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The Canons Ultimate Guide to 1L

Hey, hi, hello, how are ya! No one asked, but we 2Ls answered: every single thing you should know as a 1L coming into the U of A. Flip through the issue below or click here to view the exclusive (!) Canons Ultimate Guide to 1L. <3

1L Handbook

 

My Hometown’s (Supposed) Experience with Satanism

Dylan Robertson (3L)

My hometown is a small city in Saskatchewan called Martensville. Calling it a city is something of a misnomer in my eyes, because aside from that title there isn’t anything separating it from the hundred other sleepy Prairie towns that dot the province. This includes the fact that, like any small town, Martensville has a secret that residents do not like to discuss. Unfortunately for residents, however, our secret is well known, as demonstrated by the repeated response I received during Articling Week last June when I told people where I am from: “Oh, I’ve heard of Martensville, but not for a reason you probably want to discuss.”

I am always interested in talking about that reason because it is one of the most abnormal, ridiculous, and ultimately tragic scandals to ever occur in Canada. Between 1988 and 1992, nearly 30 children came forth with accusations that they had been sexually assaulted while being cared for at a daycare run out of the home of Ron and Linda Sterling, two local residents with close ties to the municipal police force. Each child was between the ages of two and 12 when the improper conduct was said to have occurred. The initial complaints focused on the couple’s adult son, Travis, but quickly expanded their focus to include accusations of improper conduct from not only Ron and Linda, but other members of the household as well as members of the police. In total, more than a dozen people were charged with crimes related to the supposed events, yet in the end, only one person—Travis—was ultimately found guilty (R v Sterling, 1995 CanLII 4037 (SKCA)). One other person had their conviction overturned at appeal (R v TS, 1995 CanLII 3957 (SKCA)), while everyone else were either found not guilty or had their charges stayed.

What is notable about this case is not the crimes that were committed (and which are genuinely tragic), but the accusations of conduct that were found to be false. For a brief period, the sexual abuse was believed to be the actions of a Satanic cult—known as the Brotherhood of the Ram—which had infiltrated the community and that had used the daycare as a front to access children for ritualistic abuse. This cult supposedly included the Sterlings as well as members of three different police forces. Several children spoke of being tied up, thrown in the back of a police cruiser, and taken outside of town to a place known as the “Devil Church,” which several children identified as a blue shed. Here, they were subjected to horrific abuse, including being locked in cages, being stripped naked and placed in freezers, being sexually penetrated with an axe handle, and having their blood taken for use in Satanic rituals. Although these allegations seem unbelievable today, they gained significant credibility after a local pilot identified a shed six kilometres outside of town that investigators felt corroborated with the children’s stories. The allegations of Satanic cults became so great that the entire town was put on notice. Police who had been cleared of ties to the cult were told to be on the lookout for the high priestess, who was identifiable by a scarab beetle tattoo on her wrist. On April 24, 1992, police were told to bring their own guns and prepare for a Satanic invasion of the town and a potential human sacrifice, which obviously never occurred. Ultimately, in fact, no evidence of a Satanic cult or ritual abuse was ever found, and the hysteria died out as quickly as it had arrived.

So what exactly led to the escalation of the allegations? One key factor was that Martensville was far from the only community to be home to allegations of Satanic ritual abuse. In the decade prior, fears of clandestine cults abusing children were a common conspiracy throughout the Western world; Martensville—at the time a highly religious community—simply proved susceptible to such rumours. Another factor—and the one which allowed the allegations of Satanism to enter the conversation in the first place—was that the children were interviewed in a manner which encouraged them to generate stories that affirmed the suspicions of the investigators handling the case. The cops that handled the case completely botched the interviews with the children, as they were found to have consistently asked them leading questions and provided rewards for “correct” answers that aligned with their narrative. There is no better example of this than the stories surrounding the Devil’s Church. At trial, it was discovered that the reason so many children had corroborated the story of the blue shed as the site of ritual abuse was because they had been shown photos of it. It was this improper interviewing of the children—the only evidence that backed up many of the allegations—which led to the Crown dropping its case against most of the accused.

Following the scandal, many of the wrongly confused justifiably sought compensation from the police and government. In 2002, John Popowich, a former constable with the Saskatoon Police Service who had been charged with sexually assaulting a child a gunpoint, received a settlement of $1.3 million dollars from the Justice Department. The next year, Ron and Linda Sterling received the same amount in an out-of-court settlement. A decade of subsequent litigation, doubled with the humiliation the town feels for being the epicentre of such a scandal, continues to ensure that it is a story that no one in the town likes to openly talk about; I myself thought it was a schoolyard rumour until I was in high school. But it was a real case, and the community rightfully should feel embarrassed for allowing a botched investigation to inspire moral panic and ruin the lives of so many innocent people.

Toomba’s Tunes – October

Tunahan Uygun (3L)

 What up everybody it’s your boy Tunahan, aka Tuna, aka El Jefe, aka Toomba & I’d like to cordially welcome you to my monthly music column Toomba’s Tunes. For any of you who know me, you know I’ve always got something bumping through my headphones & I thought I’d share some of the music that I am listening to, inspired by & grooving to. Let’s get down to business. I am hoping the structure of this column will include a review of a new album every month, a new music roundup, wack track of the month, live show of the month, my Put it on Pre-order suggestion and Toomba’s Throwback Jam. Now that that’s settled, let’s get this proverbial bread.

Album of the Month: Norman F*****g Rothwell by Lana Del Rey

Though I am mostly known as someone who enjoys hip hop (this is true), I have a special spot in my musical heart for jams that’ll get me in my sadbag. Of the last decade, few have been as swift with the sadbag as the one and only Lana Del Rey. The first time I started spinning her latest album, Norman F*****g Rothwell, the first notes suggested a potential shift in direction for Lana. Though she hits a lot the classic beats that drew us in years ago, Lana’s growth as an artist is hitting a new peak here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an album with themes about less-than-stellar men and romanticized ideas of love and sadness, but her approach to these themes comes from a more mature place. It’s a welcome path for what her music may sound like moving forward. Personally, I love this album. The instrumentation and production breathes the cover art and lyrics to life, while Lana’s voice is as angelic as ever. Rothwell is, in my opinion, Lana’s most impressive display of song-writing to date. There are definitely some stand-out tracks for me including “F*** it I love you” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it” but the best song of the album easily goes to “Mariners Apartment Complex.” Hot take: I think this is Lana’s best song ever. Just look at this lyricism, “You took my sadness out of context, At the Mariners Apartment Complex, I ain’t no candle in the wind, I’m the board the lightning the thunder, Kind of girl who’s gonna make you wonder, Who you are & who you’ve been.” Where them tissues at? 4 out of 5 stars.

New Music Roundup 

I’m gonna be honest with y’all, I have not been doing nearly enough due diligence on keeping up with new music this month. Was it the wave of events, responsibilities and appearances in September? No. Was it me going back to Igor, The Lost Boy and Bandana? Yes. What can I say? This summer produced some top-notch albums. That being said, I was able to catch up on some of what September had to offer. JPEGMAFIA came out with his sophomore album last week titled All My Heroes Are Cornballs, and although I haven’t given it the share of spins it deserves, I can say that it is an energetic follow-up to last year’s Veteran. There’s a radical uniqueness to JPEGMAFIA that sounds like a fusion of Lil Uzi Vert and Death Grips. If you’ve never listened to him before, and that doesn’t make you give him a chance, then I really don’t know what to say to you. Another album that came out this month was the soundtrack to the Netflix series Top Boy. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Top Boy is a follow-up to the BBC show Top Boy Summer House that follows the lives of London drug dealers in their climb to become “Top Boy” of the mandem. The soundtrack is a collection of songs from a variety of English rappers, and the two standout tracks for me are “Riding on E” by Nafe Smallz and “My Town” by Baka Not Nice featuring Giggs. Though I thoroughly enjoyed both the show and its soundtrack, it wasn’t without its flaws.

Wack Track of the Month – Behind Barz by Drake

I should’ve noted earlier that Top Boy is executive produced by Drake & Future which is very cool. Drake continuing to bite the sound of London rappers — to the point that he raps an entire song with a fake accent — is not very cool. Sorry Drizzy, but “Got all the tea and I’m hottin it up” just ain’t it.

Live Show of the Month – YBN Cordae

Last Thursday young rap superstar (yeah I said superstar) paid Edmonton’s Union Hall a visit, and I went to see if the prowess he showed on The Lost Boy translated live. It did. Coming off of one of the best debut albums in years, Cordae meant business, diving right into his set covering which included most of The Lost Boy, a couple of standout tracks from YBN: The Mixtape and a remixed rendition of “My Name Is.” Even though he is only 21, he had the crowd eating out of his palm all night: the way a veteran performer aspires to. He displayed the charisma of a platinum rapper, maintained his energy and breath control to the point that the set never felt laboured, and showed everyone in the audience why many, including myself, think Cordae is the future of hip hop. Cordae came through with one of the most fun live shows I’ve been to in years, and I’m excited to see what he does next.

Put it on Pre-Order – Jesus is King by Kanye West (release date: TBD) 

I want to put Danny Brown’s uknowhwatimsayin¿ as the Put it on Pre-Order album of the month. Danny Brown doesn’t do things like say the release date of his album is a certain day and then fail to follow through on the album. Danny Brown doesn’t do things like say he has an album coming out in a couple of weeks and then delay it a year. But alas, Danny Brown is not Kanye West. I’ve got my clown makeup ready to apply as I wait patiently for Yeezy’s much anticipated gospel album, Jesus is King. Is it going to be a full gospel album? Is it going to be gospelized renditions of his greatest hits à la Kim Kardashian’s Instagram stories? Is it ever going to actually come out? I don’t have answers to these questions. All I know is that Yeezus has us all waiting with bated breath for his next artistic endeavour like no other artist can. Who knows? Maybe by the time you’re reading this edition of Canons, Jesus is King may have been released.

Toomba’s Throwback Jam  – “Thriller” by Michael Jackson

It’s October, so that means one thing… we are officially in Spooky Szn. For me, nothing sounds quite like October like Halloween jams & the King of Pop is the King of the Scares with this 1984 classic. “Thriller” is the soundtrack to mini chocolate bars, scary movies about possessed houses, and overcrowded Halloween parties with people butchering MJ’s iconic dance. While you’re already there, I’d recommend exploring the rest of the Thriller album and listening to some it’s classics like, “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and “Human Nature.”

Courageous 3L Decides to Tough it Out and Complete Law School

Dylan Robertson (3L)

   After a long summer of conversations with classmates about her lack of motivation and interest in the legal profession, a 3L has made the inspirational decision to stay in law school and finish her degree, because she only has one year left. The 3L in question – who asked to remain anonymous – offered to share her courageous story with Canons in the hopes that it would help provide comfort to the handful of incoming students who are also asking themselves that important, age-old question: do I really want to do this, or am I only here because I’m too dumb to be a doctor?

“I’ve never really been sure that law is right for me,” the 3L was quoted as saying last Monday at Spencer’s exclusive pre-Pre-O event, N. “When I got here in 1L, I told myself, ‘okay, it’s just a year, so try it out.’ Then I decided to stay last year because all the upper years said 2L is when you actually learn interesting stuff. Now I’m a year away from graduation, so I might as well just tough it out and finish, right? It’s just a few thousand dollars extra in student loans and another year of self-doubt, anyway.”

A major factor in her decision to continue on is the fabled reputation of 3LOL, the phenomenon where the stress of studies magically becomes lighter in the face of indefinite 14-hour workdays. She expressed her relief that school was about to become a lot less like The Paper Chase and more like Legally Blonde. “I don’t know if I would be doing this if literally everyone hadn’t told me it gets easier at this point,” she said. “All my friends are really looking forward to this year after the grind that was 2L and Articling Week… though they all got hired, now that I think of it.”

 Is the 3L confident in her decision? According to her, yes. “Even if I still have no clue why I’m here, have yet to discover an iota of passion for the law, and my top Google prediction is ‘what happens to my student loan debt if I just leave one day and never come back,’ I’ll at least have a piece of paper that says the past three years weren’t a waste, right?”

 When asked about her future post-graduation, the 3L expressed her optimism that the skills she has gained with her degree will help create plenty of opportunities, although she could not pinpoint one that she felt particularly motivated towards. She also admitted that, despite a lack of clear job leads or an area of law that intrigues her, a career in law is ultimately not out of the question. “It will have taken me 60K to get this degree, so I suppose I should at least try to use it. Besides, getting an article is going to be the only way I can pay it all off, so I’m kind of stuck.”

Edmonton is Not the Worst

Robynne Thompson (2L)

 So, you’ve moved to Edmonton. Or maybe you’re from here. Either way, you may be feeling a bit disappointed about living in Alberta’s capital, especially given the recent decisions made in our Legislature. But that’s the subject for another article…

 It might be true that Edmonton’s best moments are during the summer. Folk Fest, Fringe Fest, Heritage Fest, and all the other fests make summer in Edmonton great. Except for Taste of Edmonton. Don’t even get me started on that one (why is it SO expensive?!). But, I’d like to make a case for Edmonton year round. Just hear me out. And keep in mind this article was written by a Chinook-loving Calgarian forced to move Edmonton for the sake of education. In case the Calgary-Edmonton rivalry is new to you, what I’m saying is that it takes a lot for me to like Edmonton. Though it might be hard to see on the surface, this city is actually a really great place to live. And you, too, can fall in love with Edmonton.

 10 reasons why Edmonton is not the worst:

 1.     The River Valley: The longest stretch of continuous urban parkland in North America and one of the first reasons I fell in love with Edmonton. Though it doesn’t replace hikes in the mountains, there are so many trails and pathways to explore.

2.     Edmonton is home to one of Canada’s best patisseries:Duchess Bake Shop is my life. Every moment of everyday I’m thinking about when I can go there next. Just trust me and everyone else and go there.

3.     Edmonton’s mural game is on point:For the past three years Edmonton has hosted Rust Magic, a street mural festival. It features local and international artists. Personally, I’ll be checking out Jill Stanton’s work and I’ll probably get Duchess on the way. Edmonton’s art scene is actually pretty cool, and the murals are but one iteration. This isn’t particularly surprising as Brutalism architecture does make a great canvas for street art.

4.     Edmonton has great coffee:Steve’s Hello My Friend Café has to be top of the list – especially because no one can cheer you up like Steve when you’ve just failed your Property final. For other spots, check out Transcend and Rogue Wave.

5.     You get to complain about the weather and no one will roll their eyes at you:Yes, it gets cold, but this just means you get to pretend you’re tough and hearty! And yes, Vancouverites, 6 months of rain doesn’t sound great (*eye roll*) but at least it’s not -40.

6.     The Iceways At Victoria Park and Rundle Park:The perfect places to practice your moves when you join Swift Justice and “know how to skate” but you really don’t know how to skate.

7.     Edmonton is full of interesting people:Whether it’s the Mad Hatter – Lucien Facciotti -on the train or your 94-year-old neighbour who has a whole lot of stories, there is always someone interesting to talk to.

8.     Whyte Ave is cool, and 124thStreet is cooler: Whyte Ave pretty much has it all when it comes to restaurants, shopping, and night life – it’s always exciting. If you prefer a slower pace, 124thStreet is lined with art galleries, unique shops, and great restaurants. It’s Whyte Ave’s quieter cousin.

9.     There plenty of ways to be involved: Edmonton has a reputation of being…“Deadmonton.” but that just means there are plenty of ways to get in involved the Community. And that. Is how. You pivot. You can join plenty of organizations and people working to make Edmonton a safe and inclusive place to live.

10.   At least it’s not Calgary: Edmonton has less traffic, shorter commutes, and slightly better transit service.

 Whether you’re transferring after one year, here for three, or you’re a lifer, Edmonton is not the worst. Edmonton is what you make it. Though you might not have a ton of free time to explore the city, it’s worth getting out of the law building every once in a while – even if it’s cold outside.

 

Tortes and Torts: Eating Green with Anita Nowinka

Robynne Thompson (2L)

 Tortes and Torts. Food and law school. The article I thought I would stop writing in 2L but can’t think of anything else to write about.

 The end of summer, that bittersweet time where I’m actually excited to go back to school but I know two days in I’ll be wishing I was still working for the weekend. In an effort to make the most of my summer experience, I’ve been trying to capitalize on the abundance of summer fruits. In my youth, I spent many a summer day ‘stealing’ summer fruits from my neighbours’ tree branches that encroached into alleyways (yes, I’ve always been this cool).

 Now that I’m an adult, I feel a slight tinge of guilt from taking fruit that isn’t technically mine. Luckily, Edmonton has a solution. A few years ago, the city launched an online map that lists all the fruit trees maintained by the city (check it out at: https://data.edmonton.ca/Environmental-Services/Edible-Fruit-Trees/h4ti-be2n– you can also just Google it, just avoid the deprecated version). The map has obvious benefits for food security (free fruit!), but also plays a role in reducing all the other environmental costs of harvesting, transporting, packaging, selling, and buying fruits.

 Since launching the map I’ve found a fantastic sour cherry tree that has produced many pies, jams, and liqueurs. My secret Saskatoon berry patch (NOT a euphemism) isn’t on the map but there are plenty of other designated spots to pick Saskatoons. The map also features a variety of chokecherries, apples, pears, plums and crabapples. Perfect for fruit wine, Moina Rose-style.

 In the spirit of celebrating food security and environmental stewardship, I asked the Anita Nowinka – President of the Environmental Law Students’ Association (ELSA) – about some challenges in environmental law and for some tips on how to reduce our environmental impact on law students.

 Although there are a lot of scientific, political, social, and technological challenges intersecting with environmental law, Anita sees the biggest challenge as psychological, “the public and political will to implement [technological solution] is continually lacking. Our biggest challenge is no longer awareness of the issue – it’s acknowledgment and acceptance that this awareness makes it imperative that we change our behaviour. And change is scary, but I hope I can share some ways that can make it seem simple and inexpensive!”

 What can we do as law students? Getting involved with ELSA is a great start – check them out on Facebook. But there are plenty of little things that can make a big impact, like taking public transit. When it comes getting your caffeine fix, “caffeine is basically a necessity for most of us, disposable coffee cups don’t need to be – bring your own reusable mug to school and most places will even give you a discount” (including Steve’s). One of my biggest struggles last year was dealing with the vast amount of paper required for notes and CANs. Anita advises to sell or donate CANs and coursepacks.

 Anita also says that the most sustainable product is the one you don’t buy. I’ll definitely be applying this advice to textbooks. In all seriousness, it’s useful to take stock and “consider whether you don’t already have it in your possession (like stacks of random pens in your junk drawers) or whether you can’t upcycle something to avoid another purchase (like using the mason jar your pasta sauce comes in as a repurposed, trendy salad container).”

 When it comes to food, Anita recommends reducing your environmental impact by cutting back on meat and dairy consumption. And it also benefits your wallet. Using reusable produce and grocery bags, buying fresh rather than packed foods, and bringing your own take-out containers and cutlery also have a huge impact. But, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about making little changes that add up, “any one of these things can make an impact, so don’t ever feel like it’s all or nothing! I once read a quote that captures it best – ‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly.’”

 So, why not pick some of your own fruit. You’ll just need to bring your own bucket. Sour cherry and Saskatoon berry season might be over, but the pear and plum trees should be ready to harvest in September. If you do partake in some urban harvesting, the city asks that you don’t damage the trees and that you assume all legal responsibility for knowing what you’re picking and eating. As far as my research goes this disclaimer hasn’t been tested in court…yet. And, if anyone has any pull with the city, can you ask them to plant some haskaps?

 In the meantime, I’ll be over here enjoying a sour cream cherry pie waiting for the pears to ripen.

A Background to the Hong Kong Protests

Dylan Robertson (3L)

    Since June, the city of Hong Kong has been paralyzed by protests and clashes between pro-democracy citizens and the Hong Kong Police. What originally started out as opposition to a proposed law which would have allowed for the extradition of citizens and foreign nationals to the Chinese mainland has blossomed into a wider movement that is seeking significant political reform, including the implementation of universal suffrage and the resignation of the current Beijing-loyal Chief Executive.

With the recent increase in violence against protestors by the police and Beijing-aligned Triads, increasingly hostile rhetoric from Beijing, and constant fears of intervention by the Chinese military, it is impossible to predict what the situation may be when this article is printed. I will not attempt to do so. What I will try to do is provide a bit of background into the relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing. These protests are not the expression of a new sentiment, or the creation of foreign interference. They are but the latest in a decades-long struggle by the people of Hong Kong to oppose the erosion of their constitutionally guaranteed rights and to protect their distinct way-of-life from interference by the mainland government.

On July 1, 1997, the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China in accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration. That document was signed in 1984 when it became clear that the UK would be unable to extend its lease on the New Territories, which comprise 86% of Hong Kong’s total area. In that document, the PRC agreed to allow Hong Kong to continue its capitalist system and way-of-life until 2047. This pledge is also included in the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which enshrines in Chinese law that Hong Kong is to, among other things, be granted a high degree of autonomy in domestic affairs and maintain its common law legal system (including individual freedoms not seen anywhere else in the PRC). The unfortunate reality in Hong Kong, however, is that the mainland government has never respected this pledge, and, alongside the pro-Beijing city government, has continuously attempted to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy. A 2014 white paper from the mainland government summed up its stance on the matter perfectly: Hong Kong’s autonomy is granted to it by Beijing, and it is not absolute.

To their credit, Hong Kongers have been quick to stand up for their rights and place pressure on the government to respect the “one country, two systems” principle. In 2003, over 1.5 million people protested a proposed anti-subversion law that would have had a severe negative effect on freedom of the press and freedom of association; the law was withdrawn. The same occurred in 2012 when the Education Bureau proposed a new curriculum that would emphasize “moral and national education” (meaning pro-Beijing and anti-democratic teachings). Unfortunately, as Hong Kong’s economic importance within the PRC shrinks relative to cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen, so too has Beijing’s willingness to concede to protestors. No example demonstrates this better than the Occupy Central movement.

Article 45 of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong is to have universal suffrage, but there have been disagreements between Beijing and pro-democracy Hong Kongers over what this entails. In 2014, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee decided that all candidates for Chief Executive would have to be vetted and approved by a Beijing-organized committee, which many felt were an attempt to deny Hong Kong genuine democracy and ensure its subservience to Beijing. In response, thousands of protestors – mainly students – launched a civil disobedience campaign in support of full democracy. Despite lasting over two months, the protests ultimately did not result in any political concessions from the government and led to an increase in hostility from Beijing towards the protestors that can be seen today. In many aspects, the protests today are a direct continuation of what was started in 2014; the latest in what is often referred to as the Umbrella Revolution.

Despite the rhetoric, at risk in this conflict is not just Hong Kong’s economic prosperity. It is the distinct society that Hong Kongers have developed over 177 years of cultural and political separation from mainland China. Today, Hong Kong is a vibrant city that is proud of its distinctiveness and the values which underpin its way-of-life. It is the continued erosion of what makes the city “Hong Kong” instead of “Xianggang” that fuels the current protests.  Make no mistake, Hong Kong is not a sovereign entity. Its place is within the PRC. But where exactly that place is remains up for debate, and if Hong Kongers do not speak up now in support of what they were promised they might soon find they no longer have a voice.

Ten Survival Tips for Incoming Law Students

Taylor Maxston (3L)

advice#1 – Put Your Past Behind You and Focus on the Road Ahead

While there was a brief stint in your life when the LSAT was the center of the universe, the subject will seldom (if ever) come up in law school and your career pursuits. Take pride in all the hard work it took to get here, but also realize that everyone starts on virtually equal footing when they arrive and the steps you take from here on out will define you.

#2 – Don’t Miss Out! Get Involved in Your Community 

With the huge variety of activities at the Faculty of Law, there is truly a niche for every type of student. Student Legal Services provides an opportunity for first-year students to volunteer and assist the low-income community of Edmonton. Law Show allows students to come together and put their efforts towards a final dramatic production. These are two of the many options, so don’t waste the opportunity to get to know the people around you. Your peers will end up being your professional colleagues when all is said and done.

#3 – Organizational Skills and Sustainable Study Habits Pay Dividends

Simply put, you will have a lot to manage in law school. It is like a full time job in many ways, especially as it pertains to the time commitment. Attending class, going over notes, preparing outlines, attending study groups, and doing assigned readings takes time. To avoid missing deadlines and any unnecessary stress, disciplined students will keep track of their schedule on an external source (such as a Day Planner or Google Calendar) and maintain consistent study habits. Remember, success in the Faculty of Law is about organization, not necessarily memorization.

#4 – Keep an Eye for Networking and Career Opportunities

Career services is an immensely helpful resource that can help make the path to entering the legal profession clearer. Make it a priority to speak with them and generate a roadmap for how to approach finding a job while in law school.

If you don’t have any strong connections to the legal community that you want to work in, Career Day and other major networking events will help you get your foot in the door. The Canadian Bar Association also has a number of sections to give you immediate access to practitioners and exposure to a wide number of areas of law.

#5 – Reading is Important, but Spend Your Time Wisely

There is a reason why professors emphasize the importance of keeping up with the reading schedule. A good chunk of your time outside of class will be spent scanning through case law and legislation, materials which will be foreign for most incoming students. An understanding of those materials is extremely beneficial for following lectures and responding to questions, but don’t waste your time creating detailed briefs for everything you cover. As you develop the skills to read legal writing throughout the semester, you will become much more efficient at knowing what you need to do to prepare.

#6 – CANs are Supplements, Not Replacements

The wide availability of condensed annotated notes (CANs) makes them an easy temptation for first-year students who are looking to find their footing in a new environment. That being said, how you use these handy summaries can mean the difference between success and failure. In the end, bet on yourself and do not rely too heavily on other people’s CANs to comprehend the course material.

#7 – If Available, Study Groups Can Help With Flexible Thinking

Not everyone studies effectively in groups. However, there are a number of benefits to being part of a group of hard-working and reliable classmates. With so many areas of law being complex, bouncing ideas off of each other can help to make you a flexible thinker and answer questions that you may have before the exam. Personally, I find that studying individually to grasp the course material before group studying is extremely productive.

#8 – Don’t Wait Too Late to Start Outlining Your Courses

You want to be focussing on understanding the law and each class’s bigger picture as your exams near, not synthesizing the course material. If you have been following along and keeping detailed notes from lectures, you can avoid the mad dash to create your own CAN at the end of each semester.

#9 – Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others

On the surface, law school seems to be a breeding ground for competition. There are small classes, grading is curved, and the legal profession is certainly adversarial in many respects. You will frequently overhear discussions about your peers’ experiences, from the ease of understanding today’s readings to how much work they are doing outside of the classroom.

There is a natural inclination to think you are “not doing law school right” from what you see and hear amongst your peers. The reality is that everyone has their own way of preparing for class and being successful. So long as you are not neglecting your studies by, say, not coming to lectures whatsoever, trust in your work ethic and be confident in what you are doing.

#10 -  The Importance of Work-Life Balance Cannot be Understated

Being a successful law student requires dedication, but it is as important to avoid being too obsessive as being too nonchalant. Your mental health is important and ensuring that you have a life outside of law will keep you on the right track. Take breaks, hang out with friends, go to the gym… find those outlets to mitigate the stress of law school.

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.

My Thoughts on Leaving Neverland

Dylan Robertson (2L)

When Leaving Neverland was first announced, I was dismissive of it. Like many fans of Michael Jackson, I considered the jury’s verdict in People v Jackson to be the final word regarding the child molestation accusations which haunted the singer in the final two decades of his life. My first impression of the documentary was similar to those many of Jackson’s fans have always held towards his accusers: it was nothing more than yet another attempt to capitalize off of the doubt surrounding his true innocence. Nevertheless, as its release drew closer, I committed myself to watching it, partly based upon the controversy of its release, and partly because I felt that it remained my obligation as a fan.

After watching Leaving Neverland, I believe that Michael Jackson was a child molester.

That’s not a conclusion I came to lightly. Michael Jackson’s music has been a major part of my adult life. I still remember where I was when I found out that he passed away. I know the lyrics to every song on Bad, and I’ve listened to Disc 2 of HIStory on repeat enough times that I can tell you how many songs it takes for me to drive from my apartment in Edmonton to my parents’ house in Saskatchewan. To say that I loved his music would be an understatement, but the key word there is loved. Leaving Neverland has led me to reconsider my relationship with his music.

Created by Dan Reed, Leaving Neverland depicts the stories of two men – Wade Robson and James Safechuck – who claim to have experienced emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of Michael Jackson. Starting from when they both met Jackson as young children, the two men recollect in disturbing detail how Jackson lured the boys and their families into a false relationship built on trust and love, and how Jackson ultimately used that trust to manipulate the boys into committing horrifying sexual acts with him. Their stories are not for the faint of heart and are some of the most disgusting descriptions of sexual assault I have ever heard. The documentary also goes into depth regarding the men’s individual roads to recovery, and the effects their experiences continue to have on them nearly three decades after.

Leaving Neverland is not a good documentary from a technical standpoint. It’s admittedly one-sided in its approach, and its four-hour runtime is hard to sit through. But it is a story that arguably cannot be told by a technically sound documentary. The documentary isn’t so much interested in creating an engaging film as it is using the medium to present an uncomfortable and harsh reality. Its power and persuasiveness originate in its thoroughness, its believability in the uncomfortable vulnerability of its two main subjects. It is difficult to watch this film, and that is by design; it is only through recollecting every single disgusting detail and arduous step towards recovery that these two men might hope to convince doubters of the authenticity of their accusations. It no doubt took a lot out of Robson and Safechuck to expose their deepest secrets to the public in such a naked fashion, but the result is that for many, including myself, it is impossible to see Michael Jackson in the same light ever again. He’s no longer just a generational musical prodigy, or the source of some of the most meaningful songs in the soundtrack of my life. He was a sick man, who used his wealth, fame, and power to insert himself into the lives of children and alienate them from their families so he could trap them in perverse sexual relationships. Leaving Neverland is definitely one-sided in its discussion, but that discussion is open, humiliating, disturbing, honest, and ultimately, believable.

I was upset after finishing Leaving Neverland, and I will admit it was for selfish reasons. I was frustrated that the documentary forced me to re-assess the pedestal upon which I placed Michael Jackson as an artist, and reconsider the time I spent as an ardent defender of his innocence (even as recent as last week, I found myself casting doubt upon the allegations in the film despite not having seen it at that point).  I was angry that, despite my best attempts to rationalize a distinction, I now found it impossible to separate the singer from the predator.

But that’s not possible.

To allow someone like Michael Jackson or Bill Cosby the luxury of separating their professional accomplishments from their personal lives in order to let a part of their legacy continue to exist untarnished is wrong. They are inextricably linked because they used the former to allow them to commit atrocities in the latter. Men like Michael Jackson don’t deserve the privilege of having their legacy live on as if somehow the emotion I have received from their work paints over the fact that they used those same feelings in someone else to violate them. And, yes, while I may have lost something important to me as a result of this documentary, the response to its release has the opportunity to change the way people think about sexual assault and can help grant comfort and credibility to other survivors who feel ashamed of their own stories. That’s more important than my nostalgia.