Brett Hughes (3L)
Welcome back to school, and to the third-last issue of Ultra Vires for the year! There remain only two and a half weeks until Reading Week, and only two months until winter classes are over. My advice to everyone is: try to be intentional about how you spend the rest of the school year. It goes by quickly and it is easy to get caught up in thinking that each and every one of the barrage of events and opportunities that present themselves is somehow essential to your academic and professional success. (Seriously: over 100 first-years attempted to sign up for the first-year trial advocacy program in the first two minutes.)
As a former Ultra Vires editor put it in a different context, law school is a choose your own adventure novel. There is no single right way to do law school; there aren’t even three or four or five right ways to do law school. It is clichéd but true: there are as many paths to success as there are students at this school. Your path can be built on extracurriculars, prior work experience, academic experience, grades, clinic work, journals, advocacy, research, and any mixture of the above. Yes, you need to “Do Things,” as David Pardy tells us on page 10, but you don’t need to do the same things as everyone else. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.
First-year students seem to be treating the first-year Bay Street recruitment process with the same intensity that second-years treat the annual fall recruit. While it is a useful opportunity to update one’s resume and practice writing cover letters, it bears repeating that this process is not the be all and end all of first-year summer jobs. First and foremost, numerically, only 13 non-JD-MBA students—i.e. actual first-years—obtained jobs through this process last year. That means approximately 195 of you won’t get first-year Bay Street jobs. And that’s a good thing.
For many students, first-year summer is the last “real” summer that you have, so why rush into those 12 to 14-hour work days on Bay Street? Work as a research assistant for a professor, a caseworker at a legal clinic, an intern for a legal organisation, a summer student for the government, or something else. There are plenty of opportunities out there, and they will keep popping up for a long time, even through the start of summer. You’ll have more reasonable work hours and the chance to spend time with friends, explore the city, read, catch up on TV shows and movies, see shows, and just enjoy summer. Plus, when you are applying for jobs in second year, or the articling recruit, you will have so much more perspective about what interests you and doesn’t interest you. This will allow you and to make more informed decisions about where you work, and do better in your applications and interviews because it will be apparent if you know what you want to do and why.
What’s been happening on campus lately? Well we have not one, but two whole editions of everyone’s favourite Ultra Vires feature: Faculty Affairs. At the November Faculty Council meeting, Dean Iacobucci, to his credit, devoted a second consecutive meeting to the issue of financial aid and tuition at the law school. We gained a partial picture of the socioeconomic status of students at the law school with the release of parental income data from students who apply for financial aid. We also learned a little about the central University’s budget plans for the coming years (more international students!). My main comment would be that this should just be the start of the conversation rather than the end (Dean Iacobucci indicated that he viewed the partial release of parental income data as bringing this conversation to a close.) At the January Faculty Council meeting, we learned about the school’s preliminary thinking about how to do experiential learning the “U of T way.” Apparently this involves using the case method.
Finally, I am very excited about our collaboration with the International Human Rights Program’s Rights Review. We look forward to working with IHRP to share important, timely content on international human rights issues and the work of the IHRP in print and online going forward.