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Lawtender33

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  1. Lawtender33

    Mature students applying to law school

    I transitioned to law school as a mature student from a previous, more than decade long career with the government. To answer your questions, my life experience took up significant real estate on my personal statement because I felt as though it would set me apart from the majority of general applicants who, save for extracurriculars or special circumstances, statistically look very similar on paper. I did not use academic references - my letters came from colleagues who could speak to my abilities, my track record, and work ethic. It helped that one of my referees was a lawyer who could speak to how my skills were transferrable to academia and the legal profession at large. As to why I considered a legal career: I always wanted to be a lawyer. Without getting into the long story of why that didn't happen earlier in my life, one of a couple perceived barriers was that the longer I spent climbing the government ranks and getting settled into "life", the less likely I thought returning to school to be an option for me. Eventually a wonderful colleague, who is a lawyer, convinced me to apply. Now, as some posters have pointed out there are significant issues that you'll have to consider as an older applicant. There are times that I feel as though this was the best decision I have ever made, and other times where I question why I left the comforts of my old life behind. Walking away from predictable hours, a great salary, and a pension into debt (so much debt), career uncertainty, and wacky hours at my age has been scary. Like many posters have pointed out, you have to balance the costs of uprooting your life against how many years you hope to work in the field. Thankfully, that's been less of an issue for me since I'll probably never fully retire. If you have a family, you must also consider how it will affect them. My partner has been tremendously supportive through this process, though sadly, at times school and now articling has taken a huge toll on her and our relationship. Not only does it feel as though my life is on hold until I get settled into my career, she has often told me that she feels as though hers is now on hold as well. I had to leave town for school which uprooted us for 3 years, and then there was another move for my clerkship - which is only a 1 year stint - after which time I'll have to go wherever I can find a job. Ideally I'll stay in this city, however, there are no guarantees. It's very stressful and not something I imagined having to deal with at this stage of my life. It would have been much easier at age 25. Also, the financial burden that this process has placed on my shoulders has also been enormous, though I'm trying not to think of it too much until the bank starts sending me bills. Scary stuff aside, it's not all bad. I've noticed at times that I do get treated differently at work from other students. I was told by one lawyer who hired me to work on a couple of files for him last year that he chose me specifically because I am older and more mature. A reference letter from another employer highlighted my maturity as one of the reasons why I was the best student they ever worked with. There is a certain confidence that comes with age and experience that is balanced by a humbleness that comes with maturity. It's hard for me to articulate, but if you have the right balance, it makes you a really easy person to work with - and employers like that. Having said this, age can also work against you. I think it largely depends on where you want to work. I have a friend who had issues securing employment and believed it was due to her age. I had one professor in school who specifically informed us that age was a deterrent for some corporate employers. I haven't experienced any issue with it thus far, but I also have no interest in corporate law. I think you need to think long and hard about why you want to go into law before you decide to apply and uproot your life. Whenever I have those days where I long for my old easy life, I remind myself of how much more fulfilled I am now. I am a constant ball of fatigue and anxiety, but I am also challenged, and feel very passionate about my work. Had I decided to pursue law out of boredom, or for status or pay - I would be utterly miserable. I also think that if you do decide to go back to school, do so with an open mind. I went to law school thinking that I would leave and walk right back into the government doing international legal work ... that idea went out the window after my first year. While in school, I was surprised to see students in their 40s, and some in their 50s who, for a multitude of reasons, chose to change course and pursue law. If you do end up in school again you will definitely be the minority, but you won't be alone. My school had a great mature student association who were very helpful in providing advice and mentorship opportunities to those of us arriving to the legal profession later in the game. I suggest you get involved in one if your school offers it. I am sure if the school you are intending on applying to has a club for mature students, they can put you in touch with someone who talk to you about the process and their experience. Best of luck in making your decision!
  2. Lawtender33

    Clerking for FCA- are certain courses required?

    I second this. When I interviewed at the FC, I was similarly asked extensively about these areas (substantive legal questions). I had not yet taken admin law, which was a real treat when asked in depth questions about standard of review and jurisdiction. I still cringe when I think about my answers. Similar to @providence I ended up in a great (and very long) discussion about criminal law, but also did not end up at the court. At the end of the interview I was told that I would be better suited to ONCA or SCJ. I agree that you don't necessarily need to take classes in those areas, but be familiar with recent caselaw and the principles broadly. I addition to the suggestions above, I would skim through Irwin Law texts as well.
  3. Lawtender33

    Windsor Law - Mandatory Indigenous Law 1L

    I understand that the TRC is not representative of every indigenous person. No organization or commission is representative of every single opinion within the particular group of people they represent. Let me take the TRC out of this and just say my bottom line is that I believe indigenous people should be the authority on indigenous education. I am not certain to what extent law schools have consulted wider indigenous communities on these changes, but I would hope that they have (perhaps this is optimistic). If making indigenous law a mandatory requirement in law school is such a bad thing, or if there is a better way to implement these changes, I would like to hear an indigenous perspective - and would hope that law schools have taken these perspectives into consideration before making sweeping changes.
  4. Lawtender33

    Windsor Law - Mandatory Indigenous Law 1L

    @providence, I should have perhaps been more clear. I don't think the TRC should be immune from criticism, and I agree with @BlockedQuebecois point above that ongoing respectful dialogue is important for reconciliation (or anything, really). Where our opinions diverge is on the topic of education. I believe that the TRC / indigenous persons are owed deference on matters of education. As a non-indigenous person, I do not believe it my place, or any other non-indigenous person's place to say what this education should look like. I also do not believe indigenous law, traditions and history should be taught by non-indigenous persons - but that's another can of worms for another thread that I don't care to open. I will say though, I do respect your opinion and see the merits in ensuring that these issues are appropriately covered across all areas of the curriculum, rather than consolidated into one course. If the TRC has called for a course, and the language of the Call to Action suggests such, then I just don't believe it's my place to say otherwise. Edit: I also don't believe education hurts. Hollow as the system is, and as much as law schools will pat themselves on the back for offering these courses (while doing little to make substantive changes) - then at the very least, people will be made aware of issues facing indigenous folks, their history and complicated relationship with the government and the legal system. I don't see it as a bad thing.
  5. Lawtender33

    Windsor Law - Mandatory Indigenous Law 1L

    As you are probably already aware, the curriculum is a direct response the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action (26, 27) calling upon the Law Societies of Canada to ensure that their licensees are appropriately trained in indigenous issues, and law schools Canada-wide to require all students take a course that covers indigenous legal issues. I do not view the implementation of these Calls to Action by any school, or the law society as “stupid” and take some offence to it being referred as such. Further, the fact that this requirement is taking the form of a standalone course is something that comes at the request of the Commission. This is clearly the method that the Commission has determined will best facilitate learning about indigenous law – as a settler, it is not my place, nor is it any other non-indigenous persons’ place to criticize this decision or provide their two cents on how indigenous issues should be best taught. It is our responsibility to listen and help implement what they identify as required to move forward with reconciliation. Having said this, I now realize that my comment assumes that everyone on this thread is non-indigenous which is problematic, and if I have inappropriately captured anyone’s thoughts, I apologize. There are some points brought up in this thread about the showmanship of acknowledging land , and I can see the point of certain gestures being hollow. Students are receiving an education on indigenous law and history, meanwhile, the legal education system is in itself inaccessible for many indigenous and racialized groups, and we are trained and then spat out to practice in a legal system that is still widely oppressive to these groups. I see can see the hypocrisy with law schools advertising that they offer all of this training, while still operating in a system that is extremely complacent to the systemic issues that they teach us about. Regardless, I am happy to see law schools, and the law society implementing the Calls to Action. I see this as much more constructive and useful than the former Business Associations requirement.
  6. Lawtender33

    Windsor Law - Mandatory Indigenous Law 1L

    The majority of comments on this thread serve to prove exactly why it is so important to have mandatory education on indigenous issues.
  7. Lawtender33

    Upper Year Courses for the Bar

    Do not waste your time. Take courses that you're interested in, or if you have figured out what area of law you'd like to practice - load up on relevant courses. Everything you will need to know is in the bar materials. Some understanding of each subject is required to pass the exams, because for some questions you will need to exercise judgment, or the wording of the question won't make it obvious where to search in your materials - but certainly no in-depth knowledge is required. I walked into my solicitors exam still not having a clue about business law, and was fine. I passed both exams and the majority of courses I took in school were criminal law related. I will echo what a previous poster said - do not worry about the bar exam until you pick up your materials. Just focus on enjoying / getting through 3L.
  8. Lawtender33

    Osgoode Part B

    I'm not sure what the max word count is for Part B, but I highly suggest framing any issues that negatively impacted your grades as learning experiences rather than excuses. For example, "Here's this crappy thing that happened to me in undergrad, but this is how I've learned and grown from it and what I've done to overcome these issues". Everyone experiences setbacks in life to some extent, however, I believe that demonstrating you are able to overcome these challenges, learn from them - and ultimately prosper - will be viewed more favourably than "X, Y, and Z happened and that is why my GPA dipped in undergrad." Best of luck with your application.
  9. Lawtender33

    Failure Report - Ontario Bar Exam!

    A friend of mine who failed both of their exams received their report last week.
  10. Lawtender33

    Bursary Application

    Already discussed here
  11. Lawtender33

    E-Textbooks

    Some of your texts may come with a little card that grants you access to a digital copy of the book. Also, some profs prefer not to use a text and will instead assign you a list of cases to read each week that you'll have to find online. If you are assigned texts for all your classes and find lugging around your books a pain you can do what the above-poster recommended and rent a locker. I believe they go for $20 for the full year (though I could be wrong).
  12. Lawtender33

    Mid-life crisis during Articling?

    OP - Please listen to what epeeist said. It sounds to me as though you are burning out. As someone who has been through it in a previous career, I can tell you that it is difficult to come back from once you're there. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You just went through 3 years of intense education followed by the stress of licensing exams and now you've been thrown into a very demanding job. What you need to focus on right now is self care while things are still manageable. I will also echo what others said about finding legal work in areas with greater work-life balance. I used to work very closely with government lawyers who maintained very 9-5 schedules. If you can take care of yourself and make it through the next few months in order to get articling out of the way, there is hope for a legal work that aligns more with your life needs. Alternatively, if you decide that legal work isn't for you, as a former government policy nerd I can tell you that a lot of my colleagues were actually former lawyers, or went to law school and never went through the licensing process afterward. It's 100% normal.
  13. Lawtender33

    Question for current law students: tattoos!

    I have a ton of tattoos. Legs, arms, torso. In fact, I’m having a sleeve worked on as we speak. It didn’t matter in law school because I didn’t care about what other law students thought of me in that regard, and it didn’t negatively impact me for interviews / employment because I ensure my arms and legs are always covered for that kind of stuff. If you’re super worried about your wrist or ankle, wear thicker tights with your skirt or pants instead. You can probably cover your wrist tattoo up with a watch or bracelets if you’re not wanting to wear long sleeves. Memories of hiding tattoos from my parents as a young person are flooding back to me as we speak.
  14. Lawtender33

    Administrative Law: Course vs Module

    I would check with student services to confirm this before deciding to not take admin or complete the module. You don't want to be in a situation where you think you're all set to graduate, only to be informed that you haven't completed the requisite courses. I know that Business Associations is no longer a requirement and student services sent out several emails about it over the winter break period and months following. Nothing was said about Admin law. In fact, they still have it listed on their website (which has been updated to include the indigenous law requirement, and the removal of business associations) so it's more likely than not still a course you have to take. https://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/programs/jd-program/degree-requirements/ EDIT: NVM - Upon closer inspection it does say that this is a requirement for those who began in 2016 and earlier. Hmm I would talk to student services just to confirm unless you received some sort of email like we did for Business Associations.
  15. Lawtender33

    Re-Writing One Bar Exam and Articling (Ontario)

    I have a friend who failed both exams. His firm has been pretty supportive about it, especially since they've all been through those exams and know how hard they can be. There are definitely pro's and con's to disclosure, especially depending on the culture of the firm you work at. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. Personally, if it were me I would discuss it with my principal. If you don't notify your employer then yes, you may avoid some negativity on hire back (realistically though, do you really want to work for someone who would use that against you?). However, not telling your employer may create other, arguably worse issues. If studying for this exam causes you to have to take more time off, maintain stricter 9-5 hours, or make yourself less available for issues that come up outside working hours, you may end up looking even worse when they start considering who they want to hire back because they won't have any context for your availability issues. Worst case scenario would be an extremely urgent issue arising on the day of your exam requiring all hands on deck. You'd have to say no. Without knowing that you have a legitimate reason for not being able to help, imagine how that would look when they start making decisions on who to hire back. I passed the bar exams, but could have very easily been in the same situation as you. I have a few friends who weren't as lucky this time around. Most people I've chatted with have been very forthcoming about their results, and have told me that they are receiving a lot of support from the legal community / friends / family etc. We all know how shitty those exams are and how they are most certainly not a measure of how good a lawyer you will be. In the end only you will know what to do. You know your principal, the firm culture and your workload and are in the best position to determine how to best balance the risks I've mentioned above against those brought on by disclosure. Do you have a colleague you feel comfortable chatting with? It may help to talk to someone in the same workplace.
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