Author Archives: twood

UBC Law Alumni Magazine


UBC Alumni Mag

While many of us are far from being UBC Law Alumni, I stumbled upon a hard copy of the annual volume distributed to former law students globally and I found that it was full of interesting and encouraging material.

Instead of reading it from the perspective of an established lawyer in the community, I found that there is much inspiration to be gleaned from its pages by reading about all of the amazing things that UBC Law can lead to. And in the very least it will show you that generations of people made it all the way through law school and learned to tell the tale.

I encourage you to click on this link and flip through the online version(s) and get some ideas for your future!

UBC <3 Law Students

As exams approach, the atmosphere around Allard Hall gets slightly more antsy and full of unpredictable energy as everyone (if they are like me) goes through a daily emotional graph mirroring the stock market with ups and downs of self-confidence, confusion and outright fear resurfacing every few hours. But there is hope! Exams will come and go so fast and then we will all be munching on our Holiday dinners.

That being said… there is so much POSITIVE energy in Allard Hall this week to help make our school a fantastic environment during this chaotic time. “We Love Law Students Week” is on!

If you are a law student… stop reading this and run to room 153 to sign up for a coveted chair massage.

If you are reading this blog because you want to become a UBC law student (like I did avidly all last year) then know this… UBC Law is the best place to go to school. Not that I have experienced any other law school, but I just know. This week the faculty has activities galore including dog hang out time, scribble boards, coffee, fruit, donuts and mingling, cookies, yoga, yelling and laughing sessions and the amazing aforementioned chair massages!

As stressful as this time is for everyone it is great to see so many smiles around and friendly nods in the library. We are all in this together and even though UBC is putting us through all of this, they have made it very clear that they love us!

Tripartite Huh?

The UBC Environmental Law Group recently hosted their Annual Negotiation Competition and I was lucky enough to get one of the coveted spots. With students attending from other law schools, this competition was an excellent way to practice and develop a valuable skill that may become a large part of your future practice.

Dabbling a little bit in debate in high school, when I did my first negotiation earlier this year at a competition hosted by FMC I just assumed that it would similar… but I was wrong. Negotiation competitions are an awesome extra-curricular that put you in a real-life (-ish) situation where you are not arguing the infinite pros of your side relative to the “endless and obvious cons” of the other team. The ultimate goal here is to agree upon a beneficial outcome for all parties that is an acceptable compromise based on the bottom line for your client.

The ELG did an excellent job in drafting the negotiation scenario and threw a curve ball with the “tripartite situation”. Immediately turning to google I realized how challenging the negotiation would be as this meant there would be three parties sitting around the table. The mythical situation was set in a country called Himmalandes that had a looming energy crisis and an approaching government election. Zephyr, a corporate giant, proposed a wind power project that would run straight through one of the few remaining national parks; a park in which the aboriginal group the Caza performed the majority of their traditional hunting practices. Can you see how this might be an issue of interest for all three groups?

In their confidential information, each group is given the perspective and goals of their client and the related facts. Once you have determined your points of flexibility and your sticking points, it is key to try and imagine what the other parties are going to come in looking for and then ways to swing the discussion towards a settlement in your best interest. Representing the indigenous group, my partner and I pushed to have the project re-located to our title land nearby (instead of the park) and for a share in the project profits… and we actually got it in the final settlement! It is so fun to watch everyone settle into their roles and really play up the part. If anything else, the ELG’s Annual Negotiation Competition is a chance to hone your acting skills and maybe make an inspiring speech or two (but be warned: this is not monologue practice! With 6 students representing 3 parties you have to respectfully fight for your turn to chime in)

While different practices of law will rely heavily on negotiation and others may allow a lawyer to avoid it entirely, I would recommend that everyone sign up next year! It is fun and friendly and as usual with UBC Law activities, there is plenty of good food to enjoy afterwards.

What can you learn from Negotiation Competitions?

Negotiation planning and strategy

Teamwork and communication skills

Thinking and speaking on your feet

Flexibility and creativity

Plus plus plus…

1L of a Way to Start Law School

Sniping my title from Professor Andrew J. McClurg’s welcome to law school bible, I can say that this pre-law recommended reading definitely did not prepare me for the unique experience of Calgary firm interviews in my first month at UBC.

While the majority of law students participate in the job hunt process known as “OCIs” in second year (see Rebecca’s earlier blog post), many Calgary and Toronto law firms make an exception and seek out 1L students for summer positions.

The UBC Law Career Services Office advises first year students from Calgary and Toronto to focus on their grades and worry about the summer job process in second year. This is sound advice based on years of experience… that I for some reason chose not to follow.

Coming west for undergrad and law school, Calgary is still home for me and I am strongly considering calling it home after what I am sure will be three wonderful (and sometimes wet) years in Vancouver. That being said, I decided to throw my hat in the ring with a few of my fellow 1L Calgarians.

Once the process started, it was easy to get caught up in resume and cover letter drafting, interview preparation and the pedantic crafting of two sentence thank you emails but when I took a moment to stop and realize that I was downtown Vancouver in a suit leaving an interview at a law firm I had to laugh. I had been in law school for three days when I submitted my applications and three weeks when I faced my first law interview.

While the process itself was stressful and time consuming (hence the advice of the CSO) I can honestly say that it has been an incredible experience for me in more way than one…

(1)  The interview process really helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel (though I am sure it will be a fantastic three year tunnel!) First year law is very challenging and involves a large adjustment for many students. As ominous as readings and memos and exams seem, all of the lawyers I met (a) survived law school and (b) were normal, happy and fun individuals.

(2)  I also discovered incredible support systems at Allard Hall in many unexpected places. Jenn Lau from the CSO gave me pragmatic and absolutely essential advice on everything from my resume format to ‘what not to wear’. My legal buddy educated me on interview style and helped me by eliminating the fear of the unknown. A few Vancouverites in my 1L small group absolutely overwhelmed me with encouragement, came suit shopping with me, conducted mock interviews and drove me around the city! While the process was intimidating, I had all of the help I could possibly need.

(3)  I met many amazing lawyers (read: real human beings) that I would never have been exposed to and learned a lot about the legal profession, even though most interviews were short and sweet.

(4)  1Ls have a slight advantage in that at UBC you sort of skip the OCI process and get to interview in a myriad of places such as cafeterias, hotels, Vancouver offices and Mahoney & Sons. That being said, I actually got to participate in a real OCI which removed the terror of the speed dating process for next year (thanks to a rogue law firm sneaking me into an unoccupied booth for 17 minutes)

(5)  I got to drink wine and eat cheese with my peers in a swanky downtown hotel (and was also given advice on how to do so by the CSO in ‘How to Wine and Cheese’)

(6)  I learned a lot about myself by looking at my resume from a stranger’s perspective and thinking about answers to questions like “Why did you decide to go to law school?” (And also… “If you were a cheese, what kind would you be?”)

Why my list could go on and on, this is law school and I heard that brevity is an asset. Despite all of the initial stress and anxiety I am glad that I participated in the 1L interview process although now I face the suspense of waiting for the clock to strike 4pm on Offer Call Day. The next fundamental step is that of ‘mutual selection’ and while this process was a fantastic experience I feel that it could be simplified for all years if we could only get our hands on a sorting hat.