Ottawa – January (English common law)

Ottawa has a uniquely specialized January term for first year common law students which focuses on alternative dispute resolution. There’s a lot of practical work and some long analytical assignments, but overall it was extremely interesting. First, the practical component involved a series of mock interviews, negotiations, mediations and an arbitration. For instance, some days an upper year student pose as a client, and we would have to represent her (or him) in a series of forums until a negotiated settlement is attained. Second, we were assigned several legal memos in relation to our specific client’s dispute, which enabled us to analyze the relevant legal issues in an atmosphere conducive to working in a real legal firm. To close it off, we had catered free lunch with an Ontario Supreme Court Justice.

Now that we’re done, we have an entire week off again. I must admit, it feels strange having a break just three weeks after new year’s, but after all the work we did this past month its a welcomed change of pace.

Looking forward to getting back to the books next week as we start our first year electives. All the best.

Ottawa common law – Exams

The first term of school has flown by and I’m almost done exams (2 left). Looking back, I’d say the term was an enjoyable and rewarding experience, although certainly not without its challenges. I’m looking forward to having a couple weeks off for the holiday so I can reflect over it all from a distanced perspective.

As for exams, our class is fairly non-competitive, which helps with setting up study groups. That said, study groups are just one method (of many) for studying. They just happen to work extremely well for me personally. I’d say whatever method worked best for you in undergrad is the one you should use in law school. The class character did shift coming into exams, but we have a ritual of going out for a drink after each one and it definitely helps maintain the group mentality. All exams are open book, which I at first assumed would make them easier, but after some experience I realized that the professors expect very comprehensive responses and a much higher level of structure or organization. If there is any advice I could have given myself before they started, it would be that “law exams are not terrible”. Just make sure you put in the appropriate study time, and don’t worry about grades too much.

Anyway, I should get back to studying. This will be my last post until next term so have a happy holiday everyone!

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.

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.

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.

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).