Ultra Vires


First-years have got this

Nick Papageorge (1L)

We all know that U of T Law is a brick to the face. Or at least it used to be, back in September. Now, with exams just a couple weeks away, it’s fair to say that us 1Ls have ground that brick into a fine powder—and promptly snorted it at pub night.

We’ve got this. We’re way on top of it. More so than you can even imagine. Seriously.

For instance, I write all my notes by hand, and spent several hours poring over them during reading week. After the first couple days, I had typed up thousands of words, annotated nearly a hundred pages, and applied the content to dozens of practice exams. My only complaint was that I wish knew what my next assignment looked like so I could get a head start.

I certainly wasn’t alone. As I caught up with fellow 1Ls after reading week, they all shared the same experience. By the end, most found themselves with so little to do that they yearned to return to the classroom. “I think a reading weekend would’ve sufficed,” reported one student.

The ease with which everyone is grasping the material is palpable in every class. During a recent Constitutional Law lecture, one classmate commented to me about how smooth the Aboriginal law section had been. “I just find it so straightforward,” remarked the student, who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to act so smugly. “I kept finding myself thinking that these cases were almost too easy to follow. I found Tsilhqot’in to be the very picture of concision and clarity!”

The same is true in Criminal Law. When our professor announced that the exam would feature a quote identification section, nobody thought this an unnecessary curve-ball. Quite the contrary. “That’s like an early Christmas gift!” beamed one student. “I’ve been spending a lot of time recently just sitting alone in my room reciting cases to myself verbatim, so he’s practically giving me free marks.”

Sure, succeeding in the academic program may have been surprisingly effortless, but what about all those extracurriculars?

“The legal clinic work is probably more carefree than the classwork,” one friend told me the other day. “I just spent the last four years debating abstract political theory with other private school graduates from the GTA, so the transition to helping immigrant families with real-world legal issues was nearly seamless.”

And the fabled summer job stress? Nowhere to be seen—those upper years were wrong again. In my investigations for this article, I discussed this very topic with someone in my small group. Somewhat exasperated, she told me, “I just have so much experience in the legal field. Whittling down my resume has probably been the toughest thing I’ve had to do all year.” When I asked her how many applications she had already sent out, she seemed a bit taken aback. “Oh, I only sent out two or three before I received an offer. I just don’t know if it’s quite what I’m looking for.”

The only sentiment more prevalent than the simplicity of our experience so far is the one articulated to me by another colleague at the most recent pub night: “It’s all just such a breeze, it’s almost a perpetual vacation. I really can’t believe they aren’t charging us more for the privilege!”

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