Well, it’s been a trip.
I won’t lie and say I’m sad it’s over, because three years of grinding through textbooks and essays and exams worth your entire grade is enough to drive someone mad, and I already had a head start before setting foot inside Gowlings Hall. My bank account certainly couldn’t take another year, and I’m basically sitting in a recliner with a goalie stick within reach, waiting for the day that CIBC decides to bust into my condo and steal my organs. No, I won’t miss trying to contain manic laughter during an exam so as not to disturb others who are so politely trying to do the same. I won’t miss staring at a half-finished 7000-word paper and realizing I’ll have to generously pad the sucker with near-nonsense to even get close to 6000. No more worrying about the city shutting off the school’s fricking water. Yes, it is time to go forth, and endure the equal-but-different kind of suffering that comes with a legal career.
I’d say “God help me,” but even if I had any religious beliefs, we all know that judges don’t like sharing authority in their courtrooms.
But I will miss it, I’m certain. At the very least, I’m sure I’ll miss it when I’m working sixty hours a week, losing sleep over the fact that people essentially put their lives in a lawyer’s hands, and that the imperfections that were once only a dent in a grade could now get me disbarred. I’m going to miss sitting in the Obiter office being more politically incorrect than I like to admit as I flip through old issues with a friend, laughing at the brutality of old-school law school pseudo-journalism. I’m going to miss being able to find Lionel Hutz funny.
I’m also going to miss the lot of you. I regret not getting to know people better, but from what I’ve come to know, if we’re going to be the lawmakers if the future, our country is in good hands. Maybe I don’t get along with all of you, and maybe the feeling isn’t mutual, but I can’t think of a single person in Osgoode I dislike. At your worst, you’re some of the best people I’ve ever met. Whatever may come, it’s been an honour.
And for my colleagues graduating this year, do take a moment to be proud of your achievements. Granted, you basically have to put effort into failing law school, but it’s a still a huge commitment and a lot of work, and you deserve praise for pulling it off. Some of you were raising children as you went through this. Maybe I’m biased (because I know I didn’t make mom’s law school experience very easy), but to balance that and three years of intensive graduate education? That’s amazing. If your kids are half as capable as you are, they’ll do fine.
And for those of you who still have a year or two to go, hang in there. It’s tough, and sometimes you’ll look at your textbook or that C on a paper that you’ve never seen before and wonder, “what the hell am I doing here?” Don’t worry. For me, a lot of this stuff didn’t click until midway through last semester, as my transcripts so kindly remind me. Getting here is impressive enough. You have to beat out seventy-five percent of people who were A students in undergraduate studies in an exam that’s basically an IQ test designed by psychopaths before most law schools will even look at you. I recall showing the LSAT to a woman with three university degrees, and it took her a minute too long to provide an incorrect answer. Being mediocre here still means you’re extremely high-functioning. You can do this.
I’m saying this as someone who almost dropped out of law school within the first six weeks. My fiancé dumped me with a note on the coffee table two months before the start of classes. I suffer from serious depression and anxiety, and a characteristic of that particular combo is a voice in your head that constantly tells you how pathetic and worthless you are, and that you deserve no love, kindness, or respect. In a few hundred words, that voice was validated, and it broke me. With the help of friends and family, the support of colleagues and Osgoode staff, and the grim realization that I had nowhere to go but forward, I kept going. To this day, I still live in the shadow of that wretched evening, but it turns out that even a broken man can make it. And so can you.
You can make it. You deserve to make it. You will make it.
And hopefully, one day, I’ll see your name on a pleading, and we’ll remember that while we’re on opposite ends of the negotiating table, we don’t call opposing counsel “my friend” sarcastically. Or at least, we shouldn’t. We marched through this fire together, after all.
Best of luck on exams. You’ll crush it.