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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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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.

—===—

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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Revisiting 1L Spring Grades

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 14, 2011 in NotFail

Good evening y’all :)

As law:/dev/null exhibited the occasional sign of life over the past couple weeks, I had a trio of people ask me the same question: aside from my obvious elation at the ending GPA, how did my individual classes turn out during 2L Fall?

I’ve been meaning to post an entry explaining exactly that… but then realized I never gave y’all a final update on 1L Spring, or any update at all on 1L Summer :beatup:

So to properly bolster my reputation of being totally open about my law school grades, I’ve copy/pasted my previous Spring grades entry and revised it with the exam info :D The textual updates are [bracketed], bolded, and preceded by “Update:” for readability.

I’ll post a separate entry on summer school grades some time this week, and then 2L Fall grades after that — I thought about rolling all that info into this one entry, but considering I haven’t managed to string 3 consecutive entries together for awhile now I wanted to make sure I’ve got easily-editable stuff in the queue ;)

Without further ado…

********************
1L SPRING REVISITED
********************

[Everything below is a copy/paste from this entry except for the updates and the final exam grades. You’ve been forewarned, so any resulting confusion is your own fault! :P ]

====================
CIVIL PROCEDURE II
====================

MDG switched things up from the usual final, giving us a set of multiples but then providing documents from a mock court case to review for the essay. Our objective was to review the documents and craft a letter to the client discussing the numerous FRCP-related concerns that existed.

It was during that portion of the exam that I stopped watching the clock and had time called before I got anywhere near finishing it :beatup:

CivPro II Final Exam Grades

The multiples were a challenge, with MDG describing them as “nuanced” and mentioning that even a fellow CivPro instructor missed a couple. The highest correct was 15 out of 20 multiples (75%) with the class average at 12 (60%) — high enough to pass the Bar, which is definitely a good thing given the difficulty.

The chart to the right shows how the final exam grades broke down. There was a +19-point curve.

My final grade for the course turned out slightly higher than anticipated, so my guess is I did well on the multiples. But I’m kicking myself for choosing a UNC Board of Governors meeting over an extra credit assignment we were given shortly after midterms though — the extra 5 points would have bumped the final grade to a B, bumping my 1L GPA above a 2.7 (eligible for some NCCU Law merit scholarships).

Lesson learned :headdesk:

[Update: I found out from MDG that I tied for top score on the multiple choice, which let me know I completely bombed the essay — so I didn’t bother picking it up :beatup: ]

Midterm exam grade: A-
Final exam grade: C
Expected final grade for class: C+
Actual final grade for class: B-

Synopsis: Worse performance than last semester, but given how gratuitously I choked on the essay I’m satisfied with how it turned out. And now I know to do all available extra credit in the future :beatup:

====================
CONTRACTS II
====================

Not a whole lot to say here: Contracts clearly isn’t my thing.

The downside is that I now have to explain to future employers how I barely passed a core class two semesters in a row.

The upside? I never have to take Contracts again until the bar exam ;)

[Update: This was the first (and thus far only) exam where I’ve underperformed on the multiples compared to the essay. According to Prof Ks, I got 33 of 50 possible essay points and was comfortably above the class median. But I somehow had the 3rd lowest score on the multiple choice :crack:  Still glad the class is over…]

Midterm exam grade: C-
Final exam grade: C
Expected final grade for class: C-
Actual final grade for class: C

Synopsis: I passed :surprised:

====================
CRIMINAL LAW
====================

If my perpetual flailing in Ks killed any briefly-nurtured dreams I had of going the intellectual property route, CrimLaw coupled with 1L Trial Team have convinced me to follow my heart and go the criminal prosecution route professionally. It’s something I had wanted to do for years, but never seriously considered since public employees don’t make much salary-wise.

But based on my grades it seems like the only thing I’ll be qualified to do :beatup:

The really crazy part? This was my best grade all year, and it was in the one class where I didn’t study for the final exam because I had a UNCASG meeting that weekend :crack:

Professor CrimLaw sent me an email making sure I knew that (i) I earned the grade I got but (ii) I shouldn’t make any professional decisions based on one course. He’s got a valid point but I don’t feel like I’m doing that here — I really, truly, and deeply hate Contracts too so technically it’s based on three courses :spin:

[Update: I missed a trio of the multiple choice, and had a few points taken off on the essay. For an ever-so-brief period of time I thought about arguing with Prof CrimLaw over some of the missed points — including a section where he wrote that I misread the fact pattern, even though myself and every other classmate I spoke to “misread” the same thing — but I was sufficiently happy/stunned to have at least 1 A-range grade that I didn’t bother contesting it.]

Midterm exam grade: A-
Final exam grade: A-
Expected final grade for class: A-
Actual final grade for class: A-

Synopsis: I’m 90% sure Professor CrimLaw isn’t a TDot fan, but I still enjoyed the course. And I’m glad I finally have something other than B’s and C’s populating my transcript ;)

====================
LEGAL RESEARCH & PERSUASION
====================

Along with not watching the clock in the CivPro final, this was my other instance of taking a strong starting grade and pissing it away through truly stunning incompetence.

Note to the pre-Ls: read directions!

Then when you’re done: re-read directions!

Then after that: re-re-read directions!

Trust me :beatup:

[Update: The professor said my final memo was excellent and would have earned me an A- had it not been days late. Le sigh. #kanyeshrug]

Cumulative grade after midterm: A-
Final memo grade: C-
Expected final grade for class: C
Actual final grade for class: C

Synopsis: It could have been worse I guess. At least the research skills we learned actually turned out to be useful. ::headdesk::

====================
PROPERTY II
====================

This was the only final exam where I didn’t have a gut feeling one way or the other on how it turned out. I’m not sure if it was from the stress of the looming Contracts final two days later or what.

My performance was worse than the midterm, but high enough that I ended up with the exact same grade I got in the Fall.

And I don’t remember any of it already :beatup:

[Update: The final for Property II was “meh” all around. Lost a few points on the multiples. Lost a few points on the fill-in-the-blanks covering future interests. Lost a few points on the essay. If anyone has any particularly compelling insights to glean from that performance, let me know :) ]

Midterm exam grade: A- (and in Top 3)
Final exam grade: B
Expected final grade for class: B+
Actual final grade for class: B+

Synopsis: At least I’m consistent :beatup:

====================
TORTS II
====================

Professor Torts is currently in Costa Rica with our Study Abroad folks, so I won’t know how the final exam turned out for a long while.

But I know enough to know I blew it :(

Back on the midterms I ended up with the #1 score out of the class on the multiples-only exam, so to end up with a final grade below even last semester’s I must have quite thoroughly FUBAR’d the final. And I feel fairly certain I did well on the essay, meaning I can only assume I botched the multiples.

Meh. Was never a fan of this class either…

[Update: Didn’t do as well on the essay as I thought, completing missing 1 of the issues and losing a point or two on a pair of others. Also didn’t do as bad as I thought on the multiples… but someone nailed everything so there was no boost at all in the typical curving of grades :surprised: ]

Midterm exam grade: A (and in Top 3)
Final exam grade: C+
Expected final grade for class: A-
Actual final grade for class: B-

Synopsis: This was the only bona fide disappointment for the semester, but at least it’s over. I will most definitely not be taking Advanced Torts ;)

====================
FINAL SCORE: SPRING 2010 FINALS
====================

Expected End-of-Semester GPA: 2.756
Actual End-of-Semester GPA: 2.733

Actual End-of-1L GPA: 2.678 (Law school median: 2.000)

*****

So that’s the final word on 1L Spring.  Info on 1L Summer coming soon (really! ;) )

Have a great night! :D

—===—

From the grade-related archives:

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When internet memes attack…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 15, 2010 in Site Stats

What do “nom nom nom”, “::headdesk::”, and “#fml” all have in common?

Lots of people looking for nom-ing bunnies...

They’re all internet memes I’ve been using here on law:/dev/null for months now… and they’ve turned into a real headache when it comes to site maintenance :beatup:

I first noticed something was amiss when the blog got hit by a massive wave of spam comments back on July 11th. The pageview spike was so massive I had to leave out that entire day when updating these bar charts, otherwise the “Pageviews per Day” bar would be about 50% higher than it is now.

To highlight the spike, I created a new chart below graphing the number of spam comments against the number of unique IP addresses we had in a given month (higher bars == more spam comments per capita).

As I spent the next couple weeks re-acquainting myself with .htaccess directives for this spam prevention entry, I noticed something else odd in the log files: we had a trio of referrer URLs showing megabytes upon megabytes of data being transferred but with -0- corresponding pageviews. After poking around I realized the bunny picture from this old Contracts entry was being hotlinked all over the place for reasons I couldn’t figure out.

So I logged in to Google’s Webmaster Tools for the first time in months, and figured out what was going on — over 15,000+ searches on 30 different variations of “om nom nom” :crack:

July brought lots of spam...

Apparently when I switched how WordPress sets post URLs last month (from the old numeric “?p=1234” to the current setup), the search index for that Contracts entry went up high enough that the bunny picture became the #1 result for anyone doing a Google search with “nom nom” in it.

Not the entire entry of course. Just the bunny pic. :beatup:

Things have calmed down a bit now that I’ve started banning spambots and limiting the hotlinks. My guess is traffic will go back to a more-linear growth pattern for August. We’ll see what happens :)

***

On the search query front, we had a bunch of duplicate searches but also some fresh ones. Here are 20 of the 100+ unique search terms that brought folks here in July:

  • chazz clevinger: worked with me as the Vice President of Legislative & Public Affairs for UNCASG two years ago. I haven’t kept in touch with him much since law school started, but he did good work for the students of North Carolina.
  • nc dmv 30 day tag for insurance lapse: cost me $63, and I didn’t even need one :mad:
  • nccu lsat score evening program: for 2009-10, was 151 for the evening program, with the 25th percentile folks at 148 and the 75th percentile folks at 155 according to the class profile.
  • blackberry messenger group nccu school of law ’11: exists, but I’m not a part of it since I’m in the Class of 2012 ;) Hit up one of the 3Ls for more info.
  • tdot surplus vehicles: HA! I wish I had surplus vehicles…
  • does duquesne law school give midterms?: I don’t know about Duquesne Law, but NCCU Law does :spin:
  • letter demanding payment from ex girlfriend: is probably not going to accomplish much of anything…
  • negative things about nccu law: vary depending on who you ask. I’m a huge NCCU Law fan, and my only real complaint is that the wi-fi can be spotty in certain areas of the building (like the Great Hall and the Fishbowl). Hopefully they improved that over the summer.
  • 2010 11 tuition north carolina: is unfortunately still going up by almost $1K at several universities, since state legislators decided to balance the budget on the backs of students :mad:
  • nccu law fall 2010 class calendar: can be found on the Law School Registrar’s TWEN page, or downloaded from the NCCU Law “Academics” page.
  • nccu school of law’s grading curve: follows a strict-C median, which I happen to enthusiastically support ;)
  • mary wright 1l advocacy competition: takes place every Spring semester for 1L students. You can watch the video of my 3rd place performance here.
  • daryl wade unc: is probably not the same guy as Daryl Wade, the former Student Body President at UNC School of the Arts who served as Vice Chairman of the UNCASG Council of Student Body Presidents last year. I’m sure the other Daryl Wade is still cool though… even if he goes to UNCCH :sick:
  • are 1l’s included in the 30 day delay for financial aid?: For the vast majority of 1Ls, no.1 This was actually one of the questions we had at my 1L Orientation last year, so you’re not alone in wondering :)
  • what percentage of nccu law school are white law students?: roughly 35-40% each class year. Another 45-50% are black, and the remaining 10-20% are spread across other races. We’re routinely ranked among the most diverse student bodies in the country.
  • nccu minority scholarships for white law students: “No, officer…”
  • nccu law fall 2010 book list: can be found above the academic calendar on the NCCU Law “Academics” page.
  • acpi:system state: could signal a dead motherboard :(  Take it to get looked at ASAP.
  • which computer apple or pc for law students: Apple. Hands down. Trust me. ;)

Definitely a different mix of search results getting here this month… :)

***

And finally, here are the Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of July 2010, quite a bit different from past Top 5s due to the new indexing changes:

  1. On avoiding contract enforcement: Mmm Ks nom nom nom (02/16/10)
  2. On inexpensive résumé websites: Things TDot Likes: Persona Non Obscura (12/08/09)
  3. On post-1L class ranks: Learning what I already knew (07/12/10)
  4. On having a shadow: Spreading the (Law School) Gospel (02/17/10)
  5. On saving money: TDot’s Tips: Tips for the pre-L’s on $$$ (05/29/10)

*THANK YOU* as always to each of you for your continued support of us here at law:/dev/null! :D

—===—

Past Site Stats entries:

  1. My understanding is that some international students who have never attended a U.S. school previously get included, but I don’t know enough people (translation: none) who fall into that category to know if that’s accurate :beatup:   []

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5

In support of the strict C

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 22, 2010 in The 2L Life

Tonight’s post is another one of those cut-and-paste “Don’t have time to provide you with any incisive analysis” type entries :beatup:

The writers up at the New York Times seem to have finally realized that grade inflation is rampant in law schools, a problem noted regularly by the good folks over at Above the Law. The piece, titled “In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That”, highlights the retroactive inflation taking place at Loyola Law and other law schools to “make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market” — since employment is a significant factor in the US News’s law school rankings.1

I realize I’m probably in the minority here, given the modern push toward this “Everyone’s a winner! Let’s all hold hands and sing kumbayah!” mentality, but I’m personally a big fan of the strict-C curve we use at NCCU Law. Setting the middle grade in the middle of the grading scale (cue the :eek: faces) provides law professors with a full range of options to give you — and gives you the student a full range of feedback so you know where you’re weak and need to improve.

Consider my grades from the Spring semester. Clearly, Contracts is not my thing (at all). CrimLaw, on the other hand, might be.

Yet if we used the B+ median common among T1 institutions, my grades for both classes would be pretty close. There’s certainly more of a “you suck at this” signal sent when you’ve got a C in one class compared to an A- in the other, versus an inflated B+ compared to an inflated A.

It doesn’t look like grade deflation will ever happen if the data is any guide. And God knows my non-inflated grades won’t be netting me any NLJ250 jobs any time soon. But my lingering 1L naïveté tells me I’m going to be better off being given the brutally honest assessment of my deficiencies rather than being deigned competent by the retroactive stroke of a Dean’s pen.

Read the article at your leisure, and feel free to share your thoughts :) Until then have a good night! :D

==> New York Times: In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That

  1. The rankings are, in my opinion at least, worthless bullsh*t. []

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2

Site stats and queries and graphs, oh my!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 1, 2010 in Site Stats

First, happy April Fool’s Day to everybody! :D

I personally only got fooled twice, which is two times too many but still better than years past :)

law:/dev/null Pageviews and Unique IPs over time

On a non-prank-related note, I’ll shamelessly confess that Huma was/is the inspiration for today’s post.  She’s been occasionally posting her top posts and blog results at TRPLS for quite some time — I wanted to post something similar months ago, but for the longest time I couldn’t figure out how to get my stat software to show more than 20 search results1 :beatup:

But before getting into the search queries I want to give a huge *THANK YOU* for all of you for stopping by law:/dev/null! March 2010 was our busiest month yet :D

Sure a good chunk of that was because of political drama, but 7 shorts months ago it was pretty much just the web bots and me. So I’m pretty excited for the visitors, no matter the reason ;)

Google/Topeka also continues to be our top referring site based on some queries that make sense… and others that make me wonder why people actually stopped here of all places.

Here’s a few search results from the past month:

  • ncsu student government elections: Will be April 6th this year. Go to the NCSU SG Board of Elections website for more info :)
  • is it legal to dismiss a student for midterm grades?: Can’t help you on this one, I think that’s a 3L class :(
  • i got a c on contracts midterm: Don’t feel bad, I got a C- :beatup:
  • unc association of student governments and jay shalin: You must be one of the folks looking for info on this piece here. Enjoy.
  • torts was my favorite class in law school: ::smh::
  • what tier is nccu law school: Tier 4… though producing lawyers who can out-litigate T1s :)
  • how does nccu school of law send decision letters: In the mail.
  • how long does it take for nccu school of law to send a decision: As long as it takes :P
  • has anyone been accepted into nccu school of law 2010: Yep.
  • should i go to nccu law school?: If you like a solid legal education at a cheap price, yes.
  • should i go to nccu or campbell law: NCCU. They’re both good schools, but why pay 4x as much? ;)
  • what is 16.67%: One-sixth. Half of one-third. Two one-twelfths added together.
  • homemade spaghetti sauce: Try Nan’s recipe here :)
  • slow cooker beef tips: In your case, I’d recommend QuietStorm’s beef tips recipe instead :)
  • how can computer scientist count beyond their fingers: The lawyer in me is going to interpret this as how a computer scientist can use their fingers to count past 10 — in which case they’d use binary, with each finger representing a bit. So you can count up to 1,023 using your fingers (starting at 0) ;)
  • bar chart of premarital sex: I have no clue what this is or how you ended up here as a result, but good luck finding it :P

There were about 50 more, but most of them were variations of those ones :beatup:

And finally, our Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of March:

  1. On forgetting St. Patricks Day:2 This is what law school does to you… (03/17/10)
  2. On political hacks writing commentary: Crazy, or just lazy? You be the judge (or, “Erroneous trash masquerading as punditry”) (03/15/10)
  3. On my first ever closing argument: Alice in Wonderland (03/24/10)
  4. On Spring ’10 midterm grade expectations: A Temporary Reprieve (03/06/10)
  5. And on Fall ’09 final grades: Fall ‘09 Grades: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugh-ly (01/26/10)

That’s all the stats I’ve got for this post — gotta head to bed so I can be up bright and early for my make-or-break Physical Fitness Test for the USMC at 9am tomorrow :beatup:

Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. The Computer Science degree finally came in handy — I figured it out last week :D []
  2. Weird that this was #1, there’s nothing really in the post :crack: []

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2

Mmm Ks nom nom nom

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 16, 2010 in The 1L Life

Reading up on Justifications for Non-Performance in Contracts. Not entirely sure why it’s a “defense” in a Torts/CrimLaw context but a “justification” in a Ks one, but I digress.

Anyhow, no-oral-modification clauses are abbreviated NOM throughout the notes. And every time I read it I envision this happening to the contract:

Obligatory cute bunny pic. nom nom nom.

Yes, I recognize this is probably one of the first signs of some degenerative mental illness…

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5

How much of a lawyer are you after 1 semester?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 4, 2010 in The 1L Life

My 2L and 3L friends are collectively rolling their eyes at the post title, but I promise it’s a serious (or at least seriously-intended) question :angel:

Just how much of a lawyer is a law student after their 1st semester?

Some background behind the question is in order, so you don’t think I’m totally batshit crazy for even asking. Everyone talks about the big life adjustment that is law school — teaching you to “think like a lawyer” and all that jazz.

But my (admittedly unproven) hypothesis is that 90%+ of any such adjusting is going to take place in your first semester, since presumably if it hadn’t you would have already failed out of law school.  Unless of course you go somewhere with a B+ median.1 ;)

So assuming, arguendo, that my hypothesis is right, the next 2.5 years will be spent not on training you to be a lawyer so much as forcing you to have at least a passing knowledge of the current state of the law in various subject areas.

Not sure if that’s worded well enough to convey my point, so let me try a computer comparison:  basically in the first semester you’re taught all the logical constructs of programming (conditionals / loops / etc) and then for the next 2.5 years you get taught logically-identical variants of programming languages (Java / C++ / etc).

Or maybe a movie comparison works?  It’s like the first Matrix movie, where the first semester is for explaining wheretf you are and rebuilding your atrophied muscles from scratch, then the next 2.5 semesters get spent uploading various martial arts like kung-fu straight into your brain.2

Hopefully at least one of those three made sense :beatup:

So going back to the question, let’s say you finished all of your required credit hours in Contracts, Legal Research, and Civil Procedure. At this point would you be competent enough to litigate a Contracts dispute pro se? Or will some other course over the next 2.5 years add still more training that you’d need to be effective?

Not sure why that particular question crossed my mind tonight, but I figured I’d throw it out there if any of my 2L/3L/post-L readers have insights they wouldn’t mind sharing :)

Back to reading for Contracts, just in case I need to represent myself any time soon ;) Have a great night everybody!! :D

  1. JUST KIDDING AGAIN! I promise I still :heart: y’all Tarheel ppl (you know who you are)  and it won’t become a habit :* []
  2. And if you haven’t actually seen any of the Matrix movies, you need to get out more. Seriously. :P []

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-

The main reason I dislike Ks?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 2, 2010 in The 1L Life

Boring fact patterns :beatup:

Torts, CrimLaw, even CivPro have more exotic cases IMO.

And I’m also pretty sure any decent grammarian could say the same thing as these opinions, but with 60%+ less verbiage… :roll:

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-

Dying a not-so-slow death…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 27, 2010 in The 1L Life

After classes today, I’m starting to wonder if that’s what is happening to my faith in people since starting law school :beatup:

But before rehashing today’s material, I have to confess it’s not an entirely recent phenomenon.

When I first moved to North Carolina over a decade ago, I was a doe-eyed teenager who knew some individuals could be a bit unsavory but firmly believed that most people were good, upstanding folks — and the bad ones probably just had bad parents or something. I was a strident opponent of the death penalty back then too, not because of any amorality to state-sanctioned killing (I was also a big “separation of church/state” kid), but because no crime could be sufficiently heinous to merit the ultimate punishment in light of the non-zero chance the person being executed was actually innocent. And so on and so forth.

Then reality smacked me around a little bit.

Back in 2003 I started working for the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court in Wake County as its first “Director of Special Projects” — code for having carte blanche to work on various Courthouse problems with minimal red tape.

One of those problems was figuring out a way to consolidate 3 separate Courthouse evidence rooms.  I’ll forgo mentioning the actual floors since I’m not sure if they’re considered confidential anymore, but for the sake of description the bottom room held seized cash and small drugs, the middle room was for small weapons and miscellany, and the top room held everything relating to the major felonies: dozens of weapons (including some wrapped in biohazard tape with dried blood still on them), luggage full of weed, various exotic implements of death… and the tri-fold picture displays frequently used by prosecutors to make a point with the jury.

One afternoon I walked through the top evidence room with a deputy from the Sheriff’s Department, just to get an idea of the scope of the storage problem I was working on. I pulled out one of the tri-fold displays and nearly puked at the crime scene photos: this particular victim was lying facedown in a pool of blood, and after reading the text I learned it was the mother of the accused… a mother who had been beaten, raped and sodomized by her own son before he slit her throat and left her to die.

There were a string of displays featuring dead prostitutes, dead drug dealers, dead gang members, and various other dead people participating in illegal activities.

But then it went back to the totally innocent victims. One particular display that got seared into my brain was a two-fold instead of a three-fold, on the left side containing a photo of an attractive Hispanic female in her early 20s smiling for the camera. The right side? That same woman, on the floor, no longer smiling, brutally shot 43 times by her then-boyfriend who claimed she was cheating on him.

43 shots. Now I’m no expert, but I do know my way around the occasional firearm enough to know the Glock 21’s standard magazine is only 13 rounds. Try pulling an imaginary trigger as quickly as you can 13 times. Then pause to reload. Then do it 13 times again. Then pause to reload. Then do it 13 times again. Then pause to reload. Then do it 4 more times.

I timed how long it would take in my head, and started crying in the middle of the evidence room. I took the rest of the day off.

You can pretty much pinpoint that day as the one where I stopped caring quite so much about the Eighth Amendment.

Fast forward back to today in class.

We’re having an engaging discussion in CrimLaw about Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11 (2003), and the fairness of Cali’s “three strikes” habitual felon statute. And I tell you folks, I didn’t care. At all. A guy stole $1K+ worth of golf clubs to add to his burgeoning criminal record, he was going to prison for the rest of his natural life… and I felt no sympathy. “Don’t want to get sentenced to life in prison as a habitual felon? STOP BREAKING THE @#$%ING LAW.” That was pretty much the only thing that went through my mind.

Then there was Contracts, discussing the doctrine of unconscionability and Higgins v. Superior Court, 140 Cal. App. 4th 1238 (2006). Essentially 5 siblings lost both of their parents, moved in with a family they knew through church, got approached by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to build a new 9-bedroom house for all of them (the siblings plus the family they moved in with)… and then once the house was built, the quasi-foster family threw out the siblings.

Since this was a Ks case it centered on an arbitration clause when the Higgins brothers pursued ABC, but what really got me was the family that ejected them. Kids lose their parents, move in with you after meeting you at church, you exploit them to get a new mini-mansion… then throw them out to enjoy the gains you unjustly got at their expense. We need to throw these people in prison with the golf club thief.

I was accustomed to the crazy @#$% we’ve already seen in Torts, but stuff like today caught me off-guard. And makes me dislike people. Grrr.

Sorry for the rambling-ish post tonight everybody, it was just one of those days. I hope all of you have an amazing night, and I’ll try to post something more chipper tomorrow :)

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