Friday, December 24, 2004

LIFE - It's Christmas Time

One day "home" for the holidays I already want to go back to Chicago.

Sheila and I woke up at 6:30 in the morning today in order to get me to O'Hare in time to catch my 9AM flight to New Jersey. I landed on time and my parents picked me up in Newark Airport.

We still had a couple hours to kill until my sister arrived, so we hit the Jersey Gardens Mall. Talk about insanity. I bought new shoes. I also got a hat that will go well with my new Camarilla Requiem LARP character's costume. Because I am that much of a geek.

Eventually, we made it back to my grandparents' house. I got to see my dog. He's awfully spry for a 12 year old dog. Teddy appears to have none of the hip dysplasia that plagues many pure bred chows. I went to dinner with my sister, her boyfriend, and the parents. He remembered me and we gave him his traditional Christmas gift, a prime rib bone from the New Orleans Steak House.

I got to see my grandparents, which was a big plus. They're actually my mom's adoptive parents - Scottish and Irish American. It used to be lots of fun introducing them. My grandfather was a machinist and had a shop in the basement of their house. The machines are slowly disappearing. The lathe is gone, sold. The milling machine is sold and paid for, but still in the garage. It'll be weird to see empty space where these fixtures of my childhood once were.

My grandmother remembers us, even if she doesn't recognize us on the phone. Though I don't think she remembers how old my sister and I actually are. Short term memory isn't so great these days. It's depressing. But the house was decorated just how I remember it. There was tea and pleasant conversation.

Then I got together with Wei, probably my best friend from the New Jersey years. We talked of plans. My hopes for a law firm, his new job running web projects at the United Nations. Vague discussions of dating. We visited Teresa, and old friend from high school that I haven't seen in a decade.

I'm ready to go back to Chicago. I'm ready to go home.

Though many of the people are still here, something just seems absent from the holidays. Part of it is that we no longer really have a "home" to come back to. My parents sold the house my sister Elaine lived in from 1989 until we each left, me for Columbia, then Chicago, and her for Los Angeles. That house brought us together. Now there's just my cousin's townhouse across the street from the mall where we all hung out and their new house out on Allentown, PA, where he'll be moving with his new wife to be, Alicia.

I like Alicia. She's a nice woman and she's done wonders with Kelvin. She's turning him into a real, honest to God man. But for me, the holidays are about family. I just can't make it include all of her relatives, who I don't know and couldn't recognize in a police lineup.

We didn't even go to church with my grandparents. What the hell is that all about?

As I've said before, I'm not a religious person. But still, Christmas services were always a time we spent with just the family: parents, sister, grandparents. That didn't happen.

Tomorrow, we're going to Allentown to spend an entire day in a house full of strangers.

And then everyone is coming back to the townhouse, including the relatives from Toronto. Did I mention that this place only has two bathrooms? And one of them is attached to the master bedroom?

Is it any surprise that I don't want to be here?

Something tells me that I'm not going to get nearly as much done as I wanted to.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

LIFE - The Holiday Party

Well, it's over. The last of the leftovers are in the fridge, the last of the dishes are in the cabinets, and the last of the guests are on the road. The house is finally quiet.

The menu turned to be utterly spectacular, thanks in large part to Michelle, Sheila, Dave, and Jamie. We had:

Rotisserie Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Yams
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Creme Broulet

The fridge is full of leftovers, even after 20 people stuffed themselves. We all enjoyed a weekend of rest.

Mike, Lis, Laney, Dave, Brent, and I spent nearly four hours watching the extended Return of the King. As good as the theatrical release was, this made it even better. Everyone should look for the Easter Egg on disc 1. Like the previous two, it's hysterical.

Just about everyone else learned more dirt on each other playing Never Have I Ever. As usual, Jamie captured some of the fun on his ever-present digital camera. I'll post them when I get a hold of them.

I really had a nice time. Not that there wasn't drama or anything, but that's hardly new. That being said, Dave and I are really enjoying the quiet time. We're having lunch with two other friends later tonight, but for now I'm just happy to sit and relax without anyone else around.

On the subject of drama...

I haven't been a particularly religious person in awhile. Though I consider myself to be Christian, I have become sadly disillusioned by venom-spewing hatemongers like Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and their wingnut cronies. Regardless, I like to believe that someone is out there who is better than we as a species have been able to become.

This time of year, I always come up with some questions for whoever or whatever is up there. This year, it's all about my friends. I feel like I'm OK. There's some uncertainty in my future, with the possibility of losing my job, the risk of opening up a law firm, and the looming bar exam, but I think I can handle that.

If there is anyone or anything out there watching over the world, stop fucking with my friends! These are good people! Leave them the hell alone!

You know who they are. Please, back off them.


Friday, December 17, 2004

LIFE - Homes for the Holidays

Sometimes, I hate the holidays. This satuday, Dave and I are hosting our holiday party at the apartment, here in Chicago. It's going to be crowded and noisy and will probably leave the house a disaster area, but it will be fun. The menu looks like:

Mashed Potatoes
Vegetarian Casserole
Pumpkin and Pecan Pies
Creme' Broulet (I probably spelled it wrong)

There might be more. I'm not sure. Lately, if it doesn't involve the February 05 bar exam, it doesn't stay in my brain very long.

Next week, there's the family thing.

I love my folks. I really do. But sometimes, it's really hard to like them. Fortunately, I have lots of studying to do. I may be hiding behind my books an awful lot this christmas.

Dave always says that you have two families: the one you're born with and the one you choose. The truth of this statement is never more apparent to me than Christmas time.

Sometimes I think I should have my birth family over for Christmas to meet my new family. And that always scares the hell out of me. At heart, I care about my folks very much and I have no idea how they would react to some of the decisions I have made in regards to my personal life. Could they handle Dave? What about the fact that I am also incredibly attracted to Sheila?

Anyone who knows the Dysfunction Junction crowd (Dave, Toby, and Benjie) will know that they've been extremely supportive. But I'm afraid that I don't even know my own parents well enough to predict how they would react.

As much as I like to keep things simple, life certainly has a way of getting complicated.


I am always looking for new and better opportunities. My goal is to establish a private legal practice that focuses on intellectual property, privacy, and technology issues. I also want to continue to advance my education and pursue additional opportunities for legal scholarship. Please feel free to contact me for more information or references.

James Lai

6142 N Kenmore Avenue, Apt. 3
Chicago, IL 60660


Degree: Master of Laws (LLM) in Information Technology & Privacy Law
Graduate Dissertation: Presented and orally defended thesis on First Amendment implications raised by the use of copyright law to restrain speech.
Journal of Computer & Information Law: Candidate, Executive Board Member
IT & Privacy Moot Court Competition: Judge, Problem Committee Member, Brief Grader
American Bar Association: Developed web site providing resources on the use of technology to deliver limited-representation legal services. Voting member of committees on new technologies and online copyrights. Participating in development of papers for presentation and peer review. Member of subcommittee developing the IP section's position on file sharing and the MGM v. Grokster appeal.
Copyright Society, Midwest Chapter: Member, Copyright Awareness Month volunteer

Degree: Juris Doctor
Honors: University Scholarship, CALI Award for Copyright Law
Graduate Assistant: Research, cite checking, and copy editing for At Freedom's Door, by Prof. James Underwood
Intellectual Property Law Society: Member

Degree: Bachelor’s of Science (Biology)
World Tae Kwon Do Association: Assistant Instructor


Contract Attorney: Legal research, drafting memoranda and orders, direct client contact, negotiation assistance, and preparing discovery.

Certified Research Specialist (June 2004-Present): Performing research tasks through LexisNexis Research On Call. Drafting traditional legal memoranda containing tables of contents, statements of facts and issues, analysis, conclusions, and tables of authorities.

Lead Case Law Editor (April 2004-Present): Analyzing federal and state court opinions for legal precedent, edited and classified core legal concepts, wrote case law summaries, performed quality review of teammates' work product, and managed employees in mentoring group.

Law Clerk: Legal research and writing, including briefs submitted to South Carolina Appellate Courts, preparing appellate oral arguments, and reviewing client files to develop litigation and settlement strategy.

Legal Intern: Researched eyewitness reliability issues to develop problems used in training prosecutors and wrote parts of courses on prosecuting computer crimes.


JOHN MARSHALL JOURNAL OF COMPUTER & INFORMATION LAW: "Does Your Boss Own Your Brain? – Case note on Alcatel USA, Inc. f/k/a/ DSC Communications v. Evan Brown" (Spring 2003). Cited in "Does Your Employer Own Your Thoughts," (Slashdot, Your Rights Online, 08/04/04). Cited and interviewed by Jeff Nachtigal in "We Own What You Think," (, 08/18/04).