I mean it is what it is. If it helps, the junior associates I've spoken to (at the big firms) seem really busy regardless of practice. I'm not sure how insulated/affected junior associates are by big economic trends, but if you secure a position in Calgary and like the city, why move right? It seems like the hard part would be landing a position.
All a matter of perspective. I found law students on average to be the exact opposite of competitive, actually. Mostly fretful and fearful of competition, on edge all the time, resistant to any signal that there was even a competitive element to careers. Any given class had maybe one or two people who really enjoyed a competitive atmosphere and they generally weren’t liked. People rallied against even so minor an opportunity to test themselves/get better at something that scares them as consequence-free cold calling - this isn’t exactly an ask you get from folks eager to push themselves into uncomfortable terrain and test their mettle.
I also did every reading in 1L, exercised 4-5 times a week, slept in every opportunity I could, took unreasonably long lunches to chat with a buddy and never did any work past 8pm. So I second the view that if doing all the work somehow pushes you to very long hours, something else is up.
I made a couple good friends in school and a couple good friends seems like a solid outcome. I never expected to like everyone in my field well enough to be close, so the few that were was a nice bonus. And I was glad that most of my long term friends were from outside of law because law students love talking about how stressful school is, which isn’t a feeling I shared, and it was basically taboo to say “this is actually totally manageable” out loud on campus.
That last part I think contributed to the stress people experienced. When a room is an echo chamber of anxiety where positivity and optimism and self-confidence are shunned, we’re all more likely to lean into our more anxious and stressed instincts.
It also didn’t really bug me to be around folks who came from wealth. I mean, I definitely murmured some condescending comments to myself from time to time. But I had the benefit of having lived in a country/area where people had far, far less than I did growing up, so I knew what it was like to both be the one with a worldview born of relative plenty and relative lack. Which is a good tool to have in the back pocket.
Kinda late to the party but Truth Be Told by Beverly McLachlin (former Chief Justice) is a great autobiography of her life, if you're interested in that kind of thing.
I feel compelled as a student of philosophy to also add:
Apology and Crito by Plato (former is Socrates' trial as he is sentenced to death and latter is a discussion of when (if) injustice is permissible)
Politics by Aristotle (for interesting insights in law and leaders)
Also, for Russian authors: The Gulag Archipelago (I read the abridged version) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is a harrowing, brutal account of Russian communism - and important insight into why democracy and a fair justice system is so important.