Old habits die hard…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 21, 2014 in The After-3L Life

To the extent not doing something can be considered habit-forming, I slipped back into my old habit of not updating law:/dev/null on a regular basis — I wrote a “stub” for a handful of entries, never actually finished them, and now they’re just not nearly as interesting as I thought they were at the time. :beatup:

So rather than an in-depth entry this go-round, I’m gonna go with one of those bullet-point updates I use in situations where I’ve been gone awhile:1

  • A couple weeks ago I agreed to join a classmate at the veterinarian for moral support as she had one of her dogs put to sleep. :( This particular pooch was in horrible shape — cataracts, tumors, seizures, unable to eat, tremendous weight loss — so euthanasia “made sense.” But it still ranks among the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Ever. Over the past 33 years I’ve lost pets, I’ve lost friends, I’ve been to funerals; the pain from those losses is real, but totally unrivaled compared to being inches away watching as a living thing takes its last breath. In her case I was horrible as moral support because I’m pretty sure I cried more than she did (and it wasn’t even my dog). Not an experience I want to repeat.
  • That same afternoon I came back to the TGD Law headquarters to resume work, and met my first bona fide batsh*t crazy prospective client. He was referred to me by another lawyer,2 said he had an issue that fell squarely within my realm of expertise, and had $5,000.00 in-hand ready to pay me — until I started asking him questions, his responses threw up red flags, I asked more questions, and got more nonsense. Essentially what he wanted me to do was get myself disbarred trying to use the legal system to pursue a foreclosure-related scam, with nearly a dozen different justifications already debunked in North Carolina appellate law that he heard at some seminar he paid to attend in Florida. It was a horribly awkward consultation, and he was mystified when I told him I couldn’t take his money and then sent him on his way.3 After nearly 2 years in practice I hadn’t met anyone with a truly outlandish claim; he is now officially at the top of the list.
  • Speaking of TGD Law: I convinced two of my NCCU Law classmates to come work for the firm starting this past Monday :eek: Shutterbug is now on board helping with the business law side of the practice, as well as the Class of 2013 President Miss ርእሰብሔር helping with the higher education / criminal defense side.4 It’s slightly nerve-wracking knowing I’ve now got a team of people to look after. We’ve all got complementary strengths, though, so I’m hoping it will lead to greater success for all of us :)
  • That same day, I was walking back to my car after lunch with one of my good friends from my UNCASG days (the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel reporter assigned to cover ASG at the time). As we get near the parking deck we happen to pass two uniformed officers with the Durham Police Department. I say hello as we pass, one of the officers mentions he likes the NCCU Law baseball cap I’m wearing,5 and after a few more paces I hear the same officer shout “Doucette, right?” For an ever-so-brief instant, my mind raced to figure out what I could possibly have done to merit me getting arrested.6 :beatup: Turns out he’s a third-year student in the law school’s evening program who had visited law:/dev/null on occasion and wanted to let me know. Felt pretty cool after the fact but I was definitely nervous beforehand!
  • Even though I’m in my mid-30s, in my mind I’m still somewhere in my mid-20s. Then Q.T. sent me a text earlier tonight to let me know she’s the new Student Government advisor at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics and wants me to do my training program for them in the Fall. And I realized: Son of TDot is now the same age as most NCSSMers :crack: I’ll be training kids who are quite literally young enough to be my own children…
  • I also spent the afternoon helping conduct the character and fitness interviews for the 14th Judicial District Bar :) I don’t think I ever finished the post I meant to write way back in 2012 about my own experience, but it was marginally terrifying at the time — so I thought I’d volunteer in the hopes of making it not terrifying for this year’s batch of applicants. It was a fun experience, plus I got to serve with another lawyer I met for the first time who handles an area of law I will never touch if I can help it (ZombieLaw). I’m looking forward to doing it again next year if they need me.
  • I’ve also got an incredibly important brief due Monday that I haven’t started yet :beatup: So time to close this entry out so I can get to bed and start tomorrow!

That’s the extent of what’s been new and exciting in my life. I hope all of you are doing well, and enjoy the rest of your weekend! :D

  1. Though I’ll note for the record that “gone awhile” this time around was only 2 weeks, which is much better than my average absence last year ;) []
  2. Who I already called an *sshole for sending him to me… []
  3. I’ll admit, my bank account was mystified too :beatup: []
  4. There’s a better-than-half chance I’ve butchered this as a nickname. She’s an Ethiopian-American — even writes a blog on her experiences — so I tried to find the Amharic word for “president” and use that. Hopefully I got it right, but if not someone can correct me :) []
  5. The only downside to summertime for me: potential sunburn on my bald scalp requiring the near-constant wearing of a hat… no matter the temperature. []
  6. My Facebook page tends to have quite a few anti-government posts on it, which inevitably includes a string of anti-police posts as well. []

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A quick and easy way to feel like a social leper

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 19, 2010 in The 1L Life

Just abruptly change your study habits :beatup:

I forced myself to stay at NCCU Law today despite the final exam tension. And I successfully sat (relatively) still for a whopping 4 hours doing actual school-related work.

I was understandably proud of myself…

…until I emerged from the basement to an array of stunned and inquisitive looks from classmates reminding me that I usually depart promptly when classes end. A random bystander would have been forgiven for thinking one of my appendages had arbitrarily fallen off.1

::awkward turtle motion::

Wonder what will happen if this turns into a habit over the next few days? :P

  1. Or alternately that I had just emerged from the Legal Eagle equivalent of the champagne room. Some people apparently have a misguided belief that I’m cool/trendy. If only they knew… []

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was absolutely wrong…

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

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