7

Should I just go solo after graduation? (Part II)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 29, 2011 in The 3L Life

Sunday night I posted an entry outlining my rationale for seriously considering solo/SmallLaw practice after I (hopefully) graduate from NCCU Law on May 12th, 2012.

And yes, I keep a running countdown of the 165-in-151ish-minutes days until I’m done with school ;)

This entry goes over some of the pros and cons I’ve mulled over a bit as I tossed this idea around in my head these last couple weeks. It’s not intended to be an exhaustive list, and our commenters from the last entry had links I need to review with info I haven’t checked out yet (it’s on the post-exam to-do list).

I’m writing it down now to (i) get feedback from you readers and any current/aspiring solos who happen to stop by, and (ii) provide a record for myself so I don’t forget :beatup:

We’ll start with the risks/cons/downsides, because frankly right now they scare me more than the rewards/pros/upsides…

T.’s Initial Reasons AGAINST Going Solo After Graduation:

  • Risk of shortchanging clients due to inexperience: This is far and away my biggest worry — I don’t want to be doing “on the job training” when someone else’s interests are at stake and risk screwing up as a result. Maybe it’s just not-a-lawyer-yet naiveté that I’ll outgrow, but the risk of someone paying me for something and getting less-than-perfect representation just really unnerves me. It’s one thing to go solo after working in a firm where you’ve had a chance to have other people looking over your shoulder for a few years, but I’d literally have nothing but clinical experience to guide me if I went solo right out of the gate.
  • How are bills getting paid again?: Second issue priority-wise is finding revenue those first few months out. I know I could manage money frugally enough and hustle hard enough to build up a financially adequate client base over the long-term, but have no clue at all how I’d keep the lights on from August through February.
  • There’s a lot of @#$%ing paperwork: Incorporating. Insurance. Leases. Taxes. Contracts. Employees one day, with all the payroll stuff that goes with it. Making contingency plans for clients in case I die unexpectedly. There’s a lot of paperwork and related stuff that has -0- actual relation to the law part of practicing law, that I’d not only have to knock out up-front if I started my own firm but also monitor regularly for eternity. And after already becoming a criminal because I forgot a postage stamp, I’m not exactly enthused by those obligations.
  • The Triangle has several metric tons of attorneys: Although I’m not categorically averse to moving elsewhere in North Carolina, most of my network and support structure are here in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area… along with what seems like every other attorney in the state :beatup: Being a new entrant in an established marketplace is a difficult challenge without some kind of hook/niche I could stake out.
  • I’d need a secretary…: This ties in to the 2nd and 3rd issues above. Given my own personal shortcomings, I’d need someone on staff to look over my shoulder and make sure paperwork gets completed, calls get answered, appointments don’t get double-booked, and so on. But I have no clue how I’d be able to afford them until I’ve got a decent stream of clients coming in.
  • …but I’m a big teddy bear when it comes to critiquing/firing people: My management skills also apparently need work. I’ve been told that I’m stellar at motivating people, getting a team to get things done, that sort of stuff; I’m also brutal when people are so glaringly incompetent that they have to be canned. On the other hand, I’ve also been told I’ve let people remain in positions long after they should have been fired when they’re less incompetent and more just lazy, instead hoping they’ll shape up. Not sure I’m sufficiently dispassionate to make the tough decisions on disciplining/firing people.

So that’s the first batch of reasons why me going solo would be a bad idea. Now for the counterweight:

T.’s Initial Reasons FOR Going Solo After Graduation:

  • After 13 years in NC, I’ve got a fairly wide network: The main justification for starting a business of some kind, be it law or otherwise, is that I’ve been incredibly blessed to meet a boatload of people since I moved to North Carolina way back in 1998. I know folks from my first time at N.C. State, the places I worked over the 5 years I was a college dropout and political activist, my second time at N.C. State, and everyone I’ve crossed paths with in my roles as Student Senate President, UNCASG President, and SBA President here at the law school. These folks, and the folks they know, would be the first step in a potential client pool.
  • I’ve got a talent for building things: It’s something reflected thoroughly in my personality (at least in every personality test I’ve taken). Whether it’s my brief stint as a professional web developer back in the early 2000s, restructuring Student Governments, writing a blawg for a couple years, or something else — I greatly enjoy (and am at least marginally skilled at) building organizations. The whole “vision thing” hasn’t been a problem yet.
  • Excellent support at NCCU Law and NCSU: Part of my reluctance to leave the Triangle is knowing I’ve got a top-notch set of faculty and staff I can ask for information or ideas if I really need it. It’s an ironic by-product of being a less-than-stellar student academically but otherwise a reasonably acceptable human being :)
  • Free access to 3 different libraries: State law requires that library facilities at UNC-system institutions be open to the public during “regular” operating hours, which includes NCSU, UNCCH, and NCCU all here in the Triangle.  There’s also a requirement that the law libraries at NCCU Law and UNCCH Law have kiosks for public use of Wexis as well. I could save a ton on legal research just by using the resources made available through my tax dollars.
  • No significant monetary commitments right now: I don’t have a mortgage, my car’s paid off (even though it breaks down regularly), I’m unmarried, and the only dependent living in my apartment has four legs and barks at people. For the past 2 years I’ve lived off less than $30,000 and been more-or-less-OK financially. I’d certainly like to make more than that — especially with student loan payments coming up — but I’m not addicted to a huge salary so I’ve got some flexibility to take calculated risks right now.
  • I am my own IT Department: If there’s an upside to taking 6 years to get a 4-year computer science degree, it’s being able to handle tech needs on my own without hiring an IT guy :beatup:
  • Freedom: The biggest upside to going the solo/SmallLaw route is having freedom to do whatever. If I want to create a specialty practice, I can. If I want to go a general practice route, I can. If I want to randomly change what I’m practicing entirely, I can do that too. It ensures I’m never more than a single decision away from continuing to enjoy what I do for a living.

So that’s my initial set of pros/cons as of tonight. I’m sure there will be many more down the road, but for now if feel free to share your thoughts at your leisure! :D

Thanks and have a great night!

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From the law:/dev/null archives on me going solo after graduation:

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A conservative’s [brief] case for higher education funding

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 9, 2011 in Unsolicited Commentary

After more than 2 years of writing here at law:/dev/null, I’ve done a reasonably decent job of keeping the “real world” politics to a minimum1 — not because I’m averse to talking about those sorts of issues, but because law school is enough of a headache without me going into AN ALL-CAPS RAGE2 about the latest controversy du jour.

Even so, every now and then I feel a slight urge to rant ;)

Earlier tonight I took a break from drowning in homework to visit Chapel Hill for “An Evening with Five Presidents”, an event put together by the UNC Board of Governors featuring a panel discussion with the 5 folks who have led the consolidated University of North Carolina since it was established in 1972. Former BOG members were asked to attend as “special friends” of the University — and since I’m more likely to find a job lead from one of these folks than anything my GPA will get me, I figured making the academic sacrifice was a rational choice :beatup:

Anyhow, the wide-ranging discussion included more-than-a-few remarks about the proper way to fund the University and the totally absurd tuition increases being discussed behind closed doors (e.g. $4K+ increase at UNCCH for in-state undergrads over the next couple years :crack: ). Unfortunately those are the kinds of conversations that happen when newly-Republican-led state legislatures gore the higher education system and nuke $1 of every $7 overnight.3

It’s obvious from the General Assembly’s actions that legislators have a dim view of the university system, I’m just thoroughly flummoxed as to why. It’s always made intuitive sense to me that the education sector is one of the few options that are a sensible and eminently capitalist choice for investing taxpayers’ money.

Yes, I just said “eminently capitalist.” Maybe I’m biased because of the modest upbringing and former dropout status, but consider two brief reasons:4

The Social Network Effect:
Folks who’ve spent time in a computer science class have probably already heard of the “Metcalfe Effect”, named after Ethernet founder Robert Metcalfe. He argued that a critical mass of users was necessary to create any value in any particular network; for example, one person having a telephone is worthless, but as more people get telephones all current telephone users benefit.5 Economists refer to this as a positive network externality.

The Metcalfe Effect in computer science: for a network of (n) nodes, the total number of possible connections is (n * (n - 1)) / 2

You can see a visual depiction in the photo on the right. The Metcalfe Effect can actually be expressed as a mathematical formula — (n * (n-1)) / 2 — indicating the total number of possible connections between n nodes in a network. 2 nodes: 1 connection. 5 nodes: 10 connections. 12 nodes: 66 connections. And so on.

Universities are essentially big incubators for a human-centric Metcalfe Effect, creating what I’d describe as a Social Network Effect. Thousands of people voluntarily choose to come into a given geographic area, sharing a common institutional affiliation for 4 years at a stretch, and in the process inevitably form connections (their social network) with those around them.

Now is every one of N.C. State‘s 33,000+ students going to connect with the other 32,299+? Of course not. But in the aggregate, more connections are formed than would be otherwise.

I’ve seen this Social Network Effect get routinely derided by conservative pundits for years — “We’re supposed to be teaching kids to get jobs! Not to have fun!” blah blah blah rabble rabble rabble.

But the criticisms overlook basic realities of how economics works: information asymmetry is an impediment to maximum economic efficiency, and our personal networks help to distribute information and reduce that asymmetry as a result. This is the reason why the extent and quality of your personal network influences the resources you can obtain.

To make a long story short (these kinds of debates can get über-long), basically with the Social Network Effect at universities you get more people forging more numerous and economically higher-quality connections with more other people, producing a greater quantity and quality of economic interaction — better matches between employers and employees, producers and consumers, new business ventures, and so on.

The Foundational Knowledge Effect:
I couldn’t come up with a cool-sounding name for this one :beatup:

One of my minors at N.C. State was in economics, and to get there we had to read a lot of different books / essays / writings / etc. Out of everything economics-related that I’ve read, economist William Easterly’s The Elusive Quest for Growth ranks among my Top 2 favorites.6

A former economist with the World Bank, Easterly’s book discusses the various “panaceas” touted by the developed world for trying to improve third-world countries (things like debt forgiveness, building schools, and the like) and why most of them simply don’t work. While the book overall is excellent, what particularly jumped out to me in reading it was Easterly’s thorough exploration of the role of knowledge in the economy.

In a nutshell: knowledge is cumulative and builds off of itself.

This is why, if you look at the economic growth rates of various countries over the last century, countries tend to hit a certain point where their per capita GDP accelerates exponentially rather than just linearly — the “core” level of knowledge among the populace hits a threshold point where it can then take greater advantage of new advances and discoveries, accelerating growth further and leading to even more such discoveries.

As an example, you couldn’t simply teleport back to California in 1900, give someone the laptop you brought with you, and expect Silicon Valley to spring up decades ahead of time when the country hasn’t seen a radio or TV yet. Easterly discusses this reality in the context of African tribes cut off from the outside world, suddenly immersed in modern tech innovations when approached by missionaries: they pick up on it eventually, it just takes a long time when that foundational knowledge doesn’t exist.

Just like universities are great voluntary creches for nurturing social networks, so too are they among the most-effective means for building “core” knowledge in the populace. The widespread ubiquity of technology, access to the latest research, the exposure to knowledge that comes from building a social network in itself — all of this contributes to everyone’s foundation of knowledge, enabling a higher degree of economic growth at a faster pace than we’d have otherwise simply from mere exposure to it (and even more if it’s retained).

***

I have to cut this entry here because WordPress says I’ve already hit 1,300 words, but my main point is this: the Social Network Effect and the Foundational Knowledge Effect, taken together, lead to a situation where the economic loss that comes from taxing away private money and diverting it to a public purpose is recouped and then outweighed by the economic gain from reducing information asymmetry and increasing the scope and speed of innovation in the marketplace.

In other words, just looking at the economics alone and ignoring any other incidental benefits, funding the University of North Carolina is a net benefit for the State and its taxpayers.

The conservatives in the North Carolina General Assembly should take notice and give embodiment to the words written in Article IX, Section 9 of the State’s Constitution: “The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.”

And I might be going out on a limb here, but I’d guess cutting 15% of the University’s budget and prompting 4-figure tuition increases don’t really mesh with that.7 ;)

Have a good night y’all! :D

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From the law:/dev/null Unsolicited Commentary archives:

  1. A mere 2.5% of our 467 entries. Even less when you consider 5 of the 12 Unsolicited Commentary posts are exclusively law school-related, and another 2 of 12 are predominantly law-oriented. []
  2. Hat tip to Ray William Johnson for the phrase :) []
  3. A hair’s breadth under $2,000,000.00 at NCCU Law completely gone. :crack: []
  4. I concede at the outset I haven’t gone searching for empirical studies to back up my arguments here; I’m sure they exist and I could found them if I felt like spending the time to do so, but I don’t need empirical confirmation to know when something basic makes sense ;) []
  5. Or, for the younger generation of folks reading this entry: the more people who join Facebook, the more each individual Facebook user benefits :P []
  6. The other, read during the time I had dropped out of school, is Henry H. Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson — hands down the greatest economics tome I’ve ever read, and one I strongly encourage everyone to read from cover-to-cover regardless of your political philosophy :D []
  7. That’s not to say I think all tuition increases are per se bad. I firmly believe students should be expected to fund a portion of their education (and even take out loans :eek: ) so they have some “skin in the game” as it were, and universities should have flexibility to deal with inflation and other cost issues. But I’ve also advocated for years that any tuition increases need to be predictable and capped. Better to have a 6.5% increase every year like clockwork than no increase one year and a 40%+ increase out of the blue the year after. []

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“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 31, 2011 in The 3L Life

Ugh.

Happy Halloween folks. I decided to dress up as an overextended 3L for the holiday.1 :beatup:

Just kidding — I stuck with my Guy Fawkes mask, but had to forgo the cape this year due to academic obligations; here’s a pic :D

I prefer the cape to the suit, but law school calls...

In all seriousness, I’m drowning in assignments and apologize for not blogging more often. I’ve taken a week’s worth of draft entries and stripped them down to another one of my really-need-to-be-trademarked bulleted lists so the folks who want to know what I’m up to (or an excuse to take a break from work) have something to read ;)

  • On the technical side of law:/dev/null, we’ve added in a new widget that lets users subscribe to the comments of any particular post. Now if you write a comment you can be notified by email if someone replies so you don’t have to go digging through old entries to check.2
  • I’ve also received some suggestions/requests to improve the pagination on old entries. It’s been added to the to-do list, but the CSS for that one will take more effort so it won’t be getting done any time soon (don’t expect the subscription widget to look pretty either :P )
  • At no point since I started writing this blawg two-and-a-quarter years ago have I ever even contemplated saying “f*ck it, I quit”… but today the thought crossed my mind for a couple femtoseconds. The class schedule I arranged was mind-bogglingly stupid in retrospect; my day is spent reading for classes, and my off-days are spent… reading for classes. Taking a quartet of paper-oriented courses (with their attendant components and drafts and etc all due at overlapping times) was equally ill-conceived in light of the reading volume. I’ve missed enough deadlines at this point that it’s almost impossible to keep my GPA above 3.0. Insanely frustrating.
  • Case in point: in Employment Discrimination we were given a fact pattern from which we were to craft a complaint and a client letter. I knew MDG’s late policy only allowed items up to 2 hours late, and I also knew there was -0- chance I was going to be able to comply with the policy. Sure enough I got an F… but only after MDG noted that I otherwise would have had a perfect score3 :mad:
  • There’s also no real outlet for me just to vent, because I inevitably get advice that I’ve either already done (dramatically scaling back SBA involvement), advice I’m simply not willing to entertain (dropping Samson, close friends, or courses), or advice that does nothing at all to actually solve the problem (limiting involvement in trial team… which doesn’t start until January). PSA: If you have a classmate who looks stressed out and needs to b*tch, just let them carry on for a bit. After ranting and raving for a bit we’re usually in much better mental shape. :)
  • Speaking of people with mental issues, last Tuesday a friend of mine posted pictures from NC State‘s GLBTA Center — where someone had spray-painted “Fags burn” and “DIe” [sic] across the door. This type of stuff is (thankfully) a relatively rare occurrence at NCSU, but I have to confess a certain degree of amazement that (1) anyone would feel so morally secure to declare divine judgment upon people they don’t like, and (2) they think destroying property and attempting to intimidate others is an acceptable form of self-expression. Reprehensible, disappointing, and wrong.
  • It’s a historical anomaly that the attack was discovered five years to the day after myself and a pair of other Senators pushed a (successfully adopted) resolution calling for the GLBT Center’s creation through the Student Senate. I remember the floor debate back then focusing on whether or not something like this was needed, or worth students’ fee money. I’d argue the Center being targeted in the manner it was speaks to the majority’s wisdom back then.
  • On a happier note, NCCU Law‘s first-ever “Speed Networking” event was held last Wednesday and was a HUGE success! :spin:  The brainchild of EIC based on an idea she got from the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto back in August, basically SBA / Career Services / Alumni Relations teamed up to bring in 45+ alums for a rapid-fire series of one-on-one meetings with 2Ls and 3Ls.  It was the first time we’ve done anything like it at NCCU and it was awesome. :D
  • Also on the extracurricular front, last week I submitted a brief to our Moot Court Board for their Fall tryouts :beatup:  After ignoring the appellate stuff for the past 2 years to focus on trial advocacy, I decided to at least give it a try just to see if I’ve got the technical competence for it. Oral arguments will be this Wednesday if anyone wants to come learn about the Eleventh Amendment.
  • Recognizing the huge hole I’ve dug myself academically, I spent my entire weekend trying to catch up on Sales & Secured Transactions. Prof Sales gave us old copies of the 2009 and 2010 exams without the answers; we’ve got until tonight to send in our guesses for feedback. Realistically I won’t be anywhere near done by deadline (which, like MDG, is a bright line cutoff) but at least I don’t feel totally lost anymore.
  • I also penned a letter to the alumni asking them to give back to the law school :)  With the North Carolina General Assembly gutting the University-system budget, and the law school losing $2M in the process ($1 of every $7), we need private support now more than at any time since when the law school was still legally segregated. I’ve announced what’s tentatively being dubbed “The SBA Challenge” where we’ll raise $1 for every alum who contributes. Fingers are crossed for a big response.
  • Oh and did I mention I registered for class for the very last time evah? :D More on that later this week.

There’s been a lot more going on but I’ve gotta snip it here so I can get back to work. Have a great night y’all! :)

  1. Only because Mariel‘s idea of dressing up as a milk carton (“I am the 1%!”) was too much work… :beatup: []
  2. Don’t get me wrong, I love the added traffic — but I’d rather you actually enjoy the time you spend here ;) []
  3. I just realized I still haven’t posted my 2L grades, but basically the same thing happened to me in Scientific Evidence last Spring… []

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15

It’s October already?? O_o

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 10, 2011 in The 3L Life

Remember when I wrote that I enjoyed being in over my head?

I’ve changed my mind :beatup:

It’s safe to say the semester is going by entirely too d*mn fast when we were more than week into the month before I finally realized it was October.1 Midterms are this week for the 1Ls and 2Ls, and a string of papers are due for me. I’m ready for this month to be over and we just fast-forward to Thanksgiving so I can breathe for a few days…

  • The big news story from the past couple weeks has been the death of Steve Jobs last Wednesday from pancreatic cancer :( The good folks over at MacRumors have this comprehensive entry of news and reflections. I found out via a Drudge Report app alert (on my long-sought iPhone) in the middle of a reception I was attending, followed by a flurry of text messages from QuietStorm, 雅雅, and several classmates asking how I was dealing with the news.2 Steve’s been my role model for over a decade, and the combination of his own talents and his gathering other talented people around him at Apple has definitely enriched my life (and helped me get assignments done on time). Though a good many of us suspected he didn’t have much longer following his resignation as Apple CEO last month, the news still sucks. My heart goes out to his wife and kids :heart:
  • On a less depressing note, Wednesday was a whirlwind day in general — starting with me dropping off Samson for his last round of heartworm shots! :D He had to stay overnight at the Durham APS for two separate injections, but after another few weeks of activity restrictions he should be heartworm free and able to resume life as an active dog! :spin:
  • After dropping off Samson and heading to class, I then drove down to my alma mater for a videotaped interview with staff from N.C. State Libraries. A couple years ago they created a page in their “Historical State” archive chronicling former Student Body Presidents… and at some point expanded it to this Student Leaders page where they’re including folks like me too :surprised:  So they had about two-dozen questions on stuff that happened in Student Government when I was around back in 2006-2009, covering stuff like my role as a Senator when I wrote or sponsored 49 different pieces of legislation, the extensive drama surrounding the Spring 2007 SSP election,3 my first term as Senate President when I had a less-than-cooperative relationship with the Executive Branch, and so on. Makes me glad I did a decent job as SSP, otherwise my incompetence would be enshrined for all eternity :beatup:
  • Right after the NCSU interview I went out west to a reception for incoming UNC-system President Tom Ross, held at the Joint School of Nanoscience & Nanoengineering shared by UNC Greensboro and NC A&T State. I’d been to receptions before back when I was UNCASG President; I expected a sit-down dinner thing where you make small talk with 6-7 other education-oriented folks seated at your table, eat, and exchange pleasantries before departing. This was apparently more of a “make friends and influence people”-type thing, because the place was swarming with politicos, judges, fundraisers, and other people famous by NC standards, with no fewer than 4 different “liquor stations” where attendees could imbibe a variety of beverages.4 In general I’m not a particularly huge fan of these types of big, unstructured social events — see, e.g., my abject terror/awkwardness during the “mixer” at 1L Orientation two years ago — but I appreciated the opportunity to catch up with some folks I hadn’t seen since my term on the Board ended :D
  • Plus I got to meet Governor Easley!5 I saw him while talking to someone about the state budget and the budget cuts going on across the UNC system, and finally worked up the nerve to say hello. I tell him I’m a 3L at NCCU Law and the current SBA President… and he starts motioning other people over to come meet me instead :crack:  It easily ranks among the most surreal experiences of my life
  • My lapel pin collection, now with pins from all 17 UNC institutions! (the top 3 rows)

    …and when the event was winding down, on the shuttle back to the parking lot I had the serendipitous opportunity to meet Dr. J. Todd Roberts, the new Chancellor of the N.C. School of Science & Mathematics (North Carolina’s residential high school for high-achieving students). :D I noticed the NCSSM lapel pin on his jacket when his wife asked if  I had enjoyed the event. I replied that I had, then asked if he was “the new guy” running NCSSM.6 We exchanged introductions, and I somewhat-imperiously asked if they sold NCSSM lapel pins anywhere; it was the only institution still missing from my collection, where I had gathered lapel pins from all 16 other UNC institutions. He told me they didn’t, and he really needed his for President Ross’s inauguration the following day… but he offered it to me anyway! I basically pledged my undying loyalty to NCSSM right there on the shuttle, and sent the school a $50 donation when I got back to Durham — right after filling the one remaining gap in my collection :spin:

  • I wish I could say academics were going quite as well :( I’m currently sitting on a legitimate, bona fide “F” in Tax right now. Right alongside another “F” in Appellate Advocacy I. Fortunately both courses still have 80%+ of the grade still remaining to be earned, but the current standings highlight that I’m in deep sh*t academically. I’ve been trying to pare back my extracurricular activities to focus more on the papers and other miscellaneous stuff we have to do. It’s a deep hole to climb out, and will be taking me awhile to get there…7
  • To highlight how bad things are going, I was walking through the law clinic earlier today when Prof Tax herself called my name — in that “Go straight to the Principal’s Office young man” tone of voice that I think all teachers, from K-12 to college, have innately mastered — to make known she wasn’t happy with my sub-standard performance in her class. I pleaded my case but at the end of the day I’ve just been doing too much non-academic stuff. I promised I’d be in class on time tomorrow and work to catch up.
  • (On a somewhat-related note, I really dislike paper-based classes :mad: My colleagues gravitate toward them because it’s easier to get an A on a paper you can pour hours of time into — but I just can’t seem to find the time. I miss going through a couple weeks of hell studying for exams, having a test, and being done. Having four different classes with various papers due at various points over the semester currently qualifies as the most grating experience of my law school career…)
  • Even so, I’m still trying to write a brief to apply for our Moot Court Board8 :beatup:

There’s more stuff to write about, but I think I’ll cap it for this particular entry because I really need to get back to reading for class.

I hope all of you had a great Monday, and have a great week! (and a great October! ;) )

  1. And the only reason I noticed was because the 1Ls were panicking about midterms. []
  2. And yes, I’ll confess I cried a little when I got home :beatup: []
  3. For more details see Technician’s SSP Timeline 1 and SSP Timeline 2, along with the FIRE Act. []
  4. I stuck with the lemonade since I was driving :) []
  5. And yes, I was/am still excited even if he was/is our first governor to plead to a felony — he’s still a graduate of NCCU Law, the namesake for our 2L Opening Statement competition, and was both a superlative District Attorney and the twice-elected Governor of the 10th most-populous state in the nation. Bill Clinton was the first President impeached since Nixon, but I’d still be honored to shake the guy’s hand :P []
  6. When I was UNCASG President I had worked with NCSSM’s former Chancellor Gerald Boarman, who left to work in Maryland soon after my term ended. []
  7. Note to 1Ls/2Ls: DON’T REPEAT MY MISTAKES. #kkthxu []
  8. Just trying to see if I’m competent enough to do appellate work, that’s all! :angel: []

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6

Overwhelmed… but I like it (really!)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 23, 2011 in The 3L Life

So the whole “look for a whole bunch of posts around mid-week” thing didn’t quite pan out as planned (surprise! :beatup: )

To be totally candid with y’all, I’ve waaaaaayyy overextended myself this semester — even moreso than my senior year at N.C. State1 — and trying to convert my thoughts into words (and proofread them) just takes a big chunk of time that I haven’t been able to set aside like I hoped.

That’s not a complaint; I actually like the insane pace and crushing workload because it prevents me getting bored. I just wanted to make sure you don’t feel like I’ve abandoned you ;)

There’s been a lot going on over the past couple weeks that I can’t really elaborate on at length, so here’s a bulleted list with some quick thoughts:

  • The class schedule I created is unquestionably the single dumbest decision I’ve made in a very, very long time :beatup:  Stacking up nearly all my classes on T/H means I get almost nothing done on those days, then I also fall for the illusory appearance of an empty M/W/F by scheduling meetings and other events when I should be reading for class instead. And there is -0- redeeming value to having Sales at 6pm-7:15pm beyond Prof Sales being highly recommended by the students who came before me.
  • I was reminded by a friend from undergrad that I actually tried a similar T/H-stacked schedule setup my freshman year at N.C. State, with disastrous results…
  • Class performance is all over the map. I’m more-or-less on track in AppAd and ConLaw II, on track but confused in Tax, behind but not confused in Employment Discrimination, not sure where I’m at in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, and completely and totally lost in Sales & Secured Transactions. We don’t get Fall Break this year so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to turn everything around, but I’m hoping now that we’re through appropriations season in SBA I’ll be able to catch up.
  • I feel particularly sheepish about Sales, because Prof Sales has stopped me on at least 3 separate occasions and warned me not to let my extracurricular activities interfere with my academic work… and that’s exactly what’s happened despite my assurances to him that it wouldn’t :oops:
  • Speaking of SBA appropriations, we went from 2pm-midnight last Friday — 5 hours for presentations, 5 for deliberations — and barely finished voting on 9 of 21 groups. Then spent another 7 hours last Sunday before getting through the rest. I’m not sure what other changes SBAs can make to expedite this in the future, but one thing that needs to be done is mirroring NCSU where group presentations happen in the week before the vote instead of a marathon Friday+Sunday session. This year’s challenge was a -40% cut in the funds available for appropriations, from $115,039.83 down to $68,976.22, and unfortunately SBA isn’t likely to get that money back any time soon.
  • On a related note just to vent a bit, just one time I’d really like to preside over a group that has its budget go up while I’m in office. The Student Senate’s first funding increase in a decade kicked in the year after my graduation, my tenure as UNCASG President coincided with the economic meltdown and an ensuing freeze on spending by state agencies, last year as Treasurer we discovered SBA was missing nearly $17K compared to what our predecessors said we had (just before main campus gutted the budget further in January), and my back-of-a-napkin estimate this past weekend suggests I’m currently presiding over the lowest amount of funding the SBA has had since George H.W. Bush was President… and most of our students were too young for elementary school :crack:
  • ♫ One of these things is not like the others... ♫

    While we’re talking about SBA, apparently I’m the oddball of the group :surprised:  As some background, I’m a huge fan of personality assessments to help people learn more about themselves and offer clues on how they can better interact with their colleagues; self-awareness is one of the most-versatile weapons a person will ever have in their arsenal as they go through life. So I took some personal time and went through a trio of them myself2 then asked the SBA to try one we were given during my senior design project in undergrad. I’ve posted the results on the top of the picture at the right (the bottom part contains my 5 “Themes” from StrengthsQuest).  I can’t help but feel like I’m on Sesame Street

  • Oddball status notwithstanding, we make a good team. The dynamic is vastly different from last year but generally we all play to each other’s strengths. Earlier this week I was actually called “the Lil’ Jon of SBA” in light of my hype-man role… which actually suits me just fine ;)
  • Did I mention that last Friday was the first day of near-winter weather we’ve had this season?  And, in true North Carolina fashion, rather than give us any semblance of Fall the temperature simply dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight :mad:
  • And I hate Fall and Winter btw…
  • On the other hand, I absolutely adore my dog! :D  He’s still incredibly well-behaved, hasn’t soiled the apartment at all, deals with me being in class from 8:30am to 7:15pm three nights a week, and is generally just all around awesome. He has his dog quirks — scent hounds don’t particularly care if the temperature’s dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight — but I’ll happily deal with it in exchange for having a happy and loving dog greet me every time I walk into the apartment :spin:
  • Switching gears over to the “real world” for a bit, way back in the halcyon days of 2004 I got myself fired from the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office after writing and signing this letter that got published in the Raleigh News & Observer (on the first day of the NCGOP’s state convention to boot). So imagine my (non-)surprise when the now-Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly approved a referendum seeking to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, an utterly bizarre proposal that was generating unintended consequences before it was even adopted. Even though I’ve mentioned my own reservations about gay marriage, there’s simply nothing conservative at all about this Amendment One business and the government effectively decreeing to churches what will and will not constitute a valid marriage between consenting adults. It’s particularly galling given its timing alongside the repeal of DADT: the self-proclaimed “most military-friendly state in America” is essentially saying it’s perfectly acceptable for homosexuals to die abroad defending our freedoms, just make sure you don’t bother coming back and trying to claim the same government-bestowed privileges conferred upon the other folks who are married… :crack:
  • The most-irksome aspect of Amendment One, from this ConLaw-loving law student’s standpoint, is the timing of the vote: you’re essentially taking a duly ratified constitution adopted by an overwhelming majority of voters in a general election, and which includes among its provisions guarantees of religious freedom3 and equal protection,4 and seeking to have those clauses invalidated through an amendment in a primary election when the politicians know turnout is always less. Never in the history of this country has a primary for a presidential election year had higher turnout than the ensuing general election. The politicians not only knew that when debating when to schedule Amendment One, they intentionally planned it that way. Absolutely outrageous. This facet alone has prompted me to join NCCU Law‘s chapter of OutLaw and start encouraging friends and colleagues to vote “NO” next May.
  • On the Student Government side of things, UNCASG has returned to its habit of epic fail-ness less than 2 years after my term as President ended. It’s not really my place to opine on that failure since I’ve already had my time in the spotlight and put my successors in as good a position as any successors have ever been in the group’s 39-year history. But if any of the delegates still happen to read law:/dev/null I’ll tell you this: screwing around with the organization’s structure isn’t going to fix anything if you don’t have the cajones to hold the leadership accountable. The N.C. State Technician was kind enough to publish a forum letter I wrote to them on the point. I just hope someone actually listens.
  • We’ll see if the Technician’s counterparts at the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel follow suit, as their oft-ridiculed Editorial Board continued its habit of plucking fabricated figures from the ether to attack UNCASG. One of their latest editorials inexplicably claims UNCASG spent $50,000 for our NC in DC advocacy trip back in 2009, even though the actual figure was an order-of-magnitude less: $4,750, spent for a bus so that the four-dozen participants (who paid 100% of the remaining costs out-of-pocket) didn’t have to take a dozen or more cars and the attendant gas and parking reimbursements that would have had to go with them. I truly have no earthly clue how the DTH Edit Board picked this random total when I sent them a spreadsheet at the end of FY09 listing out every single expense UNCASG made, down to the penny. It’s one thing to embrace nixing UNCASG’s ability to advocate federally during an election year — something I’d wholeheartedly embrace on pragmatic grounds alone — but simply inventing whatever data you want to support your arguments reeks of journalistic impropriety.
  • Over in the blawgosphere, I’ve gone through our entire blogroll surveying the law school blog landscape and it’s not pretty: more than two-dozen blawgs shut down permanently or otherwise moved to triple-tilde status (see my Blawgpocalypse 1.0 entry on how I handle categorizing blawgs), roughly a dozen more moved to double-tilde status, and only a collective handful of new and/or newly updated blawgs to replace them. Of the 183 blawgs on the law:/dev/null blogroll, 72 are defunct — that’s ~39%, compared to ~15% at this point just under a year ago.
  • But on the bright side, law:/dev/null finally hit the 1,000,000-pageview milestone way back on September 6th :D  I know it’s a small thing, and it’s a testament to how crazy life has been that I haven’t even been able to put together a Site Stats entry to analyze it yet, but in light of blawgs wilting like roses in a heat wave I’m incredibly privileged to still have y’all dropping in to see what’s going on in my law school life :) Thank you! :*

If you couldn’t tell from the length of this list, there’s been a lot of stuff I’ve wanted to write about! But I’m gonna wrap it up here so I’ve hopefully got some spare thoughts to pen in the near-term future ;)

Have a great night and an amazing weekend y’all! :D

  1. When I was President of the UNCASG, President of the NCSU Student Senate, policy analyst for a state legislator, and graduating senior in Computer Science… all at the same time :crack: []
  2. My Myers-Briggs/Keirsey test has me back to ENFP (“The Champion”), the first time I’ve turned out the same as something I’ve gotten before. []
  3. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 13: “All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” (emphases added) []
  4. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 19: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws[.]” (emphasis added) []

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Steve Jobs, Apple iCEO-for-life, steps down ::sadface::

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 24, 2011 in Technology

Wow.

Just… wow.

From Apple’s Press Info page:

August 24, 2011

Letter from Steve Jobs

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

I’ve got an entry on first impressions of 3L Fall prepped and ready to deploy, but this hits like a brick to the chest :(

I know Steve’s “just a CEO,” Apple’s “just a company,” Steve’s health has been getting progressively worse since at least 2004, etc etc etc. And yes, there’s an ever-so-tiny part of me that feels silly for being upset.

But I feel like I’m indebted to the guy.  It was the Apple Campus Representative program he created nearly two decades ago — long before MacOS X existed, before the first Apple Store was erected, before anyone even envisioned an iPhone or an iPad or buying music and apps on an otherwise-hardware-only store in the cloud — that gave me my first opportunity to do something really, really cool.

If you’re a long-time law:/dev/null reader, you already know the story about how that happened: me coming to college dirt poor and sans computer, flipping through the classifieds in N.C. State‘s student newspaper The Technician seeing if I could find someone selling their PC… on what turned out to be the only day Apple had paid for an ad seeking a campus rep.

Twelve years later, I still have no clue why they hired me :beatup:

But it was like being one of those kids finding a Golden Ticket in the old Willy Wonka movie.1

Suddenly I was immersed in the latest technology: a grape-colored Rev. D iMac, MacOS 8.5.1, programs like SoundJam MP,2 the list goes on. I was meeting administrators and other tech purchasers all over the N.C. State campus, learning the ins and outs of how the bureaucracy worked — invaluable information when I got back into the Student Senate nearly a decade later. Having my own @apple.com email address alone was adequate payment for the work I was doing each week.

But then Apple also added in training trips to California each summer. Every campus rep from across the country flown into San Jose, brought to “the Mothership” at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, and instilled with knowledge on all the latest Apple stuff.

At the risk of forever being labeled a nerd’s nerd, one of the Top 5 most-awesome experiences of my life came during one of those summers when, in a less-than-3-hours span, I met Jonathan Ive showing off a G4 Cube in Apple’s cafeteria, had a 15-minute technical conversation with Avie Tevanian about his Mach kernel, and as I was walking with the Campus Rep group back to our room I made a comment along the lines of “This is like a trip to Mecca” or something to that effect — which apparently was the first time Avie had heard anyone say anything like that, because he then took me to Phil Schiller‘s office to repeat it.3 :surprised:

I got to meet Phil, got to hold one of the first ten Newtons ever produced that he kept on a bookshelf in his office… and completely missed the next session of my training as my Apple Rep colleagues wondered why I came back with a ridiculously goofy ear-to-ear smile across my face :D

No, I’ve never actually met Steve himself. A couple years before I left for college, I remember reading in the business section of the paper in Nan’s kitchen that he had come back to Apple. I remember commenting as I read about how awesome that news was, how Steve was going to save Apple from its death spiral, and that maybe I’d be able to get an Apple for college  now. And I remember Nan looking back at me, laughing at the 15-year-old naiveté embedded in my comment, and just responding “OK.”4

But two years later there I was, Apple-toting tech guru, and — another iMac, an eMac, a Mac mini, a MacBook Pro, an iPod nano, and an iPhone later5 — I’ve never looked back :spin:

Steve Jobs was the driving force behind that Campus Rep program, behind the operating system I love to use, behind the iPhone I’ve got holstered to my hip on a daily basis, the list goes on and on and on (and on). He’s one of the greatest visionaries the technology industry has had, and even with his well-documented “mercurial” temper and other inevitable human flaws he’s still the closest thing to a role model I’ve aspired to since I was a teenager.

So even though the odds of Steve ever reading this law school-related blawg fall somewhere in between infinitesimal and nil, I wanted to post this entry and particularly one closing remark in response to his letter:

To Steve: Thank you. -TDot.

—===—

From the law:/dev/null Apple-related archives:

  1. The non-creepy, non-Johnny Depp version. []
  2. That Apple would later acquire and convert into iTunes. []
  3. I was terrified when I was told to come with him to Schiller’s office — I thought my comment had been construed as a non-politically correct remark unfit for a campus rep, and that I was about to get fired on the spot :beatup: []
  4. It’s actually more like a “OhhhhhhK.” It’s the grandmotherly equivalent of saying “That’s probably never ever ever going to happen, but since technically anything is possible I’ll let you keep thinking it just in case.” []
  5. Not to mention a wide collection of Pixar movies ;) []

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Where are the HBCU advocates?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 5, 2011 in The 3L Life

Today was Day 2 of the ABA’s 2011 Annual Meeting in Toronto Canada, and in the ABA Law Student Division that meant an opportunity to hear from candidates for a handful of LSD offices about their plans for the future and their responses to questions from us.1

One of the things I teach organizations as part of my T.I.D.E.S. leadership development presentations is that questions are usually the most potent weapon in any leader’s arsenal. So I came prepared with a pair of my own: (1) asking what, specifically, these folks will do to address the embarrassingly low volume of students seeking ABA leadership positions;2 and (2) with the ABA again considering an increase in the minimum bar-passage rates required for reaccreditation of law schools, how would they ensure those reforms don’t disproportionately harm the country’s 6 HBCU-based institutions?3

A couple things stuck out to me in asking that second question: apparently I was the only one interested in bringing it up,4 and almost no one knew anything at all about it.  :surprised:

If you’re not familiar with what the ABA is considering, take a look at this story on Law.com. Here’s a snippet:

ABA Faces Diversity Dilemma With Proposed Change to Law School Standards
The ABA is trying to reconcile the legal profession’s need for greater diversity with its desire to push law schools to better prepare students to pass the bar. For the second time in four years, it is considering raising the minimum bar-passage-rate requirement for law school accreditation.

By Karen Sloan (07-22-2011)

Nearly 70 percent of the entering class at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law was black in 1998. A decade later, that figure hovered at around 30 percent — the lowest percentage among the country’s six historically black law schools.

The catalyst for that shift was a 1999 letter from the American Bar Association urging the school to examine its admissions standards and low first-time bar-passage rates. The school responded by accepting students with higher credentials, but the percentage of black students began to decline as the average Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores rose.

That experience highlights the dilemma now confronting the ABA. The organization is trying to reconcile the legal profession’s need for greater diversity with its desire to push law schools to better prepare students to pass the bar. For the second time in four years, it is considering raising the minimum bar-passage-rate requirement as part of a comprehensive review of law school accreditation standards.

Definitely take some time to read the full article, there’s a lot more in there.

Three initial points I want to make on this:

  • I totally agree with some form of a “bright line” cutoff with bar passage rates and accreditation. While many of those advocating for the cutoff seem to hope it will lead to fewer accredited law schools and (theoretically) fewer new attorneys as a result,5 I’m of the more-economics-oriented belief that the simple existence of the cutoff will incentivize law schools to better serve their students. People respond to incentives, it’s as simple as that.
  • I also agree with The Chief’s quote in that article about other schools having a harder time complying with a heightened cutoff before HBCUs. NCCU Law in particular has enjoyed passage rates well above the state average for most of the past decade, even while joining FAMU Law and SULC in taking in the broadest array of students in the nation. The schools facing the biggest challenge will be those whose business model is based on being a diploma-mill, bringing in thousands of students a year just to get as much federal student aid $$$ as possible.6
  • But, while it’s true other non-HBCU law schools will have a steeper hill to climb, HBCUs will still face an acute challenge because of the timing of this proposal. It comes at a time that could be considered a “perfect” storm” for them: industry complaints of all law schools churning out too many incompetent students with JDs, prompting industry-wide reforms, while the economy has basically imploded with no hope of an immediate recovery. The publicly-funded HBCUs are facing substantial budget cuts7 and an inability to raise tuition at whim, while both public and private HBCUs face a steep drop in the alumni and corporate donations that enable institutions to improve things like their academic support services. Couple that with fewer paying jobs available for their students to raise $$ for bar prep courses while in school — prep courses apparently being the primary method for learning bar material at high-performing law schools — and you’ve got all the ingredients for a cow pie of a proposal.

I’ve gotta head to bed so I can get up for an SBA “Roundtable and Idea-Raiser” in the morning, but wanted to put that issue on the radar for my HBCU-attending colleagues who didn’t know what was coming down the pike.

Have a great night y’all! :D

—===—

From the law:/dev/null ABA Annual Meeting-related archives:

  1. I also took an opportunity to check out a “Hot Topics in Internet Law” CLE class with Ian Ballon and some other panelists, which was amazing and reminded me of my Privacy Technology, Policy & Law class in my last semester at N.C. State. I also got to meet two folks I’ve been talking with on Twitter: Monica Goyal of My Legal Briefcase, and Vanderbilt Law student Amy Sanders (who I serendipitously sat in front of without even realizing it) :D []
  2. Several of the ABA LSD Circuit Governors were either unopposed or chosen after floor nominations because no one filed for office. And the first candidate who responded to my question gave such a non-specific, mealy-mouthed response I couldn’t help but think of offering this in response. :roll: []
  3. For those who haven’t seen the acronym, “HBCU” stands for “Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” The overwhelming bulk of these long-lived institutions are in the Southeast, created as the only means for black students to receive a legal education during the de jure segregation era. See footnote 5 in this entry for some federal case law relating to the UNC system. []
  4. If you think a middle-aged white Republican being SBA President of a HBCU law school is odd enough, imagine that same middle-aged white Republican being the only person to proactively bring up an issue that could affect it and others — despite representatives of other HBCU law schools being in the same room :beatup: []
  5. Not to disparage any of these undoubtedly-kind folks, but I consider that analysis not only too self-interested to be a valid decision-making criterion, but also utterly Pollyanna-ish in assuming the remaining schools wouldn’t simply expand their own enrollments. []
  6. Here’s looking at you, Cooley Law. ;) []
  7. 14% at NCCU for the upcoming 2011-12 academic year, basically meaning $1 of every $7 has now disappeared. :crack: []

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Getting caught up

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 12, 2011 in The 2L Life

Hey everybody! :D

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here at law:/dev/null, largely due to spending Spring Break this past week trying to get caught up on life post-trial team season. I’m still not there yet, but I figured if I waited to post until I was caught up on classwork I wouldn’t have any readers left :beatup:

So what’s been going on over the past week and a half here in Legal Eagle territory? Here’s a bulleted rundown:

  • Wednesday (03/02/11): Finally had my nuked Gmail restored… in its entirety :surprised:  I have to admit I was both surprised and impressed, and I’ll concede I was wrong in my entry predicting the worst. After making sure all of my mail was restored / downloaded / backed up / etc, I stayed up until 2am-ish to make sure I was fully packed and my trial team binder was ready for the AAJ competition I was brought in on.
  • Thursday (03/03/11): Skipped classes to head to the airport, then flew down to Atlanta GA for the AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition regionals. The first round wasn’t until Friday night, so I spent the day with the team checking out the city.  We had lunch at the Underground‘s Georgia Peach Restaurant & Lounge — some of the best barbecue I’ve had outside of North Carolina, and their peach-blended tea was delicious too.1 :)
  • Friday (03/04/11): The 2L team’s first round in the AAJ STAC was against the 3Ls from WFU Law. There were some initial jitters when we found out I had already met the presiding judge — the coach of the GSU Law team Christie and I dismantled at the TYLA NTC — but since we didn’t really know how to go about asking for a recusal (and didn’t even know if doing so would even be appropriate given AAJ’s chronic shortage of judges) we just went ahead and did our thing. EIC and M&M were counsel for the defense on that case and turned in a top-notch performance. It provided a big confidence boost to Tinkerbell2 and I heading into the Saturday rounds.
  • Saturday (03/05/11): And with that confidence in-hand, we torched the next two teams we faced on Saturday :D Tinkerbell and I were counsel for the Plaintiff for both rounds, and we first went up against 2Ls from I’m-not-entirely-sure-where.3 The results could be summed up like this: Tinkerbell was so devastating on cross-examination, their lead counsel blurted “DAMN!” in exasperation when yet another one of his objections was (properly) overruled :spin: I also got to deliver my first “split” closing, which went over well with the jury both in its execution and content.

    NCCU Law's 2L and 3L AAJ Trial Teams :D

    We followed that beatdown with a match against the 2Ls from WFU Law, in what was hands-down the toughest match we had. Their cross-examination was sharp, and it seemed like every evidentiary ruling made by the judge was going in their direction whether it was warranted or not. Tinkerbell finally shook them off their game during her cross-examination of the Defendant, who started fabricating facts under the pressure. I was sufficiently heated at that point4 that I was out for blood when it came time for closing arguments, and proceeded to beat the Defense over the head with their own inconsistencies. It was all very satisfying :angel: Afterwards we headed to a post-competition reception, then went back to the hotel and played spades at its downstairs bar until last call.

  • Sunday (03/06/11): We found out our 2L team came in 7th place overall5 and only the Top 4 would advance to the semis, so Sunday got spent checking out the Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and then packing up to head back to the Bull City. Before leaving the hotel we also ran into MDG… which was vaguely reminiscent of a 1L nightmare I used to have where I tried to hide from my teachers but they always seemed to find me no matter where I went.6 :beatup:
  • Monday & Tuesday (03/07-08/11): Both of these days get lumped together because they were both spent knocking out life necessities — several loads of laundry, apartment cleaning, turning in travel-related paperwork, and so on.
  • Wednesday (03/09/11): Had a business lunch with the Pickle Princess, who I hadn’t seen since the April festivities celebrating the end of my second term as UNCASG President. After catching up on how our respective lives had progressed over the past year, I gave a tour of my alma mater to a quartet of her students who were participating in a FFA competition we were hosting. Turns out one of them even wants to go to law school eventually :surprised: If I ever get sick of the whole “being a lawyer” thing, I think I’d really love being a booster for N.C. State and for NCCU Law :spin:
  • Thursday & Friday (03/10-11/11): These two get lumped together too, since they were basically split between watching the opening games of the ACC tournament and trying to catch up on all the mounds of schoolwork that amassed themselves between focusing on TYLA, focusing on SBA, and focusing on AAJ.

Which brings us to today: catching up on law school work, catching up with law school friends, and catching up on the law school blog :D

God willing I’ll be able to resume my somewhat-normal life now that I’ll have some free hours again, which in turn should (hopefully) mean more work around the blawgosphere — keep your fingers crossed!7

And until then, have a great night y’all! :)

  1. I did, however, nearly choke to death at one point amid drinking said tea. Madame Prosecutor was not pleased. []
  2. Another 1L K-S veteran with me. She’ll probably object to this nickname, but as 1 of the 2 shortest people I know at NCCU Law I thought it was appropriate ;) []
  3. I think they said Mercer Law, but I can’t remember for the life of me :beatup: []
  4. I know it’s a competition, but lying under oath? Really? []
  5. In reviewing the ballots, we swept Saturday but somehow lost the Friday night round. Even given my natural bias toward my own team, I’m still at a loss to explain how any rational judge (let alone 3 of them) could have arrived at that conclusion. When a pair of Emory Law 3Ls kicked our butts at TYLA, I admitted it to you. The people we went against that night in AAJ were far worse, while EIC and M&M easily outperformed Co-Counsel and I ::shrug:: []
  6. He was supposedly in town for a NBA game, not to tell me my 1L CivPro grades were entered wrong and I had actually failed. []
  7. Unless you don’t actually like reading this stuff, in which case you can stop visiting :P []

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F*ck the Cloud

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 27, 2011 in Technology

[Update @ 10:00am on 02/28/11: Still locked out of everything. Now on Day #2 of no Gmail… no Gchat… no Google Docs… no Analytics… no Feedburner… no Calendar… :( ]

Take a look at this photo. It’s a screenshot from the Gmail account that I’ve been using for about 5 years now.

Buzz is there, but my emails aren't. And no ninjas.

Notice anything unusual?

That’s what I saw when I logged in earlier today. First thing I noticed — no ninjas. I’m not a fan of the bland white default, so I switched things over to the Gmail ninja background.

Next thing I noticed: the privacy-invading Google Buzz is turned back on, even though I cut it off the day it came out.

It was at about that point I realized the biggest issue — 100% of my emails before this morning were completely and totally gone. So were my chat logs. So were my settings. :surprised:

After probing around online in a panic, I discovered this thread in the Gmail forums and a cryptic entry in their Apps Status dashboard that they were “investigating”. Along with a reassurance that it only affected 0.08% of Gmail users… which doesn’t reassure me at all since I’m one of the people affected :mad:

Access Denied. To everything...

Then, just to add insult to injury, as of about 20 minutes ago my entire Google Account has been disabled. Meaning I can’t just get to my Gmail — I also can’t get to Google Docs (including my homework), Google Scholar, Gchat, Analytics, Feedburner, Webmaster Tools, and all the other G-stuff I’ve gotten into the habit of using.1

I’ve disliked “cloud computing” ever since it was created. When N.C. State announced plans to migrate from its own mail servers to Gmail, I was skeptical. Likewise during my second term as NCSU’s Senate President, where the (otherwise phenomenal) Student Body President I worked with still reigns as the biggest Google Docs fanboy I’ve ever met.

Maybe it’s my libertarian-leaning political beliefs. Maybe I’m a neo-Luddite. But personally I prefer having all the data coming to my home network where I’m responsible for my own backups and not subject to the failures of someone else.2

Then I got lazy trusting in Google’s reliability and set my cron jobs to download/backup my Gmail on the last day of each month. And of course this all failed today, hours before that cron job was supposed to run :beatup:

The only saving grace is that I didn’t lose all my stuff — I’ve still got a not-quite-a-month-old archive stored locally at home. But my distrust for the cloud has been affirmed, and I will now redouble my neo-Luddite ways in trying to avoid cloud computing as much as possible.

Grrr.

  1. Just out of sheer coincidence, helping Google make $$$ through its advertisements. []
  2. Few things can provide peace of mind quite like a 1TB RAID with hot-swappable drives that can then go to the bank safe deposit box ;) []

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“It’s a Small World After All”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 18, 2011 in The 2L Life

Well that certainly didn’t go as planned  :(

First round of the TYLA regionals ran from 6pm-9pm tonight. I wasn’t prepared last night but thought I was where I needed to be by today. Co-Counsel and I represented NCCU Law, facing off as the Prosecution against a pair of 3Ls from Emory Law on Defense. And there’s just no other way for me to describe it…

…they completely kicked our ass :beatup:

Evidence we expected them to oppose, they let in without objection.  Stuff we just knew was coming in, they managed to get excluded. My normally-10-minute cross-examination of the Defendant was pared down to 5min because of all the evidence that didn’t come in :crack:

The only thing keeping it out of “unmitigated disaster” territory — just in merely “disaster” range — was that my opening statement was on-point and Co-Counsel’s closing was flawless.  But beyond that I was totally thrown off my game and the two of us got beaten like rented mules.

None of that has anything at all to do with the post title of course :)  The main point for tonight’s entry is a reminder of how surprisingly small the world can be sometimes.

After the competition was over, the guys and I went to a small restaurant on the same block as our hotel for some soul food.1 No sooner do I walk in the door of the restaurant than I hear my name being called from a few feet away. I turn to the right and see one of my college roommates from my N.C. State years :surprised:

Now I’ve only been to Charlotte twice in the past year, and the last time I was in the downtown part of the city was over a decade ago with QuietStorm. And yet somehow, out of the 8,760 hours in a given year, on the one weekend I’m downtown, in a city of almost a million people, I ended up being at the same restaurant at the same time as one of my closest college friends.

It’s a small world out there folks! Keep that in mind when you’re interacting with your law school colleagues who you just might bump into in a random restaurant a few years from now — and remember, don’t burn your bridges ;)

  1. A place called Mert’s Restaurant — some of the best western NC barbecue, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cornbread I’ve had :spin: []

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