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Practical Advice for Finals Preparation

Dylan Robertson (2L)

Congratulations! You have survived the memo, conquered your midterms, nailed your moot, and completely failed your parents by drinking multiple times a week. That can only mean one thing: you’re nearly done your first year of law! Unfortunately, there’s one last thing standing between you and summer: finals.

Never fear, because Canons is here. You may have noticed over the past few months that Taylor has been kind enough to proviEvil advicede practical advice for 1Ls, from legal research to moot preparation. The bad news is that he has other commitments this month. The good news is that I have graciously stepped in to take five minutes to provide you with all the advice you need to ace your finals. Together I am sure we can achieve that B- that your grandma and I both know you’re capable of.

Most, if not all, of your finals will include a large fact pattern in which you will be asked to identify issues and unpack obscure legal questions that you are 100% positive were not covered in the PowerPoint. It is crucial that you approach them with a method of attack. Fortunately, there is a tried and true method of acing law school finals, and I am generous enough to share it with you now (after all, you guys aren’t part of my curve).

The first step in any final is to read it over multiple times to ensure you identify every issue. This is obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forgo this step because they hear other people typing immediately and get unsettled. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.

Closely related is step two: find the silver bullet. It’s there, but obviously the professors make it hard to find. That’s how they get you. So, take your time and really dive into the scenario. You’ll find it, and your mark is going to be substantially better than Joey McTypingFastWillMakeEveryoneThinkIAmSmart’s as a result.

The next step is to craft your argument. This often requires you to bring in elements of multiple different cases. Even if you feel the facts behind each case aren’t applicable to one another, if there is an analysis that you believe is effective, use it. Professors are trying to see how well you can think outside the box. This is how they separate the students they actually care about and put on magazine covers from the rest of us nameless wannabes destined to become sole practitioners in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan.

Finally, crafting your silver bullet argument will likely take up most of your writing time, so the most effective use of your remaining time is to throw everything else at the wall. You’ve already shown that you know the law, but now you want to show you paid attention for everything. If you feel Popov v Hayashi has something valuable to say about incorporeal hereditaments, say it. And don’t be afraid to be wordy. If the SCC can be, why can’t you? After all, you’re going to be on that Bench one day; it’s best to learn how to be unnecessarily verbose now.

Just Use the LSA CAN

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that law school is tough. But I’m here to remind you to study smarter and not harder. It simply does not make sense to spread yourself too thin and attempt to create CANs from your own notes. You have five classes to study for, so think about it: instead of spending days compiling your own CAN and focusing on a single subject at a time, you can use the hard work that someone else already did to begin reviewing everything immediately.

Besides, it isn’t like the LSA takes the CANs from students who got Cs. Their CANs come from the best of the best, and you shouldn’t be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants; it’s much sturdier than your own homemade stilts.

Finals are Meaningless if You Have a Summer Job 

Are you one of the lucky – nay, talented – students that secured a summer job? If you are, that’s great! Employers took one look at your undergrad extracurriculars and part-time-jobs and thought, “well this is the future of our firm!” Throw away your books, because you don’t even have to worry about finals. The statistics show that most summer students are hired back for articling week, which means that your marks no longer matter. Lease your BMW and max out your student line of credit, ‘cause you made it, kiddo. Congrats on being better than everybody, and please put in a good word for me at your firm when I apply there for Articling Week.

If you think this is questionable, most practicing lawyers will tell you that what you learn in law school isn’t all that useful compared to what you learn in a firm. The firm is where you learn how to be a lawyer. You have been given a golden ticket, so why make things harder on yourself by caring about the next two years? Everyone else has to try to get good grades since they’re destined for the stress of the 2L recruit and Articling Week, but not you. You’re better than your peers and being better has its privileges.