I thought I would give my honest review of my 1L experience at uOttawa. Hopefully this helps some of you.
1. The quality of professors (at least for me) has been solid. Even the professors I have not particularly liked have been extremely well-versed in the subject they were teaching, and were always engaging lecturers. They found ways to make subject matter I hate be relatable and interesting. Every professor I have had has been approachable (even the scary ones). I feel like professors really respect their students, and are very aware of the stressful periods of 1L (aka the nightmare that was late November). There have been multiple times where I had a "shit this sucks, I don't want to be here anymore" attitude, only to have a professor give some solid morale boost in class to build me back up. I am sure others feel the same.
2. The student body is very collegial. It is hard to not compare yourself with your classmates at times and stress about marks. But with that said, I have never had a classmate actively root against another or try to do any type of competitive bullshit. It's very much been a "if you see someone down, you pick them back up" kind of atmosphere. My biggest fear of law school was the competitiveness, but really, the only person you are competing against is yourself when you think that way.
3. Pub grub and beer. There are so many places within a 2 minute walk of Fauteux that if your day really sucked, or you just want to have a couple drinks with friends, they're right there. Many a "quick beer" turned into a 4-hour chill sesh.
4. The small group set-up. I had a very good experience in my small group and felt that it was a way to get a better look at a topic I knew nothing about. My small group topic was something I had no knowledge of whatsoever, and without it, would probably have struggled. But the small group format meant we spent a lot of time on tedious cases that would have confused the hell out of me had I been in a lecture of 80 people.
5. For as much as people shit on the administration, they have always been very good with any issue that has come up in my experience so far. So I may be the first to say this but the administration never messed any of my stuff up, always facilitated my needs and responded to my questions and emails in a timely manner.
6. There are always information sessions and guest lectures being held. Some are helpful, some aren't, but I like how much is always going on in the law building. There is always something going down if you pay attention, lots to check out.
7. Scraps of food and coffee are everywhere. If you choose uOttawa, you will learn to scavenge in Fauteux like the rest of us raccoons. You will probably never want to eat a wrap again after first year.
8. Upper-year peer mentors have been really helpful. They've shown us the ropes. I didn't know what the hell a case brief was, a summary, a short summary, a long summary, a framework etc., it was all gibberish and I was completely lost. But our peer mentor gave us the down low on every damn thing, hooked us up with a tonne of helpful strategies and tips, and eased the learning curve. I should add as well the students who run my tutorials have been pretty solid, so thank you to them as well.
9. I think we get a fall reading week next year (?). I can't remember if that's a real thing or if I just dreamed it.
1. The building sucks. Genuinely every building I have gone into on campus blows FTX out of the water. The bathrooms are few and far between, most notably in the library. Women get the short end of the stick on this one for sure. I think there is one nice classroom in the whole building - I forget the number at the moment but the third floor one with pink and purple seats. It's like they just decided to update that one classroom, then said "okay good enough lol" and forgot the rest of the building. The others have these horrible plastic chairs that just make your get gnarly swamp ass. The fourth floor of the library is nice, but it fills up rather quick. The fifth floor might as well be purgatory, and of course there are no bathrooms on the fifth floor. The library's computer lab is good though, it's usually pretty empty.
2. The building is overcrowded. They're trying to fit too many people in it. At peak times in first semester it was really noticeable. The mix is also weird. You got 25 year old common law students mixed in a building with 18 and 19 year olds. Just separate the two programs.
3. More hate on the building: those damn double doors when you enter. Just seriously flatten FTX or give us one of those fancy new buildings down the road. If you have mobility issues, I could see FTX being a major headache. On the first floor alone you have to get in a tiny elevator JUST to get to the main elevator, and you would still need to go through a fire escape door if you wanted access to the 5th floor of the library.
3. Legal Research, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Property. These first two courses aren't stressful, but they seem to add stress onto first semester for no reason. ADR was pretty meh, I don't understand why any of it was needed in the first semester as you take it for 3 weeks in January and learn all the same stuff. Same with Legal Research - that easily could have been a single semester course. Why they make property the single semester course out of these three makes little sense to me. Property was dense, and felt more applicable in future practice than both LR and ADR. In property I felt like I was duct-taped to the roof of a car ripping down the highway passing important signs like "oh shit what did that one say?" haha.
4. January term. I cannot stress how pointless I think January term is. It is 3 weeks of slacking off, then everyone banging out an assignment the night before so we can all go home or go on vacation. Christmas and New Years is done, and then BAM you're back in Fauteux thinking "what the hell, I was just eating turkey wasn't I?" Then you get this garbage reading week at the end of January term, that isn't even a reading week and is only 3 weeks after winter break. You can't get ahead on assignments. No one wants to read because they just crammed 1 week of ADR work into a single night. Some people actually get stuck in cold ass Ottawa when they could've spent an extra week back home or wherever, and now have to buy a plane or train ticket to go home again. That just sucks. When you come back from that week you don't feel rested, and you face a shortened semester with a bunch crammed in.
5. Alluded to above - the shortened winter semester feels very rushed with some prof's trying to cram a tonne in, and then some prof's just phoning it in later in the term.
6. The winter. This has nothing to do with the school at all. I love winter. I love the snow, I love skating outside, I love that feeling where the wind hits you just right and suffocates you for a good 5 seconds. I love all that shit. But I. Fucking. Hate. Ottawa. Winters. The weather here is the worst. It throws everything at you, freezing rain, snow dumps, -40 wind chill. This is all bundled together with shit sidewalks that are never cleared. It's March and it's still miserable!
Anyways, there are some thoughts. As with any place, some good, some bad. All what you make it. Sorry if there are any mistakes, mainly wrote this post because I am procrastinating on catching up on readings and don't feel like starting a paper.