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I TALKED TO ANTONIN SCALIA!!! :D

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 4, 2012 in The 3L Life

You guys!

I talked to Antonin Scalia! :D   :D   :D

Well, “talked to” as in “asked a question that he answered” — but that’s close enough for this 3L :spin:

I was hoping to snap a better shot, but right as I took this they announced no pictures or recording devices were allowed... :|

Today was Day 2 for EIC and I at the ABA’s Midyear Meeting 2012. Neither of us found any other law students in the morning (again), so we hit two different CLEs1 and then headed to an afternoon Q&A session where Justice Scalia was the featured guest.

We got there über-early, so we got prime seats on the 3rd row along the center aisle. It’s the first time I’ve actually seen a Supreme Court Justice live in-person so I wanted a decent view :beatup:

Regardless of one’s opinion on his opinions, Scalia was/is hilarious and had the audience laughing on a fairly regular basis — even more impressive when you consider that these were law-oriented jokes and not your typical comedy fare. He had a number of anecdotes interwoven into his substantive commentary to keep things interesting.

After talking for not-quite-an-hour on the state of the courts, how the Supreme Court works, his past opinions and such, the floor was opened for audience questions. So I decided to raise my hand and got to be one of the five questions he answered.2 :D

It was a pretty snazzy experience :spin:

A Pat O'Brien's Hurricane: highly recommended for a reason

Once the Scalia talk wrapped it was dinner time, so we headed over to Pat O’Brien’s for food and drinks. Their Cajun Shephard’s Pie was great, incredibly delicious. We each also tried one of their Hurricanes (at the request of, literally, almost a dozen friends) and now understand why they were so highly recommended.3

After that we hit Cafe du Monde again for more beignets, explored the French Market area, did a smidge of souvenir shopping and headed back to the hotel.

I feel lame for being back in the room by 8pm on a Saturday night in New Orleans, but I’m doggone tired  :beatup:

Hope all of you have an amazing weekend! I’m getting up early again tomorrow so I can start packing up for the trip home. It’s been a great time in NOLA but I’m looking forward to being back in the Bull City :)

Have a good night!

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From the law:/dev/null 2012 ABA Midyear Meeting-related archives:

  1. Hers on indigent defense, mine on computer security, privacy rights and the law. []
  2. Though it was a softball: I asked if he stood by his opinion that we have too many lawyers and if he ever envisioned it changing, just to see what he’d say to a room full of lawyers :angel: []
  3. And as an ego boost — witnessed by EIC — one of the waiters (not ours) saw me in my campaign t-shirt and goes “I LOVE that t-shirt man! That T. on it is hot!B-) []

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First Impressions: ABA Midyear Meeting 2012, Day 1

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

This is a lot different from the ABA’s annual shindig

First, neither EIC nor I have found a single law student here :surprised:  From the agenda it looks like the only thing the Law Student Division has going on is the National Negotiation Competition — so we stopped by to see who we could see, and didn’t see a soul. A huge disappointment in my opinion, and a highlight of why it’s difficult increasing participation in the ABA-LSD.

There are also fewer attorneys here overall, which means fewer CLEs and more meetings for the leadership of the ABA’s multitude of Divisions, Sections, Committees, and so on. It looks like that’s the purpose for why the midyear meetings were created in the first place; it’s just difficult for a law student to break the ice when you walk in a room and you’re not part of the “in” crowd on that committee.

We did swing through several events though. This morning we sat in on a CLE discussing the trends in cybercrime heading into 2012. It was an interesting discussion, though one where I felt my inner computer scientist and political libertarian creeping out. For example, the CLE began with a discussion of Anonymous and LulzSec… labeled as terrorist organizations :crack:  I have a hard time accepting the notion that hacktivists are of the same mold as Al Qaeda or Los Zetas. A few minutes later a panelist with the Secret Service commented on the Jones SCOTUS decision and how GPS “tracked your phone number” so a vendor could text you when you were in the vicinity of their store — except GPS only tracks the GPS receiver in your phone, and any text messages you got based on that data would be the result of you sharing your phone number with a vendor a priori, and not because of some innate danger to GPS itself.

View of the Mississippi River from the hotel's 41st floor (Panorama via AutoStitch iPhone app)

Afterwards we stopped by a roundtable discussion on election laws going into the 2012 election cycle, where we happened to cross paths (again) with former NC Supreme Court Justice Henry Frye. The roundtable itself featured an at-length discussion of Voter ID laws in Louisiana, similar to those that were vetoed in North Carolina, and how the law was implemented. With North Carolina shaping up to be an electoral battleground next year it was an interesting conversation.

Following the election panel we headed over to a CLE on qui tam lawsuits, easily among the Top 3 most lively debates I’ve ever seen at a CLE. I confess to knowing almost nothing about qui tam suits beyond what I learned in Employment Discrimination last semester, or how many of them (if any) there are here in North Carolina, but I spoke with the panelists for a bit afterwards and if this turns out to be something our alumni do I’m hoping to bring them down to NCCU Law for a panel discussion some time in the future.

CLEs aside, New Orleans is very cool :) We took some time to go explore, eat some po’boys and other Louisana staples, shop a bit, and otherwise wander around. And we ate some beignets from Cafe du Monde that tasted delicious.1 The whole area is an interesting blend of really really really old mixed with the modern and tourist-y stuff. It also reminds me of Disney’s The Princess & the Frog (courtesy of EIC’s voice impressions) and a smidge of Q.T., who has a very Tiana-like persona.

Once the exploring was done I came back here to the hotel to crash and do some work. Things resume early tomorrow morning and frankly I need my beauty sleep too :beatup:

If you haven’t been to New Orleans before, definitely add it to your life’s to-do list! From what I’ve seen so far it’s pretty amazing.

Until then, have a great night y’all! :D

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From the law:/dev/null 2012 ABA Midyear Meeting-related archives:

  1. Yes, I’m sufficiently fat-minded that beignets get their own special line of commentary in that paragraph :P []

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Greetings from New Orleans!

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

Hi from the Big Easy y’all! :D

1 more state added to the list!

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

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

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

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

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All good things come to an end…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 31, 2012 in The 3L Life

In a case of déjà vu all over again, I went ahead and stepped down from my internship with the Durham County District Attorney’s Office earlier this afternoon :(

I really enjoyed the job — especially after winning my first “real” trial — but after praying about things this weekend and talking things out with MDG earlier today, I realized I’d kick myself for a good long while  if I graduated a hair’s breadth under a 3.0 and didn’t at least try to make it above.1 The staff was very understanding during our conversation about my decision; my hope is they’ll have me back at some point down the road if I end up heading in that direction professionally.

In the meantime, I plan on using my newly-recovered free time to put some real effort into my classes and flesh out this proposal for the Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment idea. I’ve been marinating on it over the past couple weeks and really think I could turn it into something awesome :)  Fingers crossed.

That’s it for now, lots going on this week then heading to New Orleans this weekend for the ABA Midyear Meeting. More soon!

  1. Can any of you imagine 1L version of me ever saying that? :crack: []

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4

Hi! I’m alive, thanks for checking

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 29, 2012 in The 3L Life

Yes, I’m still here :D

When I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was sequestered in my own personalized version of 3L Hell, I wasn’t joking. For most of January my schedule’s followed a pattern: Wake up at 6am, feed/walk dog, bathe, get dressed, go to class then work then trial team practice, come home around 10pm, feed/walk dog, do homework until midnight-ish and go to bed. For a time I had briefly hit the point where I was downing five 20oz bottles of Diet Mt Dew a day and living off Pop-Tarts, animal crackers, multivitamins, and anything else I could eat in the car  :sick:

Which of course didn’t leave much room for updating law:/dev/null :beatup:

I don’t have *too* much time to write tonight, but I miss talking with y’all so here’s a quick bullet list on some of what’s happened since mid-December:

  • Fall semester continued in perpetuity; finally done. With the different extracurricular activities I was engaged in, plus a job on the side, the Fall semester didn’t actually end until a couple weeks ago. I had papers due in Employment Discrimination and another for Constitutional Law II, so I had flashbacks of undergrad and never really got a substantive break during the winter. It was basically a mini-mester trying to clean up what didn’t get finished and spending more hours than I care to admit in the law building.1
  • Wolfpack won the Belk Bowl. But I did take a few hours from the ongoing academic tedium to go with 雅雅 to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, where the NC State Wolfpack dismantled the Louisville Cardinals :D  Didn’t have the time or money to stay overnight like we did for the Champs Bowl last year, but I needed the break and the game was only a few hours away. Watching another win in person was worth the freezing temps and packed stadium :)
  • Most un-Christmas-y Christmas evah. Christmas is my 3rd favorite holiday of the year, following Independence Day at #1 and Thanksgiving at #2… but this year there basically was no Christmas at all :beatup:  With the academic stuff due I couldn’t take the time to go visit anyone (and didn’t have the money for it anyway), but then on top of it I couldn’t even put up my own tree because Samson tried eating the ornaments — the stuffed ones apparently looked like toys worth chewing apart, and the ceramic ones evidently looked like dog treats. So it was easily the most un-Christmas-y Christmas I’d ever “celebrated.” Not sure what the plan will be for next year, but I need to figure something out to stop the dog from destroying things.
  • Samson nearly died before New Year’s. Speaking of Samson, he nearly died right before New Year’s :cry:  He was given one of those big raw pork bones as a Christmas gift, because they’re allegedly great for dogs, but somehow the snippets of bones he managed to chew off clogged up his insides. He wasn’t able to poop and howled in pain when he tried, then woke me up at 4am to go outside and puke. So I freaked out and rushed him to the vet; they took an x-ray and discovered he had backed up fecal matter running nearly the length of his body. They put him in the pet hospital, gave him an enema and an IV and some special food, and a few hundred dollars later he was miserable but alive. Though you can’t tell he nearly died from the way he acts now, as he still tries to eat every damn thing in sight… :mad:
  • Got myself a Christmas present: fixed TV. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in a past entry, but what seems like an eternity ago the bulb in my bought-cheap-on-CraigsList projector television finally burned out so I’ve been working for the past couple months either (i) in dead silence or (ii) with video-less music on in the background. So while Christmas itself wasn’t particularly festive, in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve I decided to give myself a Christmas present and finally fix the burned-out projector in the name of being more productive.2 With bulb costs being what they are for a projector that was/is 5 years old, it was actually cheaper to get a brand new projector with better specs. Money I couldn’t really afford to spend given the mortgage payments I still owe BarBri, but I wasn’t going to be able to make it all the way through to August without a TV :beatup:
  • Finally completed NC Bar application! On January 3rd I finally got my monster-of-a-bar-app mailed off. The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners likes knowing every single thing you’ve ever done in your life since you’ve turned 18 — and, in the case of my last name changing when I was adopted at 3-years-old, the stuff before 18 :crack: — to the point where starting the app back in September wasn’t even early enough for me to get all of it done before the last possible moment. I had to request documents from the Social Security Administration to make sure I listed every single place I’ve ever worked, go rummaging through my Bucket-o’-Files to find residential records from the period right after I dropped out of college,3 go to the Clerk’s Office to find out all the cases I testified in back when I worked as the Clerk’s Office ombudsman down in Wake County, come up with 12 different character references, make three copies of everything, and on and on and on. Then include the $700.00 fee to apply, and set aside another +$125.00 to use my computer on the bar exam.4 But fortunately — it’s all done. So yay. And to anyone even older than me: START NOW or you’ll regret it!
  • 1Ls won Kilpatrick-Townsend competition. I’ve already talked about this one at length so nothing much more to say. I’m just glad it validated my philosophy that people produce a better work product when they’re forced to develop it themselves :) Very proud of these folks!
  • Any guesses on which team is mine?

    Submitted brief for Howard moot court competition. A couple months ago I mentioned making the moot court team, the end result of an ill-conceived experiment to see if I had been avoiding it out of fear the past two years or if I really had the skill to do it if I wanted. I was slated for the Howard Moot Court Competition taking place in Washington D.C. at the end of February. Making the team and getting the Howard brief done both came at a high cost — days spent brief writing and editing, that probably should have been spent on classwork instead — but I’m proud of the end result. Feel free to review the briefs if you get bored and guess which one is ours ;)

  • Got a position with the Durham DA’s office… I also somehow convinced the Durham County District Attorney’s Office to bring me in as an intern :surprised:  First day was about 3ish weeks ago. The sheer volume of work — and the… mmm… unique folks who come through the courthouse (especially in traffic court) — have made it a pretty awesome experience so far. I could definitely see myself working there after graduation.
  • …and won my first case! I’m also officially 1-0 on my “real world” trial record! :D I’m slated to work on Tuesday afternoons, and typically there’s absolutely nothing going on in District Court so I end up working on subpoenas and other administrative stuff. So last Tuesday I decided to be a good little intern and show up to work 15 minutes early, get sent down to misdemeanor criminal court… and get handed two shucks and told “Go interview your officer, you’ve got this next case” :eek:  I had no expectation of trying a case, so I didn’t have any notes, my North Carolina Crimes book, nada. I was so absolutely terrified I quite literally forgot what it was I was supposed to prove in a criminal trial; as I’m out in the hallway going through the shucks trying to ascertain what’s going on, I grab an ADA who helped us with trial team last year and plead for a smidge of guidance. She replies “Well what are your elements for the offense?” and suddenly “DING!” my inner lightbulb finally clicks on. I find the officer, read his police report, get asked by him what he can expect on cross, and somehow came up with a quasi-intelligent and spot-on answer. I don’t think I’m allowed to go into too much detail, but it involved two Defendants (and their respective attorneys) charged with minor-but-serious firearms offenses.5 I went through my direct a bit fast due to the nervousness, but the more opposing counsel objected to a response — or asked something ridiculous on cross-examination6 — the more I got into my zone. Neither Defendant took the stand, and a few closing arguments later they were found guilty and sentenced to active time, a fine, probation, and a prohibition from owning firearms. Not bad for my first go-round :)
  • Rewarded myself with a new laptop. In exchange for getting the DA gig, I “rewarded” myself by finally upgrading my trusty 5-year-old MacBook Pro. The Department of Education enables students to get a one-time financial aid boost once in undergrad and once in graduate/professional school for a computer purchase, and it was hitting the point where I’d need something I could use for the first couple years when I start practicing. So I’ve now gone from an original Core Duo with a self-upgraded 250GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM to a new quad-core i77 with a 750GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM :eek:  Seeing how much the hardware has advanced in the past half decade is crazy. I don’t like some of the changes (e.g. there are new function keys to play/pause/rewind/fast forward, so I have to press the Function key to use Dashboard and such) but overall it’s nice being back on the leading edge of technology for another couple months.
  • Fall grades were a disaster. While everything else was going smoothly, my grades turned out better than anticipated but worse than I wanted (if that makes sense). I’ve now fallen back below a 3.0 for the first time in a year and will have to pull off a miracle to graduate with honors. And in all likelihood I won’t be able to finish the Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration I’ve been working on for the past 2.5 years. We’ll see what happens.
  • Debating giving up internship to focus on grades and SPICE. The grade situation has prompted me to reassess what I’m doing this semester, and I’m giving serious consideration to dropping the DA internship and some other activities to free up time to focus on grades and the SPICE proposal. It’s not an ideal situation, especially with the economy, but doing the jack-of-all-trades thing clearly isn’t working. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s it for tonight y’all, thanks for still reading :) Hopefully more posts in the days ahead. Good night!

  1. Including 2 separate occasions where I got thrown out by Public Safety because the building was supposedly closed :beatup: []
  2. I am, for reasons unknown to me, more productive when I have Law & Order reruns on in the background… []
  3. Note to the Board of Law Examiners: homeless people generally don’t have files or records of their homelessness. Nowhere to put our file cabinets and all… ::smh:: []
  4. As a point of comparison, the Marine Corps only wanted 10 years of documents back during my 1L year to make sure I passed the security check, and didn’t charge me for the application. Completing those docs was a cakewalk compared to this. []
  5. City code violations (hence the “minor”), but just about anything involving the discharge of an assault rifle qualifies as serious when it comes to prosecuting people. Especially in Durham. []
  6. “Didn’t my client tell you it was his mother’s assault rifle?” No bullsh*t on that one, that was the actual question! :crack: []
  7. Meaning 8 total virtual processors :surprised: []

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Quick update on the past week

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 20, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening y’all :)

Sorry for the abrupt disappearance this past week, but the end of the semester brought a flurry of activity that I’m still slogging through. Here’s a quick bulleted update on life:

  • I don’t remember what happened last Monday during the day, but I distinctly recall waking up from my first bona fide law school-related nightmare in awhile :crack: It was next semester and I was at my first CrimLaw tutorial… except I didn’t have my Keynote slides.1 So I decided that, to preoccupy the 1Ls, we’d go around introducing ourselves… except apparently several of the students had issues with each other, so when one girl introduced herself another called her a b*tch, shouting back and forth ensued, and not a single soul was listening as I tried to get them to shut up and pay attention. Then I decided to distract people with index cards, having them write down names and other tidbits about themselves instead of talking… except I couldn’t find any blank index cards. :beatup:  Every time I’d find a pile of them, they were already filled out. Even a mostly-fresh pile of index cards had an occasional filled-out card included, so I was trying to gather enough fresh cards while the room re-descended into chaos. It was a strange, odd, unpleasant dream. That thankfully has a 0% chance of happening next semester or I’ll physically beat someone :angel:
  • Last Tuesday was the first meeting of the NCCU Law 1L trial teams, letting them know roughly what to expect in the now-Kilpatrick-Townsend competition that will take place in January. This is now the 3rd generation of teams to compete so I’m hoping it will be a more-comfortable experience for these 1Ls now that they have both 2Ls and 3Ls available to share their experiences.
  • Right after the team meeting at 1pm was the release date for my Criminal Prosecution Clinic exam, which I spent the next 48 hours grinding through. Not difficult per se, but lengthy and detailed. Impressed that police and prosecutors are able to remember all of these various statutes…
  • Speaking of academics, I’m still not done.2 :beatup:  I’ve still got 2 briefs for Employment Discrimination to finish, and a paper for ConLaw II that hasn’t even substantively been started aside from my prep work for the radio show on my topic. I had long ago accepted the probability of failing both classes given all the other stuff I foolishly piled on my plate. Tack on the fact they’re both electives that I don’t need to graduate, and you have a dangerous recipe of grade-A Motivation Killer™ to at least turn in some kind of work product.
  • Not sure I’ll have time to get around to my usual guesswork “Here’s what I’m hoping to get grade-wise” posts for 3L Fall, so I’m tucking it in here: B+ in Sales, B- in Tax, A in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, D- in both Employment Discrimination and ConLaw II, for a 2.333 semester GPA. Fingers crossed for that or better. Will elaborate if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Part of why I’m not finished academically is because I’ve very successfully sidetracked myself on this going solo idea and exploring the creation of a small practice incubator at the law school. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading and researching, put together a proposal complete with financial projections, and have started farming it around among faculty at the school. I even came up with a snazzy acronym for it: the Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment… because a little seasoning makes everything better! ;)
  • I had also already stacked my calendar high with stuff scheduled for last week because I’m habitual about planning ahead, so when the papers didn’t get done on time they’ve got pushed even farther back then they would be otherwise as my focus shifted elsewhere. In addition to the Crim Prosecution exam, spent Wednesday afternoon catching up with a good friend over lunch who I hadn’t seen in ages. Thursday was spent finishing up the exam, turning it in, then skipping the first TYLA trial team meeting to immediately drive down to Raleigh to help with another good friend’s bachelor party.3 Friday was a smidge of work on the papers followed by the wedding rehearsal dinner, Saturday was the wedding, then Sunday was returning the tux to Men’s Wearhouse and finally catching up on life basics like laundry / dishes / vacuuming the disaster that had become my apartment.
  • Yesterday I got a smidge bit more work done, though not before inadvertently crossing paths with MDG in the hallway at school (my Emp Disc professor). I greatly appreciate that he hasn’t reamed me out for my slacker-ness… but it was still awkward exchanging pleasantries knowing I still owed the man two papers.4
  • And voila here we are at today. Behind on academics. Behind schedule on the moot court problem I’m working on.5  Behind schedule on the TYLA problem I’ll also be litigating in February. But otherwise alive, breathing, and determined to make it through the vacation in one piece ;)

That’s it for tonight’s entry. Hope all of you are doing well and enjoying the break yourselves! More to come once I get caught up :beatup:

Good night! :D

  1. Which was weird, because I put a lot of time and effort into producing high-quality visuals to go with my rapturous voice… []
  2. No one who knew me at NC State is surprised by that comment, after I somehow spent nearly all of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Christmas breaks working on homework… []
  3. He’s one of my former Student Senators and UNCASG colleagues, marrying another one of my former Student Senators. Having known both of them back when they were freshmen, and now not only being part of their wedding but knowing they’re graduating in May, reminds me (1) how old I am and (2) how blessed I’ve been to cross paths with the people I’ve crossed paths with :spin:   []
  4. A point he gently raised with a side-eye and a “Are you going to have something for me soon?” :beatup: []
  5. Haven’t had time to mention that I made Moot Court beyond a footnote in a previous MPRE entry, but I’ll be participating in Howard Law‘s William Bryant-Luke Charles Moore Invitational in February :)  Briefs due early January so it’ll be a busy break. []

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I can’t co-sign this enough: why I have 3L-itis

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 4, 2011 in The 3L Life

At the risk of sounding like one of those creepy internet stalker-type people, it’s no secret that I’ve derived many an LOL from reading Mariel’s commentary over at Fresh Thought Soup.

She’s a fellow Class of 2012 blawger way out at UT Law, and from the law school-related nightmares to the hilarious cartoons and most other stuff in between she writes stuff that’s (i) funny, (ii) on point, or typically (iii) both.

Besides, her blog currently has snow flakes falling — who doesn’t like snowflakes in winter??1 :D

Her latest entry squarely falls into the second category, but it’s so thoroughly spot on that I thought I’d mention it here and send y’all in her direction. Titled “Why I can’t study,” it’s basically a chronicle on 3L-itis that I wish I could just sign at the bottom.

Grades not being able to change much at this point because so many credits are already in the bag, to the point it’s mathematically impossible to reach the next academic plateau even if you banked straight A’s from now until graduation? Check.

Having a blend of classes that all-but-guarantees a net GPA roughly in line with your current long-run average? Check.

Realizing that you’re better in a hands-on practical environment where you can adapt and fix errors, compared to the sanitized world of client-less one-and-done law school exams? Check.

My classmates wonder why I’ve been so lax with academic stuff this semester after working so hard last year, now focusing more on the excessive quantity of extracurriculars I dove into — our situations might not be exactly the same, but Mariel’s voiced my thoughts on it pretty well. Definitely go read her piece when you have some free time :)

I’m off to resume work on my next set of final papers that aren’t getting done on time… :beatup:

  1. To my FAMU Law readers, put your hands down :P []

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7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks and have a great night!

—===—

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

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4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3

Gone ’til the weekend — happy Thanksgiving!

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

Good evening folks! :D

The pre-finals quasi-vacation for Thanksgiving has finally arrived, and I’m packing up to head to Nan & Pops’ place in Virginia Beach with Samson — his first out-of-state trip :)

Sadly I’ll be bringing homework with me, plus eating the actual Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt’s place because of the late notice I provided indicating my attendance, but at least I won’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner on my own like I did last year :beatup:

law:/dev/null will be on hiatus until I get back to the Bull City. *THANK YOU* as always for letting me borrow your eyeballs for however-many-minutes of your day, and I hope you and your families have an amazing Thanksgiving! :*

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