Fighting the fight against a lack of information on Canadian Law Schools.
UG CGPA: ###
LS Class: ####
Sunday, October 31, 2004
In the beginning...
It's been over 2 months and I'm well into the school year.
Ezboard (http://p210.ezboard.com/bcanadianlawschools) helped me to find some people who accepted Western's offer of admission. I had the privliege of meeting ll1000, north79, teejax, sexfiendgirl and ll1000's roommate (also a law school student) 2 nights before law school started (Tuesday, September 7th, 2004). They are now what I consider to be my core group of friends, I am SO glad I met them. We all met at a pub callled Molly Blooms, conveniently located opposite my apartment building. I remember feeling a little apprehensive about meeting them. Would they be my friends? My competitors? Would they help me when I couldn't understand something or when I missed class? Or would they just let me fend for myself? In either case, I found out that they were fun to hang around with because we ended up going to a bar down the road and had a great time. Over the next couple of nights a subset of us would hang out and we met some...interesting people along the way. But those stories are neither here nor there and I don't wish them to be indicative of the population here.
Orientation Week started on a Tuesday. We all met at 8am at Western's Josephine Spencer Niblett Building for the welcome given to us in the main auditorium. One of the first things they told us was that there were major renovations being done to the law building - another floor is being added to the main auditorium with state-of-the-art facilities. I don't know how state-of-the-art you can get, because apart from wireless access, unless one puts their entire library in electronic format they would be on even playing grounds in that regard. But in either case, we had to take some of our classes in one of the newer buildings close to the law building - not a problem.
That week was a frosh week disguised as a "Law School Orientation Week". Through the relaxing effects of alcohol we all made a good effort to meet as many people as we could. It's a wonder that I remembered so many names! However, the Actus on the Western law website helps to put any name to a face at Western Law, along with an email address and a phone number! (Affectionately called the stalker pages.... but don't wory... only registered law students can be stalkers!)
There's really not much to write about for O-week. People made of it whatever they wished. From drunken debauchery to tame times. It was all the same. You met people who you liked and many who you disliked. But this was all at first impression... and some of those who you liked weren't so nice anymore and many of those who you disliked were actually good people.
It quickly became apparent that you needed that group of friends that you could rely on. And then you further realised that this was exactly what High School was like... a collection of cliques each with their own set collective personality... the 'cool' group, the 'party' group, the 'study' group... of course there is a fair share of cross-pollination but those individuals are few.
First Year Curriculum
First Year at Western is broken up into three semesters. Fall (Sept - Dec), Janurary term, and Spring (Feb-April). Full year courses are: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Torts, Property, Contracts and Legal Research Writing and Advocacy (LRWA). We only have exams in the first five and assignments in LRWA. The first year class is broken up into small groups of around 18 students each. Each small group follows one class throughout the year for its LRWA assignments. Mine was Torts. A professor will assign the assignments following the law in that class. In our first semester we have 3 assignments... we've had all 3 so far.
The case brief consisted of exactly that. We took apart a case on tort law in terms of the decision, ratio, facts, and obiter dicta. The obiter dicta are 'things said by the way'. They do not affect the decision but are pretty important nevertheless because they can be quoted and relied upon in future cases. Another thing that kinda confused me at the beginning was the difference between the ratio (rule of law) and the Reasons for the decision. I had originally thought that the rule of law WAS the reason for the decision. But the ratio is the rule that applies across all cases and the Reasons are the rule applied to the facts. It's a tough distinction to make without an applicable case...but you'll see it. Mark: B-.
The Multi Case Assignment took 3 judicial interpretations of a common law and asked the student to show the evolution of that law and what it meant today. It asked the student to show which case(s) served as precedent, what level of court the three decisions were, and how they related to each other. Again, since my small group was Torts, my assignment was on tort law... more specifically it dealt with conspiracy. This assignment showed how different legal writing was from anything else most people might have been used to in their undergrad. It's not flowery and it doesn't tolerate wasteful language. It's all about precision. Of course it doesn't seem like that when you read a lot of the cases but we are told when writing for a partner in a law firm is. Mark: B. (Hey, an improvement!)
In between the second and third assignment I came across a bit of a snag... i had signed up for too many extra-curricular activities... i was doing... (deep breath)... a negotiation competition, community legal services, a Pro Bono Students Canada project, Business and Insolvency Group (first year rep), Phi Delta Phi (Alumni and Fundraising VP - legal frat), a mediation course and the BLG moot. It just so happened that the 20 hour mediation course was last weekend - friday night (6-9), Saturday 9-5, and Sunday 9-5. The BLG moot was on Tuesday and my third assignment was due on Wednesday. Needless to say... I didn't get much sleep. Not much sleep at all...but least I could say that I could get through a rough few days and still turn out a paper. We still have yet to find out whether it was a good paper or not. Now, I know I'm not brilliant so since I only spent a few hours on it, if I don't get a good mark, I know I need to put more time into it and if I do well... well, I'll consider myself lucky and know that I still need to put more time into it. But too much time can also be damaging... you start to second-guess yourself and it just becomes all around confusing.
This assignment was a statutory interpretation. For my group, our prof gave us 3 judicial interpretations of a statute in three different provinces. The issue was whether an insurer, afer exercising its right to salvage, could take a deductible from the actual cash value. We were to explain the law in each provinces and explain the difference. Thank god this is the last assignment of the semester because, coupled with another moot I'm taking part of (I know, I do this to myself), it puts me way behind my readings.
This is all I can think of to write before passing out... hopefully I'll put up another post before another two months passes.