The #lawschool experience – first year at University of Ottawa law school

 My first year of law school has been incredible. As the first in my family to attend university and law school, I cherish and embrace each moment. I understand that I have earned an unparalleled opportunity to continue my education at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.

My first semester of law school was a challenging, yet memorable experience. I was introduced to the largest volume of reading that I could have ever imagined and I was exposed to the basic principles of Property Law, Criminal Law, Torts, Public Law, Contracts Law, Legal Research, and Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility. My professors are all leading experts within their fields. For example, my Torts professor Anthony Daimsis, was an associate at an international law firm located in Austria prior to teaching at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, and is frequently approached to serve as an arbitrator in domestic and commercial international disputes, and my Dispute Resolution professor Ellen Zweibel, was a Staff Attorney, U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a Lawyer-Partner at Roper, Lief, Zweibel & Mains, a U.S. Tax Consultant and a legal assistant for Daley, Black & Moreira prior to teaching at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. My professors bring fascinating perspectives to lecture and always have an interesting story to tell. I also enjoyed the guest speakers that visited the Faculty of Law such as the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Honourable Warren K. Winkler, who spoke about his experience with class actions and the Court of Appeal; Bob Potts, who was invited to speak to my Property Law class about his experience representing First Nations in land claim settlements since the early 1980s; and Jane Doe from the case Jane Doe v Metropolitan Police, who was invited to speak to my Criminal Law class about her experience as a sexual assault survivor

I also participated in the Nelligan O’Brien Payne Moot Court Competition during my first semester.  I was on an Appellant team with one other law student and we represented the insurance company in an accident benefits claim. The moot provided me with an opportunity to prepare a factum with my partner based on the relevant facts and case law, and present arguments before a panel of esteemed judges. Furthermore, the Ontario Superior Court Justice Giovanna Toscano Roccamo, former Supreme Court Justice Louise Charron, and Ontario Superior Court Justice James McNamara judged the moot finals. Overall, participating in the moot was a highlight of my first year of law school.

For my second semester of law school, I had the Dispute Resolution and Professional Responsibility course. In this course, I had the opportunity to be assigned various roles, including the role of a lawyer, client, and mediator, within negotiation, mediation, and arbitration simulations. After experiencing each role, I have realized that it is important to understand each perspective in the legal profession. My favourite aspect of the course was learning about negotiations. Through my personal experiences of participating in various negotiations, I developed a foundation for what it means to be a competent lawyer. I learned that true success from a negotiation is measured from the level of client satisfaction combined with achieving a solution that benefits both parties. I also learned that despite the complexity of the matter and problems involved, a resolution is possible. The negotiations helped enhance my understanding of negotiation theories and principles, as well as the importance of the core value of competence in the law profession. Overall, the course provided me with an opportunity to develop my own understanding of the multifaceted nature of negotiations, mediations, and arbitrations, before practicing law.

I have also enjoyed living in the city of Ottawa.  On the first week of law school, I explored the ByWard Market and I attended the famous Sound and Light Show on Parliament Hill.  I also attended the Common Law Honour Society Homecoming Gala at The Fairmont Château Laurier, which was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet Dean Nathalie Des Rosiers and some incredible Alumni from the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. I recently visited the National Arts Centre and watched a concert featuring Michael Cavanaugh and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. I also tried skating on the Rideau Canal for the first time and I indulged in a maple butter beaver tail. Next semester, I am looking forward to touring the Supreme Court and discovering more about the nation’s capital.

I am looking forward to completing my first year of law school. I attribute this extraordinary opportunity to John’s mentorship. I am very grateful to have John as a role model in my life. In addition to helping me understand the LSAT, he has given me insight and guidance based on his experiences as a law student and as a lawyer. John has helped me reach my potential and has also helped me achieve my dreams of attending law school. I am excited to finish my first year of law school in the upcoming months. I intend to take advantage of all of the fantastic opportunities that arise while I am in law school and truly making the most of my first year.