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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.

Tortes and Torts: Doughnuts and Me

Robynne Thompson (1L)

Tortes and Torts. Interviews + Food. This month, I set out with same intention as every other month – to interview someone and eat good food. However, due to unforeseen circumstances (read: laziness) and impending exams (read: procrastination), I failed to organize an interview in time for the very strict Canons deadline. It’s a busy time of year, okay! I did my best.

So, instead of getting much needed advice from 2L and 3L students, I decided to write a makeshift love letter to my beloved column. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t initially intend to join Canons. It just happened. Some might call it an accident. I’d call it fate.

At the beginning of the year, back when I still thought that everyone on a club’s mailing list would actually attend the meetings, I wandered into the first Canons meeting of the year. To my September eyes, the room seemed relatively empty. To my April eyes, it was a great turnout. I grabbed the FREE LUNCH THAT IS PROVIDED AT EVERY MONTHLY CANONS MEETING and took a seat in the back.

The meeting commenced and can only be described as exactly what you’d expect of a bustling newsroom. People were shouting out ideas, whiteboard markers were in a frenzy to write them all down. In a fit of intimidation, I exclaimed “what about food?” All eyes were on me, “like…er…a food review.” The idea was forever cemented on the whiteboard: ‘Food Review.’

How could I get so caught up in the rush of the excitement? What had I done? Little did I know I had just made one of best decisions I would in law school (tied with joining Swift Justice).

From that point on, month after month, I interviewed students and shared some delicious food. Poutine, ramen, chai and bagels, take-out, burgers, pub food, and now, doughnuts. This article took me out of the law school space and reminded me that I am actually a human, not just a robot law student. It showed me that 2Ls and 3Ls had been through all of the 1L challenges and kept going – and that I could too. Even if the stresses of summer jobs, midterms, readings, jobs, moots, more jobs, finals, get a corporate law job, etc made me question why I even wanted to come to law school in the first place. To be real for a moment, it was actually more like an existential crisis coupled with several episodes of uncontrollable crying which is not an okay situation – mental health is important friends, so, thank you to all the people working to make this better for all of us. And corporate law jobs are not the only thing I can do with my law degree (or so I’ve heard).

Getting back on track…a huge thank you every 2L and 3L who had to put up with unprofessional interviews and my off-putting personality: Dylan Robertson, Tunahan Uygun, Bri Walsh, Sarah McFadyen, Hailey Boutin, and Neil Coghlan and Alec McIlwraith-Black. Thank you for your time, advice, and sharing some food with me.

Most importantly, since I started writing this column, I’ve wanted to document some of the delicious offerings at SUB’s Farmer’s Market. It’s open every Thursday from 10-2pm on the main floor of SUB. April 4th was its last day for this semester. But don’t fret, it will be back next year.

One of my favourite places for dessert in Edmonton is Doughnut Party. Luckily, they have a stall at the market that they share with their sister doughnut procurer, Moonshine Doughnuts. Doughnut Party doughnuts are probably vegan (depending on the flavours). Moonshine doughnuts are definitely vegan and have a gluten-free option. At their market location you have to buy a box six (so rough, I know). You could share them with a friend or 5. Or, as I do, eat them all by yourself cause you’re an adult and no one can judge you (keep in mind that they are significantly better day-of so you’re really going to have to go for it).

If you can’t wait until September for a Doughnut Party in your mouth, you can head to their storefront location at 119 St. and 109 Ave. For Moonshine, go to Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market.

It is with sweet sorrow / doughnuts, that I part with my beloved monthly column. She has served me well. What I thought would be 750 painful words that would force to interact with other humans against my will has turned out be an amazing excuse to meet some incredible people and eat some tasty food. Tortes and Torts, you helped me get through 1L. And I hope it helped you in some small way too, dear reader (aka my mom – cause I’m pretty sure she’s the only one that reads these).

Tortes and Torts: Sherlock’s with the 2018 Dean’s Cup Winners

Robynne Thompson (1L)

 Tortes and Torts: Where a tired 1L stress eats while asking upper year students for help. (I’ve been trying to come up with a new tag line. I think this is my most accurate iteration thus far.)

 This month I faced the stresses of the 1L moot with some good ol’ fashioned pub food at the Sherlock Holmes Pub. My undergrad is in Anthropology and Art History which involved very few presentations so I’m not overly experienced with public speaking. Writing about people and art also encourages making use of the bounties of the English language…so yeah, LRW is a challenge for me. Luckily, Neil Coghlan and Alec McIlwraith-Black, winners of the 2018 Dean’s Cup, gave me some tips on moot preparation, teamwork, and the judges.

 Issue 1: Turning a (kind of boring) factum into an engaging oral argument

 Neil suggests breaking the factum down into overarching themes and the start practicing in order to refine the elements of each argument. Neil and Alec credit a lot of their success to “playing up the sympathetic aspects of the case” and creating a compelling narrative.

 Neil adds that using more emotive language than in the factum can help create enough emotion to convince the judges while still focusing on the substance of the arguments; “no judge wants to be read to.” At least not by me. Although I will do different voices for different characters if my audience is under the age of seven.

 Alec recommends developing a one-page outline with bullet points during the process of practicing. With enough practice, you should know the details of each point. The outline helps you stay on track and narrow in on what you should be talking about.

 Issue 2: Teamwork makes the dream work

 When it comes to pinpointing the reason for their success at the Dean’s Cup, Neil and Alec look to each other. Neil said Alec carried the team. Alec said Neil did. And, after hearing a few horror stories of moot partnerships gone wrong, it was a beautiful exchange to witness.

 Not only did Neil and Alec reap the benefits of their partnership, they both noted the important role of the opposing council. Practicing with the opposing side provides a chance to give each other questions and work through the arguments. The practice of answering questions helps determine any gaps in logic and what arguments will be most effective.

 Sub Issue A: Letting down my teammate (Alternative heading: I’m sorry, Chelsea)

 Neil reassured me, “as long as you’re willing to commit to getting better and putting in time,” that’s sure to be appreciated by your teammate. Alec adds that being on the same page in terms of amount of practice also saves friendships and moots.

 Issue 3: Confronting questions from the judges

 Responding on the fly seems to be one of the most nerve-wracking and intimidating aspects of the moot. But our Dean’s Cup winners have got us covered.

 For Alec, adjusting your attitude is key, “the biggest piece of advice that I really took to heart last year is to relish the opportunity to be challenged. Get into a mindset where you’re not afraid to be challenged because it’s your chance to prove how much you know.” Neil also noted that it’s important to have a back-up if you don’t get any questions – just something you can talk about for a few minutes.

 Sub issue A: Showing my knowledge when I don’t know much

 1L moot judges are volunteers. Out of the kindness of their hearts, or perhaps for a love of seeing 1Ls sweat, they are approaching this moot issue with different areas of expertise. They may know a lot about s. 12, or they may not. Ultimately, as Alec notes, it’s an “opportunity to discuss an interesting point of law with someone who is also interested in it.” And that’s actually pretty cool.

 So, even if you’re feeling panicked that a judge will ask you some extremely specific question about s. 12 (that I can’t even hypothetically posit because that’s how little I know), take solace in the fact that these are complicated issues that even Supreme Court judges disagree about. Besides, judges are more afraid of you than you are of them. (Disclaimer: neither Neil or Alec expressly stated nor directly or indirectly implied that this is the case. But it’s probably true.)

 Sub issue B. On not getting frazzled after a question

 Neil suggests keeping your answers narrow so you can maintain your place in your general outline. Not going off on tangents is clearly going to be difficult for me. And if you really don’t know the answer? Try to stumble your way through it. But if the question is getting too broad, Neil recommends saying ‘this is beyond the scope of what we’re considering’ rather than ‘I don’t know.’

 Neil points out the this is a new process for virtually everyone in 1L and it’s naturally nerve-wracking. But it could also be fun. Mooting is “engaging and challenging compared to papers and tests. It’s a new experience and embodies advocacy…and that’s exciting if you let it be.”

 In conclusion…Was this article point first? No. Am I good at legal writing? Definitely not. But hey, at least I structured this article with three clear points, right? In fact, I was so busy focussing on the structure that I *almost* forgot about the main reason I write these things: to eat, think, and write about food.

 Sherlock’s will always have a special place in my heart. A 20% discount for law students, beer and cider, and a stellar menu of classic pub foods. Really, what could be better than tater tots topped with gravy, bacon, and mushrooms? (described by Neil as “what you’d expect. It’s good in an I-know-I’ll-feel-terrible-later way.” Sounds perfect.) Treat your moot partner to some discounted comfort food at Sherlock’s.

The Story of Violet Henry King

Dylan Robertson (2L)

The University of Alberta Faculty of Law has had some highly notable and important graduates in its century-long existence. Distinguished students such as Beverley McLachlin and Peter Lougheed have graduated from this Faculty and gone on to help shape Canada as we know it. However, one graduate who isn’t mentioned nearly as often as she should be is Violet King Henry, the first black woman to graduate from the Faculty of Law and the first black woman lawyer in Canada. In honour of Black History Month, Canons would like to take a look back at the extraordinary life, career, and accomplishments of one of the Faculty of Law’s most important graduates.

Ms King was born in 1929 in Calgary to a pair of first-generation immigrants from Oklahoma. Her family managed to immigrate to Canada in 1911 despite racist attitudes from both the public and the federal government which, despite launching a major campaign to attract American farmers to the West, limited African American immigration to less than 2,000 people that year. From an early age, it was clear that Ms King was incredibly smart, as she excelled in academics and became a talented piano player. She knew that she wanted to study law as early as high school, with her graduating yearbook caption stating that she wished to pursue a career as a criminal lawyer.

Ms King started her education at the University of Alberta in 1948. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1952 and her LLB the following year, becoming the first black woman to graduate law school in Alberta. During her time as a student, she became highly involved in several important student groups, and ultimately served as the Vice-President of the University of Alberta Students’ Union and as the Union’s representative to the National Federation of Canadian University Students. Her graduation is even more notable when one considers that she was one of three female law students who entered the program, and the only one to graduate.

After articling with a criminal lawyer from Calgary by the name of Edward McCormick, Ms King was called to the Alberta Bar in 1954. By doing so, she became the first black female lawyer in Canada and the first black lawyer in Alberta. Her accomplishment was considered groundbreaking, and it received international attention from groups in Canada and the United States, with representatives from the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids – an important African American labour union that played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement – travelling to Calgary to honour her. To put her accomplishment in context, it took ten years for the Bar to admit its second black lawyer.

Ms King’s story does not stop with her graduation, as she ultimately had a career which would make nearly anyone jealous. After working at the criminal law firm of AM Harradence (now a former Alberta Court of Appeal judge) for a handful of years, she took a senior level position in Ottawa with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. This move seemingly marked the end of her legal career, as she became a non-practicing member of the Law Society of Alberta in 1956.

In 1963, she left Canada for the United States to take on an executive role for the YMCA in Newark, through which she became notable for connecting unemployed African Americans with employment opportunities. Over the next few years, she would change cities and positions, ultimately becoming the first woman to be appointed to a senior executive position in the national American YMCA in 1976. During her time living in the United States, she married Godfrey Henry and gave birth to her only child, Jo-Anne Henry.

Despite battling racism and prejudices throughout her life, Ms King made few comments on racism that survive today. In 1955, while serving as a guest speaker at a sorority banquet in Calgary, she remarked that “it is too bad that a Japanese, Chinese, or coloured girl has to outshine others to secure a position” and expressed hope that one day society would place a greater focus on one’s ability instead of their race or gender.

Ms King passed away from cancer in 1982 at the age of 52, leaving behind an incredible legacy for law students both here in Alberta and across Canada. Through her hard work and dedication, she helped dismantle the colour and gender barriers of the legal profession in this province, setting the stage for many students after her to become successful in their own right. Although she remains relatively unknown today compared to several other noteworthy graduates of this law school, Ms King rightfully deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments and contributions to this school.

Review: Law Show 2019

Karey Rodgers (3L)

This year’s Law Show, Neverlaw: The Peter Pan Story, continued the trend of transforming our childhood movies into law-themed theatrical productions. All the basic elements of a typical Law Show production were there, but I can confidently say this year was a stand-out—probably one of the best yet, although I admittedly have only seen two other performances. In this review, based on the performance from February 2, 2019, I will go over some of what was really great about the show, and then things will get a bit introspective as I reflect on what Law Show really says about us, as students.

The Good Stuff

The story was about what you would expect: Peter Pan is a runaway articling student hiding out from the stress and responsibilities of the real world. In order to keep his dream-world running (or maybe just because she was hot), Peter lures Wendy, Michelle, and John, three law students struggling to balance work, stress, and their sleep schedules, to the island of Neverlaw (somewhere on the North Saskatchewan).

In Neverlaw, you get to live all the best parts of Law School every day. A Ski Trip that never ends. A campus pub (the Living Tree) that never closes. Low budget, five-hour long Law Show productions that we wish had explosions. The island itself is a “land without laws” which apparently makes zoning a bit of a mess, but mostly just seems to result in discourteous pushing and shoving by the “Lawst Ones”. Of course, no place is every truly without law. In addition to the lawyer-captains from Hook & Associates LLP sailing around the island in the Flying DutchMens Rea, the local mob boss, Crock E. Dile, proves that you can never truly escape the laws of money and power (and without law, no one will stop loan-crocodiles from eating you one appendage at a time if you don’t pay up). In the end, Peter and the Lawst Ones realise that a life of endless partying is not as fulfilling as achieving their goals, and they return to the real world to give articling another shot.

One of the first things I noticed was the sound: the music is always impressive, but this year clearly brought the production a deep well of musical talent. This talent was showcased with an interlude performance featuring drums, electric guitar, and a duel between a violin and an electric cello. The singers were also noticeably more polished this year, indicating not only to the raw talent of the individuals but also the sheer amount of work and practice that must have gone in to getting everyone singing together, on time, and in key.

The performances by the dancers and actors were also great. In particular, Captains Hook and Sparrow stood out. Hook, as the villain, really carried the show, while Sparrow managed to steal every scene he was in.

The most successful elements of the production were often the most simple: law puns and a consistent character. Sometimes student productions tell jokes that are kinda funny, but delivered in such a way that makes listening to them tortuous. Neverlaw had a little of that, but the writing this year really shined when the jokes were easy. Look, putting Taylor Thiessen in an elephant onesie and getting him to squeak out, “there’s nothing… estopping us!” is really all you need to do.

I also really appreciated the way the writers built up the rivalry between Pan and Hook. What begins as a backstory transforms to a roast as the Lawst Ones trade burns with Hook & Associates LLP, and later culminates in an action-packed trial-by-combat in front of Judge Arianna Grande—I mean, Ariel—between Pan and Hook (another brilliant moment was when Captain Hook takes out his trusty sword, Estoppel, only to be told, “but estoppel can only be used as a shield!”. That’s two estoppel puns in one night!). The story didn’t feel like it was dragging on but managed to stay exciting and fun from start to finish, so good job writers.

As an aside, Law Show within a Law Show was great and I would love to see more of Litigator 2: Judgement Enforcement Day.

The Subconscious Anxieties of a Law Student, Writ Large on the Law Show Stage

This year’s production felt like it occurred within the same universe of 2017’s Alice in Wonderlaw. In that older production, Alice faced the dark side of law school partying and the pressure that students can feel to keep up with the excessive drinking. Now, two years later, Law Show gives us a new hero, this time struggling to let go of the “fun parts” of law school and face the challenges of articling.

A recurring theme of Neverlaw is the push and pull between the demands of the profession and basic human needs like sleep. The characters inhabit two extremes: take all the classes, join all the clubs, learn all the laws, or do absolutely nothing. There is no middle. And in the end, none of the characters found that middle either. As Hook is chased off stage by the Croc, Wendy proudly announces that she will continue her high-achieving ways (even though the stress makes her sort of unbearable to be around) and John promises that from now on, he will be a hard-working student too (good luck, kid). The end message seemed to be: yeah it’s hard, but working yourself to an early grave will be worth it because… reasons?

Maybe I just wanted to be told a fairy tale about the possibility of a “work-life balance”, but such a concept was seemingly too far-fetched even for this universe. There, perhaps as here, if you aren’t giving it everything you’ve got, you’d might as well be doing nothing. It would be nice to see the writers push back against that ideology a bit more in future productions, but then again, as law students, are we really in a position to critique the articling process, or is Law Show just an expression of our worst fears? In 2017, the critique of the culture was much clearer, but even then the moral of the story was party less, study more, only this time instead of an evil-LSA president, our worst enemies are ourselves. Oof.