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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-

NCCU listed among Top 10 HBCUs

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 17, 2010 in The 2L Life

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with The Atlanta Post, but it’s essentially a website blending both news aggregation and original content geared to “inform, educate, and motivate African-Americans.” Even if you’re not part of TAP’s target demographic, there’s plenty of info on the site worth a read.

One example is their listing (published yesterday) of the Top 10 historically black colleges and universities in the country. There are roughly 90ish four-year HBCUs spread across 21 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and about 40 of them are public institutions.

And only 1 public HBCU made TAP’s Top 10 list.

I’d tell you who it was, but you probably already guessed ;) From the full entry at the Atlanta Post:

The only public college in this top-ten list, North Carolina Central University represents an unbeatable opportunity for prospective students to receive a high quality education at only a tiny fraction of the price of other similarly-ranked institutions. With a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, professional, and doctorate degree tracks, NCCU has something to appeal to everyone, including Business and Law programs and ample hands-on research opportunities. Overall, North Carolina Central University offers an unparalleled cost-benefit ratio among HBCUs, making it an attractive option for anyone reluctant to accrue large debts yet not wanting to compromise education quality.

Tack this on top of National Jurist magazine ranking NCCU Law as the #1 Best Value in the country :)

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2

Shameless attention-whoring FTW

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 3, 2010 in Site Stats

You don’t have to be one of our long-time readers here at law:/dev/null to know that I like charts.

Facebook + attention-whoring = traffic spike!

And data.

And benchmarks. And tables. And trendlines.

And more charts just for good measure :beatup:

Grade distributions, tuition savings, site stats — I compulsively sprinkle data and tables throughout the blog. Besides, pictures spice up the text-only entries ;)

That also means I’ve started looking for more ways to spread the word in the hopes of attracting more eyeballs / readers / commenters :) There was political controversy in March, a new Twitter account in April… and a slight drop in May.

So to continue the outreach effort I borrowed a page from Huma over at TRPLS and created the Facebook page for law:/dev/null ;)

Apparently most of my Facebook friends never knew about this place, because after sending everyone invites the number of unique IP addresses we had visiting the site jumped by more than a third. Average pageviews per day climbed even more, at +37.7%.

Over a quarter-million pageviews!

And the really nifty thing for a guy who loves benchmarks? This past month we served up our quarter-millionth pageview! :D

I put together a chart (of course) that shows the cumulative number of pages viewed over time. For a blog visited mostly by spambots in its first few months, having real honest-to-goshness live bodies reading over 250,000+ pages is pretty doggone cool :spin:

Anyhow, enough on the statistics — I know the main reason y’all read these entries are for the search terms ;)

***

On the search query front, here are 20 of the 140+ unique search terms that brought folks here in June:

  • rick ingram sbp: I don’t know if this is the same person doing multiple searches or what, but this was our #2 most-frequent search result last month with a dozen queries (along with “rick ingram unc” and “rick ingram dth”). It’s a little peculiar since he’s only mentioned in one entry about his endorsement by the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel. Odd or obsessive? I’m not sure which… :crack:
  • when is 1l orientation for nccu school of law: Orientation for the night program starts on Monday, August 9th. The day program starts the next morning on August 10th. Double-check the start time the night before. Trust me.
  • cute bunny: nom nom nom :D
  • nccu law academic calendar 2010 2011: Can be found on TWEN at the Law School Registrar page. If you’re a pre-L, you’ll get your WestLaw registration info at Orientation. If you’re a 2L/3L/4LE, you should know to check there first before checking Google :P
  • when does nccu school of law give refunds from financial aid?: Around August 30th for the Fall, January 15th for the Spring, May 28th for Summer Session I, and July 9th for Summer Session II. Those dates change slightly based on the calendar and when financial aid actually hits your account with the University. Sometimes refunds happen early but don’t count on it.
  • ex con mother gets law degree: I’ve never been a fan of the adjective “ex con,” but yes I know one — she’s much cooler in person than you can tell from the news story ;)
  • nccu law grading: Sparked some controversy among the blawgs when I declared my support for NCCU Law’s strict-C model. It’s not all that great for getting a job, but I still think it contributes to making more competent attorneys compared to the alternatives :P
  • nc central law reputation: Depends on where you’re looking for a job. I’m not familiar with our national reputation (outside of HBCU’s), but within the state NCCU Law is known for producing highly-talented litigators. It’s one of the four key reasons why I made NCCU Law my first choice for law school — and I suspect it’s one of the reasons the NCCU Law 1L trial team excelled against dozens of teams from neighboring law schools ;)
  • what are acceptable 1l grades?: Whatever is high enough for you to get a job? ::shrug::
  • how long 25 page paper: 25 pages…
  • greg doucette myspace: MySpace? Eww :sick:
  • has anyone received an acceptance package from north carolina central state university school of law: NC Central State University School of Law? No. NC Central [notice there’s no extra word here] University School of Law? Yes. ;)
  • opening statement competitions: Are much harder than closing argument competitions :beatup:
  • received a rejection letter from nccu law stating to try again later: Assuming that language wasn’t part of the standard NCCU Law form letter, you probably should try applying sooner since we use rolling admissions like most law schools.
  • wanted one piece: Sounds like a challenge for the Reasonably Prudent Law Student :D
  • the pornstars in winston salem: I know the political hacks over at the Pope Center wanted UNCSA and its film school to be privatized, but I don’t think that’s what they had in mind…
  • it’s been a month and i still don’t have my law grades: You get no sympathy from me — welcome to the club :*
  • nccu law now tier two: Someone lied to you. The amount of $$$ the school would have to spend to climb to T2 would totally defeat the point of getting a T1 legal education at a T4 price ;)
  • dennis jansen birthday: Happens every year. When? You should probably ask him instead :P
  • nccu law section 103: Is the best section in the school, hands down. And if anyone tells you otherwise you tell them they can kick rocks. Then tell them TDot said they can kick rocks. Then send them to me so I can tell them in person they can kick rocks. B-)

I really get a kick out of the different search terms people use to get here each month… :spin:

***

And finally, here are the Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of June 2010, with a heavy leaning toward grades and cash:

  1. On Spring ’10 final grades: Spring ’10 Final Grades (or, “A 2L. For srs.”) (06/08/10)
  2. On saving money: TDot’s Tips: More $$$-saving ideas (06/13/10)
  3. Also on saving money: TDot’s Tips: Tips for the pre-L’s on $$$ (05/29/10)
  4. On the legal effects of political cowardice: Unsolicited commentary on the legal clusterf*ck facing homosexuals (06/11/10)
  5. On my impatience: Where are my @#$%ing grades?? >:o (06/07/10)

Many thanks to all of you for supporting the blog, including the new folks who got here as a result of my shameless attention-whoring on Facebook :) I truly appreciate all of you! :*

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Past Site Stats entries:

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2

Apparently we’re nomnom-licious?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 2, 2010 in Site Stats

That’s the only reason I can think of to explain the search results from last month :beatup:

I wasn’t surprised when “law:/dev/null” turned out to be the most frequent query leading people to law:/dev/null, used by 20 separate visitors from across the web last month. But what was the #2 most frequent search term, used by over a half-dozen?

law:/dev/null Pageviews and Unique IPs over time

“nomnom”

Yeah. I don’t understand it either :crack:

But before we get into the amusement that is our monthly search queries, I wanted to give an über-huge *THANK YOU!!!* to y’all for helping May outpace April as our busiest month yet! :D

An updated graph is on the right for those of you who are visual people.1)

The data this month is interesting, because we had a -2.2% drop in unique IP addresses served — not a surprise given the summer break from school — but somehow still had a +13.6% bounce in average pageviews per day and a +17.3% jump in total pages overall.

I could be wrong here, but to me that means we’ve got more regular visitors who actually enjoy reading this stuff :eek:

Assuming I’m right on that, to all of the new folks I just wanted to say: 1) welcome!, 2) read the disclaimer!, and 3) thanks for visiting! :*

# of unique search terms

Also on the “this was unexpected but still pretty cool” front, we had a real explosion in search queries used to find this site — jumping +76.2% from 84 to 148.

I made a graph for that one too… :beatup:

I’m not entirely sure what prompted the search spike, since most of the terms go to entries that have been indexed by search engines for awhile now. If any of you happen to work for Google (our #1 referrer again) feel free to share some insights!

***

And now for those queries. Here are 20 of the 140+ search terms that brought folks here in May:

  • nomnom: Maybe the folks who tried this one were hungry for Contracts?
  • what is taking nccu so long: There were literally about a dozen different variations on this search, including “how long did it take to receive a decision from nccu law?” and “north carolina central university school of law admissions taking a long time” and “still no decision from nccu law”. All I can say to you folks is this: try not to think about it. In my case I got my acceptance letter from NCCU Law on 05/04/09, one week after I received an email that my application was “complete” and that I’d receive a decision “six to eight weeks” thereafter.2 The admissions staff are dealing with the recurring issue of having thousands more applicants than there are seats, and this year they have an added wrinkle with politics: the N.C. General Assembly has a provision in the House version of its budget currently being considered that would severely restrict enrollment growth at all institutions in the University of North Carolina… which means available fewer seats than anticipated. I know that’s approximately -0- solace to those of you who are waiting, but the admissions folks have a tough and thankless job so it takes awhile :beatup:
  • when does the nccu law packet come in the mail?: I got my packet around June 22nd or so.
  • conservative corporate taglines: Not sure what you’re looking for, but the only mention of taglines here is this entry on Men’s Wearhouse. Sorry.
  • segregated lunch counters: Are thankfully a thing of the past. I wrote some thoughts in this entry on the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins.
  • nccu law school section 102 grades: I’ve been told y’all have 3 of your 6 grades in already :mad: Be thankful you’re not §103 — we’re still waiting
  • mock trial: people v andrew madison: There were several searches related to this one too, looking for opening statements. Can’t help you with the opening, but feel free to check out my closing in the #4 entry of our monthly Top 5 list below.
  • nccu law summer reading list: If you haven’t gotten it already, you should get it around June 30th. I read To Kill A Mockingbird but didn’t read a single other book on the list. In my opinion you’re better off spending your time enjoying your summer ;)
  • blogs about north carolina central university school of law: There are 3 I’m aware of: us here at law:/dev/null, one by Madame Prosecutor, and one by the Prophet. If you find any others let me know!
  • does nccu school of law have midterms?: Yes we do, and with few exceptions they make up 20% of your final grade. That’s not always a good thing :beatup:
  • 3.0 gpa as a 1l: I need to know what school you’re at to give you any meaningful commentary. If you’re attending a law school with a 3.333 curve (like UNCCH Law or Duke Law), that means you’re not doing so hot. If you’re attending a law school with a 2.000 curve (like NCCU Law), it means you get a 100% tuition scholarship.
  • nccu law school trial team: Kicks ass — and that’s just the 1Ls :D
  • ashley yopp: Has been dubbed the Pickle Princess here on the blog. She worked with me last year running the UNC Association of Student Governments after she basically created the Student Senate at East Carolina University.
  • what states still elect clerks of superior court: Don’t know the answer to that question, but I know 100% for certain that North Carolina is one of them :)
  • unc asg stipends: Have been slashed to the lowest point they’ve ever been, and are now at a level where I’m worried it’s going to negatively affect the effectiveness of the organization if they’re not increased. See entry #5 in the monthly Top 5 list below for details.
  • why does nccu school of law have first year orientation: Because when it comes to law you’re not going to know your ass from your elbow when you start school, but you’ll be reading dozens of cases in every class every night for the first several weeks starting on Day 1. Orientation lets you get familiar with the school first, so you can get your locker, grab your ID card, buy your books and such — that way there are no excuses for you when the work gets piled on ;)
  • is nccu law accredited: Yes, as it has been since it was founded in 1939. The better question is: are there any law schools the ABA won’t accredit? :beatup:
  • law school student mental breakdown: Those apparently happen on occasion. NCCU Law has its own full-time psychiatrist for that very reason. Remember to breathe and everything will be fine…
  • how to answer contracts ii final exam: Not like this :cry:
  • people that start drama and then expect apologies: are insane. Just my $0.02.

It’s been an interesting month. Now I kinda want July to hurry up and get here so I can see how the June queries turn out… :spin:

***

And finally, here are the Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of May 2010, including two repeaters at #4 and #5:

  1. On my product-purchasing pathologies: Some signs you might be a law student… (05/04/10)
  2. On last month’s site stats: “You like me, you really like me!” (05/02/10)
  3. On LRP reducing me to tears: Illiteracy FTL (04/22/10)
  4. On my first ever closing argument: Alice in Wonderland (03/24/10)
  5. On political hacks-in-training writing commentary: On UNCASG, $1, and the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel (03/30/10)

*THANK YOU* again for your continued support of this blog, I truly do appreciate it :) I’m heading to bed so I can wake up on time to knock out some class work — have a great night y’all!! :D

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Past Site Stats entries:

  1. Or folks like me who just get a kick out of making graphs and charts and stuff ; []
  2. But I also had a high LSAT score to balance out applying so late in the admission cycle. Long-time readers of law:/dev/null may recall I’d gotten several emails from NCCU Law about a missing reference letter, so my application wasn’t ready for them to review until early April. []

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4

Random musings to close the weekend…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 18, 2010 in Randomness

This week is going to be all sorts of ridiculous, so rather than try to put together a cogent entry today I’ve opted for the bullet-point approach:

  • I hate being around NCCU Law this time of year. I’m convinced the only people that study at a law school are the super-Type A personalities about to have brain aneurysms over the possibility they’ll get an A- instead of an A. The stress in the air is palpable… and for reasons unknown it cripples my ability to focus and get things done.
  • It’s even more odd considering I have colleagues who head over to UNCCH Law or Duke Law for “a more relaxing study environment”… but also know several students at both of those institutions who come to NCCU for the same thing :crack: Bizarre…
  • Unfortunately my apartment isn’t much better for the whole exam-week study marathon — it’s structured to be a laid-back reading atmosphere, not one for outlining, reviewing outlining, memo drafting, and handling the other non-law-related business coming up this week.
  • Added apartment distraction? Wii Sports Resort. I’m a much better golfer on it than I am in real life :beatup:
  • And I literally just found out the legal research memo I thought was due at 8am Wednesday is actually due at 8am Tuesday… #fml
  • In blog-related news, I’ve finally started using tags (only took me 9 months!) so at some point in the weeks ahead I’ll go back through the old entries and tag them appropriately.
  • Possible Gravatar pic?

    I’m also contemplating a change to my Gravatar pic, from the current “colonial eagle” to the one at the right. Is that not one of the most badass eagle pics you’ve ever seen? :lovestruck: I’m kinda partial to the current one though, so still debating…
  • I also added a number of bloggers to the blogroll, discovered through the ClearAdmit B.o.B. nominations I mentioned yesterday along with a handful of others linked off those sites. Make sure you check them out! :D
  • Speaking of new bloggers, Madame Prosecutor decided to join the law student blogging craze yesterday — I’ve got no clue what she’s going to end up writing about, but you can follow along here.
  • And with Madame Prosecutor now entering the arena, that makes 3 Legal Eagles I’m aware of in the blogosphere (the other has his blog here)… and we’re all 1Ls in the same section :surprised: So the self-proclaimed “honors kids” are in §102. The class’s political leaders have been in §101. But only §103 is running the law school to the point where we’re willing to open the window for y’all to see what goes down ;)
  • Speaking of §103, I liked CivPro a lot more last semester…
  • I’m going sufficiently insane that for the life of me I couldn’t find the printed version of QuietStorm’s beef tips recipe anywhere in the kitchen… so I logged on to the blog from my phone :beatup:
  • No matter how things turn out and no matter how stressed I get, I know 2 weeks from now it will all be over. It’s a great feeling :)

I hope all of you had an amazing weekend, enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and have a terrific week ahead! :D

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7

TDot’s Mailbag v5.0: What Law School’s Really Like

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 14, 2010 in Mail

This was originally a TDot’s Tips entry titled “Tips for the Pre-L’s” — until I started writing it Monday afternoon, when Delta the 2L sat down next to me in the Fishbowl and wanted to know what I would be doing at 7:00pm that night.

I’ve learned the only acceptable answer when she asks me that question is “What would you like me to be doing Delta?” :beatup:

Turns out the Pre-Law Students Association at my alma mater was holding a panel discussion titled “What is Law School Really Like?” and she wanted a partner from the N.C. Central University School of Law to help rep for the Legal Eagles.

Since I came at law from a non-traditional angle I had to say yes. Besides, y’all know how I am about competition :angel:

There were about 30 undergrads in the audience, and the panel turned out to be a solid mix of folks with 3 students from Campbell Law, 3 from UNCCH Law, 2 from Duke Law, an alum from Wake Forest Law, and of course Delta and I from NCCU Law.1 I think 6-7 of us were 1Ls, but the 2Ls/3Ls/post-Ls were represented by at least 1 person apiece.

The questions covered a wide range of topics that you’d expect from aspiring law students: workload, types of classes, “gunners” and competition, and so on. But some panel members did tend to commandeer the discussion and recognize new questioners before folks had a chance to answer the previous question, and yesterday one of the sophomores in attendance shot me a message.

Rather than do the usual Q&A format for past mail entries, I figured I’d post what he sent me and offer my $.02 from there.  Here’s what I got:

Overall, I enjoyed listening to the panel and attending the event. I do wish the the questions/answers had been more organized so that each student from each law school could have given a more direct answer and that every student could have been given the chance to answer each question.

I would have liked to have learned more about the admissions process from the students also. I believe the bar exam was only mentioned once or twice in the whole forum; from what I have heard the bar exam is one of the top things that law students are trying to make sure they pass, that was one dimension that was almost forgotten about….and I’m not quite sure why?

It seemed like the whole time all of the students were all up tight and bashing the amount of work load and la la la the whole time. I was like okay I get the point that law school is a lot of work, I’m aware of that now, I am more than willing to put in the time and effort, enough with the talks about how much work it is, tell me more about WHAT LAW SCHOOL IS REALLY LIKE – tell me about the professors, tell me about the elective courses you can take, tell me about the mock trials you can participate in, etc etc.

I fully understand, and *commend* every single law student out there for the amount of work they have to put into law school; but this forum was not meant to whine about the work load if you get my gist.

Let me preface my thoughts by pointing out I’M NOT NORMAL. You hopefully figured this out at some point amid (i) Student Government being my preferred hobby, (ii) picking a T4 as my first-choice law school despite higher-ranked options, or (iii) deciding to go the law route at all after getting a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I’m strange, I’m upbeat about my own law school experience, and I’m even optimistic about the future prospects for the legal industry.

I’m also apparently one of the very, very, very few who feel that way :beatup:

So before reading on, I’d encourage you to check the other bloggers in the list at the right of this page. Dennis Jansen in particular has a ton of advice well worth reading — I read it myself before starting law:/dev/null, that’s how legit it is.

Now back to that email…

Admissions
Admissions was actually something I studied quite a bit as a side project when I was an undergrad.2 I’m not an expert by any means, but here’s some of what I’ve learned both in NC and nationwide:

  • The admissions process is going to vary by school of course, but pretty much everyone uses some form of indexing in their decisions.  Essentially take your undergraduate GPA and multiply it by a given fraction, take your LSAT score and multiply it by a different fraction, take whatever “special” factors your chosen school considers (e.g. legacy status, socioeconomic status, etc), add all those numbers up and you get your Academic Index score. Students above a certain number get in automatically, below a certain number get rejected automatically, and the folks in the middle get a closer look at your actual application to decide if you should be accepted, rejected, or waitlisted.
  • Any school that tells you they read all the applications is lying to you. There are simply too many applications for every school, and your typical admissions committee is roughly 3-5 people — usually 1 or 2 administrators, and the rest senior faculty. In other words they’re all busy people, and are simply not going to read 1,000+ essays or more per person. Period.
  • Apply early! Most schools also use “rolling admission,” which means they start accepting students throughout the application cycle — including those folks with the high Academic Index scores.  Typically that means by the time the advertised “deadline” approaches for a given school, all of the seats have admitted students filling them and you’re competing for spots that only open up when the accepted folks go somewhere else. The odds already are not in your favor; they get precipitously worse by the deadline.
  • Consider applying at public law schools in your state (if they’d be a good fit for you of course). Most state-supported institutions have caps on out-of-state students, making it comparably easier to get in if you’re in-state. For example, UNCCH Law limits out-of-state students to 25-30% of the student body even though out-of-staters typically make up 75%ish of the applications received. Private Duke Law, by contrast, had over 80%+ of its Class of 2012 coming from outside North Carolina.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I call this the “nontraditional” approach to admissions: if you know someone who’s an alum from your school, or back when you were a kid you used to mow the lawn for one of the professors, or one of your parent’s coworkers knows a friend of a friend who plays golf with the Dean, see if they have any advice they can offer to help you be as competitive as possible. The era of a well-placed phone call to the right person securing your acceptance has largely died off, but there are always “intangibles” in every process and there’s no harm in trying to line up as many as you can in your favor.

Bar Exam
At most undergraduate universities, when you finish all your required courses you’re usually entitled to graduate, get your degree, and start working in whatever field you studied.

Not so with law.

After you graduate, you’ll sit and take a bar exam for the jurisdiction where you want to practice. This is essentially a 2-3 day affair featuring multiple choice questions, essays, and similar tests on a variety of subjects to verify your competence to become a lawyer. Pass the bar, and you get to jump through the next set of assorted hoops to get your law license (“character and fitness” reviews, etc). Fail, and you get to wait 3-4 months to try again while desperately trying in the interim to find some way to pay your bills.

Training you to pass the bar, enabling you to become a competent attorney, is the #1 job of a law school. It’s also not easy — so make sure you pay attention in your law classes, because that info will be coming back in a few years.

The Work
There’s not much I can say here that will be useful to any of you, since I honestly don’t think the work in law school is that hard.

Why? Because I was horrible at my undergraduate major :beatup:

As a result I was/am already accustomed to sitting in one place in perpetuity (e.g. at a desk) doing the same thing for hours non-stop (e.g. debugging code) and giving up certain necessities of life (e.g. sleep and a social life) to get projects done on time. Law school has been a cakewalk by comparison, since the only “project” is generally a midterm and final exam — and reading case law for a few hours is infinitely easier than tracing Java code looking for an elusive bug.

Trust me ;)

Law school is a sizable volume of work, for certain. You’ll want to read all the cases you’re assigned so you’re able to understand the discussion taking place in class, which in turn will make it easier to digest the material and study for finals.

But law school is also a huge mind game. If you go in knowing you’re going to have a large volume of work and you take a disciplined approach to getting that work done, you’ll be fine — and should even have time for sleep and a social life :D

Professors
They’re all different, and it shows. MDG and Professor CrimLaw both have witty and disarming personalities — and are merciless graders who force you to know your material. Professor Torts takes a more disciplinarian approach. Professor Ks represents the “new school” and is more laid back than the others, while The Traveling Professor holds it down for the “old school” with her regal demeanor.

One unifying characteristic of the professors is that they’re all smart people. And the vast majority are friendly, approachable, and go out of their way to help students succeed at learning the law. After all, even these folks were 1Ls once upon a time.

The key is to not let yourself get intimidated — as your legal elders they’re entitled to a certain level of deference, but not to the point where you’re afraid to talk to them.

Electives
I’m not really qualified to say much here, simply because for almost all law schools your 1L year will be set in stone for you and cover “core” classes like Property, Contracts, Torts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Constitutional Law.

If you want to browse around, NCCU Law has most of its electives posted online. Typically law schools will have electives on a huge range of topics (intellectual property, bioethics, veterans law, etc) and offer law clinics for students to experience first-hand different areas of the law where they might be interested in practicing.

But given the breadth of offerings and the differences between each law school, the best I can recommend here is to check out the individual offerings for every school you’re interested in.

Extracurriculars
This is another area where the philosophies of law schools tend to differ,3 but at many schools 1Ls get to participate in most of the exact same stuff as their upper-level colleagues.

Speaking for myself here at NCCU Law, I took part in 3 different mock trial competitions just for 1Ls, signed up for the 1L Moot Court competition (before realizing it conflicted with a UNCASG meeting), participated in an ABA-sponsored client counseling competition, played on the 1L basketball team in the annual Law Week tournament, attended several events for the Black Law Students Association, and got elected Treasurer of the Student Bar Association.

And there are literally dozens of other groups and activities that I could have done if I had other interests (or more time).

Most law schools will have class councils that throw parties, hold forums, host speakers, and so on. You’ve got legal fraternities like Phi Alpha Delta and Phi Delta Phi. You’ve got BLSA and HLSA and undoubtedly other LSAs I don’t know about. You’ve got liberal orgs promoting things like workers’ rights, conservative ones promoting things like constitutional originalism, and everything in between.

So as far as extracurriculars go — at least in my admittedly limited experience — law school is as much a full-spectrum experience as college.

“What would you do differently?”
If I could change one single thing about my experience here at NCCU Law, I wouldn’t be as nervous.

Those of you who are long-time readers at law:/dev/null might recall the comedy of unforced errors that was my orientation experience. I’ve taken my Socratic beatings too. But you know what I found out over the course of the semester?

Everybody experiences the same thing at some point.

All the 1Ls are going through the same trials and tribulations. Some folks are more adept at it than others, but there isn’t a single person out of the 50ish in my section who haven’t been flummoxed by a professor. Rather than the “gunner”-filled atmosphere you read about, most of your classmates will be on Facebook or Gchat or “whispering” hints at a slightly-above-whisper level,4 all trying to help you succeed — because they’ve either (i) been there too or (ii) will be soon.

So don’t be nervous. Go in confident, know you’re going to slip up at some point, and take it all in stride. It’ll make your law school experience far more enjoyable ;)

—===—

That’s my $.02 on what law school is really like, at least on those few topics :) Feel free to hit me up if you have any other questions!

Until then, have a great night everybody! :D

  1. The other 2 law schools in North Carolina are fairly new and only provisionally accredited: Elon Law and Charlotte Law. []
  2. Particularly the relative weights given to racial minorities (which are routinely criticized or banned) and “legacy” children of alumni (which are routinely not criticized or banned) and the effect of those weights among institutions of the 17-campus University of North Carolina… most of which were segregated until 50 years ago, giving a de facto race-based advantage to the white children of white alumni. []
  3. For example, the Campbell Law panelist said they don’t allow 1Ls to participate in extracurricular activities so they can focus on their studies. []
  4. The folks MDG fondly calls “the drunk whisperers” []

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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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-

Success

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 14, 2010 in NotFail

The defense team (my side) of the NCCU Legal Eagles competed in the Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Trial Team competition tonight… and we won :D

We successfully beat a team from UNCCH Law, and now we wait until Friday night to figure out if our score was high enough to get us into the next round on Saturday morning.

Now I’ve gotta rush and study for class tomorrow :beatup: Good night folks!

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