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Old habits die hard…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 21, 2014 in The After-3L Life

To the extent not doing something can be considered habit-forming, I slipped back into my old habit of not updating law:/dev/null on a regular basis — I wrote a “stub” for a handful of entries, never actually finished them, and now they’re just not nearly as interesting as I thought they were at the time. :beatup:

So rather than an in-depth entry this go-round, I’m gonna go with one of those bullet-point updates I use in situations where I’ve been gone awhile:1

  • A couple weeks ago I agreed to join a classmate at the veterinarian for moral support as she had one of her dogs put to sleep. :( This particular pooch was in horrible shape — cataracts, tumors, seizures, unable to eat, tremendous weight loss — so euthanasia “made sense.” But it still ranks among the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Ever. Over the past 33 years I’ve lost pets, I’ve lost friends, I’ve been to funerals; the pain from those losses is real, but totally unrivaled compared to being inches away watching as a living thing takes its last breath. In her case I was horrible as moral support because I’m pretty sure I cried more than she did (and it wasn’t even my dog). Not an experience I want to repeat.
  • That same afternoon I came back to the TGD Law headquarters to resume work, and met my first bona fide batsh*t crazy prospective client. He was referred to me by another lawyer,2 said he had an issue that fell squarely within my realm of expertise, and had $5,000.00 in-hand ready to pay me — until I started asking him questions, his responses threw up red flags, I asked more questions, and got more nonsense. Essentially what he wanted me to do was get myself disbarred trying to use the legal system to pursue a foreclosure-related scam, with nearly a dozen different justifications already debunked in North Carolina appellate law that he heard at some seminar he paid to attend in Florida. It was a horribly awkward consultation, and he was mystified when I told him I couldn’t take his money and then sent him on his way.3 After nearly 2 years in practice I hadn’t met anyone with a truly outlandish claim; he is now officially at the top of the list.
  • Speaking of TGD Law: I convinced two of my NCCU Law classmates to come work for the firm starting this past Monday :eek: Shutterbug is now on board helping with the business law side of the practice, as well as the Class of 2013 President Miss ርእሰብሔር helping with the higher education / criminal defense side.4 It’s slightly nerve-wracking knowing I’ve now got a team of people to look after. We’ve all got complementary strengths, though, so I’m hoping it will lead to greater success for all of us :)
  • That same day, I was walking back to my car after lunch with one of my good friends from my UNCASG days (the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel reporter assigned to cover ASG at the time). As we get near the parking deck we happen to pass two uniformed officers with the Durham Police Department. I say hello as we pass, one of the officers mentions he likes the NCCU Law baseball cap I’m wearing,5 and after a few more paces I hear the same officer shout “Doucette, right?” For an ever-so-brief instant, my mind raced to figure out what I could possibly have done to merit me getting arrested.6 :beatup: Turns out he’s a third-year student in the law school’s evening program who had visited law:/dev/null on occasion and wanted to let me know. Felt pretty cool after the fact but I was definitely nervous beforehand!
  • Even though I’m in my mid-30s, in my mind I’m still somewhere in my mid-20s. Then Q.T. sent me a text earlier tonight to let me know she’s the new Student Government advisor at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics and wants me to do my training program for them in the Fall. And I realized: Son of TDot is now the same age as most NCSSMers :crack: I’ll be training kids who are quite literally young enough to be my own children…
  • I also spent the afternoon helping conduct the character and fitness interviews for the 14th Judicial District Bar :) I don’t think I ever finished the post I meant to write way back in 2012 about my own experience, but it was marginally terrifying at the time — so I thought I’d volunteer in the hopes of making it not terrifying for this year’s batch of applicants. It was a fun experience, plus I got to serve with another lawyer I met for the first time who handles an area of law I will never touch if I can help it (ZombieLaw). I’m looking forward to doing it again next year if they need me.
  • I’ve also got an incredibly important brief due Monday that I haven’t started yet :beatup: So time to close this entry out so I can get to bed and start tomorrow!

That’s the extent of what’s been new and exciting in my life. I hope all of you are doing well, and enjoy the rest of your weekend! :D

  1. Though I’ll note for the record that “gone awhile” this time around was only 2 weeks, which is much better than my average absence last year ;) []
  2. Who I already called an *sshole for sending him to me… []
  3. I’ll admit, my bank account was mystified too :beatup: []
  4. There’s a better-than-half chance I’ve butchered this as a nickname. She’s an Ethiopian-American — even writes a blog on her experiences — so I tried to find the Amharic word for “president” and use that. Hopefully I got it right, but if not someone can correct me :) []
  5. The only downside to summertime for me: potential sunburn on my bald scalp requiring the near-constant wearing of a hat… no matter the temperature. []
  6. My Facebook page tends to have quite a few anti-government posts on it, which inevitably includes a string of anti-police posts as well. []

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Throwback [Sunday]: Wolfpack takeover of NCCU Law Graduation 2012

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 27, 2014 in NotFail

(I know the Twitter thing is to post pictures on Throwback Thursday, but I’m trying to get back in the blogging habit and needed something to write about tonight :P )

Back on Friday I had the high honor of presenting one of my good friends to the Court for her attorney oath of office.

Madame President1 made the smart play and had spent her post-graduation time making real money in the immigration department of a local corporate behemoth. Obscene wealth notwithstanding, she decided now was the time to get sworn in and dive into bona fide lawyer stuff.

Me introducing Madame President to the Court (Photo courtesy of Shutterbug)

Me introducing Madame President to the Court (Photo courtesy of Shutterbug)

As part of the process here in North Carolina, anyone wanting to take the oath of office that enables him or her to practice law first has to be introduced in open court by a member of the bar who can attest to the person’s good character (including uttering magic words like “has passed the bar exam”).

It’s also appropriate to highlight some of the applicant’s achievements, so I noted she had distinguished herself as a senior member of our Moot Court Board, the Articles Editor for our Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Law Review, and of course was elected by her peers to serve as the Class of 2012 President.

I also mentioned our shared alma maters and mutual love for all things North Carolina State University, which reminded me of a story the NCSU Alumni Association did on us (and our two valedictorians) back during graduation time.

I went through the law:/dev/null archives and realized I never actually mentioned it here, so I’m doing it now :)

From the the N.C. State University Alumni Association:

NC State alums make mark at N.C. Central’s School of Law

05.22.2012 | Posted by Bill Krueger | Filed under Alumni News, NC State People | Tags: Jeremy Adams, N.C. Central University, N.C. Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment, Sharika Robinson, Shauna Guyton, T. Greg Doucette

When the School of Law at N.C. Central University held its commencement earlier this month, four students were given seats on the platform and a chance to speak in recognition of their leadership and scholarship.

But they had more in common than their good work in law school — all of them are proud alumni of NC State.

Doucette, Guyton, Robinson, Adams

Doucette, Guyton, Robinson, Adams

None of the students knew each other when they studied at NC State, but they became friends during their time in law school.

“N.C. Central’s law school has a small, tight-knit student body, so all of us became friends over the past three years through our different activities,” said T. Greg Doucette, a 2009 NC State graduate who was president of the Student Bar Association at N.C. Central.

The others in the group are:

  • Shauna Guyton, a 2008 NC State graduate who was president of the senior class at the law school.
  • Sharika Robinson, a 2005 NC State graduate who was valedictorian of the three-year day program at the law school.
  • Jeremy Adams, a 2005 NC State graduate who was valedictorian of the four-year evening program at the law school.

All four of them will be busy for the next several weeks getting ready for the North Carolina bar exam in late July. But Doucette says everyone in the group already has plans beyond taking the bar exam.

  • Doucette is executive director of the N.C. Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment (NC SPICE), a nonprofit that provides mentorship, education and office support to new attorneys in exchange for pro bono legal service for those who can’t afford legal representation.
  • Guyton is hoping to be a law clerk at the N.C. Supreme Court, but is also considering becoming an assistant district attorney.
  • Robinson is moving to Michigan to become a law clerk for a federal judge.
  • Adams plans to start his own law firm in the Triangle, with a focus on employment law.

Some of the new law school graduates made it a point to include a touch of the Wolfpack in the commencement exercises at N.C. Central. Doucette wore a Wolfpack red dress shirt and an NC State tie under his robe, while Guyton wore her NC State class ring. “I never take it off!,” she said in a text message.

“State is just the best school in this state!!!” Robinson wrote in a text message. She said that NC State’s homegrown students are “the best talent, and it is evident in us.”

The whole NC SPICE thing has had a bumpier start than I expected back at graduation of course, but I still think this was a pretty cool story. And I’m honored to share it with some pretty cool people too :D

Hope all of y’all had a great weekend, and a great week ahead!

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

  1. The elected leader of the Class of 2012, who I relied on frequently my 3L year to help ensure events went smoothly and were well-attended during my overlapping term as SBA President. Definitely one of my favorite people from law school. :) []

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Greetings from Washington (briefly)!

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

Hello from Reagan Washington National Airport!

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

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

Soooo I lost points for my demeanor…1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TOP 8!!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 18, 2012 in NotFail

AAAHHHHHHHHHH!! :D

Sorry, had to get that out :)

So after finally getting things caught up here at law:/dev/null a couple weeks ago, I promptly disappeared again to focus on my upcoming competitions. I’m the “swing” counsel for one of NCCU Law‘s TYLA National Trial Competition teams again this year and have been determined to improve on last year’s just-barely-missed-it 9th place finish…

…and tonight WE DID IT!!! :spin:

NCCU Law's 2012 TYLA Trial Teams! From left to right: Associate Coach Jessica Major '09, Head Coach Clayton Jones '03, Me, Deyaska Spencer '13, Robert Brooks '12, Jillian Mack '12, Nikia Williams '13, Omari Crawford '13. Not pictured: Associate Coach Dominique Camm '09. Photo courtesy of 雅雅 :)

Teams are a little different year — instead of doing straight 2L-only and 3L-only squads, we have two 3Ls1 and one 2L2 on one team and one 2L, one 2.5L,3 and a 3L on the other — but even with the switched up pairings we still had a team make it into the Top 8 to advance to tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

And not only did we advance, but we discovered (i) we were 1 of only 5 teams4 to win all three of our preliminary rounds and (ii) we also swept all 9 of the judges’ ballots, making us the #1 seed in the quarterfinal pairings! :surprised:

For a time it didn’t seem like things were going to turn out that way.

NCCU Law’s been getting hammered with budget cuts, so we couldn’t afford to print our enlarged exhibits locally and then ship them from Durham; we had to get them printed here in Memphis before our arrival… only to discover yesterday morning (before the first round) that the order was completely FUBAR’d :mad:  So rather than spending our time focusing on the upcoming trial we were scrambling to get the prints done like they needed to be, get additional prints for the stuff that never got done, etc etc.

The first round was against the University of Memphis School of Law with EIC and I on defense, and after it was over we felt pretty good — no repeats of first-round jitters like we had at both the TYLA competition and the AAJ competition last year. Then came this morning, with Shutterbug and I representing the Plaintiff against a team from Duke Law. It was the same Duke Law team that won the 1L K-S competition last year so Shutterbug was looking for revenge and did a superlative job; Duke Law’s main strength was the breadth and quality of their objections, but we had a special pow-wow before heading to Memphis where we anticipated almost everything they threw at us.

But then the afternoon session was against a team from Charleston Law and we just knew EIC and I had lost our shot. One of the other side’s witnesses was actually a witness from the Friday night round playing the same guy, so he knew our cross-examination; the Memphis hosts went out of their way to try and find someone else, but couldn’t come up with anybody so we had to roll with it. I think knowing that was an issue had both of us mentally thrown off because neither of us were really “in the zone” like we should have been from that point onward.

By the grace of God we somehow eked it out though, winning that particular round by a couple points :)

I was so nervous when they were announcing the results of who advanced that I completely forgot my alphabet too. The hosts were announcing winners in alphabetical order, and when they said “E” I dropped my head thinking we had lost again  :oops:  Then they said “H” and I did a little foot stomping before giving the team a bear hug :D

Coach Jones and I with the Sunday rounds poster (before the re-flip)

The 8 advancing teams got called into a side room to get entered onto the chart of Sunday rounds and call a coin toss to see who would be which side. We were originally slated to go against Mercer Law, but their team was late to the meeting (for reasons that’ll be apparent in the next paragraph) so we were given the chance to call the coin toss, won, and were slated to go against them on Defense.

Then we went back to the room to change clothes before getting dinner… only to get called back because apparently there was a ballot error,5 Mercer Law was right in thinking they hadn’t advanced after all (hence why they were late), and we had to do everything all over again with a different team. We lost the coin toss the second time and the sides have switched, so we’re now on Plaintiff paired up with Georgia Law‘s defense.

In addition to us and Georgia Law, there’s one team apiece from Wake Forest Law (NC), Campbell Law (NC), Georgia State Law (GA), Vanderbilt Law (TN), Memphis Law (TN), and Emory Law (GA).

I’m more nervous than a Mythbusters insurance agent about how tomorrow is going to go down, especially after the unexpected change in plans about who’s going on what side. But after last year — and I hate to say this in print because it seems preemptively defeatist, but it’s true — I’m totally content with where we’ve gotten. NCCU Law made it to the Sunday rounds for the first time in at least 3-4 years,6 we are 1 of only 3 North Carolina schools to advance this year, we swept everything, and we snagged a #1 seed… and, the biggest relief for me, I redeemed myself for blowing the first round last year :beatup:

Totally unrelated to how things go, I want to publicly give some praise to the University of Memphis School of Law on how they implemented the competition this year.  They did an excellent job of making sure the judges didn’t know what schools the different competitors were from, reminding coaches and competitors both not to disclose that information intentionally or accidentally, went out of their way to ensure there were no conflicts with judges or witnesses seeing the same teams more than once, the list goes on. The competition coordinators were moving around all over the place keeping things running like a well-oiled machine, and I greatly appreciate that.

And I’m not just saying that because we advanced :P  I’d rather lose a fair contest than win a rigged one.

Aside from all the competition-ness, I also got to see 雅雅 who gave up her weekend to come out and support us, ate some delicious ribs and bbq from Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous, and generally just enjoy having the weight of last year’s failure lifted off my chest. It’s been a good day :)

I’ll keep you posted on how things go tomorrow, but for now I’m heading to bed so I can get ready for tomorrow morning. Good night y’all! :D

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

  1. Myself and EIC, who was on the AAJ team last year. []
  2. Shutterbug from last year’s Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L team. []
  3. A 3rd-year student in our 4-year JD/MBA joint-degree program []
  4. Out of 32 teams from 16 law schools across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee []
  5. One of the judges marked a defense ballot part of the ballot as a plaintiff part of the ballot :crack: []
  6. No one’s been able to tell me the last time our TYLA team actually made it to Sunday :beatup: []

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NCCU Law 1Ls take Silver (again) in K-S competition!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 22, 2011 in NotFail

Amid all these posts about my TYLA exploits in Charlotte this past weekend, I realized that I completely forgot to update y’all on how the NCCU Law 1Ls did in this year’s Kilpatrick-Stockton Mock Trial Competition last month!

Let’s just say the finals triggered flashbacks from 2010 :D

The info’s a bit dated, but I wrote a summary for the law school’s website you can read at this URL. Here’s the copy/paste:

NCCU 1Ls TAKE 2ND PLACE, TIE FOR 3RD IN ANNUAL K-S MOCK TRIAL COMPETITION
Home > News and Announcements > Student News
Posted January 21, 2011

In only NCCU Law’s second year of competition, the Trial Advocacy Board’s 1L trial teams once again dominated the annual Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition hosted by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law on January 13-16, 2011.

Pictured (from left to right): Cheri Hamilton, Helena Kirland-Werts, Nikia Williams, Kevin Boxberger, Jennifer Turner (Team Captain, "1L of a Team"), Susan Dow (Team Captain, "The Whole Truth"), Deyaska Spencer Sweatman, Diane Carter; Not Pictured: Anna Love

The “1L of a Team” squad advanced to the final round and earned a 2nd place finish, getting edged out by Duke Law after an intense and hard-fought trial by both sides. There were also 35 NCCU Law students, professors and alumni in attendance, a 10x increase over the audience for last year’s competition. The other 1L team, “The Whole Truth”, successfully advanced to the semi-final round and tied a separate Duke Law team for 3rd place.

Not only did NCCU Law’s 1Ls take half of the spots in the Final Four, this now also marks the 2nd year in a row that NCCU Law has made the final round of the competition — setting a 100% track record of NCCU Law 1Ls advancing to the final round.

28 teams participated from 6 North Carolina schools (all schools except Charlotte School of Law), and NCCU Law’s 1Ls successfully beat teams from Campbell, Duke and UNCCH at various stages of the competition.

Everyone delivered an exemplary performance, and the Trial Advocacy Board looks forward to watching these 1Ls blossom into even stronger advocates over their next two years!

A belated-but-much-deserved congratulations to the NCCU Law 1L Trial Teams! :D

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