Thursday, January 19, 2006

Turmoil in the Class of 08

A new semester (that quickly lost all its quality of newness) has meant brought some significant changes to the Class of 08.

The biggest change is the result of Professor/Justice Trotter moving from academia to the bench. His 40-odd students of Criminal Law have had to join the 40-odd students of another Criminal Law class with a different professor and a distinct teaching style. Students have had to adjust to a larger class and new faces in the room. In addition, the professors in other courses (Contracts and Property Law) have also shuffled around. I'm not quite sure why they decided to play musical chairs half way through, but they did.

The other big change is with the students. In the first semester, no fewer than six students (that I know of, there could be more) decided to leave law school. In one small section alone (Queen's students are divided into 8 small sections with roughly 20 students each), three students decided that law wasn't their cup of tea.

For non-law student readers: if you're considering law school I would encourage you to think about it long and hard. It is not a myth that law school is a lot of work. If it is not for you, try to find another option. Those six spots could have been filled with other students. I believe that law students should continue the process of self-examination and self-discovery to find their particular niche, and that thinking should start before you send your acceptance letter.


At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a bit holier than thou isn't it? Those 6 could each have had perfectly good reasons for leaving school. I think it's a bit much to presume any of those who left Queen's didn't think "long and hard enough" about attending law school.

Putting aside that any of them could have transferred or left with a deferral, who are you to tell people how long or hard they need to think about law school?

Seems to me, if they've worked long and hard enough to get admitted, they don't owe anyone, anything.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Adam Letourneau said...

I would agree with the last comment. I have a friend who decided in his last year that law wasn't for him, so he didn't article. Lots of people in other faculties decide to go a different route from the subject area that they studied. Why does attending law school mean that you have to be a lawyer? I have another friend who has almost completed his articles, and has now decided that he may call it quits (he has had trouble with bar admission requirements). He was convinced in 1st year that he should quit law school, and is now kicking his ass because he didn't follow his gut feeling back in 1st year. He really wishes he had taken another route in life. At every step of the way, it's important to be true to yourself. And by the way, most law schools will fill those gaps with transfer students. They are not that stupid to lose all of that tuition dollars.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger a blawger said...

Hi guys,

Thanks for the comments. First, I'm not making a claim that students who drop out owe anyone. My point is that dropping out is an important decision that deserves serious thought.

Further, I’m not claiming that those who dropped out didn't "think long and hard" about their decision. They could have - we don't know. For whatever reason, they decided law was not suited for them. As stated, my comment is for individuals who are considering law school: the decision to accept should not be taken lightly.

Adam: I hear you. I know students in the same boat. I wrote this post with those students in mind. Yes, there are many alternative careers in law and some students enter law school with no intention of becoming a lawyer. However, there are some (like your friend) who could have done other things with their time and, perhaps, they might have found a happier route.

I also want to make a point about enrollment numbers. I believe enrollments in Canadian law schools are fixed. Each school has been allocated a certain number of spots. The size of the pie doesn't change when students transfer between schools. For example, the Queen's Class of 07: 2 students dropped out and 8 students transferred out after first year (my numbers are estimates here). Then, 2 students from other Canadian universities joined the class. To an extent, the remaining 8 spots are filled exchange students (from Australia, for example) but that is beside the point.

Thanks guys.

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the question we must consider here is why so many students dropped out this year, and further, why did three students from one small section drop out. The 'hard work' aspect is not the only stressor in law school, the pressure to succeed no matter at what cost is the biggest pressure. Students are lead to believe that one C+ mark will completely destroy their entire legal career, and that is certainly not the case. A lot of students who go on to become fabulous lawyers and even judges did not have a transcript stuffed with A's, but you would never know that from hanging out on the first floor in the law library.

While I thought last year's class was pretty keen, this year might feel even more pressured. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there some prize for the small section that logged the most study hours in the law library for the public exam? Come on. Pressuring students to live in the law library during every waking moment not spent in class--a place where a lot of law students dislike studying anyway, might not exactly encourage well-being. Encouraging academic achievement is one thing, but being made to feel that you are somehow less of a student because you happen to like studying alone, or somewhere other than the school, is not acceptable.

I think that a lot of students who are accepted into law school appreciate the fact that there will be a huge work load, but are ill-prepared for the pressures of the institution. I certainly wasn't, at any rate. No law school pamphlet describes the anxiety created by OCIs, or five back to back first year final exams. If students find themselves overwhelmed with pressures that they could not anticipate, maybe we need to look at this problem from the inside out.

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am guessing that the person who wrote the last comment was someone with a C+ on their transcript ;)

At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I am sorry; that last comment was a little harsh. I am just reacting because people complain that there is too much work and too much pressure then gossip, and then others who complain that other people do not work as hard as they should. Can we just do our own work, and get on with it?


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