Things TDot Likes: Persistence

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 15, 2010 in Things TDot Likes

Good evening everybody! :)

Unfortunately I won’t be able to compose anything lengthy tonight — the applause from the peanut gallery is duly noted :P — because my network connection is going crazy with 30-90% packet loss and horrible latency :beatup:

So instead you get a story of persistence in the face of adversity from a recent graduate of both my alma mater and NCCU Law, featured in this article in the Raleigh News & Observer a couple weeks back. Enjoy in my absence ;)

Ex-con mom beats odds, gets law degree
BY RUTH SHEEHAN – Staff Writer
Tags: news

In February 1990, Lynn Burke arrived at her public housing unit, escorted by a parole officer, to find her four young children living in squalor. Her crackhead husband had left pipes and needles in a back room. The kitchen sink was so clogged with grease, he did dishes in the tub.

Lynn Burke, 47, got out of prison and hit the books

Broken and broke after two years in prison, Burke had little reason to be optimistic about her future. Then her 7-year-old son held out something in his hand.

“I was thinking you might need this,” he said. For two years, he’d slept with Burke’s driver’s license under his pillow.

Burke realized in that moment that her children and others in her life believed in her against all odds.

Their faith – and Burke’s own drive – led her on a odyssey from a felony fraud conviction to representing clients for the Orange County Public Defender’s Office.

Burke, 47, graduated last month from N.C. Central University Law School and is studying for the bar exam in July; she hopes to begin criminal defense work in the fall. Burke knows her story is rare; she wishes it weren’t so.

“Cons are like everyone else. We want to contribute. We want our children to be proud of us,” she said. “My story shouldn’t be miraculous. I’m a regular person who screwed up royally. If I can do this, anyone can.”

Burke didn’t grow up in poverty. Her father was a corporate lawyer, her mother, a nurse. It was an upper middle-class upbringing in upstate New York, then Tennessee. Still, Burke said, she never learned key lessons about how much things cost, about education, about personal responsibility.

At 18, she got pregnant and couldn’t bring herself to give her son up for adoption.

One night his father dropped off checks he’d stolen and told Burke if she ever needed anything for their son, she should just write a check. She did – until she got caught.

She was put on probation at 19 while pregnant, by another man, with twin girls. Within a year she had her fourth baby and was sentenced for the first time. She persuaded the father of her three younger kids to marry her so they wouldn’t be sent to foster care.

Burke was still on probation when she moved to North Carolina to be closer to her ailing mother. In 1986, she registered at N.C. State.

But when her mother died that fall , Burke fell into a deep depression. Overwhelmed by caring for four preschoolers, she called her husband’s mother in Tennessee to send his younger sister to help.

Instead, he and his drug habit arrived. Before long, Burke reverted to her old habits, kiting checks, returning stolen items for cash. Anything to make ends meet. Until, in the end, she got busted but good.

Superior Judge Donald Stephens sentenced her to prison for nine counts of felony fraud.

Coping with her past

On Feb. 9, 1990, Burke was released. She quickly learned how few employers are interested in ex-offenders.

To dodge criminal record checks, she used her maiden name on job applications. Eventually, she was always found out.

She started a floral delivery business in Raleigh. It thrived, then foundered. Finally, she persuaded her father to hire her as his legal assistant. She took to the paperwork and the lingo.

In 2006, 20 years after she first registered, Burke graduated from N.C. State with a degree in social work.

She began to wonder if she couldn’t take her experience with the legal system – both inside and out, as a de facto paralegal for her dad – and become a lawyer herself. She applied to N.C.Central’s law school twice and finally got in. Through sheer determination, she got through.

Judge Kristin Ruth, who sees lots of ex-cons in her child support court, knows how unusual Burke’s success is.

“She’s one who never gave up,” Ruth said. “You see her talking to the clients and there is an instant connection. She can honestly say ‘I’ve been there, done that. I’ve been in that jail cell. And now I’m here.'”

Dennis Gaddy, executive director of the Community Success Initiative, which assists ex-offenders, noted that 70 percent of children whose parents have been in prison end up in prison themselves. But “there is a way to turn setbacks into a comeback,” he said, calling Burke one of his program’s stars.

Passing on life lessons

Burke said she tried to teach her kids the lessons she never learned. All four worked jobs through high school, helping her pay bills, buying their own clothes.

All four graduated from college. Her son’s a Raleigh cop. The twins got degrees in public health. And her youngest daughter graduated from NCCU.

One day last spring, while interning for the Wake County Public Defender’s Office, Burke decided to stop by to see someone she first met in court in 1988.

Judge Stephens didn’t recognize her.

“You sentenced me to 10 years in prison,” Burke said.

Ah, yes.

“I told him, ‘Judge, I just wanted to let you know that I understand what a difficult job you have and that you were just doing what you had to do,’ ” she said. ” ‘I also wanted to let you know that all four of my kids graduated from college.’ ”

“And what are you doing these days, Ms. Burke?” the judge asked.

“I’m going to law school,” she replied.

The usually unflappable judge did a double take. “You’re what?”

“I was happy to hear it,” Stephens said. “We don’t hear many success stories. Ms. Burke had the tenacity to climb her way out.”

Burke plans to practice criminal defense, representing people like her who have “screwed up royally.” She wants to be one of their believers.

“I want to be that benefit of the doubt that someone can change,” she said.

ruth.sheehan@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4828

Have a great night y’all! :D

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Spring ’10 Final Grades (or, “A 2L. For srs.”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 8, 2010 in NotFail

Pretty much ever since I started law:/dev/null — back when I decided to take a quantity-over-quality approach to these posts ;) — it’s been a challenge thinking of something to write about each night that at least a handful or so of you will actually enjoy reading.

Then this week happened. And I had three (three!) separate topics enqueued. Three! Topics that, I concede, got briefly postponed so I could rant about my missing grades. But topics that I fully intended to resume writing about tonight. (Three of them!)

And then the missing grades materialized. And the bodies started piling up… :beatup:

So in deference to the requests I’ve already gotten,1 I figured I’d spill the beans on my grades now rather than knock out those other entries and post grade info on Friday.

That’s how much I :heart: y’all ;)

We haven’t actually gotten any of the physical exams back yet so I’m not sure how my performance broke down in terms of multiples-vs-essays, but I’ll share my guesses where I can.

Without further ado, here’s the rundown for Spring 2010:


MDG switched things up from the usual final, giving us a set of multiples but then providing documents from a mock court case for the essay. Our objective was to review the documents and craft a letter to the client discussing the numerous FRCP-related concerns that existed.

It was during that portion of the exam that I stopped watching the clock and had time called before I got anywhere near finishing it :beatup:

CivPro II Final Exam Grades

The multiples were a challenge, with MDG describing them as “nuanced” and mentioning that even a fellow CivPro instructor missed a couple. The highest correct was 15 out of 20 multiples (75%) with the class average at 12 (60%) — high enough to pass the Bar, which is definitely a good thing given the difficulty.

The chart to the right shows how the final exam grades broke down. There was a +19-point curve.

My final grade for the course turned out slightly higher than anticipated, so my guess is I did well on the multiples. But I’m kicking myself for choosing a UNC Board of Governors meeting over an extra credit assignment we were given shortly after midterms though — the extra 5 points would have bumped the final grade to a B, bumping my 1L GPA above a 2.7 (eligible for some NCCU merit scholarships).

Lesson learned :headdesk:

Midterm exam grade: A-
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: C+
Actual final grade for class: B-

Synopsis: Worse performance than last semester, but given how gratuitously I choked on the essay I’m satisfied with how it turned out. And now I know to do all available extra credit in the future :beatup:


Not a whole lot to say here: Contracts clearly isn’t my thing.

The downside is that I now have to explain to future employers how I barely passed a core class two semesters in a row.

The upside? I never have to take Contracts again until the bar exam ;)

Midterm exam grade: C-
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: C-
Actual final grade for class: C

Synopsis: I passed :surprised:


If my perpetual flailing in Ks killed any briefly-nurtured dreams I had of going the intellectual property route, CrimLaw coupled with 1L Trial Team have convinced me to follow my heart and go the criminal prosecution route professionally. It’s something I had wanted to do for years, but never seriously considered since public employees don’t make much salary-wise.

But based on my grades it seems like the only thing I’ll be qualified to do :beatup:

The really crazy part? This was my best grade all year, and it was in the one class where I didn’t study for the final exam because I had a UNCASG meeting that weekend :crack:

Professor CrimLaw sent me an email making sure I knew that (i) I earned the grade I got but (ii) I shouldn’t make any professional decisions based on one course. He’s got a valid point but I don’t feel like I’m doing that here — I really, truly, and deeply hate Contracts too so technically it’s based on three courses :spin:

Midterm exam grade: A-
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: A-
Actual final grade for class: A-

Synopsis: I’m 90% sure Professor CrimLaw isn’t a TDot fan, but I still enjoyed the course. And I’m glad I finally have something other than B’s and C’s populating my transcript ;)


Along with not watching the clock in the CivPro final, this was my other instance of taking a strong starting grade and pissing it away through truly stunning incompetence.

Note to the pre-Ls: read directions!

Then when you’re done: re-read directions!

Then after that: re-re-read directions!

Trust me :beatup:

Cumulative grade after midterm: A-
Final memo grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: C
Actual final grade for class: C

Synopsis: It could have been worse I guess. At least the research skills we learned actually turned out to be useful. ::headdesk::


This was the only final exam where I didn’t have a gut feeling one way or the other on how it turned out. I’m not sure if it was from the stress of the looming Contracts final two days later or what.

My performance was worse than the midterm, but high enough that I ended up with the exact same grade I got in the Fall.

And I don’t remember any of it already :beatup:

Midterm exam grade: A- (and in Top 3)
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: B+
Actual final grade for class: B+

Synopsis: At least I’m consistent :beatup:


Professor Torts is currently in Costa Rica with our Study Abroad folks, so I won’t know how the final exam turned out for a long while.

But I know enough to know I blew it :(

Back on the midterms I ended up with the #1 score out of the class on the multiples-only exam, so to end up with a final grade below even last semester’s I must have quite thoroughly FUBAR’d the final. And I feel fairly certain I did well on the essay, meaning I can only assume I botched the multiples.

Meh. Was never a fan of this class either…

Midterm exam grade: A (and in Top 3)
Final exam grade: ???
Expected final grade for class: A-
Actual final grade for class: B-

Synopsis: This was the only bona fide disappointment for the semester, but at least it’s over. I will most definitely not be taking Advanced Torts ;)


Expected End-of-Semester GPA: 2.756
Actual End-of-Semester GPA: 2.733

Actual End-of-1L GPA: 2.678 (Law school median: 2.000)


So that’s the rundown on the 1L grades.

But one wrinkle added to the mix over the past 24 hours has been NCCU Law‘s strong adherence to the strict-C grading model: we have a policy that any 1Ls who have fallen below a 2.000 at the end of their first year are academically dismissed from the school (hence my reference at the start of this post to “the bodies piling up” once grades came out).

The policy is essentially a trade-off in exchange for the school giving a shot to folks who might not be academically qualified to get into other law schools, providing a level of access that I personally think does wonders for the legal profession (at least in North Carolina) because many of the best lawyers I crossed paths with when I worked for the State Bar were less-than-stellar students as undergraduates.

The 2.0 model forces students to perform. It produces good attorneys. It’s why so many judges in North Carolina are NCCU graduates. And it’s why many of my classmates and I have a huge chip on our shoulder when we listen to trash-talk from students at other law schools.

But the dark side of that 2.0-cutoff is that NCCU Law ranks #2 in the nation for 1L attrition at a public law school (we’re edged out by FIU Law). We’re around #7 among both public and private law schools combined.

1L attrition is the red bar on the right-hand side

Take a look at this PDF chart from NLJ if you need a visual. The picture to the left is North Carolina’s section of the report.2)

That means roughly 1-in-5 of my colleagues will not be returning this coming August, and I’ve already gotten messages that a couple very close friends who’ve been mentioned here at law:/dev/null are among the casualties :cry: It kinda kills the buzz from being able to officially declare myself a 2L…

I’m not sure where those folks will end up down the road, but if they happen to read this entry I’m hoping they’ll keep in touch and let me know if I can help. We might not all be destined to be lawyers, but I’m a firm believer we’ll all end up where we’re supposed to end up.


I completely and totally *hate* ending posts on a sour note, so I do want to formally say *CONGRATULATIONS!!* to everyone in the Class of 2012 — both at NCCU Law and elsewhere — who can officially call themselves 2Ls! :) Good luck to all of you in your summer endeavors, and I hope you’ll keep coming back to law:/dev/null next year now that I get to officially keep chronicling this experience :D

Have a great night everybody!


From the grade-related archives:

  1. Including from classmates who said they were looking forward to tonight’s blog entry — that inflated my ego at least two-fold apiece ;) :D []
  2. To my Duke Law readers, I assure you its absence from the pic isn’t a sign of ill will — since Duke Law is a T14, they’re on the NY page of the report and I didn’t have time to do a Photoshop splicing of the pages together. If you want to know about Duke Law just download the PDF ; []

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Well that was unexpected…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 24, 2010 in The 2L Life

Sorry for not posting yesterday y’all, I actually fell asleep accidentally while reading for today’s classes1 :beatup:

The upside is that I was awake hours ahead of when I needed to leave for the Courthouse and my first day observing cases in mediation. I got through observing 1… then ended up having to actually mediate myself :surprised:

Yep, you read that correctly :)

The dispute was between two middle-aged women who had gotten into an altercation at work, and when the regular mediator and I first started talking to the parties it seemed like the case wasn’t the type that we could resolve through mediation.  The complainant said she was determined to have the criminal charges against the defendant heard in court and wouldn’t dismiss the case (which of course happens when a negotiated settlement takes place).

For reasons unknown to me, the complaining witness in the case didn’t like the regular mediator — at all. I noticed about 2 minutes into the mediation session that she started directing all of her comments and questions to me, even when I made it clear I was just a not-quite-2L who didn’t know the answers to many of her questions. About 15 minutes in (when we’ve essentially been conducting a mediation) she formally agrees to mediation, the mediator notices she doesn’t like him a couple minutes after that, then looks at me and says “You’ve got the training. Have at it.” :beatup:

The sudden and unexpected pressure of having to perform for srs was intense. I really wanted to :sick: and apparently my face went pale for a couple minutes before I snapped out of it.

But about 2ish loooooong hours later, we had an agreement in the case that both parties liked so it was officially a success! :D

Not sure I could replicate that with many other cases but it’s good to start on a high note. We’ll see what the rest of the Clinic work holds this summer.

Heading to bed so I can sleep in tomorrow morning :) Have a great night y’all! :D

  1. Which reminds me at some point I need to write an entry for TDot’s Tips #6: sleep! []

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UNCASG Tuition Petition makes Forbes!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 16, 2010 in Student Government

This apparently came out a few days ago, but I didn’t notice until I was catching up on Facebook wall posts earlier today.

Forbes notes the 22,000+ signatures gathered by UNCASG opposing the Legislature's 8% student tax!

UNCASG‘s work on tuition and fees has gone national — earning a mention on Forbes.com!

It’s only a tiny blurb, in an entry listing 10 public universities increasing tuition in the face of state budget cuts.1

But Forbes goes on to note “a petition signed by over 22,000 people objecting to the move”…

…which just so happens to be UNCASG’s tuition petition stack :D

Talk about vindication! ;)

  1. The University of North Carolina is included, courtesy of the 8% student tax the N.C. General Assembly enacted last August. []

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Friday Drive-by #12 (or, “w00t for #4!!”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 7, 2010 in Friday Drive-by

A few weeks ago I mentioned to y’all that law:/dev/null was among 25 nominees in ClearAdmit‘s “Best of Blogging” competition. The folks at Clear Admit basically took the huge pantheon of law student blogs, trimmed the list down to their Top 25, then sent everyone a ballot to vote for their favorites.

Well the votes are in, the results were announced on Tuesday, and…

…we’re #4! :D

That’s pretty doggone good as far as I’m concerned, considering the top 3 winners happened to be the exact same folks as the “Big 3” I mentioned in that earlier entry :) We also snagged #1 in the “Best Representation of Academics” category!

All in all, not bad for a contest where my initial nomination was a surprise :spin:

Many thanks again to the folks over at ClearAdmit, as well as to everyone in the Top 25 who included me on their ballot :) And an even bigger *THANK YOU* to all of you readers who keep reading and supporting law:/dev/null :D

Here are the final vote results. All of you should check out all of these blogs :)

TOP 10:

  1. idwsj @ http://idwsj.wordpress.com/
  2. Dennis Jansen @ http://www.dennis-jansen.com/
  3. Huma Rashid @ http://humarashid.com/
  4. TDot @ http://www.lawdevnull.com/
  5. Ricky Nelson @ http://legallyquestionablecontent.wordpress.com/
  6. Mariel @ http://freshthoughtsoup.wordpress.com/
  7. Cat & SB @ http://similarlysituated.blogspot.com/
  8. Reckless @ http://lastcallforrecklessness.blogspot.com/
  9. I’m Nobody @ http://butnothanks.blogspot.com/
  10. Ivy Lea @ http://ivy-lea.blogspot.com/

Most Entertaining Applicant Blog:
Ricky Nelson @ http://legallyquestionablecontent.wordpress.com/

Best School Selection Advice:
Ricky Nelson @ http://legallyquestionablecontent.wordpress.com/

Best Resource for Applicants:
Dennis Jansen @ http://www.dennis-jansen.com/

Best Job/Internship Advice:
Huma Rashid @ http://humarashid.com/

Best Representation of Academics:
TDot @ http://www.lawdevnull.com/

Best Representation of Student Life:
idwsj @ http://idwsj.wordpress.com/

Best Single Post:
idwsj @ Law School: A Life of 1,000 Acquaintances and One Friend

Have fun reading folks! And have a great night! :D

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A brief note of thanks

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 25, 2010 in Student Government

My apologies in advance to the regular readers here at law:/dev/null — most of you were never given the context behind tonight’s entry, and those of you who were in all likelihood won’t care :beatup: This particular post is dedicated to a (relatively) small group of people, the overwhelming majority of whom don’t even know this blog exists.

But this is one of those occasions where something needed to be said…

I don’t believe I’ve ever written a post on this blog while intoxicated. And I probably shouldn’t even admit that I drink on this site since I have -0- doubt that prospective employers have checked out this section of internet real estate on more than one occasion. But the glories of in-browser spellcheck (thank you Apple and its Safari development team!) have enabled me to exercise questionable judgment free of any technical obstacles ;)

It’s about 4am on Sunday morning, and for the past 5 hours I have had the incredible privilege and honor of being in the presence of (and yes, drinking with) about 30 of my closest friends — including quasi-adopted family — as we all celebrated my last meeting as President of the UNC Association of Student Governments, followed by our annual end-of-year awards banquet that was executed at the highest level of perfection.

And the success and smoothness of the meeting coupled with the banquet coupled with having these folks over tonight has truly meant an incredible amount to me :spin:

For better or worse, I’m actually a fairly stoic guy.1 It’s partly a bi-product of my upbringing, but it’s mostly the result of my chosen extracurricular vocation — being in charge means having to make tough decisions, having to make tough decisions usually means hurting people’s feelings, and hurting people’s feelings usually requires maintaining one’s composure in order to make a decision that’s in the best interests of everybody even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

So as a result of that well-cultivated stoicism, I rarely convey to the people around me how deeply appreciative and moved I am by their presence in my life. And when I do, frankly no one believes me :beatup: But I tell you folks — and this is one of those #truestory moments — I can’t fully articulate in words how grateful I am for all of you.

I’ve served on behalf of students in some capacity or another every year that I’ve been in college. I began my freshman year as a Student Senator, and I was absolutely abominable at it — I was arrogant, disrespectful, thought I had all the answers, the list goes on.  I actually ran for Student Senate President and got obliterated, coming in 3rd place out of 3 candidates.  I spent the next year in the campus equivalent of political exile, fought my way back into the Senate a year later… just to drop out of college entirely.

As utterly ridiculous as I’m sure it sounds, it ate away at me during the 5 years I was a college dropout to know I had ended on such a low note. I had been rejected by 26,000+ students because of my own arrogance, thought I had recognized the error of my ways and worked to improve, only to then get put out of school entirely.  So I fought my way back into N.C. State in August 2005, and I’d be lying to you if I said the thought of getting back into SG didn’t cross my mind all the way back then.

To make a very, very, very long story short, I thought God had other plans for me. I resumed writing an editorial column for the student newspaper, the Technician. I supported a friend of mine for the Student Senate Presidency. I ran for 1 of 3 Student Senate seats for seniors in the College of Engineering, and came in 4th out of 4 candidates — losing to a guy who didn’t even campaign.2 And I had resigned myself to the fact that at best I would be, as the Technician once quoted me, “the old guy in the back of the room who knew all the rules” and spent his time helping the other folks do their jobs.

Fast forward 3 years. I was elected by the campus of N.C. State to serve as Student Senate President — winning the position I had sought almost 10 years earlier — largely by virtue of the fact my opponent had questionable fashion sense. I was elected to a 2nd term as Senate President the following Spring, then a few weeks later elected President of UNCASG by a 1-vote tie-breaker cast by the presiding officer following a marathon 3+ hour political debate.

And as much as I’d like to pretend I had something to do with that latter victory, the truth of the matter is the Pickle Princess (my running mate) was a far more capable+likeable leader than I, and managed to pull votes from the campuses who didn’t like me at all :beatup:

I was privileged to serve a 2nd term — a rarity among Presidents — and over these 2 years have been blessed to take part in major efforts to refocus the organization, proactively address the costs of higher education, and serve the students of the University by tackling the issues that impact them most.

That all came to a close tonight when my successor and his own vice president were sworn in, both of whom have a lot of work ahead — but who I truly believe are the most capable people for their positions. Despite my official role as ASG President wrapping up, it’s still truly humbling to have been an out-of-state native, political washout, former college dropout, slightly-older-guy-with-slightly-thinnning-hair, and still be asked to work as a student leader with many of the finest such leaders the State of North Carolina has ever produced.

Anyhow, I know this entry is hitting the rambling side (word count in WordPress says I’m pushing 1,000 words), but I just wanted to say *THANK YOU* to each and every one of you with whom I’ve had the honor of serving in the N.C. State University Student Senate3 or in the UNC Association of Student Governments. I know I don’t say it enough, and I know when I say it you probably don’t believe me, but it has been the highest honor of my life to consider you my colleagues and friends. Your work has made an incredible and tangible difference to higher education and the students of the University of North Carolina, and I thank God every day for having the amazing opportunity to be a part of that and to serve alongside you.

Thank you for an incredible journey these past 4 years :) Your support and presence tonight has been incredibly humbling and deeply appreciated. I truly do love you all and look forward to serving with you (albeit in other capacities) for many more years to come.

Thank you all so much,
-T Greg Doucette

  1. Though you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t tell amid all the emoticons I throw into these entries ;) []
  2. Even though he later became one of the few people in my life who I would call if I were ever faced with imminent death and needed help :beatup: []
  3. The single most distinguished student deliberative assembly ever conceived in the State of North Carolina :) []

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If Nan approves, it must be good

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 23, 2010 in Student Government

Good evening everybody! :D

Unfortunately I don’t have time to put together a real entry tonight — CrimLaw exam is at 9am tomorrow morning, followed by a UNCASG meeting that will last the rest of the day, before a brief break to change into a tuxedo then head to our end-of-year banquet. Basically I’m in a mix of studying law and panicking to make sure everything goes off perfectly smooth tomorrow afternoon+night and basically looking like :crack:  until it’s over.

Nan's $.02 on the media :) Â

So given my lack of original content, I figured I’d leave y’all with some light reading.  The UNCCH Daily Tar Heel ran a surprisingly complimentary story on my upcoming retirement as President.  How surprising was it, you may ask?

It was so surprising that my grandmother even offered some commentary on my Facebook profile.

It must be good if even Nan approves — especially because she hates the fact I spend so much of my time in Student Government stuff when I could be focusing on my grades and making $$ :beatup:

But it means she read this article, and since she knows about some of the other ones she must have read those too, which makes me happy that she cares what I’m doing even if she doesn’t approve of it :)

Speaking of the article, here’s a quick chart I put together of everywhere I’ve been over the last 2 years.  115+ trips, comes out to around 5ish campus a month, every month, for 24 months straight :surprised:

Taking Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" literally :D Â

Have a good night y’all! And if you’ve got any spare prayers to offer up, send some of them my way for this CrimLaw exam! :)

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More vindication! :)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 20, 2010 in Student Government

Those of you who are long-time readers here at law:/dev/null may recall this mid-February entry on tuition, where I highlighted the tremendous response the UNC Association of Student Governments had gotten with its statewide tuition petition campaign to repeal a 8% tuition increase mandated by the North Carolina General Assembly…

…and gently pointed out that at least two parties (a certain administrator at UNC General Administration and the student newspaper at my alma mater) ended up eating their respective words of opposition, uttered back when UNCASG’s efforts with the petition first began ;)

More vindication came today while I was sitting in CivPro trying to pay attention.

Quick prefatory note:  the tuition petition campaign was just one piece of a multi-faceted plan of attack for the Association.1 Starting literally the day after the General Assembly adopted the budget — you can read an email from me to campus Presidents in UNCASG’s archives — we began preparing for the 2010 legislative session that starts next month.  Since August there have been numerous meetings between our folks and policymakers in Raleigh. Numerous meetings with policymakers in their home districts. Numerous phone calls. Numerous emails.

Oh and did I mentioned there were signatures from 22,000+ students? :angel:

The entire effort has occurred largely out of the public spotlight (which is just as well since the Daily Tar Heel’s Editorial Board would probably just complain anyway), but needless to say it’s been a tightly-focused, methodical, and consistent effort on the part of student leaders to get this student tax repealed.

And then this morning the Governor of North Carolina decided to say thanks by including UNCASG’s request in her budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year! :eek:

This marks the first public endorsement of our proposal by a high-ranking elected official since we started pushing the idea back in August 2009! :D

Now it’s true both chambers of the state legislature have already started work on the budget, so this is just one link in the chain. But it means (i) we’ve been promoting the right ideas all along and (ii) we’re successfully persuading the people who count.

Equally important: it also means the Governor’s lobbyists, the University system’s lobbyists, and the students’ lobbyists (me+UNCASG) will all be pushing for the exact same thing when legislators come back to town in May.2)

Now if only I could be right this often in Contracts:beatup:

  1. I used to work as a lobbyist back in the day. One of the cardinal rules of lobbying is to never fire all of your ammo at once. []
  2. Another rule of lobbying: build coalitions. You can’t beat somebody with nobody ; []

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Friday Drive-by #11 (or, “It’s an honor just to be nominated”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 16, 2010 in Friday Drive-by

Amid all the craziness trying to get caught up — with exams starting next week too! :surprised: — I totally overlooked an email from the folks over at ClearAdmit back on Monday. Turns out law:/dev/null is one of their Top 25 nominees for the “Best of Blogging 2009-2010” Award!

The nomination was a total surprise, particularly given the far more talented writing of many other nominees (not to mention my frequent and arbitrary disappearances :beatup: ).

But now I’ve got a better understanding of where Oscar nominees are coming from when they say it’s an honor just to be nominated. To have this blog included in the same list as my own “Big 3” (Jansen, TRPLS, and idwsj) is a big honor in my book :D

So to the folks over at ClearAdmit, many many thanks! And also *THANK YOU* to all of you readers who keep coming back… and thus encourage me to keep writing1 :angel:

I’d encourage all of you to check out the other blogs in the Top 25 — I even found some new entries to the blogroll in this list :)

Have fun reading y’all :) And a great night! :D

  1. Which means if you don’t like what I write, stop visiting :P []

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Show me the [fee] money

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 15, 2010 in Student Government

It’s officially official: today marked my first day working as Treasurer of NCCU Law‘s Student Bar Association :)

Everyone on the group’s Executive Board seems like cool people who will get along well in the year ahead. Granted that might just be my irrepressible optimism talking, but I’d say it’s a reasonable belief so far.

More importantly than getting along: the other officers are big on getting things done.

Take the SBA website as an example. I think it’s fair to characterize our current web offerings as unacceptable, as we instead put most of our information through the clunky and poorly coded TWEN system.

So during our transition meeting on Tuesday, as the outgoing officers were giving their reports, the Secretary and I were sitting next to each other  getting things in place for a new website. By the end of the meeting the URL was registered, hosting provided, WordPress installed, new theme installed, and listserv up in the background for communication.1

There’s still a ton of graphic and content work that needs to be done over the summer, but it was a pretty solid improvement for 30 minutes’ worth of work ;)

Everyone’s got a ton of ideas: power strips in our Fishbowl,2 some kind of snack option during exams for students who stay here ’til the wee hours of the night, linking up with the undergraduate SG to build a coalition on issues like food services, my personal goal to make our appropriations process more rigorous, the list goes on and on and on.

The Secretary summed it up well earlier today when she remarked “This is gonna be one of those revolutionary type of e-boards, I can tell.”

Things do occasionally get awkward for me at times since I was the only 1L to get elected out of the 3 who ran. So the other 4 executive officers have known each other longer, had common experiences, etc, and every now and then I feel an obligation to “mind my place” in the law school heirarchy.

But the upside to a group sharing a common vision is that the interpersonal divide should melt away in favor of getting that vision implemented. Time will tell.

And until then, there’s work to be done… and haters to be proven wrong ;) Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. Truly never knew my degree would prove to be so useful in law school :spin: []
  2. This would be a huge help to those of us who prefer the student lounge to the law library. []

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