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“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 31, 2011 in The 3L Life

Ugh.

Happy Halloween folks. I decided to dress up as an overextended 3L for the holiday.1 :beatup:

Just kidding — I stuck with my Guy Fawkes mask, but had to forgo the cape this year due to academic obligations; here’s a pic :D

I prefer the cape to the suit, but law school calls...

In all seriousness, I’m drowning in assignments and apologize for not blogging more often. I’ve taken a week’s worth of draft entries and stripped them down to another one of my really-need-to-be-trademarked bulleted lists so the folks who want to know what I’m up to (or an excuse to take a break from work) have something to read ;)

  • On the technical side of law:/dev/null, we’ve added in a new widget that lets users subscribe to the comments of any particular post. Now if you write a comment you can be notified by email if someone replies so you don’t have to go digging through old entries to check.2
  • I’ve also received some suggestions/requests to improve the pagination on old entries. It’s been added to the to-do list, but the CSS for that one will take more effort so it won’t be getting done any time soon (don’t expect the subscription widget to look pretty either :P )
  • At no point since I started writing this blawg two-and-a-quarter years ago have I ever even contemplated saying “f*ck it, I quit”… but today the thought crossed my mind for a couple femtoseconds. The class schedule I arranged was mind-bogglingly stupid in retrospect; my day is spent reading for classes, and my off-days are spent… reading for classes. Taking a quartet of paper-oriented courses (with their attendant components and drafts and etc all due at overlapping times) was equally ill-conceived in light of the reading volume. I’ve missed enough deadlines at this point that it’s almost impossible to keep my GPA above 3.0. Insanely frustrating.
  • Case in point: in Employment Discrimination we were given a fact pattern from which we were to craft a complaint and a client letter. I knew MDG’s late policy only allowed items up to 2 hours late, and I also knew there was -0- chance I was going to be able to comply with the policy. Sure enough I got an F… but only after MDG noted that I otherwise would have had a perfect score3 :mad:
  • There’s also no real outlet for me just to vent, because I inevitably get advice that I’ve either already done (dramatically scaling back SBA involvement), advice I’m simply not willing to entertain (dropping Samson, close friends, or courses), or advice that does nothing at all to actually solve the problem (limiting involvement in trial team… which doesn’t start until January). PSA: If you have a classmate who looks stressed out and needs to b*tch, just let them carry on for a bit. After ranting and raving for a bit we’re usually in much better mental shape. :)
  • Speaking of people with mental issues, last Tuesday a friend of mine posted pictures from NC State‘s GLBTA Center — where someone had spray-painted “Fags burn” and “DIe” [sic] across the door. This type of stuff is (thankfully) a relatively rare occurrence at NCSU, but I have to confess a certain degree of amazement that (1) anyone would feel so morally secure to declare divine judgment upon people they don’t like, and (2) they think destroying property and attempting to intimidate others is an acceptable form of self-expression. Reprehensible, disappointing, and wrong.
  • It’s a historical anomaly that the attack was discovered five years to the day after myself and a pair of other Senators pushed a (successfully adopted) resolution calling for the GLBT Center’s creation through the Student Senate. I remember the floor debate back then focusing on whether or not something like this was needed, or worth students’ fee money. I’d argue the Center being targeted in the manner it was speaks to the majority’s wisdom back then.
  • On a happier note, NCCU Law‘s first-ever “Speed Networking” event was held last Wednesday and was a HUGE success! :spin:  The brainchild of EIC based on an idea she got from the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto back in August, basically SBA / Career Services / Alumni Relations teamed up to bring in 45+ alums for a rapid-fire series of one-on-one meetings with 2Ls and 3Ls.  It was the first time we’ve done anything like it at NCCU and it was awesome. :D
  • Also on the extracurricular front, last week I submitted a brief to our Moot Court Board for their Fall tryouts :beatup:  After ignoring the appellate stuff for the past 2 years to focus on trial advocacy, I decided to at least give it a try just to see if I’ve got the technical competence for it. Oral arguments will be this Wednesday if anyone wants to come learn about the Eleventh Amendment.
  • Recognizing the huge hole I’ve dug myself academically, I spent my entire weekend trying to catch up on Sales & Secured Transactions. Prof Sales gave us old copies of the 2009 and 2010 exams without the answers; we’ve got until tonight to send in our guesses for feedback. Realistically I won’t be anywhere near done by deadline (which, like MDG, is a bright line cutoff) but at least I don’t feel totally lost anymore.
  • I also penned a letter to the alumni asking them to give back to the law school :)  With the North Carolina General Assembly gutting the University-system budget, and the law school losing $2M in the process ($1 of every $7), we need private support now more than at any time since when the law school was still legally segregated. I’ve announced what’s tentatively being dubbed “The SBA Challenge” where we’ll raise $1 for every alum who contributes. Fingers are crossed for a big response.
  • Oh and did I mention I registered for class for the very last time evah? :D More on that later this week.

There’s been a lot more going on but I’ve gotta snip it here so I can get back to work. Have a great night y’all! :)

  1. Only because Mariel‘s idea of dressing up as a milk carton (“I am the 1%!”) was too much work… :beatup: []
  2. Don’t get me wrong, I love the added traffic — but I’d rather you actually enjoy the time you spend here ;) []
  3. I just realized I still haven’t posted my 2L grades, but basically the same thing happened to me in Scientific Evidence last Spring… []

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The YLD’s incomplete approach to law school transparency

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 6, 2011 in Unsolicited Commentary

Good evening folks! :D

Day 3 of the ABA’s 2011 Annual Meeting features the “Assembly” portion of the ABA Law Student Division, where representatives from all the law schools in attendance convene legislature-style to debate and vote on various resolutions, along with the usual end-of-year awards and speeches as old officers retire and new officers begin their terms.1

If memory serves me correctly, there were 174 delegates in attendance representing just 99 law schools — an unfortunate reminder of how many of the 199 law schools nationwide had -0- presence at this meeting. :crack:

While other resolutions certainly had more contentious debate — a proposal asking law schools to elicit more information from students claiming Native American heritage was adopted in a heavily-split vote — the item that bothered me was known as Resolution 111B, adopted by the ABA Young Lawyers Division in February and dubbed its “Truth in Law School Education” resolution.

You can read some of the details about the TILSE document in this February piece at the ABA Journal. Essentially the resolution demands that law school’s provide greater disclosure of the employment survey data they collect from recent graduates, so prospective students will have a more accurate gauge of their employment prospects before taking on six-figures’ worth of loan debt to get a law degree. The YLD then handed the resolution to the LSD to ask for the students’ endorsement.

Generally, good stuff…

…but it was readily apparent this particular agenda item was less about its content than it was about good ol’ fashioned logrolling. When the YLD representative gave his report on the topic, his first words weren’t about the resolution — he instead made sure to note that YLD was “standing behind you” on an unrelated resolution seeking to get voting power for the LSD representative to the ABA’s Board of Governors. :roll: One of the LSD delegates even tried various linguistic twists (contortions rivaling the very best yoga practitioners) to insist the resolution “doesn’t add any additional burdens on law schools” because “we can’t make demands, we can only make recommendations.”2

Which is just as well, because the resolution’s contents as-written are woefully insufficient.3

In typical American fashion, the YLD has taken a two-part equation and expended untold hours and vast sums of energy focusing on only one side of it: the Big Bad Law Schools and the games we all know those schools play with their employment statistics.

But a key contributor that enables law schools to play those games with statistics are the less-than-100% response rates from their newly minted (and likely newly licensed) law school graduates, who are often too busy to waste time with filling out a form they have -0- incentive to complete. When someone doesn’t return a survey, do they count as employed? Unemployed? Excluded from the dataset entirely? The methodologies relating to those questions are among the core issues underlying the skewed stats.

That problem is also compounded for HBCUs and other law schools where the bulk of students go into public interest professions. When following your passion barely lets you pay the bills, you can’t exactly take even more unpaid time from your daily schedule to fill out even more paperwork.

So in typical T. fashion, as an advocate for my law school I decided to raise an issue no one else seemed interested in bringing up. :angel: I submitted a page-long form to speak4 that contained the following innocuous statement:

The American Bar Association Law Students Division (ABA-LSD) embraces a “full spectrum” approach to improving Truth in Law School Education, including both greater data disclosure and more comprehensive data collection. To promote that objective, the ABA-LSD encourages the American Bar Association to petition state bars (or equivalent licensing agencies) to grant some form of Continuing Legal Education credit to graduates who complete and return post-graduation employment surveys.

CLE credit: a simple and easy solution.

Using North Carolina as an example, even a single Professional Responsibility credit would incentivize new lawyers to reply by letting them meet 1/12 of their annual CLE obligations, all at no cost beyond the time spent completing it.

Yet like every other group that frowns upon people rocking the boat, actually considering ideas that weren’t pre-vetted by the folks in charge was verboten — my attempted amendment was somehow ruled out of order by the presiding officer by citing some illusory “protocol” that decreed “we cannot amend another group’s resolution.”5 :crack:  The unamended resolution was then passed by voice vote with only token opposition.

Regardless of the LSD’s take on the issue, however, the fact remains that the YLD is raising this great hue and cry over law school employment statistics without making a comprehensive effort to fix it. The ABA’s full House of Delegates will be taking this document up over the next few days, and will likely adopt it in its unaltered form — and we’ll all get to listen over the next few years as these new “reforms” still fail to fully address the problem.

Here’s hoping someone over there has the cajones to at least propose a full spectrum solution…

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From the law:/dev/null ABA Annual Meeting-related archives:

  1. I also got to enjoy this beautiful Toronto weather and caught the tail end of a “Civil Rights in the 21st Century” CLE earlier in the day, where I inadvertently crossed paths with former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye :spin: []
  2. This is the kind of semantic chicanery that makes everyday people despise lawyers. Either (a) you expect your recommendation to be enacted, in which case it adds an additional burden on law schools, or (b) you don’t expect your recommendation to be enacted, in which case you’re wasting everyone’s time “endorsing” a purely symbolic piece of paper. :roll: []
  3. As just one of many many many examples, a delegate from Washburn Law raised an excellent point: in addition to the stats YLD wants to collect, there should also be some kind of indicator of how much help the Career Services Office actually provided in a student getting a job. It makes no sense for a law school to tout a given graduate’s employment when that graduate had to do 100% of the work finding the opportunity and securing it. []
  4. A requirement mentioned nowhere in the Standing Rules of the LSD Assembly and completely foreign to the Robert’s Rules of Order said Assembly was using as its parliamentary authority. []
  5. Assuming arguendo such “protocol” exists, and ignoring the fact it doesn’t appear anywhere in the Assembly’s Standing Rules or in Robert’s Rules of Order, I wasn’t amending the resolution. I was attempting to amend the LSD Board of Governors’ main motion to endorse the resolution, from “We endorse this document” to “We endorse this document, but…”; hence why the amendment wasn’t in traditional “Whereas etc etc / Be it resolved etc etc” format common to resolutions. ;)  The abject failure to grasp this most basic of parliamentary concepts has exposed the notion of “professional parliamentarians” (which the LSD uses to help with presiding) as a complete and total fraud. But I digress… []

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3

Maybe it’s something about November?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 15, 2010 in The 2L Life

So the original title of this entry was going to be “Serendipity”… until I did a search through my previous posts, and found out I already used that same title a year and four days ago :surprised:

I’m now becoming convinced that instead there must simply be something about November in the space-time continuum that leads to events converging just right.

Here’s the deal: our Dean for Career Services at NCCU Law sent me an email earlier today about a company looking for a law student to help with some contract review work. Now, aside from the fact that it’s an opportunity to earn experience or $$$ or both, it was an otherwise-inconspicuous proposition. Especially for a guy whose confidence in Ks was rocked until I started getting my academic life together this past summer.1

But then I found out that this company is in the information technology field…

And their headquarters is based at my alma mater

And they’re e-Partners with my department

And their CEO gave a presentation last November… that I attended… the night before that previous Serendipity post :crack:

::cue mini-“omg omg omg” freak-out session::

Needless to say I’ve gotten -0- done on a paper I have due in Legal Letters at 9am tomorrow morning. Instead I’ve been re-tweaking my résumé for the n-th time, reaching out to friends who work for or with the company to get background info, trying to cobble up something for a cover letter that doesn’t sound totally inane, debating whether or not I should reach out to the hiring person on LinkedIn before the Career Services folks have sent my résumé (thoughts??) — the list goes on.

And the craziest part? I wanted to intern with these folks when I was in undergrad! But my Computer Science GPA was toast because I was investing all my time serving students through Student Government (since I was planning to go to law school instead of working in the IT field professionally) so I never applied. How totally awesome would it be if I got a chance to work here in a law-related capacity?!

And yes, I fully realize I’m getting totally carried away and haven’t even gotten to the point of being interviewed yet, much less getting a job. But still. Talk about a crazy confluence of circumstances…

I’m off to go work on this paper, but just thought I’d share in light of the job-related discussion that’s been taking place over the past two days on the “Is law school really worth it?” entries :)

Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. I just realized I never did provide a post-summer session breakdown on grades like I did for the Fall and Spring — that’ll be coming up soon! []

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NCCU Law 1Ls: What to Expect at Orientation

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 8, 2010 in The 2L Life

Over the weekend I got an email from one of the long-time readers here at law:/dev/null — and a quick THANK YOU to all of you :* — reminding me that I still haven’t posted the Site Stats for July.

So I was going through the search terms to put that together, and saw “what to expect at nccu law orientation” among them. I figured that needs a bit more than the 1-line treatment I typically give the search queries each month :)

Before giving you my $.02, I need to stress that this is strictly 100% my own recollections and opinions taken from my three entries on Orientation last year. They are not in any way endorsed / vetted / reviewed / affirmed / or any other relevant verb’d by NCCU Law, the Student Bar Association, or anyone else. Your experience will likely be different — and hopefully less embarrassing than mine — so take all of this with the requisite grains of salt ;)

Also, since I’m in the NCCU Law day program these recollections are day program-specific. If you’re in the evening program you’ll go through the same stuff, it’ll just be structured differently.

We’ll start with some preliminaries:

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PREREQUISITES
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Attire: Last year I came to the first day of Orientation in a suit… and was one of at most a half dozen others to do the same :beatup: This will be the first impression you’ll make on your teachers and future colleagues so you don’t want to dress like a bum, but if you don’t want to do full business attire you can stick with your Sunday best.

Dennis Jansen (a 3L @ UMN Law) has this excellent post on Orientation fashion advice. And if you happen to be a lady, Huma Rashid (a 3L @ John Marshall Law) has an entire category of outfits just for you. Read them both. Trust me ;)

Parking: Not sure if things will be different this year, but last year we had the same places to park during Orientation as we did during the school year: (i) on the strip alongside the law school, (ii) in the Education Building parking lot, (iii) in the parking lot in front of the gym, (iv) the newly-paved lot across from the Criminal Justice building, and (v) a handful of other places you’ll only need if you end up getting to class really really late. Go to the NCCU Campus Map for directions. Plan to arrive early and you’ll be fine parking-wise :)

Sections: You can figure out what section you’re in already by looking at your schedule in Banner, but if you haven’t accessed that yet you’ll know for certain when you check in at Orientation. You’ll be split into your sections for most of the sessions all week.1

Technology: If you have a laptop and you’re planning on using it during the year, bring it with you on the first day. NCCU Law has a laptop loaner program where every 1L has the option to borrow an IBM ThinkPad from the school, but many of us prefer to use our own. Bringing it on Day One will give you a chance to get everything configured for use on the law school’s wifi network.

Timeline: Orientation is pretty much an all-day (or all-evening) thing each day. Plan to show up at 8-9am and plan to stay there until 5pm or later (more on the “or later” part for Day Two below).

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DAY ONE: WELCOME TO NCCU
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The first day of Orientation last year was the really basic nuts and bolts to life at NC Central University.

You’ll check in, hang out in the Fishbowl for a bit (and eat some of the breakfast items sponsored by your Student Bar Association ;) ), then go to the classroom where you’ll spend your 1L year for the rest of the day’s activities.

The day is broken up into 30-45 minute segments on various issues. You’ll get introduced to the Chief (the Dean of the law school) as well as the high-level law school staff. You’ll hear from the Registrar about basic class registration and related items. There will be a Q&A session on financial aid, student loans, and other money-related issues. There will be a segment on your respective learning styles from Dr. Psych. And you’ll hear from the IT folks about how to navigate the various law school facilities available to you.

The really fun stuff happens at the end, when you’ll get your login/passwords for both LexisNexis and WestLaw, putting oodles and oodles of cases at your fingertips for whenever you’re bored. And you’ll be given a tour of the law school — which will hopefully include a trip down to the SBA office to say hi to me :D

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DAY TWO: WELCOME TO LAW SCHOOL
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If Day One were designed to introduce you to NCCU, Day Two introduces you to the NCCU School of Law… and the long hours law school can consume :beatup:

In the morning your CivPro professor will give you an introduction to the legal system. After that you’ll hear a bit more detail about the various law school departments and how they can help you (career services, academic support, and so on).

At some point that day you’ll also get to hear from a panel of students about the rich legacy of NCCU Law, and then have a second law-related session where your Contracts professor will introduce you to briefing cases — and even assigning homework :surprised:

Once that’s done, you basically have a break to knock out the essential stuff you need to do. The Bookstore will have a “mobile store” set up in one of the courtrooms on the ground floor. You’ll be able to buy your parking permit on the 2nd floor. You’ll get your picture taken in the Fishbowl for the law school’s annual student profile thing. Etc etc etc.

Then that night there will be a reception in the Great Hall with NCCU Law alumni, followed by a session on professionalism with those alums and folks from the N.C. Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. The reception and professionalism session combine both the day and evening programs, so it’s an excellent opportunity to get to know your fellow 1Ls from all over the school :)

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DAY THREE: NOW GET TO WORK
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I actually had to skip the last part of Orientation last year because of a conflict with a UNC Board of Governors meeting I had to attend as UNCASG President — so even though I remember what was supposed to take place, this section of the post is also part speculation.

In the morning you’ll have some group discussions on To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the books you were assigned to read over the summer. You’ll also have another session on briefing cases as well — and you still have to turn in that homework even if you skip like I did :beatup:

You’ll also go over the Student Handbook and the Code of Conduct, as well as a session on avoiding plagiarism. And at some point you’ll be given a writing exercise.

The last event for the day will be a second panel with different students on it, that will basically be a Q&A for you to ask any lingering questions that didn’t get addressed during the rest of Orientation.  I’m on that second panel, so if you want to try and stump me feel free to start thinking of your questions now ;)

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TDOT’S ADVICE
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If I had a chance to do Orientation all over again, the only thing I’d change is that I’d be more relaxed.

Before law school several friends used to call me “the oldest and the coldest” in tribute to my unflappable personality (and balding scalp :beatup: ). But for some reason I was ridiculously nervous during Orientation, and I didn’t enjoy myself nearly as much as I should have.

You’re getting ready to start an amazing experience at a truly unique law school, and you’re going to meet people who will be colleagues and friends for years to come. Go in with the mindset to soak in as much information as you can, to meet as many folks as you can, and to enjoy yourself as much as you can — do that and you’ll be in good shape :)

***

That’s it from me — if you have any questions between now and Orientation feel free to send me an email! Looking forward to meeting y’all this week! :D

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Orientation-related items from the law:/dev/null archives:

  1. No matter what anyone else tells you, §103 is the best :angel: []

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