Law school is more than studying the law

As the days grow longer with sunlight, I realize how much closer I am to graduating from law school, and while that thought is exhilarating, it is also intimidating. This month, I decided to share my gratitude for things that law school brought me, whether it be through my education, or through moving here to Windsor.

Kristen Slaney

As the days grow longer with sunlight, I realize how much closer I am to graduating from law school, and while that thought is exhilarating, it is also intimidating. No longer will I be a student with the multiple perks and discounts. However, I’m thrilled about the prospects of starting articling soon, about learning from an incredible bunch of lawyers and developing and growing in my legal career. With all these emotions in mind, it is normal that nostalgia should follow. This month, I decided to share my gratitude for things that law school brought me, whether it be through my education, or through moving here to Windsor.

Until recently, I was a server at a small but fantastic beer brewery in Windsor. I loved working my Friday and Saturday night shifts with my regulars, and catching up on what happened while I was at school all week. However, my other favourite moments (and first point of gratitude) would be when fellow classmates /faculty/staff would, unbeknownst to my working there, come in to the brewery.

With classmates and law school faculty/staff alike, it was always a fun time getting to know their tastes in craft beer, make suggestions as to what they might like at our fine little establishment, and talk about something so far from our daily norm.

This allowed me to establish connections with people from outside of a law perspective. As for my friends (and let me tell you, I have stellar friends), they would study at the brewery while I finished my shifts, sipping on whatever I poured them and munching on charcuterie boards.

During my time working there, I even managed to meet some celebrities (that I had no idea I was serving, at the time), and local politicians (one of whom became a friend). If I hadn’t have come to Windsor law, I would never have had this opportunity, and would have never gotten to know my classmates in a new setting.

I will always look back on law school with fond memories, but I will always look back on getting to know the people at school through my love of craft beer as something I hold near-and-dear to my heart. Had I not been in Windsor for law school, and stayed over the summer of 2L, I would not have had this amazing opportunity.

Second, law school bas allowed me to find my newest-but-truest friends. It is no secret that law school can be trying for students. Add that to being far from home, and other stressors of life, it is clear the combination of stress can be a lot to handle. This is where great friends come in. It is during these times that my friends have been unconditionally and unequivocally supportive of me and my needs. They have gone far above and beyond to make sure that I am my content, healthy self. My friends have done everything from laugh with me, cry with me, and embarrass themselves with me. One time I spilled a drink on my shirt and my best friend spilled some on hers, too, to make me feel less alone. I am forever grateful and no matter how much I want to thank them, there are no words to express how grateful I am for them.

Third, law school has given me the opportunity to explore a new geographic location. Growing up in small town Newfoundland, it was always a dream of mine to travel, and see what life had to offer outside of my fishing village. In undergrad, I had the opportunity to explore a lot of Europe, and I am forever grateful for that. However, the United States and Central Canada was a place that I wanted to visit, but never made a priority. In going to law school in both Windsor and Detroit, I’ve had the opportunity to explore Ontario (my first week in Windsor I travelled by car to Owen Sound with some friends) and the United States. While Ontario is incredible, Detroit surprised me with the delicious restaurants, the friendly people and the resilience of the city in making its big comeback.

Luckily, in the USA, states are much closer together than provinces are in Canada, and flights are much cheaper. Thanks to this geographical proximity I have had the chance to explore Detroit; Ann Arbour, Michigan; Massachusetts; Florida; Georgia and New York, just to name a few. Not only have I managed to explore Michigan, but I will always consider it another home-away-from home, and it will always hold a spot in my heart.

While law school is, at the core, about successfully getting a law degree (or two), I have learned that law school constitutes three years of our lives where we get to learn, grow, and gain insightful and fun experiences. It is so important to show gratitude for all that we have learned over the past three years, and I happy to share my top three things of gratitude that surround my law school experience. 

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