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He Said; She Said; Impressions of 1L

12 He Said

He Said; Joshua Samac

Scott Turrow lied to me – words that circumnavigated the celestial sphere of my mind’s eye the other night as I restlessly tried to bring myself to slumber. I’ve heard that a running mind is common stance amongst those (un)lucky enough to call themselves 1Ls. Perhaps I’ll be the first to admit that, upon getting The Letter from Kim Wilson, I went straight to a friend (of Osgoode Hall) to borrow his texts with which I could spend the remainder of my summer getting ahead of my classmates. How misguided I was to think I would spend my summer reading a constitutional law text. The excitement waxed. Then it waned. Reality set in. Dreams of becoming a constitutional scholar before my first day fizzled. No such reading happened. It is barely happening now.

Once word got out that I’d be “going West young man” the floodgates opened and the unsolicited advice came pouring in. The rest of my summer would not be spent meticulously planning my next three years. It would be spent having one last drink before I go with everyone – thrice over. It would be spent hearing those older and wiser than I tell me how it is and how it ought to be. Still wondering who Scott Turrow is?

For those that haven’t read it, OneL is Scott Turrow’s account of his first year at Harvard Law (1977).  An enthralling biographical piece – a real page turner, as they say. Following some discussion, the book was passed to me with purpose from my mentor – a senior lawyer. I was told it would prepare me for the Carthaginian slaughterhouse I was about to walk into. Having been a OneL at Harvard Law in the 1970s, the author tells his readers of a cut-throat pressure cooker that at times brought many of his peers (himself included) to the brink of full-blown emotional melt downs while pushing the rest to cigarettes and alcohol – the lawyerly vices. Turrow depicts the ruthless onslaught by professors wielding the Socratic method on unassuming and forever ignorant OneLs. The peer competition was snide and at times downright nasty.  What have I gotten myself into?

I will admit, the first week of lectures I was mentally preparing for war.  Even before classes began, I confess good friends and esteemed peers, I was sizing up every last one of you. Posturing my competition. Though I must plea to you, reasonable third party, do not to hold it against me. In Hobbesian state of being, this is good sense no doubt. I confess, I was under the impression that law school was solitary and brutish. How quickly this impression died and how sweet was the embrace of realizing that law school was, at times, fun and collegial! I’d never heard of a professor that invited his students to hurl paper balls to the front of the class. I did not expect to find myself part of a community of Rugby players and fusballers. Indeed, the U of A Law has knocked me and my (queue mental hippie voice) “preconceived notions” on my ass. Scott Turrow, lied to me. Thank God.


12 She Said Danni Chu

She Said: Danni Chu

What was I expecting?

I daydream a lot, so I had a lot of expectations coming here: that the profs would be mean (no), that I’d spend all my free time in the library (if by library you mean Hudson’s…), that I’d die during the winter (TBD). But the thing I was worried most about was how to interact with my classmates. I was expecting competitiveness and solemnity — a class full of that guy. You know, the one from your undergrad class who thinks lectures are really just a forum for him to air his personal opinions, loudly scoffs when anyone else says anything, and uses words like ‘solemnity’. I was expecting everyone gunning for numero uno and willing to squash anyone to get there. I remember the weeks before law school, freaking out about whether I shouldn’t smile so much because I didn’t want people to think I was easy pickin’s (walk hard etc.). Instead, it feels like we’re one big team! And yea, you have the people that talk more in class; but people here actually know what they’re talking about, so they don’t suck when they do it. Plus, when they voluntarily talk, it means I don’t have to pretend to be really busy taking notes when the prof calls on people for answers.


What wasn’t I expecting?

I wasn’t expecting how many social events there’d be! I guess this ties back into my ‘I thought this place was gonna be a fun vacuum’ expectation. But I’m glad everyone goes out. Coming from physics at UToronto, it’s definitely refreshing. Their idea of socialization was that hour we debated the merits of using helium over hydrogen to cool our superconductors. Yea, it was a long hour.

Oh also, that you guys don’t f*ck around when pizza is advertised. There is literally more pizza than anyone can eat. Both the physics and philosophy departments at U of T were cheap, so I’m used to rationing. Kudos.


What do I love?

I could say all the cheesy things that idealistic first years usually say. How everybody I’ve met rocks, administering justice makes me feel boss etc. But an unexpectedly great thing is that I now have an entirely new subject area of puns to make. Better yet, not only do I now get to make obnoxiously lame jokes in a whole new arena of subject matter, but everyone else also seems to have an inclination, nay, a responsibility to each other to also employ legal concepts in dorky jokes. You know, a vicarious lolability.


What do I hate?

Um there’s not much. That super exclusive law secret library reading room gets pretty cold I guess, but other than that I’m pretty pleased with my decision of being here. Oh! That Josh Samac guy. His rugged good looks and devastatingly witty writing. Ugh!