Update, 2004
- by Alice Marie Beard

Yes, this Camp Fire Girl is now a law school grad.

My adventure was an unconventional way to start at a law school ranked 82nd and finish at one ranked 38th. It was like being behind by several touchdowns at the end of the first quarter, but managing to win the game: I was lucky and would not recommend the game plan to the faint of heart.

The differences between the two schools were dramatic. For me, the new school was a good match. I found a real community willing to accept this middle-aged femme au foyer.

In addition to the usuals, I survived Law & Economics, Administrative Law, Business Associations, Commercial Paper, Evidence, Wills, Domestic Relations, Negotiations, Federal Election Law, Legal History, and a couple of legal clinics. I had front-row seats at the Supreme Court at oral aguments for a case dealing with Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Our professor had written one of the amicus briefs, and he arranged reserved seating for us. I wrote about the annulment of the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, and I read about the legal scholar who wrote, "One ought not to have so delicate a nose that he cannot bear the smell of a hog." And, no, he wasn't a Hoosier. It was Sir Edward Coke.

In Law & Econ, we learned, "The glue that holds the deal together is surplus on each side," sort of like a jelly sandwich. In Admin Law, we learned to bet on government agencies because of Chevron deference. In Business Associations, it was "the business judgment rule." In Commercial Paper, we learned that it's the words "to the order of" that make an instrument negotiable. In Evidence, we learned that "liar" is not a legal term; instead, we "impeach a witness" by proving that she made "prior inconsistent statements." In Wills, it was -- as with any contract -- that a valid will requires (1) capacity or a court-appointed guardian ad litem, (2) no undue influence, (3) no fraud in the inducement, (4) no fraud in the factum, and (5) no fraud on the court, and that in a case of adult adoption between adulterers, the solution is to have the adoption ruled void ab initio. In Domestic Relations, we were reminded that marriage laws are by individual state -- that what is a "legal marriage" in one state may not be the same in another, and that the feds stay out of the argument unless things rise to a violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment. Loving v. Virginia (1967).

In Federal Election Law, I learned that I must be reading a Bill of Rights different from the one read by the Justices behind the majority decision in McConnell v. FEC. The lengthy opinion reminds me of the words, "The lady doth protest too much." [NOTE: McConnell was largely overturned by Citizens United in January 2010.]

During my 2nd semester at the dream school, I saw a connect-the-dots situation that could create an endowment for the law school. I emailed the idea to Dean Daniel Polsby. He didn't laugh, and he didn't dismiss the possibility. Instead, he wrote back, "Tell me whom I'd need to talk to." I pulled together information about how university endowments work, learned from research that the endowment should be at least a million dollars, and gave the information to the person I knew who knew the people who could put the deal together on his side. The man I knew doesn't live in a world of million-dollar endowments; he wears 20-year-old shoes and hand sews patches on the knees of his 30-year-old Army pants. The nice thing about such men is that you can be plain spoken with them. I reasoned that we're all gonna die some time, and an endowment could help carry on his life's work. Eight months after I first contacted the dean with the idea, the million-dollar endowment was a done deal.

No law school can change the reality that the stresses and pressures on returning homemakers differ from the stresses and pressures on young law students.

my sonLate in 2002, my son was hit by a car. His thigh bone shattered into four pieces, and an inch of bone was pulverized into dust. Ten hours after seeing him come out of surgery, I had to stand and deliver oral arguments in a pretend scenario based on the Bakke, Hopwood, and Grutter cases. My son is a U.S. Marine who survives on raw guts and a titanium rod in his left leg. Four days after the accident, he got to the polls to vote in the 2002 elections, and 18 months later he completed a 31-mile hike in under nine hours.

my daughterAlso since I began at the dream school, my daughter has grown up. We went prom dress shopping together, and I was one of the rare parents at "senior beach week," a Maryland custom for graduating high-school seniors. She learned to parallel park well enough to get a driver's license; then she banged up the car enough times that the price of car insurance quadrupled. But, she learned how to grow up, and I learned how to let her grow up. She spent a summer in Ecuador, completed an associate's degree, and transferred to the state university. She still lives at home; I still interview the young men in her life, and she still ignores my opinions. We're still working on my believing that she's "all grown up."

Although I am far from the best mom, my son and my daughter always have been the most important part of my life. When I was a young girl, I didn't dream of being a lawyer; I dreamed of being a mom. My kids joke that I should market myself as "Momma Beard: Ready to save your kid's butt, or help you kick it if you have to."

Next up? The Bar Exam. Like many law students, I filed for character and fitness approval while still in law school. Along with finger prints, credit reports, and driving records all the way back to when the real Hoosiers coach taught me how to drive, the Bar examiners wanted five character references. Whoever saw my application must have chuckled: Three of the five who vouched for my character have known me for more than 45 years. We all graduated from high school together, and I'm the self-appointed news maven for our high-school graduating class.

The Bar Exam is a two-day event. The first day will be six hours of essay questions. The second day will be the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE): six hours for 200 multiple-choice questions on Property, Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, Constitutional Law, Sales, and Evidence. Here's a description of the test:

"Bar applicants must choose the best answer from four stated alternatives.  There are many instances with two 'correct' answers, but the applicant must choose the better.  Also, some questions will include answers with no 'correct' answers, just one that is better than the other alternatives."

An additional exam I'll have to pass to be licensed is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam: two hours, 50 multiple-choice questions on the "law of lawyering."

My law school journey ended with a J.D. from a law school better than any on my wish list when I began dreaming of law school. Surely God had a hand in it.


Alice Marie Beard,
George Mason University School of Law

Special note to the Owasco-Rossville cousins:
Would one of you please play proxy for me and go down to the Wildcat to set off a 12-gauge in a celebratory blast for this great-granddaughter of Katie Hooker? I'd like to think that she'd smile at my achieving this goal. Check out her cookie recipe!

Graduation photos

Off-site links:


the other parts of
Alice's place:
I. dead people stories
II. live people stories
III. letters home
IV. not a law journal
V. Camp Fire

email Alice


Thank you! Gracias! Merci beaucoup!
Danke schön! Toda raba! Dziekuje!

Thanks are due to an extraordinary group of brilliant minds for my legal education. Each added to the canvas of my life.

These are the people I was privileged to have as professors:
  • Michael ABRAMOWICZ (Yale University J.D.), clerked in the 5th Circuit
  • Amitai AVIRAM (Tel-Aviv LL.B.; U. of Chicago LL.M. and J.S.D.)
  • David BERNSTEIN (Yale J.D.), clerked in the 6th Circuit, and co-authored The New Wigmore: Expert and Demonstrative Evidence
  • James BYRNE (Stetson University J.D.; U. of Penn. LL.M.), clerked in the 11th Circuit, and advised in the 1995 Revision of U.C.C. Article 5
  • Lloyd COHEN (Emory J.D.; SUNY Ph.D.), clerked in the 11th Circuit
  • John COSTELLO (Dickenson J.D.; U. Va. LL.M.), author of Michie's Virginia Remedies
  • Ernie DuBESTER (CUA J.D.; Georgetown LL.M.), Chairman of the National Mediation Board
  • Steven EAGLE, (Yale J.D.), author of Regulatory Takings
  • Norman GILLESPIE, (Stanford J.D.; U. of Wisc. Ph.D.)
  • John HASNAS (Duke J.D.; Duke Ph.D.; Temple LL.M.)
  • Richard IPPOLITO (U. of Chicago Ph.D.), former Chief Economist for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
  • Paul KAMENAR, (Georgetown J.D.), Executive Legal Director of the Washington Legal Foundation
  • Judge Stanley KLEIN, Fairfax Co. Circuit Court (Georgetown J.D.)
  • Donald KOCHAN (Cornell J.D.), clerked in the 6th Circuit
  • Leonard LIGGIO (Fordham Ph.D.) Executive Vice-President of Atlas Economic Research Foundation
  • Nelson LUND (U. of Chicago J.D.; Harvard Ph.D.), clerked for Supreme Court Justice O'Connor, and was Associate Counsel for President George H. W. Bush
  • Michael O'NEILL (Yale J.D.), clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thomas, was General Counsel for the Senate Committee on Judiciary, and serves on the United States Sentencing Commission
  • Alison PRICE (U. of Georgia J.D.)
  • Judge A. Raymond RANDOLPH, D.C. Circuit (U. of Penn. J.D.)
  • Brad SMITH (Harvard J.D.), former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission
  • Judge Dennis SMITH, Fairfax Co. Circuit Court (American U. J.D.)

Thanks to special classmates:
Chad Copier, Joe Decker, John Elledge, Skip Gain, Valerie Hughes, Ana-Marie Ignat, Elaine Mancino, Jamie Martinez, Libba McKenzie, and Kate McSweeny, each whose very name makes me smile.

And heartfelt thanks to Dean Daniel Polsby!

Pain makes man think.

Thought makes man wise.

Wisdom makes life endurable.

The character "Sakini,"
speaking in Joseph Patrick's
The Teahouse of the August Moon

This is the final entry to ONE HELL.
The journey is ended.
Go in peace.

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© 2004, Alice Marie Beard