0Ls – Welcome to Allard Hall!
I am very excited for you (maybe even slightly jealous) as you begin this journey and are looking forward to the next three years. Here I am, an incoming 3L, about to embark on an exchange for the first semester (something you should all do!), thinking about the limited time I have left as a student at UBC. Time truly does fly. Don’t get me wrong, I cannot wait to never have to study for exams again and make another CAN, but law school isn’t all studying and classes. There actually are a lot of fun and games involved. I would say that 49%* of your law school success will depend on your ability to keep a healthy work/play balance. It is entirely possible to have a social life every week and still get great grades. It doesn’t have to be law school all the time. In fact, it shouldn’t be. What will work for you will be different than what worked for me, but I’ll give you my tips anyway:
You have already read some posts on ways to get involved through different clubs and Law Games (come to this – ESPECIALLY if you are athletically inclined), but there are many other avenues to making Allard Hall your home. Bonus: these require zero commitment and lots of free food and libations. Last year, I was the LSS, as it was then, Vice President Student Affairs and had the privilege of planning all the Friday Socials (firm sponsored mingling events on, who-woulda-thunk-it, Fridays) and other LSS run events like the infamous Boat Cruise (tickets ALWAYS sell out so get them early!), Movember, Semi-Formal, and the Trike Race (I’m going for a three-peat this year). I cannot encourage you enough to attend these events. You will feel at times throughout the year that you don’t have enough time – like you just need to get back home or to the library to hit the books again. That feeling is a complete lie. Don’t give in. Fight the urge. Give yourself a very well deserved break, even if only for an hour. The books will always be there when you’re done having some laughs and making some memories.
Take care of yourself:
You are going to hear this over and over again, but make sure to stay healthy!
- Get a good sleep every night: If you know me, you know that I am a night owl. Coming to school every single day for 9am classes, ready and alert, was definitely a challenge for me (no, 9am isn’t that early, but if you factor in a commute, now I’m not whining). So, I just started going to bed earlier. There was hardly a night, unless there was an event, that I didn’t go to bed between 10-11pm. It made all the difference.
- Move: Whether you join the Beavers/Honey Badgers, play basketball, lift weights, go for runs, just move. And schedule this time in so you make sure you do it. No one wants to repeat the freshman 15, except this time it isn’t from eating res café food and drinking too much – it’ll be because you neglected to make time for your body. Get moving at least a couple times a week – it’ll clear your head and get you ready to read more of Lord Denning’s streams of consciousness.
Get away from the books (and maybe even Allardites):
- Take one night/entire day off school stuff, every single week. During 1L, I took every single Friday night and most Saturday nights (lots of times, all day Saturday) off from the books. Knowing that I was going to have a break coming really helped me push through those days during the week when I felt like I was getting overwhelmed. MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS GUILT FREE! Don’t spend your night/day off feeling like you should be doing stuff. Think of it like giving your brain a sleep so that you can work harder when you actually have to get back to it on Sunday.
- Spend time with non-law friends/family! Even if you’re not from Vancouver, don’t forget to call/FaceTime people from home. You have no idea how refreshing it is to have non-law related conversations every now and then.
…But not for too long:
Beyond just getting involved, hang out socially with your classmates. These are the people that understand exactly what you’re going through and will understand what you mean when you ask about whether there was consideration or what the mens rea is. Like Jamie said in a prior post, these people are going to be your rock for getting through the slog of cases and exams coming your way. They will also be your future colleagues and professional network. Get to know them. Also, utilize your upper years! We’re all more than happy to give you advice on certain professors’ styles or hand down our CANs – we’re also more than happy to grab a coffee or a beer (or a gin and tonic). ALSO, hang out with the professors. Some of them come out to the Friday Socials and various other events. Some will invite your class over for dinner or go for drinks with a group of you. We have some great faculty – get to know them.
Take it one step at a time:
The hardest thing about work/play balance is constantly thinking about your entire to-do list from now until the end of next April (or even until you land a job next, next October). Take it all once step at a time! You will worry yourself sick for things you cannot, and do not need to, control at this very moment. For example, right now, all you need to think about is clearing your schedule for Orientation Week and having fun! If you’re a calendar kind of person (you should become one if you’re not already), fill out all the things you need to do with deadlines, and just think about your day one at a time. Don’t think about April exams when you haven’t even gotten your first LRW assignment. Don’t think about OCIs (blah) when you’re trying to study for your FAIL-SAFE December exams. Take it one day, one week, at a time. You will thank yourself for not freaking yourself out.
The last piece of advice I want to leave with you is to do what works for you (except actually go get involved and go to events). These are just some ideas of things that I have done for the past two years to be successful at the whole work/play balance phenomenon. No one needs to tell you twice to work hard, but HAVE FUN! Don’t leave law school thinking it was the worst three years of your life because it certainly should not be that.
I am looking forward to meeting you during Orientation week! Make the most of your summer and don’t try to pre-read for classes or whatever silly thought you might have about that…
*Disclaimer: there is no scientific evidence to back this claim up.