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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law:/dev/null regularly again”… I log in to the WordPress admin interface… clean out the spam comments and update outdated plugins…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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Maybe one implied the other?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 22, 2012 in The 3L Life

Good evening y’all!

Tonight was our annual 3L Graduation Dinner at NCCU Law, one last chance for the Class of 2012 to get together and enjoy good food, revel in the fact we’re about to graduate, and otherwise have a good time :D

No surveys taken to determine if being a politician qualifies as being in the public sector...

We also announce the winners of our Class Superlatives, things like “Most Likely to be Late to Graduation” and that sort of thing.

And I ended up with two :crack:

Now I’ll concede up front: I don’t think anyone was surprised that I was voted “Most Likely to be a Politician.” Between 1L year as UNCASG President, 2L year as SBA Treasurer, and 3L year as SBA President (plus being Student Senate President and UNCASG President at N.C. State), it’s obvious by now that I really enjoy this stuff and being in a position to help folks.1

The stunner was getting called back up to the stage a second time as the people’s choice for “Most Likely to Work in the Public Sector” :surprised:

Sure, it’s shaping up that will probably be the case — NC SPICE is coming together slowly — but for other folks to think it was a surprise, especially with my not-infrequent rantings against Big Guv’mint (see here and here and here for examples).

I’m a little flattered, very appreciative, but mostly just shocked. Even though it’s “just” a superlative, I’m hoping down the road I’ll be able to live up to them both :)

Until then, have a great night y’all!

  1. Even though I’ve already noted that the odds of me getting elected outside of a college campus are nil… :beatup: []

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Going out on a W

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 1, 2012 in NotFail

It’s been a great night!

This past week has been our annual Law Week activities at the North Carolina Central University School of Law,1  capped tonight with our annual Law Week Banquet where “The Big Five”2 announce the winners of their respective competitions and the SBA elections, praise their outgoing executive boards, listen to the outgoing President give his remarks, and so on.

The banquet this year was notable from the start for completely and totally shattering every single attendance record in existence at the law school over its 73-year history :D

Best-attended banquet in 73 years!

Last semester my Vice President and I came up with some new ideas for improving the event,3 she then put together a stellar agenda/program for the event then she and her planning committee made things happen. With over 210+ people in attendance, we had about 70 or so more people than the previous banquet attendance record.

We were charging folks $20 apiece for tickets ($35 for alumni/faculty/staff) and still had to turn people away! :crack:

The student speakers ran a bit long so a good chunk of those 210+ were gone by the time I gave my (abbreviated) farewell address at the end of the night, but it didn’t matter because my night was made earlier that night…

BECAUSE I FINALLY WON SOMETHING! :spin:

After 2.5 years, I finally got 1st place!

After coming in 3rd place my 1L year with my “Alice in Wonderland” closing, then clawing up to 2nd place last year despite a horrible ambulance-chaser-inspired fact pattern, I finally made it to the top of the dog pile in our 3L closing argument competition (even after screwing up a guy’s last name)! :D

And I didn’t just make it to the top in the trial advocacy stuff — I somehow also got the best oral advocate and best overall awards for our Fall moot court competition, named after Judge TP…

…yes, that’s the same guy who held me in contempt during my final trial in trial practice :beatup:

I’m probably one of the few people who has honestly enjoyed his entire law school career, but after my grades last semester I was bitterly disappointed that I probably won’t be able to graduate with honors. As shallow as it probably sounds, coming in 1st in both of these competitions coupled with having an incredibly successful year at the helm of the SBA helps to lessen the sting ;)

The dog’s pestering me to go outside so I’ll have to cut this entry here, but more to come at some point in the near-term future now that my SBA obligations are winding down. Have a great night y’all! :D

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

  1. A crazy week indeed — my birthday on Monday, a rally that same day about the Trayvon Martin homicide attended by about 250 people from both the law school and undergrad, our annual 1L/2L/3L basketball tournament, nearly a dozen different student organization events including Speed Networking II and symposiums for both of our law reviews, our SBA and class elections on Thursday, and more stuff I’m probably forgetting… :crack: []
  2. The Student Bar Association and the 4 organizations who provide academic credit to their participants: our “regular” law review, our biotechnology and pharmaceutical law review, our Moot Court Board, and our Trial Advocacy Board. []
  3. Including bulk table sales for student organizations: selling 10 seats as a block to the organization itself, then letting the organization resell the tickets to their members at whatever price point they want and keeping whatever they can raise. Capitalism works y’all! []

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Greetings from St. Louis!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 24, 2012 in The 3L Life

I miss blogging regularly y’all :beatup:

Sorry I’ve been gone for another half a month, there’s just been SO MUCH going on. Talking with folks at Sallie Mae and working out a solution to the situation I mentioned a few weeks ago. My last Spring Break (ever!) that was almost entirely devoted to creating a business plan for NC SPICE. My alma mater making it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, then advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for only the 2nd time since 1986.1

The list goes on, and it’s long. And I’m somehow still somewhat afloat academically! :crack:

The view from the cheap seats at the Sweet Sixteen

With things going reasonably well — and not knowing for sure if/when NC State will advance in the NCAA Tournament again — I cashed in every single reward point I had on my American Express and booked a flight out to Missouri for the Sweet Sixteen. I got here on Friday just before heading to the game with 雅雅 (which we lost :beatup: ) and then spent today (1) catching up on sleep, (2) grading moot court briefs for the 2Ls trying out for next year’s team, and (3) exploring parts of St. Louis starting with the City Museum.2

Tomorrow I’m planning to head over to the Gateway Arch, and might swing by a casino if time permits just to say I saw one :)

That’s it for tonight’s entry because it’s already late and I’ve still got more work to do. Just wanted to say I miss y’all and I miss following the blawgosphere, talking on Twitter, and all that intellectual stuff — hoping to pick up again some time soon!

Have a great rest of the weekend! :D

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

  1. I was 5 back then. For reference, I turn 31 on Monday… []
  2. AWESOME place! Though mostly designed for kids, it’s a serious workout for adults too. []

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Shifting gears

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

Hey y’all! :)

This is the first Saturday I’ve been home since January 28th and, aside from Samson seeming confused about why I’m still around, it’s actually felt great being able to sit around the apartment and catch up on the mundane parts of life like laundry and homework and such1 :beatup:

It has also let me shift gears into “soon to be graduated” mode — just 70 days until graduation day! :D — and start wrapping up the last few projects I’ve got left before I have to venture back into the real world.

For better or worse, that includes winding down one of the most successful SBA terms in law school history.  Our elections interest meetings happened on Thursday and filing for office is open now, but before the new folks take over we’ve still got a second Speed Networking event coming up at the end of the month, a completely new format for our annual Law Week Banquet, the last two meetings of the Presidents’ Roundtable group we created back in August, and of course prepping for the actual transition itself.2

Jillian Mack '12 and Travis Ellis '13 with NCCU Law's 2nd consecutive Bronze Key Award

Speaking of SBA, one thing I wanted to mention a couple weeks ago but didn’t have a chance:  apparently NCCU Law has the most ABA members of any law school in the ABA-LSD’s Fourth Circuit :surprised:

Yes, you read that correctly. Not the “biggest percent increase in membership” like we got last year in Williamsburg3 but the largest number of members overall.

Now under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t make a big deal about it…

…but we’re one of the smaller law schools in the Fourth Circuit. :crack:

Consider as an example:  Charlotte Law, home of the ABA-LSD’s Fourth Circuit Governor, has a 1L class that alone is bigger than all of NCCU Law. And yet somehow we have more people in the ABA than they do.

It blows my mind. For srs.

This is also now the third time EIC has been recognized for her work as our ABA Representative! She was first highlighted as one of the ABA’s Top 9 reps nationwide back in August, and then recognized indirectly in the December 2011 issue of Student Lawyer magazine for the awesome Speed Networking event she envisioned and spearheaded.

Snippet from Student Lawyer magazine on NCCU Law's EIC-created Speed Networking event

Now she’s racked up another honor just two months later. With colleagues like that, no one should wonder why I love my job ;)

I also have to recognize our 2L SBA rep (who I don’t have a nickname for yet) for his willingness to drive to Charlotte for the meeting while EIC and I were both tied up with TYLA obligations. I remember what it was like heading to the Williamsburg meeting last year, and being willing to give up a weekend for this stuff is a much-appreciated sacrifice.

It’s also the first time in NCCU Law history that we’ve had people at every single ABA meeting for an entire year:  the Fourth Circuit meeting in Williamsburg under last year’s SBA, the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto, the ABA-LSD “Super Circuit” meeting down in Charleston, the ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, and now this year’s Fourth Circuit meeting in Charlotte.

And keep in mind all of this year’s successes — not just the Bronze Key, but the Speed Networking event, the standing-room-only Access to Justice / Civil Gideon panel,4 the packed judicial clerkship forum, the record-setting mentor/mentee program our Vice President reorganized, the list goes on and on — all of it has been done despite a -40% cut to the SBA budget back at the very start of the fiscal year.

To get all this stuff done in a year is groundbreaking in its own right, but to do it on a shoestring budget where we had the least amount of SBA funding since George H.W. Bush was President?

There’s a reason I consider us the best SBA in the country. B-)

Anyhow, enough of me crowing about my colleagues and all the successes they’ve achieved on behalf of the law school :)  I’m working on the second edition of this S.P.I.C.E. proposal and heading to bed soon thereafter.

Thanks for enduring this entry, and have a great night! :D

  1. Including randomly reviewing law:/dev/null stats — turns out Sunday’s entry from Washington DC was our 500th post! []
  2. All while The Chief is getting ready to step down, a search for his successor is ongoing, and the state’s education-gutting General Assembly is coming back to town… []
  3. Something I had planned to write about until my Gmail got nuked:beatup: []
  4. Another EIC production! []

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Greetings from New Orleans!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 2, 2012 in The 3L Life

Hi from the Big Easy y’all! :D

1 more state added to the list!

EIC and I are in town for the 2012 ABA Midyear Meeting, taking place here in New Orleans from February 1st through 7th.

Our arrival here today marks the first time in NCCU Law history our SBA has had someone present at all four Law Student in Division that happen during the year: the Circuit meeting in the Spring, the Annual Meeting in the Summer, the “Super Circuit” meeting in the Fall, and now this Midyear Meeting in the Winter :spin:

I’m totally exhausted from my 8am Negotiation class and 12pm test in NC Distinctions, so I’m heading to bed; more to come tomorrow. Have a great night!

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

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The Chief announces his retirement

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 8, 2011 in Randomness

After spending the past 7 years at the helm of the North Carolina Central University School of Law, the Chief is stepping down when his 5-year contract expires at the end of this academic year.

From today’s article in the Durham Herald-Sun:

Pierce to leave NCCU law school
By Neil Offen
noffen@heraldsun.com; 419-6646

December 8, 2011

DURHAM — Raymond Pierce, who has lead the N.C. Central University School of Law to increased funding and national prominence, is leaving his post as dean to take a position with a Raleigh law firm.

Pierce, who has been dean at NCCU since 2005, will join Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough as a partner at the end of the academic year.

“It has been a great honor and pleasure to have worked with so many outstanding people at NCCU,” said Pierce. “Although I will greatly miss being at the university, I look forward to being at Nelson Mullins and returning to the practice of law.”

Before becoming dean, Pierce was a partner at the firm of Baker Hostetler where he represented clients in the steel, energy, banking and private equity business.

During Pierce’s tenure, the law school has seen increased applications, enrollment and alumni giving. The school twice has been rated No. 1 for best value Law School and has been included in a top 10 list of most popular law schools.

In 2008, Pierce led a successful effort to equalize state funding between the law school at UNC Chapel Hill and NCCU, the state’s only two public law schools. Pierce also has elevated the prominence of the law school by securing visits from dignitaries such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Lots more info in the Durham Herald-Sun article, so make sure to check it out when you have time.

Many of us have known this was coming since at least August when the Chief all-but-announced the news at the first SBA Presidents’ Roundtable meeting. Even so, it makes me incredibly nervous for the next few years at NCCU Law.

Any time you’ve got a transition of leadership at a public institution it creates a window for slashing budgets and making other changes that established leaders had previously blocked. See, e.g., what’s happened to the consolidated University of North Carolina the instant former University President Erskine Bowles stepped down, with billions (with a ‘B’) slashed from the University budget and multiple 4-figure tuition increases at constituent institutions across the state slated to take effect next academic year.

It’s also commonplace for educational institutions to alternate between more “business”-oriented leaders and more “academic”-oriented leaders. The UNC system is a good example with academic Bill Friday followed by businessman Dick Spangler followed by academic Molly Broad followed by businessman Erskine Bowles followed now by former Davidson College President Tom Ross.

If NCCU Law follows that pattern, we’re likely to get someone academically oriented as our next Dean… and I’m uncertain (at this point at least) if that’ll be a wise decision in a period of budget austerity. Students want someone friendly toward them who will focus on polishing the academic credentials of the school, but money is what helps make all that happen. We need someone who can twist arms at the General Assembly, convince alumni to open their wallets, and make sure tuition stays low so NCCU Law can continue honoring its historical mission to reach out to underserved communities and dominating the cost-conscious sector of legal education in North Carolina.

But that’s just my $.02, and I could be wrong.1 :beatup:

Congratulations to the Chief on his new job! And let’s hope whoever determines his successor doesn’t screw up ;)

Have a great night y’all!

  1. On a completely and totally unrelated side note, this continues the weird pattern of my time in Student Government coinciding with people leaving their jobs :crack:  NC State‘s Chancellor Jim Oblinger stepped down at the end of my time as Student Senate President, UNC-system President Erskine Bowles stepped down at the end of my tenure as UNCASG President, and now the Dean will be stepping down at the end of my tenure as SBA President. Not sure if that’s good or bad timing on my part… []

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Those days when you should have just gone back to bed…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 2, 2011 in Fail

LDOC1 and SBA’s last Presidents’ Roundtable meeting were Wednesday, NCCU Law‘s class-free “Reading Day” was yesterday, and as of today our Fall final exam period has officially started.

So my dishwasher decided to commemorate the event by exploding.2  :crack:

I’ve got a Tax final due tomorrow at 8am that I really needed to finish this afternoon, so I could study for the Sales & Secured Transactions final happening at 2pm. Instead I got to spend time cleaning up nasty water, airing out the apartment, and trying to convince the dog we weren’t getting bombed by fighter jets.

No clue what prompted the breakdown either because I’m not missing any dishes. Reverse serendipity maybe? :beatup:

  1. Last Day of Class for those not familiar with the acronym :) []
  2. It wasn’t a bona fide “boom” explosion so much as the sound you get when you throw a piece of metal into a running high-power motor, complete with fine shards of metal flying all over the place… []

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Should I just go solo after graduation? (Part II)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 29, 2011 in The 3L Life

Sunday night I posted an entry outlining my rationale for seriously considering solo/SmallLaw practice after I (hopefully) graduate from NCCU Law on May 12th, 2012.

And yes, I keep a running countdown of the 165-in-151ish-minutes days until I’m done with school ;)

This entry goes over some of the pros and cons I’ve mulled over a bit as I tossed this idea around in my head these last couple weeks. It’s not intended to be an exhaustive list, and our commenters from the last entry had links I need to review with info I haven’t checked out yet (it’s on the post-exam to-do list).

I’m writing it down now to (i) get feedback from you readers and any current/aspiring solos who happen to stop by, and (ii) provide a record for myself so I don’t forget :beatup:

We’ll start with the risks/cons/downsides, because frankly right now they scare me more than the rewards/pros/upsides…

T.’s Initial Reasons AGAINST Going Solo After Graduation:

  • Risk of shortchanging clients due to inexperience: This is far and away my biggest worry — I don’t want to be doing “on the job training” when someone else’s interests are at stake and risk screwing up as a result. Maybe it’s just not-a-lawyer-yet naiveté that I’ll outgrow, but the risk of someone paying me for something and getting less-than-perfect representation just really unnerves me. It’s one thing to go solo after working in a firm where you’ve had a chance to have other people looking over your shoulder for a few years, but I’d literally have nothing but clinical experience to guide me if I went solo right out of the gate.
  • How are bills getting paid again?: Second issue priority-wise is finding revenue those first few months out. I know I could manage money frugally enough and hustle hard enough to build up a financially adequate client base over the long-term, but have no clue at all how I’d keep the lights on from August through February.
  • There’s a lot of @#$%ing paperwork: Incorporating. Insurance. Leases. Taxes. Contracts. Employees one day, with all the payroll stuff that goes with it. Making contingency plans for clients in case I die unexpectedly. There’s a lot of paperwork and related stuff that has -0- actual relation to the law part of practicing law, that I’d not only have to knock out up-front if I started my own firm but also monitor regularly for eternity. And after already becoming a criminal because I forgot a postage stamp, I’m not exactly enthused by those obligations.
  • The Triangle has several metric tons of attorneys: Although I’m not categorically averse to moving elsewhere in North Carolina, most of my network and support structure are here in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area… along with what seems like every other attorney in the state :beatup: Being a new entrant in an established marketplace is a difficult challenge without some kind of hook/niche I could stake out.
  • I’d need a secretary…: This ties in to the 2nd and 3rd issues above. Given my own personal shortcomings, I’d need someone on staff to look over my shoulder and make sure paperwork gets completed, calls get answered, appointments don’t get double-booked, and so on. But I have no clue how I’d be able to afford them until I’ve got a decent stream of clients coming in.
  • …but I’m a big teddy bear when it comes to critiquing/firing people: My management skills also apparently need work. I’ve been told that I’m stellar at motivating people, getting a team to get things done, that sort of stuff; I’m also brutal when people are so glaringly incompetent that they have to be canned. On the other hand, I’ve also been told I’ve let people remain in positions long after they should have been fired when they’re less incompetent and more just lazy, instead hoping they’ll shape up. Not sure I’m sufficiently dispassionate to make the tough decisions on disciplining/firing people.

So that’s the first batch of reasons why me going solo would be a bad idea. Now for the counterweight:

T.’s Initial Reasons FOR Going Solo After Graduation:

  • After 13 years in NC, I’ve got a fairly wide network: The main justification for starting a business of some kind, be it law or otherwise, is that I’ve been incredibly blessed to meet a boatload of people since I moved to North Carolina way back in 1998. I know folks from my first time at N.C. State, the places I worked over the 5 years I was a college dropout and political activist, my second time at N.C. State, and everyone I’ve crossed paths with in my roles as Student Senate President, UNCASG President, and SBA President here at the law school. These folks, and the folks they know, would be the first step in a potential client pool.
  • I’ve got a talent for building things: It’s something reflected thoroughly in my personality (at least in every personality test I’ve taken). Whether it’s my brief stint as a professional web developer back in the early 2000s, restructuring Student Governments, writing a blawg for a couple years, or something else — I greatly enjoy (and am at least marginally skilled at) building organizations. The whole “vision thing” hasn’t been a problem yet.
  • Excellent support at NCCU Law and NCSU: Part of my reluctance to leave the Triangle is knowing I’ve got a top-notch set of faculty and staff I can ask for information or ideas if I really need it. It’s an ironic by-product of being a less-than-stellar student academically but otherwise a reasonably acceptable human being :)
  • Free access to 3 different libraries: State law requires that library facilities at UNC-system institutions be open to the public during “regular” operating hours, which includes NCSU, UNCCH, and NCCU all here in the Triangle.  There’s also a requirement that the law libraries at NCCU Law and UNCCH Law have kiosks for public use of Wexis as well. I could save a ton on legal research just by using the resources made available through my tax dollars.
  • No significant monetary commitments right now: I don’t have a mortgage, my car’s paid off (even though it breaks down regularly), I’m unmarried, and the only dependent living in my apartment has four legs and barks at people. For the past 2 years I’ve lived off less than $30,000 and been more-or-less-OK financially. I’d certainly like to make more than that — especially with student loan payments coming up — but I’m not addicted to a huge salary so I’ve got some flexibility to take calculated risks right now.
  • I am my own IT Department: If there’s an upside to taking 6 years to get a 4-year computer science degree, it’s being able to handle tech needs on my own without hiring an IT guy :beatup:
  • Freedom: The biggest upside to going the solo/SmallLaw route is having freedom to do whatever. If I want to create a specialty practice, I can. If I want to go a general practice route, I can. If I want to randomly change what I’m practicing entirely, I can do that too. It ensures I’m never more than a single decision away from continuing to enjoy what I do for a living.

So that’s my initial set of pros/cons as of tonight. I’m sure there will be many more down the road, but for now if feel free to share your thoughts at your leisure! :D

Thanks and have a great night!

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From the law:/dev/null archives on me going solo after graduation:

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Should I just go solo after graduation? (Part I)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 27, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening folks! Hope all of you had a very festive and delicious Thanksgiving holiday! :D

On my end I made the (academically questionable) decision to go visit Nan & Pops for a few days, followed by lunch with 雅雅 on Saturday and dinner with one of my former colleagues/employees from UNCASG on Saturday night. The times in between have been spent steadily working on law school homework1 but I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I needed to get done.

But frankly I also needed the mental break so I’ll accept the scholastic consequences :beatup:

Part of the holiday conversations included the $700.00 I have to shell out to the NC Board of Law Examiners on the 1st of this coming year,2 my current lack of paid employment for the Christmas break, and figuring out what I’m going to do after I’m graduated and licensed. Long-time readers of law:/dev/null might recall I was hoping to join the USMC JAG Corps before breaking my leg and failing the physical fitness test, with backup plans to go to Officer Candidate School during 2L summer getting shelved when I immersed myself in activities like SBA, trial team, and earning a decent GPA. I still like CrimLaw and could make a decent living as an ADA, but North Carolina’s finances are a mess and because of it there’s a glut of qualified applicants for few ADA openings.

So while I still plan on looking into the criminal prosecution route, I’ve recently found myself seriously marinating on something I had never seriously entertained before this year (seriously): should I just go solo after graduation?

The seed for that idea got planted in the week before the phenomenally successful (and first-ever) Speed Networking event that EIC and the SBA put together here at NCCU Law. Prof Ks asked when I was going to run for Governor because he was impressed with the stuff SBA had been doing; Prof PILO thought becoming a politician would be a waste of potential, and instead suggested I should “go be a CEO for one of these big corporations and make a ton of money” then become a philanthropist.

Both perfectly acceptable options… but neither involved being an ADA :crack:

Then about 3 weeks ago came the water, when over the course of that week I ended up getting 7 different requests for legal help that I had to forward to our legal clinic (2 drug arrests, a speeding ticket, a landlord/tenant dispute, a juvenile issue, a car contract / lemon law question, and patent/business idea inquiry). That’s on top of roughly a dozen or so various other requests I’ve referred to the Clinic over the past 2 years, along with the true oddities like getting calls for legal help from Mexico.

Granted, I know I wouldn’t have been competent to handle all of those issues even if I was licensed. But after years of meeting people through Student Government, UNCASG, and now the SBA, it reminded me that there are a lot of people with legal problems on any given day who need someone competent to advise them.

I’ve gotta get back to studying so I’ll clip the entry here, but I’ve designated it as “Part I” because I’ll be looking for feedback over the next couple months. Part II is in the queue, outlining some of the pros and cons I’ve already scribbled out when it comes to me potentially hanging a shingle after graduation.

Have a great night y’all, and good luck with the week ahead! :)

  1. Even foregoing watching the biggest comeback in NCSU football history  :cry: []
  2. And the extra +$125.00 to take the essay portion on the bar exam on a computer :roll:   []

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