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…


[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 ]


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:


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:


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 ;)


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::


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:


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 ;)


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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TDot’s Mailbag v5.0: What Law School’s Really Like

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 14, 2010 in Mail

This was originally a TDot’s Tips entry titled “Tips for the Pre-L’s” — until I started writing it Monday afternoon, when Delta the 2L sat down next to me in the Fishbowl and wanted to know what I would be doing at 7:00pm that night.

I’ve learned the only acceptable answer when she asks me that question is “What would you like me to be doing Delta?” :beatup:

Turns out the Pre-Law Students Association at my alma mater was holding a panel discussion titled “What is Law School Really Like?” and she wanted a partner from the N.C. Central University School of Law to help rep for the Legal Eagles.

Since I came at law from a non-traditional angle I had to say yes. Besides, y’all know how I am about competition :angel:

There were about 30 undergrads in the audience, and the panel turned out to be a solid mix of folks with 3 students from Campbell Law, 3 from UNCCH Law, 2 from Duke Law, an alum from Wake Forest Law, and of course Delta and I from NCCU Law.1 I think 6-7 of us were 1Ls, but the 2Ls/3Ls/post-Ls were represented by at least 1 person apiece.

The questions covered a wide range of topics that you’d expect from aspiring law students: workload, types of classes, “gunners” and competition, and so on. But some panel members did tend to commandeer the discussion and recognize new questioners before folks had a chance to answer the previous question, and yesterday one of the sophomores in attendance shot me a message.

Rather than do the usual Q&A format for past mail entries, I figured I’d post what he sent me and offer my $.02 from there.  Here’s what I got:

Overall, I enjoyed listening to the panel and attending the event. I do wish the the questions/answers had been more organized so that each student from each law school could have given a more direct answer and that every student could have been given the chance to answer each question.

I would have liked to have learned more about the admissions process from the students also. I believe the bar exam was only mentioned once or twice in the whole forum; from what I have heard the bar exam is one of the top things that law students are trying to make sure they pass, that was one dimension that was almost forgotten about….and I’m not quite sure why?

It seemed like the whole time all of the students were all up tight and bashing the amount of work load and la la la the whole time. I was like okay I get the point that law school is a lot of work, I’m aware of that now, I am more than willing to put in the time and effort, enough with the talks about how much work it is, tell me more about WHAT LAW SCHOOL IS REALLY LIKE – tell me about the professors, tell me about the elective courses you can take, tell me about the mock trials you can participate in, etc etc.

I fully understand, and *commend* every single law student out there for the amount of work they have to put into law school; but this forum was not meant to whine about the work load if you get my gist.

Let me preface my thoughts by pointing out I’M NOT NORMAL. You hopefully figured this out at some point amid (i) Student Government being my preferred hobby, (ii) picking a T4 as my first-choice law school despite higher-ranked options, or (iii) deciding to go the law route at all after getting a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I’m strange, I’m upbeat about my own law school experience, and I’m even optimistic about the future prospects for the legal industry.

I’m also apparently one of the very, very, very few who feel that way :beatup:

So before reading on, I’d encourage you to check the other bloggers in the list at the right of this page. Dennis Jansen in particular has a ton of advice well worth reading — I read it myself before starting law:/dev/null, that’s how legit it is.

Now back to that email…

Admissions was actually something I studied quite a bit as a side project when I was an undergrad.2 I’m not an expert by any means, but here’s some of what I’ve learned both in NC and nationwide:

  • The admissions process is going to vary by school of course, but pretty much everyone uses some form of indexing in their decisions.  Essentially take your undergraduate GPA and multiply it by a given fraction, take your LSAT score and multiply it by a different fraction, take whatever “special” factors your chosen school considers (e.g. legacy status, socioeconomic status, etc), add all those numbers up and you get your Academic Index score. Students above a certain number get in automatically, below a certain number get rejected automatically, and the folks in the middle get a closer look at your actual application to decide if you should be accepted, rejected, or waitlisted.
  • Any school that tells you they read all the applications is lying to you. There are simply too many applications for every school, and your typical admissions committee is roughly 3-5 people — usually 1 or 2 administrators, and the rest senior faculty. In other words they’re all busy people, and are simply not going to read 1,000+ essays or more per person. Period.
  • Apply early! Most schools also use “rolling admission,” which means they start accepting students throughout the application cycle — including those folks with the high Academic Index scores.  Typically that means by the time the advertised “deadline” approaches for a given school, all of the seats have admitted students filling them and you’re competing for spots that only open up when the accepted folks go somewhere else. The odds already are not in your favor; they get precipitously worse by the deadline.
  • Consider applying at public law schools in your state (if they’d be a good fit for you of course). Most state-supported institutions have caps on out-of-state students, making it comparably easier to get in if you’re in-state. For example, UNCCH Law limits out-of-state students to 25-30% of the student body even though out-of-staters typically make up 75%ish of the applications received. Private Duke Law, by contrast, had over 80%+ of its Class of 2012 coming from outside North Carolina.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I call this the “nontraditional” approach to admissions: if you know someone who’s an alum from your school, or back when you were a kid you used to mow the lawn for one of the professors, or one of your parent’s coworkers knows a friend of a friend who plays golf with the Dean, see if they have any advice they can offer to help you be as competitive as possible. The era of a well-placed phone call to the right person securing your acceptance has largely died off, but there are always “intangibles” in every process and there’s no harm in trying to line up as many as you can in your favor.

Bar Exam
At most undergraduate universities, when you finish all your required courses you’re usually entitled to graduate, get your degree, and start working in whatever field you studied.

Not so with law.

After you graduate, you’ll sit and take a bar exam for the jurisdiction where you want to practice. This is essentially a 2-3 day affair featuring multiple choice questions, essays, and similar tests on a variety of subjects to verify your competence to become a lawyer. Pass the bar, and you get to jump through the next set of assorted hoops to get your law license (“character and fitness” reviews, etc). Fail, and you get to wait 3-4 months to try again while desperately trying in the interim to find some way to pay your bills.

Training you to pass the bar, enabling you to become a competent attorney, is the #1 job of a law school. It’s also not easy — so make sure you pay attention in your law classes, because that info will be coming back in a few years.

The Work
There’s not much I can say here that will be useful to any of you, since I honestly don’t think the work in law school is that hard.

Why? Because I was horrible at my undergraduate major :beatup:

As a result I was/am already accustomed to sitting in one place in perpetuity (e.g. at a desk) doing the same thing for hours non-stop (e.g. debugging code) and giving up certain necessities of life (e.g. sleep and a social life) to get projects done on time. Law school has been a cakewalk by comparison, since the only “project” is generally a midterm and final exam — and reading case law for a few hours is infinitely easier than tracing Java code looking for an elusive bug.

Trust me ;)

Law school is a sizable volume of work, for certain. You’ll want to read all the cases you’re assigned so you’re able to understand the discussion taking place in class, which in turn will make it easier to digest the material and study for finals.

But law school is also a huge mind game. If you go in knowing you’re going to have a large volume of work and you take a disciplined approach to getting that work done, you’ll be fine — and should even have time for sleep and a social life :D

They’re all different, and it shows. MDG and Professor CrimLaw both have witty and disarming personalities — and are merciless graders who force you to know your material. Professor Torts takes a more disciplinarian approach. Professor Ks represents the “new school” and is more laid back than the others, while The Traveling Professor holds it down for the “old school” with her regal demeanor.

One unifying characteristic of the professors is that they’re all smart people. And the vast majority are friendly, approachable, and go out of their way to help students succeed at learning the law. After all, even these folks were 1Ls once upon a time.

The key is to not let yourself get intimidated — as your legal elders they’re entitled to a certain level of deference, but not to the point where you’re afraid to talk to them.

I’m not really qualified to say much here, simply because for almost all law schools your 1L year will be set in stone for you and cover “core” classes like Property, Contracts, Torts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Constitutional Law.

If you want to browse around, NCCU Law has most of its electives posted online. Typically law schools will have electives on a huge range of topics (intellectual property, bioethics, veterans law, etc) and offer law clinics for students to experience first-hand different areas of the law where they might be interested in practicing.

But given the breadth of offerings and the differences between each law school, the best I can recommend here is to check out the individual offerings for every school you’re interested in.

This is another area where the philosophies of law schools tend to differ,3 but at many schools 1Ls get to participate in most of the exact same stuff as their upper-level colleagues.

Speaking for myself here at NCCU Law, I took part in 3 different mock trial competitions just for 1Ls, signed up for the 1L Moot Court competition (before realizing it conflicted with a UNCASG meeting), participated in an ABA-sponsored client counseling competition, played on the 1L basketball team in the annual Law Week tournament, attended several events for the Black Law Students Association, and got elected Treasurer of the Student Bar Association.

And there are literally dozens of other groups and activities that I could have done if I had other interests (or more time).

Most law schools will have class councils that throw parties, hold forums, host speakers, and so on. You’ve got legal fraternities like Phi Alpha Delta and Phi Delta Phi. You’ve got BLSA and HLSA and undoubtedly other LSAs I don’t know about. You’ve got liberal orgs promoting things like workers’ rights, conservative ones promoting things like constitutional originalism, and everything in between.

So as far as extracurriculars go — at least in my admittedly limited experience — law school is as much a full-spectrum experience as college.

“What would you do differently?”
If I could change one single thing about my experience here at NCCU Law, I wouldn’t be as nervous.

Those of you who are long-time readers at law:/dev/null might recall the comedy of unforced errors that was my orientation experience. I’ve taken my Socratic beatings too. But you know what I found out over the course of the semester?

Everybody experiences the same thing at some point.

All the 1Ls are going through the same trials and tribulations. Some folks are more adept at it than others, but there isn’t a single person out of the 50ish in my section who haven’t been flummoxed by a professor. Rather than the “gunner”-filled atmosphere you read about, most of your classmates will be on Facebook or Gchat or “whispering” hints at a slightly-above-whisper level,4 all trying to help you succeed — because they’ve either (i) been there too or (ii) will be soon.

So don’t be nervous. Go in confident, know you’re going to slip up at some point, and take it all in stride. It’ll make your law school experience far more enjoyable ;)


That’s my $.02 on what law school is really like, at least on those few topics :) Feel free to hit me up if you have any other questions!

Until then, have a great night everybody! :D

  1. The other 2 law schools in North Carolina are fairly new and only provisionally accredited: Elon Law and Charlotte Law. []
  2. Particularly the relative weights given to racial minorities (which are routinely criticized or banned) and “legacy” children of alumni (which are routinely not criticized or banned) and the effect of those weights among institutions of the 17-campus University of North Carolina… most of which were segregated until 50 years ago, giving a de facto race-based advantage to the white children of white alumni. []
  3. For example, the Campbell Law panelist said they don’t allow 1Ls to participate in extracurricular activities so they can focus on their studies. []
  4. The folks MDG fondly calls “the drunk whisperers” []

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A Quantitative Look at 1L Fall

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 22, 2009 in The 1L Life

I shamelessly borrowed the concept for today’s post from this entry by Miss Julie Anne Ines (aka the Blawgirl), so if you haven’t checked out her segment of the intarwebs yet, please do so now because it’s Good Stuff™ :)

As my fellow Legal Eagles and I enjoy the agonizing wait for our grades — one section got their Contracts grades back; that section was not mine :mad: — it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve gone down the road to lawyerhood (attorneydom? JDness?).

So to illustrate the point, here’s a quantitative look at the semester :D


Number of pages read in Civil Procedure with MDG:


Number of pages read in Torts with Professor Torts:


Number of pages read in Contracts with Professor Ks:


Number of pages read in Property with the Traveling Professor:


Number of useless writing assignments in Legal Reasoning & Analysis:


Number of supplements consulted:
4 (an Emanuel’s for each class)


Number of visits to the law library since orientation:
-0- (see next item)


Number of searches on Lexis-Nexis:


Number of Lexis-Nexis Points earned:


Number of times overheard swearing in class at WestLaw/TWEN’s poor website coding:


Number of days waiting for grades:
12, and counting…


Imagine where we’ll be 5 more semesters from now :)

Have a great night folks!! :D

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Lowering the standards of “gunner”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 9, 2009 in Drama

As the semester has progressed, I’ve turned into something of a recluse when it comes to my fellow Legal Eagles. It’s not intentional of course — like I mentioned last week, it’s a combination of trying to avoid drama and utilizing an apartment that’s catered to my learning style. Madame Prosecutor and I occasionally talk outside of class to study, and DMoff mentions ASG business every now and then. But since the whole study group thing didn’t really pan out and I’m hardly ever at the law school aside from class, I don’t have many non-class friendships among the 1Ls :(

I’ve got one exception, a young lady who I haven’t actually come up with a nickname for yet. We’ve got one of those friendships where we’d probably be perfect for each other romantically, but we also both have pre-existing interests so instead you end up with the bona fide respect and admiration of two competitive people going through a common struggle. She basically keeps me in check when my exasperation gets out of line and has occasionally been my conscience vis-à-vis law school.

That backstory is the preface to a conversation over the weekend, where she informed me that several folks (and by “several” I mean 3; any guesses on who?) have started referring to me as one of the class “gunners” because I posted my midterm grades here at law:/dev/null.  Professor Torts inadvertently helped that narrative on Friday when no one volunteered to brief the only case we had (an easy one, Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co. (248 N.Y. 339)), so in the interests of getting out of class I offered — and got referred to as “one of our favorite volunteers” in that not-quite-sarcastic-but-not-quite-not-sarcastic tone that makes someone think they’ve volunteered one time too often :beatup:

For the sake of brevity, we’ll ignore the general silliness that goes with the secrecy around law school grades. As much as people claim school is all about competition, markets grow over time and everyone is better off collaborating than competing.  Basic economic principles.

The point that really threw me is that my grades were decisively unimpressive. I’m in 5 classes — I did really well in 2 (CivPro and Property), really bad in 2 (Torts and LRA), and I’m firmly in the middle for the 5th (Contracts). And while we all know gunners don’t necessarily have good grades, the logician in me thinks good grades would need to be a prerequisite if posting them is going to be treated as a criteria for gunner-hood.

So my grades are essentially average. I don’t volunteer unless it helps us get out of class sooner. I’ve crashed and burned on numerous occasions when I am called on. I’m rarely at the law school, not involved in school-related activities, and stopped over-dressing after orientation.

If that makes me a gunner, y’all have really lowered the standards. jsyk. :P

Anyhow, I’m off to bed.  Marine Corps’ birthday is tomorrow, meaning an extra-grueling PT session in the morning. Night everybody! :D

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The joys of the Socratic method

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 16, 2009 in Fail

Envision for a minute that you’re watching television.

A Pay-Per-View channel specifically.

And not just any Pay-Per-View channel, but one with shows that are kind of a blend between a UFC match and the movie Gladiator.

Where the bad guy is a robot, wielding a 500ish-page Torts textbook in one hand and a 500ish-page Contracts textbook in the other, trying to bludgeon its opponent to death, and the only way to stop it is to utter the right combination of cryptic phrases like “shopkeeper’s privilege” and “sua sponte” and “offer / acceptance / consideration / mutual assent”.

And the hero dies in the end.

That’s a rough approximation of how I envisioned the Socratic method of teaching law.  Fortunately it hasn’t turned out nearly that bad — no one’s died so far as I know :) — but as I mentioned yesterday I’m a little worried I’ve become a marked man.

It all started this past Monday in Torts.  Remember a couple Fridays ago when I volunteered to go over Pearson v. Dodd, flubbed my response, and Professor Torts noted with a Cheshire Cat smile that she’d be “coming back to [me] very soon”?  Yeah, that was Monday.

We’re going over defenses to intentional torts, and the case being reviewed was Bonkowski v. Arlan’s Department Store (12 Mich. App. 88). Unlike my last crash-and-burn experience, though, this time I just knew I had outmaneuvered Professor Torts! Figuring she’d call me at some point in the week, I not only (i) had hand-written case notes but (ii) instantly pulled up my typed case brief on my laptop and (iii) flipped to the well-highlighted pages in my textbook.  I was going to nail these questions.

I went over the case summary without a hitch.  Answered the first couple questions without a hitch.  Then got asked why the Court brought in the Montgomery Ward case for comparison (Montgomery Ward & Co v. Freeman, 199 F2d 720), and… splat.

There were/are essentially 3 “take-home points” from Bonkowski as far as defense goes:  validating the shopkeeper’s privilege, a distinction regarding the length of time a customer is detained, and a distinction regarding where the customer is located at the time the shopkeeper attempts to detain them.  I had all 3 points written down with corresponding notes, but never put in my notes the source documents the Court was comparing against with each (the Restatement (Second) of Torts, the Montgomery Ward case, and the R2T again, respectively).

So after making it through shopkeeper’s privilege and getting the M. Ward question, I realized the shortcoming in my notes, mentally freaked, couldn’t find the right passage in the textbook quickly enough, figured I had a 50-50 shot at guessing 1 of the 2 remaining points I wrote down, and picked the distinction re location (aka the wrong answer).  The Professor gives me the raised eyebrow that says “You’re totally wrong and trying to BS me.” I notice, then promptly correct myself by referencing the timeframe of detainment.  The Professor confirms but notes that “Whenever the Court is bringing in another case, you need to make sure you understand why the Court is bringing in the case” (“Yes ma’am.”).  Now I’m thinking I’m in the clear… when she asks what other take-home points, if any, I found.

In my mind I’m thinking I already brought up the location issue so that covered the 3 issues and there shouldn’t be anything else. But since the location issue was the wrong answer at the time I brought it up, I found out after class that the Professor was expecting me to repeat it at the appropriate time… and instead I had said I didn’t have any other points.  Which prompted a less-than-happy string of commentary to the class that we’re clearly not reading the material and if we don’t stop playing around with her and the course we’d regret it by midterms.

Professor Torts:  2.  TDot:  0.

And like the last time someone flubbed a response that indicated they hadn’t read, who was the first person to get called on the next day in Contracts?  Yours truly.

Not only was I the first person called, but I felt like I hadn’t even been attending the class because the questions asked didn’t line up at all with the notes I had written down.  By the time my 5 minutes worth of fumbling for answers was finished, it was pretty well-cemented in my mind that I need to do a better job picking the salient points to jot down in my notes…

Anyhow, hopefully I’ll at least have a reprieve for the next few classes :)  I’ve been spared recent humiliation both in Property and in CivPro — though in the search logs for law:/dev/null I noticed 2 separate visitors who came here yesterday after searches for Mean Dean Green, so I might be on the hit list now for that class too (Prof Green, if you happen to read this: the entire Gang of Eight, myself included, thinks you’re a phenomenal teacher.  And I had nothing at all to do with the nickname.  Don’t kill me plz.)

Hope all of you are having a great week so far!  Have a good night everybody!! :D

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Friday drive-by (brought to you by the Stone Age)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 4, 2009 in Technology

I was planning on having a little more substance to today’s post, but right around 3pm a TWC technician was kind enough to disconnect both my cable and internet service when he meant to disconnect someone else in my apartment complex.  I called customer service and the soonest they could schedule someone to come out is 5pm tomorrow.  The guy I usually work with on my service (Kevin — awesome guy, if you live in Durham and plan on getting TWC service make sure to ask for him) is coming out first thing in the morning to get it fixed instead, but I didn’t think to contact him sooner so I’ve been stuck for the afternoon/evening in relative silence.

And, I’ll note, slowly going insane from the lack of connection with the outside world.

So how am I posting this now?  The glories of BlackBerry tethering, which temporarily went kaput after I upgraded my BlackBerry a few weeks ago (from an 8830 to a 9630 Tour), was briefly fixed, then went kaput again when I upgraded to Snow Leopard a few days ago.  I got so desperate for internet I finally went rummaging through my pre-Snow Leopard files.

After using an old Time Machine backup to find a suitable modem script, some CSC-esque “tweaking” to said modem script to work with the 9630, some info in my Keychain to find my username and password, and random guessing on the access number to dial, suddenly I have internet again through the phone.  It’s not blazing fast or anything, but it’s good enough to get the job done and maintain my sanity :)

Anyhow, given the drive-by nature of this post I’m keeping it short:  I decided to volunteer to brief a case in Professor Torts’s class today.  We’re going over conversion and there was only 1 case to brief (Pearson v. Dodd) so the Professor asked for volunteers.  I knew the case pretty well and hoped I’d be able to buy myself a way out of getting called on at some point in the relatively near future.

It didn’t quite turn out as well as planned.

Rather than read from the briefs I write, starting this past Monday I’ve been trying not to have my laptop running during class and instead go from memory.  1) It helps me remember the material when I can’t read it there in front of me (as weird as that may sound), and 2) it stops me from being on Facebook or reading blawgs when I should be taking notes.  The downside is that reciting information from memory is slightly more verbose than a tightly-worded issue statement in a brief.

And Professor Torts made that point fairly clear in short order, then asking if I wrote anything down (“Yes ma’am”), where it was (“On my laptop”), where the laptop was (“Right here in front of me”) and to pull it up and read what I had written while she went to someone else for a proper issue statement. She then came back to me for an opportunity to recover ever-so-slightly, before noting that she’ll be coming back to me on another day soon.

Clearly no one has ever accused me of being a genius… :)

That’s all I’ll write tonight in my internet-free world.  Have a great evening everybody! :D

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Reflections on Week 1 of “real” class

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 22, 2009 in Weekend Roundup

Thanks for the handful of panicked text messages I got from folks wondering if something was wrong because I hadn’t posted an entry for the night, I’m alive and well :)

Sorry for not posting something in a more timely fashion — my friend 雅雅 and I decided to try and replicate my grandmother’s recipe for spaghetti, and after eating a very large and tasty dinner (the experiment was a success) I ended up falling asleep.  Last thing I remember was watching “Locked and Loaded with R. Lee Ermey” on the History Channel, wondering where I put my laptop so I could write my post for the day… then my cell phone alarm going off at 6am >_<


Now that Week 1 of “real class” is finished, there are a few things I’ve realized so far:

  1. Law school isn’t nearly as bad as I expected.  I’m sure it will get worse throughout the semester, but looking at the reading lists the volume of material is easily readable and comprehensible for a typical law student (I can’t speak for non-traditional students like folks raising families or students working 20-hour a week jobs — y’all are better people than I am!)

  2. It’s also a lot of fun.  Having worked in a variety of law-related areas back when I was a college dropout, finally understanding the intricacies of the legal arguments I used to read in briefs or hear in oral arguments is like a bunch of little lightbulbs turning on in your head.  And having classmates who I know are smarter than I am makes the debates that much more fun because of the challenge.

  3. Legal Reasoning & Analysis is going to be my “love/hate” class.  The smaller class size in lab is great to see people’s thought processes up close (including who comes at things from a prosecutorial vs a defense mindset), but the way we’re being taught to break down the applicable rules and case law is totally conflicting with the Computer Scientist in me.  It reminds me of this Dos Equis commercial and “speaking French… in Russian.”  More on LRA in a later entry.

  4. Not sure if it was total coincidence or fate, but having the Gang of Eight in the back with me makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.  If you’re a 1L, find some friends before everyone cliques up — you’ll be glad you did :)

  5. Even though a few more-seasoned students have told me I’m strange for it (including Delta the 2L), I genuinely like all of my professors. They’ve all got strikingly different personalities: Professor Contracts has a ton of energy for an early morning class and an excellent sense of humor, Mean Dean Green has a sarcastic streak almost as wide as mine, and you’ve already read about Professor Torts and her no-nonsense attitude. Throw in the Traveling Professor (my Property I teacher) and Professor LRA, and the group is providing a well-meshed experience for all of us.

  6. The mere possibility of being a good student again is an intense incentive to perform.  By my last couple semesters at N.C. State, I had so many credit hours between my Computer Science major and minors in Economics and Political Science that I could have failed every class and it wouldn’t  have significantly impacted my GPA… and could have gotten an A+ in all of them with similarly negligible effects.  That’s a recipe for the most hellacious case of senioritis one can experience.  Now I actually enjoying studying again (for now).


That’s it for this entry.  Going to take Saturday off and try to clean up the apartment a bit… including the spaghetti sauce I left on the stove after falling asleep last night.  Have a great day everybody! :D

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Professor Torts unleashed!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 19, 2009 in The 1L Life

I wasn’t even going to write a second entry today given my sadly predictable start to the morning.

But it’s not every day you get to personally witness a homicide…


Supreme Court of TGD, 2009
10 F.2d 747

TDOT, CHIEF JUSTICE.  The victim was the self-esteem of a 1L student (hereafter dubbed “That Guy”), mercilessly decapitated in plain view of about four dozen witnesses.  The accused claims self defense and accordingly has filed a Motion to Dismiss, citing the deceased’s attempted assault on her intelligence.  The incident took place at approximately 2:15pm in Room 102 of the Turner Law Building at NC Central University.

Defendant was teaching her course in Torts I, and had selected That Guy as the student responsible for debriefing the second case of the day (Spivey v. Battaglia, 258 So.2d 815 (1972)).  That Guy sat in silence for at least 45 seconds, to which the Defendant indicated he could “begin at any time.”  That Guy replied he was just trying to open his brief on the case.  Students adjacent to and behind That Guy noticed he was pulling up an incomplete brief provided by the 2L students to 1Ls as a supplement, containing minimal case information.  That Guy proceeded to recite the information contained in the 2L-originated brief.

Defendant asked the victim a series of questions relating to the case, whereupon it became evident That Guy had read none of the material and was simply trying to bluff his way through his experience with the Socratic method of teaching.  Defendant continued questioning, receiving in response the same minimal information reworded in various ways.

Upon realizing the cluelessness of That Guy, the Defendant proceeded to ask a variety of trick questions.  For example, in an incredulous tone she asked if Battaglia did indeed paralyze Spivey with just a one-armed hug around the neck (he had), to which That Guy replied that he “thought she might have fallen down or something afterward that caused it.”  Defendant corrected That Guy and continued with similar questions.

Defense Exhibit A - Note the different colors for Torts (blue) and Property (red)

Defense Exhibit A. Note the different colors for Torts (blue) and Property (red).

After roughly 10 minutes of questioning, That Guy replied that he was sorry and should have been more thorough with his brief.  Defendant replied that he should ignore what is written in his brief and consult his textbook.  The Court notes at this point that the covers of textbooks for 1L students are in different colors as apparent in Defense Exhibit A.

That Guy turned a couple pages in the open book on his desk and began to speak.  Defendant interrupted the deceased before he could utter a word and noted the book on his desk was (by virtue of its red cover) not the Torts textbook.  In a menacing tone Defendant inquired if That Guy was reading for another course in her class, on the second day of said class, when he was clearly unprepared.  Defendant further interrogated That Guy by asking what exactly he was thinking or how exactly he was expecting to get away with responding to Defendant’s questions with text from another book. The verbal exchange between That Guy and Defendant continued for an unknown period of time until That Guy placed his Property textbook in his bookbag. His face as red as a baboon’s hindquarters with a sunburn, the deceased stammered various indeterminable utterances before the Defendant moved on to the next case.

None of the facts entered into evidence in this matter are disputed by the State.  It is apparent to this Court that the deceased read none of the material required for his class.  It is further apparent that he attempted to mislead the Defendant by reciting information from an incomplete brief that he himself had not completed.  It is still further apparent that he did, in fact, attempt to assault the Defendant’s intelligence by then reading the text of a different course’s textbook in search of suitable answers to Defendant’s questioning.

Based on the record before this Court, the cause cannot be sustained.  The Defendant’s Motion is granted.  Charges dismissed.


Advice to current and future 1Ls:

  • Read the material in the syllabus.
  • If you haven’t read the material, confess your sins and accept the penance imposed upon you.
  • Never try to bluff a professor.  They know more than you do.
  • If you’re going to roll the dice and try to bluff a professor, don’t use a canned/incomplete brief… and make sure you have the right textbook on your desk ;)


Good night everybody! :)

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