9

End-of-Semester Enmity

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 22, 2011 in The 3L Life

I’m usually among the most even-keeled people you’ll meet, with near-infinite reserves of patience. It’s why people like having me around in “crisis” situations.1

But even I get snippy when it’s the end of the semester and homework is weighing me down :beatup:

I was late getting up this morning and raced to class terrified that I’d go over on my allowed absences. When I walk in the classroom door, I notice on the projection screen that we’re supposed to be filling out professor evaluations… and a half-dozen or so of the class’s high achievers are engaged in a vocal across-the-room conversation about how much they dislike Prof Tax because of the take-home final she assigned to us.2

Now normally I wouldn’t care; people complaining about professors is how I’ve learned who to take and who to avoid over the years. But Prof Tax said at the beginning of the semester that she was going to give us an in-class exam and these people protested. They protested with sufficient intensity that the Prof let the class vote on whether they wanted a take-home exam or an in-class exam, and these people voted for the take-home over the objections of those of us in the back of the room.

So after the “Prof Tax is evil for giving us what we asked for” convo went on and on (and on) I got annoyed and posted a status on Facebook.

My Facebook status (top); the pre-cartoon Gchat convo with Negative Nancy (bottom)

That prompted one of the complainers to bellow across literally the entire room3 “GREG, THAT’S NOT EVEN RIGHT!”, me to reply “The truth hurts.”, and her to start a Gchat conversation with me explaining how my opinion on the class was irrelevant since I never turned in the first-of-two homework assignments.4

Prof Tax then walks in the room, and the first thing she announces is that at least 3 people have cheated on the 2nd assignment :crack:

Two have practically identical responses, and a third is copied not-quite-verbatim from a professional supplement. Predictably the Prof was displeased, the individuals in question will be getting 0’s on the assignment and referrals to the law school’s Disciplinary Committee… and I added a comment to my own FB status (posted to the right).

The ensuing Gchat conversation is what set me off.

For all of NCCU Law‘s merits — see, for example, the “Why NCCU?” entry linked above — we’ve got a small-but-vocal group of students who do nothing but complain all. the. damn. time.

And I don’t mean substantive complaints that point out correctable flaws, or folks who complain but offer solutions. I mean people who constantly gripe in general terms, and on those exceedingly rare occasions they offer any specific critiques they then categorically refuse to offer any constructive advice (and even when their concerns are addressed, no resolution is ever good enough).

A summary of the first 15 minutes of Tax class

They’re such an annoyance to other students that I actually wrote a memo to the faculty back in September proposing changes to the types of folks we admit in an effort to address student concerns.

I get it: some people just aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy. Every school’s got them, as anyone in Student Government or a Student Bar Association can attest.

But I’m pretty sure this is the first time any of them had the metaphorical cajones to claim *my* comments made the school look bad…

…so I pulled up Dan Awesome’s Rage Maker and cobbled together a comic summarizing the first 15 minutes of class.5 :D

Excessive? Maybe.

Deserved? Absolutely.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving, I need a few days off from these folks…

  1. When you’re not afraid to fail, it’s really easy to think clearly and succeed. []
  2. Two lengthy essay questions, including a 6-part question with a 4-page fact pattern :( []
  3. I sit in the next-to-last row out of ~15 rows. []
  4. Don’t ask me how one logically relates to the other; I couldn’t figure it out either :crack: []
  5. First, the guy’s got an awesome last name. Second, if you’re unfamiliar with the rage comic internet meme make sure to educate yourself at KnowYourMeme.com. :) []

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3

[F]ixed [O]r [R]epaired [D]aily

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 11, 2011 in Fail

“The best laid schemes of mice and men,” Robert Burns wrote a couple centuries ago, “go often askew[.]”

That pretty much sums up today :beatup:

One thing I left out of yesterday’s update on life was that I missed AppAd last Monday to get repairs made to my car, a paid-off-but-aging-rapidly Ford Focus that I’ve driven across the State of North Carolina several times over.1 My cursed tire was flat again for reasons unknown so I headed in to the repair shop, got the tire fixed (gratis), and decided to get the usual pre-winter maintenance done as well: oil change, tire rotation and alignment, coolant flush, and so on.

Sure it came out to a few hundred dollars, but I thought to msyelf “At least this car won’t need any more maintenance until Spring semester.”

Ha. Hahahaha. Ha.

:(

So today’s Election Day in the Bull City, I leave the apartment a little earlier than usual with the plan to go vote before class… and notice the car feels funny. When you’ve been driving the same vehicle for nearly a decade, you can just tell when something’s wrong. And sure enough when I get to the next stoplight the battery warning light comes on to tell me something’s awry with the electrical system.

Rather than turning right to go to the polls, I turn left to go to the repair shop again. A few minutes after turning my key over to them I learn that the refurb’d alternator I had installed back in 2008 picked today to stop working :mad:

And unlike my old 1987 Mazda pickup truck (the first vehicle I had), today’s cars are manufactured by machines that cram parts so @#$%ing tight that it’s damn near impossible to service yourself and takes repair shops a few hours to fix things too. My Focus is actually intentionally designed so the only way you can really replace the alternator is by machine-lowering the entire engine block a few inches :roll:   So I’m at the mercy of the repair folks, shell out more $$$, and head on my way 3 hours later.

In time to completely miss both Tax and Employment Discrimination, less than 24 hours after promising Prof Tax I’d be in class on-time and caught-up…

Over the past just-over-a-month I’ve now spent in excess of $1500 on auto repairs:  getting the cursed tire fixed 3x, replacing some part that holds some other belt in place,2 last Monday’s maintenance, and then this stuff today. That not only totally wipes out my savings account that barely endured what is already my most expensive semester of all time, it also erases the $700 I had set aside for my NC bar application due January 1st :(

And just to add insult to injury? I was late getting out of Sales & Secured Transactions tonight so I couldn’t even make it to the polls before they closed, making this the first election I’ve missed since I started voting 12 years ago :beatup:

Needless to say your friendly neighborhood blawger’s in a bitter @#$%ing mood. Heading to bed with the knowledge tomorrow will inevitably be a better day — have a good night y’all! :)

  1. Literally — I’ve driven it to every campus in the 17-institution UNC system at least 2-3 times apiece. :D []
  2. Which just completely fell off while I was driving one day, destroying the belt in the process :mad: []

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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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8

First impressions of 3L Fall

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

The old saying was “1L year they scare you to death, 2L year they work you to death, 3L year they bore you to death.”

Evidently I’ve become so skilled at procrastination that I’m just now getting to the “work you to death” part, because this semester is going to be crazy :beatup:

Yes, that's nearly 2 feet of textbook for just one semester -- and doesn't even include Employment Discrimination!

With the first week of 3L Fall behind me (NCCU Law started a week later this calendar year) and 1.5′ of books to read, here are some initial thoughts on my classes this semester:

===============
PREFACE
===============

After graduating high school with few accolades — and graduating from N.C. State with none at all — I decided I was going to be one of the most-decorated people to cross NCCU Law’s stage for graduation on May 12, 2012.

So I’m currently signed up for the maximum number of hours you can take in a semester (16 hours / 6 classes) and will be taking a full load next semester too. And I don’t have the option of dropping any of them if I stick with my plan to be blinged out in May.

Just wanted to throw that preface out there so y’all don’t think I’m insane ;)

 

===============
APPELLATE ADVOCACY I
===============

Those of you who are long-time readers of law:/dev/null1 might notice that I had signed up for this class last year… and promptly dropped it when things got too busy.

The problem is that AppAd is a prerequisite for trying out for our Moot Court Board, which I’ve developed an ever-so-tiny urge to attempt even if I stick with the TYLA trial team this coming year.

Prof AppAd is the same professor I’ve got for Criminal Prosecution Clinic I. Seems to be a good guy, passionate about the subject and has a good sense of humor to keep things entertaining. He also appears to be very very very detail-oriented — which makes me feel better since I won’t be the only one raising an eyebrow when I see a sample appeal in two different fonts :beatup:

 

===============
FUNDAMENTALS OF INCOME TAXATION
===============

This class… yyyeeeaaaahhh…

Remember how I said I appreciated Prof Ks because he was upbeat about the subject?

And remember how I still hated Contracts because it was (i) so @#$%ing early in the morning, (ii) required, and (iii) the subject matter was more dense than a brick wrapped in a neutron star at the center of black hole?

And remember how I ended up with a C- in Contracts I and a C in Contracts II?

The first two items on that list accurately describe Tax so far: passionate teacher, required course with dense subject matter at 8:30am.

I’m praying I don’t end up with the third item on the list too…

 

===============
EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION
===============

MDG teaches this one, which is the only reason I signed up for the class — I might not have loved CivPro, but at least I knew the material when we finished! :)

Class has been challenging so far because the bookstore still doesn’t have the casebook so I only partially know what’s going on.2 The upside is that MDG has focused on teaching the concepts with hypos drawn from real cases, so the debates have been interesting and the class has been pretty engaged.

Not that we have much choice since there are only 9 of us in there, but still…

This also goes toward the elective requirements for me to complete NCCU Law’s Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration that I’ll have wrapped up this semester (assuming I pass :beatup: )

 

===============
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW II: FIRST AMENDMENT
===============

I’m not sure what to think about this one.

On the one hand, (1) I love constitutional law in general and (2) this is one of the required courses for the Civil Rights concentration.

On the other, I don’t think the professor likes me…

It could just be me imagining things of course, but the first time we met in-person was upon her request to come to her office (I had emailed her to see if she would approve me being added to the course even though it was at the enrollment cap). When I got there, she asked me to sit tight because she had to walk across the hall and talk to MDG about something.

3 hours later and I was still sitting there before finally deciding I had been punk’d :beatup:

That aside, so far the classes have been fun hashing out some of the nettlesome challenges facing the courts in dealing with the First Amendment. I’m assuming it only gets better from here…

 

===============
SALES & SECURED TRANSACTIONS
===============

Contracts IV basically.3  :cry:

Prof Sales sort of reminds me of the mad scientists you see on TV: very passionate, very animated, trying to convince the masses to take an interest in their respective crafts. He’s funny too.

But, again, this is essentially Contracts IV we’re talking about here. I’m trying not to go in with a too-negative mindset, but I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the semester in this class…

 

===============
CRIMINAL PROSECUTION CLINIC I
===============

Not sure what to expect here — this class only meets once a week, and I had to sheepishly ask Prof AppAd if I could leave about an hour in for a required meeting I had with the law school administration :beatup:

Essentially this class will be teaching us how to handle ourselves in the courtroom when we’re trying actual cases under the Third Year Practice Rule next semester when we do the field portion of this class. Since this is what I want to do for a living (assuming I can make enough to pay the bills) I’m looking forward to the experience :D

***

So that’s the synopsis so far :) It’s going to be a long semester, but I hope / pray / expect it will be worth it in the end!

Have a great night y’all! :D

–===–

From the law:/dev/null First Impressions archive:

  1. *THANK YOU* :heart: []
  2. Apparently the folks at Follett (the vendor NCCU contracts with to run the store) noticed that the 7th edition was no longer in print, but never took it upon themselves to discover that the 8th edition was out. So we have 8th Edition statutory supplements at the store, but no 8th edition casebook. Needless to say that’s been on my list of complaints our SBA is dealing with… []
  3. I consider Business Associations to be Contracts III… []

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-

Preview of my 3L Fall schedule

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 22, 2011 in The 3L Life

Welcome to the very first entry in the new “The 3L Life” category! :D

True, I’m not technically a 3L for another 1.5 months yet. But since I’m now all signed up for 3L classes I figured this would be as good an entry as any to make it official on the blog ;)

As you could probably guess from yesterday’s entry on my Summer 2011 classes, Monday was registration day for the 2Ls here at NCCU Law. It was also the first semester the 3Ls did not register, and it showed in the course availability — while 3 seconds last semester was all it took for me to get frozen out of several classes I wanted, I overslept yesterday, logged in to the registration system about 5 minutes late, but still got everything I needed :spin:

Fall 2011 Schedule: almost done!

It’s also shaping up to be a dog of a semester as I knock out more of my required courses :crack:

I’ll be starting my Tuesday and Thursday mornings with our Fundamentals of Income Taxation class. Just about every 3L I’ve talked to has told me to stay far away from Professor Tax, some heatedly so,1 but this is the only Tax section I could take that would fit with the other classes so I’m rolling the dice.

On the opposite end of the day, the earliest Sales and Secured Transactions class I can take that doesn’t conflict with something else starts at 6:00pm M/T/H :beatup:

Sales has a reputation as one of our hardest 3L classes, so combining that (I subject I already know I don’t like) with Professor Tax (who will already be teaching another subject I already know I don’t like) is going to make for interesting / stressed out times.

The rest of my classes are all electives though, and split to complement the similarly-competing interests in my summer schedule. Employment Discrimination is taught by MDG and will cover the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and related hiring issues that might come up if I went the in-house counsel route with a tech firm. The class also goes toward our Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration that I’m working to knock out.

Appellate Advocacy is a class I originally planned to take this Spring, but dropped when I realized 2L trial team was going to be running my life. I’m going to give it another shot in the Fall because it’s a required co-requisite in order to participate in our annual moot court competitions, which I’ve developed a small but persistent interest in trying.  Professor AppAd spent most of his legal career working for the Attorney General’s Office on both trial and appellate cases so it should make for an interesting class.

The last course on the list is our Criminal Prosecution Clinic class, which is the prerequisite for our field clinic in the Durham County Courthouse next Spring. It’s also taught by Professor AppAd, and it’s a course I’ve been planning to take this class ever since the 1L trial team last year. I’m not sure if I’ll be keeping it though — for some reason it’s not included among the clinical programs that apply to the Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration, so if I can’t petition successfully to have it apply I’ll have to look for something else.

The biggest upshot to the schedule is that I’ve got no classes at all on Fridays along with a huge gap in the middle of the day for SBA business.2 At the very least I’ll never have an excuse to fall behind on classwork ;)

—===—

From the schedule-related archives:

  1. Apparently she failed a handful of 3Ls last semester, not only requiring them to re-take the course but nuking some GPAs in the process :surprised: []
  2. Or an internship if I lose this election :beatup: []

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