Ultra Vires


A Letter from the Editors


Aidan Campbell (3L) & Amani Rauff (3L)


“I can’t say I found it all distasteful,” opens a Faculty of Law Review article published thirty years ago last spring. It describes a deeply alienating law school experience of the late ‘80sone that left room for neither creativity nor basic humanity.


Not much seems to have changed.

The key insight of the piece is that law school is ultimately about teaching us how to behave. Particularly, how to behave in a way befitting the social position that our degree confers. This program is not, at its core, an intellectual endeavor, but finishing school.


Our chosen profession is innately conservative, hierarchical, deferential, and, above all, conformist. We are taught not just how to think like lawyers, but how to act like lawyers, and how to present information like lawyers. Dispassionate, even-handed.


Finishing school is not just for teaching proper behaviour, but for stamping out undesirable and improper habits. It is worth reflecting on who and what this profession seems to want to weed out. Too weird, too queer, too cultural. Just not a good “fit.”

In part, we do this to ourselves: the bulk of us are here for a very specific, vocational purpose. And there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. We live in a time of genuine scarcity. There is a crisis in the legal profession, from which most of us have the good fortune to be isolated. Even still, there are too many of us for the work that we’ve left ourselves. Any loose ends we leave untucked can seem like a liability. So we edit, or conceal, to the degree that we are able.


We think this paper is at its best when it highlights what we should never tamp down. To share that with each other. To give voice to the odder, funnier, whimsical, and more opinionated side of the student body.


Our goal is to let all the gnarls and wonky edges we sand down, or hide under stiff shirts, come bursting through. To take a break from hyper-rationality and to let people talk about and debate things they care about because they care about themnot just for the purpose of showing how carefully they’ve crafted their arguments or how far ahead in the casebook they’ve read.


Our paper will soldier on in the grand UV tradition of reporting on matters of tuition (it’s going up!), financial aid (it’s not going up nearly as fast!), mental health (it’s inadequately accommodated, both by the faculty and by the profession as a whole!), and all the other issues that will surely crop up, from the gravest of concerns to the pettiest of gripes. We will continue to facilitate these discussions, and to solicit and publish as many different and conflicting voices as possible.


We will, of course, continue to tell you terrible (and increasingly bizarre) jokes. And we are excited to fulfill our self-appointed duty of publishing scathing critiques of corrupt, appalling institutions like Law Follies and the Promise Auction.


We want to provide a platform for discussion of the role of the Faculty of Law and the legal profession in upholding the structures that make up our legal system and society. When we graduate, those of us who decide to pursue legal careers will play roles in shaping the legal system, whether actively or passively, whether purposely or not. Law school provides an opportunity to start thinking about the extent to which we want to be responsible for perpetuating the system as it exists now.

Finally, we hope that you’ll join in. A student newspaper is nothing without students. Pitch an article to us, contribute your ideas, writing, illustrations, photographyjust send us an email at editor@ultravires.ca or talk to any of our divine editors.



Aidan & Amani

Editor’s Note: the Faculty of Law Review piece mentioned is: Kerry Wilkins, “The Person You’re Supposed To Become”: The Politics of the Law School Experience, 45 U. Toronto Fac. L. Rev. 98 1987.

Recent Stories