by Jinryu

I got a Contracts 2 mid-semester assignment back yesterday… 60%.


I was shocked.  It’s the lowest grade I’ve gotten since I started Law School.  It was a huge shock for a number of reasons, not the least of which was because I thought I actually did pretty well on it.


I’ve had a whole afternoon, an evening, a night, and even part of this morning to mull over that result, and I’m in a difficult position because of it.  Not really because it hurts my grade so much– but I am trying to finish with Honours, and that just makes the whole thing a bit more work because I have to compensate for this.


I like my contracts teacher quite a bit, but I found it no consolation that she kept on saying to the class “if you got a bad grade, don’t worry, it’s just a question of technique.”  Well, sure– but technique doesn’t change this grade.  It’s an irremovable stain.


I guess I’m annoyed for two reasons primarily.


The first is that when it comes to technique, I thought I was using the correct technique.  I was using techniques used in Contracts 1 and Torts 1 last semester, which got me great marks in both those classes.  Technical advice that she gave me on my paper– “Don’t present the counter arguments,” are in reality completely opposite of what I was taught and marked well for doing last semester.  “Don’t bother covering these elements which are obvious.”  Well, how obvious are these elements? In first semester, we were told to at least checklist our way through things with a sentence each to cover our bases.


I guess secondly, I’m annoyed because I heard that some of my classmates got good grades and “hardly worked at all on it.”  I suppose that part is just frustrating, because I can’t do anything about it– it means that for all the hard work I put into this class (which, I might add, is a lot) somehow someone just has a better technique than what I’m using that lets them get better grades in less time.  I mean… the teachers say to take copious notes, make sure you do your readings… I do all that. 


I guess the second issue annoys me more than others.  Somewhere in the back of my head I sometimes wonder if my brain isn’t as flexible as this younger generation, but then I stop myself and say that’s just an excuse.  I need to just keep thinking forward.  I need to think of solutions instead of scapegoats.


I’ll be honest– it’s hard.  I’ve always prided myself on being a hard worker, but a useless qualification if I don’t get results.




I went out for a couple of beers and dinner with some people after class on Friday.  [CM] is out of town, so cooking dinner for just myself just feels like a bit of a hassle.  I had a good dinner with [CaptainK] and [DilligentB].  They’re the two law students who I work with the most this semester.  Last semester I worked with a much larger range of people, but then by the end I figured out which ones of them were on the ball and which were just moochers.  CaptainK and DiligentB are pretty reliable people, and on a personal level, they’re also trustworthy.

The truth is, nobody at law school is a bad person.  They’re all nice people.  I’m sure nobody harms animals or is otherwise terribly sociopathic.


So I wonder sometimes– how do we get from here, to there?  The last few weeks have featured presentations by a lot of the big Sydney Law firms.  Yeah, a fair number of them made the point of saying that they do pro bono work.  But all of them were really about corporate law.

So where are the firms that defend human rights? Public services? Bioethics? Etc etc?

I wonder, really, if they even exist.


I was asking the lawyers at the presentations yesterday questions about what I could do to make myself more appealing when I lodged a submission.  One of the lawyers gave me perahps one of the most honest answers I heard: “Well, make sure you get your commercial and corporate related courses done.  Litigation, administrative law, contracts, sure, that kind of stuff.  Intellectual property law is getting bigger, that kind of thing.  But don’t bother too much with all that human rights stuff– to be honest with you, sure, criminal law or human rights in global whatever and stuff sounds fun, but we’re not Legal Aid.  We don’t really care about that kind of stuff.”


He may have been the only one to say it, and his firm may be the only one to look at things that way, but it doesn’t change one fact:  that all of these firms have commercial focuses where a social benefit is secondary to capitalist agendas.  And because of that, no matter how many civil liberties classes we take and how informed we are about globalisation issues, it doesn’t change a simple fact: the odds say that we’re going to be doing work that doesn’t care about these things, except incidentally to avoid triggering regulatory reactions against our clients.




I haven’t been reading the Montreal news very closely, but I am constantly hearing about the student protests (and police actions) regarding the proposed tuition hikes.


In a certain way, I’m not very different from those students.  We might have different goals, but, we all want social change.  The difference is, a lot of these idiots are making the mistake of making it a student only issue– they’re rallying an army of students (soemwhat effectively might I add) and in the process, alienating the general public. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me like a select bunch of students that are making the rest of them look bad.  Stupid shit like occupying buildings and what not?  It’s completely retarded for people to be subverting the law in order to petition the government into changing the law.  The moment violence breaks out, you lose a dozen notches of respect– once the public loses respect for you, you can be sure that without all that voter weight the government will give even less of a hoot since there’s not much on the line.




At the same time, I keep telling myself that I’m doing the right thing.  There are days when I don’t know that for sure though, and those are the hard days.


I tell myself, I’m trying to do this the right way– I’m trying to get the tools to make a difference. I’m going to get the training, and yes, I’m going to get my hands dirty– I’m even willing to work corporate to learn the trade.  But in the end? I’m going to come back, and I’m going to save the world.  Why? Because, on more than one occasion, the world has saved me.


But I wonder if the process of getting all that power will corrupt me.


I know that I’ll survive no matter what road I take. I’ve come to understand that I’m quite resilliant, and robust, and adaptable.  But I don’t just want to survive– I want to pursue something.


The question is, what ultimately will come from want?