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Many schools' threads have topics similar in nature to this, so I figured I'd toss one in here. Looking back on things, it would've been handy to have a forum to voice concerns or ask questions when I was trying to make my decision between schools.

 

If any prospective 1Ls, committed or undecided, have any questions, feel free to sound off here. I'll do my best to answer them - and I'm sure some other members will chime in.

 

And seriously, ask anything: classes, 1L jobs, where to live, exams, social events, best place to grab coffee (Leva, if you're wondering).

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Any tips to prepare for the first leg of 1L? I'm coming in with a BSc. so I don't wanna be a fish out of water in the first few weeks of school. I usually get most of August off so is there maybe any preparatory reading I can do or materials I should look at? 

Edited by pengwin

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Any tips to prepare for the first leg of 1L? I'm coming in with a BSc. so I don't wanna be a fish out of water in the first few weeks of school. I usually get most of August off so is there maybe any preparatory reading I can do or materials I should look at? 

 

I'm split on this. Personally, I did nothing academic the entire summer before 1L. I took the opportunity to do some casual reading, but even then, not much. I didn't feel I was at a disadvantage coming into law school, but my background was somewhat related to the study of law. People will tell you to not read cases because it'll confuse you, or you haven't been taught the proper method yet. To be honest, there's not a lot of teaching you 'how to read cases' once you get here - you just read and eventually pick up on it. If you're coming from a science background and you're not used to trudging through pages upon pages of dense and claustrophobic prose, it is probably worth picking up a couple of cases to read, just to get a feel for the language and the structure.

 

As to where you can find cases to read, there are a bunch on the SCC website - browse by headnote and find an issue that you think might keep you interested or engaged. Don't try to understand the law of it; focus instead on the form and style.

 

I'm not going to tell you to go out and practice writing essays, but I would suggest taking a look through Strunk & White's Element's of Style. Knowing how to express yourself clearly and effectively will go a long way to helping you answer exam style questions with clarity, as well as pick up those marks that students who struggle with precision tend to drop. It'll also do you good when you're confronted with cramming 30 pages worth of draft material into a 9 page memo: "If I throw a semicolon in here and collapse these two sentences into each other, it saves me a full line."

 

Lastly, try to establish a healthy and consistent exercise routine that you can stick to throughout the school year. It'll make a huge difference.

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I have paid my deposit to UofA, but I am un-decided right now. I do have a few questions:

 

1. Does the class size seem 'too large' to you? (It's almost double that off UVIC and UofC)

2. What are the social events like at UofA?

3. How bad is the law building (REALLY)?

4. Any experience running outside in the dead of Edmonton winter? I'm worried my running will take a hit. I prefer outside to a treadmill.

Edited by NHH

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I'll be almost 30 years old when school starts in September, and I've been wondering to what degree (if any) I'll stand out from the rest of the incoming class for that reason. I mean, I'm not really old enough to be a "mature" student, but neither am I a 22-23 year old fresh out of undergraduate.

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 ^ I'm also interested in the social events/life at UoA. 

 

Also, are 1L's split up into cohorts or anything similar? I know at Dal they split 1L's into 4 groups.  Just wondering if UoA does anything similar.  

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Are there any summer classes to take? I looked at Law House and the leasing term ends July 31, so I'm curious what else there is to do (if 1L summer jobs don't work out).

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I have paid my deposit to UofA, but I am un-decided right now. I do have a few questions:

 

1. Does the class size seem 'too large' to you? (It's almost double that off UVIC and UofC)

2. What are the social events like at UofA?

3. How bad is the law building (REALLY)?

4. Any experience running outside in the dead of Edmonton winter? I'm worried my running will take a hit. I prefer outside to a treadmill.

 

1. Class size isn't bad. They divide us up into three cohorts of 60 students. They're no bigger than a typical third year undergrad class. They then divide those cohorts into 30 person classes for LRW, which is probably to cut down on the marking the profs have to do. This was actually one of my concerns before I came out here, but it hasn't been a problem at all. Everyone gets to know each other pretty well and the classrooms are built so that it doesn't feel like there are as many people as there are.

 

2. The social atmosphere here is probably one of the best things about UofA. There are always events and fundraisers: comedy nights, Karaoke, golf tournament, curling tournament, slo-pitch tournament, and various clubs and teams host events all throughout the year. I don't a week has gone by where there isn't something going on. The LSA has also been pretty good about hosting family friendly events as well.

 

3. The law building isn't gorgeous by any stretch of the imagination, and it takes a while to figure out where all the bathrooms are, but I have no complaints. At the end of the day a classroom is a classroom - and they've all been renovated recently.

 

4. I don't run outside, but for years my dad has run every morning at 5 am down in the river valley. Edmonton is cold, but it's not like a cold out on the coast where you're going to be cold no matter what you where. If you dress for it, you don't notice it. I know some members of the cross country and track team train outdoors year round.

 

I'll be almost 30 years old when school starts in September, and I've been wondering to what degree (if any) I'll stand out from the rest of the incoming class for that reason. I mean, I'm not really old enough to be a "mature" student, but neither am I a 22-23 year old fresh out of undergraduate.

 

You won't stand out at all. I think the median age in the school is 26 or 27. You're not going to look "old." As far as feeling out of place, everyone is welcoming and friendly. We have a number of older students - some with families - and their experience is what they make of it, as far as I can tell. If you've got a family, you'll probably have to pick your moments, but you're not going to be socially isolated. Two of my friends at school both have young families. I'm 23.

 

 ^ I'm also interested in the social events/life at UoA. 

 

Also, are 1L's split up into cohorts or anything similar? I know at Dal they split 1L's into 4 groups.  Just wondering if UoA does anything similar.  

 

See above.

 

Are there any summer classes to take? I looked at Law House and the leasing term ends July 31, so I'm curious what else there is to do (if 1L summer jobs don't work out).

 

I don't believe there are, no, though you can do semester abroad programs over the summer. As far as things to do over the summer if you don't manage to swing a 1L job: you can work at SLS, work as a research assistant, or just take the opportunity to savor one of the last opportunities to work a mindless job and do whatever the hell you want outside of that.

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Thanks for the responses OP.

 

How about where to live? I was thinking about just staying in grad housing to keep things simple? What would you recommend for a 1L who wants a low stress option.

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Thanks for the responses OP.

 

How about where to live? I was thinking about just staying in grad housing to keep things simple? What would you recommend for a 1L who wants a low stress option.

I also am wondering where the best place to live is? I'm coming with my fiancé to Edmonton, though, so on campus is not an option.

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I also am wondering where the best place to live is? I'm coming with my fiancé to Edmonton, though, so on campus is not an option.

 

Thanks for the responses OP.

 

How about where to live? I was thinking about just staying in grad housing to keep things simple? What would you recommend for a 1L who wants a low stress option.

 

 

I also am wondering where the best place to live is? I'm coming with my fiancé to Edmonton, though, so on campus is not an option.

 

There are plenty of apartments in the university area. Windsor Park Plaza is alright. It's overpriced, but there's a gym and a pool and a Sobeys in the building. The Garneau is almost right across the street, but it's not what you'd call prime housing. Take a look on padmapper or kijiji. I'm not living as close to campus as some people, but most of my friends are within a ten minute walk of the law building.

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how closed is "closed" for the law school itself next weekend (Easter long)? I'm going up to visit (only opportunity I have due to my work schedule) and although I'm not expecting anyone at all to be there, will the building itself be closed to the public?

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how closed is "closed" for the law school itself next weekend (Easter long)? I'm going up to visit (only opportunity I have due to my work schedule) and although I'm not expecting anyone at all to be there, will the building itself be closed to the public?

The building will be closed and locked for Good Friday and Easter Monday (at least, they usually lock the building during stat holidays, I'm not sure if they're making an exception), but it will be open on Saturday and Sunday.  If you check out the library on one of those days, you will see the fear in everyone's eyes (including mine) as we crank out our term papers and study for looming exams :-).

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Hey thanks for doing this, I have a few questions:

 

(1)  What do you think about the dean so far, do you think he is moving in the right direction?

(2)  What is the grade curve in 1st year courses? Does the number of students in a section affect it, as in does the cure go up or down based on the section size.  

(3)  What would you say are the major factors in students getting 1L jobs vs 2L summer jobs?

(4)  Are there a lot of firm meet and greets? Are the just Calgary, Edmonton firms or do firms from other cities also come in?

(5)  In terms of school experience, how did you feel law school was compared to undergrad in terms of social aspects?

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Hey thanks for doing this, I have a few questions:

 

(1)  What do you think about the dean so far, do you think he is moving in the right direction?

(2)  What is the grade curve in 1st year courses? Does the number of students in a section affect it, as in does the cure go up or down based on the section size.  

(3)  What would you say are the major factors in students getting 1L jobs vs 2L summer jobs?

(4)  Are there a lot of firm meet and greets? Are the just Calgary, Edmonton firms or do firms from other cities also come in?

(5)  In terms of school experience, how did you feel law school was compared to undergrad in terms of social aspects?

 

1. I haven't had enough interaction with the dean to have an informed opinion. As I've said at other times on this board, he does have some interesting ideas about revamping the practical aspect of our education: more internships, greater emphasis on assignments that mirror practice, an expansion of the legal clinic, more active interaction with the Edmonton bar - that sort of thing. If he's successful, UofA will be moving in a very good direction. I've also never really found my experience at a school to be unduly influenced by the administration. As a student, you go to class and study. The other stuff is largely background noise.

 

2. I think our curving policy requires every section to have an average GPA between 2.7 - 3.0. The number of students in a section has absolutely no impact at all - you're graded on a continuum. Having more people in your section will likely mean a commensurate number of people get Bs. And besides, every section is roughly the same size.

 

3. Major factors in people getting 1L jobs? Grades, both undergraduate and coming out of your midterms. Of the people I know who got 1L jobs in Calgary - all of them had GPAs above 3.8 coming out of undergrad and at least a 3.4/3.5 coming out of midterms. On top of that, they were all involved in some way in the extracurriculars offered by UofA. I'd recommend rugby and/or Law Show. 9 people got jobs in Calgary and slightly more than that got jobs in Edmonton. I can think of two people who weren't involved in either of those two activities.

 

4. We have a career day in September where you'll have the opportunity to have lunch and mingle with a number of firm reps. Additionally, lawyers routinely come to the school to give presentations. 1Ls also have the chance to participate in a mentorship program and a judge shadowing program, both of which allow access to the market.

 

5. Socially, my undergrad was nowhere near as good as law school. The LSA does a fantastic job of organizing events that everyone can participate in and there's plenty of mingling between the years. I'm not as involved as I want to be, for various reasons, but I still feel welcome at any event. I've made more friends in one year of law school than I made during four years of undergrad. And the best part? We're all likely going to be working in one of two markets for the foreseeable future, so it's not like I'm going to lose them when I graduate.

Edited by DarKnight
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For those who are new to Edmonton (and/or new to apartment hunting) and seeking a place to rent I strongly recommend:

 

 

1) Googling the street address of the property you're interested in, and having a good look around the neighbourhood on StreetView.

2) The Edmonton Police Service Crime Mapping public website (auto-updated map available to the public, with general locations of serious incidents and crime patterns).

 

:)

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I'm in 1L as well and since I'm currently procrastinating I thought I'd chime in and offer to answer questions. I'm also working at a big firm in Calgary for the summer, so I might be able to answer some some job search related questions. 

 

Just to address the question regarding the major factors in getting a job in 1L, I don't think it's quite as mark heavy as Darknight mentioned. Almost none of the firms I interviewed with asked me for my midterm grades. That being said, my marks from my undergrad were high and they saw those. 

Edited by Workingaway
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Just to address the question regarding the major factors in getting a job in 1L, I don't think it's quite as mark heavy as Darknight mentioned. Almost none of the firms I interviewed with asked me for my midterm grades. That being said, my marks from my undergrad were high and they saw those. 

 
What other factors do you think helped you get a job? 

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Personality, prior ECs, etcetera. Once you're foot's in the door, it's all about how well you connect and fit the firms's mould.

Edited by DarKnight

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Personality, prior ECs, etcetera. Once you're foot's in the door, it's all about how well you connect and fit the firms's mould.

 

 Darknight is right, though in order for you to get interviews to let them get a sense of your personality, it's really essential that you have a very well done cover letter and resume. Trust me I spent tons of time getting this done and looked over and looked over again. 

 

  The only other major thing that I don't think has been mentioned is that getting to know upper years is really important. Firms in Calgary don't have a lot of interaction with you personally, and make no mistake, they rely on their current and former summer students for their personal sense of the candidates. 1L hiring happens very quickly and they don't have a lot to work off of before committing to take you for a few years, so they'll want to get to know about you as much as possible. Having other students saying good things on your behalf is helpful. Upper years can also help you tailor your resume, cover letter etc, to the firm you're applying to. Some firms tend to focus more on academic factors, some really emphasize involvement in sports etc. 

 

Also, i know this year SLS got a bit of a hard time from the faculty saying that it takes too much time (I don't agree) and so there were fewer volunteers that previous years. I personally know people in Calgary interviews who didn't do SLS that were explicitly asked why they didn't. Rugby and Law show or a other extracurriculars are essential, but seriously consider doing SLS as well. 

Edited by Workingaway

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