This week was quite exciting for us Canadian law students at the University of Surrey as we had a visit from a special guest: The Honourable R. J. Williams, justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, Family Division.
The first lecture given by Judge Williams was entitled “Family Law in changing times: Should Judges do more than adjudicate?” This was a thought-provoking lecture discussing the judges’ role in court. He spoke on how judges are often described as ‘sitting’ and ‘hearing’ a case which can pacify the judiciary’s role when in fact a judge can be much more involved in determining what is the best outcome for the family and the children. For example, a judge needs to know when school vacations are in order to make a decision that is in the best interest of the children. He also mentioned how this applies to the lawyers as well who need to do more to ensure good communication between themselves, their clients and the judge. It was interesting to get a glimpse into the life and role of a Canadian Justice.
The next day we were offered a Skype session with a Canadian Lawyer who earned her law degree in the UK and has since gone on to further her studies in Canada and begin an impressive young career in her Canadian home-town. This session was inspiring for me personally as, like in any field of study, the chatter of competition, and hurdles that I am going to face when I go back home had started to become demoralizing. Thus, it was very encouraging to hear this lawyer’s personal experience and how proud she was of her English legal education. I was reminded of an important lesson this week that was difficult to learn during my undergrad, and that is to not worry so much about what everyone else is doing and to focus on myself and my goals. It is not what my classmate is doing that is going to affect my future, but rather what I choose to do and focus on. I find that it can be easy to forget yourself in this competitive setting, for this reason I am appreciative to have had the opportunity to reground myself this week as I took the time to discuss and examine my goals.
Our final event of the week was a mooting competition which Judge Williams was adjudicating. As this was my first time attending a mooting competition as a spectator, I was truly impressed with my classmates performances and I was greatly inspired to potentially try my hand at such a contest. Justice Williams then gave a lecture on the Canadian Charter on Rights and Freedoms which was my favorite part of the week as I embarrassingly have little knowledge of the legal world back home. Having developed an interest in law late in my undergraduate degree, I’ve not really taken the time to research our Canadians laws as my focus has understandably been on the English legal system. I am very much looking forward to going back to Canada to further my studies in Canadian law, and most excited to work with a written constitution! 😉
All in all, I am very appreciative of the activities organised at the University of Surrey Law School for the benefit of us Canadian students. It was great to get a motivational boost after the formative week exams and I am even more excited about my future prospects on my returning home to Canada.
I also wanted to say a big thank you to Justice Williams for the visit to the University of Surrey; to the head of School of Law, Dr Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco and to the director of the JD Pathway Programme, Dr Steve Bero, for organizing these activities for us.
Ps: Here are some pictures of the beautiful city of Halifax in Nova-Scotia.