Monthly Archives: January 2012

Blackout Period.

Well, I have come through the great blackout period of December 2011 relatively unscathed. Our class encountered our first ever law school exams and it was a mixed result. As we get our grades back, that statement takes on a whole new meaning. This blog will be a mixture itself (first I will respond to the few of you that have asked me questions—particularly about a part-time job and then I will review December).

To get started, I must say that all of the things you may or may not do in law school completely depend upon the person. I think the key to doing well and having the rumoured ‘work-life balance’ is priorities. Naturally, those will differ from person to person. Theoretically, you can do whatever you want. However, I would place two limitations on that. Firstly, no matter what, you cannot do everything and secondly, attention in one place will almost always mean something is neglected.

I myself do not have a part-time job. Extra money would be great but personally I felt like it would take up too much time that could be put to better use. Just to give you context, I held a job for the last three years of my undergrad working 12 hours a week. I felt pretty relaxed and not stressed about that workload. The transit system went on strike and I had to walk to work and school every day and I still felt less stressed. People are different though!

I do know some people who have a part-time job, although I have to say I do not know them as well as other classmates. Often it is those people running to the library right after class or immediately home after school (often, I am running with them but NOT always). From what I have seen, there appears to be a trade-off. Law school can simply be about class but as my blog has mentioned, there is a support network and a great culture at UBC. I’m glad that I am not forced to miss out on any of it. There are clubs, volunteering opportunities and extra-curricular activities (even this blog) that could potentially disappear if a job forced me to lose significant hours of studying.

Yet for those of you who REALLY need the extra cash flow, take heart friends because some people have jobs on campus for a really limited time per week or even month and they manage a lot better.

I would say this though, whatever time you are spending at work, something is not being done. If you are the type of person who doesn’t mind skipping a reading or two (or even all of them) or not getting an extra opportunity to edit your final paper, then maybe you could handle a job. Perhaps you will barter the few hours of rest you might have per day for the extra money. Just remember that come December, it will all add up.


Ask if your employer is able to accommodate you during exams or at the very least reduce your hours.

This part of the blog now turns to the Blackout period of my life: Dec ’11. There was a really unfortunate slum found in Vancouver during that month: my house. I do not think I cleaned my apartment once in the 3 weeks of exams; I stopped cooking regularly; exercising was laughable; stress was peaking and all of this for exams that can only help and not hurt my final grade. I am thinking about hiring a live-in nanny for myself and my cats for April (heavy sarcasm intended).  With only one exam remaining, all I could think about was the finish line, and just handing it that paper and walking out into freedom. For some people, that freedom literally did not come for DAYS after the exam as they suffered through some sort of post-traumatic stress. The one thing that got me through those awful days was the pack-mentality wherein we were all together…on a sinking ship…the Titanic…with no lifeboats. Honestly, my peers helped me through it and hopefully they feel the same way. I cannot say enough about the UBC support system. Go fellow first years! Now that we know what to expect, it can only get easier…right?

Of coursem like I said above, every one is different and some people appeared unbothered by the exams. Most of the people I encountered did not fall into that category (neither did I).

As a brief side note for those of you who asked about a part-time job, I most certainly would have quit or started crying hysterically at it during this month. I honestly believe my results would be significantly lower if I’d bartered time with a job during December. A further note: I mentioned this question to a fellow classmate whose response was heavy laughter.

Yet, after December I feel a lot more confident about law school this semester. Those exams helped me realize what worked and did not work in terms of studying for finals and also showed me what still needs improvement. My predictions on my exams weren’t accurate and many people had their highest mark on exams they were certain they had either failed or bombed horribly. You start to realize that you just never know until you get the marks back.

I can’t say I’m fully refreshed and ready to tackle the new semester yet (still feel a bit shell-shocked) but improvement happens every day.  There is a wine and cheese coming up and I am excited to get out there (possibly an upcoming blog post?) and start looking to the future—beyond April. If December was a blackout period, I imagine April as the Shadow of Doom. If you have any questions or wish for further elaborations, as always feel free to comment.


Staring in the face of a new year (2012 already? Is it just me or was it just yesterday that people were stockpiling water for the Millennium?), it is that time that we all begin to reflect on our past year went, so I thought it appropriate to offer some of my thoughts on the first semester of law school and what I learned.

 The first thing is that as much as we all may joke about it, it genuinely can be difficult to get yourself out of the law vortex. As one of our professors said during Orientation Week “Your friends and family will no longer understand you, nor be able to stand you” and to a degree, this could not be more true. You forget that not everyone can relate to your frustrations with the seemingly endless exceptions in contract law, knows the definition of various torts, or understands what it means that an exam is composed of fact patterns. It is important to remember that you had friends before you came to law school and that while it can admittedly sometimes be easier to hang out with your new friends who speak the same language, it is really important to make time for the people who matter. These people are the ones who will provide you with an excuse to NOT talk about law and will remind you that law school is not the entirety of your existence. Otherwise you might find your world limited to legal jokes (I admit to writing a few song parodies), and as much as everyone loves the classic “What do you call 1000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean”, you don’t really want to be that guy/gal.

 The second thing is that you should (ideally) not do anything last minute because it will probably take you a lot longer than you anticipate. I think a perfect example of when a lot of us 1Ls learned this was during our first open memorandum. Set loose in the library and on legal databases, most of us, myself included, became incredibly overwhelmed at the sheer volume of information out there and had a difficult time narrowing down our searches to the truly relevant facts. In undergrad a lot of students, as long as they have done their research, can just sit down and write a paper in a few hours. This was absolutely not the case for our memorandum. Because law is a foreign area to all first years, you are simply not as comfortable with the material and it becomes a lot more difficult to write since you are constantly questioning whether what you are saying really is correct. I am sure that this process will speed up with practice, but needless to say…don’t leave it to the last minute. You will get it done, but your stress level will be far higher than is necessary.

 The last thing I will mention is: Make a plan and stick to it during exams. This was something I picked up after attending an academic success lecture held by upper years.  When you are in seven classes, studying for December exams is a complex juggling act and can seem unbelievably daunting. If you don’t have a plan, it seems as though there is an unmanageable volume of material to review and you spend more of your studying time staring forlornly at your stacks of books than actually studying. Making yourself study schedule will break the courses up and let you better focus your attention since you know exactly when you will be studying the other materials. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t taken this approach to finals, my studying would have been far less efficient and there would have been a lot more panicking.

 I will do an updated post to this effect in April, as I am sure that I will have learned a lot more by the time that finals (gulp!) are over, but if you have any specific questions in the meantime, fire away! I will be posting again within the next week or two about the Law Games (basic information regarding them can be found here:, which were a crazy and amazing experience. 

 Best of luck with your resolutions everyone!