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The Hectic Life of a Low-Wealth Entrepreneur

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 11, 2012 in The After-3L Life

I’m still here!

It seems like at least once a week I say to myself “I really need to start updating law:/dev/null regularly again”… I log in to the WordPress admin interface… clean out the spam comments and update outdated plugins…

…then promptly get sidetracked by something and never actually write anything down :beatup:

Life over the past month has been crazy. Certifiably nuts. I don’t think I’ve ever had this many things going on simultaneously in my life. Ever.

The law firm’s been up-and-running for a smidge under two months, and I’ve had around 13 clients in that timespan. The crazy part is that I’ve represented those clients despite having no business cards, no website, no letterhead or envelopes or advertising — just my LinkedIn profile, an unpublicized Facebook page, and the Twitter account I barely use.1

I’m also 6-0 in adversarial proceedings, which is just downright surreal. Had you told me back when I got my license that I’d go my first two months without losing a case, I’d have called you crazy. But I’m now 3 foreclosures, 2 misdemeanors, and 1 breach of contract down without a losing client. I know the first loss comes to everyone eventually but I’m over-preparing in the hope I can delay the inevitable as long as possible ;)

Panorama of the new place right after moving in

Speaking of the law firm, I also migrated out of my apartment into a bona fide office. Trying to work from home was cheaper but incredibly inefficient between the dog and the lack of dedicated space for office-related work. The office is huge (~223 square feet), half a block to the Durham Courthouse, and cheaper than damn near everything in downtown Raleigh or Durham — and a testament to the utility of both networking and poker. :surprised:

How so? Well one of my friends from Student Senate connected me to a Raleigh attorney to talk about NC SPICE. I had lunch with him, and he recommended I talk with a particular Durham DWI attorney. I had lunch with him, and he invited me to join his friends at a weekly poker night they have on Mondays. After losing my entire buy-in one week and half my buy-in the next week, I randomly asked him if he knew any attorneys with spare offices they wanted to sublease.

Turns out he had two, including the one I’m in now :spin:

So I’ve got an office, conference room, full kitchen, lobby with receptionist, free parking, all right next to the courthouse! Plus the place is huge enough that I’m now splitting it with EIC, who’s getting ready to start her own practice as well.

And speaking of NC SPICE and splitting things, there’s been some developments on that end as well. I got a response from the Internal Revenue Service that it would take them 9 months just to assign our 501(c)(3) application to somebody for review, then that person would have 90 days to make a decision — meaning we’ll get no update at all whatsoever until June 20132 :crack:

So at our most recent Board of Directors meeting last week, the Board authorized me to cleave the group into two: the education-related components will stay in the nonprofit, and the office support services will get rolled into a new corporation. Since then I’ve lined up 4 investors interested in getting the program off the ground, and we’ve got our first in-person interest meeting and focus group slated for 12/12/12 at 6:00pm.

We’ve also got around 216 people following the NC SPICE Facebook page, and a hair’s breadth over 200 followers on the NC SPICE Twitter feed.

The only downside is that I’ve now gone from running one nonprofit 6 months ago to running a nonprofit, a corporation, and a law firm all at the same time :beatup:

A long overdue lifestyle change. Just 18lbs to go!

On the personal side, my quest to get back in shape is still on target with me down -27lbs since June 30th. I don’t think I ever wrote the original entry I meant to write on that, but during bar prep my good friend Tim Lipka (Mr. QC) from NCSU’s Student Government passed away from a heart attack at age 25. I’d just had drinks with him when I was in DC for the Howard Moot Court Competition back in February, and we’d talked on Facebook about grabbing lunch when he came to town before the DNC convention in Charlotte. His passing was coupled with an unexpectedly high blood pressure reading I got during a regular checkup the day before, so the two of those things combined freaked me out enough to get my life in order.

More exercise and less food has been the lifestyle change for the past few months, and I’m slowly making progress. My target weight is 175lbs so I’ve got a bit more to go but it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I imagined thus far — and my blood pressure is coming back down slightly, hopefully meaning I’ll be able to avoid medication.

Aside from my personal health, life is good. I’m still contributing semi-regularly over at JD Oasis. Samson is still happy and healthy. And even though I’m broke financially I know things are going to pick up as time goes on.

That’s all I’ve got for this entry, but hope to (seriously) have more some time soon. I hope all of you have had an amazing weekend, and enjoy the week ahead! :D

  1. Turns out my “no frills and no bullsh*t” reputation from years of overexposure in N.C. State‘s Student Senate, the UNC Association of Student Governments, and NCCU Law‘s Student Bar Association has helped with client development — which is odd considering those groups each had plenty of people in them who are now lawyers :crack: []
  2. I thought the purpose of us having to pay $850 just to apply was to ensure the IRS had adequate reviewers to look at these things in a timely fashion, but apparently I was wrong… []

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Maybe one implied the other?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 22, 2012 in The 3L Life

Good evening y’all!

Tonight was our annual 3L Graduation Dinner at NCCU Law, one last chance for the Class of 2012 to get together and enjoy good food, revel in the fact we’re about to graduate, and otherwise have a good time :D

No surveys taken to determine if being a politician qualifies as being in the public sector...

We also announce the winners of our Class Superlatives, things like “Most Likely to be Late to Graduation” and that sort of thing.

And I ended up with two :crack:

Now I’ll concede up front: I don’t think anyone was surprised that I was voted “Most Likely to be a Politician.” Between 1L year as UNCASG President, 2L year as SBA Treasurer, and 3L year as SBA President (plus being Student Senate President and UNCASG President at N.C. State), it’s obvious by now that I really enjoy this stuff and being in a position to help folks.1

The stunner was getting called back up to the stage a second time as the people’s choice for “Most Likely to Work in the Public Sector” :surprised:

Sure, it’s shaping up that will probably be the case — NC SPICE is coming together slowly — but for other folks to think it was a surprise, especially with my not-infrequent rantings against Big Guv’mint (see here and here and here for examples).

I’m a little flattered, very appreciative, but mostly just shocked. Even though it’s “just” a superlative, I’m hoping down the road I’ll be able to live up to them both :)

Until then, have a great night y’all!

  1. Even though I’ve already noted that the odds of me getting elected outside of a college campus are nil… :beatup: []

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Guess who’s bald?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 24, 2011 in Background

Happy Christmas Eve y’all! :)

This is a mostly pointless non-law-related entry, so consider yourself forewarned. I’m still working on school stuff and needed a break from law.

Top: Summer 1995, probably the longest my hair's ever been. Bottom: Today, the shortest my hair's been in my 30.75yrs of life.

And with a solid 2.5 weeks to go before school starts back, I randomly decided last night to try embracing my impending baldness and just cut off what little was left of my hair. :surprised:

It was a decision not made lightly… but one that was probably inevitable.

In the “Be Careful What You Wish For” Department, most of my younger years were spent cursing my mane. I was born with a full head of hair that tended to grow like kudzu for most of my life, and after it hit about 1/8″ in length it started to get absurdly curly.

My locks were so unruly throughout grade school that the occasional classmate would even inquire into my ethnicity (which successfully made me self-conscious about both what my hair looked like and the fact I only knew about a portion of half my bloodline). It was also problematic for pictures since the family often didn’t have the money to spend on haircuts every 2-3 weeks, but I didn’t trust anyone to cut it themselves.1

But then I joined Student Government in college and the hair thing “fixed” itself… :beatup:

My last year at N.C. State undoubtedly ranks as the single craziest period of my life, trying to juggle being a second-term Student Senate President, a first-term President of UNCASG, a legislative intern down at the N.C. General Assembly, and an about-to-be-graduated senior in Computer Science.

Top: 06/13/08, the day I was sworn in to the UNC Board of Governors (flanked by NCAT SBP Marcus Bass and ASU SBP David Mofford). Bottom: 03/27/10, explaining my proposed budget at a UNCASG meeting at UNC Charlotte.

Going through it at the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal; sure I was averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night, drank Vault Zero (and later Diet Mt Dew) like it was water, and would frequently skip meals to catch up on work, but I still felt great. I was on a near-constant emotional high from knowing I was helping to get things accomplished.

Then one day back in Fall ’08, QuietStorm came to visit me at the NCGA interns’ suite office, sat beside me, and noticed when I turned away that my hair basically wasn’t there.2 I had her take a picture with my BlackBerry because I didn’t believe her; seeing myself daily, I never really noticed a change from the front. She did, showed it to me, and I blurted out “oh my God” :beatup:

Sure enough, after spending most of my life wishing I had less-crazy curls, I was in the process of joining millions of guys globally down the path to no curls at all.

I fought it for awhile. I’d intentionally cut the rest of my hair über-short to make it look like I meant for it to look that way.3 And when I was in my friends’ wedding last week I had let the top grow out as far as it could for a few weeks and then asked the barber to try and blend the top with the sides so it wouldn’t look quite so sparse.

A guy who used to wonder why other guy’s would ever shell out $$$ for hair transplants, I suddenly found myself trying to preserve what little of my own hair I had left… until last night when I said “@#$% it, why not?” and sheared everything off.

It’s definitely going to take getting used to; my head’s oddly shaped, and I can’t help but feel like I sort of look like the convicts I see when I watch Lockup on MSNBC. But I refuse to be one of those people having an existential identity crisis because they lost their hair.

And not having to pay anyone for haircuts anymore helps ease the pain ;)

That’s it from me for the night y’all, thanks for reading my ruminations on the averted midlife crisis :) Have a good night good night and Merry Christmas in a few minutes! :D

  1. My mom screwed up once when I was in middle school and I thought I was going to die from embarrassment :beatup: []
  2. We had dated from 03/1999 to 09/2005, so she knew all about my bad hair days. []
  3. Bringing with it a realization that I’d need to start wearing sunblock on my scalp when I went out in the summer :crack: []

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Quick update on the past week

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 20, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening y’all :)

Sorry for the abrupt disappearance this past week, but the end of the semester brought a flurry of activity that I’m still slogging through. Here’s a quick bulleted update on life:

  • I don’t remember what happened last Monday during the day, but I distinctly recall waking up from my first bona fide law school-related nightmare in awhile :crack: It was next semester and I was at my first CrimLaw tutorial… except I didn’t have my Keynote slides.1 So I decided that, to preoccupy the 1Ls, we’d go around introducing ourselves… except apparently several of the students had issues with each other, so when one girl introduced herself another called her a b*tch, shouting back and forth ensued, and not a single soul was listening as I tried to get them to shut up and pay attention. Then I decided to distract people with index cards, having them write down names and other tidbits about themselves instead of talking… except I couldn’t find any blank index cards. :beatup:  Every time I’d find a pile of them, they were already filled out. Even a mostly-fresh pile of index cards had an occasional filled-out card included, so I was trying to gather enough fresh cards while the room re-descended into chaos. It was a strange, odd, unpleasant dream. That thankfully has a 0% chance of happening next semester or I’ll physically beat someone :angel:
  • Last Tuesday was the first meeting of the NCCU Law 1L trial teams, letting them know roughly what to expect in the now-Kilpatrick-Townsend competition that will take place in January. This is now the 3rd generation of teams to compete so I’m hoping it will be a more-comfortable experience for these 1Ls now that they have both 2Ls and 3Ls available to share their experiences.
  • Right after the team meeting at 1pm was the release date for my Criminal Prosecution Clinic exam, which I spent the next 48 hours grinding through. Not difficult per se, but lengthy and detailed. Impressed that police and prosecutors are able to remember all of these various statutes…
  • Speaking of academics, I’m still not done.2 :beatup:  I’ve still got 2 briefs for Employment Discrimination to finish, and a paper for ConLaw II that hasn’t even substantively been started aside from my prep work for the radio show on my topic. I had long ago accepted the probability of failing both classes given all the other stuff I foolishly piled on my plate. Tack on the fact they’re both electives that I don’t need to graduate, and you have a dangerous recipe of grade-A Motivation Killer™ to at least turn in some kind of work product.
  • Not sure I’ll have time to get around to my usual guesswork “Here’s what I’m hoping to get grade-wise” posts for 3L Fall, so I’m tucking it in here: B+ in Sales, B- in Tax, A in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, D- in both Employment Discrimination and ConLaw II, for a 2.333 semester GPA. Fingers crossed for that or better. Will elaborate if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Part of why I’m not finished academically is because I’ve very successfully sidetracked myself on this going solo idea and exploring the creation of a small practice incubator at the law school. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading and researching, put together a proposal complete with financial projections, and have started farming it around among faculty at the school. I even came up with a snazzy acronym for it: the Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment… because a little seasoning makes everything better! ;)
  • I had also already stacked my calendar high with stuff scheduled for last week because I’m habitual about planning ahead, so when the papers didn’t get done on time they’ve got pushed even farther back then they would be otherwise as my focus shifted elsewhere. In addition to the Crim Prosecution exam, spent Wednesday afternoon catching up with a good friend over lunch who I hadn’t seen in ages. Thursday was spent finishing up the exam, turning it in, then skipping the first TYLA trial team meeting to immediately drive down to Raleigh to help with another good friend’s bachelor party.3 Friday was a smidge of work on the papers followed by the wedding rehearsal dinner, Saturday was the wedding, then Sunday was returning the tux to Men’s Wearhouse and finally catching up on life basics like laundry / dishes / vacuuming the disaster that had become my apartment.
  • Yesterday I got a smidge bit more work done, though not before inadvertently crossing paths with MDG in the hallway at school (my Emp Disc professor). I greatly appreciate that he hasn’t reamed me out for my slacker-ness… but it was still awkward exchanging pleasantries knowing I still owed the man two papers.4
  • And voila here we are at today. Behind on academics. Behind schedule on the moot court problem I’m working on.5  Behind schedule on the TYLA problem I’ll also be litigating in February. But otherwise alive, breathing, and determined to make it through the vacation in one piece ;)

That’s it for tonight’s entry. Hope all of you are doing well and enjoying the break yourselves! More to come once I get caught up :beatup:

Good night! :D

  1. Which was weird, because I put a lot of time and effort into producing high-quality visuals to go with my rapturous voice… []
  2. No one who knew me at NC State is surprised by that comment, after I somehow spent nearly all of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Christmas breaks working on homework… []
  3. He’s one of my former Student Senators and UNCASG colleagues, marrying another one of my former Student Senators. Having known both of them back when they were freshmen, and now not only being part of their wedding but knowing they’re graduating in May, reminds me (1) how old I am and (2) how blessed I’ve been to cross paths with the people I’ve crossed paths with :spin:   []
  4. A point he gently raised with a side-eye and a “Are you going to have something for me soon?” :beatup: []
  5. Haven’t had time to mention that I made Moot Court beyond a footnote in a previous MPRE entry, but I’ll be participating in Howard Law‘s William Bryant-Luke Charles Moore Invitational in February :)  Briefs due early January so it’ll be a busy break. []

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The Chief announces his retirement

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 8, 2011 in Randomness

After spending the past 7 years at the helm of the North Carolina Central University School of Law, the Chief is stepping down when his 5-year contract expires at the end of this academic year.

From today’s article in the Durham Herald-Sun:

Pierce to leave NCCU law school
By Neil Offen
noffen@heraldsun.com; 419-6646

December 8, 2011

DURHAM — Raymond Pierce, who has lead the N.C. Central University School of Law to increased funding and national prominence, is leaving his post as dean to take a position with a Raleigh law firm.

Pierce, who has been dean at NCCU since 2005, will join Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough as a partner at the end of the academic year.

“It has been a great honor and pleasure to have worked with so many outstanding people at NCCU,” said Pierce. “Although I will greatly miss being at the university, I look forward to being at Nelson Mullins and returning to the practice of law.”

Before becoming dean, Pierce was a partner at the firm of Baker Hostetler where he represented clients in the steel, energy, banking and private equity business.

During Pierce’s tenure, the law school has seen increased applications, enrollment and alumni giving. The school twice has been rated No. 1 for best value Law School and has been included in a top 10 list of most popular law schools.

In 2008, Pierce led a successful effort to equalize state funding between the law school at UNC Chapel Hill and NCCU, the state’s only two public law schools. Pierce also has elevated the prominence of the law school by securing visits from dignitaries such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Lots more info in the Durham Herald-Sun article, so make sure to check it out when you have time.

Many of us have known this was coming since at least August when the Chief all-but-announced the news at the first SBA Presidents’ Roundtable meeting. Even so, it makes me incredibly nervous for the next few years at NCCU Law.

Any time you’ve got a transition of leadership at a public institution it creates a window for slashing budgets and making other changes that established leaders had previously blocked. See, e.g., what’s happened to the consolidated University of North Carolina the instant former University President Erskine Bowles stepped down, with billions (with a ‘B’) slashed from the University budget and multiple 4-figure tuition increases at constituent institutions across the state slated to take effect next academic year.

It’s also commonplace for educational institutions to alternate between more “business”-oriented leaders and more “academic”-oriented leaders. The UNC system is a good example with academic Bill Friday followed by businessman Dick Spangler followed by academic Molly Broad followed by businessman Erskine Bowles followed now by former Davidson College President Tom Ross.

If NCCU Law follows that pattern, we’re likely to get someone academically oriented as our next Dean… and I’m uncertain (at this point at least) if that’ll be a wise decision in a period of budget austerity. Students want someone friendly toward them who will focus on polishing the academic credentials of the school, but money is what helps make all that happen. We need someone who can twist arms at the General Assembly, convince alumni to open their wallets, and make sure tuition stays low so NCCU Law can continue honoring its historical mission to reach out to underserved communities and dominating the cost-conscious sector of legal education in North Carolina.

But that’s just my $.02, and I could be wrong.1 :beatup:

Congratulations to the Chief on his new job! And let’s hope whoever determines his successor doesn’t screw up ;)

Have a great night y’all!

  1. On a completely and totally unrelated side note, this continues the weird pattern of my time in Student Government coinciding with people leaving their jobs :crack:  NC State‘s Chancellor Jim Oblinger stepped down at the end of my time as Student Senate President, UNC-system President Erskine Bowles stepped down at the end of my tenure as UNCASG President, and now the Dean will be stepping down at the end of my tenure as SBA President. Not sure if that’s good or bad timing on my part… []

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Things TDot Likes: Young Leadership

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 8, 2011 in Things TDot Likes

Good evening y’all! :D

This will be another abbreviated entry as I continue trying to climb out of the monstrously @#$%ing huge academic hole I’ve dug myself, but I wanted to highlight some of the election results from today’s municipal elections in North Carolina.

In particular, there are now at least 3 folks under 30 years old who got themselves elected to Town Councils across the state :surprised:

Out west in Boone (home of Appalachian State University), incumbent 29-year-old Councilman Andy Ball got himself reelected to a second 2-year term.  At the bottom of the group age-wise, the voters up the street in Chapel Hill (home of UNCCH) elected 22-year-old Lee Storrow to a spot on their Town Council. And down in Apex (20ish minutes from NCSU), 24-year-old fellow Wolfpack alum Scott Lassiter will be joining the ranks of that town’s government as well.

All three of these guys were active in the Student Governments of their respective campuses — I met Ball and Storrow in my role as UNCASG President, and served with Scott in the N.C. State Student Senate — and ran polished, idea-oriented campaigns. And although their respective political philosophies differ from my own, it’s pretty doggone cool to know they’ll now be making decisions that have a big impact on taxpayers in their respective towns.

Congratulations to the victors, and good luck for the next 2 years ahead! :)

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From the Things TDot Likes archives:

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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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