Ultra Vires


Why You Don’t Have To Take Biz Org (Or Any Course You Don’t Want To Take)

Another plea to get you to be the lawyer you said you’d be on your personal statement

This year I didn’t take Business Organizations (or “Biz Org” as the cool kids call it) [Ed: actually “Bus Org”]. It was a pretty simple decision; I had to pick 8 or 9 classes out of a list of at least 100, and along with 92+ other classes, Biz Org just didn’t make the cut. But unlike the other classes I opted not to take, a lot of people were concerned that I wasn’t taking Biz Org and tried to convince me otherwise. My friends. My acquaintances. Someone I barely knew after asking me, “What are the Biz Org readings for tomorrow?”

At first, I didn’t mind the Biz Org evangelism. In fact, I found it nice that people were so concerned with my academic and professional future. But then it got annoying, fast. The pressure to do corporate law is already immense at this school, and having my peers constantly tell me that Biz Org held the secrets of the universe only aggravated this problem.

Since this was so frustrating, I wanted to go through some reasons why you actually don’t have to take Biz Org (or any elective you don’t want to take). As an obvious caveat, there’s nothing wrong with Biz Org, and if you are interested in it you should take it. This article is for those of you who aren’t interested in corporate law, but want to do OCIs “just in case”; those of you who think you need to fill up your course selection with as many classes that have the words “secure” “tax” and “corporate” in them to get a 2L summer job. If you are feeling this kind of pressure I want you to know the following:

1. Biz Org costs almost $4000.

If you are a 2L student for the 2013-2014 school year who opts to take 28 credits next year, each 2L credit will cost you $980 (not including fees). This means that every 4-credit course you don’t want to take sets you back $3920. Since you probably won’t opt to leave law school and blow that money on lavish vacations, might as well put it towards subjects you are actually interested in learning about. Again, if you love corporations and securities, that’s awesome! I hope you make partner and become my best friend so I can mooch off your wealth. But if your interests lie elsewhere, then spend that substantial chunk of change on what you want to take.

2. There isn’t an area of law that’s more important than others

A common reason why I was told to take corporate classes was because they were really “important”. While I am admittedly not the sharpest tool in the shed, I am aware of the fact that corporations are a huge part of our society, and that corporate law intersects with a lot of other areas of law. But all areas of law are “important” for this precise reason. There’s no area of law that lives in its own discrete bubble, and we wouldn’t waste time regulating an area that wasn’t important to our society. 70% of the Earth is water, yet there isn’t a similar pressure to take the Faculty’s course on admiralty law. If Biz Org truly does rise above the rest in importance, the Faculty will make it mandatory. As of now, it isn’t, so its importance lies in the eye of the beholder.

3. You can learn the law later if you do actually need it

Let’s pretend that 10 years from now, you come to realize your true love is securities and you seek to move from the public sector to Bay Street. You know what you will never say after this realization? “Thank God, I know all the 2013 laws on business organizations and securities! I really dodged a bullet now…. in 2023!” Considering that most people don’t remember what they ate for breakfast 3 days ago, the idea that one should take courses in case they’re needed in the future is silly. You won’t remember these courses at all in a few years. Even if you did, there’s a high chance that the laws will have changed by the time you actually want to tap into what you learned in law school. You go to law school to hone your thinking skills; the substantive law is just a bonus. So hone those skills in areas that you are currently passionate about.

4.Being on the bar is not a good enough reason to take a course

Yes Biz Org is on the bar. But the bar is one test. Do you really want to use your law school experience as an overpriced prep course? If you have extra space on your timetable, and you are indifferent to what you want to fill it with, might as well make your time studying for the bar a bit easier. But if there are a host of classes you are interested in, worry about the bar when it comes.

5. You should get the most out of your law school experience

As is quite well known, you can easily get through law school by relying on other peoples’ notes and summaries and learning enough from those summaries to churn out a passable exam. But wouldn’t you rather want to do the readings, and actually enjoy learning? Sure, you’ll probably still get a B (or whatever they call a B these days). And sure it will suck that you put in a lot more work for the same grade.  But at least you’ll have learnt something. At least you’ll know about the law in a meaningful and reflective way.

I mentioned before that you are paying a lot of money to be here. But more importantly, you are spending a lot of time here. Spend these years getting an education that you want to get. Learn something in a class that sticks with you after the exam is over. Hone your critical thinking skills. Be excited when someone raises his or her hand in class, rather than getting mad. Hell, go ahead and raise your hand in class. Don’t just spend this time counting down the hours till Thursday night.

The semester before I started law school, I met a lawyer who was a recent graduate of UofT who worked in refugee law. When I told her I was going to UofT, and asked for her advice, she told me something I will never forget: she said that this law school was a conveyor belt to Bay Street; if you don’t consciously make an effort to take yourself off the belt, you wind up there. From my time here, I’ve noticed that this conveyor belt isn’t being powered by the professors, the administration, or the CDO. If anything, they are actively trying to turn the belt off. The Bay Street pressure is a pressure we place on each other. We’ve made up these myths that the only jobs are OCI jobs, that Bay Street is the best place for those who “want to keep their options open”, and that if we don’t have a 2L of corporate-related classes, we won’t find jobs. But none of that is true. I did the November process with a semester of nothing but public law courses, and not a single interviewer blinked at my choices. Why? Because I was interviewing for jobs in the public sector.

So please, just take whatever you want and make the most out of your time in law school. As cheesy and as clichéd as it is, take the classes you actually planned on taking and become the lawyer you said you’d be on your personal statement.

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