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Speaking of QuickBooks…

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 :crack:

(North Carolina, by contrast, is giving me a $12 refund.)

I see why small business owners learn to hate the government…

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Getting intimate (with QuickBooks)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 31, 2014 in The After-3L Life

I hit a point a couple months ago where I had more work at TGD Law than I could handle on my own. Like cleaning out flagged email from my inbox, I had a sense of accomplishment when my active caseload shrunk from 100+ down to a more manageable 75ish.1

More work than I can handle also meant money-making cases were sitting idle, so I started making plans to bring in more personnel. That in turn prompted me to look at things like my firm’s balance sheet statement and my profit & loss statement — things I knew existed from my 2L Business Associations class, but that I never had much actual reason to review while I was busy chasing new clients.

And that, in turn, led me to spend the past 4 hours dabbling in QuickBooks as I discovered I’d done a few things totally wrong since I started 20 months ago :beatup:

I’ve been a QuickBooks user since 2005 when I was hired to be a lobbyist for a small firm in downtown Raleigh.2 While my boss originally hired me for my political acumen (and the ability to break bread with the then-minority Republicans as he schmoozed the Democrats), I offered to also use my financial skills on the company’s behalf in exchange for an early pay raise. QuickBooks became my go-to app for managing my own checkbook from there.

So when I started TGD Law, naturally QB was the only accounting software I considered. And having already run one company with it, getting things set up for the law firm was straightforward. But since I had requested an extension on my 2013 tax returns, and didn’t have that much activity to go through for my 2012 taxes last year, I never noticed before now that my books weren’t quite as clean as they should be :(

For example: an accountant told me that when I use my personal funds on behalf of the law firm, I should record it in QuickBooks as a loan to the firm — but subsequent accountants have told me that’s a no-no, and should instead be recorded as a capital contribution to the firm (to which I discovered I’ve somehow contributed $36K over not-quite-two years :surprised: ).

Conversely, when I’d pay myself I would mark it down as a payroll expense; the same subsequent accountants tell me that too is a no-no, and that as a single-member LLC I should instead mark them down as capital distributions.

Then there were my insurance expenses (malpractice insurance and health insurance are treated differently for tax purposes) and a handful of other small items.

Hence spending what was going to be a productive Saturday instead cleaning up several dozen accounting entries :beatup:

There’s no real overarching “moral of the story” to this post (except maybe to hire a competent accountant early in your practice). Just consider yourself forewarned if you decide to go the solo/small practice route that you’ll want to get your accounting stuff squared away sooner rather than later :)

Have a great night y’all! :D

  1. It took awhile to sink into my brain that 1 civil litigation case is (typically) more involved than 1 criminal case. I’d been benchmarking myself against classmates routinely handling 200+ cases at a time, before discovering most of them were traffic tickets :beatup: []
  2. Where they apparently still haven’t removed me from the “About Us” section of their website 8 years later… :crack: []

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Litigating against Goliath PLLC

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 15, 2014 in The After-3L Life

Samson and I get a lot of law-related magazines each month at the TDot Household.

From the American Bar Association there’s the ABA Journal, GPSolo, and The Young Lawyer (now restyled “tyl”). The Federal Bar Association sends me The Federal Lawyer. With the NC Bar Association there’s the quarterly NC Lawyer and the NCBA YLD’s The Advocate. The State Bar itself sends the quarterly State Bar Journal. Then of course there’s the must-read NC Lawyers Weekly that comes every Monday.

(And that’s just the stuff that arrives in the mailbox. There are a half-dozen more e-newsletters I get in my inbox, whether I’ve signed up for them or not :beatup: )

So with all that stuff to read — stuff that takes time away from reading case law and client-focused things — it’s not unusual for me to be a few days/weeks/months behind. Then one day over breakfast or lunch or dinner I’ll randomly decide I’m actually going to try and read something from the backlog.

Yesterday was one of those days. I’m eating a sausage biscuit for breakfast, open up the latest copy of the ABA Journal, get to the Letters to the Editor section, and notice one of the letters is about an attorney “Hunoval” touting Lean Six Sigma as a way to run a law firm.

He just happened to share the last name of a firm I’ve got a case against in US District Court for the Middle District of NC.1 And, given how uncommon the name is, I say aloud to myself “I wonder if this is the same firm?”, go digging for my March edition of the ABA Journal,2 and find this multi-page firm profile confirming it’s the same firm and going into detail on their process.

Now there’s nothing I can really say about the Hunoval Law Firm itself that wouldn’t get misconstrued.3 So this post isn’t about them per se, but rather about the ABA Journal’s fawning coverage of using Lean Six Sigma in a litigation-heavy law firm.

Is this really the recipe we want for running future firms, especially ones who regularly use the courts?

The thing about statistical processing is that, by definition, it ignores the individual in favor of the group. Cases get transformed from individual people with individual problems to cookie cutter file batches subjected to cookie cutter solutions.

And while I have -0- doubt that certainly does improve speed and efficiency, I’m not convinced it necessarily also yields quality or ethical litigation.

Take my client’s case as an example. Without getting into too much detail about the merits, it’s self-evident from the exhibits attached to our injunction request (and our reply to the Defendants’ response to that request) that something is very clearly “off” with the mortgagee’s accounting. The same mortgagee likely handles hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts; this one account happens to have a problem.

In a situation like that, one would hope an individual person could recognize the individual account has an individual problem and then tailor an individual solution.

Instead — no doubt from using the same principles of statistics-driven efficiency touted by the ABA Journal’s fluff piece — the mortgagee still can’t get things right years later, the account has been the subject of litigation since 2010 across multiple state and federal courts,4 and it will continue at least until we get to trial in April 2015.

The individual has been lost in the shuffle, even though “the individual” is ultimately what any given lawsuit revolves around.

Look, I’m all for saving my clients money and being more efficient.

But I’m also in favor of being an excellent lawyer. And that comes first on my hierarchy of career-related aspirations.

  1. If you’ve got a PACER account, take a look when you get bored — the case name is Annette M. Hayes v. Self-Help Credit Union, RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation, Five Brothers Mortgage Company Services and Securing Inc, and Douglas Allan Stuart a/k/a “D.A. Stuart”. The file number is 1:13-cv-880 (MDNC). []
  2. Which at that point I still hadn’t read :beatup: []
  3. Praise them and I’m just buttering them up to settle; criticize them and I’m just sharing sour grapes over them not settling. Either way we lose. []
  4. A foreclosure case in Wilson County Superior Court, a federal bankruptcy filing in EDNC, our tort suit in Durham County Superior Court removed to MDNC, and a new foreclosure case in Wilson County Superior Court (filed to pressure us to settle). There’s no telling how many trees have died over just this one account… :crack: []

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It’s already May?!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 1, 2014 in The After-3L Life

Nothing substantive to write about tonight. Just noting that SWEET BABY JESUS A FULL THIRD OF THE YEAR IS OVER ALREADY! :crack:

Time downright flies when it’s spent trying to pay the rent…

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Warm fuzzies… despite losing a case

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 30, 2014 in The After-3L Life

I thought about making this another “Things TDot Likes” entry, but after just posting one of those on Monday I figured it would be a little repetitive.

(And it would also have been the third flattery-related entry in the series :beatup: )

I’ve mentioned in a trio of older entries (here and here and here) that I’m representing a few dozen folks arrested as part of the left-wing Moral Mondays protests down at the North Carolina General Assembly.1

The group effort trying to defend these taxpayers took a downhill turn about a month ago, when it became apparent that the single judge responsible for hearing all 900+ of these cases at the District Court level was totally unconvinced of the Constitution-based arguments being advanced.2

I was particularly annoyed because, out of all the trials I’d sat in on,3 the various Assistant District Attorneys misstated the relevant case law.

Every. single. time.

So when my next batch of folks were up for trial — two ministers from the mountains, and a retired schoolteacher from the coast — my preparation focused on rejiggering my closing arguments to cut through the bullsh*t and get right to the core of the First Amendment issues.4

And then we lost anyway.5 :(

Well yesterday I got this note from one of them despite the conviction :surprised:

I’ve included the text for those of you who can’t read the image (chunks redacted to avoid any issues with attorney-client confidentiality):

The highlight of my Tuesday

The highlight of my Tuesday

April 21, 2014

Dear Greg,

[Redacted] and I cannot thank you enough for the generous gift of your time, your positive and upbeat spirit, and your outstanding efforts on our behalf [redacted] as you defended us in court!

Even though it was pretty much a foregone conclusion before we ever got started that the judge would find us guilty, that did not deter you from giving us your best efforts; and Indeed, in our minds, we thought your closing arguments were worthy of presentation to the Supreme Court!

In short, [redacted] (and [redacted], too!) felt extremely well cared for and extremely well represented. And I felt especially grateful to you for your role in helping us say why we chose to do what we did — which, after all, was the point of doing it in the first place.

So the bottom line is this: THANKS! Thanks for volunteering to do all this at no charge. Thanks for your good lawyering and brilliant closing arguments. And thanks for leading us through this strange (to us) process with patience, kindness and respect. It was a joy working with you and getting to know you, not just as a competent lawyer but as a real person!

[Redacted]. We hope our paths cross again in the future (not necessarily in the courtroom!), and we wish you all the best in every way.

Gratefully and sincerely,

[Redacted]

I may or may not have gotten a smidge misty-eyed for an ever-so-brief moment. But mostly just smiled like a goober :spin:

I hate losing. Hate it. Haaaaaaate it. And I know the odds are good my win-loss record is going to get blown to smithereens with these cases.

But these are still good folks (even if I totally disagree with their politics). I’m honored to represent them. And I’m going to continue working my ass off to try and rack up some Ws for them.

Just in case I ever find myself needing to argue to the Supreme Court :)

  1. A subject for which I’ve been frequently pilloried by friends and frenemies alike. I penned this letter to the Raleigh News & Observer for those folks as an FYI. :* []
  2. In a nutshell: (i) the so-called Legislative Building Rules used as the basis for the arrests are both vague and overbroad, and thus are not valid time/place/manner restrictions under First Amendment jurisprudence; (ii) there are reams of due process issues; and (iii) there’s the little problem of that whole entire section of the North Carolina Constitution that declares (in part) the people have “a right to assemble together… to instruct their representatives and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.” []
  3. I’ve been providing tech support to the other attorneys on a regular basis so I’d seen a lot of these cases. []
  4. First noting that nearly every significant First Amendment case started with some government agent on the ground floor making a mistake, well-meaning or otherwise (the judge’s sympathy for the Police Chief has influenced her decision-making I think). Then moving to the three “decision points” in First Amendment analysis: protected vs less-protected vs unprotected speech, traditional public vs traditional non-public vs designated public fora, and then the internal vs external standard applied. It went over very well… for all of 10 seconds. []
  5. I do take some solace in knowing the ADA was caught off guard by the argument and was looking for case law on Google Scholar before her closing because she was worried I’d finally gotten through to the judge. A moral victory I guess? (Pun intended. Yes I know it was a bad one. :beatup: ) []

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The Lingering Bitterness of Undercharging…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 25, 2014 in The After-3L Life

I’ve written before about the need for lawyers to be able to charge less while still making a living.

But every now and then I regret practicing what I preach…

Without going into too much detail, yesterday I resolved a case involving one of my business clients. When they hired me awhile back I thought they had a horrible case — on the hook for $51,000+ with an unconvincing defense. So I quoted a low flat fee rather than charging by the hour or some other arrangement.

Well a month or so in, I discovered a key piece of evidence for the Plaintiff wasn’t what the Plaintiff thought it was. And yesterday (after more than a year of working on it) everything got settled.

Final price tag: $3,000

Client savings: $48,000

My fee: $750 :beatup:

I’m thrilled for my client’s 6,300% return on their investment, but I really wish I had charged more now…

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The Wild Roller Coaster of Solo Practice

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 21, 2014 in The After-3L Life

Happy Monday y’all :)

It’s become a bit of a habit with these posts to note it’s been ages since I last wrote one, I’m not keeping up with my New Year’s resolution to write more, “zomg life is soooo busy!” and so on.

The underlying premise, of course, being that I really really really want to write something but I just haven’t had the time.

That’s still true — there’s been a bunch of cool stuff going on in life over the past 2 months that I wanted to write about1 — but a big chunk of the reason for my absence is that life overall has… well… kinda sucked :beatup:

If you’re one of our long-time law:/dev/null readers2, you might remember how I’d stress out as we got near the end of the semester, building up to the don’t-sleep-for-a-few-days exam week followed by a reprieve for a few weeks before things started all over again.3

6.5 calls per business day: good! Turning cases away: not so much

6.5 calls per business day: good! Turning cases away: not so much

Well running your own law firm is a bit like that. Except you never really get the reprieve (unless you’re slowly going out of business).

Things at TGD Law have been beyond busy; we’ve been averaging 6-7 calls every single day each month, there are over 1,300+ fans of the TGD Law Facebook page, and a growing number of those incoming phone calls / emails / etc have been from folks who’ve heard I kick @ss in a courtroom.

But I’ve also got more work than I can handle, and I’ve been turning away cases left and right because I refuse to let my work product slip for the folks who have already hired me.4

The catch to turning away cases, of course, is that there’s very little money coming in. That, in turn, means no staff. Which in turn means I’m stuck spending time on menial work that I’d really like to farm out to a paralegal or file clerk. Which in turn means no matter how much I work, I feel like nothing gets done.

The sense of complete and utter futility I’ve had the past few weeks is actually pretty well encapsulated in a graph of my weight loss efforts: past progress has been undone, and now I’m treading water until I can out-think my problems.

That 27lb drop? Bar prep

That 27lb drop? Bar prep

It’s led to me sleeping an awful lot, watching TV when I’d probably be better off working or blogging,5 and finding it beyond difficult to focus on things instead of my usual unproductively-trying-to-multitask-across-a-dozen-things-at-once.

So rather than blog about being blah, I figured I’d spare y’all the bellyaching until I got my sh*t together ;)

I can’t guarantee that’s happened yet of course, but fingers are firmly crossed! This past Easter weekend I brought some work home with me when I went up to visit my grandparents, and made some headway on several cases. I’ve started doing a list of a few high-priority items a day that simply must get done, and that’s helped me wrap my mind around things a smidge better.

Anyhow, I don’t have much more to write about at the moment — just wanted to let y’all know I’m not dead and I haven’t forgotten about you! :D

More blog posts sooner than later (certainly in less than 60 days).

  1. I was invited to be a guest at a professionalism dinner at my alma mater, served on an ABA-LSD panel on going solo, coached two NCCU Law moot court teams, judged the 1L Mary Wright Competition and the Clifton Johnson Moot Court Competition, had a trial of some of my Moral Monday folks, did a bunch more stuff I can’t recall at the moment, and at some point in the middle turned 33 years old. Life has been crazy! :crack: []
  2. **THANK YOU** btw! :* []
  3. It’s a testament to how long I’ve been away from blogging regularly that I can’t actually find the old links to the appropriate entries for that :beatup: []
  4. I’d rather be an amazing poor lawyer than a substandard rich one. []
  5. Not sure what my list of shows included before, but it’s now got The Walking Dead, Suits, Turn, Scandal, Mythbusters, and Psych reruns on it []

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TGD Law: Year 1 Recap

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 12, 2013 in The After-3L Life

For better or worse, it’s a sign of my near-terminal inability to get back into the blogging routine that it took more than a month since my last entry. :beatup:

Several folks reminded me of the extended absence this week so I thought I’d cobble something together. :D

A couple weeks ago, back on September 21st, I officially hit the 1-year anniversary of starting my own law firm right out of law school. And with that milestone came the attendant benchmark-assessing / income-calculating / win-loss-recording administrivia.

The results were not what I’d have guessed they would be when I started: my workload has been absurd, my time management skills suck, and if my tax return is to be believed I’m financially more destitute now than when I was a homeless college dropout.1

I’m also apparently a much better lawyer than I am a businessman :crack:

A peek into the TGD Law bank account after Year 1

A peek into the TGD Law financials after Year 1

On the right is a chart I put together with some of the details from the year running from 21 September 2012 to 20 September 2013, with the percent of my practice areas based on gross income.

On the lawyer side of things, in the one year since I started practicing (and the not-quite-200 clients I’ve had in that time) I’ve only lost 1 case.2 I stopped keeping tracking of the wins entirely because it started sounding absurd when folks would ask how the year had gone; needless to say, I’ve been very fortunate on the trial front.

But I’ve also made some very boneheaded decisions in the money-making department. :beatup:

Key example #1: burning several hundred dollars’ worth of gas helping a guy I met at NC State with a dozen criminal charges (pro bono).

Key example #2: taking a personal check from an attorney I represented in a foreclosure case… whose check promptly bounced after I saved her home (and who still hasn’t paid me several months later).3 :mad:

As much as I love piling up good karma, I’m doing this to make a living — so (also needless to say) I’m a bit disappointed with how the first year has turned out.

The one bright spot in the data, aside from the win-loss record, is that more than half my practice is already in my preferred focus area helping small businesses. I have absolutely no clue how that’s happened given the still-not-completed status of the TGD Law website but on that I’m not going to complain. :)

"Did I hear you say 'food'??"

“Did I hear you say ‘dinner’??”

Things are also improving (thank goodness): the first 11 days of October 2013 have brought in more than my first two full months of practice from 09/21/12 to 11/20/12.

I just hope/pray it continues, because Samson isn’t as big a fan of ramen noodles for dinner as I am. ;)

So there’s a glimpse into the life of one particular starting-from-scratch solo practitioner! I’m still a strong supporter of the whole going solo option — I’d venture that nearly 100% of y’all could easily outperform these financial metrics — I’m just maybe a smidge more cynical than when I began.

Hope all of you have been doing well, and enjoy the rest of your weekends! :D

  1. Back then I might have been homeless, but at least I wasn’t sporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt… []
  2. It was a foreclosure defense case on an investment property that I had no business trying to defend: my clients lived in California and refused to come to court, and none of North Carolina’s foreclosure statutes protect investment homes like they do primary residences. And I still somehow got things delayed by 6 months… B-) []
  3. An attorney! :crack: []

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Yep, I’m still here

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 30, 2013 in The After-3L Life

Hey y’all :)

At least a couple folks felt “punk’d” by my last entry, where I mentioned there’d be more “tomorrow” (as in June 21st) and then disappeared for two months.

I had an actual defense this time though! I did have a plan for a “tomorrow” post, but life decided to intervene, put me in an eminently crabby mood, and I figured y’all wouldn’t want to read me ranting and raving about any of it until I had a chance to reflect ;)

Quite a bit has happened over the past two months:

  • More W’s: The law practice has been proceeding apace, with court appearances on a fairly regular basis and -0- new losses. In particular I thoroughly obliterated opposing counsel and saved a woman’s home from a wrongful foreclosure out in Wilson County back in June.1 For more details, see the second-from-last entry in this list. :D

  • The Chicago trip itself: We’ve all heard the word “clusterf*ck”.2 Well my Chicago trip was like a cluster*ck club, with several slices of awesome sandwiched between two pieces of near-unmitigated disaster — including yet another run-in with the TSA. I did get to catch up with several old classmates though, including one of my best friends from my UNCASG days during my layover in Atlanta, so overall it was a pretty great experience. I’ve got some notes and will (hopefully) work on an entry about it at some point down the road.

  • Church: A few weeks back I went to a Sunday service for the first time since 1999. Back over the summer I had a conversation with a former classmate who was studying for the bar and struggling with the daily grind of studying. Somehow the topic shifted to the more general issue of doing things we need but don’t necessarily like, which in turn shifted to a question asking when had been the last time I set foot into a church. So I agreed that I’d join him after he got past the bar exam, and that’s where I went the first Sunday after the exam.

    My odometer, as I sat in the parking lot of the first church I attended in 14 years (08/04/13)

    My odometer, as I sat in the parking lot of the first church I attended in 14 years (08/04/13)

    It must have been a day when folks were concerned for my soul, because as I was walking out the door that morning I got an email from a client inviting me to join her family at church too.

    Then a few minutes later, while I was sitting in the church parking lot waiting on my classmate and texting away on my phone, I looked up and saw my odometer had tripped over to exactly 170,000 miles. Which is also the first time I’ve ever noticed when it flipped over in the 11 years that I’ve had the car. :crack:

    I’m not saying it’s a burning bush or anything, but it was definitely an odd coincidence. So I went to my client’s church the week after, then went to one of the churches near NCCU the week after that. I still haven’t figured out where my church “home” is going to be yet, or even if I’m going to find one at all, but I’m thinking of making it a regular part of my weekly routine again.

  • Moral Monday defense: From my “This Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” files, I agreed to take on the defense of 20 folks arrested as part of civil disobedience in North Carolina’s Moral Monday protests led by the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. While I agree with all of about 0% of what the protestors are protesting about,3 I thought the arrests were egregiously over the top and reflected the very worst of government abuses.

    And frankly I have a long-standing distaste and dislike of government, even if my “side” is in power.4 Especially when it comes to protests.5

    So I signed up to be part of the group of volunteer attorneys, and when asked “Can you take 20?” I replied with “sure”… without really thinking about the logistical implications of expanding my client base by 25% overnight without a commensurate increase in revenue or staff :beatup:

    A judicious use of technology picked up during my computer science years has helped me stay on top of things so far, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out when I’m trying to juggle 20 different trials on different days in October / November / December while still serving my pre-existing clients.

  • NC SPICE is official: 14 months after submitting the Form 1023 application, the IRS finally sent me a letter granting 501(c)(3) status to the North Carolina Small Practice Incubator and Collaboration Environment :spin: I have to figure out how to recover from the momentum lost by the year+ delay, but it feels damn good having all that work actually result in something.

  • Joined Class of 2016/17 Orientation: Way back in the halcyon days of 2009, back when law:/dev/null was in its infancy and people were still struggling to figure out what the blog’s name even meant,6 I mentioned in Part 3 of the Orientation Retrospective that we had a reception with the Day+Evening Programs and local alumni followed by a session on professionalism.

    Well now that I’m one of those local alumni I got invited to participate :D I knew the event was going to be fun anyway (there are few things I enjoy more than going back to the school and talking with the students), and it got even more fun when I discovered several of my friends from N.C. State are now part of the Legal Eagle family.

    But then it got downright surreal.7 One of the 1Ls came up to me and goes “You’re T.! My wife is gonna get such a kick out of me meeting you, we read your blog over the summer before I came here!” And then a young lady came up to tell me how she appreciated the entries from 1L year. Then two more came up to say hi and that they had read every entry here. And so on it went for the rest of the night, even until just before everyone had left when a guy walked up and shook my hand, saying “I just wanted to say ‘thank you’.”

    You want to turn me from a borderline-arrogant litigator par excellence to a near-blubbering bundle of emotion, just let me find out something I did actually helped someone else.8 Had to wipe away a tear or two when I got back to the car… but only after struggling to fit my now-even-more-overinflated ego inside :spin:

  • “I have to renew already??”: With 1L Orientation happening, that means I’ve actually been a player in this lawyer game for almost a year now — meaning it’s time to renew (and pay more for) my legal malpractice insurance :beatup:

    I’ve gotta pull some statistics together for the renewal app declaring what practices areas accounted for what percentage of my law firm’s income. It should make for an interesting look back, so I’ll post a pie chart or something when I hit the one year mark.

  • Collating 28 exhibits took forever...

    Collating 28 exhibits took forever…

  • New mega-suit filed: Speaking of practice areas, it’s no secret that I love litigation regardless of topic.

    And after saving a lady’s home from downright crooked mortgage practices, on her behalf I spent the better part of two months gathering info, doing research, interviewing folks, and typing up what is by far the biggest lawsuit I’ve ever played a role in drafting/filing. :angel:

    If you’re interested in reading the details, check out this PDF hosted on the TGD Law website: Hayes v. Self-Help Credit Union et al.

    I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out!

  • 2013 Bar results released: And this past Thursday the NC Board of Law Examiners mailed out the results for the July 2013 bar exam. Just like last year, some very close friends didn’t quite make it. But several of my mentees are now officially lawyers, and I’m told by folks who know that NCCU Law‘s overall pass rate went up this go-round — putting us ahead of both (far more expensive) Charlotte Law and Elon Law.9 :D

    I’ll have a new post up rehashing some of this entry to help walk the folks who passed through the process of getting sworn in and such :)

I realize this entry has gotten well past verbose, so I’ll wrap it up here. *THANK YOU* as always for reading and have a great night y’all! :D

  1. Beat him so bad that his last line of argument was, essentially, that I “must be” lying to the Court (no reference to the 100+ pages of unedited documentation in the trial binders I distributed). I ever-so-briefly thought about jumping over the counsel table and beating him down, but then the Judge ruled in our favor and I instead took solace in knowing he had a 3.5-hour trip back to Charlotte to marinate on his loss :angel: []
  2. If you haven’t, check Urban Dictionary. ;) []
  3. Politically they’re almost like an older, upscale version of the unwashed aspiring hippies who did Occupy Wall Street []
  4. See here and here and here, plus a new entry for the NC Department of Commerce and my “privilege license” last year that I never got around to writing about []
  5. See this entry from law school for insight into my views on governments restricting speech in so-called “protected areas” []
  6. If you’re still wondering, go to the first question in this Mailbag entry :) []
  7. And by “surreal” I mean awesome :D []
  8. Coincidentally the subject of a pair of old entries here and here []
  9. The official stats should be publicly released next week []

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Swamped

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 21, 2013 in The After-3L Life

Good morning y’all! :)

No, your eyes don’t deceive you: not only is this the first bona fide entry on law:/dev/null in two months, but it’s also being written before 11pm :D

I know, I know. It’s been awhile since I wrote anything here. I kept meaning to get around to it, I just didn’t realize how long it had been until I went to update the .htaccess file for my law firm’s website, opened my .htaccess file for the blawg to use as a template… and noticed the last-modified date was exactly three months ago :crack:

As you can probably guess, the solo practice life has left me even less time for writing than 3L year of law school. The good news is that I’m swamped. The bad news is that… I’m swamped :beatup:

I hit the point a couple months ago where I probably need some support staff to keep things moving upward, but my revenue stream isn’t consistent enough to actually hire someone. Things had been going swimmingly from the day I opened my doors but then my hubris led me to make a classic rookie mistake — I started taking on more high-risk clients,1 didn’t insist on getting paid up front, then in April a good chunk of them skipped out on the bills.

So April became “Make-a-reluctant-phone-call-to-Nan-sheepishly-asking-for-a-loan-to-cover-May-bills” Month, May is now “Desperately-scramble-to-figure-out-what-to-do-for-June” Month, and as a result my long-flailing efforts to resume blogging with anything even vaguely resembling a degree of regularity has fallen short again :(

The only upside is that May is shaping up to be the best month financially since I started :surprised:

Aside from the money issues, on the lawyer-side of being a lawyer I’m still undefeated with my cases — extending the 6-0 record in November out to 19-0 today. I’ve had some pretty cool wins too: hitting a shady property management company with a $45K judgment (including treble damages) after an elderly lady’s apartment burned down from faulty wiring,2 getting a downright absurd settlement in a breach of contract case by letting the other side think something that was trivial to my client was actually vitally important, and saving a church from bankruptcy by having a $303K judgment against it vacated.3

Even the pre-verdict pleadings have gone well: I’ve only lost one solitary motion, and even that was part of a 1-and-1 (ours denied + theirs denied) that led to a favorable settlement. :crack:

I’ve gotten into some more-challenging litigation since then — including a case before the North Carolina Business Court against two of the largest law firms in the State — so we’ll see how long the win streak lasts. My long-term goal is to reach Harvey Specter-like proficiency before I hit 40 :)

In NC SPICE-related news, we’re still waiting on the IRS to get around to ruling on our nonprofit application. We’ve had a number of offices open up in the building I’m in, so I’ve been trying to find young lawyers to fill those spots and basically turn this building into our first SPICE Center. More developments to come on that hopefully.

On the extracurricular side of life, I was invited to spend some time at ECU’s LeaderShape program last week, as one of their “guest leaders” for a panel on leadership. It was both cool and weird at the same time — cool because I love mentoring / trying to help others (especially college students), weird because I haven’t really considered myself a “leader” outside of a Student Government-esque realm in… well… ever. It was definitely a fun experience though, and I got to meet several students potentially interested in legal careers.

I also accepted a spot on the Editorial Board of the ABA YLD’s The Young Lawyer newsletter :D  Not entirely sure what it’s going to entail yet, but hopefully it will involve creating something more than the chintzy 2-3 page newspaper-style “newsletter” we get every other month :beatup: I was supposed to be contacted by someone in mid-May about orientation / what’s going to happen when / etc etc etc but still haven’t heard from anyone — I guess technically “mid-May” is any day before May 31st, so we’ll see what happens.4

And Samson is still healthy and boisterous :spin:

I think that’s pretty much it for now. I won’t lie to you and claim there will be more on law:/dev/null this week, since it’s pretty obvious my efforts at blogging have now fallen somewhere between “grow a beard just because” and “get a root canal” on my List of Things To Do In Life. But hopefully I’ll be able to post again soon :) Hope all of you are well, and have a great Tuesday! :D

  1. Translation: folks with no money but good cases []
  2. They initially refused to compensate her for losing everything by claiming a liability disclaimer in the lease agreement would protect them and therefore “it’s not our problem” :roll: []
  3. The highlight of my career so far: my whole argument initially was focused on improper service of process, then as I was preparing bench books the night before I noticed a date discrepancy in two different verified pleadings filed by the Plaintiff some time apart — and as I dug, discovered the Plaintiff had basically fabricated the whole thing :crack: []
  4. And if I don’t get contacted at all, I’ll know going in that I’ve got more than one problem with the ABA YLD… []

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