1

Can law school faculty really be this obtuse?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 24, 2014 in Unsolicited Commentary

Earlier this week one of my good friends and occasional law:/dev/null commenter VA forwarded me a story out of Florida Coastal School of Law, which is apparently in the process of searching for a new dean.

The entry comes from Richard Gershon over at the “Law Deans on Legal Education Blog”1 in an entry titled “Florida Coastal Dean Search Raises Deeper Issues”. From the story it sounds like the faculty got to see presentations from the 7 finalists for the dean job, but cut one of those presentations short when their sensibilities got offended. :crack:

Here’s a snippet:

The disturbing part of the report involves a candidate who raised concerns about the school’s declining student credentials and bar pass rates. That candidate was asked to leave in the middle of the lunch presentation. The candidate resisted, but was told that security would be called to remove the candidate from campus. This all happened in the view of about 40 faculty and staff present at this presentation, which was being recorded so others who were teaching class could see it later.

Th concerns raised by the dean candidate are supported by publicly available information showing that the 2013 entering class at Coastal had the following 75/50/25 LSAT profile: (148/144/141). Reports indicate that the students who have placed seat deposits in 2014 have a virtually identical profile as the 2013 entering class.

The LSAT in 2008 and 2009 was (153/150/147). In 2010 the numbers were (152/149/146). The decline continued in the succeeding years (151/147/145) in 2011 and (151/146/143) in 2012.

As might have been predicted, the weaker entering class of 2010 had a low bar pass rate, 67% for first time takers on the July 2013 Florida bar. This was the first time in several years that Florida Coastal had dropped below 70%.

At first I thought there was no possible way the story could be accurate. To borrow VA’s words, “And it was to the FACULTY… it wasn’t like ‘Hey, students, you go to a crap school!'” — but after seeing the first comment on the blog entry, from a FCSL professor who doesn’t dispute the account of events but simply notes “The entire Florida Coastal Community works hard to help our students do well on the bar,”2 now I’m inclined to believe it.

I don’t know how that story reads to the folks in academia, but as a lawyer on the outside all I see is “We don’t want to be held accountable!” If FCSL’s student profile climbed, and bar passage rates didn’t climb accordingly, it would be painfully obvious the faculty are at least partly responsible for the failure; now though, by accepting students with “declining credentials,” the faculty can blame any shortcoming in the pass rate on the caliber of student they’re letting in.

Then to make it worse, after throwing a temper tantrum about now wanting to be held accountable, they threaten to have the person offending them escorted from the premises by security? Wow.

Evidently legal education is in more trouble than I thought… :roll:

—===—

From the law:/dev/null Unsolicited Commentary archives:

  1. Never heard of it before now :beatup: []
  2. Duh? []

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TDot’s Mailbag v10.0: First-Year Finance Figures Follow-up Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 27, 2013 in Mail

Greetings from Virginia Beach y’all :)

In what you all know is a familiar refrain at this point, “I really meant to write this awhile ago” blah blah blah. :beatup: This post has been tumbling around in the nether regions of my brain since just a day or two after posting my first-year finance figures last month, in part because the (occasionally vitriolic) responses I got started giving me flashbacks to posting my grades 1L year.

Then out of the blue I started getting tagged in a bunch of tweets mentioning the post:

Needless to say I was (1) flummoxed, (2) flattered, and (3) proud of what’s likely the closest we’ll ever get here at law:/dev/null to a viral post :D

And it also reminded me how long it’s been since I wrote the last entry :beatup:

So now that I’m out of town visiting my grandparents for Thanksgiving, I’ve got some free time to respond to the handful of questions I got sent — that can be reprinted on a family-friendly blog like this one — in response to my first-year finance figures…

***

Q:1 Dude what are you doing!! 2

A: I’m assuming this was intended as a question, so I’ll answer it as one: I’m doing the same thing I did when I posted my transcripts from both law school and undergrad.3

Like law students and their grades, people seem to be very protective of their financial info; I searched for this kind of stuff for weeks before getting started and never found anything useful. The most-common finance comment I found was along the lines of “You’ll lose money the first year, make less than what you’d make as a first-year associate your second year, and exceed what you’d make as a third-year associate in your third year.”4

I just don’t care that much ;) And if it would provide any useful data to someone else thinking about going solo, all the better.

***

Q: How are you defining [the terminology at the bottom of the graphic]?

A: These may or may not line up with “normal” usage of the same terminology, but here’s how I came up with the numbers I did:

  • Gross Revenue: Every single penny that ever crossed into the firm’s operating account, regardless of the reason for it (e.g. there’s no differentiation between someone paying me versus me merely being reimbursed for advancing expenses for a client). If you were to take the “Deposits” line from all my bank statements and add them up, this is the number you’d get.
  • Gross Income: This is the total amount I earned in fees doing stuff for people. If you were to take the Gross Revenue category and subtract out all the entries where I was just getting reimbursed, this is the number you’d get.
  • Net Income: This is the amount that actually went into my pocket for personal expenses. Take the Gross Income category, then take out everything I’ve spent on the business — office rent, the office phone line, office supplies, etc etc etc — and this is what you’d get. Meaning I spent a smidge over $30K in business-related items during the first year.
  • Median Invoice: At the time I created that graphic, I’d sent out 142 invoices. This number was the median.5
  • Average Invoice: The average of those same 142 invoices.6
  • Worst Case: On a per-client basis, after factoring in all the case-specific expenses (filing fees, printing, mileage, and so on), this was the amount I lost on the worst single case.
  • Best Case: Same as above, except the single best case instead (a business litigation case that, in light of the magnitude of the victory, I drastically undercharged :beatup: ).

***

Q: There’s no way you survived an entire year on $1700. How did you eat?

A: True, I didn’t survive on the net income alone; remember that business meals are partially tax-deductible :angel:

If you factor out the business meals for the year (as well as a dozen-ish charitable contributions I impetuously made at the end of 2012 when things were going surprisingly well), the net income number would jump up a bit to $7,405.36 — a smidge over $615 a month. To cover the rest of my personal bills, initially I was using personal credit cards7 and since then have had to repeatedly hit up my grandparents for loans until things turn the corner.8

It’s a miracle the doors are still open at this point, so I just keep trying to get smarter about expenses and keep winning cases on the figuring that everything will build on itself. We’ll see.

***

Q: Have you done any advertising?

A: It depends on how one defines “advertising.” If you’re talking about taking a bunch of money, throwing it into a pile on the floor, then setting it ablaze, yes I’ve done some of that :beatup:

After inviting all my Facebook friends to the TGD Law Facebook page, I started doing some modest Facebook advertising. I experimented with the Facebook sidebar ads before realizing they were a near-total waste of money, then switched over to the News Feed ads that got much better results. I still haven’t gotten a significant case from Facebook myself, but I’ve been messaged by a number of folks I had to refer out to other lawyers so hopefully social media engagement will lead to something.

I also started trying direct mail back in May, which was breaking even initially but has now hit a point where I’m likely to cancel it. The direct mail side of the legal industry is very cost-competitive — some lawyers in the Raleigh-Durham area are handling things like traffic tickets for as little as $25 a case — and I’m simply not willing to be a bargain basement lawyer charging dirt-cheap rates in the hopes of getting 20-30 cases a day.

And then a few months ago I started experimenting with ads in the monthly brochure of a well-trafficked local business. The most I’ve gotten out of that one so far has been a single tweet from someone who happened to see it and thought it was interesting — and who already knew me from NCCU Law. :beatup:

All told I’ve spent $4,260.90 on advertising over the year, and in terms of concrete results have only made back $1,379.96 of that amount. Needless to say there will be changes made in 2014.

***

Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned financially from Year 1 that you’d give as advice to a new solo?

A: Track everything.

When I first started out, I took a number of cases in far-flung areas like Greensboro and Smithfield just because I needed the money. While those cases were certainly more lucrative than me sitting at the office making nothing at all, after I factored in case-specific costs (office supplies, mileage, and so on) I realized they weren’t nearly as lucrative as I thought.

And tracking everything also taught me how profoundly expensive even local cases can be if you don’t get paid in full and up-front. As an example, the “Worst Case” from the graphic was a simple criminal defense issue in Wake County (adjacent to my home territory in Durham), but required so many trips back and forth to Raleigh trying to get the guy the best possible result that I burned a ton of gas in the process… and never got paid a dime :beatup:

***

Q: If you could start over, what 3 things would you do differently?

A: That’s easy –

  1. Invest in my website: I didn’t even put a page up at tgdlaw.com until last Thanksgiving — and now it’s almost a full Thanksgiving later and there’s still nothing there but the firm bio and a contact page. There’s no telling how many potential clients I’ve missed because I don’t show up on most Google searches and have no meaningful info there when people type in the URL from my business card.
  2. Get paid up front: When I read Jay Foonberg’s How to Start & Build a Law Practice, I was underwhelmed. It had plenty of good info but it simply didn’t match the hype,9 and several times felt painfully anachronistic (especially the tech stuff). But he’s 110% right on the money — pun intended — when it comes to what he calls Foonberg’s Rule: get paid in cash, and get it up front. I “played nice” with a number of clients, including some who were classmates and old friends, and got burned on more than a couple occasions. Rack up a few of those and you start freaking out over how to pay bills in addition to being annoyed that folks decide not to pay for a service you provided. It’s better for everyone involved if you go ahead and get paid in advance and then just work hard to deliver a quality result.
  3. Charge more: A couple weeks before I got my bar results, I saw a blog entry that recommended lawyers “work for full price or for free, but never for cheap.” Being (relatively) young and naïve, I completely disregarded that concept entirely — I started out charging just $75 an hour, did flat rate appearances for what ended up being even less, and even got a $420,000+ judgment wiped out for a nonprofit I only charged $2,500.10 After all, my whole premise underlying NC SPICE was that legal supply and demand were just mismatched because of pricing, and enabling new lawyers to keep their overhead low would in turn enable them to charge lower rates and lead to a flurry of business. But the problem with “working for cheap” is that you have to bring in a ton of clients to make ends meet, even at low overhead. And then you either end up with either (a) dissatisfied clients you can’t keep adequately up-to-date, or (b) working yourself like crazy trying to keep all the plates spinning. It seems counterintuitive, but you’ll be a better and happier lawyer — providing better service to a now-happier client — if you charge a healthy sum and provide a corresponding level of service.

***

So that’s my $.02 follow-up on the money stuff :) I hope all of you get to have an amazing Thanksgiving with family / friends / loved ones!

—===—

From the Mailbag archives:

  • TDot’s Mailbag v10.0: First-Year Finance Figures Follow-up Edition (11/27/13) [this entry] –
    • What are you doing?
    • How are you defining your terminology?
    • How did you survive financially?
    • Have you done any advertising?
    • What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
    • What 3 things would you do differently?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v9.0: “So why did you go solo?” Edition (01/18/13) –
    • Why did you become a solo practitioner?
    • What was your “Plan B” job-wise?
    • What helped you the most 3L year in preparing for post-grad life?
    • If you had to do 3L year over again, what would you differently?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v8.0: Post-Bar Exam Edition (08/11/12) –
    • 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 (06/22/11) –
    • 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 (08/23/10) –
    • 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 (04/14/10) –
    • Admissions?
    • Bar Exam?
    • The Work?
    • Professors?
    • Electives?
    • Extracurriculars?
    • What would you do differently?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v4.0 (01/21/10) –
    • 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 (10/04/09) –
    • 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 (09/07/09) –
    • 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 (08/20/09) –
    • 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. Starting with the last mail entry, I’ve given up on trying to anonymize all the names by just eliminating the names entirely. So now if you send me something, don’t worry about you potentially being listed as the person who sent the question :) []
  2. Totally unrelated: I really have an adverse reaction to two exclamation points. I’m fine with one (!), or three (!!!), or an exorbitant number not worth counting (!!!!!!), but two just strikes me as… off. Unless it’s l33t-ized as in “!!1”. []
  3. Mostly unrelated: last winter several of you asked if I’d have the cajones to post my final law school transcript, since the one in that earlier entry was only through 2L year. Well here you go. :P []
  4. I’d need more than two hands to count the number of times I ran across that comment too. You’d think people just copy/pasted it without offering their own perspective… []
  5. I know lawyers aren’t renowned for the mathematical talents, so in case you’re not familiar with medians basically I sorted the invoices by dollar amount, and then took the amount from the middle invoice. []
  6. Adding up the dollar amounts of all the invoices, then dividing that sum by 142. []
  7. A horribly bad idea in retrospect. I know it’s commonplace and the only option a lot of entrepreneurs have, but avoid wrapping your personal life into your business as much as possible. []
  8. There are few things in life more emasculating than being a man in his early-30s with two degrees asking your retired non-degree-holding grandparents both in their mid-70s for a slice of their Social Security checks :( []
  9. Some attorneys commented that they slept with the book next to their bed, so they could read it over and over across the years. I question the sanity of those attorneys. :crack: []
  10. Let me tell you, they appreciated the return they got on that investment! []

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6

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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9

End-of-Semester Enmity

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 22, 2011 in The 3L Life

I’m usually among the most even-keeled people you’ll meet, with near-infinite reserves of patience. It’s why people like having me around in “crisis” situations.1

But even I get snippy when it’s the end of the semester and homework is weighing me down :beatup:

I was late getting up this morning and raced to class terrified that I’d go over on my allowed absences. When I walk in the classroom door, I notice on the projection screen that we’re supposed to be filling out professor evaluations… and a half-dozen or so of the class’s high achievers are engaged in a vocal across-the-room conversation about how much they dislike Prof Tax because of the take-home final she assigned to us.2

Now normally I wouldn’t care; people complaining about professors is how I’ve learned who to take and who to avoid over the years. But Prof Tax said at the beginning of the semester that she was going to give us an in-class exam and these people protested. They protested with sufficient intensity that the Prof let the class vote on whether they wanted a take-home exam or an in-class exam, and these people voted for the take-home over the objections of those of us in the back of the room.

So after the “Prof Tax is evil for giving us what we asked for” convo went on and on (and on) I got annoyed and posted a status on Facebook.

My Facebook status (top); the pre-cartoon Gchat convo with Negative Nancy (bottom)

That prompted one of the complainers to bellow across literally the entire room3 “GREG, THAT’S NOT EVEN RIGHT!”, me to reply “The truth hurts.”, and her to start a Gchat conversation with me explaining how my opinion on the class was irrelevant since I never turned in the first-of-two homework assignments.4

Prof Tax then walks in the room, and the first thing she announces is that at least 3 people have cheated on the 2nd assignment :crack:

Two have practically identical responses, and a third is copied not-quite-verbatim from a professional supplement. Predictably the Prof was displeased, the individuals in question will be getting 0’s on the assignment and referrals to the law school’s Disciplinary Committee… and I added a comment to my own FB status (posted to the right).

The ensuing Gchat conversation is what set me off.

For all of NCCU Law‘s merits — see, for example, the “Why NCCU?” entry linked above — we’ve got a small-but-vocal group of students who do nothing but complain all. the. damn. time.

And I don’t mean substantive complaints that point out correctable flaws, or folks who complain but offer solutions. I mean people who constantly gripe in general terms, and on those exceedingly rare occasions they offer any specific critiques they then categorically refuse to offer any constructive advice (and even when their concerns are addressed, no resolution is ever good enough).

A summary of the first 15 minutes of Tax class

They’re such an annoyance to other students that I actually wrote a memo to the faculty back in September proposing changes to the types of folks we admit in an effort to address student concerns.

I get it: some people just aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy. Every school’s got them, as anyone in Student Government or a Student Bar Association can attest.

But I’m pretty sure this is the first time any of them had the metaphorical cajones to claim *my* comments made the school look bad…

…so I pulled up Dan Awesome’s Rage Maker and cobbled together a comic summarizing the first 15 minutes of class.5 :D

Excessive? Maybe.

Deserved? Absolutely.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving, I need a few days off from these folks…

  1. When you’re not afraid to fail, it’s really easy to think clearly and succeed. []
  2. Two lengthy essay questions, including a 6-part question with a 4-page fact pattern :( []
  3. I sit in the next-to-last row out of ~15 rows. []
  4. Don’t ask me how one logically relates to the other; I couldn’t figure it out either :crack: []
  5. First, the guy’s got an awesome last name. Second, if you’re unfamiliar with the rage comic internet meme make sure to educate yourself at KnowYourMeme.com. :) []

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3

Billing by the word (or, “Redundant Redundancy FTL”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 17, 2011 in Fail

Hey everybody! :D

I hope all of you have had an amazing weekend!  The crush of work I mentioned in my last entry is finally finished, so I’ve spent the past couple days reflecting on life,1 relaxing,2 and now working on a leadership development presentation for my undergraduate colleagues in the N.C. Central University Student Government.

And of course taking a break to throw one of these posts together ;)

It’s no secret that I’m generally not a fan of Contracts (see here and here and here if you don’t know why). The concepts aren’t exactly difficult, I’m just not aware of any field of law where people have gone to greater lengths to defile the meaning of perfectly functional English words.

Not even Capt. Picard approves of these Ks

Now most legal documents seem to have taken the old adage of “Don’t use a 10-cent word when a 5-cent word will do” and replaced it with “Don’t use a 10-cent word when an identical or substantially similar conveyance of meaning is articulable through the concurrent deployment of at least, but not limited to, a half-dozen or more $2 locutions.” :beatup:

So this entry is dedicated to those documents and to the lawyers billing by the word who wrote them.3

I’ve picked a quartet of clauses from actual contracts that have crossed my desk over the past few months for your reading pleasure, and underlined the language that irks me…

Honorable Mention:

This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of [RandomState], without reference to its conflict of laws principles.

Now I realize that this underlined snippet is actually designed to serve a purpose. Those of you who paid attention in CivPro might recognize this entire clause as a “choice of law” provision, indicating which state’s laws the parties want to use in enforcing the contract. And some of those states have enacted statutes — their “conflict of laws principles” — that say if a cause of action arises in another state, that other state’s laws should govern the conflict.

So, hypothetically, if a contract between a buyer in North Carolina and a seller in Virginia is construed under North Carolina law, but something happens in Virginia such that the seller defaults and the buyer files suit, a judge interpreting the contract might say “Construing this contract under North Carolina law, since this default happened in Virginia and North Carolina’s conflict of laws provisions say a contract must be governed by the law of the state giving rise to the cause of action, the Virginia law applies to this suit.” The underlined text would, theoretically at least, prevent that from happening.

[Note that I don’t actually know if what would actually happen in that particular hypothetical, I’m just trying to come up with a rational explanation for the underlined verbiage :beatup: ]

Then why, assuming this language really does serve a purpose, did it get included in my list?

Because one of the cardinal principles of contract interpretation is construing the contract in a way that effects the intent of the parties. It’s evident from including a choice of law provision in the first place that the parties wanted it governed by the law of the chosen state. For either party to then use the chosen state’s conflict of laws principles to wedge their way under the aegis of a different state’s laws would seem (to my feeble mind at least) to frustrate the signatories’ intent.

***

Third Place:

Notwithstanding any provision of this Agreement to the contrary, if any confidential information is required to be disclosed pursuant to an order of a governmental agency or by operation of law, the receiving party shall be permitted to disclose such confidential information in accordance with the order or law. Prior to the disclosure the receiving party shall, unless prohibited by law, give the disclosing party reasonable advance notice to contest the disclosure.

Is there any kind of notice “[p]rior to the disclosure” that would not be “advance notice”?

Is there any kind of “advance notice” to contest a disclosure that could happen after “[p]rior to the disclosure”?

Unless the meaning of those basic words has changed since I last took an English class, the answer to both questions is “no.” The redundancy is unnecessary surplusage.4

***

Second Place:

In the event of a breach of this Agreement, [OurCo] may demand from [YourCo] the sum of One-Hundred Thousand U.S. Dollars ($100,000.00) as liquidated damages and as reimbursement for expenses incurred and estimated to be incurred by [OurCo], which [YourCo] agrees to pay to [OurCo] within five (5) business days of the demand by [OurCo].

This one evidently originated in the Legal Department of a company that really likes seeing its name in print :roll:

This type of “break fee” provision is common in many contracts, designed to incentivize a party to avoid breaching the agreement. It’s obvious from the first sentence that the ability to demand payment in this clause belongs to OurCo, so the recitation of the rationale (“reimbursement for expenses…” blah blah blah) doesn’t need the “by OurCo” reference. Neither does the last line, since nothing in this clause gives YourCo the ability to make such a demand; we’re only talking about OurCo’s demand here.

And if OurCo is making the demand, why require in the contract that YourCo must “pay [it] to OurCo”? Maybe OurCo’s finance guys want YourCo to pay the money to some random charity so it’s not reflected as income on OurCo’s balance sheet.

Lots of redundancy all around… ::smh::

***

Before getting into our First Place winner, I have to confess up front that I bear some responsibility for any continued longevity this provision now has — I alphabetized the original and removed some of its duplicate listings.5 :beatup:

First Place:

“Document” means a physical embodiment of information or ideas of any kind or nature, including items that are handwritten, printed, mimeographed, lithographed, duplicated, typed, or contained in a graphic, photographic, film, video, tape or other electronic recording. Examples of documents include, but are not limited to: accounts, affidavits, analyses, answers to questionnaires, appointment books, balance sheets, bills, blueprints, book entries, books, cables, calculations, catalogs, charts, checks, computer files, computer logs, computer printouts, computer programs, contracts, correspondence, data, deeds, deposit slips, desk calendars, diagrams, diaries, drafts, drawings, emails, evaluations, expense reports, films, forms, formulas, graphs, income and/or investment statements, indexes, instructions, invoices, journals, ledgers, letters, license agreements, lists, logs, magnetic tapes and cards, manuals, maps, memoranda, microfilms, minutes, money orders, newspaper articles or clippings, notations, notes, offers, opinions, pamphlets, papers, periodicals, photographs, plans, publications, punch cards, purchase orders, questionnaires, receipts, records, renderings, reports, schedules, sheets, specifications, statements, statistical records, studies, summaries, surveys, tabulations, tax returns, telegrams, telex messages, text messages of any kind (including AIM, ICQ, MMS and SMS), transcripts, vouchers, warranties, web pages, websites, work papers, and worksheets. Documents also include, but are not limited to, reports and recordings of (i) telephone or other conversations, (ii) interviews or personal conversations, (iii) conferences, or (iv) committee meetings or other meetings, in addition to all other records or information kept by electronic, photographic, mechanical or other means, and things similar to any of the foregoing, however denominated.

This one actually takes up an entire page once it’s put in 12pt Times New Roman and doubled-spaced :crack:

For comparison, Black’s Law Dictionary defines a “document” as “Something tangible on which words, symbols, or marks are recorded.”

And Merriam-Webster’s goes with “a piece of written, printed, or electronic matter that provides information or evidence or that serves as an official record.”

Neither apparently feels it necessary to provide a page’s worth of examples.

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Have a good night y’all! :)

  1. Son of TDot turned 13 yesterday :surprised: []
  2. Saw Harry Potter 7.2 with 雅雅… and, the storyline notwithstanding, thought it was the worst film in the series :beatup: []
  3. Hat tip to Peter Romary of The True Verdict blawg for inadvertently suggesting the title of this entry :) []
  4. And yes, I realize “unnecessary surplusage” is redundant — that’s the point :P []
  5. Meaning the original was even worse, if you can imagine that… []

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6

This whole law school “competition” thing…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 19, 2010 in Drama

…is a complete and total farce. jsyk.

Let me preface this entry by saying I’ve had a downright blissful experience at the N.C. Central University School of Law so far. For all the internet talk about gunners and Socratic nightmares and everything else that supposedly makes law school such a horrible experience, I haven’t really encountered it.

My less-than-stellar moments of Socratic hazing (notably in Contracts and in Torts) receded from my memory almost as quickly as they happened; I actually can’t remember either day at all except what I wrote here on the blog :beatup:

Even the personal drama that crops up at every school has been minimal. There were some childish inquiries about Madame Prosecutor a few weeks in, some unrelated ASG issues that same month, and only a pair of bona fide law-related gripes before and after midterms — both by the same people, all of whom have been notably silent since finals.

The general lack of drama can be seen by the category counts: in 154 posts over the past 6 months,1 only 4 of them went in the “Drama” listing.

So it’s a little grating when it seems like someone is going out of their way to be ridiculous.

Those of you who are regular readers here at law:/dev/null2 know I’m pretty much completely open about my grades, posting a class-by-class list of both the Fall ’09 midterm results along with my final exam grades and current GPA. My rationale for doing so is a blend of principle and pragmatism.

On the principle side, I just don’t see why grade secrecy is that big a deal so I feel no compulsion to invest energy in keeping mine secret.

On the pragmatism side, it’s a combination of 3 things:  (i) because grade info is an artificially constrained supply (by virtue of folks keeping grades secret), demand for grade info/gossip is high; (ii) I have a horrible poker face,3 so the first person to ask me for my grades would inevitably get either the truth or a poorly-concealed lie; and (iii) since someone could get the info in person without any trouble, putting it online for everyone to get without any trouble theoretically levels the playing field and destroys its social value as gossip, consequently reducing/eliminating the number of people talking about my grades (which ideally is the objective anyway).

Besides, if it bothers any of you that much you can always stop reading :)

Bearing that background in mind, I also don’t mind talking about grades when folks ask me. I had a candid conversation with Rico during our run on Tuesday. Co-Counsel4 hit me up on Gchat to ask about yesterday’s LRP quiz. And as I was leaving CrimLaw today I chatted with Rockstar about how crazy people can act sometimes in this environment.

It turned out to be a prophetic conversation.

When I got home I cut on a Law & Order rerun and started catching up on emails and Facebook messages. While I was working on the latter one of my classmates, clearly in a petulant mood, starts ranting at me over FBchat about my inquisitiveness during CrimLaw. Apparently I’m annoying… even though Professor CrimLaw has made it clear on numerous occasions that if the class doesn’t start speaking up he’ll forgo Q&A-style teaching in favor of the less-preferred lecturing from the podium. That and I plan on doing this professionally so I’d like an answer while the question and material are both fresh in my brain ;)

In general I didn’t respond to her diatribe beyond the occasional “gotcha” and “ok,” which apparently only pissed this chick off more. She closes with “if u spent half as much effort studying as u do asking questions maybe u’d have grades like mine.”

::cue scratching record sound effect::

Honestly I couldn’t even be mad about the remark, that’s how derisible it was. I just replied with a “lmao k” and that was the end of the conversation.

I noted all the way back in September that there’s far more to a lawyer than a GPA.5 We’ve all got different interests, we’ve all got different objectives, and in general we’re all going to end up at different places in life — professionally, temporally or geographically. As long as I’ve got my 2.5 required for most extracurricular orgs, I’m satisfied. You should be too.

I’ll put it another way:  I have no interest in law journal or becoming a corporate attorney. You have no interest in trial team or throwing criminals in prison. Almost by definition, we’re not in competition with each other. So do us both a favor and spare me your sanctimony :heart:

And if my questions are that irksome, convince your classmates that a lecture is less boring than a Q&A :*

To the rest of you, please forgive my ranting :oops:  I hope you all have a great night! :D

  1. Can you believe we’ve been in law school that long?! []
  2. THANK YOU!! :) []
  3. See my losses at poker night if you need an example :beatup: []
  4. Co-Counsel’s new to law:/dev/null, a 1L in a different section. You’ll probably read more about her later. []
  5. Though if this girl’s an example, tact apparently isn’t included. []

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Spellcheck FTL

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 11, 2010 in Randomness

I mentioned back on Monday that the February meeting for the UNC Board of Governors was/is today and tomorrow.

Beware of the Statues. The Gerneral ones. :beatup:

After today’s meeting, a handful of Student Body Presidents and I went down to the N.C. General Assembly to meet with a few legislators on the 8% tuition increase we’re trying to get replaced with more student-friendly rates.

Saw the picture on the right as we were leaving.

I can ignore the errant, comma. I can Ignore the Arbitrary capitalization.

But after misspleling tiwce I’d argue taking $$ away from education is the very last thing the General Assembly needs to be doing.

Added irony: these signs are right next to the Legislative Complex, for the bus loading zone at… the Museum of History and the Museum of Natural History, both frequent field trip preferences for schools :beatup:

Spellcheck is your friend…

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Friday Drive-by #8

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 13, 2009 in Friday Drive-by

You can tell it’s getting near finals when a good chunk of the folks you regularly rely on for impeccably-written divergences from LRA have been MIA :)

There’s still plenty of good stuff out in the blawgosphere this week though — here’s a few links for your enjoyment:

Enjoy the weekend everybody :D

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