5

In support of the strict C: a year later

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 12, 2011 in Randomness

Waaayyyyy back during the halcyon days following 1L year, I wrote this entry explaining why I supported the “strict C” curve we use at the North Carolina Central University School of Law. “Setting the middle grade in the middle of the grading scale,” I wrote back then, “provides law professors with a full range of options to give you — and gives you the student a full range of feedback so you know where you’re weak and need to improve.”

In the subsequent comments I expanded on that theme a smidge more, but basically my philosophy on the curve was/is this: we’re attending law school to become proficient in the law (not simply to become employed as lawyers), grades are the best opportunity for professors to give feedback to students on where they’re strong or weak, and anything short of what we use at NCCU Law encourages “innovation”/inflation in grading to the point where that feedback becomes functionally useless.

Nothing I’ve seen or experienced in the 17 months since writing that post has prompted me to change my mind or otherwise reconsider my position.

Well now the faculty are contemplating some tweaks to the curve — whether or not to explicitly codify it in a new publicly-distributed document and, if so, whether to inflate where it’s centered — and I’m in a bit of a pickle as SBA President as a result. Literally 100% of the classmates I’ve spoken to about the issue over the past 2 years have expressed unconditional hostility toward our grading system…

…and I still think they’re all wrong :beatup:

The main argument given to me is that inflating the curve will make our people more competitive in the job market, especially with bigger employers who don’t bother to read the paragraph of text atop our transcripts explaining we use a C curve.

It’s an understandable theory, but (to the extent people pay attention to rankings or “brand name”) we’re still a regional Tier IV law school that simply cannot expand much beyond where we are without spending a ridiculous amount of money. Consider: Campbell Law‘s tuition and fees ($33,910.00) are downright obscene compared to what NCCU Law charges ($5,207.49) and they’ve only just now broken from Tier IV to the very bottom of Tier III — still only regional in reach, with graduates still facing the same challenges as us Legal Eagles if they try to venture beyond the borders of North Carolina.

Then there’s my personal suspicion that NCCU Law just plain doesn’t tell it’s story very well. Judging by the search queries and the emails I get, apparently law:/dev/null is one of the main sources of information for prospective students looking to attend the institution. Now as much as I love (love love love) the attention and visitors, it’s downright crazy that a one-man blawg can have any marketing reach at all relative to an established law school with decades of alumni. If you’re concerned about employability of the portion of our graduates going to other states, let’s get our branding and outreach up to par before we start tinkering with the grading system.

While the potential benefits to re-centering the curve are hypothetical at best, I’d argue the things we lose as a result are far more concrete.

The family atmosphere at the law school (see #4 on why NCCU Law was my first choice) is rooted on the shared experience of trying to overcome such a gruesome curve; being one of the survivors of 1L year is A Big Deal™. And our graduates are practice-ready on Day 1 because we don’t sugarcoat incompetence — if you do something poorly, the curve let’s you know you do something poorly. I can’t help but feel a little nauseous every time I hear Jack Boger (Dean at UNCCH Law) talk about all the “innovative” things they’re doing to make UNCCH Law grads practice-ready — stuff NCCU Law has been doing literally for years through our clinical programs, rigorous grading, and willingness to kick out people who come up short.

Is it worth sacrificing our identity as a no-bullsh*t law school just for a boost to some folks’ GPAs? Sacrificing graduates who are practice-ready on Day 1? Sacrificing the “we’re in this together” mentality?

Personally I vote no.

I know I’ve got a roughly 0% chance of convincing my colleagues to concur though, so I’ll just have to grab a bag of popcorn and see what happens next :beatup:

Good night folks! :)

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-

“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 31, 2011 in The 3L Life

Ugh.

Happy Halloween folks. I decided to dress up as an overextended 3L for the holiday.1 :beatup:

Just kidding — I stuck with my Guy Fawkes mask, but had to forgo the cape this year due to academic obligations; here’s a pic :D

I prefer the cape to the suit, but law school calls...

In all seriousness, I’m drowning in assignments and apologize for not blogging more often. I’ve taken a week’s worth of draft entries and stripped them down to another one of my really-need-to-be-trademarked bulleted lists so the folks who want to know what I’m up to (or an excuse to take a break from work) have something to read ;)

  • On the technical side of law:/dev/null, we’ve added in a new widget that lets users subscribe to the comments of any particular post. Now if you write a comment you can be notified by email if someone replies so you don’t have to go digging through old entries to check.2
  • I’ve also received some suggestions/requests to improve the pagination on old entries. It’s been added to the to-do list, but the CSS for that one will take more effort so it won’t be getting done any time soon (don’t expect the subscription widget to look pretty either :P )
  • At no point since I started writing this blawg two-and-a-quarter years ago have I ever even contemplated saying “f*ck it, I quit”… but today the thought crossed my mind for a couple femtoseconds. The class schedule I arranged was mind-bogglingly stupid in retrospect; my day is spent reading for classes, and my off-days are spent… reading for classes. Taking a quartet of paper-oriented courses (with their attendant components and drafts and etc all due at overlapping times) was equally ill-conceived in light of the reading volume. I’ve missed enough deadlines at this point that it’s almost impossible to keep my GPA above 3.0. Insanely frustrating.
  • Case in point: in Employment Discrimination we were given a fact pattern from which we were to craft a complaint and a client letter. I knew MDG’s late policy only allowed items up to 2 hours late, and I also knew there was -0- chance I was going to be able to comply with the policy. Sure enough I got an F… but only after MDG noted that I otherwise would have had a perfect score3 :mad:
  • There’s also no real outlet for me just to vent, because I inevitably get advice that I’ve either already done (dramatically scaling back SBA involvement), advice I’m simply not willing to entertain (dropping Samson, close friends, or courses), or advice that does nothing at all to actually solve the problem (limiting involvement in trial team… which doesn’t start until January). PSA: If you have a classmate who looks stressed out and needs to b*tch, just let them carry on for a bit. After ranting and raving for a bit we’re usually in much better mental shape. :)
  • Speaking of people with mental issues, last Tuesday a friend of mine posted pictures from NC State‘s GLBTA Center — where someone had spray-painted “Fags burn” and “DIe” [sic] across the door. This type of stuff is (thankfully) a relatively rare occurrence at NCSU, but I have to confess a certain degree of amazement that (1) anyone would feel so morally secure to declare divine judgment upon people they don’t like, and (2) they think destroying property and attempting to intimidate others is an acceptable form of self-expression. Reprehensible, disappointing, and wrong.
  • It’s a historical anomaly that the attack was discovered five years to the day after myself and a pair of other Senators pushed a (successfully adopted) resolution calling for the GLBT Center’s creation through the Student Senate. I remember the floor debate back then focusing on whether or not something like this was needed, or worth students’ fee money. I’d argue the Center being targeted in the manner it was speaks to the majority’s wisdom back then.
  • On a happier note, NCCU Law‘s first-ever “Speed Networking” event was held last Wednesday and was a HUGE success! :spin:  The brainchild of EIC based on an idea she got from the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto back in August, basically SBA / Career Services / Alumni Relations teamed up to bring in 45+ alums for a rapid-fire series of one-on-one meetings with 2Ls and 3Ls.  It was the first time we’ve done anything like it at NCCU and it was awesome. :D
  • Also on the extracurricular front, last week I submitted a brief to our Moot Court Board for their Fall tryouts :beatup:  After ignoring the appellate stuff for the past 2 years to focus on trial advocacy, I decided to at least give it a try just to see if I’ve got the technical competence for it. Oral arguments will be this Wednesday if anyone wants to come learn about the Eleventh Amendment.
  • Recognizing the huge hole I’ve dug myself academically, I spent my entire weekend trying to catch up on Sales & Secured Transactions. Prof Sales gave us old copies of the 2009 and 2010 exams without the answers; we’ve got until tonight to send in our guesses for feedback. Realistically I won’t be anywhere near done by deadline (which, like MDG, is a bright line cutoff) but at least I don’t feel totally lost anymore.
  • I also penned a letter to the alumni asking them to give back to the law school :)  With the North Carolina General Assembly gutting the University-system budget, and the law school losing $2M in the process ($1 of every $7), we need private support now more than at any time since when the law school was still legally segregated. I’ve announced what’s tentatively being dubbed “The SBA Challenge” where we’ll raise $1 for every alum who contributes. Fingers are crossed for a big response.
  • Oh and did I mention I registered for class for the very last time evah? :D More on that later this week.

There’s been a lot more going on but I’ve gotta snip it here so I can get back to work. Have a great night y’all! :)

  1. Only because Mariel‘s idea of dressing up as a milk carton (“I am the 1%!”) was too much work… :beatup: []
  2. Don’t get me wrong, I love the added traffic — but I’d rather you actually enjoy the time you spend here ;) []
  3. I just realized I still haven’t posted my 2L grades, but basically the same thing happened to me in Scientific Evidence last Spring… []

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4

Improving participation at the ABA Law Students Division

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 16, 2011 in Student Government

Now that I’ve recovered from driving 10 hours in 2 days, I’m not entirely sure what to think about the ABA-LSD “Super Circuit” meeting for the 4th / 5th / 6th Circuits that happened down at Charleston Law this weekend. The meeting was more informative than I anticipated; the turnout, on the other hand, seemed downright spartan for such a large geographic area.

It was hard to tell when attendance hit its peak. When the day started there were a bunch of CSoL students present which inflated the numbers, but as they started trickling out just after lunch other law schools (like FAMU Law) had started trickling in. I’d estimate there were around 40 or so people present over the course of the day.

By the time the clock hit around 2pm, though, there was barely anyone left :beatup:

The abrupt disappearance of so many attendees was reflected in the agenda: rather than have the planned sessions for roundtable-like discussions with other delegates (the main reason I went), the meeting was adjourned nearly 2 hours ahead of schedule :surprised:

Sure it left time for a more-scenic drive back to North Carolina, but it makes me wonder if sending people to these meetings is a project on which I want the NCCU Law SBA investing our students’ money…

When the people in charge asked what could be done to fix the horrible turnout, naturally people targeted the symptoms rather than the cause — requests for the dissolution of combined circuit meetings outright and other various solutions-that-don’t-solve-things-but-make-you-sound-intelligent were plentiful. In case anyone from the ABA-LSD happens to read this small piece of internet real estate, here are my 3 suggestions:

  1. Embrace the 36 Hour Rule: I’ve literally been to dozens of weekend meetings in my life, and I’ve never seen a well-attended one that lasted less than 36 hours. As a group starts cutting back the amount of time designated to business to lure more attendees, the relative opportunity cost for attending actually goes up — people who might drive 10 hours round-trip for a full-weekend event simply aren’t going to commit that same travel time for a mere 6-or-less hours of business. When you spend more time traveling to a meeting than you do actually meeting, attendance drops. This was the exact same situation UNCASG faced before the Pickle Princess and I ran for office, and one shared by many other groups.1 You fix it by offering more for the attendees instead of less: some business and a social event on Friday night to encourage on-time arrival, substantive business all day on Saturday, a party of some kind on Saturday night as a reward, and some closing minor business over breakfast Sunday morning to discourage early departures. Attendance will always be lighter on Friday and Sunday, but having those days as the ones dedicated to travel gives you a greater volume of people present on Saturday; those same people then interact with the others, building friendships, and creating a reinforced incentive for people to participate and show up to future meetings.
  2. Lead from the front: Back during the Spring’s ABA-LSD 4th Circuit meeting when I served as a proxy for our SBA President, I “ran” for Circuit Governor in protest since no one had filed for the position; two other candidates were nominated from the floor and talked about how much they wanted the job, and my commentary was along the lines of “If you cared so much you’d have filled out the paperwork on time. Wtf is wrong with this Circuit?” I think the eventual winner (Mallory Duley-Willink of Charlotte Law) has been leery of me ever since, but at least as far as this Charleston meeting goes she was the only one to actually do her job throughout. By the time we hit that 2:00pm-ish mark — with 3 hours of material left to go on the agenda — both the 5th Circuit and 6th Circuit Governors had bailed to head home :crack: That sets a horribly bad example for the other delegates, who will rise or fall to the standards set by the leadership. If the people reaping the networking and financial benefits of these jobs aren’t sticking around, the “little people” will follow suit. The group leader should be the first to arrive, the last to leave, and should be putting more effort into the group than anyone else.
  3. Live the mission: I don’t actually know if the ABA-LSD has a mission separate and distinct from the greater ABA, but whatever it is or would be the leadership should reflect some passion in trying to carry it out! All the communications I’d gotten for the meeting were the slick automated emails sent through whatever program the ABA folks use, with no real information in them beyond the same form email listing the date/time/location. When we got there, the officer reports were lukewarm. The new Representative to the ABA Board of Governors had no idea what I was talking about when I asked a question about an initiative discussed by his predecessor;2 then he offered a lengthy politician’s explanation instead of simply saying “I don’t know anything about it but I’ll find out.” Then just before the remaining leadership announced the meeting would be cut 2 hours short, they asked for suggestions on how to improve the meetings… with not a single recommendation being written down by anyone :roll: An organization’s leadership serves as its biggest cheerleaders; their principal role is being physical embodiments of the group’s ideals. If you can’t live the mission, you should probably go lead something else.

I doubt any of the ABA’s decision-makers will read this (much less take it seriously) but that’s my $.02 on how to improve ABA-LSD participation, at least in this part of the country. People respond to expectations, regardless of where they’re set — so set them higher ;)

Have a good night y’all! :D

—===—

From the law:/dev/null 2011 ABA-LSD “Super Circuit” Meeting-related archives:

  1. See page 4 of our UNCASG platform “The Clock is Ticking…”, where we called for (and later implemented) full-weekend meetings. That decision led to three different records setting the highest attendance in the Association’s 38-year history. []
  2. Trying to get the cost of bar review incorporated into the Cost of Attendance figure used by law schools to calculate financial aid packages. []

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6

Overwhelmed… but I like it (really!)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 23, 2011 in The 3L Life

So the whole “look for a whole bunch of posts around mid-week” thing didn’t quite pan out as planned (surprise! :beatup: )

To be totally candid with y’all, I’ve waaaaaayyy overextended myself this semester — even moreso than my senior year at N.C. State1 — and trying to convert my thoughts into words (and proofread them) just takes a big chunk of time that I haven’t been able to set aside like I hoped.

That’s not a complaint; I actually like the insane pace and crushing workload because it prevents me getting bored. I just wanted to make sure you don’t feel like I’ve abandoned you ;)

There’s been a lot going on over the past couple weeks that I can’t really elaborate on at length, so here’s a bulleted list with some quick thoughts:

  • The class schedule I created is unquestionably the single dumbest decision I’ve made in a very, very long time :beatup:  Stacking up nearly all my classes on T/H means I get almost nothing done on those days, then I also fall for the illusory appearance of an empty M/W/F by scheduling meetings and other events when I should be reading for class instead. And there is -0- redeeming value to having Sales at 6pm-7:15pm beyond Prof Sales being highly recommended by the students who came before me.
  • I was reminded by a friend from undergrad that I actually tried a similar T/H-stacked schedule setup my freshman year at N.C. State, with disastrous results…
  • Class performance is all over the map. I’m more-or-less on track in AppAd and ConLaw II, on track but confused in Tax, behind but not confused in Employment Discrimination, not sure where I’m at in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, and completely and totally lost in Sales & Secured Transactions. We don’t get Fall Break this year so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to turn everything around, but I’m hoping now that we’re through appropriations season in SBA I’ll be able to catch up.
  • I feel particularly sheepish about Sales, because Prof Sales has stopped me on at least 3 separate occasions and warned me not to let my extracurricular activities interfere with my academic work… and that’s exactly what’s happened despite my assurances to him that it wouldn’t :oops:
  • Speaking of SBA appropriations, we went from 2pm-midnight last Friday — 5 hours for presentations, 5 for deliberations — and barely finished voting on 9 of 21 groups. Then spent another 7 hours last Sunday before getting through the rest. I’m not sure what other changes SBAs can make to expedite this in the future, but one thing that needs to be done is mirroring NCSU where group presentations happen in the week before the vote instead of a marathon Friday+Sunday session. This year’s challenge was a -40% cut in the funds available for appropriations, from $115,039.83 down to $68,976.22, and unfortunately SBA isn’t likely to get that money back any time soon.
  • On a related note just to vent a bit, just one time I’d really like to preside over a group that has its budget go up while I’m in office. The Student Senate’s first funding increase in a decade kicked in the year after my graduation, my tenure as UNCASG President coincided with the economic meltdown and an ensuing freeze on spending by state agencies, last year as Treasurer we discovered SBA was missing nearly $17K compared to what our predecessors said we had (just before main campus gutted the budget further in January), and my back-of-a-napkin estimate this past weekend suggests I’m currently presiding over the lowest amount of funding the SBA has had since George H.W. Bush was President… and most of our students were too young for elementary school :crack:
  • ♫ One of these things is not like the others... ♫

    While we’re talking about SBA, apparently I’m the oddball of the group :surprised:  As some background, I’m a huge fan of personality assessments to help people learn more about themselves and offer clues on how they can better interact with their colleagues; self-awareness is one of the most-versatile weapons a person will ever have in their arsenal as they go through life. So I took some personal time and went through a trio of them myself2 then asked the SBA to try one we were given during my senior design project in undergrad. I’ve posted the results on the top of the picture at the right (the bottom part contains my 5 “Themes” from StrengthsQuest).  I can’t help but feel like I’m on Sesame Street

  • Oddball status notwithstanding, we make a good team. The dynamic is vastly different from last year but generally we all play to each other’s strengths. Earlier this week I was actually called “the Lil’ Jon of SBA” in light of my hype-man role… which actually suits me just fine ;)
  • Did I mention that last Friday was the first day of near-winter weather we’ve had this season?  And, in true North Carolina fashion, rather than give us any semblance of Fall the temperature simply dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight :mad:
  • And I hate Fall and Winter btw…
  • On the other hand, I absolutely adore my dog! :D  He’s still incredibly well-behaved, hasn’t soiled the apartment at all, deals with me being in class from 8:30am to 7:15pm three nights a week, and is generally just all around awesome. He has his dog quirks — scent hounds don’t particularly care if the temperature’s dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight — but I’ll happily deal with it in exchange for having a happy and loving dog greet me every time I walk into the apartment :spin:
  • Switching gears over to the “real world” for a bit, way back in the halcyon days of 2004 I got myself fired from the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office after writing and signing this letter that got published in the Raleigh News & Observer (on the first day of the NCGOP’s state convention to boot). So imagine my (non-)surprise when the now-Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly approved a referendum seeking to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, an utterly bizarre proposal that was generating unintended consequences before it was even adopted. Even though I’ve mentioned my own reservations about gay marriage, there’s simply nothing conservative at all about this Amendment One business and the government effectively decreeing to churches what will and will not constitute a valid marriage between consenting adults. It’s particularly galling given its timing alongside the repeal of DADT: the self-proclaimed “most military-friendly state in America” is essentially saying it’s perfectly acceptable for homosexuals to die abroad defending our freedoms, just make sure you don’t bother coming back and trying to claim the same government-bestowed privileges conferred upon the other folks who are married… :crack:
  • The most-irksome aspect of Amendment One, from this ConLaw-loving law student’s standpoint, is the timing of the vote: you’re essentially taking a duly ratified constitution adopted by an overwhelming majority of voters in a general election, and which includes among its provisions guarantees of religious freedom3 and equal protection,4 and seeking to have those clauses invalidated through an amendment in a primary election when the politicians know turnout is always less. Never in the history of this country has a primary for a presidential election year had higher turnout than the ensuing general election. The politicians not only knew that when debating when to schedule Amendment One, they intentionally planned it that way. Absolutely outrageous. This facet alone has prompted me to join NCCU Law‘s chapter of OutLaw and start encouraging friends and colleagues to vote “NO” next May.
  • On the Student Government side of things, UNCASG has returned to its habit of epic fail-ness less than 2 years after my term as President ended. It’s not really my place to opine on that failure since I’ve already had my time in the spotlight and put my successors in as good a position as any successors have ever been in the group’s 39-year history. But if any of the delegates still happen to read law:/dev/null I’ll tell you this: screwing around with the organization’s structure isn’t going to fix anything if you don’t have the cajones to hold the leadership accountable. The N.C. State Technician was kind enough to publish a forum letter I wrote to them on the point. I just hope someone actually listens.
  • We’ll see if the Technician’s counterparts at the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel follow suit, as their oft-ridiculed Editorial Board continued its habit of plucking fabricated figures from the ether to attack UNCASG. One of their latest editorials inexplicably claims UNCASG spent $50,000 for our NC in DC advocacy trip back in 2009, even though the actual figure was an order-of-magnitude less: $4,750, spent for a bus so that the four-dozen participants (who paid 100% of the remaining costs out-of-pocket) didn’t have to take a dozen or more cars and the attendant gas and parking reimbursements that would have had to go with them. I truly have no earthly clue how the DTH Edit Board picked this random total when I sent them a spreadsheet at the end of FY09 listing out every single expense UNCASG made, down to the penny. It’s one thing to embrace nixing UNCASG’s ability to advocate federally during an election year — something I’d wholeheartedly embrace on pragmatic grounds alone — but simply inventing whatever data you want to support your arguments reeks of journalistic impropriety.
  • Over in the blawgosphere, I’ve gone through our entire blogroll surveying the law school blog landscape and it’s not pretty: more than two-dozen blawgs shut down permanently or otherwise moved to triple-tilde status (see my Blawgpocalypse 1.0 entry on how I handle categorizing blawgs), roughly a dozen more moved to double-tilde status, and only a collective handful of new and/or newly updated blawgs to replace them. Of the 183 blawgs on the law:/dev/null blogroll, 72 are defunct — that’s ~39%, compared to ~15% at this point just under a year ago.
  • But on the bright side, law:/dev/null finally hit the 1,000,000-pageview milestone way back on September 6th :D  I know it’s a small thing, and it’s a testament to how crazy life has been that I haven’t even been able to put together a Site Stats entry to analyze it yet, but in light of blawgs wilting like roses in a heat wave I’m incredibly privileged to still have y’all dropping in to see what’s going on in my law school life :) Thank you! :*

If you couldn’t tell from the length of this list, there’s been a lot of stuff I’ve wanted to write about! But I’m gonna wrap it up here so I’ve hopefully got some spare thoughts to pen in the near-term future ;)

Have a great night and an amazing weekend y’all! :D

  1. When I was President of the UNCASG, President of the NCSU Student Senate, policy analyst for a state legislator, and graduating senior in Computer Science… all at the same time :crack: []
  2. My Myers-Briggs/Keirsey test has me back to ENFP (“The Champion”), the first time I’ve turned out the same as something I’ve gotten before. []
  3. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 13: “All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” (emphases added) []
  4. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 19: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws[.]” (emphasis added) []

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3

Back in the USA! :D

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 7, 2011 in The 3L Life

And with my slightly-late-but-safe arrival at JFK International Airport about 10 minutes ago, my first visit to a foreign country since before I could legally drive a car has come to a close! :D

The past five days at the 2011 ABA Annual Meeting have been a blast — definitely an eye-opening view into the (much) broader legal arena. I’m incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to be here, and I’m hoping to convince more Legal Eagles to attend next year beyond just our SBA President and ABA Representative. The sheer breadth of knowledge and people available at these events is truly incredible.

Yes, I'm claiming all of Canada off one visit to one part of one city. Because I can.

And the crazy part of this whole trip is… I have nothing bad to say about Toronto :surprised:

For just about every trip I’ve ever taken anywhere, there’s something substantive I viscerally don’t like to the point where I couldn’t imagine moving away from my spot in the middle of North Carolina.

Yet aside from some minor quirks ($1 and $2 coins, no Diet Mountain Dew) the place strikes me as a cleaner and more-relaxed version of New York City.  The people were friendly. The weather was amazing for five straight days. Even the knowledge that Toronto winters can be bitterly cold doesn’t really phase me anymore, since I discovered downtown-dwellers can go pretty much anywhere they need via the PATH without ever venturing outside.

Yes, I fully realize my glowing view of Toronto is probably naiveté on my part since I was only there for a few days. But second only to my son + Snowmageddon + football this past winter, this was without question the next-best trip I’ve ever taken. :spin:

I’m not to the point where I’d even remotely consider giving up barbecue, Diet Mountain Dew, Bojangles’ and all the accoutrements of North Carolina living1 to move elsewhere, but I suspect I’ll definitely be visiting Toronto again at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Off to go unpack, head to bed, then start whittling away at the pile of work that accumulated during my absence. Make sure to check out some of the previous law:/dev/null entries about this Toronto trip if you haven’t already, and have a great night y’all! :D

—===—

From the law:/dev/null ABA Annual Meeting-related archives:

  1. Yeah I know, I just listed three different food-related items :beatup:  I love the rest of North Carolina too! But, having gone almost a week without some of my typical culinary fare, I’m currently going through withdrawal — cut me some slack! :P []

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3

First Impressions: ABA Annual Meeting, Day 1

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 4, 2011 in The 3L Life

Toronto

is

AWESOME!  :D

Today was the first “real” day for EIC and I to represent NCCU Law at the ABA’s annual meeting held in Toronto, Canada. We’ve both met a bunch of cool people from law schools across the country, and the passion of all these student leaders reminds me of UNCASG (in a good way) and has really amped up my some-would-say-already-slightly-excessive passion for student leadership.1 :spin:

I need to get to bed before an 8:30am meeting for SBA Presidents tomorrow morning, so I wanted to offer a quick rundown of some of my initial thoughts on Toronto.

I’ll start with the bad stuff, because I like ending on a positive note ;)

 

BAD THINGS ABOUT TORONTO ON DAY 1:

==> The internet: This is more of a “hotel where we’re staying” thing than a Canada-wide thing, but internet access thus far is driving me nuts. There are no wifi connections in our rooms, the wired Ethernet2 costs roughly $20 a day, and the signal quality for the “complimentary” wifi in the lobby is garbage. Normally that wouldn’t bother me — I can normally just use my phone as a mobile hotspot — but my mobile provider’s data charges in Canada are exorbitant even with the week-long “international travel” plan I added to my account. :beatup:

==> The exchange rate: This one’s also not really Canada’s fault. Courtesy of our shamelessly reckless Congress and their profligate spending habits over the past 4 years (something I’ve mentioned before), the U.S. dollar has been devalued to the point that paying for stuff here is absurd. $200 USD translated to $160 CAD when we got here, and most of the food as a result is far more expensive than a comparable meal back in the States.

==> The food: There’s no Diet Mountain Dew here :mad:  Plenty of ginger ale though…3

 

GOOD THINGS ABOUT TORONTO ON DAY 1:

==> The food: The lack of my soda of choice notwithstanding, I’m actually surprised at the quality of the food. I’m not the most adventurous with my culinary tastes, but in the couple of restaurants EIC and I have hit so far the food was doggone tasty. And they actually have delicious tomato-based BBQ that rivals anything I’ve had in North Carolina :eek:

==> The PATH: One of the most awesome-est things I have ever seen!  The first night at the hotel, we noticed what appeared to be shops in the basement. We checked it out… and it just kept going and going and going :crack: The next morning we walked several blocks down to the Toronto Metro Centre to register, decided to head to the subway just to say we took Canadian mass transit… and saw the same mall! :surprised:  After consulting the PATH Wikipedia entry when we got back, I found out it’s the largest underground mall in the world, and connects the vast majority of buildings in downtown Toronto. I’d love to have something like this in North Carolina to avoid the weather in the winter time…

==> The people: Most of you probably figured something like this was coming, but the people here have been the highlight of the trip so far. We took a cab from the airport with a pair of 3Ls from Syracuse Law, met folks from LSU Law the next morning at registration, and have connected with a bunch of folks in between. Of course there are the inevitable cliques that come from people who’ve been in/around the ABA Law Student Division for a year or more, but the vast majority of students I’ve met have been unpretentious and generally fun to be around :)

That’s it for tonight y’all, I’m off to bed — have a great night! :D

  1. Though it’s also contributed to me still not finishing that Civil Rights paper that was due today :beatup: []
  2. Who still uses wired ethernet?? :crack: []
  3. Which seemed curious to me… until I noticed the name of the brand :beatup: []

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How to Successfully Lose Half Your Readers (and Gain 10 Pounds)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 22, 2011 in Randomness

Good evening folks! :D

With the first summer session here at NCCU Law getting underway tomorrow, today got spent tying up loose ends before the back-to-school grind resumes. And in the process I re-discovered some of the effects of final exam season: over the last 3 weeks of my 2L Spring semester, we lost about half of our regular readers as law:/dev/null has gone un-updated… and I managed to pack on another 10lbs around my waistline.1 :beatup:

So while all the cool kids make New Year’s Resolutions about getting in shape and other worthwhile endeavors, in honor of my procrastinating tendencies I’m making those resolutions 5 months late instead: effective today I’m improving my diet, exercising more, and finally posting an update to the blog ;)

My predecessor Preston Mitchum and I transitioned over the NCCU Law SBA this month

Here’s a quick rundown of where I’ve been the past few weeks:

  • I finally became a 3L
  • …then un-became a 3L, as my Scientific Evidence professor unexpectedly gave the entire class 3 days to turn in an extra assignment — and I proceeded to sequester myself in my apartment like a hermit until it was finished
  • Re-became a 3L again, for real this time :spin:
  • Took over as President of our Student Bar Association
  • Amped up my work schedule at I-Cubed to 40hrs a week… right before realizing I probably can’t continue at that pace when summer school starts ::headdesk::
  • Watched the Class of 2011 graduate
  • Watched the law school end up in a minor scandal after graduation :beatup:
  • Tallied up the private $$$ the SBA raised last year — an all-time record in law school history — and how much the 2011-12 SBA has raised in the past few weeks2
  • Penned my 2nd guest column for the Beyond Hearsay blog (publication date TBD)
  • Spent $350 on books for summer school :surprised:
  • Spent hours reading ~150 pages for tomorrow’s first day of class
  • Finally got around to updating law:/dev/null, including tweaking our About page to reflect my now-3L status :D

That’s the rundown. Nothing particularly exciting… which makes me wonder how exactly time has flown by so fast :crack:

I’d be lying to you if I said I expected to resume regular blog updates, simply because my summer school schedule leans toward the crazy side this year (10 credit hours total) when it’s coupled with my internship. But my hope is I’ll work my way into a routine and can get back to posting somewhat regular content.

That’s it from me for tonight, I’m off to bed so I can get up for work + class tomorrow. Have a great night everybody! :)

  1. A repeat of the end of my 2L Fall semester, but this time without Thanksgiving as an excuse :beatup: []
  2. A +32% year-over-year increase, positioning us to beat last year’s record :spin: []

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Tradeoffs

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 19, 2011 in The 2L Life

Good evening folks! :D

I’m already falling behind (again) on keeping law:/dev/null up-to-date, but seriously hope to get back in the swing of things once the semester is finished.

Turns out it’ll be stretching a little bit longer than planned for me. My first final is Business Associations on Friday April 29th @ 2:00pm, with Criminal Procedure following @ 2:00pm the very next day. (Un?)fortunately one of my Legal Eagle colleagues has protested and gotten the CrimPro exam pushed back a few days for us 2Ls — apparently NCCU Law‘s exam conflict policy, intended to apply only to exams with start times within 24 hours of each other, is written in a sufficiently broad manner that it could be read to include exams where any portion of the whole start-to-finish exam window overlaps with another in the same 24 hour time period.

The upside is that I’ll get an extra 4 days to try and actually learn this material… but the catch is that I’m burned out and want this semester to be over with already :beatup:

That’s all I’ve got for tonight’s super-brief entry — have my last CrimLaw tutorial tomorrow, followed by my first meeting with the faculty as SBA President-elect, followed by an SBA transition meeting, followed by frantically writing my last paper of 2L year so I can finally be done with my Scientific Evidence class :)

Hope all of you have a great night!

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Not quite according to plan…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 15, 2011 in Fail

Hey everybody :)

I just realized it’s been a week now since I posted that I’d be trying to catch up on old law:/dev/null entries “in the coming day or two”. And in the 7 days since then I’ve only managed to get two of those entries posted, one on my summer school schedule and the other on my 3L Fall schedule :beatup:

As you can probably guess, I completely overestimated the degree of “done”-ness of my semester. On the academic side of things, even with liberally skipping my Business Associations and Criminal Procedure classes to catch up elsewhere, my Fridays have been eaten up with trials for Trial Practice and my paper for Scientific Evidence has turned out to be a bigger deal than I originally thought.

Outside of that, on a personal note the issues with my family have flared up again, and one of my (formerly close) “friends” has essentially decided I’m not worth the time of day now that she no longer needs me around for moral support. And of course the state budget is shaping up to be a disaster for the UNC system and UNCASG continues to be MIA, so I’ve been diving in to start some advocacy work from my vantage point here within the law school.1

One day I’ll get back to updating the blog regularly. Seriously. Until then I’d recommend using our RSS feed so you can get updated whenever new entries get posted instead of waiting for me to get my life together ;)

Thanks for still reading, and have a great weekend! :D

  1. I’ve got a separate entry on it in the works, but I won the Presidency of our Student Bar Association for next year. []

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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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