Going to Prison

This semester I am taking Restorative Justice. It’s an interesting class because it is taught at the School of Theology. The class has both graduate “theologians” as well as law students. I believe (although I could be wrong) that it is the only class on the list of courses the law school offers that is for both law students and theology students. I take the class Mondays from 6:30-9:15 pm, right after my Privacy class from 4:20-6:20. The class is taught across from the Law Complex in the School of Theology so I’m usually rushing to get my seat in time (depending on how late our Privacy professor keeps us).  The class is interesting because it allows us law students to hear from members of another discipline on how they perceive us as lawyers. 

Last week, as part of the Restorative Justice class, we took a class trip to MCI-Norfolk, a medium-level security prison in Massachusetts. We all carpooled and were at the prison for about three hours. The experience fit well with the course as we were able to hear from various inmates that have been through the restorative justice process at MCI Norfolk, a trail-blazer in this field. The experience was quite eye-opening and offered a concrete example of what we were learning in class. Moreover, I felt the experience was enlightening because it proved that alternatives to the conventional criminal justice system can work in certain situations. 

 

Exploring North End

One of my favorite aspects of attending law school in Boston is the fact that Boston offers a number of distinct neighborhoods. Within a ten-minute walk or a ride on the T, you can find yourself in a completely different setting with completely different attractions. From Back Bay to North End, Beacon Hill to South End, Boston makes it easy for law students to have a quick adventure before getting back to the books.

This past weekend, I decided to make the trek to North End. While North End contains a fair bit of the Freedom Trail and is home to Old North Church and Paul Revere’s house, the object of my venture was Italian food. I was in the midst of planning a special dinner – homework was all wrapped up for the weekend and carbonara was on the menu. A few favorite spots in North End provided the necessary finishing touches.

My absolute favorite bakery in North End is Maria’s Bakery. You can see it as soon as you exit the Haymarket T stop, as it is on the border of North End. I am well aware that the Boston “best cannoli” debate oscillates between Mike’s and Modern Pastry, but I am a firm believer that Maria’s offers the most delicious cannoli. Freshly filled once you place your order, they are perfectly crisp and the filling is chilled. Naturally, this was my first stop. No point in shopping on an empty stomach.

Next, I figured I needed some good bread to accompany my pasta. My favorite place to buy bread in North End is Bricco, a bakery tucked away in a basement at the end of an alleyway. Keep an eye out for the Bricco sign pointing down an alleyway off of Hanover Street – you will not be disappointed. At the bottom of the staircase, you will find a rack of loaves of bread and more in the making. Once I bought a loaf of ciabatta, I headed back up the stairs and across the alley to a small Italian market to get the final ingredient: some good balsamic vinegar.

After picking up these items, I spent some time walking around North End. Though there is little time to vacation in law school, Boston’s many neighborhoods can serve as a delightful substitute. You can feel miles away from school, and yet be close enough to head back to the library if you absolutely must.

WIPIP Colloquium

Last week, I volunteered to assist with check-in and time keeping at the Works-In-Progress Intellectual Property Colloquium, or, as it is referred to, WIPIP. As someone who is interested in intellectual property, but who has not yet taken courses relating to the subject, I was eager to gain more exposure during this conference, and I’m glad that I took the opportunity to do so. The session that I assisted with time keeping for featured four speakers who predominantly spoke on issues of copyright within IP.

The first speaker, Carys J. Craig, is an Associate Dean and Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. Her talk was titled “Relying on (User) Rights-Talk: On Copyright Limits and Rhetorical Risks.” She spoke about fair dealing as it relates to authors versus user rights in the US and noted that fair use is often treated as an affirmative defense. There is a metaphorical balancing act taking place which pits owners (authors) against users (readers) that amounts to a zero sum game. Essentially, Professor Carys argued that user rights can pose a danger when society overlooks public policy concerns regarding where the limits of copyright should lie.

The next speaker, Martin Skladany, is an Assistant Professor at Penn State’s Dickinson Law, and gave a talk titled, “Proposals to Reduce the Harm of Excessive Copyright Protection That Are Immune to Big Copyright’s Influence.” He opened with startling statistics that Americans consume between 8 ½ and 10 ½ hours of entertainment per day, and posed methods of reducing such overconsumption. Professor Skladany’s proposal involved means of incentivizing oneself to limit time spent on the screen, and to instead use that time to create. He also spoke of copyright’s place in Hollywood, and alluded to additional key components of his forthcoming book.

The third speaker, Glynn S. Lunney, is a Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. His talk was titled, “Copyright’s Price Competition Deficiency,” and centered around economic theories as related to e-books in particular. Lunney went into detail about optimal price points as well as uniform privacy. He then compared the prices of copyrighted e-books to copyrighted paper books, concluding that, because they are value-based, the prices of copyrighted e-books can actually be higher than those of paper books.

The fourth and final talk was given by Eric E. Johnson, Associate Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota (UND) Law. Johnson’s talk was titled “Intellectual Property and Growth Economics,” and he opened by noting key differences between static and dynamic economics. Professor Johnson often referenced Robert Cooter, a Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law whose work centers around the intersection of law and economics. The Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrum was also referenced several times. Professor Johnson concluded by noting the existential threats that are caused by technology and that tinkering with IP can cause technology to take off.

Admittedly, the depth to which these speakers spoke of IP and copyright issues went over my head at times, as I have not yet taken classes to give me the foundation to understand such matters. That being said, I am so glad to have experienced just a taste of this Colloquium, as it exposed me to new information from thought-leaders within the field that I would never have had access to otherwise.

There’s Snow Time Like Your First Time

If you’re currently situated somewhere in the Northeastern United States, then you’re well aware of the current state of the weather union. But, if you haven’t yet been briefed on the situation, here it is in one word: SNOW. While this isn’t my first snowy rodeo, it is only my second real New England winter (Yes, I get it, I know I missed the real big winter of 2015 and nothing we’ve seen even compares to that). This means that even the lightest of snow flurries still gets me overwhelmingly excited and I still don’t think it’s a hassle to put on a huge coat and snow boots for a trek outside.

However, last Thursday marked the most exciting day thus far in my whole two-winter experience: MY FIRST SNOW DAY! I couldn’t believe I was actually waking up to an email that BU would be closed due to large amounts of snow pouring down all day long. While other people were thankful for a day off to catch up on work, I was busy googling “things to do on a snow day”. I didn’t even mind that when I told all my friends in Florida about my snow day they were leaving to go tan by the pool. (Okay, that’s a lie I was actually very upset and still confused how it could be hailing down snow here and like 10 states away it’s a perfect beach day…).

Donning two pairs of pants, 3 shirts, boots and my coat, I walked all over the deserted town and couldn’t believe that no one else wanted to go outside and play in the snow! Granted, it was understandable when after 10 minutes of trying to make a snowman my entire body was numb and tears were streaming down my face from the wind. But nevertheless, it was still the most exciting and snowy magical day I’ve had in Boston. As crazy as it is to admit after being born and raised in South Florida, snowy winters are exactly why I wanted to move to Boston. I can’t imagine waking up to snow falling ever getting old…but maybe talk to me after 100+ inches of snow happens.

 

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Real live view right outside BU Gym.

Snow Day!

Today my fellow Terriers awoke to this delightful bit of news:

“EMERGENCY BU ALERT: Boston University’s Charles River Campus is cancelling daytime and evening classes on Thursday, February 9, 2017 as of 6:00 AM. All academic and administrative activities (e.g. classes, seminars, student activities and meetings) that are scheduled to take place are cancelled. Academic and administrative operations that are normally scheduled are also cancelled.”

feb-blog-pic_snowy-streetToday has the honorary distinction of being the first snow day of the year. What does one do on an unexpectedly free day? An informal poll revealed that my friends are using the extra time to (1) work on their Albers Moot Court Competition briefs; (2) catch up on schoolwork; (3) apply for summer positions; or (4) indulge in self-care. As for me, I’ve devoted the day to #4.feb-blog-pic_outside-sbux

For me, a great day starts with espresso and steamed whole milk. I rolled out of bed and ambled to my local Starbucks. Despite not encountering a single soul on the snow-dusted streets, the place was packed with students feverishly working away on laptops, gaggles of gossipers, and fellow people-watchers. I quietly sipped my ambrosia and soaked in the community buzz.

Upon returning home I comforted Mittens, who is truly horrified by the frozen wasteland outside her escape window. She has since retreated into her Amazonian castle.

feb-blog-pic_mitts-castleI then cranked up my guilty pleasure playlist, VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ‘90s, and attended to oft-neglected chores: washing, folding, scrubbing, and tidying.

Feeling lighter, I made a pot of tea and proceeded to write letters to my West Coast pen pals and make Valentines. What better time to break out stamps, markers, cardstock—and the first installment of my sticker subscription!

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If one isn’t careful about tempering the demands of law school, it’s easy to spiral into threadbare, academic subsistence. To Do Lists never reap the satisfaction of completion because there’s always more to do. I could review class notes or crack open next week’s inevitable assignments—but that’s what tomorrow’s for. Or at least, that’s what Snow Day tells me.