Of Mice and Funny Men (…and classes)

8 September: Tonight Amanda, Dianne, Blake, Wiley, Brian and I travelled out the East End to see Modest Mouse rock out.  Then venue for the evening was the Troxy.  It’s a much smaller venue than I’d expected, but it was actually quite nice.  It’s reminiscent of the older cinema theaters that you find in almost every little town throughout the midwest, only with the seats removed.

The concert itself was amazing.  I was particularly impressed with their creative instrument choices and unique techniques, such as using a guitar pick-up as a vocal mic and moving a guitar in front of monitor to play with the resulting feedback.  It was a fabulous time.

10 September: Ravi, his friend Shawn, Amanda, Dianne and I went down to the Soho Comedy Club to catch a couple of acts.  The jokes were hit and miss, but over all it was a fun way to spend the afternoon.  I believed we paid £8 at the door for 4 acts and that included the cover for the nightclub downstairs.  So really it was a pretty solid value for a night’s entertainment.

Now for a little business… It occurs to me that I’ve mostly been talking about all the amazing, fun things to do on our spare time here and I haven’t said much about the reason we’re all here: classes.

US-UK Legal Systems: This is one of the two required classes for the program and is also one of the three classes I’m taking which is taught by a British Professor.  I find this class very interesting.  It essentially gives a basic overview of the UK government and compares that to our own.  It’s fascinating seeing how our two very different democracies handle different issues and how each of these solutions in turn spin-off their own unique challenges.

It’s also great because it give you an opportunity to really look at our own government structure from an outside perspective.  Since I’ve been here I’ve come to a deeper appreciation of the strength of our own systems and well as ideas on how we might better handle some of our own challenges.

Tip X: Classes taught by British Professors are quite different from what you’re accustomed to back home.  The legal education here is done as an undergraduate program.  As a consequence there seems to be a tendency on the park of non-U.S. professors to structure their classes like what we’d expect from our undergraduate classes.  To me it’s honestly both delightful and maddening.  Delightful because there’s much less stress from those classes and they’re very easy to follow.  Maddening because there are times you feel everything’s being spoon fed to you and you just want the class to move along all ready.  Another difference is that they very heavy on the lecture, with a dash of discussion, and not even a hint of Socratic.

English Legal Research: R&W III, as I’ve ‘affectionately’ come to thing of it as, is the other required course and it is honestly far from my favorite.  The professor is smart and engaging, and I’d love to take another class with her, but the subject is still legal research and making that interesting is a truly Herculean task.  Much of it overlaps with our R&W I and II classes and frankly it bores me to death.

Is it useful though?  Honestly for myself, the answer is a resounding ‘no’, but I took a highly unscientific opinion pool and the results are mixed.  I found that about half of the students in internship found the English Legal Research helpful to performing their tasks for their employers.

International Trade and the Environment: In this class we delve deeply into the GATT and WTO structure and how that interacts with environmental issues.  It’s a very dense, challenging class and I quite enjoy it.

International Human Rights: This class, as taught, would perhaps be better titled as Lectures on the European Convention on Human Rights.  I really enjoy the topic and we’re certainly getting an interesting point of view on the subject.

International Sales and Arbitration: This is probably my favorite class.  It’s a very small group of six people, with four of us trying out for the Vis Moot.  The class is really geared around preparing us for the moot tryout and I feel like we’re learning a great deal about the CISG and beginning to move into the arbitration portion of the class.  Of course soon the Vis packet will come out and we’ll all be working on our briefs and arguments.

Internships: My internship is with DavidsonMorris, Solicitors.  We’re a small boutique immigration firm, with a decidedly family feel to the place.  We’re currently spearheading a judicial review of the interim immigration cap imposed by Britain’s new Coalition Government.  When we’re not working on that massive project we’re helping people and businesses navigate the UK Border Agency’s immigration guidances to receive and keep their immigration status.

I still have separate arbitration condensed class that hasn’t begun, so there’s not much I can report about that.  Over all the classes are informative and I feel I’m learning quite a bit about international and UK law.

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Filed under Autumn in London 2010, Study Abroad

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