Best 3L “Paper” Ever – Learned Handmade Plates


Klein’s Heart of Atlanta Hotel Plate
Klein’s Grimshaw Plate

Even before the administration liberalized the Written Work Requirement this year by including seminar response papers and clinical work product as potential sources of credit, one often heard about 3Ls who had gotten some friendly member of the faculty to sign off on some crazy footnote-free project: three chapters of an autobiographical novel or a documentary about the homeless guy outside the Mass Ave CVS or something. But this year’s trophy for creativity goes to 3L Jose Klein, who’s made an extensive collection of meticulously crafted plates featuring Supreme Court justices and famous law school cases, using the kind of kit first-graders use to make “I Love You Grandma” plates during craft time. They cover topics like habeas corpus, punitive damages, the commerce clause, and the 1st Amendment. Bonus: they’re dishwasher-safe.

Klein, who somehow got Professor Richard Parker to sign off on this venture, sent us the official explanation of the collection, printed below. Can you imagine eating your roast chicken on a Schechter Poultry plate? Scallions atop Scalia and aioli on Alito? Why were we dumb enough to do a 40-page paper?

At the Kaufman Dinner, Professor Martha Field was overheard suggesting that if Klein got famous and sold a million Justice Souter plates, the added attention might force the publicity-shy Souter to quit the bench. We’re don’t actually think he’s going to sell quite that many, but if that’s the consequence of every home in American having its very own depiction of Gonzales v. Raich on which to place its munchies, we’ll just have to soldier on without our favorite conservative-turned-liberal justice.

Explains Klein:

“As a collection, the Learned Handmade Plates represent an album of the American Law School Experience. The plates are snapshots from the core of law as it is taught. Most law students have been expected to memorize most of the cases depicted here. They have been evaluated on the basis of how well they can reproduce the information these cases contain. Twice a year, the American Law Student binges on these cases and others like them, ravenously cramming them into their minds, only to purge them out again onto the pages of a final exam. Once the exam is submitted, the cases begin their precipitous dissolve.

“The Supremes on the other hand, remain. They have established permanent settlements in the imagination of the American Law Student. They are fetish objects, things to be held in adulation and contempt, to be stared into but never penetrated. In this sense, the Supremes are oracles.

“To the American Law Student, though, the Supremes are also the stuff of fantasy sports leagues. They are to be ranked across a spectrum of categories and then drafted onto imaginary teams as law students match wits on the vicarious gridiron of the so-called water cooler.

“But of course the Court itself is not a sports league. The decisions reached shape the scope of our freedoms and obligations. The plates ask the eater/viewer to engage with the law as it is made by judges. They turn the act of eating into an act of civic engagement.”

You can purchase the plates through

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