Week 0 Retrospective Part II (or, “Good morning”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 17, 2009 in The 1L Life

First day of real class was today; I’m saving a summary of the experience for later on though, otherwise I’ll never get through this look back on Week 1 :) I did have the ignominious honor of being the first student’s name to leave the lips of my Civil Procedure I professor this morning (thankfully for not adding the TWEN course section in a timely fashion instead of having to brief the main case I didn’t read).

Oh and I successfully got a parking ticket.  Which undoubtedly amuses those of you who knew my less-than-stellar parking habits at NC State.

Before I continue yesterday’s entry, let me know if you find any decent and quick intros to WordPress.  I dived into the whole blogging thing before bothering to learn the software, so I haven’t gotten around to things like tweaking up the CSS for this template or editing the blogroll.  And I’m borderline afraid to touch the “Plugins” section…


But back to orientation.

I’m sitting in the back of the student lounge, feeling slightly obnoxious being dressed to the nines, and thumbing through the documents I was given at registration.  I glance over the orientation schedule.  Look at a pamphlet from the American Bar Association.  Read up on some of the historical sites in Durham.  And notice one of the first letters in the orientation folder is from a Dr. Psyche, the law school’s psychiatrist.

Not the university’s psychiatrist, the law school‘s psychiatrist…

Dr. Psyche works full time just for the law school, offering a whole array of counseling services (with friend- and spouse-related options jumping out, along with a reference to suicide prevention).  Compounded with the agitating but not exactly law school-specific annoyances I had already dealt with that morning, it was at that point I started to wonder what exactly I was getting myself into.  I guess God sensed my nervousness and mild amusement that suicide prevention is necessary in law school, because mere moments later I’d be lucky enough to experience a faux pas that made me want to shoot myself.

I notice folks are leaving the lounge, and we all headed upstairs to our respective classrooms for the day’s schedule; I had Room 102, where I’ll be for the rest of the semester.  NC Central has a pretty impressive array of technology services in their new law school, courtesy of a multi-million dollar cash infusion by the North Carolina General Assembly after the ABA raised concerns about facilities during its reaccreditation review (and also coinciding with Rep. Mickey Michaux, a NCCU graduate, becoming a co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee).  So my room had a large screen in front, and projected onto it was a live video feed from Room 202 upstairs where everyone would be speaking for the day.

Let me preface this whole experience by noting I have a long history in Student Government and “real world” politics.  One of the favorite rhetorical devices of almost every politician, student or otherwise, is to greet his audience with “Good morning,” receive a tepid response, then say something to the effect of “Let me try that again: good morning!,” at which point people laugh and more of them say “Good morning” in response even louder than before.  It’s such a widely (ab)used tactic that student leaders and political operatives instinctually respond “Good morning” the first time, in the hopes the second time won’t be necessary.

You can probably guess where this is going.

The Chief (Dean of the law school), a charismatic guy who clearly enjoys his position “getting to walk around and ‘be dean-ly'” as he later put it, stands next to the podium in Room 202, looks to the audience of 1Ls before him, and starts:  “Good morning.”  And on instinct, the past 11 years of politics and SG experience goes on full display with an automatic “Good morning” from me in response… even though the Chief’s upstairs, and there’s no microphone turned on in Room 102 for him to hear me.  And I happened to be the only one out of the group of 40 or so 1Ls in my room to say anything.

No sooner do the words leave my lips than I notice the lapse in judgment, right as about 10 of those 40 heads turn back toward me wondering who the ignoramus was trying to talk to the video projection.  A bullet to the brain would have been the only cure for the embarrassment at that moment.  Not sure if I successfully played it off by staring intently at the screen as though no one had said a word; I could feel my cheeks burning, but folks turned back around pretty quick so hopefully they never figured it out.

I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the day.


That’s it for now, have a few cases to brief for Contracts I and Property I tomorrow.  I’ll pick up with the look back after class.  Have a great night everybody! :)

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Week 0 Retrospective Part I (or, “Don’t panic. Really.”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 17, 2009 in The 1L Life

I said I’d let you know:  nope.  First day of class is tomorrow and I’ve successfully done -0- of the readings or case briefings.  I’d offer an explanation, but I’m a believer in that adage “excuses only satisfy those who make them”… and my excuse isn’t even that good.  May be tempting fate here, but I’m gambling that since it’s the first week of class the readings aren’t difficult and I’ll be able to knock them out tomorrow morning after a decent night’s sleep.

One more side note before getting into the rest of the post:  After going through the server logs for law:/dev/null it looks like I have a grand total of 3 regular readers at this point (excluding all of the web crawlers and bots and other inventions of the Information Age that artificially make it look like people actually care what I think).  Considering I only told 2 people about the blog so far, I consider that a 150% return on my investment and consequently an unmitigated success :)  Thanks to all 3 of you for supporting my random endeavors (and thanks to all the bots and web crawlers for making me feel more important than I really am ;)).

With the first full week of class about to start, I figured it’d be an opportune time to look back on the first week of class lite (aka orientation) and some of the oodles of fun I got to experience last week.

I didn’t think I was the type to ever get nervous about the first day of class or starting at a new school.  I certainly didn’t remember being nervous when I came to NC State for undergrad, although in fairness I skipped the first couple days of classes my freshman year on the advice of upperclassmen who swore it was standard practice (note for freshmen:  ignore upperclassmen who swear you can skip the first couple days of classes).  The intimidation factor of law school never really worried me either, largely because (i) I have a ridiculously huge ego and know I can handle it, and (ii) that ego originated in some crazy life experiences against which law school will simply never seem as threatening (e.g. being the #2 employee working for a former prison warden with a legendary temper back when I was an Assistant Clerk of Superior Court).

So I planned to go to bed around 10pm, wake up at 6am, cook breakfast, watch the news, read the newspaper online, shower, throw on my suit, and generally take my time getting to school at a leisurely pace.

But then for some arbitrary reason I started reading some law student blogs, most of which I noticed hadn’t been updated in 2-3+ years.  Which prompted me to find some more recent content, and before I knew it I had 20+ tabs open after going through everything I found in the first few posts at The Legal Underground.  Then I started going backwards through the posts at Above The Law, My Legal Fiction, Thanks, but No Thanks, and particularly  No634, including this entry on dressing for orientation (which, like a fool, I ignored).

By the time I finished I realized it was 2am.  Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, except that I had developed a bad habit of oversleeping during the summer if I didn’t get to bed at a decent time.  Aaannnddd… I overslept.

My eyes opened around 7:08am, and for reasons I still don’t know my mind was under the impression orientation began at 8am.  I jumped out of the bed, took a quick shower, ironed my shirt, threw on my suit, skipped breakfast and bolted out the door with a Diet Mountain Dew, putting my tie on in the car as I sped down Fayetteville Street cursing every time I hit a stop light (several) or got stuck behind someone doing 5mph under the speed limit (several more).  By the time I got to campus, the street alongside the law school was totally packed with cars and  I just knew I was ridiculously late. So I parked in the first space I could find near the law school (even though I wasn’t actually supposed to park there) and walked as briskly as one can walk in a suit to the closest entrance to the building.

I didn’t create a TDot’s Tips entry for this yet, but let me interject it here:  READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.  Even when you’re in a hurry.  Even if you can’t find them right away.  Trust me.

Apparently I wasn’t supposed to take that closest entrance, I was supposed to go in the front of the building like every other rational person.  So when I came in the side (essentially the basement, given the topography) one of the 2Ls helping with orientation assumed I was a non-1L and let me wander around.  After looking for a sign or something indicating where I was supposed to be for about 5 minutes, I confessed my 1L-ness to the young lady and asked her where to go.  She pointed up the stairs, and up I went… where a second 2L asked if I was here for orientation (“I am”) and said I was supposed to go downstairs and wait. Back down I went… just for the original 2L to ask me why I was back (“I was told to head down here and wait”), and tell me I needed to go back up the stairs to register first in the Great Hall.  I go back up the stairs, ask the second 2L to point me in the direction of the registration area, and head over there to register.  Along the way I notice (at the main entrance) all the signs I missed directing me where to go.

So I get to the registration desk, and notice there seem to be an awful lot of folders left at the desk for people who are checking in.  “These people can’t be more late than me” was the thought that ran through my mind… only to realize at that moment that orientation wasn’t slated to begin until 9:00am, and I was actually 50ish minutes early.  The night before I actually knew the right start time, since I texted that very information to the only other 1L I happen to know at NCCU Law (we’ll call him DMoff, since he may end up in later entries).  Yet somehow in the midst of oversleeping my brain decided I needed to be at school almost an hour early instead of just being on time.  My stomach grumbled its dissatisfaction.

Me. In a suit. Unlike all but 2 other people.

Me. In a suit. Unlike all but 2 other people.

After panicking to get to school, going up and down the stairs like a hamster, finally checking in and realizing I needlessly skipped breakfast to get to orientation insanely early, I went back downstairs to the student lounge to wait for things to get started.  Just in time to notice I was completely and totally overdressed.

As a preface to explain, I used to be a college dropout.  I spent 2 years at NCSU, couldn’t afford to continue, dropped out at the end of my sophomore year, and spent the next 5 years of my life working in the private sector in various law-related positions (since being a filing clerk or litigation paralegal doesn’t require a formal education if you’re able to learn on the fly).  Because of that experience, “professional attire” to me was a suit and tie; “casual Friday” around those firms meant you wore slacks and a polo shirt instead of a suit.  T-shirts, jeans, flip flops, etc were all verboten.

The letter for orientation indicated that “professional attire” was expected, so I put on a suit and tie (coincidentally in the school’s colors).  It just happened to be an order of magnitude over the top.

Now feeling like one of the priggish “gunner” types I read about on the law blogs the night before, I sat at the back of the lounge, tuned out the rest of the outside world, and started reading the materials we were given thinking there was absolutely no way the day could possibly get any worse.

I was absolutely wrong…

More to come tomorrow.  I’m heading to bed before I oversleep again ;)  Good night everybody!

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