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Throwback [Sunday]: Wolfpack takeover of NCCU Law Graduation 2012

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 27, 2014 in NotFail

(I know the Twitter thing is to post pictures on Throwback Thursday, but I’m trying to get back in the blogging habit and needed something to write about tonight :P )

Back on Friday I had the high honor of presenting one of my good friends to the Court for her attorney oath of office.

Madame President1 made the smart play and had spent her post-graduation time making real money in the immigration department of a local corporate behemoth. Obscene wealth notwithstanding, she decided now was the time to get sworn in and dive into bona fide lawyer stuff.

Me introducing Madame President to the Court (Photo courtesy of Shutterbug)

Me introducing Madame President to the Court (Photo courtesy of Shutterbug)

As part of the process here in North Carolina, anyone wanting to take the oath of office that enables him or her to practice law first has to be introduced in open court by a member of the bar who can attest to the person’s good character (including uttering magic words like “has passed the bar exam”).

It’s also appropriate to highlight some of the applicant’s achievements, so I noted she had distinguished herself as a senior member of our Moot Court Board, the Articles Editor for our Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Law Review, and of course was elected by her peers to serve as the Class of 2012 President.

I also mentioned our shared alma maters and mutual love for all things North Carolina State University, which reminded me of a story the NCSU Alumni Association did on us (and our two valedictorians) back during graduation time.

I went through the law:/dev/null archives and realized I never actually mentioned it here, so I’m doing it now :)

From the the N.C. State University Alumni Association:

NC State alums make mark at N.C. Central’s School of Law

05.22.2012 | Posted by Bill Krueger | Filed under Alumni News, NC State People | Tags: Jeremy Adams, N.C. Central University, N.C. Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment, Sharika Robinson, Shauna Guyton, T. Greg Doucette

When the School of Law at N.C. Central University held its commencement earlier this month, four students were given seats on the platform and a chance to speak in recognition of their leadership and scholarship.

But they had more in common than their good work in law school — all of them are proud alumni of NC State.

Doucette, Guyton, Robinson, Adams

Doucette, Guyton, Robinson, Adams

None of the students knew each other when they studied at NC State, but they became friends during their time in law school.

“N.C. Central’s law school has a small, tight-knit student body, so all of us became friends over the past three years through our different activities,” said T. Greg Doucette, a 2009 NC State graduate who was president of the Student Bar Association at N.C. Central.

The others in the group are:

  • Shauna Guyton, a 2008 NC State graduate who was president of the senior class at the law school.
  • Sharika Robinson, a 2005 NC State graduate who was valedictorian of the three-year day program at the law school.
  • Jeremy Adams, a 2005 NC State graduate who was valedictorian of the four-year evening program at the law school.

All four of them will be busy for the next several weeks getting ready for the North Carolina bar exam in late July. But Doucette says everyone in the group already has plans beyond taking the bar exam.

  • Doucette is executive director of the N.C. Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment (NC SPICE), a nonprofit that provides mentorship, education and office support to new attorneys in exchange for pro bono legal service for those who can’t afford legal representation.
  • Guyton is hoping to be a law clerk at the N.C. Supreme Court, but is also considering becoming an assistant district attorney.
  • Robinson is moving to Michigan to become a law clerk for a federal judge.
  • Adams plans to start his own law firm in the Triangle, with a focus on employment law.

Some of the new law school graduates made it a point to include a touch of the Wolfpack in the commencement exercises at N.C. Central. Doucette wore a Wolfpack red dress shirt and an NC State tie under his robe, while Guyton wore her NC State class ring. “I never take it off!,” she said in a text message.

“State is just the best school in this state!!!” Robinson wrote in a text message. She said that NC State’s homegrown students are “the best talent, and it is evident in us.”

The whole NC SPICE thing has had a bumpier start than I expected back at graduation of course, but I still think this was a pretty cool story. And I’m honored to share it with some pretty cool people too :D

Hope all of y’all had a great weekend, and a great week ahead!

—===—

From the law:/dev/null graduation-related archives:

  1. The elected leader of the Class of 2012, who I relied on frequently my 3L year to help ensure events went smoothly and were well-attended during my overlapping term as SBA President. Definitely one of my favorite people from law school. :) []

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A Mercenary’s Lament

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 10, 2014 in NotFail

mer•ce•nar•y (pl. mercenaries) – noun. a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.

Today’s my first day “back in the real world” after spending the past weekend at the annual TYLA NTC Regionals.1 And where I coached my very first TYLA trial team, comprised of two 2Ls and a 3L.

A team that ended the competition as finalists :surprised:

In turn making them the best trial team in both North Carolina and South Carolina.2 Not to mention going further in that competition than I ever made it myself.

From… the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

That’s not a typo. It’s the same institution I’ve ridiculed on this very website as The University of Non-Compliance at Cheater Haven. The one whose students meme’d me in my NC State hat. The one with its very own “#gthc” tag here at law:/dev/null.3

And I was their coach :beatup:

So how did a guy with an eagle carving on his dining room table plus another on a bookshelf and a third on my bedroom wall — alongside a wolf painting, a wolf carving, even the comforter on my bed — end up in the finals of my favorite mock trial competition helping the one institution that happens to be a rival of both my undergrad and professional school alma maters?4

My team, from L to R: Jonathan Williams '15 (Defense), Michelle Markham '14 (Swing), Dave Fitzgerald '15 (Plaintiff), Eli Sevcik-Timberg '14 (Student Coach)

My team, from L to R: Jonathan Williams ’15 (Defense), Michelle Markham ’14 (Swing), Dave Fitzgerald ’15 (Plaintiff), Eli Sevcik-Timberg ’14 (Student Coach)

Well first we had an amazing team. I was a little nervous at the start because only one student was a 3L; the other two were 2Ls who’d never competed in anything before, and the 3L student coach assigned to work with me had experience but not in TYLA.

I also got the impression at a few points in practice that our goal was just to not embarrass ourselves — I don’t think anyone (admittedly, myself included) thought we had any shot at going anywhere.

But let me tell you: when it counted, they competed. All three of them turned in solid performances to nab the #6 seed after the first three rounds, setting up a semifinal match against the University of South Carolina for Sunday morning. They promptly slaughtered USC and pushed us on to the finals.5

“But TDot! But TDot!” I hear you saying, “WHY were you working for them?”

Aaanndd… that’s where the title for the blog post comes in. ;)

Last winter my 2L/3L TYLA coach6 and I had talked about the future of NCCU Law‘s team and whether there’d be a spot for me anywhere as an assistant coach. Nothing ever happened with it, so in the Spring I volunteered to be one of the guest judges for the TYLA Regionals when they were hosted by Campbell Law down in Raleigh.

For my round I watched an absolutely superb performance by a team from WFU Law — a team that ended up getting functionally disqualified when a meritless protest was filed over WFU’s cross-examination of the other side’s expert, and the “protest committee” voted to give them -0- points for the cross.7 I felt bad for them. And I also decided that I hated the idea of “just” being a judge if our ballots could be summarily disregarded by a 5-member committee of other competing coaches.

Fast forward to early October. The Monday before the 2L/3L trial team tryouts to be exact. I still stop by the NCCU Law building on a fairly regular basis, so during one of those trips while I’m down in our clinic area I make some inquiries about the process to become a trial team coach.

Now in retrospect I don’t know what response I expected. I figured, at the very least, it would be something along the lines of “All the coach spots are filled for every team at the moment, but when something opens up we’ll let you know.”8 Instead the response I got was as clear as it was unambiguous: “Coaches have to have 5 years of practice experience. That’s the rule.”

I was a smidge annoyed. But rules are rules, right?

So a couple days later, when I’m down in Wake County for a traffic case, I talked with one of my 2L AAJ trial coaches (a District Court Judge down there) about how he got involved. Apparently someone just called and asked him to do it. But he went on to tell me no one even asked him to return as a coach my 3L year or the year after. That in turn led me to express my frustration over how I felt the law school treated our competitions as afterthoughts, and how I really wanted to run one of these teams to show what could be done.

Well even though he’s an NCCU Law alum, he’s also a dyed-in-the-wool Tar Heel as well. He had heard the UNCCH trial team advisor was out for the semester due to a medical issue and suggested I consider looking there.

I then texted a friend of mine from my NC State days who had just graduated from UNCCH Law the prior year. She confirmed the story on the advisor and said it would be “awesome if [I] potentially think about maybe” being their coach (after confessing surprise that I like trial team :crack: ). And if I wanted her to make a call the spot would be mine.

Unpaid, but a shot nonetheless.

Not quite ready to go calling in favors, I had lunch with my other 2L TYLA coach the next week to get his advice on basically squaring off against my own school. And he said to go for it. I’m paraphrasing here, but his argument was something along the lines of “Think about what it says for Central if you do well, what it says if your alma mater’s graduates do a better job at this than their own.”

Still not fully comfortable with the thought of switching sides, I sent a text message to my 2L/3L TYLA coach to get his thoughts since he was still in charge. When he saw me at the Alumni Association meeting that Saturday, he said to take the spot as well.

So I did.

I Facebook-messaged a UNCCH 2L I knew from UNCASG, who in turn put me in touch with the Trial Advocacy Board chairman over there, who in turn connected me with the TYLA squad and a 3L student coach to assist. And the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

“But TDot! But TDot!” you interrupt again, “WHHYYY??”

Well… because my alma mater didn’t want me :(

Look, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who loves NCCU Law more than I do (or NC State for that matter). You’ll be equally hard pressed to find anyone who takes quite as much glee in disparaging UNC Chapel Hill as I do. The students on the NCCU teams that didn’t make it were real people, including two of my mentees

And I can’t even articulate for you in words how awkward it felt when I actually typed “#goheelsgoamerica” into my phone for a Facebook status. :beatup:

But the fact is it didn’t make a d*mn lick of sense for me to sit on the sidelines getting rusty for another year waiting on my alma mater to let me help. And it most definitely didn’t make a d*mn lick of sense for me to do that for 4 more years until I’d reach some arbitrary quantum of real world experience.

UNCCH needed someone. They offered me that opportunity. The folks I met turned out to be really cool people. And, having made a commitment to them, I wasn’t going to let them down.

So I didn’t. :)

Now the only issue at this point is really what other folks’ decide will happen next year. Because now that I know the finals are attainable, I’m not going away until nationals…

—===—

From the law:/dev/null competition-related archives:

  1. I know I’m behind schedule on the “blog more” resolution, but it’s still early in the year and anything can happen :P []
  2. The regional winners were the University of Georgia — the same school that knocked out EIC, Shutterbug, and I back in Memphis two years ago :mad: — and Georgia State University. []
  3. “GTHC” means “Go to Hell, Carolina!” for the uninitiated ;) []
  4. No comments from UNCCH homers on “omg you’re not our rival!” I’ve enjoyed enough hostility while wearing my NCSU paraphernalia to sporting events and NCCU paraphernalia to law events to know better :* []
  5. Frankly I don’t fully understand how we lost the final round, and got the impression the judges were scoring based on the merits of the case rather than the advocacy. But I’m also biased. []
  6. Don’t have nicknames for most of the folks in this entry, so I’m going to titles. []
  7. The ruling was improper, and it was sufficiently improper that TYLA amended their Rules for this year’s competition to prevent situations like that from happening again. []
  8. It’s not like I swept both 3L competitions and was on the #1-seeded team in the 2012 TYLA Regional semis while serving as SBA President and graduating with honors and two concentrations or anything… :beatup: []

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law:/dev/null got a plug in Student Lawyer magazine!!! :D

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 20, 2013 in NotFail

No offense intended to Matt Hollowell, but this officially trumps getting an @mention by LexisNexis

Awesome :D

Awesome! :D

In the latest print edition of the ABA Law Student Division‘s Student Lawyer magazine, law:/dev/null got plugged in the “In Brief” section! :eek: :crack: :spin:

If you don’t get the magazine anymore, you can also access it online here (though in my case I politely hounded a 2L for her copy).

The snippet talks about this TDot’s Tips entry on bootstrapping your first law office, and specifically the Department of Education program on financing a computer purchase. :)

And I’m also pretty sure it’s the first time my name has ever appeared in a print magazine for something other than donating money somewhere.  Which is just plain cool  B-)

Just had to share :D Good night y’all!

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Going out on a W

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 1, 2012 in NotFail

It’s been a great night!

This past week has been our annual Law Week activities at the North Carolina Central University School of Law,1  capped tonight with our annual Law Week Banquet where “The Big Five”2 announce the winners of their respective competitions and the SBA elections, praise their outgoing executive boards, listen to the outgoing President give his remarks, and so on.

The banquet this year was notable from the start for completely and totally shattering every single attendance record in existence at the law school over its 73-year history :D

Best-attended banquet in 73 years!

Last semester my Vice President and I came up with some new ideas for improving the event,3 she then put together a stellar agenda/program for the event then she and her planning committee made things happen. With over 210+ people in attendance, we had about 70 or so more people than the previous banquet attendance record.

We were charging folks $20 apiece for tickets ($35 for alumni/faculty/staff) and still had to turn people away! :crack:

The student speakers ran a bit long so a good chunk of those 210+ were gone by the time I gave my (abbreviated) farewell address at the end of the night, but it didn’t matter because my night was made earlier that night…

BECAUSE I FINALLY WON SOMETHING! :spin:

After 2.5 years, I finally got 1st place!

After coming in 3rd place my 1L year with my “Alice in Wonderland” closing, then clawing up to 2nd place last year despite a horrible ambulance-chaser-inspired fact pattern, I finally made it to the top of the dog pile in our 3L closing argument competition (even after screwing up a guy’s last name)! :D

And I didn’t just make it to the top in the trial advocacy stuff — I somehow also got the best oral advocate and best overall awards for our Fall moot court competition, named after Judge TP…

…yes, that’s the same guy who held me in contempt during my final trial in trial practice :beatup:

I’m probably one of the few people who has honestly enjoyed his entire law school career, but after my grades last semester I was bitterly disappointed that I probably won’t be able to graduate with honors. As shallow as it probably sounds, coming in 1st in both of these competitions coupled with having an incredibly successful year at the helm of the SBA helps to lessen the sting ;)

The dog’s pestering me to go outside so I’ll have to cut this entry here, but more to come at some point in the near-term future now that my SBA obligations are winding down. Have a great night y’all! :D

—===—

From the law:/dev/null competition-related archives:

  1. A crazy week indeed — my birthday on Monday, a rally that same day about the Trayvon Martin homicide attended by about 250 people from both the law school and undergrad, our annual 1L/2L/3L basketball tournament, nearly a dozen different student organization events including Speed Networking II and symposiums for both of our law reviews, our SBA and class elections on Thursday, and more stuff I’m probably forgetting… :crack: []
  2. The Student Bar Association and the 4 organizations who provide academic credit to their participants: our “regular” law review, our biotechnology and pharmaceutical law review, our Moot Court Board, and our Trial Advocacy Board. []
  3. Including bulk table sales for student organizations: selling 10 seats as a block to the organization itself, then letting the organization resell the tickets to their members at whatever price point they want and keeping whatever they can raise. Capitalism works y’all! []

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TOP 8!!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 18, 2012 in NotFail

AAAHHHHHHHHHH!! :D

Sorry, had to get that out :)

So after finally getting things caught up here at law:/dev/null a couple weeks ago, I promptly disappeared again to focus on my upcoming competitions. I’m the “swing” counsel for one of NCCU Law‘s TYLA National Trial Competition teams again this year and have been determined to improve on last year’s just-barely-missed-it 9th place finish…

…and tonight WE DID IT!!! :spin:

NCCU Law's 2012 TYLA Trial Teams! From left to right: Associate Coach Jessica Major '09, Head Coach Clayton Jones '03, Me, Deyaska Spencer '13, Robert Brooks '12, Jillian Mack '12, Nikia Williams '13, Omari Crawford '13. Not pictured: Associate Coach Dominique Camm '09. Photo courtesy of 雅雅 :)

Teams are a little different year — instead of doing straight 2L-only and 3L-only squads, we have two 3Ls1 and one 2L2 on one team and one 2L, one 2.5L,3 and a 3L on the other — but even with the switched up pairings we still had a team make it into the Top 8 to advance to tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

And not only did we advance, but we discovered (i) we were 1 of only 5 teams4 to win all three of our preliminary rounds and (ii) we also swept all 9 of the judges’ ballots, making us the #1 seed in the quarterfinal pairings! :surprised:

For a time it didn’t seem like things were going to turn out that way.

NCCU Law’s been getting hammered with budget cuts, so we couldn’t afford to print our enlarged exhibits locally and then ship them from Durham; we had to get them printed here in Memphis before our arrival… only to discover yesterday morning (before the first round) that the order was completely FUBAR’d :mad:  So rather than spending our time focusing on the upcoming trial we were scrambling to get the prints done like they needed to be, get additional prints for the stuff that never got done, etc etc.

The first round was against the University of Memphis School of Law with EIC and I on defense, and after it was over we felt pretty good — no repeats of first-round jitters like we had at both the TYLA competition and the AAJ competition last year. Then came this morning, with Shutterbug and I representing the Plaintiff against a team from Duke Law. It was the same Duke Law team that won the 1L K-S competition last year so Shutterbug was looking for revenge and did a superlative job; Duke Law’s main strength was the breadth and quality of their objections, but we had a special pow-wow before heading to Memphis where we anticipated almost everything they threw at us.

But then the afternoon session was against a team from Charleston Law and we just knew EIC and I had lost our shot. One of the other side’s witnesses was actually a witness from the Friday night round playing the same guy, so he knew our cross-examination; the Memphis hosts went out of their way to try and find someone else, but couldn’t come up with anybody so we had to roll with it. I think knowing that was an issue had both of us mentally thrown off because neither of us were really “in the zone” like we should have been from that point onward.

By the grace of God we somehow eked it out though, winning that particular round by a couple points :)

I was so nervous when they were announcing the results of who advanced that I completely forgot my alphabet too. The hosts were announcing winners in alphabetical order, and when they said “E” I dropped my head thinking we had lost again  :oops:  Then they said “H” and I did a little foot stomping before giving the team a bear hug :D

Coach Jones and I with the Sunday rounds poster (before the re-flip)

The 8 advancing teams got called into a side room to get entered onto the chart of Sunday rounds and call a coin toss to see who would be which side. We were originally slated to go against Mercer Law, but their team was late to the meeting (for reasons that’ll be apparent in the next paragraph) so we were given the chance to call the coin toss, won, and were slated to go against them on Defense.

Then we went back to the room to change clothes before getting dinner… only to get called back because apparently there was a ballot error,5 Mercer Law was right in thinking they hadn’t advanced after all (hence why they were late), and we had to do everything all over again with a different team. We lost the coin toss the second time and the sides have switched, so we’re now on Plaintiff paired up with Georgia Law‘s defense.

In addition to us and Georgia Law, there’s one team apiece from Wake Forest Law (NC), Campbell Law (NC), Georgia State Law (GA), Vanderbilt Law (TN), Memphis Law (TN), and Emory Law (GA).

I’m more nervous than a Mythbusters insurance agent about how tomorrow is going to go down, especially after the unexpected change in plans about who’s going on what side. But after last year — and I hate to say this in print because it seems preemptively defeatist, but it’s true — I’m totally content with where we’ve gotten. NCCU Law made it to the Sunday rounds for the first time in at least 3-4 years,6 we are 1 of only 3 North Carolina schools to advance this year, we swept everything, and we snagged a #1 seed… and, the biggest relief for me, I redeemed myself for blowing the first round last year :beatup:

Totally unrelated to how things go, I want to publicly give some praise to the University of Memphis School of Law on how they implemented the competition this year.  They did an excellent job of making sure the judges didn’t know what schools the different competitors were from, reminding coaches and competitors both not to disclose that information intentionally or accidentally, went out of their way to ensure there were no conflicts with judges or witnesses seeing the same teams more than once, the list goes on. The competition coordinators were moving around all over the place keeping things running like a well-oiled machine, and I greatly appreciate that.

And I’m not just saying that because we advanced :P  I’d rather lose a fair contest than win a rigged one.

Aside from all the competition-ness, I also got to see 雅雅 who gave up her weekend to come out and support us, ate some delicious ribs and bbq from Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous, and generally just enjoy having the weight of last year’s failure lifted off my chest. It’s been a good day :)

I’ll keep you posted on how things go tomorrow, but for now I’m heading to bed so I can get ready for tomorrow morning. Good night y’all! :D

—===—

From the law:/dev/null travel-related archives:

  1. Myself and EIC, who was on the AAJ team last year. []
  2. Shutterbug from last year’s Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L team. []
  3. A 3rd-year student in our 4-year JD/MBA joint-degree program []
  4. Out of 32 teams from 16 law schools across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee []
  5. One of the judges marked a defense ballot part of the ballot as a plaintiff part of the ballot :crack: []
  6. No one’s been able to tell me the last time our TYLA team actually made it to Sunday :beatup: []

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NCCU Law 1Ls *sweep* Kilpatrick-Townsend competition!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 15, 2012 in NotFail

Hey everybody! :)

Sorry I’ve been MIA for nearly a month now, I’ve been sequestered in my own personal 3L Hell for most of that time and just haven’t had much opportunity to update the blog :beatup:

I’ll try to get things caught up some time this coming weekend, but for now I wanted to mention our 1L trial teams completely dominated the annual Kilpatrick-Townsend 1L Trial Advocacy Competition this year!

We had one team win 1st place, one team win 2nd place, and a third team (who was eliminated in a head-to-head matchup with the first team) taking #1 in overall quality points. Every single match where NCCU Law had a team — 6 total preliminary rounds, 2 separate quarterfinals, 2 separate semifinals, and the final round — someone from that team won the round’s award for Best Advocate.1

So basically we’ve got the 3 very best 1L trial teams in the State of North Carolina :spin:

Here’s the press release we put together and a team photo:

NCCU LAW 1Ls SWEEP STATEWIDE TRIAL ADVOCACY COMPETITION
Legal Eagles Take 1st Place, 2nd Place, Best Advocate Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DURHAM, NC (01/15/12) – Defeating trial teams from Campbell, Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest, 1Ls from the North Carolina Central University School of Law (“NCCU Law”) made history this weekend when they won both 1st Place and 2nd Place in the annual Kilpatrick-Townsend 1L Trial Advocacy Competition hosted by the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law.

NCCU Law's three 1L trial teams for 2011-12

In just NCCU Law’s third year participating in the competition, the school’s three 1L trial teams advanced to the final round for the third straight time — a 100% record of reaching the finals.

But this year’s competition featured a twist: after practicing against each other for 6+ hours a day from January 2nd-11th, Legal Eagles dominated every other school so thoroughly that both finalists were from NCCU Law, guaranteeing a 1st Place finish in the competition for the first time in school history. The only team to beat NCCU Law was another team from NCCU Law.

“Hard work plus confidence equals success,” said Jonathan Savage ’14, lead counsel for the 1st Place team and winner of the competition’s Best Advocate Overall award. “The hours of practice were well worth it, and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity!”

Going into Saturday’s quarterfinals, all NCCU Law teams were in the Top 8: the #1-seed team of Jeannelle Alexander, Emily Custer, Amelia O’Rourke-Owens, and Ernest Roberts; the #2-seed team of Helen Baddour, Stephanie Faris, Jason Howe, and Sonyé Randolph; and the #8-seed team of Molly Brewer, Christina Carter, Jonathan Savage, and Matt Wareham.

Based on bracket-style seeding NCCU was paired up against NCCU in the quarterfinal round, where Team Brewer edged past Team Alexander to advance to the semifinals, while Team Baddour knocked out a group from UNCCH Law to advance as well. Once in the semifinals, Team Baddour took down a squad from Duke Law while Team Brewer dispatched another team from UNCCH, setting up a second NCCU-vs-NCCU battle in the competition’s final round.

Before a packed courtroom with nearly 70 observers, prosecution Team Brewer faced off against defense Team Baddour in a highly polished championship match. In a close finish following extensive jury deliberations, Team Brewer was declared the winner with Matt Wareham winning the award for Best Witness and Jonathan Savage taking home the title of Best Advocate Overall.

With 32 teams competing, NCCU Law’s three teams made up just 9.4% of the participants — but 37.5% of the quarterfinalists, 50% of the semifinalists, and 100% of the finalists.

[Photo, from left to right: Bottom Row: Stephanie Faris, Molly Brewer, Helen Baddour, Jeannelle Alexander, Emily Custer; Middle Row: Molly Morgan, Jason Howe, Sonyé Randolph, Christina Carter, Amelia O’Rourke-Owens; Top Row: Ernest Roberts, Matt Wareham, Jonathan Savage]

###

It was an awesome closing match, with just short of 70 people in the courtroom watching — including 3 of our Deans, a half-dozen professors, a few alumni and tons of Legal Eagles :D

I also had “a dog in the fight” beyond just school pride, because the results this year also validated my whole philosophy on how to approach this competition.

My 1L year we were left to our own devices to develop our case, as we’re supposed to do, and miraculously ended up coming in 2nd after going 5-0 before losing in a rematch against Duke Law. Last year our 1Ls came in 2nd too (against another Duke Law team), but the 3Ls tried to micromanage the process so thoroughly — over the objections of myself and other members of that 2009-10 team — that only a few of the 2010-11 1L team members came back for TYLA/AAJ as 2Ls.

Once there was new leadership on the Trial Advocacy Board, we changed things around back to how they used to be. In October all interested 1Ls had to attend a workshop on opening statements and closing arguments before trying out a couple weeks later, then once we decided who made the three teams we left them alone with one condition: they had to practice against each other from 9am-3pm from January 2nd-11th, plus extra practice as needed. During the formal practices one team would be paired against another with a third in the jury box, rotating so every team faced everyone else at least twice apiece.

The variety of opposition and frequency of the practice helped ensure they were comfortable and confident when they got into Chapel Hill. I got to watch two rounds of the competition on Friday night, and then the closing arguments on Sunday. I was absolutely tickled pink at how great they did — still several pages of things done wrong,2 but a level of polish on par with some of the 2L/3L teams I’ve seen and easily better than I was as a 1L.

Having made history for the law school once this weekend, I’m hoping they’ll stick around and make history over the next couple years too ;)  One day I want to see NCCU Law not just hitting up TYLA and AAJ, but making it back to some of the invitation-only trial advocacy competitions we used to win in the halcyon days the old folks talk about…3

That’s it for tonight, I’m going back to a brief. Have a great week! :D

  1. And on Friday night, all 3 teams racked up both Best Advocate and Best Witness awards in the same night! []
  2. I’m a very nitpicky observer when it comes to trial team stuff :beatup: []
  3. We’ve got a few plaques from the Tournament of Champions competition tucked in a room in our Clinic. It’s a travesty they’re not displayed somewhere prominent for all the students to see. []

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I PASSED!!! :D

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 6, 2011 in NotFail

I know I usually wait to post entries until right before bed, but the November 2011 MPRE scores just came out…

…and I’m officially ethical enough to practice in any state in the country! :surprised: :crack: :D

Yay passing things!

Words cannot adequately convey how abjectly terrified I was when I walked out of the testing center expecting that I’d have to repeat the test again in February. I’m talking downright turrfied.1

Thankfully all that stressing out was for nothing ::wipes brow::

Granted the score’s not exactly anything to write home about; the MPRE’s on a 150-pt scale, so basically I got a flat D if this were done on a traditional grading scale.

But I don’t care because now I’ve only got those minor speed bumps of “graduation” and “barzam”2 standing between myself and a law license! :spin:

That’s all for now, I’m still on finals grind mode and don’t really have time to type more. Have a great night y’all, and *CONGRATULATIONS* to all the other law school folks out there who passed! :D

  1. Though candidly I was more worried about the extra $$$ required than the implication that I wasn’t competent enough to pass :beatup: []
  2. With its $700 bar application fee and +$125 extra-fee-to-use-ExamSoft-just-because fee… :mad: []

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2 down, 4 to go!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 3, 2011 in NotFail

I made it! :beatup:

For the first time all semester, I got a Tax assignment turned in ahead of deadline with my final uploaded just before 4am this morning.1 Then headed to bed, slept ’til 8am, got up and promptly started studying for my 2pm Sales & Secured Transactions final.

To any 1Ls/2Ls who happen to read this: paying attention in Sales throughout the semester is certifiably A Good Idea™ ;)

Prof. Sales’s exam is intense, reflecting the fact it’s a 4-credit course. 10 questions on classifying collateral, 20 “short” multiple choice questions, 40 “long” multiple choice questions, and 2 essays on Article 2 and Article 9 respectively. By the time you’re done it’s like having an anvil lifted off your chest; it was, hands-down, my hardest exam of my law school career.2

And even though I’ve got no clue how my grade will turn out, I think I actually might have done alright :surprised:

The pre-Halloween weekend I spent catching up on Article 2 was time very well spent, and my Article 9 (mis-)reading helped me not be totally clueless on PMSIs, the Professor’s SCAPP analysis framework, and so on.

Though I did have a brief CivPro II flashback as I made it to the 2 essays with only 30 minutes left, put in 20 minutes on what had to be the quickest almost-thorough analysis I’ve ever done and then barely managed to outline a response on Article 9 :beatup:

No clue how much that’s going to hurt my grade, but I’m hoping I followed my historical pattern and banged out the multiples. Fingers crossed :D

Grabbed dinner and a drink with some fellow 3Ls afterwards, came home to knock out an extra credit assignment for Tax…3 and now I’m off to catch up on sleep ;)

Have a great night y’all!

  1. I didn’t have time to work on the optional draft we were allowed to submit last week so I have no clue if my analysis was right, but my sense of the class is that Tax is not “difficult” per se, just tedious as hell. We’ll see if I’m right when grades come out. []
  2. Though I will say, the material was conveyed in an eminently logical fashion that seemed to “click” with me finally. I stand by my earlier contention that Prof Sales looks like a mad scientist, but to feel even slightly comfortable after only studying for about 4 hours is a testament to the quality of his teaching. Or, if the grade turns out bad, my tendencies to commit academic suicide :beatup: []
  3. 9 out of 10 multiple choice questions right, in 9 minutes and 4 seconds. Kicking myself that the one I missed was because I was too lazy to open my code book… ::facepalm:: []

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NCCU Law Legal Eagles sweep mediation competition!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 14, 2011 in NotFail

Good evening y’all! :)

Apparently mediation-related competitions exist in the law school arena? Definitely news to me :beatup:

And the only reason I found out is because two Legal Eagles from NCCU Law took 1st and 2nd place in one of them! :D From the “Well this is something cool to get in my email inbox on a Monday morning” files (via this story at University of Houston Law Center):

North Carolina mediators sweep Abrams Competition

Nov. 14, 2011 – Leah Leone of the North Carolina Central University School of Law has taken the top honor at the Jeffry S. Abrams National Mediation Competition, held Nov. 11-12 at the University of Houston Law Center. As the winner, Leone received the Frank Evans Mediator Scholarship award, valued at $2,000.

Jeffry S. Abrams (L) and 1st place winner Leah Leone of NCCU Law (R)

“This has been an amazing experience for me,” Leone said. “From start to finish, the competition has taught me so much. The insight I gained and the lessons I have learned here in the great state of Texas from my competitors and all the judges has been invaluable.”

Presented by the Blakely Advocacy Institute and sponsored by distinguished Houston mediator and UH Law Center alumnus Jeffry S. Abrams, the competition allowed top law students nationwide to put their mediation skills to the test before a team of judges.

“The competition went very well. There were 11 student mediators and the national reach of the competition was evidenced by the fact that students from California (UC-Hastings) to New York (St. John’s) were in attendance. The competitors, and coaches, were high in their praise of the competition, stating that the opportunity to learn from experienced mediators (as judges) in the competition context was one of the best experiences of their law school career,” said Jim Lawrence, Blakely Advocacy Institute Director.

The final rounds saw Leone and Valoree Hanson, a student mediator also from the North Carolina Central University School of Law, being judged by Abrams; Tom Newhouse, University of Houston Law Center Professor emeritus; and the Hon. Frank Evans, generally recognized as the father of ADR in Texas. NCCU School of Law Professor Mark Morris was Leone’s and Hanson’s coach. Leone and Hanson came in a respective first and second place in the competition. Henson received the Jeffry S. Abrams Mediator Scholarship Award, which is valued at $500.

UH Law Center students presently do not compete in the Abrams competition.

The Abrams competition is designed to run in parallel with the Law Center’s Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition, where UH Law Center students participate as advocate/client in mediation. These intramural participants serve as the parties to the mediation rounds for the national competition. Team members Garrett Gibson and Frank Carroll won the Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition.

Very cool, and CONGRATULATIONS to Miss Leone and Miss Hanson (and coach Prof ADR)! :spin:

Have a great night folks!

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3.077 (or, “I MADE DEAN’S LIST *AGAIN*!!!”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 8, 2011 in NotFail

Most of the 1Ls and 2Ls at NCCU Law finally got their last grades a couple hours ago, and I am totally stunned to report that somehow by the grace of God Almighty I managed to squeak my way onto the Dean’s List for the 2nd semester in a row! :spin:

At a 3.077 semester GPA, I’m not sure I could have cut it any closer than I did. But after a ridiculous 2L Spring semester featuring family drama, too many professional commitments, 2 trial teams, losing all of my Gmail for days, a campaign for SBA President, and academic obligations stretching longer and longer than I expected, I figured last semester was going to be a one-and-done aberration anyway.

Full semester breakdown coming at some point in the future — including one for 2L Fall since I just now realized I never actually did one of those.1  :beatup:

Until then, good night folks!

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From the grade-related archives:

  1. And since I know someone somewhere will make a smart-ass remark in light of my post that 1L grades don’t matter, I’ll note that (i) these are 2L grades and (ii) there’s a difference between being ecstatic over doing well and thinking doing well signifies anything other than an unhealthy quantity of studying :P []

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