Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 13, 2017 in The After-3L Life
If any of my older readers are still checking this blog occasionally, (1) I love you but (2) you probably need to seek therapy 😉
It’s been over a year since I wrote anything here at law:/dev/null. Officially the longest hiatus from blogging I’d had since I started way back in the halcyon days of my 1L year.
A metric f*ckload of life has happened since then. I ran for office (and got blown out). One of my criminal defense cases went viral. And then it went viral again, and again, and again, and again.
My Twitter followers over time, a 1,599% increase since my last post
So basically Twitter became my home instead of the blogging world 😂
We also did a lot of philanthropy work, raising money for the American Heart Association, SHIFT NC, Crayons2Calculators, and two separate “foodraisers” for the kids at a local elementary school (that looks like it will be an annual thing!).
The intern I hired as my paralegal back in March 2015 passed the July 2015 bar exam and started working for me as an attorney in October 2015, so she’s now been with the firm for more than a year. The attorney in Charlotte I brought on board back in August 2015 still works with us too.
Not everything has been lollipops and rainbows, of course. The catch to being a candidate is that running the campaign nearly bankrupted the law firm. 😞 You might remember from this old post that we opened a Charlotte office in September 2015; well we decided to close it in August 2016 due to the costs, and in the months since I’ve been scrambling to get the law firm back on the upward trajectory it was on before I foolishly opted to jump into the ring.
Oh and I nearly died of pneumonia back in December 2015. But I’m still here!
Getting back into blogging was one of my 3 New Year’s Resolutions this year, so I figured it was time to log back in to the WordPress Dashboard and see how many e-cobwebs had built up in my absence. I’ll clean out the blogroll some time soon, and may or may not change the theme to something more modern — we’ll see.
Until then, thanks for checking in!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 22, 2015 in The After-3L Life
Surprise! It’s a blog post!
I’ve given up trying to preserve the smilies here at law:/dev/null. Not sure when I’ll have the time to go into the archives and replace them in old entries, but from hence forward I’ll do my best to embrace the emojis that are now built-in to WordPress. 😱
Fees earned are still trending up
TGD Law officially finished three years back on September 20th. I still owe y’all a breakdown of how things turned out from Year 2, so add the Year 3 breakdown to that list. Suffice to say fees are still trending upward but the struggle with costs remains… well… a struggle.
On that same note, we opened an office in Charlotte!
Kinda cuts against the whole “Hey we really should contain costs!” narrative from that last paragraph, but I figure I’ve learned enough about how not to run the Durham branch that I think we can make a second office work. 😂
“Wait, did you say ‘we’?”
I did — I’ve actually got two associates who are still able to put up with me! 😮
At some point I’ll have to come up with blog-suitable nicknames for both of them, but one has been my paralegal since March who recently passed the bar exam; I’m hoping she’ll be my #2, once we get her over the whole fear of having never been a lawyer before.
The other has actually been a friend on Twitter (true story!), who I met for the first time during one of my Startup 101 presentations in Charlotte. We had drinks in Raleigh the following Friday, and her skillset was uniquely suited for a multinational corporate fraud case I was working on; she started work sitting in on a deposition I had the next Monday. Hence the impetus for the Charlotte office.
Finances and associates aside, we had what I consider one of our marquee wins since the firm opened — torpedoing a baseless defamation case on summary judgment, after systematically dismantling an opposing counsel who was needlessly confrontational the entire time.
The Patton reference made me smile
We’d represented a nudist group whose board members were sued after they removed another board member for inappropriately touching somebody; the ex-member actually found a lawyer willing to file suit, arguing that he was “defamed” by the removal. Lots of First Amendment issues, and then us discovering he actually had a pattern of groping multiple women over a number of years.
At the onset of the case I got some guidance from Ken White over at Popehat — I’ve been a shameless fanboy of both him and Patrick at the same site since just before I took the bar exam — and gave them a shout-out when the judgment order arrived in my inbox 😊
Of all the motion hearings and trials I’ve had since I started practicing law back in 2012, that one was my most-crisp and thorough. And the case helped me continue develop my knowledge of First Amendment law that I’d started building from representing the Moral Monday protestors in Raleigh (37 of 39 dismissed) and one of the Black Lives Matters protesters here in Durham (also dismissed).
In my personal world, Nan is doing worse 😞 She finally had the operation to take her thyroid out a week or so ago. Apparently at some point during that operation the doctor nicked her parathyroid which (news to me) regulates the body’s store of calcium — while she’s also on medication that hinders calcium absorption. So long story short I’m sitting at my desk yesterday and see my Aunt Diane calling, which I just knew meant Nan was in the hospital. She was taken to the ER where they discovered she had almost no calcium left in her system. She’ll be there for at least 4-5 days until there’s some improvement. I’m crossing my fingers that things will turn around but I’m not optimistic.
Samson is still a pain in the butt. We’ve reached a détente of sorts with him destroying the apartment, but he’s taken to scratching at the doors to the bathroom and my bedroom, and (when that didn’t do the job) chewing at the wood paneling around them. Needless to say I won’t be getting my security deposit back.
There’s been more since then — asked by MDG to volunteer with the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, creating a new endowment at the NCSU Libraries to focus on collections on student leadership, my frustration with both parties in the General Assembly when it comes to the economy and our court system, etc etc etc — but hopefully I’ll do a better job of updating things here and will have those as future topics.
Hope all of you are doing well!
From the law:/dev/null archives:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 17, 2015 in The After-3L Life
It’s probably fitting that a series of blog posts on how life has gotten in the way of me blogging (Part I, Part II, Part III) would get interrupted for 2.5 months because of life getting in the way of me blogging
I’m still here. Samson is still here. TGD Law is still here.
Even law:/dev/null is still here somehow, after 6 years last week. WordPress has advanced so much that I desperately need to find a new theme — and will have to go back and remove the smilies, since they’re now getting replaced with standardized emoji — so keep an eye out for that.
I’d update y’all on more, but it’s late and I’m beat. More stuff to come soon though (seriously!)…
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 28, 2015 in The After-3L Life
One of the other factors in my lengthy hiatus was seasonal: the annual ritual of trial advocacy competitions!
Some of you might remember back in February of last year I penned this bittersweet entry celebrating the accomplishments of some students I coached in the TYLA National Trial Competition, but sharing my disappointment that my talents were being used to benefit UNCCH Law rather than my own alma mater.
Well this year was… interesting.
The folks at UNCCH Law plan ahead, and had contacted me at the beginning of last August to ask if I’d come back for the 2015 competition. And me, being the naïve person I am, told them to give me some time so I could check with NCCU Law — just in case the whole “us kicking NCCU’s rears” would prompt them to let me come home.
(cue the “LOL!”s)
I hit up my old coach to ask for his advice. We met over lunch to talk that week, and he told me to hold off with the acceptance; he was going to step down as coach, and wanted to recommend me as his replacement. All I’d need to do is contact the advisor for the Trial Advocacy Board and let her know.
So I do. And get her voicemail.
A week goes by without a response. I call again. Voicemail.
A few more days go by, and I stop by the school in person. She’s teaching a class so I leave a note.
Another week goes by without a response.
It was around the third week in August when I learn that Prof CrimLaw had now been made the new Dean of our clinical programs (which also has responsibility for our competition teams), so I reached out to him. He suggested I contact a different professor who is now in charge of overseeing competition programs for everybody across both the Trial Advocacy Board and the Moot Court Board — and that, whatever she says, not to feel any shame or regret for working for a different law school. “That’s what we do as lawyers.”
So I call the other professor. She actually answers the phone ( ) and asks me to give her until that Friday. Then actually calls me back when she said she would!
Just to tell me that the first professor told her my old coach was coming back for another year…
(cue the “#dafuq?”s)
Now this call to me happened around 3pm-ish. Keep that in mind.
I email UNCCH my acceptance that afternoon and resign myself to going another year without helping my own alma mater.
The following Monday I text my old coach and say “Guess I’ll be seeing y’all in Charleston” — and almost immediately get a text back, even though it’s during work hours and he’s rarely that quick with a response. “Call me after lunch.”
We connect later that afternoon, and he’s just as confused as I am. Turns out no one from NCCU Law had contacted him until after they had told me he was coming back. But he hadn’t changed his mind: he still wasn’t coming back, so he asked if I still wanted to coach NCCU (duh). I’d already emailed my acceptance to UNCCH though and couldn’t break my commitment to them.
(cue the sad trombones)
Well fast forward to the end of January. I survive the car drama and make it down to Charleston. Both TYLA teams do admirably well under the circumstances but neither advance. I drive back feeling like I failed.
Then about two weeks later I get a call from NCCU.
Turns out the AAJ coaches had quit unexpectedly, and no one seemed to notice until a month after the problem packet had been released. The second professor asked if I’d be willing to step in (duh again). Given the short timing I bring in EIC as a co-coach, we get started about a month after everyone else…
NCCU Law’s 2015 AAJ trial team. From left: me, Petal Munroe, Shelvia Dancy, Joshua Palmer, Jaimee Bullock, and EIC
…and make it to the Regional Finals for the first time since 1998.
(cue the victory trumpets)
At various points during the month of February, EIC and I both had our doubts. Really right up until competition (the last practice did not go well at all).
But then when the first round happened, she and I were both totally blown away. So much so that we both did a look at each other like “Where did this come from??”
And then did it again in the 2nd round. And again in the 3rd. And again in the semifinals. When it was all said and done, a new plaque was getting added to the trophy case at the law school.
There’s a lot getting glossed over here simply because this entry is pushing 1,000 words and I realize many of you won’t actually read that far. But trust me when I say it was a busy-but-interesting Spring semester
So after two years of coaching, of two law schools, in two different competitions, I’ve had the privilege of helping a batch of proto-lawyers make the regional finals both years. I’m going to count that as a 100% success rate.
Now we’ll just see if NCCU Law finally lets me come back for 2016…
Good night y’all!
From the law:/dev/null competition-related archives:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 25, 2015 in The After-3L Life
You could probably guess from the “(Part I)” atop the last entry that the financial consequences of driving a 13-year-old car aren’t the only source of life-related drama over the past however-many months.
My family is also a mess.
Sister of TDot is back in a mental institution. She apparently went voluntarily this time around, which is a switch from her past visits. I’m told schizoaffective disorder is the official diagnosis — basically a combination of schizophrenia and bipolarism — but the particular reasons for her commitment don’t really matter; she gets committed, gets medicated, convinces doctors to release her, immediately stops taking meds, and the cycle of violence and craziness repeats until she’s committed again.
I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know something needs to change or she needs to be cut loose from the rest of the family. Just because she’s not responsible for her mental illness doesn’t mean she’s not responsible for going off her meds knowing what the end result will be. But my family tolerates it because (this is the actual response I get) “what are we supposed to do, let her die?” Like the thousands upon thousands of Americans living reasonably normal lives despite mental health issues are incapable of surviving…
My mom is (theoretically at least) finally waking up. I’ve obliquely hinted in past entries that I’d had some personal experiences growing up when it came to domestic violence. Evidently things have gotten totally out of control as the situation with my sister has deteriorated.
Mom has been talking about leaving since before I left for NC State — the first time — and I missed several events my 3L year while pacing the hallway listening to her on the phone as she gave me every excuse under the sun for why she just couldn’t get up and start over. And it’s been a once-every-couple-months conversation in the years since I graduated. But she started a GoFundMe page seeking help, which at least means she’s more-seriously thinking about dealing with things than before.
I love both of my parents, but their current environment is toxic as f*ck and they both need to start acting like adults. For better or worse, that likely means splitting up.
Nan is not doing well As callous as it probably sounds as you read it on screen, my heart hurts moreso from that than all the (avoidable) drama with my parents and sister. There have been various hints here and there over the years — her handwriting had gotten steadily worse when she sent birthday cards, for a brief period of time she’d lost a lot of her hair — but it didn’t really sink in until I went home to see Nan and Pops for Easter.
Some of the handrails added to Nan’s & Pops’s house
I usually try to go up 3-4x a year and had just been there for Christmas a few months prior, but when I arrived this most-recent trip I noticed there was a handrail added to the step up from the garage. And another running the length of the hallway. And a quartet of them in the bathroom. Turns out she’s had progressive trouble walking without assistance, had fallen at least once, and needs these to make sure she can move around on her own. Pops also bought a pair of short-wave walkie talkies in case she needed him while he was out in the garage.
The doctors say she needs her thyroid taken out. And then they had to scuttle the operation because of an anomaly in the pre-operation angiogram. A trip to the cardiologist revealed total blockage in one coronary artery and 60% blockage in another. So meds were prescribed for that and now we wait at some point for another trip to the original people to work on the thyroid. It’s a mess.
Now trust me y’all, I do realize I have little real reason to be upset. Nan’s mentally still in good spirits. I think even she would agree that she’s lived a long life. Her mentality towards old age and death is where I largely picked up mine (e.g. she refuses to take the aforementioned medications because they make her feel “yucky” afterwards. “What’s the point of getting older if I’m going to be miserable?” and all). And plenty of friends at younger ages than me don’t have grandparents around anymore — while mine have seen me graduate high school, college, law school, and become more-or-less financially self-sufficient.
But it still sucks. A lot.
The advantage to moving to North Carolina way back in 1998 — being able to escape my family — cuts the other direction when I’m reminded there’s inevitably going to come a day when I’m the only one here. I’m hoping that day is still many years off of course. And I try to deal with it by not thinking about it and pouring myself into my work. It’s just one of those things that weighs on you sometimes, you know?
Anyhow, Part III later this week. Good night y’all!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 22, 2015 in The After-3L Life
Soooo it’s been not-quite-half-a-year since my last entry back in December. And the frequency of these disappearances is sufficiently frequent that it’s actually a preface to almost every single entry in the past year
I’d pretend that I’m going to be more consistent with the updates, but at this point y’all know better
That’s not to say I haven’t wanted to post stuff; I wasn’t kidding when I said back in my very first post of 1L year that writing here is cathartic for me. But a couple things have contributed to my absence: (i) I utterly fail at trying to set a work-life balance, and by the time I get home I just want to watch TV or sleep; and (ii) I’ve gotten hooked on a lot of different TV shows, so the whole “watch TV” side of the “watch TV or sleep” equation wins out a lot.
In any event, here I am! First post in five months is starting somewhere right?
As you can probably imagine, there’s been quite a bit of life upheaval since December. But the most expensive one has been my car.
Yes, my car finally died. After so much maintenance it merited not just one but two separate blog posts, along with asides in other entries here and here and here, the damn thing finally croaked in January.
I had just gotten brand new tires put on about a week prior, was heading down to Charlotte, and made it to Kannapolis before the engine started revving to 6K-7Krpms before catching and lurching forward, over and over again. Turns out the transmission had died — but of course I didn’t know that at the time. So I made it to a parking spot, called a friend at Charlotte School of Law to take me to get a rental (since I’d have to be back in Durham to take out Samson), forgot to leave the car key so overnighted that to a different friend who in turn got the car to a supposedly reputable repair shop… who couldn’t recreate the problem
So instead I spent about $600 in deferred maintenance thinking that would fix it. I take the rental back to Charlotte on Friday, pick up my car, head back to Durham… and make it about 2/3 of the way before the same @#$%ing problem starts happening again
I finally get back to Durham going about 20mph on I-40 for an hour, drive the car straight to a transmission shop without even making it to the apartment, and get told they’ll take a look at it that afternoon. So I call yet another friend to hitch a ride to a CLE happening while the car’s in the shop. I get out of the CLE around 4:30pm, call the repair shop… and find out they can’t recreate the problem either.
And they’re gonna close before I can get there.
And they’re not open on weekends.
Cashing in friend favors faster than is appropriate for anyone, I call EIC and beg her to borrow her car for the weekend — I was coaching the UNCCH TYLA team again (a topic for a whole separate entry), and that particular weekend was dress rehearsals before we’d be heading to Charleston SC for the competition at the end of the week. She thankfully agrees so I’m at least mobile for the weekend.
Well fast forward to the following Monday. The repair shop has finally recreated the problem and confirmed the transmission is toast. And it’ll take at least $2K to repair. Oh and they don’t have the parts to fix it in a timely fashion, so I’m looking at several weeks before I get my car back.
I borrow the third friend to take me to get another rental so I can do what needs to be done before competition. And for better or worse that includes buying a new car.
The law firm limo is dead. Long live the law firm limo.
Sooo yeah. Dropped $$$$$ on an old car that turned out to not be drivable.
By the grace of sweet cherubic baby Jesus I was able to qualify for a no-money-down loan through Navy Federal Credit Union in the middle of the car drama, and started negotiating with some different places at the same time I was holding out hope the Focus could be salvaged.
But instead I’m now enjoying a new Hyundai Elantra
The car payment is terrifying, especially after not having one for the better part of a decade. The advances in technology make it feel like I was driving a dinosaur though — and frankly I appreciate knowing the car’s not going to break down any time soon.
I drove it to Charleston for TYLA, Washington DC, Virginia Beach, and a ton of places in between since I got it. Putting about 12,000 miles on it already despite only having it for four months this week
Anyhow, I’m back! The WordPress Word Counter says I’ve already blown past the 800+ word mark so I’ll cut things here. Hope all of you are still doing well, thanks to the few of you who still read law:/dev/null, and look for another entry sooner rather than later!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 30, 2014 in The After-3L Life
I knew it had been awhile since I’d written something here, but it didn’t really click that it had been sooo long until Thanksgiving this past week
It also served as a reminder that an awful lot of stuff can happen in just three months.
Needless to say, things have been hectic. My associates both found (much) better paying jobs. I briefly brought in a trio of interns who didn’t pass the bar and needed to make ends meet for a little bit. Won a pair of awards. Lost a pair of trials I should have won. Then (when I was seriously questioning wtf I was doing with my life) won another pair of trials I should have lost. Fought with Samson. Fought with opposing counsel. Fought with my alma mater. Spent a much-needed Thanksgiving break with my grandparents. The list goes on.
The law firm has survived its second full year and was still somewhat profitable. Fees earned went up +37%, but expenses climbed +32% so that pretty much washed out the gain; net profit went up just over $1K. I’ll post a full finance breakdown at some point in the near-term(-ish) future.
The other cool thing that happened was making my debut on the law-related speaker circuit
A room. Of lawyers. Listening to me.
After helping a dozen or so folks start their own law firms, and keeping pretty thorough records on my own startup experience, a few months ago I was asked to put together a presentation for a North Carolina Bar Association group called Starting Out Solo that focuses on lawyers who have just started a solo practice or are thinking about going that direction.
The presentation was basically supposed to be a “how to” guide on starting up a law firm, with an added section glommed on about doing the monthly trust account reconciliations.
And a bunch of people showed up
Even though I’ve been doing presentations on leadership development and on Robert’s Rules of Order for years now, I was crazy nervous presenting to a room full of peers (you can tell my hands were shaking from how blurry the picture I took turned out). But it went very well — so much so that I was asked to do the same presentation for a CLE in October and another one coming up in a couple weeks.
Things have been hectic. But still good
Sorry for being MIA for months at a stretch y’all. Should have more soon. Have a great night!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 21, 2014 in The After-3L Life
It’s been two months since the last entry here at law:/dev/null. Things have been busy at TGD Law (which is A Good Thing™), but frankly I’ve also been wrestling with some personal demons so trying to find the motivation to write has been more of a struggle than just the run-of-the-mill “can’t find the time!” that is usually to blame.
I’m still trying to get myself together. I’m not there yet. But I will be.
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 21, 2014 in The After-3L Life
To the extent not doing something can be considered habit-forming, I slipped back into my old habit of not updating law:/dev/null on a regular basis — I wrote a “stub” for a handful of entries, never actually finished them, and now they’re just not nearly as interesting as I thought they were at the time.
So rather than an in-depth entry this go-round, I’m gonna go with one of those bullet-point updates I use in situations where I’ve been gone awhile:
- A couple weeks ago I agreed to join a classmate at the veterinarian for moral support as she had one of her dogs put to sleep. This particular pooch was in horrible shape — cataracts, tumors, seizures, unable to eat, tremendous weight loss — so euthanasia “made sense.” But it still ranks among the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Ever. Over the past 33 years I’ve lost pets, I’ve lost friends, I’ve been to funerals; the pain from those losses is real, but totally unrivaled compared to being inches away watching as a living thing takes its last breath. In her case I was horrible as moral support because I’m pretty sure I cried more than she did (and it wasn’t even my dog). Not an experience I want to repeat.
- That same afternoon I came back to the TGD Law headquarters to resume work, and met my first bona fide batsh*t crazy prospective client. He was referred to me by another lawyer, said he had an issue that fell squarely within my realm of expertise, and had $5,000.00 in-hand ready to pay me — until I started asking him questions, his responses threw up red flags, I asked more questions, and got more nonsense. Essentially what he wanted me to do was get myself disbarred trying to use the legal system to pursue a foreclosure-related scam, with nearly a dozen different justifications already debunked in North Carolina appellate law that he heard at some seminar he paid to attend in Florida. It was a horribly awkward consultation, and he was mystified when I told him I couldn’t take his money and then sent him on his way. After nearly 2 years in practice I hadn’t met anyone with a truly outlandish claim; he is now officially at the top of the list.
- Speaking of TGD Law: I convinced two of my NCCU Law classmates to come work for the firm starting this past Monday Shutterbug is now on board helping with the business law side of the practice, as well as the Class of 2013 President Miss ርእሰብሔር helping with the higher education / criminal defense side. It’s slightly nerve-wracking knowing I’ve now got a team of people to look after. We’ve all got complementary strengths, though, so I’m hoping it will lead to greater success for all of us
- That same day, I was walking back to my car after lunch with one of my good friends from my UNCASG days (the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel reporter assigned to cover ASG at the time). As we get near the parking deck we happen to pass two uniformed officers with the Durham Police Department. I say hello as we pass, one of the officers mentions he likes the NCCU Law baseball cap I’m wearing, and after a few more paces I hear the same officer shout “Doucette, right?” For an ever-so-brief instant, my mind raced to figure out what I could possibly have done to merit me getting arrested. Turns out he’s a third-year student in the law school’s evening program who had visited law:/dev/null on occasion and wanted to let me know. Felt pretty cool after the fact but I was definitely nervous beforehand!
- Even though I’m in my mid-30s, in my mind I’m still somewhere in my mid-20s. Then Q.T. sent me a text earlier tonight to let me know she’s the new Student Government advisor at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics and wants me to do my training program for them in the Fall. And I realized: Son of TDot is now the same age as most NCSSMers I’ll be training kids who are quite literally young enough to be my own children…
- I also spent the afternoon helping conduct the character and fitness interviews for the 14th Judicial District Bar I don’t think I ever finished the post I meant to write way back in 2012 about my own experience, but it was marginally terrifying at the time — so I thought I’d volunteer in the hopes of making it not terrifying for this year’s batch of applicants. It was a fun experience, plus I got to serve with another lawyer I met for the first time who handles an area of law I will never touch if I can help it (ZombieLaw). I’m looking forward to doing it again next year if they need me.
- I’ve also got an incredibly important brief due Monday that I haven’t started yet So time to close this entry out so I can get to bed and start tomorrow!
That’s the extent of what’s been new and exciting in my life. I hope all of you are doing well, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 2, 2014 in The After-3L Life
…self-employment taxes suck.
Even after tracking every single penny spent by the business, every mile driven, every conceivable deduction — and not even making that much to begin with — I still somehow owe $1,300 in taxes to the federal government
(North Carolina, by contrast, is giving me a $12 refund.)
I see why small business owners learn to hate the government…