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.

Second week at Ottawa (Common Law – English)

Just finished my second week at UOttawa and they’ve kept us pretty busy. Everybody has an ethics assignment due Monday (pass/fail?) that consumed most of our weekend, and I myself have several case briefs due. Anyway, I really like my classes and professors. I tell myself I’m getting bang for my buck, but that remains to be seen. Most of my classes are heavily weighted on exams, and I haven’t decided whether or not I like that yet. I did, however, meet some very helpful upper year students, and they passed me their summaries from last year. Thanks! There is actually a pretty positive atmosphere amongst my classmates. I think I’m really going to like this year.

Windsor

The first week at the University of Windsor has come and gone and we’ve all had a good opportunity to meet one another.  I was very surprised at how forthcoming the upper years were with help, offering their notes etc.  The environment here is very friendly and everyone is willing to lend a hand.  The first week of orientation was filled with sessions lasting morning until night.  Although some of the information given seems like common sense, the professors and Dean do a very good job at telling us the importance of our responsibilities and obligations as ambassadors of the law program at Windsor.  It is a little jarring to hear the degree to which we are held to our actions and we have all been made aware of the consequences of improper behaviour.  We have even been warned of our postings on Facebook and the consequences they may have if prospective employers search our site.  It is something to think about – even while you’re in the application process.

There are a multitude of extracurricular opportunities that we are encouraged to take part in.  It is also advised that we don’t overload ourselves.  That being said, some of these opportunities are highly sought after – as I prepare to line up outside the law building at 5:30 am to volunteer for Community Legal Aid.  I advise getting on board with the times and days of events from early on as I foresee many students later who may be wishing that they had gotten involved in the many activities offered.

This week we have started our classes and are preparing to get down to work.

Osgoode

        Wow! The first week went by fast. On the first day I was warmly greeted by upper year students and was helped through every step of registration. Unfortunately, the line-ups for books and lockers was very lengthy, so for future students I recommend doing this prior to the start of law school. At first I was very worried about ‘making the grade’ in law school, but after talking with upper year students I was put somewhat at ease- they all have told me that I will be fine as long as I keep up with the readings. With this in mind, I recommend that future students ask the school for the course books ahead of time to get a head start on the reading.           

         During the first week we had only two classes, one is called Ethical Lawyering in Global Community, and is divided into two parts; The first part ended this week and will recommence in January. I think that it was a great course to ease us into law school because it illustrated what lecture would be like in a less pressured atmosphere (there was less pressure since it only counted for ten percent of our grade, with five being allocated based on particpation). Also, we have a minor assignment due tomorrow in this course that will be marked in terms of pass/fail.

         We had lot’s of fun activities planned all week long, the highlight thus far has been the amazing race that we particpated in this past Friday and the pub crawl that followed. Sidenote- It is well worth the cost to purchase an orientation package. Not only does it allow participation in the scheduled events, but it also came with a bag of useful gifts. I have been told that it is important to get involved and be social, which I have been. This has been easy to do since everyone here is approachable, including the professors. I am enjoying law school so far!!!

First week at UOttawa (Common Law – English)

After my first week at UOttawa, I feel extremely confident that it was the right choice for me. Prior to attending, I was a little nervous given the fact that it is the largest law school in Canada.I had read horror stories about how competitive law school is, and was bracing myself for the worst. Nonetheless, after meeting people in my program, I was pretty relieved to discover that the character of the school is very different than I had feared (kudos to the admissions committee). The orientation week was also very effective in helping me meet lots of people in my program and others. It gave me with an opportunity to meet professors and upper year students and get a more comprehensive understanding of the character of the school. As for orientation events, I assume they are similar to those of other schools (BBQs, orientation seminars, semi-formal gala at the court house, and lots of late night socials), but I had an incredible time. There was also a visible presence from big law firms, which gave out a lot of promotional and recruitment materials.

UOttawa is very committed to social justice, which was well demonstrated this past week. The theme for the week was Aboriginal issues, and there were some fantastic speakers on international law, land claims, and residential schools. I actually really enjoyed the theme and focus, but some friends (particularly those from a technology background) pointed out that they wanted to hear more about their interests, like intellectual property or the environment. That said, there are a lot of specialty focuses offered, and I think the orientation did a decent job introducing them. It definitely expanded my interest in some areas I never would have considered before.

Many in my class come from all over Canada, representing extremely diverse backgrounds of interests. As an English-only student, I was a little intimidated by the level of French in the school, but I actually found it a very inclusive atmosphere. For anybody that is concerned about not having an adequate background in French, I’d say there is not much to worry about. If anything, I would say the school goes out of its way to make everyone feel welcome.

Overall, I had a great week and am looking forward to starting classes on Monday (already have some readings and an assignment).

Thursday, September 4th

I have just completed the second day of class as a 1L.  Tuesday was Orientation at U of T so there were no classes and the day was full of information.  All day we were told about the various clubs, journals, and clinics that the school has to offer its students.  Even though I have only been a law student for approximately a blink of an eye, I am confident that there is an extracurricular activity at this school that could interest just about anyone’s interest.  I have tried to make an agreement with myself to take it slow on joining many extracurriculars before I actually understand what the workload will be like.  However, it seems extremely difficult to ease in when many of the activities have their orientation days coming up within the next week.  I’ve decided on a journal and a clinic that I have a lot of interest in, and I am also considering a human rights working group which I hope will aid my legal research skills.  At UofT, your legal research requirement is not until the upper years and although many professors have stressed that we will have a good exposure to legal research, I would like to matters into my own hands.

Wednesday we began classes.  At this point it is hard for me to give any concrete ideas of what the classes will be like, however, each of my professors has been  welcoming, excited to be teaching first years and very interactive with the students.  My favourite class (undoubtedly) will be my small group.  U of T, being a relatively small program already, splits the first year class in half so for each course there are 2 classes of about 65-70 students and 3 small group classes of about 15-20.  This small group can be in any of your subjects; for myself, the class content is not why I know I will enjoy the class the most, but the idea of the intimate setting and low professor to student ratio.  It is a very safe space for a nervous first year and class to test the waters of legal reasoning.

Today I only had one class so I decided to try a method of studying an upper year had used.  I went to the library at 9am and stayed there (minus lunch and a coffee break) reading and taking notes.  I have three days that are not packed full of class and I like the idea of a 9-5 schedule.  We’ll have to see if that ends up being a enough hours to cover all of the work.  The library is a step up from my previous institution’s; large windows, natural light and extremely quiet.  Imagine that…a quiet library.

Anyways, the students are all friendly, the Dean is very personable, the professors all brilliant. Most importantly they have not stopped feeding us since we walked onto the grounds Tuesday morning.  Two out of the standard three meals a day have been covered.  I am certain I have produce that is going bad in my fridge.  But as Dean Mayo Moran said, “…if there’s one thing we do right at U of T law, it’s feed you.”  The woman does not lie.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 – Second Day of School

After my second day of school, I am feeling a bit tired and agitated because I still need to buy one or two books and I’m frustrated to have to look up so much course information on my student account – I don’t like reading on a screen (blog readers, can you sympathize?).

Other than that, I am excited about my courses so far – I have had the first class in five of the six courses I’m taking this semester. First off the bat yesterday was Constitutional Law. On first impressions, I will enjoy this class. The professor is funny and engaging, and the class environment seems positive and supportive. From what I gather, the approach will be largely historical. Then came Extra-Contractual Obligations/Torts, a class which I enjoyed because the questions posed by the professor encouraged a lot of class participation, getting people both intellectually and emotionally involved. We also laughed a lot – the prof is really funny.

Today, we started our day with Intro to Legal Research and Writing, or “Legal Meth” as it is more commonly called. This class will probably be pretty dry, because it is all about the rules of process in legal work. The entire first year class was there (as opposed to the other courses, which are divided into sections), but we will be divided up into tutorial groups. The second class was Civil Law Property, which will definitely demand a lot of concentration because I am taking it in French and a lot of the vocabulary is unfamiliar. This was the class I probably enjoyed the least so far, but I’ve been told that the material will be fairly straightforward, so hopefully it won’t be too bad. After lunch, Contracts. This was a very stimulating class. I am lucky to have so many professors with a good sense of humour!

I already have readings and have to get myself organized, so I won’t write more just now, but this has been a summary of my first impressions so far. Once I have done a few more classes and gotten into the substance of the courses, I will post again. À la prochaine!