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.