November Events Recap – Featuring: Life of a Law Student

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Hey there, Pre-lawyers!

And in the blink of an eye, the semester has gone by and we are all busy with our nose in the books preparing for those final exams. It’s that time of the semester again, however, where we’d like to look back at the past month and feature some of our biggest events and give you a recap of what we’ve done – especially if you were unable to make it to some of these events. For the month of November, we’d like to feature one of our most popular events: Life of a Law Student (check out the link for a more detailed event description)!

On November 17th, we introduced a panel of six current UBC law school students varying from 1L to 3L to share their experiences and advice with regards to law school and UBC law in particular. Our panelists were: Rachel Lehman – 3L, Tommy Chan – 3L, Alyssa Leung – 2L, Maryanna Dinh – 1L, Faisal Al-Alamy – 1L, and Aashish Kohli – 1L.

We learned some very interesting things:

Admissions

  • The vast majority (90%) of students who enter UBC Law come from the undergraduate Arts faculty. The rest are a combination of Science and Commerce students.
  • That being said, a commerce student or science student is not necessarily at a disadvantage because they are the minority.
  • UBC Law is very numbers-based; they mostly consider only transcript grades and LSAT scores for admission. In particular, they weigh GPA and LSAT at 50-50. Sometimes, however, reference letters and past work experiences are considered. On the other hand, other Law schools tend to take into consideration extra-curricular activities.
  • The Discretionary Category option allows a student whose grades have been negatively affected by life hardships to better justify entry into UBC Law.

The LSAT’s 

  • In general, there is no one or best way to study for the LSAT’s. It is highly dependent on where you start off in terms of the LSAT standard as well as your specific learning and study habits.
  • Practice (timed) LSAT’s are highly recommended to help you better gauge your current position, your strengths and weaknesses, and to mimic the exam conditions.
  • Like most subjects, there is a diminishing return of performance measure with time spent studying.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, the time pressure is a bigger factor in determining performance rather than the questions itself. As quoted by one panelist, “if all of us had all the time we needed to do the LSAT, we would all get 100%!”
  • While different people require different preparation times, 3-4 months is generally a good amount of time to spend preparing for the LSAT.
  • Apart from UBC and Pre-law resources, some other LSAT preparation resources include: PowerScore, Princeton, Kaplan, Blueprint, and Options Solutions. These resources generally provide courses, practice tests, mentoring, and consultation. It is not always necessary to use external resources for preparation, however.
  • Do not be taken aback by your first LSAT score if you are unhappy with it – there are usually two more opportunities to learn from the experience and be better prepared for the next one.
  • It doing a practice LSAT, it is highly recommended to replicate the actual exam environment, even including room temperature, the time of day, and (!) the layout of your pens, pencils and anything else on your desk. You will find that everything gets very routine after months of practicing for the LSAT.
  • UBC Law takes your best LSAT score out of 3 attempts; but note that not all Law schools evaluate the LSAT score the same way.

Social Life at UBC Law 

  • In your first year, you are placed in all your classes with the same 45 students, so there are tons of opportunities to make close friends! In fact, some panelists liken UBC Law to a high school!
  • Law students are more social than you think – work hard, play hard, right?
  • UBC Law hosts many social events throughout the year; for example, they host an annual week-long event before final exams called “We Love Law Students”, where staff bring food, students get free massages and an opportunity to play with puppies – all funded by the school!

The Law School Experience

  • Yes, it’s competitive.. but not as competitive as you might guess. Students love to help each other out because almost everybody understands that they will end up with a good career either way.
  • Readings, readings, readings. This takes up the vast majority of the homework to be done at law school. The good thing, however, is that the readings are extremely interesting, so that they don’t really feel like homework at all!
  • There are no midterms in law school – just final exams. This is compelling for procrastinator students, but do not succumb!
  • Like undergraduate school, there are lots of opportunities to get involved in curricular. By this time, you would’ve already learned how to time-manage well, so it would be a good experience to get involved!
  • First year classes are all mandatory, but for the most part in your second and third year, you have the freedom to pick and choose from a wide variety of classes that interest you.
  • With all this study talk, it is extremely important to balance your life – “me time” is essential in creating an enjoyable law school experience. Some suggestions? Exercise, socialize at a bar or restaurant, have trivia nights, or indulge in the good ol’ Netflix.
  • If you thought getting an A in undergraduate school was tough, it is next to impossible in law school. With such a tight curve, achieving a B+ is one of the best grades. Don’t fret, however, because law firms hiring graduates tend to evaluate a student relative to their peers, not in absolute terms.

Finding a Job 

  • Students looking to practice after graduation must have completed an Articling term in their second year.
  • Recruitment for Articling students happens in the fall of 2nd year, and it is an incredibly intense and competitive time of year. Selection is partially based on grades (Downtown Vancouver law firms tend to require a 73-75% average), but a large part is based on personality and cultural fit, as well as passion for that particular field of law.
  • Contrary to common belief, the things you learn in law school apply only modestly to what you would deal with in your actual job; more often than not, the hiring mentality tends to be “hire for fit, train for skill.”

Life of a Law Student was an incredibly popular event this year once again, and we were ecstatic to see so much support from our fellow members! For those of you who couldn’t make it, we hope that this recap was helpful, and we certainly hope to see you at our future events!

Until next time, Pre-Lawyers!

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