Our First Month in Law School
Juris Diction conducted a writing competition, asking 1Ls to respond to the question: How was your first month of law school?
After receiving a large number of very good responses, we were faced with the incredibly difficult task of finding a winner. And after much deliberation, we have come to that decision. Here are the top three entries. The winner, Liz Guilbault, wins a $25 Starbucks gift card!
Q: How was your first month of law school?
WINNING ENTRY – Liz Guilbault
A heavy blanket of silence settled over the wide eyes of the class. With no concept of the question that had been lobbed at me, in a language of contracts that sounded like I shouldn’t have passed my LSAT, I sat breathless. The memory of Property class just ten minutes ago played in my mind: a break-of-a-class with a professor who doesn’t cold call. My mind scuttled back to orientation week, when our colour coordinated shirts were worn as comfort, a social binding-together that promised maybe law school will be full of good times.
Suddenly I remembered tonight’s Smoker, the concept of which seemed unreasonable considering the amount of readings assigned to us. How were we supposed to have the time to get good grades and look attractive to employers with tons of extracurriculars while attending mandatory socializing? Oh shoot, the deadline for applying to the fourteen thousand clubs and councils I want to be on is tomorrow! Better schedule that in alongside the ample Public studying I need to do but have no idea how to go about. The subtle lifting of the hand of the student beside me – whose name I’d already forgotten (why didn’t all professor use those childish-but-helpful name cards!) – freed me from the prison of the giant snowballing motion of my mind. Phew, she let him answer the question. I made a mental note to schedule a meeting with my tutor to discuss his best techniques for un-clenching. That’ll help things, I’m sure.
SECOND PLACE – Lucy Sun
When I went home for Thanksgiving, I explained to my mother what a tort was. The conversation had started with French baking, I turned it into a legal analysis – and all at once the things that existed quietly in my past life seemed to conform themselves into matters of fact and law. I was the arbitrator to decide who merited a dish washing exemption. I was the judge of the objective standard of Loblaws’ apple pie. Was it possession over the turkey once I took the first bite?
People who once laughed at things I said and described me as “affable” and “cool” now looked at me in open confusion. I had gone off into a community of two hundred people, stopped answering calls and messages on time, and returned with a zealous drive to convict generalities and assumptions. Conversations of art, romance, or even Kim K left me dazed and out of breath, but discussions over styles of cause became a regular over afternoon coffee.
When did I become so smart? The only people who seemed to understand my transformation and self-engrossment were my peers, as we sat around eating pizza and complaining that we didn’t have enough time to do anything anymore. We worried that we would never make it as lawyers, or that if we did, everyone else wouldn’t be. So we booked our flights back home for Christmas with excitement and trepidation, wary of ourselves and unsure – on a balance of probabilities – what was to come.
THIRD PLACE – Josef Gallant
It seems strange to say but after a long summer of anticipation the first month of law school has come and gone. If I had to choose one word to describe law school so far, it is quite simply intense. Everything, from social life, academics, extra curricular activities, classes, appear to hum along at a fervent pace. If you don’t keep up, the feeling is you will get buried. Attending law school distinguishes itself from undergraduate studies in that the stress amongst students is palpable. Now that everyone has all move up to post-graduate studies the game has changed, and the pressure to succeed is next level.
In spite of the stress and intensity, however, this first month of law school has been an undeniably positive experience. There is a strong sense of comradery around Queen’s law students that lends a feeling of solidarity to the pressure we all feel. In just one month we have begun forming friendships that will last for untold years to come, and have had the great privilege to be admitted into not just a law school, but a community of intelligent, motivated individuals. Through pro bono programs, various student clubs, and other student run organizations we all have the opportunity to contribute to issues we think are important as individuals. As law students attending one of the best universities in one of the best countries in the world, we should never lose sight of how privileged we truly are to be in the position we find ourselves in.