one would really rather kick into the (inviting) long grass.

Until this year. This May, I have no exams. No dissertations, and nothing to revise. Hooray indeed. Freedom!

Except, I'm still waking up every morning in a panic and have that constant flood of adrenalin in my stomach. I can't stop stressing out! What's wrong with me? Is my body just doing what it's learned to do over the last near decade of degree, A-levels etc? (No it didn't take me 7 years to do Alevels and a degree, I was adding GCSE's for effect and I had a year abroad...anyway, back away from the tangent!).

I have a ma-hoosive to-do list. I leave in 7 days for the Big Apple and I still have to pack, sort out travel money, find a place to live, work out how to pay for the BVC from abroad, apply for a loan, get payment from jury duty last summer, whoops, finish off some work from my internship loooong overdue, bajillion letters to write, apply for a whole bunch of jobs...crap crap crap I still haven't joined an Inn so I have to get all those forms done in my lunch hour.

The last is an issue as the uni administrator is particular cranky and unpleasant. And it's not the last as there's lots more on the list- including sorting out my utter utter pigsty of a room.

For practical reasons (as I've been moving around so much this year) and financial ones (a well-stocked fridge is nice to come home to) I've been back at home this year. This means that my poor mum has to put up with my room being more of a hovel. I, the slob that I am, can put up with just clearing a space in the general area of my bed to collapse onto each night. But this really cannot do, I'm meant to be a sofisticate, init? This is the blog of a 22 year old, not some stroppy Kevin teen!

The only problem with huge to-do lists is that I think about all the things I have to do and then go 'I couldn't possibly do all of that eeeeeeek' and then proceed to get stressed and do nothing. Thereby giving myself the same stuff to do in less time. With less hair, as I will have pulled it all out by then.

See earlier post on exam stress!

I think I'm one of those people who are always claiming to be busy, but never really get anything actually done...Must do better! Going to clear at least 5 things* on the list before bed tonight.

Now, must find paper and pen to write said list. *Mel ventures into Room. She may be gone a while*

*Writing a list totally counts as one thing.

Saturday, 3 May 2008


Mel is very sad. We had the choice. Lots of choices, but really only a choice between A and B.

A- had experience of dealing with a budget of billions, gained the Olympics, got crime down 5% year on year, and was working to improve transport.

B- had funny hair. Said he would do a bunch of things which sound good but when you think about it, don't work. Like making it illegal for tube-workers to strike. Like in NY, where they go on strike anyway.

And resoundingly, Londoners went for B.

I blame Angus Deaton. If only he'd kept it in his trousers, none of this would have happened.