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About Phaedrus

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  1. Great thread to help break some of the silent self-loathing and embarrassment. Reminds me of this thread, but more specific to practising: I can't tell you how many times I've been told, "you're certainly Articling in interesting times!" by other lawyers, but I can't say it helps alleviate the guilty associated with experiencing the same problems mentioned above. 1. Communication and file management is an ongoing challenge. There's a high number of phone calls, e-mails, Skype/Slack messages, and senior counsel (who are used to physical mediums) have been frustrated. As a clerk, (I perceive) the expectations to be accommodate senior counsel, follow direction, and take initiative where possible. Believe me, I'm trying but it's tough straddling the line between helpful prodding to nudge files along and being a pest (and when the lawyer's scrambling as-is). 2. How will this experience translate to my ability to practice law? This is a constant, nagging worry. Since the work-from-order was made, the past year has eroded working confidence, as workloads ebb and flow from busy to barren, and everyone scrambles to push matters along and shift working arrangement themselves. Not to mention grappling with diminishing capacity to focus when you have to demonstrate productivity as a clerk. I acknowledge that, in a sense, clerking now is "lucky" because the need to address habits etched in stone is less than seasoned veterans, but what's going to happen when "things return to normal"? Learning doesn't stop, but it feels like post-corona employability will effectively equate "you need to redo articles". 3. Is this what practice is like? Simply put, is this what my career's going to look like? I get that this career is a lot of quiet, focused work. In fact, I need periods of quiet isolation to really hammer through tough assignments, but this is just lonely. I feel like I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground, and there's no one around to socialize after work with, to bounce ideas off of, to shoot the shit with... If I've learned anything, it's that I can't take working alone, in a room, with no human contact for months on end. As a side note, sitting on the arraignment line waiting has been rewarding. Listening to a Crown get politely reminded to "stop breathing so heavy into [their] phone" made me chuckle.
  2. Part of what I take issue with in the “love v. like” debate is that the distinction is too often placed on the enjoyment of the content and substance of the materials read day in and day out, and not enough on the enjoyment in tasks performed. I suspect the former is what a lot of us consider as “loving” our jobs, and finding enjoyment in the work we do. When we’re talking about those poor lot that hate what they do as lawyers, we’re automatically associating the misery with a lack of stimulation and intrinsic enjoyment in digesting the content and philosophical underpinnings of the law as an art. Where I see the “like” side falling is on the enjoyment of the functional aspects and somewhat extrinsic qualities of being a lawyer. The ubiquity of having put in a hard day’s work, attention to minute details (it’s a bit of a prerequisite), and the logical puzzles and strategizing inherent to every area. I’m inclined to put the human impact in this category, because I’d argue seeing outcomes and results can trigger “love” of the law/profession more often than the inverse. What I suspect happens to a many is that applying to law school is less about “what do I do with my good grades and decent work ethic?” and is more about a problematic conflation of enjoying the content of undergrad with the enjoyment of the work ethic that earned whatever grades were necessary for to get into law. A sort of expectation that the good time will keep-a-comin’. This is where the trouble of the “professional” lifestyle comes into play, because there’s a lot of motivated people whose work ethic – in an area they were passionate about – doesn’t translate into adopting work ethic a mode of life in the context of law. In other words, circumstantial passion is confused with general passion for work ethic; the latter being a quality I would argue is necessary to be a career lawyer and not being a member of the “how many years until you’re out?” echo chamber. Of course, lots suggest a person should work their way into an AOL where they can leverage the energy of passion into drive and work ethic, but I can sympathize with those who are lost in the fray, having been disillusioned by the process and realization that law requires both. What’s a shame is that it’s damn near impossible to “teach” this perspective to someone, for someone to learn that working hard at something you already love is easy but the path you’re taking is going to lead you somewhere where love of the ethic is demanded over passion.
  3. If you're shopping for a law school laptop, you might as well opt for one you'll be using 5-7 years down the road. Your primary requirements are acceptable RAM and processing power, coupled with long battery life (think 10-14 hours on modest battery saving mode) and light-weight portability. I have never needed top of the line specs, nor have I needed to perform RAM-chewing tasks in class or at work; I don't know of any lawyers that are running complicated data/statistical analyses (e.g., SPSS outputs, geo-mapping). My laptop has an Intel m3 processor (1.51 GHz) and 8.00GB RAM, and as much of a glutton as Chrome/Firefox can be, I've never experienced significant slow down (even with 30+ tabs open, Youtube/Spotify running too). Sure, I miss my accounting keyboard, but I'll trade that for discovery and courtroom mobility any day of the week. I had classmates whose laptops doubled as gaming laptops, but I'm of the opinion it's best to keep separate devices for those functions, wherever possible.
  4. I suspect we'll have a better idea in the late spring whether classes will be in-person (or not). Have you been accepted to both schools, or is this more of a hypothetical? In addition to attending school in the province where you want to practice, consider the added cost of relocation and living in Ontario. I'd also refrain from adopting this sort of reasoning. For you the virus may present it self as slightly worse than the flu, but tell that to the 14,500+ Canadian families whose loved one won't be at the dinner table this Christmas, or the 320,000+ families south of the border. Fuck that logic.
  5. What would your advice be for early calls looking to practice in child protection, but with relatively little experience in the field? I suppose the question, more broadly, could be framed as "what's the recommended course of action for those who want to enter a new area, but who won't have senior counsel to supervise/who are knowledgeable?"
  6. In 2L, I was writing an International Law exam and it was tough. Halfway through the third major question, I realized I had fudged the first question by misidentifying the issue (surely, the professor wouldn't ask TWO questions about state jurisdiction, right?). My confidence evaporated and my mind started to race. Would I have to rewrite? How fucked was I for 2L jobs and articling? As my mind started to fall apart I took my ear plugs out and sat there, staring forward, listening to the rapid chattering of thousand of keystrokes. I let myself do this for five minutes while I regained perspective and marched forward to salvage what I could. I still came out with C+, and I was thrilled with that grade, given the circumstances. The moral here is that exams can, at times, feel like a crap shoot and it can be hard to predict where you'll end up. However, this assumption can never take priority over diligent study.
  7. I feel it's appropriate to chime in again on the topic of "taking it easy". There's an important balance here and an attitudinal slippery slope in kicking your feet fully up before law school. Speaking from personal experience, I don't do well with staying idle. I require social and intellectual stimulation to stay engaged (and "sharp"). The thought of reverting back to my high school days of playing video games for hours on end makes me shudder, not because I dislike games but because I derive a great deal of satisfaction from the above-mentioned. You know that feeling after you return from winter break, where you have to clear the cobwebs from your mind and snap back into school mode? You don't have this luxury in 1L, or anyL. You hit the ground running and syllabus week is mostly non-existent. In my previous post, I suggested picking up a new hobby. Not only will it give you something to look forward to outside law school, it'll help keep you a bit sharper than you would if you just spend the summer slamming Twisted Teas at your buddy's cottage. Have fun, take it easy, but be ready to go with virtually no "easing in".
  8. I seriously advocate for taking a modest, less stressful approach to pre-1L summer. You're going to be concerned about saving money, for sure, which means you'll likely be working, but invest the time it takes into maintaining your relationships. These people are going to be your support network throughout law school. Don't waste your time trying to read legal literature or case law. Seriously. I can all but guarantee that it won't help you. If I could do it again, I'd start a physical hobby (e.g., hiking, bouldering, cycling). Something to keep up during school, that gets your outside and moving. I wouldn't work full-time and finish off multiple undergrad courses * cough cough *. Oh! And enjoy your sanity and naive optimism, it won't last forever
  9. Is the 30% a "fail safe" or fixed grade (regardless of whether you perform better/worse in April)? I won't belabour the point, but winter 1L exams kick the ass of most students. They're intended to introduce to writing law school exams, and their weight reflects that accordingly. You're not the only one freaking out, I guarantee you that, but there's nothing you can do about the exam you just wrote. There's nothing you can do to change anything you've done in the past. If you made notable or identifiable errors, don't repeat them. You have no time to sit and be upset by how you just performed; your job is to perform your best on the next exam. The next two weeks (or less) are about endurance and intense focus. Good luck! Note: Because winter exams tend to hurt the egos of most students, second semester tends to be a time of renewed focus and drive. That curved C may very well turn into a B+/A- in April if you effectively learn from your errors and implement change after the first go-around. So no, even a miserable performance is not "the end of your law school/legal career; I'm living proof of that.
  10. I track nearly all of my "productive" time and have been doing so since before law school. When it comes to employment, class attendance, class readings, etc. I'm confident that my logged hours are accurate within +/- 5% actual time. Here were my 2L stats for November 1 - December 24: 12:09 readings 23:39 studying 18:26 CANs creation, revision, trial running 43:44 class attendance 57:09 class assignments (including a major paper) I was by no means giving exams the attention they probably deserved.
  11. Public Law was by far the most-curved class I took in law school. To start, in contrast to every other class in 1L, it's incredibly "airy" and full of lengthy, context-specific discussion and the professor expects students to be up to speed with the history of the civil rights movement, pre- and -post Charter debates, as well as the emerging body of indigenous jurisprudence. It's tough for anyone to track obiter dialogue between multiple 100+ page decisions in 1L, let alone those who do it for a living. Compare this to what's expected of you in 1L Contracts, Torts, or Criminal law classes where you're working with the "basics" and building your ability to read caselaw from the ground up. I'm reminded of that Einstein quote, that if you can't explain it simply you don't understand well enough. My public law professor was a brilliant person, but they were incapable of making the material accessible to students. When it came time to write the exam, no one left the room feeling they knew what the hell they wrote and when marks were released a few weeks later, a 40 percent landed you a B. Should you worry about and make every attempt to understand public law? Absolutely; you're going to need these skills when your client's 'technical' case is otherwise shot but the public policy implications are significant. Should you consider yourself a poor student (or an idiot) for not grasping the complexity and weight of the material in the first year of law school? Not at all. If you can, form study groups to review the materials and take some solace in knowing that if you're struggling to "get it", so's the rest of your class.
  12. Reading this in itself is a punishment. Check out Just Mercy if you haven't already - and no, the movie didn't do it justice.
  13. Yes, it does. This is why, generally. I know of students who have come up with "interesting" arrangements. For example, being laid off from a previous employer and agreeing to, effectively, volunteer for a lawyer as an articled clerk while collecting employment insurance (to ensure there is some source of income without eating into LOCs). The requirement under E.I. is that the person is continuing to apply for paid positions. Other arrangements I'm aware of include billable target kickbacks, or "bonuses" for business the clerk may bring in. In these scenarios, the firms almost always cover bar course and admission fees.
  14. Oh, sorry. That's right, it's only the other large-size firm in Halifax after McInnesCooper, StewartMcKelvey, and Cox&Palmer. What firm(s) is the $65-70k range for first year calls? It's hard to imagine anyone jumping that high from $40-45k after being called...
  15. Curve culture has been, and will be, talked about ad nauseam. A's are hard to get because because of the curve, and because (as said above) the top students are brilliant. It's true that as a cohort, everyone's intelligent and capable, but this pales in comparison to those students who seem hard-wired to understand complex and intangible structures, systems, and can integrate and anticipate the public policy and philosophical implications of the content. The process separates the wheat from the chaff. First year law school is tough, but it's akin to first-year undergrad. You probably haven't studied the material before, the expectations are seemingly unclear, and you don't know what your lecturers are looking for. Part of the challenge is learning to reorient your approach and style of learning to match how you're evaluated. Some fair better than others. It's easier to adapt when you're 18 and don't know any different, but can be harder when you're older and have a pre-conceived notion of how things ought to be taught and evaluated. That said, graduating isn't that hard. Hell, defaulting to CANs and being okay with Ds and Cs will get most out the door with their piece of paper. Getting articles with that kind of track record? Now that's a different story.
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