Category: 1L

Wait, July already happened? It’s August, really?!

I know I’ll regret saying this later, but I’m pretty excited summer’s just about over. August means cooler weather, the beautiful New England foliage is just weeks away and college football season is about to kick-off (Go Big Red!). More importantly, I’m so excited to start my last year of law school. It’ll be great to go back to a routine, visit again with school friends who have been busy researching, writing, wining and dining at their summer jobs, and begin planning the rest of my life as a (hopefully) budding lawyer.


As I begin my 3rd year of this incredible journey, many new law students will just be getting started. Unfortunately, the law student experience is not as comforting or exciting as it used to be. With the high (and growing) unemployment rate, job prospects for law students are not the greatest. But that doesn’t mean going to law school is a bad idea. We’re a smart, problem-solving, critical-thinking bunch. For those willing to go beyond the everyday law student experience and take a bold and innovative approach, the opportunities are out there.

Shifting the Way We Approach Our Legal Education

For the fresh bunch of hopeful lawyers entering this three-year journey (or labyrinth, depending on your view), I thought I’d share my first-hand perspective on starting out in law school.

Grades Matter

I will say this now but won’t dwell on it: grades are really important. Your first priority is your coursework and the grades that go with it. In this difficult legal market, employers of all shapes and sizes are looking for quick ways to sort through piles of applicants. For better or worse, GPA and class rank are the first things they all look at.

But Don’t Forget Everything Else

You can’t stop with grades. Far too many 1Ls seem to make that mistake. I’ve learned that legal education does not stop on the last page of Calamari and Perillo on Contracts. Reading a case and communicating the facts, holding and reasoning to someone a million times smarter than you is great, but it has little application in legal practice.

Involvement and Initiative: Thriving in Today’s Legal Market

My humble advice? This resonated with me in undergrad when I first heard it, and still rings true today: Engage. Connect. Balance.

Get involved with your school and community through extracurricular activities, internships and practical opportunities. Network with your law school’s alumni and area attorneys to develop mentors and future colleagues.Balance your time and priorities. Spend time not only hitting the books, but also developing the practical legal skills that will make you a more effective advocate right away. If you really want to stand out, work to demonstrate that you have the practical experience to dive right in once you land a job.

Develop and demonstrate your leadership, teamwork and time-management skills by becoming a leader in student and community organizations. Hone your skills by joining a moot court team or participating in other competitions, like mock trial practice, where you regularly have to stand up in front of peers, professors, law practitioners or judges. Continually work on your legal research and writing skills by joining a journal or law review, or finding legal internships or clerkships during the academic year to supplement your coursework.

The best way to show employers you’re ready to be a lawyer is to start doing the things that lawyers do every day: lead, collaborate, advocate, research, write, multi-task and budget your time.

You Only Law Once

So for all the incoming ILs planning to bury your face in the books for the next three years of your life, think bigger and better. In closing, I’ll leave you with my own spin on a phrase all of us have heard too many times: YOLO. You Only Law Once.


(images CC via Flickr courtesy of : Nietnagel and Fahim Fadzlishah)


Author Bio: Sammy Nabulsi is a third-year law student at Suffolk University Law School and is currently a Legal Marketing and Interaction Intern for, a forum that helps law students and lawyers at all levels build reputation and knowledge through competitive, collaborative legal argument.

This post was sponsored by Personal Injury Attorneys serving Long Beach at The Reeves Law Group

Canadian Constituional Law #36 – Aboriginal Rights

In the second-last podcast for the course, we move outside the Charter and consider the constitutional entrenchment of aboriginal rights in sec 35 of the Constitution Act 1982. Even though these rights are entrenched outside of the Charter, we will see how jurisprudence has imposed limits upon aboriginal rights in a style very similar to the section 1 analysis normally performed on charter rights.

St. Catherine’s Milling and Lumber Co. v. The Queen (1888)

Calder v. British Columbia (Attorney General) (1973)

Guerin v. The Queen (1984)

R. v. Sparrow, (1990)

R. v. Van der Peet, (1996)

Delgamuukw v. British Columbia (1997)

Canadian Consitutional Law #35: Language Rights

Language rights are very important in Canada as a result of the historical French-English tension. However, sections 91 and 92 do not assign administration of language-related issues to a specific level of government, so it is treated as an ancilliary sphere over which both levels of government have some control. Language is not a ground listed in section 15, although it may be analogous. The most important provisions relating to language in the constitution are in s133 (the right to use either official language in court and in parliament) and in the Charter between ss16 and 23, the latter being the right to minority language education.

Devine v AG Qc (1988)

AG Manitoba v forest (1979)

Mercure v AG Saskatchewan (1988)

R. v Paquette (1988)

Mahe v Alberta (1990)

Ford v Quebec (AG) (1988)

Canadian Constitutional Law #34: Economic and Social Rights

Why does the Charter focus on legal and politcal rights, to the exclusion of economic and social rights? What does this absence mean for Canadian citizens? Could economic and social rights be read into the charter under an existing section? That’s what Gosselin tries to do in Gosselin v Quebec, without success. In this podcast we shall study the supreme court’s judgement, focusing on the dissenting opinion that Canada should include an economic right to basic subsistance under sec 7.

Gosselin v Quebec (2002)

Canadian Constitutional Law #33: Equality Rights

In this podcast we will be discussing section 15 of the charter, equality rights. It is important to understand the difference between formal equality (American model) and substantive equality (Canadian model). We will consider the case of Law v Canada, which contains a very thorough analysis of equality rights by Iacobucci J.
Regina v Drybones (1970)

AG Canada v Lavell (1974)

Bliss v Canada (1979)

Law v Canada (1999)

Canadian Constitutional Law #32: Section 7 continued, Assisted Suicide

Continuing on with our look at section 7 rights, we will now consider the case of Rodriguez v BC (AG). A woman with Lou Gehrig’s disease seeks a declaration that she may legally seek doctor-assisted suicide when her condition deteriorates to the point that she wishes to end her life. Can the right to choose the manner of one’s death be a constitutionally protected right under security of the person?

Rodriguez v BC (AG) (1993)

Canadian Constitutional Law #31: Life, Liberty, and Security of the Person

Moving on to section 7 of the Charter, the first and broadest of the legal rights (ss7-14), we consider life, liberty, and security of the person. This is often used in a criminal law setting, but the cases we looked at in class were more unique. In this podcast, we consider the meaning of fundamental justice in the Motor Vehicle reference, then we look at the Morgentaler case in detail. In Morgentaler, the court found the existing abortion laws to violate security of the person without ever deciding whether women have the right to an abortion under the charter (only Wilson J expressly dealt with the substantive aspect of this issue). Next podcast we will continue section 7 rights with Rodriguez v BC.

Lochner v New York (1905)

Reference re sections 193 and 195.1(1)(c) of the Criminal Code

Reference re Section 94(2) of the Motor Vehicle Act (BC) (1985)

R v Morgentaler (1988)

Canadian Constitutional Law #30: Hate Speech

Is hate speech a form of expression? Can it earn the same Charter protection as dissident political speech? In this podcast, we will discuss hate speech, focusing mainly on R v Keegstra. We will briefly compare the Canadian and American conceptions of hate speech. Unlike in the USA, Canadian courts have held hate speech to be an inherently harmful activity analogous to a verbal assault, which is not deserving of the same protection as other forms of expression. This view is not unanimous, and we will look at McLachlin J’s dissent in Keegstra and Taylor as an alternative view of hate speech not accepted by the supreme court.

R v Keegstra (1990)

Taylor v Canadian Human Rights Commission (1990)

Collin v Smith (1978) (American Case, for comparison only)

RAV v City of St Paul, Minnesota (1992) (American Case, for comparison only)

Ross v New Brunswick School District No 15 (1996)

Saskatchewan (HR commission) v Bell (1991)

Canadian Constitutional Law #29: Freedom of Expression

What constitutes expression? Does it have to be speech, or can it include actions such as picketing? What restrictions on expression are justified? In our second podcast on fundamental freedoms, we will consider the importance given to free expression in our constitution (sec 2(b)). In keeping with a pre-Charter view that expression is necessary for a healthy democracy (see episode 22), the supreme court has traditionally given expression a very broad interpretation. In the next podcast, we will consider how the primacy placed on the value of expression changes in cases of hate speech.

R v Keegstra (1990)

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Local 580 v Dolphin Delivery Ltd (1986, SC)

BCGEU v British Columbia (AG 1988)

UFCW local 1518 v Kmart Canada ltd

RWDSU local 558 v Pepsi-Cola Canada Beverages (west) ltd (2002)

Ford v Qc (1988)

Irwin Toy Ltd v Quebec (AG) (1989)

R Moon, “The Constitutional Protection of Freedom of Expression,” 2000