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uottawa law question thread-1L perspective

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I found a question thread helpful before starting the school year/deciding on uottawa... so anyone can feel free to ask their questions here and i can do my best to give a sufficient answer! 

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Hey thanks for posting this!

I have hard accepted Ottawa and am excited to begin in September! I was wondering, and know that everyone ends up having a different answer on this topic, how much time did you actually spend each week inside and outside of class focused on learning? I was looking at the schedules for 1L posted online from last year and it looks like there's about 35 hours of class each week, and then I've been told that there's about 1-2 hours per class block of reading to do outside of these times. I just wanted to get your perspective on that rough idea of how much class/outside work is required in 1L and based on how your specific year went, and how you succeeded or didn't do quite as well as you intended on certain matters,  if you are pleased with your decision of how much studying and reviewing time you did or if the 20/20 vision from hindsight would have you make any large scale changes in how your 1L went. Additionally, if there are any excellent classes that you'd recommend as the first year thematic course, as that is really our only choice for the upcoming year, or any requirements within the first year thematics you'd advise incoming 1L's to avoid (such as large papers, small assignments, moots within the class for grades, etc.). 

Also, if there are any amazing places in the city to check out. In my undergrad I had a few bars and coffee shops I loved doing work in and meeting up with friends in, and was wondering what your favourite places are off campus, or any places to avoid either for studying or meeting up with people. 

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1 hour ago, LegalQueen96 said:

Hey thanks for posting this!

I have hard accepted Ottawa and am excited to begin in September! I was wondering, and know that everyone ends up having a different answer on this topic, how much time did you actually spend each week inside and outside of class focused on learning? I was looking at the schedules for 1L posted online from last year and it looks like there's about 35 hours of class each week, and then I've been told that there's about 1-2 hours per class block of reading to do outside of these times. I just wanted to get your perspective on that rough idea of how much class/outside work is required in 1L and based on how your specific year went, and how you succeeded or didn't do quite as well as you intended on certain matters,  if you are pleased with your decision of how much studying and reviewing time you did or if the 20/20 vision from hindsight would have you make any large scale changes in how your 1L went. Additionally, if there are any excellent classes that you'd recommend as the first year thematic course, as that is really our only choice for the upcoming year, or any requirements within the first year thematics you'd advise incoming 1L's to avoid (such as large papers, small assignments, moots within the class for grades, etc.). 

Also, if there are any amazing places in the city to check out. In my undergrad I had a few bars and coffee shops I loved doing work in and meeting up with friends in, and was wondering what your favourite places are off campus, or any places to avoid either for studying or meeting up with people. 

i think everyone definitely has a different answer for how much work is actually required and I would say that it’s really your learning style that will determine how much outside work you need to do! At least for my 1L courses, I found that the majority of the work was reading as the classes were graded heavily based on single exams at the end of each semester (weighing 50 in december and 100 in april). Some professors (as with undergrad) you will find you don’t need to read as much of the assigned material because everything is heavily explained  in lecture anyways. I would say it’s really similar to undergrad and you just do what suits you best! if reading every sentence and every footnote helps you, then that’s what helps! the reading can be quite heavy at times, but how long you actually spend really varies based on how quick you read and whether you’re taking notes as you go (which usually makes it a little longer). I would say in my experiences, each class had anywhere between 20-100 pages of reading per class (and each class is generally twice a week so double that). 

I personally spent a fair amount of time reading everything in my first semester because i was so nervous at the beginning!  But that’s basically basically because i let everyone make me nervous about grades, getting a job, making connections, and also doing all of my homework! Aside from a few crappy experiences with professors, there isn’t much I would change about my studying/reviewing in 1L.

The only thing I would change is listening to those people, because hardly any of that matters in 1L. You’re entering into something completely new, everyone has different backgrounds and no one expects you to know anything prior to learning it in class! You just need to be around the average for the class, which quite honestly isn’t all that difficult if you actually try because of the curve! Hardly anyone gets paid legal jobs after 1L and grades are not as big of a deal as everyone makes it out to be. Just do your best, find things that suit your learning style and take care of your mental health (which is super important in 1L). 

I would advise taking any thematic that interests you! I would dread taking certain thematics (i.e. environmental law) because i have no interest in it, but other students thrive because it is their passion! Almost all of the thematics have major papers, so I would say that as long as you’re interested in the topic, the work will be easier!!

I personally don’t know of any “amazing” places in the city, but Happy Goat (a cafe) is good for studying and I found myself there quite often throughout the school year! A lot of the students just stick to the law library, which is also where I spent most of my time studying. 

I hope this helps! 

Edited by legalgirl
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Hey, thanks for opening this thread!

I wanted to know about the housing situation. Does anyone stay on campus at all for the first year? What are the housing options close to/around the university campus?

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41 minutes ago, 1234abcd said:

Hey, thanks for opening this thread!

I wanted to know about the housing situation. Does anyone stay on campus at all for the first year? What are the housing options close to/around the university campus?

i don’t know anyone that stayed on campus for 1L, and I think it may be similar to undergrad where first years take priority in on campus residence; however, uottawa is situated right next to tons of housing, so Sandy Hill is the #1 place to find affordable housing within minutes from the university on foot! People also opt to live in the Glebe or downtown ottawa, but you’ll find most of the students in Sandy Hill!

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13 minutes ago, Sportyman89 said:

Does anyone have the link so I can view a sample timetable? I can't seem to find one :( Thank you!

you’ll be able to view a sample once they release the course blocks for the upcoming year! 

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Is there a strong interest in corporate law among your 1L class in terms of career goals? 

What is the curve for 1L classes?

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13 minutes ago, theboy said:

Is there a strong interest in corporate law among your 1L class in terms of career goals? 

What is the curve for 1L classes?

A ton of people are interested in Bay street corporate law- maybe just because of the Bay street or “big law” ideals, but it’s definitely an articling/career goal for many I would say! 

Almost all 1L classes are curved to a B, with the exception of the thematic course and your small section, which is curved to a B+. So most people end up with grades in the B-B+ range, while few score on the extreme ends of the spectrum. 

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6 hours ago, LegalQueen96 said:

I have hard accepted Ottawa and am excited to begin in September! I was wondering, and know that everyone ends up having a different answer on this topic, how much time did you actually spend each week inside and outside of class focused on learning? I was looking at the schedules for 1L posted online from last year and it looks like there's about 35 hours of class each week, and then I've been told that there's about 1-2 hours per class block of reading to do outside of these times. I just wanted to get your perspective on that rough idea of how much class/outside work is required in 1L and based on how your specific year went, and how you succeeded or didn't do quite as well as you intended on certain matters,  if you are pleased with your decision of how much studying and reviewing time you did or if the 20/20 vision from hindsight would have you make any large scale changes in how your 1L went. 

I just finished my 1L and I did well. My main priority was to pay attention in class and take great notes. That being said, on average I dedicated most evenings to reading/doing assignments (at least 8pm-12am) and weekends from mid-morning to evening. First semester is very busy...you need to hit the ground running. In terms of readings I was definitely selective, you have to manage your time effectively. There are a lot of writing assignments and they will take time because legal writing is an adjustment from any undergrad. In terms of exams, if you have great class notes backed up by some textbook notes from the start of the year, April finals and December exams will be a lot less stressful!  

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Now that the course timetables are posted online for1L's I had a question about the small group sessions in them. I see within them that all of the timetables are very similar within each small group type (e.g. Public Law A, B, C and D all have very similar timetables with minimal differences) and all contain the same 4 blocks of time for the seminars which are labeled B, B, C, D (For Public Law). I was wondering if the small group sessions run four times a week, and so in each timetable you should account for classes in times where they are all blocked off. Or, if the small group meets once a week and so if you are group A you go to seminar A, Group B seminar B etc. and do not have any class during the other tutorial sections even though they are listed on the timetable.

Thanks!

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13 minutes ago, LegalQueen96 said:

Now that the course timetables are posted online for1L's I had a question about the small group sessions in them. I see within them that all of the timetables are very similar within each small group type (e.g. Public Law A, B, C and D all have very similar timetables with minimal differences) and all contain the same 4 blocks of time for the seminars which are labeled B, B, C, D (For Public Law). I was wondering if the small group sessions run four times a week, and so in each timetable you should account for classes in times where they are all blocked off. Or, if the small group meets once a week and so if you are group A you go to seminar A, Group B seminar B etc. and do not have any class during the other tutorial sections even though they are listed on the timetable.

Thanks!

If you look at the footnote at the bottom of the timetables, it explains that the tutorials are not mandatory and are coordinated through the Common Law Student Centre. However, each tutorial appears to refer to a different course (look at the course code), so I would expect them to run four times a week (although possibly not every week, hoping a current student can chime in to confirm).

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5 minutes ago, Isla said:

If you look at the footnote at the bottom of the timetables, it explains that the tutorials are not mandatory and are coordinated through the Common Law Student Centre. However, each tutorial appears to refer to a different course (look at the course code), so I would expect them to run four times a week (although possibly not every week, hoping a current student can chime in to confirm).

So for the small group classes, you'd have public law (if that is your small group) only as a small group, no large lecture component? And then the tutorials are all completely separate from class?

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30 minutes ago, LegalQueen96 said:

So for the small group classes, you'd have public law (if that is your small group) only as a small group, no large lecture component? And then the tutorials are all completely separate from class?

That is how I understand it. But I haven't started first year either so confirmation from a current student would be good.

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44 minutes ago, theboy said:

Is there a benefit to taking a specific small group?

You have to take Torts, Criminal, OR Public and Constitutional law as a small group in 1L, the other two will be 'large group'

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On 6/7/2019 at 4:52 PM, theboy said:

Is there a benefit to taking a specific small group?

Some people like to pick their small group subject because they are either more interested in that subject OR they think they will struggle with it and want the benefit of having a 1:20 prof to student ratio. I picked a torts small group in 1L because I liked that schedule better. 

On 6/7/2019 at 4:45 PM, LegalQueen96 said:

So for the small group classes, you'd have public law (if that is your small group) only as a small group, no large lecture component? And then the tutorials are all completely separate from class?

 

On 6/7/2019 at 4:17 PM, LegalQueen96 said:

Now that the course timetables are posted online for1L's I had a question about the small group sessions in them. I see within them that all of the timetables are very similar within each small group type (e.g. Public Law A, B, C and D all have very similar timetables with minimal differences) and all contain the same 4 blocks of time for the seminars which are labeled B, B, C, D (For Public Law). I was wondering if the small group sessions run four times a week, and so in each timetable you should account for classes in times where they are all blocked off. Or, if the small group meets once a week and so if you are group A you go to seminar A, Group B seminar B etc. and do not have any class during the other tutorial sections even though they are listed on the timetable.

Thanks!

Small groups have up to 20 students in them, then 4 small groups make the large groups for your other classes (around 75-80 students). This is why there is not a lot of variety among the schedules since there are only 4 large groups - therefore only 4 different class schedules with only the small group class time changing. It can make the law school feel smaller as you're always with the same 75 people. So your small group subject would be in a class of ~20 students (i.e. torts) then all of your other classes will be with your large group. 

Tutorials are completely optional and are only for your large group courses. I believe they ran every other week... though I never went. 

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On 6/7/2019 at 4:45 PM, LegalQueen96 said:

So for the small group classes, you'd have public law (if that is your small group) only as a small group, no large lecture component? And then the tutorials are all completely separate from class?

no, there isn’t a large lecture because your small group is still a lecture, it’s just longer and has less people so you can cover more material and have more individualized learning!

hope this helps! 

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On 6/7/2019 at 4:52 PM, theboy said:

Is there a benefit to taking a specific small group?

everyone has different reasons for taking small groups based on schedule, professor, or interest! i would definitely go with what interests you because you have to do most of your legal writing requirements in your small group, so if you’re taking an area of law that interests you it always makes writing a lot easier :) 

hope this helps! 

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[Deleted question because I just realized the answer is a hard no. (I was wondering if you could do a different small group in the fall and the winter, but the grading schemes for the classes are all based on a full-year.)]

Edited by CaptainHolt

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