Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 28, 2015 in The After-3L Life
One of the other factors in my lengthy hiatus was seasonal: the annual ritual of trial advocacy competitions!
Some of you might remember back in February of last year I penned this bittersweet entry celebrating the accomplishments of some students I coached in the TYLA National Trial Competition, but sharing my disappointment that my talents were being used to benefit UNCCH Law rather than my own alma mater.
Well this year was… interesting.
The folks at UNCCH Law plan ahead, and had contacted me at the beginning of last August to ask if I’d come back for the 2015 competition. And me, being the naïve person I am, told them to give me some time so I could check with NCCU Law — just in case the whole “us kicking NCCU’s rears” would prompt them to let me come home.
(cue the “LOL!”s)
I hit up my old coach to ask for his advice. We met over lunch to talk that week, and he told me to hold off with the acceptance; he was going to step down as coach, and wanted to recommend me as his replacement. All I’d need to do is contact the advisor for the Trial Advocacy Board and let her know.
So I do. And get her voicemail.
A week goes by without a response. I call again. Voicemail.
A few more days go by, and I stop by the school in person. She’s teaching a class so I leave a note.
Another week goes by without a response.
It was around the third week in August when I learn that Prof CrimLaw had now been made the new Dean of our clinical programs (which also has responsibility for our competition teams), so I reached out to him. He suggested I contact a different professor who is now in charge of overseeing competition programs for everybody across both the Trial Advocacy Board and the Moot Court Board — and that, whatever she says, not to feel any shame or regret for working for a different law school. “That’s what we do as lawyers.”
So I call the other professor. She actually answers the phone ( ) and asks me to give her until that Friday. Then actually calls me back when she said she would!
Just to tell me that the first professor told her my old coach was coming back for another year…
(cue the “#dafuq?”s)
Now this call to me happened around 3pm-ish. Keep that in mind.
I email UNCCH my acceptance that afternoon and resign myself to going another year without helping my own alma mater.
The following Monday I text my old coach and say “Guess I’ll be seeing y’all in Charleston” — and almost immediately get a text back, even though it’s during work hours and he’s rarely that quick with a response. “Call me after lunch.”
We connect later that afternoon, and he’s just as confused as I am. Turns out no one from NCCU Law had contacted him until after they had told me he was coming back. But he hadn’t changed his mind: he still wasn’t coming back, so he asked if I still wanted to coach NCCU (duh). I’d already emailed my acceptance to UNCCH though and couldn’t break my commitment to them.
(cue the sad trombones)
Well fast forward to the end of January. I survive the car drama and make it down to Charleston. Both TYLA teams do admirably well under the circumstances but neither advance. I drive back feeling like I failed.
Then about two weeks later I get a call from NCCU.
Turns out the AAJ coaches had quit unexpectedly, and no one seemed to notice until a month after the problem packet had been released. The second professor asked if I’d be willing to step in (duh again). Given the short timing I bring in EIC as a co-coach, we get started about a month after everyone else…
NCCU Law’s 2015 AAJ trial team. From left: me, Petal Munroe, Shelvia Dancy, Joshua Palmer, Jaimee Bullock, and EIC
…and make it to the Regional Finals for the first time since 1998.
(cue the victory trumpets)
At various points during the month of February, EIC and I both had our doubts. Really right up until competition (the last practice did not go well at all).
But then when the first round happened, she and I were both totally blown away. So much so that we both did a look at each other like “Where did this come from??”
And then did it again in the 2nd round. And again in the 3rd. And again in the semifinals. When it was all said and done, a new plaque was getting added to the trophy case at the law school.
There’s a lot getting glossed over here simply because this entry is pushing 1,000 words and I realize many of you won’t actually read that far. But trust me when I say it was a busy-but-interesting Spring semester
So after two years of coaching, of two law schools, in two different competitions, I’ve had the privilege of helping a batch of proto-lawyers make the regional finals both years. I’m going to count that as a 100% success rate.
Now we’ll just see if NCCU Law finally lets me come back for 2016…
Good night y’all!
From the law:/dev/null competition-related archives:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 10, 2014 in NotFail
mer•ce•nar•y (pl. mercenaries) – noun. a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.
Today’s my first day “back in the real world” after spending the past weekend at the annual TYLA NTC Regionals. And where I coached my very first TYLA trial team, comprised of two 2Ls and a 3L.
A team that ended the competition as finalists
In turn making them the best trial team in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Not to mention going further in that competition than I ever made it myself.
From… the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
That’s not a typo. It’s the same institution I’ve ridiculed on this very website as The University of Non-Compliance at Cheater Haven. The one whose students meme’d me in my NC State hat. The one with its very own “#gthc” tag here at law:/dev/null.
And I was their coach
So how did a guy with an eagle carving on his dining room table plus another on a bookshelf and a third on my bedroom wall — alongside a wolf painting, a wolf carving, even the comforter on my bed — end up in the finals of my favorite mock trial competition helping the one institution that happens to be a rival of both my undergrad and professional school alma maters?
My team, from L to R: Jonathan Williams ’15 (Defense), Michelle Markham ’14 (Swing), Dave Fitzgerald ’15 (Plaintiff), Eli Sevcik-Timberg ’14 (Student Coach)
Well first we had an amazing team. I was a little nervous at the start because only one student was a 3L; the other two were 2Ls who’d never competed in anything before, and the 3L student coach assigned to work with me had experience but not in TYLA.
I also got the impression at a few points in practice that our goal was just to not embarrass ourselves — I don’t think anyone (admittedly, myself included) thought we had any shot at going anywhere.
But let me tell you: when it counted, they competed. All three of them turned in solid performances to nab the #6 seed after the first three rounds, setting up a semifinal match against the University of South Carolina for Sunday morning. They promptly slaughtered USC and pushed us on to the finals.
“But TDot! But TDot!” I hear you saying, “WHY were you working for them?”
Aaanndd… that’s where the title for the blog post comes in.
Last winter my 2L/3L TYLA coach and I had talked about the future of NCCU Law‘s team and whether there’d be a spot for me anywhere as an assistant coach. Nothing ever happened with it, so in the Spring I volunteered to be one of the guest judges for the TYLA Regionals when they were hosted by Campbell Law down in Raleigh.
For my round I watched an absolutely superb performance by a team from WFU Law — a team that ended up getting functionally disqualified when a meritless protest was filed over WFU’s cross-examination of the other side’s expert, and the “protest committee” voted to give them -0- points for the cross. I felt bad for them. And I also decided that I hated the idea of “just” being a judge if our ballots could be summarily disregarded by a 5-member committee of other competing coaches.
Fast forward to early October. The Monday before the 2L/3L trial team tryouts to be exact. I still stop by the NCCU Law building on a fairly regular basis, so during one of those trips while I’m down in our clinic area I make some inquiries about the process to become a trial team coach.
Now in retrospect I don’t know what response I expected. I figured, at the very least, it would be something along the lines of “All the coach spots are filled for every team at the moment, but when something opens up we’ll let you know.” Instead the response I got was as clear as it was unambiguous: “Coaches have to have 5 years of practice experience. That’s the rule.”
I was a smidge annoyed. But rules are rules, right?
So a couple days later, when I’m down in Wake County for a traffic case, I talked with one of my 2L AAJ trial coaches (a District Court Judge down there) about how he got involved. Apparently someone just called and asked him to do it. But he went on to tell me no one even asked him to return as a coach my 3L year or the year after. That in turn led me to express my frustration over how I felt the law school treated our competitions as afterthoughts, and how I really wanted to run one of these teams to show what could be done.
Well even though he’s an NCCU Law alum, he’s also a dyed-in-the-wool Tar Heel as well. He had heard the UNCCH trial team advisor was out for the semester due to a medical issue and suggested I consider looking there.
I then texted a friend of mine from my NC State days who had just graduated from UNCCH Law the prior year. She confirmed the story on the advisor and said it would be “awesome if [I] potentially think about maybe” being their coach (after confessing surprise that I like trial team ). And if I wanted her to make a call the spot would be mine.
Unpaid, but a shot nonetheless.
Not quite ready to go calling in favors, I had lunch with my other 2L TYLA coach the next week to get his advice on basically squaring off against my own school. And he said to go for it. I’m paraphrasing here, but his argument was something along the lines of “Think about what it says for Central if you do well, what it says if your alma mater’s graduates do a better job at this than their own.”
Still not fully comfortable with the thought of switching sides, I sent a text message to my 2L/3L TYLA coach to get his thoughts since he was still in charge. When he saw me at the Alumni Association meeting that Saturday, he said to take the spot as well.
So I did.
I Facebook-messaged a UNCCH 2L I knew from UNCASG, who in turn put me in touch with the Trial Advocacy Board chairman over there, who in turn connected me with the TYLA squad and a 3L student coach to assist. And the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.
“But TDot! But TDot!” you interrupt again, “WHHYYY??”
Well… because my alma mater didn’t want me
Look, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who loves NCCU Law more than I do (or NC State for that matter). You’ll be equally hard pressed to find anyone who takes quite as much glee in disparaging UNC Chapel Hill as I do. The students on the NCCU teams that didn’t make it were real people, including two of my mentees
And I can’t even articulate for you in words how awkward it felt when I actually typed “#goheelsgoamerica” into my phone for a Facebook status.
But the fact is it didn’t make a d*mn lick of sense for me to sit on the sidelines getting rusty for another year waiting on my alma mater to let me help. And it most definitely didn’t make a d*mn lick of sense for me to do that for 4 more years until I’d reach some arbitrary quantum of real world experience.
UNCCH needed someone. They offered me that opportunity. The folks I met turned out to be really cool people. And, having made a commitment to them, I wasn’t going to let them down.
So I didn’t.
Now the only issue at this point is really what other folks’ decide will happen next year. Because now that I know the finals are attainable, I’m not going away until nationals…
From the law:/dev/null competition-related archives:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 4, 2013 in TDot's Tips
No, your eyes don’t deceive you — you’re seeing two entries in a one-week period for the first time since I went on a three-posts-in-a-week writing spree way back in January.
[Yes, I’m proud of myself. Told y’all I was serious about getting back in the habit of blogging ]
Admittedly I’m cheating a smidge on this one (I forewarned you Friday!) since it’s a mostly-copy/paste job of this old TDot’s Tips entry from just after I passed the bar. But I figure it’s a timely rehash since folks got their bar results over the Labor Day weekend, so hopefully you’ll forgive me
So you’ve gone from being a doe-eyed proto-lawyer nurtured in the ivy-covered walls of legal academia for the past three years, and grown into a bona fide at-least-minimally-competent attorney-at-law. Now what do you do?
STEP 1: GET SWORN IN
Oaths are what us lawyerfolk call Serious Business™. For srs. Meaning you need to take one before we’ll allow a non-lawyer to put their life in your at-least-minimally-competent hands.
To get that done:
- Grab your ID card and your pass letter from the NCBLE. You don’t actually need your law license to practice law, you just have to meet the qualifications for doing so: passing the bar exam, passing the MPRE, and passing the character and fitness review. So as a threshold issue all you’ll need to get sworn in is your letter from the NCBLE showing you passed, and an ID card proving you are who you say you are. Those, and…
- Grab -3- copies of your oath. You can find the standard oath at this link hosted by the NCBLE; if you’re not comfortable with the “so help me God” part, they’ve also got an alternative oath available here. Why have three copies you ask? Well one of them is going to get time-stamped and filed with the court wherever you get sworn in, and the second is going to get time-stamped and returned to you so you have a copy for your records. The third is optional — but as a stylistic choice I recommend printing that one on nice paper, signing it in blue ink, framing it, and putting it up somewhere in your office as an ever-present reminder of how amazing you are
- Pick your county. Now that you’re certifiably at-least-minimally-competent, you can take the oath in any courthouse in the State. Lots of folks pick the county where they’re from so it’s easily accessible for family friends; others pick the county where they’re planning to practice; others like me go where there’s a friendly judge (see below). Some counties will try to push you into participating in their mass swearing-in ceremonies — for example, Cumberland County had theirs today, Mecklenburg has one on September 26th, and Wake has one on September 23rd — but you’re not obligated to do so if you’ve got folks willing to be flexible. Which brings me to…
- Pick your judge. You can have any judge you want swear you in (as long as he/she agrees of course). In my case, EIC and I got sworn in together in Wake County by our former 2L AAJ trial team coach, the Honorable Judge Vince Rozier. You can go with a District Court Judge, a Superior Court Judge, or if you’ve got high-end connections you can even get someone from the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court. And if you don’t have someone in mind, it’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself to a judge you’ve never met to see if they’d be open to it.
- Pick your sponsor. Finally, as a matter of local custom, you’ll want an existing member of the bar to introduce you to the court. This is the person who tells everyone how amazing you are and how you’re going to use your law license to fight for truth, justice, the American Way, apple pie, mega-corporations, or whatever else suits your fancy. As an example, EIC and I both picked our 3L TYLA trial team coach (the guy in the bottom picture in this entry from the competition in Memphis).
- Take the oath. You’ll get introduced to the court by your sponsor, given the oath by the judge, then you and the judge will both sign all the copies of your oath document (ideally in blue ink for the framable copy). Take those oaths to the Clerk of Superior Court’s Civil Division, have them file one and return the other two to you, and you’re officially official!
STEP 2: PAY YOUR TAXES
Being officially official, of course, means you get to pay even more money to various organs of government than you would if you were just some random schmoe trying to start a career.
Specifically, you’ve got a trio to taxes to worry about:
- Dues to the State Bar. Here in North Carolina, this is a $375.00 fee you have to pay annually to continue practicing law. It’s officially “due” on January 1st each year, but it’s not “late” until July 1st — so basically few first-year lawyers pay it until the summer time.
- Dues to the District Bar. In addition to your required membership in the State Bar, you’re also required to join a Judicial District Bar here in NC; you can pick from either the District where you live or the one where you work. This is usually $75.00 and whether you get a reprieve before having to pay varies by District. Here in Durham we’re in the 14th Judicial District which, aside from being utterly useless so far as I’ve been able to tell to-date, requires you to pay your District dues before the calendar year is over.
My interactions with the Department of Revenue on my “privilege” license/tax (click for the full-size version)
Your privilege license. You’ll generally only need this if you’re practicing law outside of a preexisting firm — basically if you’re going solo, or doing doc review with the inevitable “I’ll only give legal advice to Uncle Bob at Thanksgiving” (otherwise, your employer usually picks up the tab).
This is a $50-per-year tax levied by the NC Department of Revenue for the “privilege” of being part of certain licensed professions. You’ll have to apply and pay for it before you start practicing, otherwise you’ll get hit with a penalty and interest for paying late.
And honestly you might even get hit with a penalty and interest anyway, just because: that’s the situation I had back in October as part of my long-running “I’m a magnet for every form of government incompetence imaginable” series Here’s the picture I created for an entry I never wrote. Make sure to appeal in a timely fashion!
There are a few other tax-related items to worry about if you’re planning to open your own firm, but that’s beyond the scope of this entry — for this one I only care about making sure you can practice law without getting thrown in jail for being a tax delinquent.
I do however, totally coincidentally, have this entry on the cost of going solo where I mention some of that stuff
STEP 3: GO BACK TO SCHOOL
You didn’t think you were done with classes just because you finished law school, did you?
Now that you’re a lawyer, you’ll have the joy of getting at least 12 hours’ worth of Continuing Legal Education classes every single year for the rest of your practicing life, starting January 1st.
And, just for you as a newbie, there’s a special epically-long CLE called the “New Admittee Professionalism Program” (NAPP) that you’ll need to complete within the first 18 months of practice. Expect to spend $200.00 and two days of your life on that one.
Luckily a good chunk of the material is actually quite useful ( ), so I’d recommend knocking it out sooner rather than later. You can find more information about NAPP on the North Carolina Bar Association’s CLE website, and information on CLE obligations in general at the State Bar’s CLE website.
And that’s it! There’s a bunch of other stuff you should do of course — buy malpractice insurance, join some of the voluntary bar associations, sit and observe other lawyers as time permits — but that’s for another blog entry
So in the words of one of my mentors after hearing I passed the bar exam: “Congratulations. Good luck. Don’t f*ck up.”
Good night y’all!
Past TDot’s Tips entries:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 9, 2012 in TDot's Tips
Well now I’m officially official: I got sworn in as a North Carolina attorney Friday afternoon!
Taking the oath of office. From left: Judge Vince Rozier, Me (with Eagle lapel pin and Wolfpack Red shirt + silk + socks), Nan, and Hahvahd
The ceremony was put together on short notice (about 20 minutes of text messages exchanged on my way to Charlotte on Wednesday) but it turned out great, with EIC getting sworn in at the same event, the two of us being presented to the court by our TYLA trial team coach, and our AAJ trial team coach presiding.
Even my grandparents managed to make it down with just a day’s notice
Amid getting all that set up and executed, I’ve gotten questions from classmates on a few issues and had to find answers to some questions of my own — so I thought it might be helpful to throw it all in this entry in case anyone else needs it.
APPEALING YOUR BAR EXAM
As some background, last week I noted that NCCU Law’s bar pass rate dropped unexpectedly for first-time test takers to the lowest rate we’ve had in decades. Professors have cited a variety of factors for the drop, some of which are unique to our school and others that affect every school to some degree or another.
One issue I suspect hurt our students more than most was the lack of electricity due to egregiously poor contingency planning by the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners. Here’s why: so far as I know, NCCU Law is the only law school in North Carolina to have a “loaner laptop” program where everyone is issued a laptop as a 1L that they can use until after the bar exam. It’s a great program for a law school whose students skew toward a lower socioeconomic status than, say, our friends over at UNCCH Law.
But after 3 years the laptop batteries can’t hold a charge for more than a few minutes
So when the lights went out and laptops started dropping like flies, Legal Eagles were disproportionately affected. The addition of more time helped to mitigate the damage but it’s hard to undo the psychological impact of seeing your electronic work disappear and then having to switch to hand-writing.
Anyhow, there’s a procedure in place for appealing one’s bar exam results (though you wouldn’t be able to tell from the NCBLE website). If there were ever a set of circumstances warranting an appeal, I think what we went through would qualify. Here’s what you have to do:
- Get your scoresheet from the NCBLE. Those are available now, and can be obtained either by calling them at (919) 828-4886 or emailing info [at] ncble.org;
- Prepare a letter addressed to Fred P. Parker III, North Carolina Board of Law Examiners, PO BOX 2946, Raleigh, NC, 27602;
- Outline the grounds for your appeal, noting for example the impact of the lack of electricity;
- Get the letter notarized; and,
- Mail it to the NCBLE by September 14th, 2012.
Bear in mind, like most appeals, that the odds of success on appeal are very slim. The best appeals will be folks who are at most 1-2 points away from passing and did better comparatively on the MBE than the essays. If they re-review your essays as a result of the appeal there’s an ever-so-small chance you’ll be able to get that last point or two.
If you’re dissatisfied with whatever procedure NCBLE uses for the appeal, your last resort is filing suit in Wake County Superior Court; that process is outlined in the Rules section of the NCBLE website.
GETTING SWORN IN
Information contained on the NCBLE and North Carolina State Bar websites notwithstanding, you don’t actually need your license in order to get sworn in and begin practicing. Judges have judicial discretion to administer the oath if you have met all the requirements for licensure, which will be reflected in your letter from the NCBLE if you passed the bar exam, the MPRE, and the character & fitness check.
If you don’t believe me, consider that Alamance County had a mass swearing-in for their attorneys this past Friday (and you’d have a great as-applied challenge if anyone tried to stop you from doing the same).
Once you’ve got a judge ready to conduct the oath, as a matter of custom you’ll want to find a current member of the bar to present you to the court. Typically your presenter offers a few words about how amazing you are and how you’ll be a great addition to the legal profession. I went with my 2L/3L TYLA coach (who ad-libbed his remarks, noting “I’ve seen the progress in him, from knowing everything, to still knowing everything but being able to work within his limitations to be a successful attorney” ).
In addition to having your NCBLE letter on-hand, you’ll also need at least 2 copies of the Oath of Office available from the NCBLE website. And if you’re like me, with a penchant for framing and hanging things, you’ll want at least one (or more) copies of the oath signed in blue ink on nice cardstock for display
After getting the oaths signed by you and the judge, take two copies to the Civil Division of the Clerk of Court’s Office for filing. The clerk should timestamp and file one copy, then timestamp the other copy and hand it back to you for your records.
Once you’ve got that done you’re officially a lawyer!
“PRIVILEGE LICENSE” / TAX, MANDATORY CLE, AND INSURANCE
Officially being a lawyer doesn’t mean you’re officially able to practice yet though
Turns out being a lawyer is a “privilege” — and the North Carolina Department of Revenue wants their cut. You’ll need to visit the Privilege License / Tax section of the Department of Revenue website, download the form, fill it out, and mail it off to NCDOR with your $50.00 tax payment. You’ll need to renew that license every year before July 1st.
Not to be outdone, you’ve also got a special professionalism CLE you have to complete within your first year of practice. Called the “New Admittee Professionalism Program” (NAPP), that’ll set you back about $200.00 plus two days of your life.
You’ll also want malpractice insurance, but (thankfully?) I have no clue how much that will cost to include it in this blog entry…
WAIVING IN TO WASHINGTON DC
One last addition for this entry, which is actually one of the few useful snippets of information I retained from the Law Student Division’s “Super Circuit” meeting in Charleston last October: you might be able to get into the District of Columbia Bar without having to take their exam
So far as I know, Washington DC is the only jurisdiction that will let a newly licensed attorney waive in based solely on whether or not he or she scored high enough on the MPRE and the MBE. You won’t be able to get your actual MBE scores from the NCBLE of course, but you can give them a call and they’ll tell you whether or not you qualify for admission in the other jurisdiction.
First, you’ll have to wait until you get both your physical license from the NCBLE (which should be 4-6 weeks after they mailed your passage letter) as well as your State Bar Identification Number (1-2 weeks after getting your license). Then give the NCBLE a call to see if you qualify for DC admission.
If you qualify, you’ll need to send a written request addressed to Jody Rollins at the NCBLE asking for your score information be transmitted to the DC Bar — along with a $25.00 check for processing You’ll also need to get a Certificate of Good Standing from the North Carolina Supreme Court (which will set you back another $5.00) that you’ll include with your admission packet for DC.
Once you’ve got all that together, go to the DC Bar’s Committee on Admissions website, fill out the application, fire it off and wait a few months for things to get approved.
What’s the point of getting licensed in DC (aside from the cool points for having a multijurisdictional practice)? Since it’s the nation’s capital, it has reciprocity with more jurisdictions than any other state. So after having an active license in DC for 5 years, you can pretty much waive in to just about anywhere in the country — giving you tremendous mobility for later on in your career.
That’s it from me for tonight y’all — hopefully at least some of it was useful! Have a great night!
Past TDot’s Tips entries:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 18, 2012 in NotFail
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!!!
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 3Ls and one 2L on one team and one 2L, one 2.5L, 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 teams 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!
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 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 Then they said “H” and I did a little foot stomping before giving the team a bear hug
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, 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, 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
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 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!
From the law:/dev/null travel-related archives:
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 12, 2011 in The 2L Life
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here at law:/dev/null, largely due to spending Spring Break this past week trying to get caught up on life post-trial team season. I’m still not there yet, but I figured if I waited to post until I was caught up on classwork I wouldn’t have any readers left
So what’s been going on over the past week and a half here in Legal Eagle territory? Here’s a bulleted rundown:
- Wednesday (03/02/11): Finally had my nuked Gmail restored… in its entirety I have to admit I was both surprised and impressed, and I’ll concede I was wrong in my entry predicting the worst. After making sure all of my mail was restored / downloaded / backed up / etc, I stayed up until 2am-ish to make sure I was fully packed and my trial team binder was ready for the AAJ competition I was brought in on.
- Thursday (03/03/11): Skipped classes to head to the airport, then flew down to Atlanta GA for the AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition regionals. The first round wasn’t until Friday night, so I spent the day with the team checking out the city. We had lunch at the Underground‘s Georgia Peach Restaurant & Lounge — some of the best barbecue I’ve had outside of North Carolina, and their peach-blended tea was delicious too.
- Friday (03/04/11): The 2L team’s first round in the AAJ STAC was against the 3Ls from WFU Law. There were some initial jitters when we found out I had already met the presiding judge — the coach of the GSU Law team Christie and I dismantled at the TYLA NTC — but since we didn’t really know how to go about asking for a recusal (and didn’t even know if doing so would even be appropriate given AAJ’s chronic shortage of judges) we just went ahead and did our thing. EIC and M&M were counsel for the defense on that case and turned in a top-notch performance. It provided a big confidence boost to Tinkerbell and I heading into the Saturday rounds.
- Saturday (03/05/11): And with that confidence in-hand, we torched the next two teams we faced on Saturday Tinkerbell and I were counsel for the Plaintiff for both rounds, and we first went up against 2Ls from I’m-not-entirely-sure-where. The results could be summed up like this: Tinkerbell was so devastating on cross-examination, their lead counsel blurted “DAMN!” in exasperation when yet another one of his objections was (properly) overruled I also got to deliver my first “split” closing, which went over well with the jury both in its execution and content.
NCCU Law's 2L and 3L AAJ Trial Teams
We followed that beatdown with a match against the 2Ls from WFU Law, in what was hands-down the toughest match we had. Their cross-examination was sharp, and it seemed like every evidentiary ruling made by the judge was going in their direction whether it was warranted or not. Tinkerbell finally shook them off their game during her cross-examination of the Defendant, who started fabricating facts under the pressure. I was sufficiently heated at that point that I was out for blood when it came time for closing arguments, and proceeded to beat the Defense over the head with their own inconsistencies. It was all very satisfying Afterwards we headed to a post-competition reception, then went back to the hotel and played spades at its downstairs bar until last call.
- Sunday (03/06/11): We found out our 2L team came in 7th place overall and only the Top 4 would advance to the semis, so Sunday got spent checking out the Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and then packing up to head back to the Bull City. Before leaving the hotel we also ran into MDG… which was vaguely reminiscent of a 1L nightmare I used to have where I tried to hide from my teachers but they always seemed to find me no matter where I went.
- Monday & Tuesday (03/07-08/11): Both of these days get lumped together because they were both spent knocking out life necessities — several loads of laundry, apartment cleaning, turning in travel-related paperwork, and so on.
- Wednesday (03/09/11): Had a business lunch with the Pickle Princess, who I hadn’t seen since the April festivities celebrating the end of my second term as UNCASG President. After catching up on how our respective lives had progressed over the past year, I gave a tour of my alma mater to a quartet of her students who were participating in a FFA competition we were hosting. Turns out one of them even wants to go to law school eventually If I ever get sick of the whole “being a lawyer” thing, I think I’d really love being a booster for N.C. State and for NCCU Law
- Thursday & Friday (03/10-11/11): These two get lumped together too, since they were basically split between watching the opening games of the ACC tournament and trying to catch up on all the mounds of schoolwork that amassed themselves between focusing on TYLA, focusing on SBA, and focusing on AAJ.
Which brings us to today: catching up on law school work, catching up with law school friends, and catching up on the law school blog
God willing I’ll be able to resume my somewhat-normal life now that I’ll have some free hours again, which in turn should (hopefully) mean more work around the blawgosphere — keep your fingers crossed!
And until then, have a great night y’all!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 28, 2011 in Technology
Another day on the internet, another day with no access to anything Google-affiliated
Now at least it says Google is trying to fix things...
After sporadically checking Gmail throughout Trial Practice and Business Associations this morning, I finally just gave up. Still no email. Still no docs. Nothing. Nil. Nada.
At least Google was kind enough to put a new redirect in place when I tried to access my account. Now it tells me explicitly why I can’t access my account, instead of sending me to a page saying I violated their Terms of Service.
After winging AAJ trial team practice tonight since I didn’t have any of my docs, I made my way home from the law school around 11ish when I discovered I now at least (it appears) have access to my non-Gmail services.
I also noticed Google had posted an update on their blog making it out like there was never really an issue. Here’s the copy/paste, but you can read the original at this URL:
Gmail back soon for everyone
Monday, February 28, 2011 | 6:30 PM
Posted by Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar (24×7)
Imagine the sinking feeling of logging in to your Gmail account and finding it empty. That’s what happened to 0.02% of Gmail users yesterday, and we’re very sorry. The good news is that email was never lost and we’ve restored access for many of those affected. Though it may take longer than we originally expected, we’re making good progress and things should be back to normal for everyone soon.
I know what some of you are thinking: how could this happen if we have multiple copies of your data, in multiple data centers? Well, in some rare instances software bugs can affect several copies of the data. That’s what happened here. Some copies of mail were deleted, and we’ve been hard at work over the last 30 hours getting it back for the people affected by this issue.
To protect your information from these unusual bugs, we also back it up to tape. Since the tapes are offline, they’re protected from such software bugs. But restoring data from them also takes longer than transferring your requests to another data center, which is why it’s taken us hours to get the email back instead of milliseconds.
So what caused this problem? We released a storage software update that introduced the unexpected bug, which caused 0.02% of Gmail users to temporarily lose access to their email. When we discovered the problem, we immediately stopped the deployment of the new software and reverted to the old version.
As always, we’ll post a detailed incident report outlining what happened to the Apps Status Dashboard, as well as the corrective actions we’re taking to help prevent it from occurring again. If you were affected by this issue, it’s important to note that email sent to you between 6:00 PM PST on February 27 and 2:00 PM PST on February 28 was likely not delivered to your mailbox, and the senders would have received a notification that their messages weren’t delivered.
Thanks for bearing with us as we fix this, and sorry again for the scare.
A “scare”? Really??
I realize Google has a vested interest in downplaying this situation — after all, they’re trying to convince major corporations to entrust their networks to The Cloud — but I’m almost offended that they’re acting like (i) losing access to my email for 2 days now (potentially permanently), complete with (ii) redirects to a page saying I violated the Terms of Service, alongside (iii) cryptic and thoroughly uninformative status updates on the Google Apps Status Dashboard, and (iv) no substantive response from the company until after the media catches on to what’s going on, is all merely a “scare.”
Then there’s the rest of the content in this non-apology apology. They’re backing up my email from tape archives but it’s somehow still all there? I call bullsh*t: the sheer volume of tape cartridges they’d need to use to back up all their users is too huge to believe they do these backups daily. A more likely explanation is that they’ve got a monthly or quarterly tape archive that they’re going to use to restore my account (assuming they actually restore it), which would mean I’ll have permanently lost anything recent.
We’ll see what happens over these next 48 hours that they’re supposedly working. But for now I’m drifting toward becoming one of those anti-GOOG partisans…
[Postscript: And to those of you thinking “But TDot, Gmail is free! You shouldn’t complain!”: I’ll stop complaining about losing my access when Google decides to give me the advertising $$$ they made from ads targeted based on heuristic analysis of my email messages All the “free” users are paying for Gmail service, exchanging the privacy of our email correspondence for cloud storage and reliable access.]
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 23, 2011 in In Case You Missed It
After spending most of the past week preparing for or competing in the TYLA NTC regional competition, I finally worked my way through the blog entry backlog — just in time for me to disappear again the rest of this week so I can prep for AAJ as well as study at some point for my Business Associations midterm
If you have a few minutes to spare, below are the posts from last week just in case you missed them — please enjoy during my pending absence
In chronological order:
Enjoy, and have a great night y’all!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 21, 2011 in The 2L Life
I swear I’ve got one of the most profoundly blessed lives a guy can have — it makes me worried I’m going to use up all my good fortune before I hit 30!
No sooner did I get back to the Bull City from the TYLA regionals than I got a phone call from Madame Prosecutor. Turns out one of the members of NCCU Law‘s 2L AAJ trial team had to step down due to family issues, leaving the team 1 person short of the 4 they need to compete in Atlanta on March 3rd-6th.
So they asked me to fill in!
That means I’ve only got 1.5 weeks to completely learn an entirely new fact pattern (a civil case this time), develop a direct, cross, closing, etc — but it also means I’ll get to develop even more experience plus help out some of my colleagues in the process
Definitely a win-win situation, even though I’ll probably have to scale back on the academics a little bit more We’ll see how it goes… but for now, I’m excited!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 18, 2010 in The 2L Life
That’s how I felt after today’s (9:00am) 2L Opening Statement Competition for the Trial Advocacy Board. This annual event is similar to the competition the T.A.B. used for determining who made the 1L Trial Team, and is held in tandem with the 3L Closing Argument Competition for figuring out which lucky folks get to represent NCCU Law for the law school’s official TYLA and AAJ teams.
The facts for the 2L competition were total garbage. It was an old TYLA civil case, as opposed to the criminal cases usually done in the past. It had a dead judge (the victim), his money-grubbing whore of a wife (the Plaintiff / my client ), an equally money-grubbing incompetent of a doctor (the Defendant), the list goes on.
Oh, and my client’s claim? She’s suing for wrongful death, since her husband died from taking nitrates and Viagra at the same time because the doctor spent a whopping 6 minutes with him when he sought medical help (just enough time to diagnose the judge… with a cold).
The Defendant’s defense? My client’s lawyer-boyfriend killed the judge by beating him over the head with a trophy Or in the alternative that the judge was contributorily negligent for taking nitrates and Viagra simultaneously.
Needless to say I’m not happy with a case I’m not convinced I could win if it were a real trial.
Then on top of it I let myself get sidetracked with other stuff (CLE, Constitution Day, poker night, etc) so I don’t actually write the opening until around 2am this morning. After we got the facts over a week ago.
Stupid of me, I know.
But I get it done and think it’s pretty good, so I’m happy-ish. Then I grab a reasonable amount of sleep under the circumstances and even eat a full breakfast before the competition, so all is right with the world.
Until I actually get to school
I’m the last competitor to go, and the 1.5ish hours spent waiting is just enough time for my nerves to go into full-blown panic mode. My hands are freezing. I’m sweating profusely. And I have a splitting headache.
Compounding the anxiety: the best of the best 2Ls are in this competition. There are my friends Top Gun and Luca, who both edged me out in the 1L Closing competition. There’s Co-Counsel, among the 4 people who beat me in the 1L opening competition. Most of the 1L trial team is here. Even Madame Prosecutor is making her first T.A.B. competition debut, as well as my friend EIC.
I pace the halls for about 20 minutes and manage to relax a bit, and when it’s actually my turn things go fairly well…
…until about 3 minutes in, when I completely forget one of those key bullet points I was supposed to bring up…
…and since it’s not vital to the opening, no one notices it was missing…
The problem? About a minute later, one of the bullet points (that I remember) makes sense only if mentioned in reference to that earlier bullet point (that I forgot). So my eyes bulge out of my head around the 4-minute mark as it dawns on me that I forgot, and I completely screw up the flow of the ending to wedge it in, at which point I start talking a-mile-a-minute because I just know I’m going to end up losing points for running over the 5-minute time limit…
I talk so fast, in fact, that I finish right around 4:20. With a whole 40 seconds left on the clock
It was rough.
And I still have a headache.
After last year’s two performances, I was looking for some vindication this time around. We have to wait all the way until the end of March to find out where we finish so it’ll be awhile until I know if I got it, but at this point I’m just glad it’s over I’ll post the video for y’all as soon as we’re allowed to see them
Until then have a great night!