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TOP 8!!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 18, 2012 in NotFail

AAAHHHHHHHHHH!! :D

Sorry, had to get that out :)

So after finally getting things caught up here at law:/dev/null a couple weeks ago, I promptly disappeared again to focus on my upcoming competitions. I’m the “swing” counsel for one of NCCU Law‘s TYLA National Trial Competition teams again this year and have been determined to improve on last year’s just-barely-missed-it 9th place finish…

…and tonight WE DID IT!!! :spin:

NCCU Law's 2012 TYLA Trial Teams! From left to right: Associate Coach Jessica Major '09, Head Coach Clayton Jones '03, Me, Deyaska Spencer '13, Robert Brooks '12, Jillian Mack '12, Nikia Williams '13, Omari Crawford '13. Not pictured: Associate Coach Dominique Camm '09. Photo courtesy of 雅雅 :)

Teams are a little different year — instead of doing straight 2L-only and 3L-only squads, we have two 3Ls1 and one 2L2 on one team and one 2L, one 2.5L,3 and a 3L on the other — but even with the switched up pairings we still had a team make it into the Top 8 to advance to tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

And not only did we advance, but we discovered (i) we were 1 of only 5 teams4 to win all three of our preliminary rounds and (ii) we also swept all 9 of the judges’ ballots, making us the #1 seed in the quarterfinal pairings! :surprised:

For a time it didn’t seem like things were going to turn out that way.

NCCU Law’s been getting hammered with budget cuts, so we couldn’t afford to print our enlarged exhibits locally and then ship them from Durham; we had to get them printed here in Memphis before our arrival… only to discover yesterday morning (before the first round) that the order was completely FUBAR’d :mad:  So rather than spending our time focusing on the upcoming trial we were scrambling to get the prints done like they needed to be, get additional prints for the stuff that never got done, etc etc.

The first round was against the University of Memphis School of Law with EIC and I on defense, and after it was over we felt pretty good — no repeats of first-round jitters like we had at both the TYLA competition and the AAJ competition last year. Then came this morning, with Shutterbug and I representing the Plaintiff against a team from Duke Law. It was the same Duke Law team that won the 1L K-S competition last year so Shutterbug was looking for revenge and did a superlative job; Duke Law’s main strength was the breadth and quality of their objections, but we had a special pow-wow before heading to Memphis where we anticipated almost everything they threw at us.

But then the afternoon session was against a team from Charleston Law and we just knew EIC and I had lost our shot. One of the other side’s witnesses was actually a witness from the Friday night round playing the same guy, so he knew our cross-examination; the Memphis hosts went out of their way to try and find someone else, but couldn’t come up with anybody so we had to roll with it. I think knowing that was an issue had both of us mentally thrown off because neither of us were really “in the zone” like we should have been from that point onward.

By the grace of God we somehow eked it out though, winning that particular round by a couple points :)

I was so nervous when they were announcing the results of who advanced that I completely forgot my alphabet too. The hosts were announcing winners in alphabetical order, and when they said “E” I dropped my head thinking we had lost again  :oops:  Then they said “H” and I did a little foot stomping before giving the team a bear hug :D

Coach Jones and I with the Sunday rounds poster (before the re-flip)

The 8 advancing teams got called into a side room to get entered onto the chart of Sunday rounds and call a coin toss to see who would be which side. We were originally slated to go against Mercer Law, but their team was late to the meeting (for reasons that’ll be apparent in the next paragraph) so we were given the chance to call the coin toss, won, and were slated to go against them on Defense.

Then we went back to the room to change clothes before getting dinner… only to get called back because apparently there was a ballot error,5 Mercer Law was right in thinking they hadn’t advanced after all (hence why they were late), and we had to do everything all over again with a different team. We lost the coin toss the second time and the sides have switched, so we’re now on Plaintiff paired up with Georgia Law‘s defense.

In addition to us and Georgia Law, there’s one team apiece from Wake Forest Law (NC), Campbell Law (NC), Georgia State Law (GA), Vanderbilt Law (TN), Memphis Law (TN), and Emory Law (GA).

I’m more nervous than a Mythbusters insurance agent about how tomorrow is going to go down, especially after the unexpected change in plans about who’s going on what side. But after last year — and I hate to say this in print because it seems preemptively defeatist, but it’s true — I’m totally content with where we’ve gotten. NCCU Law made it to the Sunday rounds for the first time in at least 3-4 years,6 we are 1 of only 3 North Carolina schools to advance this year, we swept everything, and we snagged a #1 seed… and, the biggest relief for me, I redeemed myself for blowing the first round last year :beatup:

Totally unrelated to how things go, I want to publicly give some praise to the University of Memphis School of Law on how they implemented the competition this year.  They did an excellent job of making sure the judges didn’t know what schools the different competitors were from, reminding coaches and competitors both not to disclose that information intentionally or accidentally, went out of their way to ensure there were no conflicts with judges or witnesses seeing the same teams more than once, the list goes on. The competition coordinators were moving around all over the place keeping things running like a well-oiled machine, and I greatly appreciate that.

And I’m not just saying that because we advanced :P  I’d rather lose a fair contest than win a rigged one.

Aside from all the competition-ness, I also got to see 雅雅 who gave up her weekend to come out and support us, ate some delicious ribs and bbq from Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous, and generally just enjoy having the weight of last year’s failure lifted off my chest. It’s been a good day :)

I’ll keep you posted on how things go tomorrow, but for now I’m heading to bed so I can get ready for tomorrow morning. Good night y’all! :D

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

  1. Myself and EIC, who was on the AAJ team last year. []
  2. Shutterbug from last year’s Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L team. []
  3. A 3rd-year student in our 4-year JD/MBA joint-degree program []
  4. Out of 32 teams from 16 law schools across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee []
  5. One of the judges marked a defense ballot part of the ballot as a plaintiff part of the ballot :crack: []
  6. No one’s been able to tell me the last time our TYLA team actually made it to Sunday :beatup: []

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Improving participation at the ABA Law Students Division

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 16, 2011 in Student Government

Now that I’ve recovered from driving 10 hours in 2 days, I’m not entirely sure what to think about the ABA-LSD “Super Circuit” meeting for the 4th / 5th / 6th Circuits that happened down at Charleston Law this weekend. The meeting was more informative than I anticipated; the turnout, on the other hand, seemed downright spartan for such a large geographic area.

It was hard to tell when attendance hit its peak. When the day started there were a bunch of CSoL students present which inflated the numbers, but as they started trickling out just after lunch other law schools (like FAMU Law) had started trickling in. I’d estimate there were around 40 or so people present over the course of the day.

By the time the clock hit around 2pm, though, there was barely anyone left :beatup:

The abrupt disappearance of so many attendees was reflected in the agenda: rather than have the planned sessions for roundtable-like discussions with other delegates (the main reason I went), the meeting was adjourned nearly 2 hours ahead of schedule :surprised:

Sure it left time for a more-scenic drive back to North Carolina, but it makes me wonder if sending people to these meetings is a project on which I want the NCCU Law SBA investing our students’ money…

When the people in charge asked what could be done to fix the horrible turnout, naturally people targeted the symptoms rather than the cause — requests for the dissolution of combined circuit meetings outright and other various solutions-that-don’t-solve-things-but-make-you-sound-intelligent were plentiful. In case anyone from the ABA-LSD happens to read this small piece of internet real estate, here are my 3 suggestions:

  1. Embrace the 36 Hour Rule: I’ve literally been to dozens of weekend meetings in my life, and I’ve never seen a well-attended one that lasted less than 36 hours. As a group starts cutting back the amount of time designated to business to lure more attendees, the relative opportunity cost for attending actually goes up — people who might drive 10 hours round-trip for a full-weekend event simply aren’t going to commit that same travel time for a mere 6-or-less hours of business. When you spend more time traveling to a meeting than you do actually meeting, attendance drops. This was the exact same situation UNCASG faced before the Pickle Princess and I ran for office, and one shared by many other groups.1 You fix it by offering more for the attendees instead of less: some business and a social event on Friday night to encourage on-time arrival, substantive business all day on Saturday, a party of some kind on Saturday night as a reward, and some closing minor business over breakfast Sunday morning to discourage early departures. Attendance will always be lighter on Friday and Sunday, but having those days as the ones dedicated to travel gives you a greater volume of people present on Saturday; those same people then interact with the others, building friendships, and creating a reinforced incentive for people to participate and show up to future meetings.
  2. Lead from the front: Back during the Spring’s ABA-LSD 4th Circuit meeting when I served as a proxy for our SBA President, I “ran” for Circuit Governor in protest since no one had filed for the position; two other candidates were nominated from the floor and talked about how much they wanted the job, and my commentary was along the lines of “If you cared so much you’d have filled out the paperwork on time. Wtf is wrong with this Circuit?” I think the eventual winner (Mallory Duley-Willink of Charlotte Law) has been leery of me ever since, but at least as far as this Charleston meeting goes she was the only one to actually do her job throughout. By the time we hit that 2:00pm-ish mark — with 3 hours of material left to go on the agenda — both the 5th Circuit and 6th Circuit Governors had bailed to head home :crack: That sets a horribly bad example for the other delegates, who will rise or fall to the standards set by the leadership. If the people reaping the networking and financial benefits of these jobs aren’t sticking around, the “little people” will follow suit. The group leader should be the first to arrive, the last to leave, and should be putting more effort into the group than anyone else.
  3. Live the mission: I don’t actually know if the ABA-LSD has a mission separate and distinct from the greater ABA, but whatever it is or would be the leadership should reflect some passion in trying to carry it out! All the communications I’d gotten for the meeting were the slick automated emails sent through whatever program the ABA folks use, with no real information in them beyond the same form email listing the date/time/location. When we got there, the officer reports were lukewarm. The new Representative to the ABA Board of Governors had no idea what I was talking about when I asked a question about an initiative discussed by his predecessor;2 then he offered a lengthy politician’s explanation instead of simply saying “I don’t know anything about it but I’ll find out.” Then just before the remaining leadership announced the meeting would be cut 2 hours short, they asked for suggestions on how to improve the meetings… with not a single recommendation being written down by anyone :roll: An organization’s leadership serves as its biggest cheerleaders; their principal role is being physical embodiments of the group’s ideals. If you can’t live the mission, you should probably go lead something else.

I doubt any of the ABA’s decision-makers will read this (much less take it seriously) but that’s my $.02 on how to improve ABA-LSD participation, at least in this part of the country. People respond to expectations, regardless of where they’re set — so set them higher ;)

Have a good night y’all! :D

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From the law:/dev/null 2011 ABA-LSD “Super Circuit” Meeting-related archives:

  1. See page 4 of our UNCASG platform “The Clock is Ticking…”, where we called for (and later implemented) full-weekend meetings. That decision led to three different records setting the highest attendance in the Association’s 38-year history. []
  2. Trying to get the cost of bar review incorporated into the Cost of Attendance figure used by law schools to calculate financial aid packages. []

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At the risk of pulling a Rick Perry…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 15, 2011 in The 3L Life

…South Carolina’s barbecue was about what I expected: average and forgettable.

Sorry y’all, North Carolina ‘cue still reigns :*

Back in the Bull City from the ABA-LSD Fall meeting at CSoL. More to come tomorrow, good night y’all! :)

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From the law:/dev/null 2011 ABA-LSD “Super Circuit” Meeting-related archives:

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Greetings from Charleston!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 14, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening folks! :)

EIC and I are both currently down in South Carolina for the ABA Law Student Division‘s Fall “Super Circuit” meeting for the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Circuits, scheduled to take place tomorrow at the Charleston School of Law.

It’s pretty much been a whirlwind of a day since I woke up — I somehow managed to fall asleep in the middle of working on my Employment Discrimination complaint and client letter, and also managed to successfully navigate the multiple steps necessary to disable the alarm I set just in case I fell asleep :beatup:

So rather than spend yesterday cleaning up the apartment and packing, I went to class and then spent until a couple hours before midnight getting the client letter finished,1 then picked up 雅雅 from the airport just after midnight for her coming in to visit. This morning was then spent getting the house in order for the dogsitter, packing up, then making the 5 hour drive south.

Since getting here, I have to say Charleston has been rehabilitating my opinion of South Carolina :D My only other time in the state involved burning hours of time to go a few miles on the interstate. Couple that with some natural North-South rivalry that comes from me living in North Carolina since 1998, and let’s just say I’ve had a dim view of this state ;)

But we got here, went exploring the French Quarter, found a decent place to eat, and checked out the City Market.2 So far it seems pretty cool, and knowing some of this stuff has been here since the Revolutionary War just really blows my mind.

Heading to bed so I can get up for the meeting in the morning :) Have a great night y’all! :D

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

  1. I’m stuck taking a -0- on it because MDG has a “bright line” late policy, but at least I can say it’s done :) []
  2. Incredibly cool place, makes me wish we had something like it in Durham… and if we do, my apologies for not being aware of its existence :beatup: []

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