A Timely New Look in Vanderbilt Hall

by Sarah Higgins

There are new digital clocks in Vanderbilt Hall, which are a noticeable change to the Law School’s oldest facility. During winter recess, New York University School of Law building operators installed twenty two digital clocks throughout the building. Why? According to Professor Barry Adler, Associate Dean for Information Systems and Technology, the main reason for the digital update was to synchronize time in the building.

Many students have back-to-back classes, with only 10 minutes to move from one class to the next. Said Adler, “If the clocks in each classroom are off, even if only by two or three minutes, if they are off in opposite directions, ten minutes between classes can become, effectively, four minutes, not enough time.” The new digital clocks in Vanderbilt are a purported solution to this problem, as they can be synced more easily.

The Law School spent some $10,000 on the project, which took about two weeks to complete, according to Lillian Zalta, Assistant Dean of Operations, Housing, and Administrative Services. This is the latest attempt to synchronize time throughout Vanderbilt Hall. In the past, the analog clocks that formerly sat sentry in each classroom and hallway were battery operated. It would become problematic when the clocks lagged behind or stopped working altogether. This led to complaints from professors, since building operators were unable to maintain the pace of repairs for the old, analog system.

In a first attempt to solve the problem, the Law School IT Department connected the analog clocks to the building’s Power over Ethernet (PoE) system. As Building Manager Montey Thames explained, “The clocks receive their time input from our internet insuring that all clocks present the same time.” When the building used analog clocks, “they had to convert the data signal to mechanical movement.” As the clocks aged, the internal mechanisms began to wear, causing some clocks to experience a lag. Said, Zalta, the PoE-backed clocks “were reasonable, and they worked for a few years, but they started failing.”

Because the new digital clocks do not have moving parts, the IT department is hopeful that synchronization and maintenance will become easier. Aesthetics were also a concern, and building management worked with IT in an attempt to choose clocks that best fit the olden look of Vanderbilt and that didn’t make the space seem to techie.

The clocks have been met with mostly positive reviews from students. Second-year law student Sarah Hsu says, “I really like them. I like that they’re at the front of the class and digital so, I can sneakily look at them.”

Kushner Lounge is the only place in the Law School next scheduled to receive these new clocks. Thames says that building management “will continue to look for ways to improve quality of life for all professors, staff, and students,” and the IT department is working on installing a POE connection in the lounge to add a digital clock.

The clocks in Furman Hall do not run on PoE. Instead, they are synced via a centralized time controller, and received direct line power from the building. So, as of now, there are no plans to bring digital clocks into Furman Hall.

Introducing: Scandal Day O’Connor

Hey, Greenwich Villagers. No, this isn’t Gossip Girl—Blair Waldorf may have gone to NYU for undergrad, but she wouldn’t be caught dead in the law school after snagging her Mrs. degree.

You may be familiar with my predecessor, Truth Bader Ginsburg. Back when The Commentator was in its prime (as in, still published in print), Truth was NYU Law’s original Dear Abby, a snarky voice of reason in a cacophony of legalese. But, like all good things (The Commentator included), Truth moved on, graduating from NYU Law and taking with her the entertaining gossip and advice this place had come to know and love.

Luckily for you, what’s old is new again. The Commentator has been revived, and there’s a new justice in school. Someone needed to pick up where Truth left off and scandal begins—and I’m happy to oblige.

It’s a new year and a new semester, and with that comes a certain amount of reflection. But, rather than make a New Year’s resolution that I’ll almost certainly break within the next week, I’ve decided that this year, I’m allowing myself to regress.

After all, as law students, we’re constantly pushing ourselves to overachieve academically in preparation for our impending legal careers. We’re treated as wise beyond our years in class; told by professors and law firm partners that we’re the next generation of influential legal minds; assured that, quite soon, we’ll be the ones pulling the societal strings. And yet, at the same time, we live in this bizarre social bubble where school-sponsored binge drinking occurs on the reg; where 30-year-olds can live in dorm rooms without feeling shame; where section-cest happens at alarming (and entertaining) rates. Sure, we graduated from undergrad a few years ago—but that doesn’t mean we have to act like it.

So for now, I’m going to embrace the past until the moment I’m dragged into big law by the weight of my student loans. Retro is in, people. The theme of this year’s Fall Ball? #TBT. The biggest album of the year? Taylor Swift’s 1989. A Friends reunion is happening. Netflix is rebooting Gilmore Girls. I’ll take all that as a sign the universe wants us to make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young (#FreeKe$ha).

And finally, down to business. To set loose the inner gossip in all of us, I need your help, my fellow law students. Have a question about law school hookup etiquette? Overhead something at bar review that made you blush? Send me a question or a tip at lawcommentator@gmail.com. No identifying names, please (I’m not a cruel mistress).

Until next time,

Scandal

#3MonthsLeft: Third Year Soliloquy

Written by Rucha Desai, Columnist

There are 90 days left until graduation. For some, that means only 90 more days of searching for old outlines, of posting political tirades on Coases, and of running late to class because the Monday schedule is arbitrarily moved up ten minutes. For others, it means only 90 days of ignoring the loud Mamoun’s consumption in the library and racing to The Cave for a spot on the couch.

For me, this means there are only 90 days left to be a student. That is, 90 days of discoveries and rediscoveries, of expected unemployment and unexpected audacity, of embracing and cherishing and being energized by this beautiful city. There are 90 days of unbilled, unmeasured time in a race against the clock.

So, instead of #3LOL, I am #3MonthsLeft. I will chronicle one experience—old or new—every week, for three months, to uncover the little treasures this city has to offer (outside of Vanderbilt Hall).

Last Saturday, I discovered wintertime Hamptons. To celebrate my friend’s 30th birthday, we took a party bus tour of the Hamptons through First Glass Wine Tours. The bus was stocked with water bottles, ice buckets, and red solo cups filled with nostalgia. We unapologetically blasted Justin Bieber’s new album on a loop as we rode from Midtown East to our first stop, Raphael. The winery had a wooden, warm tasting room with high ceilings, live music, and a view of untouched, snow-covered vineyards that reached the horizon. For $11, I tasted four Long Island wines, ate a thick grilled cheese sandwich with hot tomato soup, and took selfies against the immaculate terrain (after aggressively judging girls who take selfies).

Everything was clean, white, and simple.

Excitement levels heightened, our next stop was Baiting Hollow, where older blond women were dancing in celebration of each other and the winery’s live band played 90s pop covers. In the midst of a fierce debate about boy bands (Backstreet Boys versus *NSYNC), we had one bottle of Riesling and one bottle of cabernet franc, with a creamy spinach artichoke dip that was grossly lacking in salt. We finished our bus tour at LIV – not the club in Miami, but the distillery on Long Island. For $10, we tasted potato vodkas infused with sweet fruits, with espresso, and with nothing. We swished, we clinked, and we sipped.

And the clock struck midnight (6 p.m.), so we had to run back to our coach (mini party bus) before it turned back into a pumpkin (charged us a penalty).

Our souvenir tasting glasses in our pockets, we climbed back onto the bus. Disco lights blaring, we rode back into Manhattan, playing aggressive rounds of Heads Up and eating the complimentary cheese from Raphael that we stuffed into take-out containers. We reached Manhattan, and the crew dispersed – to the DL, to Caliente Cab, and to respective studios, where the jubilance and freshness of the day’s events allowed a deep, untroubled sleep. A familiar dread about Sunday’s activities began to creep over me—the antitrust reading, the dishwashing, the weight training—but I was able to fend it off for just a few more hours, nibbling on my last bits of cheese and swiping through my selfies against that untouched, white, immaculate terrain.

Dear 1L: You Survived Your First Semester of Law School. Now What?

By David Wang

Dear 1L,

Right now, you’re uncertain, stressed, and anxious. I know it’s easy for someone who has already been through the baptism by fire that is 1L to say this, but as former Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent vowed in The Dark Knight, “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”

Now, I’m nowhere near as charming as Harvey Dent, but he’s right. There are many moods post-1L semester that permeate throughout the class: anxiety, elation, relief, disappointment, and doubt. These are all normal feelings, but I hope you’ll take it from someone who’s been there and back: the game is nowhere near over yet. So, here are a few tips and tricks to help you navigate the second semester, passed down by classmates and friends:

1) If you are disappointed with grades, start from the beginning. Contact your professors to see if you can come review your exam and ask about areas for improvement. You may be surprised by the feedback, but it is important to conduct this “post-mortem” to understand exactly what you need to do to improve. Of course, each class is different by content, but look for transferrable test-taking and studying skills you can apply to your future exams.

And if you’re concerned about EIW, the best thing you can do is to finish the semester strong academically. I firmly believe that it’s not about how you start, but how you finish. An academic record with a significant upward trend is an amazing comeback story to tell at EIW. It shows humility, self-reflection, and most importantly, perseverance. So, put EIW in the back of your mind and concentrate on the keys that will unlock the kind of EIW you want.

2) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Outside of regular class attendance and office hours, you should look into the great tutoring services provided by the law school, free of charge. Your tutors can work with you on a one-on-one basis on both specific class content and general exam preparation strategies. Sign up here.

3) Please do not panic based on the clamor around the student body about 1L summer jobs. Internship opportunities and offers roll in at different times, and some of my friends with the coolest experiences did not hear back until May. You alone control your own fate, so ignore the noise and look for the best opportunities for you. If you need help, please contact alumni, 2Ls and 3Ls, or the Office of Career Services (OCS). We’re all here to help!

4) Talk to someone. 1L year is already overwhelming. Now add to that the fast-paced playground that is New York City. If you ever need to talk with someone outside of the law school, NYU offers free counseling through Counseling and Wellness Services (212-998-4780). Sometimes, it can be really helpful just to air your frustrations or discuss your concerns confidentially with an independent third party who won’t give you advice from a law school perspective.

Prefer to talk to someone you know? You’d be surprised how calming it can be     just to hang out with friends outside of the NYU Law bubble. Chances are, you’ve     let some of your past relationships slide because of the insane workload and     endless stresses of law school. Use this opportunity to reconnect with old friends and get a fresh perspective.

5) Continue to dream. There are only so many ways to say “Never give up!” without sounding cliché.  We all came to law school for a variety of reasons, but whatever your reason is, your dreams are valid and nothing else matters. Need inspiration? Check out this remarkable story about US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s 1L grades in The New York Times.

I’ll end with a quote from Randy Pausch, late author of The Last Lecture: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” So, play strategically, play smartly, and most importantly, play true to yourself. Expect as good as you give. You may not have been dealt a royal flush, but do not forget: the dawn is coming.

NYU Law Foodie’s Guide to Cheap Eats: Best Place to Put Someone in the Friend Zone

Written by Katherine Tandler

Maybe you’re hungry in the library and she just asked if you want to grab some food? Maybe he asked you out and you need to take control of the situation? Or maybe you’re interested in fostering a friendship and want to make sure you give off the right signals? Whatever the reason, you need a good local place to eat that says “Friend Zone.”

Clearly, the area around NYU Law School is rife with culinary options. Not all of them, however, will accomplish the delicate task at hand. Most notably, you don’t want to find yourself in a prolonged, white-tablecloth situation. Yet there are also other things to look out for.

For example, Saigon Shack, an excellent meal under different circumstances, would not be a good choice. The inevitable queue will prolong your time together, thus increasing the opportunity for them to swoop in with “date-like” conversation (beware of all questions about your life outside of law school). The long line will also highlight the fact that the place you’re going to is extra-special—something worth waiting for that you want to experience with an extra-special person.

However, you also don’t want to make the mistake of going too casual. If you head to a location that is primarily a bar (like Thunder Jacksons) or that is known for its cocktails (e.g., Carroll Place) you run the risk that the experience will become “drinks”—a common first date move. Likewise, I need not remind all you Bar Review denizens that drinking alcohol can lead to a loss of inhibitions\…and you don’t want to end the meal having done precisely the opposite of what you set out to do.

Speaking of inhibitions, you’ll also want to avoid the myriad Macdougal Street establishments that are casual, but cramped (Turkiss, The Kati Roll Company, Meltkraft, etc.). Close quarters could give your non-date an excuse to get a little too close. While of course you can (and should) always tell that person to back off, the best way to emphasize the friend-zone-ness of the situation, without embarrassment, is to avoid close proximity at all costs.

I haven’t yet mentioned the most friend-zone threatening moment of any meal: getting the check. Clearly, the friend-zone-friendliest move would be to split the bill, since you don’t want that person to be able to say they “took you out.” To make this a little bit easier, consider choosing a restaurant that is cash only (and bring cash). Doing so makes it more likely that your suitor will not, in fact, be able to help pay at all. Even if they brought cash, it’s at least somewhat unlikely they will have enough to cover the whole bill. Problem solved.

My final vote? The NY Dosas cart in Washington Square Park. It’s quick and cheap—which sends good signals—not to mention delicious and filling. Because it’s outdoors, there’s no excuse for unwanted touching, and you can easily find a well-populated, unromantic place (e.g., Kushner/Golding) to enjoy your meal. Plus, it’s cash-only and they don’t sell alcohol. Go forth and break some hearts!

Introducing the Lifestyle Section

Some of the best advice given to first-year law students (aka 1Ls)—who are eagerly looking for the code to crack the mystery of law school—is to remind them that prior to stepping foot on NYU’s campus (well, walking down public streets and entering the Halls of Furman and Vanderbilt), they had a life that consisted of hobbies, interests, and other pastimes. The people who seem to do the best in law school, and the ones that are the happiest doing it, are those who have found a way to maintain themselves despite urges to become the no-social-life having, always-in-the-library law student.

Thus, the Lifestyle section of The Commentator serves to provide a forum that addresses the non-law aspects of your life. We will bring you creative pieces written by your peers, fashion blogs, spoken word poetry, health and workout tips, and just about anything else you want – whether it’s fit to print or not! (Editor’s note: just kidding – it will totally be fit to print.)

Our primary goal is to encourage you to maintain a healthy work-life balance. But we also want to create a safe space where you can express yourself. Help us prove that law students are not only some of the smartest people you will meet, but some of the most creative as well.

Introducing Our Paper

by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to The Commentator, NYU Law’s official student newspaper. We chronicle all things related to New York University School of Law and its students, faculty, and administration. The Commentator presents its content in three sections: News, Opinion, and Lifestyle.

The News section will keep you up-to-date with the latest happenings at the Law School. Opinion will feature students lending their voices to the pressing issues of the day. And in the Lifestyle section, students are invited to share their creative energies with the world.

The first version of The Commentator was a student-run, print publication at NYU Law. Renowned for its wit and biting edge, it was distributed biweekly in a black-and-white, tabloid format. Our new incarnation of The Commentator will be online-only. This allows us greater flexibility in getting news and information to our audience faster. It will also allow us to experiment with and better incorporate photography, video, and social media.

If you’re interested in writing for us or would like to share your thoughts or feedback, contact us.

We hope you enjoy our company. Visit often and stay awhile.