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Litigating against Goliath PLLC

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 15, 2014 in The After-3L Life

Samson and I get a lot of law-related magazines each month at the TDot Household.

From the American Bar Association there’s the ABA Journal, GPSolo, and The Young Lawyer (now restyled “tyl”). The Federal Bar Association sends me The Federal Lawyer. With the NC Bar Association there’s the quarterly NC Lawyer and the NCBA YLD’s The Advocate. The State Bar itself sends the quarterly State Bar Journal. Then of course there’s the must-read NC Lawyers Weekly that comes every Monday.

(And that’s just the stuff that arrives in the mailbox. There are a half-dozen more e-newsletters I get in my inbox, whether I’ve signed up for them or not :beatup: )

So with all that stuff to read — stuff that takes time away from reading case law and client-focused things — it’s not unusual for me to be a few days/weeks/months behind. Then one day over breakfast or lunch or dinner I’ll randomly decide I’m actually going to try and read something from the backlog.

Yesterday was one of those days. I’m eating a sausage biscuit for breakfast, open up the latest copy of the ABA Journal, get to the Letters to the Editor section, and notice one of the letters is about an attorney “Hunoval” touting Lean Six Sigma as a way to run a law firm.

He just happened to share the last name of a firm I’ve got a case against in US District Court for the Middle District of NC.1 And, given how uncommon the name is, I say aloud to myself “I wonder if this is the same firm?”, go digging for my March edition of the ABA Journal,2 and find this multi-page firm profile confirming it’s the same firm and going into detail on their process.

Now there’s nothing I can really say about the Hunoval Law Firm itself that wouldn’t get misconstrued.3 So this post isn’t about them per se, but rather about the ABA Journal’s fawning coverage of using Lean Six Sigma in a litigation-heavy law firm.

Is this really the recipe we want for running future firms, especially ones who regularly use the courts?

The thing about statistical processing is that, by definition, it ignores the individual in favor of the group. Cases get transformed from individual people with individual problems to cookie cutter file batches subjected to cookie cutter solutions.

And while I have -0- doubt that certainly does improve speed and efficiency, I’m not convinced it necessarily also yields quality or ethical litigation.

Take my client’s case as an example. Without getting into too much detail about the merits, it’s self-evident from the exhibits attached to our injunction request (and our reply to the Defendants’ response to that request) that something is very clearly “off” with the mortgagee’s accounting. The same mortgagee likely handles hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts; this one account happens to have a problem.

In a situation like that, one would hope an individual person could recognize the individual account has an individual problem and then tailor an individual solution.

Instead — no doubt from using the same principles of statistics-driven efficiency touted by the ABA Journal’s fluff piece — the mortgagee still can’t get things right years later, the account has been the subject of litigation since 2010 across multiple state and federal courts,4 and it will continue at least until we get to trial in April 2015.

The individual has been lost in the shuffle, even though “the individual” is ultimately what any given lawsuit revolves around.

Look, I’m all for saving my clients money and being more efficient.

But I’m also in favor of being an excellent lawyer. And that comes first on my hierarchy of career-related aspirations.

  1. If you’ve got a PACER account, take a look when you get bored — the case name is Annette M. Hayes v. Self-Help Credit Union, RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation, Five Brothers Mortgage Company Services and Securing Inc, and Douglas Allan Stuart a/k/a “D.A. Stuart”. The file number is 1:13-cv-880 (MDNC). []
  2. Which at that point I still hadn’t read :beatup: []
  3. Praise them and I’m just buttering them up to settle; criticize them and I’m just sharing sour grapes over them not settling. Either way we lose. []
  4. A foreclosure case in Wilson County Superior Court, a federal bankruptcy filing in EDNC, our tort suit in Durham County Superior Court removed to MDNC, and a new foreclosure case in Wilson County Superior Court (filed to pressure us to settle). There’s no telling how many trees have died over just this one account… :crack: []

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“First, let me take a selfie”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 13, 2014 in Randomness
Best pic of the TGD Law mascot evah

Best pic of the TGD Law mascot evah

I’ve been swamped with work so I don’t have enough time to write anything insightful just yet.

(yes yes I know, that’s become the standard start to more than a handful of blog entries here :beatup: )

But I did make a trip to the TGD Law banking institution, and while waiting in line for the ATM decided to take a “selfie”…1

…and Samson happened to turn right to the camera and smile :D

I have the most awesome dog :spin:

  1. Easily one of the most obnoxious words invented in the past decade… []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 9 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 11, 2014 in Background

I’ve learned after writing this blog for almost 5 years now that I have -0- clue what the future is going to hold.

See, e.g., me thinking I might make it to Marine Corps OCS (nope), or me thinking I might become a prosecutor (negative), or my in-retrospect-absurdly-ambitious plans for NC SPICE (LOL).

So I made sure to eschew making any predictions when I got asked the inevitable question of what I looked forward to in my undergraduate alma mater’s future.1 :beatup:

Here’s the last snippet from the interview, followed by some stuff on my history with traffic tickets:2

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – What do you look forward to for the future at NC State?

01:46 – Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

03:03 – Outtake: Traffic Tickets

And that’s it! Hopefully over these past 9 entries you’ve got a slightly more detailed view of the man-behind-the-blog.3 :)

Back to law-related stuff in the weeks ahead :D Hope all of you have had a great weekend, and enjoy the upcoming week!

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  1. Though I did make one small quip about our football team around the 1:31 mark… :angel: []
  2. Mentioned after inadvertently learning the camera hadn’t been cut off yet :beatup: []
  3. Also, I’ve now officially knocked out a third of my New Year’s resolutions ;) []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 8 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 10, 2014 in Background

Many years ago, back during the days-you-couldn’t-pay-me-to-relive when I was a 1L, I wrote this entry on LRA mentioning how my computer science background helped me with studying law (and also how I hated LRA :mad: ).

That was the main topic in the penultimate snippet from my interview with the NCSU Libraries as part of their Student Leadership Initiative — not just how computer science prepared me for law school, but how my NC State education in general factored in.

Before we get to that though, you get to witness me being stumped by a question because the thing I thought was the highlight of my career in Student Senate was dead by the time I had the interview :beatup:

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a student leader at NC State?

02:11 – Do you think your time at NC State has prepared you so far for law school?

06:07 – Could you talk a little bit about how your time at State has influenced your life more broadly?

Only one more video left, then I’ll get back to law-related stuff :) Good night y’all!

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 7 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 9, 2014 in Background

Long-time readers of law:/dev/null1 have likely already come across at least one of the several dozen entries I’ve posted over the years on the UNC Association of Student Governments under our UNCASG tag and the Student Government category :beatup:

If my time leading the Student Senate2 was best characterized as a hobby, UNCASG quickly developed into an obsession.

The group had grown so wholly and completely dysfunctional that it was practically begging for unconventional leadership, and I truly felt called to step up and fix it. So I eventually teamed up with the Pickle Princess to burn everything to the ground and start over — with N.C. State as my template.

But first there was the whole issue of running for reelection for the purpose of vanquishing a certain villain

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – So what factors influenced your decision to run for reelection?

07:27 – How did you handle both responsibilities as Student Senate President and ASG President?

Hope all of you have had a great week, and enjoy your weekend! :D

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  1. **THANK YOU**! :* []
  2. The single most-distinguished student deliberative assembly ever conceived in the State of North Carolina :spin: []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 6 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 8, 2014 in Background

Every good story needs a good villain, and during my tenure as N.C. State‘s Student Senate President that villain was the Student Body President.

It might have been my own fault, informing the then-President-elect1 “I’m not taking any sh*t off the Executive Branch” — on the night we got elected :beatup:

Maybe I never gave him a fair shake because I’d always hated the Office of the Student Body President as an institution.

Or perhaps it really was how I saw it at the time: our two paths diverging over the failed leadership of the statewide UNC Association of Student Governments, and the fissures growing with each misstep from there.

Whatever the reason, the discord was sufficiently epic2 that it became the single longest response to any question I got asked as part of my interview with the Student Leadership Initiative. Take a look:

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – Can you describe how you collaborated with other Student Government branches, particularly your relationship with Student Body President Bobby Mills?

Needless to say I wasn’t a member of the fan club :)

Thanks for watching, have a great night!

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  1. A recent candidate for the N.C. General Assembly down in Onslow County. []
  2. Including me having him thrown out of Senate chambers, and later chronicling his foibles in a censure resolution that was (intentionally) blocked before it could reach committee — ensuring its text would never be amended :angel: []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 5 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 7, 2014 in Background

So what would you do if you suddenly found yourself elected to public office with a huge mandate… and no platform?

That’s the question-behind-the-question of this next snippet of my interview with the NCSU Libraries Student Leadership Initiative.

Here’s a hint: we did a lot of things for the first time ever, and didn’t give three-tenths of half a damn what the University Administration thought about it :D

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – So following your election to the presidency, did you make an effort to instate Hankins as Student Senate President?

02:23 – So you just mentioned the fee referendum, so we’ll talk about that if you don’t mind. Can you describe the student fee referendum and how your administration implemented it?

08:45 – As Student Senate President, you called for Congressional repeal of a bill that limited financial aid given to students with drug convictions. What inspired you to advocate for that issue?

Hope all of you had a great Wednesday! More tomorrow :)

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 4 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 6, 2014 in Background

It’s an odd bit of serendipity that today’s video in the NCSU Student Leadership Initiative snippets I’ve been posting happens to coincide with Election Day nationwide.1

When I finally rejoined the N.C. State Student Senate in April 2006, I was the campus equivalent of a snakebitten candidate. My initial spot in the Student Senate was only via appointment; when I ran in my first real election in March 1999, I foolishly filed for Student Senate President (as a 17-year-old) and got walloped. I ran again in March 2000 only to get pulled off the ballot en route to dropping out. Then I tried for a simple Student Senate seat in March 2006, with 4 candidates running for 3 College of Engineering seats…

…and I came in 4th out of 4, losing to a guy who didn’t even campaign :beatup:

So after starting 0-for-3*2 in the election arena, I finally had an uncontested race for a Senate seat going into March 2007 and was looking forward to getting my first notch in the “Win” column.

Then I gave it up.

The rest of the story is too crazy for words,3 so here’s the video:

Questions in this Clip:

0:00:00 – During that time period, the Elections Commission decided to remove Student Senator James Hankins from the Student Senate President ballot. Can you talk about that, and your response to his removal?

Thanks for watching :) I hope all of your respective candidates won on this particular Primary Election Day! :D

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  • Part 1 of 9: The Backstory (05/03/14)
  • Part 2 of 9: In the Beginning… (05/04/14)
  • Part 3 of 9: Dropping Out (05/05/14)
  • Part 4 of 9: Prelude to Revolution (05/06/14) [this post]
  • Part 5 of 9: Party Time in Witherspoon (05/07/14)
  • Part 6 of 9: “Collaboration” (05/08/14)
  • Part 7 of 9: SSP Round Two and UNCASG (05/09/14)
  • Part 8 of 9: Law School (05/10/14)
  • Part 9 of 9: Traffic Tickets (05/11/14)
  1. And, believe it or not, I didn’t plan it out that way! :crack: []
  2. Don’t know if getting removed from the ballot counts as a loss or not. I’ll leave that for y’all to decide ;) []
  3. As testament to the craziness: my 2nd (3rd?) SSP campaign became course material for -3- different classes at N.C. State :surprised: Professors taught students about the campaign in a course on marketing in the College of Management, a course on campaigning in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, and a course on computer ethics (using Facebook for opposition research) in the College of Engineering. :spin: []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 3 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 5, 2014 in Background

Most folks I meet don’t believe it when they find out I was once a homeless college dropout.1 I’ve mentioned it occasionally here at law:/dev/null but I generally don’t talk about it in person — it’s not exactly an uplifting topic! :beatup:

Well of course that ended up being one of the topics of discussion during my interview with the N.C. State Libraries as part of their Student Leadership Initiative (links to Part 1 and Part 2 are below).

We also chat about me helping to shepherd a few items through the Student Senate on my return, including the creation of a campus LGBT Center.2

Enjoy :)

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – You’ve spoken about the challenges you faced while you were a student, specifically your time as a self-described “college dropout.” Can you talk a little bit about why you dropped out and what factors influenced your decision to return?

08:21 – As a Student Senator, you authored many bills including the Student Media Independence Referendum and a bill that supported the establishment of a campus LGBT center. Can you talk about your decision to support these bills?

I’m off for a weekly poker night with one of my mentors and his friends :D Have a great night y’all!

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  • Part 1 of 9: The Backstory (05/03/14)
  • Part 2 of 9: In the Beginning… (05/04/14)
  • Part 3 of 9: Dropping Out (05/05/14) [this post]
  • Part 4 of 9: Prelude to Revolution (05/06/14)
  • Part 5 of 9: Party Time in Witherspoon (05/07/14)
  • Part 6 of 9: “Collaboration” (05/08/14)
  • Part 7 of 9: SSP Round Two and UNCASG (05/09/14)
  • Part 8 of 9: Law School (05/10/14)
  • Part 9 of 9: Traffic Tickets (05/11/14)
  1. Case in point: back during law school graduation, after NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms offered some kind words about me to the crowd, Top Gun asked me when I got in line for my diploma “Is all that stuff he said true?” in total disbelief. []
  2. Apologies to my friends who just went into shock to discover I was supporting the LGBT community before it was trendy ;) []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 2 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 4, 2014 in Background

Happy Star Wars Day everybody, and May the Fourth be with you :D

Yesterday I gave y’all the background behind a 1.5-hour long oral history project I did with the N.C. State Libraries — if you haven’t read that entry yet, you’ll want to do that before watching the video below so you understand why they ask the things they ask.

Go ahead. We’ll wait. :)

The interview is broken into 8 snippets of around 10 minutes or so apiece. Here’s the first one, on my background and deciding to come to NC State:

And for those who like knowing what they’re about to watch, here are the questions they ask me and the timestamps for them:

Questions in this Clip:

0:00:19 – Before we begin talking about your time at State, we’d like to talk to you about where you’re originally from?

0:00:48 – Do you have any siblings?

0:00:58 – What factors influenced your decision to attend NC State?

0:02:11 – Did you live on campus?

0:02:31 – Can you describe what it was like to live on campus?

0:03:45 – What campus events or clubs did you participate in?

0:06:37 – What did you hope to gain from your involvement in Student Government?

0:07:55 – Following your first year as a Student Senator, you campaigned for Student Senate President. Can you describe that?

Next video tomorrow — good night folks!

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  • Part 1 of 9: The Backstory (05/03/14)
  • Part 2 of 9: In the Beginning… (05/04/14) [this post]
  • Part 3 of 9: Dropping Out (05/05/14)
  • Part 4 of 9: Prelude to Revolution (05/06/14)
  • Part 5 of 9: Party Time in Witherspoon (05/07/14)
  • Part 6 of 9: “Collaboration” (05/08/14)
  • Part 7 of 9: SSP Round Two and UNCASG (05/09/14)
  • Part 8 of 9: Law School (05/10/14)
  • Part 9 of 9: Traffic Tickets (05/11/14)

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