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What opportunities should be taken advantage of in 1L? + some EC & time questions

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Which opportunities at U of T do you think most 1Ls would benefit from experiencing? (I.e. DLS, clubs, etc.). I understand it's dependent on each individual, but for someone who wants to experience different aspects of the law and is not necessarily tied down to one specific area yet, is there anything you would recommend?

Additionally, what do students actually do in DLS? I have read on other posts that it can get quite intense and I wasn't sure what that would entail. How does it compare to PBSC?

I was thinking of trying to be involved with DLS (or PBSC) and law review, as well as a club - is this manageable with a 1L workload? I do want to set aside a lot of time to just study, but I'm interested in all these different commitments and have no idea how they'd affect my time. Generally speaking, would it all be too much, especially when just starting law school?

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I remember in my school, during the 1L, alot of my colleagues were quick to sign up for things during first semester. However, after people got their first exam marks back there was a very noticeable exodus. 

My advice, find your groove first before you worry about all these additional commitments. 

U of T is going to be filled with some of the best students in the country, whom are competing with you for opportunities that are in limited supply. 
Sure, grades aren't everything. They won't be the tie breaker to you getting a job over another applicant in the late stages of the interview process in the recruits. However, bad grades will definitely preclude you from getting opportunities to interview. 

Assuming you intend to secure a 'good' job before graduating, choose how you spend your time wisely. 

Best of luck, 

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There's plenty of time in 1L to do all the things you listed. And, a contrario, often of the best-performing law students are the most involved. (I am not making any claim as to causation, here.) I personally think you get more out of law school by being an active member of the community. There are a lot of really fantastic opportunities and I think it would be a shame to deprive yourself of those because of an obsession with grades.

As for things I would recommend: Do what interests you. You are correct in that DLS is probably the most demanding extracurricular, but it's a unique opportunity to do real advocacy (on immigration, housing, etc.). PBSC is an assortment of very different extracurricular opportunities, some akin to clinics others more like RA positions. Clubs are generally little work and are, more than anything, a chance to meet other students who share your interests. 

But don't worry about it yet. Actually, don't worry about it at all. Opportunities to get engaged in 1L are not in short supply. 

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Worth noting that 1L DLS positions are to my understanding (I'm a 2L caseworker, did not do 1L work) not so much advocacy as much as funnelling clients to the upper year caseworkers. Not to say that there aren't opportunities to do cool things, but the fact is that most cool things come later. 

Once you get here, have fun. Don't be scared off of participating because you feel as though you need to invest your every waking moment in school. I look back much more fondly on my time from last year spent writing, rehearsing, performing Follies than I do my time trying to sort out what a fundamental breach is. 

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On 1/6/2019 at 11:36 AM, Otter248 said:

Worth noting that 1L DLS positions are to my understanding (I'm a 2L caseworker, did not do 1L work) not so much advocacy as much as funnelling clients to the upper year caseworkers. Not to say that there aren't opportunities to do cool things, but the fact is that most cool things come later. 

Depends on the division you're in! You get plenty of experience helping clients and going to court in the criminal division, even in 1L.

9810374 Generally, I would highly recommend doing DLS, even if it's not as involved as it would be in upper years. From the feedback I received in my interviews during the recruit, it was one of the top things that interviewers were looking for, alongside the 1L moot (tryouts happening soon, would highly recommend!).

If you want more detailed info or if you want to meet for a coffee or something on campus instead of on the internet, dm me. :)

Edited by rightsoherewego
tagging OP
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Definitely do a clinic - DLS isn't your only option, U of T has a fair few. Also, take advantage of Asper Centre/IHRP working groups - they're often in cool topic areas and tend to be low-time commitment. Also definitely do at least one oral advocacy thing - even if you don't win, the experience is excellent preparation for later, and may help you decide what your areas of interest are.

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I highly recommend a clinic (I worked extensively with DLS and highly recommend it, but if you prefer one of the practice areas covered by another clinic then go for it!), the first year moot, and a paper or working group that interests you! I did a lot of extra curriculars in first year just to get an idea of what they did and what was interesting. Many are not super time intensive - most of the law review type papers only get you to review a couple of papers at one point, then maybe help edit/citation check a paper later in the year for example - but get you involved and exposed to different areas and things to do. You'll narrow down what you love and have time for as law school goes on.

 

Re: DLS - first years CAN just respond to phone calls and triage people to the upper years, but you can definitely get more involved and do actual casework too! It's a great experience especially if you're at all interested in litigation or any of those practice areas.

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4 hours ago, darkangel45422 said:

I highly recommend a clinic (I worked extensively with DLS and highly recommend it, but if you prefer one of the practice areas covered by another clinic then go for it!), the first year moot, and a paper or working group that interests you! I did a lot of extra curriculars in first year just to get an idea of what they did and what was interesting. Many are not super time intensive - most of the law review type papers only get you to review a couple of papers at one point, then maybe help edit/citation check a paper later in the year for example - but get you involved and exposed to different areas and things to do. You'll narrow down what you love and have time for as law school goes on.

 

Re: DLS - first years CAN just respond to phone calls and triage people to the upper years, but you can definitely get more involved and do actual casework too! It's a great experience especially if you're at all interested in litigation or any of those practice areas.

This is me speaking from my experience (current criminal caseworker) but I think I've seen one 1L in the criminal office to date. At least in crim, there don't seem to be a whole lot of 1Ls doing casework. 

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For DLS, it depends in part on the division -- some are just busier than others (e.g. I'm pretty sure the refugee and immigration division is always on board for more help from 1Ls). But since 1Ls aren't assigned to a division anymore, this doesn't really matter unless you get into DLS through the lottery. Not getting the lottery won't affect your chances for working there 1L summer or as a 2L if you still want to.

Other "clinics" are PBSC (wide assortment as others have mentioned), Advocates for Injured Workers, and Artists' Legal Advice Services. You'll see the types of work different PBSC places do on the 1L application. If you're interested in client-facing work/public legal education/legal research, etc., you can rank accordingly. AIW gives you carriage of your own files as a 1L so is a good opportunity for substantive work. I believe ALAS is mostly shadowing lawyers as a 1L but I could be very wrong on that.

One thing I would keep in mind is that there will be a LOT of (very cool) opportunities to get involved right at the beginning of the year. I think you can take advantage of that and still do well academically, but you should probably know this better for yourself than any of us would. In undergrad, did being involved outside of class make you more or less productive? However, keep in mind that other opportunities will come up throughout the year that you may want to leave room in your schedule for. These are mostly oral advocacy opportunities -- 1L moots (there are 2 now!) are the main ones. They're great experience but a big time commitment (also competitive so to be fair it's a trade-off whether you would deliberately leave room for it). There are also other oral advocacy opportunities (i.e. client consultation competition, motions workshop, trial advocacy) that are more one-offs but still lots of fun and great experience. 

All this to say that you have lots of time and don't need to be "worrying" about this but I was excited about what was to come too and had similar questions. Hope this helps!

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