Welcome class of 2021! Law school is a lot to take in- and very quickly. Two years ago, when I was in your (metaphorical) shoes, FOMO (fear of missing out) lingered over me due to the plethora of activities to choose from. So, to save you the mental anguish of FOMO when deciding how to spend your law school time, here is my attempt at providing you with a little insight, maybe even advice.
Student Legal Services (SLS)
First off, let’s be clear, you do not need to do SLS to get a job (summer job or articling position). Do SLS if it is the kind of thing you want to do. SLS does great work and can be very rewarding. SLS comes in a couple of different flavours, the two main types being Criminal and Civil. Both of these take up a lot of time and it is likely you will have to miss class to meet your SLS obligations. However, often overlooked are the smaller SLS projects (e.g. CCDC and ECLC), some of which require less time commitment or more predictable hours.
Verdict: If you are unsure, it is ok to avoid SLS. Wait until 2L, or consider signing up for a smaller SLS project. Remember: I cannot stress this enough, you do not need to do SLS to get a job.
People who do law show come away with some really strong friendships. Law Show showcases the amazing abilities, varied backgrounds and hobbies of law students. Even so, you don’t have to be able to sing, dance, or act well to be involved. Better yet, the money raised by Law Show goes to charity. However, the down side to Law Show is how much time it takes. Rehearsals really ramp up in the winter term and in the two weeks before the show. During this time, those involved can be clearly identified by their under-eye baggage.
Verdict: Law Show is a lot of fun. EMBRACE this law school tradition and your creative side. Get involved.
For most people, the goal of law school is to get a job. It is therefore understandable that students are anxious about anything job related. That being said, there is no rule that says you must do any one particular career event to get a job. If during the first few weeks of term you think that you don’t know enough or have the desire to go to a career lunch… simply don’t go. If you think that a wine and cheese night isn’t the best type of networking for you, then don’t do it. Likewise, if that sounds like the best thing ever, jump right in.
Verdict: Networking with lawyers and firms is useful, but do it in a way that works for you. Genuine comfort with networking is much more effective than trying to be someone you are not.
The LSA puts on a lot of awesome events throughout the year. They are fantastic! Some students go to all of the events. Others (including myself) are more selective. There is huge value in networking with your peers and the LSA events provide a great forum, but you do not need to go to each and every event. My personal favourite is the bonspiel (shout out to my curling team “Hey Curl”).
Verdict: Great events. Great prices. Go to the ones that interest you the most.
There are so many clubs to join. You cannot join them all. Pick things you really want to do, and don’t feel you have to sign-up straight away. You have three years of law school and there is so much to do already in first year.
Verdict: Pick two or three maximum to join.
Some final thoughts
The temptation of all first years (including myself) is to sign-up for too many things. And it is tough, because there are so many great opportunities. However, remember that you are primarily here to learn the law and don’t feel bad or selfish for prioritizing that. No one event or activity is the difference between success and failure, so pick the things you want to do and that you have time for.
And finally, the foundations exam. Literally do not worry about it. That being said, I was told not to worry about it, and I still had visions of me being the only student who failed foundations and lasted less than a month at law school. I didn’t fail, and neither will you, but this is something you will need to learn for yourself.