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This whole law school “competition” thing…

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

…is a complete and total farce. jsyk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It turned out to be a prophetic conversation.

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

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

::cue scratching record sound effect::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The (imaginary) “Big Fish” vs “Small Fish” divide…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 10, 2009 in Randomness

Earlier this morning I was talking with a section-mate about yesterday’s entry on my IRS mess, and he brought up my loss in the 1L SBA Rep election to ask why I wasn’t bothered about it — especially given my deep-seated competitiveness streak.

There are a few reasons why I wasn’t surprised or upset:  above all I didn’t earn the victory (my opponents campaigned harder than I did); I think both of the winners are competent and will do a great job; and I have a habit of failing first-time campaigns, losing races at NC State both pre-dropout and post-return.1

But I’m also still at least a marginally well-sized “fish” in the law school aquarium (at least until April 30th :) ).

People seem to have an almost pathological habit of trying to sort and rank the folks around them.  It’s part of why we have law school rankings in the first place, even though they’re not exactly paragons of logical selection.

The problem is that creating a fictitious pecking order in law school ignores a fundamental reality of human life — everyone’s better at something than someone else.

Take the Gang of Eight as an example.  Without going through everyone in total detail, in our group we’ve got a former Student Body President, a member of the armed services, a musician, and a business owner.  Multiple people have multiple degrees apiece.  Several of them play several sports.  And as far as I know all of them had a higher college GPA than I did.

So who are the “big fish” in the group?  It depends.  If you need to lobby a politician, talk to DMoff for tips.  Write a love song?  Rockstar’s your guy.  Can’t fix your broken Microsoft Windows installation?  My CSC degree and I will be glad to help you (or you could just do us both a favor and buy a Mac ;)).

And remember we’re just 8 people out of a 1L class of nearly 200.  That’s not even getting into the academic über-achievers, and the different subjects where each of them will have their own respective strengths.

I consider myself fortunate that the North Carolina Central University School of Law doesn’t seem to have the “gunner” types you constantly hear about at places like LSD.  But even if we did, those types of folks inevitably lose out to everyone else because they have a fundamentally wrong zero-sum view of the world.  There are a *lot* of different skills and experiences that carry weight out in the “real world,” and no one will ever significantly outperform everyone else on more than a couple of them at most.

And if anyone significantly underperformed everyone else on those same metrics, odds are they’re not in law school.

So instead of stressing about my class rank or fuming over an election loss, I’d much rather support my classmates and enjoy being in the presence of people who do things better than I do.

Besides, I know I’m usually the first one they’ll call when their computers gets hit by the latest virus ;)  Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. In the post-return case, being the 4th place finisher in a 3-seat Student Senate race — losing to a guy who didn’t even campaign.  And who, ironically, had become one of my best friends and biggest supporters when I ran for Student Senate President the next year. []

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TDot’s Mailbag v2.0

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 7, 2009 in Mail

Before diving in, I just want to note I ran out of nails while finally building those bookshelves today. Nails.  Shiny 7/8″ nails.

I didn’t even know that was possible.  Nails are like the pennies of the carpentry business: they’re generally worthless individually, you inadvertently amass hundreds of them in a fairly short amount of time from totally different projects, and if you ever need one but can’t find any in the usual locations all you typically have to do is go poking around the house.  But there I was in the middle of shelf building, about to nail in a base board to a drawer, I reach for another nail, and… nothing.  I go to the toolbox, and… nothing.  I look around the apartment, in the kitchen, in the closet, in the storage unit, and… nothing.

My mind was blown as I had to go on a building hiatus to trek up the street to Lowe’s and buy a 1lb box of new ones.  Should be another few years before I run out again though :)

—===—

Anyhow, moving on:  for those of you who have been supporting this blog since the beginning, or new folks who happened to trudge through the archives, every now and then I take the questions I’ve gotten via email / Facebook message / text / etc and throw them into a blog entry — usually when I’m either lacking 1) time or 2) content to write something better ;)  I actually got 2 LSAT-related questions in the same day yesterday, so I’m combining it with 2 earlier questions for a second installment of TDot’s Mailbag:

***

Q: Ginger1 asks:

So did you, like, you know, have a bunch of study materials and stuff for the LSAT?  When did you start studying before taking it?

A: The only thing I had for preparation was the TestPrep book or whatever it’s called that you can get from LSAC. I ordered it when I ordered my LSAT admission ticket.

The book still sits unopened on my bookshelf though because I never actually studied for the LSAT.  The lack of studying wasn’t intentional, and I don’t recommend it — at all.  But in my case I had an academic backup plan in place (if I didn’t make it into any law schools I’d stay at N.C. State and start a Ph.D. in Economics), so the urge to prepare tended to evaporate if I was stressed about other stuff.  My plan was to take the test just to experience it, then re-take it this past June and start law school in Fall 2010.

For the folks I worked with at N.C. State who are going the law route, I’d give yourself at least a month or two to prepare — and the best preparation is taking an old test under the same type of rigid time constraints you’ll have during the test itself.  I’m fairly certain my score took a hit since I had to guess on the last half-dozen questions in the logic games section, all because I did a poor job managing my time.  You’ll want to get a feel for the time you’ll have to work with before going in to the test.  And make sure not to stress :)

***

Q: Michael, a fellow blawger, writes:

How well did you do on the LSAT?

A: Well enough to have options.  I don’t really tell folks my LSAT score because it was an unexpected blessing I owe more to good fortune than to preparation.  That and it’s a bit priggish — it’s kind of like winning the lottery and constantly going around telling your friends “oh, by the way, did I mention to you I won a million dollars yesterday?”

And coincidentally the LSAT has no bearing on the traits that make the best lawyers ;)

***

Q: Jennifer sent an email wanting a political update:

How did you do on your election for 1L SBA representative?

A: I’m 99.9% sure I lost.  None of the classmates I’ve asked have been able to find a listing of all the results, but at least one candidate wrote on her Facebook that she got elected so I’m assuming the SBA folks just emailed the winners.

I was lucky to meet some some cool people during campaigning though, so I’m more than satisfied :)

***

Q: We’ll close with one of the Legal Eagles of the North Carolina Central University School of Law, Robert, who happened to find the blog on his Facebook wall and asks:

You keep mentioning this Gang of Eight. How’d you come up with this group? And who’s in it?

A: I didn’t really come up with it intentionally, we all just happened to sit in the same vicinity and realized none of us were uptight gunner types.  There were only 7 of us that originally talked during classes, but given the varying political ideologies in the group I was determined to tie in a reference to this Gang of Eight, so we adopted Pimp Daddy.  Their company definitely helps me get through the day :)

Here are the nicknames and a little background for the group members (listed alphabetically):

  1. DMoff:  mountain man who loves baseball, was Student Body President at his alma mater, and the only person I knew well going in as a 1L with me at NCCU after working together in the UNC Association of Student Governments
  2. Karl(a):  I had a different nickname originally for this young lady, but in our very first discussion about something other than law the first thing she says to me is “I’m actually a big fan of Karl Marx”… I almost had a heart attack, but enjoyed the ensuing debate :)
  3. Monica:  Love & Basketball reference for the ball players out there; her personality reminds me of the main character
  4. MP:  profoundly unoriginal nickname choice on my part — a Military Policeman in one of the Armed Services; big sports fan and graduate of UNC Wilmington (but loves UNC Chapel Hill athletics)
  5. Pimp Daddy:  fairly quiet guy, business-like and definitely “old school” (e.g. takes all his notes by hand); picked that particular name because he looks similar to an actual pimp I met once when I worked for the Wake County court system
  6. Rico:  reference to the 1991 hit song Rico Suave; a very chill guy who several of my classmates are secretly swooning over
  7. Rockstar:  an independent musician (cool) who knows an insane amount of stuff about various topics like sports (also cool)… but is a graduate and admirer of UNC Chapel Hill (fail)
  8. TDot:  yours truly of course :D

—===—

That’s everything I’ve got for tonight.  Have a great evening folks! :D

  1. Remember these are all pseudonyms, picked at random from a website that lists common American names.  Don’t be shy about writing in! :) []

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This is why I don’t read for fun…

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

[Edit @ 1:36pm: apparently while revising this thing a few hours ago I somehow deleted half the post and turned off comments without realizing it — added the rest of the post back in and turned comments and trackbacks back on.  Sorry for the confusion to those of you who already read it >_<  –TDot]

—===—

My day so far:

1:32am: Stay up late reading the federal and NC Rules of Civil Procedure for fun, because I’m pretty fascinated by process.  Forget that I tend to oversleep when I go to bed late.  Download some tracks from iTunes for a new mixtape, set alarm on cell phone, and go to bed.

7:03am:  Open eyes, thinking it’s only 6 and I can snooze for a bit.  Notice the sunlight is brighter than normal in my room.  Wonder why my alarm hasn’t gone off.

7:04am: “Shit…”

7:06:13am: Realize I can’t recall alarm going off.  Roll over to check clock on night stand; blocked by something so I can’t see all the numbers, but can tell the first number is clearly not a ‘6’.

7:06:16am: “…shit…”

7:06:58am: Find cell phone underneath my pillow with my daily news email from the Chronicle of Higher Education opened.  Clearly I’ve already been awake at some point, cut off my alarm, and gone back to bed.

7:07:01am: “…shit!”.  Almost break the sound barrier jumping out of the bed.

7:10am: Decide to skip wearing slacks and a polo for jeans and a t-shirt.  Make up the bed.
7:11am: Change my mind on the jeans and a t-shirt.  Pull out slacks and a collarless polo. Start burning the new mixtape CD while the iron heats up.  Iron clothes.

7:15am: Realize I’ll have to skip breakfast.  Jump in the shower before waiting for water to heat up.  Curse.
7:33am: Stomach reminds me it doesn’t approve skipping breakfast.  Go throw 2 waffles in the toaster before getting dressed.
7:35am: Flip waffles and press the lever again.  Toaster only has 2 settings: “barely warm” and “charcoal.”  Note to self:  get new toaster.

7:37am: Start eating waffle by hand, without syrup (one of the greatest culinary injustices possible).  Grab keys, cards, phone holster, sunglasses.  Realize this is probably one of those reasons why the food gods invented paper plates.

7:39am: Throw half-eaten waffle and uneaten waffle on a plate, grab a can of Diet Mountain Dew, grab bookbag and books, scoop everything all up and run downstairs.  Awkwardly.

7:43am: Hit first red light (1 out of 1).  Curse.
7:46am: Hit second red light (2 out of 3).  Curse.
7:48:15am: Hit third red light (3 out of 6).  Curse.
7: 48:46am: Hit fourth red light (4 out of 7).  Curse.

7:50am: For a rap and hip-hop guy, conclude that Nickelback is actually pretty good to blast early in the morning.

7:53am:  Hit fifth red light (5 out of 13).  Don’t curse upon realization I’m slightly earlier than yesterday, when I had to sprint from the parking lot to make it in the class right as Professor LRA was getting ready to shut the door.

7:57am:  Get to side door of law school.  Remember that said door requires card access.  Use Karate Kid crane technique to balance books / soda / pocket contents and swipe the keypad.

7:58am:  Make it to class with 2 minutes to spare. w00t.

8:09am:  Conclude Professor LRA is a good high-energy professor for an 8am class, but she’s flying through these PowerPoint slides.  Couldn’t even finish reading the text on that last one.
8:10am:  Rockstar (one of my new 1L friends who sits in the back of the room with our group I’m starting to call the Gang of Eight) raises his hand and tells the professor she moved too quickly past that last slide.
8:11am:  Rockstar gets gently chewed out by Professor LRA. “I’ll post the PowerPoint on TWEN.  You blindly typing this all down doesn’t do anything.  Just sit there and listen. Let this marinate.”  She might want to have a conversation with Dr. Psyche about learning styles.

8:55am:  Done with LRA.  Grabbing a Diet Mountain Dew from the machine downstairs, posting this entry, and waiting for Civil Procedure to start… so far my favorite course, both for the content and the professor (already dubbed by some students as Mean Dean Green — no pseudonym I could think up would do justice to something that rhymes that well :))

—===—

May or may not post another entry today, I’m already feeling behind even though I’m up on the readings.  Guess you’ll just have to come back later to find out ;) (or just use an RSS reader :P)

One last note:  this city is my home now (you might notice it if you read the Drudge Report).  I’m going to love this place :D

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