I'm spending this weekend slogging through the drafting of a moot court brief. It's extremely painful and arduous, and it makes me wonder what I was thinking by signing up to do this kind of thing for a living…
I am, however, incredibly well-organized. Vastly more organized than I've ever been on any of these sorts of projects in law school before. Rather than having printouts of articles and cases strewn about, I have them all nicely collated in a binder, replete with tab labels for easy consultation.
I credit my time spent in Germany for this work-flow transformation. I've noticed that Europeans in general – hell, probably anyone not American – have distinctive cultural habits in how they organize the papers in their lives. Lots of plastic folders – and I mean LOTS of plastic folders (no papers are ever NOT in plastic folders…) – and sometimes cute little binders and such.
Yes, Americans do use binders and folders. And some Americans are naturally very tidy in their organizational skills. But not so universally, and not quite in the same way. The binders and folders don't look the same. They don't even FEEL the same. That certain meticulousness for handling these kinds of papers happens much more instinctively in the tactile world of European paper products than in the American one.
Still, having noted the habits, I tried out adopting some of them while I was in Germany. In particular I got a bunch of single-subject binder-folders. Report folders, we might call their rough equivalents in the US, although these necessarily required the papers be hole-punched rather than pinched between those plastic spines of their distant American cousins. And they were cheaper, meaning that people used them more often than they would in the US. Including me! I organized almost all my papers in these tiny little plastic binders that only cost 25 cents each at Budni. And as soon as I'd done so I felt this amazing sensation of bliss, as my papers were now all very orderly and not in their usual state of dog-eared semi-confusion.
I have decided that this sort of fastidiousness should be continued even though I'm back in the US, albeit in a more American idiom using American paper products and such. (I couldn't use European ones anyway since they are all designed for A4 paper.) As a result: my moot court binder. It's truly impressive, if I do say so myself.
I wonder though how long I can keep up this new-found neatness. Perhaps indefinitely? However, I worry that though my personality may finally be ready to permanently absorb this new tendency, it will run into conflict with another part of my personality, namely cheapness. For those lovely labels I used on my binder – those lovely labels that enable that incredibly convenient easy case consultation – were made with the most flimsy of sticky paper tabs that are bound to rip, tear, spindle, and/or self-mutilate in the slightest of breezes. But I used them because I already had them lying around, and I am too cheap to buy new ones before the old ones are used up. The fact that they will completely and imminently self-destruct and consequently thoroughly undermine my noble attempts at organization is not a fact that I choose to acknowledge the existence of. Besides, not only am I cheap but I'm also lazy: buying new ones would have involved leaving the house, and I don't wanna…