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Questions about being a U of C law student

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1. Who are generally netting the 1L summer positions? Are we talking people with previous connections or who have certain experience (say business/economics/engineering courses in oil and gas or actual work experience in a specific field) or what?

 

Students with engineering backgrounds tended to do well in 1L recruitment in my year. An engineering degree is a major asset, and a professional engineer designation with the industry experience is even better. It's all about being able to make the pitch for why your background and skill set will benefit the firm. An impressive resume is definitely a primary factor in 1L recruitment. You want to be able to show that you have done something unique that is indicative of future success in a law firm setting.

 

Undergraduate grades are also a major component of getting your foot in the door for interviews. Once you've got the interviews, your personality and interpersonal skills are very important. Firms are always going on about how you have to be the right 'fit' for their office culture. This is essentially comes down to whether or not they like you.

 

Having a network of connections in the industry can also be helpful, though it's not a requirement if you've got all the other factors in your favour. You'll also want to be able to show genuine interest in the firm and have a solid understanding of what they do. Articling students are usually happy to meet with applicants during the hiring process, though most law students don't take advantage of this.

 

Students who were settled in Calgary for a substantial amount of time before school and had strong local connections also had a bit of a leg up in the recruitment process.

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I'm a long time lurker and infrequent poster but I thought I would chime in. First of all, it is a sad reflection that this post has already turned to jobs and isn't more along the lines of "Is it true that I can eat free pancakes and drink free beer all day during Stampede and no one will judge me personally/professionally?" This is a serious question that hasn't been asked on these forums yet. And the answer is yes.

 

Anyway, I'm a current U of C 1L originally from Calgary who managed to land a summer this year. Initially I was pressed stoked on this. I still am, but it really isn't that big a deal. Landing a job before your first semester is out is a mysterious combination of luck and prior experiences neither of which you can control by the time you show up here. My undergrad grades were crap and I applied looking at it as a practice round after I crushed first year (foiled by LAP). I really think everyone should apply in 1L just to get the experience but really you shouldn't care whether you score or not. There are people in my class who are eminently more competent than me and will probably be a better lawyer than me who didn't get a spot. There really is no reason I got it and they didn't and I am sure they will be successful next year. In terms of applying and the market in Calgary, I do have some opinions learned through talking/drinking with partners at some of the 1L mingling events.

 

  1. Take advantage of all of the first year networking events. I hate the word networking; the holy grail of B. Comm grads. More important than racking up a lot of cards and phone numbers, actually learn how to speak about the law as an industry. When you start school you know nothing and no one will knock you for asking dumb questions as long as you are honest and earnest. "How often do you see clients?" "How many files do you manage at once?" "What is the difference between litigators and solicitors? Can you do a bit of both?" You should get comfortable with speaking the language of law and you'll find that your questions will get better as you start getting more comfortable with it. If you can talk like you know how a law firm works in an interview even if you have no idea about the law I think that goes a long way. I've found the associates, articles, and partners at all of the events to be very welcoming so if you are more of a reserved type, really push yourself to go start some conversations. You'll be glad you did and it might help with the job interviews. It also might not, which is why there is free booze/food at the events. Don't skimp.
  2. If you have no intentions in staying in the Calgary/Alberta market then don't tell firms that you do. They will respect that you want to go back to Vancouver, Toronto, or Saskatoon (?) after you grad. What they will not respect is you trying to deceive them to get a job. They don't want to invest in your training and give up hiring someone else if you are going to up and leave for Bay Street. This is not unreasonable. People who want to stay in Calgary ARE more desirable so either think seriously about staying or focus your applications where you want to be. Just don't jerk people's chains, you might burn the bridge at both ends.
  3. Even if you really know you want to do Mergers and Acquisitions or Tax or Family don't tell that to firms. Don't lie either, just don't emphatically rule out other areas. Something like "Well I've always had some interest in big business  but I really have no idea. I'm open to anything". I think they like this because except in weird circumstances (extensive career before law school) the reality is you have no idea what a merger and acquisition is. Be open minded and up for anything. I think in my interview at the firm I got hired at I used all three of these line "I'm basically an idiot when it comes to ....", "I won't even pretend to know anything about that", "Contracts is way over my head right now". No shame.
  4. If you think you are going to apply to jobs then my only other advice is to have a go at your resume during the summer. Don't do readings on law. Don't read books about how to succeed in law school. I had someone recommend working on my resume a bit before I showed up and it took a fair bit of pressure off during the applicaiton process. Doesn't need to be a final version just start getting some stuff down on paper. That is always the hardest part.
  5. Most important: I think that the most important thing about the whole process is that at the end of the day the job itself doesn't matter. What matters is being a good (or becoming) lawyer. This isn't a law thing, because I really have no grounds to comment on the legal industry. In every business though, the cream rises to the top and if you are an honest, hardworking practitioner who focuses on always improving their trade then you will end up successful. Getting a job at a big firm right out of the shoot is great, but I can imagine having them call you after your 4 year of associate and offer you a position based on your reputation and skill would be even sweeter. People move around a lot after a few years of practice (or so I'm told). Ending up at a non national firm might seem like a blessing years later. If I hadn't hated my job previous to this, I never would have written the LSAT and applied to law. I'm so glad that job sucked as much as it did and it drove me crazy enough to quit.

Its time to stop procrastinating on my readings. I'm happy to answer more questions either in the post, by pm or Skype or whatever. PM me to set something up. I'd rather not talk about jobs though because in all honesty you really shouldn't be thinking about that till you show up.

 

Also, for those of you coming from out east: get these songs on your ipod and listen to them on the flight out to get you in the mood!  http://blog.gactv.com/blog/2012/12/27/billboards-top-50-country-songs-of-2012/

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I like the idea of a class size of only 100 students, but I'm curious as to how the social aspect function at UofC.  Are there a number of social events put on by the LSS?  Does the first year class seem to hang out as one group, or routinely split up into sub-sections.  Is there a lot of mingling between years, or is there a pretty strict hierarchy.  How are Calgary firms in regards to networking events?

 

Thanks.

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Although I haven’t been to any other Law school, the small
class sizes are nice. You will be broken down into 3 sections for most of your
classes so each class will be about 35 people. There is a lot of interaction in
most of the classes. So it is great from that regard.



In respect to the social aspect. There are numerous events
in your first month and a half. You will have an activity of some sort almost
every night for the first 2 weeks. Some are professional minglers (Nexen) and
some are purely social within the law school (Learned Friend night). During
these events you will meet all of the other students in your class. Some of the
more professional nights are put on by a specific firm (probably 3 or 4 of
these) and some are put on by groups of firms. All of the events are worth
going too especially considering that you aren’t learning as much in first
semester as getting into the swing of things.



Mingling between different years is a little more complex.
You really won’t see the 3Ls much because a lot of them are on exchange in
first semester of 3rd year (Calgary has the largest exchange program
in Canada from my understanding). The rest of them are often earning credits
from moots, research, and some non-law classes. You will meet second years on
learned friend night but there are not very many specific events planned for
the two groups. You just have to mingle and say hi to familiar faces. Most of
the second years I met were through the rugby team which was also a great time.



 



Hope that helps.

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Great stuff guys thanks!  I have a couple of quick questions 1) What is the law building and library like? 2) Where do most 1Ls live if they come in from out of town, on campus?  

 

Cheers!

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Great stuff guys thanks!  I have a couple of quick questions 1) What is the law building and library like? 2) Where do most 1Ls live if they come in from out of town, on campus?  

 

Cheers!

To answer your law library question:

 

It's 3 floors. The top floor has the circulation area and reference area, and this is where you'll get help from the librarians. There's 3 dedicated librarians running the reference desk. If you need help with research, don't hesitate to book an appointment with them. There's a reserve area for books that professors place on reserve, and a reference area for high traffic items. The top floor also has a computer lab with ~25 computers. It's generally very quiet in the computer lab. There's also 4 study rooms on the top floor that are exclusive to law students. The reserve and reference areas have 3 large tables each where you can study. This floor is not a quiet area.

 

The mezzanine is exclusive to law students, and has another 9 study rooms for law students. These study rooms can be booked out for a period of 2 hours at a time, but if you study in a group, you can essentially book out one study room for an entire day. The floor is lined with 4 person tables that sit overlooking the bottom floor. Overall, this is where you want to study. The only thing is there's no washrooms on this floor, so you'll have to walk a fair distance to the nearest washroom.

 

The bottom floor is where all the shelves are. The walls of the bottom floor are lined with carrel desks, and there's ~300 desks in total. SNAILS are allowed on this floor, and it's either uncomfortably quiet or annoyingly loud. Avoid this floor if you can.

 

I'll quickly cover the amenities as well. The Wifi is sketchy, at best. The only printers are on the top floor. There's a lack of plugs for charging your laptop and electronics. 

 

The library is open til 10pm on weekdays and on weekends for limited hours as well. It hasn't been as busy since TFDL opened.

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 2) Where do most 1Ls live if they come in from out of town, on campus?  

 

Most students rent apartments in Calgary. A bunch of the areas near the downtown are popular places to live.

 

There are usually about 10-15 1L's who live in the graduate residences on campus as well.

 

Here are a couple links to past threads on finding a place to live in Calgary:

 

http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/27578-living-near-calgary-u/

http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/24448-finding-an-apartment-in-calgary/

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Are exams able to be written on a computer?

 

In the fall semester I think 4 out of the 6 first year exams were available to be written on computer. That's compared to 1 last year, so the trend is positive.

 

Roughly half of the exams 2L's wrote were available on a computer. There's a student push to get more exams available, and the hope is that by April nearly everything will be able to be written by computer.

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I like the idea of a class size of only 100 students, but I'm curious as to how the social aspect function at UofC.  Are there a number of social events put on by the LSS?  Does the first year class seem to hang out as one group, or routinely split up into sub-sections.  Is there a lot of mingling between years, or is there a pretty strict hierarchy.  How are Calgary firms in regards to networking events?

 

Thanks.

 

We have lots of socials. There are usually people out every thursday for cheap wine, friday and sat for more drinking events. Usually there is core group of 30-40 students who go out a lot (generally younger group and don't have families, but there are exceptions). I mingle a lot with upper years, I met them through Student Legal Assistance, rugby, ski trips, debates, and other mingle events.

Edited by kiron

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Are there deals on ski tickets for U of C students? Is it easy to get out to the mountains without a car? 

 

Not gonna lie the possibility of skiing in the Rockies every other weekend is a big draw for me moving to Calgary.

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In the fall semester I think 4 out of the 6 first year exams were available to be written on computer. That's compared to 1 last year, so the trend is positive.

 

Roughly half of the exams 2L's wrote were available on a computer. There's a student push to get more exams available, and the hope is that by April nearly everything will be able to be written by computer.

 

This is GREAT news. I wasn't aware that UofC was shifting towards typed exams. Just a follow up question: Are power sources widely available in most classrooms, or should I be buying a laptop with substantial battery life?

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Are there deals on ski tickets for U of C students? Is it easy to get out to the mountains without a car? 

 

Not gonna lie the possibility of skiing in the Rockies every other weekend is a big draw for me moving to Calgary.

 

There are various ski cards that offer 3 free days + discounts on the other days. Costco is also a good resource, tickets there are about $20 off retail. Ski trip here might be the highlight of my law degree.

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I don't have a car and I go skiing about once every couple weeks. The key is having friends with cars, and most people in Calgary do. U of C students don't have any special discounts, but the RCR card, Louise card, and Costco discounts all make it more affordable.

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Most students rent apartments in Calgary. A bunch of the areas near the downtown are popular places to live.

 

There are usually about 10-15 1L's who live in the graduate residences on campus as well.

 

Here are a couple links to past threads on finding a place to live in Calgary:

 

http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/27578-living-near-calgary-u/

http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/24448-finding-an-apartment-in-calgary/

 

Thanks for the post Nucks...I've received an acceptance to Calgary and am now researching it...this thread has been very educational. When you say most students rent apartments, do you mean first years? I received the admission email and it offered links to the residence site and off campus housing...I'm wondering if I would miss out on anything by living off campus? For undergrad residence was a must for first years ...making friends and such, but granted, class sizes were bigger and it was a whole different situation. Just wondering about the differences or the pros/cons for living in residence/off campus as a first year law student.

 

Thanks for any insight! 

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Thanks for the post Nucks...I've received an acceptance to Calgary and am now researching it...this thread has been very educational. When you say most students rent apartments, do you mean first years? I received the admission email and it offered links to the residence site and off campus housing...I'm wondering if I would miss out on anything by living off campus? For undergrad residence was a must for first years ...making friends and such, but granted, class sizes were bigger and it was a whole different situation. Just wondering about the differences or the pros/cons for living in residence/off campus as a first year law student.

 

Thanks for any insight! 

 

I don't think you would be missing out on anything by living off campus. There are usually only 10-15 students in the 1L class who live in the graduate student residence on campus (primarily Glacier Hall). I lived in residence in 1L and I enjoyed it. The places aren't great and they're relatively expensive, but everything is taken care of, you don't have to put in the work to find a place before school starts, it's only an 8 month lease, and it's a 7 minute walk to the law building. I was happy I lived in residence in 1L, but I was also glad to be moving off-campus this year.

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Hi- a bit of a change of subject. I received a letter of acceptance from the U of C this week, and I'm wondering if you can shed any light on the area of funding. (I've been poking through the threads and haven't found any clear answers yet). Do you have any idea how much funding is typical for L1 students? I am sure it ranges pretty greatly, by do you know If many students receive funding? Any idea of how much, on average? When do you typically find out?

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Hi- a bit of a change of subject. I received a letter of acceptance from the U of C this week, and I'm wondering if you can shed any light on the area of funding. (I've been poking through the threads and haven't found any clear answers yet). Do you have any idea how much funding is typical for L1 students? I am sure it ranges pretty greatly, by do you know If many students receive funding? Any idea of how much, on average? When do you typically find out?

 

 

It does range a lot, but if you have a lot of student debt you may qualify for the differential tuition bursary, which is very helpful, and a lot of people miss the deadline and don't apply for it at all. 

 

I can only speak for myself--it seemed to me that way more funding was available in 2L and 3L, but I know of people who have had basically a full ride for three years.  Even if you don't get much in first year, getting really good grades can mean a financial shot in the arm in upper years.  The awards are listed on the law website--you might just glance them over, that will give you an idea of what you're looking at.

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It does range a lot, but if you have a lot of student debt you may qualify for the differential tuition bursary, which is very helpful, and a lot of people miss the deadline and don't apply for it at all. 

 

Do you know how much would or wouldn't count as "a lot" of student debt?

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