Wednesday, July 11, 2007


What Does Osler Do All Day?

Recently, a student who was interested in teaching someday asked me what, exactly, professors do all day. It was a pretty good question, and made me realize that much of what we do is unseen by our students.

What follows is a rough breakdown of what I do as a professor. It does not include the usual church/family/community things. It also does not include the various hobbies I have, like growing mis-shapen tomatoes, or skiing. Nor does it include various frolics and detours—for example I have published two articles in the Wittenberg Door, a Christian satire magazine, under the pseudonym “Phyllis N. Lewis” (this is true—it was before I had tenure).

1) Teaching

The greatest part of my time, of course, is taken up with teaching class and preparing for class. I have a very heavy teaching load at times—in the Spring, for example, I was teaching four different classes. My teaching has two aspects; first, traditional classroom teachings, and second, critiquing student performances in practice court exercises. During large parts of the year, I am spending 25-40 hours a week just doing that. Baylor, unlike most law schools, has a summer quarter, so I teach nearly the entire year.

2) Pro Bono Work

The past two years, especially, I have done a large amount of pro bono work (400-600 hours over those two years), mostly on cases involving federal sentencing at the appellate level. I have worked on cases in six U.S. Circuits, and two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Where I can, I include students in this work.

3) Scholarship

I usually write two or three articles a year. Mostly, these fall into two categories: Law Review articles, and pieces for peer-reviewed journals (mostly the Federal Sentencing Reporter, the peer journal in my field). I do lots of this at night, since there is not time in the day to get it done. You can see a list of these articles here. Also, I am just finishing a book called “Jesus Christ, Defendant,” which I have worked on for the past few years. This does get noticed, and has been cited in law reviews from Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago and others, and in court opinions including a Supreme Court case.

4) Coaching Teams

I coach one or two advocacy teams a year. This helps me to get to know students better, and improve their skills one-on-one. My teams usually do pretty well—the last five have all ended up in either third or first in their competitions. More importantly, there are a lot of students who got the chance to get better at the craft of trial advocacy.

5) Committee Stuff

I’m on the admissions and curriculum committees for the law school, and I’m the chair of the University’s Civil Rights Committee. The time these take varies—the admissions committee consumes the most time, since we often review lots of files.

6) Blogging

My blogging almost all relates to my work at Baylor in one way or another. I work on three blogs (this one, Law School Innovation, and Religiously Affiliated Law Schools), and contribute sometimes to others, such as Sentencing Law and Policy and Scotusblog.

7) Giving CLE lectures

Together with Federal Defender (and personal Hero of the Law) Henry Bemporad, I train the panel lawyers who represent indigent clients in federal criminal cases in the Western District of Texas. In the past year or so, I have lectured in Alpine, Midland, San Antonio, Waco, Austin, El Paso, and Del Rio.

8) Singing Karaoke at Scruffy’s

Ok, I don’t do that, and I never will. But, I have been there.

This post reminds me of how extraordinarily lazy I am. Especially now that I am blocking off my mornings to watch the Tour de France.

But I do "sing" karaoke at Scruffy's on Wednesdays. But that is after a busy day of not having any class.
Your day does sound busy; however, I offer this as a constructive alternative career path to professorship.

5:30a.m. Wake up when Mrs. CL's alarm goes off to start her 7 to 7 (12 hour shift) at one of the local hospitals.

5:31a.m. Drift off into REM sleep until 7:15 a.m. (This is not to be confused with sleep where REM songs are played repeatedly as a form of torture until the subject wakes up).

7:15 a.m. Pop a Diet Coke and check,,,, and to assimilate all of the relevant celebrity news.

7:35 a.m. Shower, think about what I've learned from the websites and focus on the day ahead.

8:15 a.m. Arrive at prestigious job in spacious, opulent digs and spend 15 minutes dealing with my daily case of the "imposter" syndrome.

8:30a.m. Overcome insecurities, realize I am imminently qualified and review my activities for the day in "Official Schedule".

9:00a.m. Realize how stupid I am for focusing on career successes and spend 30 minutes realizing how lucky I am to get to breathe the same air and share a marital bed with Mrs. CL.

9:30a.m. Deep meditative dive into work prepared for my signature by career law clerk, BU interns and Mrs. CL.

Noon--Lunch with Osler at the Harrington House to discuss whether Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone or Natasha Bedingfield is most relevant British import since 2005. Osler always picks Posh Spice and recommends her photo layout in W. Magazine.

1:00p.m. Prepare for 2:00p.m. court appearance.

2:00p.m. Scowl, scoff, engage, and challenge local lawyers to prove they are truly worthy of calling themselves Baylor lawyers.

4:45p.m. Slither back to opulent office, shuck goth looking outfit and prepare for a sinsational evening with Mrs. CL.

5:00p.m. Thank my lucky stars, pray to the lord and cross my lucky fingers that no one has a camera to catch me singing Karaoke at Scruffy's with Swanburg while RRL watches and remembers days gone by in convenience stores with "El Diablo."

5:01p.m. til nightfall: fun/church/community activities.
CL -

I remember and miss chatting about the latest Perez post at mock trial team practices this spring. I miss even more the bewildered and consternated look on Prof. Osler's face as we did so, particularly during the best and worst of Britney this spring.

BTW - do you ever go to or Those are two other favorites of mine. Tres trashy.

And no, I'm not going to pass the bar in less than two weeks apparently, thanks to my unhealthy obsession with gossip about people I will never meet. I'll see if Perez needs any file clerks.
I've noticed that Law & Order SVU spends about 1/2 the episode following the detectives, and divides the other half 2/3 plea bargaining and 1/3 court. How accurate is that in terms of what criminal practitioners really do?
I'd like to know what TallTenor and Sleepy Walleye do all day, they seem intriguing.
Oh man, I am having the same (bar prepping) problem! Yet, I think we should shun the guilt, because being a lawyer also requires being "current" (as our Juvy Justice prof taught). I think the Bar should have a "current and not dusty events" section. We could write on Lady Bird Johnson, Paris Hilton, those people whose houses were hit by planes, and have a bonus area to just rail on Nancy Grace- that is what being a lawyer (and talking to juries) is really about...NOT TRUSTS!! Okay, back to studying trusts.
You need to fix that Scruff's thing, y'know.

Sing, little birdie, sing!
Yeah, everybody should try karaoke at least once. Or maybe you should have a Practice Court at the karaoke club. That could be interesting.
Where DID Nancy Grace come from, anyway? I was working in India the first time I saw her--had been there for more than two years before I broke down and got a TV--and I just thought, my God, is this what American TV has come to?! Where on earth did they get her? I thought maybe she was like a two-year-old phenomenon I had missed, like "The O.C." or those obscure foreign shows that made their way to Indian TV.
My day (now that the Baylor kids are gone):

9:30 am Get up and quickly go back to bed for another half hour. What was I thinking?

10 until noon: Breakfast

noon til lunch: emails, blogs, internet, newspaper


3 to five thirty: Siesta!!!!

5:30 to 5:35 Exercise. Ick.

5:35 to 10 Relaxing after a hard day's work drinking soft drinks and chatting up the rest of the folks at the terrace.

10:15 Dinner

12 Midnight. Bedtime. I'm all tuckered out.
ok check this out:

This cracked me up!
Ginger - uh...YEAH! Dern bar examiners, testing on the "law."
A Day in the Life of Sleepy Walleye

I get up, get out of bed
Drag a comb across my head
(jaunty piano riff here)

Make my way downstairs and drink a cup
Looking up
I'll notice I am late
(pant pant pant pant)

Cycling shoes and hard-shell hat
I hit the trail in seconds flat
Twenty miles down the pike
I pedal my bike
Then I fall into a dream

I wake up automatically EVERY DAY at 4:30 AM (for some reason) in my bedroom, and look over to find a three year old fast asleep. He starts out in his bed every night, ends up in ours.

I get up get everyone ready and jump in my little car and drive said toddler to preschool. On the way there I answer millions of questions: Today: "What is a Starfish? Do planes make a squeaky noise?" " Mommy can you call Winnie the Pooh on your phone? Call him now, okay? I want to talk to Winnie the Pooh. Please call him, Mommy."

Then I go to work in someone else's bedroom, where most days there is a two year old named Naked Nate asleep in that bed. Apparently he sleeps in his parents' room a lot because his 8 month old brother snores. These toddlers are seriously running the show.

Then I get to work encouraging targeted consumers to make an investment of professional lighting in their outdoor living spaces. In other words, I do everything with the lights except install them, including order them, remind Matt to do stuff, design presentations... its just lights lights lights, but I like it like it like it. NO nerds anywhere in sight, no SUCCESSORIES, no TEAMWORK posters.

Then back in the white Toyota,(which I LOVE now, because it is not a BARGE like the stupid Expedition was) to preschool, then to Target or someplace armed with a list on flourescent index cards (these run my life also), then "Whats for dinner?" Then read his favorite book: "AT THE HOTEL LARRY" which is about Polar Bear named Larry that lives in a hotel. For some reason we need to read the SAME books and watch the SAME Winnie the Pooh movies over and over and over and over and over again. I could recite from memory that freaking Heffalump Movie.

Then we TRY to get the kid to go to bed, then get all the stuff ready for the next day, throw in some laundry, hit the fake Tivo for two seconds and then pass out, only to do it all the next day.

Despite a blown up house, living in France, psycho sitters and Donut, I am still pretty happy. Even the fake Tivo is not terrible.
Still enjoy reading the blog Prof. Osler (guess now that I'm official, I legally obliged to refer to you as Mark)

- Roger Gordon ('04)

1. Mrs. CL Clearly a Goddess.

2. Amy Winehouse I get... Posh spice I do not.

3. you forgot some sites:

4. PerezHilton SO SCARY but I read it anyway and try to ignore his "play by play" marks on the pics

5. sinsational is my new favorite word.

6. Osler reads W???? I mean I knew he was a true fan of People, Redbook, Us, LegoMan Weekly, Oprah, Martha Stewart Living, Mother Jones, Vegan Times, Cat Fancy, Cooking Light, Vogue & Better Homes & Gardens, but I had no idea he read W.
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