2

Mission Accomplished (or “T., Esq.”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 2, 2012 in The After-3L Life

It’s a testament to how poorly a job I’ve done updating law:/dev/null that I’m just now posting about something that happened a week ago :beatup:

But I’m officially a minimally-competent lawyer now! :spin:

The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners put folks’ letters in the mail back on Friday 08/24/12 so most people got them last weekend. While mine was in my mailbox, I was at East Carolina University for the August UNCASG meeting where I ran a leadership development workshop I put together a few years ago for student leaders…1 anything to keep myself preoccupied and not thinking about bar results.

I got to the post office on Sunday afternoon, stopped to say a prayer a couple paces before getting to the box, opened it up, and found the NCBLE letter sandwiched in between a fundraising solicitation and a bill. Then I took a deep breath, tore off the right edge of the envelope, pulled out the letter, took a deep breath again, and unfolded it to see…

Unbelievable — I PASSED!

“Congratulations! I am happy to inform you that you have passed the July 2012 North Carolina Bar Examination.”

Right then I had to stop and briefly drop to my knees in prayer, just before following that up with a fist pump and blurting out something that was supposed to sound like “Yeah!” but I’m pretty sure came out more like “yeworilfkjsaszahh!” — thankfully I was the only person in the post office to hear it :beatup:

This also makes it the first year since 2009 that I successfully accomplished all of my New Year’s resolutions. :D

If you happen to be a long-time reader, you might recall back during 1L year I posted this entry with my ’09 and ’10 resolutions — and only managed to accomplish 1 of the 3 for 2010, finishing my tenure as UNCASG President on a high note (while ending 1L year well below the 3.0 GPA I wanted and never even making it to OCS after failing my Physical Fitness Test for the Marine Corps).

I never posted a 2011 entry because I was preoccupied with school at the time, but I only ended up 1 for 3 then too:

  1. “Push my GPA above a 3.0” (which it was, very briefly, before taking an F in ConLaw II);
  2. “Get back in some semblance of shape” (HA! 10 more pounds later…); and,
  3. “Win something” (the only one I finally accomplished this Fall).

Not to be cowed into timidity by my 33% success rate two years in a row, for 2012 I went with the 3 things that were most important to me:

  1. “Graduate with honors” (final GPA: 3.0002);
  2. “Don’t f*ck up my commencement speech” (Yes, that’s actually how I wrote it down. And I think it turned out well.); and,
  3. “Pass the North Carolina bar exam on the first try” (hence this entry).

To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I didn’t think I did bad enough to fail, but I also wasn’t sure I did well enough to pass (especially on the MBE). It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders — especially knowing I didn’t disappoint my grandparents.3

The whole occasion has been unexpectedly somber because a good chunk of my friends didn’t make it — NCCU Law‘s pass rate for NC first-time takers dropped to 60% this time :surprised: — but that just means I need to work harder on getting NC SPICE off the ground so I can help support them in February :)

At the very least they too can become big-time real estate lawyers while I toil away in the low-paid non-profit world :beatup:

More to come in the week ahead. Have a great night!

  1. The content and presentation both get good reviews, so if you happen to know anyone interested in hearing it let me know — I love that stuff! :) []
  2. Yes, I quite literally tied the cutoff for graduating cum laude. How incredibly epic is that?? :D []
  3. Nan’s brother’s son (my great uncle I guess?) is a big-time real estate lawyer, a point that apparently has been getting raised fairly regularly over the years as my side of the family has pursued far less lucrative occupations. But said big-time lawyer also failed the bar the first time, saying “Everyone fails North Carolina the first time they take it.” Needless to say Nan is quite tickled that she has a lawyer on her side of the family now and without hitting the “everyone fails” speed bump. ;) []

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-

TDot’s Mailbag v8.0: Post-Bar Exam Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 11, 2012 in Mail

Good evening y’all :)

We’re just shy of the 3-week mark since I took the North Carolina bar exam, and one of the things on my disturbingly long to-do list1 has been re-engaging with all the social media outlets I let wither over the past couple months. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and of course law:/dev/null updates have finally been getting some long-overdue attention.

As I started easing back into the blogging routine, I also realized I haven’t done a TDot’s Mailbag entry in over a year :crack:

So I figured it’s a good time to knock out some of the questions I’ve gotten asked since the bar exam a couple weeks back…

***

Q: Olivia2 asks:

When preparing for the bar did you actually use materials from school? I think I’ve managed to keep every paper from every class thinking that I will need to look at it again one day. Now I’m running out of room and I’m trying to throw things out but I’m afraid lol. What were the things you needed? Any advice would be great!

A: Don’t hate me for saying this, but… I didn’t consult a single paper from law school in prepping for the bar exam :surprised:

In terms of what you’ll need, whatever bar prep company you choose will send you oodles of stuff to get you through the exam. You’ll likely get around a dozen textbooks, access to an online database with thousands (!) of sample multiple choice questions, and a string of video lectures re-teaching you the core snippets of law in all the subjects that can be tested.

Many law schools also have supplemental programs of their own, such as NCCU Law‘s Invest in Success program that focuses on the essay portion of the exam.

And honestly, you’ll probably also be surprised / a little weirded out at how much law you’ve remembered over the years. Even though I won’t know if I actually passed the bar exam for another couple weeks, I never had writer’s block while taking it like I worried I would — I read the prompt, realized the area of law getting tested, and could spit out at least something vaguely resembling a coherent rule without much second-guessing.

Now even though your papers might not be any use to you, I’m one of the (apparently few) folks who have kept all my textbooks and found myself referring to several of them during different internships: specifically my Contracts book (bluelining), my CrimLaw and Evidence books (larceny and hearsay respectively), my Employment Discrimination book (Title VII), and my ConLaw book (time/place/manner restrictions on speech).

You could probably find all of the same info in a Google search, but having read through the material in class once already I have a mental image in my mind of where what I’m looking for can be found. Your mileage may vary on that one, but I hope it helps :)

***

Q: Savannah asks (after I blew up her Twitter timeline participating in the recent #1LTools tweet-up hosted by the Law School Toolbox):

So is twitter the new gig? I’ve been scouring your blog for info about your 2L classes and profs!

A: Yyyeeeaaahhh that’s not Twitter’s fault, I just did a bad job with blog updates most of 2L/3L year :beatup:

There are a few entries on here under our 2L tag, and for the list of classes I took you can check out this entry on Fall 2010 and this one on Spring 2011.3 Beyond that feel free to send me an email or message over Twitter/Facebook with questions until I get more material posted!

***

Q: Tim asks:

Now that you’re no longer a law student (and hopefully an attorney soon), what’s your plan for the blog? Are you going to keep it? Change the title? Change the focus?

A: We’ll see / Yes / No / Maybe.

I’m definitely planning to keep law:/dev/null live and updated, if for no other reason than it gives me an opportunity to help spread the word about my law school. I know at least a dozen people who applied to NCCU Law because of what they’ve read here — the “Why NCCU Law?” page is still one of the most-visited on the blog — and even though a dozen is a drop in the bucket of what they get each year, every little bit of publicity helps.

Plus it’s kinda cool being on the first page of Google results when people search for the school ;)

The name will also probably stay as it is; even though I’ll hopefully be licensed by the end of the month, we don’t stop being students of the law just because we’ve graduated from law school right?4

As for the plan and focus of the blog, we’ll see what happens. I’ve still got a lengthy backlog of law school-related topics to go through — not just the May and June entries that are half-written, but posts I never got around to writing in the first place (like my 2L/3L grades) — and will probably continue offering my $.02 on law school-related developments in the news. Then there’s the whole wide world of law-outside-of-law-school to comment on, with the occasional update on my dog Samson5 and NC SPICE and various other projects thrown in.

The key, of course, will be whether I find the time to actually keep things up to date :beatup:  But stay tuned!

***

Q: Patrick asks:

Where do things stand with SPICE?

A: NC SPICE is still in its start-up phase, so we’re doing a bunch of things simultaneously as we work to get off the ground.

Our first Board of Directors meeting was the Friday before the bar exam where we adopted our bylaws, mission, product matrix, and related items. I’ve fired off grant requests to a couple foundations with more in progress. The NC SPICE Facebook page got fleshed out a bit, I’ve started working on the NC SPICE Twitter account,6 I added a LinkedIn company page, and at some point this coming week I’ll get to work on the main website itself.

One question mark looming over the group is what relationship (if any) we’ll have with NCCU Law. Our new Dean talked about building a traditional incubator “in house” during her search committee interview — which was my original idea for NC SPICE before the Chief told me there was no money to make it happen — so if the administration sees us as competitors it’ll be difficult to build a collaborative partnership. I’m still holding out hope for a consortium-style approach modeled after the Center for Child and Family Health, where you have an independent entity that multiple schools help support. We’ll see what happens on that end in the months ahead.

But until then, I’m still going full steam ahead! :D  Once we’ve got funding we’ll get our first SPICE Center open, and once the website is operational we’ll get the SPICE Rack in place.7

If you or someone you know might be interested in the services that NC SPICE offers, feel free to send an email to info [at] ncspice.org! :)

***

Q: Vanessa asks:

So how does it feel being DONE??

A: Weird. :beatup:

The first few days after the exam, I still kept waking up at the crack of dawn and falling asleep early like I had in the week leading up to the test. Then during the day I spent a lot of time reading the news, Facebook-stalking people, cleaning and re-cleaning the apartment, working out, basically anything that didn’t involve thinking in any capacity. There were a couple times where I almost felt inclined to do some practice multiples just so I’d have something intellectually stimulating. Most of my classmates had left town to relax, my 2L-turned-3L friends typically had summer internships or summer school, and folks from undergrad were like “Oh, you’re finally done? Welcome to the real world I entered 3 years ago”  :roll:

The only real structure to my days are breakfast, lunch, dinner, and taking the dog out at various times in between. The rest of the time gets spent working on NC SPICE, surfing the web, and trying not to think about the bar exam. It’s a very useless feeling that I’ll look forward to ending one way or the other in a couple weeks.

***

Q: Alex asks:

T. Greg, you didn’t seem stressed at all during bar prep, and you certainly don’t seem stressed now. What’s your secret?

A: Faking it well ;)  (Kidding!)

A year and a half ago Kaplan asked me to write a piece for their Beyond Hearsay blog, and my first entry was on my experience as a college dropout and subsequently learning that fearing failure stalls success. It’s a personal mantra I force myself to remember whenever I get stressed out.

Now I still had occasional moments where I felt sick from nervousness, especially after some of my initial essay grades during NCCU Law‘s Invest in Success program. And I still made sure to put in the work needed to pass, including sitting through every single mind-numbingly slow lecture and running through well over 1,000+ practice questions.

But if you know you’ve put in the time and effort, what more can you do? Worrying about it just throws you off your game right at the very moment when you need to be focused the most.

That was all pre-exam. Post-exam, there’s really no point in stressing out because you can’t go back and change the test results! Pass or fail, my outcome was predetermined the minute I turned in my papers and there’s nothing else I can do about it. So I’ve turned my attention to doing something useful with my life — which is a great stress reliever in itself :)

***

Q: Natalie asks:

You knew I was going to ask this lol: do you have any bar exam study materials?

A: Yes ma’am — I’ll upload them at some point in the next few weeks and we’ll post them alongside the 1L and 2L/3L Outline files  :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 v8.0: Post-Bar Exam Edition [this post] –
    • What materials did you use for bar prep?
    • Are you bailing on law:/dev/null for Twitter?
    • What are your plans for law:/dev/null post-graduation?
    • Where do things stand with NC SPICE?
    • How does it feel being done with everything?
    • What’s your secret to not being stressed about the bar exam?
    • Do you have any bar exam study materials?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v7.0: Legal Eagle Grading Edition –
    • You made Dean’s List… but grades don’t matter?
    • Why is NCCU Law’s curve so low?
    • What is the rationale for NCCU Law’s dismissal policy?
    • How does the dismissal policy work?
    • What are NCCU Law’s GPA cutoffs for Dean’s List and academic honors?
    • Do you get notified if you made Dean’s List?
  • 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. Trying to figure out how to make a living is a lot more involved than studying for law school! :beatup: []
  2. As a FYI for any new folks who’ve found us over the past year, 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. The only changes from that class list: I dropped App Ad and re-enrolled 3L Fall, and I ended up with Judge TP as my Trial Practice professor. []
  4. Yes, I realize that’s probably a cheesy explanation. For an alternative reason, I’m just stubborn and don’t want to change the title :P []
  5. I got him a year ago as of this week! :eek: []
  6. Though I fumbled by committing a classic error: following a couple hundred people all at once. To most folks NC SPICE now looks like a spam account, with a disproportionate following:follower ratio and a low tweet count :beatup: []
  7. SPICE Centers are what we’re calling our physical offices in each county, and the SPICE Rack will be an online clearinghouse for attorneys with unused office space for lease/sale — giving new graduates instant access to counties across North Carolina until we’re able to expand out to those areas! :D []

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8

NC Bar Exam 2012 Postmortem

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 25, 2012 in The After-3L Life

[CORRECTION (07/28/12): Madame Prosecutor informed me that the +$125 extra that computer users get charged is actually the ExamSoft licensing fee, and not extra cash going to the NCBLE as I surmised near the end of the Day 1 rundown. I’ve left the original blog entry as-is for posterity but wanted to ensure the wrong info was corrected. :) ]

***

And that’s a wrap: after 3 years of law school — including extra summer sessions both summers, plus bar prep every day since graduation — I’m officially done with the 2012 North Carolina Bar Examination! :D

It was also apparently an unprecedented clusterf*ck :beatup:

 

DAY 1: “Electricity? You mean, that’s important?”
Things started out pretty well on Tuesday morning. I had taken Samson down to a pet-sitter in Raleigh on Monday night, checked in to a hotel a few minutes away from the test site, and took the evening to relax.1 As I left my room the next morning2 I saw a guy all the way down at the opposite end of the hall getting ready to leave as well.  I hate waiting for the elevator myself, so I decided to hold the elevator for him. He got on, asked if I had any exciting plans for the day, and when I told him I was taking the bar exam he goes “Just remember, there is no failure. The only failure is not doing it.”

It was a random encounter, but good vibes heading over to the test site. :D

When I got to the NC State Fairgrounds around 7:15am there were already hundreds of other test-takers already lined up at various entrances to the Jim Graham Building, sorted by starting letter of everyone’s last name. I wandered around until I saw some NCCU Law classmates and we waited in line for an hour or so as folks eventually got checked in. Most of our professors were there talking with Legal Eagles in the different lines, including The Chief and our new Dean,3 encouraging all of us not to stress out and to do well. :)

After checking in — and getting fussed at because I had inadvertently kept my NCCU Alumni hat on4 — I found my seat near the back side of the Jim Graham Building and waited through nearly an hour of instructions on the documents we were being given, what needed to get filled in where, and all the other oodles of stuff the NCBLE is required to announce to ensure everything is done fairly (even though most of it was in printed material sent to us before we showed up). Then we got to open our essay packets and get to typing.

The essays were split into four parts, with two parts per session (AM and PM). For the morning session we were tested on:5

  • Civil Procedure:  π files a wrongful death suit against a company on the day the SOL expires, then later amends to add that he’s suing as representative of the estate and names two additional ∆s; lawyer for ∆ company opposes arguing they’re futile due to SOL lapse. Which, if any, of the 3 amendments should be allowed?
  • Contracts:  Underage ∆ (claiming he’s 19) enters into referral agreement with temp employment agency π, who gets ∆ a job as a photographer for a child porn syndicate. Can π recover the referral fee ∆ was due to pay?
  • Evidence (2-part):  ∆ charged with second-degree murder following accident while intoxicated says during interrogation “I’m not drunk”; ∆’s lawyer tries to get the statement in during cross-examination of the police officer, and prosecutor follows up by trying to introduce ∆’s prior DWI to prove malice. Which, if either, of these two items should be excluded?
  • Family Law (3-part):  ∆ and wife separate; wife has 1 child not adopted by ∆ from prior marriage, 2 more children with ∆, and doesn’t work because she and ∆ agreed at time 3rd child was born that she’d be a housewife until child starts kindergarten.  Does ∆ owe support for unadopted child, can he force wife to go back to work to support kids, and what of ∆’s various items of income will be used by the court in determining child support?
  • Professional Responsibility (2-part):  Prosecutor loses bond hearing against defense counsel; within minutes he finds a state statute (partially quoted) after returning to his office, then approaches judge ex parte to ask for new hearing under the statute, and gets original bond reinstated. Did he violate the RPC in asking for the new hearing and/or getting the bond reinstated?
  • Property: Easement on parcel of land recorded 75 years ago; BFP acquired parcel with no mention of easement in deed. Can successors in interest of owner of the dominant tenement enforce the easement?

I finished the first set of essays about 45 minutes ahead of time, then we had a break for lunch until 1:45pm. The law school had a particularly tasty selection of deli sandwiches, sweets, fruits, drinks, and so on. It was unexpectedly good, and filling — I’d been expecting something low-budget in light of the state’s budget cuts but was pleasantly surprised. :spin:

After lunch we all filed back into the warehouse for the afternoon session. In that one we were tested on:

  • Criminal Procedure: DV victim consents to search of apartment for abuser boyfriend; officer discovers marijuana in cigar box under the bed and charges DV victim with possession. Should the cigar box contents be suppressed?
  • Torts: π loses medical malpractice case against doctor. What does he need to prove to succeed in a legal malpractice claim against ∆ lawyer?
  • Constitutional Law: Kelo v. City of New London question; city condemns π’s property under eminent domain as part of economic development project getting turned over to private developer. What are π’s odds of successfully enjoining the condemnation?
  • Agency: President of ∆ corporation enters into contract to buy expensive equipment from π, even though bylaws prevented her from doing so, π knew of bylaws restriction, and Board voted to defer all equipment purchases until next year. Is the contract enforceable?
  • ZombieLaw: Pastor owns rental properties as tenants by the entireties with mentally incompetent wife, joint checking account with right of survivorship with one son, life insurance policy naming both sons as beneficiaries, and modest home; son holding durable power of attorney changes life insurance policy to name himself as sole beneficiary; pastor’s will splits estate between both sons; pastor dies with mountains of debt. Who gets what?
  • Secured Transactions: Creditor 1 finances ∆ company in exchange for security interest in all of ∆’s after-acquired personal property; Creditor 2 finances piece of equipment in exchange for Purchase-Money Security Interest, but doesn’t file a UCC-1 until months later; ∆ defaults on both loans. Who has priority over the piece of equipment?

It was in the middle of this second session when things went to hell in a handbasket testing-wise.

You see, this part of North Carolina has a long-standing history of late afternoon summer thunderstorms — even confirmed scientifically by my alma mater NC State and the State Climate Office back in 2001.6 The day starts out great, then around 4pm the clouds form, you have 20 minutes of the worst rain, wind, and lightning that you’ve ever seen, and then the sun’s out again.

Well in the middle of my ZombieLaw essay the power went out the first time. It lasted for about 7 minutes before things came back on, and the proctor announced that everyone would get an extra 7 minutes of time. I’d ensured my MacBook Pro battery was fully charged the night before the exam so I wasn’t phased by the outage and just kept on working.

Then, as I’m a paragraph away from finishing my Secured Transactions essay around 3:30pm, the power goes out again. And stayed off this time :beatup:

I finished my essay and turned in my forms about 5 minutes later, but found out that night that power stayed out for nearly an hour and folks were given an extra 45 minutes to finish; the essay portion that was supposed to end at 5:11pm stretched out until just before 6 o’clock. Bear in mind no electricity also meant no air conditioning — on a summer day, in 90º+ heat, housed in what is essentially the livestock barn for the State Fair each year. :crack:

Maybe it’s just because I was a computer scientist before I was a law student… but contingency plans for a loss of electricity seems like something you’d have for an event like this. I can only imagine the number of threatened lawsuits that are going to crop up when results are released and people who failed the test argue it was/is because of the stressful testing environment.

Did I mention that the NCBLE makes us pay an extra +$125 to use our laptops? Multiplied by the number of laptop users, that’s well over $100K going to the NCBLE just from laptop users alone. Surely they could drop $5K (or more) on a durable industrial generator. :roll:

After leaving the building I continued my non-diet indulgences by getting Zaxby’s for the first time in ages, went back to the hotel and swam for a bit, then did a hundred practice MBE questions while watching television.

 

DAY 2: “What the hell is that sound? And did that rat just piss on your foot?”
Wednesday was the Multistate Bar Exam multiple choice questions, covering ConLaw, CrimLaw/CrimPro, Evidence, Ks, Property, and Torts in two 100-question chunks. Things started around 8:15am and it was as dull and mundane as 100 multiple-choice questions sounds.

I’d been averaging around a minute per question practicing all summer, and did about the same on the exam wrapping up a couple minutes after 10am. The lunch break was absolutely dreadful the second time around because it was so… @#$%ing… long. It was already slated to last two hours, and me finishing an hour early added to it. Most of the time I was debating whether or not I should do more practice multiples, and didn’t eat lunch until the tail end of the break because I was still full from breakfast.

Oh and I forgot to point out there was a rat running around a quadrant of the testing area in the morning session, that staff captured on the lunch break by throwing a trash can over it :beatup: One of my classmates had the misfortune of it running across (and peeing on) her foot.

Things got back under way just after 2pm for the next batch of questions. Throughout most of the afternoon I kept hearing a loud noise outside, wondering if there was another thunderstorm going on — and turns out there was a wood chipper running full blast for hours. :surprised:

I tuned out the noise and kept grinding on the questions, finished about 3:55pm, then picked up the dog and headed home.7

 

So how did it go?
I have no clue :(

On the essays, I thought they were a lot “easier” than I expected. That word’s in quotes because I have -0- clue if I actually got the answers right; it just wasn’t nearly as difficult coming up with words to put on the paper as it had been during bar prep. I know for sure that I railed the Agency, ConLaw, and CrimPro questions, had only a partial clue on the CivPro and Prof Resp questions, and was somewhere in the middle on all the rest. NCCU Law has a supplemental bar prep program called “Invest in Success” that exclusively focuses on the essay portion of the exam and I’m thinking that was instrumental in getting me prepared.

The MBE, on the other hand, was inordinately difficult across the board.

My practice scores jumped, but the MBE was still far more difficult

My scores had improved dramatically on the practice multiples I’d been taking from BarBri so I went into Wednesday expecting it to be a piece of cake. But wow. I could narrow most questions down to two choices fairly quickly but would have no idea which of the two was correct.

Taking everything overall, and the 60-40 split NC uses on the essays-vs-MBE, if I were a gambling man I’d put my odds of passing somewhere around the mid-60% range. I feel OK but not comfortable. And now I have to find a way to put the test out of my mind for five weeks until we get the results…

That’s it from me for tonight y’all! Now that I don’t have class or studying I’m going to try to get law:/dev/null up-to-date (seriously!) and work on getting NC SPICE off the ground. Thanks to all of you for your support the past couple months, and have a great night! :D

  1. Dropped my diet for a 72-hour window by eating McDonalds, then sitting in the bathtub for an hour reading through some essays and collecting my thoughts, then sleeping. []
  2. After indulging on a delicious breakfast from room service :spin: []
  3. I’ll come up with an adequate nickname for her at some time down the road :) []
  4. Trying to make sure my bald scalp didn’t get sunburned! :beatup: []
  5. I’m using the delta symbol and pi symbol for defendant and plaintiff respectively; these should show up regardless of your browser and operating system, but if they don’t let me know and I’ll revert to D and P. []
  6. They suspect it’s because of the geological makeup of the region. []
  7. Didn’t get to celebrate being done though, because Samson puked shortly after dinner which prompted me to take him to the 24-hour emergency vet. :cry: Instead I got home just after 11pm, ate Bojangle’s for dinner, and working on this blog entry. []

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3

Musings on Bar Prep

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 23, 2012 in The After-3L Life

Good afternoon y’all :)

If you couldn’t tell, my efforts at getting law:/dev/null back up to date during the summer have been a categorical and abject failure — I still have that May backlog to finish, and now have a June and July backlog tacked on to it :beatup:

But now that bar prep is winding down and the North Carolina exam kicks off early tomorrow morning1 I figured I can unwind a little bit with this brief entry on the summer. Yes, I realize up-front that griping about the bar exam triggers roughly -0- sympathy from the legal profession; after all, just about every single lawyer in the country had to study for and take a bar exam somewhere at some point.

But I also don’t care: bar prep is a miserable, tedious, stultifying experience… :crack:

True, it’s not difficult per se. After spending 3-4 years of learning to “think like a lawyer” — and hopefully remembering at least a smidge of the courses you’d already taken — very little of bar prep is “new” and most of the new stuff can get picked up fairly quickly. The lack of cognitive difficulty doesn’t make it any easier though.

There are 3 things about bar prep that have been driving me nuts all summer:

  • Breadth trumps depth: In nearly every single class since kindergarten, we’ve been conditioned to take a subject and master it thoroughly before moving on. You focus on one thing; you master all the nuances of that one thing; you take a test. Your Social Studies tests didn’t include Algebra questions, and you didn’t take Algebra tests before getting through pre-Algebra.

    That’s all completely and totally upended when it comes to the bar exam. You have well over a dozen substantive subjects to learn (18 here in North Carolina) but will only be tested on small parts of a small number of them (12 essays in NC). This puts a premium on knowing a little bit of every subject rather than everything about any subject. You’ll also be looking at all the subjects concurrently so that the knowledge of any given subject doesn’t get too stale. And even if you don’t grasp parts of a subject — the Rule Against Perpetuities being the cliché example — you’ll still need to learn all the rest of that subject just in case you get tested on it.

  • Daily time management: If there was one piece of advice I heard over and over before and during bar prep, it was the importance of having a daily study schedule. I’ve completely failed at doing that, so if I end up having to retake the exam in February we’ll all know why ;)

    Separate and apart from scheduling your day-to-day studying though, it’s difficult trying to keep life in order with bar prep going on. The bar review lectures are mind-numbingly slow2 and occupy your entire morning and mid-afternoon. Then you review notes, read outlines, do practice multiples and essays, make sure to eat breakfast / lunch / dinner somewhere in there, and then it’s time for bed. For most of the past two months I haven’t done laundry until the lack of undergarments reminded me it needed to be done. I completely forgot to pay my July rent until nearly 2 weeks after it was due. And I’m pretty sure my kitchen could have been declared an EPA Superfund site had I not finally gotten it cleaned up yesterday.

    I suspect the only reason my dog still wags his tail when I get home is because we both tend to eat at the same time… :beatup:

  • Life goes on: We all have daily routines, and we all have things that occasionally upend those daily routines. Supposedly we’re supposed to ignore them during bar prep — but I think that’s kind of silly.

    I’ve spent however many hours this summer working on stuff for NC SPICE, simply because if it didn’t get started now I’d be broke in a few months waiting for it to get off the ground; better to be sheltered without a law license than homeless with one. In late June I learned my blood pressure had skyrocketed from all the weight I’ve packed on these past 3 years, so I had to watch what I eat and start working out more than 1x every couple weeks.3 I missed a day of bar prep for a good friend’s memorial service; I missed another day for another friend’s birthday; I’ve probably missed more in between that I don’t remember for things that were important at the time, and that doesn’t even include the hundreds of text messages sent back and forth with dozens of folks I should have stopped talking to a couple months ago to study.

    Simply put: there are dozens (and dozens) of things in life that are more important than the bar exam, but we’re supposed to pretend otherwise until this process is all done.4

Sorry for the rant, just had to get that off my chest…

There are of course some bright sides to it all. It’s kind of cool “knowing” multiple areas of multiple subjects, and reflexively envisioning your outline contents when reading basic news stories like this absurdity out of Kentucky.5

It’s also given me the occasion to reconnect with old friends from undergrad who I discovered are about to take the exam too. :beatup:  And I can never overstate how privileged we all are to spend the day studying and learning things without having to juggle a full-time job on the side.

But in general… I’d rather not do this again, and in any event I’m glad this particular piece of it is all coming to an end one way or the other by this time Wednesday ;)

So GOOD LUCK to everyone taking the bar exam in your respective jurisdictions, especially my NCCU Law Legal Eagles!6 See y’all in a few days! :D

  1. We’re supposed to arrive at 7:15am :eek: []
  2. I routinely fell asleep in BarBri lectures and didn’t start really learning the substantive material until I ditched class, used VMWare Fusion to rip the lectures to my laptop, and used the Mac version of VLC to play them back at 2x speed. I think BarBri is doing a huge disservice to its students by not having this option built into their web software… []
  3. Down 12.4lbs since June 30 :spin: []
  4. And folks are surprised when surveys show most attorneys aren’t happy? :roll: []
  5. The judge’s gag order would be an unconstitutional prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment, since the compelling government interest in a fair trial that could justify it is extinguished after the plea bargains are entered. Plus, the guys’ names will end up on the sex offender registry anyway… []
  6. And all my other friends who haven’t had the privilege of attending my law school ;) []

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I’M DONE! (for real this time!)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 4, 2012 in The 3L Life

I’M OFFICIALLY / COMPLETELY / TOTALLY DONE WITH LAW SCHOOL FOREVER!!!! :D

Believe it or not, I truly have loved the past three years I’ve spent at the North Carolina Central University School of Law (seriously!) but being finished just feels absolutely amazing!

Ah… mayzing…! :spin:

I stayed up until 4am studying for this morning’s Professional Responsibility exam, falling asleep on top of my book with a couple chapters more to go :beatup:  Yesterday I found out that prof Arbitration was nice enough to give me the B+ I fought for in that class, but my NC Distinctions grade didn’t turn out where I wanted it to be — so for my “path to victory” I now need a 97% (!) on this Prof Resp final to graduate with honors :(

Walking out of the exam I wasn’t feeling too good about it at all. Prof DVLaw1 sent out the answer key a few minutes ago though and I’m at least somewhere in the ballpark. I can’t remember my answers well enough to know for sure, but I’m close enough that I’m getting antsy thinking about it so I’m trying to focus my attention elsewhere. :)

So forget the grades for now: I’M DONE! :spin:

I’m off to go play video games / eat junk food / relax — y’all have a great night! :D

  1. This is my 3rd class with her, she’s a tough but great professor! []

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I’M DONE!!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 27, 2012 in The 3L Life

With law school classes and papers anyway :beatup:

Today was my very last day of class as a student at the North Carolina Central University School of Law, and man it was a doozy.

Our final exam in NC Distinctions was at 12:00pm,1 after which I immediately booked it down to my cubicle to grind out my unfinished two final papers in Arbitration. Not only did I get those done, but I also found my old notes to myself and typed up those missing journal entries too — if I can’t get an A or an A-, at the very least I’m gonna try to make Prof Arbitration think long and hard before giving me lower than a B+!

When I got home tonight I was completely drained mentally. I mean barely-forming-coherent-sentences drained. So I headed over to the bar next to my apartment to indulge in their cheese fries and a celebratory drink :D

I’ve just got my Professional Responsibility exam a week from today and I’ll be finished with law school.2 I can’t convey to you in words how TOTALLY @#$%ING AWESOME it feels to be done with papers and classes! :spin:

This is going to be one incredibly peaceful night’s rest. Have a great weekend everybody! :)

  1. I learned after the test that I flubbed half of the essay question, so now I have the agonizing wait to learn how badly I flubbed it and if I still have any “path to victory” at all… []
  2. Can you believe that?? :eek: []

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Ugh

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

When political commentators talk about the presidential election race every four years, have you ever heard them talk about a candidate’s “path to victory”?

I always thought it was a silly phrase to use. I’m not really sure why; maybe because I always saw the President of the United States as a “national” leader that I briefly forgot about the state-by-state nature of the election.

Well this week I’m learning first-hand about the concept  :beatup:

We got back our last-set-of-grades-before-the-final in NC Distinctions, NCCU Law‘s course to help immerse 3Ls in the key distinctions between North Carolina and other states in Future Interests, Criminal Procedure, Real Estate Finance, and Family Law. The course features one test every couple weeks in each of those subjects, worth 20 points apiece, and a final exam covering all four subjects also worth 20 points. Every test except the final can be retaken — the overall score is determined by taking the best of the two scores on the multiple choice portion, and adding the average of the two scores on the essay portion — and there is a curve of no more than +8 points.1 It’s a class the 3Ls before me always complained about and is a renowned GPA killer.

So I’ve been studying my butt off trying to get an A in here now that the best I can do in Arbitration is a B+.

I’d done sufficiently well on the first test (Future Interests) to escape a rewrite entirely, did well on the CrimPro essay so I decided not to risk my score dropping by doing a rewrite for that one, and voluntarily did the rewrite in ReFi to juice my score when I realized the trajectory my grades were taking. I needed roughly an 18 apiece on the FamLaw test and the final; not easy, but not outside the realm of possibility with enough studying.

Me after seeing my latest Distinctions grade

I botched the first FamLaw test multis, earning me a 16. Under the Distinctions scoring model, though, I could bring that up to a 19 on the rewrite.

Then I did the rewrite (the grade we just got back)…

…and got a 16.5 :beatup:

My guess is Prof Distinctions was feeling sympathetic, because she rounded my overall average on the subject to 16.5 from 16.25.  As appreciative as I am, the bigger issue for me now is that I need a perfect 20 out of 20 on the final exam to get that A. Miss a single point and I’m down to an A-; miss 3 or more puts me in B+-and-below territory.

I feel like I’m back at N.C. State, where I spent my Christmas breaks doing academic work and was still doing assignments to graduate in July even after I had “walked” in May.

This is entirely too much effort during what should otherwise be the relaxing downhill coast to graduation… and my “path to victory” is mighty doggone narrow. Grrr.

The final Distinctions exam is tomorrow. Cross your fingers for me y’all! :)

  1. Meaning if someone aces the course the curve will be less than +8, but if we all fail we’re not getting more than +8 no matter how the curve turns out. []

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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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2 down, 4 to go!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 3, 2011 in NotFail

I made it! :beatup:

For the first time all semester, I got a Tax assignment turned in ahead of deadline with my final uploaded just before 4am this morning.1 Then headed to bed, slept ’til 8am, got up and promptly started studying for my 2pm Sales & Secured Transactions final.

To any 1Ls/2Ls who happen to read this: paying attention in Sales throughout the semester is certifiably A Good Idea™ ;)

Prof. Sales’s exam is intense, reflecting the fact it’s a 4-credit course. 10 questions on classifying collateral, 20 “short” multiple choice questions, 40 “long” multiple choice questions, and 2 essays on Article 2 and Article 9 respectively. By the time you’re done it’s like having an anvil lifted off your chest; it was, hands-down, my hardest exam of my law school career.2

And even though I’ve got no clue how my grade will turn out, I think I actually might have done alright :surprised:

The pre-Halloween weekend I spent catching up on Article 2 was time very well spent, and my Article 9 (mis-)reading helped me not be totally clueless on PMSIs, the Professor’s SCAPP analysis framework, and so on.

Though I did have a brief CivPro II flashback as I made it to the 2 essays with only 30 minutes left, put in 20 minutes on what had to be the quickest almost-thorough analysis I’ve ever done and then barely managed to outline a response on Article 9 :beatup:

No clue how much that’s going to hurt my grade, but I’m hoping I followed my historical pattern and banged out the multiples. Fingers crossed :D

Grabbed dinner and a drink with some fellow 3Ls afterwards, came home to knock out an extra credit assignment for Tax…3 and now I’m off to catch up on sleep ;)

Have a great night y’all!

  1. I didn’t have time to work on the optional draft we were allowed to submit last week so I have no clue if my analysis was right, but my sense of the class is that Tax is not “difficult” per se, just tedious as hell. We’ll see if I’m right when grades come out. []
  2. Though I will say, the material was conveyed in an eminently logical fashion that seemed to “click” with me finally. I stand by my earlier contention that Prof Sales looks like a mad scientist, but to feel even slightly comfortable after only studying for about 4 hours is a testament to the quality of his teaching. Or, if the grade turns out bad, my tendencies to commit academic suicide :beatup: []
  3. 9 out of 10 multiple choice questions right, in 9 minutes and 4 seconds. Kicking myself that the one I missed was because I was too lazy to open my code book… ::facepalm:: []

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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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