1L at UBC here. I was also deciding between UVic and UBC earlier this year. I ended up choosing UBC because I wanted to work in Vancouver and the cost factor (I was able to live at home and save $$$). I was also worried about the competitiveness at UBC but so far it hasn't been an issue. People are super friendly and collaborative, much more so than in undergrad. It was really easy to make friends and form study groups despite the fact that I'm not that outgoing.
There is competitiveness in the sense that everyone is trying their best and striving to be above average but I doubt that that's uniquely a UBC thing. The small group you're placed in also makes a difference. I've heard some posters say their small group is very corporate focused but I found mine to be the opposite - full of social justice and public interest folks. The school is also large enough that you will probably find people with similar interests as you.
If you are interested in criminal law, the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic and the Innocence Project are also great experiential learning opportunities. I'm not sure how competitive these are but an upper year told me that if you're really interested in clinic placements, you should be able to get into one but it may not be your top choice. You could also volunteer at LSLAP within the first month of law school. I didn't do this, but I know people who were going to court in their third month of law school.
Homicide trial. Deceased is native, Accused is white. I have a half dozen witnesses describe how after a very brief ambiguous struggle between the two in the middle of the parking lot (some weren't sure who started it, some say Accused started it, some only see it once it starts), but each of the six witnesses describe the native fellow being knocked to the ground, and the Accused stomping on his head. Deceased never gets up and is pronounced dead an hour later. Many of my witnesses had been drinking (but didn't know each other, or either party), but also included the south asian liquor store employee who hadn't.
Accused takes the stand and flat out denies stomping or kicking the Accused on his head.
Judge doesn't just have a reasonable doubt - he accepts the word of the white Accused over the half dozen independent witnesses. He finds as a fact no head stomping. Liquor store employee was too argumentative and adamant about what he saw (which was, lets remember, one man killing another), which called his credibility into question.
Deceased's family is in the court. They fucking lose it. I can't blame them for one minute. Sheriffs are called as they're yelling and screaming at the justice.
Worst trial of my professional life.
There was a major part of this story I'm leaving out that happened at prelim as it gets perhaps too identifiable (though the media didn't cover this story, and the family wasn't savvy enough to have gone to the media), but it gave this whitebread prosecutor a major appreciation for what the criminal justice system is like for minorities. The family told me from day one this would be the outcome.