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Camille Godin, June 9 2020

Law School 101: What to expect in 1L?

What to expect in first year law school in Canada? There are definitely a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes around law school.  Even before starting your 1L, I'm sure you already think you have an idea of what law school will be like in all its glory or all its misery depending on the misconceptions you've heard.  But don't worry I'm here to bust the myths and stereotypes and tell you what you should expect in your first year of law.

Tip #1: Suit here, Suit there, Suit everywhere?

There is definitely a misconception that all law students will necessarily be wearing a suit to every lecture in law school.  I honestly fell for it on my first day of school.  I showed up to my first class in professional attire, realizing quickly that less than 1/4 of the class actually dressed to impress.  This is a good myth to bust because it takes off the pressure of always having to dress your best and be at the top of your game.  You can definitely where your Lulu's and a sweater and no one will judge you.

Tip #2: Too much coffee... Is that for real?

Now I know many people think that in university generally students consume way too much coffee.  I'm here to tell you that law school is WORSE!  Walk in to any law class and you'll be sure to find more then 2/3's of the students drinking their cup of joe.  I would be lying if I said I didn't participate in this on-going problem.  When people say law students over consume coffee, it is not a lie.  If you see me on uOttawa campus next year, don't be surprised if I have a cup glued to my hand.

Tip #3: Learn to argue!

"All law students do is argue."  This is a common statement I heard before entering 1L and I wish it was not true... but it really is.  During the first week of classes, you'll be shocked how much students love to argue.  When I first started, I thought there's no way that I'll become as argumentative as some of the students.  My friends would definitely beg to differ after 1L.  I don't know if they put something in the water or if there's something in the air but there's something about the environment that really pushes you to be on the defence about your arguments.

Tip #4: "This will not be like the show Suits"

Get ready to be told this at least 100 times in your first week in law school.  Personally, I didn't expect the job to be like a Hollywood show, but hey the fact that they remind us every day that it's not really sets it straight.  It's honestly crazy the amount of times I have heard this from law profs, lawyers and even people not in the legal field. I will admit the show is good, but it does get a bit tiring of hearing the same thing over and over, so BE PREPARED!

Tip #5: In what field will you practice?

Corporate law, family law, criminal law and many more... Some people will expect you to have a definitive answer as to what type of law you will be practicing in the futur.  This is a recurring question and I'm here to tell you it's okay not to know immediately.  I would even recommend not to necessarily be 100% certain in your first year.  I thought I was really leaning towards one type of law and then I took a family law class and was shocked by how much it interested me.  Definitely try and keep an open mind to all types because sometimes you'll be surprised by which field really interests you!

Tip #6: Be prepared for Mooting season!

Some people really think that law school is just purely study, study, study, but there are some events and classes where you get to practice your legal skills.  At uOttawa, in our first year we participate in a Moot Court activity at the Ontario Court of Justice.  This was a great experience to really lawyer up and show your mooting abilities.  If you really want to practice there's a bunch of clubs as well as national and international competitions that you can participate in to fully develop your skills in litigation.  At uOttawa, the Common Law website offers an excellent overview of the competitions offered throughout the year.


Hopefully these tips will help you in your first year of law and alleviate some stress for the upcoming year.  For more information on me feel free to scroll through my website or follow me on Twitter!

If you have any questions or concerns about your first year in law, feel free to reach out to me.






Written by

Camille Godin

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