Words I wish I Knew in 1L

The following glossary contains many terms commonly used at law school. You may hear many of these terms during your first few months of law school.

1L, 2L, 3L:  These terms refer to first-year, second-year, and third-year law students.

AC: Academic Council. The branch of the student government (ALSS) that deals with issues that are primarily academic in nature (such as curriculum, examinations and faculty hiring).

ADJUNCT PROFESSOR/PRACTITIONER: A part-time law faculty professor who is often also a practising lawyer.

ADR: Alternative Dispute Resolution. Encompasses alternative methods of resolving legal problems (such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration) which are used instead of going to court.

ALSS:  Allard Law Students’ Society.  Every J.D. student at UBC is a member of the ALSS and may vote in elections for its executive and other governing bodies.

ALSS EXECUTIVE: The branch of student government that serves as the liaison between the Academic Council and the Social Council. Represents the ALSS to external bodies such as the AMS, the Faculty of Law administration and the UBC administration.

AMS: The Alma Mater Society. The campus-wide UBC students society. All undergraduates, including law students, are members and may vote for its governing bodies (www.ams.ubc.ca).

ARTICLING: A one-year term of practical legal training completed at a law firm or legal organization after receiving a J.D., under supervision of a PRINCIPAL. In Canada, completing articles and passing the BAR EXAM are required to become a lawyer. The articling term may be shortened if the student completes a JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP. Not to be confused with SUMMER/TEMPORARY ARTICLES, which refer to summer employment. In the United States, law students do not article but practice law immediately upon passing the Bar Exam.

ASSOCIATE: A lawyer who is an employee of a law firm.

THE BAR: Collective term for all lawyers or lawyers in a particular jurisdiction. “Called to the Bar” means becoming a lawyer and being certified to practice law.

BAR CALL, “CALLED TO THE BAR”: Once you have met all requirements to become a member of THE BAR in a particular jurisdiction (such as writing the BAR EXAM and completing your ARTICLING year), you will undergo the Bar Call ceremony where you become officially certified to practice law in that jurisdiction.

BAR EXAM: The mandatory licensing exam that must be passed to become a member of the Bar. Each province administers its own bar exam. J.D.’s /LL.B.’s cannot practice law until they have passed the bar exam. The B.C. bar exam, administered by the LAW SOCIETY OF B.C., is called the P.L.T.C..

BARRISTER: A lawyer who presents arguments and represents clients at different levels of court. An advocate. Contrasted with SOLICITOR.

THE BENCH: Collective term for all judges or judges in a particular jurisdiction.

BLACK LETTER LAW: Traditional, substantive areas of the law (such as Contracts, Real Property and Trusts).

CANs (CONDENSED ANNOTATED NOTES): Class notes in electronic format that get passed on from year to year. Students often use CANs from past years or create new ones for themselves by compiling notes, cases and outside sources as study aids. Many law school exams are open book and most students bring CANs into exams.

CAREERS FAIR:  a career fair organized by the Career Services Office at which employer representatives provide information, answer questions, provide recruitment gifts. Excellent opportunity to gain experience NETWORKING.

 Canadian Bar Association. Membership in the CBA is voluntary for students and lawyers in Canada. Provides a variety of services to members and serves as the voice of the profession by representing lawyers interests (www.cba.org).

CBABC: The British Columbia branch of the CBA (www.bccba.org).

CLEContinuing Legal Education. Courses and publications that assist lawyers to keep abreast of current changes in the law. The Law Society of British Columbia requires that practicing lawyers complete at least 12 hours per year of continuing professional development in accredited educational activities.

CLINICAL PROGRAM/EDUCATION: An extracurricular or clinical law school program for credit. Under the supervision of a lawyer, law students assist clients. Examples at Allard Law are the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (www.lslap.bc.ca), the Criminal Clinic, the Innocence Project, and the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic.

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY: A code of ethical guidelines for lawyers.

EXTERNSHIP: A full semester spent as an intern to a Vancouver area Provincial Courthouse, assisting the judges of that court with research, writing, and review of decisions. Similar to a JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP, but students participate in externships during the school term and for course credit.

FACTUM: A written legal document that is filed with the court by lawyers arguing an appeal. It sets out the arguments as to why their client’s case should prevail. The plural form is “facta.”

FACT PATTERN: This is simply a list of facts, kind of like a short story. Fact patterns are used as the questions on many first year law exams. A lot of what law students learn in 1L is how to look at a series of facts to pick out the legal issues and apply the relevant law. There will be practice fact patterns to help you prepare for most of your first year classes.

IN-HOUSE COUNSELA lawyer who works for a corporation. Many large corporations have legal departments with many lawyers and consult “outside counsel” (lawyers at a law firm) for more specialized legal issues, such as litigation.

IP LAWIntellectual Property Law.

J.D./JURIS DOCTOR: Law degree awarded after three years of study in a law school at most Canadian universities and in the United States. In 2008 UBC changed the name of its law degree from LL.B. to J.D.  Note that this was a name change only. Students interested in practising in the United States will still have to satisfy the bar requirements of the particular state in which they seek to practice.

JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP: A law graduate who is employed by a provincial or federal judge to assist with research, writing, and review of decisions. Clerkships usually last for a one-year period immediately following graduation from law school and count toward a portion of that student’s period of ARTICLING in BC.

LAW SOCIETY OF B.C.: Self-governing body for lawyers in BC.  Responsibilities include: protection of the public interest in the administration of justice, ensuring the lawyers in B.C. conform to standards of professional conduct, and administration of the P.L.T.C. (www.lawsociety.bc.ca).

LL.B.: Bachelor of Laws Degree. At Allard Law, the LL.B. was the law degree conferred prior to establishment of the J.D.

LL.M.: Master of Laws Degree. An advanced degree beyond the LL.B./J.D.  It is often concentrated in a specialty area of the law (such as taxation, banking, etc).

LLP.Limited liability partnership. A legal organizational structure commonly found in law firms in which the liability of PARTNERS for the malpractice of another partner is limited.

LAW REVIEW/LAW JOURNAL:  A legal periodical published by law students at most law schools presenting the results of research, analysis, and scholarly investigation of legal problems. Articles are written by law professors, practitioners, or established authorities, and are edited by law students (www.ubclawreview.org).


LSLAP: The Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (“LSLAP”) is a poverty law clinic where Allard Law Students are able provide supervised legal advice on a volunteer basis. We offer representation in a diverse array of legal areas such as Criminal, Human Rights, Immigration, Residential Tenancy, and Small Claims. Student clinicians will develop practical legal skills through experiential learning, while providing a range of service from summary advice to full representation at trial.

“MEMO:”: Memorandum of law. A structured document summarizing research findings.

MENTOR:  A lawyer who advises, guides and teaches a law student or new lawyer. Upper year students also mentor more junior law students.

MOOT:  A simulated trial or appeal. A required first year law school assignment and an optional upper year activity for credit. Law students represent opposing parties and present oral arguments and/or written facta based on an assigned set of facts.

NETWORKING: Cultivating and maintaining relationships for the purpose of finding jobs, acquiring information about practice areas, soliciting clients, and developing relationships in the legal community.  It is really just getting to know lawyers practicing in your areas of interest!

NON-TRADITIONAL CAREERS: Law-related and/or non-legal career opportunities other than the practice of law (such as teaching, publishing, administrative work, education, non-profit organization work, etc.).

ON-CAMPUS INTERVIEWS (OCIs): On-campus “screening” interviews of 2Ls scheduled by an employer through the career services office, usually to hire SUMMER STUDENTS. Used to determine if students will be invited to the employer’s office for a full interview.

PARTNER: An ASSOCIATE who has worked at a firm for a number of years may become a partner of the firm, and is paid a percentage of the firm’s profits that reflect that lawyer’s contribution to the firm.

P.L.T.C.: Professional Legal Training Course. The PLTC is a mandatory part of the process of becoming a lawyer in B.C. It involves a 10-week training course including two examinations and four skills assessments. It is completed during the 12 months of ARTICLING.

PRINCIPAL: A lawyer who supervises and guides a student through their ARTICLING year. The lawyer must have been in practice for the required number of years as stated by the Law Society of that province.

PRIVATE PRACTICE: Private-practice lawyers work in law firms or are self-employed. Contrast to public interest positions in government or the non-profit sector.

PRO BONOTime donated at no charge by lawyers to charitable organizations, not-for-profit organizations, individuals unable to afford legal representation, and other groups whose purposes are for the good of the general public.

PRO BONO STUDENTS CANADA (PBSC): A national program with chapters across the country that places law student volunteers with community organizations in need of legal services. Law students volunteer for 3-5 hours per week, conducting legal research, writing, and drafting, assisting with client intake, and/or developing public legal education materials. The students benefit from hands-on legal experience, while organizations benefit from legal services that they otherwise could not afford. It also provides students with the opportunity to explore pro bonowork, the public interest sector, and various practice areas of law.

Q.C.: Queen’s Counsel. On recommendation from the Attorney General of B.C., the Lieutenant Governor in Council may bestow nominated B.C. lawyers with the honorary title of Q.C. to recognize exceptional merit and contribution to the legal profession.

SC (or Social Council): Student Affairs Committee. The branch of the ALSS that is responsible for organizing social/special events and supporting sports teams and clubs.

SOLICITOR: Drafts and gives advice on documents such as wills and contracts. Contrast with BARRISTER.

SNAIL: Student Not Actually In Law School. Species of student that can often be found in the lawbrary – easily identifiable by their calculators and graphing paper.

SUMMER ARTICLES/SUMMER STUDENTS: Law students employed during the summer at a legal employer (law firm, government, or public interest organization). In Vancouver and Toronto most employers only hire students after second year. Some New York, Toronto, and Calgary firms employ students after 1L.