Fall ’09 Grades: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugh-ly

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 26, 2010 in NotFail

An anthropomorphic analysis of 1L Fall


If I had to pick 1 word to describe my 1L Fall semester, that’d be the one :beatup:

Even though NCCU Law takes pride in sticking with its strict-C curve, I figured things couldn’t get that bad.  Between midterms going well and studying my socks off for finals, surely the 3.0 GPA I want wasn’t unrealistic, right?


So with several of my law school colleagues last week posting their own tales of joy, not-quite-joy, and not-quite-anything-yet, here’s my own report card for the 1L fall semester.


My grades were erratic, my distaste emphatic, and my mood post-completion? Ecstatic.

The only positive thing I can say about this class is that it’s over.

Grade at midterm: C+
Expected grade pre-memo: C
Actual grade post-memo: C

Synopsis: No surprises here. I hated this class and thought the material we were taught was completely useless… a point publicly echoed by at least one of the other professors. Hopefully Legal Research & Persuasion will be better.


This was hands-down my best class of the semester, and the grade still hurt.

After thinking I nearly failed the final, the curve boosted my exam grade by 22 points. Combining that with the midterm grade I ended up with a B+ overall… an unfortunate (and painful) 0.5 points away from an A- :mad:

I jokingly emailed MDG asking if I could successfully argue for that half-point. His 2-word response: “LOL. no.”

Midterm exam: A
Final exam: B
Expected grade pre-final: A
Actual grade post-final: B+ (0.5 points away from an A- :beatup: )

Synopsis: Still kicking myself a month later for being so close and blowing it. This is still my favorite class, and I’m determined to do better this semester.


Ever heard the phrase “like an albatross around your neck”? Instead of thinking about the Mariner and an actual albatross, think more like my GPA and good ol’ Contracts :beatup:

I got the grade for this class a few days before the final exams were returned, and even though I figured I got thoroughly mauled minutes after finishing… I didn’t think it would turn out as bad as it did. I went to talk with the Professor about the exam, and the conversation went something like this:

TDot: Professor Ks, I was wondering if I could talk with you about my exam.
Prof. Ks: Sure TDot. What’s your exam number?
TDot: [####]
Prof. Ks: ::flipping through Scantron report:: Hmmm. You did better than the class average on the multiples, so that must mean your essay…
TDot: (in unison) …must have been really bad…
Prof. Ks: (in unison) …must have been really bad.

At this point Prof. Ks starts flipping through a stack of essays.

He goes through the 70s… and keeps going.

Goes through 60s… and keeps going.

Goes through 50s… and keeps going.

Finally he pulls one from a stack of 40s, flips through it, pulls up his Excel gradesheet, and goes “Ohhhhh yeah I remember this one”… not a good sign

Prof. Ks: So this spreadsheet is my rubric where I break everything down, so we’re going to go through it section by section and hopefully you’ll see what you missed.
TDot: OK.
Prof. Ks: ::points at essay:: You mention here that you’re going to talk about promissory estoppel. Show me where you actually talked about promissory estoppel.
TDot: ::flips pages::   ::blank stare::
Prof. Ks: Exactly. OK so here ::points:: you mention that you’re going to talk about fraud in the inducement of the contract. Show me where you actually talked about fraud in the inducement.
TDot: ::flips pages::  ::blank stare::
Prof. Ks: Yep. And then ::points:: here you mention needing to analyze which meaning of [term in contract] should apply. Show me where…
TDot: [expletive]

The conversation shifted to ways I could improve this upcoming semester, but basically I totally FUBAR’d the essay by not re-reading my material closer before turning it in. Maybe it’s time I start overanalyzing after all…

Midterm exam: B
Final exam: D+
Expected grade pre-final: B
Actual grade post-final: C-

Synopsis: ::headdesk::


Nothing much to say here. I came in needing a strong final exam to counteract a disastrous midterm and I got it.

Torts Final Exam Scores

Just like the Contracts final though, there were some really obvious blunders that I should have noticed — for example, detailing the differences between the local, same-or-similar, and national standards of care without ever discussing which standard would apply in the jurisdiction contained in the hypo :beatup:

But after coming off that C+ on the midterm, I’m more than happy with what I got.

On an unrelated note, one of the cool things about Professor Torts is that she provides statistics for her exam scores. Her essays are “auto-curved” (she picks the best one and grades all the others against that top essay) but the multiples are raw, so graphing the final scores you can tell by the trendline that folks really stepped up their studying between midterms and finals — compare the chart at the right to the graph from midterms.

Midterm exam: C+
Final exam: B+
Expected grade pre-final: B
Actual grade post-final: B

Synopsis: Recovered nicely from the midterm, now getting ready to (hopefully) breeze through Round 2.


Basically the same thing that happened with Civil Procedure happened with Property.

Same issues on the essay too, e.g. detailing the factors affecting a Statute of Limitations calculation without actually analyzing what the SOL would ultimately be for that particular segment of the hypo.

So after nailing the midterm, I ended up with a mid-range B on the final — and keeping the A’s out of reach as a final grade.

Midterm exam: A (and in Top 3)
Final exam: B
Expected grade pre-final: A-
Actual grade post-final: B+

Synopsis: This one hurt, though not as bad as CivPro. I’m already lost in Property II with all the concurrent estates discussion but hopefully I’ll be back on track by midterms.

Expected Fall GPA: 3.071
Actual Fall GPA: 2.619
T1-inflation-adjusted Fall GPA1: 3.833


So that’s the rundown :beatup:

I know it could be much worse and I’m not in a position to complain — after all, I already know at least 1 classmate who’s dropped out as a result of their midterm grades, and another 3 who are on their way out at the end of the year without a miraculous turnaround.

But even with my good fortune, it’s frustrating having to explain to Nan that even though my undergraduate and professional GPAs are only a few hundredths of a point apart, the former meant I was in the bottom third of my class while the latter means I’m safely in the top third.

And it’s almost equally difficult to accept that I can’t really freak out about my grades and overhaul my study habits, because I objectively learned+recalled the material. Yet at the same time I can’t not freak out about them, because had I done comparably sloppy work in actual practice I’d likely be facing a malpractice claim and a grievance filed with my former employer.

Sooooo… yeah.


Here’s hoping 1L Spring brings some improvement… along with warmer weather ;)

Off to bed so I can be up for Ks on time in the morning. Have a great night folks! :D

  1. JUST KIDDING! I don’t seriously inflation-adjust my grades, and I know the academic environment is different, “the students here are better” (allegedly), blah blah blah — I just put this in to antagonize my friends at UNCCH Law :* []

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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 Stuffâ„¢ :)

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


Number of pages read in Civil Procedure with MDG:


Number of pages read in Torts with Professor Torts:


Number of pages read in Contracts with Professor Ks:


Number of pages read in Property with the Traveling Professor:


Number of useless writing assignments in Legal Reasoning & Analysis:


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


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


Number of searches on Lexis-Nexis:


Number of Lexis-Nexis Points earned:


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


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


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

Have a great night folks!! :D

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Always bring your notebook…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 5, 2009 in Fail

I’ve been enjoying law school so far, and realized around Fall Break that I was griping more than experience warranted. But every now and then things just don’t work out the way I intended. Like today.

As absurd as it probably sounds to y’all, I’m convinced that I’m allergic to the cold. It’s not a bona fide “allergy” per se, but for years now any time the temperature around me drops below 70 or so I end up with the symptoms folks would have for the flu:  stuffy nose, sore throat, burning eyes, etc. It makes for a pretty miserable fall/winter (and even summer — when QuietStorm and I lived together and she insisted on having the AC set to “arctic” 24/7 :beatup: ). I compensate by staying warm, to the point where é›…é›… once teased me that being in my apartment during the summer reminded her of being in Shanghai.

I must not have set the thermostat high enough before going to bed last night, because I woke up at 5am feeling thoroughly wretched. I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep, just to wake up again an hour later. I got out of the bed, made some breakfast, read the news, and decided I felt bad enough I was just going to skip Contracts class and go back to sleep.  Then around 7:45 or so I woke up, felt guilty for skipping, once again crawled out of bed and headed for the law school.

Professor Ks is more laid back than the other professors, and let’s folks show up late to class — provided that if you walk in late, you’re “on deck” for all of the questions for the day. I get to the law school about 5 minutes before class is scheduled to start, and skip going to my locker to get my notebook so I can make sure I’m on time. We were starting a new section on the syllabus anyhow (Principles of Interpretation) so I figured I wouldn’t need my old notes for class.

By 8:28am I’m at the classroom… and Professor Ks has already started.


Instead of going back to get my notebook, I figure “what the hell, I’ve read everything we’re going over today and understand it. let’s go.” and walk in. Professor Ks greets me with his predictable you’re-going-to-get-grilled-and-better-be-ready smile, and starts to ask me questions about… the Statute of Frauds.

We were starting with a review of the previous section. The section that was in my notes… in my notebook… in my locker… that I skipped getting to be on time and avoid getting grilled.

I couldn’t even bluff my way through because I felt like shit and hadn’t reviewed the SOF material since Tuesday. Professor Ks called on someone else to bail me out on the review, but then instead of coming back to me for the new stuff and giving me a chance to recover (since I knew it backwards and forwards) he picked a few other folks and I was left to sit there in silence.

It was a decidedly not-fun experience, and successfully earned me a “see me after class” admonition from the professor. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be called on next week due to the poor performance…

w00t :beatup:

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #9

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 27, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

PT went well today but another bad grade in LRA killed my buzz. Did well in Ks midterm — should have done better. Exam postmortem tomorrow.

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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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Getting [K]O’d

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 8, 2009 in Fail


Had my Ks midterm at 8:30 this morning (that’s “Contracts” for my non-law readers who’ve been trying to understand my Facebook status ;))…  I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and finals.

It’s not that I didn’t know the material, I just didn’t know it well enough to be comfortable. And since law professors like to ask tricky questions, not being comfortable meant I started second-guessing myself and overanalyzing them.

For a 50-minute midterm, we’re “strongly recommended” to spend no more than 25 minutes on the set of multiple choice questions and then the rest on the essay.  The multiples took me 40 minutes. And my essay response had more holes than Swiss cheese because I didn’t have enough time to finish typing even though I knew the issues inside and out.

A word of advice: do the essay first if you know that material better :beatup:

I'm flattered, but I don't see the resemblance... >_<

I'm flattered, but I don't see the resemblance... >_<

And study more…

On a totally non-law-related note, after exams I headed to Chapel Hill for the monthly UNC Board of Governors meeting and got compared to Jason Statham in The Transporter. I had no clue who he was and had never seen the movie (or apparently any of his other films).  When I wiki’d him once I got home, I confess I can’t see the resemblance — maybe they were referring to the thinning hair?  You be the judge.

Heading back to Torts and Property outlines, have the last two midterms tomorrow.  Good night everybody! :D

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A quick shout out to Madame Prosecutor & Q.T.

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 7, 2009 in The 1L Life

Can’t write anything lengthy today — once Torts wraps up this afternoon, I’ll be bunkered in my room studying Contracts all night.

But I did want to say a quick “omgthxusomuchsrsly!!1” to Madame Prosecutor and Q.T.  My CivPro midterm was at 8:30am this morning, and it went much better than it would have gone otherwise.  Madame Prosecutor argued with me at length while reviewing the material, and it exposed how much of it I thought I knew but didn’t.  Then I wrote down a handful of index cards and reviewed with Q.T. for about an hour (and kept going through them in my head on the drive to class today).

End result? Assuming my essay turns out as well as the multiple choice options, I’ll be in good shape heading into finals :)

So thank you both!  And to everyone else — keep your fingers crossed for me plz! :D  The Ks exam is @ 8:30am tomorrow, then Torts and Property are both on Friday! :eek:

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Overanalyzing overanalysis

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 1, 2009 in Drama

I really hate being wrong.

Down in the comments of this entry from a few days ago, I mentioned to idwsj that the law school drama (at least involving me) had pretty much died off.  Evidently I neglected to knock on wood or something because one of my classmates was working hard to rope me in today.

It started shortly after Contracts.  Class itself had me rolling, as we went over cases like Wright v. Newman (266 Ga 519) — affectionately referred to as the Baby Mama Drama case.  I suspect few things can prompt more humorous class discussion among 1Ls :)

Once class was over I headed downstairs to my locker to grab a few books and head home, same routine I’ve followed for weeks now.  A fellow Legal Eagle I’ll just refer to as the Unnamed Gunner1 comes up to me and asks if I’m planning on being at the law building on Saturday since we have midterms next Thursday and Friday.  I tell him I’m not, that I’ll be heading to the Aggie-Eagle Classic2 in Greensboro.

Then comes the crazy:  “Yeah whatever man.  I saw you being the first one to turn in your LRA quiz on Tuesday and then the first one to finish in Torts yesterday.  Do you think you’re better than us or something?”

::cue scratching record sound effect::

I’m not sure if it was the comment itself or the look of “wtf?” that came across my face, but a young lady walking by us promptly choked on her coffee.

Let’s hit the obvious point first — why the hell are you keeping track of when I turn in my assignments? Insecurity? Envy? Inherent stalker tendencies?  You might get better grades if you pay attention to your own work instead of figuring out when I’m done with mine.  Just saying.

Second:  how does someone in law school make the logical leap from finishing an assignment first to feeling superior as a result? Last time I checked, none of us got bonus points for how many seconds were left on the clock when we turned something in.

I’m usually one of the first people done because I refuse to overanalyze the problems.  I’ll read the facts, re-read them again to make sure I understand them, pick an answer and move on.  It’s a strategy that served me well on the SAT in high school, all throughout college, and on the LSAT before coming to law school.  If I sit there and think about the question even more, I’m that much more likely to change my mind and go from having a maybe-correct answer to choosing a definitely-wrong one.

For an example, compare Madame Prosecutor and myself.  Madame Prosecutor is the archetypal “good student” — she has two degrees already, is heavily active in a bunch of stuff, studies hard, and makes good grades.  She’s also 1 of only 2 people I’ve met so far in my life who can successfully make me feel like I haven’t accomplished much in my almost-three decades on God’s earth.3

Madame Prosecutor takes a lot longer to finish her assignments than I do.  So do I feel superior to her because I finish sooner?  Of course not, because (among other reasons) she gets better grades.  But I’m also not going to do any better compared to her by mimicking her.  Would spending more time on a question help me do better?  Not likely.  It would, however, substantially increase my chances of doing worse.

That’s not me thinking I’m superior, it’s me doing what I know works for me academically.  I’d suggest you do the same… preferably without stalking me in the process ;)

Hope all of you had a great Thursday, and enjoy your night! :D

  1. Apparently a friend of the fine upstanding gentleman I was conversing with here []
  2. The rivalry football game between the Aggies of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and the Eagles of North Carolina Central University.  Among HBCUs it qualifies as A Big Deal™ :) []
  3. The other being QuietStorm, an intensely competitive young lady I couldn’t beat at anything… so instead of trying to win I just convinced her to date me for 7ish years. []

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Getting supplemented

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 21, 2009 in The 1L Life

idwsj is one of the blawgs I check daily because the writing is just that good.  Seriously.

So when I read this post from a few days ago, I figured I’d save myself the $$ and forgo buying supplements for my classes since it seemed they weren’t that useful.  Especially when I almost feel comfortable in Contracts, Property and Torts.  But Civil Procedure.  Ohhh Civil Procedure…

I genuinely like CivPro.  It’s basically the class on being a lawyer and doing lawyerly things.  It’s rule-based.  It’s fairly objective.  And it’s the #1 source of 12(b)(6) jokes ;)

But I’m lost.

It’s not that the material is difficult to understand, we’re just blazing through so many Rules and statutes and case law that my mind is having a hard time digesting all the chunks of FRCP, USC and judicial commentary.  So I broke down and dropped some cash on a copy of Emanuel’s CivPro law outlines.  And then while I was at it made an impulse purchase of the Contracts, Property and Torts books also — just in case.

Final price tag:  $$$$.

I’ll let you know if they’re useful at all.  For my sake, cross your fingers :)

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The §2-207 2-Step

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

Thursdays are Contracts days, and for an 8:30am class Professor Contracts keeps the energy level high.  But today stole the show.

We’re going over additional and different terms in contracts, and differences between the common law and the Uniform Commercial Code.  UCC §2-207 governs those additional terms when the UCC applies to a transaction, and Professor Contracts noted there are 2 different 2-step processes to figure out how those additional terms should be treated:  check §2-207(1) to figure out if you have a contract by forms and if so go to §2-207(2) for the additional terms, or check §2-204 if you have a contract by conduct, then go to §2-207(3) for the additional terms.

Fairly simple concept.

But to make extra certain everyone in the class got it down cold, Professor Contracts fired up this video mid-PowerPoint:

And yes, the rumors are true — he even danced a bit :)

This is the type of thing I was talking about when I said I’d fit in better at a NCCU than UNCCH ;) Good night folks! :D

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