1

Halfway done!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 12, 2010 in The 2L Life

Another month, another one of my sporadic weeklong disappearances :beatup:

This has been a crazy week — spanning both final exams and a new job — but things are finally starting to get back into a rhythm so I can start focusing on the important things in life.

Including, but not limited to, the fact I’M NOW HALFWAY DONE WITH LAW SCHOOL! :spin: :spin: :spin:

::happy dance::

My last exam was in Evidence last Wednesday and with it my 2L Fall semester officially came to a close. Professors at NCCU Law have until January 12th to turn in grades so it’ll be awhile until I find out how I did, but here’s my expectations on how things will turn out:

  • Constitutional Law I: Unlike the midterm that I knew I knocked out of the park, I thought the final was pretty @#$%ing difficult :surprised:  30 multiple choice questions and then 3 essays spanning a whole range of issues. There were a few multiples I genuinely had no clue how to answer, and I was typing on the essays right down to the very last minute. After talking with classmates after the exam I’m fairly certain I missed a good chunk of stuff on the essays so at this point I’ll just be happy if my grade doesn’t have a negative impact on my GPA. Hoping for: B+.
  • Domestic Violence: History, Law & Practice: I drew a bead on this class early, determined to deal with the difficult subject matter and ace the course. I tried to avoid skipping class (difficult for an 8:30am time slot), intentionally went overboard perfecting my motion in limine, thought I was fairly well-prepared for oral arguments, and just generally worked my @$$ off to excel at everything. This is the only class where I’ll be legitimately irked if I don’t get the grade I want :beatup:  Hoping for: A.
  • Legal Letters: This was another paper-based course along with DVLaw, and I got near-perfect grades on all the assignments… except for the research memo I postponed in favor of studying for ConLaw. That dropped me to the bottom of the pile grade-wise, so the only hope I have for a decent grade is that (1) other classmates turned stuff in late too, and (2) my grades on the other assignments were marginally high enough compared to everyone else that I can edge past a few folks into the middle of the pack.  Hoping for: C+ or better.
  • Evidence: This one burns. 10 true/false question, 30 multiple choice, 1 essay. I know I completely and totally demolished the essay, in no small part due to knowledge I cemented in my brain doing research for DVLaw and from watching all 7 hours of BarBri’s online lectures (something I highly recommend for future exams). But the answer options on the multiple choice weren’t as precisely worded as I expected, and I often found myself feeling like I was playing a game of “pick the least wrong answer”… which means I probably didn’t know wtf I was doing :(  Fingers are crossed but this one falls into the ConLaw pile of “I’ll be glad as long as it doesn’t drop my GPA.” Hoping for: B+.
  • ZombieLaw (Decedents Estates I): My feelings toward this one have changed a bit since the post I wrote just after the exam. Initially I likened it to Contracts and my 1L Spring final, where spending a ton of time on questions just to work my way to an “either of these could be right” coin flip meant I did pretty bad. But in this case, although it took me 2.5 hours to grind through the 30 multiple choice questions, I eventually found an answer for each one that made sense to me — there was no coin-flipping at all. So my hope of hopes is that it means I got all the multiple choice right ::fingers crossed:: Hoping for: A-.
  • Expected 2L Fall GPA: 3.400 | Probability Factor: 18.2%

Why the added “Probability Factor” on this particular grade rundown? Well, if all these grades turn out like I hope, that means I’d make the Dean’s List… a feat I haven’t accomplished since Fall 2005, my first semester back at N.C. State :beatup:

Back in undergrad I had an incentive to perform well, since I had a pre-existing agreement with the Dean’s office set up in 2000 where they’d retroactively wipe away my sophomore Spring semester1 once I finished a summer session with “satisfactory academic progress” to prove I wasn’t totally incompetent. Of course I dropped out that June because I couldn’t afford tuition, so that semester of solid grades never took place until I came back 5 years later.

But here in law school, the only incentive I’ve got to perform well in class is just the self-satisfaction of knowing I can do it… and truth be told that’s just not a terribly strong motivator to a guy who already has an outlandishly oversized ego ;) So I figure the odds of me actually making Dean’s List this semester are about 2-in-11.

If any of you get the urge to cross your fingers, say a prayer, or bribe a professor on my behalf2 please feel free to do so. Until then, y’all have a great night — and best of luck to anyone still dealing with final exams! :D

—===—

From the grade-related archives:

  1. They took pity on the fact I was a moron who was working 4o hours a week thinking I could make enough $$$ for tuition and still perform well academically :beatup: []
  2. Just kidding about the bribe part. Maybe. :angel: []

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10

Is law school really worth it? (Part II)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 14, 2010 in Unsolicited Commentary

Good evening y’all! :)

Yesterday I finally finished editing this entry on the monetary costs-vs-benefits of law school, which pulled together some easily-accessible data based on my own work history, ADA salaries in North Carolina, my tuition and fee payments for both N.C. State and NCCU Law, and so on.

Recognizing that it only took me about 2 hours for the data gathering / spreadsheet making / graphic creating / writing / editing, I didn’t tout it as a comprehensive panacea of analysis — even going so far as pointing out “[d]ata-driven analyses like this are, in a word, pointless. There are simply too many variables involved to produce anything useful[.]”

But that didn’t stop the comments on the post from being uniformly negative :beatup:

All the commenters raised points worth considering though, so rather than limit discussion to the comments section of that particular thread I figured I’d do a copy/paste in a separate entry with my responses.

For clarity, I’m using the same snippet-by-snippet response style I ran with in deconstructing the Pope Center’s hit piece on me way back in March. If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to read yesterday’s entry and the comments yourself just so there are no concerns about me misrepresenting what was said :D

Here we go…

—===—

Aaron Massey: Since we’re both American, this might be completely anti-cultural, but I think you’re calculations are still significantly off because you’re not accounting for retirement savings plans. The head start on retirement that both the HS diploma and the BA/BS degree would have can make a big difference once you start factoring it in. A higher income is nice, but so is compound annual interest/stock appreciation.

I didn’t include any mention of retirement savings in my post, because it’s simply not relevant to the discussion :)

If you take a look at the “caveats” section of the entry, my only requirement is that any money earned during college or law school can’t go to defraying education expenses — done solely to artificially magnify the cost of that education for the purpose of the analysis.

The vast majority of college students work, which is why the common categorization of years in school as a true “opportunity cost” barely holds water (and retains even less). If a freshman wants to set up a 401(k) and put money into it from his side job, he wouldn’t run afoul of my analysis. Similarly, there’s nothing stopping a law student from taking a chunk of their financial aid refund or earnings from a summer associateship and socking that into a retirement plan as well.

Now in both cases they’d be better off financially by paying down their student loans, since their long-run net return on investments will likely be less than the 8% loan interest rate I’m using. But if they did that I couldn’t artificially inflate the student loan interest for the analysis ;)

If we assume students can and do work (but simply don’t defray education costs), a corollary question may be “Will they be putting away as much as someone working full-time?” And the answer to that is “It depends.”

Unlike the full-time employee, typically students get to have their living expenses (rent, electricity, etc) rolled into their financial aid package; it’s why economic analyses typically show traditional college-aged students having the highest discretionary income of any age group. Under those circumstances, a student could easily put away a comparable amount for retirement if they had the inclination to do so.1

Since planning for retirement isn’t precluded by my analysis and could easily be done by all three hypothetical students, I think for this particular analysis we’d lose more from the confusion inherent in tackling too many issues than we’d gain from discussing 401(k)s and related savings plans :)

***

Aaron Massey: Also, I also think you’re generic approach to the four year college degree is a little difficult to justify. Some degrees (like computer engineering) have starting salaries that average about $60,000. Others are almost half that.

Could some folks start out making more money? Of course. But similar to bringing in the discussion of retirement savings, expanding the analysis to include a litany of possible starting salaries for the BS/BA track adds a lot of noise without much signal.

For example, if we’re going to differentiate degrees like computer engineering to account for the higher salaries, it’d only be fair analytically to also differentiate the law track to rely on that expertise — an attorney doing IP-related litigation before the US Patent & Trademarks Office will be making far more than the ADA salaries I included ;)

Synthetic Work-Life Earnings Estimates by Degree

The generic approach also has the benefit of its reasonableness being reviewable against aggregate data compiled by the government. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau produced this compilation titled “The Big Payoff” analyzing data on average salaries and synthetic work-life earnings by education level, gender, race, and so on.2

Based on the government’s compilation, I’ve overestimated lifetime earnings of the diploma-only worker by ~$150K, underestimated the BS/BA earnings by only ~$53K, but underestimated professional degree earnings by ~$1,698K (aka $1.7M). The rhetoric about them being “difficult to justify” notwithstanding, my numbers are generally in line with the government’s except for the legal salary (that I’ve gratuitously underestimated).

So while a more-nuanced approach might provide a minimal amount of added clarity (at the expense of a lot more reading), I’ve already tilted the numbers so far in favor of the non-law school route that doing so isn’t particularly meaningful.

***

Aaron Massey: Still, the most important problem with this sort of raw calculation is that your disclaimers in the preliminaries are far more important than the rest of the post. “Worth it” is a question of happiness, which is often not at all about money. Sometimes, life happens and no amount of money will help.

I wholeheartedly agree, 110%. It’s why I linked to Jack Whittington’s entry on that very topic, and why the “I’d have more fun doing law” argument was central to my email to BL1Y.

But since Jack already covered the “Happiness is important” route, and BL1Y covered the “You’re not going to be happy” route, that left me with only the financials :beatup:

***

Aaron Massey: Realistically, the best advice anyone considering law school can receive about whether it is “worth it” is this: “Don’t just think that you’re going to be better off financially; run some numbers using some potential scenarios, including one in which you abandon law altogether. Also, don’t just think that more money will actually make you happier; be honest about what your life goals really are.”

I agree with everything here except the first word — strike “Realistically” and replace it with “Ideally” ;)

Realistically, almost no one’s going to do that level of analysis… which is why I did it for them :angel:

—===—

BL1Y: A lot of the trouble with students going in to law school is that they look at data like this and see law school as an investment. It’s not.

If you sit on the couch eating potato chips every day, your JD doesn’t bring in any money. If you go back to your old job, your JD typically won’t get you a raise (especially if compared against 3 lost years of seniority). A JD is merely a credential on your resume that may, or may not, make certain new job paths available to you.

What many law students don’t realize going in is how much work is then required. The JD doesn’t bring you any extra income, you do. You have to work for it.

I’m not entirely sure there’s a point here.

The same complaints you’re levying against a JD are also true of a BS/BA, but I don’t think that means we make the leap to saying folks should avoid giving up 4 years and various sums of $$$ to get a college degree.

***

BL1Y: And, for many people, the stress, boredom, long hours, and shitty atmosphere are not worth the increase in salary.

And, what makes law school a particularly shitty “investment” is that until you start working after graduation, you really have no idea whether you’ll like it or not.

This is a perfectly fair criticism, though I think you overstate the ability to figure out if someone would like law or not before going to law school.

There’s nothing preventing an aspiring law student from performing a little due diligence by trying to get a job in the legal arena and/or talking extensively with current practitioners. Is it going to be a perfectly accurate representation of actually living the life of a BigLaw associate? Not at all. But it should provide at least enough of an idea that it would remove “Am I going to be content / not hate my life?” as a concern before going in.

And once they’re in, if for some reason they haven’t done their research beforehand, at the very least they should learn whether or not they hate it through summer associateships or clinic work or something similar — hopefully in time to bail out before tacking on another 2 years of student loan debt.

If they haven’t done any due diligence at all before or in law school, or they have but pride stops them from getting out even though it’s not for them, they can’t then turn around and claim unfair surprise when they enter the job market and hate what they do for a living. As Professor Ks said last year, “Laziness is not a defense.”

***

BL1Y: The huge rates in depression, drug abuse, and suicide indicate a very high risk of being stuck in a job you hate. In fact, it’s probably easier to get a job in Big Law than to get an enjoyable one.

I concede I’ve got rose-colored glasses on this one, having already “enjoyed” the life of a homeless college dropout myself. I’d happily trade a sh*tty work environment that at least keeps bills paid over having to sleep in a shelter next to Bob the Crackhead and wondering if my personal effects will be pilfered by Methamphetamine Jane by the time I wake up ;)

But, more broadly, concerns over work environment are applicable to the BS/BA folks and the diploma-only people too. That’s the nature of just about any marketplace.

My suspicion is that the higher incidents of the various pathologies you noted are more the result of higher reporting, since lawyers play higher up the socioeconomic ladder — it’s easier to be an addict when you’ve got the money to spare, and to hire a therapist to talk about your depression when you actually get health insurance benefits and vacation time that you can take without wondering how your rent’s going to get paid.

—===—

Va.: I was really looking forward to this post, but I’ve got to say I’m a little disappointed with the methodology.

It was a quick post by a current student cobbled together on ACC football Saturday — cut me some slack :P

***

Va.: I also think that your analysis doesn’t really capture the “worst case” scenario that I’m seeing play out among people I know. Your expectations of being able to obtain a job after law school are certainly reasonable (or at least they should be), and you seem to have no illusions (unlike many law students) about how easily $160k jobs are to come by. However, despite applying for any and every job they see (including ADA positions), many people I know aren’t employed. I know people who graduated in 2008 who are still doing temp attorney contract work. Some can’t even get that. A lot of people aren’t doing what they set out to do or have had to make geographic compromises that take them away from friends and family. Although I certainly hope you find a job before graduation or soon thereafter, being unemployed for 6 months to a year or more can start you off in a financial hole that can be pretty difficult to get yourself back out of. The uncertainty is stressful and “settling” for jobs you don’t want lowers your quality of life.

Unemployment is a legit point, and one I thought about when I was writing the entry.

But I opted to exclude it as the “worst case” scenario because the overwhelming majority of people still find jobs. Even acknowledging the games law schools play with their employment data, few schools have 6-month employment rates below 80%. It didn’t make sense (to me at least) to tailor the analysis toward the other 20%, particularly when the economy will likely be turned around by the time 2013 gets here.3

If we want to factor in unemployment, though, it can be done fairly easily from an economics perspective by weighting the results. Essentially we’d take the projected work-life earnings and multiply by the percent probability of being employed, e.g. the $2.7M x 80% if we assume permanent 20% unemployment for the person’s entire work-life.

Doing comparable calculations for the other two columns makes law school less attractive from a marginal cost-benefit standpoint, but still a financially better option than just high school or just college even factoring in law school costs.

I’m less sympathetic on the “they’re not doing what they want yet” argument, but that’s also out of my own personal bias than any rational reason. My first job after dropping out of N.C. State was loading UPS trucks from 3am-8am Monday-Friday; it didn’t pay much and definitely wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it kept a (non-crackhead-containing) roof over my head and helped shore up my financial foundation while I looked for better work. The same principle applies to the law grads — I know it’s not much consolation to the people stuck in that situation, but where you start isn’t where you end up :)

***

Va.: And a good chunk of law schools are private and have much higher tuition than you do.

Very true… but a point that doesn’t necessarily change my conclusion ;)

On the one hand, I concede that plopping in cost data for other law schools affects the lucrativeness when using my salary numbers.

On the other hand, students have a choice in what law school they attend as far as cost is concerned. Using me as an example, NCCU Law was my first choice because UNCCH Law charged twice as much despite similar bar passage rates and employment prospects in North Carolina (which is where I’d prefer to stay professionally).

And on the third hand, in many cases the more expensive schools also have better employment rates and salaries — a point you yourself made to me back in January :P :)

***

Va.: Anyway, I think your conclusion should probably be a bit more cautious in tone. If you don’t get the job you want, or any job at all (god forbid…), then the evaluation would certainly change.

This is probably true. But would any of y’all still read this blog if I wasn’t flippant most of the time? ;)

Besides, if I don’t end up where I want maybe BL1Y will let me join him, Namby Pamby and Nando in the Cynics Club :spin:

—===—

So that’s my rebuttal y’all :)

Have any comments / criticisms / witticisms / thoughts of your own? Please post them below :D

  1. And inclination is really the crux of that particular issue: even a non-trivial chunk of full-time employees don’t save for retirement thanks to the “consume first, save later” philosophy instilled in people’s minds by our cradle-to-grave welfare state :roll: []
  2. I concede up front that the Census Bureau’s document is now 8 years old, but if you’re inclined to spend the time over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website you’ll find that the values haven’t changed much in inflation-adjusted dollars, even with the recent recession. []
  3. Granted that might be excessive optimism on my part, but the idea of us being in or near a recession for 5 straight years is practically unheard of in the history of the American economy. []

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9

Is law school really worth it? My $.02

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 13, 2010 in Unsolicited Commentary

Just over a month ago, I shot an email to BL1Y as part of his open-ended challenge to defend reasons for going to law school.1 I wouldn’t characterize his counter-argument as bulletproof, but I doubt it was meant to be — BL1Y has staked out his niche as a sardonically dismissive critic of the legal arena (“Defunct Big Law Associate” as he puts it) and he excels at it, so he’d be stepping out of character to offer anything beyond a cursory rebuttal.2

I’m comfortable letting the man own his chosen niche ;)

But then a few weeks ago Jack Whittington over at World Wide Whit posted an entry on the non-monetary side of law school’s value. It’s a good read, and prompted a colleague to remind me of the BL1Y entry and ask me for my thoughts on the financials.

Fast forward past my weeks of slacking on the blog posts, and you get this entry :beatup:

Is law school really worth it, just looking at the money involved? To borrow the title of Thursday’s entry, “Yes, but…”

====================
I. THE PRELIMINARIES
====================

Data-driven analyses like this are, in a word, pointless. There are simply too many variables involved3 to produce anything useful for more than a couple people in a very narrowly-defined set of circumstances.

Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying to you. Period.

But with that disclaimer out of the way, having the data to look at it can still provide some insights — particularly if you happen to fall in that narrowly-defined set of circumstances :)

For this entry, I’m using myself: a mediocre student at an unranked Tier 4 law school interested in becoming a prosecutor in the same state.

====================
II. THE CAVEATS
====================

As you’d probably expect, there are a lot of these :beatup:

Here goes:

  • Generally, these stipulations (and even the data itself) are intentionally focused on producing the worst-possible case for law school.4 If law school’s still “worth it” under this worst-case analysis, by default it’s “worth it” under normal circumstances.
  • This is also a “cash only” analysis. On income, I’m only counting salaries and excluding benefits since they’re difficult to value.5 On costs, I’m only counting tuition and mandatory fees; optional expenses are excluded since they’re… well… optional :P
  • All of the income scenarios assume someone starting at 18 years old and “retiring” at 55 years old.
  • The starting point for each income column is based on the data sets in Section III below.
  • For the diploma-only column, it assumes a +$2K/yr raise over each of the first 5 years. My rationale is that a non-degree-holder will usually get very close to their (generally low) salary limit in the marketplace fairly early in their career.
  • In terms of inflation / cost-of-living raises, after the initial 5 years the diploma-only column assumes a 2% raise per year. For the BS/BA column, it assumes a 2.5% raise per year. And for the JD column, it (i) uses the 20-year step structure the state government uses for salary increases in the first 20 years, (ii) assumes no additional salary range increases during those 20 years,6 and (iii) projects a 1.1% salary increase for each year after maxing out at the top step.
  • Feel free to quibble with me over the percentages :)  Regardless of the specific rate, each of the 3 columns would be adjusted in tandem — and since this is a differential analysis, that limits the significance of any rate changes.
  • I assume the student either (i) isn’t working during the years in college and law school, or (ii) if they are working they’re putting $0 towards defraying the cost of education (e.g. you spent all of your summer associate earnings on hookers and blow :devil: ).
  • On the cost side, the law school column includes an extra $21,000 per year in student loans taken to help cover living expenses in place of a job. This amount is roughly comparable to what North Carolina law students can take before maxing out under the U.S. Department of Education standards.
  • The “Tuition & Fees Total” row can be considered a proxy for total required student loan debt (plus the extra $63K for law school living).
  • For the student loan interest row, I’m using a 30-year repayment at 8.0% interest. This is done intentionally — revisit the first bullet point — to maximize the amount of interest that would have to be paid out. Realistically you’ll want to refinance at a far lower rate on a shorter repayment term ;)

====================
III. THE DATA SOURCES
====================

In terms of data collection, I gathered info from a few sources:

  • First, I used my own tax returns from when I had dropped out of N.C. State to help approximate earnings for someone without a college degree.
  • For the BS/BA column, the starting amount was based on a survey of several of my friends who are alumni of N.C. State’s Department of Computer Science along with about a dozen other alumni from various disciplines (including the lower-paying humanities degrees common among law students).

    NALP salary data for 2009

  • On the law column, I downloaded all of the ADA salaries in North Carolina from the News & Observer’s Data Central portal that includes a list of all state employees and their salaries. To check the reasonableness of using this data, I also grabbed one of the spiffy graphics from the National Association for Law Placement on reported salaries in the legal industry. For salaries reported to NALP this past year, 95%+ of attorneys make $40,000 and up. Their curve correlates well with the ADA salary data, which tops out around $120K for some ADAs who’ve been around for 30ish years.
  • For the undergraduate cost info, I used the tuition and fee data from my last year at N.C. State multiplied by four years. For law school I did the same thing, using this year’s rates at NCCU Law and multiplying by three years. In both cases these end up producing overestimated expenses — since tuition and fees were both cheaper last year, and the cheaper still the year before — but the difference isn’t significant enough to matter.

====================
IV. THE EARNINGS
====================

Putting all of this together, here’s the chart of annual salaries over time:

Raw salary data from 18 to 55

The green cells are years where someone is working. The red cells are “in school” / opportunity cost years, where the student either isn’t working at all or is working to pay for stuff other than their education. And the yellow cells depict how long it would take to “pay off” the cost of education if 100% of the salary was devoted solely to paying off education-related debts.

Remember the latter item is an artificial construct for illustration only — realistically folks will be repaying student loan debts for years, not putting their entire salary toward it. And we’re intentionally using a 30-year repayment schedule to artificially inflate the cost of law school :)

Also remember this chart is for “providing a common starting point for talking” purposes only. It has -0- predictive value.7 We all control our own destinies; if someone’s not making enough money, they can find a way to make more — it just might involve making decisions they’re not comfortable making. But in general no one is stuck doing the same thing for 30 years if they really want to do something else ;)

====================
V. THE ANALYSIS
====================

So now we have roughly what our hypothetical earnings would be if we worked until 55 years old with (i) just a high school diploma, (ii) a college degree in an average major, or (iii) a law degree working as an ADA in North Carolina.

Now let’s bring in the cost data and do some comparison. Here’s a quick chart showing how things shake out:

Even after repaying law school, the JD earns more than the BS/BA

So under this model an average college graduate can reasonably expect to make an average of ~$18K more a year than someone with just high school diploma, enabling them to “pay off” their education in 3 years and 1 month. Factor in the cost of repaying that schooling and the net advantage over a diploma-only worker drops ever-so-slightly to +$17K/year, or roughly $605K over a 33-year career.

Using this same model, the soon-to-be-ADA can reasonably expect to bring in ~$409K more during his career than his baccalaureate-bearing friend — even after the 3 additional years of “opportunity cost” and the expense of paying off student loan debt that’s almost 6x more (and working 3 fewer years to boot).

====================
VI. SO IS LAW SCHOOL REALLY WORTH IT?
====================

It certainly is for me :)

Even with working a government job and staying there permanently, I’m looking at making at least $1,000 more per month than I would with just my college degree. And that’s making the (hopefully false) assumption I’m not competent enough to earn more. It also doesn’t include any assistance from foundations like NCLEAF, which provides $$$ for student loan repayment for lawyers working in the public interest arena.

And, as Jack noted in the post I linked up at the top, I’ll be doing something far more enjoyable to me than being a script monkey in a cubicle ;)

But, as with all of these things, your mileage may vary. If you don’t like law but think it’s a quick way to get rich, doing law school is probably a bad idea. If you’re determined to go to an expensive law school but will be tempted by suicidal thoughts if you’re one of the majority of lawyers not pulling in $160K+ a year, it’s probably a bad idea. Etc etc etc.

****

There you have it folks. I’m sorry it’s so long, feel free to commence with the TL;DR comments below :P

The moral of the story is, for me at least, deciding to pursue the law route was definitely a good idea — and I’ve got the data to back it up :D

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your weekend everybody!

  1. If you’re not familiar with BL1Y’s blog, you’re missing out — agree or disagree with the content, but either way it’s still pretty damn funny. []
  2. Especially for a guy that ignored the same cost-benefit warnings against law school that he now doles out ;) []
  3. Your law school, your grades, your interests, your work ethic, your tolerance or aversion to risk, your people skills, the people you know, the list goes on and on and on (and on). []
  4. Short of being totally unemployed. If you can’t find any job anywhere at all, either your standards or your risk aversion need an adjustment :heart: []
  5. For example, a healthy 25-year-old puts far less value on something like health insurance than an equally healthy 45-year-old. []
  6. Even though these range increases happen almost every year. Again, I’m trying to intentionally slant the data against law school for the sake of argument. []
  7. The JD column is a limited exception, since the 20-year step structure of salary increases is standard HR practice in state government. []

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-

How *not* to finish an undergraduate degree

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 12, 2010 in Randomness

Hi folks! :D

Time is a bit short tonight, so the draft post I mentioned yesterday isn’t going to get finished and I don’t have time to cobble up + proofread anything else.

So in its place I’m offering a tip based on this news article from the News & Observer: don’t do what I did :beatup:

New chancellor would make changing majors easier at NCSU
BY ERIC FERRERI – Staff Writer
Published Fri, Nov 12, 2010 04:49 AM (Modified Fri, Nov 12, 2010 05:24 AM)
Tags: local | news

RALEIGH — By the time Greg Doucette realized he was lousy at studying computer science at N.C. State University, it was too late.

Doucette was formerly a student at NCSU. 'I enjoyed computer science, but I wasn't very good at it,' he said. (Photo by HARRY LYNCH - hlynch@newsobserver.com)

Too late to change his major. Too late to transfer. Too late to do anything except slog through with a barely passable grade point average. He managed by propping up that GPA with stellar grades in economics and political science courses – two disciplines he would have preferred majoring in if switching weren’t so difficult.

NCSU’s new chancellor, Randy Woodson, knows that Doucette’s travails are not unusual at the university. He wants to make it easier for students to change majors. The issue will be tackled by a task force looking for ways to improve student success.

Woodson hopes to reduce the number of students who leave NCSU not because of bad grades but because changing majors is so difficult.

NCSU incoming freshmen apply directly into their chosen fields. It’s a way to introduce students to major-specific courses early, assuring they have enough time to tackle all the technical courses needed for a degree in engineering, design, textiles and the like.

But if students don’t choose the right major the first time, they may be stuck in a discipline they don’t like or transfer out of the university in search of a new path.

Many of NCSU’s academic disciplines require targeted, specific coursework that doesn’t translate to other areas. Students who change course essentially have to start over building credits for their new majors, thus lengthening their stay in college.

NCSU’s six-year graduation rate of 73 percent could be far better, Woodson said, if changing majors was easier.

From fall 2008 to fall 2009, 1,109 students left NCSU while in good academic standing, according to university data. Many of those left, Woodson said, because they were in the wrong major and couldn’t transfer enough credits to stay on track to graduate on time.

“We’ve got really talented students, and they’re not being successful enough,” Woodson said. “We’re losing too many students because they can’t find a home.”

Other universities

This problem isn’t unique to NCSU. Across the United States, land-grant universities with strong programs in engineering, natural resources, design and other technical disciplines require a similar path. In contrast, a university with an arts-and-sciences base, such as UNC-Chapel Hill, enrolls students first to an undergraduate college before making them decide on a major.

In admitting students directly to their chosen field, universities like NCSU create a more efficient academic experience for students – as long as they don’t change their minds, said David Shulenburger, vice president for academic affairs with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

To ease the transition for the many students who do want to change, many land-grant universities are now adopting principles of a “common core” curriculum. Used more often by universities with an arts and sciences base, a common core is essentially a standard set of courses in English, writing, and mathematics that a student would take in the first two years. These courses are recognized widely, making it easier for a student to change majors within a university or transfer to another.

It may not be an easy fix for NCSU, where students start major-specific coursework during their first year. But at a time when students don’t want to pay for extra schooling, many universities are looking for ways to tweak their requirements, said Shulenburger, formerly the longtime provost at the University of Kansas.

“Every university now understands higher graduation rates and shorter time to degree are important,” he said. “It’s worth having the faculty sit down and wrestle with the question of giving students some flexibility in the freshman and sophomore years.”

Advising’s importance

If you’re a freshman studying animal science at NCSU, you’ll take general courses in math and writing as well as classes specific to that degree. The university tries to minimize the number of courses that don’t transfer, said Gerry Luginbuhl, assistant director for academic programs within NCSU’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. But students also must get good advice both when choosing a major and when they arrive on campus.

“Advising is so important,” Luginbuhl said. “Students, at 18, some really don’t know what they want to do.”

eric.ferreri@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4563

***************

SIDEBAR – One student’s story

Greg Doucette, 29, is now a second-year law student at N.C. Central University. (Photo by HARRY LYNCH - hlynch@newsobserver.com)

Greg Doucette, as a freshman at N.C. State University, signed on as a computer science major because he had some tech savvy and knew the field paid well.

But he hit a wall in a discrete mathematics course, which he failed. By then, it was too late to transfer into economics or political science because, either way, he’d have to take an extra year of courses.

Instead, Doucette took just enough of those courses for a minor in each. His GPA in computer science: 2.1. His GPA in political science: 3.0. His GPA in economics: 3.6.

He’s now a law student at N.C. Central University.

“I enjoyed computer science, but I wasn’t very good at it,” said Doucette, who became a student leader and eventually served as the sole student member of the UNC system’s Board of Governors. “I love economics and political science, but the tradeoff wasn’t worth it. A lot of the credits I had would not translate to anything useful.”

Staff writer Eric Ferreri

My Economics GPA would have been a perfect 4.0 if it wasn’t for me slacking in my Intro to Econ course my freshman year :mad:  At least I got an A in that Discrete Mathematics course the second time around? :beatup:

Have a great night y’all! Hopefully I’ll have something other than shameless self-promotion tomorrow! ;)

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Why I blog

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 4, 2010 in Background

Good evening y’all! :D

Despite my chronic disappearances over the past couple months, we’ve been blessed here at law:/dev/null to still have a steady cadre of regular readers along with a (surprising) stream of newcomers.1  And since the recent blawgpocalypse I’ve been asked by folks in both groups what prompted me to stake out this particular piece of internet real estate — and I realized I’ve never actually posted an answer to the “Why do you blog?” question beyond a brief one-line reference on our “About” page :beatup:

So I figured now’s as good a time as any ;)

Without further ado, my four reasons for entering the blawgosphere way back in August 2009:

  1. Therapy: I wasn’t kidding when I wrote in the very first post that “law:/dev/null is really just my own brand of therapy to get me through law school. Some people exercise, some prefer gardening, some drink (a lot). I write.” My classmates have learned firsthand that I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to saying exactly what’s on my mind, so penning my commentary here lets me get it out of my system without subjecting them to something they don’t want to hear in the first place :)
  2. Curiosity: Even though the bachelor’s degree on my wall is for computer science and I created a niche web development company back when I was a college dropout, I was so tired of doing computer-related stuff academically that I never really got into the whole CMS / RSS / CSS / [pick-an-acronym-and-put-it-here] thing in my personal life :beatup: When I wanted to blog, I’d write a note and post it to Facebook because it required minimal tech work; there are 95 of those to date, and it’s where things like T. Greg’s Tomes got started. But with the acute shift from undergrad to the remarkably-less-tech-savvy atmosphere of law, I figured it’d be fun to experiment with a WordPress deployment and all the attendant web work that goes with it.
  3. Scarcity: I first got introduced to the world of law student blogs the night before 1L Orientation, where I stumbled upon Dennis Jansen’s blog and a few others… that I proceeded to read until 2am.2 One of the things I noticed while reading was that the overwhelming majority of law school bloggers I found were at T14 law schools, and none of them were in the southeast quadrant of the country like me (although Mariel is close). So even though I was greatly appreciative for the insights, I wanted to present a different perspective as a law student at a distinguished-but-unranked law school in the South. And judging from the hundreds of search queries on NCCU Law over the past year, I’m apparently not the only one looking for that type of info before starting law school ;)
  4. Keeping in touch: I couldn’t come up with a cute one-word-ending-in-y description for this one :beatup:  Despite an absurd level of shyness that I have to mentally force myself to ignore, I’m generally a pretty sociable guy. But I’m also a Type A workaholic who took my first bona fide vacation in years just this past Independence Day, and it’s really easy for me to lose touch with people in the process.3 The biggest appeal to starting law:/dev/null was creating a way to let folks know what I was up to and that I was still thinking about them, even if I didn’t have an opportunity to get lunch or talk at length on the phone. I’m not sure how well it’s worked so far but hopefully the folks who are important to me know that ::fingers crossed::

So there you have it folks, a quick glance into the mind of TDot4 and the motivations behind law:/dev/null :)

I hope all of you have a fantastic night, and a great soon-to-be weekend! :D

  1. *THANK YOU* to all of you :heart: []
  2. Hours after I was supposed to go to bed, and the catalyst for the ensuing hilarity/embarrassment during that first day of Orientation :beatup: []
  3. It’s also one of the central reasons why I use thousands of text messages every month, peaking at 10,821 not too long ago — or 1 text message every 4 minutes for an entire month :surprised: []
  4. No “TMI” comments on this post :P []

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25 things about… me

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 8, 2010 in Randomness

Hey y’all :)

I’ve actually got a TDot’s Tips entry ready to go that I was planning on posting tonight, but a couple hours ago one of my friends on Twitter tweeted about a portion of a Facebook note I had written what feels like an eternity ago.1 So I figured since many of y’all have been reading my (crazed) musings for quite awhile now, you deserve a copy/paste of the original note to help shed some light on the man behind the laptop ;)

And even if you didn’t, I’ve got classes starting at 8:30am tomorrow so I need to finish studying and go to bed :beatup:

You can read the original note (and ensuing comments) on Facebook here. Here’s the copy/paste, with footnotes added for the few items that have changed since starting law school:

ok I give up! — 25 things about TGD
by T Greg Doucette on Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 3:57pm

Back in late January, a friend of mine at UNC Pembroke tagged me in a note posting 25 random items about her and asking the folks tagged in the note to do the same — in what turned out to be the first salvo in the latest wave of Facebook “chain notes.” A couple dozen tags later, I still hadn’t written one myself mostly out of (i) laziness and (ii) hoping I would outlast the fad.

Despite the nagging inbox messages and IMs and texts, eventually folks stopped writing the notes in favor of whatever new thing was going around. And there was no note from El TGD. Victory was mine.

Then I guess people felt bad for not responding months ago, b/c the summer rolled around and they started sprouting up again. And again. And again. So after being tagged another couple times, I’m finally throwing in the towel, taking a break from work, and posting my own note so I can assuage my guilty conscience. I even went back and tagged all the people who tagged me originally — and threw in a few extra folks just to subject them to the same shame for not writing a note of their own when they got tagged months ago :P

====================
THE RULES
====================
Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. I may have tagged you even if you’ve posted 25 random things already. In this case I just tagged you because I love you!

[TGD’s edit: I didn’t write the rules, I just copy/pasted them :P ]

====================
25 THINGS ABOUT TGD
====================

1) The “T” stands for “The” (or “Thomas”, depending on who’s asking).

2) Before anyone ever used the phrase “larger-than-life ego” to describe Barack Obama, they were using it to describe me.

3) Loyalty is more important than competence. And I passionately despise incompetence. So you can imagine what I think of disloyalty :)

4) I also have issues with people who i) complain all the time, ii) always need to be taken care of, iii) are unreliable or iv) only contact you when they need/want something.

5) I am a firm believer in a benevolent and almighty God, although I generally keep my faith to myself and usually avoid theological conversations.

6) I didn’t have an alcoholic beverage until I was 25. And I still never touch the stuff in the presence of my grandparents.

7) My greatest contribution as a lobbyist was figuring out how to explain why I don’t smoke (one of our clients was the Cigar Association of America). Remind me to tell you some time if you haven’t heard it already.

8) My eyes are really, really sensitive to light. That’s why I usually keep my office fairly dark and always wear sunglasses outside. It’s also apparently earned me the nickname “The Vampire” among certain denizens of Witherspoon Student Center2 :P

9) It takes a *lot* to get me angry. And on the rare occasions it happens, I’m usually perfectly fine after a decent night’s sleep.

10) In tandem with #9, it kills me to upset people (intentionally or otherwise). Except when it relates to #3 or #4 ;)

11) I’ve learned more in the past 4 years at NC State than in the 7 years before it combined — and more in the past 11 years being in North Carolina than the previous 17 combined.

12) I was raised in Virginia Beach, but never really appreciated the ocean until I moved to Raleigh. As much as I love oak trees, I prefer the coast.

13) Women are my kryptonite. Of all the dumb things I’ve done in my life, the majority were done for a girl.

14) At some point about two years ago I was looking back on the path I took to come back to NCSU… and stopped worrying about failure. It’s a transformative and profoundly empowering realization, even though it also helped torpedo my GPA.

15) Despite #14 I’m still excessively competitive, especially when it comes to basketball, video games, and politics :)

16) There are only 2 decisions I’ve made in my life that I can genuinely say I regret. Few people know either of them. No one knows them both.

17) Once upon a time I was the youngest elected Vice Chairman in the history of the Wake County GOP… and have since been convinced that most of the “party leaders” in North Carolina are utter fruitcakes. Now I generally prefer local Democrats and national Republicans (except for those dumbasses in the House who equated themselves with Iranian protesters).

18) I’m a pretty good cook (breakfast is my specialty), and I’m very protective of my kitchen. But I’m also not terribly adventurous with food — the most exotic thing I’ve tried was alligator, and I wasn’t impressed.3

19) I’ve taken tap, jazz, and ballet classes, sang in chorus, and acted in theatre (and even a movie). And contrary to popular belief, none of it was to meet girls.

20) I’m open to pretty much any kind of music, but my iTunes library is overwhelmingly R&B, rap, and classical.

21) When I first came to NCSU, I couldn’t afford a computer. Looking back, I don’t know how I was able to pass my classes without one.

22) As much as I complain about being stressed, I’m a Type A workaholic and haven’t taken a bona fide vacation in years.4 And forcing me to turn off my BlackBerry for more than an hour is almost as painful as waterboarding…

23) Surprisingly, I enjoy being a teacher and mentor. I have no idea where life is going to take me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that ended up being my career after law school and the USMC.5

24) The most rewarding experience I’ve had in my life so far has been serving in Student Government at NCSU and in the UNC Association of Student Governments. I’ve met dozens of amazing people, worked with some of the best student leaders this state has ever seen, and learned more than I thought was possible — all while helping to improve people’s lives and having more than my fair share of fun :)

25) I am a hopeless romantic, an incurable idealist, and an unapologetic believer in American exceptionalism and the God-given rights of man. I bleed Wolfpack red. I’m allergic to bullshit. I hate cold weather. And I’m done with this note :*

Law stuff tomorrow :) Have a great night everybody!! :D

  1. Feels like eternity even though it was only 1.25 years ago :beatup:  It’s slightly disturbing how much 1L year has permanently warped my perception of time… []
  2. This is the building where the NC State Student Government is located, for my non-NC readers :) []
  3. Unsurprisingly, this is still true :beatup: []
  4. Officially outdated as of this past Independence Day weekend! :spin:   []
  5. Or just “after law school” in light of my cardiovascular shortcomings… []

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Things TDot Likes: Flattery

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 24, 2010 in Things TDot Likes

Just kidding!

Sort of :beatup:

OK let me at least try to explain with a quick prefatory note before continuing: despite assiduously projecting an ego more-than-once described as “outrageously oversized,” underneath the cocksure exterior I’m essentially the total opposite. And because of that I never really learned how to take a compliment gracefully; most of the time I just get embarrassed, my face turns red, and I quickly change the subject.

Yes, I’m socially awkward. </surprise>

But like a well-trained puppy, I still like knowing when I’ve done something good / positive / cool / etc. I’m not talking about the gratuitous puffery over trivial stuff that passes for complimenting folks nowadays — “You color-coordinated your attire today! Here’s a cookie!” — but the comments made when folks genuinely appreciate something for whatever reason.

For example, back during 1L Orientation two weeks ago I was selling NCCU Law paraphernalia for the SBA and met a 1L student in the evening program who was browsing the merchandise. We talked for a bit about what SBA did, what 1L year was going to be like, and so on… and then she asks “Do you happen to know who it is who does the blog? He did computer science or something like that before law school? I love reading it, it’s so funny!”

Absolutely nothing could have erased the smile I had on my face for days after that remark :spin:

That’s the type of stuff I’m talking about. So now that that’s clear, </prefatory note>. Moving on…

We’re in ConLaw today, which as of Week 1.5 is still my favorite class. We’ve finished the core basics on judicial review, including a quick discussion on Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264 (1821) and a corresponding mention that only a government/state actor can violate someone’s constitutionally-enumerated rights.

So Prof ConLaw pitches an open question to the class: if one person can’t violate another person’s constitutional rights, how is the federal government able to regulate such huge swaths of private conduct?

For folks who follow politics — or who just happen to enjoy ConLaw :beatup:  — answers that jump out might include Congressional authority under the “necessary and proper” clause. Or maybe Congress’s taxing and spending powers. Or the 800-lb gorilla in the Constitution, the power to regulate interstate commerce.

But instead we had like 5-6 folks in a row who offered up answers that… well… weren’t correct, let’s put it that way. So I raise my hand and bring up the Commerce clause, then go back to surfing the web. I check out my Facebook wall and see this from a classmate:

Totally made my day :D And definitely a better specialty than being Mr. Tech Support ;)

Have a great night y’all! :)

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TDot’s Mailbag v6.0: 1L Questions Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 23, 2010 in Mail

Good evening y’all! :)

Sorry for the multi-day hiatus here at law:/dev/null. There’s been some personal stuff going on behind the scenes that has really sapped my motivation to be productive,1 and unfortunately that included writing an entry for the blog.

But I missed y’all, so I’m making sure I put something together for tonight ;)

Back during 1L Orientation a couple weeks ago, the NCCU Law Student Bar Association put together a student panel where the 1Ls could ask us any questions they wanted. The 2012 class president and I represented the 2Ls, while the SBA President, Vice President and Parliamentarian offered the 3L perspective.

We got uniformly positive feedback from the 1Ls afterwards, but based on some of the faces I saw while the Q&A was going on I have to wonder if we were really just boring the f*ck out of them :beatup:

The Q&A was capped at an hour, so I’ve gotten a few questions since then that I threw together into this entry. Just remember that my perspective is a bit different from other folks — not always in a good way — so take this with the requisite grains (translation: barrels) of salt…

***

Q: David2 asks:

One of your colleagues on the panel said she studied 60 hours a week to get her grades. Do we really need to study that much?

A: It depends :)

Don’t focus as much on the exact number of hours she quoted as on what she said afterwards: you have to know yourself. No one can gauge your own strengths and weaknesses, your own study habits, your goals, and so on better than you. That’s going to be a huge determinant in how much you study.

For example, I didn’t study anywhere near 60 hours a week during my 1L year. After spending over a decade working in the legal arena, a lot of the terminology and reasoning came naturally to me — so I maybe studied 2 hours a day at most, and most of that was just doing the required readings.

But the difference between my colleague and I? She’s one of the top-ranked students in the class, while I barely made the top half :beatup:

If you have legal experience or naturally “get” this stuff, you may be able to study less; conversely, if the material is difficult for you to digest you’ll need to study more. If you’re content with barely passing, you can have a great time screwing around your 1L year3 and won’t need to study nearly as much as my colleague… but if you want to have a high GPA to get a decent internship or otherwise do something productive with your life, you’ll probably want to work a little (translation: a lot) harder than I did ;)

***

Q: Ethan writes in with a similar question:

So some of my study partners have been in the library since at least 12pm and stay until the building closes. Am I missing something? I’m worried I’m messing up already…

A: See above — it depends ;)

Some of your classmates will genuinely need to study that much, based on their study habits or their scholastic objectives or other issues; we certainly had folks like that in my classes last year. But you’re not going to get anywhere comparing yourself to them.

Remember: law school is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you want to gauge whether or not you’re “messing up already” before midterms, reflect on how well you’re able to understand the material and follow along in class. If you’re totally lost, go see your professor. If you see you’re professor and you’re still totally lost, then think about studying a bit harder or checking the law library for a hornbook or other useful supplement.

Putting in all the study time in the world isn’t going to benefit you at all if you’re not getting anything useful out of the time you’re studying ;)

***

Q: Felicia’s thinking about skipping law review too:

How time-consuming is being an SBA Representative or some of these other clubs? Do you think I’ll have time to do that and study?

A: Not to give everyone the same lawyer-esque response, but you’ve probably guessed by now — it depends :beatup:

All of the SBA Representatives will need to participate in the normal SBA meetings, including when we hear requests for funding from all the student groups which historically takes about 6-7 hours. SBA Reps are also required to have office hours (good study time) and help with planning/implementing any SBA events that get held.

If this were the entire equation, I’d say “Of course you’ll have time”… but only you will know what grades you’re aiming for and how much you’ll need to study to get there.

I’d encourage you to run regardless — if nothing else, it’s a great opportunity to get out and meet your fellow 1Ls — but whether you’ll have time for it is a judgment call you’ll have to make for yourself.

***

Q: Gabriel also has studying on his mind:

I’m having trouble deciding whether or not to do my case briefing based on the outlines the 2Ls gave me, the stuff I find on random case briefing websites, or just do the reading and brief it all on my own? A combination of the two or three?

A: Definitely do the briefing all on your own, at least for the first few weeks. The stuff 2Ls pass down to 1Ls is designed to serve as a template since you’ll have no clue what to look for when you first start out. The whole point to briefing on your own is to train your mind to recognize the important stuff in a case.

After you’ve been at it for a month or two, odds are good you’ll be in the habit of briefing the case in your mind as you read — this is the precursor to the common “book briefing” you’ll see other students using, where stuff like “Issue” and “Rule” get scrawled in the margins of the textbook. At that point folks will start using the 2L briefs to save time, because by that point in the semester you’ll be focusing more on outlining than you will on case briefs.

***

Q: Henry is looking ahead to next year:

Is law school really just a big head game? What’s the biggest difference between 1L year and 2L year?

A: To the first question, I’d say yes.

You’ll hear folks repeat the law school aphorism “Your first year they scare you to death, your second year they work you to death, and your third year they bore you to death.” But if you know you want to be a lawyer and you’re determined to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal — or, conversely, you have a backup plan and don’t really care if you fail out — there’s nothing to really scare you in the first year.

And, at least in my opinion, a lack of fear goes a long way to maintaining your composure under pressure and mastering the 1L crucible.

As for the second question, the biggest difference I’ve noticed between 1L and 2L years so far is how relaxed everyone seems. There’s no discernible terror over being called on in class. People understand the material. Folks don’t seem to study as much as last year — hell even a slacker like me was actually two days ahead on the class readings :crack:

We’re only a week into the semester though, so I’m fairly sure things will change from here :)

***

Q: And we’ll finish with a question from Isabella about my own motivations for law school:

What made you pursue law after having done computer science?

A: As bizarre as I’m sure it sounds, I’ve actually wanted to do law since I was a kid :beatup:

Some time around the 10th grade I really got hooked on civics, public service, and related stuff — read Supreme Court decisions for fun and so on.4 I decided I wanted to be a constitutional law professor at some point, and wanted to be Virginia’s Attorney General when I got older (before I moved to North Carolina and fell in love with this state :spin: ).

But I also grew up in a family that most folks would consider “poor” financially, so my college focus was on what was going to make me the most $$$ when I graduated. I had a talent for computers and I started at N.C. State right as the dot-com boom was hitting its stride. I was going to become a computer engineer and make six figures starting after graduation.

That was the plan at least. I dropped out of N.C. State two years later because I couldn’t afford tuition and ended up $16K in debt to the University :beatup:

During the five years I was a dropout, I worked in the legal arena the whole time since I could make a decent wage without a college degree. Getting hired for computing-related jobs, by contrast, typically required various certifications that I couldn’t afford to get. So when I finally came back to N.C. State in August 2005, I knew law school was definitively where I was going once undergrad was done.

But I was also determined to get my Bachelor’s degree in some kind of computer-related field because I felt like switching into something else would be like admitting defeat, like I wasn’t intelligent enough to hack it in a “hard science” engineering discipline. I briefly entertained the thought of switching to Communications or Political Science or Economics before coming back to that conclusion every time. Not the most rational thought pattern in the world, I admit… but I damn sure have a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science adorning the wall of my bedroom ;)

So that was a ridiculously long answer where a fairly short one would suffice: I’ve known I wanted to do this for years, I just didn’t do it sooner because I was stubborn as hell :)

—===—

That’s it from me for the night folks! I hope all of you have an amazing week!! :D

  1. For example, dealing with people who treat you with a level of respect generally reserved for household insects… until they need tech support. And then don’t show up after asking you to be available at a certain time to provide said tech support. And then act incredulous when you no longer have the patience to continue dealing with them gratis or otherwise. []
  2. In case you’re new to these mailbag entries, all the names are anonymous — picked at random from the Social Security Administration’s Popular Names database. Feel free to send me an email if you’ve got a question for a mail entry! :D []
  3. For posterity’s sake, my “screwing around” was actually doing advocacy work with UNCASG. I’m bad but I’m not that bad. ;)   []
  4. Yes, I was odd. Don’t judge me. :P []

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3

law:/dev/null: one year later :)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 11, 2010 in NotFail

It was a year ago today1 — the first day of my 1L Orientation at NCCU Law — that law:/dev/null went live with this brief post welcoming any newcomers who happened to drop by.

And my gosh how much has happened in just a year! :D

Case in point: a year ago I fled the Turner Law Building as soon as Orientation was done because I felt so totally out of place2… yet this week I’ve been at the law school daily helping out (voluntarily!) with 1L Orientation, offering whatever assistance and sage tidbits of almost-but-not-quite-wisdom that I can provide :)

In keeping with my personality, some numbers to commemorate law:/dev/null‘s 1st birthday:

  • THEN: 1 published post — NOW: 291
  • THEN: 178 total words written — NOW: ~141,268 (where’s this inspiration when I’m working on a brief??? :crack: )
  • THEN: 1 [main] page — NOW: 4 total, including our About [TDot] page, the fellow-blawgers-inspired Disclaimer and finally instructions on Subscribing to the RSS feed :D
  • THEN: 2 categories — NOW: 20
  • THEN: 0 tags — NOW: 96
  • THEN: ~10 fellow bloggers on the blogroll — NOW: 138. If I’m missing you, send me an email to TDot [at] lawdevnull.com! :D
  • THEN: 29 new unique visitors a day, at least half of which were spambots — NOW: 170, of which only 4-6 are spambots thanks to .htaccess controls
  • THEN: 0 comments — NOW: 417 comments and 661 pingbacks (and 2,130 attempted spam posts :beatup: )
  • THEN: 0 typos I saw — NOW: “Another one? @#$%. I’ll fix it later…”

I could go on with the shameless quasi-self-promotion but you get the idea ;)

I’ve been blessed to do a lot of pretty cool stuff in my life, but getting law:/dev/null started — and more importantly, having y’all read it and at least pretend that you like it! :spin: — undoubtedly takes top honors.

Thanks for being such amazing people and giving me an added incentive to keep going! :) I’m looking forward to the year ahead, the opportunity to meet even more of y’all, and hopefully even convince a few more to join me at the N.C. Central University School of Law ;)

Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. Coincidentally also the birthday of the Reasonably Prudent Law Student — happy birthday Huma!! :D []
  2. Although no one believes me, I’m actually a bit shy :oops: []

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Happy Independence Day! :D

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 4, 2010 in Randomness

The vacation to Virginia Beach continues, spending today celebrating the 234th birthday of these United States… my favorite holiday of the year :D

雅雅 and I first spent the afternoon unsuccessfully trying to find parking somewhere near the Oceanfront, eventually giving up 2 hours later. I’m so accustomed to being at the beach either early in the morning or late at night that I totally forgot how insane it gets in the middle of the day :beatup:

The Hurricane

We made up for it by heading to Wild Water Rapids for a few hours1 B-)

Moving around was a little difficult due to quarter-sized blisters I got on the balls of my feet Friday, but a pair of bandages and some flip flops solved the problem. I even took the opportunity to ride The Hurricane, the crazy high-speed contraption in the photo.2

I chickened out back in 2008 but figured I’d give it a shot this time around. It was an experience ;)

Then we headed back to the grandparent’s house for the usual Independence Day grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and various other summer food… and ice cream :spin: After that we took the 10-minute walk to Mount Trashmore Park for the annual fireworks show.

I know y’all couldn’t be there with me, so I recorded a bit of video on my phone and posted it on YouTube so you can pretend ;)

Hopefully all of you had a fun and festive day! :D Have a great night y’all!

  1. Our 3rd theme park in 3 days: we went to Busch Gardens with the family yesterday, and to Water Country USA by ourselves the day before. Crazy expensive but sooooo much fun :spin: []
  2. For my NC-based readers, the Hurricane is similar to the Dragon’s Den ride at Emerald Pointe… except you’re not on an inner tube. It’s just you. :surprised: []

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