My year as a Gator in Review

July 9, 2012

It’s funny how things can change so quickly. In my first post I wrote:

At least that’s the plan, and I’m 99% sure I’ll be in Chicago in the Fall getting a Masters in Law in Taxation (LL.M.).

I was so sure that I sent $750 of what little money I had to Northwestern to hold my spot in their program. But here I am now, a week away from finishing my LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida. At first I was reluctant to move down to the “South.” I had never visited Florida before, didn’t know anyone in Gainesville, and most of my notions of what life was like down here were taken from the Waterboy. It’s silly I know, I just wasn’t sure what to expect. But with less than a week before I board my flight to New York, I find myself more anxious about saying bye than I have ever in my life. Maybe it’s the fact that I am now finally leaving school and starting work, or maybe it’s because moving to New York means I won’t be in California with my family. What I do know is that the friends I’ve made here in Florida made this year very special, and I’m saddened that they won’t be a part of my life anymore. So here’s my year as a Gator in review. Good bye, it’s been great.

The first time I stepped foot on Floridian soil was my first day of class. I missed my orientation because my good friend Tina got married on that Saturday, and after a night heavy drinking and dancing my parents woke me up the next afternoon to so I can pack and get ready for my red eye flight to Gainesville, FL. I was nervous about starting school and I can’t sleep on flights, so when my flight finally landed in Gainesville Regional Airport I was dazed and confused. Sleep deprived, I hailed a cab, and up pulls up a 1990 Dodge Caravan painted Gator Blue and Orange with an overweight man in jean overalls behind the wheel. I thought for a second about waiting for another cab with a driver who didn’t look like he would kidnap me and chop me up in his log cabin in the woods, but I was too tired to care and by that time he had already grabbed my bags. The rest of the day was a blur. I walked around campus running errands in 100 degree heat and humidity, and by some miracle I took the best ID photo I’ve ever taken in my life. (Wow that was a long photo caption).

I ate a lot.

Italian Gravy. Short ribs, meatballs, and other good stuff.


Cuban Sandwiches at Chris and Melissa’s.

This is Missy and Chris, they fed me a lot. (Also pictured, Annie).

Food, beer, and SEC football! Not sure why I’m holding binoculars…

420 Munchies… yes there’s a chain in Florida called 420 Munchies. Look it up, It’s only open from 4:20pm to 4:20 am. Anyone know what the deal with that is?

My roommate purchased a lot of cakes for me. This one was for passing the New York Bar Exam. For those of you who know me, I don’t like cake. But roommate loves cake, so he used every occasional in my life to buy himself cake. “Happy Birthday, here’s a cake.” “I don’t like cake.” “Ok, all for me!” I had “Yea you’re back from winter break” cake, “You got a job” cake, “Thanks for taking out the trash” cake, etc.

I went to a few Gator games. No photos from football games because I had a shitty Blackberry then. They were great. SEC Football, nothing like it, but you were right Andrew I don’t care for the Gators like you do your Bears. Grad school of a grad school, right?

I went to Gator Growl (Pep Rally). The Goo Goo Dolls played.

And there were fireworks.

During my time in Gainesville I attended a small korean presbyterian church.

Very small. Not pictured is the choir, but this is pretty much what it was like 10 minutes into praise. Everything was in Korean. I attended because I thought I could improve my korean, but Sunday mornings just ended up being iPhone time. But I met a young couple with a kid that made my Sundays.

Here he is with his dad.

But they moved away like most people who study in Gainesville. They left the week I was in New York, church never was the same afterwards. I eventually stopped attending.

Besides eating and drinking, I did a lot of this –

That’s Chris and Tomas. Tom’s my Memphis friend. To everyone I’ve mentioned “my memphis friend” to, that’s him. Yea…

More studying…

Yea… I totally understand all that…

People take their SEC football pretty seriously down here. “Go Hogs” on a wedding invitation.

This is Tom with his girlfriend Annie, arguing, Tom does that a lot. She probably sees me more often than she’d like to. She also feeds me a lot. I guess she’s alright…

“No, you eat that slice!”

Here are some dogs I met…

But this dog is special…

Tipsy, Tom and Annie’s German Shorthaired Pointer. I love this dog like she’s my own, and I think she loves me the same.

When I dog sat her I let her have as many treats as she wanted, including potato chips. Sorry Tom.

I played a lot of Starcraft 2 with my roommate until my laptop broke.

But not this much, geez…

My time away from Gainesville was great too.
I went to the beach…
Had In N’ Out…
And hung out with PiPi.
I also saw my friends…
James, notorious heartbreaker during middle school.
Jeff, breaking hipster girls’ hearts left and right. (Also pictured, Charles, not breaking anyone’s heart).
Drafted my championship winning fantasy basketball team this night.
My beautiful hometown.
Redondo Beach, CA.
I also went camping. I love camping.
Good times…
How many guys does it take to start a fire?
Jeff and his tattoos…
Of course I also hung out with my family…
Good looking guy huh?
My baby sister. And of course…
I also went to New York.
Cause this guy was getting married…
So before he entered into legal slavery we took him out for one last hoorah!
Wolfgangs… drool.
Saw these guys again…
And this guy…
Nothing much happened after winter break. I went to D.C. and NYC for spring recruiting, and came back empty handed.
Then a few months later I went back to CA for my brother’s graduation.
B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Thank you for making a contribution to society that I as a tax attorney take away. I’m proud of you.
There’s nothing like family.
Then I was off to New York for a wedding!
Sam, my roommate throughout law school.
Yes, it was freaking hot.
The wedding.
Jane photobombing.
I also secured a job when I was in New York.
Where I sat before my interview. Bryant Park. Thank God.
4th of July fireworks in Tom’s backyard.
Again, it’s been great! Good bye Gainesville.

After having fi…

March 9, 2012

After having finished the Hunger Games Trilogy, I thought I should bite my teeth into something more substantial for my next read. My roommate, a liberal Floridian who bravely drives around “Southern” Florida with an “OBAMA” bumper sticker, suggested I take a look at the Audacity of Hope by our current President. There are lots of great gems in his autobiography, and I’m confident his writings will rise to the ranks of literary greatness such as Fredrick Douglass and W.E.B. Dubois (my favorite Reconstructionist authors). I have already posted an excerpt which has caused me to think deeply about my life and has subtly changed who I am this year, 2012, and I’m sure there are more to come as I approach Audacity’s last pages. However, one thing I wish to mention now about Obama’s life is that he had received a lot of help to get to where he is now. I don’t know why, but I sometimes think that Obama won the 2008 election all by himself. With just his speech, his singing, and his dancing. I sometimes find myself idolizing Obama. The coolest President of the United States of America (with Clinton as a close second). But he almost didn’t get to the White House, not without the support of others. This is all obvious, duh. This is just me, inspired by what Obama wrote in 2006, and learning that even great men need the support of others. No man can be great alone. I’ll just leave this post at that. 

A few words from Obama’s “Audacity of Hope”

February 18, 2012

… talk is cheap; like any value, empathy must be acted upon. When I was a community organizer back in the eighties, I would often challenge neighborhood leaders by asking them where they put their time, energy, and money. Those are the true tests of what we value, I’d tell them, regardless of what we like to tell ourselves. If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values, if we aren’t willing to make some sacrifices in order to realize them, then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all. By these standards at least, it sometimes appears that Americans today value nothing so much as being rich, thing, young, famous, safe, and entertained.

Six Months Later

November 16, 2011

Seems like the last few posts have all started with some form of “A lot has happened in my life…” I guess that’s what happens when one posts once every few months, not days. Again, because it would take far too long to describe what has happened in my life in detail, I will resort to bullet points.

  • First of all, I passed the NY Bar! Yes! And I will do an analysis on it later when I have time or wish to procrastinate.
  • I’ve decided to attend University of Florida over Northwestern. Living in Florida has been great. Again, I will write more about this later.
  • I guess that is all.

Quick Update Part Deux

June 9, 2011

First of all, I’m back in Redondo Beach, CA. What a wonderful place. Sometimes I wonder why I left. If there was a Redondo School of Law, I definitely would have gone there. Yesterday night I stood in the middle of my street and looked down at a long row of street lights glowing in silence. It was serene.

Graduation was great, pictures to come.

Bar prep isn’t going well.

Tonight I went for a jog as part of my holistic bar prep approach. “Fit mind, fit soul, and fit body.” It didn’t go well. I ran maybe .25 miles, gave up, and walked home. A bit discouraging, but it’s all about baby steps. Any notions I had about being able to run 6 miles today was insane, no one goes from zero to full press.

That’s all for now. More to come later, I think.


May 23, 2011

So I met a few more subletee candidates, all who were interested and not crazy. One of them even offered to pay more than my asking price. He was a summer associate at a NY law firm that pays him 3000 per week, my 1200 per month rent is less than what he makes in 3 days. More money would been nice, but I thought the best subletee would be the Yale Med student. Working on a fellowship at Sloan-Kettering, I imagine he won’t be in my room often. I gave him a chance to match the law student’s offer, and he did, so the apartment is his.

In other news, I started my online bar prep today. Today’s lectures were mainly about what to expect and general advice on how not to go crazy. I have 63 days til the most important exam of my life, so while I’m happy to be graduating, my relief is short lived. However, I look forward to moving back home to study for the bar. Home cooking, In N’ Out, and Mexican food.

No Risk, No Reward

May 19, 2011

As a future tax professional, I don’t know how to feel about Paul Daugerdas and the demise of his firm Jenkins & Gilchrist. To those not familiar, Daugerdas was a tax lawyer who joined Jenkins in 1998 which was forced to close shop in 2007 because of Daugerdas’ tax shelter practice. On one hand, his work “inspires” me…? (I hesitate only because I wouldn’t want a Character and Fitness committee to stumble upon this post and assume I endorse someone who has been indicted for tax fraud). I don’t know. What he did could be deemed unethical (I’ll leave it up to the jury to decide), but tax shelters are extremely complex and require expertise. He was able to use his modest education, hustle, and make $95 million in fees (for himself, in total he billed around $267 million) in four years! There’s something admirable about a non-ivy guy (DePaul graduate) “making it rain.” But he did get caught, brought down an old Texas law firm (est. 1951), and is about to be convicted of tax fraud in a matter of days. However, one reason why I love taxation is its creativity – the challenge of pushing the Code to its limits. But did he go too far? Well, he still maintains his innocence. It seems fitting that I’m writing here right now instead of studying for my ethics exam. After a semester’s worth of Professional Responsibility with Prof. Yarosefsky and two seasons of the Good Wife, I’ve come up with one take away, the ethical practice of law is a give and take between being fair and zealously representing your client. But let’s be honest, ethics practiced in reality is played out differently. It’s like when I first starting learning how to play hockey in middle school. I asked my coach if hitting my opponent with my stick was a foul. He said “Chang, only if you get caught.”

C’mon ESPN

May 19, 2011

He closes out one game and he’s suddenly “The Closer”? C’mon ESPN. You are ridiculous with your pandering sometimes.


May 18, 2011

Why am I subletting my room for the summer? I don’t have wealthy parents and I’m broke. It sounds bleak, but finding a subletter has been interesting. It’s like online/speed dating. I receive email inquires with a short description of themselves and what they’re looking for, and I email back those I’m interested in. I send photos of my room and a little about myself. Then I make appointments (dates) to show them around Stuytown and my apartment. I walk them out, and hope they’re interested. Some instantly want the apartment, others need to think about it, check out other options. I’ve been fun, a bit stressful, but a good stress. At least people are interested. With 5 more appointments on Friday, the following people seem interested:

  • Female NYU Business Major who doesn’t know what a personal reference is. Ditsy. You’re not getting the apartment.
  • Female BU 2L interested in public interest. Kind, one of the front runners.
  • Male Yale 2nd year Med student. Dorky, but looks responsible. Showed him the place via Skype. Also a front runner.
  • Female HBS graduate, Mckinsey, late move in. Volunteering with nonprofit. Currently in 1st place.
Up ahead are a few law students, finance people, and a start up founder. Hopefully no crazies.

May 18, 2011

It’s 5:13am in New York, and I’m having trouble falling asleep. I usually have trouble falling asleep, but I’ve got it bad tonight. Well, lately it’s been pretty bad. I’m taking my last law school final on Thursday, and I’m anxious about the future. I’m going to be a tax lawyer. At least that’s the plan, and I’m 99% sure I’ll be in Chicago in the Fall getting a Masters in Law in Taxation (LL.M.). I feel a bit uneasy about the move. It’s only a one year program, but I’ve grown so accustomed to New York these past three years. New York is not the easiest town to live in, but I’ve figured out the City. Moving in Manhattan doesn’t scare me, I’ve done it without movers twice in three years. I know where to pick up UHauls, and I have a group of friends who would spend all day helping me move for Korean BBQ. But Chicago, I don’t have the slightest idea about… anything. I’ve visited before, for a weekend, and I thought it was a pleasant midwestern city. Also known as the “Second City,” I admit that I found Chicago a bit too homogenous for my taste, but not enough to prevent me from sending a $750 check to Northwestern. I’ve heard good things about Northwestern Law and their Tax Program, but it’s another year of school with another years worth of tuition. New furniture, new friends, new city. With the bar exam looming ahead, I think I’m going to use a broker to find a place. I’m not sure where to look, there’s Streeterville, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, River North, etc. These “boroughs” mean nothing to me, I can’t even generalize what they’re like. At least with NYC I can make assumptions about the boroughs (Manhattan = NYU students and Yuppies. BK = WASPy, gentrified, and Biggie? Queens = immigrants. SI = Snooki. Bronx = Hood.).

Hope things work out.