Jan 15, 2014

The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan Is Over. That Means I Will Hold the OSCAR Record Forever.

With this memo, Judge John Bates, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has signaled the death of the once venerable Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan.

In accordance with recommendations made by the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) Working Group (Working Group), I am writing to inform you that the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan has effectively been discontinued and no further dates are being set in connection with that plan.

Though, there is a silver lining on this cloud. Yours truly will hold in perpetuity the record for most OSCAR applications. As I recount in my essay, “From Being One L to Teaching One L” (which will be published in an updated edition of the classic “One L”), I applied to a lot of judges on OSCAR. A lot of them:

At the beginning of my 3L year, I was standing at somewhat of a legal crossroads. Only two years earlier, I had no idea what a federal clerkship was. Yet, for some reason, my mind was set on obtaining one! My odds were slim. Mason sends very few students to federal district courts, and even fewer (maybe one or two a year) to the courts of appeals. My grades were good, but probably not good enough. Fueled in part by my burgeoning Article III obsession and my desire to gain personal and first-hand insights into how judges decide cases, I decided to take a guerilla approach to applying to federal clerkships—apply to them all. All 1,198 active and senior Article III judges—from Acker to Zouhary. Insane! Nuts! Waste of time and money! These were only some of the comments I heard at the time. They were right, but I was not deterred (I seldom am).

Fortunately, 422 of those judges accepted electronic applications through the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review, affectionately known as OSCAR among clerkship aficionados. This made applying to a judge as simple as the click of a button. Unfortunately, 776 other judges only accepted paper applications through the mail. Let’s just say I became an outstanding customer at FedEx-Kinkos and the local Arlington post office. I spent more time than I would ever care to count printing, stuffing, and stamping envelopes. Prior to Labor Day, 2008, I mailed out over 776 packages, each including a customized cover letter, resume, transcript, sealed letters of recommendation, and writing samples. A career advisor at GMU later told me that I set the record for clerkship applications—a record I relish with nerdy pride.

I will hold that record forever now.

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Jan 15, 2014

The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution in 2 Hours

In class, I walked through the text of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution in two hours. It was a bit of a race at the end, but I covered everything I wanted to. Enjoy!

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Jan 15, 2014

Read The Entire Constitution

Today is the first day of class. In ConLaw, I am trying some new. I aim to go through the text of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the entire Constitution (with the Amendments). This will be tough, and I will have to cover a lot of ground in 2 hours, but I think this is important. Most of ConLaw focuses on a few Amendments (1st, 5th, and 14th) and a few clauses of the Constitution (commerce, necessary & proper, take care, judicial power, etc.). Most law students will never even read (let alone study) the entire Constitution–and forget about the key antecedent documents, the Declaration and the Articles of Confederation. That is why my goal for the first class is to at least mention every single clause in these charters, so the students know about them. Whether they ever have occasion to think about the Journal Clause, or the tonnage clause, or the adjournment clause (which was actually mentioned during the Noel Canning argument) is unlikely. But at least they will be exposed to it.

I will begin class with a favorite quote from Justice John Marshall Harlan I, that rings true in constitutional law classes in 1897, and 2014 alike.

I have often been astounded to meet with lawyers who have actually never read the Constitution of the United States, although it can be read within the time that is wasted at a street corner some afternoon discussing the last game of baseball or the last prize fight. They may have examined particular clauses, but have never read the entire instrument so as to comprehend in a general way the system of government ordained by it . . . .

Now, I beg you that this may not be said of any member of this law class that he allow this week to pass without read- ing the Constitution. Some knowledge of the principles underlying the government under which we live ought to be possessed by every person who owes duties to that government, or upon whom its laws operate, or who depends upon it for protection of his life, liberty, and property. Freedom and free institutions cannot long be entertained by a people who do not understand the nature of the government under which they live.

—Justice John Marshall Harlan I, October 14, 1897.

Update: Here is video of the class.

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Jan 15, 2014

Prop1 Class 1 – From Nature to Commons

Hello everyone and welcome to Property I.

Today we will cover property rights created through discovery or conquest with the case of Johnson v. M’Intosh.

During class, I will type in real time the lecture notes on this document.

In addition, I encourage each of you to post comments to our live-chat. You can use your real name or a madeup name if you prefer.

This is Chief Justice John Marshall (very nice sideburns):


This is John Locke (he resembles Mr. Burns, if he had hair). Here is a link to Chapter V of Second Treatise on Government. Chapter V focuses on property. Chapter XVI focuses on “Conquest.”


This is Hugo Grotius (has a Shakespeare thing going for him–he was Dutch):


This is Samuel Pufendorf (nice wig):


Here is a map of the land at issue in Johnson.


This is Harold Demsetz:


This is Ronald Coase. He died in 2013 at the age of 100!



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Jan 15, 2014

ConLaw Class 1 – Our Founding Documents

The lecture notes are here. The live chat is here.

Our Founding Documents

Note: Read these documents in their entirety. They’re not long. And no one should graduate law school without reading them at least once.

This is the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776).


This is the first page of the Articles of Confederation (Ratified in 1781).


These are the four pages of the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution was proposed on September 17, 1787, and ratified on June 21, 1788 with the ratification of New Hampshire, the 9th State to join the Union.

constitution_1_of_4_630 constitution_2_of_4_630 constitution_3_of_4_630 constitution_4_of_4_630

These are the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution, proposed in 1789 and ratified in 1791 (the phrase “The Bill of Rights” only came into common parlance following the Civil War).



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