HOME ALONE

I have a friend who wants so desperately to leave her parent’s house. She wants her own space. The ability to go where she wants when she wants. To stay up late, party, drink, and smoke. She always says that all she wants is her independence.

Independence.

At 22, I never thought I would consider giving up my independence. The proverbial wet dream of every angsty teenager. Yet, I’ve started to consider what I would give up for it. After 7 years of this bittersweet freedom called “independence”, I realized I might just give it up to run back to my parent’s house. No, I haven’t lost my mind. Seriously. And yes, I have friends. Loads. I even have family. So I’m not “alone”. Yet I guess I’m just the sum of a life lived too independently, too long, maybe even too early.

At a tender age, similar to many other Nigerians, I was sent to boarding school. There, I learned to wake up early, to clean up after myself, wash my own clothes, and handle my own money. Most importantly, I learned to make decisions for myself. For eight months, I would live with a make shift family of my “paddies”. A sisterhood made of my fellow boarding school girls, our kinship sculpted by the tough but shared experiences of Nigerian boarding school life. And then at the end of each term, I would go home. Sometimes I would enjoy being in my father’s house. It was never really *my* house. It was the house my father built. It was…nice. It was in a nice estate. Great architecture. But at 15, it felt like a mausoleum. Impersonal. But nice. I had my own space. A large room with a big bed. The best part was that I had my parents to dote on and be doted on for the brief periods between boarding school. So I enjoyed it. A brief, but welcome interlude from my hellish but fun boarding school life.

Then I graduated and left for university. That 8 months became 11 months and 2 weeks away from home. Out of the _ weeks in a year, I would get barely 10 days with my family. Initially I loved it. For 11 months I would be free to do whatever I wanted. Free to experience life, make mistakes without being berated, find myself. It was amazing. No one to tell me what to do or how to act. I could wear that dress with my bar strap showing. I could go to that shady club. My decisions were all completely up to me with very little supervision.

And then I got to law school. Less friends. Definitely no sisterhood. And while I missed my friends from high school and university, overall I realized I missed my family the most. At night, after a long day of class, I would find myself daydreaming of home. I now wanted to be in that cold mausoleum. I craved it. I dreamed of messing it up with my clothes and belongings. I wanted to warm it up with my cooking. I wanted to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my parents and family. I wanted long drives from the mainland to Lagos island. Buying suya at night with my dad. Haggling in the market with my mom. I missed laughing with them, fighting with them, being so fed up of them that I couldn’t wait to leave their house.

Instead, I got independence. I independently moved into a new place for law school. One bedroom. I independently went grocery shopping and cooked for myself. Bon Apetit. I filed my taxes, went clubbing, travelled on weekends, worked, studied. All by myself, all the time. Hashtag adulting.

But then my nights were filled with long distance calls and lengthy video conferences to my friends, my siblings, and my parents. Living the life of a quasi-international student with no parents in the country, , made me realize how terribly alone I was in the world. Listening to my Canadian colleagues and classmate describing their weekends and holidays spent with their family, I started getting jealous. When was the last day I celebrated a mother’s day with my mother? It’s crazy how the mind changes as we get older. Maybe because it’s the grass on the other side, it all of a sudden seems so much greener. After years of wanting to run away from my parent’s house and finally start living, I feel like I lived enough. And now I just want the comfort of my parents and the stability of a home. Maybe as I get older I’m becoming more nostalgic. Maybe I’m just a homebody. All I’m saying is what’s the point of independence if you’re always home alone?

Top 10 Tips for New Law Students

Searching through Youtube the other day and I stumbled upon this video and this guy’s channel. The relevant facts:

1. He’s Canadian!! Three yips for Canada! An absolute rarity in this US-centric online and even legal world. Why can’t we ever escape you guys???

2. He’s from McGill Law. **Insert Maclean’s Law School & University Rankings, and a Quebecois tinged superiority-complex rival to only that of U of T**

I kid, I kid. What this means is there’s a good chance he’ll talk about civil law for those interested.

Here he has some really good advice for first year law students and about law school in general. I will definitely watching and subscribing.

I know, I know. I’ve gone ghost on you guys! Law school has been extremely busy. As the guy in the video says, it has literally been a full time job. 
Rest assured, I will be making up for my absence. Expect three new posts next week! 

P.S. If anyone has any personal questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: U of T students’ artificially intelligent robot signs with Dentons law firm

Called Ross, the app uses Watson, which won the TV quiz show Jeopardy!in 2011, to scour millions of pages of case law and other legal documents in seconds and answer legal questions. Its founders liken it to a smarter version of iPhone’s Siri, but for lawyers, and say it could one day replace some of the grunt research work now done by low-level associates at the world’s top law firms. It is one of several attempts to apply what is called “cognitive computing” to the historically technology-averse legal profession.

Read more here

So basically technology is taking over my summer internships and associate positions.WHAT ABOUT GRAD SCHOOL

Three Things Law Schools Don’t Warn You To Think About

To summarize Jaimekid2’s points:

1. Debt! Debt! Debt! 

I completely agree with him. If you have to take loans you also have to think of a payment plan. Thus, law school might not be the solution if your average law school salary(lets say a pessimistic 50k) won’t be able to cover your monthly loan repayments. It’s also important to think about either holding off law school to work and save up or choosing law schools based on low tuition and scholarships.

Ey, Law school ain’t free.

2. Law School is Really Really Hard! (Maybe you should take a prep course/study before hand)

This point reminds me a lot of what everyone said about Undergrad.

“Oh your first year is gonna be bad. But everyone’s first year is bad.”

What if I didn’t want my first year to be bad and actually aced it? Everyone has been telling me that law school is hard yet I should enjoy my summer and not do any reading, research, or studying until my first day? These two points, together, don’t quite making sense to me.

3. Post-Law School Unemployment 

This video was dated August 2012. And the guy went to an American Law School so I’m guessing he’s part of the group strongly effected by the 2008 economic crisis in America.

Regardless, his points are still absolutely valid. In Canada, most law schools help facilitate environments to help their students get articling positions after their third year, but even this isn’t guaranteed. Then there’s the huge law student nightmare, of getting an articling position and not getting called back after the bar exam… back to square one without a job.

Great Sites Any Aspiring Lawyer Should Look at First

My mother always said sharing is caring. Considering law school? About to go to law school? Or in law school already? These are a few of my go to sites that I find extremely valuable.

The Girl’s Guide to Law School

Ah-mazing site. Started by a Columbia Law alumni, Alison Monahan, this blog has all the preliminary questions any future JD student would ask– with answers! While it is American centred, there are some real jewels contained inside such as the

–> Law School Tool Box

–> The Cost of Applying to Law School

–> Law School Myths Debunked

Lawstudents.ca

I add this site as a reference to every single post I have on here. I don’t know what extremely thoughtful group of students started this site but there’s definitely a special spot in lawyer heaven reserved just for them. This forum has topics and discussions about EVERYTHING from the LSAT, to Law Schools, to Getting Jobs, to Law Professors Q&As!

Have a question? Somebody on there has most likely asked it already.

Lawschool.about.com

This is another great read. Unfortunately, again, very USA-centric. Darn! What about the rest of the world? But the articles there are still very well researched and great reads about various aspects of law school and the law profession.

This post will be updated regularly with new additions so check back!

Psst! Do you have any sites that you think are super valuable? Please feel free to like, follow, and comment below.

CANADIAN LAW SCHOOLS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE LSAT TO APPLY

This post is to clarify the schools that do not require applicants to take the LSAT. I know many schools in the USA have this policy, but in Canada this is provision is a reflection of a bilingual national identity rather than competition between law schools.

McGill

This is straight from their Faculty of Law's website

This is straight from their Faculty of Law’s website

McGill is arguably one of the best law schools in Canada due to it’s age, national outreach and Supreme Court clerkships. So although you do not need to do the LSAT to apply, most applicants who don’t are still highly established in other areas such as their education(high cGPA, masters degree, academic achievements), work history, and extracurriculars.

However, looking at the Accepted 2015 threads for McGill, there were many accepted applicants who did not apply with an LSAT that had relatively average stats.

Ottawa

Considering Ottawa is located in Canada’s capital, it is no surprise that this law school has a similar policy to McGill about the LSAT and Bilingual/Francophone students. Unlike McGill that has one dual bilingual common law program, Ottawa splits applicants into French JDs and English JDs with both streams able to take courses in the other language. In one way this is a good thing because technically there is a smaller pool of applicants to compete against. Alternatively, this can be seen as a bad thing, because you are competing strictly with french students so your bilingualism will not be a direct advantage.

Screenshot 2015-07-23 20.18.50

The highlighted part shows an interesting stipulation. Students in the French program must take at least 75% of their upper year programs in French.

Closing Comments

I made this post to let bilingual potential applicants know that they are a special category that certain law schools are actively looking for.

So to High School students and undergraduate students considering law school in Canada: Hey, maybe you should consider taking a minor in French or extracurricular French classes. Because being bilingual in Canada is a HUGE advantage in almost any career, but even more so if you want to work in the government.

Writing the Perfect Personal Statement

The 2016 Law School application period is coming around!

This post is an in depth look at writing personal statements. I might get really busy with moving, work and law school, so I want to write more about writing the perfect personal statements by

  • Outlining the most commonly asked PS prompts
  • Who should help you Edit/Revise your PS and why
  • How to use the same personal statement for multiple sources

The Prompts

Personal statement questions are pretty similar across the board. Here’s Osgoode/Western/Windsors questions:

They’re all essentially saying the same thing:

Why do you think we should accept you?

What makes you special?

What do you plan to do with your law degree?

The last question is what trips many people up, especially young college seniors or freshly out of college applicants. It may seem easy, but once you start writing your reasons you realize the challenge facing you. Many in this particular age group either see a j.d. as $$$, a challenge, or just the next step of their parents wishes.

Okay so you’ve got some ideas. Now write them down.

Proofreading: Who vs Whom

Quality over quantity. In my experience, I found it much easier to have my personal statement reviewed by a select few. And by few I mean 2. And only one of them actually saw the final copy.

Why?

  1. Personal statements are very personal: Duh. With information about your grades, family, and dreams it can be akin to giving your friends a diary entry.
  2. Personal statement are not short stories: You want people who are going to give not only constructive criticism, but are generally good at writing and have a good sense of what admission councils might be looking for. Therefore, sending a mass email of your personal statement might just be giving friends and family a good read, of who may not give back anything substantial.

My greatest resource when writing my personal statement was my school’s career center. They had personal statement workshops and intimate editing sessions with advisors.

However, I also noticed many companies such as here and here also offered personal statements services. These ranged from straight up writing a personal statement for the applicant for a nice sum to critiquing an already written piece. The advantage of these institutions, I’m assuming, is that they have a great, specialized understanding of what schools are looking for.

The obvious disadvantage is that these do cost a hefty sum. There is also the possibility that, like in all businesses, there is some standardization or just plain templates that these businesses use. So if admission councils catch on, that would probably be interpreted anywhere from laziness to foul play.

My opinion guys.

Can I use the same Personal Statement for all my applications?

Errrr

Short answer is no. As you can see from the sample prompts I showed above, schools don’t ask the same exact questions.

However, can you use one personal statement as a base for all your applications? I certainly did because

  1. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
  2. My life can only be rewritten so many ways. My relevant achievements, background, successes, and failures are the same. So once I created the perfect way I wanted to present myself to schools, I saw no point in trying to make another angle.

So I used that same personal statement and customized it for each individual application with the reasons why I wanted to go to their school. Such as special programs, alumni record, school ranking, family experiences.

TIP: Even things such as you have family there or you live or want to live in that town. Non- Ontario law schools are looking for students who will stay in their school, not only as students but as alumni practicing in the surrounding area. As you can imagine, everyone wants to be a big shot lawyer in Toronto, but what about the rest of Canada?

There are many discussions about how certain schools like Alberta, Saskatchewan , and New Brunswick pay special attention to applicants from their provinces who want stay in their province. So this is an avenue that should be exploited.

Closing Advice

Failures: Do you guys remember that one annoying ass interview question?

“If you were to describe one weakness/mistake you made, what would it be?”

The trick to answering this question is all about turning weaknesses to strengths. The sweet sweet metaphorical come up. The same goes with your personal statement. You may have to explain a bad year(s), academic penalties, or just plain adversaries you’ve faced in your life.

Remember: What did you learn from the experience and how did it make you a better person? And can those lessons/skills learned be applied to law school?