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The Hectic Life of a Low-Wealth Entrepreneur

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 11, 2012 in The After-3L Life

I’m still here!

It seems like at least once a week I say to myself “I really need to start updating law:/dev/null regularly again”… I log in to the WordPress admin interface… clean out the spam comments and update outdated plugins…

…then promptly get sidetracked by something and never actually write anything down :beatup:

Life over the past month has been crazy. Certifiably nuts. I don’t think I’ve ever had this many things going on simultaneously in my life. Ever.

The law firm’s been up-and-running for a smidge under two months, and I’ve had around 13 clients in that timespan. The crazy part is that I’ve represented those clients despite having no business cards, no website, no letterhead or envelopes or advertising — just my LinkedIn profile, an unpublicized Facebook page, and the Twitter account I barely use.1

I’m also 6-0 in adversarial proceedings, which is just downright surreal. Had you told me back when I got my license that I’d go my first two months without losing a case, I’d have called you crazy. But I’m now 3 foreclosures, 2 misdemeanors, and 1 breach of contract down without a losing client. I know the first loss comes to everyone eventually but I’m over-preparing in the hope I can delay the inevitable as long as possible ;)

Panorama of the new place right after moving in

Speaking of the law firm, I also migrated out of my apartment into a bona fide office. Trying to work from home was cheaper but incredibly inefficient between the dog and the lack of dedicated space for office-related work. The office is huge (~223 square feet), half a block to the Durham Courthouse, and cheaper than damn near everything in downtown Raleigh or Durham — and a testament to the utility of both networking and poker. :surprised:

How so? Well one of my friends from Student Senate connected me to a Raleigh attorney to talk about NC SPICE. I had lunch with him, and he recommended I talk with a particular Durham DWI attorney. I had lunch with him, and he invited me to join his friends at a weekly poker night they have on Mondays. After losing my entire buy-in one week and half my buy-in the next week, I randomly asked him if he knew any attorneys with spare offices they wanted to sublease.

Turns out he had two, including the one I’m in now :spin:

So I’ve got an office, conference room, full kitchen, lobby with receptionist, free parking, all right next to the courthouse! Plus the place is huge enough that I’m now splitting it with EIC, who’s getting ready to start her own practice as well.

And speaking of NC SPICE and splitting things, there’s been some developments on that end as well. I got a response from the Internal Revenue Service that it would take them 9 months just to assign our 501(c)(3) application to somebody for review, then that person would have 90 days to make a decision — meaning we’ll get no update at all whatsoever until June 20132 :crack:

So at our most recent Board of Directors meeting last week, the Board authorized me to cleave the group into two: the education-related components will stay in the nonprofit, and the office support services will get rolled into a new corporation. Since then I’ve lined up 4 investors interested in getting the program off the ground, and we’ve got our first in-person interest meeting and focus group slated for 12/12/12 at 6:00pm.

We’ve also got around 216 people following the NC SPICE Facebook page, and a hair’s breadth over 200 followers on the NC SPICE Twitter feed.

The only downside is that I’ve now gone from running one nonprofit 6 months ago to running a nonprofit, a corporation, and a law firm all at the same time :beatup:

A long overdue lifestyle change. Just 18lbs to go!

On the personal side, my quest to get back in shape is still on target with me down -27lbs since June 30th. I don’t think I ever wrote the original entry I meant to write on that, but during bar prep my good friend Tim Lipka (Mr. QC) from NCSU’s Student Government passed away from a heart attack at age 25. I’d just had drinks with him when I was in DC for the Howard Moot Court Competition back in February, and we’d talked on Facebook about grabbing lunch when he came to town before the DNC convention in Charlotte. His passing was coupled with an unexpectedly high blood pressure reading I got during a regular checkup the day before, so the two of those things combined freaked me out enough to get my life in order.

More exercise and less food has been the lifestyle change for the past few months, and I’m slowly making progress. My target weight is 175lbs so I’ve got a bit more to go but it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I imagined thus far — and my blood pressure is coming back down slightly, hopefully meaning I’ll be able to avoid medication.

Aside from my personal health, life is good. I’m still contributing semi-regularly over at JD Oasis. Samson is still happy and healthy. And even though I’m broke financially I know things are going to pick up as time goes on.

That’s all I’ve got for this entry, but hope to (seriously) have more some time soon. I hope all of you have had an amazing weekend, and enjoy the week ahead! :D

  1. Turns out my “no frills and no bullsh*t” reputation from years of overexposure in N.C. State‘s Student Senate, the UNC Association of Student Governments, and NCCU Law‘s Student Bar Association has helped with client development — which is odd considering those groups each had plenty of people in them who are now lawyers :crack: []
  2. I thought the purpose of us having to pay $850 just to apply was to ensure the IRS had adequate reviewers to look at these things in a timely fashion, but apparently I was wrong… []

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Greetings from Washington (briefly)!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 26, 2012 in The 3L Life

Hello from Reagan Washington National Airport!

Yes, I’m posting from the airport while waiting for a flight home :beatup:

Life the past week has been crazy and taken its toll. Backtracking to the previous law:/dev/null entry, the TYLA quarterfinals at Memphis Law last week came to an ignominious end. The UGA team went in on Shutterbug with some thoroughly bizarre objections during our case in chief, and the (bankruptcy lawyer) judge actually sustained them :crack:  And since I’m a smidge overprotective of people, I was pissed they hounded her and was determined to get our evidence in come hell or high water — which I eventually did on cross-examination of their expert witness, but only after giving the (bankruptcy lawyer) judge five (5!) separate rules allowing it in and still having to go through three separate sets of questions the (bankruptcy lawyer) judge felt I needed to ask as foundation. :mad:

Soooo I lost points for my demeanor…1

Bear in mind this was the same (bankruptcy lawyer) judge who decided to publicly berate Shutterbug for questioning the Defendant about a prior DUI… after the Defense opened the door on direct examination.2 Needless to say we lost that round, and EIC was less-than-pleased with me. But at least NCCU Law set the stage for an even better performance next year!

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out with 雅雅, then afterwards I joined the team for drinks and relaxation. What happens in Memphis stays in Memphis of course; I’ll just say I had a blast and didn’t fall asleep until 4am3 :)

Group photo of NCCU Law's Howard Moot Court Teams: Me, Diane Carter '13, Nnenna Olu '13, and Kelvin Jacobs '13

Once we were back in NC my focus shifted to moot court and the competition at Howard Law this weekend in Washington DC. Enduring two weeks of averaging 4.5 hours of sleep a night finally caught up to me, and by the time we got into Washington this past Thursday I had come down with a full-fledged cold. I was chugging Theraflu like it was Kool-Aid and popping Halls cough drops like Skittles. That in turn affected my oral argument performance, which I thought was utterly disastrous despite my coach and El Presidente (who’s getting his LLM at American Law) both insisting it went well. I’m proud one of our two teams made it to the quarter-finals there, my team just wasn’t one of them and I feel responsible for it :(

The highlight to the trip was getting a chance to catch up with two friends from my NC State days. On Friday I got food and a drink with Shirley, someone I first met all the way back in 2005 when I came back to NC State and became the Treasurer of my Hall Council. I’ve always been guaranteed to have an abnormally insightful discussion with that one, and Friday was no different. Then Saturday I joined a former SG colleague Mr. QC for a couple hours to learn about all the big-time stuff he’s doing in the nation’s capital.4 He’s currently with a federal agency and actively dabbling in city politics, and I fully expect him to be running something major by the time I’ve gotten my law license.

Cool+random mural on the side of a DC building Shirley and I passed, with Presidents going back to Eisenhower

It was truly awesome talking with them both, and really helped put me in a better mental frame of mind after my competition :D  I can’t tell you how truly blessed I feel having crossed paths with all these really amazing folks. It gives me the cliché warm fuzzies inside… :spin:

Which brings me to today, sitting here about to board a flight back to the Bull City. I’m way behind on academic work — and made the mistake of signing up for 3 separate classes that have weekly assignments, so my grades are pretty much shot for the semester already — but fortunately will not be traveling anymore until after the bar exam, so I can go back to a somewhat normal life. Obviously I’m ready to be home and get things back the way they should be!

And, God willing, including a few more blog entries too ;)

That’s it from me, about to go board — have a great day y’all, and a great week ahead!

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From the law:/dev/null travel-related archives:

  1. Even though one of the jurors (who actually does litigation) described the cross-x and closing arguments as the “highlight” of my performance. []
  2. Our coach went up to the (bankruptcy lawyer) judge after the competition to ask wtf she was thinking, and she claimed to have never heard of the phrase “opening the door” or understanding what it meant :roll: []
  3. Before having to wake up at 6am to get to the airport :beatup: []
  4. His nickname for him here comes from the very first day we met, when he walked into my office when I was Student Senate President and told me “Charlotte does this, you need to get Raleigh to do it too” — a poor strategic choice, for those law:/dev/null readers who aren’t familiar with the hostility between North Carolina’s two largest cities ;) []

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