On Sunday, Jess Errico watched as his North Carolina Tar Heels snuffed out the Cinderella run of the No. 15-seeded Saint Peter Peacocks to set up a semi-final with their rival – the Duke Blue Devils.
A day later, the freshman at the University of North Carolina Law School realized she was in trouble. The Final Four game — the first time the Tar Heels and Blue Devils will meet in the NCAA tournament — was scheduled for Saturday, just before Errico and about 200 of his peers were due to turn in the draft wrap-up for their legal writing course. The assignment is worth 65% of their grade.
Errico, 26, told The Washington Post that she thought about doing the assignment ahead of time or just emailing her teacher asking for more time. Then she had an idea: she would argue for a postponement using the very lessons her teachers had been teaching throughout the year.
For the rest of his move, first reported by the Charlotte Observer, Errico spelled the private university 10 miles northeast of UNC as “Dook,” a joint Tar Heel shot at their rivals in the state.
His argument: The curriculum allowed for extensions when “something wild” happened during the school year, with the curriculum citing “2 weeks of snow days” as an example. Errico suggested that Saturday’s Final Four match is such an occasion.
“Like two weeks of snow days, a game between Dook and UNC in the NCAA Tournament never happened. Although the two men’s basketball teams played a combined 334 NCAA Tournament games with a combined total of 34 appearances in the Final Four, rivals North Carolina have never faced advancement to the NCAA championship game on the table.
His classmate joined in the fun by filing an “amicus curiae” brief in support of Errico’s petition. In it, sophomore Adam Gillette simply included a two-image “Mad Men” meme related to the upcoming game.
One of Errico’s teachers, Rachel Gurvich, described the arguments as “extremely compelling.” A day after receiving Errico’s motion, Gurvich met with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the seven other professors who teach the course. They decided unanimously to accede to his request.
The result fell in a decision of “The Court” the next day. The “judges” of the “courts of law and basketball” granted his request by extending the deadline for the students from 48 hours to Tuesday evening, three days after the game against Duke and 24 hours after the NCAA championship.
Separate the paragraphs in order: a series of three basketball points.
As Errico put it, she sent in a tongue-in-cheek request, and her teachers “returned it right away.”
Errico told the Post that she knew being a lawyer was serious business — that’s why she decided to become one. After graduating from North Carolina State University in 2019 with a double major in mechanical and aerospace engineering, then working two years as an engineer, she was hungry for advocacy work.
Lawyers often face the “worst days of other people’s lives”, she said.
That makes it especially important to inject levity when you can, she added. This week, she saw a chance to do so and took it.
“I’m glad other people find this humorous and laugh,” Errico said.
Mission accomplished, at least according to his teachers.
“All of this has brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people,” Gurvich said in a tweet. “Our students are learning advocacy AND they just showed joy out of nothing. Being able to say yes to them made me smile all day.
Gurvich added a postscript: “And now [Errico] is a legend.