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Quick look at Summer 2011 classes

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 21, 2011 in The 2L Life

One of the downsides to still having no clue what I want to do after I pass the bar is that I’ve got a long list of classes I’m still interested in taking and not enough time to actually take them.

Summer 2011: A little bit of everything

Soooo I decided to sign up for my 6th consecutive year of summer school classes :beatup:

You can get a sense of my indecisiveness just from the course subjects:

  • Plea Bargaining: Taught by the same professor who taught my ADR Practices course (and from whom I earned my first bona fide A in law school), I’m taking this class to complement the other coursework I’ve already knocked out if I end up going the criminal prosecution route.1 My uneducated guess is that this will be functionally similar to the other ADR courses I took last year, but with a negotiating eye focused more toward evidence and admissibility issues to provide the leverage in negotiations.
  • Intellectual Property: On the other end of the “what am I going to do with my life?” spectrum, this class will be my first dip into the intellectual property side of things to see if I’d actually like it. NCCU Law has a fairly wide array of IP-related courses — in addition to this one and the USPTO Clinic below, we’ve got courses on patents, licensing and technology transfers, bioethics, and several others — that I never really considered taking until I got an internship in the tech arena. So I’m figuring I need to perform some due diligence and see if this could be an enjoyable option for me ;)
  • U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Practice & Procedure: Since my undergrad degree was in computer science, I’m able to sit for the patent bar without any further technical education if I decide to take it. This course is the classroom prerequisite for anyone taking our USPTO Clinic in the Fall/Spring, so I wanted to get some exposure to how the USPTO works just in case I decide to dabble in IP. It’s only 1 credit and taken pass/fail but will (hopefully) provide some useful insights.
  • Civil Rights: Like my Race & the Law class last summer, this is one of those courses I’m taking just because the subject matter is interesting to me. Where Race & the Law focused on the modern Constitutional implications of our country’s historical race-centric jurisprudence, Civil Rights takes a look at the Constitutional questions surrounding federal civil rights litigation.2 It’s definitely a hot topic here in North Carolina, from the new school assignment policies of the Wake County School Board, to upcoming legislative redistricting by the state’s first Republican-led legislature since Reconstruction, and a variety of other issues in between. It’s actually got me thinking about pursuing our law school’s concentration in civil rights and constitutional law. Should be fun :)

Time-wise, the schedule is somewhat similar to what I took last summer with late afternoon and night classes on Monday / Tuesday / Thursday. The upshot is that there’s no Friday or weekend classes like I had with ADR last year, so that gives me time to catch up on anything I need to catch up on. It also leaves me free during the day once I figure out what I’m going to do internship-wise, be it heading back to I-Cubed or working pro bono for a local DA’s office (or something else entirely).

It should be an interesting summer :D

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From the schedule-related archives:

  1. Already taken CrimLaw and Evidence, in CrimPro now, and will be taking our Criminal Prosecution Clinic in the Fall and Spring. []
  2. Causes of action, jurisdiction, standing, class actions, and so on. []

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Summer ’10 Final Grades

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 16, 2011 in NotFail

A couple days ago I posted an updated entry on how my 1L Spring grades turned out, and this entry is a follow-up with my summer school grades so y’all will have the “full picture” of how my 1L academic life turned out :)

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SUPERIOR COURT MEDIATION
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This 5-day, 40-hour pass/fail class doubled as a CLE for practicing attorneys and is required for all certified mediators in North Carolina.

Tagged by me as “Lobbying for Lawyers“, essentially we learned about various types of alternative dispute resolution and then plowed in-depth into various aspects of mediation, followed by a series of role-playing exercises where we rotated as mediator with other classmates acting as attorneys or clients.

The variety of ages and student-vs-practicing-attorney split made for a different dynamic than the other classes (in a good way). Even though there were some boring moments, I enjoyed it overall and feel like I learned some useful snippets from it. It certainly helped with my ADR Clinic experience :)

Expected final grade for class: Pass
Actual final grade for class: Pass

Synopsis: Useful topic + free food == #win

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ADR PROCESSES AND PRACTICE
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While Superior Court Mediation focused on teaching the various types of alternative dispute resolution and training people on how to be effective mediators, this class focused on ADR from the vantage points of the advocates.

The first day of class covered some of the essentials on ADR that I had already learned, but beyond that each subsequent class involved reading a chapter or two on negotiating styles, competitive tactics, and so on along with learning a new fact pattern. Then we’d have a mock settlement conference with opposing counsel for each of these sets of facts.

The professor for the course was hilarious and laid-back. I also surprisingly enjoyed the course textbook (even though it was dry in parts).

Final grades for the course were based on a journal maintained throughout the summer session1 and two essays critiquing the results of a negotiation session and a mediation session respectively. I figured I aced the essays but also lost points on the journal because I missed an entry or two. Luckily it wasn’t enough to alter my grade :D

Expected final grade for class: A-
Actual final grade for class: A

Synopsis: Good professor + good textbook == #win

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ADR CLINIC
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Most of my experiences in this class already got written about elsewhere on the blog under the ADR tag. Basically every participant had to mediate about a dozen cases, the bulk of which were in Criminal District Court in Wake County. We also mediated cases involving child support, 50(B) protective orders, Medicaid cases pending before the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings, and had to sit in on a session with Wake County’s Drug Court.

Clinic grades were based on performance/professionalism during the mediations, teaching a class on an ADR-related topic of choice, completing three different reflections on various mediations (mine were late), and compiling a portfolio including a résumé and pricing list for use if/when we became real mediators.

The main upside to the class was learning that I’m probably not cut out for mediation. I’m incredibly talented at it, but I’m also accustomed to having an opinion and I’m ill-suited to simply facilitating :beatup:

Expected final grade for class: B-
Actual final grade for class: B+

Synopsis: Tangible experience + decent grade == #win

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RACE & THE LAW
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This class was the highlight of my summer :spin:

It’s a seminar course that focuses on the impact race has played on American jurisprudence, through the lens of 5 different groups (lumped together in the casebook as whites, blacks, asians, hispanics, and American Indians). In addition to examining the core case law — sizable chunks of which are still surprisingly considered good law, even though they were based on what we now know are inaccurate perceptions of race — the book then follows with looking at race-based cases as applied to issues such as free speech, marriage/adoption, immigration, political participation, and so on.

As you can probably guess, conversations in the class periodically got emotional but everything was kept at a high level of professionalism. It was engaging to hear the different perspectives based not only on folks’ own races, but also their age, socioeconomic status, sexuality, upbringing, military service and various other factors. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though my somewhat-outspoken views aren’t exactly politically correct.2

Final grades were based on two different group presentations and two essays. I had to give myself a crash course in constitutional law because all of the essay options included either First or Fourteenth Amendment considerations, but I anchored myself to a desk at the law school until I learned it and wrote solid responses. The effort was worth it ;)

Expected final grade for class: A
Actual final grade for class: A

Synopsis: Engaging discussion + “A” in a 3-credit course == #win^2

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FINAL SCORE: SUMMER 2010 FINALS
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Expected End-of-Summer GPA: 3.523
Actual End-of-Summer GPA: 3.810

Actual End-of-1L GPA: 2.898 (Law school median: 2.000)

*****

I’ll be focused on the upcoming TYLA regional competition in Charlotte for the next few days so I don’t know when I’ll have a follow-up post, but once life settles down I’ll go through the Fall 2011 semester and I’ll finally be more-or-less caught up with things :)

Have a great night y’all!

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From the grade-related archives:

  1. I hate those things []
  2. While I recognize actual racism still exists across society — a recognition affirmed throughout the 7 years I dated QuietStorm — I think the overwhelming majority of problems attributed to “race” today are more accurately attributable to class / socioeconomic differences, particularly for people 35 and younger. []

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It’s like Spring finals. But worse.

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 24, 2010 in The 2L Life

Last night’s mini-rant on exam essays was just part of my general discontent with the end of my first summer session here at the N.C. Central University School of Law. I knew going into it that things would be fast-paced — after all we’re compressing 15 weeks’ worth of material into just 5 — but given the fewer credit hours I’m taking (7 now vs 15 in the Spring) my expectation was that things couldn’t be quite that bad.

And for the past month they haven’t been. Until now. When everything wants to happen in the span of 5ish days. :mad:

The Race & the Law final was due today; 2 essays with 3 issues apiece on constitutional law-related issues (bear in mind I don’t take ConLaw until the Fall).  Tomorrow at noon I’m mediating a case for my ADR Clinic requirements. Saturday I have class from 9am-3pm, in which I’ll be giving a 10-minute research presentation on plea bargaining — most of the “in-person” research for which hasn’t been done because the folks I hoped to interview haven’t been available except when I was in class. Once that’s wrapped I need to knock out my final exam for ADR Processes & Practices (another 2 essays) that’s due Monday at noon, so I can pivot and complete a portfolio project for the ADR Clinic later the same day.

I don’t mind hard work at all; it’s the best way to keep me out of trouble :beatup: But it would have been nice if this intensity was spread out throughout the summer session instead of compressed into only a few days…

Sorry for the griping y’all, just need to get it off my chest — thank you for indulging me :)  Heading to bed so I can get back on the grind tomorrow. Have a good night! :D

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Summer 2010 Class Schedule!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 26, 2010 in The 2L Life

So I’ve been talking with y’all about my summer classes, but just realized I never got around to actually telling y’all what they were :beatup:

The Summer Class Schedule -- Nights and Weekends :beatup:

This is the first time I’ve taken night classes at the NCCU School of Law, and it’s also the first time I’ve had regular classes on the weekend. Both of them require some mental adjustment — reminding myself to get work done during the day Tuesday-Thursday that I’d normally save for the weekend — but being able to squeeze all this into just 5 weeks is worth it.

The Superior Court Mediation class isn’t pictured because it’s already done :spin:  That was a 5-day, 40-hour beast that seemed ridiculously long at the time but taught me quite a bit of info.

The ADR Clinic tied in with the Mediation class will continue all summer long, where I’ll be in court on Mondays helping to mediate cases in District Criminal Court and on Fridays get to observe other ADR programs like Wake County’s Drug Treatment Court.

I’m also taking a course titled ADR Processes and Practice, which covers the same basic types of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods but focused specifically on the role of the attorney (as opposed to the mediator). After having these 3 courses knocked out, I’m now thinking about going ahead and getting the law school’s Certificate in Dispute Resolution — but we’ll have to see what happens over the next few semesters first :)

Then the last class I’m taking is Race and the Law, which essentially looks at how American jurisprudence has developed vis-à-vis the various ethnic groups in the country (e.g. things like property law and American Indians, or the entire legal apparatus developed to sustain slavery and later segregation). The professor has a reputation as an excellent instructor that extends well beyond NCCU Law, and the topic itself is fascinating — especially compared to the watered-down history we learn in K-12, coupled with folks’ general aversion to talking about race at all.

But that’s something for a later post ;) It should be a fun semester :D

That’s it for tonight — hope all of you have a great evening!

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From the archives:

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Scaling the wall

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 20, 2010 in The 2L Life

I suspect most of us would agree with the proposition that law school centers around a quasi-caste system.

The 3Ls, only a few classes and a Bar exam away from becoming The Anointed, are at the top. They know the professors, they’ve taken the classes, they run the student organizations. 2Ls seek them out for advice and mentorship; 1Ls hang on their every word.

At the bottom of the law school hierarchy are the 1Ls, still fresh and doe-eyed and excited about everything that lies ahead of them. They’re the serfs of the system, providing volunteer labor or dues $$ (or both) to the groups they join, along with an endless stream of amusing stories and questions for their more-experienced law school colleagues :beatup:

Then in the middle are the 2Ls. They hold leadership positions throughout the school, but usually in lower roles like Vice Presidents or Secretaries or Treasurers. They still have questions for their 3L mentors, but now they provide answers to their 1L mentees — unless a 3L is around for the 1L to get a second opinion. They’re basically sowing the ground preparing for the next year’s harvest.

That system seems fairly stable and pervasive… but my (admittedly limited and unscientific) observation suggests that social wall separating the classes seems to disappear when we’re all in an academic setting together ;)

Tonight was my first elective class at NCCU Law, titled “Race and the Law”. I’ll get into the course details and why I’m taking it in another entry, but the thing that struck me was the balanced mix of freshly-minted 2Ls and 3Ls in the course. The balanced demographics also yielded balanced participation, with the attendant (but balanced!) cluelessness and even sparring between opposing viewpoints.

It’s like those [#]L divisions just melted away for a few hours and we were all the same lump of proto-attorneys analyzing American jurisprudence. Not sure if this is a common occurrence in other electives or other law schools, but I thought it was pretty cool… and a reminder that we’re all getting professional training in a professional institution to become fellow professionals, not mere schooling in a university to become college graduates.

Looking forward to what this class will be like over the next 5 weeks :)

Oh and Lobbying for Lawyers is 40% done! :D Heading to bed now so I can get up early for Day 3 — good night y’all!

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