Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Richard Haigh and his student co-host Felicity Radan get together to discuss the in‘s and out‘s of Canadian law school life while attempting to be funny. Sit down, shut up, and don‘t forget to do your readings.

Transcript - Episode 3: K to JD

February 3, 2019

Episode 3: K to JD


Opening Music “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Playing in the background.


Richard: …in what is the equivalent of the JCR. he stood up on a chair and he said, “I just got an A on the paper and I’d like to tell people how I did it. How people can get an A in law school, because I know a lot of you did not get As.”


Adam: Wow.


Richard: And then he went on to discuss…


Paul: What a nice guy. [sarcasm]


Adam: Yeah, what a generous man. Must have been great at parties. [sarcasm]


Richard: [Laughing]


What’s Love Got to Do With It? Theme song playing in the background.


Richard: Ok. So, welcome back to What’s Law Got to Do With It? It’s show number three, I guess. It’s Richard Haigh. Professor Richard Haigh at Osgoode Hall Law School, and my co-host:


Adam: Adam Lachance. Law student here at Osgoode. And our guest today is Paul Guglielmo. Paul go ahead and introduce yourself.


Paul: My name is Paul, I’m a second year at Osgoode Hall Law School. I did my undergrad at Ryerson. It was in Business and Law. My IQ is over 9000.


Richard and Adam: [Laughing]


Richard: So, because… so, we’re early days for this podcast, but it’s also coincides with early days in the school year.


Adam: Yes.


Richard: And I’ve just been in my small group’s trying to get to know my students and having them introduce themselves, and so it struck me that there’s a whole – not a myth – but a mystique about meeting your peers in law school and who they are, and… well, and I just said a few minutes ago, being intimidated, perhaps, by the backgrounds of some of the students. And so, I think today’s topics are largely about how did you feel when you met your peers, and I’ll tell you a little bit about my experience and we’ll see where that takes us.


Adam: The great thing about this, really, is this is something that you’re not really going to be able to read about as much, so, if I were to be assigned some readings it wouldn’t matter if I had done them or not. So, I’m fairly prepared this episode. But, go ahead. Let’s get this started.


Richard: You two met… did you meet early?


Paul: I don’t recall when exactly we met.


Adam: We were in the same section. I tried to just be really nice to everybody.


Paul: Yeah.


Adam: umm… If I came to class. My problem was that I didn’t go to class a lot. [Laughing]


Richard: So, people didn’t even know who you were for awhile?


Adam: I think that I – this was the problem that I had: I’d go to class and ask lots of questions and then I wouldn’t go to class so I think it was fairly obvious that I wasn’t there.


Richard: … you were not there.


Adam: So, the professors at least… they’d be like: where’s that guy who asked five questions …


Paul: … where’d he go?


Adam: … and now he’s gone. So, that was a limit for me, but I found the biggest thing for getting to know people was more after class. Kind of standing in the hallways, bantering about our new lifestyle.


Paul: Definitely.


Adam: And then you kind of weeded out who was … we all had to get past our… the way we’re trying to put ourselves out at first because everyone almost had a … get to set new jobs anywhere you go. You know? You’re orientation group. Everyone seems one way and then you find out who they really are, you know, six months later and you’re like: Man, you’re a really good guy. I kinda didn’t like you during orientation.


Paul: Yeah. First impressions can be deceiving.


Richard: Ok. So, that’s a reversal. You actually…


Adam: Yeah, that’s my experience. But I’m naturally a little bit more laid back, so I tend to like people that are more laid back. But, first week of law school’s not really setting you up to be laid back.


Richard: No. And there’s a lot of non-type… There’s a lot of type A personalities in law school…


Adam: Yes.


Richard: … who are typically not laid back out of the gates, right?


Adam: Typical.


Paul: Yeah. Me and Adam are both unique in this sense that we’re both very laid back and our relationships with our classmates. I found our section to be very inviting. After the initial intimidation state – which was very, very strong in my case. I went from kindergarten to JD, so to speak.


Richard: [Laughing]


Paul: You know what I mean? So, everyone there…


Richard: No. I actually don’t know!


Adam: What does that mean?


Paul: So, K to JD is a term for someone who goes through, like, high school, then undergrad, and goes to the JD without taking a breaking in between. And that puts you among the youngest in the class.


Richard: You’re one of the younger ones.


Paul: Yes.


Richard: So, there are other people who’ve done things that you think to yourself: wow.


Adam: Our section, too.


Paul: Our section in particular. There is an appearance of many more mature students which I don’t buy into. I think every section has that.


Adam: Yeah?


Paul: But, yeah, you look to your left this person has a Master’s and the right has extensive work experience in the area. It is quite intimidating at first.


Richard: Yeah. It’s interesting to me from my side of things because it’s true some students come here and they have doctorates, or they’ve started a company, or, you know, they’ve done a lot. And then, there’s students like you, Paul, that came … what is it?


Paul: From K…


Adam: Coming out of kindergarten.


Richard: From K to JD?


Adam: K to JD.


Richard: Coming out of…? But, it’s funny, I find the same thing happens in every walk of life. This is not something that’s law school-specific. I – so, I was just thinking this was almost a silly example – but, I … so, a cycling… a track cycling course at the velodrome in Milton and the first thing we had to do was a classroom session for an hour. So, the instructor asked everybody to tell a little bit about themselves and it’s hilarious how people, you know… We’re there. We’re old guys mainly learning to cycle, and yet, the one-upmanship, if you will, of what people say, about how much they cycle.


Adam: Might be a guy thing, too.


Richard: Yeah. That’s true. It probably is very much.


Adam: [Laughing]


Richard: And so, you have to – my view is – just discount what people say by 20, 30, 40%. But, at the same time, I agree, there’s some impressive backgrounds …


Adam: Mhm.


Richard: … and I think I said to you… your class, if you recall, I think in one of the early lectures, that you should never forget your background. It’s an important part of who you are. Don’t lose that in law school. It doesn’t matter whether you are K to JD or background, you obviously got into law school at a very young age. That itself is an accomplishment.


Adam: Yeah.


Richard: And so is somebody who’s done a Master’s and doctorate and then gone on to law school.


Adam: Fair enough. So, I want to flip this question back to you, professor.


Richard: Sure.


Adam: You see it every year many times over and so, I just want to clarify what you’re doing this year. Do you have every section this year?


Richard: No, I have two sections.


Adam: Two sections. Ok. So, you see that kind of play out in class, and it’s your exercise that you ask people to say something about themselves. Which I still remember. I still remember almost what everybody said on that first day.


Paul: You have a good memory.


Adam: Because it was like I didn’t really know anybody, so it was just a good way to be like: Oh, that thing? Ok. Ok. I was like, someone plays ping- …


Richard: Tennis!


Adam: I never found the ping pong player.


Richard: Tennis player!


Adam: Tennis player! I remember who the tennis player was.  But, yeah, it was a good exercise. But you probably see that feeling out because you have the kind of … you’ve seen it before. You’ve seen it play out before. What does that kind of look like to you each year? 


Richard: Almost exactly the same way. [Laughing]


Adam: Yeah. We’re not special.


Richard: You’re not individuals. You’re all just… there’s always a tennis player, there’s…


Everybody: [Laughing]


Richard: No. Not quite. But, you know, there’s always… there’s certain categories. There’s almost always a doctorate- that somebody’s done a doctorate. There’s some… there’s lots who’ve done science, but they’re still in a significant minority compared to those who’ve done arts. There’s some who are mature and have worked at various jobs. Usually pretty interesting jobs for awhile. And then there’s the K to JD. I love that.


Adam: I know.


Richard: I’m going to start using that now. I never knew that. So there’s all, you know- it’s never going to be exactly the same, but there are patterns that I see and I have to say – and this is only my perception based on the reactions of others – but, when people say they’ve done a PhD, that usually garners them, like, the most reaction from the others going… thinking… you can see it in their heads going: Oh my gosh. PhD. I’m competing with that person? This is not going to be good. That goes through peoples’ heads.


Excerpt of movie clip from Legally Blonde.


Professor: Ok, welcome to Law School. This is the part where we go around in a circle and everyone says a little bit about themselves. Let’s start with you.


David: Uh… my name is David Kidney. I have a Master’s in Russian literature. A PhD in biochemistry, and for the last 18 months I’ve been de-worming orphans in Somalia.


Professor: Awesome. What about you?


Enid: Hey, how you doing? I’m Enid Wessler. Got a PhD from Berkeley in Women’s studies, emphasis in the history of combat, and last year I single-handedly organized the march for Lesbians Against Drunk Driving.


Professor: Killer.


Enid: Good times.


Aaron: Aaron Mitchell. I graduated first in my class from Princeton. I have an IQ of 187, and it’s been suggested that Stephen Hawking stole his Brief History of Time from my fourth grade paper.


Professor: Cool.


Elle: Me?


Professor: Yeah.


Elle: Ok. Hi, I’m Elle Woods and this is Bruiser Woods, and we’re both Gemini vegetarians. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising from CULA and I was a Zeta Lambda Nu sweetheart, president of my sorority Delta Nu, and last year I was homecoming queen.


Adam: Yeah, because the … I think three days in we’re in a presentation where they have the curve up on the screen.


Richard: Oh!


Adam: And Dean Berger’s looking up there, pointing out, “Ok, so this is where you guys are all going to fit. 60% of you are going to be over here.”


Paul: Yeah, yeah.


Adam: …”and then 15% of you will get As. Only 15%. Look around you.”


Richard: [Laughing]


Adam: The way he says it makes you really feel good about it, somehow.


Paul: He has a way of doing it.


Adam: He has some skill for that.


Richard: Right.


Adam: But it goes away. I don’t think about that. I used think about it everyday for the first week. A good example I heard was that if seven of the Supreme Court justices sit down to write a law school exam, four of them would get Bs. It’s just… that’s the way that it was illustrated to me.


Richard: Well, isn’t that kind of what we do as lecturers in every class? We take apart a judgement and we basically grade the judges on their judgement without really giving out a grade. That’s funny. I like that. You’re full of little witty … sort of… aphorisms for life or something here.


Adam: I guess. [Laughing]


Richard: That’s good. Yeah, so I think all of that’s true. Again, I think in my course, one of the things that some students, I think, worry about is that those who have political science backgrounds, or really well-versed in civics… basically the fall term in public law is pretty easy to them, right? And so they…


Adam: I would… I might agree to that to some degree.


Paul: Yeah. I think so.


Richard: Yeah.


Adam: I felt like the fall term for State and Citizen was not as bad as it sounded. I was with everyone, even in criminal. I had a criminal background. It was just… it was still very law-y. But, State and Citizen is exactly that, right? Dealing with…


Richard: Yeah. It is different.


Adam: And it’s something that is so boring, but then you put it in a classroom format for learning about how the constitution interacts with citizens, and you need to know it. And it is interesting once you get into it, but there’s definitely a barrier to knowledge for or politics in general, so… So, there’s – what was the chapter? There was a chapter that was optional that you gave us about, you know, the operation of legislature, I believe. The passing of bills or whatnot.


Richard: Oh. Yes, yes. It’s just the basic…


Adam: It was boring, but I went through it in undergrad. I was just happy that I didn’t have to do it again in law school essentially.


Richard: It hasn’t changed since. But I- No, I agree. For some, a lot of is – even if you’re reading it in light of a law school casebook, you can probably just be a lot more efficient. You don’t have to struggle over a lot of the, you know…


Adam: That’s true.


Richard: Some people don’t even know what the House of Commons is.


Adam: Yeah.


Richard: And what is that? What do they do there? And so, yeah that… But I have to say, that’s one of the great things about law school. That’s my course. That’s State and Citizen. Some people take Contracts who’ve been in or working in a business.


Adam: Yeah.


Richard: They’ve been in… they’ve signed lots of contracts. They’ve read contracts, and so they might have an advantage in Contracts. So, you almost can find in any one course in first year where there’s people who have a grounding in that and others don’t, so…


Adam: Makes sense.


Richard: … it kinda works itself out I think.


Adam: It’s funny this all ended up around the same thing.


Paul: Yeah it is. By the end you’ve all taken so many leaps that it doesn’t really matter where you came from.


Adam: Yeah… I think someone’s at the door.


Richard: Someone’s at the door? [Sounding surprised] Oh, Paul, can you get that? Oh Zoe!


Zoe: Hi!


Richard: Hi. Uh. Zoe! What a… I guess we’re in the middle of this podcast, but Zoe we are are… this is our third edition of the podcast. You happened to drop by. I think you were going to give me something, but anyway, I was just…


Adam: [Laughing]


Richard: Join in! You want to join in?


Zoe: Sure.


[Interjection by Adam]


Adam: So, looking back and editing this episode, we noticed that we didn’t give a great introduction to who this person is that just walked into the room, so I’m just going to cut off the show right here for a second. Zoe Alexandra is faculty assistant to Professor Haigh at Osgoode. She’s the one that makes everything he does actually work, according to him. He claims that he would not be able to do anything, including this podcast, if she wasn’t around. All right. It’s pretty strong words. Unfortunately, he tells me, she’s moving to another faculty at York and he wants to say that he will miss her. So, Zoe, thank you very much for coming to the show and we’ll jump back to our conversation with you. 


[Resume show]


Richard: And I know, unfortunately we’re losing you in a very short time, so maybe you can tell us a little bit about your experience about Osgoode. How was it?


Zoe: It was…


Richard: What does the place have to offer…


Adam and Paul: [Laughing]


Richard: … Sorry, I’m a terrible interviewing. I’m sorry, I should be stopping when…


Zoe: You know, Osgoode has a lot to offer. I have loved working here. It’s an inspiring place to work mainly because I love the work that is done here. I love what all the professors do here, and shaping the minds of the students going through, and it’s- speaking of


Richard: Including these two?


Zoe: Exactly! Including these two. [Laughing] So, it’s fabulous to watch the changes that are going to happen because they students are going to go out and change the world and- in the future- and it’s in good, positive ways. And that’s what I love about this place. It’s educating people in a way where they can really make a difference. And, of course, I love all the people I work with, and the faculty are fantastic, and I’m going to- It’s a little bit of sadness that I’m leaving.


Richard: I know. I was hoping- I thought you might cry on the mic, but no.


Zoe: [Laughing]


Richard: No. You didn’t. That’s good.


Zoe: I’m British. It’s too far for listening.


Richard: Same here. Me too. Well, we’re going to miss you, too. I was saying to these two, that if you’d been here longer we would have had you on as a guest, because I do want to have some staff on as guests occasionally, but this will have to count as your guest appearance unless I can drag you away from- where are you going?


Zoe: I’m going to Faculty of Health to work in Development and Fundraising.


Richard: Oh well, awesome.


Zoe: That will be exciting. Yeah.


Richard: They will be better off for having you, I’m sure.


Adam: 100%.


Richard: All right.


Zoe: It will be fun. Thank you so much.


Richard: Thank you Zoe. Thank you for participating in this little exercise.


Zoe: My pleasure. [Voice fading as she walks away]


Adam: So, yeah, I want to hear the story about your 1L.


Richard: Ok. So, I’ll try and tie it in to what we’re saying so far. So, talking about students and being in intimidated and students trying to impress perhaps beyond what they’re able to, I remember in my first year, first term, we at Dalhousie where I went we had mostly full-year courses. So, there was not much going on in the first three months. We had one course that was the fall semester only, so we had a mid-term type thing in October, let’s say. And, so the first thing… item we got back in law school in terms of feedback, and you know, where you stood in the class, how you’re doing, was this particular midterm in this particular course. The name doesn’t matter. Anyway, one of my peers, after we got our grades back, without asking, without finding out what others had done, decided to hold a forum, basically, in what is the equivalent of the JCR. he stood up on a chair and he said, “I just got an A on the paper and I’d like to tell people how I did it. How people can get an A in law school, because I know a lot of you did not get As.”


Adam: Uhg. [sound of disgust]


Richard: And then he went on to discuss…


Paul: Wow. What a nice guy. [sarcasm]


Adam: Yeah, what a generous man. Must have been great at parties. [sarcasm]


Richard: [Laughing] I mean, first of all, there’s so many things you can say are wrong with that approach.


Adam: Oh yeah. What if he’s listening right now and he knows that it’s him.


Richard: Uhh… hopefully his memory isn’t as good as mine.


Adam: [Laughing] He’ll never forget his first A.


Richard: Possible. That’s why I’m not going to mention names.


Adam and Paul: [Laughing]


Richard: But I- you just… on so many levels that’s just wrong. [Laughing]


Adam: Yeah. And it’s funny because we just- our equivalent would have been our criminal law midterm. Ungraded, but just to give us an idea of what Professor Cameron wanted from us. And she did a good job of making in clear what she wanted from us, but I did not good on the very first midterm. And that was, like, our very first grade we got back. So, that means a lot to you, almost.


Richard: Right, it’s …


Adam: It feels like this is you forever now.


Richard: … you slot yourself in right away. Yeah.


Adam: Yeah. And you’re like, “wow, that guy – I could have sworn I saw a 27 out of 30 when I saw that guy’s paper when he was walking past.” I was like I have a lot of respect for that guy now.


Richard: Right.


Adam: [Laughing]


Paul: Conversely, I did really good on that first midterm, and I think it’s better that you don’t do well on the first one because it carries you with a false sense of confidence into the final, and the truth is…


Adam: … which is a great thing.


Paul: Yeah, that midterms have no bearing on how you do on the final.


Richard: And if you don’t do so well it motivates you more.


Paul: It motivates you.


Richard: And anyway, I don’t know where that student of mine is today, and how he’s managing, but it just struck me as the most bizarre thing to do. Even then, I just through…


Adam: Very insensitive.


Richard: … you know what? Yeah. That’s not what you want to do with your peers.


Adam: Just know that you’ve just pissed off about 60% of your peers with that single action. Yeah.


Richard: So, that would be my little bit of advice for today’s podcast is: don’t go bragging about your interim grades.


Adam: Yes. Confide in some people close to you, maybe? I find… I think it’s also a shame if you keep it to yourself too much. Some people, they … law school is like a social experience- or it should be. It’s so foreign to everybody. Your family’s not going to be able to really understand what’s going on. So, like, you want to make sure that you can find who you can trust and it might take even a couple of years in law school to figure out who you can trust, but it’s nice to be able to confide in people who aren’t going to; One: find out that you did really well in something and almost hold it against you, because I’ve heard that story before.


Richard: Yeah?


Adam: …find people aren’t going to hear that you did poorly and then not have any kind of respect intellectually, which I’ve heard that story as well. But I also- there’s also friends of mine that are very encouraging regardless of what my grades for first or second semester and it’s just nice to be able to have a discussion about what you did right, what you think you did wrong, and how they did, and what tips they can give you, and that’s super important, too.


Richard: That’s a very good way to end, I’d say.


Adam: Yeah. Oops.


Richard: So, I guess we should thank Paul…


Adam: Yeah.


Richard: … for his input this week’s episode…


Adam: Yeah. We need to bring you in more often just for these all-isms- that’s what we’ll call it. All-isms.


Richard: All-isms. That’s good. I’ve … if you have lots more you’re definitely getting invited back…


What’s Love Got to Do With It? Theme song plays in the background.



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