Expectations and Surprises: Who Knew?

Until I started preparing my applications last year, I believed that ‘law school’ was simply the institution an individual attends to gain a legal education. Au contraire mes ami(e)s. Law school comes with its own baggage (enough to keep airlines in business for years). Mentioning this institution to friends, family and acquaintances may render you some sort of ethereal glow in the eyes of others as people seem to be in awe of your future life in Law and Order. Disclaimer: this may be a gross exaggeration but there is truth to the claim that there are expectations and connotations associated with law school.

Let’s play a little word association game. Ready? Okay, let’s start and end with one, well two, words—law school. Typical answers may include: stress, reading, competitive, stuffiness, intensity, expensive, prestige, difficult, reading, lawyers, advocacy, and, did I mention, reading? All of
these potential answers are true, or, at least after a month of going to law school, that is my impression. During orientation week, as 1Ls we were encouraged to share our expectations of what law school would be like and my peers mentioned many (if not all) of the above descriptors. So if you thought them, you are not alone. For those of you that have, I would like to take this opportunity to help you explore your expectations.

The main thing to always remember is that all of these preconceived notions oversimplify law school. After a month and a bit of school, I realized many of these expectations were not an accurate depiction of law school. Yes, you have to read. Yes, at times, there is stress in your life. No, it is not easy. However, law school is not impossible and can actually be fun.

My personal expectations of law school envisioned professional attire, long-winded excurses between colleagues in to the meaning of law, and the end of my social life. Further, I expected to be completely overwhelmed with new terms, subjects, ideas, and ways of thinking. I worried about not keeping up. The point was that I had a view of exactly what law school would be like and for the most part, I was wrong.

I have been pleasantly surprised to find that my fellow colleagues and professors are actually people too. I could start up an intense debate about the newest Supreme Court decision just as easily as I could stir up a debate about the latest pop culture phenomenon. At the Orientation Banquet, half of my small group discussed, in-depth, the latest Harry Potter film. Imagine my excitement to discover that the legal profession does not (contrary to some opinions) attract automatons or people with the personality of a shark.

There is a sense of community at UBC, which has been a great comfort as I moved here from Toronto, leaving all my friends and family behind. No matter what initiative or idea I may have, there is always someone to share the opinion or at the very least is willing to discuss it.

This diversity is no better expressed than during clubs week. I think I signed up for every activity. I did not care what it was, I wanted to be involved. Some of you may be wondering if undertaking this blog is included in my haphazard extra-curricular frenzy. It was not. I wanted to share my experiences with those of you out there who may have trepidations. There are all kinds of options open to all students, and you are
able to shape your law school experience as you choose. If you like athletics, we have a rugby team. Have an interest in knitting? Got you covered.
We have environmental clubs, women’s interests groups, yoga sessions, the school paper, LSLAP (law students legal advice program), PBSC (pro bono students Canada) and many more. Apple may have an app for it but we have a club for everything.

There is no one definition of law school; it is what you make of it.  So if you read this as you, possibly, prepare to apply to UBC’s Faculty of Law (do it), remember that this next chapter in your life will be written by you. You get to choose your path, and you need not worry about LAW SCHOOL as everyone else conceives of it. So, yes, you may have certain beliefs and expectations about law school but those are yours and they
are subject to change. Sure, classes and courses in 1L are set but you are free to arrange the periphery however you choose.

Just remember, no matter what your expectations of law school, in some way it will surprise you.

If you have any questions out there you’d like me to answer or address in a subsequent blog, please feel free to shoot them my way.

6 thoughts on “Expectations and Surprises: Who Knew?

  1. Tanvir

    Hi, great blog. I have always heard people say that the hardest part about Law school was getting in. What did you find when you were trying to apply?

    1. klhope20 Post author

      Hi Tanvir,
      Firstly, sorry for the delay in my response. Secondly, thanks for the comment. It is always nice to know someone somewhere is reading. I am going to post my reply to your question shortly. Feel free to let me know if you still have any questions. Hope it helps.

  2. Max

    Hi KL,

    As I graduated from UOttawa last year and have not finished to pay my shool loans yet, I was wondering if you had time for any part-time jobs while doing JD. I know it is somewhat expensive and need to struggle for 3 intense years but I guess my question would be how do you guys deal with it when you do not come from a rich family who’s able to financially support you.

    Also do you plan to work in the Vancouver area or going back to Toronto after graduation?

    Thank you

    1. klhope20 Post author

      Hi Max,
      Thanks for the comment. A fellow UOttawa alum!
      Yes, law school is expensive, and I totally commiserate with you. I have just posted a new blog about the reality of a part-time job. Hopefully that helps you. If not, feel free to ask some more specific questions and I can try to get you the answers.

      To be honest with you, I am as yet undecided on my future career plans. At the moment, it is a 50/50 split between family and friends on the East coast and the amazing West Coast life I have here in Vancouver. Either way I will make the choice with an excited but heavy heart. Obviously, I will need to choose soon 🙂

  3. Raminder Arora


    Great Blog. i have the same question as one my friends above has asked you, that is, if we can manage to work part time in such a busy schedule. I would also be obliged if you could give me an idea about the work load in the first, second and the third year respectively.

    Thank you.

    1. klhope20 Post author

      Hey there, I just replied in regards to the part time job question in my new blog post. In regards to the work load distribution, I have to be honest and say I have heard mixed things. Some people say first year is hardest. We have lots of courses, everyone is measured against everyone else, there is an adjustment and the firms use this as a measuring stick. Yet, I have a friend in second year who swears that has not yet been true. She says that second year has a lot of extra work outside of class where you have interviews for summering positions and all of those things to deal with PLUS classes. I HAVE heard third year is likely your easiest year because you may have already summered with a firm and will be on your way to having a job so your only focus is maintaining your grades. Yet, I honestly have no idea if any of that is true, these are all things I have heard and passed on to you 🙂


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