I graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1983 - which in some ways feels like yesterday, but is really a long time ago.
I entered law school after two years of undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, where my studies centered on political science and history.
Like for most people who attend university and professional programs in their late teens and early 20s, those were highly impressionable years when we all trying to figure out how we hope and dream that our adult lives will turn out. For me it was no different.
Entering law school in the late summer of 1980, I really didn’t know what to expect, other than what I’d seen in the classic movie, The Paper Chase. An oft-repeated cliché about the law school experience is, “… first year, they scare you to death, in second year they work you to death, and in third year, they bore you to death.”
How The Law School Experience Shaped My Practice
So how did the law school experience shape how I approached the practice of law? The single biggest take-away was wanting to do something with law that would help people, rather than large corporations.
I remember that during first year in law school, the students at Osgoode were invited to an early screening of The Verdict, starring Paul Newman - as an alcoholic, down on his luck litigator, who stumbled across a big medical malpractice case, where he faced the daunting task of taking on the legal army that was defending the hospital and its’ doctors. That film made quite an impact in saying that even against seemingly unbeatable odds, justice could prevail. By making legal services more accessible to the general population, we have done our part to give everyday people a better chance at finding justice in their legal problems.
The Law School Experience Has Evolved
The law school experience has evolved over the years, and it seems that students are now being given more opportunities for experiential programs, which is what drew me to participate as an instructor in the Trial Advocacy Course at Osgoode Hall. That course was on the frontier of providing a more “hands-on” experience and does a good job of preparing young lawyers in developing advocacy skills. From the students I have met over the past 10 years as an Adjunct Professor, I sense that many people still go to law school for two main reasons:
1) to make a good living; and
2) to do meaningful work that can make a difference in peoples’ lives, whether that be in the corporate world or in representing individuals in their legal battles.
It's a privilege to practice the law and help people. Through Share Lawyers, I've spent over 30 years advocating for those with disabilities. Thanks to my beginnings in law school, I have been able to build a life and a business that I am very proud of.
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