Back to law school 2022: Food for thought | Darryl Singer

By Darryl Singer

Law360 Canada (September 6, 2022, 10:44 AM EDT) --
Darryl Singer
Darryl Singer
For law students, and for all students across Canada, this week marks the return to school. For many, this will be the first full in-person year since 2019. For others, it marks the first year of law school, which although a continuation of schooling after four years of post-secondary, is nonetheless a whole new experience. But more on that in a moment.

This past weekend, my 18-year-old twins, who will both be studying engineering away from home, had their move in to their respective residences at university. It was a very busy weekend indeed. But one thing that stood out to me was how the parents were all in it together. Hundreds of parents in their 40s, 50s and 60s, working co-operatively to move in and set up. Strangers spoke to each other with civility and authenticity, friendships were made. All of these folks from different socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, cultures, parts of the country and political persuasion. But every parent there had the same goals, and that is what brought it together: (a) to get their kids set up and off to a good start moving away from home, and (b) to ensure their offspring get a good education to set them up for positive futures. It was a reminder that I felt needed to be passed along.

The divisive politics of the last six years have driven wedges into friendships and families and workplace relationships. Yet, we forget at our core that we Canadians have much in common, even when we differ on political ideology or religion. We all want to live in safety and security, we all want the best life possible for our children, we all want to be governed fairly and free of corruption, and we all want an economy plentiful with jobs, low interest rates and a cost of living affordable to all.  

Millions of individuals, including my grandparents, came to this country for a better life — a life which meant the freedom to live in peace and have opportunity for them and their children. It’s worth remembering this next time you are tempted to dismiss a new acquaintance because their political views are discordant from yours, or because they speak with an accent, or because they don’t make as much money or have as much education as you. It’s worth remembering if your uncle or in-laws vote differently than you or get their news from a different source. I’m not suggesting that you agree with them or that you soften your views. What I am talking about is separating the thought, the vote, the religion, from the person.

Next time you are tempted to dismiss, condemn or confront, try to see that person not as a bundle of views with which you disagree, but as a spouse, a parent, a teacher, a friend, a sibling, a good worker, and find the common ground. Although I am really preaching to my contemporaries, it’s good advice for law students heading back to school too.

Speaking of which, if you are heading back to school, consider yourself lucky. In my day, students had all the fears, anxieties and requirements for accommodation that law students today have. But there was no support. Law school was a one size fits all, assuming everyone had their game together and wanted to land on Bay Street. Fortunately, we know better now. Every law school has peer mentors, student support groups, wellness offices and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) offices. Make sure you know where these places are and how to reach out to them. And remember, whatever your issue, I assure you, you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Contrary to what you may fear, seeking help will not harm your academic or professional career. In fact, by preserving your mental health, your academic and career success will be more certain.

Darryl Singer is head of commercial and civil litigation at Diamond & Diamond Lawyers LLP. He is a long-time volunteer with the Members’ Assistance Program. Law students can reach out to the MAP for confidential assistance with any issues that are troubling them, free of charge: 1-855-403-8922.

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's firm, its clients,
The Lawyer's Daily, LexisNexis Canada, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

Photo credit / Drazen Zigic ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

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