Fighting the fight against a lack of information on Canadian Law Schools.
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Sunday, February 29, 2004
To Be Young Again
This weekend my brother and 3 of his friends drove to Whistler for the weekend. It was a really sad occassion because they were spreading the ashes of one of his childhood friends who died in a cliff diving accident in Australia. Regardless, he was able to pack up three of his friends, drive to Whistler from Lethbridge on a Friday and be back by Sunday night. They stayed at my place on Saturday night on their way home, so we all got to have a bit of a chat.
One of his friends asked me what it was like being in law school, what they should do in undergrad and assorted other questions. It made me a little nostalgic for when I was back in the day, when I could have done anything, gone anywhere and been anyone. Coming out of law school I had the grades to do pretty much anything. Same thing coming out of undergrad. Now that I am in law school and almost done, with no articling position yet arranged, I turned to ask myself the same question. What can I do now?
Surprisingly, I answered myself rather positively. Damn near anything. Sure, I don't have my Master's degree in economics or political science, or a Ph.D. So there are some limits on what I can work in immediately. In the long run though, there is no reason why I have to be limited. Justin Trudeau started a radio show this week, he was a teacher. Ezra Levant is starting a magazine, he went to law school.
Of course, now that I have decided that the future is open, the question is what do I want to do?
Thursday, February 26, 2004
JD v. LLB Redux
Some of you may remember way back in the day (Thursday, October 10, 2002) I noted that UBC was looking into going the way of the JD. That plan never really materialized and never really caught hold of the public imagination here. My position has generally been not favourable to this idea for mostly emotional reasons (we don't need the Amercian degree and neither do we need U of T's).
My recent job searching has led me to soften my position and understand some of the frustrations with the LLB designation. In particular, in looking into many policy analyst or research type positions, employers are quite demanding of a Master's degree, or in some cases a post-graduate degree. In the international realm a post-graduate degree is the education of choice. The LLB is considered an undergraduate designation in most of the common law world as it is often the first degree obtained by law students in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. It is only in Canada, and our admittedly Americanized legal education system, that most students receiving an LLB have a previous Bachelor's accreditation. This means the LLB isn't precisely an undergraduate degree, but isn't precisely a post graduate degree.
I must admit that at this point it might be nice to be able to say I had a JD as a post-graduate designation of some persuasion, instead of having to explain in a number of applications why an LLB is a post-graduate degree in Canada. I would rather all the school's in Canada come together with a common designation that would either echo the American one or be unique than follow U of T's unilateral declaration of superiority.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
First Semester Post Mortem
Just when I think I am getting caught up in posting, ma petite soeur arrives for a visit completely suspending all computer related activities. We had fun, but Science World needs to do a little work on the whole Richard Scarry exhibit. It wasn't all that busy, for BusyTown.
Okay, so last semester was my laziest semester of law school. Surprise, surprise my marks showed it. 65 in Intellectual Property, 73 in Commercial Transactions, 74 in Immigration and 75 in Evidence. Quite mediocre I must admit, especially IP. I guess the moral of that story is that you should buy all the materials, read some of them and start studying before your second to last exam that is the day before your last exam.
All in all, it was just an all round blah semester. The whole not having an articling position thing, combined with being really busy with classes, working and moot really just downloaded all the work to the end and I could never get properly motivated to really do the work that I needed in order to get prepared.
Hopefully with 3 classes that I really like and am really strong in I will be able to make up those mediocre marks with some stronger one's this semester. It would be nice to graduate from law school and being able to say I was at least above average.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
The End of a Moot Part II
So after weeks of practice, on Wednesday evening we checked into a hotel in Vancouver. Yes, UBC is in Vancouver and yes we still stayed in a hotel. The Jessup has these somewhat strict rules about maintaining anonymity and it would be difficult to stay anonymous if we were the only team not staying in the hotel. That night there was a little reception. We met a few teams, but the room cleared out a warp speed as some teams went back to practice, more and others just disappeared. It was a little dissapointing for us, but we hoped that it would get better as time went on.
Thursday morning my partner Jason and I had our first round and it went well. We got the nerves out with a very quiet bench who just didn't ask many questions. We had another round Thursday afternoon with a much more active bench that still went well. We had invited any team that wanted to go out for sushi to come with us for dinner that evening. None showed up.
Friday morning the other side of our team went for their second round. They were in front of a judge who was pure evil. It still went ok, but they probably didn't win that round as the team they went against ended up in the final rounds. Then Jason and I went again in a round that we are still not sure which way it went. Our partnes then had their last round and it was all over now but the waiting. Friday night we went to a pretty cool reception at the Vancouver Aquarium and I got to speak to some of my judges and more of the other participants but not as many as I may have liked.
The results of who would be in the final round was revealed on Saturday morning. We didn't make it. I must admit I was a little bitter, I really felt we were better than the third and fourth place teams, but what can you do. I particularly felt this more acutely when I watched the final rounds between one team that forgot basic facts from the problem and another whose first respondent spent half his time addressing issues that were not in contention.
The awards ceremony at least gave us some redemption. We finished with the 3rd overall memorials and I personally managed to finish as the 9th best oralist overall. Although this made me a little more bitter as well since one of the top 4 teams didn't have any of the top 5 memorials or of the top 10 oralists.
Of course, after this was dinner and we were supposed to have a party and do some dancing and getting down after words. However, the whole party virtually disappeared immediately after the awards ceremony. We just ran up to our room to quickly get rid of our prizes, have a couple of drinks and by the time we got back downstairs there was 5 people dancing, and they were all volunteers from UBC.
The rest of the night passed similarly uneventfully. What else can I say about moot. I learned more about writing and advocacy throught that one class than I probably did in all my other classes combined. I was greatly dissapointed by the judging and the social atmosphere, but the level of competition was actually pretty good. There were only a couple of teams that I felt hadn't taken their preparation seriously. I would highly recommend taking moot if you don't have to in whatever school you go to and would even more highly recommend the Jessup.
Monday, February 16, 2004
The End of a Moot
As many of my readers out there have noted, I haven't posted in a really long time. I am sorry about that but there were reasons. The first is that I didn't really have much anything interesting to say for a while. The second was that I was really busy. So I'll try and give a catch up on what's been going down, but it may take a couple of posts.
For this post I'll focus on what I'll call the moot experience which came to an end this past weekend. As I detailed before we got our problem in October. Throughout October and November we focussed on researching the problem and coming up with arguments to write into our memorial. Around the middle or end of November we kind of put this on hold and focussed on exams (sort of in my case) until they were over. Come December there was some work going on over the break. We each had a half of one side of the problem to write and by January 4 we each had to have at least a relatively complete draft to work on. The Memorials were due January 16 and from the 4th on we all lived and breathed the library.
Writing the memorial was an interesting experience and I probably learned 10 times as much about research and writing in that process than in all my other classes combined. The really fun part was staying in the library until 4 am the night before the memorial (that's like a factum for those unfamiliar with international law lingo) was due, sleeping in our clothes in one team member's residence room, then getting up at 8 am to go to work again. Even after all that, we didn't get the last memorial photocopied and ready to ship until 5 minutes past the deadline. Good thing the courier was 20 minutes late.
Of course, after all this we were only getting started. Practices for orals started on Monday and we went 3 or more times a week from January 19th until February 11th. By the time all this was done, I know that I was damn near able to answer questions in my sleep. I have nearly memorized verbatim large swaths of the UN Charter, Vienna Convention on the law of treaties and the Statute of the ICJ. We felt pretty prepared going into the competition and at this point I would personally like to thank everyone who helped us out with memorials, practice judging and other assorted advice.
Of course, any good showman wouldn't give up his ending this fast, so I'm going to have to ask you all to visit again soon to get the exciting conclusion of what happens at a moot competition.