Did someone say “competition”?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 3, 2010 in The 2L Life

Earlier today one of the 3Ls at NCCU Law sent me an email asking if I’d be interested in teaming up with him for the Veterans Law Appellate Advocacy Competition sponsored by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the CAVC Bar Association.  The competition is almost-brand-new (last year was the first time it was held) and will be taking place in Washington DC in mid-October.

I was flattered to even be asked… but then had to check the email at least a dozen times to see if it was one of those TWEN group messages with multiple recipients, since I remembered (i) I’m barely a 2L, (ii) my grades aren’t that great, and (iii) I haven’t done anything related to moot court at all since I’ve been in law school :beatup:

My competition track record is also hit-or-miss. Sure sometimes things turn out better than expected, like when our 1L Trial Team made a run to the finals in the Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition or when Alice in Wonderland snagged 3rd place in our annual Mary Wright Closing Argument Competition. But that gets counter-balanced by the bundle of #fail known as my performance in the ABA Client Counseling Competition, not to mention losing my race for SBA 1L Representative back in September.

But I said yes anyway, because God knows I’ll try anything once if it’s a competition :beatup:

So if any of you have any appellate advocacy tips or veterans law pointers, feel free to let me know ;)  Until then, have a great night! :D

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A preview of Spring 2010

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 11, 2010 in The 1L Life

First day of classes ended a couple hours ago :) So I’m currently hanging out in the Fishbowl waiting for 1L Trial Team practice to start @ 12pm and then the Client Counseling Competition to start @ 4pm.

My schedule for Spring 2010

NCCU Law schedules the 1L Spring semester so it’s more intense than the Fall.  The number of credit hours only goes up by 1 (from 14 to 15) but we tack on a 6th class — and the difference in workload between a 2-credit class and a 3-credit class is negligible.

But even with the added work, and even though last semester’s grades were an unmitigated disaster (more on those in an upcoming post), I’m cautiously optimistic about how things are going to turn out.

Several of the 2Ls and 3Ls I hit up for advice have favorably compared Professor CrimLaw to MDG: sardonic wit, merciless grader, excellent instructor.  And now that we’ve covered service and jurisdiction in CivPro, MDG will finally be teaching us the nuts and bolts there too; we’re starting with the Erie Doctrine this week, then delving into the complaint and other pleadings.  Plus I’ll have a chance to start fresh in Ks… and hopefully figure out wtf is going on this time :beatup:

Off to practice.  Have a great day everybody! :D

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TDot’s Tips: Final Exam Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 16, 2009 in TDot's Tips

Sorry for the extended break, I was enjoying the whole “class is over and I don’t have anything to do”-ness of winter break.  But today was mostly spent at the law school, meaning it was time to finally get around to resuming the blog posts here at law:/dev/null :)

Today itself was… interesting.  I was fortunate enough to make the 1L trial advocacy team for a competition next month, but the preliminary interview for the Client Counseling Competition was an unmitigated disaster. I’m lucky Madame Prosecutor didn’t wring my neck in the middle of the interview room because I clearly don’t know the first thing about interviewing potential clients :beatup:

Fortunately I’m getting the experience now so I’ll be in better shape a few weeks from now.

Speaking of getting experience: exams! Wow. That was an experience.

My classmates and I had a little heads up on how everything was going to happen since the N.C. Central University School of Law is one of apparently few law schools that provide midterm exams. But in the words of MDG: “The difference between midterms and finals is like the difference between a chihuahua and a great dane.”

He wasn’t lying.

The multiple choice questions in all of the classes were almost absurdly nitpicky (hat tip to Jansen for the word choice ;)). It was one of those situations where I could tell what specific topic the professor was trying to test, but the particulars were sufficiently complex that I couldn’t say with any degree of certainty whether or not I chose the right answer. And of course nearly every question had “D. All of the above. E. None of the above.” as the last two answer choices.

I’m taking solace in the fact I finished all of the essays, which was a switch from midterms.

Anyhow, now that exams are over I figured I’d share some of my own tips on exam prep. I stipulate that some of this reiterates advice other blawgers have already given — see FTS and FO and idswj — but I figured I’d tell you what worked for me so you have another perspective to add when considering different techniques ;)

  1. DON’T STRESS! If you ignore every other bullet point in this entry, remember this. One of the awkward moments of final exams was spent trying to console a friend who was having a mental breakdown, even though she’s one of maybe 4 people in our section who I’d bet actual cash on knowing the material backwards and forwards. Yes, grades are important — but they’re not the end of the world. Stressing out to the point of melting down just makes you less competitive when you take the actual test.
  2. Rehearse if it helps. No matter how many times folks read that earlier bullet, some of them are still going to freak out over exams. One way to help deal with that nervousness is to practice under as-close-to-real-life conditions as you can get. Find practice exams and force yourself to take them under strict time conditions; use a stopwatch to time you if necessary. If you can only find 1 or 2 practice exams, re-take them until you’re comfortable. Remember the objective with these practice exams isn’t necessarily to get the material down cold, but instead to help you stay calm in the actual test.
  3. Study however works best for you. It may sound strange, but I’ve become a firm believer in Dr. Psych’s comments on learning styles. I’m overwhelmingly a kinesthetic/”tactile” learner — I learn by doing. For me that means writing out index cards (CivPro) or taking practice exams (Property). If you’re a visual learner, you’ll probably benefit from reading and re-reading your outline several times. And if you’re an aural learner, try saying your outline aloud so you hear it. Matching your study habits with your study style helps burn the information deep into your mind for finals :)
  4. Sleep. Adequate rest is important to remembering the information you absorbed studying, and it will help you stay focused on the exam itself. Trying to go off 2-3 hours of sleep because you pulled an all-nighter is counterproductive. You should have learned that in undergrad :P
  5. Do the multiple choice questions first. Unless you’re *very* disciplined with your test-taking skills, knock out the multiple choice questions before moving to the essays. A handful of my colleagues tried to reverse what they tackled first since several folks ran out of time on the midterms, and a few never made it to the multiples at all on the final as a result. Essays are free-form, so we naturally spend more time writing, tweaking, editing, adding, etc. They’re a huge time sink, and if you don’t grab the easy points first (the multiples) you risk missing them entirely.
  6. Remember the Rules of Fight Club. Mariel said it best, so I’ll defer to her ;)
  7. Smile (when it’s over). You’ve survived. Pat yourself on the back for a semester’s worth of hard work, and know you’re that much closer to the end of the road and the J.D. waiting there for you :D
  8. For those of you who are finally done with your final exams, congratulations! :) And to those of you still slogging through the trenches on the way to the end of the semester — GOOD LUCK! :D

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Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 9, 2009 in The 1L Life

I can’t study :beatup:

You’d think being less than 24 hours away from the last exam of the semester (Torts) would have a way of narrowing one’s mental faculties, but I just can’t seem to focus.

The weather’s no help: it’s currently gorgeous outside, about 70º with the sun shining after we’ve spent most of the past week at near-Arctic temperatures accompanied by chronic rain. We’ll be back to that overcast frigidity tomorrow, but for now Mother Nature decided to bless/torment me with a nice day.

But the bigger issue? I’m actually excited about the semester ending :)

You’d have to go all the way back to my sophomore year at N.C. State — December 1999 — to find me in a similarly jovial mood. After I dropped out there was no “Christmas break” from work outside of the couple days around the holiday itself, and when I got back to college in 2005 I spent literally every one of my last few breaks in undergrad stressing out trying to finish a Computer Science project of some fashion or another that I didn’t complete during the semester itself (the professors who read law:/dev/null are currently nodding their heads :beatup: ).

My law school experience was a fresh start, and the clean slate prompted me to work harder so there’s no unfinished academic business. I’ve still got stuff to do over the holiday break, including the ABA Client Counseling Competition and 1L oral argument competition (plus I may take Jansen’s advice and work on the blog design — thoughts?).

But the important thing is that it’s all voluntary stuff I’m doing because I enjoy it, and once it’s over… I basically can occupy my time with whatever I want from then until classes start again on January 11th :D

So yeah, I’m a little excited/distracted as a result.

I’m going to head back to the books and try to focus for another hour or so, then probably take another break :beatup: Have a great day everybody! :D

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“Just because everyone else is doing it…”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 23, 2009 in The 1L Life

Peer pressure was never really a problem for me growing up. I think. If it was, I’ve successfully repressed the bad memories ;)

From left: me, the SBP of UNCSA, the SBVP of ECSU, and the SBP of UNCW

From left: me, the SBVP of ECSU, the SBP of UNCSA,  and the SBP of UNCW

But now that I’m older, mentioning the word “competition” coupled with a friend’s name is like waving a bloody slab of meat in shark-infested water.

Case in point: deciding to compete with some of my UNCASG folks in a rock wall climbing competition before Saturday’s football game, even though I’d never climbed a rock wall in my life (I came in 4th of 4 :( ).

Law school is no different.

Madame Prosecutor and I are already teaming up for the American Bar Association‘s Client Counseling Competition even though it’s entirely dominated by 2Ls and 3Ls. Then earlier today I got an email announcing that it’s the last day to sign up for a 1L oral argument competition sponsored by Kilpatrick Stockton… and nearly half of my section is already signed up.

So naturally I did the same :beatup:

It looks like it’s part of a larger mock trial competition and the 1Ls are only doing the opening statements, so the volume of work is far less than having to do actual research on securities fraud (my prep topic for the CCC). I’m just wondering if this competitive zeal is going to continue into my legal career, or if I’ll end up getting burned out from it… :)

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #11

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 10, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

Happy 234th bday to the US Marine Corps! Consider this morning’s PT session your gift :beatup: Officially doing the ABA competition, off to study!

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To counsel, or not to counsel?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 2, 2009 in The 1L Life

Stayed late at the N.C. Central School of Law today for the first time since the semester began. I usually head for home once class is over, partly to avoid drama and partly because my apartment is tailored to my learning style, but there was an interest meeting for the ABA’s Client Counseling Competition just before dinner. Madame Prosecutor mentioned it to me during poker night on Friday, and given our competitive tendencies I figured I needed to make an appearance in case I decided to join in.

Have any of y’all done any of these? Are they worth the effort?

Participation nets me an ungraded 1-credit course in exchange for extra work in November/December/January. And it’s a team competition, so I’d have to find someone who’s (i) competent, (ii) personable, and (iii) able to tolerate me (and vice versa). I don’t really need it for the résumé… but at the same time, I loooooove competition.

2Ls, 3Ls, post-Ls — give me your thoughts please :D

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