Jump to content
GrumpyMountie

Pandemic 1L Ask Me Anything Thread

Recommended Posts

It's crazy that one's political background can impact their law school experience. I'm at Western and people don't really share their political views, everything is pretty normal. I'm guessing it's a Vancouver thing.... 

Edited by JusticeLordDenning

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, GrumpyMountie said:

PS Hopefully another 1L (who is actually a better fit here) will post something positive about this from the other side!

I'm going to speak as a 3L, not to discount your experiences, GM, but here are mine.

I think my experience has been different at UVic and I've spoken with and am friends with a variety of people, all with different political backgrounds from Conservative to Green. 

I also think that "academic climate as a whole is just not very hospitable to anyone right-of-green-party" is a bit of an overstatement. We have a variety of faculty with different political viewpoints. One of my favourite professors at UVic is conservative (politically), and one of his running jokes is that many members of the faculty were displeased with him (for environmental reasons) after he got his Jeep, but many of the same faculty members went to him asking for a ride one of the few times Victoria got snow. He's one of the best professors at UVic, and although we might differ politically, and although some of his colleagues may differ from him politically, everyone has the utmost respect for him as an academic and as a professor. There are other faculty members like this, both young and old, you just need to seek them out and talk to them more. Also, I think it's important to note that at the end of the day, when writing exams, you don't get marked on your political viewpoints, you get marked on whether you can spot the legal issue and apply the law to the facts. You will get an excellent legal education at UVic!

7 hours ago, GrumpyMountie said:

If you want to defund police, dismantle the Canadian state, and stop all resource extraction of any kind, then this is the law school for you. These themes are strongly embraced by the student body, and faculty will raise them in all courses. All I would say is: please remember that not all of your eventual clients are likely to feel that way, and it behooves you ethically - at least in my opinion - to treat with respect all those who may see the world differently than you do!

Again, I'm going to disagree with this statement. I would agree that overall UVic, and the West Coast in general, is more liberal. I think very vocal members of the law school tend to lean this way, however, the people that I've spoken to at the law school have a variety of political opinions, and it's not all uniform like this. The faculty certainly do not all feel like this either. Some faculty may raise these social/political issues in class, but it doesn't affect the quality of legal teaching. I think the faculty is quite well-rounded in covering various perspectives and legal issues. I'm not sure who your profs are but I think this is a mischaracterization of the entire faculty of law at UVic.

I have trouble believing that the majority of students are how you frame them in this post. I understand that you may have certain impressions based on what a few more vocal students may have said, but I don't think they are the majority. Often more vocal students will advance beliefs that are not fully accepted by mainstream society, which I think plays into the Overton Window theory. Policies and change ends up somewhere between the middle. 

Sidenote: The problem with statements like "defund the police, dismantle the Canadian state" is that they're slogans. They don't cover the complexity of the issues, however, it's catchy so people use it. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just suggesting that maybe it creates preconceived notions, and it evokes strong reactions from both sides of the political spectrum. When you delve into what the slogan might look like in practice a little more, defunding the policing might look like redefining the police, demilitarizing the police, and directing resources from the militarization of police to community-based engagement and prevention. Dismantling the Canadian state might also look like redefining the Canadian state, ensuring that the federal government is not "wilfully and recklessly" discriminating against Indigenous children living on-reserve by not properly funding child and family services, etc etc.

Obviously, it's hard to do in the middle of a pandemic, but I have faith that you will find "your people" at UVic. My closest friends from law school have divergent political beliefs, but we're friends because we enjoy each others company and we support each other when times are tough. 

Also, sort of related to this topic, but I think this is a great article on call-out/cancel culture which I think is GM's underlying concern: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/style/loretta-ross-smith-college-cancel-culture.html

 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, timshel said:

I'm going to speak as a 3L, not to discount your experiences, GM, but here are mine.

Thank you for sharing!

I wonder if starting Law School via Zoom has exacerbated my impressions somewhat. The class discussions (and the 1L Facebook group) tend to be dominated by a small number of people, and that sets a certain tone. I have to admit that I have no way of knowing how many other people are sitting and silently thinking the same things I am. But this is the "vibe" of the class as I have found it. Obviously, being a police officer in 2020, there is also a certain aspect that makes this "personal". If I weren't a (former) cop, then numerous statements early in the year from the Dean all the way down through the LSS wouldn't have made me feel as unwelcome as I have.

If nothing else, your experiences have given me a bit of hope that my 2L and 3L experiences will be a little better!

-GM

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, GrumpyMountie said:

Thank you for sharing!

I wonder if starting Law School via Zoom has exacerbated my impressions somewhat. The class discussions (and the 1L Facebook group) tend to be dominated by a small number of people, and that sets a certain tone. I have to admit that I have no way of knowing how many other people are sitting and silently thinking the same things I am. But this is the "vibe" of the class as I have found it. Obviously, being a police officer in 2020, there is also a certain aspect that makes this "personal". If I weren't a (former) cop, then numerous statements early in the year from the Dean all the way down through the LSS wouldn't have made me feel as unwelcome as I have.

If nothing else, your experiences have given me a bit of hope that my 2L and 3L experiences will be a little better!

-GM

I hope everything will be in person by the time you hit 2L and 3L! I think that will definitely present more opportunities for interactions with others in your class outside of those who speak up in class...I have to admit that sometimes they annoy me too...

You will find people who share your beliefs and people who don't, but I hope that regardless of these differences, you will make some great friends from law school. I love the friends that I've made here, and I know our friendship will extend beyond law school. Wishing you the best for midterms and your LLP final!

Edited by timshel
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a 1L right now at UVic and when I picked the school I was a bit frightened I wouldn't be able to bond with my classmates because although I consider myself liberal I'm not that left leaning.

There definitely is a vocal minority over zoom and on the class social pages. However, everyone I'm friends with in person tends to have more of a moderate viewpoint. I really think there's a place for different viewpoints at UVic and I wouldn't want anyone to be turned off of the school because a few people are extra 'loud' with their opinions.

I'm sorry you're having that experience and not feeling particularly welcome GM! I think way more people than you think have the same perspective as you. :)

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many classes do you take at once GM and how many hours are you spending in class per week? Trying to figure out if I can keep working remotely while in law school. 

Edited by GoblinKing
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have 5 courses at once this year, because some courses have been divided by term. But it's usually 7, so you could probably count on that next year.

We probably only spend about 10 hours a week in lecture or tutorial. But this is not counting pre-recorded lectures, which vary quite a bit because the profs aren't really bound to a timeslot anymore. I would think like 15-18 hours would be normal for "in-class" at a normal time. I personally probably spend another 25 hours a week or so on top of that to do the readings and assignments, so pretty close to 40 hours on the whole, overall. I can't stree enough that this will really vary by individual. Some people don't feel the need to read most of the cases, so will definitely be less. I'm sure some also feel the need to re-read, consult more secondary sources, etc.

There's certainly no way I could work while doing this, but I know that some of my classmates are doing it. It will really be down to your organizational skills as an individual!

-GM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2020 at 10:46 AM, GrumpyMountie said:

Ahaha. All the questions are about fit, and that's the one that's hardest to talk about, and least generalizable. But if that's what folks want to know, I'll take a stab:

My experience is atypical because I didn't come here because I wanted to, per se. My partner was applying to programs in another field at the same time as me, so we were weighing options together. In addition, we have a little guy, and we wanted him to be somewhere "nice" where there would be lots to do, and where his grandparents would be inclined to visit. Victoria satisfies all those latter requirements, and more crucially, the program my partner got admitted to here was by far her #1. So, here we are. 

I have always thought of myself as a little bit progressive - just left of centre- but these terms are relative. In Alberta I would have been considered far-left, and I had people call me a communist for voting Liberal. Now that I'm here, without having changed, I'm suddenly, apparently, hard-right.  It's... awkward, because I don't see myself that way, but again, here we are. I feel really uncomfortable walking around in a city covered in anti-police and anti-Canadian-state graffiti. I think "unwelcome" is the best word. I'm not claiming to feel unsafe or anything, but yeah, unwelcome. That ethos is present in the class and, to a slightly more nuanced degree, the faculty. I'm not saying people aren't nice; they still are, for sure. But the progressive groupthink is, from my perspective, intense and impenetrable. I am a non-confrontational person who likes to get along with everyone. The only way I can do so is to hold my tongue, unfortunately. Again, not claiming that people have actually individually been disrespectful to me, it's more that the academic climate as a whole is just not very hospitable to anyone right-of-green-party.

The thing is, very little of the above would likely apply to anyone reading this thread, so I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from coming here. If you want to defund police, dismantle the Canadian state, and stop all resource extraction of any kind, then this is the law school for you. These themes are strongly embraced by the student body, and faculty will raise them in all courses. All I would say is: please remember that not all of your eventual clients are likely to feel that way, and it behooves you ethically - at least in my opinion - to treat with respect all those who may see the world differently than you do!

-GM

PS Hopefully another 1L (who is actually a better fit here) will post something positive about this from the other side!

Hi GM! Get back to that Contracts outline!

I'm pretty solidly centre-left/left leaning (even had a friend in Osgoode jokingly say that I might be "too left" for law), but still had some reservations that I wouldn't be "left enough" for UVic. Yes, I agree it is pretty overtly left-wing/social-justice oriented. It can be a bit overwhelming.

I think it's worth bearing in mind that UVic is, in general, known for being a very left-leaning school as a whole. I personally really like the fact that the school makes clear, genuine efforts to make space for traditionally marginalized voices. At the same time, I completely understand why one would feel like the progressiveness is "intense and impenetrable."

Zoom school sucks for getting to know people. In an online class setting, we only get a small glimpse of peoples' thoughts. I certainly think there's something lost with the limited interaction online, because there's just less of a chance to have the informal interactions where you get to know people and what they're thinking. When I've chatted with other 1Ls more informally, I find that people have pretty nuanced opinions that vary by topic. Some have views that are different from what I would have thought, had I only ever heard them speak in a more formal setting where we are often discussing complicated and controversial topics. But I also had the opportunity to meet with others in person during the summer/start of the semester, back when we could actually meet up and distance outside.

Like a good chunk of the class, I'm not in Victoria though, so I don't really know what it's like there right now. I would take the graffiti in the city with a grain of salt, given what's transpired over the summer and the strong response to it.

FWIW, I've only ever heard you say very smart things, and I like what you have to say. :) I think a fair amount of (most?) people would be more receptive to your views than you think... but I agree it's hard to get that given the overall 'class vibe', especially over Zoom.

On 11/24/2020 at 3:14 PM, Aschenbach said:

This is true to some extent at UBC as well, more so within the student body, but the faculty also raises these issues not infrequently. Maybe it's a west coast thing?

I think it's a BC thing in general, albeit the GVRD has quite a variety of views and rural BC is also different from the GVRD/Victoria. When I was at UBC, the "social justice and diversity" felt a lot more performative than anything (especially from the administration). It might have changed since I was there during my undergrad, but UBC certainly does have a more 'corporate' vibe.

On 11/24/2020 at 1:48 PM, Ichigo said:

Hey GM, thanks for doing this thread. 

My first question is about making friends and the like. Have you found it to be difficult to make meaningful connections with fellow students? I suppose it would be a little bit more difficult for you since as you said you're a centrist in a center-left school, and you're older than many of your peers. I really hope your peers don't see you as the next Donaldino Pumperino. 

My second question is about the value of UVic. Do you believe that you will be able to find work immediately after school? 

Finally, since everything is online, is there an issue with cheating at the moment? 

1. GM is a great person, and I would be beyond shocked if anyone thought of GM as the next Donaldino Pumperino. 🤣

2. There is a co-op program, which is certainly helpful for work experience. As I've heard from upper-years and practicing lawyers, UVic has more or less the same opportunities as UBC so it really depends what you make of your time + grades. Things might be a bit different with COVID this year, though.

3. Every exam class is open book. I would be surprised if anyone even had the TIME to cheat, because the midterms were such a time crunch. Also, would anyone really want to put the fate of their grades in someone else's hands or jeopardize their future career? I doubt it.

On 11/24/2020 at 3:41 PM, Firecracker said:

What has been your favourite and least favourite class so far 🙂 And why?

Material-wise, are there any classes that you think have suffered by being in an online format?

Second GM: Contracts is great! 10/10 profs. Only downside is having to read older UK decisions written by judges who don't know what paragraphs are.

BUT, they've made it a semester-long course instead of a year long. We don't have Torts or Crim till next term. I personally would prefer reading 120 pages of 3 different courses, rather than 100 of 1 course, plus we just don't have that experience with issue identification that comes with time... so I think that's suffered from an online format. But it really depends on you as a person.

Edited by iamcold
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@GrumpyMountie, despite your earlier comment that many wouldn't find similarities with your experience, I think you might find more than a few of us "mature students" could probably learn more from your situation that you might have thought! I'm also having to weigh the pros / cons of law school as I near my 40's, also currently in a (reasonably) well paid public service job, etc.

As someone over 10 years removed from academics in general, I was curious how difficult you found getting back into the routine of being a student (admittedly, it must be a pretty strange year). Did you find it relatively easy to adjust or did you do anything specific to prepare?

Thanks for posting the thread!

Edited by Ayrsayle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @Ayrsayle,

I've been helped in my transition back to school by the fact that I've been watching my partner go through a professional back-to-school period for the last 3 years. As a result of watching her go through med school, I've sort of been re-acquainted by osmosis with how school works... right down to things like productivity apps tha tI wouldn't know about and, literally, office furniture. ;)

I'm pleased to say that law school seems a lot easier so far than med school! It's also easier than work, by far. Then again, that conclusion may be a bit empty since I don't have many marks yet, so it's hard to say for sure that I am succeeding.

The biggest challenge is keeping on top of myself to focus, rather than saying "Hey, it's a nice day; I think I will walk to the beach." Leaving a formalized work environment, and heading into a more loosely structured study environment, sometimes requires me to remind myself to put all the work in.

Most will say not to try and read or do anything specific to prepare. I'm not sure; I think it's an individual thing. While it could be somewhat dangerous to look too much at law material beforehand (lest you steer yourself in the wrong direction), I would definitely recommend covering off all the little things/trappings, like making sure you have a computer that will last through the year, and software/app solutions/furniture/workspace you will need to get the work done when the time comes!

-GM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing Mountie! As someone who’s hoping to attend either UVIC or UBC next year this was very helpful. 
 

As someone who also considers myself a leftist on the political spectrum, but doesn’t always agree with all social justice slogans/policies, I’m interested to hear more about navigating politics during law school. When these topics come up in class is it a safe space to speak up if your opinion is different than the woke/social justice consensus on the issue? Or is it better to keep it to yourself or find more likeminded people? I always enjoy healthy discussion even among different viewpoints and think it’s useful for everyone, but at the same time don’t want to damage my reputation or future opportunities. I go back and forth between thinking cancel culture is a fake controversy promoted by the right to feeling nervous to share a different opinion, so any feedback on this would be appreciated! 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2020 at 1:46 PM, GrumpyMountie said:

I have always thought of myself as a little bit progressive - just left of centre- but these terms are relative. In Alberta I would have been considered far-left, and I had people call me a communist for voting Liberal. Now that I'm here, without having changed, I'm suddenly, apparently, hard-right.  It's... awkward, because I don't see myself that way, but again, here we are. I feel really uncomfortable walking around in a city covered in anti-police and anti-Canadian-state graffiti. I think "unwelcome" is the best word. I'm not claiming to feel unsafe or anything, but yeah, unwelcome. That ethos is present in the class and, to a slightly more nuanced degree, the faculty. I'm not saying people aren't nice; they still are, for sure. But the progressive groupthink is, from my perspective, intense and impenetrable. I am a non-confrontational person who likes to get along with everyone. The only way I can do so is to hold my tongue, unfortunately. Again, not claiming that people have actually individually been disrespectful to me, it's more that the academic climate as a whole is just not very hospitable to anyone right-of-green-party.

I don't want to derail your thread, but you hit the nail on the coffin here. This is something that is not confined to UVic. I think it is quite perverse in law schools in Canada generally. If you have any views are more conservative on certain issues (even something such a fiscal spending), it's better to keep your mouth shut or be met with attacks about your person, scoffs, and ousting from social gatherings (pre-COVID). And it's not limited to that; there are some radical students who are willing to complain to other student's employers for holding some relatively right-wing views (e.g. supporting Doug Ford here in Ontario). This groupthink is very real and powerful. Most students who hold right-wing opinions on particular issues choose to just keep them to themselves, avoiding any confrontation with others. Quite frankly, I think supporting communist China would subject you to less criticism than a right-wing politician in Canada in many law school environments. It is especially ironic given that many of these same students who are so outspoken about other students' right-wing views on certain issues are also ones who end up at large firms representing large corporations. Although I am not sure how, this needs to change. Law school environments ought to be more open and welcoming of students' views. There is no longer an opportunity for healthy discourse or disagreement on many issues.

Edited by georgecostanzajr
  • Sad 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back after exams to follow-up; sorry for the delay!

On 12/1/2020 at 11:54 AM, ThunderStorm said:

Which productivity apps do you recommend?

Keeping in mind that I am old, and so my selection might not be of-the-moment, I use:

  • Todoist to organize my study/assignment tasks in various categories/timelines. Definitely an older app but serves me well!
  • NaturalReader to turn very dry readings into .mp3's that I can listen to while I'm out for a walk or running errands in the car. Would not recommend this for short, intense readings where every line matters, but it's good for 20,000 word constitutional cases that you're probably going to go through three times anyway.
  • Otter to create transcripts of (pre-recorded) lectures, so that I can search through a transcript to see if a prof had mentioned something. Note that I only use this on pre-recorded things: do not record your live classes on your own without permission! A bonus: since Otter will also create an .mp3 that's independent of the video file, it's also good way to speed up the lecture to listen to again (which is not always possible on the video file per se).
  • Shotcut to stitch a bunch of lectures together, if for some reason your prof makes short videos that you would rather watch in one big chunk, cast to your TV in bed or something. :)
  • For note-taking I am just using Word, as I didn't want to commit to a very specific format in case I then wanted to change things around. In the spring term I will probably try OneNote for the newer classes, as this will be easier to organize than my file tree, I think.
  • Finally, I got a subscription to bubbl.us, at the suggestion of my law-buddy, in order to try and make cool mind maps and other visualizations. However, I have used it zero times. I think I'm realizing I'm not a very visual learner, so it's not that useful for me...

...which brings up a larger point: everyone has different learning styles, so it's important to figure out what works for you as an individual!

On 12/13/2020 at 9:58 AM, Byzantine said:

I’m interested to hear more about navigating politics during law school.

So the problem is that, even though this has been a struggle for me that's largely defining my year, I don't have any good tips on how to navigate it. I don't feel I'm doing a good job managing it, and therefore I can't really give advice. As a non-confrontational person who likes to get along with colleagues, and likes - frankly - to be liked, it just doesn't feel like a viable option for me to speak up and advocate for my own values right now. Maybe next year, but in 2020, being a police officer from Alberta who has worked (albeit indirectly) in the oilsands is not an identity that feels safe to really own and talk about. So I just stay quiet, and ponder how I somehow ended up in this ridiculous situation. ;) Other people who don't fit in ideologically, but who are more confident and willing to tussle, might have a very different feeling here!

-GM

PS If @iamcold is who I think they are, they are awesome and will probably be our gold medallist and then dean one day, so listen to them. ;)

  • Like 3
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2020 at 1:46 PM, GrumpyMountie said:

and stop all resource extraction of any kind

I've been holding off on sending an application to UVIC, mainly because my CGPA is not competitive. My desire to go to this school is primarily geographic tbh. That being said, if I did submit, should I take out my experience working oil & gas in my personal statement? 

Edited by legallybrunette3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, legallybrunette3 said:

That being said, if I did submit, should I take out my experience working oil & gas in my personal statement? 

No! The admissions committee will be professional about such things, I'm sure. I would, however,  tailor that experience in a way that makes sense to the values here. For instance, "I learned about the importance of managing resources carefully, especially in areas where indigenous people are most impacted by it" , as opposed to "The oilsands are the biggest employer of indigenous people in Canada, and most of them are on board with continued (responsible) development, so you BC pipeline-hating-but-coal-and-natural-gas-loving hypocrites can suck it." ;)

-GM

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/19/2020 at 9:22 AM, legallybrunette3 said:

I've been holding off on sending an application to UVIC, mainly because my CGPA is not competitive. My desire to go to this school is primarily geographic tbh. That being said, if I did submit, should I take out my experience working oil & gas in my personal statement? 

Keep it in your application but I wouldn't openly brag about it/mention it publicly if you get accepted. Contrary some comments above I would not consider UVIC an open Environment for differences in values/politics and there is a vocal, controlling minority that can definitelyake classes/school less pleasant if you mention these things too much. I still feel bad for a classmate of mine who asked a hypothetical in first year and got shut down my multiple "passionate" students who considered it offensive and still gets called a bad name from it... Just for asking for interpretation of a case. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


  • Recent Posts

    • On this site I regularly see people with LSAT scores 20-30 points lower than mine making ridiculous assertions about the amount of work that is supposedly required to get a top score. By contrast my personal experience was that the prep required to get a 99th percentile LSAT score consisted of learning basic logic game diagramming and writing a handful of practice tests. I see people with scores in the 150s knowing all the names of the different types of logical reasoning questions and discussing the logic behind them in terms I never learned and don't understand. All I know is if you put the test in front of me I intuitively understand what almost all of the answers are, but I couldn't do a good job of articulating why--the answers simply seem self-evident and to be taken for granted. Just chiming in because your statement squares with my experience (although I didn't reach 177). But by and large people with mediocre scores invariably claim that the LSAT is all about effort and just don't want to believe that innate aptitude has anything to do with it, because they tend to view it as an attack on their intelligence in general. (Just so I don't seem like a totally arrogant douche, everyone: for what it's worth I've put in serious effort trying to learn instruments and second languages and my innate aptitude in both of those areas is abysmal--I found such endeavors nearly impossible. Also the innate LSAT aptitude did not translate into innate law school aptitude, and I certainly would have preferred the latter. But yeah, the fact that I suck at other things but can effortlessly get an LSAT score in the 170s just emphasizes how much of it is innate. And the degree to which there are different kinds of intelligences that people have varying aptitudes for. The LSAT is irrelevant to me now in practical terms but I do find the subject interesting from a psychological perspective.)
    • The vast majority of people that score 170+ and post here put in a fraction of the effort the people grinding through the 150s and low 160s do. And I’m sure a ton of those grinders put in as much effort as is humanly possible into studying without having an innate grasp of the LSAT. But the people scoring 177-180 for example? Probably putting in some of the least effort into studying.
    • I'm really torn on this debate. LSAT prep companies and books argue that anyone can score over 170 but there's an obvious conflict of interest there, and some people claim that it's limited to someone's innate ability. Nature vs. nurture.
    • Now when you're on the bench you'll think harder before you set a precedent
    • [Gasping for air as 84-year-old hiker with telescoping walking poles waltzes past me. Mumbles feeble greeting.] I feel like y'all are just trolling me at this point for this comment in this post  

×
×
  • Create New...