Category Archives: Law School Life

Virtual Graduation

If you want to see my graduation, you can watch the whole thing here! Or click on the link and scroll down to see my slide.

It was a fun day! I got to visit my grandparents and learn a bit more about my great, great grandfather, one of the first UW law graduates! 


An Exciting Victory

As those of you who live in Wisconsin probably noticed, yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision declaring the most recent stay-at-home order from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services unconstitutional. From a practical level, this returns the choice of whether or not to open to businesses and communities. From a more esoteric perspective, the ruling preserves due process and the rule of law in Wisconsin by requiring agencies to operate only within the explicit bounds of their legislative authority. 

But on a much more personal level, the case represents the culmination of nearly ten years of effort from the legal foundation where I work.

Almost ten years of lobbying, educating, and brief writing. Almost ten years of cases representing farmers and nurses and others regulated businesses.

All because agencies frequently use more power than the legislature specifically gave them and no one holds them accountable for it. But yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court finally drew a line in the sand. Agencies can only use the authority explicitly granted to them by the Wisconsin Legislature. The Court explained: 

¶51 “To place this contention in context, the reader should note that there is history underlying how courts have interpreted administrative agency powers. Formerly, court decisions permitted Wisconsin administrative agency powers to be implied. See Wis. Citizens Concerned for Cranes & Doves v. DNR, 2004 WI 40, ¶14, 270 Wis. 2d 318, 677 N.W.2d 612. In theory, “any reasonable doubt pertaining to an agency’s implied powers” was resolved “against the agency.” Wis. Builders Ass’n v. DOT, 2005 WI App 160, ¶9, 285 Wis. 2d 472, 702 N.W.2d 433. However, the Legislature concluded that this theory did not match reality. Therefore, under 2011 Wis. Act 21, the Legislature significantly altered our administrative law jurisprudence by imposing an “explicit authority requirement” on our interpretations of agency powers. Kirsten Koschnick, Comment, Making “Explicit Authority” Explicit Deciphering Wis. Act 21’s Prescriptions for Agency Rulemaking Authority, 2019 Wis. L. Rev. 993, 997.

(As an aside, Kirsten is a former intern at the foundation where I work and a friend of mine. She deserves all the congratulations for getting cited!) 

¶52 “The explicit authority requirement is codified at Wis. Stat. § 227.10(2m), which provides: “No agency may implement or enforce any standard, requirement, or threshold, . . . unless that standard, requirement, or threshold is explicitly required or explicitly permitted by statute or by a rule that has been promulgated in accordance with this subchapter[.]” Furthermore, Wis. Stat. § 227.11(2)(a)1.—3., as summarized by a recent comment in the Wisconsin Law Review, “prevent[s] agencies from circumventing this new ‘explicit authority’ requirement by simply utilizing broad statutes describing the agency’s general duties or legislative purpose as a blank check for regulatory authority.” Koschnick, Making “Explicit Authority” Explicit, at 996. The explicit authority requirement is, in effect, a legislatively imposed canon of construction that requires us to narrowly construe imprecise delegations of power to administrative agencies…”

While there are plenty of battles left to fight, this is a victory and one well worth celebrating. 

It was worth wondering if I would fail my final because I had no time to study because I was at the office trying to get the brief finished with my boss. It was worth running the three blocks in high heels because none of us attorneys can get anything done on time without our support staff. (Who are all working from home and not around to help with the jammed printer!) It was worth locking myself out of the building and standing in the cold until the other intern came out to get me, forgot he also didn’t have a key, and so stranded both of us out in the cold. Actually…it was all worth it for the comical, pained expression when I handed over the blood-stained appendix to our brief because my boss stabbed himself with a stapler and we didn’t have time to print out another one before everything closed…

Ugh, just kidding. What an awful day that was. I knew there was a reason I didn’t blog about it. But guess what? It was worth it because incrementally, we preserve the rule of law by drawing clear lines for when an unelected, unchecked bureaucrat can regulate you and when it can’t. And that’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And run in high heels, get stabbed with a stapler, and freeze in the cold. 


Graduation Day

5-years-ago today I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. And today-today I suppose I am graduating with my J.D.

But since they pushed back the graduation slideshow to next Friday, perhaps I graduate next Friday? Or whenever my diploma arrives in the mail? 

It is a weirdly anticlimactic end but I’ve had weeks to process it so it isn’t hitting me too hard yet. It has been nice, though, slowly winding down. I’ve not been as productive as I planned to be but I enjoy not having the crushing pressure of: ‘If I don’t get this done now, it won’t ever get done.’ 

Though today didn’t look like I expected, I want to say thank you to each and every person who made the tumultuous last three years possible ❤ I wouldn’t have survived law school without my strong network of friends and family. 


A Final Book Count

Counting from my first month of law school to now…I have officially read 736 books while in law school. 

737 if I finish The Enchanted April tonight. 

It is a tiny victory, and yet a satisfying one. 


An Unexpected Surprise

Today I got an e-mail informing me a student nominated me as an Honored Instructor! I guess University Housing sends out a survey mid-semester asking who the best instructors are and students get to submit their votes. 

And I got nominated for Integrated Liberal Studies! https://www.housing.wisc.edu/residence-halls/academics/honored-instructors/

The letter notifying me included the student’s basis for the nomination: 

“Amy rocks! She is an admirable instructor. Thank you, Amy !”

 

Feeling super touched and motivated to end this semester well for my students. But don’t worry, it won’t go to my head. I told my sister Bethany about the nomination and she replied, 

“But I feel like you don’t actually have a good relationship with your students.” 

So, you know. Nothing like family to keep you humble. 


Law School Final To Do List (Update 2)

Almost. There.

  • Contract Drafting project
  • Advanced Legal Research paper 
  • Crim Pro final
  • Civ Pro II final
  • Fill out all the externship paperwork
  • Work project
  • Grade 29 student papers
  • Lead the final discussion group
  • Grade student finals

Learning a Semester’s Worth of Class in a Weekend

Why did I think Civil Procedure II would be a good class to take?!

Oh, yes. I kept pushing off the conflict of laws requirement and got stuck with the class because it was the only one being offered my final semester. 

EUH OK GIF - EuhOk EuhOkay - Discover & Share GIFs

New plan for exam:

Image may contain: text


Second to Last Final

*0 minutes into the exam*

I’m not going to study for my next final today.

*30 minutes into the exam*

Wow! I’m feeling remarkably alert. Maybe when I’m done I’ll start studying for my next final. 

*1 hour into the exam*

Well, I’m still doing great. This is going to be such a productive day.

*2 hours into the exam*

Okay, maybe not as energetic. But I could still create a study plan for tomorrow. And that is more than I expected to do.

*3 hours into the exam*

I’m not going to study for my next final today.

*3.5 hours into the exam*

I’m so tired my vision is foggy and I’m even wearing glasses. But I’m done. 

 

Me:

Exhausted Tired GIFs | Tenor

Meanwhile, Bethany:

Dancing girls, ballerinas, people and couples dancing


Study Snacks

Upside to having my sister as a roommate during finals: she cleans and occasionally cooks so I don’t live in squalor and I occasionally eat real food.

Downside to having my sister as a roommate during finals: she eats all my study snacks!

Quote: “It isn’t like I ate your peanut MnMs! And those have been calling my name.” 


A Thank You Every Day of Finals (Just…Not On Here)

I’ve been feeling quite negative about finals this semester–and law school always–so I decided to do something about it. I challenged myself to publicly thank someone every day of finals on Facebook that I would not normally thank but who somehow touched my law school life. 

The first day I chose two classmates who I sat by me my first year of law school. 

Today I chose someone who gave me good advice about law school in high school. 

And honestly, my plan has worked well. Thinking about all the people who cheered me on over the last 3…or 10…years has really shifted my mindset. 

I’m dead tired tonight from work and dreading my final Friday but I’m cheered up thinking of who to recognize tomorrow!