Diary of a 3L:  A Letter to Television Writers Everywhere

By:  Sarah Jane Ricciardi

Dear Writers:

I applaud your efforts in making the legal profession a compelling subject worthy of dramatization on national television. Unfortunately, the legal system is not as “loosey goosey” as it appears on your shows. The good news is that many of you are guilty of the same offenses – which means they can easily be corrected. For those of you who do not employ a legal consultant (or those who employ a legal consultant who has never set foot in a courtroom), here are a few tidbits for your next episode.

First, lawyers cannot stop and deliver a monologue in the middle of an examination of a witness. When a witness doesn’t say what you want them to say, you can’t say it for them. If you could, there’d really be no point in having witnesses at all. So writers, when there’s a witness on the stand, the lawyer asks questions. That’s it.

While we’re on the topic of examinations, not every question is “argumentative.” The fact that a question hurts your case does not automatically mean that it’s objectionable. And if it is objectionable, find the proper objection. Relevance, hearsay, leading, asked and answered, speculation, legal conclusion, improper opinion, prior bad acts . . . . Do a bit of research. Having lawyers spit out clearly inaccurate objections is like having a nurse hand a syringe to a doctor who asked for a scalpel. It just doesn’t make sense.

For those shows where law enforcement plays a large role, police officers cannot force people to go to the station for questioning. Imagine if the opposite were true. You could be sitting on your couch eating Captain Crunch in your underwear and the cops could knock on your door and force you down to the station to ask you about a murder spree in Istanbul. What a world that would be!

There are also quite a few shows out there with concepts that are just so off base they should air on the SyFy channel. For example, “Bad Judge” should be entitled “Disbarred Judge.” Because seriously. The Rules of Judicial Conduct are a thing. Check ‘em out. And Shonda Rhimes, I appreciate your work. I really do. But “How to Get Away with Murder” actually physically hurts me. A law professor cannot give a lecture to 150 students about an ongoing case involving her client. And she most certainly can’t bring those 150 students to interview said client. Does “confidentiality” mean nothing to you?

Now this may seem like an angry tirade by a bitter law student. And it is. You see, it’s exam time. So naturally, I’ve been watching television shows about the law rather than studying. At first, I thought it was a productive way of procrastinating. But now, I’ve come to realize that these shows are so unrealistic that I should just go back to watching Hallmark holiday movies. Thank goodness I DVR’d “A Royal Christmas.”


Lacey Chabert’s number 1 fan

P.S.  I’ll be available for hire as a legal consultant in September 2016. Call me.

Top Ten Books That Were Retained After Library Throws Out Regional and State Reporters

By Drew Hillier

  1. Werewolves, Magical Hounds, and Dog-headed Men in Celtic Literature : A Typological Study of Shape-shifting
  1. Civil Code of the Empire of Ethiopia of 1960
  1. Case Studies of Costs and Benefits of Non-Tariff Measures: Cheese, Shrimp and Flowers [Microform]
  1. The Little Book of Cowboy Law
  1. Russian Journalism and Politics, 1861-1881
  1. Law, Lawyers, and Lambs
  1. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
  1. Sir Henry Maine: A Study in Victorian Jurisprudence
  1. Doped up, Knocked up, and . . . Locked Up?
  1. The Etablissements de Saint Louis : Thirteenth-century Law Texts from Tours, Orléans, and Paris

Don’t Forget: Your Computer Needs to Prepare for Finals Too

By Jessica de Perio Wittman

It’s that time of year again: exam time. Did you miss the Exam4 download period (November 10 – 14)?  If you did, don’t worry ¾ it is not too late to download Exam4!

Simply go to https://www.exam4.com/org/602 and fill in the appropriate information to download and install the program.

For Mac users, Apple recently released its upgrade to Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Exam4 is compatible with that operating system, so just make sure to check that option when you register your software.

After the program is installed, we strongly suggest that you take a practice exam. This process validates the software and ensures that there are no problems that could cause you a headache on exam day. Don’t worry though, this whole process should not take more than five minutes. For step-by-step directions, please visit: http://www.law.uconn.edu/portal/students/information-technology/law-school-exam-information/prepare-your-computer-exam.

If you have any concerns about the technical requirements of Exam4, they can be viewed at Exam4’s website at: http://www.exam4.com/userguide.

If you have successfully completed all of these steps you have done all you need to do to prepare your computer for finals.

Remember that you can always stop by the IT Help Desk for technical support before and during the exam period! The Help Desk is located on the second floor of the library. Students in need of accommodations should contact Jane Thierfield Brown at jane.brown@uconn.edu about laptop reservations.

Lastly, remember, you can find your exam schedule at any time by visiting: http://www.law.uconn.edu/academics/fall-2014-exam-schedule.pdf. Good luck with finals!

Library Reminder: Noise

With finals coming up, the library

would like to remind everyone:

Silence is best, quiet voices next.

Alumni Spotlight: Emily Kagan, Class of 2012

By Brian Metter

UConn Law School alumna, Emily Kagan’12, has found success as an associate at Day Pitney LLP.

Prior to working at Day Pitney, Kagan, a Connecticut native from West Hartford, studied geography, Arabic and French as an undergraduate at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Kagan originally planned on working for the United States government, but instead chose to attend law school after taking some time off after graduation. She began her law school career at Western New England University School of Law, transferring to UConn Law School after her 1L year. While at UConn Law, Kagan was an administrative editor for the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal as well as a research assistant to Professor Deborah Calloway.

Beginning her 1L summer and carrying through her 2L year, Kagan worked in the Immigration Law Clinic and Legal Services for Immigrant Communities clinic at the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale University. She externed in Aetna’s Legal and Regulatory Affairs Department, where she analyzed guidelines and worked on complying with the newly enacted Patient Affordable Care Act. Kagan also held an externship at the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health in the Department of Public Hearings and Office of Research and Development.

With a strong academic background, extensive practical experience, and a natural wit and tenacity, she landed a summer apprenticeship position at the prestigious Day Pitney’s Hartford office.

Kagan had never worked at a large regional law firm, and described the experience as, “a whirlwind of spending time working in different departments, from litigation to transactional work, to attending witness preps one day to a closing the next.” Although Kagan now practices at Day Pitney in its corporate and business law department focusing on insurance regulation, M&A activities, emerging companies, and healthcare law, she credits the diverse experiences during her 2L summer apprenticeship as giving her a better understanding of the synthesis of different areas of law.

“The culture at Day Pitney is professional and collaborative; everyone is accessible,” said Kagan. “While the corporate law team in the Hartford office is smaller than the litigation department, you can get the information you need because each partner has a different specialty,” she added.

Currently, Kagan is seconded, working closely with one client. While helping clients on the legal issues they face, she gets to see the business side of the company as well. She relishes the variety at her job; in addition to good old fashioned due diligence, she has worked on projects such as helping a hospital with bond issuances and assisting an insurance company getting licensed in the state. Day Pitney has a high retention rate, with many of the partners have been working there for 30 years or more; though Kagan is more focused on working hard for the firm than on any long-term personal career goals.

When asked about her favorite memories at UConn Law, Kagan smiled as she said, “My job at the school gym. I was able to study while working.” Kagan is a prime example that hard work pays off, not only by transferring law schools, which can be difficult to do, but by obtaining significant success as a practitioner right after graduation. When asked about advice for current students, she recommends taking classes that have good utility and that will prepare you for the bar.

Kagan isn’t all about work, however. Although on a break due to an injury, she is a youth and high school women’s lacrosse umpire, having played herself in high school as well as at the collegiate level. She stays in touch with her law school friends, and credits her experiences at UConn Law as a major factor in her success.


Professor Spotlight: Doug Spencer

By Nina Pelc-Faszcza

Doug Spencer joined the UConn community in the fall of 2013 as an Associate Professor of Law and Public Policy, having just received a unique Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also received his J.D. Professor Spencer has a dual role as a UConn faculty member; he teaches Constitutional Law and Election Law here at the law school and teaches a graduate Introduction to Public Policy course at UConn’s campus down the road in West Hartford.

Professor Spencer’s academic interests are focused on the empirical study of public law, campaign finance, voting rights, and election administration, and he recently co-authored a reactive article on the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. (See Christopher S. Elmendorf & Douglas M. Spencer, The Geography of Racial Stereotyping: Evidence and Implications for VRA Preclearance After Shelby County, 102 Cal. L. Rev. 1123 (Oct. 2014)). He is currently conducting research on the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965, and will be publishing another co-authored article in the June 2015 edition of the University of Illinois Law Review.

When asked what he has enjoyed the most so far about UConn, Professor Spencer jumped at the opportunity to emphasize how much he sincerely enjoys the people here. “The faculty here is unbelievable, and everybody gets along,” Spencer remarked. He is excited about the future of the school based on UConn’s very impressive group of new professors, and has also loved teaching and getting to know the students on campus. (Professor Spencer would like to give a special shout out to the Spring 2014 Con Law section, his all-time favorite and unbeatably awesome class). “There is a ton of student participation in class, and students are willing to disagree with one another. I didn’t think being a professor would be so fun. This is just an unbelievably comfortable place to be.”

Spencer also raved about the passionate student involvement on campus, whether it be fighting for student organization budgets or planning invaluable events like the PILG auction, He even underscored his deep love and appreciation of Pro Se for informing us all and bringing the community closer together. “I actually read that thing,” he declared. “Whether it’s in my mailbox or in Truffles, it’s the one way for me to connect with what’s happening with the students, faculty, and staff.”

For those of you who are curious about what our professors do outside of school when they’re not researching or attempting to teach us about the law, Doug Spencer can provide some insight.

He loves to read books, ride his bike, play the piano (an instrument he has proudly mastered since the age of 5), and . . . (wait for it . . .) crochet. But, in addition to engaging in these fruitful hobbies and being a full-time professor, Spencer is also a full-time father and loves every minute he spends with his two (soon to be three) children.

And for those of you fortunate enough to have won Professor Spencer’s offering at the PILG auction and will be joining him sometime soon for a night of “dinner and games,” you have many things to look forward to: an amuse bouche in addition to a nice meal, a friendly (yet likely also a little competitive) game of poker, some additional social games yet to be determined, and prizes!

If you read this article and thought to yourself what a great professor, scholar, and person Professor Doug Spencer appears to be, feel free to stop by his office, Chase 315, to find out for yourself.