While returning from a trip in Washington D.C., Elura and I hatched a plan to stop in Baltimore for a crab lunch.  Visions of the crab smashing scene from a Few Good Men wafted in our imaginations, as we approached our crabby destination.  A quaint restaurant, nestled in what was arguably one of the worst neighborhoods in Baltimore.  We parked our car next to an abandoned television set, and ventured inside.

A quick scan of the menu, however, shattered our dreams.  $62 for a dozen crabs seemed beyond what we were willing to pay.   With our faces heavy we proceeded to order sub-par seafood offerings, while our neighbors at a nearby table sent back their entrees.  “Hmmm” we thought, “wonder what the problem is…”.  Suddenly, across the room, a dozen crabs arrived at a table for two.  We joined our neighbors in envying the couple who had decided to take the plunge.  “If we could only be like them”, we thought.  Suddenly a plan was hatched.  Recognizing the longing stares of my entree-challenged neighbors, I proposed a deal.  Yes, my dear readers, I approached two complete strangers in a crab restaurant, people with whom we had no other discernible commonality other than a love/longing for crustaceaous delights, and a desire to make this lunch successful.  I made my proposal.  “Fellas” I began, “I know we’ve never met, and this is beyond weird, but I was wondering if you might like to go halfsies on an order of overpriced crab?”  They snapped at the chance.

So there we sat, the four of us, proud of our ability to overcome social/economic/appetite barriers, happily enjoying our crab feast, putting our mallets to work, raising a claw to our peers at the table across the room. Triumphant, we were!  For here, in some shitty part of Baltimore, four people made something magical happen!

Why? Why does this matter?  Why have I taken the time to share this story with you, my dear reader?  Well first, to inspire those to reach across a dining room to the next table and make a friend.  Second, to show you all, how easy it is to call on a neighbor and propose a mutually beneficial solution to a common problem.  But finally, I offer this story as proof that we, Elura and myself, are not assholes.  Not the annoying sales people offering goods and services no one wants or needs.  Not evil tricksters who practice “soliciting under the guise of education”.  Not the kind of people who are used to receiving mean emails, phone calls, or comments on our on-line contributions.  No, we are two friendly chicks who are so friggin’ easy-going and nice, that two complete strangers decided to share dinner with us.

Yes, we brought crabs to complete strangers as a gesture of friendship.  But we also wish crabs on those “other” complete strangers as a gesture of revenge.

It’s been a tough week for the ladies of Lawyer Up.  After being invited by a law professor to come and help some 1Ls tackle the beast of civil procedure, a snarky 2L TA decided to unilaterally cancel our speaking engagement, citing that he just doesn’t like “being subjected to a companies sales pitch under the guise of education.”

Hopefully, he can get that whole grammar-punctuation thing straightened out before graduation.  But more importantly, it really bothers us that anyone, snarkfaces or otherwise, think that we’re doing anything “under the guise of education”.  The truth is, we’ve written some books, we’ve worked with thousands of students, and we’ve developed fantastic teaching methods. We want nothing more than to ease the pain of law school in a way that lowers everyone’s blood pressure and raises everyone’s grades.  There are no guises.  There’s no bait-n-switch. It’s just help. Plain and simple.

As luck would have it, though, this week’s schedule brought us to one of our favorite campuses — Howard University School of Law.  And guess what we found there? A group of friendly, super-smart, ultra-dedicated, and generally cool 1Ls.  We made some friends, we did our Civ Pro thing, and we made plans to come back.  After working with law students for a decade, Howard always manages to revive our spirits.  Not only are the students incredibly welcoming to us, but more importantly, they’re wonderful to each other.

This is what the legal community is all about, folks.  In a few years, you won’t be students anymore.  You’ll be lawyers, and just as your clients will need you, you’ll need each other.  A solid, family-like network is invaluable, and the folks at Howard seem to have learned that even before IRAC.  Nice work, guys. We can’t wait to come back!

The phenomenon called “I’ll-justing” is something we see time and time again with law school students.   In October, we see the overconfident 1Ls who say, “I don’t need law-school tutoring. I’m just gonna see how I do on my own”.  OK, genius. The only problem is that “seeing” how you do on your own is like gambling with your GPA.  Sure, there are some students that understand The Erie Doctrine and promissory estoppel the first time around with no help whatsoever.  There aren’t a lot of those guys, but hey, here’s hoping that you are one!

The biggest problem for 1Ls is that they usually have no cohesive plan for studying. That, plus lack of familiarity with exams, with a splash of study-group mania and probably a small-section romance, is a recipe for sheer disaster.

Our advice? Give us a call. Then, you can avoid all the study groups and hook up with whatever section mate you choose. We’ll get you together with our law-school tutors, you’ll get an A, and next semester, you’ll be the person who they’re all talking about.

Simple. Because it sucks to high Heaven.   But if you try to see the drama in it all, it may help.

Picture it: There you are, going about your business in Wyoming, when WHAM. You get sued in Wyoming Federal Court!  Your arch-nemesis from high-school, Penelope McShnausenstein, has decided to sue you for that hair-remover-in-the-showerhead stunt that you pulled on prom night.  You’re in law school, so you read the complain and yell “HAH! I KNOW ALL ABOUT STATUTES OF LIMITATION! Too bad for you, McShnausenstein! You missed your chance to file by five years!”.

But oh NO! Lurking in the background is a special Wyoming state law that extends the statute of limitations by an additional ten years for all torts committed on prom nights.

What can you do? Can you escape this law? After all, Federal Courts in other states don’t acknowledge this weird Wyoming law… who can help?

Enter the Erie Doctrine. There’s a chance that the federal court will be permitted to ignore the Wyoming state law in your case.  On the other hand, the federal court might be forced to apply that state law.

It all depends on how things play out once we apply the Erie Doctrine.

Doesn’t that sound more exciting than balancing tests and arms ripped off by oncoming trains?

Before the lawsuit….


I’m no soothsayer, but something tells me there’s a lawsuit a’comin….

Yeah, we hear it a lot.

You’ve always been a good student and you’re trying to continue to do so, as you follow the advice of every professor.  They all stress IRAC or CIRAC or whatever acronym du jour they’ve come up with.

But it doesn’t work.  And why? Let us be the first to enlighten you.

You’re doing it wrong.

Stop wasting your time trying to figure out why you’re doing it wrong.  Instead, focus on what you should be doing.

You should take NO notes that aren’t in your own words.  You should NEVER refer to your parties as “Appellant” or “Respondent” in your notes.  You should abandon the four-color method of separating issue from facts and so forth.

You should take 2-3 sentence notes on each case in your own simple language. You should focus on WHY you read the case. You should start with a good skeleton outline and you should add to that outline every single week. Need materials? Need step-by-step instructions? Call us. We’ll walk you through the process. And it’ll work.

Because we know how you should be doing it.

You guys are in law school. You’re young. So you probably haven’t seen this movie. But take a minute and watch this clip.  It’ll remind you that there are eternal truths.  And one of those truths is that there is a way to do it and a way to screw it up.  We know the way. And we’ll tell it to you.

So this is the time of the year that we both love and hate.  We love the first-semester-I’m-living-my-dreams sort of excitement.  We love that everyone is wearing their new back-to-school clothes. We love that it’s time to give away freebies and meet lots of new people.

But we hate the snarkiness.

We hate the looks as the students pass us in the cafeteria that say, “I don’t know what Laywer Up is, but I’m quite certain it’s nothing I need.”

And we especially hate the comment (always made with requisite eye-rolling), “if you’re smart enough to get into law school, why on earth would you need a tutor?”

It’s not that we’re oversensitive.  It’s just that we’ve been around this block more than a few times.

We know what’s coming.

In another couple of weeks, midterms will be finished.  And then, the proverbial shit is going to hit the fan.  Suddenly, the confidence will dissipate and turn into a mild concern about the real meaning of proximate cause or the Erie doctrine.  People will get a little quieter in the hallways.  And tensions in study group sessions will rise higher than anyone ever thought possible.

And we’ll still be there.  Finally, everyone will realize that law-school tutoring is not like coming after school in fifth grade to practice your spelling words.  Law school tutoring is not for the dumb kids.

As November gets closer, the reformed snarks will do the walk of shame back to our signup tables.  They’ll have realized that the smart kids have been working with tutors all semester long, and that they have a plan for what to write on exams.  They’ll see future law reviewers leaving their tutoring sessions with a look of calm that juxtaposes eerily with their own look of sheer panic.

But don’t worry. Our shark doesn’t bite.  When those guys make their way back over to us, we’ll greet them with a smile that doesn’t say, “we remember you.”.

International Shoe v. Washington

326 U.S. 310 (1945)

IGNORE:  Feel free to disregard all facts related to “Free On Board,” employment tax, or anything you find really confusing about the shoe industry.

The International Shoe Company was based in Missouri.  It didn’t operate shoe stores, but rather operated by having traveling salesmen host “shoe shows” at various hotels.  The company would send one shoe of each pair to a bunch of salesmen in Washington.  Then, the salesmen would have customers come see the shoes, touch them, caress them, and hopefully, order a pair in their own size for themselves.  A customer would place orders with the salesmen.  A few weeks later, the International Shoe Company would send the shoes, as well as the bill, to the customers at their homes.  Wondering why a shoe company would do business this way, as opposed to just opening a shoe store in a local mall?  As it turns out, the head honchos at the International Shoe Company were pretty clever.  By doing this hotel-shoe-show thing, the company avoided having an official business location in Washington, which saved the company money.

The State of Washington saw that the International Shoe Company was making big bucks off this whole hotel operation, and it wanted in on the action.  So, the State of Washington sued the International Shoe Company for unpaid taxes.

The defendant (the shoe company) complained about having to defend a lawsuit in Washington when it was a Missouri company and it had no offices or stores in Washington.  The defendant argued that without offices or stores, it could not be considered “present” in Washington.

The plaintiff (the State of Washington) argued (and the court agreed) that because the International Shoe Company was making money from customers in Washington, the company should be treated as if it were physically present in Washington. Therefore, personal jurisdiction in Washington was proper.

This created a big question, and a bigger headache for courts…and now for you — namely, how do we answer the question, “Where is a corporation going to be ‘present’ for jurisdictional purposes?” But don’t worry.  The Supreme Court came up with a good system to work it all out.

THE POINT: The Supreme Court set up an entirely new framework to be used whenever personal jurisdiction is the issue in a case. This framework is still alive and well today!

Want more explanation of cases and concepts, along with study recipes, writing exercises and inside tips? Check out our new book, Legalese to English: Civil Procedure, available at

That sentence, uttered by hundreds of 1Ls in September, is almost universally followed by this, in January:

“I have no idea what happened in Torts. I thought I knew everything and I got a C.  I must have studied too hard”.

Here’s the truth, people. It’s hard.  Seriously. It is.  If you’re not getting what’s hard about Torts, it’s because you’re not clear on what you will be asked to do on your final exam.  Ready for a big whopper of a secret? No one is going to ask you, “What are the four elements of negligence” on your final.  No one is going to give you a hypo where Ed hits Fred on the head with a bat and ask you “was that battery?”.

You’re going to be given a hypo that kinda-sorta looks like a tort but kinda-sorta doesn’t look like that very same tort. You’re going to be asked to write a coherent essay explaining the strengths and weaknesses of a potential claim.  You’re not going to be asked, “What does the Learned Hand formula say?”.  Nope. You’re going to be expected to know where the Hand formula fits into an overall negligence analysis.  And not only will you need to know that information, you’ll need to be able to explain that information in a way that actually makes sense.

So what’s the solution to Torts, the Silent Killer of 1Ls? It’s simple.  Start writing. NOW.  Get an idea of what your final exam will look like. And start to write an answer. And when we say “start”, we don’t mean two months from now. We mean today, people. In September. But we won’t leave you all on your own. We’ll help you, every step of the way.  We’ll give you the writing exercises to do. We’ll give you the understanding you need to do them.  And we’ll help you correct those exercises into the most beautiful exam-answer templates imaginable.

And then, when you’re on line in the cafeteria listening to the jackasses behind you saying “I’m not worried”…. you can just grin.

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