4

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

—===—

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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4

Hi! I’m alive, thanks for checking

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 29, 2012 in The 3L Life

Yes, I’m still here :D

When I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was sequestered in my own personalized version of 3L Hell, I wasn’t joking. For most of January my schedule’s followed a pattern: Wake up at 6am, feed/walk dog, bathe, get dressed, go to class then work then trial team practice, come home around 10pm, feed/walk dog, do homework until midnight-ish and go to bed. For a time I had briefly hit the point where I was downing five 20oz bottles of Diet Mt Dew a day and living off Pop-Tarts, animal crackers, multivitamins, and anything else I could eat in the car  :sick:

Which of course didn’t leave much room for updating law:/dev/null :beatup:

I don’t have *too* much time to write tonight, but I miss talking with y’all so here’s a quick bullet list on some of what’s happened since mid-December:

  • Fall semester continued in perpetuity; finally done. With the different extracurricular activities I was engaged in, plus a job on the side, the Fall semester didn’t actually end until a couple weeks ago. I had papers due in Employment Discrimination and another for Constitutional Law II, so I had flashbacks of undergrad and never really got a substantive break during the winter. It was basically a mini-mester trying to clean up what didn’t get finished and spending more hours than I care to admit in the law building.1
  • Wolfpack won the Belk Bowl. But I did take a few hours from the ongoing academic tedium to go with 雅雅 to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, where the NC State Wolfpack dismantled the Louisville Cardinals :D  Didn’t have the time or money to stay overnight like we did for the Champs Bowl last year, but I needed the break and the game was only a few hours away. Watching another win in person was worth the freezing temps and packed stadium :)
  • Most un-Christmas-y Christmas evah. Christmas is my 3rd favorite holiday of the year, following Independence Day at #1 and Thanksgiving at #2… but this year there basically was no Christmas at all :beatup:  With the academic stuff due I couldn’t take the time to go visit anyone (and didn’t have the money for it anyway), but then on top of it I couldn’t even put up my own tree because Samson tried eating the ornaments — the stuffed ones apparently looked like toys worth chewing apart, and the ceramic ones evidently looked like dog treats. So it was easily the most un-Christmas-y Christmas I’d ever “celebrated.” Not sure what the plan will be for next year, but I need to figure something out to stop the dog from destroying things.
  • Samson nearly died before New Year’s. Speaking of Samson, he nearly died right before New Year’s :cry:  He was given one of those big raw pork bones as a Christmas gift, because they’re allegedly great for dogs, but somehow the snippets of bones he managed to chew off clogged up his insides. He wasn’t able to poop and howled in pain when he tried, then woke me up at 4am to go outside and puke. So I freaked out and rushed him to the vet; they took an x-ray and discovered he had backed up fecal matter running nearly the length of his body. They put him in the pet hospital, gave him an enema and an IV and some special food, and a few hundred dollars later he was miserable but alive. Though you can’t tell he nearly died from the way he acts now, as he still tries to eat every damn thing in sight… :mad:
  • Got myself a Christmas present: fixed TV. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in a past entry, but what seems like an eternity ago the bulb in my bought-cheap-on-CraigsList projector television finally burned out so I’ve been working for the past couple months either (i) in dead silence or (ii) with video-less music on in the background. So while Christmas itself wasn’t particularly festive, in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve I decided to give myself a Christmas present and finally fix the burned-out projector in the name of being more productive.2 With bulb costs being what they are for a projector that was/is 5 years old, it was actually cheaper to get a brand new projector with better specs. Money I couldn’t really afford to spend given the mortgage payments I still owe BarBri, but I wasn’t going to be able to make it all the way through to August without a TV :beatup:
  • Finally completed NC Bar application! On January 3rd I finally got my monster-of-a-bar-app mailed off. The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners likes knowing every single thing you’ve ever done in your life since you’ve turned 18 — and, in the case of my last name changing when I was adopted at 3-years-old, the stuff before 18 :crack: — to the point where starting the app back in September wasn’t even early enough for me to get all of it done before the last possible moment. I had to request documents from the Social Security Administration to make sure I listed every single place I’ve ever worked, go rummaging through my Bucket-o’-Files to find residential records from the period right after I dropped out of college,3 go to the Clerk’s Office to find out all the cases I testified in back when I worked as the Clerk’s Office ombudsman down in Wake County, come up with 12 different character references, make three copies of everything, and on and on and on. Then include the $700.00 fee to apply, and set aside another +$125.00 to use my computer on the bar exam.4 But fortunately — it’s all done. So yay. And to anyone even older than me: START NOW or you’ll regret it!
  • 1Ls won Kilpatrick-Townsend competition. I’ve already talked about this one at length so nothing much more to say. I’m just glad it validated my philosophy that people produce a better work product when they’re forced to develop it themselves :) Very proud of these folks!
  • Any guesses on which team is mine?

    Submitted brief for Howard moot court competition. A couple months ago I mentioned making the moot court team, the end result of an ill-conceived experiment to see if I had been avoiding it out of fear the past two years or if I really had the skill to do it if I wanted. I was slated for the Howard Moot Court Competition taking place in Washington D.C. at the end of February. Making the team and getting the Howard brief done both came at a high cost — days spent brief writing and editing, that probably should have been spent on classwork instead — but I’m proud of the end result. Feel free to review the briefs if you get bored and guess which one is ours ;)

  • Got a position with the Durham DA’s office… I also somehow convinced the Durham County District Attorney’s Office to bring me in as an intern :surprised:  First day was about 3ish weeks ago. The sheer volume of work — and the… mmm… unique folks who come through the courthouse (especially in traffic court) — have made it a pretty awesome experience so far. I could definitely see myself working there after graduation.
  • …and won my first case! I’m also officially 1-0 on my “real world” trial record! :D I’m slated to work on Tuesday afternoons, and typically there’s absolutely nothing going on in District Court so I end up working on subpoenas and other administrative stuff. So last Tuesday I decided to be a good little intern and show up to work 15 minutes early, get sent down to misdemeanor criminal court… and get handed two shucks and told “Go interview your officer, you’ve got this next case” :eek:  I had no expectation of trying a case, so I didn’t have any notes, my North Carolina Crimes book, nada. I was so absolutely terrified I quite literally forgot what it was I was supposed to prove in a criminal trial; as I’m out in the hallway going through the shucks trying to ascertain what’s going on, I grab an ADA who helped us with trial team last year and plead for a smidge of guidance. She replies “Well what are your elements for the offense?” and suddenly “DING!” my inner lightbulb finally clicks on. I find the officer, read his police report, get asked by him what he can expect on cross, and somehow came up with a quasi-intelligent and spot-on answer. I don’t think I’m allowed to go into too much detail, but it involved two Defendants (and their respective attorneys) charged with minor-but-serious firearms offenses.5 I went through my direct a bit fast due to the nervousness, but the more opposing counsel objected to a response — or asked something ridiculous on cross-examination6 — the more I got into my zone. Neither Defendant took the stand, and a few closing arguments later they were found guilty and sentenced to active time, a fine, probation, and a prohibition from owning firearms. Not bad for my first go-round :)
  • Rewarded myself with a new laptop. In exchange for getting the DA gig, I “rewarded” myself by finally upgrading my trusty 5-year-old MacBook Pro. The Department of Education enables students to get a one-time financial aid boost once in undergrad and once in graduate/professional school for a computer purchase, and it was hitting the point where I’d need something I could use for the first couple years when I start practicing. So I’ve now gone from an original Core Duo with a self-upgraded 250GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM to a new quad-core i77 with a 750GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM :eek:  Seeing how much the hardware has advanced in the past half decade is crazy. I don’t like some of the changes (e.g. there are new function keys to play/pause/rewind/fast forward, so I have to press the Function key to use Dashboard and such) but overall it’s nice being back on the leading edge of technology for another couple months.
  • Fall grades were a disaster. While everything else was going smoothly, my grades turned out better than anticipated but worse than I wanted (if that makes sense). I’ve now fallen back below a 3.0 for the first time in a year and will have to pull off a miracle to graduate with honors. And in all likelihood I won’t be able to finish the Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration I’ve been working on for the past 2.5 years. We’ll see what happens.
  • Debating giving up internship to focus on grades and SPICE. The grade situation has prompted me to reassess what I’m doing this semester, and I’m giving serious consideration to dropping the DA internship and some other activities to free up time to focus on grades and the SPICE proposal. It’s not an ideal situation, especially with the economy, but doing the jack-of-all-trades thing clearly isn’t working. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s it for tonight y’all, thanks for still reading :) Hopefully more posts in the days ahead. Good night!

  1. Including 2 separate occasions where I got thrown out by Public Safety because the building was supposedly closed :beatup: []
  2. I am, for reasons unknown to me, more productive when I have Law & Order reruns on in the background… []
  3. Note to the Board of Law Examiners: homeless people generally don’t have files or records of their homelessness. Nowhere to put our file cabinets and all… ::smh:: []
  4. As a point of comparison, the Marine Corps only wanted 10 years of documents back during my 1L year to make sure I passed the security check, and didn’t charge me for the application. Completing those docs was a cakewalk compared to this. []
  5. City code violations (hence the “minor”), but just about anything involving the discharge of an assault rifle qualifies as serious when it comes to prosecuting people. Especially in Durham. []
  6. “Didn’t my client tell you it was his mother’s assault rifle?” No bullsh*t on that one, that was the actual question! :crack: []
  7. Meaning 8 total virtual processors :surprised: []

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4

NCCU Law 1Ls *sweep* Kilpatrick-Townsend competition!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 15, 2012 in NotFail

Hey everybody! :)

Sorry I’ve been MIA for nearly a month now, I’ve been sequestered in my own personal 3L Hell for most of that time and just haven’t had much opportunity to update the blog :beatup:

I’ll try to get things caught up some time this coming weekend, but for now I wanted to mention our 1L trial teams completely dominated the annual Kilpatrick-Townsend 1L Trial Advocacy Competition this year!

We had one team win 1st place, one team win 2nd place, and a third team (who was eliminated in a head-to-head matchup with the first team) taking #1 in overall quality points. Every single match where NCCU Law had a team — 6 total preliminary rounds, 2 separate quarterfinals, 2 separate semifinals, and the final round — someone from that team won the round’s award for Best Advocate.1

So basically we’ve got the 3 very best 1L trial teams in the State of North Carolina :spin:

Here’s the press release we put together and a team photo:

NCCU LAW 1Ls SWEEP STATEWIDE TRIAL ADVOCACY COMPETITION
Legal Eagles Take 1st Place, 2nd Place, Best Advocate Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DURHAM, NC (01/15/12) – Defeating trial teams from Campbell, Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest, 1Ls from the North Carolina Central University School of Law (“NCCU Law”) made history this weekend when they won both 1st Place and 2nd Place in the annual Kilpatrick-Townsend 1L Trial Advocacy Competition hosted by the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law.

NCCU Law's three 1L trial teams for 2011-12

In just NCCU Law’s third year participating in the competition, the school’s three 1L trial teams advanced to the final round for the third straight time — a 100% record of reaching the finals.

But this year’s competition featured a twist: after practicing against each other for 6+ hours a day from January 2nd-11th, Legal Eagles dominated every other school so thoroughly that both finalists were from NCCU Law, guaranteeing a 1st Place finish in the competition for the first time in school history. The only team to beat NCCU Law was another team from NCCU Law.

“Hard work plus confidence equals success,” said Jonathan Savage ’14, lead counsel for the 1st Place team and winner of the competition’s Best Advocate Overall award. “The hours of practice were well worth it, and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity!”

Going into Saturday’s quarterfinals, all NCCU Law teams were in the Top 8: the #1-seed team of Jeannelle Alexander, Emily Custer, Amelia O’Rourke-Owens, and Ernest Roberts; the #2-seed team of Helen Baddour, Stephanie Faris, Jason Howe, and Sonyé Randolph; and the #8-seed team of Molly Brewer, Christina Carter, Jonathan Savage, and Matt Wareham.

Based on bracket-style seeding NCCU was paired up against NCCU in the quarterfinal round, where Team Brewer edged past Team Alexander to advance to the semifinals, while Team Baddour knocked out a group from UNCCH Law to advance as well. Once in the semifinals, Team Baddour took down a squad from Duke Law while Team Brewer dispatched another team from UNCCH, setting up a second NCCU-vs-NCCU battle in the competition’s final round.

Before a packed courtroom with nearly 70 observers, prosecution Team Brewer faced off against defense Team Baddour in a highly polished championship match. In a close finish following extensive jury deliberations, Team Brewer was declared the winner with Matt Wareham winning the award for Best Witness and Jonathan Savage taking home the title of Best Advocate Overall.

With 32 teams competing, NCCU Law’s three teams made up just 9.4% of the participants — but 37.5% of the quarterfinalists, 50% of the semifinalists, and 100% of the finalists.

[Photo, from left to right: Bottom Row: Stephanie Faris, Molly Brewer, Helen Baddour, Jeannelle Alexander, Emily Custer; Middle Row: Molly Morgan, Jason Howe, Sonyé Randolph, Christina Carter, Amelia O’Rourke-Owens; Top Row: Ernest Roberts, Matt Wareham, Jonathan Savage]

###

It was an awesome closing match, with just short of 70 people in the courtroom watching — including 3 of our Deans, a half-dozen professors, a few alumni and tons of Legal Eagles :D

I also had “a dog in the fight” beyond just school pride, because the results this year also validated my whole philosophy on how to approach this competition.

My 1L year we were left to our own devices to develop our case, as we’re supposed to do, and miraculously ended up coming in 2nd after going 5-0 before losing in a rematch against Duke Law. Last year our 1Ls came in 2nd too (against another Duke Law team), but the 3Ls tried to micromanage the process so thoroughly — over the objections of myself and other members of that 2009-10 team — that only a few of the 2010-11 1L team members came back for TYLA/AAJ as 2Ls.

Once there was new leadership on the Trial Advocacy Board, we changed things around back to how they used to be. In October all interested 1Ls had to attend a workshop on opening statements and closing arguments before trying out a couple weeks later, then once we decided who made the three teams we left them alone with one condition: they had to practice against each other from 9am-3pm from January 2nd-11th, plus extra practice as needed. During the formal practices one team would be paired against another with a third in the jury box, rotating so every team faced everyone else at least twice apiece.

The variety of opposition and frequency of the practice helped ensure they were comfortable and confident when they got into Chapel Hill. I got to watch two rounds of the competition on Friday night, and then the closing arguments on Sunday. I was absolutely tickled pink at how great they did — still several pages of things done wrong,2 but a level of polish on par with some of the 2L/3L teams I’ve seen and easily better than I was as a 1L.

Having made history for the law school once this weekend, I’m hoping they’ll stick around and make history over the next couple years too ;)  One day I want to see NCCU Law not just hitting up TYLA and AAJ, but making it back to some of the invitation-only trial advocacy competitions we used to win in the halcyon days the old folks talk about…3

That’s it for tonight, I’m going back to a brief. Have a great week! :D

  1. And on Friday night, all 3 teams racked up both Best Advocate and Best Witness awards in the same night! []
  2. I’m a very nitpicky observer when it comes to trial team stuff :beatup: []
  3. We’ve got a few plaques from the Tournament of Champions competition tucked in a room in our Clinic. It’s a travesty they’re not displayed somewhere prominent for all the students to see. []

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2

Quick update on the past week

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 20, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening y’all :)

Sorry for the abrupt disappearance this past week, but the end of the semester brought a flurry of activity that I’m still slogging through. Here’s a quick bulleted update on life:

  • I don’t remember what happened last Monday during the day, but I distinctly recall waking up from my first bona fide law school-related nightmare in awhile :crack: It was next semester and I was at my first CrimLaw tutorial… except I didn’t have my Keynote slides.1 So I decided that, to preoccupy the 1Ls, we’d go around introducing ourselves… except apparently several of the students had issues with each other, so when one girl introduced herself another called her a b*tch, shouting back and forth ensued, and not a single soul was listening as I tried to get them to shut up and pay attention. Then I decided to distract people with index cards, having them write down names and other tidbits about themselves instead of talking… except I couldn’t find any blank index cards. :beatup:  Every time I’d find a pile of them, they were already filled out. Even a mostly-fresh pile of index cards had an occasional filled-out card included, so I was trying to gather enough fresh cards while the room re-descended into chaos. It was a strange, odd, unpleasant dream. That thankfully has a 0% chance of happening next semester or I’ll physically beat someone :angel:
  • Last Tuesday was the first meeting of the NCCU Law 1L trial teams, letting them know roughly what to expect in the now-Kilpatrick-Townsend competition that will take place in January. This is now the 3rd generation of teams to compete so I’m hoping it will be a more-comfortable experience for these 1Ls now that they have both 2Ls and 3Ls available to share their experiences.
  • Right after the team meeting at 1pm was the release date for my Criminal Prosecution Clinic exam, which I spent the next 48 hours grinding through. Not difficult per se, but lengthy and detailed. Impressed that police and prosecutors are able to remember all of these various statutes…
  • Speaking of academics, I’m still not done.2 :beatup:  I’ve still got 2 briefs for Employment Discrimination to finish, and a paper for ConLaw II that hasn’t even substantively been started aside from my prep work for the radio show on my topic. I had long ago accepted the probability of failing both classes given all the other stuff I foolishly piled on my plate. Tack on the fact they’re both electives that I don’t need to graduate, and you have a dangerous recipe of grade-A Motivation Killer™ to at least turn in some kind of work product.
  • Not sure I’ll have time to get around to my usual guesswork “Here’s what I’m hoping to get grade-wise” posts for 3L Fall, so I’m tucking it in here: B+ in Sales, B- in Tax, A in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, D- in both Employment Discrimination and ConLaw II, for a 2.333 semester GPA. Fingers crossed for that or better. Will elaborate if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Part of why I’m not finished academically is because I’ve very successfully sidetracked myself on this going solo idea and exploring the creation of a small practice incubator at the law school. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading and researching, put together a proposal complete with financial projections, and have started farming it around among faculty at the school. I even came up with a snazzy acronym for it: the Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment… because a little seasoning makes everything better! ;)
  • I had also already stacked my calendar high with stuff scheduled for last week because I’m habitual about planning ahead, so when the papers didn’t get done on time they’ve got pushed even farther back then they would be otherwise as my focus shifted elsewhere. In addition to the Crim Prosecution exam, spent Wednesday afternoon catching up with a good friend over lunch who I hadn’t seen in ages. Thursday was spent finishing up the exam, turning it in, then skipping the first TYLA trial team meeting to immediately drive down to Raleigh to help with another good friend’s bachelor party.3 Friday was a smidge of work on the papers followed by the wedding rehearsal dinner, Saturday was the wedding, then Sunday was returning the tux to Men’s Wearhouse and finally catching up on life basics like laundry / dishes / vacuuming the disaster that had become my apartment.
  • Yesterday I got a smidge bit more work done, though not before inadvertently crossing paths with MDG in the hallway at school (my Emp Disc professor). I greatly appreciate that he hasn’t reamed me out for my slacker-ness… but it was still awkward exchanging pleasantries knowing I still owed the man two papers.4
  • And voila here we are at today. Behind on academics. Behind schedule on the moot court problem I’m working on.5  Behind schedule on the TYLA problem I’ll also be litigating in February. But otherwise alive, breathing, and determined to make it through the vacation in one piece ;)

That’s it for tonight’s entry. Hope all of you are doing well and enjoying the break yourselves! More to come once I get caught up :beatup:

Good night! :D

  1. Which was weird, because I put a lot of time and effort into producing high-quality visuals to go with my rapturous voice… []
  2. No one who knew me at NC State is surprised by that comment, after I somehow spent nearly all of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Christmas breaks working on homework… []
  3. He’s one of my former Student Senators and UNCASG colleagues, marrying another one of my former Student Senators. Having known both of them back when they were freshmen, and now not only being part of their wedding but knowing they’re graduating in May, reminds me (1) how old I am and (2) how blessed I’ve been to cross paths with the people I’ve crossed paths with :spin:   []
  4. A point he gently raised with a side-eye and a “Are you going to have something for me soon?” :beatup: []
  5. Haven’t had time to mention that I made Moot Court beyond a footnote in a previous MPRE entry, but I’ll be participating in Howard Law‘s William Bryant-Luke Charles Moore Invitational in February :)  Briefs due early January so it’ll be a busy break. []

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NCCU Law 1Ls take Silver (again) in K-S competition!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 22, 2011 in NotFail

Amid all these posts about my TYLA exploits in Charlotte this past weekend, I realized that I completely forgot to update y’all on how the NCCU Law 1Ls did in this year’s Kilpatrick-Stockton Mock Trial Competition last month!

Let’s just say the finals triggered flashbacks from 2010 :D

The info’s a bit dated, but I wrote a summary for the law school’s website you can read at this URL. Here’s the copy/paste:

NCCU 1Ls TAKE 2ND PLACE, TIE FOR 3RD IN ANNUAL K-S MOCK TRIAL COMPETITION
Home > News and Announcements > Student News
Posted January 21, 2011

In only NCCU Law’s second year of competition, the Trial Advocacy Board’s 1L trial teams once again dominated the annual Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition hosted by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law on January 13-16, 2011.

Pictured (from left to right): Cheri Hamilton, Helena Kirland-Werts, Nikia Williams, Kevin Boxberger, Jennifer Turner (Team Captain, "1L of a Team"), Susan Dow (Team Captain, "The Whole Truth"), Deyaska Spencer Sweatman, Diane Carter; Not Pictured: Anna Love

The “1L of a Team” squad advanced to the final round and earned a 2nd place finish, getting edged out by Duke Law after an intense and hard-fought trial by both sides. There were also 35 NCCU Law students, professors and alumni in attendance, a 10x increase over the audience for last year’s competition. The other 1L team, “The Whole Truth”, successfully advanced to the semi-final round and tied a separate Duke Law team for 3rd place.

Not only did NCCU Law’s 1Ls take half of the spots in the Final Four, this now also marks the 2nd year in a row that NCCU Law has made the final round of the competition — setting a 100% track record of NCCU Law 1Ls advancing to the final round.

28 teams participated from 6 North Carolina schools (all schools except Charlotte School of Law), and NCCU Law’s 1Ls successfully beat teams from Campbell, Duke and UNCCH at various stages of the competition.

Everyone delivered an exemplary performance, and the Trial Advocacy Board looks forward to watching these 1Ls blossom into even stronger advocates over their next two years!

A belated-but-much-deserved congratulations to the NCCU Law 1L Trial Teams! :D

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3

Did someone say “competition”?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 3, 2010 in The 2L Life

Earlier today one of the 3Ls at NCCU Law sent me an email asking if I’d be interested in teaming up with him for the Veterans Law Appellate Advocacy Competition sponsored by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the CAVC Bar Association.  The competition is almost-brand-new (last year was the first time it was held) and will be taking place in Washington DC in mid-October.

I was flattered to even be asked… but then had to check the email at least a dozen times to see if it was one of those TWEN group messages with multiple recipients, since I remembered (i) I’m barely a 2L, (ii) my grades aren’t that great, and (iii) I haven’t done anything related to moot court at all since I’ve been in law school :beatup:

My competition track record is also hit-or-miss. Sure sometimes things turn out better than expected, like when our 1L Trial Team made a run to the finals in the Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition or when Alice in Wonderland snagged 3rd place in our annual Mary Wright Closing Argument Competition. But that gets counter-balanced by the bundle of #fail known as my performance in the ABA Client Counseling Competition, not to mention losing my race for SBA 1L Representative back in September.

But I said yes anyway, because God knows I’ll try anything once if it’s a competition :beatup:

So if any of you have any appellate advocacy tips or veterans law pointers, feel free to let me know ;)  Until then, have a great night! :D

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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

***

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

***

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 )

***

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 :)

***

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.

—===—

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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5

NCCU Law 1Ls take Silver in K-S competition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 17, 2010 in NotFail

The unexpected miracle run had to end eventually, and today was the day :cry:

But after a hard-fought trial in a rematch against Duke Law, the NCCU Law 1L Trial Team — the Legal Eagles — still finished in 2nd place in the 2010 Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition :D

I’ll confess there were some aspects of the final that had me in a certifiably frosty mood when I left the UNCCH Law building earlier this afternoon, but the particulars aren’t the type of thing worth detailing in a family-friendly forum like law:/dev/null ;) I will say our entire team turned in an excellent performance, and it’s been an honor to serve as their captain :)

Top 4 teams in the 2010 Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition

Something that was worth pointing out (at least IMO) is this chart I put together of the final 4 teams.

Now I know several of my Duke Law friends will argue with this chart — as some already have :beatup: — claiming that the difference in cost of attendance is irrelevant, since their salaries at summer associateships and after graduation will more than make up for the extra law school expense.

And they’re certainly right… to an extent.

But given my aspirations to spend my career in public service, on top of my acquired distaste for BigLaw, I’d be lucky to pull down in a year what the Duke grads will make in a month. Keeping that in mind, and considering both of us made it to the finals in this particular competition, as of now I’d say we’ve got the better Return-On-Investment :)

The folks over at Fight the Hypo wrote this entry on the topic of ROI a few weeks ago.

Aside from the clichéd “bang for your buck,” this is also one of those cases where I really can’t consider a loss as a loss: when the judges announced the results this afternoon and handed me a certificate for our team’s performance, the crowd was told “If this were a real trial, the verdict would be to acquit.”

So we lost the competition… but won our case. As much as I love being #1, it’s gratifying to know a client paying us would have gotten their money’s worth ;)

Here’s how the final competition turned out for us over 4 days:

  • Round 1A:  UNCCH 1 vs. NCCU (W)
  • Round 1B:  NCCU vs. Campbell 3 (W)
  • Round 2:  NCCU vs. Campbell 1 (W)
  • Round 3:  UNCCH 7 vs. NCCU (W)
  • Round 4:  NCCU vs. Duke 1 (W)
  • Round 5:  Duke 1 vs. NCCU (L)

I’d be ecstatic if my Wolfpack could keep an 83% win-loss ratio in football (or basketball, or hell any sport for that matter :beatup: ) — so I’m pretty doggone happy+proud of us :D

And now I can finally go back to reading the cases I’m paying that $8K in tuition+fees to study ;)

Many thanks to all of you who commented and emailed and FB’d me to send your support, it meant a lot! I’m hoping I’ll be able to repay the gesture at some point over the next 2 years :)

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SUCCESS!!!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 16, 2010 in NotFail

Y’all…

O.

M.

G.

For serious. The final round of the Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial competition is tomorrow. And the NCCU Legal Eagles are in it! :D

The 2009-2010 NCCU 1L Trial Team -- the Legal Eagles :)

We had 3 rounds today, with our prosecution beating a 2nd Campbell team this morning, our defense knocking out a 2nd UNCCH team this afternoon, and the prosecution defeating a team from Duke this evening.

Since the finalists are based on scores, we’re actually having a rematch against Duke tomorrow — this time it’ll be our defense squad (including me) up against their prosecution.

32 teams started. 2 are left.

Wake Forest sent their best… and lost. Elon sent their best… and lost.  Campbell sent their best… and lost. UNC Chapel Hill sent their best… and lost.

I’m hoping in tomorrow’s entry I’ll be able to tack Duke onto that list ;)

Plus our 2L trial team just found out about an hour ago that they’re going to Nationals for TYLA or NOLA or something — I’ve been so wrapped up in my own stuff I don’t even know :beatup: But I know it’s a good day to be an NCCU Eagle :)

I’m heading to bed so I’m bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for tomorrow’s marathon. Good night y’all! :D

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3

Success!! (Redux)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 15, 2010 in NotFail

So last night our defense team beat UNCCH.  Tonight the prosecution team competed… and beat a squad from Campbell :D

The NCCU 1L Trial Team (aka the Legal Eagles): 2

Our competitors: 0

Waiting on the schedule for tomorrow before heading to bed, but we’re definitely competing in the next round at this point at either 8am or 10am :) I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.  Until then have a great night :D

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