Making Work Work for…Something

Note: This series is fictional.

On his way home from OPIA, Fenno flipped through The First-Year’s Guide to the Law School’s “SPIF” entry:

A pretty good deal. The Law School would prefer to cultivate a public image as something other than a factory mass-producing cogs in the machines that support the powerful, and so in that weakness and desire to throw the public off its scent HLS rounds up enough dough to keep first-years in grocery money during the last two months of meaningful professional activity most of them will ever experience. From here, it’s all shuffling money from one corporate monolith to another, so grab that funding and spend a summer making an insignificant contribution to the greater good.

That’s all well and good, but the trick, as Fenno was quickly realizing, was figuring out what sort of job to use that sweet, sweet cash towards. Because, as it turns out, the first year of law school doesn’t exactly point the uninitiated in any particular direction. To wit:

Scene: Civ Pro Professor’s Office; afternoon

Fenno: So, I think I actually like Civil Procedure. What does that mean? What do I do with that?

Professor: Well, maybe you should think about litigation.

Fenno: Alright. But that seems pretty broad; any tips on narrowing it down?

Professor: I’d recommend focusing on litigation that involves claims one party brings against someone else.

Fenno: I’ll show myself out.

Flipping through job postings wasn’t much help; wholly unqualified for anything interesting, wholly uninterested in anything plausibly attainable. “Think networking,” one friend suggested. “I found a gig through my mom’s ex-husband’s accountant’s niece’s job with this nonprofit in DC—it’s that easy!”

Fenno’s “network” consisted primarily of people in their fifth year of “writing my dissertation—no, really, it’s finally coming together.” These avenues did not prove fruitful w/r/t the employment issue.

And so it was with typically ambivalent thoughts in the back of his head that Fenno, a bottle of something brown in tow, cornered Chevy for a bit of serious mentoring.

“I don’t think I’ve ever asked you what you did over your first summer. Ice?”

“Unsanitary. Just pour.”

Fenno poured.

“I was working for this clinic that tried to help dance crews manage their intellectual property. Cutting-edge stuff.”

“Ah, I think I’ve heard of those guys. Fixation With Representation?” Fenno served himself amply and slouched back on the couch.

“Nope, those are the guys working with sand-artists. So fleeting, their beauty. I was with Step Up 2 Suggestive (Or at Least Establish Secondary Meaning). Cumbersome acronym, I admit. But they do good work.”

“I didn’t know you were so IP-focused. Does your firm do any of that stuff?”

“Not a shred. But it gave me a couple stories to tell in interviews. Did you know Jabbawockeez almost called themselves “B@nderSn@tch,” but their t-shirt printer didn’t allow the use of symbols?”

“Good to know.” Fenno paused. “I guess what I’m getting at is this: how am I supposed to figure out what to apply for when I don’t have anything that could even charitably be called an ‘interest’ or a ‘goal?’”

“Hey man, that’s the best place to be. Just means you can apply for anything, and tell each of ‘em that they happen to work precisely on your greatest passion. Can I recommend something near a beach?”

Seems like as good a filter as any.

“Fenno” is a fictional serial written by an anonymous law student. The main character is always named Fenno and is always a law student, but his or her character changes every school year. This is the penultimate installment of the series for the 2012-13 school year, entitled “Fenno: Mostly Harmful.”

Kong Phooey


Note: This serial is fictional. 

“Kong. Bar Review. Tonight. You’re going.”

Fenno glanced up at Chevy, who had just strolled into the common room with his demanding-face on. The two had met a few weeks back, when Fenno had sacrificed knee-skin to save Chevy from an oncoming Lesley skater; since then, the elder Chevy (sleepwalking through his last year) had taken the 1L under his wing.

“Man, I don’t understand that bar. Why would anyone bother? Last time I was there, I lost a good shoe—stuck to the floor, never could get it free.”

“What, do you have some crucial CRUPAC’ing to do or something? Don’t care. No time to argue. I’m headed to a pre-pre-pregame.”

“It’s 10:45. In the morning. On a weekday. And I’m not going unless you can give me a single reason to head to that bar instead of drinking cleaning solution.”

“Just take a look at the Guide entry. I think I wrote that one.”

“The what?”

Chevy grimaced, grabbed Fenno’s phone off the couch, and started tapping away.

“Here. The First-Year’s Guide to the Law School. Read up; there’s a bucket of gin waiting for me.”

Chevy tossed the phone back to Fenno and wandered down the hallway in search of potable. The first-year looked at his phone, which was displaying the purchase page for the $0.98 Guide app. The other suggested apps on the page were all at least $0.99, so Fenno took the plunge.


The First-Year’s Guide to the Law School was a most remarkable app, containing everything a bushy-tailed liberal arts kid needed to know to survive 1L in Cambridge. Some of the entries were even factually accurate. The Guide had come to dominate the app-store market for such things, crushing the competition led by the Encyclopaedia Cambridgia for two main reasons: For one, it was slightly cheaper. For two, the home-screen icon was helpfully emblazoned with one block-lettered word: “PANIC.” (If there’s anything a 1L’s good at, it’s panic.)


Fenno searched for “The Kong.” The entry lit up his screen.

The place where every night seems to end. Teams of Cambridge’s finest scientific minds continue to study the strange, gravity-like pull of The Kong, a pull fully active only after 11:30 or so, but each time they end up so hammered that they have to repeat their research again the next night. The current team has been working seven nights a week since 2001; as of this writing, they have made no progress. 

Fenno tapped the “Layout” link.

Three floors. The ground-floor restaurant is a fine place to punish yourself for any wrongs you have/will have committed in any present, past, or future life. Kong “food” is currently considered an illegal torture device by every nation except North Korea and the United States. Try the wontons. 

The second floor, best as anyone can tell, is devoted solely to standing in line for the third floor. While you wait, be sure to enjoy a Scorpion Bowl or five—the contents of the Bowl remain a mystery, though in recent times a consensus has formed that the recipe involves some combination of turpentine and Juicy Juice.

The third floor had its own sub-entry.

You might have thought hell was underground. Think again. The Kong’s third floor is the perfect place to ease your burden if you tire of carrying your dignity around all day. The strange, viscous substance coating the floor is the envy of defense contractors around the globe, all of whom are seeking a more tightly gripping polymer with which to bind warheads to missiles. The third floor remains Harvard Square’s premier destination for listening to horrid music while watching people “dance” like they’re trying to rid themselves of subcutaneous parasites. Highly recommended.

Fenno pulled up the “Bar Review” page next.

Nine out of ten people who own Two and a Half Men on DVD agree that the “Bar Review” name is still a hilarious pun. The HL Central-run event regularly devolves into a mad scramble for precious drink tickets, which confer upon their holders the power to not bother tipping bartenders. A must-attend for anyone who has to sit through Torts.

Next he tried searching “HL Central,” but the Guide only returned an “ENTRY NOT FOUND” page. Fenno shrugged. Chevy was right: he had to go to the Kong tonight.

“Fenno” is a fictional serial written by an anonymous law student. The main character is always named Fenno and is always a 1L, but his or her character changes every school year. This installation is part of the series for the 2012-13 School Year, entitled “Fenno: Mostly Harmless.”

Fenno and the End of 1L (Part 8 of 8)


Note: This serial is fictional. 

Fenno skipped out of class, his step light. He had finished his 1L classes. The past year was suddenly a blur: it had humbled him, challenged him, shouted him down, shook him to his very core, revealed to him the horrible inconsistencies of the law… And yet it was over.

Not quite over: there were three more grueling and  tedious weeks ahead. Three weeks later, he would feel an even greater sense of accomplishment wash over him, after he had completed his last final. He would run wild with his section the last real night of his 1L year, feeling finally like he belonged with his imperfect section mates, each strange and impossible to discern, just like him.

There were so many uncertainties still in Fenno’s future: Would EIP bear fruit for him? What would he do after graduation? Where would he end up living?

Yet those questions could wait. In fact, Fenno began to take comfort in their mystery. The fact that so much of his future was yet undetermined wrapped Fenno in the knowledge that he was still growing, still changing, still open to revision and improvement. His uncertainty was no longer an ailment to be cured, but a badge that he would carry with him for the rest of his life, as he continued to learn and adapt and appreciate all those unanswered questions and discovered new unanswerable ones.

But, today, he had finished his 1L classes. And that little victory was something to revel in.

“Fenno” is a fictional serial written by an anonymous law student. The main character is always named Fenno and is always a 1L, but his or her character changes every school year. This installation is part of the series for the 2011 to 2012 School Year entitled “The Uncertain Fenno, 2011 to 2012.”

Fenno and the Prisoner of Concord (Part 5 of 8)


Note: This serial is fictional.

“Look, man, I really need your help,” the Prisoner of Concord pleaded. Fenno tried to remain unswayed. Prison Legal Assistance Project received dozens of such pleas a week. Fenno had joined because the time commitment, an hour a week, was negligible and the gaping white space on his resume demanded to be filled. But it was hard, to sit in a room and answer phone calls from prison, and say again and again that there was nothing he could do. He imagined the Prisoner of Concord, trapped in his little box, asking some clueless kid miles away for help.

A few days later, he was on his way to Concord. Fenno had taken the case because he was tired of waiting. He was tired of reading about and talking about and thinking about being a lawyer. He wanted to be one already.

Cambridge quickly receded into the grey winter textures of suburban Massachusetts. The prison rose from the ground, brick and concrete heavy on the earth, fences tearing at the sky, guard towers anchoring the atrocity to this world.

Fenno was run through metal detectors and buzzed through doors and ordered through hallways before he finally reached the small booth where the Prisoner of Concord had been brought before him. The Prisoner of Concord had stepped right out of a bad prison movie, his light blue jumpsuit ragged, tattoos grazing his worn face, and his hooded eyes hollow.

The Prisoner picked up the black phone on the other side of the dirty plastic pane separating him from Fenno. Before Fenno even picked up his phone, the Prisoner began to spew his story. He was not a bad person, the Prisoner of Concord explained, but life brings us where we are with little regard for such trivialities. The Prisoner rambled on about his life, prison, and how he found himself facing a disciplinary violation for merely for not hearing a guard’s order to get back to his cell. Fenno absorbed it all, fascinated, his ears delighted to devour words that were not related to grades, firms, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or outlines.

Fenno left the prison feeling free. He had been so overwhelmed by 1L that he had somehow forgotten the rest of the world and all the strange and wonderful people in it.

“Some of these guys are here for the rest of their lives, so they’ve got nothing to lose. They just want to make it hell for the rest of us.” The guard said on Fenno’s way out, and Fenno saw that he was trapped too.

Back on campus, Fenno worked on his motions to dismiss and for the first time in a long time, he remembered why he came to law school.

“Fenno” is a fictional serial written by an anonymous law student. The main character is always named Fenno and is always a 1L, but his or her character changes every school year. This installation is part of the series for the 2011 to 2012 School Year entitled “The Uncertain Fenno, 2011 to 2012.”