I am writing after working my way further and further into the bowels of my 3rd semester of law school. Honestly, I think it is easier than the first year. It is a great relief to not have to worry about a paper or impending writing coming upon me. Oddly, I can get into a routine and not really have to worry about anything upsetting that routine until finals (oh and some silly little MPRE exam in November I have to pass to fully take the bar and get my legal intern license).
This semester’s roster includes Federal Income Tax, Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Legal Profession (aka professional ethics). The classes are enjoyable. It is almost like the teachers are no longer out to intimidate us or make sure we have the salt not to drop out. I hope it continues. Hands down, my favorite class is still Constitutional Law. My undergrad, Law & Constitutional Studies, is right down this alley. The degree is basically a pseudo law degree with a large dose of constitutional law. Not only do I enjoy the class, but I am familiar with everything we have covered already from Utah State University. If it helps, my professor even reminds me in looks of my constitutional law professor at USU.
The next class to tie for first for what I most enjoy is strangely Federal Income Tax. What an interesting class. All of the law school classes up until now have been hypothetical realms of some future case I may deal with in whatever field of law I choose. But Federal Income Tax is applicable to me as an individual and implicates the majority of Americans. I did like the brief historical background too. Did you know that the United States only had taxes from 1791 to 1802, then 1813 to 1818, and then our current taxation period started in 1861? The taxes in all three periods were brought about because of war. Too bad the money hungry government couldn’t go back to no taxes after they finished paying off the Civil War. Oh, and the old taxable items were spirits, tobacco, and beer! Income taxes didn’t come along until the 1890’s and contrary to popular belief, were Constitutional. The Amendment just changed things so nobody had to worry about the proportionality among the states. Since the first chapter it has been nothing but the nitty gritty of gross income and exclusions ever since. It is nice to have a class with a little math and good solid answers.
Evidence and Criminal Procedure are pretty much up the same line of thinking. The professor for Criminal Procedure is hilarious both for his jokes and his little man complex. The evidence is an intense individual with a very dramatic moving teaching style. I think he must make 100 laps across the front of the class room in each class and if you were to put weights in his hands, he would be one buff dude.
Lastly is professional ethics. I wonder how necessary the class really is. But it is very interesting in that we are confronted with the situations that many lawyers find themselves in, and we get to learn how the ethics rules apply. Mostly though, we get to discuss what is right and wrong. I assume the basic importance of the class is to help us recognize the situations and make decisions now on how we will react to them in the future. There are some serious conflicts for lawyers between confidentiality and doing justice to the public. Somehow I find myself really torn in so many situations on how I would react. While most of the time, the rules enthrone confidentiality and working only for your client. I don’t accept those underlying premises and find myself not even on the same page as most of the individuals in the classes. To me, a lawyers job is to assist clients in receiving help in navigating justice. In my understanding and heart, my duty is to justice (Plato and Socrates coming out here) and to society at large. If a client was to confess a murder to me, I would accept his confidentiality and keep it, but I would feel a very heavy burden to anonymously notify somebody with a clue or tip to make sure justice is also met. Even further, especially if somebody was serving time for a crime for somebody else. The form of justice and my duty to society would seem to require I tell. But, this enthroned idea of confidentiality requires a lawyer never to disclose (there are some exceptions, which are pretty rare and difficult to even see if you meet the criteria).
A slight roadbump did come this week. I don’t know if I mentioned that I was voted in as Vice President of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society this past spring. In a quick note, I sat too far back and totally was not reading the minds of the people running the meeting. I thought somebody wanted to not be President so I made a motion to open the floor so he didn’t have to be. Well, he was nominated and accepted. Then I thought the secretary didn’t want to be, so I nominated someone else. That person declined because she had read that the secretary wanted to stay in. I misread everything. But my motioning to open the floor for the President made someone else think I wanted to be President and they nominated me for Vice President. I really wanted to focus only on my studies and had no interest in serving in any club beyond showing up for service or something. Now I found myself nominated for Vice President. I was going to decline but the quote from none other than J. Reuben Clark crossed my mind, “In the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one takes the place to which one is duly called, which place one neither seeks nor declines.” While that quote really doesn’t apply outside the church, the thought passed that I should neither seek nor decline. I certainly didn’t seek it, and now I thought I shouldn’t decline it.
Well, just alike a Gerald Ford sort of situation, the President transferred from OCU to another school. That left a vacancy with another acting pro temp. I nominated the person acting pro temp as president and he declined! Next thing I knew I was nominated and in a dastardly act, I was not given the opportunity to decline. Not that it had really dawned on me what was happening yet. The meeting moved on, I was nominated, none else were and a vote came up. Here I am the new President of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and I haven’t a clue what I am doing! What is more, I work for the liaison for attorney division of JRCLS (J Reuben Clark Law Society). I now sit as a President of an organization officially chartered and ran through BYU, which really rubs me wrong, and somehow I am no longer just following the lead of someone else, I am supposed to lead out! Yikes. So much for just paying attention to my studies and avoiding any responsibility in law school. Add that to Vice President of LDSSA and Ward Mission Leader and my church service has expanded. Of course, I could just sit back and let it die away, but because it is linked in some way to the church, I honestly feel like I have to really do something. Any suggestions? I could really use them.
Anyhow, I have some other interesting things to share, but it is late and this is already too long. Many things to think about recently.