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Torontoguy93

How is life like for a law student?

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Hey! I was looking around for a specific thread that discussed something like this but I couldn't find it.

Basically I'm a 0L and will be starting law school in September. My question is, what exactly is it like being in law school? Is it very similar to being in undergrad?

For ex:

 

1) I've heard that OCIs happen around November-ish? Doesn't this mean I should prepare my CV or Resume before I start school in September? People have advised me to enjoy my 0L summer but I'm starting to panic because I have no idea what to expect when September hits and I don't want to fall behind and lose opportunities because I didn't plan ahead

 

2) How much time do you have to commit to clubs and other school activities? I'm assuming law school is more stressful than undergrad is, though in undergrad I managed my time efficiently and was able to commit to many things. I work a very very flexible part-time job right now that I've had before I started university but I'm planning to quit it in September because I don't want to end up with a really bad mark because I couldn't juggle the course load and work.

 

3) How similar is it to undergrad life basically? How are the classes similar? Is it more hands-on?

 

4) How do I prepare for my 1L summer? How do I find placements that will accept me? How do I know which field I want to choose to work at? I know 1L courses are mostly chosen for you by the admin but do I still get to choose my electives in 1L or do electives start in 2L?

 

As you can possibly tell, I'm kind of panicking because I don't know what to expect when September starts and as much as I'd want to relax right now, I don't want to look back on my 0L summer and regret that I didn't do anything to help put myself forward/gain opportunities.

 

Thanks for the help.

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1) No need to prepare that far in advance. You'll just have to rewrite it in the fall anyway, because it surely won't be properly tailored for OCIs.

 

2) You have to commit precisely as much as you want to. Most clubs don't require a significant time commitment (unless you're on the exec, and even then...). Many students treat law clubs as a means by which to pad their resumes, so sometimes there isn't a lot of will to actually spend a lot of time on them. There are, of course, exceptions to this (especially among hobby clubs or intramurals , where people actually want to be there).

 

3) This depends almost entirely on the prof. Some classes are taught using a more Socratic style (especially in first year), in which case it feels more like an undergrad seminar. In these classes, it's much more important that you be up on the readings. Otherwise, classes are similar to undergrad lectures. Generally, you'll find that your classmates provide much more valuable contributions to class discussions than they did in undergrad. There is more reading to do than in undergrad and case law isn't intuitive at the start of first year, but you quickly figure it out with practice. Law classes vary from very interesting and stimulating to incredibly boring, depending on the subject, prof, interests and attitude of the students, etc. Law classes aren't so different structurally from fourth-year undergrad, it's just all different content at a somewhat higher level. I'm coming from an arts background, though, so if you're coming from science then I have no idea how it would compare. 

 

4) There's literally nothing you can do about any of these things right now. It will all become clearer once you're actually attending, so for now don't worry about it. AFAIK, most schools don't offer first year electives (Queen's certainly doesn't), but check your registrar to be sure.

 

There's no need to panic. While it's true that there's a decent learning curve in first semester 1L, everyone goes through it together and there's no way to prepare for it (law school is deliberately structured so that students experience this). I'm serious when I say that getting into law school was the biggest hurdle you'll face in your education. If you're good enough to get in, then you're certainly going to pass. And there's nothing you can do right now to ensure you're at the top of your class, so seriously just relax. If you really feel like you need to be doing something to prepare, then you can do nothing better than work and make money to help finance the next three years. Otherwise, just chill and all will be well.

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1) No need to prepare that far in advance. You'll just have to rewrite it in the fall anyway, because it surely won't be properly tailored for OCIs.

 

2) You have to commit precisely as much as you want to. Most clubs don't require a significant time commitment (unless you're on the exec, and even then...). Many students treat law clubs as a means by which to pad their resumes, so sometimes there isn't a lot of will to actually spend a lot of time on them. There are, of course, exceptions to this (especially among hobby clubs or intramurals , where people actually want to be there).

 

3) This depends almost entirely on the prof. Some classes are taught using a more Socratic style (especially in first year), in which case it feels more like an undergrad seminar. In these classes, it's much more important that you be up on the readings. Otherwise, classes are similar to undergrad lectures. Generally, you'll find that your classmates provide much more valuable contributions to class discussions than they did in undergrad. There is more reading to do than in undergrad and case law isn't intuitive at the start of first year, but you quickly figure it out with practice. Law classes vary from very interesting and stimulating to incredibly boring, depending on the subject, prof, interests and attitude of the students, etc. Law classes aren't so different structurally from fourth-year undergrad, it's just all different content at a somewhat higher level. I'm coming from an arts background, though, so if you're coming from science then I have no idea how it would compare. 

 

4) There's literally nothing you can do about any of these things right now. It will all become clearer once you're actually attending, so for now don't worry about it. AFAIK, most schools don't offer first year electives (Queen's certainly doesn't), but check your registrar to be sure.

 

There's no need to panic. While it's true that there's a decent learning curve in first semester 1L, everyone goes through it together and there's no way to prepare for it (law school is deliberately structured so that students experience this). I'm serious when I say that getting into law school was the biggest hurdle you'll face in your education. If you're good enough to get in, then you're certainly going to pass. And there's nothing you can do right now to ensure you're at the top of your class, so seriously just relax. If you really feel like you need to be doing something to prepare, then you can do nothing better than work and make money to help finance the next three years. Otherwise, just chill and all will be well.

Thanks a lot for the advice. Really appreciate the response. 

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Are you in Ontario or out west? OCIs for Toronto firms happen in 2L. There are some (few) IP positions in Ottawa for 1Ls in the fall though.

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Are you in Ontario or out west? OCIs for Toronto firms happen in 2L. There are some (few) IP positions in Ottawa for 1Ls in the fall though.

I'm in Ontario. If OCIs happen in 2L, what do students do during 1L summers?

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I'm in Ontario. If OCIs happen in 2L, what do students do during 1L summers?

 

Anything. Many return to the same summer jobs they'd had in previous years. Or there's travel, or whatever else. It's the last summer you have where there's no expectation that you get legal experience.

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Life as a law student is second only to life as a house cat. God I wish I was back in those days...

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I'm in Ontario. If OCIs happen in 2L, what do students do during 1L summers?

 

A very, very few will get jobs at firms, but it's extremely competitive and unless you have an A- average you're unlikely to be in the running. Also, if I recall correctly, only firms that one would consider to be "corporate law" hire for 1L summer. You probably won't be missing much, as experiences go, not to say I'd have turned down the chance had I been given it.

 

The 2L recruit is much broader in scope and selection, and while still quite competitive, many more people get jobs during the process. In terms of prep, applications open in late summer of your first year, so no need to start looking into that now.

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Life as a law student is second only to life as a house cat. God I wish I was back in those days...

 

lol

 

I doubt I'll miss law school very much. For some people, academia has a certain simplicity to it when compared to working life. Having both worked and been to (lots of) school, I'll take working any day.

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Oh god. It's so much work to be working. Studying is so much less work than working. That's why it's not called work.

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Oh god. It's so much work to be working. Studying is so much less work than working. That's why it's not called work.

 

Yeah, but I've never been a fan of not doing substantive work. Studying for class might be "easier" but I find it unsatisfying. I acknowledge that my opinion on this is not the usual stance, so to each their own in this particular arena, I think.

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You're weird. To spend your time reading and thinking is the highest pursuit. My job gives me a lot of that, which I appreciate (it also gives me a lot more $$$ than when I was a law student, which I also appreciate....) but not nearly as much as back then.

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Life as a law student is second only to life as a house cat. God I wish I was back in those days...

Hear, hear. Better in some respects, you don't need to use your tongue as toilet paper.

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Anything. Many return to the same summer jobs they'd had in previous years. Or there's travel, or whatever else. It's the last summer you have where there's no expectation that you get legal experience.

 

Good to hear. This is the first time I'm hearing about this. Thanks for your input. 

 

A very, very few will get jobs at firms, but it's extremely competitive and unless you have an A- average you're unlikely to be in the running. Also, if I recall correctly, only firms that one would consider to be "corporate law" hire for 1L summer. You probably won't be missing much, as experiences go, not to say I'd have turned down the chance had I been given it.

 

The 2L recruit is much broader in scope and selection, and while still quite competitive, many more people get jobs during the process. In terms of prep, applications open in late summer of your first year, so no need to start looking into that now.

Thanks for the response. I'm glad I realized it now because I was stressing that I didn't have any law-related 0L experience and how that would affect my OCI chances. Good to hear that it's very similar to undergrad summers (freedom).

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Hey! I was looking around for a specific thread that discussed something like this but I couldn't find it.

Basically I'm a 0L and will be starting law school in September. My question is, what exactly is it like being in law school? Is it very similar to being in undergrad?

For ex:

 

1) I've heard that OCIs happen around November-ish? Doesn't this mean I should prepare my CV or Resume before I start school in September? People have advised me to enjoy my 0L summer but I'm starting to panic because I have no idea what to expect when September hits and I don't want to fall behind and lose opportunities because I didn't plan ahead

 

2) How much time do you have to commit to clubs and other school activities? I'm assuming law school is more stressful than undergrad is, though in undergrad I managed my time efficiently and was able to commit to many things. I work a very very flexible part-time job right now that I've had before I started university but I'm planning to quit it in September because I don't want to end up with a really bad mark because I couldn't juggle the course load and work.

 

3) How similar is it to undergrad life basically? How are the classes similar? Is it more hands-on?

 

4) How do I prepare for my 1L summer? How do I find placements that will accept me? How do I know which field I want to choose to work at? I know 1L courses are mostly chosen for you by the admin but do I still get to choose my electives in 1L or do electives start in 2L?

 

As you can possibly tell, I'm kind of panicking because I don't know what to expect when September starts and as much as I'd want to relax right now, I don't want to look back on my 0L summer and regret that I didn't do anything to help put myself forward/gain opportunities.

 

Thanks for the help.

1. This has been addressed, but it's worth noting that you might as well always have an up to date CV. Some people become very anxious during law school or OCIs and you may as well be responsible now and prep your CV.

 

2. Law school is almost indisputably easier than undergrad. I say almost because at least half of your classmates will talk about it as if they're training for the marine corps - this is a function of status anxiety and actually bears no relationship to the amount or difficulty of work. You will have roughly 15 hours of class a week and maybe - at the outside - 150 pages of reading. You could do none of that reading and get straight As. You could, frankly, never attend class and do none of the readings and still get straight As, since upper year students will pass down the cheat sheets used on exams. I had a job during 1L. If not for the job I had in 3L, it's very likely I would have hibernated the entire year. Everything was fine.

 

3. It is less hands on and demands less of your own thought. The only year in which marks matter for most students is first year. In that year, as mentioned above, cheat sheets will be circulated widely. As a general rule, professors will simply tell you the answers, i.e. What point of law to take away from each case and which elements of the reasoning that professor considers important and applicable. You could get very good marks in 1L without ever actually thinking for yourself.

 

4. You'll choose in 2L. Consider this question again closer to the end of 1L.

 

You should not panic. The hardest question of all law school is why do other people describe law school as hard. It's akin to kindergarten in the sense that no one can fail - as long as you more or less accurately spell the key concepts on the exams (and remember, they let you bring in a cheat sheet), you will pass. The difference between passing and getting As is just a matter of ordering your thoughts in a mostly coherent fashion. Every student will know the same points of law and the same important modes of reasoning employed - the prof literally just spells them out for you - and, again, you bring a cheat sheet into the exam. The only piece of the puzzle for you to do on your own is read some old A exams (most schools have samples) and see how profs like answers to be structured. House cat is the right analogy. You could do nothing at all for 95% of your day and everything would still go fine. Just because the dog living next to you barks at every stupid noise outside doesn't mean you need to get startled.

 

The more difficult part is finding a career you enjoy. You should start learning about the different types of work lawyers do and how you could get into a position to do the ones that sound most fun to you.

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As the old adage goes:

 

In 1L, they scare you to death.

In 2L, they work you to death.

In 3L, they bore you to death.

 

As a 3L, I've found this to be pretty accurate.

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1. This has been addressed, but it's worth noting that you might as well always have an up to date CV. Some people become very anxious during law school or OCIs and you may as well be responsible now and prep your CV.

 

2. Law school is almost indisputably easier than undergrad. I say almost because at least half of your classmates will talk about it as if they're training for the marine corps - this is a function of status anxiety and actually bears no relationship to the amount or difficulty of work. You will have roughly 15 hours of class a week and maybe - at the outside - 150 pages of reading. You could do none of that reading and get straight As. You could, frankly, never attend class and do none of the readings and still get straight As, since upper year students will pass down the cheat sheets used on exams. I had a job during 1L. If not for the job I had in 3L, it's very likely I would have hibernated the entire year. Everything was fine.

 

3. It is less hands on and demands less of your own thought. The only year in which marks matter for most students is first year. In that year, as mentioned above, cheat sheets will be circulated widely. As a general rule, professors will simply tell you the answers, i.e. What point of law to take away from each case and which elements of the reasoning that professor considers important and applicable. You could get very good marks in 1L without ever actually thinking for yourself.

 

4. You'll choose in 2L. Consider this question again closer to the end of 1L.

 

You should not panic. The hardest question of all law school is why do other people describe law school as hard. It's akin to kindergarten in the sense that no one can fail - as long as you more or less accurately spell the key concepts on the exams (and remember, they let you bring in a cheat sheet), you will pass. The difference between passing and getting As is just a matter of ordering your thoughts in a mostly coherent fashion. Every student will know the same points of law and the same important modes of reasoning employed - the prof literally just spells them out for you - and, again, you bring a cheat sheet into the exam. The only piece of the puzzle for you to do on your own is read some old A exams (most schools have samples) and see how profs like answers to be structured. House cat is the right analogy. You could do nothing at all for 95% of your day and everything would still go fine. Just because the dog living next to you barks at every stupid noise outside doesn't mean you need to get startled.

 

The more difficult part is finding a career you enjoy. You should start learning about the different types of work lawyers do and how you could get into a position to do the ones that sound most fun to you.

This is pretty accurate. The most stressful aspect of law school is not the academic work, it is the uncertainty of getting an articling position.

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A very, very few will get jobs at firms, but it's extremely competitive and unless you have an A- average you're unlikely to be in the running. Also, if I recall correctly, only firms that one would consider to be "corporate law" hire for 1L summer. You probably won't be missing much, as experiences go, not to say I'd have turned down the chance had I been given it.

 

The 2L recruit is much broader in scope and selection, and while still quite competitive, many more people get jobs during the process. In terms of prep, applications open in late summer of your first year, so no need to start looking into that now.

 

For Toronto this is generally true. Although technically Sherrard Kuzz also does 1L hiring and they are a management side labour firm.

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I'm in Ontario. If OCIs happen in 2L, what do students do during 1L summers?

 

A friend of mine worked in a major firm on Bay st. as a coffee boy/gopher.  He got a summer job there the next year, and then did his articles there the next year.  He's on the partner track there now.  

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...

 

You could, frankly, never attend class and do none of the readings and still get straight As, since upper year students will pass down the cheat sheets used on exams.

 

...

You could get very good marks in 1L without ever actually thinking for yourself.

 

Totally inconsistent with my experience. How could you get straight As without going to any class and without doing any readings? So literally only completing a few practice exams with a cheat sheet?

 

To do very well (read: Dean's List or close to it) in law school is far more difficult than doing equally as well in undergrad. If we're talking about how difficult it is to be average or pass law school, maybe it's the same.  

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