How to Get Away with Financial Crimes

Norm Yallen (2L)

This is a student’s record of a dark chapter of U of T Law History. The author’s name has been kept anonymous for obvious reasons.

When I saw “Criminal Financial Intensive” on a poster in the alley behind the Jackman Law Building, I immediately was drawn in. I had always been a big fan of Bernie Madoff and that guy from The Wolf of Wall Street. I thought this seemed like a good opportunity to dive into the world of stealing people’s money by using long and confusing words like “derivative” and “asset.” I was not put off by the course time at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, or the fact that it weirdly wasn’t on E.Legal. The sign in the alley said it would be worth 2.32 credits and that sounded official enough to me. Plus, it was pass/fail, which beat working hard for a P.

The first day I got to the class, there were only a few people that I had never seen before. The professor walked in and introduced himself to us as “Mr. S.” He told us that we were going to learn about practical application of the law, not the theoretical principles that this law school often gets bogged down in. By the end of that first class, we were shredding documents and falsifying information. I raised my hand and asked the professor if this was all kosher, legally speaking. He explained, “I’m a lawyer, and lawyers can’t do anything illegal,” which sounded right to me.

When I went the next week, there were a lot more documents to shred and even more to falsify. Mr. S would not tell us any of the legal theory behind our practical application, which bothered me because I am at this law school in part to get broad legal knowledge. There were so many assignments and they were never graded so I had no feedback on how I was progressing in the course. With Add/Drop quickly approaching, I made the difficult decision to drop the Criminal Financial Intensive. It was taking up too much of my time and taking away from my extra-curricular activities like Ultra Vires. It was also taking away time from Business Organizations, which I need to give me a clear foundation of business law and a lifetime of memories.

I dropped the class and thought nothing of it until, a few weeks later, I saw something about how a “criminal syndicate was operating out of the law school.” Apparently, the students were in legal trouble. It probably would have been helpful to have Mr. S there to defend them, since he was an expert on the law and financial crimes. Unfortunately, he was on an extended vacation to somewhere without an extradition treaty with Canada. As for me, I am trying to move forward to a career in the corporate law world. With the knowledge I have gained in Business Organizations and the Criminal Financial Intensive, I have a feeling I will go a long way.