Fighting the fight against a lack of information on Canadian Law Schools.
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Sunday, March 30, 2003
It's a Brand New Dean
Congratulations to our new dean designate at UBC, Prof. Mary Anne Bobinski. Prof. Bobinski is currently the director of the Health Policy Research Centre at the University of Houston. I think that it will be good for the law school to get a dean who is a) not a Canadian and who can bring a more international perspective to legal education and b) who is an outside candidate to the school and does not carry all the baggage and myopia that inflicts the administration here from time to time. As an example of the latter, when Prof. Bobinski was visiting the school during the selection process, she recalled for some students she was meeting (and I happened to be there) her discussion with the University administration regarding the needs of the faculty. One of the things she highlighted was the need for a new building. The administration said that this was in the external review that had recently been completed but there were no plans for a new building, because no one in the faculty had ever brought it to the university's attention. Simply put, the people who were running the school had all been there since the 1970s, when the building was still relatively "new" and "modern", and it was 20 years old then. After being there for nearly their whole academic lives, they didn't realize that a building that was 40 years old with no significant renovations just wasn't cutting it. This goes for a lot of stuff at the school and I think she will bring a fresh perspective. Welcome Prof. Bobinski.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
The End of a Fine Run
The Law Eagles suffered their first defeat since September last night, succumbing in the semi-finals of the league playoffs. It was a great year, but it is a still a bitter victory. I will definitely miss the third year guys who are moving on, but hopefully some of them will come out and play some alumni hockey with us.
And for those of you playing our home game, check out the final exam from Corporate Transactions last year. Upon reading this exam, I thought that it was the most insane exam I had read to this point in my legal education. One of the guys on the hockey team took this class last year and he said it took him an hour and a half just to try and diagram the transactions in play. It's as if they expect you to have a degree in corporate finance to figure this jazz out. Luckily, the person who is writing the exam this year is the other prof, and I have it on good authority that he won't be quite so brutal on the facts. Compared to my international tax prof's exam from last year (which contained true or false questions) still makes this class look like it may have been a bit of a stretch for me to take.Here's hoping I'm wrong.
Monday, March 24, 2003
What Law Students Do for Fun
Friday was the notorious UBC Law Trike Race. Like any good law school tradition, it involves ridiculous costumes, totally useless skills and drinking. The trike race dates back at least to the early 1970s, if not earlier. It involves students putting together teams of four who chug a beer, literally race a tricycle down the street and pass of to the next teamate who does the same thing. The races go one-on-one tournament style until there is a victor between the final two. Oh, and don't forget that the street is lined with spectators throwing water balloons, and hopefully nothing else, at the participants.
As a member of the hockey team who was out of town in my rookie year, it was one of my duties to step up to the plate and participate in this model of debauchery. Our first race was slow, but the other side was slower and we advanced. One of the third years on the hockey team then gave us a quick tip on how to replicate their Championship form from two years ago. We improved our speed and managed to win our next two races (including a relatively spirited battle with the Rugby team that scored me several good water balloon shots to the head) landing us a spot in the final against last year's champs, the House of Lords.
The race was a great, tight, clean battle, right up to the final leg. Then all hell broke loose. The "fans" (who also had apparently been consuming as much beer as the participants) began throwing debris on the track, largely consisting of the milk crates and recycling bins that were holding the projectile balloons that had been exhausted. Our last rider managed to blow through the first group of obstacles, but the other teams rider faltered and crashed. We seemed to be on the home stretch, nothing to stop us. Then, suddenly, someone throws this giant blue recycling bin right in front of our last guy. He tried to swerve or stop but instead crashed, flipped his tricycle head over heals and banged his head. In the meantime the House of Lords had recovered and were making a desperate bid for the finish line. I ran from where I had finished my leg of the race and grabbed him to hold him back as my other teammates rushed to help our fallen comrade. Suddenly the entire other team was upon me tearing at my arms and pushing me and their last racer toward the finish line. Unfortunately, our racer was too groggy to get back in the race and the other teams last racer dove across the line with me on top of him and his trike being dragged with him. Just another bizarre finish to a bizarre tradition.
Just think kids, someday you too can engage in this kind of nefarious fun. If you have any stories about tradtions at your school, please share them, I know we aren't the only ones.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
There's Bombs over Baghdad
For some reason all this war stuff has got that funny Outkast song stuck in my head, so that is the title of today's entry and no better reason. I must say that recent events have made it very interesting to be taking international law. We got to spend all of last class debating whether American action in the gulf can be justified under the Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687 authorizing states to take "all necessary means" to secure the independence of Kuwait and "restore international peace and security in the region". I'm sure if the French or Russians would have known that there would be a question of whether there was still peace and security in the region 12 years later they would have vetoed that resolution. On a non-law related note, I think this will go down as the war of rumour and speculation. Watching the news is more like watching a bunch of strategic studies majors sitting around dreaming up plans to invade Iraq, then watching accounts of the facts and events. Yesterday on the news, I heard that the Tariq Aziz had attempted to defect, and then that he had been assasinated, then that he had been assasinated because he tried to defect, and then that this was all false. I also heard that Saddam was dead, but then that he was on TV, then that it may have been a fake Saddam, then that we don't know if he is alive or dead. Let me know when you have some actual information, and then disturb me from my Survivor, I mean studying.
The Law Eagles continued their improbable undefeated streak again on Tuesday night in our first playoffs game. Owing to some irregularities and the off chance that an intramurals official may read this website, I will only reveal that it was very fortunate our goalie looked amazingly like "himself".
I also had my moot tryout on Tuesday. The tryout went well, I think. The judges kept trying to distract me from my point with all kinds of questions. I kind of stuck to the point I was making, but had to address their questions. At one point I did tell the judge their question was irrelevant ( I may lose some points for that) and he promptly asked me to answer it anyway. I didn't see too many second years trying out, so maybe I will get a position out of pure pity.
Stay safe everybody.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Whoa, that was a long time
What can I say, I had lots of stuff to do in the last week or so. There is also some news. My EU grade finally came back, with a completely unremarkable and totally predictable 75. That makes my first semester marks 75, 75, 75, 73. I don't know what it says about evaluation methods that where there is a discrete possibility of variation of one percent and a potential range of theoretically 100% but functionally 30% or 35% out of 4 scores, 3 of them are identical. I am sure that it doesn't mean they are highly precise and accurate instruments though.
Picketing ratcheted up on Thursday and Friday last week after the government passed a cooling off order forcing the union and the University back into mediation. This caused me to have to walk the 25-30 minutes to class from the picket and for a prof to cancel a class with a 20 minute warning and 10 bewildered students all relatively upset that they just got up early on Friday morning. I couldn't decide whether to be upset at being there or relieved that I wouldn't be spending the next hour calclulating exempt surplus on foreign subsidiaries taxable income.
And a shout out to the good people and your friendly CCRA. The wife and I received our tax refunds promptly 8 days after we filed them by Netfile. This of course prompted us to go and spend some of our Christmas gift certificates for Ikea along with some of our tax refunds on the incomparable luxury of a new dresser and some shelves for my law books so they don't have to sit on the coffee table all the time. The simple things in life really are the best aren't they.
I have also come to the realization that I may have the worst exam schedule of all time this semester. For starters, all my exams (as are all upper year exams) are at 9 in the morning (I think I may already have mentione how much this bothers me). My particular exams are the 9, 10, 11 and then not until the 17 and then the 24. That is way too long to be worrying about exams, and way too many to be prepared for at the start. In any case, what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.
I have my moot try out today. The tryout consists of a 5 minute oral argument on the proposition that the first year curriculum at UBC nees revision. Aside from the fact that they use the same question every year, the whole question itself really bugs me. If the goal is to assess solely your public speaking attributes, why not make the presentation open ended so people can discuss whatever they want. If the goal is to evaluate individuals' ability to formulate an argument and present it why not make the problem something slightly more substantial? Maybe I am just whining because I can't really think of anything substantial that I think justifies changing or not changing the curriculum.
I'm sure many others out there are also preparing for exams soon. Good luck and I'll try and be slightly more regular in my updates.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
Some Interesting Stuff
A hardy thanks to the staff at the Canadian Law Schools site where they have added a link to my blog. Slowly but surely, more and more info on Canadian law schools is creeping on to the web. Also note this website that I found to a satirical web site called In Dissent. I found myself lauging outloud as I read some of these pieces, in particular the diary of someone going through articling interviews. That part made me laugh precisely because after going through second year summer articles I could barely tell most of the firms apart.
Other than that, 3 guesses if my EU grade is in yet and the first 2 don't count.
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
Somebody Stop that Drumming!
First of all, don't you all get spoiled with me updating every day, but I just could not in good mind read any more arbitration papers without posting the events of today.
Most of you will probably not have heard that the TA's at UBC are currently on strike. The strike had been causing some inconveniences (like making me late for Federalism because the bus wouldn't cross the picket line and I had to walk the last 4 blocks) and mostly just being a minor annoyance since there aren't any classes that upper years take with TA's. Unfortunately first years do have to take legal research with a TA but by this point in the year, they know how to use Quicklaw. Really the strike hadn't been affecting us since they weren't picketing the law building, but all that changed today.
This morning when I ran into one of my classmates on the bus she asked if I was going to cross the picket line. Being totally ignorant to the fact that there was going to be a picket line in front of the building, I tried to feign macho-ness and say of course I was. I really wasn't worried because the few times that I had seen them picketing before there was like 4 of them walking around in a circle. Not very intimidating and a bit silly. (I was actually wondering if they got dizzy and changed directions after a while?) As I came around the last corner to the law building this morning though, things were much different than I had anticipated. There was close to two dozen picketers with drums and flags and a barrel with something that smelled bad burning in it. The people were chanting and ranting and generally being obnoxious, which is what I usually expect from anything having to do with unions. My friend and I mustered up our courage and pushed on though and soon we were being not so politely informed that we did not have to cross the line and that not respecting their picket was not respecting them. At least I think that is what they said because there was a bell and a drum also being rang in close proximity to my head.
Slipping inside the building, and for the first time in a very long time feeling thankful to be inside the law building, I thought that I could now put this behind me and carry on with my day. My illusion was shattered only a few minutes into my first class. That particular classroom is located close to another set of doors, where of course there were other picketers. Of course instead of showing respect as they urged us to do, they instead proceeded to make enough noise so that the prof could not teach and we had to move classrooms. I also had to go through the picket line twice more, once on the way out to rugby practice around lunch and once more back in for international law. Thankfully they will be gone by the time I leave after International Arbitration tonight. All in all a wholely unpleasant experience.
And I still don't have my EU law grade back. I remain convinced the prof is looking for some small animal to sacrifice and use the entrails in some bizarre ritual to determine our grades. What else could have taken this long? Have a good day all.
Some New Developments
An interesting editorial in the Globe and Mail indicates that the steep rise in U of T's tuition has not affected access based on some statistics. The trend seems good, but whether it can hold up as the tuition continues to rise is still not a given.
Also a high school student sent me an e-mail asking me what high school classes he needed to get into law school. I am sure that some day he will make a very good lawyer someday by being this paranoid and prepared, but for now I just want to assure him one more time to not worry about it, just go to university and do well first.