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Straddling the fence

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 13, 2010 in The 2L Life

Hey everybody! :D

Way back during my (first-of-two) sophomore year at N.C. State, I had a classmate who was a transplant from England.1

He took great joy in coming up with as many bad puns, double entendres, and various other efforts at groan-inducing wordplay as he could, as a way of highlighting the differences between the way we talk here in the States and what he considered “proper” (read: British) English :roll:

Then one day I was carping about not knowing what to do with my slowly-imploding academic life, and without missing a beat he shot back:

“You can’t ride two asses with just one, T. Greg.”

His other weak attempts at witticism notwithstanding, that particular comment has stuck with me in the decade since he uttered it :beatup:

You’ve probably heard other formulations of it — “there’s no decision worse than indecision”, “if you can’t do everything at least do something”, “moving backwards is still moving”, etc etc etc — but the underlying point is still the same. We live in an increasingly risk-averse society (highlighted by our ever-expanding government “safety net”), people avoid making tough choices, and in the process our problems perpetuate themselves… and usually get worse over time.

Food for thought (I promise that's the last pun in this entry! :beatup: )

I got reminded of his remark this past week reading Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese?, a book I was given at my new internship doing legal work with the tech folks I mentioned last month. The book’s a quick read at a svelte 74 pages and the story is a bit (pardon the pun) cheesy.  But it packs a lot in those few short pages. Definitely read it if you get a chance.

Anyhow, the point of that belabored windup to this blog entry is that the book got me thinking about my classmate’s comment, which in turn got me thinking about my own future career plans…

…which in turn led me to discover I have no effing clue wtf I’m going to do with my life after getting this J.D. in 2012 :crack:

This time last year I just knew I was going into the USMC JAG Corps.  Then I ended up on crutches and went on to fail my Physical Fitness Test.  My heart still wants to do it, but I don’t think I’m willing to give up enough time in my other activities (SBA, trial team, potentially making Dean’s List) to really focus on getting in shape.

Even so, I figured it wasn’t a big deal because I just knew I was developing an affinity for CrimLaw and could make a decent living as an Assistant District Attorney.

And of course if that didn’t pan out I just knew there was academia and my “one of these days” goal of teaching2 something like Constitutional Law and/or Criminal Law and/or Evidence at some indeterminate point in the future, a prospect that got reinforced when I locked up a CrimLaw tutoring gig for next semester.

But then out of the blue this internship with I-Cubed opened up, giving me a chance to delve into technology-related law too. The people I’ve met and the company in general both seem pretty doggone cool so far… even though I feel like I’m already behind schedule on my deliverables despite steadily grinding since I started last Thursday3 :surprised:

Completely different areas of law, completely different sets of pros and cons, completely different pay scales — and that’s not even including any other options I haven’t been exposed to yet since I’ve still got 1.5 years of law school left to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. It’s a good predicament to have. I’m just flummoxed trying to figure out what I want to do, so I can (as Johnson puts it in the book) head out into the proverbial maze in search of my own cheese.

Anyhow, I think that’s quite enough angst for one entry :)  If anyone’s got any compelling insights feel free to share them — and if not, I hope all of you have an amazing week! :D

  1. The same guy who always called me a “queer bird” whenever we talked politics. []
  2. Scroll down to Item #23 on that link []
  3. Though I’m sure a chunk of that is from time spent in the law library trying to not f*ck up on real-world work involving my worst 1L subject :beatup: []

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Sloth FTL

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 7, 2010 in Fail

Among the various other things I’ve not been doing during my “too hot”-or-“too cold” summer: regular cardio exercise.

I didn’t pay attention to the effects of my slothfulness until my last day in court for the ADR Clinic… when I noticed my slacks were a bit more snug than usual :oops:  So with the weekend here and most preparations for school already done, I decided to hit the  American Tobacco Trail for a 2-mile run tonight.

How’d it go, you ask? Let’s just say it’s evident I haven’t run in months :beatup:

Not only have I regressed way back to before even my failed USMC PFT run, I was panting like a dog and sweating worse than a politician under oath. And my muscles hhhuuuuurrrrrrtttt :cry:

Lesson learned. Calisthenics tomorrow, then more running on Monday…

Until then, have a great night y’all! :D

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#PFTfail

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 3, 2010 in Fail

That make-or-break PFT I mentioned ended up more on the “break” side of the spectrum :beatup:

Before I can head to Officer Candidate School for the Marine Corps, I need a passing score among pullups, crunches and a 3 mile run. Each section is worth a max of 100 points apiece (max of 20 pullups, 100 crunches, 18min on the run) and a passing score is 240 of 300.

And for the however-many-th time, I continue to be thwarted by the 3mi run :mad:  It took me an embarrassing 32:02: netting me -0- points, and meaning no OCS for me this summer.1

Now none of this was particularly surprising — I mentioned to you back in January that I might have to push back a year — but it’s incredibly frustrating. Just about everything I’ve tried to do in life has used GPA or some similar criteria as the bar to admission. This is the first time I’m trying to do something and it’s my physical condition stopping me :beatup:

I’m trying to take solace in the fact I shaved 4.5 minutes off my time from my last PFT. But even at the peak of my physical fitness in high school, where playing basketball was a bigger part of my life than doing homework, a 10-minute mile was a miracle — no clue howtf I’m going to do 3 of them back-to-back-to-back in 8min apiece or less :crack:

For at least the next few weeks though I get to push it out of my mind.  Need to focus on studying for finals, wrapping up the UNCASG presidency, and finding a job.

If you happen to be hiring any slightly overweight, modestly balding 1Ls with an affinity for technology and a slow 3mi runtime, let me know ;)

  1. Interestingly enough, 2 of the folks I took the PFT with were both people I met in NCSU’s Student Government years ago. Another reminder not to burn your bridges! []

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Drifting towards CrimLaw

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 10, 2010 in The 1L Life

It was only a couple weeks into law school when I first wrote that CivPro had become my favorite class, an opinion that endured throughout the semester.

CrimLaw has quickly displaced Torts at #2 on my list… and as the semester continues I’m pretty sure this is where I want to spend my career :)

I fumbled at the start of class today when Professor CrimLaw asked me to detail the 4 types of homicide under the common law — totally forgot about involuntary manslaughter :beatup: — but later in the class we got into Justice Blackmun’s dissent in Callins v. Collins, 510 U.S. 1141 (1994).

Prof. CrimLaw asked what I took out of the dissent, which I characterized as Blackmun “whining” about the death penalty. That opened the door for a class-wide discussion on capital punishment… where I ended up being the only one to openly support executing murderers :crack:

My once-hostile philosophy on the death penalty notwithstanding,1 the debate itself was engaging. Even in CivPro I’m rarely more than half-certain on my opinions in class discussion; that percentage is far lower in something like Ks. But CrimLaw seems intuitive and comes naturally (at least thus far).

I was already planning on going the public service route in the Marine Corps, and had developed a growing interest in being a litigator from the Kilpatrick-Stockton competition last month. The downside of course is that it doesn’t pay much, but it’s one of the most direct ways for me to help improve my community. I’d argue that’s well worth the pay differential :)

My opinion might change after taking Evidence, but for now I think this is what I’ll be doing for a living :D I’ll keep you posted over the next couple years ;)

  1. Personally, I found Scalia’s concurrence in Callins persuasive on the legal justification for the death penalty, and the 4 men who raped an 11-year-old girl and killed her by stuffing her panties down her throat persuasive on the moral justification. See the fact background in State v. McCollum, 334 N.C. 208 (1993). []

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Summer uncertainty looming…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 19, 2010 in The 1L Life

For those of you who are relatively new readers here at law:/dev/null — probably coming from Facebook if the log stats are to be believed :) — I’ve been planning on spending my summer in Quantico to attend Officer Candidate School for the United States Marine Corps. Hoping to become a Judge Advocate in the USMC was one of my motivations in choosing NCCU Law over some higher-ranked alternatives, even meriting inclusion as 1 of my 3 resolutions for the new year.

But it’s looking like I might have to wait until 2011 :(

I’ve known from the beginning that the biggest challenge getting into OCS has been physical fitness, largely rooted in the fact I’ve spent the years since high school doing minimal exercise.  I got back into a workout routine when I returned to N.C. State in 2005… only to break my left fibula playing basketball 2 days before the Spring 2006 semester started :beatup:

By the time I was off crutches back then, I was deep into Student Government and working full-time between being a lobbyist downtown and a TA for CSC116 on campus.

That lack of exercise continued until this past July, when I started a workout routine with some 2Ls and 3Ls heading to OCS this summer. I was making quasi-decent progress but developed a stress fracture from overexertion (apparently my left leg is not a fan of exercise :mad: ). I tried to keep up with various upper- and lower-body exercises that didn’t require the use of my leg, and started brisk walking late last month.  But after finally making it out to the track yesterday for my first “real” run, my time has really fallen off a cliff and I’m back at August levels.

The 1stLt who’s helping me train suggested I wait until next summer for OCS so I can be in better physical condition and have fewer mental distractions (UNCASG, surviving 1L, etc), and my OSO wants a “no bullshit assessment” in 2 weeks on whether I’m going to proceed or wait.

So… yeah.

The stubborn side of me says to stay the course, even though I know I’m risking another injury if I try to ramp up too quickly on the physical training. The pragmatist says it’s better to wait and succeed than to go too soon and risk getting booted for being out of shape.

And both sides of me wonder wtf I’m going to do this summer if I change my plans :surprised:

Summer associateship applications should have gone out weeks ago. There’s a neat study abroad program in Costa Rica that I’d love to do, but at $5K+ it’s entirely too pricy unless there’s some massive financial aid $$ available. And the General Assembly had some intern openings in the Research Division that my legislative contacts wanted me to pursue, but that closed on Friday.

So whatever the decision, I have no clue what my summer is going to look like. Normally uncertainty doesn’t bother me, but for some reason it’s really got me in a slightly restive mood at the moment.

We’ll see what happens. Have a good night folks!

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“Now, therefore, be it resolved…”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 6, 2010 in Randomness

A pair of readers noticed that my kk-inspired run-through of the 2000s assiduously avoided any reference to New Year’s resolutions.

It’s not that I don’t like them or don’t make them, I just intentionally set the ball so laughably low that they’re not really resolutions at all so much as statements of things that will happen (barring an utter catastrophe). A quote that Jansen posted here pretty much sums up why I haven’t had “real” resolutions.

Last year was a case in point, when I only had 3 “resolutions”:

  1. Graduate from N.C. State
  2. Win reelection as UNCASG President
  3. Get into law school

The first one was going to happen come hell or high water — the only question was whether it would be in the spring, summer session I, summer session II, or fall :) I couldn’t let myself come into 2010 as a perennial undergrad.

Reelection was also a relatively foregone conclusion, since a majority of the voting delegates asked me to run again. The only catch was that I had to be enrolled in a UNC institution, and I wasn’t sure either NCCU Law or UNCCH Law would accept me — so I just planned to pick up a Master’s in Econ at NC State as a fallback. Sad, I know, but I love my job :beatup:

“Get into law school” was intentionally worded that way too: even if I didn’t get in where I wanted to go, I was going to get in somewhere even if it meant applying to some JD farm :D Luckily I got my first choice.

So 3 “resolutions,” 0 of which were actually in doubt.

Since setting a low bar worked so well last year, I was going to take it a step further this year and set no bar at all. But I felt bad when I was talking with some friends who were sharing their own resolutions, expecting me to do the same… and then I said I had none. So after that I came up with a few for 2010. Here goes:

  1. Finish 1L year with at least a 3.0 GPA. A friend of mine who graduated from a T2 law school this past May said that law school grades were 1 part your effort, 2 parts your classmates’ efforts, and 3 parts random chance. Even if his aphorism turns out to be true, I’d really really really like to finish the year with at least a B average. Considering my grades in undergrad, I’d like to be considered a “good student” again :)
  2. Make it to, and through, Marine Corps OCS. Last July I started the application process to become a JAG officer in the USMC, got to the Physical Fitness Test… and discovered I was more out of shape than I thought. I’ve been doing physical training since then but progress has been slow, especially last month when I was on crutches. Getting to Officer Candidate School this June is going to depend on getting to 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches, and 3 miles in 18 minutes. I’ve got a long way to go and only 3.5 months to get there.
  3. Finish strong. My term as UNCASG President ends on April 30th, which also marks the last time I’ll be involved as a Student Government official of any kind at the campus- or state-wide levels. Even you new readers to law:/dev/null know I take SG seriously — for reasons I’ll elaborate on in a later post — so I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to adjust :beatup: But if this is going to be the end, I want to finish on top. After breaking so many records in a year I’d like to knock down a couple more in the few months that are left.

So that’s my list of resolutions for 2010. They’re a little more difficult than the resolutions from last year, but hopefully when I write a post like this a year from now it’ll turn out the bar was still set pretty low :)

Off to bed, UNC Board of Governors meeting in the morning. Have a good night folks! :D

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TDot’s Tips #1: Exercise!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 29, 2009 in TDot's Tips

For those of you who are new readers to law:/dev/null (welcome!! :) ), the “TDot’s Tips” category is basically where I compile snippets of unwarranted and minimally useful advice from my life in case you’re a pre-L looking for suggestions on making it through law school or a #L wondering what works for other #Ls. Your mileage may vary, there are no express or implied warranties as to the effectiveness of the tips herein, caveat emptor, etc etc etc ;)

The draft of this particular post was actually written awhile ago, in anticipation of a day when I’d have nothing to post. Turns out life had other plans — I’m now crutch-stricken courtesy of a “suspected stress fracture to the left tibia.” I’ve been doing physical training to get in shape for the USMC (hoping to go to Officer Candidates School this coming June) and apparently have been running a little too far, a little too hard, a little too soon :beatup:

The upside? It provides an excellent segue into the topic of this entry :D

Studying the law is a tedious process. Mind-numbingly boring in fact. You’re basically growing your mind in two ways at once. First of course you’re learning the law itself… and the requisite exceptions… and the requisite exceptions to those exceptions. Then you’re also learning to be overly-analytical and “think like a lawyer” so you can successfully rob your life of anything even vaguely resembling spontaneity or simplicity as you invariably dicker over terms and conditions.

Even if both of those come naturally or you enjoy them, you’ll still be undergoing an evolutionary process only slightly more exciting than watching your hard drive defragment itself :beatup:

That’s the main reason why exercising in law school is so important. Even if you’re not the exercising type — I had been to the gym a grand total of maybe twice in my last 2-3 years of undergrad — just getting out of the house and going for a walk around the neighborhood will clear and refresh your mind.

Building up to more aggressive activities like running or playing basketball will also help you stay fit and be more energetic during the day. That’s a particular benefit if you’re not a morning type and spend your first class or two of the day in a haze (trust me).

And keeping your body accustomed to physical activity helps ensure you don’t end up breaking something doing too much too soon ;)

So as you’re studying for the LSAT or final exams or anything else coming up at this time of year, make sure to take at least an hour a day to do something non-school-related. You’ll be glad you did :)

Have a great night folks! :D

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Past TDot’s Tips:

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #11

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 10, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

Happy 234th bday to the US Marine Corps! Consider this morning’s PT session your gift :beatup: Officially doing the ABA competition, off to study!

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #9

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 27, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

PT went well today but another bad grade in LRA killed my buzz. Did well in Ks midterm — should have done better. Exam postmortem tomorrow.

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #7

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 13, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

Best mile & 400m in my life @ PT this AM… I hurt :beatup: Caught up in Property + CivPro (Asahi Metal is an ugly case). Reading torts til bed! :)

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