Point – It’s All Downhill From Here
Alex Carmona (3L)
Law students are good at many things. Reading, arguing, eating free pizza. Probably some other stuff. But what we’re best at, as a group, is being stressed the fuck out. You, dear 3L reader, know this better than most. You’ve already spent two whole years at our wonderful school and have gone through the veritable gauntlet of stressful hurdles that make up the lower Ls. You’ve been cold-called during a class you forgot to read for. You’ve muddled your way through your first set of 100% finals. You’ve been a part of the ripe pit of despair that is the Reading Room in December and April—four times. You’ve sweat your way through OCIs, Call Day, In-Firms, Offer Day. Maybe you had to do it all over again during the Articling Recruit.
But now, finally, thankfully, you know where you’ll be headed after graduation. You’ve got the job, signed the papers and made a little “First day of articling!” note in iCal. So, bearing all of that in mind, I’m here to say: Relax. You’ve earned it.
The 3L year is, in my opinion, a precious gift that shouldn’t be squandered in the Reading Room. It’s one of those rare school years where, in the vast majority of cases, our grades don’t matter. Now, that’s not to say my #3LOL philosophy advocates for phoning it in entirely—if you’re at U of T Law, it probably means you’re both mentally and physically incapable of truly not giving a shit about your grades. And, somewhat importantly, we’re paying over thirty grand to be here, so it would be monumentally wasteful to just check out altogether.
So here’s my pitch: ease up on the gas a little. Spend some more time doing what you love (and if that includes sitting in Birge reading hundreds of pages of case law, uh, you do you). Corny as it may sound (and is), spend your 3L year focusing on things that actually do make you laugh out loud. If that costs you a couple of Ps, so be it. After all, come articling, performance evaluations will start to dominate our lives—why not take advantage of this magical year where all we’re really expected to do is “not screw up too badly?”
That’s to say nothing of the fact that half of our year are off having wild European, Asian and South American adventures (at least, according to Facebook and Snapchat) while the less globetrotting half of us grimly watch Toronto not so slowly get greyer, windier, and oh so much colder. They’re off playing with elephants in some magical world where every class is pass/fail—I personally think that earns those of us who stayed some license to sleep in, skip some class or see how many consecutive Call to the Bar pub nights one can hit in a row (my current streak as of writing this article: far too many).
I don’t think its hyperbole to say that for most of us, life wont’ be this relaxed for a long, long time. Sure, crushing it this year might appeal mightily to the grade-hungry monster lurking deep in the soul of pretty much every U of T law student but there will be plenty of time to get back to basing our self-worth on opaque, capricious and sometimes utterly arbitrary performance distinctions. Except when that time comes, those distinctions will come with fun new additions like “long-term career consequences” and “real-world consequences.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but that’s enough to make me cherish the last bit of safety-net left before we enter the real world—and enough to get me to make some damn use of it.
Counterpoint – Don’t Waste Your Money
Lisana Nithiananthan (3L)
Dear Class of 2016,
Alex is right. Law students are great at many things. Reading, writing…lawyering. We’re great at finding events where there’s free food. We excel at impassioned outcries. Whether it is protesting the lack of tablespace for exams or demonstrating our dissatisfaction with SLS initiatives.
Now, there was a time, long ago, the Years of Law School Past, where we weren’t so great at things. Gasp. I know it’s hard to remember, but if you dig deep, deep, into your mind, you’ll recall the repressed memories of your time in that depraved land. You’ll remember wondering if the Reading Room’s fluorescent lighting was a good substitute for the sun. You’ll remember having wise Upper Years tell you that academic success isn’t the most important thing, and you telling yourself the very same, as a mantra, all the while having a breakdown. You’ll remember the panic you felt while attending CDO info sessions about OCIs. Speaking of, remember OCIs? Call Day? You’ve done it. You’ve overcome all these “little” trials and tribulations, and the accompanying stress and mental torment to finally get to this divine place.
Welcome to 3L, I think you’ll enjoy your time here.
3L is a precious gift that shouldn’t be squandered. It’s the last time we’ll be among so many great minds, so many inspiring souls, and such diverse perspectives. So why waste it? Go to class. Do your readings. Participate. Engage with the content. Voice your disagreement. Turn the lecture into a debate. Broaden your mind.
At this point in your legal education, you’re likely taking courses that interest you, so why not milk the it for what it’s worth? Your grades likely don’t matter anymore. You’re finally at a place in your life where you can learn for learning’s sake. You have an articling job lined up. You’ve made connections. You’re set for life after law school. And even if that isn’t the case, you go to U of T Law, that’ll open doors for you (or so I’m consistently told… but even if that isn’t the case, you go to U of T Law, you’ll figure it out, you’ll be fine!).
3Ls, you’re paying $33,054.86 for tuition, and because money is always an indicator of value, that’s an extremely worthwhile education. So why not educate yourself while you still can! You don’t have to stress about it. It’s all essentially second nature to you, so it’s not like you’re doing any more additional work. It’s the same amount of work you’ve been doing, maybe even less, JUST MINUS THE STRESS.
Yeah, okay, fine, Alex is right, our jet-setting classmates are having a good time. I’ll concede that point. But that’s not to say you can’t either. There’s a reason you didn’t go on exchange. And it wasn’t to sleep in or skip class. So, wake up, go to class, but then you have all this 3L time to do all these cool things that Toronto has to offer. No I was not paid by the City of Toronto for this. Yes, I would graciously accept payment for this. Do something that you can look back on in a few years, and say, yeah I did that in 3L. Go join a club. There’s plenty of them out there. Sign up for commitments. Volunteer your time. Invest yourself in things that you didn’t have the chance to do in the prior Ls. You finally have the time, opportunity, and frame of mind to go HAM.
Don’t ease up on yourself. Live 3L to your fullest potential. I know that 3LOL is supposed to mean no responsibilities and no readings. But try to resist the very tempting lure of the #3LOL life. You can do it. I believe in you.