First Year Survival Guide: Resources at Queen’s Law
Visit the Education and Equity Office
If you need disability-related accommodations, notes for a class you missed, or a temporary replacement for the laptop that inconveniently died on you, Helen Connop is in your corner. Helen can also match you with an upper-year tutor who can help you decipher the law of contracts or assist you with exam preparation for public law, or any other subject you’re feeling nervous about. But Helen is also a great person to talk to when you’re feeling anxious or stressed. Sometimes you just need to know that everything will turn out alright, that a B- isn’t the end of the world, or that you will find gainful employment. Helen is happy to lend a friendly ear. If you find that you need a little more support, she can refer you to the counselling service on campus.
Describing her role, Connop says “the office is shaped by student need and has grown to accommodate the needs of students.” Connop describes herself as “neither fish nor fowl,” referencing the fact that her office is amongst student offices and apart from the administration to let students confidentially voice their concerns. Helen adds, “I couldn’t do this work without the support of everyone in the law school, faculty, students and staff. It really has made a huge difference to me over the years to know that the work is valued.”
Let the Career Development Office (CDO) help you find a job
Since you presumably came to law school with the intention of one day becoming a full-fledged lawyer, Gillian Ready and Julie Banting from the CDO can help you with your career-related goals.
Looking to the year ahead and the resources for first-year student , Gillian Ready says “Julie and I have planned a series of sessions for first-year students, starting in late October, that will help you learn about legal careers, assess your personal interests and strengths, and prepare to apply and interview for summer and articling opportunities.”
“We are also available to meet with you individually to help you consider your options and develop a plan. Queen’s Law students do very well in the search for summer and articling jobs, internships, and clerkships, but there is no rush to begin applying. For now we would advise you to settle into law school, join clubs, consider volunteering for one of our clinics or journals, talk to upper-year students about their experiences (although remember that everyone’s situation is different), and attend talks given by academic visitors. You will then be in a good position to plan and succeed in the career that is right for you. We look forward to meeting you all soon, and working with you during your years at the law school.”
Seek out help from the Student Services Office
They offer a plethora of useful services. For instance, once you get a little further in your QL journey, you can schedule an academic advising session with Jane Emrich to discuss course selection. If you have questions about registering to take computer exams, Patti Evans can help make sure you’re all set up. Additionally, Nancy Somers can assist you with the electronic course selection process .
Get involved in the QL Community
One of the things that makes Queen’s Law special is the close-knit community. If you went through the orientation process, chances are you got some great advice from your orientation leaders. Upper-year buddies are also great people to ask about adjusting to Queen’s Law. And while you probably know that tutors will help develop your academic skills, many of them are happy to talk about Queen’s Law beyond just the courses. But don’t despair if you don’t have an upper year buddy or tutor; most upper-years would be happy to give advice. After all, we’ve all been where you are now.
Talk to your professors
Law professors are also great resources. Chances are your profs have office hours and would be more than happy to get visitors. If they don’t schedule formal office hours, you can always make an appointment. If you put in the extra legwork, many professors are also happy to go over outlines for papers with you, to direct you to helpful cases outside of the readings, and to look over practice exam questions with you .
I remember feeling particularly nervous about my public law exam when I was in first-year. I had a tutor who was very helpful, but I was reluctant to ask questions to Professor Corbett directly, despite my tutor’s encouragement. When I finally mustered the courage to visit him and go over a practice question, and realized that I did indeed know what I was doing, I felt much better prepared for my exam. Ultimately, I realized that since your professors set the exam, getting their feedback can greatly improve your chances for success.
Get in touch with QL Alumni
Queen’s also has an extensive alumni network. If you find yourself interested in a particular area of law, chances are there’s a Queen’s law alumna or alumnus who’s practicing in that area. The CDO also keeps track of where students have summered and where they will be articling, so if you find yourself interested a specific firm, organization, or government office maybe there’s an upper-year student who can give you some insight.
Don’t forget that you’re part of the SGPS
Being a graduate student also provides you with certain resources at your disposal. By virtue of being a law student, you are automatically a member of the Society of Graduate and Professional Students. The SGPS hosts events which can connect you with other graduate students. The SGPS office also offers printing and photocopying services at affordable prices. For more information about the SGPS, you can read Mark Asfar’s article “There is a World Outside of Queen’s Law.” As a law student, you also have access to the grad club, where you can kick back and enjoy a beer after classes or participate in frequent trivia nights and other special events.
Explore the law school
Sometimes Macdonald Hall can seem like the center of your universe; it’s easy to forget there’s a whole campus at your disposal. Take a break from studying to try out a class at the gym. Find a cozy study nook that’s not in the student lounge or the law library. If you’re feeling under the weather, make an appointment with Queen’s Health Service at the LaSalle building. Find your favourite coffee spot so you can rejuvenate your tired brain with some much deserved caffeine.
Keep an open mind
Sometimes the best resources are the ones you discover yourself. Join clubs or intramural sports teams. Keep an eye out for interesting club events, important career workshops and exciting guest lectures. Queen’s law is what you make of it, but you don’t need to go it alone. Take advantage of the resources available to you and you won’t just survive law school, you’ll thrive.
Julia Zisser is in 3L. She is the Features Editor for Juris Diction.