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KilgoreTrout

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  1. Leaving aside the substantive texts for the moment, does anyone have any recommendations for interesting biographies, true crime or essay collections about the lives of Crown attorneys and the difficult decisions they make on a daily basis?
  2. Thanks providence. I've graduated law school.
  3. I'd highly recommend working your way through Stratas J.A.'s writing exercises: http://www.davidstratas.com/writing/exercises.htm Also, it's worth checking out his bibliography: http://www.davidstratas.com/writing/online.htm And of course, he has example factums: http://www.davidstratas.com/writing/precedents.htm Finally, you should consider approaching a colleague or classmate whose writing you admire. Ask them to edit and critique a short essay, memo or factum that you've written. Make sure it's your best effort. Take their recommendations seriously. Rinse and repeat. The goals of legal writing include concision, precision, readability and clarity. The words you use should not distract the reader from the strength of your ideas. First, you need to figure out the exact point you want to make! I like to chat with a colleague to grasp the conclusion that I'm inviting and the intermediary points that I need to establish. Then I can edit my writing from a point-first perspective, eliminating excess words and ensuring the first sentence of each paragraph conveys that paragraph's purpose. Beware these pitfalls: Nominalization -- the use of nouns instead of verbs lengthens sentences and introduces unnecessary prepositions: "The trial judge provided an analysis of the application record and wrote a comprehensive decision" versus "The trial judge analyzed the application record and wrote a comprehensive decision." Passivity -- the possessive and active voice eliminates bulky prepositions: "The reasons of the trial judge emphasized that a charging decision ought to have been made earlier in the agency's investigation with respect to Mr. X" versus "The trial judge's reasons emphasized that the agency ought to have decided whether to charge Mr. X earlier in the investigation" or even better "The trial judge concluded that the investigating agency ought to have charged Mr. X sooner." Legalisms -- phrases like "in relation to same", "ex post facto" or "inter alia" sound fancy but they are distracting. Instead, use plain language that your average 9th grader would understand. Over-explanation -- if you are citing a case for a bedrock principle of law, simply state the principle and include the case in brackets. Nothing more is required. "McLachlin C.J. and Charron J., writing for five-judge majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Grant, 2009 SCC 32, articulated three factors governing the exclusion of evidence under s. 24(2): (1) the seriousness of the Charter‑infringing state conduct, (2) the impact of the breach on the Charter‑protected interests of the accused, and (3) society’s interest in the adjudication of the case on its merits (at paras. 93-97)" versus "Three factors govern the exclusion of evidence under s. 24(2): (1) the seriousness of the Charter‑infringing state conduct, (2) the impact of the breach on the Charter‑protected interests of the accused, and (3) society’s interest in the adjudication of the case on its merits (R. v. Grant, 2009 SCC 32, at paras. 93-97)."
  4. I'm an aspiring Crown attorney and would love your advice about great books and articles to read. At the moment, I'm reading to improve my substantive knowledge of criminal law. However, I'm also interested in other kinds of books -- biographies, essay collections, true crime -- about the lives of Crown attorneys. So far I have on my list: Fuerst & Sanderson, Ontario Courtroom Procedure Layton & Proulx, Ethics and Criminal Law Coughlan, Criminal Procedure Paciocco & Steusser, Criminal Evidence Jones, Rhodes & Birdsell, Prosecuting and Defending Youth Cases Gourlay & Asma, Charter Remedies in Criminal Cases Mauet, Caswell & MacDonald, Fundamentals of Trial Techniques I'd appreciate your further recommendations!
  5. You should write the LSAT. With such a low GPA, you will likely have to score very high on the LSAT (90th percentile or so). See below from McGill's website. https://www.mcgill.ca/law-admissions/undergraduates/admissions/faq Should I take the LSAT? While it is not required, it may nevertheless be advisable for many candidates to consider writing the LSAT. Admission to McGill’s Law program is highly competitive: there are roughly seven to eight times as many applicants as there are available places in the first year class. Accordingly, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for admission to a number of faculties of law. Almost all faculties of law outside Quebec require the LSAT. The quality of McGill’s applicant pool is exceptionally strong. Among admitted students, the average entering GPA is a 3.7 on a 4.0 scale (about an 84% average). Applicants with academic records below this average GPA or percentile are encouraged to consider writing the LSAT. What are the cut-offs for CRC, GPA and LSAT scores? There are no fixed cut-offs, and while the numerical aspects of the applicant's file are not decisive, students offered admission at McGill generally have outstanding academic records in addition to their other qualities. Accordingly, it is not possible to predict the probability of admissions using numerical indices. University and Mature Categories: Here are the statistics for the university and mature students entering the first year of the program in September 2016: Percentile Scale 4.0 Scale Class average 85% 3.8 Lowest 74% 3.0 Median 84% 3.7 Highest 95% 4.0 Score Percentile Average LSAT 162 84.9 Lowest 150 45.2 Median 163 86.8 Highest 170 97.3
  6. You will be even more competitive with a Master's degree from Oxford. The ultimate question is how competitive you were this year. If you were a shoe in, there is no harm in reapplying. If you were not, then give it some serious thought.
  7. Hi Ohmeohmy, I apologize for the unreasonably delayed response. Could you specify in which employers you are interested? As a general rule, for "2L" organized recruitment (a.k.a. "on-campus-interviews" or "OCIs") into the most competitive tier of large full-service law firms, having grades in the top ten percent, or twenty percent (with an otherwise outstanding application), is the frequently-cited cut-off. There are, of course, outliers. The more generalized your business case for why you fit into a firm, the more grades matter. Hence, large firms' emphasis on cumulative GPA. For instance, if you do not really know what you want your practice of law to look like, and are attracted to a reputable large firm because it will allow you to experiment and develop skills, in a supportive and resource-filled environment, then your cumulative GPA is arguably more probative of your value to the firm. There are so many unknowns at that point, so the law firm is taking a risk and hoping that you will excel at whatever you end up doing, as you have done at law school in diverse subject areas. On the other hand, if you are applying to an employment boutique, then your business case is grounded in your passion for, knowledge of and experience in employment law; arguably, your cumulative GPA wanes in importance. For the same reason, recruitment to most government positions is less grade-dependent and more substantive. The recruiters will actually test your knowledge of that ministry's practice needs and will not be content to use your cumulative GPA as a proxy for your interest in and value to the ministry. I don't have a rule of thumb "cut-off" for specialized boutiques or government. At the end of the day, if you are interested in a specific area of law, the formal recruitment process may very well disappoint you. So you will have to branch out and make your own recruitment process. KilgoreTrout
  8. I don't doubt that what you say is true. It's interesting that this didn't come up in my course on Sentencing in law school. Two assigned readings discussed "fact bargaining" without mentioning the ethical issues that you have raised.1 It would have been interesting to have discussed those issues! Thank you for raising them. 1 Canada, Sentencing: A Canadian Approach (Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada, 1986) at 404-5; Simon Verdun-Jones, “Plea bargaining” in Criminal Justice in Canada, 4th ed (Toronto: Nelson, 2012) at 170.
  9. Here are a couple of links to check out. I didn't participate in the consultations or Faculty Council so I can't offer anything else. There doesn't seem to be much online about it yet. February 2015: http://www.quidnovi.ca/issues/2014-2015/v36no13.pdf June 2015: http://publications.mcgill.ca/droit/2015/06/01/curriculum-renewal/
  10. Those are great questions tswizzle. As a McGill law student, you have to decide whether to complete the degree in 3, 3.5 or 4 years. If you choose the 3 year path, then you are eligible for 1L summer jobs after 1L. You are in the same stream, set to graduate at the same time, as law students from other universities. Yet, to accrue 105 credits in 3 years, you will have an aggressive course load throughout. Keeping in mind that 1L jobs are scarce and that taking fewer courses sometimes allows you to perform better, many who pursue the 3 year path take summer courses after 1L to lighten the load. One great option is to write a supervised Term Essay (~10,000 words) over the summer. You will then have a writing sample for employers and might also try to have it published. It is worth trying to work for a professor as a research assistant after 1L. Most students find non-law employment after 1L to make some money and continue to expand their CVs. The most common path is 3.5 years; that's what I did. Students on the 3.5 or 4 year path only rarely secure law-related summer employment after 1L and 2L. As you mentioned, on this path, 1Ls are deemed to be 0Ls in employers' eyes. If you do find a summer law job, it will be through your own ingenuity. You will become eligible for advertised 1L jobs (such as the two which you mentioned) as a 2L. The application deadlines tend to be in January. To secure one of these positions is extremely difficult. You will need to have top grades (i.e., ~90th percentile) and/or excellent work experience to secure an interview. Typically, the Ontario SCJ will hire two 1L clerks (usually from Ontario schools). MAG in Ontario will hire around 15-20 into various branches (also mainly from Ontario schools). For the first and second summers most students will: work a non-law job to make some money; work as a research assistant; take summer courses; participate in a human rights internship as a 2L; do a summer exchange for credit to China; or work abroad to improve a second language. If you are set on working in Ontario after graduation, your options will increase dramatically during the "2L" OCI recruit, which takes place during Fall of 3L. If you are willing to work in Quebec, course aux stages is a totally different ball game and begins in February of 2L, with certain firms offering two summers of employment in addition to part-time work during the school year.
  11. I agree with what tswizzle wrote above. If you aspire towards a clerkship at an international tribunal, then the Faculty's Career Development Office ("CDO") should be able to put you in touch with graduates who have gone that route. Connect with graduates who are a few years out of law school. Their insights will be invaluable. The CDO will also be able to clarify what you will need to be competitive for those clerkships -- grades, work experience, languages, publications, reference letters and other qualifications. There is no simple answer as to whether or not you will find work in international human rights straight out of law school. You might have to be very flexible in terms of where you work, how much you earn and the type of work that you do. You will have a better sense of the type of work that you want to do after a couple of summer jobs. For instance, if you decide that you really want to be a litigator, then the job hunt will likely be a challenging one, if only because there are few international tribunals that adjudicate human rights issues. On the other hand, if you are willing to do any type of work, in any country, regardless of the pay, you will have an easier go at it. For instance, you could be a human rights observer in a country at civil war. Or you could be a project manager for an NGO with a human rights mandate. In any event, it is likely that you will forego a degree of job security and you will not benefit from the organized recruitment processes that bring employers onto campus (other than the clerkships that tswizzle mentioned). On the other hand, there is also domestic work that will allow you to work in human rights while developing legal skills. The quality of that work experience and the training you will receive domestically might very well exceed that offered by an international NGO. At the end of the day, there will be trade-offs that you can only now speculate about. Keep an open mind and check back in on yourself throughout law school. Take advantage of the CDO. In addition to pursuing summer internships, it will be beneficial for you to connect early on with professors who research international human rights law and see if they need a research assistant. Outside of formal recruitment processes, and particularly for clerkships, references from well known professors go a long way. As far as I know, very few people ultimately fulfill the majors which you mentioned. On paper, it seems like it couldn't hurt, but an extra 18 credits is a serious commitment. That's an additional semester at full capacity. Also, if you don't pursue the major, then you can allocate your 6 non-law credits (in the standard B.C.L./LL.B.) towards any course(s) offered at McGill. That means you could spend a year learning a language or taking a couple of survey courses that will guarantee you "A" grades. ----------------- Edit: Also, once you are accepted to McGill law and have a Minerva login you will have free access to the CDO's career guide in International Law. http://www.mcgill.ca/cdo/careerresources/career-guides
  12. It is difficult to say what is "most" important for applicants beyond what McGill advertises on its Admissions' website. I don't work in Admissions, so I'm not of much use to you there. As you probably already know, the average student whom McGill admits has a GPA around 3.7, LSAT around 161 (if he or she decided to take the LSAT) and a variety of extracurricular activities and/or work experience. A well written personal statement will also help to distinguish a successful applicant. There are also outliers such as splitters, mature students and CEGEP applicants. French language ability is assessed minimally to ensure that the applicant is at least able to listen to and read French at an intermediate level. It takes two to tango. That's the short answer to your question. I could, however, spill a lot of ink on this subject. Any law school with a curved grading system, such as McGill's, is designed to be competitive. First, you take a bunch of accomplished "A" students with bright futures ahead of them and congregate them into large first year classes (three sections of around 55 students). Second, you curve each section so that one student will receive an "A", two will receive an "A -", ten will receive "B+" and the rest will be split evenly between "B" and "B-" (with the occasional "C" for good measure). An excellent 90th percentile GPA at McGill Law is 3.37. Third, you throw in the fact that employers tend to prioritize good grades. Fourth, you add in the reality that on top of good grades, employers also want to see demanding extracurriculars and relevant work experience. Fifth, you note that the job market for summer and articling positions is itself competitive. Where does this leave you? There is inevitably competition between law students. Particularly, competition is fierce for "prestigious" gigs like "Big Law" (principally New York, Toronto and Montreal), judicial clerkships and research assistant positions with certain professors. On the other hand, if not realistically then in an ideal world, you don't have to care one iota about any of that. I know a fair score of McGill law students who chose not to care about grades and simply chose not to compete. It depends upon your personality and your career ambitions. If you have to clerk at an appellate court or work at a large firm in NYC, then you will experience competition. If your dream job is to work as a sole practitioner after articling, then much of the pressure to impress employers will dissipate. Yet, fundamentally, none of this means that you will experience underhanded behaviour. I certainly didn't. In fact, my most rewarding learning experiences involved collaborating with other students. If you can find a group of students that you like and trust, then studying together for exams and proofreading one another's assignments will both make you a stronger student and help you to forge amazing friendships.
  13. If you have any questions about law at McGill, then I'm happy to answer them .
  14. To what extent would you agree or disagree with the following statement: Crowns who excel are motivated by putting away crooks and outsmarting defence lawyers. Defence lawyers at the top of their game, on the other hand, are motivated by opportunities to outsmart and outmaneuver very intelligent Crowns by manipulating the system. Or, if you would prefer an open-ended and less reductive and cynical question: What motivates you and your fellow criminal lawyers?
  15. One thing that I find helps in these sorts of disappointing situations is to imagine that your friend just told you that he or she received those grades. How would you respond to them? Most people have a tendency to show more compassion to others than to themselves. What would be the compassionate response? First of all, a few bad grades do not define your worth nor do they accurately predict how you will finish law school. Second, they present an amazing learning opportunity. More than anything else, to bounce back from the experience, it will be useful to carefully re-read your exams and receive commentary from your professors. For one professor, it might be something as simple as the way you structured your exam answer (everything from clearly enumerating the issues to point-first writing). For another, there might have been a substantive weakness in one area of the course. For yet another, it could have been stylistic choices. Once you have gathered as much feedback as possible, then you might want to consider comparing your answers to those that received top grades. Are there any minor or major stylistic or structural tweaks that you could make to close the gap? Is the problem time-management or inability to focus during exam writing? Are you better off taking electives in your upper years with alternative evaluations such as term essays or moots? You will have a lot of time to reflect upon possible strategies. The most important thing, though, is not to take it out too hard on yourself. You are still the smart, competent, person who got into law school. It might take you a bit longer to hit your stride, but if you redouble your efforts it will almost certainly pay off. It's still possible that you will get OCIs. If not, as certain of your colleagues line up summer jobs through OCIs they may very well stop trying in second and third years. Those years might just be your chance to shine. Don't let others' emphasis on first year grades define your aspirations or self-worth.
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