Tuesday, March 23


At YLS we have to do two writing projects. One is called the S.A.W. (supervised analytic writing) and the other is called the Substantial. These projects can start to take over your life and lead you to do things like post a word count on your blog.

The S.A.W. is supposed to be more substantial than the Substantial but my substantial is already substantially longer than my S.A.W. was. My substantial is now over 27,000 words. That’s ninety double-spaced pages with over 400 footnotes. “What’s your substantial about?” you ask. Well it’s about surfing. “What’s your thesis?” you ask. Well, in my current draft the first line of the conclusion is:

“Sometimes surfers get along and sometimes they beat each other up.”

I’m not kidding. My paper deals, at increasingly absurd lengths, with the ‘norms’ of surfing. The first half is about the cooperative norms and the second half is about uncooperative phenomena such as the sometimes brutal phenomena of surfer localism. My ‘law hook’ (not that you really need one at this school) is the interaction between law and norms and the strategies, legal and otherwise, that have been adopted to deal with surfer violence (such as a proposed ‘Open Waves Act’ in California).

Anyway, if you think my topic is wacky I’ve got nothing on Ray. Ray’s S.A.W. was about the Oprah-Franzen controversy. His substantial was about the Booker Prize. He has also got class credit for a screenplay (he pitched it as ‘The Firm meets Fight Club’) and a memoir. All of this while spending most of his time working either on his novel or his Delorian screenplay (hey that’s all I’ve ever seen him working on in the dining hall and student lounge). For those that wonder why people claim Yale graduates don’t actually know any law - it’s people like Ray giving the rest of us hard working folks a bad name.


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