Wednesday, January 05, 2011

On becoming a lawyer

Just some random thoughts on Law school so far:

At first it was a really exciting time. The same feeling you always get on the first day of school; but you're older and maybe thinking you shouldn't be excited like this for the first day of school. Everyone is telling us that this is such an honoured career choice. The thing I thought was the most striking was that EVERYONE is such a keener. You think you are a keener, but then there are 300 of them around you, and yeah, you're not such a big deal. I gave up trying to be early for everything pretty quick. And some people's true colours started to show too, being late for stuff. It's amazing to talk to people though, everyone has some amazing story to tell about an orphanage they founded, or a shelter they started, or a whole freaking village they saved or something haha.

I found myself always really happy. Not necessarily being a morning person, but being in a general more excited to get out of bed kind of mood. The work is really applied in nature and seems very practical considering what skills we're learning and will be able to transfer later. It's very busy and challenging, but it's nice to be around all like-minded people. It's such a stark contrast to see people striving for the corporate law world and those who are choosing the environmental/social justice/human rights path. So far it's really cool to be experiencing it all in Ottawa.

Here there are protests taking place all the time for any issue you want to get involved in, and the Supreme Court and Parliament are here too, where they make all the decisions and laws we are studying. Sometimes when I walk by the Peace tower on my way to class I still can't get over that it's there and I'm here.

After the gloss of being in Law school wore off, maybe at the end of September, the happiness thing went to being more tired/anxious/bogged down. They kept telling us it would get bad, but it seemed like you could almost stay on top of the readings. Then the assignments, schedule changes, other lectures, etc., all started to happen. And there is really just NO WAY you can do ALL the work, all the readings, everything you are supposed to do to be prepared for class. For a bit it seemed pretty bleak haha, like there was no end in sight. Almost like you are treading water but not swimming anywhere, just on the verge of drowning. But everyone around you is feeling the same, so it's an awesome support system. As long as you don't talk to any of the keeners, but they aren't around, they're at the library anyways.

But, I can say now after 1st semester of 1L that it really isn't as bad as I thought it would be. You can still watch TV (sometimes) and you do go out with friends to the bar and have some drinks. But man do they ever hype up how bad it's going to be.

Exams were a different story. It was like the whole semester was just slowly trudging along and didn't mean anything. These are 100% exams for most classes. It was astonishing to look back and realize how far we had come; both in terms of the amount of material we covered in each class and the quality and knowledge increase. The last week of class, where the assignments were finally over but the summary-making should have started, I was the most unproductive. Completely lacking in motivation and completely burnt-out. There was a lot of preparation required, and tons of anticipation. Not knowing how to make 100 pages of types notes into a 5 page summary to use in a 2-hour 100% open-book exam is a little stressful.

The TAs exams tips included things like not forgetting to shower or eat and we laughed, but it was true. The hours spent hunched over your laptop scrolling through files condensing, deleting, formatting, really makes you lose track of time. I ate poorly any my apartment was a mess, but we made it. Now just to wait the release of the grades in a couple weeks. They also tell us you can't flunk out of Law school, we'll see.