Author Archives: beverlyma

My Thoughts on Networking

This past month holds the record for “the most lawyers I’ve ever spoken to in one month.” I attended the Vancouver Firm Wine and Cheese, firm tours, networking events on and off campus, as well as public interest panels.

You might think I’m a Seasoned Networker by now. I’m not. I still feel it is a little bit of a contrived situation. But, I think the trick to networking is to enjoy it. I was very intimidated at the thought of speaking to lawyers in September. Now, I look forward meeting them. In particular, I like finding out about their journey to becoming a lawyer and why they chose a particular firm or practice area. After speaking with judges, big firm lawyers, legal advocates, and articling students, I’ve come to the conclusion that (1) everyone is different (don’t let the uniformity of well-made firm websites fool you), and (2) they have so much to share – and it isn’t always law-related.

Tip: It truly helps to research firms and organizations before any sort of networking situation to help create a springboard for interesting and helpful dialogue. Thanks to modern technology (Google), this usually entails a quick click to a firm’s website to get an understanding of what they do. Sometimes the research gets more difficult with non-profit organizations, especially the ones without websites. For these, a quick chat with the Career Services Office can help.

While networking, I received an abundance of advice, ranging from time management, career development, to course selection. I learned a little about what it’s like advocating for clients in the downtown eastside, being Crown Counsel, and working on mergers and acquisitions for international and national companies. For those of you who don’t really know what kind of lawyer you want to be, networking is a fantastic way to get a glimpse of the opportunities available. I look forward to those moments when I think to myself, “I could see myself doing that down the road.”


The Great 1L Debate

I realize the title is a tad exaggerated, but the Great Debate I am referring to is the question that some 1Ls may soon be asking: should I work or travel this summer?

Around this time of year, there are more publicized employment opportunities available to 1L students. Postings from Toronto law firms, international as well as public interest organizations, and more, are appearing on the Career Services website. However, there is the allegation that law students will have lots of opportunities to work, and fewer opportunities to take a large quantity of time-off to travel, later on.

The prospect of acquiring law-related experience is attractive. I personally have never had any sort of law firm experience and, while I have favorite law subjects, the idea of working in any area of law is enticing at this point.

On the other hand, a wise, upper-year student once said, “I will have the rest of my life to be a lawyer, but I won’t always have four months off to travel and see the world.”

I have been told that an interesting summer job or an interesting travel experience would make great interview dialogue. The important thing is to do something during your 1L summer that you can talk about with recruiters, interviewers, and of course, your friends!

For now, I am still keeping both avenues open. I still have months to decide, after all. I’m applying for interesting positions through Career Services while [regularly] checking TravelCuts, Expedia … you name it. Whether you decide to work or travel during your 1L summer may ultimately depend on a number of other factors, such as past work experience, finances, etc. If you are going through the Great Debate right now, I strongly recommend discussing your 1L summer options with the Career Services Office. They are wonderful and will provide you with lots of ideas!

In a perfect world, I would get to do both.


My take on 1L December exams

December exams are looming and, unlike the feeling of elation in the air that comes with end of classes (circa undergrad), I can definitely sense a general feeling of panic.

Many of us are madly crafting, condensing, and codifying our CANs. Many more are revisiting past exams, hoping for some sort of indicator as to what the professor wants. Others, including myself, are de-stressing by visiting therapy dogs, eating cookies, and getting massages (thank you, We Love Law Students Week!).

Meet Bailey, who was sweet enough to volunteer to help stressed-out law students unwind during We Love Law Students Week.

Of course, 1L December exams are fail-safe. I’m thinking that this like an exam dress rehearsal. The techniques used to prep for these exams will hopefully come in handy for the rest of law school, and I will get a sense of study techniques that do/do not work. I will get an indicator of my understanding course material at a point-in-time. Come April, I might even feel just a little more confident when it really counts.

I still remember how nervous I was for my very first university exam: a midterm for Economics 101. I triple-checked my calculator was in working order, I armed myself with spare pens, and I was flipping through cue cards even as I was walking into the exam room (yes, I’m one of those).

Now, I am under no illusion that law school exams will be like undergrad midterms, but my point is that, as a law student, you likely did [very] well on your undergraduate/graduate exams (and who can forget the LSAT?) to get here. Try not to be too nervous. I daresay, hakuna matata.

Good luck everyone!


One month in a nutshell

I thought this would be a good time to revisit some highlights of the past month.

Disclaimer: I have definitely missed some amazing events because I haven’t yet figured out how to be everywhere at all times.


Out of Province Wine & Cheese

This was one of my favorite events in October. Yes, there was cheese (and wine), but the most nerve-wracking exciting thing was talking to lawyers! If you’re like me and haven’t substantially interacted with lawyers prior to law school, these kinds of events can really help break the ice.

The experience reminded me of O-week when I met tons of people, and asked everyone: What’s your name/where are you from?

Except in this instance it was more like: What do you specialize in/what does (insert firm name here) practice?

Over the course of an hour, I approached several incredibly personable lawyers who were eager to share their experiences. I learned a lot about working in Calgary/Toronto, and the different opportunities to practice areas of interest.

Regardless of whether or not you want to practice out of province, I think it’s great to keep an open mind and to get into the swing of networking in general. If you take a moment to not think about the potentially awkward scenarios, it is super fun to meet people.


Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP)

Not many details here for confidentiality reasons, but I have gotten to work on really interesting files. I know some of my 1L peers have also had amazing experiences (i.e. going to court!)

I [kind of] feel like a lawyer when I’m interacting with clients/speaking to a supervising lawyer/flipping through an LSLAP file.

More importantly, I really feel like I’m helping someone.

If you haven’t had a chance to sign-up for the program, or are thinking about doing this next year, I highly recommend it.


Legal Education Outreach (LEO)

LEO is an incredibly fun, relatively low-commitment volunteer endeavor. (When law students have to prioritize between classes/volunteering/work, I feel I should mention the latter fact.) I signed up to go to a local high school to do a presentation about the Charter.

There’s something energizing and nostalgic about being around high school students. Our group didn’t want to recreate a Constitutional 100 lecture. Instead we tried to make our presentation fun by studying a case and organizing a mock trial.

My favorite part, admittedly, was speaking with students planning to go to law school someday.

If you get a chance to do this next year, jump on it! Spots filled up fast, and I knew of peers who weren’t able to get presentation slots.


CANning for Success

Fact: I never knew what “CANning” was before Sep. 2012.

I didn’t even know that it was an acronym for Condensed Annotated Notes.

But, after attending the CANning for Success workshop, I feel I can CAN!

There are past CANS available on the LSS website. It has generally been recommended to prepare your own CANS for exams. I was reassured that there is no right or wrong way to CAN. While it is easy to get influenced by what everyone else around you is doing, it is important to remember that everyone learns differently.


Thanks for reading!

One month already!

For 1Ls, our one-month law school anniversary is fast approaching. I must give everyone credit for looking so chipper and cheerful despite being inundated with readings and assignments.

Okay. To be fair, we’ve only had a couple assignments so far.

What I really am noticing is that people are starting to get into a routine. For instance, I am starting to see familiar faces in the same spots (i.e. the library) at approximately the same times each day. Maybe this really only means that I now have a routine, but nevertheless, I think it’s [somewhat] safe to say that us 1Ls are getting closer to a comfort zone and figuring out what works for us.

The first month of law school zoomed by for me. I think this is a great time to share observations about some skills & qualities us 1Ls are honing (or have already mastered) after only a short time here at Allard Hall:

(1) Organization: I can’t count the number of peers sporting neatly organized, rainbow-colored Outlook/Google calendars. Kudos to those who have their whole month planned ahead, due dates and all.

(2) Speed typing: I think everyone is a Speed Typer. I can hear the sound of fingers flying on keyboards at the exact speed of the profs lectures in all classes. It’s quite the symphony.

(3) Fabulous multitasking: Multi-taskers eat breakfast, take notes, and check email. Fabulous multi-taskers do all of the above while thinking about property law/criminal law/contracts/torts in a 9 a.m. class.

(4) Power reading: If you think that no particularly commendable skill is required to read through a judge’s ruling from a case reported sometime during the 1800s on the subject of taverns, think again.  I like to call this power reading.

(5) Community dedication: I have heard comments that, this year, there are record numbers of volunteers in programs such as the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program, Pro Bono Students Canada, and the UBC Law Review Society. Needless to say I feel extremely proud to be a part of such a dedicated group. We give back.

In short, law school is offering a whole package of supplementary skills and opportunities, which I am happy to have.

Thanks for reading!