Fighting the fight against a lack of information on Canadian Law Schools.
UG CGPA: ###
LS Class: ####
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Interesting News Piece
CBC Sunday had an interesting piece today on the illegality of the assination of Sheik Yassin by Israel. The debate was whether or not those actions constitute a breach of international humanitarian law. The prof from Osgoode, although he may have had an argument, seemed to just launch into a completely anti-Israel screed. Of course, Rivkin isn't exactly known for his objectivity either. In any case, this is a topic that we debated two months ago in international law and ethics. There is also a guy in that class writing about the legality/morality of the Israeli wall.
These issues are increasingly being fought in legal terms. Look at the US invasion of Iraq, the Israeli problem etc. I say this to point out the increasing relevance of international law in today's world. Unlike previous times when debates over international law were carried out between diplomats or before the ICJ, today international law is increasingly pervasive in our debates about resolving the problems of the day.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
A New Link, A New Poll, A New Community Keeps on Growing
I have recently added a new link to the site here. The website is Law school admissions by the numbers. This site is very impressive if you want to know what your chances are of getting into a Canadian law school based soley on the numbers. I was interested in it mostly to check out if I would have gotten into other law schools. I only applied to UBC when I was applying so I didn't really get the pleasure of rejecting other schools. In particular, I noted that I may have gotten in at U of T but maybe not at UVic. (Ok numbers peoples, I was a 3.61, 169 just so ya know).
I have also updated the poll, as one Shirley Temple drinker has noticed (c'mon people, just vote it's fun!).
And it seems that someone has finally picked up the gauntlet that I threw down for another person to carry on this blog. I will introduce them formally to everyone once they are familiarized with the interface for Blogger. I would like to reiterate though that it is possible for more than one person to blog on this site at one time and that if there are any others out there who think that this would be something they are interested in to e-mail me. It is highly therapeutic and you get to talk (via e-mail) to a lot of other law students. I have met people through this site that at my own law school that I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to chat with, so think about it.
Which brings me to my larger post that this whole on-line law school community is really burgeoning these days. From the very active discussion board, to the other blogs out there tracking law school admissions, to people just searching out information, this community is immensely larger and more useful to when I had to scroll through hundreds of posts by guys named Sforza and Bateman on the Princeton Review boards to get just a nugget of what else was happening to Canadian law students and students to be. Keep up the good work everyone!
Monday, March 22, 2004
Just How Important Are Grades
Those who have not yet had the pleasure to have graced the halls of law school may not take kindly to my suggestion that grades are the most important factor in getting a job. Leaving aside the empirical evidence, let me give you some anecdotal evidence.
In all my interviews all the lawyers interviewing had a kind of briefing binder with your transcripts, resume etc. in it. Most of them had a little highlighting on them. Maybe they would have made some notes for questions to ask you. One had a 2 inch high B+ on the top of my resume. And they made no effort to hide it. Can't imagine that was important.
At one firm where I got a second interview, one of the lawyers asked me what would set me apart from other applicants. I explained to him that I was a dedicated person who always takes the extra step to ensure my workplace is somewhere I want to be. Things like showing up at social events, running workplace teams and what not. The gentleman then proceeded to say that is great, but he had seen my transcript. Some high grades, lots of average ones, nothing too special. Why hire me? At this point I wanted to say why hire the other 8 people that most likely had precisely the same GPA over me but instead responded that I felt my grades were strong, and more so in areas that I was most interested in working.
But I'm sure grades aren't that important.
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Ahh, The Trike Race
The Trike Race at UBC is certainly one of the greatest (I would say the greatest, but having never attended another law school I feel underqualified to say) law school tradition in Canada. Nothing can quite compare to the drunken debauchery that surrounds future leaders of our country riding tricycles and chugging beer.
Hesitatingly, I include this link to the Law Eagles website. For the uninitiated, the Law Eagles is the semi-competitive hockey team from UBC. I highly recommend the trike race video and pictures for those seeking a deeper understanding of the law school phenomena.
Perhaps the slide show deserves some explanation though. You see the trike race involves chugging a beer and then riding a tricycle down the street where you pass the trike off to your teammate while he proceeds to chug a beer. Rinse and repeat 4 times. Just to throw a knot in it, the crowd pummels you with water balloons while you go.
The team in the green jerseys has won the Trike Race three years in a row now (including this year) and are known as the House of Lords (that is why they have those things on their heads. They are supposed to be wigs).
The part where the hockey team (the guys in the blue jerseys with eagles on the front) are kneeling in front of a table is where the rugby team challenged us to a "boat race" to determine the winner of the race, because they said we cheated.
If you watch the video, you see our semi-finals match where the rugby team 2nd side (they had two teams) somehow manages to drink his beer, and get on his trike half way down the course in less than a second. (By cheating) Then I fell (out of shock and dismay, shock and awe's lesser known cousin) and that is me doing the ride of shame at the end.
If you really want to get a flavour of the social side of law school I highly recommend you check out this website.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Time is on my side
Now that I am in third year that is. Here is a response to a question about how much free time you will find in law school.
In first year free time in law school is pretty sporadic, and really depends on the kind of person you are. There are some law students who read each case, each textbook chapter, write their own cans and do what I would call "The Full Monty" of work. If you are this kind of person, you can expect to put in 20-30 hours outside of class, just for homework on average.
The second type of person is the just lazy person. They don't read any cases really, study off of CANs almost by ritual and probably don't go to all classes. These people probably only put in 20 hours a week, except for maybe exam time, including classes.
Then there are the what I call "work smarter not harder" people. They read most cases, go to all or nearly all of the classes, make their own cans in most cases but really put the push on for exams. In this case you can expect to go balls out at exam time (40-60 hours a week when you are out of class) but the rest of the time you are probably putting in 10 hours outside of class.
I would classify myself mostly as the third type. I found that there was time to do all the other things I wanted, but I did have to plan. Once you get in the upper years, I find, and I think most others did, that there was a lot more time. Unless you do a competitive moot in which case you sign over your life for 3 months or so.
Monday, March 15, 2004
When it Rains it Pours
Maybe I am just procrastinating here, but there is just so much to write about.
First things first, I have some comments/e-mails to respond to.
To R-My undergrad was a double major in economics and political science focussing on international relations and international trade. Graduated with distinction from Calgary. For the most part, not much use in law school. Understanding Canadian political institutions helped a little with Constitutional law and Legal Institutions (pseudo-con law for those non-UBCers out there). My international stuff has come more and more into play as my studies have focussed more and more on the more political aspects of international law. Knowing economics helps a little with some corporate type stuff, like being able to understand agency costs, incentives, efficiency.
Hilary-I'm going to go reverse order here. There are a number of factors why I don't have an articling position yet. (I need some postive karma here folks!) From most general to most specific I think that I was caught in the wierd matrix between mediocre grades and no good connections. Most people with worse grades than me who got hooked up had connections of some sort, like the one guy who got hired by the firm he used to work in the mail room for. Most people with better grades than me got jobs regardless. Those who had similar grades, and no connections are either still looking or have given up. Don't underestimate knowing people. If you don't know anyone, network and meet someone. I was terribly lax in this department. Which leads directly to my more specific reasons. I was very picky when I applied. Some people applied to upwards of 50 or 60 firms. I applied to less than 20 I think. I knew what I wanted and didn't mess around with the others. That also meant I applied to very selective firms. The one firm I really wanted to work for, and made it to the final cut with, told me that this was a tough year and that they just had to hire the people who were superstars. I could only take by implication I was not a superstar. The last reason I will give is that I unabashedly am interested in international matters, particularly public international law. I think most firms thought that I wouldn't be happy there very long and couldn't convince them otherwise. They may have been right.
As for the Blog stuff, I will throw a post up on the discussion board, but I haven't had any volunteers from my request here. I doubt tryouts will be necessary.
The other thing that I wanted to quickly note was this Canadian law schools ranking site. Now, I can probably be as much of a rankings whore as anyone, but even I wouldn't put much faith in this thing. I don't know what criteria they used to make it up for starters, but other than that I can't discern any particular rhyme nor reason for putting the schools in this order. It also made me laugh when the inclusion of the other top law schools category makes the list pretty much every other law school in Canada.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Everywhere I Turn, Theres the Man
Or at least he popped up twice today. The first time was during a student general review of possible curriculum changes. After 3 years of law school I like to feel like I have a few ideas about curriculum review. I didn't really say much but I was happy to hear that at least a couple of my pet peeves are still being thrown out. (Namely kill perspectives and let people take a real class and make a full 1st year Constitutional law class like every other law school.) There was this one guy who thought that we should add a bunch of mandatory classes. His ideas were Corporations, Trusts, Civil Litigation. His argument was that this was a professional school and that students should all have a grounding in these "basic" areas of law. Replace basic with boring and you might have a better idea. Not to mention you have to complete a PLTC (Bar Course) segment on these areas of law. He seemed disinclined to acquiesce to those requests once someone noted that he should take family, administrative law and tax as mandatory classes as well. The man promptly went back into his hole, we don't all want to work for him.
Then he showed up at the bus loop of all places. I was standing waiting for a bus and this guy tells me I have to go to the back of the line. Apparently there is now enforced priority queues for each bus. Instead of just making sure there is enough buses to take everyone, they just want to make sure that it is first come first serve. And there are paying people to enforce it. Aside from the fact that university students are all adults, or at least pretend to be, I thought that part of the deal with the new U-Pass was to enhance bus service. Ahh, someone else's tax dollars at work. What can I say, for another month I'm a student still spending those tax dollars myself.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Oh Big Bert
Although it doesn't specifically relate to law school per se, I am going to take this post to comment about the Todd Bertuzzi incident here. I would put a link to a bunch of news stories, but if you haven't heard about it, you wouldn't be interested enough to read the stories.
The issue that I want to focus on is the idea that this is a criminal assault in some way. Noteworthy is the precedent set my convicting Marty McSorley of criminal assault when he whacked Donald Brashear upside the head with his stick. McSorley got 15 months for that incident.
Most of the legal issues here centre around whether or not a player consents to this kind of an act simply by being in the game. In the McSorley case the court was largely convinced by the fact that he used his stick in a way that no player could be said to have consented to. In Bertuzzi's case, there was no stick, but it was a vicious attack from behind. I wish that I could see more of the clip because it seems as if Bert chases Moore who is skating away from him. If Moore is skating away, to avoid a confrontation, can he really be said to be consenting to this kind of attack? Or if Moore is skating away is Bertuzzi's action justified because Moore wouldn't adhere to some kind of a warrior ethos and fight?
More fundamentally is this a question for a court at all. It seems in my purview that just because you choose to take part in an NHL game, you are not escaping all the general rules of society. Realistically though, are the courts equipped to deal with this kind of a problem each time it arises in a sporting event? I don't think they are.
Whatever the outcome, this is not something that hockey needed as its popularity is on the wane in the US and a work stoppage is imminent. The last thing we want to remember during a lockout is this act of goonery.
Friday, March 05, 2004
New Feature Alert
I have also added a very cool new feature called a Guest Map (look to the left). Please put your mark on there so we can all see the diverse locations law students or law students to be come from in Canada and abroad. Thanks to Ollie for the idea and also a warning that there will be some pop-ups, but they aren't that bad.
I a kind of FYI way I thought some people might be interested in what it is that a work study research assistant might do in a law school, as that is what I have been doing since the end of September. My supervisor is a prof focussing on international law and human rights.
The first thing that I did for him was update the materials for his class. The class was on ethics and international law. I had to read all the old materials and some new ones that he selected and then choose which old materials should be replaced with some of the new ones. This might not sound too good, but the fact that I was taking his class next semester was a nice bonus since I was doing all the reading for it.
The next thing that I have been working on is research for an essay he is writing on the incorporation of treaties into Canadian law. This requires finding resources, doing research in various sources and helping to clean up citations and what not.
I have also done some random information finding like tracking down UN reports on Iran (my prof used to be the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran and still works in that area) and all instances of a decision on the merits of a Canadian case before the Human Rights committee.
All in all a very satisfying experience to this point and if you can swing it a great opportunity.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Who Wants to Be a Blogger?
Some people may have noticed some changes to the site have been made. In particular there is a new hit counter at the bottom of the page that unfortunately has started over again at zero, and I have no idea how many previous visitor's there were but I know it was over 10,000 or so.
The other change was that I have added a new comments mode directly below each post. Please post any comments you might have. This is all about getting information about law school disseminated so if you have questions, throw them up on the site. If you have criticisms, want to tell me I am a lazy butt or have a story about your own experiences put that there too.
One last question for you guys though, is who would like to take over this thing when I am done? I only have a month or so left before I will be done law school and at that point this whole thing seems rather pointless, unless someone else steps in to fill my shoes. There is no previous experience necessary, and in fact we can get more than one person going on here at once. I think that it would be very cool if we could get two or three students from different schools up here, helping other people out. Please e-mail me if you are interested.
Back to work (you and me both)
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Really Enjoyable Classes
The two classes that I am taking right now are probably the two most interesting classes that I have taken in all of law school. The classes are Ethical Problems in International Law and The Regulatory Impact of Globalization. The first deals with what kind of ethical criteria states or individuals should use in dealing with particular problems of international relations and how law may or may not be shaped to give effect to those criteria. The second deals with the impact upon states of certain types of international agreements that may limit their ability to regulate in certain areas and what this practically means for the law.
I realize that the interests in these classes for me derives mainly from my interest in international affairs in general, but I think they both carry important general lessons that the more traditional "hard" law classes just don't ever seem to offer. In particular, both are concerned with the shaping of the international legal regime and what goals it should have.
Both of these classes require papers. My ethics paper is on the ethical concerns of relieving the debt of less developed countries, in particular following on the heals of the decision of most Western states to forgive most of Iraq's debt. For Globalization I believe my paper is going to be on the forthcoming Canadian regime of providing low cost drug's to less developed countries and whether that will form a model for other states or become the exception. Wish me luck.