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Giving Thanks, 2015 Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 26, 2015 in Randomness

Greetings from Virginia Beach! 😃

It’s been 6 years (!) since I posted a Thanksgiving entry, reflecting on the things I’m thankful for and where I was in life 1 / 5 / 10 years ago. Taking the time to reflect is something I started doing back when I had dropped out of college, trying to keep my spirits up when it felt like I was never going to amount to anything.1

Whether I’ve actually amounted to anything is up for debate — but at least now my spirit is doing OK 😊

A year ago today, I was here in Virginia Beach with my family. Survived my second full year as a solo practitioner. Excited about an uptick in the practice and recently joining the speakers circuit with a quasi-CLE on starting your own law firm.

I sacrificed Thanksgiving cooking for that 3.333

I sacrificed Thanksgiving cooking for that 3.333

Five years ago, I learned that I was actually capable of cooking my own Thanksgiving dinner 😂

It was my 2L year at NCCU Law and I decided to stay home for the holiday so I could study for final exams — even though I stood by my belief that grades don’t matter (reaffirmed in this Mailbag entry), I was close enough to a 3.0 that I’d regret not trying to make it.2

So I cooked my own turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and croissant rolls… and a few weeks later made the Dean’s List for the first time since 2005.

And ten years ago, to be honest I don’t remember where I was 😶 I’d just returned to NC State, terrified by Calculus III,3 and focused on not bombing academically. That was the semester I made Dean’s List. 😄

I’d go through and give you the full list of the things I’m grateful for like I did back in 2009, but the main one is my grandparents. The Thanksgiving meal this year was so different from everything I had growing up — Nan can’t physically cook, so Pops and my Aunt Diane prepared a few things while I handled getting the table prepared (and I’m on deck to mow the lawn and rake the leaves before I leave). It was just the 4 of us. A smaller meal, smaller group of family members. Everything just felt… off. Smaller. Like twilight. It’s tough to accept.

I’m grateful to have the ability to travel up here to be with them. Grateful for a team at TGD Law willing to put up with my idiosyncrasies and family drama. Grateful for friends who’ve texted throughout the day to wish me a happy Thanksgiving.

And grateful for each of you, still stopping by even though I’ve done a terrible job of keeping things up to date.

Thank you. And I hope you’ve had a happy Thanksgiving! ❤️

  1. I’d never wish the experience on anyone, but you really start to understand how important a college degree is to people when you feel like you’ll never get one yourself. []
  2. A story for another post! []
  3. Where I actually learned more than in 3 different attempts at Calculus II 😂 []

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So, that happened…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 12, 2015 in Randomness

“I hate everybody.”

That’s been a running theme on Facebook as I see things like a GOP-run legislature I helped elect allowing clowns to pay the UNC President nearly a million dollars annually, while so far as I know my own legislators have accomplished nothing beyond ranting about how evil Republicans are — even assuming arguendo it were true, it’s not solving or improving or fixing anything, especially when Democrats will be in the minority through at least 2022 with how the districts are drawn.

So I decided to run for office. Talked to the bank at 4:55pm on Tuesday about setting up an account. Wednesday was Veterans’ Day. Then at 9am today I’ve got a voicemail from the media.

This will be an experience…

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Greetings from Alabama!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 25, 2014 in Randomness

I never got around to doing an update of my first-ever visit to Chicago last summer,1 but I was there (really!), so it finally got shaded in on the map of TDot’s Travels.

While pulling up the map in Photoshop, I also noticed that for several years now Alabama remained the only state in the Southeast I still hadn’t visited.

Alabama is covered! Next: the Ohio River Valley

Alabama is covered! Next: the Ohio River Valley

Well I’ve now driven across it twice this weekend — so it gets shaded too! :D

One of 雅雅’s friends from optometry school was getting married in New Orleans this weekend, and after just flying to Memphis two weeks ago for her graduation2 I was/am too poor to afford another plane ticket so soon.

So we’re currently driving back from New Orleans after driving down there two days ago, and stopped here in Auburn at a Firehouse Subs for lunch :)

The downside of course is that we’ll have both been stuck in the car for roughly 26 hours over a 72-hour period — the equivalent of three whole workdays :beatup:but it provided a low-cost chance to go back to New Orleans, catch up with one of my closest friends and political allies from undergrad (currently a 2L at Tulane), see the southern edge of Mississippi, and travel through Auburn / Montgomery / Mobile in Alabama :spin:

We’ve gotta get back on the road so that’s it for now, I’m off to resume enjoying this sub and gearing up to drive the next leg of the trip to/through Atlanta. Y’all have a great rest of the Memorial Day weekend!

—===—

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

  1. Which included being quizzed by TSA for having a few thumb drives in my briefcase, my first airplane being attacked by its onboard toilet (necessitating a flight change) and then the next being plagued by a malfunctioning battery (necessitating another flight change), a 30-minute conversation with a taxi driver who was almost better versed in the law than I was, and all sorts of other craziness :crack: []
  2. That’s the main reason I started the series on my interviews with the NCSU Libraries — it made posting entries easier while I was away from the Bull City ;) []

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“First, let me take a selfie”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 13, 2014 in Randomness
Best pic of the TGD Law mascot evah

Best pic of the TGD Law mascot evah

I’ve been swamped with work so I don’t have enough time to write anything insightful just yet.

(yes yes I know, that’s become the standard start to more than a handful of blog entries here :beatup: )

But I did make a trip to the TGD Law banking institution, and while waiting in line for the ATM decided to take a “selfie”…1

…and Samson happened to turn right to the camera and smile :D

I have the most awesome dog :spin:

  1. Easily one of the most obnoxious words invented in the past decade… []

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How cool is this? Another solo posts his numbers!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 2, 2014 in Randomness

Way back in October last year, I threw caution to the wind and posted this entry detailing my first-year revenues and expenses for the law firm, with a follow-up entry answering some of the questions I got.

Now I would never claim to be a trend-setter or anything ( ;) ), but I stumbled across a post from a solo practitioner down in Florida who posted his own revenue/expense figures1 — and he gives law:/dev/null a shout as the motivation for it! B-)

Here’s a snippet from the initial entry, “No Navigator, No Parachute, No Problem: An In-Depth Look at Flying Solo” authored under the nom de plume Florida Esq:

As part of my preparation, I started combing the Internet for any and all information I could find about starting a firm. I was looking for hard data: what are the costs involved in starting a firm, how much do new solos bring in, what works and what doesn’t when you’re starting out, and so on. Unfortunately, there was almost nothing like that. Instead, nearly everything I found fell into one of two very unhelpful categories: One was the “LAW SCHOOL IS A SCAM! BURN YOUR J.D.! YOU’LL NEVER MAKE IT!” crowd which has taken over many popular law blogs and message boards. The other was very basic, generalized stuff like “Network, do good work and if you make it through your first year, you’ll probably be okay.” Neither was much help.

One exception to this came from Greg Doucette, a North Carolina attorney whose blog I stumbled across one day. Greg did something I hadn’t seen any other attorney, new or established do: he put up a one year “postmortem” of his new firm with hard numbers, showing exactly what he made and spent, along with examples of what he did wrong (and right!) that first year and the changes he planned to make going forward. This information was just what I was looking for, and was much more helpful than pretty much anything I had found before.

Then a few days later he posted a follow-up detailing his first quarter revenue as a solo, with “No Navigator, No Parachute, No Problem: First Quarter of Flying Solo.”

Here’s a snippet from that one:

In summary, my first quarter led to approx. $22,575 of income and $8,114 of expenses, netting me approx. $14,461. I’ve taken $6,000 of that as paychecks, leaving my firm with nearly $8,500 in the bank. I know that might not seem like much to a lot of you, but after all the doom and gloom I read before starting out, I’m actually ahead of where I thought I would be at the moment. I’m still networking my tail off to increase my exposure and I know I need to be withholding more money to pay my taxes, but I think things have gone okay so far.

I’ll ignore his comment that $22.5K in a quarter “might not seem like much” or the fact he’s averaging over $1K-per-client — I’d (almost) kill for that kind of success :beatup: — and instead just say it’s freaking AWESOME that someone else is willing to open up their books to folks thinking about going into solo practice! :D

If “flying solo” is something you’re considering, definitely take some time and go read both of those entries.2 And keep an eye out for what he writes down the road :)

  1. A metaphorical stumble if not an actual one: many thanks to my friend Keith Lee over at Associate’s Mind for tweeting me the original link! []
  2. Aside from providing useful “hard data,” the guy also knows how to write — which makes reading entries on hard data infinitely more enjoyable ;) []

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“Now, therefore, be it resolved…” (2014 Edition)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 27, 2014 in Randomness

Maybe it’s because 2012 turned out so well and a correction was due.

Maybe it’s because my goals for 2013 were too ambitious.

Maybe I’m just overly optimistic.

But I definitely went 0-for-3 on my New Year’s resolutions this past year :beatup:

For a quick recap on the resolutions themselves, you can read the entry from a year ago today. The reasons for the failures are numerous, but in a nutshell: NC SPICE wasn’t approved for 501(c)(3) status until late in the year and is (temporarily) dead in the water, I stopped exercising and regained every. single. pound. I lost the year before,1 and the number I picked as a revenue target for my law firm in Year 1 was a wild guess with no relation to anything even vaguely resembling reality.

Now normally I’d take all that as a signal to stop with the resolutions entirely. Not worrying about something certainly trumps failing at it.

But I also hate going out on a loss (something you might have noticed from past entries).

Soooo once again throwing caution and impulse control to the wind, here are my three resolutions for 2014:

  1. Blog more. Across all of 2013, I only updated law:/dev/null a mere 14 times :surprised: — barely over once a month (and 4 of those entries were last January alone). Granted, I like to think most of those 14 entries have really good stuff in them; I’ve gotten several comments on the tips for first-year solos, and a barrage of emails on the entries detailing my first-year finances and then responding to questions about those finances. But at the same time, as great as those entries were, there’s a bunch of other stuff I wanted to rant about and just never got around to it.2 So I’m going to try and do better than once a month on the blog front.
  2. Fix the TGD Law website. My law firm’s website has suffered from the same neglect as the blog. I set up the basic framework two Thanksgivings ago now, and other than finally adding a bio and a contact page I haven’t really done much of anything with it. I’ve somehow gotten to nearly 200 clients in a year3 without a single page really detailing the stuff I actually do. I need to get on it before Thanksgiving #3.
  3. Finish TGD Law’s 2nd fiscal year with $140K+ in revenue. I had just picked a random number when I threw out $70K last year as a revenue target, and then promptly missed it by 37%. I don’t actually expect to reach $140K this time around, but I figure if I miss it by 37% too I’ll have actually had a pretty good year ;)

And now that they’re committed to writing, that means I’ll actually have to work on them (ha!).4

Have a great week y’all! :D

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From the New Year’s Resolutions archives:

  • 2014: “Now, therefore, be it resolved…” (2014 Edition)
    • “Blog more”
    • “Fix the TGD Law website”
    • “Finish TGD Law’s 2nd fiscal year with $140K+ in revenue”
  • 2013: “Now, therefore, be it resolved…” (2013 Edition)
    • “Wrap up the weight loss” (Failed)
    • “Open the first SPICE Center” (Failed)
    • “Finish TGD Law’s fiscal year with $70K+ in revenue” (Failed)
  • 2012: Mission Accomplished (or “T., Esq.”)
    • “Graduate with honors” (Done!)
    • “Don’t f*ck up my commencement speech” (Done!)
    • “Pass the North Carolina bar exam on the first try” (Done!)
  • 2011: [combined with 2012 post] –
    • “Push my GPA above a 3.0” (Done!… then Failed)
    • “Get back in some semblance of shape” (Failed)
    • “Win something” (Done!)
  • 2010: “Now, therefore, be it resolved…”
    • “Finish 1L year with at least a 3.0 GPA” (Failed)
    • “Make it to, and through, Marine Corps OCS” (Failed)
    • “Finish [UNCASG] strong” (Done!)
  • 2009: [combined with 2010 post] –
    • “Graduate from N.C. State” (Done!)
    • “Win reelection as UNCASG President” (Done!)
    • “Get into law school” (Done!)
  1. Which has made wearing my suits an experience (and not in a good way) — I got them all tailored midway through the weight loss, and now they’re all insanely tight around the waist and I can’t afford to buy new ones :beatup: []
  2. Ranting is a great stress reliever, and spares folks from having to listen to me do it in person ;) []
  3. And only lost 3 cases! []
  4. Post #1 of at-least-15 down btw :D []

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About those 1L grades…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 20, 2013 in Randomness

I know it’s been a month (again), but I can’t write long tonight — flying out to Chicago in the early AM for an ABA shindig, which means I need to go to bed ASAP (pitfall of getting older :beatup: )

I’m cobbling together this quick post because I noticed while checking the law:/dev/null server logs1 that we’ve gotten about a dozen search queries on the NCCU Law academic dismissal policy.

Translation: 1L grades are out and folks are realizing whether or not they’re coming back.

For the folks who are looking, here’s a quartet of old entries I’d offer for your edification —

  1. How the dismissal policy works: TDot’s Mailbag v7.0: Legal Eagle Grading Edition (06/22/2011)
  2. The feeling of Armageddon knowing friends are gone: Spring ’10 Final Grades (or, “A 2L. For srs.”) (06/08/2010)
  3. Why the strict C is still A Good Thing™: In support of the strict C: a year later (11/12/2011)
  4. And why you will, in fact, survive: Your 1L Grades Don’t Matter (05/29/2011)

Hopefully at least some of that is worth reading :) New entry tomorrow from the Windy City! :D

  1. We had another random surge in spam, with 600+ spammers this go-round :crack: []

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NCCU Law alumnus blocks Bloomberg’s soda ban

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 13, 2013 in Randomness

Most of y’all have probably read by now that, in what was likely one of the most widely-covered trial court decisions issued by any court in years, a judge on the New York “Supreme” Court1 earlier this week struck down the absurdly overbroad “soda ban” enacted by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Some snippets from this article in the Wall Street Journal:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was dealt a stinging blow on Monday when a state Supreme Court Judge quashed his plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in the city’s restaurants and other venues…

…New York state Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling declared invalid Mr. Bloomberg’s plan to prohibit restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces. The ban was set to begin Tuesday.

New York state Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling declared invalid Mr. Bloomberg’s plan to prohibit restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces. The ban was set to begin Tuesday…

…The judge ruled the regulations are “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” noting how there would be uneven enforcement within a single city block. The regulations didn’t affect the Big Gulp at 7-11 because supermarkets and convenience stores are regulated by the state, not the city.

He wrote that regulations exclude other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and calories on “suspect grounds.” The regulations don’t limit patrons from getting refills; that provision, the judge said, appears to “gut the purpose of the rule.”

Even though I read through the whole 37-page opinion and agree with nearly every word, normally I wouldn’t care enough to make a blog entry out of it.2

But in this case the judge’s name looked familiar, and I figured out why — Judge Tingling is actually a 1982 graduate of my alma mater, the North Carolina Central University School of Law, and was our guest speaker3 at our annual Law Week Banquet my 3L year :spin:

Just wanted to share :) And tell you I’m still alive, still not bankrupt, and still keeping this blog on something at least vaguely resembling life support!

Have a good night y’all! :D

  1. That’s actually what their trial-level courts are called in New York. I don’t get it either… []
  2. Clearly, in light of my near-month-long absence :beatup: []
  3. Along with Congressman G.K. Butterfield, who wasn’t a bad speaker himself! []

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“Now, therefore, be it resolved…” (2013 Edition)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 27, 2013 in Randomness

Good evening y’all! :)

Last year’s resolutions turned out pretty well at 3-for-3, so against my better judgment I decided to keep the practice going for one more year.

I’m a few weeks behind in committing them to writing, but here’s what I’ve got as my top objectives for 2013:

  1. Wrap up the weight loss. I know, I know: cliché alert. After being one of those people who (gently) teased the folks who chronically make “I’m really going to get in shape this year! Really!” resolutions they never try to follow for more than a week, I’m now one of the folks making said resolutions :beatup: In my case I’m serious though! I’d already put in a consistent effort, dropping -27lbs in 4.5 months, but “fell off the wagon” back in late November because I thoroughly despise exercising in the cold. Once it warms back up I’d like to finally get down to my target of 175lbs so I can lighten up a smidge on the low-calorie lifestyle.
  2. Open the first SPICE Center. Forward momentum on NC SPICE was building pretty well at the end of last year… until things with the law firm started picking up and I had to scale back splitting my time between the two. I certainly don’t want the law firm business to slow down (especially since it’s my only avenue for paying bills!) but I’m pushing to get the doors opened on our first SPICE Center so the ball will start rolling on that too.
  3. Finish TGD Law’s fiscal year with $70K+ in revenue. This one’s the least likely of the group — not least of which because 1/12th of the year is already over and we’re not even close to that rate — but I figure it never hurts to dream, right? :D

Any of y’all have resolutions you’re trying to keep? If so, here’s hoping 2013 is a successful year for all of us! :)

More to come this week, have a great night y’all!

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From the New Year’s Resolutions archives:

  • 2013: “Now, therefore, be it resolved…” (2013 Edition)
    • “Wrap up the weight loss”
    • “Open the first SPICE Center”
    • “Finish TGD Law’s fiscal year with $70K+ in revenue”
  • 2012: Mission Accomplished (or “T., Esq.”)
    • “Graduate with honors” (Done!)
    • “Don’t f*ck up my commencement speech” (Done!)
    • “Pass the North Carolina bar exam on the first try” (Done!)
  • 2011: [combined with 2012 post] –
    • “Push my GPA above a 3.0” (Done!… then Failed)
    • “Get back in some semblance of shape” (Failed)
    • “Win something” (Done!)
  • 2010: “Now, therefore, be it resolved…”
    • “Finish 1L year with at least a 3.0 GPA” (Failed)
    • “Make it to, and through, Marine Corps OCS” (Failed)
    • “Finish [UNCASG] strong” (Done!)
  • 2009: [combined with 2010 post] –
    • “Graduate from N.C. State” (Done!)
    • “Win reelection as UNCASG President” (Done!)
    • “Get into law school” (Done!)

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Blawgpocalypse 2.0: Any new law student blawgers?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 14, 2012 in Randomness

It looks like writing a blog has fallen out of fashion among the law school crowd :surprised:

Last night, during a Twitter convo hosted by Alison over at The Girl’s Guide to Law School (hashtag #1Ltools if you want to see the archives), Matt Hollowell at LexisNexis Law School was kind enough to mention the law:/dev/null blogroll in response to a question about active bloggers:1

I was flattered to be recommended, but then a little embarrassed that I’d let the blogroll fall into such decay (it hadn’t been thoroughly updated since September :beatup: ).

So earlier today I set aside some time and combed through the list, checking out the latest entries, looking through the blogrolls of other blawgs to see if there were new folks that I’ve been missing, etc…

…and blawg after blawg after blawg has been shut down or locked up or converted to something not-at-all-law-related :eek:

There were a couple surprises — BrokeJD is back, and imnobody posted briefly before disappearing again — but the moral of the story is that there are surprisingly few active law student bloggers (at least that I can find).

Y’all know I like numbers, so here’s some data.  We’ve got 194 blawgs on the blogroll as of this entry, which I’ve been collecting since my 1L Fall semester in 2009.

Here’s how they break down using the coding system from my 2L Fall blawgpocalypse entry:

  • Active: 70
  • Single-tilde (~), no updates in 1-2 months:  10
  • Double-tilde (~~), no updates in 3-5 months:  15
  • Triple-tilde (~~~), no updates in 6+ months or password-protected or deleted:  99

Over half of law school blogs: totally inactive

That’s not a typo folks: barely a third of the law-related blogs on our list are still being updated, with over half completely inactive :crack:

And that doesn’t consider several “active” blogs that now have nothing at all to do with law or law school; if I took those out of the active count, the inactive numbers would climb even more.

Compare that to the October 2010 blawgpocalypse entry where only 15% of the blawgs were in “~~~” territory… and that was with only 149 blawgs!2

So now that our blogroll has been updated, the main point for this post:  are there any new law student bloggers out there?

The insights and experiences of current/former law students are a great resource for prospective and future ones, and I’d love to have everyone included on our list. If you’re a law student blogging somewhere on the internet and you’re not listed on the right — or you’re reading someone’s law school blog and it’s not there either — please consider posting in the comments or sending me an email (tdot [at] lawdevnull.com) so I can fix it! :D

That’s it from me for tonight, I’m off to go watch some more BarBri lectures and keep grinding away on multiple choice questions. Have a great night y’all! :)

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

  1. This fancy new Twitter-box thing is integrated into the latest WordPress upgrade. If you’re thinking about blogging, you owe it to yourself to use WordPress! []
  2. It makes me feel a smidge anachronistic that law:/dev/null is still around :beatup: []

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