Wrapping up First Year

Hi there,

Well, I cannot believe the year is coming to a close and I am almost done my first year at Queen’s Law! I have written 3 exams so far, with 2 left. To prepare, I drafted detailed outlines for each course which gave me a chance to review the content again. Outlines are summaries of the cases and notes about the cases. Most exams are open-book so we can bring those in with us. It sounds like heaven, but the exams are challenging and outlines will not help if you don’t know your stuff. The goal is to know the material well enough to not use your outline much in the exam. The exams are 3 hours of non-stop writing, so the less time spent on figuring things out the better. I also joined forces with 2 other students and we have created a study group for the exams. So far it has really paid off, and it gave us a sense of what we know well, what we need to review, etc.

Exams are not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. If you are prepared it pays off. I have not had any meltdowns. I am making sure to get my sleep, create a study schedule (and stick to it!) and I am consciously going in with a positive attitude. I think the best advice I can give is to worry about your own exam. If you start to wonder how you will do next to someone else, your mind can start to question what you know, you doubt yourself, etc. and then your confidence suffers and so does your ability to remain calm and focused.

The year has been a LOT of work but when I think about it, I have learned so much. It’s been a wonderful year and I look forward to next year already…especially since we get to pick our own courses so we can gravitate toward ones that really interest us.

Have a great summer everyone!

This was meant to be posted Feb 26th but I somehow didn’t post it right…

Hi Everyone,

I have been meaning to get on here but have been so busy. Exams in December were fine. I managed to get a study groove going. Based on the feedback I have received, it’s all about structure and organizing your analysis clearly and comprehensively. My advice is to find out how each prof would like to see the info laid out, and follow that method for the appropriate exam. Some profs will want similar types of responses, others may prefer a different layout. Exams were not as horrible as I thought they would be.

We just finished reading week and it was so great to have a week off after the previous crazy week. Our section had 3 major things due within 5 days. It was nuts, but I am proud of myself for pulling it off. So far the feedback has been positive. I am waiting on one more mark.

I cannot believe we only have about 5 more weeks of class. Wow. This year has really gone by quickly. I have managed to stay on top of all of my class readings. It is doable, but you just have to sacrifice other things like going out during the week. Every weeknight and every weekend, I am reading. I do have a life too, and see friends, family, do social things, but these are limited to weekend nights. My reading has become faster and I have learned to take more concise notes as well, which has helped. Not everyone feels the need to read absolutely all the assigned cases, etc. but for me, reading the material ahead of class helps me to feel connected to the material and more engaged in class. As I said, it comes with a price, but the reward of feeling prepared for each class is worth it. Plus, come the weekend, I still do things and have fun when my work is done plus it’s really difficult to catch up once behind, as the volume of reading is consistently high.

I want to comment on the competitiveness of law school. Because we are on a B bell curve, there is a lot of clamouring for those elusive As. One thing that has really helped me is not to worry about others around me. What works for one person may not work for another. Pushing myself to do well is fine, but comparing myself to others is not. Everyone is different. Some people may write something down that the prof said, others may not. If you let others affect your behaviour and self-confidence, you will drive yourself crazy (unless there are good tips that are helpful to you). You got into law school because you can do this. Believe in yourself, apply yourself, put the work in, and you will be successful.

This is Post from Feb 26th

Hi Everyone,

Somehow this post was not categorized as a Queen’s entry. Not sure what I did wrong…but I am reposting it now in case some have not seen it:

Hi Everyone,

I have been meaning to get on here but have been so busy. Exams in December were fine. I managed to get a study groove going. Based on the feedback I have received, it’s all about structure and organizing your analysis clearly and comprehensively. My advice is to find out how each prof would like to see the info laid out, and follow that method for the appropriate exam. Some profs will want similar types of responses, others may prefer a different layout. Exams were not as horrible as I thought they would be.

We just finished reading week and it was so great to have a week off after the previous crazy week. Our section had 3 major things due within 5 days. It was nuts, but I am proud of myself for pulling it off. So far the feedback has been positive. I am waiting on one more mark.

I cannot believe we only have about 5 more weeks of class. Wow. This year has really gone by quickly. I have managed to stay on top of all of my class readings. It is doable, but you just have to sacrifice other things like going out during the week. Every weeknight and every weekend, I am reading. I do have a life too, and see friends, family, do social things, but these are limited to weekend nights. My reading has become faster and I have learned to take more concise notes as well, which has helped. Not everyone feels the need to read absolutely all the assigned cases, etc. but for me, reading the material ahead of class helps me to feel connected to the material and more engaged in class. As I said, it comes with a price, but the reward of feeling prepared for each class is worth it. Plus, come the weekend, I still do things and have fun when my work is done plus it’s really difficult to catch up once behind, as the volume of reading is consistently high.

I want to comment on the competitiveness of law school. Because we are on a B bell curve, there is a lot of clamouring for those elusive As. One thing that has really helped me is not to worry about others around me. What works for one person may not work for another. Pushing myself to do well is fine, but comparing myself to others is not. Everyone is different. Some people may write something down that the prof said, others may not. If you let others affect your behaviour and self-confidence, you will drive yourself crazy (unless there are good tips that are helpful to you). You got into law school because you can do this. Believe in yourself, apply yourself, put the work in, and you will be successful.

Second Semester

Hi Everyone,

I have been meaning to get on here but have been so busy. Exams in December were fine. I managed to get a study groove going. Based on the feedback I have received, it’s all about structure and organizing your analysis clearly and comprehensively. My advice is to find out how each prof would like to see the info laid out, and follow that method for the appropriate exam. Some profs will want similar types of responses, others may prefer a different layout. Exams were not as horrible as I thought they would be.

We just finished reading week and it was so great to have a week off after the previous crazy week. Our section had 3 major things due within 5 days. It was nuts, but I am proud of myself for pulling it off. So far the feedback has been positive. I am waiting on one more mark.

I cannot believe we only have about 5 more weeks of class. Wow. This year has really gone by quickly. I have managed to stay on top of all of my class readings. It is doable, but you just have to sacrifice other things like going out during the week. Every weeknight and every weekend, I am reading. I do have a life too, and see friends, family, do social things, but these are limited to weekend nights. My reading has become faster and I have learned to take more concise notes as well, which has helped. Not everyone feels the need to read absolutely all the assigned cases, etc. but for me, reading the material ahead of class helps me to feel connected to the material and more engaged in class. As I said, it comes with a price, but the reward of feeling prepared for each class is worth it. Plus, come the weekend, I still do things and have fun when my work is done plus it’s really difficult to catch up once behind, as the volume of reading is consistently high.

I want to comment on the competitiveness of law school. Because we are on a B bell curve, there is a lot of clamouring for those elusive As. One thing that has really helped me is not to worry about others around me. What works for one person may not work for another. Pushing myself to do well is fine, but comparing myself to others is not. Everyone is different. Some people may write something down that the prof said, others may not. If you let others affect your behaviour and self-confidence, you will drive yourself crazy (unless there are good tips that are helpful to you). You got into law school because you can do this. Believe in yourself, apply yourself, put the work in, and you will be successful.

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.

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.

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.