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The Wild Roller Coaster of Solo Practice

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 21, 2014 in The After-3L Life

Happy Monday y’all :)

It’s become a bit of a habit with these posts to note it’s been ages since I last wrote one, I’m not keeping up with my New Year’s resolution to write more, “zomg life is soooo busy!” and so on.

The underlying premise, of course, being that I really really really want to write something but I just haven’t had the time.

That’s still true — there’s been a bunch of cool stuff going on in life over the past 2 months that I wanted to write about1 — but a big chunk of the reason for my absence is that life overall has… well… kinda sucked :beatup:

If you’re one of our long-time law:/dev/null readers2, you might remember how I’d stress out as we got near the end of the semester, building up to the don’t-sleep-for-a-few-days exam week followed by a reprieve for a few weeks before things started all over again.3

6.5 calls per business day: good! Turning cases away: not so much

6.5 calls per business day: good! Turning cases away: not so much

Well running your own law firm is a bit like that. Except you never really get the reprieve (unless you’re slowly going out of business).

Things at TGD Law have been beyond busy; we’ve been averaging 6-7 calls every single day each month, there are over 1,300+ fans of the TGD Law Facebook page, and a growing number of those incoming phone calls / emails / etc have been from folks who’ve heard I kick @ss in a courtroom.

But I’ve also got more work than I can handle, and I’ve been turning away cases left and right because I refuse to let my work product slip for the folks who have already hired me.4

The catch to turning away cases, of course, is that there’s very little money coming in. That, in turn, means no staff. Which in turn means I’m stuck spending time on menial work that I’d really like to farm out to a paralegal or file clerk. Which in turn means no matter how much I work, I feel like nothing gets done.

The sense of complete and utter futility I’ve had the past few weeks is actually pretty well encapsulated in a graph of my weight loss efforts: past progress has been undone, and now I’m treading water until I can out-think my problems.

That 27lb drop? Bar prep

That 27lb drop? Bar prep

It’s led to me sleeping an awful lot, watching TV when I’d probably be better off working or blogging,5 and finding it beyond difficult to focus on things instead of my usual unproductively-trying-to-multitask-across-a-dozen-things-at-once.

So rather than blog about being blah, I figured I’d spare y’all the bellyaching until I got my sh*t together ;)

I can’t guarantee that’s happened yet of course, but fingers are firmly crossed! This past Easter weekend I brought some work home with me when I went up to visit my grandparents, and made some headway on several cases. I’ve started doing a list of a few high-priority items a day that simply must get done, and that’s helped me wrap my mind around things a smidge better.

Anyhow, I don’t have much more to write about at the moment — just wanted to let y’all know I’m not dead and I haven’t forgotten about you! :D

More blog posts sooner than later (certainly in less than 60 days).

  1. I was invited to be a guest at a professionalism dinner at my alma mater, served on an ABA-LSD panel on going solo, coached two NCCU Law moot court teams, judged the 1L Mary Wright Competition and the Clifton Johnson Moot Court Competition, had a trial of some of my Moral Monday folks, did a bunch more stuff I can’t recall at the moment, and at some point in the middle turned 33 years old. Life has been crazy! :crack: []
  2. **THANK YOU** btw! :* []
  3. It’s a testament to how long I’ve been away from blogging regularly that I can’t actually find the old links to the appropriate entries for that :beatup: []
  4. I’d rather be an amazing poor lawyer than a substandard rich one. []
  5. Not sure what my list of shows included before, but it’s now got The Walking Dead, Suits, Turn, Scandal, Mythbusters, and Psych reruns on it []

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Scaling the wall, redux

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 19, 2010 in The 2L Life

Hey everybody :)

Remember that old post from the summer about how the wall between 2L and 3L had pretty much disappeared during my summer school classes?

Apparently that applies to trial advocacy competitions too ;)

I served as the bailiff/timekeeper for the annual 3L Willie Gary Closing Argument competition for the Trial Advocacy Board, and my goodness were the 3Ls nervous.

There were folks who forgot the basic opening protocol (things like saying “May it please the court” or recognizing opposing counsel). The person who I thought gave the best presentation paced back and forth the entire time in front of the jury box. The one who I thought gave the second-best presentation did most of it from in front of the defense table (as a prosecutor) about a dozen feet from the jury box.

Two even sat at the wrong tables :surprised:

And it wasn’t just new 3Ls who hadn’t done this stuff before getting affected by bad nerves. One of them had won the Mary Wright 1L Closing Argument competition during his 1L year. Two others were part of the T.A.B. leadership. Another spent his post-2L summer in a courthouse practicing via the 3rd year practice rule.

I saw flaws in everybody.1 But the worst part? In a schadenfreudian sort of way it made me feel better to know it’s not just us 2Ls who get nervous :beatup:

  1. Though take all this with the requisite grain(s) of salt, since I’ve been told I’m “overly critical” as a judge. []

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And litigators do this everyday??

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 18, 2010 in The 2L Life

Ugh.

That’s how I felt after today’s (9:00am) 2L Opening Statement Competition for the Trial Advocacy Board. This annual event is similar to the competition the T.A.B. used for determining who made the 1L Trial Team, and is held in tandem with the 3L Closing Argument Competition for figuring out which lucky folks get to represent NCCU Law for the law school’s official TYLA and AAJ teams.

The facts for the 2L competition were total garbage. It was an old TYLA civil case, as opposed to the criminal cases usually done in the past. It had a dead judge (the victim), his money-grubbing whore of a wife (the Plaintiff / my client :beatup: ), an equally money-grubbing incompetent of a doctor (the Defendant), the list goes on.

Oh, and my client’s claim? She’s suing for wrongful death, since her husband died from taking nitrates and Viagra at the same time because the doctor spent a whopping 6 minutes with him when he sought medical help (just enough time to diagnose the judge… with a cold).

The Defendant’s defense? My client’s lawyer-boyfriend killed the judge by beating him over the head with a trophy :crack:   Or in the alternative that the judge was contributorily negligent for taking nitrates and Viagra simultaneously.

Needless to say I’m not happy with a case I’m not convinced I could win if it were a real trial.

Then on top of it I let myself get sidetracked with other stuff (CLE, Constitution Day, poker night, etc) so I don’t actually write the opening until around 2am this morning.1 After we got the facts over a week ago.

Stupid of me, I know.

But I get it done and think it’s pretty good, so I’m happy-ish. Then I grab a reasonable amount of sleep under the circumstances and even eat a full breakfast before the competition, so all is right with the world.

Until I actually get to school :beatup:

I’m the last competitor to go, and the 1.5ish hours spent waiting is just enough time for my nerves to go into full-blown panic mode. My hands are freezing. I’m sweating profusely.2 And I have a splitting headache.

Compounding the anxiety: the best of the best 2Ls are in this competition. There are my friends Top Gun3 and Luca,4 who both edged me out in the 1L Closing competition.5 There’s Co-Counsel, among the 4 people who beat me in the 1L opening competition. Most of the 1L trial team is here. Even Madame Prosecutor is making her first T.A.B. competition debut, as well as my friend EIC.

I pace the halls for about 20 minutes and manage to relax a bit, and when it’s actually my turn things go fairly well…

…until about 3 minutes in, when I completely forget one of those key bullet points I was supposed to bring up…

…and since it’s not vital to the opening, no one notices it was missing…

…including me.

The problem? About a minute later, one of the bullet points (that I remember) makes sense only if mentioned in reference to that earlier bullet point (that I forgot). So my eyes bulge out of my head around the 4-minute mark as it dawns on me that I forgot, and I completely screw up the flow of the ending to wedge it in, at which point I start talking a-mile-a-minute because I just know I’m going to end up losing points for running over the 5-minute time limit…

I talk so fast, in fact, that I finish right around 4:20. With a whole 40 seconds left on the clock :beatup:

It was rough.

And I still have a headache.

After last year’s two performances, I was looking for some vindication this time around. We have to wait all the way until the end of March to find out where we finish so it’ll be awhile until I know if I got it, but at this point I’m just glad it’s over :)  I’ll post the video for y’all as soon as we’re allowed to see them :D

Until then have a great night!

  1. “Write” is a bit of a misnomer. I write the first sentence and the last sentence (ideally something pithy for both), then just jot down key bullet points that I can talk about extemporaneously on trial day. Remember that, because it’s an important point in a couple paragraphs… []
  2. While in a suit :sick: []
  3. First in our 1L class []
  4. “The only man Vito Corleone feared. And vice versa.” []
  5. Interesting side note: all 3 of the finalists for the 1L Mary Wright Closing Argument competition are alumni of N.C. State University, with our respective majors in chemistry, philosophy, and computer science. At least we all got our money’s worth :D []

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When internet memes attack…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 15, 2010 in Site Stats

What do “nom nom nom”, “::headdesk::”, and “#fml” all have in common?

Lots of people looking for nom-ing bunnies...

They’re all internet memes I’ve been using here on law:/dev/null for months now… and they’ve turned into a real headache when it comes to site maintenance :beatup:

I first noticed something was amiss when the blog got hit by a massive wave of spam comments back on July 11th. The pageview spike was so massive I had to leave out that entire day when updating these bar charts, otherwise the “Pageviews per Day” bar would be about 50% higher than it is now.

To highlight the spike, I created a new chart below graphing the number of spam comments against the number of unique IP addresses we had in a given month (higher bars == more spam comments per capita).

As I spent the next couple weeks re-acquainting myself with .htaccess directives for this spam prevention entry, I noticed something else odd in the log files: we had a trio of referrer URLs showing megabytes upon megabytes of data being transferred but with -0- corresponding pageviews. After poking around I realized the bunny picture from this old Contracts entry was being hotlinked all over the place for reasons I couldn’t figure out.

So I logged in to Google’s Webmaster Tools for the first time in months, and figured out what was going on — over 15,000+ searches on 30 different variations of “om nom nom” :crack:

July brought lots of spam...

Apparently when I switched how WordPress sets post URLs last month (from the old numeric “?p=1234” to the current setup), the search index for that Contracts entry went up high enough that the bunny picture became the #1 result for anyone doing a Google search with “nom nom” in it.

Not the entire entry of course. Just the bunny pic. :beatup:

Things have calmed down a bit now that I’ve started banning spambots and limiting the hotlinks. My guess is traffic will go back to a more-linear growth pattern for August. We’ll see what happens :)

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On the search query front, we had a bunch of duplicate searches but also some fresh ones. Here are 20 of the 100+ unique search terms that brought folks here in July:

  • chazz clevinger: worked with me as the Vice President of Legislative & Public Affairs for UNCASG two years ago. I haven’t kept in touch with him much since law school started, but he did good work for the students of North Carolina.
  • nc dmv 30 day tag for insurance lapse: cost me $63, and I didn’t even need one :mad:
  • nccu lsat score evening program: for 2009-10, was 151 for the evening program, with the 25th percentile folks at 148 and the 75th percentile folks at 155 according to the class profile.
  • blackberry messenger group nccu school of law ’11: exists, but I’m not a part of it since I’m in the Class of 2012 ;) Hit up one of the 3Ls for more info.
  • tdot surplus vehicles: HA! I wish I had surplus vehicles…
  • does duquesne law school give midterms?: I don’t know about Duquesne Law, but NCCU Law does :spin:
  • letter demanding payment from ex girlfriend: is probably not going to accomplish much of anything…
  • negative things about nccu law: vary depending on who you ask. I’m a huge NCCU Law fan, and my only real complaint is that the wi-fi can be spotty in certain areas of the building (like the Great Hall and the Fishbowl). Hopefully they improved that over the summer.
  • 2010 11 tuition north carolina: is unfortunately still going up by almost $1K at several universities, since state legislators decided to balance the budget on the backs of students :mad:
  • nccu law fall 2010 class calendar: can be found on the Law School Registrar’s TWEN page, or downloaded from the NCCU Law “Academics” page.
  • nccu school of law’s grading curve: follows a strict-C median, which I happen to enthusiastically support ;)
  • mary wright 1l advocacy competition: takes place every Spring semester for 1L students. You can watch the video of my 3rd place performance here.
  • daryl wade unc: is probably not the same guy as Daryl Wade, the former Student Body President at UNC School of the Arts who served as Vice Chairman of the UNCASG Council of Student Body Presidents last year. I’m sure the other Daryl Wade is still cool though… even if he goes to UNCCH :sick:
  • are 1l’s included in the 30 day delay for financial aid?: For the vast majority of 1Ls, no.1 This was actually one of the questions we had at my 1L Orientation last year, so you’re not alone in wondering :)
  • what percentage of nccu law school are white law students?: roughly 35-40% each class year. Another 45-50% are black, and the remaining 10-20% are spread across other races. We’re routinely ranked among the most diverse student bodies in the country.
  • nccu minority scholarships for white law students: “No, officer…”
  • nccu law fall 2010 book list: can be found above the academic calendar on the NCCU Law “Academics” page.
  • acpi:system state: could signal a dead motherboard :(  Take it to get looked at ASAP.
  • which computer apple or pc for law students: Apple. Hands down. Trust me. ;)

Definitely a different mix of search results getting here this month… :)

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And finally, here are the Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of July 2010, quite a bit different from past Top 5s due to the new indexing changes:

  1. On avoiding contract enforcement: Mmm Ks nom nom nom (02/16/10)
  2. On inexpensive résumé websites: Things TDot Likes: Persona Non Obscura (12/08/09)
  3. On post-1L class ranks: Learning what I already knew (07/12/10)
  4. On having a shadow: Spreading the (Law School) Gospel (02/17/10)
  5. On saving money: TDot’s Tips: Tips for the pre-L’s on $$$ (05/29/10)

*THANK YOU* as always to each of you for your continued support of us here at law:/dev/null! :D

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Past Site Stats entries:

  1. My understanding is that some international students who have never attended a U.S. school previously get included, but I don’t know enough people (translation: none) who fall into that category to know if that’s accurate :beatup:   []

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Best Week Ever?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 28, 2010 in The 1L Life

Maybe, maybe not — but definitely much improved over the week before :D

  • Sunday: Knocked out my closing argument for NCCU Law‘s annual Mary Wright 1L Closing Argument competition.
  • Monday: Successfully registered for all the Fall 2010 classes I wanted… most of which were completely filled 2 minutes later :crack: 1Ls edged out the 2Ls in the annual Law Week basketball game, winning on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
  • Tuesday: Raised some eyebrows (in a good way) with my no-bullshit candidate speech for SBA Treasurer. 1Ls stomped the 3Ls in the Law Week basketball championship, winning by double digits.
  • Wednesday:  Not entirely sure what happened, but I’m assuming it was good since I don’t remember :beatup:
  • Thursday: SBA Election Day :) Also got to visit some of my Wolfpack family at the candidate forum for N.C. State‘s CALS1  Agri-Life Council.
  • Friday: Celebrated turning not-quite-30 :D Day #1 of the monthly UNCASG meeting went smoothly.
  • Saturday: UNCASG Day #2 not only went smoothly but was incredibly productive too. Enjoyed a post-meeting birthday dinner with about 20 of the delegates+officers (and continued carousing at the hotel afterwards). Also  in mid-celebration get an update on the Law Week Banquet taking place back in the Triangle: got 3rd place in the Mary Wright competition, and also got elected SBA Treasurer :D

Not sure this upcoming week will compare favorably, but at least I’ll have mid-80º temps to look forward to… ;)

Have a great night everybody! :)

  1. College of Agricultural & Life Sciences — the only 1 of NCSU’s 4 largest colleges from which I didn’t have a major or a minor :beatup: []

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Alice in Wonderland

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 24, 2010 in The 1L Life

Hey everybody! :D

I mentioned back on Sunday that I participated in NCCU Law‘s annual Mary Wright 1L Closing Argument competition. The videos were posted online today, so I downloaded a copy and threw it on YouTube to share with y’all :)

The student workers who did the recording apparently took a coffee break around the 4min mark — the camera just keeps on panning into the wall, so for the last minute you’ll just have to listen to my voice. Hopefully you can still figure out the theme to the closing ;)

That whole experience showed me how weird it is to watch yourself after giving a speech. At the time I thought I was talking incredibly fast — I finished with 35+ seconds left, even though every time I’d practice I’d only have 3-5 seconds left — but watching it after the fact it doesn’t seem that bad.

If you want to check out the fact pattern for the case, download “People v. Andrew Madison” from this URL at streetlaw.org.

Anyhow, hope y’all enjoy :) I’m off to study for CivPro then to prepare for this weekend’s UNCASG meeting. Have a great night! :D

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