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About those 1L grades…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NCCU Law 1L/1LE Orientation starts this week!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 12, 2012 in The After-3L Life

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again already :crack:

Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of law:/dev/null starting up, meaning this week is officially Orientation Week for all the new 1Ls and 1LEs1 at the North Carolina Central University School of Law! :D

This will also be the first time since then that I’m not taking part in Orientation in some capacity — as a 1L I was part of it of course, then as a 2L I was a tour guide and part of the SBA panel, then as a 3L folks decided they were sick of me talking so they had me moderate the SBA panel instead :beatup:

But the school tends to leave us alone during this limbo period waiting on bar results, I’m assuming because few of us would be willing to be around the school when we have no clue yet how we’re going to repay our student loans.

So in my absence, I’ll follow my tradition from year’s past and link to some (hopefully) useful entries for those of y’all heading in to Orientation :D

 

ORIENTATION ITSELF:

For our past entries on Orientation, you’ve got two options:

  1. My 2L post on what to expect at Orientation; or
  2. My three-part summary I wrote as a 1L of what I went through (Part I, Part II, Part III)

 

OUTLINES:

You’ll hear lots of folks talking about outlines and stuff they got from other people. Some of it will be new and potentially useful — so make friends ;) — but a good chunk of it is recycled and passed down from generation to generation.

For 1L, 2L, and 3L outlines,2 go to this TDot’s Tips outlines entry so you can read the directions and mandatory disclaimer.

Also, for the 3Ls who happen across this entry, I’ve uploaded bar prep materials to “/docs/BarPrepStuff.zip” as promised yesterday :*

 

TIPS and QUESTIONS:

Over the years I’ve compiled tips on a handful of topics. To read through those entries, click the TDot’s Tips category link on the side.

I’ve also answered a couple dozen questions folks have sent since I started law:/dev/null. To see those, go to the very bottom of the most recent Mailbag entry and they’re all listed there (including an entry just on 1L questions :) ).

 

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? EMAIL / FACEBOOK / LINKEDIN / TWEET ME!

If you can’t get something answered during the year, feel free to shoot me an email (the address is at the bottom of our About page). You can also reach out to me on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter using the icons over on the right-hand side of this page.

Hope that helps, GOOD LUCK with law school, and welcome to the Legal Eagle family! :D

  1. Evening students — NCCU Law is one of the few law schools in the country with a 4-year part-time evening program :) []
  2. Yes, I have documents to get you through your entire law school experience. You’ll still have to study and update this stuff as you go though! :P []

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Some help for calculating law school GPAs

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 2, 2012 in Technology

Good evening everybody! :D

I’m still working on the backlog of entries from May, but wanted to post a file right quick.

It’s that time of year again where the 1Ls at NCCU Law get the last of their grades back and folks learn who’s coming back and who is getting booted under our “2.0-or-you’re-out” policy.1  And one of the challenges I’ve noticed some folks have — not just in law school but in most non-mathematically-inclined majors — is calculating possible GPAs based on different outcomes in different classes.

Back in 2009 I created a spreadsheet in Excel that I’ve been using to track my grades over the past 3 years, so I could figure out roughly what volume of effort I needed to put in to get to a certain GPA. It’s been tweaked and revised over the past 3 years to the point that it should be at least marginally useful for folks other than me, so I’m posting it here :)

You can download the spreadsheet at this URL:  TDot’s Law School Grades Calculator

It’s initially keyed for our 1Ls but you can tweak it to suit just about any area of study. Hope it helps, and let me know if you have any questions on it! :D

  1. You can check out the bottom of my 1L Spring grades entry for details on how it works and a graph of where NCCU Law falls with respect to other NC law schools when it comes to 1L attrition. []

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

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

Hey everybody! :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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You can’t make this stuff up…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 22, 2011 in Randomness

I used to think my 1L professors had disturbed minds to come up with the tortuously crazy hypos that routinely populated our exams.

Then I read the paper and wonder if maybe these were just actual news stories… :crack:

From this news story over in Taylorsville, Utah:

Man shoots at mouse, hits roommate; another roommate arrested for rape
By Pat Reavy
December 21st, 2011 @ 12:48pm

TAYLORSVILLE — A 34-year-old man has been arrested for investigation of multiple counts of sex abuse against a 13-year-old girl.

The four-month relationship was discovered after a bizarre incident at the man’s house in which one of his housemates was shot by a third housemate who was reportedly trying to shoot a mouse in his kitchen with a 9mm handgun, according to investigators.

Paul Daniel Kunzler was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of two counts of rape of a child, three counts of sodomy of a child and three counts of sexual abuse of a child.

The string of events began to unfold about 2 a.m. Tuesday when police were called to a house, 2584 W. Brucemont Dr. (5450 South), on a report of an accidental shooting. Officers arrived to discover that a man who was in the bathroom had accidentally been shot in the chest by his 27-year-old housemate who was shooting at a mouse in the kitchen with a handgun, said Taylorsville Police Sgt. Tracy Wyant.

The bullet went through a wall and struck the 28-year- old man while he was in the bathroom.

“After the gun was fired, both the roommate and Paul heard a scream,” Wyant said.

The victim was taken to a local hospital in serious condition. He was later upgraded to stable condition. Alcohol was involved in the incident, Wyant said.

During an ensuing search of the house, officers found a 13-year-old girl hiding in a basement closet, Wyant said. The girl told police she had sneaked out of her house without her father’s knowledge to see Kunzler, according to a jail report.

After further questioning, investigators learned Kunzler and the 13-year-old had been having a relationship for four months. The two had met through a common friend, Wyant said.

It was not known Wednesday whether any of Kunzler’s three housemates were aware of the relationship.

Doesn’t this story sounds almost like a CrimLaw hypo?

“Larry, Curly and Moe share an apartment. The apartment has a mouse. Larry decides to try out a new mousetrap to kill the mouse: his .22 Ruger. He shoots at the mouse and in the process hits Curly, who screams in pain. Curly is taken to the hospital while police investigate. The police go into the basement and discover Moe fondling a 13-year-old girl. Discuss all relevant issues.”

Maybe my professors weren’t crazy after all… :crack:

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“Where did all these people come from?”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 9, 2011 in Site Stats

Hey y’all! :)

It’s been half a year since our last Site Stats entry back in June, not for lack of time or interest but mostly because traffic tended to stagnate with my random disappearances all the time. Even with us passing 1,000,000+ pageviews back in September, there wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy to merit another entry.

Then a whole bunch of y’all appeared out of nowhere! :crack:

November 2011 was officially the single busiest month law:/dev/null has had since we launched back in August 2009!

And I have absolutely no clue why :beatup:

We had a +6.7% bump in daily readership to 2,041,1 likely resulting from my somewhat-less-sporadic posting over the month.

But the real craziness is the sudden +57.4% explosion in unique people coming to the site (8,144)2 — leapfrogging our previous record back in October 2010 of 6,716, and for reasons totally unknown to me.

There wasn’t a sudden bump in Google searches, no random spike in RSS readership,3 no particularly controversial posts that I’m aware of, and yet somehow we still had a whole bunch ‘o newcomers stop by this little piece of internet real estate. :surprised:

The war on spammers continues...

And what makes the unique IP number particularly odd is that it came alongside us blocking an unprecedented number of spammers that would otherwise be distorting the traffic figures.

In what has become my WordPress equivalent of the government’s War on Drugs, on a regular basis I go through our logs line-by-line and wall off this space from an ever-growing number of bots and spamdexers via our .htaccess file. It’s virtually eliminated comment spam (0.00479 spam comments per IP last month) but has the side effect of holding down the traffic figures.

Which is just as good since I don’t really count spammers as “real” visitors, but it’s still weird seeing such a jump in readership knowing there are about 2,000 URLs blocked from sending people here.

Anyhow, to the new folks: *WELCOME*, and thank you for visiting! :D  Hopefully you’ll enjoy it and keep coming back. :)

Doubt we’ll hit this level of traffic again any time soon but we’ll see what happens…

***

The main reason I started putting these entries together ages ago was to go through some of the search queries that send people to the site. So here’s a random selection of 20 out of the 580+ unique search terms that brought folks here in November 2011:4

  • can a footnote go under the signature on a legal doc: Depends on the document, and depends on the rule of construction the courts in that jurisdiction use; some courts allow it, others consider anything past the signature (including footnotes) as “surplusage” that has no legal effect.
  • nccu law bad neighborhood: Aside from a drug bust at the local Burger King and the occasional stuff that happen on every sizable college campus, it’s really not that bad.
  • can you petition your gpa if you are within less than 2 tenths away from cum laude: In the words of MDG, “LOL. no.” (at least not here at NCCU Law)
  • lawyers in state legislatures: Are a surprising rarity :surprised:
  • i’m panicking wording: Freaking out. Melting down. Losing your nerve. Having a psychotic episode. Taking a law school exam. Let me know if I should continue…
  • how often do people get kicked out for 2l grades: Not often compared to 1L year because people can self-select their classes, but it does happen. The frequency doesn’t matter, all that matters is whether or not your GPA is above a 2.0 ;)
  • how to get a job with bad grades in law: (1) Develop a personality, then (2) network. If you exclude me tutoring CrimLaw (where the grade for that single class was a smidge important), I’ve had exactly -0- employers care about my GPA for the various law jobs/internships I’ve had. Particularly in smaller firms, people care more about whether or not they can tolerate working with you every day than whether or not you were Top 10% academically. Make sure you have a solid LinkedIn profile, go to various law-related events, attend CLEs, get to know your professors and career services personnel, and so on — that way when openings pop up, people are willing to recommend you or at least clue you in to the vacancy.
  • american travel blog first impression toronto: I loved loved loved it! Awesome place. :D
  • dueces fingers with white background: You’d probably have more success spelling it correctly (“deuces”), but until then you can use the pic from this old UNCASG-related entry.
  • college students taking classes unrelated to their major: Yep, that’s how I made my way through N.C. State :beatup:
  • why do you want to go to nc central law?: Ummm… if you don’t know the answer to that question already, you probably don’t want to go here :P  If you want my reasons, you can read my “Why NCCU Law?” entry linked at the top of this page.
  • is law school still worth it: Nothing has happened to change my perspective (Part I and Part II) so I’d say “yes.”
  • can you fail duke law?: On a B+ curve? And risk the school losing $51K+ a year in tuition in fees per student? It might be theoretically possible, but I doubt it happens :roll:
  • 1l grades most important: I certainly hope not or I’m screwed. I prefer my own $.02: your 1L grades don’t matter.
  • va beach snowmageddon: Terrifying at the time, but pretty effing cool in retrospect B-)
  • sulc has too many white students: With budget cuts going on and minimum bar passage rates slated to rise, my guess is SULC has bigger things to worry about ;)
  • november mpre 2011 thoughts: It sucked. But I passed.
  • “closing argument” “let me try that again” good morning: Assuming you’re planning to try something similar to the Chief’s greeting back at 1L Orientation: please don’t. I’ve yet to find a single person who thinks this tactic is humorous or anything but annoying.
  • how to get caught up law school: When you figure it out, please let me know :beatup:
  • young lawyers division ridiculous: That’s actually not the first time I’ve heard this. Aside from the YLD’s incomplete approach to transparency in law school statistics, a number of them were downright rude during the ABA Annual Meeting this past summer. I guess being esquires entitles them to be pricks? Hopefully that won’t be me this time next year.

Nothing particularly risqué in this month’s batch of queries, but I still enjoyed digging through them :)

***

To wrap things up, here are the Top 5 posts from November 2011:5

  1. On NCCU Law’s strict-C curve: In support of the strict C: a year later (11/12/11)
  2. On thinking about going solo: Should I just go solo after graduation? (Part I) (11/27/11)
  3. On pros/cons for going solo: Should I just go solo after graduation? (Part II) (11/29/11)
  4. On the irrelevance of 1L grades: Your 1L Grades Don’t Matter (05/29/11)
  5. On the November ’11 MPRE: That was remarkably unpleasant (11/05/11)

And that’s it for this entry! *THANK YOU* as always for your continued support of law:/dev/null, it’s greatly appreciated! :spin:

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From the Site Stats archives:

  1. +23.4% year-over-year since November 2010, for those who like analytics :) []
  2. +57.1% year-over-year []
  3. We’re actually back down to 116 RSS readers, which is more in line with our historical average. Looks like the previous spike was an aberration. []
  4. Down -18.4% compared to last month, but up +81.25% year-over-year []
  5. An odd collection considering #2 and #3 were only up for a couple days before the month ended, and #3 was posted half a year ago :surprised: []

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TDot’s Tips: Final Exam Refresh

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 30, 2011 in TDot's Tips

For the past couple semesters I’ve been throwing together exam-related advice for new 1Ls (and now 2Ls) who had newly discovered law:/dev/null since the last exam entry…

…and have realized that at this point anything I could write tonight would be redundant :beatup:

So rather than re-repeat everything for the new batch of folks, here are some quick links to the old entries:

  1. The browsewrap contract you’re agreeing to for the ZIP files below
  2. The first set of exam tips I wrote way back when I was a 1L after Fall 2009 finals
  3. The second batch of exam tips after surviving 1L year, with an addition based on my performance in CivPro II
  4. And finally the last final exam tips entry, including a more-detailed explanation of why the multiples matter (written a year ago today :surprised: )

As for those ZIP files containing the 1L / 2L / 3L stuff, the links are in the picture below. I didn’t embed them due to spammers in Russia, China and a few other countries who seem to enjoy hotlinking my files and trying to kill my bandwidth, so you’ll have to type the URLs in by hand. Sorry.

The URLs and subjects for the "#L Stuff" archives

Remember these are pretty hefty files, so the downloads are going to take awhile.

And when exams are all over, make sure to keep things in perspective and remember: your 1L grades don’t matter ;)

Have a great night and *GOOD LUCK* on final exams! :D

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Past TDot’s Tips entries:

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TDot’s Mailbag v7.0: Legal Eagle Grading Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 22, 2011 in Mail

I know y’all, it’s been well over a week since my last entry where I said I’d have this entry ready to roll  ”on Monday or Tuesday this coming week” — I’d give you an excuse, but you can probably already guess what it is.1 :beatup:

So can we all just pretend that when I said “this coming week” I meant the week after the week that was actually coming at the time? Yes? Great. :*

Although I’ve gotten a smattering of questions from current and prospective students in the 10 months since I last put one of these entries together, the bulk of them were so über-fact-specific that they weren’t really suitable candidates for including on the blawg. But with end-of-1L grades getting released and folks experiencing the same shellshocked reactions I saw firsthand last year, there’s been renewed interest in how NCCU Law handles grading, curving, dismissal and so on.

So, without further ado, here are your questions — answered.

***

Q: William2 asks:

Just read your entry on making Dean’s List again. But grades don’t matter right? :P

A: If you read that Dean’s List entry, then hopefully it meant you also read this footnote written in anticipation of an email just like the one you sent  :angel:

Needless to say, I stand by my earlier commentary. Most grades at most law schools get determined by a single final exam, or a combination of a final preceded by a midterm.  These aren’t like grades in undergrad or high school or even how you’d be “graded” on a job, where you’re given multiple assignments over a given timeframe and tested on things like time management and ingenuity in addition to raw knowledge.

Now I realize there are few absolutes in life — in some cases good grades are genuinely a sign that someone’s a legal genius who will make a phenomenal attorney, and in some cases bad grades are genuinely a sign that someone just doesn’t “get it” and would end up as a Joseph Rakofsky-grade incompetent if they were given a law license.

But for the overwhelming majority of the however-many-thousands of people graduating law school every year, including here at NCCU Law, a string of subjectively-scored 1-time 3-hour exams is a meaningless measurement of someone’s skill and potential as a lawyer.

That rule applies to me too. My excitement over making Dean’s List this past Fall and again in the Spring had nothing at all to do with some misplaced belief that I’ll make an amazing litigator as a result. I just derive great joy from getting to disabuse people of their mistaken beliefs, including the higher-ranked classmates, friends at other schools, and occasional professors who all made the mistake of concluding I was an inept buffoon because I spent my 1L year saving students millions of dollars instead of worrying about my classes ;)

***

The answers to the next two questions are rooted in the same background, so I’m pairing them together -

Q: Danielle asks:

Why is our curve so ridiculously low? And we don’t have A+’s?

Q: And Kevin asks:

What’s the rationale on the dismissal policy?

A: NCCU Law‘s strict-C curve and its 2.0-or-out dismissal policy are both byproducts of being what the administration labels “a school of opportunity.”

Remember that NCCU Law was created by the N.C. General Assembly way back in 1939, an era when de jure segregation was the reality across the country.3 The politicians created the law school specifically so that aspiring black attorneys could get a “separate but equal” legal education without trying to attend a white law school.4

The only other public law school in the state, UNCCH Law, wouldn’t accept black students until forced to do so by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a 1951 lawsuit challenging its admissions practices.5 Private Duke Law and WFU Law wouldn’t desegregate until the 1960s. Campbell Law, Elon Law, and Charlotte Law didn’t exist. And even if a black student managed to graduate and pass the bar exam, they were still categorically denied admission to influential industry groups like the N.C. Bar Association.

This second-class status for black attorneys and black law students was reflected in the Legislature’s second-hand funding for “the Negros’ law school,” as NCCU Law grappled with an inadequate building, a minimal law library, few faculty and related problems. As an example, for a good chunk of the law school’s history its law library was stocked with the out-of-date books discarded by the neighboring law schools at UNCCH and Duke.  :surprised:

The point of noting all that background is to highlight that NCCU Law was created to educate students that other schools wouldn’t take; it’s part of our law school’s DNA. That legacy is reflected in the admissions data: even today our GPA and LSAT scores of admitted students are among the very lowest in the country (we’re functionally tied at the bottom with 2 other HBCUs, FAMU Law and Southern Law). The law school views its job as providing an opportunity to people who are willing to take advantage of it, regardless of how they “measure up” on paper.

Which finally brings me around to the questions at hand :beatup:  From a philosophical perspective, the strict-C curve exists because the faculty believe (and I agree) that it’s the best way to gauge student performance. And from a practical perspective, law schools bumping their curves use the Lake Wobegon defense6 as a smokescreen — something that can’t credibly be done with our mission and legacy.  The curve ensures students have earned the grades they get.

Working in tandem with the curve but serving a slightly different purpose, the law school’s policy of dismissing students if they fall below a 2.0 at the end of any year is designed to “separate the chaff from the wheat” as the Biblical saying goes.  Since it’s statistically possible for every student to make a 2.0 or above, and the school is taking what it considers a “calculated risk” by admitting students whose quantitative credentials wouldn’t get them in elsewhere, the assumption is that someone who doesn’t hit a 2.0 (and hasn’t already withdrawn before Spring final exams) must not be taking their educational opportunity seriously enough to continue. So those folks get a letter telling them they’ve been dismissed and then have to wait at least a year before they can petition to return.

***

Q: Nina asks:

How exactly does the dismissal policy work, as far as coming back goes?

A: The dismissal policy and petition process can both be found in the Student Handbook distributed to 1Ls each year (in the 2010-11 edition it’s in §1.09).  Basically only 1Ls who have between 1.8-1.999 are eligible to petition for readmission; if a student’s GPA is below 1.8, their only option is to reapply as a completely brand new student at least 2 or more years after their dismissal.

For eligible students, they get 1 chance to submit a petition to the Standards Committee for readmission the year after they are dismissed. To quote from the policy, the petition must “demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances resulted in his/her substandard academic performance.  Extraordinary circumstances are those that do not ordinarily occur.  Financial concerns, employment obligations, family illness or commuting distances normally involve no element of extraordinary circumstances.  The petitioner must demonstrate that the extraordinary circumstances have been resolved and that, if re-admitted, he or she will be able to successfully handle the rigors of legal education.”

Following review of the petition and an optional presentation by the petitioner in person, the members of the Committee vote on whether or not the student should be reinstated the following Fall semester. Decisions on reinstatement are usually released in mid-June.

***

Q: Susan asks:

What are the GPA cutoffs for honors? Dean’s List? Do we get notified?

A: You can find the listings for academic honors on this page of the NCCU Law website.  Cum laude requires a GPA of 3.000 to 3.299, magna cum laude is from 3.300 to 3.499, and summa cum laude is 3.500 and above. All of those are of course based on your GPA at the time of graduation.

The Dean’s List is compiled on a per-semester basis, and includes all students who earn a 3.0 and above. Students on Dean’s List can get a certificate from the Registrar’s Office upon request, a lapel pin from the NCCU main campus in the week before Convocation, and will have their name included on the massive posters created by main campus listing everyone at the entire University who made Dean’s List each semester.

And it’s up to each student to know whether or not they made Dean’s List on their own; there is no individualized “Hey btw you made Dean’s List!” emails or anything like that :P

***

That’s it for this entry y’all :) Thanks again to all of you for your continued support of law:/dev/null, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to send an email to tdot [at] lawdevnull.com! :D

—===—

From the Mailbag archives:

  • TDot’s Mailbag v6.0: 1L Questions Edition -
    • Do we really need to study 60 hours a week?
    • My study partners study all day; am I missing something?
    • How time-consuming is being an SBA Representative?
    • Should I use “canned” briefs or create my own?
    • Is law school really just a big head game?
    • What’s the biggest difference between 1L year and 2L year?
    • What made you pursue law after having done computer science?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v5.0: What Law School’s Really Like -
    • Admissions?
    • Bar Exam?
    • The Work?
    • Professors?
    • Electives?
    • Extracurriculars?
    • What would you do differently?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v4.0 -
    • What really made you dislike BigLaw?
    • Why were 2 of the top 4 teams in the K-S competition from T4s?
    • What happened to Tweet-sized Tuesdays and the Friday Drive-by?
    • How did your CivPro I final exam turn out?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v3.0 -
    • What’s your email address?
    • Do you really send/receive thousands of text messages in a month?
    • How are you adjusting to a historically black university?
    • Are you really a Republican?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v2.0 -
    • Did you have a bunch of study materials for the LSAT?
    • How well did you do on the LSAT?
    • How did you do in your election for 1L SBA Rep?
    • Who is in the Gang of Eight?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v1.0 -
    • What does law:/dev/null mean?
    • Did your entry about That Guy really happen?
    • Did you really count the lights from your apartment to school?
  1. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with “fool.” Totally coincidental. :beatup: []
  2. For the new folks, I keep the names on these submissions anonymous (picked at random from the Social Security Administration’s Popular Names database) so feel free to send me an email if you’ve got a question but don’t want to risk having your name in print :) []
  3. A point politely ignored by nearly every law school nationwide even as they dole out admission to legacy applicants of alums who benefited from segregationist admission policies. []
  4. As otherwise would have been required by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337 (1938), which held that states providing education for white students either needed to admit blacks or provide a “separate but equal” education for them. []
  5. McKissick v. Carmichael, 187 F.2d 949 (4th Cir. 1951), reversing Epps v. Carmichael, 93 F.Supp. 327 (M.D.N.C. 1950). And even then UNCCH only accepted students who had already completed their first 2 years at NCCU. Admitting blacks as incoming 1Ls wouldn’t occur until later, and the rest of campus wouldn’t be desegregated until a post-Brown decision handed down in Frasier v. Board of Trustees of Univ. of N.C., 134 F.Supp. 589 (M.D.N.C. 1955).  []
  6. They admit students with higher GPAs/LSATs, and therefore “all of our students are above average.” Even though we all know the main motivation behind bumping curves is to artificially make graduates appear more competitive in the job market. :roll: []

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6

Queries queries everywhere

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 11, 2011 in Site Stats

Good evening folks!

I haven’t compiled one of these Site Stats entries since January, owing largely to the fact law:/dev/null has been slowly atrophying during my chronic absences and I didn’t feel the urge to memorialize it in a blog post ;)

The number of visitors atrophied a bit over the Spring

But despite the chronic disappearances we still had two interesting developments in the statistics department, so I figured I’d go ahead and cobble an entry together.

First, we somehow inexplicably had a +35% spike in folks subscribing to the RSS feed in the past month. That’s the largest month-over-month increase — both in terms of % and # of raw subscribers — since we started publishing via RSS back in November ’09 :surprised:

I have no clue where y’all came from or what prompted you to start reading law:/dev/null via RSS, but welcome! :D

The other surprise was that my disappearances didn’t seem to impact the number of people reaching us via search engine. There were over 1,800+ unique queries made by folks visiting this site since that December entry (9,100+ searches total, with ~400K impressions), setting a record for us in January and setting the #2 and #3 marks in May and April.

We’re currently averaging 350 unique searches a month (compared to 80 this same time a year ago), a perk of producing original content even if it is a bit on the infrequent side :)

***

Here’s a random selection of 20 out of the 360+ unique search terms that brought folks here in May 2011:

  • which t4 law school is the best to attend: NCCU Law. Duh. :P
  • nccu law is hard: That’s generally the idea. If law school was easy, everyone would be doing it ;)
  • suicidal thoughts after law school exam: ok it’s hard, but it’s not that hard. Seriously, your grades don’t matter and there’s -0- point in stressing about what you can’t change.
  • law school, got a c in a class where the median is a b+: Can you change it? No. So stop worrying about it and just do better next time. :*
  • 1l student failed out+someone help me: Talk to your professors and to your mentors. Between the two of them, you’ll know what options you have open to you.
  • do 3ls ever fail: Yep.
  • when will nccu law school grades for 2010-2011 be posted?: They should all be finally online for everyone as of this past week. Though apparently some of my almost-3L colleagues are still waiting to learn whether or not they’ve passed ConLaw :beatup:
  • nccu law unfair grading: 1Ls (and some 2Ls/3Ls) complain about this every year when grades don’t turn out how they want. It’s a myth. Go get your exams from your professors and you’ll see sometimes you really do get things wrong ;)
  • if my final grade is b+ and my midterm was b+ what was my final: It depends on the curve. For example, in CivPro II during my 1L Spring semester there was a +19-point curve on the final exam to get the grade distribution we had.
  • law school c- curve: Doesn’t exist, at least if this well-cited Wikipedia entry on law school curves is to be believed. NCCU Law is among the lowest at 2.0.
  • why is nccu’s law school curve so low?: I’m actually covering this question (and a related one on why we kick people out) in a Mailbag entry I’m hoping to have posted on Monday or Tuesday this coming week — keep an eye out for it :)
  • definition for “madame prosecutor”: This is a loaded query so I’ll plead the Fifth on this one :beatup:
  • i missed my deposit deadline with campbell law: Give them a call and see if you can still pay it. And if not, go somewhere else :angel:
  • unranked law schools worth it: I think so, both here and here.
  • preston mitchum, nccu law: El Presidente, he is my predecessor as SBA President, kicked Harvard Law’s butt in the Luke Charles Moore Invitational, served as President of his 1L and 2L classes, and is an all-around cool guy.
  • has anyone gotten into duke law with a 2.7 gpa and a high score on the lsat: Depends on how high your “high score” is ;)
  • attrition at nccu law: Was #2 highest in the country for a public law school the last time NLJ put a chart together (scroll down), and around #7 highest among public and private law schools combined.
  • unc asg constitution: It’s been shuffled from location to location since I left the organization in April ’10, but you should (hopefully) still be able to find a copy at this URL on iwantmydollarback.org. I have no clue if it’s been amended since then though.
  • t. douchette, nccu law grades: There’s no “h” in my last name :P  But you can find my grades in the transcript at the bottom of this entry.
  • does the the law a pickle is not a pickle unless it bounces to be considered a pickle stand today: Wait… what?? :crack:

Not as exotic as some of the entries from months past, but still fun to dig through :spin:

***

We also have a whole new set for the Top 5 most-viewed posts of the month, including one that vaulted to #2 in just a couple days:

  1. On me nearly missing my CrimPro final: Dear Future 2Ls… (05/04/11)
  2. On my $.02 about 1L grades: Your 1L Grades Don’t Matter (05/29/11)
  3. On closing arguments at TYLA’s Southeast Regionals: Wrong man. Wrong place. Wrong time. (05/05/11)
  4. On slogging through the end of 2L Spring: 2L Year: 1 more exam to go… (05/03/11)
  5. On my 1L Spring grades and NCCU Law’s attrition stats: Spring ’10 Final Grades (or, “A 2L. For srs.”) (06/08/10)

*THANK YOU* to all of you for continuing to check out law:/dev/null despite my chronic disappearances — I truly appreciate you! :heart:

—===—

From the Site Stats archives:

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16

Your 1L Grades Don’t Matter

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 29, 2011 in Unsolicited Commentary

The first batch of 1L grades got posted Tuesday here at NCCU Law… in turn prompting the first batch of telephone calls from panicked 1Ls worried about their performance :beatup:

First, breathe.

Second, repeat after me: “My 1L grades don’t matter.”

Yeah I said it. Your 1L grades do. not. matter.

I’ve mentioned before that NCCU Law is one of the few law schools that still follows a strict-C median, and also academically dismisses any student who falls below a 2.0 at the end of any year (all the way up through 3L/4LE). Although I’m not a fan of the dismissal policy, my personal $.02 is that the low C-curve helps produce better-prepared attorneys; apparently I’m part of an “old school” worldview that looks at grades as providing feedback primarily to the student, not to the outside world.

Unfortunately the C curve also means folks who coasted through undergrad with no serious criticism and near-perfect GPAs (often thanks to B+ curves that are becoming the norm nationwide) are only now learning they can’t be superior at everything (cue the :eek:  faces).

 

“But TDot, you don’t understand! I made the top 10%!”

Congratulations! I really, truly, seriously am proud of you (seriously)… and it still doesn’t matter ;)  Yes, you now get to grade on to law review without having to do these agonizing BlueBook exercises. But they don’t give out bonus points in 2L and 3L classes just because you did well as a 1L. The material you’ll be learning is more expansive, the training wheels are taken off, and in the electives you’ll be taking as a 2L you’re going to be held to the same standards as everyone else — including us 3Ls in class with you :*

 

“But TDot, you don’t understand! I’m only at [some number ≥2.0] and I will never get into BigLaw and my life is ruined and omg omg omg!”

A few points here: (1) it doesn’t matter; (2) 90% of us didn’t make the top 10% either (and are doing just fine might I add); and (3) if the blawgosphere is to be believed, there are Ivy League kids with perfect GPAs who still can’t get into BigLaw… yet we’ve got several classmates and graduates doing just that, including at least one out West whose 1L GPA was below mine. The position was advertised on the jobs board, she submitted her résumé and an impeccably-edited writing sample, snagged an interview and took it from there.

While some firms will ignore applicants below a certain threshold GPA, many provide interviews based on factors beyond raw metrics.1 If you really do want to work in BigLaw (I’m judging you for it, jsyk :P ) then your work experience over this summer, coupled with your willingness to network and prepare an immaculate writing sample, will play a bigger role in the 2L job hunt than your 1L GPA.

Oh, I forgot: you also have 2 more years to bring your GPA up ;)

 

“But TDot, you don’t understand! I’m only at [some number <2.0] and I will never make it through law school and my life is ruined and omg omg omg!”

OK so in your case your 1L GPA will have a bit more of an impact, something I saw first-hand as most of my good friends during 1L year didn’t make it back for 2L year. But, if you still want to become an attorney and you’re dedicated to making it happen, these 1L grades still don’t matter.

First, figure out what happened; some of you had difficult personal or family situations that were beyond your control, some of you dug a hole in the Fall that was too deep to climb out of, some of you just had a bad day. Whatever the reason, use this upcoming year to get things squared away. Pick up your exams from your professors and see where things went wrong; if writing was a weakness, work with a writing coach. If it was something personal, do what you can to resolve the situation(s) or at least minimize the impact they’ll have on you in the future. Tie up loose ends. And generally position yourself to make a compelling case to the Admissions Committee when you appeal for readmission next year.

—===—

The main thing to remember, regardless of which of these categories you happen to be in, is that nothing is impossible. You’re reading a blog written by a guy who was booted from college as a sophomore, boasting a 1.x GPA and a $16K-ish debt to my future alma mater. I got back, got graduated, got into law school — and had an almost-criminal amount of fun along the way once I stopped fearing failure :D

And I still found a (well-paid) law job even after my 1L grades were safely below the Top 10%. Don’t believe me? Check my transcripts for yourself:

There’s nothing any of us can do to change any of our grades — so why stress about them? :P  Instead of letting your grades run your life, do what needs to be done so you run your life.

Trust me: if I can do it you can too ;)  Good night y’all!

  1. As counterintuitive as it sounds, this is particularly true in a bad economy. It’d take a whole ‘nother entry to explain the rationale, but the short version is that information asymmetry between applicant and employer gets worse as the ratio of applicants-to-jobs goes up, pushing employers to rely on non-quantitative criteria like recommendations from existing employees or other people of trust. []
  2. More F’s than A’s: 13 A’s, 12 B’s, 11 C’s, 4 D’s, 16 F’s. Plus a 4:3 pass/fail ratio in my credit-only classes. And I still had a trio of options for law school. []

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