1

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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6

Overwhelmed… but I like it (really!)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 23, 2011 in The 3L Life

So the whole “look for a whole bunch of posts around mid-week” thing didn’t quite pan out as planned (surprise! :beatup: )

To be totally candid with y’all, I’ve waaaaaayyy overextended myself this semester — even moreso than my senior year at N.C. State1 — and trying to convert my thoughts into words (and proofread them) just takes a big chunk of time that I haven’t been able to set aside like I hoped.

That’s not a complaint; I actually like the insane pace and crushing workload because it prevents me getting bored. I just wanted to make sure you don’t feel like I’ve abandoned you ;)

There’s been a lot going on over the past couple weeks that I can’t really elaborate on at length, so here’s a bulleted list with some quick thoughts:

  • The class schedule I created is unquestionably the single dumbest decision I’ve made in a very, very long time :beatup:  Stacking up nearly all my classes on T/H means I get almost nothing done on those days, then I also fall for the illusory appearance of an empty M/W/F by scheduling meetings and other events when I should be reading for class instead. And there is -0- redeeming value to having Sales at 6pm-7:15pm beyond Prof Sales being highly recommended by the students who came before me.
  • I was reminded by a friend from undergrad that I actually tried a similar T/H-stacked schedule setup my freshman year at N.C. State, with disastrous results…
  • Class performance is all over the map. I’m more-or-less on track in AppAd and ConLaw II, on track but confused in Tax, behind but not confused in Employment Discrimination, not sure where I’m at in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, and completely and totally lost in Sales & Secured Transactions. We don’t get Fall Break this year so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to turn everything around, but I’m hoping now that we’re through appropriations season in SBA I’ll be able to catch up.
  • I feel particularly sheepish about Sales, because Prof Sales has stopped me on at least 3 separate occasions and warned me not to let my extracurricular activities interfere with my academic work… and that’s exactly what’s happened despite my assurances to him that it wouldn’t :oops:
  • Speaking of SBA appropriations, we went from 2pm-midnight last Friday — 5 hours for presentations, 5 for deliberations — and barely finished voting on 9 of 21 groups. Then spent another 7 hours last Sunday before getting through the rest. I’m not sure what other changes SBAs can make to expedite this in the future, but one thing that needs to be done is mirroring NCSU where group presentations happen in the week before the vote instead of a marathon Friday+Sunday session. This year’s challenge was a -40% cut in the funds available for appropriations, from $115,039.83 down to $68,976.22, and unfortunately SBA isn’t likely to get that money back any time soon.
  • On a related note just to vent a bit, just one time I’d really like to preside over a group that has its budget go up while I’m in office. The Student Senate’s first funding increase in a decade kicked in the year after my graduation, my tenure as UNCASG President coincided with the economic meltdown and an ensuing freeze on spending by state agencies, last year as Treasurer we discovered SBA was missing nearly $17K compared to what our predecessors said we had (just before main campus gutted the budget further in January), and my back-of-a-napkin estimate this past weekend suggests I’m currently presiding over the lowest amount of funding the SBA has had since George H.W. Bush was President… and most of our students were too young for elementary school :crack:
  • ♫ One of these things is not like the others... ♫

    While we’re talking about SBA, apparently I’m the oddball of the group :surprised:  As some background, I’m a huge fan of personality assessments to help people learn more about themselves and offer clues on how they can better interact with their colleagues; self-awareness is one of the most-versatile weapons a person will ever have in their arsenal as they go through life. So I took some personal time and went through a trio of them myself2 then asked the SBA to try one we were given during my senior design project in undergrad. I’ve posted the results on the top of the picture at the right (the bottom part contains my 5 “Themes” from StrengthsQuest).  I can’t help but feel like I’m on Sesame Street

  • Oddball status notwithstanding, we make a good team. The dynamic is vastly different from last year but generally we all play to each other’s strengths. Earlier this week I was actually called “the Lil’ Jon of SBA” in light of my hype-man role… which actually suits me just fine ;)
  • Did I mention that last Friday was the first day of near-winter weather we’ve had this season?  And, in true North Carolina fashion, rather than give us any semblance of Fall the temperature simply dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight :mad:
  • And I hate Fall and Winter btw…
  • On the other hand, I absolutely adore my dog! :D  He’s still incredibly well-behaved, hasn’t soiled the apartment at all, deals with me being in class from 8:30am to 7:15pm three nights a week, and is generally just all around awesome. He has his dog quirks — scent hounds don’t particularly care if the temperature’s dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight — but I’ll happily deal with it in exchange for having a happy and loving dog greet me every time I walk into the apartment :spin:
  • Switching gears over to the “real world” for a bit, way back in the halcyon days of 2004 I got myself fired from the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office after writing and signing this letter that got published in the Raleigh News & Observer (on the first day of the NCGOP’s state convention to boot). So imagine my (non-)surprise when the now-Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly approved a referendum seeking to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, an utterly bizarre proposal that was generating unintended consequences before it was even adopted. Even though I’ve mentioned my own reservations about gay marriage, there’s simply nothing conservative at all about this Amendment One business and the government effectively decreeing to churches what will and will not constitute a valid marriage between consenting adults. It’s particularly galling given its timing alongside the repeal of DADT: the self-proclaimed “most military-friendly state in America” is essentially saying it’s perfectly acceptable for homosexuals to die abroad defending our freedoms, just make sure you don’t bother coming back and trying to claim the same government-bestowed privileges conferred upon the other folks who are married… :crack:
  • The most-irksome aspect of Amendment One, from this ConLaw-loving law student’s standpoint, is the timing of the vote: you’re essentially taking a duly ratified constitution adopted by an overwhelming majority of voters in a general election, and which includes among its provisions guarantees of religious freedom3 and equal protection,4 and seeking to have those clauses invalidated through an amendment in a primary election when the politicians know turnout is always less. Never in the history of this country has a primary for a presidential election year had higher turnout than the ensuing general election. The politicians not only knew that when debating when to schedule Amendment One, they intentionally planned it that way. Absolutely outrageous. This facet alone has prompted me to join NCCU Law‘s chapter of OutLaw and start encouraging friends and colleagues to vote “NO” next May.
  • On the Student Government side of things, UNCASG has returned to its habit of epic fail-ness less than 2 years after my term as President ended. It’s not really my place to opine on that failure since I’ve already had my time in the spotlight and put my successors in as good a position as any successors have ever been in the group’s 39-year history. But if any of the delegates still happen to read law:/dev/null I’ll tell you this: screwing around with the organization’s structure isn’t going to fix anything if you don’t have the cajones to hold the leadership accountable. The N.C. State Technician was kind enough to publish a forum letter I wrote to them on the point. I just hope someone actually listens.
  • We’ll see if the Technician’s counterparts at the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel follow suit, as their oft-ridiculed Editorial Board continued its habit of plucking fabricated figures from the ether to attack UNCASG. One of their latest editorials inexplicably claims UNCASG spent $50,000 for our NC in DC advocacy trip back in 2009, even though the actual figure was an order-of-magnitude less: $4,750, spent for a bus so that the four-dozen participants (who paid 100% of the remaining costs out-of-pocket) didn’t have to take a dozen or more cars and the attendant gas and parking reimbursements that would have had to go with them. I truly have no earthly clue how the DTH Edit Board picked this random total when I sent them a spreadsheet at the end of FY09 listing out every single expense UNCASG made, down to the penny. It’s one thing to embrace nixing UNCASG’s ability to advocate federally during an election year — something I’d wholeheartedly embrace on pragmatic grounds alone — but simply inventing whatever data you want to support your arguments reeks of journalistic impropriety.
  • Over in the blawgosphere, I’ve gone through our entire blogroll surveying the law school blog landscape and it’s not pretty: more than two-dozen blawgs shut down permanently or otherwise moved to triple-tilde status (see my Blawgpocalypse 1.0 entry on how I handle categorizing blawgs), roughly a dozen more moved to double-tilde status, and only a collective handful of new and/or newly updated blawgs to replace them. Of the 183 blawgs on the law:/dev/null blogroll, 72 are defunct — that’s ~39%, compared to ~15% at this point just under a year ago.
  • But on the bright side, law:/dev/null finally hit the 1,000,000-pageview milestone way back on September 6th :D  I know it’s a small thing, and it’s a testament to how crazy life has been that I haven’t even been able to put together a Site Stats entry to analyze it yet, but in light of blawgs wilting like roses in a heat wave I’m incredibly privileged to still have y’all dropping in to see what’s going on in my law school life :) Thank you! :*

If you couldn’t tell from the length of this list, there’s been a lot of stuff I’ve wanted to write about! But I’m gonna wrap it up here so I’ve hopefully got some spare thoughts to pen in the near-term future ;)

Have a great night and an amazing weekend y’all! :D

  1. When I was President of the UNCASG, President of the NCSU Student Senate, policy analyst for a state legislator, and graduating senior in Computer Science… all at the same time :crack: []
  2. My Myers-Briggs/Keirsey test has me back to ENFP (“The Champion”), the first time I’ve turned out the same as something I’ve gotten before. []
  3. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 13: “All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” (emphases added) []
  4. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 19: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws[.]” (emphasis added) []

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1

Über-huge mini-update on life

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 7, 2011 in The 2L Life

Evening y’all! :D

I’ve been gone from the blawgosphere for what seems like an eternity — I looked at the little calendar thing on the right for January, and for the first time since I started law:/dev/null there were more days without entries posted than with them :beatup:

As you can probably guess, I had totally overcommitted myself this semester. But I’ve started paring back and hope to get back into the swing of things here starting now ::fingers crossed::

Here’s a quick update on my life, which encompasses most of the dozen-ish entries I had queued up but never got around to posting:

====================
I. ACADEMICS
====================

The academic vibe this semester is totally different from last semester. Thus far I’ve got no real interest in any of my classes… plus I’m behind in pretty much all of them :(

Trial Practice is boring because all the stuff we’re going over — openings / closings / directs / crosses / objections — has already been beaten into my brain from trial team practice (see Part II below). Business Associations would probably be a fun class, if not for the fact I’m about 4 lectures behind in the reading.

Same deal with Scientific Evidence; I’ve got high hopes for enjoying it as the semester progresses, but between falling behind in the reading and class being at 8:30am, I’ve been very “blah” every day. As for Criminal Procedure, I finally managed to get caught up last week just to fall behind again by the next class.

I’ve basically been keeping my head down in all of my classes praying I don’t get called on :beatup: God willing I’ll be able to get everything caught up tomorrow and Tuesday…

====================
II. EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF I’M IN
====================

Trial team has essentially consumed my life. Back in early January during our first practice I was worried I’d be blown out by my teammates in our draft closing arguments, so I did a lot of prep on mine… and ended up giving the best one :surprised:

That netted me the team captain spot for the 2Ls with the designation as “swing” counsel. Since TYLA teams are either 2 or 3 people, in our case we’ve got 1 person solely doing prosecution, 1 solely doing defense, and the “swing” (me) doing both :crack:

So there have been multi-hour practices 4-5 days a week for a month now. On the off days I’m tweaking things and updating my trial binder and thinking about possible curveballs that could be tossed at us by the competition. Add in the fact I’d never actually questioned a witness before — abjectly failing on the first couple attempts as a result — and you get what’s been an awful loooong month.

For several days I’d get to the law school at 8am and not leave until 10pm, a scenario I assiduously avoided during 1L year and now can’t escape :beatup:

On the SBA end, Treasury work has been a mess too. All NCCU Law school students pay a fee to the main campus student union, which goes into a programming fund to which different organizations can submit requests for event funding. At some point years and years ago, the administrators on main campus decided it would be more efficient to just give the SBA that $$$ paid by law school students and letting us distribute it (since our folks almost never use main campus facilities) instead of having the law school groups submit a boatload of requests to main campus.

Turns out this was all a totally unofficial arrangement. With catastrophic budget cuts looming, the folks on NCCU’s main campus decided a few weeks ago they’re not going to give the SBA that money — months after the fiscal year started and we had adopted a budget including it. So I got to spend a good chunk of late January working with the SBA Exec Board and law school administrators to fill a ~$90K budget hole with only a few months left in our terms.

Fortunately we wrote a very austere budget back in September so we were able to pull it off, but at the cost of having to cancel our Spring appropriations process and trim back a bunch of other expenditures.

My campaign logo+slogan for SBA President

The whole situation’s roots in budget cuts has also persuaded me to run for SBA President in March. The impending cuts being handed down by the state legislature are truly mind-boggling in their enormity. Consider, for example, that for every $1 in state funding that’s eliminated from North Carolina’s university system, tuition has to be raised by $3 to make up the difference. The NCGA is currently talking about cutting $400,000,000.00+ from the UNC system. That means we’re facing $1.2B+ (yes, “billion” with a “b”) in tuition increases just to stay where we are — increases of roughly $5,600 per student.

Those kind of increases lead to mass dropouts like we had back in the early part of this millennium — including your humble author — and it makes for horrible public policy. Our SBA this year had to focus on rebuilding its internal credibility with the Student Body and faculty, and now it’s time for us to focus our sights elsewhere. I think (hope?) my experiences can make me a solid advocate for this university and law school in the year ahead.

I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes :)

====================
III. EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF I’M NOT IN
====================

Speaking of student advocates, UNCASG has been in the news quite a bit lately — and it seems for all the wrong reasons.

My successor and his administration pushed me out of the group and ran as far away from my way of doing things as quickly as his legs could carry him. I can’t really complain because that’s how politics goes and I certainly did the same thing when I took over.  The difference between then and now, though, is that I discarded things that didn’t work and found ways that did.

On the other hand, the new kids on the block have basically taken a timewarp back to 2006-07 :crack:

First there was a controversy over the President threatening Executive Officers who support local SG candidates who “disagree with the ‘ASG vision'”. This kind of institutional arrogance is precisely what alienated campuses from UNCASG in the past and led to the withdrawals in the year before I was elected. How anyone thought it was a good idea is beyond my limited mental faculties to comprehend; in my world, if you’re going to have to fire someone… you just don’t hire them in the first place.

The UNCCH Carolina Review decided to make hay from the issue with a piece of their own of course. You might recall the folks at the Carolina Review are the self-proclaimed conservatives cited by the Pope Center in the Center’s hit piece on my tuition views last March.1

I can’t blame the Carolina Review for trying to boost their readership with a timely article on a manufactured controversy, but pegging it as a conservative issue struck me as amusing — once upon a time conservatives opposed non-local people getting involved in local affairs. Instead the Review encourages it, as long as the involvement coincides with their own political views.

The whole situation is a mess, and one that should have been avoided. When I originally wrote UNCASG’s Ethics Act 2.5 years ago, I included this provision:

§1-2.5. Electioneering Prohibited.
(a) No Executive Officer receiving compensation funded by student fees shall knowingly engage in election-related advocacy or other campaign activities on behalf of any candidate for elective office at a constituent member of the Association.
(b) No Executive Officer shall allow his or her name and/or official title to be used to further the candidacy of any candidate for elective office at a constituent member of the Association.
(c) This section shall not be construed to prevent an Executive Officer from filing for elective office at a constituent member of the Association and from campaigning on his or her own behalf.

The section was removed in committee, at the urging of students from… UNCCH.2

The folks at the Carolina Review have also been circulating a petition to have a referendum on UNCCH’s participation in ASG put on their Student Government ballot in an effort to have the University remove itself. As the guy who created N.C. State’s student fee referenda from scratch back when I was Student Senate President, I’m actually in total support of having this particular referendum… but (unsurprisingly) they haven’t yet collected enough signatures to get it on the ballot. If they did, it would deprive them of an issue to carp about :roll:

“But TDot,” you say, “all of the stuff you’re talking about is small potatoes. None of this matters when a group is doing meaningful work and making a difference.” And you’d be right — but that’s not what’s actually going on.

Instead of focusing on the impending tuition battle I mentioned in Part I above, the leadership of UNCASG has focused instead on getting the President a vote on the university system’s Board of Governors — an utterly useless power on a Board where almost all votes are unanimous, and doubly useless when reaching out to the 215,000+ students the ASG President represents can carry more power than any vote. The last ASG meeting produced a total lack of consensus on a legislative agenda, leading to a factually-inaccurate DTH editorial touting a student vote as a good thing to try and fix the total dysfunction currently gripping the group.

The DTH (unsurprisingly) is wrong. Unfortunately the ASG leadership is wrong too.

Then there are the upcoming campus elections which will produce the next salvo of anti-ASG fireworks when new SBPs take office in a few months. Among the amusing candidacies is Rick Ingram, the odds-on favorite to become Student Body President at UNCCH. You might remember Ingram as the Kerry-esque flip-flopper who voted in favor of the UNCASG budget before he decided it would be more beneficial politically to oppose it. He’s been aggressively courting students for their votes — apparently so much so that the campus’s Board of Elections has already fined him for violating campaign rules and is now debating having him disqualified.3

Ingram also proclaimed on his website that “The simple truth is this — the days of fighting against tuition increases are over.”… an odd proclamation from a student and aspiring student leader in light of $1.2B+ in upcoming tuition hikes, and one which (1) the media (unsurprisingly) never covered and (2) promptly disappeared from his website when it became a political liability. Ingram’s victory would speak volumes about the UNCCH electorate, but more ominously it would ensure UNCASG wastes all of next year fighting pointless internal battles instead of serving students.

With all of this drama going on, for some unknown reason I made the mistake of heading to the NC General Assembly to catch up with some old colleagues and ask a few legislators of their thoughts on the situation. To say UNCASG has lost nearly all the credibility we built for it over two years would be putting it mildly :mad:  If I had any doubt that things were really as bad as they seemed, I actually got calls from several campuses asking me to come back and run for the organization’s Senior Vice President position.4 It’s disheartening that I’m actually considering it…

====================
IV. PERSONAL LIFE
====================

The saying “when it rains, it pours” was a pretty good epitaph for January 2011.

I was sick for the first week. My sister was committed to a mental institution the second week. QT’s dad unexpectedly died of a heart attack the week after. That very same day in trial team practice I found out a friend of mine was killed in a car accident.

At some point around that portion of the month I discovered both of my parents are either currently having or recently had affairs (I was sufficiently disappointed in both of them that I didn’t bother to inquire further) and the situation with my sister has them contemplating divorce. My dad was laid off from his job. My sister got released from the mental hospital and within the week was off her meds and smoking weed like she had nothing better to do with her time. At which point my parents discovered she had been stealing my mom’s jewelry to sell in an effort to finance her drug habit. Etc etc etc ad nauseum.

I’m pretty sure there was other crazy sh*t going on last month too but I did my best to forget as much of it as possible :beatup:  I’m trying to be a supportive friend to QT and her brother as best I can, trying to avoid the quagmire that is my family and their attendant refusal to make the tough decisions necessary to actually improve their lives, and otherwise trying to avoid having my generally sunshine-y disposition rained out on a near-daily basis like it did last month.

====================
V. PROFESSIONAL STUFF
====================

Things are at least marginally better on the professional side. I’ve started my tutoring sessions with the 1Ls in Criminal Law, and so far I’ve got the highest-attended tutorial and office hours out of the 15 different 1L classes (3 each in CrimLaw, CivPro, Torts, Property, and Ks). It’s too early to tell if that trend’s going to continue, but the feedback has been very positive and it really boosts my spirits :spin:

My internship with I-Cubed was also going really well. The people are great, the company culture is cool, the issues are interesting, and I was turning in sterling work product (even earning the praise of an attorney at another tech company). I was also getting addicted to the four-figure paychecks…

…but I walked away :surprised:

Between trial team consuming my time, my personal life being a crucible, and trying to keep up with academics, I just wasn’t able to give the company the 20 hours a week they needed. So I met with the CEO last week (my boss) and basically quit for now. I’m still part of the company and available for non-time-sensitive ad hoc projects as needed, but I’ve otherwise wound down to -0- hours a week until summer when the company will re-assess if I’m still useful to them.

It was the first time I’ve left a job since 2002, when I quit the State Bar to go take a leadership spot in the Wake County Clerk’s Office. There’s a part of me that’s terrified I made the wrong choice, especially with all the doom and gloom about the economy and law school employment stats and etc. But honestly I’d rather put everything out on the table and take my chances down the road than either (1) being miserable every day as I’m stretched too far in too many directions, or (2) start failing at things, turning in below-par work, and ending up getting fired anyway ;)

It was an awesome opportunity and I’m thankful for it, and I’ve got faith everything will work out exactly how it’s supposed to work out :)

====================
VI. BLAWG LIFE
====================

Spam combat on the backend of this blog has been continuing apace. My edition of the (badly-delayed) Law School Roundup will be coming up this week so I can punt the ball back over to Katie Luper :)

And oddly enough we had a real explosion in Google searches last month, so even though I had almost no entries in January we still had fairly decent traffic :crack:

I’ve also got a piece on tap for Beyond Hearsay that should be going live some time over the next couple weeks, and one for The True Verdict that I’m working on in my spare time — hopefully you’ll like them both ;)

—===—

That’s it for this entry y’all! I’m sorry for being gone as long as I was, but I’m gonna make a serious effort to get back in the game.

Until next time, have a great week! :D

  1. Views they fabricated from whole cloth despite five years’ worth of publicly-available commentary to the contrary. []
  2. Conservative UNCCH students at that, who saw an opportunity to back one of their own SBP candidates with ASG EOs. []
  3. Ingram’s response to the potentially-disqualifying allegations is quite entertaining. Anyone who’s taken the “Detection of Deception” CLE should be able to spot several items where he’s being dishonest with the Board; see if you can find them :) []
  4. I wrote term limits into the ASG Constitution so I’m ineligible to serve as President ever again. []

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-

Week #68 in Review

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 27, 2010 in Weekend Roundup

I disappeared again, sorry! :beatup:

Out of the 144 weeks from the time Orientation started until I get my J.D. in May 2012, something about the 2-day class week before Thanksgiving triggers a feeling of “omgwtfshootmeplzkthxu”.

Out of curiosity I checked the law:/dev/null archives for this same time last year, and sure enough there was this entry on panic setting in before finals. I’ve got the same feeling a year later, so blogging took a back seat for the week.

But, today was game day again — which means I got absolutely nothing productive accomplished and could properly get things updated here. Plus it gave me an excuse to tag an entry for the Weekend Roundup category for the first time since Week 8 ;)

Here’s a week-in-review look back at what’s happened in my life over the past 7 days:

  • As I hinted before my disappearance, last Saturday was spent with 雅雅 as we watched the N.C. State Wolfpack stage an amazing comeback to defeat the Baby Blue Powder Puffs of the University of Non-Compliance at Cheater Haven — for the 4th time in 4 years :D We ended up winning by a score of 29-25, which included one of the most improbable touchdown catches I’ve ever seen in college football; check around the 2:13 mark of this NCSU-UNX highlight videofor the whole play. After the requisite celebrating and trash-talking, we headed out to go see Harry Potter VII Part I… and I was generally unimpressed. No hate mail please :P

    My SBA colleague after her team lost last week

  • Got to spend Sunday afternoon picking out a Wolfpack shirt for the SBA secretary, who happens to (1) be a UNCCH graduate and (2) have an affinity for making outlandish bets on losing sports teams ;)  The rest of the day was used to revise my brief in opposition to the State’s motion in limine for DV Law, then frantically figuring out what on Earth I was going to say during oral arguments.
  • Monday was compartmentalized into three distinct phases. Oral arguments took place Monday morning and turned out fairly well, even though I didn’t get to use several of the pre-packaged zingers I had prepared just in case :(  The afternoon was spent being annoyed about this UNCASG news piece in the Daily Tar Heel — and for once it wasn’t because of what the DTH printed. Bear in mind there is nothing at all whatsoever in any of ASG’s governing documents that dictates what amount (if any) officers have to be paid, yet these people are amending its Constitution and eliminating a constitutionally-mandated financial oversight position, purportedly to save money they’re not required to pay in the first place. “We mismanaged our budget, so let’s eliminate one of the key people responsible for making sure we don’t mismanage our budget” is the unspoken message being sent to the UNC Board of Governors and the other political players in North Carolina.1 :crack: Then Monday night was right here in front of the laptop banging away at my last Legal Letters assignment of the semester until the wee hours of the morning.
  • Tuesday was my very last Legal Letters class ever, which called for celebration.  Even though the professor was cool the material was just mind-numbingly bland and no amount of caffeine / cash / illegal narcotics could keep someone awake in it :beatup:  I also had an interview with the tech company I mentioned last week, which I think went well but honestly I’m not sure; I’m supposed to get a call this coming week with a thumbs up or thumbs down. The prospect of getting the job has me insanely nervous because everything I’ve done up until this point has either been trivially easy2 or difficult-but-practically-a-hobby.3 This would be a combination of being totally new, probably difficult, and sufficiently not-a-hobby that I’d be fired if I screw up. Which I don’t think I will, but you get the point. I’ve always been a high-risk/high-reward type of person, but I still get butterflies in my stomach in the process…
  • In anticipation of Thanksgiving, I used Wednesday to finally clean my apartment thoroughly for the first time since the semester started getting crazy. Washed all my clothes, cleaned up the wasteland that was quickly becoming my kitchen, and so on. Stocked up on food for the holiday, donated $$ I didn’t have to the Durham Rescue Mission to help those who aren’t as lucky as I am, then went home, put all the food away… and ended up falling asleep in the recliner watching TV :oops:
  • Thursday of course was Thanksgiving. It was only me this year, but I was blessed to have a handful of folks offer up their own meals if I wanted them — I declined though, because I wanted to experiment with cooking my very first turkey without potentially killing anyone ;)  It turned out well for a first attempt4 so I was happy. Followed that up with the obligatory mashed potatoes and gravy, some steamed broccoli and cheese,5 and a few rolls. The only downside is that I will be eating turkey-related leftovers for weeks :sick:  In between cooking and eating, also spent about 8 (non-contiguous) hours sending personalized text messages to folks wishing them a happy Thanksgiving. Maybe a little crazy, but cheaper than sending a bunch of holiday greeting cards no one reads…
  • And then yesterday was pretty much spent banging my head against the desk in the hope that something useful would fall out for this Evidence memo due on Monday. It’s ostensibly optional extra credit, but when (1) you’re graded on a curve and (2) a majority of your classmates are going to turn something in, “optional” isn’t really optional :beatup:  I’m in the position of defense counsel in a criminal case (sound familiar?) trying to block the State’s effort to get evidence introduced under FRE 404(b) about prior bad acts allegedly committed by my client. The only problem is that pretty much every case I’ve found that holds any weight for this particular factual scenario says the evidence needs to come in, and the more exotic theories I’ve come up with are even more thoroughly refuted :mad:  I’m going to come up with something, but doggone it I hate making losing arguments…

NC State got Ron Cherry'd on UMD's 4th and 1

Which brings us to today. My Wolfpack disgraced themselves in College Park, Maryland, losing to the Terrapins by 31-38. We actually played far worse than the box score indicates, scoring 14 points in the first 9 minutes and 14 points in the last 4 minutes — making only a 3-point field goal during the 47 minutes in between. NC State got screwed when Maryland was given a first down they didn’t earn on 4th and 1 with under a minute left (see the photo), but the truth is we played so horribly that we pretty much deserved to lose anyway.

I’m not in a position to complain since I predicted we’d end the season at 7-5 and we’re actually 8-4, so I’m just gonna be happy with our bowl game and look forward to next season :spin:

The rest of this evening has been spent trading critiques with EIC about our various papers due tomorrow (Evidence and DVLaw for me, both of those plus Race and the Law for her). And finally writing this blog entry :D

All in all it’s been a good week… and now exams are upon us :eek:  GOOD LUCK to everyone facing finals, and if you have a few prayers to spare feel free to send them my way ;)

  1. And that’s not even touching the fact they’ve supposedly burned through more money in less time than I did during either of my two terms, despite me making over 115+ separate campus visits in addition to the group setting three separate attendance records while making do with more-expensive travel options (reimbursing rental cars over paying straight IRS mileage rates) and a smaller budget. And yes, I realize I’m retired and at some point I really should stop caring, but considering massive tuition hikes are on the horizon for everybody it’d be nice if the students’ representatives could get their act together… []
  2. Paralegal work, teaching Intro to Java, etc. []
  3. Being a research intern at the Legislature, leading the single most-distinguished student deliberative assembly ever conceived in the State of North Carolina, etc. []
  4. Ever-so-slightly overcooked, but nothing a little gravy couldn’t fix :beatup:  Also, props to Butterball for having mini-turkeys for small Thanksgiving meals :D []
  5. My first time cooking broccoli too! []

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In case you missed it (Round IV)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 6, 2010 in In Case You Missed It

I’ve had one hell of a case of writer’s block while working on a legal memo for my Domestic Violence Law class, so I finally got around to editing+posting those six entries I mentioned about two weeks ago.

They’re a bit old at this point, but if you get bored and want to read them they’re now there for you :)

In chronological order:

Enjoy, and have a great night y’all! :D

  1. The closing sentence on this entry was prophetic in light of this DTH op/ed last week. []

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“So sue me”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 24, 2010 in Student Government

Folks, I know y’all get sick of me complaining about a certain campus newspaper, but the effort it expends to manufacture controversy about the UNC Association of Student Governments really perplexes me at times — and unfortunately it’s one of the few publications regularly read by folks at UNC General Administration.

Yet another example comes to us in today’s paper (original story available here at dailytarheel.com):

ASG actions may be illegal
Lobbying may violate state law
By ISABELLA COCHRANE | The Daily Tar Heel

The body that voices the students’ views to administrators and elected officials could be carrying out its top priority — lobbying legislators — illegally.

The UNC Association of Student Governments, which includes delegates from 17 UNC system institutions, has been meeting with legislators and presenting them with petitions to keep tuition low for students.

But association President Atul Bhula was unaware of a N.C. law requiring organizations that fulfill certain criteria to register with the N.C. Secretary of State’s Office before lobbying.

Bhula received a notice from the office Wednesday reminding him of the law. The department has not yet determined whether the association fits the definition of a lobbyist group.

If the organization fits the definition of a lobbyist group and does not register, it could be banned from lobbying for up to two years as well as face a $5,000 fine, spokeswoman for the office Liz Proctor said.

State statutes define a lobbyist as someone who is paid to engage in lobbying for a governmental purpose.According to the statutes, a lobbyist must spend more than 5 percent of his or her time per month actively trying to influence legislative or executive decisions.

If lobbying is the association’s top priority, they could fall under that category.

Bhula’s stipend as ASG president is $7,000 per year, which is paid for by student fees — a $1 fee from every student in the UNC system. Other officers in the organization are paid $1,000 to $5,500.

Christy Tillery, a paralegal with the N.C. Ethics Commission, said true unregistered lobbyists violate state law.

“If you’re a true lobbyist in regards to the definition you should be registered,” Tillery said. The state law requiring organizations to register went into effect in 2007.

Continued lobbying without being registered in North Carolina is a misdemeanor offense.

“I never registered, and I’d be skeptical of anyone saying they have to do so,” said former ASG President Greg Doucette.

Doucette said he doubts that ASG members fit the definition of a lobbyist because they don’t spend that much time persuading legislators.

“Right now the legislation isn’t even in session until January,” Doucette said. “Basically we’ll only have a couple of months to lobby.”

Doucette said an argument could be made that because ASG officers receive compensation, they need to be registered.

“Everyone who does not receive a stipend doesn’t even meet the definition of a lobbyist because no money is changing hands,” Doucette said.

Bhula said he had not looked into registering with the state earlier because he was unaware that the organization fit the criteria of a lobbyist.

“Regardless, we’re going to lobby this year. We’re going to get that taken care of as soon as possible,” Bhula said.

The organization plans to have someone lobbying in Washington, D.C., but focus for this year will be state legislators, he said.

“At the federal level we’d be looking at Pell Grants to ensure we have more money,” Bhula said. “The federal stimulus money is going to run out so it’s a hard battle to fight there.”

Bhula said he plans to discuss the registration process at the organization’s next meeting Saturday so ASG can lobby legislators in the future.

“We hope to more effectively use our dollar for internal investments,” Bhula said.

“Lobbying in North Carolina is our main concern.”

Proctor said that despite the group’s past lobbying actions, the state department was unaware of the association’s actions with legislators.

“This is the first time that we have heard anything about it,” she said.

Contact the State & National Editor at stntdesk@unc.edu.

Published September 23, 2010 in Association of Student Governments, News, State

Now I know the news reporters don’t usually write their own headlines so I can’t be too upset about that part, but weasel words are generally bad form for something purporting to be news. Just about anything “may” be illegal.

Then there’s the mischaracterization of what the law actually says (something I’ve suspected may be common with most media outlets). You can read the current lobbying laws in North Carolina for yourself, but the synopsis is that they just don’t apply to the UNC Association of Student Governments.

The main reason is that we’re a unit of government under the UNC umbrella. We don’t get to manage our own budget; a $1/student fee is paid to UNCGA who handles all the accounting and places numerous (onerous) restrictions on what UNCASG can do as a result. The group’s President is an ex-officio member of the University system’s policy-making Board of Governors. The group’s office manager, employed by UNCASG, is a state employee.1 I could happily list other criteria explaining why we’re a government entity — and thus exempt from the lobbyist registration law — but you get the idea.

Let’s assume though, for the sake of argument, UNCASG isn’t a government agency and is in fact a private non-profit: the lobbying law still wouldn’t apply because none of the UNCASG personnel meet the criteria of a “lobbyist.”

Under the relevant subsection that would apply to UNCASG, the statute’s two elements required to be a “lobbyist” include being an employee who “a significant part of [his/her] duties include lobbying” and “in no 30‑day period less than five percent (5%) of that employee’s actual duties include engaging in lobbying”. None of the UNCASG personnel meet both elements.

First, contrary to the article’s claim, lobbying the N.C. General Assembly isn’t UNCASG’s “top priority” and lobbying simply doesn’t constitute a “significant part” of anyone’s duties — something the DTH already knew.

How did they know? Because their substandard Editorial Board attacked me in one of their hit pieces last year2 for my “piggybacking” strategy with the Legislature, where UNCASG relied on the professional (and registered) lobbyists of UNCGA to do the bulk of the lobbying work, then have student leaders dropping in when it would be politically effective for us to do so.

UNCASG’s top priority is keeping in touch with the 215,000+ students it represents. It’s second priority is representing those voices on the UNC Board of Governors. Lobbying state legislators is quite a bit further down the totem pole, if it’s even on there at all.

Assuming arguendo that lobbying was a “significant part” of anyone’s duties in UNCASG, they still wouldn’t meet the second element required to be “lobbyists.”

Even at the height of my lobbying activity during my two terms in office — when we were successfully saving students over $25+ million dollars — I doubt I spent more than a few hours in an entire month at the N.C. General Assembly. That’s just how the political game gets played. You don’t talk to everyone in the Legislature; you talk to the key leaders who can pull votes, and since everyone else is doing the same thing you’re usually only going to get 10-15 minutes of their time.

If you assume the UNCASG Presidency is a 40-hour-a-week job,3 the President has up to 8 hours a month to lobby without becoming a “lobbyist” under this statute.

And if any President is spending more time than that on lobbying, they’re doing it wrong.

One final point before I wrap up:  I was working for a lobbyist when the lobbying laws were drafted. I know who they were intended to affect, and I know who they did affect. Student-run student advocacy groups weren’t in either of those categories.

So if the N.C. Secretary of State’s Office or the Ethics Commission or anyone else is seriously concerned about UNCASG’s past lobbying efforts, I encourage them to file a claim against me. They’re going to be exceptionally hard-pressed to find anything even vaguely resembling the slightest scintilla of evidence that I or anyone on my staff was ever a “lobbyist” within the letter, the meaning, or the spirit of this statute.

And given the DTH Editorial Board’s lingering bitterness over my “aggressive character attacks” and their almost-comical efforts to rebuke me after-the-fact for them, I give them a week or so at most before they write an op/ed saying I was wrong and UNCASG should waste spend $100/person of student fee money to register their people as lobbyists…

  1. I’m unaware of any non-government entity whose full-time staff are considered state employees protected under the State Personnel Act. []
  2. Conspicuously absent from their online archives… []
  3. A number that is far too low if the job is being done properly. []

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So *this* is what Rodney Dangerfield meant…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 16, 2010 in Student Government

I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that you’ve successfully gotten under someone’s skin when they insist on talking about you half a year after you’re gone ;)

That’s apparently the case with those wacky aspiring-pundits-in-training over at the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel’s Editorial Board, who randomly decided to give me some free publicity earlier today. You can read the whole editorial here, but I’ve copied/pasted below1 to emphasize a part that just really hurt my soul all the way down to the core:

The Interview: New ASG president Atul Bhula is still lacking some substance to his proposals. But he’s got the right idea.
By EDITORIAL BOARD | The Daily Tar Heel
Updated: 12:45 AM

The Interview is a new opinion page feature. We’ll have extended interviews with people who affect our community, written by members of the editorial board. Today, Mark Laichena writes about Atul Bhula.

Listening to Atul Bhula, 2010-2011 president for the University of North Carolina’s Association of Student Governments, one gets the feeling that the association is on solid ground.

It certainly needs it. ASG has underperformed through much of its recent existence.

Never really working out how to make the most of the $1 it has collected annually since 2002 from each of the more than 200,000 students in the UNC system, ASG suffered humiliation as its president was charged with assault in 2007. Ignominy continued as some UNC campuses sidelined ASG and others withdrew their delegations.

Greg Doucette, the next and most recent former president, brought stability by serving enthusiastically from 2008-2010, though the results were hardly worthy of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the organization cost students.

So Bhula hasn’t exactly taken on the most popular job in town.

No matter: For the next seven months, he represents the entire UNC-system student body — even if not all students support his role.

Bhula launches into a discussion on tuition when asked about his top priorities, echoing practically all his predecessors by talking about keeping it “as low as possible.”

Reaching what he thinks ASG can actually do takes a little more prodding. He refuses to be tied to any targets quite yet: The organization “is still waiting for output from ASG’s research division” on the potential effect of tuition raises on UNC students, and a tuition subcommittee has just been formed.

It seems that Bhula, an MBA student at Appalachian State University, has embraced bureaucratic organization as the way to carry ASG forward. He says that he could have an action plan by October — so we’ll have to reserve judgement for now.

The ASG president’s main role is representing students to the UNC-system Board of Governors, but “hitting the legislature is a main priority.”

Bhula highlights contingency planning as a challenge ahead. The $750 tuition raise that came from the legislature over the summer blindsided the ASG, which had led a successful but comparatively insignificant tuition petition in the spring.

“So it really shows the power of the state government, and the importance of engaging them.”

There’s a frankness to Bhula’s outlook that is refreshing — particularly compared with his immediate predecessor, who engaged in aggressive character attacks through regular blog posts, called “T. Greg’s Tomes”.

Bhula sees a core part of his job as “selling the university.”

It’s a reminder of how big the job is: The UNC system comprises 16 universities and the N.C. School of Science and Math; more than 170,000 full-time students and almost 50,000 part-time students.

“The legislators aren’t hearing enough from students,” he says. “They love talking to students, especially those from the constituencies they represent.”

“ASG can get students there, and make sure they are informed.”

The ASG president is keeping his cards to his chest on the big ideas for connecting students to the state government, but it’s not hard to imagine the options on the table. For Student Day at the Capitol last May, around 30 students went to the legislature: A significantly larger presence during the General Assembly’s long session in the spring might send a strong message.

Bhula indicates he is looking to past projects for ideas. He mentions the Personal Stories project, a book that aimed to put faces on UNC-system students, which was produced during president Amanda Devore’s term in 2004-05.
“You still see it in legislators’ offices,” he said.

Thinking about projects leads us to the $260,000 question: How ASG spends its budget. Many have been critical of officers’ stipends, which range from the $7,000 for Bhula down to $1,000 for the secretary.
Bhula thinks the figures are fair.

“Students working for ASG could be working or interning, so if we don’t compensate them, ASG will only be open to elites who don’t have to work.

“And if officers don’t do their jobs, I’ll fire them,” he adds.

He’s quick to suggest other ways to save money, such as returning to one- or two-day meetings to cut hotel expenses.

And what to do with the saved money? “It’s all about returning value to students by funding for projects that benefit UNC-system students. That’s where the Personal Stories book might come in, and I’m not going to give up on working for campus innovation grants.”

Bhula has answers for the standard criticisms of the ASG, but he doesn’t have an answer for everything.

The ASG president admits that he doesn’t know what similar student associations in other states are doing.

“But that’s a great idea.”

I ignored the logical incoherence of citing UNCASG’s “successful… tuition petition in the spring” — saving students millions of dollars two years in a row — while still insisting “the results were hardly worthy of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the organization cost students.” UNCCH is a liberal arts University, and the bitter troglodytes running their student newspaper’s op/ed page can be forgiven if they never learned basic math (e.g. that “million” is a larger unit of measurement than “thousand” or even “hundreds of thousands”).

And I  even ignored the characterization that pointing out an organization’s ineptitude is tantamount to “aggressive character attacks.” This is the same Editorial Board, after all, whose conservative editor decided to contact me via Facebook half a year ago to express his outrage (outrage!) that I had dared to exercise the same First Amendment rights to highlight the Board’s incompetence that the Board used to pen the incompetence in the first place. Feel free to read through the transcript if you need a chuckle.2

No, folks, neither of those issues gave me even the slightest pause; I’d grown accustomed to this level of mediocrity from these folks.3 You know what did get me? You know what kept me awake at night, and even moved me to the verge of tears?4

Characterizing T. Greg’s Tomes as mere “regular blog posts” :beatup:

Never mind that over a third of the Tomes were written before law:/dev/null was even created — only 3 of the 19 have ever been posted on this blog in the first place!5 It’s almost like the Editorial Board members intentionally ignored the fact my 8 separate entries providing blow-by-blow dissections of their inadequacies were composed and promulgated via Facebook to ensure a higher readership than the traffic we were getting here at the time.

Or, in the words of Mr. Dangerfield, “I get no respect. No respect at all.” :cry:

LMAO :spin:

Have a great night y’all! I promise I’ll have some law-related content tomorrow in celebration of Constitution Day!! :D

  1. In line with the Fair Use Doctrine of course, should any of the DTHers feel the urge to claim copyright infringement :* []
  2. It’s worth a laugh, and begs the question: could “Don’t patronize me [bro]” ever take off as an internet meme alongside its “Don’t Tase Me Bro!” cousin? []
  3. Like willfully ignoring their (endorsed) supposedly-not-a-candidate Rick Ingram’s unauthorized use of multiple university listservs to not-really-campaign for the office-he’s-not-really-seeking. Feel free to re-read the transcript if you don’t understand my amusement. ;) []
  4. Just in case your built-in melodrama detector isn’t working, I’m not being serious here :D  I don’t think I’ve ever lost sleep over a DTH editorial… []
  5. In March, in April, and in June. Feel free to read through those entries and decide for yourself if they’re “aggressive character attacks” — they also contain links to the entries on Facebook if you want to read those too :) []

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Shameless attention-whoring FTW

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 3, 2010 in Site Stats

You don’t have to be one of our long-time readers here at law:/dev/null to know that I like charts.

Facebook + attention-whoring = traffic spike!

And data.

And benchmarks. And tables. And trendlines.

And more charts just for good measure :beatup:

Grade distributions, tuition savings, site stats — I compulsively sprinkle data and tables throughout the blog. Besides, pictures spice up the text-only entries ;)

That also means I’ve started looking for more ways to spread the word in the hopes of attracting more eyeballs / readers / commenters :) There was political controversy in March, a new Twitter account in April… and a slight drop in May.

So to continue the outreach effort I borrowed a page from Huma over at TRPLS and created the Facebook page for law:/dev/null ;)

Apparently most of my Facebook friends never knew about this place, because after sending everyone invites the number of unique IP addresses we had visiting the site jumped by more than a third. Average pageviews per day climbed even more, at +37.7%.

Over a quarter-million pageviews!

And the really nifty thing for a guy who loves benchmarks? This past month we served up our quarter-millionth pageview! :D

I put together a chart (of course) that shows the cumulative number of pages viewed over time. For a blog visited mostly by spambots in its first few months, having real honest-to-goshness live bodies reading over 250,000+ pages is pretty doggone cool :spin:

Anyhow, enough on the statistics — I know the main reason y’all read these entries are for the search terms ;)

***

On the search query front, here are 20 of the 140+ unique search terms that brought folks here in June:

  • rick ingram sbp: I don’t know if this is the same person doing multiple searches or what, but this was our #2 most-frequent search result last month with a dozen queries (along with “rick ingram unc” and “rick ingram dth”). It’s a little peculiar since he’s only mentioned in one entry about his endorsement by the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel. Odd or obsessive? I’m not sure which… :crack:
  • when is 1l orientation for nccu school of law: Orientation for the night program starts on Monday, August 9th. The day program starts the next morning on August 10th. Double-check the start time the night before. Trust me.
  • cute bunny: nom nom nom :D
  • nccu law academic calendar 2010 2011: Can be found on TWEN at the Law School Registrar page. If you’re a pre-L, you’ll get your WestLaw registration info at Orientation. If you’re a 2L/3L/4LE, you should know to check there first before checking Google :P
  • when does nccu school of law give refunds from financial aid?: Around August 30th for the Fall, January 15th for the Spring, May 28th for Summer Session I, and July 9th for Summer Session II. Those dates change slightly based on the calendar and when financial aid actually hits your account with the University. Sometimes refunds happen early but don’t count on it.
  • ex con mother gets law degree: I’ve never been a fan of the adjective “ex con,” but yes I know one — she’s much cooler in person than you can tell from the news story ;)
  • nccu law grading: Sparked some controversy among the blawgs when I declared my support for NCCU Law’s strict-C model. It’s not all that great for getting a job, but I still think it contributes to making more competent attorneys compared to the alternatives :P
  • nc central law reputation: Depends on where you’re looking for a job. I’m not familiar with our national reputation (outside of HBCU’s), but within the state NCCU Law is known for producing highly-talented litigators. It’s one of the four key reasons why I made NCCU Law my first choice for law school — and I suspect it’s one of the reasons the NCCU Law 1L trial team excelled against dozens of teams from neighboring law schools ;)
  • what are acceptable 1l grades?: Whatever is high enough for you to get a job? ::shrug::
  • how long 25 page paper: 25 pages…
  • greg doucette myspace: MySpace? Eww :sick:
  • has anyone received an acceptance package from north carolina central state university school of law: NC Central State University School of Law? No. NC Central [notice there’s no extra word here] University School of Law? Yes. ;)
  • opening statement competitions: Are much harder than closing argument competitions :beatup:
  • received a rejection letter from nccu law stating to try again later: Assuming that language wasn’t part of the standard NCCU Law form letter, you probably should try applying sooner since we use rolling admissions like most law schools.
  • wanted one piece: Sounds like a challenge for the Reasonably Prudent Law Student :D
  • the pornstars in winston salem: I know the political hacks over at the Pope Center wanted UNCSA and its film school to be privatized, but I don’t think that’s what they had in mind…
  • it’s been a month and i still don’t have my law grades: You get no sympathy from me — welcome to the club :*
  • nccu law now tier two: Someone lied to you. The amount of $$$ the school would have to spend to climb to T2 would totally defeat the point of getting a T1 legal education at a T4 price ;)
  • dennis jansen birthday: Happens every year. When? You should probably ask him instead :P
  • nccu law section 103: Is the best section in the school, hands down. And if anyone tells you otherwise you tell them they can kick rocks. Then tell them TDot said they can kick rocks. Then send them to me so I can tell them in person they can kick rocks. B-)

I really get a kick out of the different search terms people use to get here each month… :spin:

***

And finally, here are the Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of June 2010, with a heavy leaning toward grades and cash:

  1. On Spring ’10 final grades: Spring ’10 Final Grades (or, “A 2L. For srs.”) (06/08/10)
  2. On saving money: TDot’s Tips: More $$$-saving ideas (06/13/10)
  3. Also on saving money: TDot’s Tips: Tips for the pre-L’s on $$$ (05/29/10)
  4. On the legal effects of political cowardice: Unsolicited commentary on the legal clusterf*ck facing homosexuals (06/11/10)
  5. On my impatience: Where are my @#$%ing grades?? >:o (06/07/10)

Many thanks to all of you for supporting the blog, including the new folks who got here as a result of my shameless attention-whoring on Facebook :) I truly appreciate all of you! :*

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Past Site Stats entries:

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UNCASG Wins Student Tax Repeal!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 29, 2010 in Student Government

Hey everybody! :D

Earlier today the North Carolina General Assembly gave preliminary approval to the state budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year — and included among the provisions is a repeal of the 8% student tax that I’ve mentioned in several entries here at law:/dev/null.

With the repeal soon to be final (a 2nd vote happens tomorrow), I wrote up a Facebook note with a chart in it. If you’re on Facebook, feel free to check out the original entry here. You should be able to access it even if we’re not Facebook friends… and if in the process you get the sudden urge to become an FB friend, you’re more than welcome to do so ;)

The note appears below in its entirety:

[Note: by default I’m tagging the ASG President and senior leadership, the NCSU SBOs, and a few extra people on the side. If you don’t want to be tagged in future editions of T Greg’s Tomes, just shoot me a Facebook message :) -TGD]

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Past Editions of T Greg’s Tomes:

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T Greg’s Tomes: UNCASG saves students $8.6M+ (a 4,019% return on investment!)

Folks who regularly read T Greg’s Tomes know I don’t exactly get along with student media, particularly the perpetual (and perpetually sophomoric) foolishness-disguised-as-punditry that emanates from the conservative-leaning Editorial Board at the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel (see Exhibit A and Exhibit B and Exhibit C and Exhibit D and Exhibit E and Exhibit F and Exhibit G).

I’m eagerly awaiting whatever backwards spin will get applied to this story now that UNCASG has saved students millions of dollars for the 2nd year in a row…

Earlier today the NC General Assembly gave preliminary approval to the 2010-11 state budget, which includes a repeal of the 8% student tax that was adopted in August 2009 (see line 32 on page 47 of the budget bill) — a repeal the delegates and officers of UNCASG spent most of our last session successfully getting enacted through in-person lobbying, phone calls, emails, and a Tuition Petition signed by over 22,000+ students.

Now even if we just count in-state undergraduates (since anything more complex wouldn’t fit into the graphic below), our work saved University students over $8,642,722.64. Compared to the $1/student fee that funds UNCASG’s budget, that’s a 4,019% return on students’ investment — meaning UNCASG could do absolutely nothing at all for the next 40 years, and students would still be better off financially than they would have been without the group’s work.

Or, put another way, the $1 fee could have been implemented on the very day UNCASG was created on September 22, 1972 and students would still be saving money.

I took the liberty of putting together the table below for everyone’s information and usage, compiling the tuition increase rates from the General Assembly, the Board of Governors alternative rates, and the FTE UG resident enrollment at each institution.

UNCASG wins $8.6M+ in savings

And remember the savings are actually more than this, because 100% of the tuition being paid will now go back to the universities where it belongs instead of going to the state’s General Fund.

For folks who question why I’ve dedicated the past 4 years to UNCASG and the NCSU Student Senate, this is why: in just the past 2 years alone — last year we helped repeal a similar student tax slated for 2009-10 — Student Government leaders have saved UNC system students over $25,730,590.64.

Overall, not a bad deal for the $2 apiece we each paid in. Remember that next time someone complains about your student leaders — and seriously think about becoming one of those leaders yourself ;)

And since I’m a big fan of data and tables, I also made another table showing those added-up savings over the past 2 years as a result of UNCASG’s work. Here are the results:

Savings over 2 years: $25.7M+

Now this isn’t a total victory of course. The authorization for an additional $750/student tuition increase I mentioned to y’all was included in the final budget bill, and odds are roughly 100% that every University in the system will jump on the chance to hike tuition under that authorization. So I don’t expect any UNCCH students, for example, to be grateful for paying $950 instead of $990.

But there are precious few total victories in life, and if that $40 (or $259.60 @ ECU) enables someone to stay in school who otherwise might have to drop out, I’ll consider it a success.

Especially when a budget of $215K saved students over $25.7M ;)

Have a great night y’all! :)

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Apparently we’re nomnom-licious?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 2, 2010 in Site Stats

That’s the only reason I can think of to explain the search results from last month :beatup:

I wasn’t surprised when “law:/dev/null” turned out to be the most frequent query leading people to law:/dev/null, used by 20 separate visitors from across the web last month. But what was the #2 most frequent search term, used by over a half-dozen?

law:/dev/null Pageviews and Unique IPs over time

“nomnom”

Yeah. I don’t understand it either :crack:

But before we get into the amusement that is our monthly search queries, I wanted to give an über-huge *THANK YOU!!!* to y’all for helping May outpace April as our busiest month yet! :D

An updated graph is on the right for those of you who are visual people.1)

The data this month is interesting, because we had a -2.2% drop in unique IP addresses served — not a surprise given the summer break from school — but somehow still had a +13.6% bounce in average pageviews per day and a +17.3% jump in total pages overall.

I could be wrong here, but to me that means we’ve got more regular visitors who actually enjoy reading this stuff :eek:

Assuming I’m right on that, to all of the new folks I just wanted to say: 1) welcome!, 2) read the disclaimer!, and 3) thanks for visiting! :*

# of unique search terms

Also on the “this was unexpected but still pretty cool” front, we had a real explosion in search queries used to find this site — jumping +76.2% from 84 to 148.

I made a graph for that one too… :beatup:

I’m not entirely sure what prompted the search spike, since most of the terms go to entries that have been indexed by search engines for awhile now. If any of you happen to work for Google (our #1 referrer again) feel free to share some insights!

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And now for those queries. Here are 20 of the 140+ search terms that brought folks here in May:

  • nomnom: Maybe the folks who tried this one were hungry for Contracts?
  • what is taking nccu so long: There were literally about a dozen different variations on this search, including “how long did it take to receive a decision from nccu law?” and “north carolina central university school of law admissions taking a long time” and “still no decision from nccu law”. All I can say to you folks is this: try not to think about it. In my case I got my acceptance letter from NCCU Law on 05/04/09, one week after I received an email that my application was “complete” and that I’d receive a decision “six to eight weeks” thereafter.2 The admissions staff are dealing with the recurring issue of having thousands more applicants than there are seats, and this year they have an added wrinkle with politics: the N.C. General Assembly has a provision in the House version of its budget currently being considered that would severely restrict enrollment growth at all institutions in the University of North Carolina… which means available fewer seats than anticipated. I know that’s approximately -0- solace to those of you who are waiting, but the admissions folks have a tough and thankless job so it takes awhile :beatup:
  • when does the nccu law packet come in the mail?: I got my packet around June 22nd or so.
  • conservative corporate taglines: Not sure what you’re looking for, but the only mention of taglines here is this entry on Men’s Wearhouse. Sorry.
  • segregated lunch counters: Are thankfully a thing of the past. I wrote some thoughts in this entry on the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins.
  • nccu law school section 102 grades: I’ve been told y’all have 3 of your 6 grades in already :mad: Be thankful you’re not §103 — we’re still waiting
  • mock trial: people v andrew madison: There were several searches related to this one too, looking for opening statements. Can’t help you with the opening, but feel free to check out my closing in the #4 entry of our monthly Top 5 list below.
  • nccu law summer reading list: If you haven’t gotten it already, you should get it around June 30th. I read To Kill A Mockingbird but didn’t read a single other book on the list. In my opinion you’re better off spending your time enjoying your summer ;)
  • blogs about north carolina central university school of law: There are 3 I’m aware of: us here at law:/dev/null, one by Madame Prosecutor, and one by the Prophet. If you find any others let me know!
  • does nccu school of law have midterms?: Yes we do, and with few exceptions they make up 20% of your final grade. That’s not always a good thing :beatup:
  • 3.0 gpa as a 1l: I need to know what school you’re at to give you any meaningful commentary. If you’re attending a law school with a 3.333 curve (like UNCCH Law or Duke Law), that means you’re not doing so hot. If you’re attending a law school with a 2.000 curve (like NCCU Law), it means you get a 100% tuition scholarship.
  • nccu law school trial team: Kicks ass — and that’s just the 1Ls :D
  • ashley yopp: Has been dubbed the Pickle Princess here on the blog. She worked with me last year running the UNC Association of Student Governments after she basically created the Student Senate at East Carolina University.
  • what states still elect clerks of superior court: Don’t know the answer to that question, but I know 100% for certain that North Carolina is one of them :)
  • unc asg stipends: Have been slashed to the lowest point they’ve ever been, and are now at a level where I’m worried it’s going to negatively affect the effectiveness of the organization if they’re not increased. See entry #5 in the monthly Top 5 list below for details.
  • why does nccu school of law have first year orientation: Because when it comes to law you’re not going to know your ass from your elbow when you start school, but you’ll be reading dozens of cases in every class every night for the first several weeks starting on Day 1. Orientation lets you get familiar with the school first, so you can get your locker, grab your ID card, buy your books and such — that way there are no excuses for you when the work gets piled on ;)
  • is nccu law accredited: Yes, as it has been since it was founded in 1939. The better question is: are there any law schools the ABA won’t accredit? :beatup:
  • law school student mental breakdown: Those apparently happen on occasion. NCCU Law has its own full-time psychiatrist for that very reason. Remember to breathe and everything will be fine…
  • how to answer contracts ii final exam: Not like this :cry:
  • people that start drama and then expect apologies: are insane. Just my $0.02.

It’s been an interesting month. Now I kinda want July to hurry up and get here so I can see how the June queries turn out… :spin:

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And finally, here are the Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of May 2010, including two repeaters at #4 and #5:

  1. On my product-purchasing pathologies: Some signs you might be a law student… (05/04/10)
  2. On last month’s site stats: “You like me, you really like me!” (05/02/10)
  3. On LRP reducing me to tears: Illiteracy FTL (04/22/10)
  4. On my first ever closing argument: Alice in Wonderland (03/24/10)
  5. On political hacks-in-training writing commentary: On UNCASG, $1, and the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel (03/30/10)

*THANK YOU* again for your continued support of this blog, I truly do appreciate it :) I’m heading to bed so I can wake up on time to knock out some class work — have a great night y’all!! :D

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Past Site Stats entries:

  1. Or folks like me who just get a kick out of making graphs and charts and stuff ; []
  2. But I also had a high LSAT score to balance out applying so late in the admission cycle. Long-time readers of law:/dev/null may recall I’d gotten several emails from NCCU Law about a missing reference letter, so my application wasn’t ready for them to review until early April. []

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