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TDot’s Mailbag v4.0

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 21, 2010 in Mail

After Torts today I let myself get convinced by Rico to stick with my exercise routine for the New Year and go for a run outside… even though it’s only around 37ºF and raining. I couldn’t feel my fingers after the first mile :beatup: They’re still defrosting, so I figure today’s as good a day as any to answer some mail since there’s plenty of point-click-copy-paste involved ;)

And yes I know it’s literally been months since I answered reader mail here at law:/dev/null… but that’s mostly due to the fact it’s literally been months since I got any reader mail :P

A few of the recent entries must have triggered some latent inquisitiveness from a handful of folks though, because the inbox got e-bombed over the last week :) I figured I need to answer them before folks lose faith in my responsiveness ;)

So here are your questions… well… answered :D

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Q: Liz asks in response to a post I linked off the Kilpatrick-Stockton update, where I mentioned disliking BigLaw:

What really made you dislike BigLaw? You seem to be a workaholic, so the workload argument seems like an excuse.

A: It’s no excuse, I promise you that :)  Am I a workaholic? Maybe. But there’s 1 key difference between when I was a BigLaw paralegal and what I do now: I actually enjoy it ;)

Law school has been an adventure and I’ve been privileged to meet some amazing people, and running UNCASG gives me an opportunity to improve the lives of 215K+ students here in North Carolina. Compare that to law firm life, which consisted mostly of attorneys giving me things a couple hours/days before deadline or the partner I worked for deciding he needed yet another weeklong vacation and wanted me chained to my desk in case anything happened in his absence.

With law school and ASG, working during a holiday is something I do by choice; with BigLaw, it was a mandated part of my job. I’ll take the former over the latter 7 days a week :D

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Q: Clarence wants insight into the Kilpatrick-Stockton post itself:

I thought it was interesting 2 of the top 4 K-S finalists were T4 schools. Any theories on that?

A: I’ve got plenty of theories, I just can’t guarantee any of them are valid ;)

The first thing that comes to mind is the fact it’s a North Carolina-based competition, and a majority of the state’s law schools are in the lower ranks.  In the latest edition of the US News rankings, Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and Wake Forest are all now in Tier 1; Campbell and NCCU Law are both Tier 4; while Elon and Charlotte both only have provisional accreditation and can therefore functionally be treated as Tier 4. So even though the bulk of teams came from UNCCH and Duke, the natural odds of the 4 finalists including a pair of T4 schools are non-trivial.

There’s probably a cultural aspect to it as well. At least here in North Carolina, NCCU Law and Campbell Law both have well-earned reputations for producing high-quality trial attorneys and judges, and that legacy is worked into things like the aggressiveness of the Socratic method in 1L classes. The T1s by contrast have a reputation geared more toward BigLaw, international affairs, research and teaching; anecdotal evidence from friends at those neighboring schools is that classes are a challenge, but not intensely so.

Running with the cultural theme — and at the risk of getting shot by my T1 colleagues — I wouldn’t be surprised if the curve plays an impact too. Both Duke’s median and UNCCH’s median are set at 3.33 (B+), while Wake Forest sets theirs at 3.00 (B).  The T4 schools set their medians far lower, with Campbell’s median around 75 (C+) on their numeric system, and NCCU Law standing by its strict-C curve at 2.00 (and capping a course grade at A versus A+ elsewhere).

Most employers know that curves are set all over the place at different schools, which is why class rank is so important to landing a job rather than GPA. But for the chronic overachievers who go to law school, there is a fundamental shock to the psyche when a “good” semester is full of B-‘s or B’s compared to your fellow 1Ls at neighboring schools banking straight A’s.

Combine those latter two points — reputation and curves — and what you get are 1Ls who feel like underdogs compared to their peers, with a hunger to “show up and show out.”  That’s basically what happened at the Kilpatrick-Stockton competition this year IMO (at least I know that’s what we did :D )

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Q: Courtney expresses faux concern over the lack of structure we’ve had here since 1L Fall came to an end:

What happened to Tweet-sized Tuesdays and the Friday Drive-by??

A: The lack of structure that comes with winter break :P

Not sure what the future of Tweet-sized Tuesdays will be.  They were created last semester because the schedule for my section looked like a camel hump, with 5 classes on Wednesdays — that meant Tuesday nights spent studying instead of blogging.  This semester has the pain spread throughout the week. I’ll have a better idea as we get closer to midterms if I need to curtail the time spent writing here and bring Tweet-sized Tuesdays back ;)

As for the Friday Drive-by, that’ll be resuming at some point here in the next few weeks :)

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Q: Michelle wants the rest of this story:

How did that CivPro exam turn out?

A: There was a 22-point curve, so even though I almost failed I didn’t do too badly :)  I’ll post a full rundown of my 1L Fall grades at some point over the next couple days.

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That’s it for this edition :) If you have a question you want me to answer, send an email to tdot [at] lawdevnull.com or hit me up on Facebook!

Have a great night everybody! :D

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Things TDot Likes: Scalia’s writing

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 18, 2010 in Things TDot Likes

Say what you want about the man and his views on American jurisprudence, but the further I get in CivPro the more I consider Antonin Scalia a damn good author.

We’re currently going through the whole Erie lineage of cases, and I just finished reading Scalia’s dissent in Gasperini v. Center for Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415 (1996).  I’ll stipulate that I’m not yet competent enough in the law to have an opinion on whether I think his reasoning is persuasive.  But his writing style? The words practically jump off the page.

Compare the majority opinion to the dissent.  The former is bland and matter-of-fact-ish, but for the dissent I can practically envision Justice Scalia saying it aloud as I read.1 It’s not quite as incendiary as the Burnham v. Superior Court case that amused me last semester, but it’s still good stuff :)

Off to read about concurrent estates in Property before heading to bed. Have a great night folks!

  1. It’s actually kind of like one of those badly-dubbed kung fu movies, where the voice is based off snippets of interviews he’s given and the text itself is a subtitle on the screen :beatup: []

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And it starts (again)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 10, 2010 in The 1L Life

Get home late.  Check.

Eat fast food for dinner.  Check.

Read case law until midnight. Check.

An eminently predictable start to 1L year Round 2… :beatup:

Heading to bed, CivPro @ 9am — good night y’all :)

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Ouch…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 5, 2010 in Fail

I see why folks told me to be grateful after reading my complaints about not yet having grades back. The CivPro final exams got returned about an hour ago, I got mine soon thereafter…

…and I nearly failed :beatup:

This is the same class where I can quote you nearly every case we’ve studied by name, along with the relevant points of law. The only class where I actually felt comfortable with the material. The class I professed my love for after riding the curve to an A on the midterm.

The final wasn’t nearly as kind.

I rocked out the multiples (16 out of 20) but got eaten alive on both essays (14.5 of 20 on the first, 20 of 35 on the second, 2 of 5 for writing style). That leaves me with a 65%, on the test that makes up 80% of my grade.

Part of me feels bad for thinking it, but I’m hoping history repeats itself and all of us did sufficiently bad that there’s a tremendously huge curve. Fingers are firmly crossed…

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A Quantitative Look at 1L Fall

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 22, 2009 in The 1L Life

I shamelessly borrowed the concept for today’s post from this entry by Miss Julie Anne Ines (aka the Blawgirl), so if you haven’t checked out her segment of the intarwebs yet, please do so now because it’s Good Stuff™ :)

As my fellow Legal Eagles and I enjoy the agonizing wait for our grades — one section got their Contracts grades back; that section was not mine :mad: — it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve gone down the road to lawyerhood (attorneydom? JDness?).

So to illustrate the point, here’s a quantitative look at the semester :D

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Number of pages read in Civil Procedure with MDG:
~238

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Number of pages read in Torts with Professor Torts:
~360

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Number of pages read in Contracts with Professor Ks:
~439

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Number of pages read in Property with the Traveling Professor:
~187

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Number of useless writing assignments in Legal Reasoning & Analysis:
11

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Number of supplements consulted:
4 (an Emanuel’s for each class)

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Number of visits to the law library since orientation:
-0- (see next item)

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Number of searches on Lexis-Nexis:
212+

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Number of Lexis-Nexis Points earned:
2,630

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Number of times overheard swearing in class at WestLaw/TWEN’s poor website coding:
7+

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Number of days waiting for grades:
12, and counting…

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Imagine where we’ll be 5 more semesters from now :)

Have a great night folks!! :D

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Lexis-ing… for fun

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 15, 2009 in The 1L Life

I guess it was only a matter of time. I’ve officially turned into one of those people who randomly pull up cases on Lexis-Nexis for the hell of it :beatup:

It started earlier this week studying for CivPro. Venue is the last topic we’re learning before final exams, and one of the cases in the notes involved one of my favorite presidents — Livingston v. Jefferson (15 F. Cas. 660).  Reading that case reminded me how under-developed our judiciary still was back in the early 1800s, which somehow in my mind prompted me to look up one of the landmark cases in American jurisprudence: Marbury v. Madison (5 U.S. 137).

Then I used Lexis’s built-in Shepardize thing — I didn’t actually discover what it was/did until a couple weeks ago — and started poking through cases that referenced Marbury. And once I ran out of reading material I started picking some other major cases we all learn about in high school history and civics classes.

Long story short: pulling up old cases is almost as addicting as reading blawgs :)

Finally separating myself from the laptop to go back to CivPro studying. Have a great night everybody! :D

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Serendipity

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 11, 2009 in NotFail

Every now and then it’s nice to know The Big Man Upstairs is keeping an eye out for you :)

I had to give some friends a ride to campus this morning (they go to a certain university in an adjacent town) so naturally I was significantly late for CivPro. Unlike Professor Contracts, the standing rule for late people in CivPro is that you don’t enter if the door is shut and/or MDG has started the lecture.

And as much as I love talking about venue, I wasn’t going to press my luck ;)

So I finally make it to campus, end up parking in a lot now thoroughly muddy courtesy of the ongoing wind/rain leftovers from Hurricane Ida, slowly trudge to the law building… and hear a sound over the wind.

It’s faint. But distinct.

I look up from under the umbrella, and think I can see 1 lone strobe light flashing.

The sound gets a little louder as I walk a little closer.

In disbelief, I pick up the pace and walk as fast as one can with a wind-tossed double canopy umbrella in one hand and a 5″ binder + 3 textbooks in the other. I get to the granite porch outside the entrance and can’t believe my good fortune.

The fire alarm is going off :D

For a couple brief seconds I feel bad for my classmates who had to evacuate the building in this miserable weather (mid-40s and pouring rain a mere day after we broke 70ºF), but then I realize folks will have to be walking back into class and I might have an opportunity to sneak into CivPro. I double time it to the classroom, and sure enough see a pair of my classmates walking in.

I head to the door. MDG sees me, and gives me a raised eyebrow like he doesn’t remember seeing me in class before but he isn’t 100% certain. I give him a look along the lines of “Of course I was here earlier, I love CivPro!”  I walk in, make it about a fifth of the way to my chair…

…and apparently the rest of my classmates noticed I wasn’t there when class started, because the whole room busts out laughing.  MDG lets me slide though since I’m in my chair before he can say anything, then he starts laughing too and goes “Well I guess we know who pulled the fire alarm.” And the rest of class went off without a hitch… though I still didn’t sign the attendance sheet, out of recognition I was 30 minutes late to a 50-minute class :beatup:

He did hit me with his trademark wit before class was out though, the price I paid for being late. My left-side neighbor Karl(a) raises her hand to answer a question, and in recognizing her he slips and goes “Mr. TDot. Miss TDot. I mean Miss Karl(a). I’m so so sorry, I done married y’all. And let me tell you, y’all would make some uuuuuuuuggggllllllyyyyy babies.”

The words can’t articulate how hilariously funny it was, both in terms of timing and delivery — even though it was a (well-deserved) swipe at me, I was laughing for a solid 2-3 minutes (as was Karl(a) and everyone else in class).  The man is hands-down, without any sarcasm in this statement, my favorite professor this semester.

And all because of a serendipitously-timed fire alarm :D

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #10

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 3, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

Enjoying the Scalia-vs-Brennan cases in CivPro :D Future interests in Property? Not so much. btw, not a fan of darkness @ 5pm. EST ftl… :mad:

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #7

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 13, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

Best mile & 400m in my life @ PT this AM… I hurt :beatup: Caught up in Property + CivPro (Asahi Metal is an ugly case). Reading torts til bed! :)

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About those midterms…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 12, 2009 in Fail

A couple keen observers noticed that my last three entries completely avoided any reference at all to my final two midterm exams in Torts and Property.  The omission was intentional — I discovered on Friday that the N.C. Central School of Law is apparently one of relatively few law schools that even have midterms (which just seems strange to me) so I didn’t want to dwell on the topic in deference to my non-NCCU readers :*

But then we had CivPro this morning…

Now remember I mentioned a few days ago that I thought things turned out better than expected in CivPro. And although I got [K]O’d in Contracts, I also felt pretty good about Property and at least so-so in Torts (I n00b-ishly didn’t watch the clock and ran out of time on the essay, but blazed through the multiples).

And then Mean Dean Green1 took all that confidence — both from myself and other students in the class — and dashed it across the cold, jagged rocks of reality.  He noted we will be having a “debriefing session” on Friday.  That translates to “extra class,” which triggered alarm bells in my mind since a midterm that generally turned out well could just use a snippet of pre-existing class time for review.

He also noted at several points that we would be “kicking it up a notch.” And if that didn’t adequately convey the point, he also noted that “y’all are not where you need to be.”

::cue the little siren GIF from the Drudge Report::

So to satisfy my own morbid curiosity, after class I went to his office hours and inquired about the class grades. He wasn’t willing to divulge much information, except to note that “the class average on the multiples was failing. And the essays I’ve read so far are much, much worse.” :beatup:

I’m going to be pulling out the little bit of hair I have left on my head waiting to get my paper back on Thursday…

Off to study Contracts and Property for tomorrow, and hoping those midterms turned out better.  Have a great night everybody! :)

  1. An appellation that, as previously noted, really doesn’t fit the man at all. []

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