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thebadwife

Feeling disadvantaged by my undergrad (1L)

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I've been a lurker for a while but decided to finally make an account because this has been bothering me for quite a few weeks, and it is really starting to impact my mental health, so I apologize in advance for the vent. I am a 1L and did my undergrad degree in health/psych. I did this under the impression that with law, it was good to pick an undergrad that you had genuine interest in because law is so different from most disciplines. Now that I am in 1L I'm realizing that most people in my class did Poli Sci, and they seem to have a major leg up in a few of the courses (namely public and constitutional law). They often talk about how they've learned or have been introduced to so many of the topics already, how they're bored with the content because of this, and how they don't have to do all the readings because they already know the stuff from poli sci. With the amount of work there is in 1L (7 classes is such a new concept) it seems like by not having the poli sci background, you are disadvantaged in that you have to put in more work in all 7 classes rather than being able to dedicate more time to certain ones. Given that we are being marked on the curve, and 1L grades are so important for future work opportunities, I am get increasingly stressed by the fact that I (and other non-poli sci students) are getting compared on a curve to students who have already had the advantage of learning many of the concepts. 

In your experience, how have non-poli sci students faired in comparison with grades and such? Does the advantage eventually go away? How do you deal with people in your class gloating about how easy the content is because they've already learned it when you are being thrown into a completely new area and struggling to grasp the concepts as quickly as you would like? 

 

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Undergraduate degrees gave people a leg up, at most (if at all) for maybe a couple weeks at the start of 1L. Then it's about the law!

Don't fret. There's a lot of noise in 1L. Those kids are either acting tough but actually nervous like you, or they're so oblivious to the fact that their 3.6 GPA in political science does nothing to make them a better lawyer than their peers who have a 3.6+ in other subjects. And that will hurt them come exam time.

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27 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Undergraduate degrees gave people a leg up, at most (if at all) for maybe a couple weeks at the start of 1L. Then it's about the law!

Don't fret. There's a lot of noise in 1L. Those kids are either acting tough but actually nervous like you, or they're so oblivious to the fact that their 3.6 GPA in political science does nothing to make them a better lawyer than their peers who have a 3.6+ in other subjects. And that will hurt them come exam time.

Thank you. This does help. Do you have any tips on how to "eliminate the noise"? I am finding it really easy to over think and get worked up and worried about how everyone seems "better" than me at stuff, whether it is because of the school or work experience they have, or because they can answer the questions so eloquently in class without much time to think etc. 😬

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34 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

Now that I am in 1L I'm realizing that most people in my class did Poli Sci, and they seem to have a major leg up in a few of the courses (namely public and constitutional law). They often talk about how they've learned or have been introduced to so many of the topics already, how they're bored with the content because of this, and how they don't have to do all the readings because they already know the stuff from poli sci.

Lol, no, they don't have a leg up. Initially, they might be more familiar with terminology. It's true that in an abstract way, you'd kinda know the parts of government and the names for the different offices, if you studied poli sci (and I did). And yeah, knowing more of the words makes the readings easier on the first pass. 

But that's really a very small advantage. Those poli sci grads will still have to learn the section 15 Kapp framework. They'll still need to learn the Zellerbach test for POGG and Meiorin for the human rights stuff, or whatever it is now (I assume that I'm not already completely out of date on this stuff).

Law school is largely about being able to learn the law, so that you can quickly apply the rules and principles to the fact-set on your exams. Just because they had a seminar where they talked about cabinet confidence or whatever, it doesn't mean that they're any better positioned than you are. Despite whatever they say, you're all more or less starting fresh. Don't worry about them right now. This is , to put this in terms you might be familiar with at the moment, mere puffery. 

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30 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Don't fret. There's a lot of noise in 1L. 

So much this.

The Poli-Sci students might have a small jump in. con and admin, you're right, but that's because they might know the ins and outs of federalism and the administrative state a little bit more- though notably, in a completely different venue. I would be very surprised if there were many political science classes that delved into the doctrinal implications of the Margarine Reference or the Persons Case as opposed to their political implications. 

You got in. That decision was made by a lot of people who are supposedly good at this. Trust that, do your best, and you can't go wrong. 

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17 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

Thank you. This does help. Do you have any tips on how to "eliminate the noise"? I am finding it really easy to over think and get worked up and worried about how everyone seems "better" than me at stuff, whether it is because of the school or work experience they have, or because they can answer the questions so eloquently in class without much time to think etc. 😬

eliminating the noise..  this might sound obvious but try to focus on yourself, not on the others. the issue you are going through right now isn't law school specific, you'd have felt the same had you gone to a business school (everyone who majored in commerce/BBA knows more than me!), at your future workplace, etc.  you need to stop this comparing.. easier said than done but it just adds to your anxiety. if i were you i would try meditating. 

p.s. i never once thought studying poli sci would get you ahead anywhere - no offence poli sci majors😂

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1 minute ago, Luckycharm said:

Empty vessels make the most noise.

P.S. I didn't take political  science.

Political science students also make a lot of noise, so pretty sure the analogy holds. 

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Those people are overestimating their ability.  I used to teach a class to undergrads about the law.  Although it may have given them some familiarity with concepts in the law, it would not have positioned them to write a stronger law school exam.  While political science students would be familiar with various constitutional law concepts (federalism, etc.) such that the readings had some repetition, this would not give them any sort of advantage in doing a division of powers analysis/Charter analysis on an exam.

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I felt this way too but I promise that "advantage" disappeared very quickly. Also, I don't think you need to understand federalism as much as your con law prof and those poli sci people chiming up in class suggest. 

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This is news to me. Look, wait until you've written a law school exam and grades have released. You will be surprised at the results. Anecdotally, some of the highest performing students in my class had STEM backgrounds. I literally have no idea how pol sci gives you an advantage on a law school exam. I encourage you to look at some sample exams. They don't expect you to write a 20 page paper on federalism.

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1 hour ago, Luckycharm said:

Empty vessels make the most noise.

P.S. I didn't take political  science.

Can confirm. Source: am empty vessel.

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Just curious, are you at UBC?

I don’t have much to add as I’m in 1L, didn’t do my undergrad in poli sci (or social science), and also find con law and public law a bit daunting.

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4 hours ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

Honestly, I felt that a science degree provided a pretty great foundation for the type of reasoning that is tested by most law school exams. 

What type of reasoning specifically? Like a science example? 

I had to do a lot of research/the scientific method/analysis in undergrad (though in a "soft" science) that I am hoping will help me at least a little bit 

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1 hour ago, Aschenbach said:

Just curious, are you at UBC?

I don’t have much to add as I’m in 1L, didn’t do my undergrad in poli sci (or social science), and also find con law and public law a bit daunting.

Yes I am at Allard! How could you tell? 

I find all the classes daunting, but con and public seem like the ones that really could have been easier if I made different choices in undergrad..

Thanks to all the advice here I am feeling a little better though!😊

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4 hours ago, realpseudonym said:

Just because they had a seminar where they talked about cabinet confidence or whatever, it doesn't mean that they're any better positioned than you are. Despite whatever they say, you're all more or less starting fresh. Don't worry about them right now. This is , to put this in terms you might be familiar with at the moment, mere puffery. 

Mere puffery made me laugh :) The one thing I am familiar with!

Really wish people didn't resort to trying to make themselves sound advantaged at the expense of others' stress/self-confidence, particularly in 1L! Seems like people should know better and be more empathetic to their fellow classmates. 

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12 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

Yes I am at Allard! How could you tell? 

I find all the classes daunting, but con and public seem like the ones that really could have been easier if I made different choices in undergrad..

Thanks to all the advice here I am feeling a little better though!😊

I'm not sure... just intuition I guess. Although I'm not sure if other schools also take seven classes per term. 

I don't think you should worry about things you can't change. School is hard enough as it is and the world isn't fair. You and I just need to study more and apply ourselves. We'll get through it. There are so many people who didn't have a poli sci background and still excelled in law school. 

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2 hours ago, thebadwife said:

Yes I am at Allard! How could you tell? 

I find all the classes daunting, but con and public seem like the ones that really could have been easier if I made different choices in undergrad..

Thanks to all the advice here I am feeling a little better though!😊

I'm a 2L at Allard and did Psychology in my undergrad. Public and Constitutional law seemed daunting at first, but over time you'll find that it's more important to think through the legal issues, which you will be doing in all your classes anyways. It helps to have some background in how the government works (and by that, I mean at a grade 12 level) but your profs should be laying this foundation for you anyways.

Public law is kind of a misc. government course that seems to change every year and few people like so if you're not feeling it, it's not just you.

Federalism (and later Charter and Aboriginal) will come to you.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions :)

[Also, I don't think many schools have "Public law" as a mandatory first year course. That plus the fact that you have 7 sort of indicated you might be at Allard.]

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