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TDot’s Mailbag v11.0: A reintroduction for the 1Ls

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 25, 2014 in Mail

Today marks the first day of classes over at the North Carolina Central University School of Law.

This photo is on the wall next to my desk in the office. Every single one of them has graduated now.

This photo is on the wall next to my desk in the office. Every single one of them has graduated now.

It’s also the first time since I started way back in 20091 that I haven’t attended class with a single person there: the last batch of 1Ls I tutored for Prof CrimLaw are now waiting for their bar results :crack:

Unable to accept the reality of being so far removed from being enrolled at an educational institution, naturally I had to drop in on Orientation last Wednesday to mingle as part of the law school’s annual professionalism series for 1Ls.

One of the young ladies I met mentioned that she had read parts of the blog before starting school.2 Then throughout the night I got a few more questions of a 1L-esque nature, so I thought I’d use them as an excuse to create a new Mailbag entry. :)

***

Q: What is [this blog]?

Apparently people think it’s weird that anyone from NCCU Law has a blog, because this was/is probably the most frequently asked question in the past however many weeks between PBAP, Orientation, and classes starting.

Guess long-form blogs are passé these days when we all have Twitter… :roll:

I started this website back during my 1L year because frankly I needed something to do. At the time I thought most of my classmates were clinically insane gunners, and the time devoted to running UNCASG only kept me out of trouble but so many days in a month.

Then I discovered people were actually reading what was getting written, so I tried to make some of it at least marginally useful for folks who came after me. ;)

***

Q: What does “law:/dev/null” mean?

I’d tell you, but I already did! Check the first question of my first Mailbag entry :)

***

Q: I heard I can get outlines and old tests somewhere on here?”

Hopefully you’ll read this website for more than just the outlines! :P

But go to this entry on outlines for the URL.

***

Q: blah blah blah grades blah blah blah

It’s entirely too soon to care about your 1L grades. Trust me. Please.

But if you’re one of those hardcore Type A types who’ve already spent at least one day of this past weekend at the law school studying, go to this grades entry for links to the key points.3

***

Q: Will you be my mentor??

Sure :D

I have an open “mentor anyone” policy — just realize I’ve gotta make money first, so my availability will depend on my caseload ;)

***

Q: What’s the one thing you know now that you most wish you knew back when you were a 1L?

Honestly?

That there were already outlines out there :beatup:

I didn’t discover the contents of the 1L Stuff folder until the first day of final exams during the Spring semester of my 1L year. Rico was reading through a very slick 1-page summary of key issues in criminal law, I asked him how long it took him to make it — because the one I made for myself took forever and wasn’t nearly as nice — and I discovered that he got it from someone else. :crack:

It was at that point I started asking for outlines and stockpiling as many as I could… then posted every last one on this blog so the information was democratized. Some of my classmates flipped sh*t because I was “making it harder to beat the curve,” but I didn’t want future 1Ls ending up like me with absolutely no clue that the info was out there.

So scroll back up to the outlines question, click the link to the outlines entry, and enjoy the next 3 years of your life :)

***

*GOOD LUCK* to each of you with the year ahead, and don’t hesitate to send us a message if you’ve got questions! You can find the email address at the bottom of our About page or you can use the Contact form at the TGD Law website :D

—===—

From the Mailbag archives:

  • TDot’s Mailbag v11.0: A reintroduction for the 1Ls (08/25/14) [this post] –
    • What is [this blog]?
    • What does law:/dev/null mean?
    • I heard I can get outlines and old tests somewhere on here?
    • blah blah blah grades blah blah blah
    • Will you be my mentor??
    • What’s the 1 thing you most wish you knew as a 1L?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v10.0: First-Year Finance Figures Follow-up Edition (11/27/13) –
    • What are you doing?
    • How are you defining your terminology?
    • How did you survive financially?
    • Have you done any advertising?
    • What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
    • What 3 things would you do differently?
  • TDot’s Mailbag v9.0: “So why did you go solo?” Edition (01/18/13) –
    • 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. Yes, that means law:/dev/null has been online for half a decade now! The first post was back on August 11th 2009. :D []
  2. Easiest way to over-inflate my already over-inflated ego is telling me you’ve read something I’ve written :beatup: []
  3. And to convince you I never hid the ball on any of my grades-related entries, you can read my final law school transcript via this entry’s footnote. []

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Yep, I’m still here

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 30, 2013 in The After-3L Life

Hey y’all :)

At least a couple folks felt “punk’d” by my last entry, where I mentioned there’d be more “tomorrow” (as in June 21st) and then disappeared for two months.

I had an actual defense this time though! I did have a plan for a “tomorrow” post, but life decided to intervene, put me in an eminently crabby mood, and I figured y’all wouldn’t want to read me ranting and raving about any of it until I had a chance to reflect ;)

Quite a bit has happened over the past two months:

  • More W’s: The law practice has been proceeding apace, with court appearances on a fairly regular basis and -0- new losses. In particular I thoroughly obliterated opposing counsel and saved a woman’s home from a wrongful foreclosure out in Wilson County back in June.1 For more details, see the second-from-last entry in this list. :D

  • The Chicago trip itself: We’ve all heard the word “clusterf*ck”.2 Well my Chicago trip was like a cluster*ck club, with several slices of awesome sandwiched between two pieces of near-unmitigated disaster — including yet another run-in with the TSA. I did get to catch up with several old classmates though, including one of my best friends from my UNCASG days during my layover in Atlanta, so overall it was a pretty great experience. I’ve got some notes and will (hopefully) work on an entry about it at some point down the road.

  • Church: A few weeks back I went to a Sunday service for the first time since 1999. Back over the summer I had a conversation with a former classmate who was studying for the bar and struggling with the daily grind of studying. Somehow the topic shifted to the more general issue of doing things we need but don’t necessarily like, which in turn shifted to a question asking when had been the last time I set foot into a church. So I agreed that I’d join him after he got past the bar exam, and that’s where I went the first Sunday after the exam.

    My odometer, as I sat in the parking lot of the first church I attended in 14 years (08/04/13)

    My odometer, as I sat in the parking lot of the first church I attended in 14 years (08/04/13)

    It must have been a day when folks were concerned for my soul, because as I was walking out the door that morning I got an email from a client inviting me to join her family at church too.

    Then a few minutes later, while I was sitting in the church parking lot waiting on my classmate and texting away on my phone, I looked up and saw my odometer had tripped over to exactly 170,000 miles. Which is also the first time I’ve ever noticed when it flipped over in the 11 years that I’ve had the car. :crack:

    I’m not saying it’s a burning bush or anything, but it was definitely an odd coincidence. So I went to my client’s church the week after, then went to one of the churches near NCCU the week after that. I still haven’t figured out where my church “home” is going to be yet, or even if I’m going to find one at all, but I’m thinking of making it a regular part of my weekly routine again.

  • Moral Monday defense: From my “This Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” files, I agreed to take on the defense of 20 folks arrested as part of civil disobedience in North Carolina’s Moral Monday protests led by the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. While I agree with all of about 0% of what the protestors are protesting about,3 I thought the arrests were egregiously over the top and reflected the very worst of government abuses.

    And frankly I have a long-standing distaste and dislike of government, even if my “side” is in power.4 Especially when it comes to protests.5

    So I signed up to be part of the group of volunteer attorneys, and when asked “Can you take 20?” I replied with “sure”… without really thinking about the logistical implications of expanding my client base by 25% overnight without a commensurate increase in revenue or staff :beatup:

    A judicious use of technology picked up during my computer science years has helped me stay on top of things so far, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out when I’m trying to juggle 20 different trials on different days in October / November / December while still serving my pre-existing clients.

  • NC SPICE is official: 14 months after submitting the Form 1023 application, the IRS finally sent me a letter granting 501(c)(3) status to the North Carolina Small Practice Incubator and Collaboration Environment :spin: I have to figure out how to recover from the momentum lost by the year+ delay, but it feels damn good having all that work actually result in something.

  • Joined Class of 2016/17 Orientation: Way back in the halcyon days of 2009, back when law:/dev/null was in its infancy and people were still struggling to figure out what the blog’s name even meant,6 I mentioned in Part 3 of the Orientation Retrospective that we had a reception with the Day+Evening Programs and local alumni followed by a session on professionalism.

    Well now that I’m one of those local alumni I got invited to participate :D I knew the event was going to be fun anyway (there are few things I enjoy more than going back to the school and talking with the students), and it got even more fun when I discovered several of my friends from N.C. State are now part of the Legal Eagle family.

    But then it got downright surreal.7 One of the 1Ls came up to me and goes “You’re T.! My wife is gonna get such a kick out of me meeting you, we read your blog over the summer before I came here!” And then a young lady came up to tell me how she appreciated the entries from 1L year. Then two more came up to say hi and that they had read every entry here. And so on it went for the rest of the night, even until just before everyone had left when a guy walked up and shook my hand, saying “I just wanted to say ‘thank you’.”

    You want to turn me from a borderline-arrogant litigator par excellence to a near-blubbering bundle of emotion, just let me find out something I did actually helped someone else.8 Had to wipe away a tear or two when I got back to the car… but only after struggling to fit my now-even-more-overinflated ego inside :spin:

  • “I have to renew already??”: With 1L Orientation happening, that means I’ve actually been a player in this lawyer game for almost a year now — meaning it’s time to renew (and pay more for) my legal malpractice insurance :beatup:

    I’ve gotta pull some statistics together for the renewal app declaring what practices areas accounted for what percentage of my law firm’s income. It should make for an interesting look back, so I’ll post a pie chart or something when I hit the one year mark.

  • Collating 28 exhibits took forever...

    Collating 28 exhibits took forever…

  • New mega-suit filed: Speaking of practice areas, it’s no secret that I love litigation regardless of topic.

    And after saving a lady’s home from downright crooked mortgage practices, on her behalf I spent the better part of two months gathering info, doing research, interviewing folks, and typing up what is by far the biggest lawsuit I’ve ever played a role in drafting/filing. :angel:

    If you’re interested in reading the details, check out this PDF hosted on the TGD Law website: Hayes v. Self-Help Credit Union et al.

    I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out!

  • 2013 Bar results released: And this past Thursday the NC Board of Law Examiners mailed out the results for the July 2013 bar exam. Just like last year, some very close friends didn’t quite make it. But several of my mentees are now officially lawyers, and I’m told by folks who know that NCCU Law‘s overall pass rate went up this go-round — putting us ahead of both (far more expensive) Charlotte Law and Elon Law.9 :D

    I’ll have a new post up rehashing some of this entry to help walk the folks who passed through the process of getting sworn in and such :)

I realize this entry has gotten well past verbose, so I’ll wrap it up here. *THANK YOU* as always for reading and have a great night y’all! :D

  1. Beat him so bad that his last line of argument was, essentially, that I “must be” lying to the Court (no reference to the 100+ pages of unedited documentation in the trial binders I distributed). I ever-so-briefly thought about jumping over the counsel table and beating him down, but then the Judge ruled in our favor and I instead took solace in knowing he had a 3.5-hour trip back to Charlotte to marinate on his loss :angel: []
  2. If you haven’t, check Urban Dictionary. ;) []
  3. Politically they’re almost like an older, upscale version of the unwashed aspiring hippies who did Occupy Wall Street []
  4. See here and here and here, plus a new entry for the NC Department of Commerce and my “privilege license” last year that I never got around to writing about []
  5. See this entry from law school for insight into my views on governments restricting speech in so-called “protected areas” []
  6. If you’re still wondering, go to the first question in this Mailbag entry :) []
  7. And by “surreal” I mean awesome :D []
  8. Coincidentally the subject of a pair of old entries here and here []
  9. The official stats should be publicly released next week []

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NCCU Law 1L/1LE Orientation starts this week!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 12, 2012 in The After-3L Life

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again already :crack:

Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of law:/dev/null starting up, meaning this week is officially Orientation Week for all the new 1Ls and 1LEs1 at the North Carolina Central University School of Law! :D

This will also be the first time since then that I’m not taking part in Orientation in some capacity — as a 1L I was part of it of course, then as a 2L I was a tour guide and part of the SBA panel, then as a 3L folks decided they were sick of me talking so they had me moderate the SBA panel instead :beatup:

But the school tends to leave us alone during this limbo period waiting on bar results, I’m assuming because few of us would be willing to be around the school when we have no clue yet how we’re going to repay our student loans.

So in my absence, I’ll follow my tradition from year’s past and link to some (hopefully) useful entries for those of y’all heading in to Orientation :D

 

ORIENTATION ITSELF:

For our past entries on Orientation, you’ve got two options:

  1. My 2L post on what to expect at Orientation; or
  2. My three-part summary I wrote as a 1L of what I went through (Part I, Part II, Part III)

 

OUTLINES:

You’ll hear lots of folks talking about outlines and stuff they got from other people. Some of it will be new and potentially useful — so make friends ;) — but a good chunk of it is recycled and passed down from generation to generation.

For 1L, 2L, and 3L outlines,2 go to this TDot’s Tips outlines entry so you can read the directions and mandatory disclaimer.

Also, for the 3Ls who happen across this entry, I’ve uploaded bar prep materials to “/docs/BarPrepStuff.zip” as promised yesterday :*

 

TIPS and QUESTIONS:

Over the years I’ve compiled tips on a handful of topics. To read through those entries, click the TDot’s Tips category link on the side.

I’ve also answered a couple dozen questions folks have sent since I started law:/dev/null. To see those, go to the very bottom of the most recent Mailbag entry and they’re all listed there (including an entry just on 1L questions :) ).

 

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? EMAIL / FACEBOOK / LINKEDIN / TWEET ME!

If you can’t get something answered during the year, feel free to shoot me an email (the address is at the bottom of our About page). You can also reach out to me on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter using the icons over on the right-hand side of this page.

Hope that helps, GOOD LUCK with law school, and welcome to the Legal Eagle family! :D

  1. Evening students — NCCU Law is one of the few law schools in the country with a 4-year part-time evening program :) []
  2. Yes, I have documents to get you through your entire law school experience. You’ll still have to study and update this stuff as you go though! :P []

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Orientation starts… tomorrow! O_o

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 14, 2011 in The 3L Life

It’s pretty much just now really sinking in that 1L Orientation at the N.C. Central University School of Law is taking place this week  :eek:

To highlight how totally out of it I’ve been: law:/dev/null actually turned 2 years old back on Thursday (!)… and I didn’t even notice because of my router issues :beatup:

I’ll forgo waxing sentimental over how much has happened over the past 2 years, how crazy it is that I’ve actually somewhat kept up with the whole blawging thing throughout that time, or how totally @#$%ing stoked I am to be wrapping up law school this year. Instead I’ll link to some old entries for any incoming 1Ls/1LEs curious about my perspective on things  (assuming such creatures exist).

If you’re curious about how the whole Orientation schedule will play out, read this synopsis I compiled when I was a 2L. If you’d prefer reading my first-hand account as I went through Orientation myself, check out Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Have some questions you want to ask? Go to the bottom portion of this Mailbag entry, which links to all the past questions I’ve answered here. If you’ve got something you want to ask that don’t see listed, feel free to send me an email!1 :D

My role with Orientation will transition a bit this year: instead of helping to check in volunteers and then wandering aimlessly through the school, I’ll be helping to check in volunteers and wandering through the school with a purpose — trying to meet as many of you as I can to help answer your questions and get you prepared for what will be the most intense 3 years of your life ;)

Let the fun begin… :angel:

  1. You can find the email address on the bottom of our About page. []

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Law school has made me an extremist…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 24, 2011 in The 3L Life

…at least with respect to my learning style :beatup:

Way back during 1L Orientation in August 2009, all of us were given a survey to help figure out how we best absorbed information — basically imagine a Myers-Briggs test for learning instead of personality.  My results were heavily tilted toward “kinesthetic” learning at 67%, meaning essentially that I learn best by doing something first and then refining it as needed.1  My secondary learning style was visual at 25% (learning by seeing), then down at the bottom I had a smidgen of preference for aural learning at 8%.

Well earlier today was counselor training for NCCU Law‘s Legal Eagle Law Camp that we have each summer for 7th-11th graders, and we were given the exact same test from Orientation.

And I’m now even more out-of-sync with how law school teaches people :crack:

My “learning by doing” preference has climbed to 83%, “learning by seeing” has dropped to 17%, and — you’ll notice those two numbers add up to 100% — my “learning by hearing” has dropped to 0%. So in a nutshell I get pretty much nothing at all out of attending the usual lecture-style classes and am better off teaching things to myself through some kind of interactive method.2

I’m not sure if my law school experience has pushed me in this direction or if I was already headed that way and law school just accelerated the process, but it makes me that much more eager for the May 2012 end of my formal education to get here so I can knock out the bar exam and start really learning stuff…

That’s it from me tonight y’all, have to get up early tomorrow to start studying for this Intellectual Property exam — have a great night! :D

  1. Kinesthetic learners are the types of folks who get furniture from IKEA and just start putting it together without consulting the directions or asking how it’s done.  In the law school context, we prefer things like clinical work (usually) or trial team competitions… basically the exact opposite of traditional law school teaching methods :beatup: []
  2. Which actually explains some of my grades this past year, since my highest grade in the Spring was an A- in the interactive Trial Practice class (even with being held in contempt), and my highest grade in the Fall was an A in the ZombieLaw class I taught myself in the days before the exam. []

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Why I blog

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 4, 2010 in Background

Good evening y’all! :D

Despite my chronic disappearances over the past couple months, we’ve been blessed here at law:/dev/null to still have a steady cadre of regular readers along with a (surprising) stream of newcomers.1  And since the recent blawgpocalypse I’ve been asked by folks in both groups what prompted me to stake out this particular piece of internet real estate — and I realized I’ve never actually posted an answer to the “Why do you blog?” question beyond a brief one-line reference on our “About” page :beatup:

So I figured now’s as good a time as any ;)

Without further ado, my four reasons for entering the blawgosphere way back in August 2009:

  1. Therapy: I wasn’t kidding when I wrote in the very first post that “law:/dev/null is really just my own brand of therapy to get me through law school. Some people exercise, some prefer gardening, some drink (a lot). I write.” My classmates have learned firsthand that I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to saying exactly what’s on my mind, so penning my commentary here lets me get it out of my system without subjecting them to something they don’t want to hear in the first place :)
  2. Curiosity: Even though the bachelor’s degree on my wall is for computer science and I created a niche web development company back when I was a college dropout, I was so tired of doing computer-related stuff academically that I never really got into the whole CMS / RSS / CSS / [pick-an-acronym-and-put-it-here] thing in my personal life :beatup: When I wanted to blog, I’d write a note and post it to Facebook because it required minimal tech work; there are 95 of those to date, and it’s where things like T. Greg’s Tomes got started. But with the acute shift from undergrad to the remarkably-less-tech-savvy atmosphere of law, I figured it’d be fun to experiment with a WordPress deployment and all the attendant web work that goes with it.
  3. Scarcity: I first got introduced to the world of law student blogs the night before 1L Orientation, where I stumbled upon Dennis Jansen’s blog and a few others… that I proceeded to read until 2am.2 One of the things I noticed while reading was that the overwhelming majority of law school bloggers I found were at T14 law schools, and none of them were in the southeast quadrant of the country like me (although Mariel is close). So even though I was greatly appreciative for the insights, I wanted to present a different perspective as a law student at a distinguished-but-unranked law school in the South. And judging from the hundreds of search queries on NCCU Law over the past year, I’m apparently not the only one looking for that type of info before starting law school ;)
  4. Keeping in touch: I couldn’t come up with a cute one-word-ending-in-y description for this one :beatup:  Despite an absurd level of shyness that I have to mentally force myself to ignore, I’m generally a pretty sociable guy. But I’m also a Type A workaholic who took my first bona fide vacation in years just this past Independence Day, and it’s really easy for me to lose touch with people in the process.3 The biggest appeal to starting law:/dev/null was creating a way to let folks know what I was up to and that I was still thinking about them, even if I didn’t have an opportunity to get lunch or talk at length on the phone. I’m not sure how well it’s worked so far but hopefully the folks who are important to me know that ::fingers crossed::

So there you have it folks, a quick glance into the mind of TDot4 and the motivations behind law:/dev/null :)

I hope all of you have a fantastic night, and a great soon-to-be weekend! :D

  1. *THANK YOU* to all of you :heart: []
  2. Hours after I was supposed to go to bed, and the catalyst for the ensuing hilarity/embarrassment during that first day of Orientation :beatup: []
  3. It’s also one of the central reasons why I use thousands of text messages every month, peaking at 10,821 not too long ago — or 1 text message every 4 minutes for an entire month :surprised: []
  4. No “TMI” comments on this post :P []

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TDot’s Mailbag v6.0: 1L Questions Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 23, 2010 in Mail

Good evening y’all! :)

Sorry for the multi-day hiatus here at law:/dev/null. There’s been some personal stuff going on behind the scenes that has really sapped my motivation to be productive,1 and unfortunately that included writing an entry for the blog.

But I missed y’all, so I’m making sure I put something together for tonight ;)

Back during 1L Orientation a couple weeks ago, the NCCU Law Student Bar Association put together a student panel where the 1Ls could ask us any questions they wanted. The 2012 class president and I represented the 2Ls, while the SBA President, Vice President and Parliamentarian offered the 3L perspective.

We got uniformly positive feedback from the 1Ls afterwards, but based on some of the faces I saw while the Q&A was going on I have to wonder if we were really just boring the f*ck out of them :beatup:

The Q&A was capped at an hour, so I’ve gotten a few questions since then that I threw together into this entry. Just remember that my perspective is a bit different from other folks — not always in a good way — so take this with the requisite grains (translation: barrels) of salt…

***

Q: David2 asks:

One of your colleagues on the panel said she studied 60 hours a week to get her grades. Do we really need to study that much?

A: It depends :)

Don’t focus as much on the exact number of hours she quoted as on what she said afterwards: you have to know yourself. No one can gauge your own strengths and weaknesses, your own study habits, your goals, and so on better than you. That’s going to be a huge determinant in how much you study.

For example, I didn’t study anywhere near 60 hours a week during my 1L year. After spending over a decade working in the legal arena, a lot of the terminology and reasoning came naturally to me — so I maybe studied 2 hours a day at most, and most of that was just doing the required readings.

But the difference between my colleague and I? She’s one of the top-ranked students in the class, while I barely made the top half :beatup:

If you have legal experience or naturally “get” this stuff, you may be able to study less; conversely, if the material is difficult for you to digest you’ll need to study more. If you’re content with barely passing, you can have a great time screwing around your 1L year3 and won’t need to study nearly as much as my colleague… but if you want to have a high GPA to get a decent internship or otherwise do something productive with your life, you’ll probably want to work a little (translation: a lot) harder than I did ;)

***

Q: Ethan writes in with a similar question:

So some of my study partners have been in the library since at least 12pm and stay until the building closes. Am I missing something? I’m worried I’m messing up already…

A: See above — it depends ;)

Some of your classmates will genuinely need to study that much, based on their study habits or their scholastic objectives or other issues; we certainly had folks like that in my classes last year. But you’re not going to get anywhere comparing yourself to them.

Remember: law school is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you want to gauge whether or not you’re “messing up already” before midterms, reflect on how well you’re able to understand the material and follow along in class. If you’re totally lost, go see your professor. If you see you’re professor and you’re still totally lost, then think about studying a bit harder or checking the law library for a hornbook or other useful supplement.

Putting in all the study time in the world isn’t going to benefit you at all if you’re not getting anything useful out of the time you’re studying ;)

***

Q: Felicia’s thinking about skipping law review too:

How time-consuming is being an SBA Representative or some of these other clubs? Do you think I’ll have time to do that and study?

A: Not to give everyone the same lawyer-esque response, but you’ve probably guessed by now — it depends :beatup:

All of the SBA Representatives will need to participate in the normal SBA meetings, including when we hear requests for funding from all the student groups which historically takes about 6-7 hours. SBA Reps are also required to have office hours (good study time) and help with planning/implementing any SBA events that get held.

If this were the entire equation, I’d say “Of course you’ll have time”… but only you will know what grades you’re aiming for and how much you’ll need to study to get there.

I’d encourage you to run regardless — if nothing else, it’s a great opportunity to get out and meet your fellow 1Ls — but whether you’ll have time for it is a judgment call you’ll have to make for yourself.

***

Q: Gabriel also has studying on his mind:

I’m having trouble deciding whether or not to do my case briefing based on the outlines the 2Ls gave me, the stuff I find on random case briefing websites, or just do the reading and brief it all on my own? A combination of the two or three?

A: Definitely do the briefing all on your own, at least for the first few weeks. The stuff 2Ls pass down to 1Ls is designed to serve as a template since you’ll have no clue what to look for when you first start out. The whole point to briefing on your own is to train your mind to recognize the important stuff in a case.

After you’ve been at it for a month or two, odds are good you’ll be in the habit of briefing the case in your mind as you read — this is the precursor to the common “book briefing” you’ll see other students using, where stuff like “Issue” and “Rule” get scrawled in the margins of the textbook. At that point folks will start using the 2L briefs to save time, because by that point in the semester you’ll be focusing more on outlining than you will on case briefs.

***

Q: Henry is looking ahead to next year:

Is law school really just a big head game? What’s the biggest difference between 1L year and 2L year?

A: To the first question, I’d say yes.

You’ll hear folks repeat the law school aphorism “Your first year they scare you to death, your second year they work you to death, and your third year they bore you to death.” But if you know you want to be a lawyer and you’re determined to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal — or, conversely, you have a backup plan and don’t really care if you fail out — there’s nothing to really scare you in the first year.

And, at least in my opinion, a lack of fear goes a long way to maintaining your composure under pressure and mastering the 1L crucible.

As for the second question, the biggest difference I’ve noticed between 1L and 2L years so far is how relaxed everyone seems. There’s no discernible terror over being called on in class. People understand the material. Folks don’t seem to study as much as last year — hell even a slacker like me was actually two days ahead on the class readings :crack:

We’re only a week into the semester though, so I’m fairly sure things will change from here :)

***

Q: And we’ll finish with a question from Isabella about my own motivations for law school:

What made you pursue law after having done computer science?

A: As bizarre as I’m sure it sounds, I’ve actually wanted to do law since I was a kid :beatup:

Some time around the 10th grade I really got hooked on civics, public service, and related stuff — read Supreme Court decisions for fun and so on.4 I decided I wanted to be a constitutional law professor at some point, and wanted to be Virginia’s Attorney General when I got older (before I moved to North Carolina and fell in love with this state :spin: ).

But I also grew up in a family that most folks would consider “poor” financially, so my college focus was on what was going to make me the most $$$ when I graduated. I had a talent for computers and I started at N.C. State right as the dot-com boom was hitting its stride. I was going to become a computer engineer and make six figures starting after graduation.

That was the plan at least. I dropped out of N.C. State two years later because I couldn’t afford tuition and ended up $16K in debt to the University :beatup:

During the five years I was a dropout, I worked in the legal arena the whole time since I could make a decent wage without a college degree. Getting hired for computing-related jobs, by contrast, typically required various certifications that I couldn’t afford to get. So when I finally came back to N.C. State in August 2005, I knew law school was definitively where I was going once undergrad was done.

But I was also determined to get my Bachelor’s degree in some kind of computer-related field because I felt like switching into something else would be like admitting defeat, like I wasn’t intelligent enough to hack it in a “hard science” engineering discipline. I briefly entertained the thought of switching to Communications or Political Science or Economics before coming back to that conclusion every time. Not the most rational thought pattern in the world, I admit… but I damn sure have a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science adorning the wall of my bedroom ;)

So that was a ridiculously long answer where a fairly short one would suffice: I’ve known I wanted to do this for years, I just didn’t do it sooner because I was stubborn as hell :)

—===—

That’s it from me for the night folks! I hope all of you have an amazing week!! :D

  1. For example, dealing with people who treat you with a level of respect generally reserved for household insects… until they need tech support. And then don’t show up after asking you to be available at a certain time to provide said tech support. And then act incredulous when you no longer have the patience to continue dealing with them gratis or otherwise. []
  2. In case you’re new to these mailbag entries, all the names are anonymous — picked at random from the Social Security Administration’s Popular Names database. Feel free to send me an email if you’ve got a question for a mail entry! :D []
  3. For posterity’s sake, my “screwing around” was actually doing advocacy work with UNCASG. I’m bad but I’m not that bad. ;)   []
  4. Yes, I was odd. Don’t judge me. :P []

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1

Tweet-sized Tuesdays #15

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 10, 2010 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

雅雅 moves 13hrs away tomorrow; #notafan of that transition :( Enjoyed seeing new+old faces @ 1L Orientation today tho. Ready for the year! :D

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Random snippets from today

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 9, 2010 in Randomness

Not enough time to polish up a full entry for tonight, so I figured I’d go with bullet points of random things that crossed my mind today:

  • I made some minor behind-the-scenes changes to the blog, mostly to correct bad coding practices I was too lazy to fix before now :beatup:  The only thing you might notice is the blog heading: instead of “law:/dev/null – Musings of a Computer Scientist turned Law Student” as one über-huge title string, it’s now just “law:/dev/null” with the second half as a lower-level heading underneath it. It should still visually look the same, but if it doesn’t hit refresh on your browser to make sure your computer isn’t using a cached version of the stylesheet.
  • The spam problems that prompted this entry on .htaccess files also appear under control (fingers crossed). Spam comments are still annoyingly frequent, but at least with a fleshed-out .htaccess file I’m only averaging 4 a day instead of 50+ :spin:
  • I’ve met 3 incoming 1Ls over the past 4 days; two are folks I corresponded with through this blog before I knew they were coming to NCCU Law, and the 3rd today just happened to visit the SBA office while I was in there. It’s a lot of fun being able to answer their questions, but it also reminds me how little (translation: none) exploration I did before Orientation. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so nervous if I had? :beatup:
  • After that 2-mile run the other day my muscles were tighter than a Nancy Pelosi facelift. It was a remarkably unpleasant experience. Lots of stretching and untold milligrams of ibuprofen later, I knocked out another 2 miles today. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow… (fingers crossed again)
  • Speaking of politicians — horrible segue, I know :P  — I’ve been really disappointed in this recent GOP talk of trying to amend the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship. I mentioned back on Cinco de Mayo that to me there was something fundamentally un-American in penalizing a child for the sins of his/her parent(s). In re-reading the Constitution for ConLaw I next week, I noticed in Article III Section 3 that it bans “corruption of blood”, an old British punishment where the offspring of a parent convicted of a high crime were themselves sanctioned by being disinherited by the government and often condemned to a life of poverty as a result. How sad that the Founding Fathers (who crafted the Constitution) and the ancient Republican Party (who crafted the Fourteenth Amendment) both agree with me on this principle, but the modern Republican Party (of which I’m a member) does not — and would advocate needless tinkering with the most effective and enduring governing document on God’s Earth for the sake of one election… :roll:
  • I’m also disappointed that “Pretty Boy Swag” ranks as high as it does on the iTunes Top 100. When did sh*t like this become mainstream rap? :crack:
  • To close on a more upbeat note, while I was handing out those Orientation t-shirts I met a 3L who came in asking for one. My admittedly-untrained eye thought she looked like she needed a Small, so I apologized and told her we were out of the Smalls and a Medium would be the best I could do. That comment triggered a huge grin and a laugh that I mistook her for someone who needed a small t-shirt (turned out I was off a bit :beatup: ). My face turned beet red — I don’t really know why in hindsight, I guess just embarrassment for sticking my foot in my mouth? — but I’m glad I brightened her day :)

That’s it from me y’all — I’m heading to bed so I can get up in the morning and head to the law school to help out with Orientation! :D

Have a great night! :)

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NCCU Law 1Ls: What to Expect at Orientation

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 8, 2010 in The 2L Life

Over the weekend I got an email from one of the long-time readers here at law:/dev/null — and a quick THANK YOU to all of you :* — reminding me that I still haven’t posted the Site Stats for July.

So I was going through the search terms to put that together, and saw “what to expect at nccu law orientation” among them. I figured that needs a bit more than the 1-line treatment I typically give the search queries each month :)

Before giving you my $.02, I need to stress that this is strictly 100% my own recollections and opinions taken from my three entries on Orientation last year. They are not in any way endorsed / vetted / reviewed / affirmed / or any other relevant verb’d by NCCU Law, the Student Bar Association, or anyone else. Your experience will likely be different — and hopefully less embarrassing than mine — so take all of this with the requisite grains of salt ;)

Also, since I’m in the NCCU Law day program these recollections are day program-specific. If you’re in the evening program you’ll go through the same stuff, it’ll just be structured differently.

We’ll start with some preliminaries:

====================
PREREQUISITES
====================

Attire: Last year I came to the first day of Orientation in a suit… and was one of at most a half dozen others to do the same :beatup: This will be the first impression you’ll make on your teachers and future colleagues so you don’t want to dress like a bum, but if you don’t want to do full business attire you can stick with your Sunday best.

Dennis Jansen (a 3L @ UMN Law) has this excellent post on Orientation fashion advice. And if you happen to be a lady, Huma Rashid (a 3L @ John Marshall Law) has an entire category of outfits just for you. Read them both. Trust me ;)

Parking: Not sure if things will be different this year, but last year we had the same places to park during Orientation as we did during the school year: (i) on the strip alongside the law school, (ii) in the Education Building parking lot, (iii) in the parking lot in front of the gym, (iv) the newly-paved lot across from the Criminal Justice building, and (v) a handful of other places you’ll only need if you end up getting to class really really late. Go to the NCCU Campus Map for directions. Plan to arrive early and you’ll be fine parking-wise :)

Sections: You can figure out what section you’re in already by looking at your schedule in Banner, but if you haven’t accessed that yet you’ll know for certain when you check in at Orientation. You’ll be split into your sections for most of the sessions all week.1

Technology: If you have a laptop and you’re planning on using it during the year, bring it with you on the first day. NCCU Law has a laptop loaner program where every 1L has the option to borrow an IBM ThinkPad from the school, but many of us prefer to use our own. Bringing it on Day One will give you a chance to get everything configured for use on the law school’s wifi network.

Timeline: Orientation is pretty much an all-day (or all-evening) thing each day. Plan to show up at 8-9am and plan to stay there until 5pm or later (more on the “or later” part for Day Two below).

====================
DAY ONE: WELCOME TO NCCU
====================

The first day of Orientation last year was the really basic nuts and bolts to life at NC Central University.

You’ll check in, hang out in the Fishbowl for a bit (and eat some of the breakfast items sponsored by your Student Bar Association ;) ), then go to the classroom where you’ll spend your 1L year for the rest of the day’s activities.

The day is broken up into 30-45 minute segments on various issues. You’ll get introduced to the Chief (the Dean of the law school) as well as the high-level law school staff. You’ll hear from the Registrar about basic class registration and related items. There will be a Q&A session on financial aid, student loans, and other money-related issues. There will be a segment on your respective learning styles from Dr. Psych. And you’ll hear from the IT folks about how to navigate the various law school facilities available to you.

The really fun stuff happens at the end, when you’ll get your login/passwords for both LexisNexis and WestLaw, putting oodles and oodles of cases at your fingertips for whenever you’re bored. And you’ll be given a tour of the law school — which will hopefully include a trip down to the SBA office to say hi to me :D

====================
DAY TWO: WELCOME TO LAW SCHOOL
====================

If Day One were designed to introduce you to NCCU, Day Two introduces you to the NCCU School of Law… and the long hours law school can consume :beatup:

In the morning your CivPro professor will give you an introduction to the legal system. After that you’ll hear a bit more detail about the various law school departments and how they can help you (career services, academic support, and so on).

At some point that day you’ll also get to hear from a panel of students about the rich legacy of NCCU Law, and then have a second law-related session where your Contracts professor will introduce you to briefing cases — and even assigning homework :surprised:

Once that’s done, you basically have a break to knock out the essential stuff you need to do. The Bookstore will have a “mobile store” set up in one of the courtrooms on the ground floor. You’ll be able to buy your parking permit on the 2nd floor. You’ll get your picture taken in the Fishbowl for the law school’s annual student profile thing. Etc etc etc.

Then that night there will be a reception in the Great Hall with NCCU Law alumni, followed by a session on professionalism with those alums and folks from the N.C. Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. The reception and professionalism session combine both the day and evening programs, so it’s an excellent opportunity to get to know your fellow 1Ls from all over the school :)

====================
DAY THREE: NOW GET TO WORK
====================

I actually had to skip the last part of Orientation last year because of a conflict with a UNC Board of Governors meeting I had to attend as UNCASG President — so even though I remember what was supposed to take place, this section of the post is also part speculation.

In the morning you’ll have some group discussions on To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the books you were assigned to read over the summer. You’ll also have another session on briefing cases as well — and you still have to turn in that homework even if you skip like I did :beatup:

You’ll also go over the Student Handbook and the Code of Conduct, as well as a session on avoiding plagiarism. And at some point you’ll be given a writing exercise.

The last event for the day will be a second panel with different students on it, that will basically be a Q&A for you to ask any lingering questions that didn’t get addressed during the rest of Orientation.  I’m on that second panel, so if you want to try and stump me feel free to start thinking of your questions now ;)

====================
TDOT’S ADVICE
====================

If I had a chance to do Orientation all over again, the only thing I’d change is that I’d be more relaxed.

Before law school several friends used to call me “the oldest and the coldest” in tribute to my unflappable personality (and balding scalp :beatup: ). But for some reason I was ridiculously nervous during Orientation, and I didn’t enjoy myself nearly as much as I should have.

You’re getting ready to start an amazing experience at a truly unique law school, and you’re going to meet people who will be colleagues and friends for years to come. Go in with the mindset to soak in as much information as you can, to meet as many folks as you can, and to enjoy yourself as much as you can — do that and you’ll be in good shape :)

***

That’s it from me — if you have any questions between now and Orientation feel free to send me an email! Looking forward to meeting y’all this week! :D

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Orientation-related items from the law:/dev/null archives:

  1. No matter what anyone else tells you, §103 is the best :angel: []

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