Thanks for doing this! How are the first year courses/profs/workload? Have you had much experience with the Legal Aid Service? How does it work and how many positions are there for first years?
Edit: One more question: how racially diverse is Dalhousie/Halifax? Do you or some of your classmates have thoughts about what it's like living in Halifax as a racial minority? (I had culture shock going from a very Asian suburb of Toronto to Montreal/McGill so I'd like to know what I'm getting into here).
I'll answer some of these separately to keep it from looking like a big text wall.
First Year Courses / Workload:
At Dal, there are seven first year classes in total.
- Orientation to Law
- Public Law
- Research and Writing
- Property Law
Like most schools, there are no electives or choices in 1L. You just block register and are assigned to section A, B, or C.
Orientation to Law & Research and Writing
Orientation to law only goes until October. It’s this strange little three times a week lecture series, in which the school dumps a bunch of information on you from different professors and practicioners. They teach you everything that is similtaneously essential— race and the law, theory, some legal history, ethics, etc — but not important enough to make into an actual full-year mandatory course. It’s pass / fail based upon an oral exam. Everyone passes. Everyone knows everyone passes. Everyone freaks out before hand. It’s a time-honoured ritual here.
Research and writing is a little weird too. It’s two sub-parts of the same class. There are all these little assignments in the first semester. They are highly educational, time-consuming, a pain in the ass to write, and even worse for the prof to mark. Classes end in January. You have a final, larger Research Memo due in March. Then the class is done. You will be free to forget all the useful things you learned until you start working.
The five other courses
Contracts, criminal, public, property, and torts are full year courses; you have them from September to April.
Public law classes end in March. There is a take-home exam, which I think was worth 30% (I should pay attention to stuff like this). Then there is a final exam worth 70% in April (and a failsafe that is worth 30% if you do better in Dec. than you do on the final)
One of your classes is with a small group (15-20ish?) other students. There are three assignments throughout the year + participation marks. There’s no sit-down, closed book exam.
The three remaining courses last all year. They are 100% finals with the 30% failsafe.
^^ It sounds a little confusing now (a little like an easy logic games puzzle). You’ll figure it out when you get here.
As you can see, the class schedule starts tapering off throughout the year. It’s kinda intense in September and October, but slows down in the winter term.
To you actual question: the workload is significant, but not unmanageable. There’s enough of it to keep you busy all the time if you want to. It helps if you’re efficient (I’m not … like, at all). The first semester might seem scary, because you’ve (presumably) never studied law before. Initially, you probably have no idea what’s important. If you think you do, you’re probably wrong. Although you'll probably have a better grasp of what you should be doing by then, the winter semester is harder, partly because you know you have finals coming down the pipe. There are also lots of other little take-home things due every few weeks to keep you busy. Exams are soon, so it's ramping up now.
Edited by realpseudonym, 22 March 2016 - 03:08 PM.