Gold medal grad reflects on Robson Hall
Law school can be intimidating. But according to recent grad Josh Morry, that intimidation is all in your head.
“It appears at first to be super competitive,” said Josh. “That’s mostly not true. Most people who go to law school end up making friends and connections, not rivals. I used to think Asper (School of Business) was tight-knit – Robson Hall is tighter. I know everyone’s name here. I still have a group chat running with a bunch of guys from here.”
Josh had options when choosing which law school to attend. He says a large part of the reason he chose Robson Hall was its community.
“Even though I had choices about which law school to attend, I’m glad I chose this one,” said Josh. “I found it fun, believe it or not. I liked it. I liked the small class sizes. I liked being able to make friends and get to know the profs – Professor Khoday, specifically, helped me sort out my career aspirations; and Professor Heckman’s administrative law course helped me really see the application of my career choice.
“I don’t know if you’d get those personal relationships with professors at larger law schools. I have a friend who started here and transferred to Queen’s – their class is double or triple the size. There’s less opportunity for getting to know the faculty.”
For Josh, it wasn’t all about the classroom – the clinical components of his Robson Hall education were invaluable.
“Clerking at the Manitoba Court of Appeal was great,” said Josh. “We’re lucky to be able to do things like that. Since Robson Hall is the only law school in Manitoba, students here can just go to the highest court in the province for clerkship – we have that privilege.”
In addition to clerking, Josh found participating in the Laskin Moot one of the most rewarding parts of his legal education.
“It’s rare you get an oral advocacy opportunity like that,” said Josh. “Mooting changes the way you think about the law. You’re seeing how it would work in real life.
“Robson Hall’s not one of these enormous schools, and each student is only allowed one moot so pretty much everyone who really wants to do a moot can do one. Plus, mooting counts as a course – and the networking value is great. You end up meeting guest coaches, judges and competitors from legal communities across Canada.
“For example, one of my friends was at a moot and struck up a conversation with a guy – they had a drink together, and my friend learned he was talking to a Supreme Court of Canada justice. You can’t put a price tag on that.”
Josh graduated this year with the Robson Hall gold medal – the highest overall grade point average in his class. That academic standing allowed him entry into the University of Oxford, where he’ll pursue his Master of Laws next year.
According to Josh, Robson Hall is undervalued nationally.
“There are a lot of flaws in the ranking systems. For example, one of the criteria is whether or not you went to a national firm – I think it should be whether graduates get to work at firms of their choice. Isn’t that more important?
“Robson Hall’s a hidden gem, in a way. I know this a good school. Everyone here knows it’s a good school. I honestly think it’s at least as good a school as U of T. A lot of these larger schools – they’ll have the thought leaders, the prominent scholars, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best teachers.”
After Josh finishes his LL.M, he plans to return to Winnipeg to work with local firm Pitblado Law. For students thinking about law school, he has a few pieces of advice.
“There’s no harm in starting late,” said Josh. “Average age in first year is probably 26. Don’t worry about taking some time to figure out what you want to do. Don’t be ruthless. Don’t come across as super-competitive. Be modest.
“And don’t feel hemmed in by law – it’s not a trade school. It’s a reshaping of the way your mind works. It’s not like medical school. You can do any number of careers after graduating – law isn’t necessarily a vocation. It’s a way of seeing the world.”
I’ll be starting at Robson Hall this September as a “mature” student (I’m 27), so it was reassuring to read the average class age is 26!