The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Brett Hughes (3L)

Dear first-year students, it’s the time of year you were warned about during orientation week, when your happiness hits the minus 1-2 range en route to minus 5 happiness units. Usually this comes as a shock to law students, but forewarned is forearmed. You had advance warning that exams are less fun than summer. You knew December wouldn’t be all puppies and yoga and muffins and intramural sports. Oh wait.

1L Happiness Index

Why is it, exactly, that law students are such buzzkills over these well-meaning initiatives?

I think the answer is the same as ever—these exam-time de-stressors are seen by many as merely a fig-leaf relative to the many larger issues at the school. For example, in a recent letter to U of T Law alumni, Dean Iacobucci euphemistically wrote that “Pressures on tuition will not abate,” signalling that it will continue to rise well past next year’s $35,000 mark. Those darned pressures on tuition. (We have it on good authority that one of the largest pressures is none other than the author of said letter, one Ed Iacobucci—Dean and highest-paid faculty member at U of T Law.)

Doggies days are nice, but they can only do so much in the face of $100,000+ debt loads, 100% final exams, grading on a curve, a competitive job market, and being surrounded by Type A overachievers.

So what does one do? Study off campus. Make time to relax, watch Netflix, see friends, etc. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your upper-year mentors and friends for summaries, maps, and advice, or to take a look at drafts of your papers. Also ask your classmates for help when you have questions, and offer help. Rely on and be kind to each other. Relationships matter, and you will do far more for these by helping than by withholding information in an attempt to protect your position on a curve.

Some students need more than just moral support. If you need accommodations, or think you might, ask. Don’t feel bad. Despite the admin’s dislike for granting accommodations, you’re not getting an advantage over others—you’re getting a level playing field. Consider approaching U of T’s Health and Wellness Centre, or going to the Assistant Dean’s office in Falconer. Ask the Students’ Law Society (SLS) Equity Officers, Adam Wheeler and Madeeha Hashmi, if you need help navigating the accommodation process.


This is, of course, also our annual recruitment issue. We owe a huge thank you to our Special Features Editor, Simon Cameron, for poring through the survey responses and other data sources to highlight some of the most interesting findings. Thank you as well to Alex Wong for her fantastic cover image.

Ultra Vires doesn’t publish again until January. However, if you feel inspired to write something timely during this exam season, let us know and we will post it on our website.

Otherwise, best of luck with exams, and we’ll see you in the new year!