Category Archives: Guest Contributors

November at Queen’s

Well, I made it through my first law school exam in Public Law a few weeks ago. We will get it back either this week or next week. It was a practice exam and the final is in December (this is the only semestered course we are taking this year–all others have finals in April). It was a closed book exam which is new but they are trying it out. I also handed in a paper a few weeks ago in Torts and hope to get it back this week. I actually had fun writing it (I think that’s a good thing, right?)

Exams are just around the corner. I am trying to adjust my study time to include some time for preparing my outlines for the exams. I also have a few assignments due soon as well, so things are certainly busy. The reading is getting heavier for some courses but I know that in just over 2 weeks classes end and I can focus on exams.

That’s it for now. I’m in the library and will get started on some reading.

Ottawa (common law) – Week 7

Life at uOttawa continues to keep me busy with various readings and assignments. Aside from the amount of work, nothing has been overly challenging yet, but exams are still to come. I have my first one on Monday and I’m currently writing my exam summary for it. All exams are open book, so a good class summary is the key to success. At first I had no idea how to structure my notes for summary creation, but I think I have the hang of it now. Wish me luck!

As for social life, Ottawa could not be better in my opinion. We are a pretty tight group, and all of us hang out together when we get the chance (usually after class). There is always somewhere to go on the weekends, and the only conflict is when you are forced to choose. While there is a lot of hard work, you definitely don’t feel alone in your labours. Having a good social life has been really important for me and provides an incentive to keep on track. Safety in numbers!

Anyway, there are quite a bit of midterms coming up, so I’ll let you know how I manage.

Turkey was yummy…back to the books

We are now firmly in our 6th week of school, and things are moving along. I have formed a study group with some colleagues, as we have a practice exam coming up in Public law in a week and a half. Beyond that, we have some assignments (legal opinions) and exams coming up. I am still managing to stay on top of my readings, but I am well aware of the exams approaching, and will need to carve out some extra time to start to organize my notes.

Most exams are open book, so you can bring cases and notes with you. The main skill you need is to be able to apply legal reasoning to the exam question. Based on previous cases that have set precedents, how would the courts decide the current issue? This is the type of thing we will someday advise our clients on, so it’s an extremely relevant exercise. That being said, I am trying to stay calm and not get too worked up about the exams.

As always, time is flying by. I cannot believe we have been here for 6 weeks, although because of volume, some days it feels like we have been here much longer. We have learned so much in a relatively short time period.

Tomorrow in our Criminal Law class, we are arguing a case. The class is divided into our small sections, and my section is arguing for the defence. Our class will lay out the crown and defence cases, and our prof will be the judge and rule based on how we presented the evidence. Should be fun!

I am in the library and it’s time to get down to preparing my case for tomorrow.

Windsor Law

Well after being out of classes because of a prof strike for almost 3 weeks we’ve finally gotten back into classes.  I just completed my first full week backand there have been many adjustments made to the academic schedule.  This will definitely be the most intense semester.  However, this certainly will not affect the amount of material we cover and what we will gain from our teachings.

I’ve been made aware of the value of ‘learning the system’ and how this will benefit me for exams.  Apparently, there is a certain way of going about studying and using study notes that, if mastered, should result in better grades.  One has to know what material to sift through and what to concentrate on.

Osgoode week 6

Hi all,

So I have been caught up in readings and a few assignments. I started to be proactive and have organized a note group with some friends. This way we are each responsible for taking notes in one class per week and we rotate which class we take notes for. This is very helpful because now I can focus more attention on the reading and will have a great set of notes. I also recommend finding upper year students and getting their notes as many courses use the same textbook or cases for several years in a row.

I feel a lot more organized and I am enjoying what we are learning. I find that most of it is applicable to daily life in so many ways. For instance, in contracts we learn about the consumer protection act, which impacts us everyday.

There are also tons of social events and for the most part professors try to keep this in mind when scheduling midterms, which is great! People here are really nice and genuinely want to help out, there is even a mentorship program set up to help first year students. All in all school is going well and I feel prepared and excited for what is to come!

On a side note, from what i have experienced thus far there are people from all areas of academic study which makes discussions really interesting and prooves the misconception of needing to study political science in undergrad to go to law school. From this point, I think as long as you are ready to do a lot of reading and critically analyze what you read, you will do just fine!!!

I’ll keep you posted!

Life at Queen’s

I have finally set aside some time to write a few words on here. My intentions were to get on here sooner, but suddenly we’re one month in, and here we are.

The first week of class was exciting. It was mostly an intro from our profs, and the readings began immediately. All of my profs are excellent. They are all approachable and truly care about the study of law.   At Queen’s we are put into small sections of 25 students or so, and we travel with that section in all of our classes for the entire first year. Most of our classes are joined with one other small section, to make a group of 50. Class participation is encouraged and welcomed by all of our profs. The Socratic method is not strictly enforced, although sometimes it happens, but the profs are all friendly and they know we are just starting out. I think the first week or two, we were all a bit on the shy side, not knowing if we had read the materials correctly, etc. As time has progressed, there is more and more participation, which is great, since we all learn from each others’ comments and questions.

Into the second week, our profs gave us direction on how to read the materials. Most of our readings are actual cases, and they are groundbreaking ones that have determined major points of law going forward, so it’s exciting stuff. Reading cases is a skill that none of us had coming in, so feeling like you don’t know what you are supposed to get from the cases is completely normal. At Queen’s they offer you a chance to connect with upper year mentors, who reinforce this point. We’ve been told by our professors and other students that at some point, it will start to click, and we will be able to read the cases with a “legal mind”. I can feel that already starting to happen and it’s great! The only way to learn this is through practice.

On to my next point. It is absolutely critical that you keep up with the readings. If you read the cases before class, you get so much more out of it. I do my own case briefs beforehand (which I learned from our profs and my upper year mentor) and then just edit them as needed during class. Once we do a case in class, we move on to the next one(s), so if the reading is not done on time, you are in perpetual catch-up mode, which can be pretty stressful. I would say I do about 3-4 hours of reading each night. It varies–sometimes I do more, sometimes less, but I am always on track with the prescribed readings. If I am able to read ahead, then I have some breathing room for other things, like Grey’s Anatomy! It’s important that you have other things on the go besides school, to stay balanced. One of our profs asks after most weekends if we did anything “non-law related” on the weekend. Most students just chuckle, but I think there’s wisdom in that. If you keep up with the reading, you will be able to carve out some time for yourself.

They really encourage school involvement as well. I am part of the Pro Bono Society and am participating in a weekly radio show about legal issues. I have also joined some clubs here at the law school, but am careful not to overextend myself. These things are important and do look great on a resume, but school is my priority, so I am careful not to pack up my schedule so there is added pressure on my time, which is already pretty limited.

One last thing: I never bothered with sleep in past. I would get the minimum to function at work. Now, I really try to get 8 hours a night. If it’s late and I am not done reading, I will get some sleep and wake up early to finish up before class. This seems to be working well for me. Each class is mentally challenging and demanding–we are stretching our minds and looking critically at materials, etc. so if I am tired during class, it’s a painful experience.

Well, that’s it for now. I have class in another hour and a half, and have to finish a case before then.

This is turning out to be a fantastic experience. It’s new, exciting and challenging. If you love to learn, this is the place to be. Everyday I learn something new about some new point of law. It’s pretty cool.

Fourth week at Ottawa

After a week or two of adjustment, I’m beginning to get a better understanding of the workload. I’m willing to admit that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the readings, but somehow I’ve managed to get every one of them done. I think the trick for me is to find a good reading area, and minimize distractions. I’ve already handed in four assignments, and have three more due next week (wish me luck). While it is true that there is a lot of work to do, it is definitely manageable if you decide to keep up. The best part of it all is that you can still have a social life, and I’d recommend having one (when time permits). We’ve already had a few socials with the faculty (including a boat cruise last Friday), which I find helps me release after a long week of readings. I also joined some clubs and sports leagues.

So far, I’m still having an excellent time at UOttawa.

Week 4

I am adjusting to the amount of readings that we are given in each course. There is a lot to cover so time management is really important. It helps if you plan ahead of time a comfortable place to study- the library is good, but after hours at school sometimes you just want to leave. Today I get back my first assignment, so hopefully that will go well, I had a small group paper due yesterday and I have two small papers due this Monday. In many of the courses there are 100% finals and all are short answer, essay etc, so make sure you have some experience with this style of testing.

Anyways, I am heading out to school!

Windsor Week 3

The second week of law studies introduced us to our courses and profs.  The amount of reading seems reasonable and if you’ve been in a program that has required alot of it then it won’t be such a shock.  At Windsor law we are required to take a course called ‘Access to Justice.’  This replaces the normally required ‘torts’ course offered at most universities in first year.  ‘Access to Justice’ emphasizes the impact of law in achieving justice, how the law contributes to injustice, and such questions as ‘what consitutes good law.’

Currently the University of Windsor Faculty and Librarians are on strike.  There have been no classes since Wednesday September 17th.  Hopefully this will come to a conclusion sooner than later.

Wednesday, September 15, 2008 – First Assignment Due Tomorrow… and other things

Well, I have to say, so far, so good. Last week was intense for me because I had missed a bunch of readings for Civil Law Property in my first week, and it took me quite a while to wade through them, partially because they were in French (constantly having to refer to a 20-lb dictionary takes time), and partially because they were written in a dense, obtuse style that would have made my head spin even in English. I am still not sure if that time was well spent, because I got only fragmentary information out of those readings and their content was not covered in class, but the good student in me is still glad I did them… despite the hours and hours and hours I could have spent with my boyfriend, or cooking, or doing laundry…

Overall, we’re getting into the substance of the courses now. Classes are lively, and most of the material is being taught with constant comparisons between the common law and the civil law system. The Socratic method is not extensively used here, so we’re all pretty relaxed in class, free to speak when we have something to say, but also secure in the knowledge that we won’t be mercilessly grilled about something we only have a rudimentary grasp of.

And tomorrow, our first assignment – a case summary – is due for Legal Meth. It’s worth 10%, and it’s a baptism by fire – we’ll know how to do it right after getting it back with a grade. Not that we haven’t had explanations of how to do it… but the explanations have been brief and somewhat contradictory, coming one way from the prof and another way from the tutorial liaison (upper year student charged with teaching us the nitty-gritty). I kinda like this approach – one learns better from failing than from succeeding, right? And it’s only 10%.

Before I run to my contracts class, I wanted to also mention that Wednesday last week was Clubs Day – and there was a bit of a fair going on in the atrium of the law building with every student organization hawking candy and gathering e-mail addresses from perspective members. The variety was impressive – everything from the Business Law Association to wine appreciation to a theatre group to Avocats Sans Frontiers (Lawyers Without Borders). I joined a few things for which the time commitment would be manageable – the Womens’ Caucus, which involves female alumni and is a bit of a mentoring group (among other activities in the community), and the Human Rights Working Group, which has a number of smaller groups involved in community outreach activities. I can definitely say, there is a student organization for every persuasion. This is a dynamic place. On that note, I gotta run to class.