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Did anyone here completely screw up their first semester of 1L and then recover in the 2nd?


Barry
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Oh man, this is why we need Uriel back. He got like C- in his first midterms in 1L. Now he's a partner on Bay St.

It's a curve. Part of what you are learning is HOW you learn. Law isn't like any other subject - so give yourself a break, step back, and set up a meeting with your profs int eh coming weeks to go over what you got and what you missed. It's going to be ok.

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easttowest
  • Lawyer

At least in my 1L classes, they were pretty backloaded in terms of grading weight. One class even ignored your December mark if your April one was better (VERY extreme). I hope it’s similar for you.

Even if it’s not, take solace in the fact that you have a bit of experience now, you’ll learn how to write law school exams, and you can definitely improve your marks in April. 

Ask your professors for feedback. See where you lost marks. Plan for that and get better next time. 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer
Quote

Oh man, this is why we need Uriel back. He got like C- in his first midterms in 1L. Now he's a partner on Bay St.

I always hated that story. Uriel got a C+ on a single no downside midterm in his first term at law school, then got good grades in the exams that actually counted. There is a huge difference between getting a bad grade that goes on your transcript and getting a bad grade that you would only have to disclose if you applied for 1L jobs. 

With that said, there are obviously people who do poorly in first semester and then improve from there. Law school is just like any other post-graduate course, so obviously people can improve over time.

@Barry this is really just a continuation of your anxious posts here. You presumably haven't even written a final yet, and you certainly haven't received any grades yet. You need to take a breath and focus on what you can control, which is preparing for your exams and going into them with a good mindset. 

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Barry
  • Law Student
15 minutes ago, easttowest said:

At least in my 1L classes, they were pretty backloaded in terms of grading weight. One class even ignored your December mark if your April one was better (VERY extreme). I hope it’s similar for you.

Even if it’s not, take solace in the fact that you have a bit of experience now, you’ll learn how to write law school exams, and you can definitely improve your marks in April. 

Ask your professors for feedback. See where you lost marks. Plan for that and get better next time. 

To clarify this is all pre-emptive panicking, I haven’t written anything yet. But good advice in case. 

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CleanHands
  • Articling Student

@Barry You want to do criminal defence, right? The good news is that you have to worry about grades way less than almost everyone in your class, then. Unless you knock it out of the park firms like Henein Hutchison, Peck and Company, etc, will be out of reach, but they are for almost everyone anyways. Get those crim-related ECs on your resume. I have friends with literal bottom-of-the-class grades but loads of volunteering who landed articling positions in this field. And the crim bar is small and involves a lot of court time so you get to develop a reputation based on your performance on the job and very quickly nobody knows how anyone else performed in law school.

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Barry
  • Law Student
16 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

@Barry this is really just a continuation of your anxious posts here.

Well yeah that’s obvious. I’m an anxious dude.

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easttowest
  • Lawyer
Just now, Barry said:

To clarify this is all pre-emptive panicking, I haven’t written anything yet. But good advice in case. 

Yeah. Then take BQ’s advice.

Anecdotally and if it helps, a friend raised her December C in Contracts to a B+ overall. She works on Bay St now if that’s your bag. 

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I would add the caveat that you really do need to pay attention in Evidence and in Crim Pro. A C- in those classes would raise eyebrows even if you have clinical work. 
 

So many cases are won or lost on admissibility rather than the merits. You need to know how to approach a file with a strong grasp of evidence and procedure. 

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realpseudonym
  • Lawyer
10 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

You need to take a breath and focus on what you can control

I feel like the majority of the advice we give here could be boiled down to this.

It’s obviously easier said than done. But stress and anxiety can be all-consuming in this profession if you don’t figure out some healthy coping mechanisms. I’m big on regular exercise and meditation. That’s not for everyone. But regardless of what it is, figure out early on how to be in the moment enough that you’re not constantly catastrophizing. Because it generally doesn’t get less stressful after law school, and you don’t want to live your life in a fog of worry. 

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CleanHands
  • Articling Student
2 minutes ago, Hegdis said:

I would add the caveat that you really do need to pay attention in Evidence and in Crim Pro. A C- in those classes would raise eyebrows even if you have clinical work. 

I'm not saying that you'd be wrong as an employer to place emphasis on this. Nor that no employers care about this. But it's funny you mention this.

Ironically, ad crim pro is tied for the worst grade on my transcript (although I did better than a C-). The professor enforced a strict page limit for his CANs and I had small font and had a "not" squeezed in in a test in a line that cut off at a weird point, and I ended up missing the "not," having a brain fart, and applying the test without it (resulting in the exact opposite analysis that I should have had). This was my screw up and I should have caught it but oh well.

I was concerned this was a grade that should matter for me but FWIW I was never once asked about it.

I say this not to give unrealistic assurances that these things never matter, but rather to share my experience that I ended up worrying about that for no reason. It was offset by the rest of my profile and I was prepared to tell the above anecdote, show some humility and accountability, and laugh it off if I ever got grilled.

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Barry
  • Law Student
6 minutes ago, realpseudonym said:

you don’t want to live your life in a fog of worry. 

Well no I really don't, but it's probably inevitable at this point. Honestly this was my way of taking a breath. To come here and try to commiserate with someone that went through it. You should probably expect a "did anyone fail the bar and then recover" post from me in a few years. 

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Barry
  • Law Student
32 minutes ago, CleanHands said:

Ironically, ad crim pro is tied for the worst grade on my transcript

That's actually surprising, I assumed that once I got to take courses related to my interests I would do better, but perhaps not. I'll make sure to circle any tiny words. 

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Barry
  • Law Student
44 minutes ago, Rashabon said:

The criminal defence version of Newfoundland.

Should I know what this means? because I do not. 

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chaboywb
  • Articling Student

I wouldn't say I completely screwed up, but at the time I certainly felt that I had. My first semester grades were C+, B, B and an A+ (that, to this day, I think was a mistake). Going into finals (which I'm assuming you are), I had just the C+, which was disheartening. I came into law school quite blind (no upper year friends, no summaries, no exam-writing strategies). Something clicked over the holiday break and I ended up with strong final grades and got a grade-competitive position.

1 hour ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I always hated that story. Uriel got a C+ on a single no downside midterm in his first term at law school, then got good grades in the exams that actually counted. There is a huge difference between getting a bad grade that goes on your transcript and getting a bad grade that you would only have to disclose if you applied for 1L jobs. 

Yeah that story never did much for me either. UofT students are pretty fortunate to have fail-safe grades. I would have benefitted from that.

43 minutes ago, Rashabon said:

The criminal defence version of Newfoundland.

I miss that guy. My own anxiety going through OCIs at the same time as him seemed laughable in comparison. I may always wonder how his path turned out.

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It might be helpful to approach the classes you are interested in as if they are a training ground. Consider each portion of your class as though it were a primer on how to consider a portion of every file that crosses your desk.

For example, say you get a file where the police want to talk to your client about a possible robbery, so they knock on his door of his house. Then they notice he's in his garage in the backyard. So they go over to the garage and duck under the half-open door and strike up a conversation with your client who is working on his car. And then they see a handgun on the workbench behind your client's car. They point and ask your client "What's that?" and he turns to look and says "Oh, that's just a toy gun I got for my kid the other day."

He's arrested, it's a real gun, he's charged.

On its face it's a terrifically strong Crown case. But it actually isn't.

The rules of evidence will tell you that evidence is only admissible if it is lawfully obtained. Crim Pro will tell you that there's some Charter issues with both the police's entry into the garage and their questioning of your client.

To be effective defence counsel, you need to know that you can challenge their entry on to the private property and especially their entry into the garage. This is a warrantless search into a place where your client has a privacy interest - a section 8 Charter right. You need to know that you should challenge their eliciting of a statement - without any 10a or 10b warnings (also, obviously, Charter rights) - that demonstrates both his knowledge and his control of the gun: those two things being how we define "possession" in criminal law.

Crim Pro will teach you that you need to tell the Crown you are challenging the admissibility of both gun and statement in advance, and in writing. It will teach you that this hearing is called a voir dire, a trial within a trial, where the outcome is a ruling on the admissibility of the evidence. Evidence will teach you that even if the court find there was a Charter breach, you still need to convince the court that letting the evidence in would bring the administration of justice into disrepute under the Grant test - and it will tell you what that test is.

Experience will teach you that your main fight is the entry into the garage. If there's no search, there's no gun, and there's no case. While asking for the statement to be excluded because your client wasn't warned weakness the Crown case, he's still in a  small room with a gun in clear view. So all of this needs to be in your mind when you sit down with your client to give advice.

A lawyer who doesn't know their rules of evidence / crim pro is going to give bad advice. They're going to recommend their client plead guilty.

A lawyer who does understand this is going to tell their client that this case has a triable issue - a fight worth fighting in court.

An experienced lawyer is going to tell the client that with a gun, it will be an uphill battle: there's likely a breach of their s 8 and 10 rights, but the court might still let it in under 24(2). An experienced lawyer will also know that if the gun was loaded, stolen, or prohibited (eg a sawn off shotgun) this will make the argument even harder. And they'll get a thorough history from their client and send a without prejudice letter to Crown giving information like if the client is indigenous, has attended drug recovery, or cares for a bedridden parent, and seek their very best sentencing position to discuss with the client so they know all their options before they decide on a plea.

 

This is how the knowledge trickles down into practise. And this is why the knowledge is so very important.

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CleanHands
  • Articling Student
2 minutes ago, chaboywb said:

I miss that guy. My own anxiety going through OCIs at the same time as him seemed laughable in comparison. I may always wonder how his path turned out.

Someone who went to school with him mentioned that he did, in fact, secure an OCI job. I acknowledge it might make me a dick but I have to admit that I was rooting against him.

I also don't think the comparison to @Barry is fair. @Barry needs to get a grip but he contributes to discussions here beyond being a neurotic mess (and his anxieties are more relatable), and has a personality and interests that shine through. Whereas Newfoundland never contributed anything of value whatsoever to the forums (beyond completely unintentional comedy), displayed no redeeming features, and was seemingly from another planet. I can't imagine @Barry ever asking that damn silk tie question.

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Barry
  • Law Student
7 minutes ago, Hegdis said:

And this is why the knowledge is so very important.

Came here to vent, left with inspiration and motivation. Thanks hegdis! 

 

 

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realpseudonym
  • Lawyer
6 minutes ago, CleanHands said:

Whereas Newfoundland never contributed anything of value [..] (beyond completely unintentional comedy), displayed no redeeming features, and was seemingly from another planet.

I hope a certain province sees this out of context, and is insulted. 

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chaboywb
  • Articling Student
9 minutes ago, CleanHands said:

Someone who went to school with him mentioned that he did, in fact, secure an OCI job. I acknowledge it might make me a dick but I have to admit that I was rooting against him.

Wow that is truly shocking. He must have been incredible at bottling up those nerves. 

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Barry
  • Law Student
30 minutes ago, CleanHands said:

-

lol.. I appreciate that, even the getting a grip part. I understand the Newfoundland thing now. It might be a little more appropriate than you gave me credit for because I momentarily thought it could be a reference to some case I missed because I wasn't prepared enough. 

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1 minute ago, chaboywb said:

Wow that is truly shocking. He must have been incredible at bottling up those nerves. 

I hope he is doing better now. That much anxiety is awful.

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Barry
  • Law Student

Well.. I did see a motivational poster recently that reminded me that people don't pretend to be depressed, they pretend to be happy. If that applies to anxiety maybe this Newfoundland and I are the fine ones. 😉

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cherrytree
  • Articling Student

If you haven't heard of Justice Moldaver's story before:

Quote

Moldaver had a difficult first semester at U of T Law School — he flunked his Christmas exams. But by second semester, something caught, and when he graduated in 1971, Moldaver won the gold medal, given to the student with the highest final-year marks.

From a Toronto Star profile published in 2011 https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/11/14/michael_moldavers_climb_to_top_court_had_bluecollar_beginnings.html?rf

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