First Year, Second Semester

It’s hard to believe, but this semester is almost half over— I am two months away from finishing my first year of law school! Incredible! When I returned to classes after the winter break, I noticed this semester felt different than the last. My classmates were now friends. I was down with much of the technical lingo. I had survived my first taste of law exams.

Now that I’ve got a decent handle on school, I’ve turned some of my attention towards what comes after I graduate. I know—it does seem fast! I mean I’ve still got two more years of classes ahead of me! But next September, I plan on interviewing with some firms and government departments to get a second year summer position, which I hope will turn into articles. In other words, things move quickly around here.

This has got me asking 2 big questions: “What type of law do I want to practice?” and “What type of firm would I like to work for?” The last few weeks have given me a little more insight to help answer both of these questions.

Our first major assignment this semester was the moot—which both Andrew and Graham have talked about. It was a pretty big deal, if you ask me. My class did a sentencing appeal, which was a fascinating experience. The assignment had two parts to it: the written submission (the “factum”) and oral advocacy (when you actually plead your case to a panel of lawyers acting as judges). I underestimated both how difficult writing the factum would be, and how much I would enjoy the oral advocacy aspect.

While I am pretty sure I don’t want to go into criminal law after I graduate, litigation in general is looking more and more appealing. With that in mind, I’m thinking I’ll take advantage of some upper year opportunities. There are competitive moots to try out for, plus courses in trial advocacy, psychology and litigation, and mediation— which all sound very attractive.

I don’t mean to say that I’ve made up my mind and I will be a litigator in three years, but it’s nice to have my interest piqued.

As for the second question—what type of firm would I like to work for?—I’ve gotten some insight on that too.

I didn’t go to many of the firm sponsored events at the beginning of the school year, but this semester I’ve had several occasions to get different people’s perspective on life as a lawyer.

Each year Career Services hosts all the “big” Vancouver firms for a wine and cheese. It’s like a classy trade show! Each firm has a booth with their recruiters/ articling students/ lawyers to answer questions. This was a great experience. I talked to firms about their areas of law, their approaches to mentoring and training articling students, and what they look for in students they hire. I got really useful answers!

Also, my Bar Association mentor, a civil litigator in a downtown firm, got me in touch with two women she went to law school with. One is a federal prosecutor who focuses primarily on drug trafficking offences, the other works at a small family law firm. It was good to hear what they enjoy about their jobs. I also got a better sense of the differences between working at a big firm versus the government or a small firm.

While I am still short on definite answers as to where I’ll be in three years, I’ve got a better idea of what my options are. That’s pretty good for now.

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