The Record Short Story Contest: Conflict of Laws


~ The First Annual Record Short Story Contest Winners ~

Congratulations to our Winner: William Langer. William’s story, “Love and Torts,” will appear next week.

2nd place goes to Gregory Dworkowitz for “Watching the Volleyball Game” and an anonymous submission, “Conflict of Laws.”

At the risk of imputing to his story more significance than its flimsy artistry can bear, the writer asks readers to ponder his words carefully before ascribing to him uncouth motives. The same writer happens to know and love the language of Goethe, and has also known and loved many a LLM.

“Right, so today this wackjob LLM just freaked out.”

“What happened?”

“Oh, it was crazy. Right, so, during class, the teacher is like, ‘Renvoi is incoherent. Renvoi makes no sense.’ And the LLM is like …”

“Ran-what? Ran-mwah?”

“Renvoi. Ren-voi.”

“Is that like dear voyeur? Oh-yez?”

“Menses rea?”

“No, it’s like when one state isn’t sure what, uh, law to apply, so they look at what law another state would apply.”


“It’s like Erie, but more complicated.”

“God, I f*cking hated civil procedure. Tompkins should’ve just gone home.”

“You know what law governs your case, Tompkins? The law of WATCH OUT FOR THE F*CKING TRAIN!”

“The lost (arm) lies where it falls.”

“Ok, ok. The point is, the teacher’s like, renvoi is bullsh*t. But this LLM raises his hand and says” ‘Excuse me, Herr Professor, I believe dee cone-cept of renvoi eez coheerent.'”

“Oooh. Big mistake.”

“Like, hey, professor, could you crucify me in front of the class? And please don’t forget the sword through the side. Thanks.”

“EXACTLY. So the LLM goes, ‘I wrote my dizertation on deez subyect, Herr Professor. I have scientifically dee-duced dee anser.’ And the professor is like, ‘And the answer is…?’ and the LLM goes ‘One must begeen with tthe urly modern notion of state sovrunty …’ And the professor is like, ‘Just tell us what your dissertation said.’ But the LLM is like, ‘Pleaze, you must let me feenish. Eet eez veree complex.’ So the professor goes, ‘OK, finish.’ So the LLM starts going again:

“Now. According to Hugo Grotius the nation-state is the actualized weel of dee people …” and the professor is listening for like thirty seconds, but eventually it’s just gone too far and he cuts Dieter off: ‘Look, you need to come to the point, like, now.'”

“Which is, like, a totally legitimate request.”

“Totally legitimate, right?”

“It’s like, this isn’t your study carrel in Lewis; we’re all sitting here having to listen to your turgid, crappy theorizing. Go eat some Ramen noodles, or whatever lonely LLMs do. You’re going to flunk the NY bar anyway.”

“That’s some real hate you got going on, man.”

“It’s not hate, man; it’s just the law.”

“Which law?”

“The law of the jungle.”

“The law of supply and demand.”

“The law of” “five votes.”

“The law of the unitary executive. Of Guantanamo Bay.”

“The law of ‘heads I win, tails you lose, be-otch.'”

“The law of Rule 403: LLM comments can be excluded because they’re prejudicial to my not falling asleep and they’re not probative of anything.”




“So anyway … the LLM is like, ‘Respect my European wizardry! Long live the UN!’ But the professor is like, f*ck this, I have a class to teach, and just ignores him. But the LLM keeps insisting on being heard out, until his voice starts breaking. ‘Excuse me, Professor! I have dignity! Have you ayver read dee Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Dee autonomy of dee eendividual deemands …’ But the professor is totally in control, wraps the lesson up, you know, renvoi is bullsh*t, case closed, and he’s already moving on to the next person on call, who’s reciting the facts of some multistate train tort. Body parts in every jurisdiction from Florida to Mexico. Etc.”

“So did the LLM freak out?”

“Does he freak out?!? He f*cking goes postal. He starts jabbering at the students on either side of him, who are doing everything they can to ignore him, and then he begins muttering to himself, louder and louder, until he’s disrupting the whole class. ‘So rude, so eenappropriate, I am so shocked, so shocked …’ he keeps saying, but eventually someone shushes him and tells him to be quiet, and he just blows up, jumps to his feet, slams his laptop shut – BOOM! – and storms out of the f*cking room.”

“In high dudgeon.”

“In full retreat, more like it.”

“‘I shall go to Lewis and never leave unteel I have proved you all wrong! Ah-ha!'”

“‘Some day I shall have my reevenge … in The Hamburg Journal of International Law!'”

“And for a second the whole class simultaneously looks at one another, like, thank God that a-hole’s gone.”

“Wow. That’s f*cking crazy.”

“Just wait till next class when he comes back and shoots up the room.”

“A whole roomful of HLS students shot dead. Now there’s a choice-of-law issue- spotter.”



“So what is renvoi again?”

“Just some bullsh*t. You know.”

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