Friday, September 10, 2010

First two classes of law school

So had my first two official law school classes yesterday and my overall impression is that it is going to be fucking amazing. There are obviously going to be some challenges, and maybe not the ones one may instantly think of. What I mean is that personally I'm not worried about the work load, exams, or the written aspect of detailing information to match up the law, cases and the facts. What I'm more worried about, and need to get better at is to be able to (to learn to) get out of my head and coherently express myself and these ideas verbally in a quick, strategic, and systematic manner. To be a bit more precise, I tend to be able to form a logical, well thought out and expressed argument on paper, but when it comes to verbal communication I tend to get stuck in my head a bit.

That's the long term goal (always has been for a bit now.. ) and that's something that Queen's seems to emphasize with the small classes and their omnipresent Socratic teaching. The profs seem to be emphasizing the absolute requirement to make mistakes in class discussions, with marks coming only based on written exams. I'm kinda digging that right now and am looking forward to the personal challenge of trying and fucking up.

Anyway, first class of the day was Property Law. Our homework for this first class was to watch this YouTube clip:


1) "Tell us why?!" Should they have to tell him why?
2) "Who gave you the right to exclude the population?!" Pretty loaded question...
3) "We want to get into the Eaton Centre, it is a public place!" Rights associated with services...

anyway, neat stuff. And not to bore you too bad with anymore but there seems to be 6 general types of property law, with the major distinctions being real estate, personal property, intangibles (stocks and bonds), intellectual, infrastructure and you as a person property. That last one garnered the most attention with examples of tattoos on foreheads, kidney selling vs. donating, and slavery coming into play; basically it's all about drawing a line somewhere.. what should the legal system endorse and what should it condemn. That ambiguity is where good lawyers shine, apparently.

blah, blah, blah..

Other interesting things touched upon in this first class was a definition of property. The take home message was that it came down to not necessarily something that you own or possess but is actually your claims, entitlements, duties and rights associated with the object/issue in question). Moreover, it was touched on that property is something you can potentially give away or sell, so your SIN may not actually be "your property".

Ok, second class was Torts and we started to get into the rules associated with statutory interpretation, the type of thing I think I want to get into. I'll avoid details as I don't think you care, but we played a fun game of interpreting the hypothetical sign "No vehicles in the park". As you can probably guess, different types of "vehicles" were brought up and debated whether they were covered by the sign/law/rule and why and how, and how would one defend each side... and yes, of course bicycle came up!.. along with child buggy, lawn mower, electric wheelchair, ambulance and limo drivers.. all interesting to dissect intent of law vs. learning and being aware of the leaps one is allowed to make in the process of defending your prosecutor or defendant role.

Anyway, near the end of the class the prof emphasized that mistakes should be made in class, learn the skills not the content (not rote memorization), have some fun with these discussions to keep up your interest, keep it simple as laws contain ambiguity and fundamental questions are the best way to work within that ambiguity, that profs are just tour guides and not the be all and end alls, and finally he mentioned that questions on course content could only be asked in class in front of the rest of the class. This is designed to get people talking and to get comfortable with making mistakes.

Pretty great first day, and no more about classes cuz re-reading this it's boring me.

Oh, one last thing.. met with my upper year buddy who eased my mind a bit about summary techniques, work load, exams, future job prospects, and profs, and also hooked me up with some used books. I'm not sure to what extent this happens at other law schools but Queen's is really looking like the right choice for me...

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