Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Nightmare on Memo Street (Pt. 2)

Sorry for the hiatus, I was busy with something. What was I busy with? Oh, Yeah, FINALS!!! They are horrible, however the Nightmare on Memo Street must continue.

The good news about the first memo is that I did alright. The bad news is I did alright. I feel sorry for the chunk of the class that did worse than me, considering I started 18 hours before the paper was due. Some people put countless hours into the paper and did poorly. For a subject that studies fairness and justice, I am constantly amazed at how little law school has either.

The thing that pissed me off about the memo is my writing professor gives no constructive criticism. Maybe other students in the law school world have ESP, but since I happen to be missing that gene, it is very difficult to improve without feedback. An occasional ‘good’ or ‘improve’ on the paper does not help. With no collaboration, no constructive feedback, and ambiguous answers in office hours, improvement is very difficult. This is one of my biggest grievances against law school; not allowing people to learn and improve from their mistakes (more to come on that topic later).

After I got my first draft back I decided to be one of those stupid saps that spend hours on a paper. With some backwards logic, that I am in grad school, I better not hold anything back now. Needless to say it was stupid logic. Fear not slackers of the world, I will not make the error again. Study smarter, not harder. Overanalyzing is a mortal sin in law school.

The nightmare of the next draft did not begin to happen until the night before the memo was due. Believing that I could get more points from content than citations and style, I spent most of my time editing content (including the Questions Presented/Brief Answers/Statement of Facts). When I left the library to go back home at 11:30 the night before the memo was due, I had not put my citations in the paper yet. I figured midnight the night before is plenty of time. This would ordinarily be true except . . .

I lost my citations book. Where the book disappeared to is still a mystery to this day. Being that I am not one of those uber-geeks who memorize citations, this was problematic. So I did what any good slacker would do in the situation, went to bed.

There was no way to have a citations manual before 7:00 when the library opened anyway. However this put me behind schedule a couple hours and I had to work to the very end. I put the citations in with no problem and continued to edit. About 30 minutes before the paper was due, I found an error and corrected it. In correcting the error, it bumped down a section title line of the paper. No one wants a title line for a section as the bottom line on a page. So, I hit enter, to push it onto the next page and then went to the computer guys for advice. They could not figure it out and screwed around with my spacing, margins, and stuff. This made me rather frantic. I am pretty sure, but not certain, that I restored everything back to how I originally had it and the computer guy’s changes were not saved. I just hit enter and had a little extra space on one of the bottoms of a page. I did not have time to reread the paper for errors. So, with T minus five minutes I printed and turned in the paper.

To my horror, there was an empty line in the middle of a section. Normally I wouldn’t fret too much, but I am pretty sure I lost a significant amount of points for this (I think 4 points if its part of organization, more if it is part of style). This pisses me off because I lost points for something stupid and careless not for something that was legitimate. It’s even possible that the computer guy could have caused the error.

At least, I learned to leave an extra half hour to reread the paper before I turn the paper in.

I did do better on the final draft. Once again the good news is I did alright, and the bad news is I did alright.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My memo is due in 2 days and i just started research last night. Really glad I found your blog.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a memo night just like the one you describe.

The other AHs crashed the law school computers ON PURPOSE the night before the memo was due! Many had difficulty editing their papers that night due the following morning.

That even beats tearing the pages out of books in the library so others can't complete the assignments.

10:20 AM  

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