Monday, October 31, 2005

Work in Bermuda

A newspaper in Bermuda published an article yesterday about getting a Canadian law degree and going to Bermuda to work. I remember our tax professor in England spoke of lawyers who work in Bermuda and spend all their time registering companies to take advantage of tax shelter laws. Apparently, if you sit on the Board of Directors for about 40 companies and manage their records, then you can earn a decent living. The article seems to buttress the notion as actually viable.
Upon qualification with a [Canadian] provincial law society, a person is eligible to be admitted as a barrister and attorney in Bermuda.
Like Bermuda, the legal system in most Canadian provinces is based on the English common law. The exception is Quebec, which has a civil law system.
If anyone is actually planning on pursuing this option, I would love to read your thoughts.

New USSC Nominee: Alito

It's official: the latest nominee is a white man from New England who loves baseball. Just great. Chalk another one up for the good ol' boyz club. I haven't heard much about him yet, but it looks like Bush is trying to appeal to his Conservative base. In other words: anti-abortion, anti-civil rights and "hostile to immigrants".

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Chinese rank world universities

I stumbled across a website that has nothing to do with law but I thought I'd share it anyhow. A university in Shanghai has ranked the universities of the world and posted their findings. Harvard is first, Cambridge second, and good ol' Queen's is about 164th. Within Canada, they claim that Queen's is ranked 6th to 8th. For comparison, McLean's recently ranked Queen's at 5th in the Medical Doctoral category.

I think this ranking says more about the Chinese researchers than about the universities. For example, it seems to reaffirm a US-centric view of "the best" in the world. Of the top 20 schools, 17 are American. To me, that's ridiculous. The University of California - San Diego, while a fine school, does not rank above Tokyo University ("Todai" in Japan), Australian National University or UofT (ranked 24th) by using any set of criteria. Except, perhaps, tuition. :)

Even more curious, the researchers place Beijing/Peking University, generally regarded as the best university in China, at a distant 230th. Is the purpose of their findings just to give Chinese university administrators a kick in the butt? It seems like a curious but meaningless ranking system.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Coffee, Lotteries & Miers

When I was getting coffee this morning the women behind the counter were talking about the $54M lottery payout. They each had tickets and, of course, they didn't win. The winner is in Camrose, Alberta - a cute town in the middle of bright yellow canola fields.

Besides setting a record sum for this lottery, I'm amazed at how many people actually bought a ticket. According to CTV, two-thirds of all adult Canadians bought in. Wow. If only we could get people so excited about voting!
In other news, the infamous lawyer from Texas, Harriet Miers, has withdrawn her nomination to the US Supreme Court. A sports website mocks:
Harriet Miers has withdrawn her Supreme Court nomination after George Bush found out she doesn’t drive the Weinermobile.
The reason I mention it is because over the last while, emails about Ms. Miers have been circulating over the law school's listserv. I think it's great that students are so interested in the US Supreme Court but I have to wonder: is there as much interest about the Supreme Court of Canada? For example, how many of us are following what's going on with Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and the six candidates that will replace Justice Major?

Recently, a group went to visit the SCC and met with Justice Rosie Abella. At one point she questioned if law school students, on average, know more about the US Supreme Court than the SCC. I think it's a valid point. With almost complete certainly, Canadian students know more about the USSC than American students know about the SCC. So why is the highest court in our land so neglected? ... Maybe we need a juicy scandal. What's the chance of Martin undermining the process and nominating a Liberal crony?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lawyers on TV

Is it my imagination or are TV shows about lawyers sprouting up like weeds? Sometimes I wonder if I notice these things now because I'm a law student. Do you get that? For example, in conversations with non-law school friends, I'm thinking in the back of my mind, "oh, that could be a tort".

Anyhow, here's a list of all the lawyer shows that I can think of:

Law & Order (with its cult following - a first year prof has actually recommended this to his students)
Boston Legal (Captain Kirk as Senior Partner)
The Practice (more soap than law)
This is Wonderland (gritty Canadiana)
The Guardian (the struggle of a young associate)
Law & Order spin off: Criminal Intent (blood and gore)
Law & Order spin off: Special Victims Unit (rape and pedophilia)
Street Legal reruns (gotta love the hair)
(Am I missing any?)

I find it mildly disturbing how TV has come into the classroom. A professor recommending to first year law students that they should watch Law & Order? What's next? A list of Recommended Viewing under Recommended Reading in the syllabus? Scary thought. Another prof likes to pepper his classes with references to shows like Canadian Idol and Pimp My Ride. That I like - it adds entertainment value and it keeps us awake.

Saddam: The Lawyer

I just learned that Saddam Hussein has a legal background.


Why am I not surprised?

Unique visitors

This website was accessed twice today from the offices of Shearman & Sterling in New York. As far as I’m aware, this is the first time anyone from that firm has visited. I am constantly impressed by the vast reach of the Internet. After I included that little map you can see on the bottom right, I've been able to see where visitors come from. To date, this site has been viewed in over 70 countries. Wow. That's cool.

I also find it curious how visitors get here. With the simple, free service of eXtreme tracking, I can see the search terms of individual surfers. Here are some interesting ones:
“what you smell in the fall”
“average starting salary of law school grad”
“queen's lawyer ranking” (maybe the folks at S&S?)
“why Macs computer is more expensive”
“average age of UK law students”
If they didn't find what they were looking for, I hope they were at least mildly entertained.

Actually, this post is a sales pitch. If you’re a law student, I would encourage you to start a blog. I asked a friend if he would start one and his response was: “I don’t have anything to say”. My response: “rubbish”. I think his daily life in Kingston going to law school would very interesting for many readers. We may not all be as creative as Sarah, but that’s not the point. Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be the point. Case in point.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hip lawyers & Hippie lawyers

I noticed an article in the Globe about a Calgary law firm that houses some really hip lawyers. These guys do a great job of breaking out of the traditional mold of the staid suit. Here are some fun pics:
Lawyer with Fender

Tax Lawyer with Baseball Bat (watch out CRA!)

Lawyer with Plush Toy
In contrast, a "progressive" Toronto law firm throws hipster out the window and replaces it with modern day hippiester. (As far as I know, I just coined that term. Please plagiarize freely.) You have to respect these guys for being brutally honest about what they do, and don't do. Check out these bios:
Murray enjoys reading history, economics, philosophy, jurisprudence and political theory, and understands some of what he reads.
Basil enjoys himself while working at a restaurant patio near the office, contrary to strict firm policy.
Nonconformists: gotta love 'em.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I Surfived OCIs

I titled this post “surfived OCIs” because Tuesday, our day of interviews, reminded me of a hurricane coming through Kingston. In the US, they often sell T-shirts to tourists with slogans like “I SURFived Katrina!” Like hurricanes, OCIs shake up the school, come at a semi-regular time every year, and the law students are like the tide: swooshing in and out of the conference room. Sometimes a law student, just like a wave, crashes. But we can get up again.

Two days have passed since our tumultuous day at the Four Point Sheraton Hotel. Already 5 or 6 firms have sent our confirmation/rejection emails to students. Soon we were will all know how we fared. The process was exhausting but, I believe, worth it. For some of us, our careers could be almost locked in. Or at least, where we start our careers.

For the Class of ’08 (and ’09, etc): I’ve compiled a list of questions that were asked during the day from my own interviews and from the interviews of others. I’ve also included some questions that I heard were asked to students last round. I hope it will help you prepare.
What do you think of the trinkets firms are giving out today? Will they influence your decision?
Why did you decide to come to law school?
Tell us about your undergraduate thesis paper.
What is the one thing you would like us to know about you?
What courses are you planning to take?
What does “the rule of law” mean to you?
When is it justified to break the law?
Tell us about a significant case.
Which branch of our firm appeals to you?
How does morality play into the law?
If you could amend the Charter, what would you change?
Tell us a funny story.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Are you sure you want to be in Toronto?
What's the toughest question you've had so far and how did you respond?
How do you prioritize your time?
When did you realize you wanted to go to law school?
And what do you think about that?
Tell us about the paper you wrote for this essay competition. What prize did you win?
What is the number one quality that will make you a good lawyer?
What questions were you expecting but not asked?
Now I’ve got to get caught up on my reading!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Canadian Law Blawgs

Steven Matthews' site, the Vancouver Law Librarian, has a post today about blawgs produced by Canadian law students. I worked with him to put the list together and I created a special category of links dedicated to these valuable resources that you can find below. I'm sure there are many out there in cyberspace that we missed. If you know any, please let me know.

One more weekend ...

... before OCIs. On Tuesday, October 11th, many students in the Class of '07 will head to downtown Kingston for interviews with Toronto employers. Classes have been cancelled. Professors have passed along words of wisdom, stories and advice. Third year students have graciously volunteered their time to act as "friendly", "difficult" and "preoccupied" interviewers for us to experience mock interviews.

As a class, we started preparing for this process in the first semester of our first year. A Career Service Officer visited our small section to talk about the expectations. Over the summer, we revamped our resumes, drafted cover letters and prepared our applications. And recently, we've watched the "OCI video" that follows three students through the entire process. At every turn, we've been told (over and over again) that there are alternatives to working on Bay Street. Most students will not get jobs through the OCI process but many will find work through other means.

I want to share a story from a cool prof. She was going through the OCI process and she was invited to a "champagne and ice cream soiree". She arrived and was promptly served a flute of champagne. But there was no ice cream in the glass. So she went to the bar and complained, "you forgot to put ice cream in mine". Looking at her curiously, the bartender scooped some ice cream and added it to her champagne. She turned back, started to chat with an associate with the firm and realized that no one else had ice cream. Oops. Advice from prof: sometimes it's better not to stand out.


Good luck to everyone! I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for.