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It is not going to be easy, but we will survive | Carolina Albuquerque

Thursday, September 03, 2020 @ 1:47 PM | By Carolina Albuquerque

Carolina Albuquerque %>
Carolina Albuquerque
COVID-19 has impacted our lives in so many different ways: social distancing is now a common expression, wearing masks appears to be normal and the world is adapting to the virtual environment. Online learning is now a reality for most students, including law students.

Uncertainty and fear could be the first two words that describe my expectations in this new method of learning. The first issue that all new students will have to face is not having social interaction with other students. This may appear to be a silly problem, but the ability to communicate is an essential skill for a future lawyer. Sharing your thoughts in front of your classmates is the first step to having the confidence necessary to make a speech in court.

The first advice I received when I arrived in Canada was to build a strong network connections. “Your classmates will be the future law office owners, judges and maybe politicians,” someone told me when I was accepted at university. The truth is, professors, classmates and lawyers, each connection could make a huge difference in your future professional life.

Making strong connections in a virtual environment can be more challenging. Even though I believe that all universities are trying to make all resources available online, such as career fairs and student clubs, it will be quite hard to replace the in-person experience.

Unfortunately, the loss of contact does not appear to be the only problem that law students will face in the next term. It is not yet clear what the dynamic of classes will be and how online exams are going to work. Most law students are probably used to using computers to make notes and do their exams; however, doing an exam in a classroom for four hours is completely different from having a whole day to submit your exam online.

Students’ expectations of doing well on exams may be higher because they will have more time to prepare, and it may appear that doing exams at home, with access to all books and notes, would be easier, but that’s not the case. Trying to deal with pressure, less social interaction and anxiety because of the uncertainty about the next steps in law school will be tough challenges for all new law students.

Despite all the problems mentioned above, it is possible to see some benefits that can arise from online learning.

Some classes will be recorded by the university, which can make it easy for students to take notes and to review the lessons later. Additionally, students could have more free time, considering that they will not need to leave home to attend classes. Time, as is well known, is a valuable resource in a student’s life.

The fact is, while we do not have a vaccine for the virus that is still spreading around the world, we will have to adapt to the new circumstances. As future lawyers, it is our duty to find solutions to facing this situation in the best way possible. It will not be easy, but nobody ever said that becoming a lawyer would be simple.

Carolina Albuquerque is a lawyer who graduated in Brazil. She moved to Calgary and is enrolled in the law program at the University of Calgary, where she will soon start classes. She is also involved in volunteer programs that provide support for women.

Illustration by Chris Yates/Law360

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