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Navigating a Path Forward

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 24, 2017 in The After-3L Life

One of the big challenges I suspect a lot of us have is figuring out just what exactly we’re supposed to do in life.

Not necessarily with the super-small stuff of course. We wake up every day, eat breakfast, bathe, etc etc etc.

And not necessarily with the super-big stuff; we get an education, a spouse, a job, etc etc etc.

But for that vast expanse of life in between those two things, what are we supposed to do? When do you make a leap to try a new job, or move to a new city, or pick a new hobby? Do we stick with what we know and develop our expertise? How do you tell if you’re meant to do something else?

(I feel like these are maybe mid-life crisis questions? 😂)

For the first 19 years of my life, my focus was on school. Then I dropped out of college, so the next 5 years were focused on (i) surviving and (ii) getting back into school. Then I made it back, so the next 4+3 years were spent getting my bachelors in computer science and then my law degree. The next 3 months were focused on studying for the bar exam. Then the years after that were focused on starting my law firm and building it to a point I could pay some bills, including the exorbitant amount of student loans I used to finance 9 years of education plus a 5-year hiatus’s worth of interest.

Key point though is that there was always a specific, well-defined goal to reach and a specific, well-defined path to get there.

But now… what?

I turned 36 back in March. I totally realize on the Scale of Oldness that 36 is “not old,” but I can’t help but feel like I am. I’ve fallen into this rat race of churning through cases at the law firm to make rent each month. Spend some time each day chatting on social media. Hang out with 雅雅 and Samson. But don’t really feel like I’m moving forward toward any given objective beyond rent-paying (which is a fantastically low goal in life).

It’s terribly frustrating, especially for someone who’s climbed up from how far down I was back in 2000. And the way forward is a complete mystery to me.

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Life Comes at You Fast (Part V)

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.1 😱

Fees earned are still trending up

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.2 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

The Patton reference made me smile

We’d represented a nudist group3 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!

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From the law:/dev/null archives:

  1. Seriously, these things are now industry standards! []
  2. Over 70 people came to hear that presentation! []
  3. We’ve truly had a colorful assortment of clients in just three years… []

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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!

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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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Trapped

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 25, 2012 in Fail

“I must be, like, a malfunction magnet.

Because your sh*t keeps malfuntioning around me.”

Some of you might recognize the quote.1 I got to live it earlier today :beatup:

After NC State‘s 3-point loss to Kansas on Friday night and some sleep + work + exploration yesterday, 雅雅 and I did some final roaming around of St. Louis before I headed home to Durham (I’m currently writing this from the massive Hartfield-Jackson Airport in ATL waiting for my connecting flight). I like checking out national monuments so I wanted to visit the Gateway Arch. And when I found out you can go inside to the top, naturally I wanted to do that too.

The experience got old after the first 2 hours… :mad:

If you’ve never visited the Arch, basically there are tiny orb-shaped trams that travel to the top every 10 minutes. You buy a ticket, climb down some stairs, enter the tram and take a roughly 4-minute ride to the top. You then get out, climb up some stairs, and walk into the archway itself where there are small angular windows you can peer out of to get a view of the neighboring area.

Panorama view from the west-facing side of the Gateway Arch

The view is cool — I took plenty of pictures for future panorama-making :D — but it’s also brief (and cramped). Most of the folks who take a tram up take the next tram down 10 minutes later, after jostling and pushing past each other for the length of the archway. Check out this blog entry from Quirky Travel Guy for a run-down of the experience.

And that jostle+push+ride-down-10-minutes-later was our plan. We made our way to the other side, “signed in” for the next tram ride down, directed to go down the stairs to our specific pod number, and waited…

…and waited…

…and waited…

…and waited…

…and waited some more.

After well over an hour went by, an announcement was made that the ground control folks downstairs had decided they wouldn’t be running any trams on either side of the Arch with no explanation as to why :crack:

We were all told to come back up the stairs to what was now an even more-crowded Archway with about 120 people stuffed into it. Then instructed by the Park Ranger to go to the other side of the Arch for the next tram on that side (which would have made us last in line and heading down 2-3 trams later). As we start jostling in that direction and people are clearly getting irate, we’re then told to turn around and go back to the side we were originally on. And told to “sign in” again. And sent back down the stairs for the next tram.

Two hours in the Arch, but another state crossed off the list!

Where we waited for another 45 minutes :beatup:

Luckily I’m not claustrophobic, but standing awkwardly in a cramped stairwell for over two hours isn’t exactly what I envision doing when I think about visiting national monuments. Eventually a tram finally showed up, 雅雅 and I got back onto solid ground, and I decided I won’t be re-visiting the Gateway Arch any time soon ;)

But at least I got to check off another state on my “Have to Visit All 50 Before I Die” list? :spin:

That’s it for tonight, about to board the flight for Durham.2 Have a great night y’all!

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From the law:/dev/null “Excellence in Government” archives:

  1. From one of my Top 10 Favoritest Movies Evah. Yes, I’m a bit of a nerd — you should have noticed that from the title of the blog… ;) []
  2. Where I’ll turn 31 years old at some point mid-flight… :) []

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Greetings from St. Louis!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 24, 2012 in The 3L Life

I miss blogging regularly y’all :beatup:

Sorry I’ve been gone for another half a month, there’s just been SO MUCH going on. Talking with folks at Sallie Mae and working out a solution to the situation I mentioned a few weeks ago. My last Spring Break (ever!) that was almost entirely devoted to creating a business plan for NC SPICE. My alma mater making it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, then advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for only the 2nd time since 1986.1

The list goes on, and it’s long. And I’m somehow still somewhat afloat academically! :crack:

The view from the cheap seats at the Sweet Sixteen

With things going reasonably well — and not knowing for sure if/when NC State will advance in the NCAA Tournament again — I cashed in every single reward point I had on my American Express and booked a flight out to Missouri for the Sweet Sixteen. I got here on Friday just before heading to the game with 雅雅 (which we lost :beatup: ) and then spent today (1) catching up on sleep, (2) grading moot court briefs for the 2Ls trying out for next year’s team, and (3) exploring parts of St. Louis starting with the City Museum.2

Tomorrow I’m planning to head over to the Gateway Arch, and might swing by a casino if time permits just to say I saw one :)

That’s it for tonight’s entry because it’s already late and I’ve still got more work to do. Just wanted to say I miss y’all and I miss following the blawgosphere, talking on Twitter, and all that intellectual stuff — hoping to pick up again some time soon!

Have a great rest of the weekend! :D

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

  1. I was 5 back then. For reference, I turn 31 on Monday… []
  2. AWESOME place! Though mostly designed for kids, it’s a serious workout for adults too. []

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Greetings from Washington (briefly)!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 26, 2012 in The 3L Life

Hello from Reagan Washington National Airport!

Yes, I’m posting from the airport while waiting for a flight home :beatup:

Life the past week has been crazy and taken its toll. Backtracking to the previous law:/dev/null entry, the TYLA quarterfinals at Memphis Law last week came to an ignominious end. The UGA team went in on Shutterbug with some thoroughly bizarre objections during our case in chief, and the (bankruptcy lawyer) judge actually sustained them :crack:  And since I’m a smidge overprotective of people, I was pissed they hounded her and was determined to get our evidence in come hell or high water — which I eventually did on cross-examination of their expert witness, but only after giving the (bankruptcy lawyer) judge five (5!) separate rules allowing it in and still having to go through three separate sets of questions the (bankruptcy lawyer) judge felt I needed to ask as foundation. :mad:

Soooo I lost points for my demeanor…1

Bear in mind this was the same (bankruptcy lawyer) judge who decided to publicly berate Shutterbug for questioning the Defendant about a prior DUI… after the Defense opened the door on direct examination.2 Needless to say we lost that round, and EIC was less-than-pleased with me. But at least NCCU Law set the stage for an even better performance next year!

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out with 雅雅, then afterwards I joined the team for drinks and relaxation. What happens in Memphis stays in Memphis of course; I’ll just say I had a blast and didn’t fall asleep until 4am3 :)

Group photo of NCCU Law's Howard Moot Court Teams: Me, Diane Carter '13, Nnenna Olu '13, and Kelvin Jacobs '13

Once we were back in NC my focus shifted to moot court and the competition at Howard Law this weekend in Washington DC. Enduring two weeks of averaging 4.5 hours of sleep a night finally caught up to me, and by the time we got into Washington this past Thursday I had come down with a full-fledged cold. I was chugging Theraflu like it was Kool-Aid and popping Halls cough drops like Skittles. That in turn affected my oral argument performance, which I thought was utterly disastrous despite my coach and El Presidente (who’s getting his LLM at American Law) both insisting it went well. I’m proud one of our two teams made it to the quarter-finals there, my team just wasn’t one of them and I feel responsible for it :(

The highlight to the trip was getting a chance to catch up with two friends from my NC State days. On Friday I got food and a drink with Shirley, someone I first met all the way back in 2005 when I came back to NC State and became the Treasurer of my Hall Council. I’ve always been guaranteed to have an abnormally insightful discussion with that one, and Friday was no different. Then Saturday I joined a former SG colleague Mr. QC for a couple hours to learn about all the big-time stuff he’s doing in the nation’s capital.4 He’s currently with a federal agency and actively dabbling in city politics, and I fully expect him to be running something major by the time I’ve gotten my law license.

Cool+random mural on the side of a DC building Shirley and I passed, with Presidents going back to Eisenhower

It was truly awesome talking with them both, and really helped put me in a better mental frame of mind after my competition :D  I can’t tell you how truly blessed I feel having crossed paths with all these really amazing folks. It gives me the cliché warm fuzzies inside… :spin:

Which brings me to today, sitting here about to board a flight back to the Bull City. I’m way behind on academic work — and made the mistake of signing up for 3 separate classes that have weekly assignments, so my grades are pretty much shot for the semester already — but fortunately will not be traveling anymore until after the bar exam, so I can go back to a somewhat normal life. Obviously I’m ready to be home and get things back the way they should be!

And, God willing, including a few more blog entries too ;)

That’s it from me, about to go board — have a great day y’all, and a great week ahead!

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

  1. Even though one of the jurors (who actually does litigation) described the cross-x and closing arguments as the “highlight” of my performance. []
  2. Our coach went up to the (bankruptcy lawyer) judge after the competition to ask wtf she was thinking, and she claimed to have never heard of the phrase “opening the door” or understanding what it meant :roll: []
  3. Before having to wake up at 6am to get to the airport :beatup: []
  4. His nickname for him here comes from the very first day we met, when he walked into my office when I was Student Senate President and told me “Charlotte does this, you need to get Raleigh to do it too” — a poor strategic choice, for those law:/dev/null readers who aren’t familiar with the hostility between North Carolina’s two largest cities ;) []

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TOP 8!!!

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

AAAHHHHHHHHHH!! :D

Sorry, had to get that out :)

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

…and tonight WE DID IT!!! :spin:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hi! I’m alive, thanks for checking

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 29, 2012 in The 3L Life

Yes, I’m still here :D

When I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was sequestered in my own personalized version of 3L Hell, I wasn’t joking. For most of January my schedule’s followed a pattern: Wake up at 6am, feed/walk dog, bathe, get dressed, go to class then work then trial team practice, come home around 10pm, feed/walk dog, do homework until midnight-ish and go to bed. For a time I had briefly hit the point where I was downing five 20oz bottles of Diet Mt Dew a day and living off Pop-Tarts, animal crackers, multivitamins, and anything else I could eat in the car  :sick:

Which of course didn’t leave much room for updating law:/dev/null :beatup:

I don’t have *too* much time to write tonight, but I miss talking with y’all so here’s a quick bullet list on some of what’s happened since mid-December:

  • Fall semester continued in perpetuity; finally done. With the different extracurricular activities I was engaged in, plus a job on the side, the Fall semester didn’t actually end until a couple weeks ago. I had papers due in Employment Discrimination and another for Constitutional Law II, so I had flashbacks of undergrad and never really got a substantive break during the winter. It was basically a mini-mester trying to clean up what didn’t get finished and spending more hours than I care to admit in the law building.1
  • Wolfpack won the Belk Bowl. But I did take a few hours from the ongoing academic tedium to go with 雅雅 to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, where the NC State Wolfpack dismantled the Louisville Cardinals :D  Didn’t have the time or money to stay overnight like we did for the Champs Bowl last year, but I needed the break and the game was only a few hours away. Watching another win in person was worth the freezing temps and packed stadium :)
  • Most un-Christmas-y Christmas evah. Christmas is my 3rd favorite holiday of the year, following Independence Day at #1 and Thanksgiving at #2… but this year there basically was no Christmas at all :beatup:  With the academic stuff due I couldn’t take the time to go visit anyone (and didn’t have the money for it anyway), but then on top of it I couldn’t even put up my own tree because Samson tried eating the ornaments — the stuffed ones apparently looked like toys worth chewing apart, and the ceramic ones evidently looked like dog treats. So it was easily the most un-Christmas-y Christmas I’d ever “celebrated.” Not sure what the plan will be for next year, but I need to figure something out to stop the dog from destroying things.
  • Samson nearly died before New Year’s. Speaking of Samson, he nearly died right before New Year’s :cry:  He was given one of those big raw pork bones as a Christmas gift, because they’re allegedly great for dogs, but somehow the snippets of bones he managed to chew off clogged up his insides. He wasn’t able to poop and howled in pain when he tried, then woke me up at 4am to go outside and puke. So I freaked out and rushed him to the vet; they took an x-ray and discovered he had backed up fecal matter running nearly the length of his body. They put him in the pet hospital, gave him an enema and an IV and some special food, and a few hundred dollars later he was miserable but alive. Though you can’t tell he nearly died from the way he acts now, as he still tries to eat every damn thing in sight… :mad:
  • Got myself a Christmas present: fixed TV. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in a past entry, but what seems like an eternity ago the bulb in my bought-cheap-on-CraigsList projector television finally burned out so I’ve been working for the past couple months either (i) in dead silence or (ii) with video-less music on in the background. So while Christmas itself wasn’t particularly festive, in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve I decided to give myself a Christmas present and finally fix the burned-out projector in the name of being more productive.2 With bulb costs being what they are for a projector that was/is 5 years old, it was actually cheaper to get a brand new projector with better specs. Money I couldn’t really afford to spend given the mortgage payments I still owe BarBri, but I wasn’t going to be able to make it all the way through to August without a TV :beatup:
  • Finally completed NC Bar application! On January 3rd I finally got my monster-of-a-bar-app mailed off. The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners likes knowing every single thing you’ve ever done in your life since you’ve turned 18 — and, in the case of my last name changing when I was adopted at 3-years-old, the stuff before 18 :crack: — to the point where starting the app back in September wasn’t even early enough for me to get all of it done before the last possible moment. I had to request documents from the Social Security Administration to make sure I listed every single place I’ve ever worked, go rummaging through my Bucket-o’-Files to find residential records from the period right after I dropped out of college,3 go to the Clerk’s Office to find out all the cases I testified in back when I worked as the Clerk’s Office ombudsman down in Wake County, come up with 12 different character references, make three copies of everything, and on and on and on. Then include the $700.00 fee to apply, and set aside another +$125.00 to use my computer on the bar exam.4 But fortunately — it’s all done. So yay. And to anyone even older than me: START NOW or you’ll regret it!
  • 1Ls won Kilpatrick-Townsend competition. I’ve already talked about this one at length so nothing much more to say. I’m just glad it validated my philosophy that people produce a better work product when they’re forced to develop it themselves :) Very proud of these folks!
  • Any guesses on which team is mine?

    Submitted brief for Howard moot court competition. A couple months ago I mentioned making the moot court team, the end result of an ill-conceived experiment to see if I had been avoiding it out of fear the past two years or if I really had the skill to do it if I wanted. I was slated for the Howard Moot Court Competition taking place in Washington D.C. at the end of February. Making the team and getting the Howard brief done both came at a high cost — days spent brief writing and editing, that probably should have been spent on classwork instead — but I’m proud of the end result. Feel free to review the briefs if you get bored and guess which one is ours ;)

  • Got a position with the Durham DA’s office… I also somehow convinced the Durham County District Attorney’s Office to bring me in as an intern :surprised:  First day was about 3ish weeks ago. The sheer volume of work — and the… mmm… unique folks who come through the courthouse (especially in traffic court) — have made it a pretty awesome experience so far. I could definitely see myself working there after graduation.
  • …and won my first case! I’m also officially 1-0 on my “real world” trial record! :D I’m slated to work on Tuesday afternoons, and typically there’s absolutely nothing going on in District Court so I end up working on subpoenas and other administrative stuff. So last Tuesday I decided to be a good little intern and show up to work 15 minutes early, get sent down to misdemeanor criminal court… and get handed two shucks and told “Go interview your officer, you’ve got this next case” :eek:  I had no expectation of trying a case, so I didn’t have any notes, my North Carolina Crimes book, nada. I was so absolutely terrified I quite literally forgot what it was I was supposed to prove in a criminal trial; as I’m out in the hallway going through the shucks trying to ascertain what’s going on, I grab an ADA who helped us with trial team last year and plead for a smidge of guidance. She replies “Well what are your elements for the offense?” and suddenly “DING!” my inner lightbulb finally clicks on. I find the officer, read his police report, get asked by him what he can expect on cross, and somehow came up with a quasi-intelligent and spot-on answer. I don’t think I’m allowed to go into too much detail, but it involved two Defendants (and their respective attorneys) charged with minor-but-serious firearms offenses.5 I went through my direct a bit fast due to the nervousness, but the more opposing counsel objected to a response — or asked something ridiculous on cross-examination6 — the more I got into my zone. Neither Defendant took the stand, and a few closing arguments later they were found guilty and sentenced to active time, a fine, probation, and a prohibition from owning firearms. Not bad for my first go-round :)
  • Rewarded myself with a new laptop. In exchange for getting the DA gig, I “rewarded” myself by finally upgrading my trusty 5-year-old MacBook Pro. The Department of Education enables students to get a one-time financial aid boost once in undergrad and once in graduate/professional school for a computer purchase, and it was hitting the point where I’d need something I could use for the first couple years when I start practicing. So I’ve now gone from an original Core Duo with a self-upgraded 250GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM to a new quad-core i77 with a 750GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM :eek:  Seeing how much the hardware has advanced in the past half decade is crazy. I don’t like some of the changes (e.g. there are new function keys to play/pause/rewind/fast forward, so I have to press the Function key to use Dashboard and such) but overall it’s nice being back on the leading edge of technology for another couple months.
  • Fall grades were a disaster. While everything else was going smoothly, my grades turned out better than anticipated but worse than I wanted (if that makes sense). I’ve now fallen back below a 3.0 for the first time in a year and will have to pull off a miracle to graduate with honors. And in all likelihood I won’t be able to finish the Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration I’ve been working on for the past 2.5 years. We’ll see what happens.
  • Debating giving up internship to focus on grades and SPICE. The grade situation has prompted me to reassess what I’m doing this semester, and I’m giving serious consideration to dropping the DA internship and some other activities to free up time to focus on grades and the SPICE proposal. It’s not an ideal situation, especially with the economy, but doing the jack-of-all-trades thing clearly isn’t working. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s it for tonight y’all, thanks for still reading :) Hopefully more posts in the days ahead. Good night!

  1. Including 2 separate occasions where I got thrown out by Public Safety because the building was supposedly closed :beatup: []
  2. I am, for reasons unknown to me, more productive when I have Law & Order reruns on in the background… []
  3. Note to the Board of Law Examiners: homeless people generally don’t have files or records of their homelessness. Nowhere to put our file cabinets and all… ::smh:: []
  4. As a point of comparison, the Marine Corps only wanted 10 years of documents back during my 1L year to make sure I passed the security check, and didn’t charge me for the application. Completing those docs was a cakewalk compared to this. []
  5. City code violations (hence the “minor”), but just about anything involving the discharge of an assault rifle qualifies as serious when it comes to prosecuting people. Especially in Durham. []
  6. “Didn’t my client tell you it was his mother’s assault rifle?” No bullsh*t on that one, that was the actual question! :crack: []
  7. Meaning 8 total virtual processors :surprised: []

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4

Should I just go solo after graduation? (Part I)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 27, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening folks! Hope all of you had a very festive and delicious Thanksgiving holiday! :D

On my end I made the (academically questionable) decision to go visit Nan & Pops for a few days, followed by lunch with 雅雅 on Saturday and dinner with one of my former colleagues/employees from UNCASG on Saturday night. The times in between have been spent steadily working on law school homework1 but I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I needed to get done.

But frankly I also needed the mental break so I’ll accept the scholastic consequences :beatup:

Part of the holiday conversations included the $700.00 I have to shell out to the NC Board of Law Examiners on the 1st of this coming year,2 my current lack of paid employment for the Christmas break, and figuring out what I’m going to do after I’m graduated and licensed. Long-time readers of law:/dev/null might recall I was hoping to join the USMC JAG Corps before breaking my leg and failing the physical fitness test, with backup plans to go to Officer Candidate School during 2L summer getting shelved when I immersed myself in activities like SBA, trial team, and earning a decent GPA. I still like CrimLaw and could make a decent living as an ADA, but North Carolina’s finances are a mess and because of it there’s a glut of qualified applicants for few ADA openings.

So while I still plan on looking into the criminal prosecution route, I’ve recently found myself seriously marinating on something I had never seriously entertained before this year (seriously): should I just go solo after graduation?

The seed for that idea got planted in the week before the phenomenally successful (and first-ever) Speed Networking event that EIC and the SBA put together here at NCCU Law. Prof Ks asked when I was going to run for Governor because he was impressed with the stuff SBA had been doing; Prof PILO thought becoming a politician would be a waste of potential, and instead suggested I should “go be a CEO for one of these big corporations and make a ton of money” then become a philanthropist.

Both perfectly acceptable options… but neither involved being an ADA :crack:

Then about 3 weeks ago came the water, when over the course of that week I ended up getting 7 different requests for legal help that I had to forward to our legal clinic (2 drug arrests, a speeding ticket, a landlord/tenant dispute, a juvenile issue, a car contract / lemon law question, and patent/business idea inquiry). That’s on top of roughly a dozen or so various other requests I’ve referred to the Clinic over the past 2 years, along with the true oddities like getting calls for legal help from Mexico.

Granted, I know I wouldn’t have been competent to handle all of those issues even if I was licensed. But after years of meeting people through Student Government, UNCASG, and now the SBA, it reminded me that there are a lot of people with legal problems on any given day who need someone competent to advise them.

I’ve gotta get back to studying so I’ll clip the entry here, but I’ve designated it as “Part I” because I’ll be looking for feedback over the next couple months. Part II is in the queue, outlining some of the pros and cons I’ve already scribbled out when it comes to me potentially hanging a shingle after graduation.

Have a great night y’all, and good luck with the week ahead! :)

  1. Even foregoing watching the biggest comeback in NCSU football history  :cry: []
  2. And the extra +$125.00 to take the essay portion on the bar exam on a computer :roll:   []

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-

Greetings from Charleston!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 14, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening folks! :)

EIC and I are both currently down in South Carolina for the ABA Law Student Division‘s Fall “Super Circuit” meeting for the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Circuits, scheduled to take place tomorrow at the Charleston School of Law.

It’s pretty much been a whirlwind of a day since I woke up — I somehow managed to fall asleep in the middle of working on my Employment Discrimination complaint and client letter, and also managed to successfully navigate the multiple steps necessary to disable the alarm I set just in case I fell asleep :beatup:

So rather than spend yesterday cleaning up the apartment and packing, I went to class and then spent until a couple hours before midnight getting the client letter finished,1 then picked up 雅雅 from the airport just after midnight for her coming in to visit. This morning was then spent getting the house in order for the dogsitter, packing up, then making the 5 hour drive south.

Since getting here, I have to say Charleston has been rehabilitating my opinion of South Carolina :D My only other time in the state involved burning hours of time to go a few miles on the interstate. Couple that with some natural North-South rivalry that comes from me living in North Carolina since 1998, and let’s just say I’ve had a dim view of this state ;)

But we got here, went exploring the French Quarter, found a decent place to eat, and checked out the City Market.2 So far it seems pretty cool, and knowing some of this stuff has been here since the Revolutionary War just really blows my mind.

Heading to bed so I can get up for the meeting in the morning :) Have a great night y’all! :D

—===—

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

  1. I’m stuck taking a -0- on it because MDG has a “bright line” late policy, but at least I can say it’s done :) []
  2. Incredibly cool place, makes me wish we had something like it in Durham… and if we do, my apologies for not being aware of its existence :beatup: []

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