Please Help Me Name My (Alleged) New Computer

Months and months after I gave up asking for it, it now appears that the Law School is going to give me, in addition to my MS-bound desktop, a Unix box inside our firewall to use as a 'sandbox' to test out various things I think we should be doing in the law school — blogging tools, collaborative drafting and the like. (This development is obviously unrelated to the impending arrival of an outside consultant who is going to evaluate the IT department's faculty and student support.)

So I get to pick a fourth-level name for it, to sit on top of The ordinary naming conventions for law school computers used to be fast cars (e.g. 'spitfire') without thought for any trademark issues, and then cities (e.g. 'Casablanca', 'Chicago') despite the possibilities for confusion with eponymous law schools. I never liked either of those conventions, and I'm told I don't have to adhere to them.

The ideal name might have at least several of the following not entirely consistent properties:

  • Not too long (I type badly)
  • Some connection to the law
  • Not too serious, or maybe even funny
  • Uses a naming convention that could be used for other machines if it catches on
  • Not named after a living person

or, it might be so clever it doesn't have any of them.

My first thought was to pick a legal philosopher, like Fuller (but that's a bit serious). Or a legal concept, like “tort”, but that's potentially confusing since the machine won't be dedicated to that subject, and who'd want to get “bankruptcy” or “domesticviolence”?

Then, I was thinking I might call it “Soia” for Soia Mentschikoff, UM's late great Dean whose ghost is still invoked at faculty meetings, but I'd worry that some here might find that sacrilegious since I didn't know her. Then again, by all accounts Soia never worried about what anyone thought, and as a practicing Legal Realist never followed any rule she didn't like. Accounts differ as to whether she got building permits for the law buildings she built, and the extent to which she complied with them. It's generally agreed, though, that she never had a driver's license, although she drove a car.

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24 Responses to Please Help Me Name My (Alleged) New Computer

  1. UM 1L says:

    What about “litigateway”?
    Corny, I know. Sorry. It was the first idea that popped into my head.

  2. Greg says:

    For my machines, I’ve used gems (typically tend to be short), city names (which you didn’t seem to like), lately, I’ve been using Greek Gods.

    litigateway is pretty funny though.

  3. bobcox says:

    What about famous cases? “dredscott” “marbury” “plessy” “roe”

  4. slim says:

    How about
    “Juan Rico?”

  5. cafl says:

    Fictional lawyers — rumpole, portia (granted, she only wore lawyer garb as a disguise) …

  6. Tom says:

    This has nothing to do with law, but vegetables and fruits give you A LOT of options, e.g., zucchini, pomegranate, sweetpotato, fig, rutabega, swisschard, cherimoya, and so on.

    But on the other hand, it might make people hungry.

  7. pedant says:

    If you want short, you can’t beat one letter names: b, c, f, and s come to mind. Two letters: at, by, in. Then there’s all the in-laws: mother-in, father-in, daughter-in, son-in, sister-in, and brother-in. There are plenty of words to go with law: common, canon, public, lynch, gag, blue, natural, lemon, leash, etc. What about murphys, mendels, ohms, bells, greshams, boyles, etc?

  8. Max says:

    Name them after hurricanes which have actually hit the school.

    No, I’m not joking or making light of the disaster, I’m from the coast of Mississippi, where the use of the name “Camile” shot up thirty years ago. Not too many “Georges” lately, but a name like that would be fine for a webserver.

    And there’d be no chance of confusion, as they are all first names.

  9. Steve says:

    Well, it depends on how many there will eventually be, but if it’s only a few:


  10. Nom says:

    Movie quotes and titles: IamThe, AboveThe, Martial, BeyondThe, Murphys (good all by itself without a theme). There are more. IMDB is your friend.

  11. s_bethy says:

    The Barons who signed the Magna Carta were called Albini, Bigod, Bogod, Bohun, Clare, FitzRobert, FitzWalter, Fortibus, Hardell, Huntingfield, Lacie, Lanvallei, Malet, Mandeville, Marshall, Montbegon, Montfichet, Mowbray, Percy, Quincey, Roos, Saye, Vere, and Vesci.

    Okay, you may not need 24 servers. (And yes, there were 25 Barons, but two of them were Clares)

  12. jason wolf says:


  13. Brad DeLong says:

    I think that warships ought to be named after legal-constitutional concepts. Would you rather be attacked by the “John Stennis” or the “Carl Vinson” on one hand, or by the “Unreasonable Search and Seizure” or the “Clear and Present Danger” on the other?

    For your machine? Marshall, of course…

  14. NJG from NYC says:

    What popped into my head as I read your post was:

    “The only possible name for a bosun’s cat is Scourge.”

    Yeah, if you’re not a rabid Partick O’Brien fan you probably won’t get the joke, but I thought it was funny.

  15. arthur says:

    short law-related words: “dicta” “qed” “res” “seisin” “palsgraf” “marbury” “scotus” “”cert” “certdenied”

  16. Jon Moyer says:

    Medium Lobster.

    To your limited preception, It would seem to have no connection to the law.

    To your limited perception.

  17. earl says:

    How about oxymorons as a naming scheme? There’s a never ending supply. The only problem is they tend to be long.

  18. hedgehog says:


  19. Mojo says:

    Names of “detention facilities” in the war on terror. Their nicknames are generally short (GIs have to say them a lot). They’re starting to become somewhat related to the law (slowly). Although not really funny, the government is certainly not taking them seriously. There are dozens from which to choose and the number keeps expanding. And they’re not named after living people (except the possibly apocryphal Camp Rumsfeld). You could have gitmo, abughraib, cropper, bagram, bucca, and many, many more.

  20. JamesW says:

    What about obsolete crimes: barratry, maintenance, lèse-majesté (though Ashcroft’s Justice Department is probanly working on reintroducing this).
    I liked the barons and the jurisconsults – Trebonian, Grotius, Blackstone, Teitgen, Kelsen …

  21. Njorl says:

    How about famous lawgivers – Hammurabi, Moses, Draco, Solon, Mohammed, Napoleon, Godwin, Murphy…


    Who, What, I-don’t-know, yesterday, today, tomorrow and I-don’t-give-a-darn

  22. Romdinstler says:

    You could call it “George W. Bush”. Both him and your computer will be obsolete 6 months from now.

  23. Michael says:

    Great suggestions, thanks to all.

    “Medium Lobster” is obviously the best choice, but too many of us here are of too limited perception to enjoy it.

    “Litegateway” would not fit a Dell.

    So far, my favorites are Soia, dicta, barratry, Murphys, and Marbury. Tough choice!

  24. thomas says:

    why not go with greek mythology, as a naming convention that is elegant and replicable.
    firewall is “apollo,” etc.

    as a test box…and the possible origin of a new program/method/whatever,
    can there be a better name than: ?

    it’s not the most amazingly original naming convention, but how many influential legal philosophers
    are there anyway, compared to, for example, Amazon warriors only, who number 82+.

    “soia” is maybe a little too touchy to invoke, i think…

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