As we enter September, we asked our members of our Young Lawyers Division Executive to reflect even back to their earliest days of legal learning to find out, with the benefit of hindsight, what they might say to their ‘new-to-law-school’ selves to more nimbly navigate the challenges or make the most of the experience.

SPILL: Advice for your new-to-law-school self

  • August 30, 2023
  • Young Lawyers Division Executive Members

Two years ago, we published a ‘Spill’ column in which young lawyers shared the advice they would offer their ‘first-day-on-the-job’ selves – so those on the precipice of practice could benefit from the perspectives of those who made the leap not that long ago. As we approach September, we asked our members to reflect even further back – to their earliest days of legal learning – to find out, with the benefit of hindsight, what they might say to their ‘new-to-law-school’ selves to more nimbly navigate the challenges or make the most of the experience.


Do Prepare …

“Do the readings. It’s important to have thought about the cases and have come prepared before heading into class. You may not agree with what you have read, or you may drum up some hypothetical where the case law may or may not – or should not – apply. You may think that the decision is wrong. Sometimes, you may agree with the dissent. Your class may provide you with an opportunity to explore your ideas, or you may wish to discuss these ideas with your professor. Either way, it’s good to have a critical perspective toward some cases, and taking this approach may help strengthen your understanding of what you are reading generally throughout law school. Remember, law school may be the only place where you have the opportunity to exercise this critical approach. Take advantage of the opportunity by exploring your ideas with your professors, or maybe writing an independent or supervised paper on the topic.” - Nancy Sarmento

… and Don’t Compare

“How successful you are in law school is no reflection on how successful you will be as a lawyer. Don’t compare yourself to your colleagues.” - Keagan Davis-Burns

“I would say to myself, ‘Go at your own pace and don’t be intimidated by the pace others set for themselves. What you are doing is enough and works for you.’” - Olivia Koneval-Brown


Be Kind …

“As you start your first semester at law school, be kind to yourself and, if you are feeling a bout of imposter syndrome, remember that many of your peers are feeling the same way. Just as important, many lawyers who came before you felt the same way but persevered regardless. Try to stay confident and remind yourself that you were accepted to your school for a reason. Keeping that mindset will help set you up for success.” - Alexander Evangelista

… and Keep an Open Mind

“Don’t limit yourself too soon in terms of area of study – you never know what will end up being useful to your eventual practice. Law school is busy, but make time to socialize with your fellow students. It really is a small bar and today’s classmates will be counsel you come across when working in just a few years!” - Sarah Knibutat

“I would tell my new-to-law-school self to engage with others and form study groups on the areas of law that didn’t come as naturally to me. I learned while studying for the Bar exam how impactful it was to be able to study with my peers who focused their studies on different areas of law, while being able to offer insight into the areas that I had focused on during law school. Don’t be afraid to admit what you need help on. First year of law school is a new experience for everyone – leaning on your peers to help navigate the experience is definitely worthwhile!” - Nicole Cianci


Find your Zen …

“Find your passion outside the walls of law school and pursue it. By pursuing my passion for bodybuilding throughout law school, I found balance in life and my time at Osgoode. Remember, when it comes to the exams, papers, 24-hour library study sessions and the bar exam, that too shall pass.” - Mary El'Bably

“Have fun, enjoy every moment, because you may look back one day and realize that those were some of the best moments of your life. Prioritize varied experiences like internships over perfect grades.” - Stephanie Gagné

“If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that things work out as they should. Pursue your interests and be passionate about everything you do.” - Emily OKeefe

… and Let Others In

“I would tell myself to relax more and have fun meeting my classmates. These people will be your colleagues, peers, and referral sources for the rest of your career!” - Jill Lewis