How to Feel Like an Underachiever

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 27, 2015 in Unsolicited Commentary

QuietStorm and I worked with this guy when we were all in the Student Senate at NC State. And now he’s in the New York Times:

How to Prosecute Abusive Prosecutors


WHEN it comes to poor people arrested for felonies in Scott County, Miss., Judge Marcus D. Gordon doesn’t bother with the Constitution. He refuses to appoint counsel until arrestees have been formally charged by an indictment, which means they must languish in jail without legal representation for as long as a year.

Judge Gordon has robbed countless individuals of their freedom, locking them away from their loved ones and livelihoods for months on end. (I am the lead lawyer in a class-action suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against Scott County and Judge Gordon.) In a recent interview, the judge, who sits on the Mississippi State Circuit Court, was unapologetic about his regime of indefinite detention: “The criminal system is a system of criminals. Sure, their rights are violated.” But, he added, “That’s the hardship of the criminal system.”

There are many words to describe the judge’s blunt disregard of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Callous. Appalling. Cruel. Here’s another possibility: criminal — liable to prosecution and, if found guilty, prison time.

Right on, sir.

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Greetings from Alabama!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 25, 2014 in Randomness

I never got around to doing an update of my first-ever visit to Chicago last summer,1 but I was there (really!), so it finally got shaded in on the map of TDot’s Travels.

While pulling up the map in Photoshop, I also noticed that for several years now Alabama remained the only state in the Southeast I still hadn’t visited.

Alabama is covered! Next: the Ohio River Valley

Alabama is covered! Next: the Ohio River Valley

Well I’ve now driven across it twice this weekend — so it gets shaded too! :D

One of é›…é›…’s friends from optometry school was getting married in New Orleans this weekend, and after just flying to Memphis two weeks ago for her graduation2 I was/am too poor to afford another plane ticket so soon.

So we’re currently driving back from New Orleans after driving down there two days ago, and stopped here in Auburn at a Firehouse Subs for lunch :)

The downside of course is that we’ll have both been stuck in the car for roughly 26 hours over a 72-hour period — the equivalent of three whole workdays :beatup:but it provided a low-cost chance to go back to New Orleans, catch up with one of my closest friends and political allies from undergrad (currently a 2L at Tulane), see the southern edge of Mississippi, and travel through Auburn / Montgomery / Mobile in Alabama :spin:

We’ve gotta get back on the road so that’s it for now, I’m off to resume enjoying this sub and gearing up to drive the next leg of the trip to/through Atlanta. Y’all have a great rest of the Memorial Day weekend!


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

  1. Which included being quizzed by TSA for having a few thumb drives in my briefcase, my first airplane being attacked by its onboard toilet (necessitating a flight change) and then the next being plagued by a malfunctioning battery (necessitating another flight change), a 30-minute conversation with a taxi driver who was almost better versed in the law than I was, and all sorts of other craziness :crack: []
  2. That’s the main reason I started the series on my interviews with the NCSU Libraries — it made posting entries easier while I was away from the Bull City ;) []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 8 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 10, 2014 in Background

Many years ago, back during the days-you-couldn’t-pay-me-to-relive when I was a 1L, I wrote this entry on LRA mentioning how my computer science background helped me with studying law (and also how I hated LRA :mad: ).

That was the main topic in the penultimate snippet from my interview with the NCSU Libraries as part of their Student Leadership Initiative — not just how computer science prepared me for law school, but how my NC State education in general factored in.

Before we get to that though, you get to witness me being stumped by a question because the thing I thought was the highlight of my career in Student Senate was dead by the time I had the interview :beatup:

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a student leader at NC State?

02:11 – Do you think your time at NC State has prepared you so far for law school?

06:07 – Could you talk a little bit about how your time at State has influenced your life more broadly?

Only one more video left, then I’ll get back to law-related stuff :) Good night y’all!


From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 7 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 9, 2014 in Background

Long-time readers of law:/dev/null1 have likely already come across at least one of the several dozen entries I’ve posted over the years on the UNC Association of Student Governments under our UNCASG tag and the Student Government category :beatup:

If my time leading the Student Senate2 was best characterized as a hobby, UNCASG quickly developed into an obsession.

The group had grown so wholly and completely dysfunctional that it was practically begging for unconventional leadership, and I truly felt called to step up and fix it. So I eventually teamed up with the Pickle Princess to burn everything to the ground and start over — with N.C. State as my template.

But first there was the whole issue of running for reelection for the purpose of vanquishing a certain villain

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – So what factors influenced your decision to run for reelection?

07:27 – How did you handle both responsibilities as Student Senate President and ASG President?

Hope all of you have had a great week, and enjoy your weekend! :D


From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  1. **THANK YOU**! :* []
  2. The single most-distinguished student deliberative assembly ever conceived in the State of North Carolina :spin: []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 6 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 8, 2014 in Background

Every good story needs a good villain, and during my tenure as N.C. State‘s Student Senate President that villain was the Student Body President.

It might have been my own fault, informing the then-President-elect1 “I’m not taking any sh*t off the Executive Branch” — on the night we got elected :beatup:

Maybe I never gave him a fair shake because I’d always hated the Office of the Student Body President as an institution.

Or perhaps it really was how I saw it at the time: our two paths diverging over the failed leadership of the statewide UNC Association of Student Governments, and the fissures growing with each misstep from there.

Whatever the reason, the discord was sufficiently epic2 that it became the single longest response to any question I got asked as part of my interview with the Student Leadership Initiative. Take a look:

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – Can you describe how you collaborated with other Student Government branches, particularly your relationship with Student Body President Bobby Mills?

Needless to say I wasn’t a member of the fan club :)

Thanks for watching, have a great night!


From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  1. A recent candidate for the N.C. General Assembly down in Onslow County. []
  2. Including me having him thrown out of Senate chambers, and later chronicling his foibles in a censure resolution that was (intentionally) blocked before it could reach committee — ensuring its text would never be amended :angel: []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 5 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 7, 2014 in Background

So what would you do if you suddenly found yourself elected to public office with a huge mandate… and no platform?

That’s the question-behind-the-question of this next snippet of my interview with the NCSU Libraries Student Leadership Initiative.

Here’s a hint: we did a lot of things for the first time ever, and didn’t give three-tenths of half a damn what the University Administration thought about it :D

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – So following your election to the presidency, did you make an effort to instate Hankins as Student Senate President?

02:23 – So you just mentioned the fee referendum, so we’ll talk about that if you don’t mind. Can you describe the student fee referendum and how your administration implemented it?

08:45 – As Student Senate President, you called for Congressional repeal of a bill that limited financial aid given to students with drug convictions. What inspired you to advocate for that issue?

Hope all of you had a great Wednesday! More tomorrow :)


From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 4 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 6, 2014 in Background

It’s an odd bit of serendipity that today’s video in the NCSU Student Leadership Initiative snippets I’ve been posting happens to coincide with Election Day nationwide.1

When I finally rejoined the N.C. State Student Senate in April 2006, I was the campus equivalent of a snakebitten candidate. My initial spot in the Student Senate was only via appointment; when I ran in my first real election in March 1999, I foolishly filed for Student Senate President (as a 17-year-old) and got walloped. I ran again in March 2000 only to get pulled off the ballot en route to dropping out. Then I tried for a simple Student Senate seat in March 2006, with 4 candidates running for 3 College of Engineering seats…

…and I came in 4th out of 4, losing to a guy who didn’t even campaign :beatup:

So after starting 0-for-3*2 in the election arena, I finally had an uncontested race for a Senate seat going into March 2007 and was looking forward to getting my first notch in the “Win” column.

Then I gave it up.

The rest of the story is too crazy for words,3 so here’s the video:

Questions in this Clip:

0:00:00 – During that time period, the Elections Commission decided to remove Student Senator James Hankins from the Student Senate President ballot. Can you talk about that, and your response to his removal?

Thanks for watching :) I hope all of your respective candidates won on this particular Primary Election Day! :D


From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  • Part 1 of 9: The Backstory (05/03/14)
  • Part 2 of 9: In the Beginning… (05/04/14)
  • Part 3 of 9: Dropping Out (05/05/14)
  • Part 4 of 9: Prelude to Revolution (05/06/14) [this post]
  • Part 5 of 9: Party Time in Witherspoon (05/07/14)
  • Part 6 of 9: “Collaboration” (05/08/14)
  • Part 7 of 9: SSP Round Two and UNCASG (05/09/14)
  • Part 8 of 9: Law School (05/10/14)
  • Part 9 of 9: Traffic Tickets (05/11/14)
  1. And, believe it or not, I didn’t plan it out that way! :crack: []
  2. Don’t know if getting removed from the ballot counts as a loss or not. I’ll leave that for y’all to decide ;) []
  3. As testament to the craziness: my 2nd (3rd?) SSP campaign became course material for -3- different classes at N.C. State :surprised: Professors taught students about the campaign in a course on marketing in the College of Management, a course on campaigning in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, and a course on computer ethics (using Facebook for opposition research) in the College of Engineering. :spin: []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 2 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 4, 2014 in Background

Happy Star Wars Day everybody, and May the Fourth be with you :D

Yesterday I gave y’all the background behind a 1.5-hour long oral history project I did with the N.C. State Libraries — if you haven’t read that entry yet, you’ll want to do that before watching the video below so you understand why they ask the things they ask.

Go ahead. We’ll wait. :)

The interview is broken into 8 snippets of around 10 minutes or so apiece. Here’s the first one, on my background and deciding to come to NC State:

And for those who like knowing what they’re about to watch, here are the questions they ask me and the timestamps for them:

Questions in this Clip:

0:00:19 – Before we begin talking about your time at State, we’d like to talk to you about where you’re originally from?

0:00:48 – Do you have any siblings?

0:00:58 – What factors influenced your decision to attend NC State?

0:02:11 – Did you live on campus?

0:02:31 – Can you describe what it was like to live on campus?

0:03:45 – What campus events or clubs did you participate in?

0:06:37 – What did you hope to gain from your involvement in Student Government?

0:07:55 – Following your first year as a Student Senator, you campaigned for Student Senate President. Can you describe that?

Next video tomorrow — good night folks!


From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  • Part 1 of 9: The Backstory (05/03/14)
  • Part 2 of 9: In the Beginning… (05/04/14) [this post]
  • Part 3 of 9: Dropping Out (05/05/14)
  • Part 4 of 9: Prelude to Revolution (05/06/14)
  • Part 5 of 9: Party Time in Witherspoon (05/07/14)
  • Part 6 of 9: “Collaboration” (05/08/14)
  • Part 7 of 9: SSP Round Two and UNCASG (05/09/14)
  • Part 8 of 9: Law School (05/10/14)
  • Part 9 of 9: Traffic Tickets (05/11/14)

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 1 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 3, 2014 in Background

Out of the 561 published posts here at law:/dev/null, only about 9% or so are actually about me — who I am as a local internet legend ( B-) ), as opposed to my travails as a mediocre student / slightly-less-mediocre student politician / not-mediocre-but-broke solo practitioner.

Some of those T.-centric posts are squirreled away here in the Background category, while the rest mostly fall under the About TDot tag. Among them you’ll find the occasional disclosures like me being an extra in a Disney movie, thoroughly embarrassing myself academically in undergrad, and accepting my fate as a bald guy.

Well for the next week I’m going to take a break from writing about law stuff to share a smidge more about myself — and in video form! :D

Back in 2010, the N.C. State Libraries1 started a really cool project called the Student Leadership Initiative, where the Special Collections folks were gathering oral histories from past Student Body Presidents about their times at the University.

I’ve always had a visceral hatred of the office of the Student Body Presidency though,2 even going as far as writing a preemptive resignation letter to my Senate President Pro Tempore in case the SBP were ever removed. So I kindly impressed upon the Libraries staff the importance of getting other non-SBP leaders, ideally including folks from the Student Senate.3

They graciously agreed, and included one of my closest friends and political allies among the interviewees.

Then a year later, back during October of my 3L year, they invited me :spin:

The final resulted ended up being this snazzy page with some of my SG-related highlights (and lowlights4 :beatup: ) and a few video snippets of me rambling about campus life.

And if that wasn’t cool enough for me — certified Student Government geek with his geekery enshrined on one of his alma mater’s websites — they recently sent me a DVD with the whole doggone interview! :surprised:

So naturally I’m going to post it here :D

That’s it for this entry tonight. I wanted to give you the backstory on what to expect, and for the rest of this week I’ll be posting one chunk of the interview each day so you can learn a little bit more about your friendly neighborhood blogger :)

Have a great night y’all!


From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  • Part 1 of 9: The Backstory (05/03/14) [this post]
  • Part 2 of 9: In the Beginning… (05/04/14)
  • Part 3 of 9: Dropping Out (05/05/14)
  • Part 4 of 9: Prelude to Revolution (05/06/14)
  • Part 5 of 9: Party Time in Witherspoon (05/07/14)
  • Part 6 of 9: “Collaboration” (05/08/14)
  • Part 7 of 9: SSP Round Two and UNCASG (05/09/14)
  • Part 8 of 9: Law School (05/10/14)
  • Part 9 of 9: Traffic Tickets (05/11/14)
  1. A unit I absolutely love love love with all my heart, even though I hardly ever used them as a student. Librarian Susan Nutter and her staff are among the most student-focused administrators in the entire University, and their philosophy of doing things on “student time” — getting any changes done in less than 4 years so current students can actually enjoy what happens — is a complete upending of traditional bureaucratic decision-making. They’re examples who should be emulated by everyone at NCSU. Period. []
  2. I talk about that in one of the videos that will get posted this week :angel: []
  3. Specifically folks who were “pro-Senate” first — over the years we’ve had a number of Senators go on to be Student Body President, but I wanted people whose institutional loyalties were unquestioned ;) []
  4. Including the generously euphemistic “took time off from school following his sophomore year” :beatup: []

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TDot’s Mailbag v9.0: “So why did you go solo?” Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 18, 2013 in Mail

I just want to start out this post by noting it’s the first time I’ve had two pieces done in a 7-day period since… August1 :surprised:

Back on Wednesday, EIC and I went out to lunch with a former classmate who’s now a soon-to-graduate 3L. He wanted to make sure he does everything he needs to do in his final semester of law school to set him up for success after graduation, and asked us both about how we got where we are, the things we did that helped, what we would do differently, and so on.

It was a fun conversation, not least of which because it fed into my pre-existing love of dispensing (rarely sought) advice :beatup:

Plus it made a great topic for a blog entry, so voilà! 2nd post in 7 days ;)

Here are some of the questions that got asked, along with my thoughts…


Q: So why did you decide to go solo?

A: I had forgotten I wrote a pair of blog entries on the prospect of going solo way back in November 2011 (here and here). After re-reading through those while writing up this entry, I’d say I was pretty spot-on with my assessment — the priorities just changed a little bit.

I’d say my top 3 reasons for becoming a solo practitioner were:

  1. Freedom: By the time I got near graduation, I had long-since made up my mind that I was going to try running my own business one way or the other (my attention was focused on NC SPICE at the time). The mere thought of getting up in the morning to go work for someone else was enough to put me in a salty mood, and long-time law:/dev/null readers know being a subordinate doesn’t really mesh with my personality anyway :angel:  So now I set my own hours, take or reject cases as I see fit, and can do things like take a soon-to-graduate 3L to lunch or randomly show up to mid-day events without having to clear it with a supervisor first. It’s low-paying at the moment but I wouldn’t trade that freedom for anything.
  2. Friends: I’ve been beyond blessed to meet thousands of amazing people over the 14.5 years I’ve been in North Carolina, from classmates during my first time at NC State, coworkers during my years as a college dropout, folks I met my second time in school through student media, Student Senate, UNCASG, NCCU Law‘s Student Bar Association and trial teams — the list goes on and on. I’m still connected to 1,900 of those folks on Facebook, and 1,200 of them on LinkedIn. That’s a huge pool of folks I can ask for advice, hire for projects, send clients who I can’t help, or represent if they need me.
  3. Fear: Even though it’s been 12 years at this point, the whole “homeless college dropout” phase of my life still haunts me pretty regularly; I’m reminded of it every time I go against a lawyer who’s been practicing the same length of time as me, but is in his mid-20s while I’m a couple months away from hitting 32 (and bald :mad: ). I remember having job applications denied because I didn’t have a college degree, and times I got laid off because the people I worked for couldn’t make payroll. Being at the mercy of others sucks — but I also know from experience that a steady paycheck is a powerful impediment to making overdue life changes. There was simply no better time for me to do my own thing than now, and I was afraid if I started working for someone else I’d become complacent with that.

There are a whole flotilla of other reasons for going solo and odds are high yours will be completely different than mine. The key point is that, if you feel something in your gut urging you to try venturing out on your own, do it now while you still have the flexibility to change your mind if you decide you don’t like it ;)


Q: What was your backup plan if things didn’t work out?

A: Going solo :beatup:

I knew I was going to start my own business, but the glaring need for affordable office support and mentorship services for solo practitioners prompted me to invest a lot more energy and money than I should have into getting NC SPICE launched. I just knew I’d have everything operational and in place before the bar exam, so once the exam was over I could get to work helping other folks while I waited on my exam results.

Needless to say that was more than a smidge naïve on my part. I’d have been better off conserving the cash and putting the time toward business development for the law firm.


Q: What helped you the most your 3L year in terms of preparing for life after graduation?

A: Talking to as many folks as I could. By an order of magnitude.

Out of those 2,500ish folks I’m connected to on social media, there’s maybe 100 or so I talk to weekly.2 But I’ve got a fairly good memory when it comes to remembering bits and pieces about most of those other 2,400 in terms of what they do, where they’re at, and what experiences they’ve had.

That makes it easier for me to connect folks who have complementary interests, whether it’s something simple like helping a friend get better rates on their auto insurance (NC Farm Bureau Insurance if you’re in North Carolina) or combing through my NCSU contact list to help someone find someone else who knew someone else who raised a certain breed of horse (seriously!).

That keeps me in more-frequent contact with folks I wouldn’t get to talk to that often otherwise, and it’s a great way for meeting even more people I’ve never met before. Ultimately that’s how I ended up in my current office and also how I got my very first client.

The law is a people-centric profession. If you want to excel at it, you need to meet people, take an interest in their lives as people (rather than walking dollar signs), and respect them accordingly :)


Q: If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently?

A: Focus ;)

More than a few of my classmates were pissed when I graduated from NCCU Law with honors and they didn’t. The prevailing assumption (continuing to this day) is that I got all sorts of special privileges because I was SBA President, and that I would have been honors-less alongside them had I just been treated like everyone else.3 The most-cited example has been my ConLaw II class and how I didn’t turn in the final paper — 80% of the final grade — by the deadline.

The nasty byproduct of a lack of focus: a 2.333 GPA

The nasty byproduct of a lack of focus: a 2.333 GPA

Few (if any) of those folks realize I got an F in that class as a result,4 so whatever “special privileges” I supposedly got certainly weren’t much help.

The 2.333 GPA I had during my 3L Fall semester was my very worst in all of law school, and because of it I had to spend more time than I wanted focusing on academics during 3L Spring. When I could have been creating my future law firm’s website, or designing my business cards or letterhead, or attending local CLEs for free as a student, or any of a million other business development activities I could have done while I was still in school, I was instead cutting out my social life and studying non-stop to get the 3.630 GPA I needed to counteract that 2.333.5

And of course those small snippets of free time I had toward the end of the semester got plowed into the NC SPICE business plan, articles, bylaws, 501(c)(3) app, etc etc etc :beatup:

If there’s something in particular you want to do after graduation, be it going solo or working for a firm or something else entirely, focus on it with every spare ounce of time and energy you have. Don’t split your time if you can help it because your ability to excel at any one thing is going to drop as you add on more of those “one things” to your plate. Trust me.


So those are my thoughts on going solo. But it’s just my $.02, and I could be wrong :)

Have a great night y’all!


From the Mailbag archives:

  • TDot’s Mailbag v9.0: “So why did you go solo?” Edition (01/18/13) [this entry] –
    • Why did you become a solo practitioner?
    • What was your “Plan B” job-wise?
    • What helped you the most 3L year in preparing for post-grad life?
    • If you had to do 3L year over again, what would you differently?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v8.0: Post-Bar Exam Edition (08/11/12) –
    • What materials did you use for bar prep?
    • Are you bailing on law:/dev/null for Twitter?
    • What are your plans for law:/dev/null post-graduation?
    • Where do things stand with NC SPICE?
    • How does it feel being done with everything?
    • What’s your secret to not being stressed about the bar exam?
    • Do you have any bar exam study materials?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v7.0: Legal Eagle Grading Edition (06/22/11) –
    • You made Dean’s List… but grades don’t matter?
    • Why is NCCU Law’s curve so low?
    • What is the rationale for NCCU Law’s dismissal policy?
    • How does the dismissal policy work?
    • What are NCCU Law’s GPA cutoffs for Dean’s List and academic honors?
    • Do you get notified if you made Dean’s List?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v6.0: 1L Questions Edition (08/23/10) –
    • Do we really need to study 60 hours a week?
    • My study partners study all day; am I missing something?
    • How time-consuming is being an SBA Representative?
    • Should I use “canned” briefs or create my own?
    • Is law school really just a big head game?
    • What’s the biggest difference between 1L year and 2L year?
    • What made you pursue law after having done computer science?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v5.0: What Law School’s Really Like (04/14/10) –
    • Admissions?
    • Bar Exam?
    • The Work?
    • Professors?
    • Electives?
    • Extracurriculars?
    • What would you do differently?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v4.0 (01/21/10) –
    • What really made you dislike BigLaw?
    • Why were 2 of the top 4 teams in the K-S competition from T4s?
    • What happened to Tweet-sized Tuesdays and the Friday Drive-by?
    • How did your CivPro I final exam turn out?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v3.0 (10/04/09) –
    • What’s your email address?
    • Do you really send/receive thousands of text messages in a month?
    • How are you adjusting to a historically black university?
    • Are you really a Republican?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v2.0 (09/07/09) –
    • Did you have a bunch of study materials for the LSAT?
    • How well did you do on the LSAT?
    • How did you do in your election for 1L SBA Rep?
    • Who is in the Gang of Eight?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v1.0 (08/20/09) –
    • What does law:/dev/null mean?
    • Did your entry about That Guy really happen?
    • Did you really count the lights from your apartment to school?
  1. Hopefully you’re less surprised than I am. Maybe? No? Yyyeeeaaahhh I didn’t think so… :beatup: []
  2. I wish it was more, but until there’s more money in the bank Facebook is a luxury I can only use sparingly :( []
  3. I’ve never really understood the compulsion of wishing ill on someone else when things don’t go your way, but that’s a topic for another blog post. :roll: []
  4. Knocking me below a 3.0 and blocking me from finishing the law school’s concentration in Civil Rights & Constitutional Law :cry: []
  5. Waiting on those last grades to post… biggest. nailbiter. ever. But I yelped out loud when I finally saw them all. :D []

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