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 4: The Supreme Court of Film

February 3, 2019

Episode 4 – The Supreme Court of Film


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


Adam: What happened in 12 Angry Men?


Michael: Well, obviously he’s guilty and he gets executed in Texas.


Adam: [Chuckles]


Michael: … by men with machine guns.


Adam: Ah! Spoiler! You just ruined it for me.


Michael: Yes, I spoiled it.


Adam: Sorry we didn’t say spoiler alert, but I would encourage you to still watch the movie after that.


Music finishes.


Adam: Hello and welcome to What’s Law Got to Do With It; A light-hearted look at life in law school. I’m Adam Lachance.


Richard: And I’m Professor Richard Haigh.


Adam: Today, we’re going to look at free time. Do law students have any? What should they do in their free time?


Richard: IF they have any.


Adam: IF it exists. Our guest today is Michael McNeely. Michael, you want to tell us a little bit about yourself?


Michael: Yes. Hi. My name is Michael. I’m a second-year law student with you, Adam, and I’m just contemplating now what I do with my free time. So, I guess it will be a very informative chat. I am one of the students with a disability here at Osgoode. I’m passionate about human rights law and I love movies. How was that?


Adam: Sounds like a perfect fit. We actually worked together for Access to Osgoode. That was a student club where we kind of do some activism for people with disabilities.


Richard: Michael and I had an interesting first meeting because it was … was is August when you wanted to meet with me before school began?


Michael: Yes.


Richard: And Michael suggested we meet at a Starbucks on College?


Michael: How many are there?


Richard: Yeah.


Michael: There can only be one Starbucks.


Richard: Yeah, you think there’s only ONE Starbucks on College, isn’t there?


Adam: [Chuckling]


Richard: Turns out we were meeting at different Starbucks.


[All laughing]


Adam: … meeting different people.


Richard: So, I eventually made my way to the Starbucks that Michael was at. And I blame him! I think he gave me the wrong address.


Michael: Yes.


Richard: But then we had a … we learned a … I learned that very day that you enjoy movies.


Michael: Yes.


Richard: And so that… that’s why we’re here to talk about free time, spare time. My guess is Michael, that your spare time – if you have any – is spent on watching movies.


Michael: Well, the reason why I mentioned my disability is I’ve basically allocated Monday to Friday just attending class, and I’m happy with that because I don’t really have a lot of energy afterwards… after class because I’ve been trying to pay attention with notes, understand what’s going on in my environment, and I feel pretty fatigued after. So, I mostly use the weekend… the week for my free time. And then, on the weekends, I will do the readings and catch up on my homework.


Richard: Yeah, that’s…


Michael: Because, then, I have a day to allocate to that.


Richard: Yeah. I always wondered. You wouldn’t know this, but Adam, I always give Adam a reading assignment for these podcasts hoping that he’ll do it in his FREE time. Adam, I’m looking at you. Did you…


Adam: I’m pretty sure I read one along the way, but this week I … I actually was busy with some of my other free time activities.


Richard: Oh! Ok.


Adam: I couldn’t get it done.


Richard: Well…


Michael: I was a former high school teacher. I can tell you that the “ahs” that Adam had is an indication that he forgot about it altogether.


Adam: [Laughing]


Richard: Yes. I know. I learned that, too, in the various meetings we’ve had. The “ahs” indicate … no! It’s a substitute for “no.”


Michael: No, my favourite thing is when Adam gets angry and he yells at people on the phone. So, I hope you get that some time.


Richard: No. I’ve never had that.


Adam: We had a terrible experience flying to Edmonton and our luggage all got lost. I was using my former call center experience to berate people… [laughing] that lost our luggage. He loved every second of it. It was his favourite part of the trip.


Richard: [Laughing] Right.


Michael: Yeah, so I was videotaping him because he’s very cute when he does that. But no, we were trying to find my missing suitcase, and so I ask him to call Air Canada, and he was yelling at Air Canada and then we discovered that the suitcase was in my room.


Adam: They delivered it to the room, and I was like, “Mike! Why didn’t you see that?” And he’s like, “Are you kidding me? I’m blind!”


Richard: [At the same time as Adam] “I’m blind!”


Adam: Yeah, that’s true. That’s on me.


Richard: Ah. I can picture both of you in that role. All right, I have to get… I have to reign you guys in. Back to…


Adam: Sorry, sorry.


Richard: So, you know, I think one of the things that made me think about this as a theme for the episode is that a lot of law students will say they have zero free time. That their entire life is spent reading law, going to law school, and then I guess eating and sleeping. Poor things. And I think, first of all, my view is that can’t possibly that, but even if it is, even if we accept that, there’s something wrong with that. We need… you NEED to have free time. Everybody needs free time, no matter what you do. So, I say, Michael your free time… What did you do last week in some of those free times that you said you had?


Michael: Well, I’ve been trying to finish Lost, the television show.


Richard: Ah.


Michael: I’m on season 3 and just waiting to find out what happens. And obviously I know they’re all in purgatory, or whatever. But it’s fascinating to watch anyway.


Richard: Hold it! That all goes over my head since I’ve never seen a single episode of Lost. I did know that it existed, but I haven’t seen it. So, I’ll… you don’t tell me. I don’t even know …


Michael: Ok. I apologize if I spoiled anything.


Richard: … even the purgatory comment gave me…


Michael: I don’t want to be stuck on an island.


Richard: That’s assuming… [Repeating with laughter] “I don’t want to…”


Michael: So, I just finished going to TIFF, as you did as well.


Richard: Yes.


Michael: … just trying to finish up some of my reviews – my last-minute reviews – and trying to make some recommendations to the festival. I was also on radio with the AMI Radio, so trying to advocate for people with disabilities attending TIFF.


Richard: Hmm.


Michael: And, so I have a few recommendations I’d like to make next year and I’m trying to figure out the best way to convey them.


Richard: That’s all good. So, what you’re doing is marrying your professional, or your school life, with some of your free time. But it still counts… you consider it almost … It’s not the same as going to law school. It’s doing something different. Using a different part of your brain.


Michael: Well, it’s also partly because I’m a bit older than most students going to law school. I just have a need to … you know… use the studying that I’ve done to try and put it to good use because I don’t know how much time I have left on this planet, but I already spent 7 years studying for my Master’s, and this… I mean, obviously law school and I want to do something to change the way things are.


Richard: Yeah. Yeah.


Michael: So, I’m happy that I’m on placement this year and I get to work in a law firm. And also I’m trying to take on some advocacy projects along with Adam helping me as well and seeing what kinds of things I can change with the limited knowledge that I currently have.


Richard: So, I think that’s a pretty well-rounded existence you have. Now Adam, we didn’t ask. What do… You have free time, don’t you?


Adam: I’m going to say some things that I do in my free time and it’s going to sound like I do a lot more than I really do. But, I think I fall under the same strategy as Mike where I kind of marry the things I like to do with kinda like other tasks. So, I’ll give some examples: one would be I like podcasting, so we’re doing a podcast right now. I love making … this is my version of art – is putting together a podcast or something like that. It’s just fun and a little bit more creative than the standard stuff that we get stuck doing. Another thing last night I was teaching a Brazilian jiujitsu class for the York University Martial Arts Club.


Richard: Oh.


Adam: That was like our first class of the year, but I will be teaching that every week.


Richard: Right.


Adam: But I also do Brazilian jiujitsu at a gym near here when I can. So…


Michael: And Adam is in good physical shape, I should mention.


Adam: [Laughing] Thanks Mike.


Richard: Yeah, the problem with podcasts is that you can’t really tell, can you?


Adam: [Laughing]


Michael: No you can’t.


Adam: Any listeners out there, you can just imagine chiseled man when you hear this voice.


Richard: [Laughing]


Adam: But… so those would be some examples. But, for example, the teaching one is, yeah, it’s two-fold right? I’m doing something I like, but I’m also doing some volunteering and helping people out that have never learned anything like this. Maybe they can learn to protect themselves a little bit better, and just encouraging people to be a little physical and step outside their comfort zone.


Richard: Yeah.


Adam: So, it’s kind of a mix… those mix together well.


Richard: So, what would … what advice would you give? Let’s start with you, Michael. What advice would you give to first year students who think they have no free time?


Michael: Let’s talk about how we should manage our time.


Richard: Yes.


Michael: I think, first of all, when you’re in law school, you’re going to learn strategies about how to read cases and how to study, so I think unfortunately the first two months you’re going to suffer. You’re going to read cases badly, you’re going to struggle with the vocabulary, you’re going to mess up your summaries, you’re going to wonder what the important points are, and I guess that’s perfectly normal, for the record. But I guess at some point you start to get more effective in terms of studying cases. You get to know the five W’s. The Who, What, Why, Where, When, How? You figure that out and, you know, the words are still challenging, but you figure out some sources, you know, some unofficial sources to get answers. And, you’re like: Ok, well the Eldritch case was very interesting because it was about deaf people trying to sign, so I think I’ll just hold on to that more tightly than the other ones.


Richard: Yeah.


Michael: And they knew. You have your go-to. And, I guess, long story short, you decide Lost is more important than reading cases.


Richard: [Laughing]


Michael: And you…


Adam: Sometimes it should be though, right?


Richard: Yeah.


Adam: Sometimes it should be more important.


Richard: And TIFF!


Adam: If you only care about reading cases, by the time you become a lawyer you’re going to be burnt out. You’re not going to even like it anymore.


Richard: And you’ll be a very narrow-minded person. But, no! Michael’s all really great tips. The fact is that there will be a time in which it seems like it’s all consuming and you can’t do much at all. But, that will end.


Michael: And, one more thing is that, because I had an English background, I just looked at the cases – and still do – as short stories. And I’m just like, can I take another short story? Will I be able to remember it? And if I can’t, then I have to go do something else. Because, you know, all the short stories are about people and these people are in some sort of unfortunate circumstance, and, you know, for a while you can engage with it. But then, when you stop, you should move onto something else because you’re useless at that point in studying further, and you’re just wasting your time at that point.


Richard: Do you picture all law cases as movies? Do you see them visually in your brain?


Michael: Some of them. Some of them I think would be really fantastic climatic scenes. I know you saw July 22nd.


Richard: Yes.


Michael: I’m looking forward to being able to talk to you more about that, but you said most of it was in the court room?


Richard: Yes.


Michael: I think other cases are boring, so I guess maybe not.


Richard: Yeah. Well, State and Citizen cases …


Adam: They’re public law cases!


Richard: No. The charter cases are good.


Adam: Yeah, yeah.


Richard: Well, so, again I think that’s true. I … you know? That’s why law is so interesting to people because they’re stories of life.


Michael: Yes.


Richard: And sometimes in bad ways, but they are stories about youths, you know? Tension. It’s got all of the elements of a story.


Michael: I know. Professor Priel told me about the study of literature and film within law. So, that’s always been an interest of mine. And, you know, just how when the judge quotes Moby Dick or something what is he or she trying to do? And, you know, to capture the longstanding ideas that we’ve head.


Richard: Yeah. Yeah.


Michael: That’s interesting.


Richard: U of T actually has a program – a joint degree in law and literature, I believe. An MA in literature with AD in … it seems to make sense. So, I had a funny thing happen in class this week that kind of ties into the whole, well… you talking about Lost and me not wanting to know. So, I was talking about the film 12 Angry Men.


Excerpt from the movie:


11 guilty. One not guilty. Well, now we know where we are.


Boy oh boy, there’s always one.


Well, what do we do now?


Richard: Oh yeah.


Michael: Oh yes.


Richard: And I was going to explain to the students what happened, and one student put up his hand: “Don’t say it!” And I said it’s a movie from the … yeah…


Michael: 1950s.


Adam: … beginning of time.


Richard: … the 50’s. Michael will know the exact date, probably.


Michael: 1956.


Richard: Anyway. We’ll assume that’s correct.


Adam: [Laughing]


Richard: I hope so. I mean, at some point there is a time in which you can’t hold back. Right? I mean…


Adam: I think we should write a case where we make the decision about the timeline. If you were the judge…


Richard: …If you’re going to get a spoiler alert


Adam: … of the Supreme Court of film and spoilers, where would you come now? Where was the appropriate timeline?


Richard: What is the limitation period on spoiler alerts?


Adam: Yeah, what is the time…?


Michael: No, I think… honestly think, the longer we live the more interesting it will be to enjoy stories from the past and I don’t think we should spoil them. I think we should have a place…


Adam: Wow. Sounds like an official decision.


Michael: No, I think we should have a place for people who know how the story ends. They can talk about it.


Richard: Yeah.


Michael: And then we should have a place for people are just beginning to learn about the story.


Adam: [Laughing] He’s so good!


Richard: What? Like a cone of silence? Like Get Smart?


Adam: It’s so good.


Excerpt from film:


Just a minute, chief. Isn’t this top security? Well shouldn’t we activate the cone of silence?


Cone of silence?




All right then, Max. Hodgkins?


Yes, sir?


Activate the cone of silence.


The cone of silence?


[Electronic sounds of activation]


Michael: No, I mean, the enjoyment of Lost or the enjoyment of Sixth Sense - you know Sixth Sense?


Richard: Yeah.


Michael: The enjoyment of the film is greatly hampered by the fact that, you know…


[Electronic sounds of activation (same sound as above)]


Michael: You have to bleep that part out.


Adam: Don’t worry. I got it covered.


Richard: He could say…


Adam: You know what, spoilers allowed in this show.


Michael: He should say that M. Night Shyamalan is a hack.


Richard: [Laughing]


Michael: And he… That’s one of the only good things he’s done.


Richard: The ONLY good thing he’s done. You’re right. The only good movie he’s made.


Michael: One or two… there’s another one I’ll give …


Richard: The one in the corn fields with …


Michael: I like The Village. But other people don’t, because they don’t think blind people are like that, but I liked it. It was fascinating to me.


Richard: Anyway, I… well, my view was that you should know what happened in 12 Angry Men and if you don’t it’s too late… it’s gone.


Adam: It’s 50 years old. We’re the majority, so he’s the dissenting opinion on this one.


Michael: If you want to know a fun fact about 12 Angry Men: It was one of the only films that was filmed in one area. So, you can basically call that a … I guess… a phonebooth episode.


Richard: Oh. Like in one room.


Michael: Yeah. One room. It was very well done and …


Adam: Well, they made a lot of money on that… that movie.


Richard: It was cheap.


Adam: Oh no. Well, they had a lot of good actors in that, though. Right?


Richard: Right.


Michael: A bottle episode. Yes. Like a bottle episode or a bottle movie.


Richard: I have to go back, because I love Adam’s hypothetical Supreme Court of Film.


Adam: Yeah!


Richard: We need a Supreme Court of Film, don’t we?


Adam: Yeah. It would probably save us from a lot of things.


Richard: Michael would be the chief justice.


Michael: I will be the chief justice man!


Richard: [Laughing] Yeah.


Michael: Chief Justice of the…


Adam: What would you strike from the television… from television first? What would be the first thing to go?


Michael: No. The first thing to go would be movies that are more than an hour and a half long.


Adam: [Laughing]


Michael: Because I can’t stand them. I have to go to the bathroom at some point.


Adam: What about all the classic movies that are two and a half hours?


Michael: There no classic movie…


Adam: [Laughing] There’s no classic movie over an hour and a half long?


Michael: No. You can’t strip them down with a …


Richard: Apocalypse Now!


Adam: Is there a period of time that you would give for longer movies to cut their episodes to shorter… do a two-movie series? Lord of the Rings, do you see a movie series?


Michael: I can do that. I’m fine with two movies. Two movies that are both an hour and a half. At the end. And then it says, “Come back to part 2 whenever you’re ready.” So, the Bollywood movies had it right. They did an intermission. People can go to the bathroom and people can come back. I hated TIFF when they said they cut the intermission. I’m like, “Excuse me? We kind of favour are you doing to these people?” You’re forcing us to hold our bladder until we explode. And I’m like that’s not sensible. That’s not rational. That’s not reasonable.


Richard: All right. Michael...


Michael: And television…


Richard: Calm down. Calm down.


Adam: [Laughing]


Michael: Well, you just told me we should…


Richard: We got to turn this back. So, that actually ties in a bizarre way… I can connect that with free time.


Adam: Oh yeah. [Laughing]


Richard: So, your free time should only be an hour and a half, because after that it’s too long. You got to go to the bathroom. Is that the same as lectures?


Michael: No. I could…


Richard: Lectures should be…


Michael: Ok. Let’s talk about lectures, ok?


Richard: Ok, well, except that’s not part of free time. But I guess we… We’re just


Michael:  No, but I …


Richard: Whatever.


Adam: There’s themes to get us started. This is where we’re looking to go.


Richard: Ok. Let’s talk about lectures.


Michael: I saw a Master’s degree in finance being advertised for the busy business person, and it was saying you can do it in snack bites. So, you can log on to the website, you can watch a 15-minute segment…


Richard: Yep.


Michael: … and then you can carry on with your day. In some ways I think the discipline of teaching should evolve to such a degree that, you know, for example, you would talk about … I guess… Negligence in maybe 10 or 15 easy lessons that are 15 minutes long. And they would basically help a lot of people with various attention spans, because if I had a long attention spans, I could take three of these capsules, but someone like Adam could take one, for example.


Richard: He has the attention span of a gnat? Is that what you’re saying?


Michael: Well, I’m just saying he’s a busy guy.


Richard: He’s a busy guy. He’s a busy guy. He puts a positive spin on everything, doesn’t he?


Michael: It’s just sometimes, you know, my father used to teach me to take a break every hour and I think that’s sometimes the best way to retain any information instead of just shoving all in one sitting.


Richard: There are a lot of continuing legal education programs. I think they call it the 6-Minute Lawyer, or the 5-Minute Lawyer? But they’re 6 minute little mini lectures.


Michael: Oh yeah. I saw some of those being advertised as well. And then, it’s just a matter of legal education learning some things from education, and just learning about how people learn these days. Because people learn these days in the digital environment differently than they would have maybe even 20 years ago.


Richard: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and that was part of what your Master’s was about, wasn’t it? Accommodation. How different people learn differently including accommodated students, and there’s…


Michael: Well, yeah. I learned a bit about that. But, my Master’s was focusing on teachers with disabilities and unfortunately I like to do my Masters on law on lawyers with disabilities. So, I’m sure people will say I have fantastic ideas.


Adam: [Laughing]


Michael: But, honestly, it’s the same thing. I would be studying the same thing, because…


Richard: … there’s no…?


Michael: It’s tough to get into a profession and have a disability. And so, it’s interesting to see how those people have thrived.


Adam: Hey, there’s many groups in the past that have … that said the same thing, right? They need certain people to lead the way. We’ve seen it time and time again with different groups. BUT! On a lighter note, I have a question for you. For you to go to law school, were there any specific movies or tv that kind of inspired you to seek legal education? Or what was it that led you down that path?


Michael: It was probably 12 Angry Men to be perfectly honest.


Richard: Oh! [Laughing]


Michael: I used to…


Richard: What happened in 12 Angry Men? Can you tell us?


Michael: What?


Richard: What happened in 12 Angry Men?


Michael: Well, obviously, you know he’s guilty and he gets executed in Texas…


Richard: [Laughing]


Michael: … by five men with machine guns.


Richard: Ah! Ok. Spoiler! You just ruined it for us.


Michael: Yes, I spoiled it.


Adam: Sorry, we didn’t say “Spoiler Alert,” but I would encourage you to still watch the movie after that.


Michael: No, I mean, just watch it with a mission.


Richard: Well, Michael… people who know Michael know that he has a very, very… I was going to say warped sense of humour, but it’s not. It’s just a subtle sense of humour.


Michael: It’s random.


Richard: He was …


Michael: I can … Adam knows that more than most people because I text him random things everyday.


Richard: Ok. But I know it, too. I enjoy your company. You’ve got a …


Michael: I appreciate it.


Richard: You’ve got a…


Michael: Well, you’ve made me consider grad school, which I really wasn’t going to consider. But, I think it would really be a safe place for me and my sense of humour.


Richard: Yes. Your droll sense of humour. Because you don’t show… you don’t show that you’re joking. People have to figure it out.


Adam: [Laughing] He was talking about cycling earlier. We had…


Richard: Oh yeah. I never got through all my work! Nobody cares about my free time. So, I cycle… which is my… I go to movies a lot – which is like Michael. TIFF especially, and the Docs… Documentary Film Festival. I travel a lot. I try to travel. The other day – I hate to say this, because all my friends and colleagues hate me for it – but as a professor, I have four months of free time between May and September.


Adam: Wow.


Richard: Which is very lucky for most jobs. Now, I do have to write and research, but it’s still… it’s unstructured time. So, yeah. But I think there’s – to end on this note – free time is extremely important for your own mental well-being, and doing things different from just studying or just working – assuming that we’ve moved on to work – is very important. And I think that exercise activity is also one of the key things.


Michael: I think also… I think … Just one more thing is that, you know, having a friend. Even my friendship with Adam has been … made a lot of difference. So, you have a friend, you call your friend and just talk for 5 minutes. I think that’s….


Richard: Yeah.


Michael: … that’s a life saver.


Richard: Exactly right.


Adam: If you don’t make that time out, it’ll make its own time is what I’ve found. But if I don’t take the time and do these things that I like to do outside of law. I will become either … I’ll start just wasting that exact same time doing stupid little things that take the same amount of time, like strolling through my Facebook feed, or doing something ridiculous. What a waste of time, you know?


Richard: I was going to say, these are big time waste… devices are bad and … 


Michael: I play games at home…


Richard: … human contact is actually, I would say, is never a time waster.


Adam: You’re getting more bang for your buck I feel like, is what’s happening, instead of wasting your time. If you get to choose your free time, you’re getting a benefit every time. As opposed to it being imposed. I feel like it gets imposed. 100% it gets imposed because I do it every year. I do the same thing. I start off good and then next thing you know I’m wasting the same amount of time doing crap.


Richard: [Laughing]


Adam: Right?


Richard: Well, on that note, we’re not… three of us are not going to waste any more time unproductively. We’re going to have some productive free time.


Adam: [Sigh] Oh productive free time? (sarcastically) Oh ok! I was worried there. I was afraid you were going to tell me to read again.


Richard: No! No. I’ll go make a coffee and anyway… I’ll go figure out…


Adam: Are you saying no readings for next week?


Richard: No, no, no. That… you’ve got a week!


Adam: [Laughing] Jesus! (muttering under his breath)


Richard: So, next week’s readings, Adam, come out of this book from Robert Miller called Law School Confidential.


Adam: Ok.


Richard: I’ll give you the copy and you can take it home, ok?


Adam: Sounds like a plan. I promise I’ll read it…


[“What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Music starts playing in the background]


Richard: Yeah, yeah. All right. See you later everybody.


Adam:  Bye, bye.

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