As many of you know, the majority of Canadian students that study at Bond University, study at the Bond Law School.
OzTREKK student Jordan Assaraf (left) with roommates Brandon Ament (middle) and Mikki Levy
Jordan Assaraf is no exception.
The Thornhill, Ontario native’s Australian journey brought him to Bond University Law School‘s Juris Doctor (JD) program in 2009. We at OzTREKK like to keep in touch with former OzTREKK students, as we feel it is important to learn from our students’ journeys in order to better assist future students. Who better to pass on program information and experiences than students who have been there, done that?
Even though he is extremely busy at Toronto law firm Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers, Jordan graciously agreed to share his experiences about studying at Bond Law School. Interested in what it’s really like to study law at Bond? Read on, OzTREKKers!
OzTREKK: What is the JD course load like at Bond?
Jordan: I treated school like a full-time job. I would wake up early morning, go for a run on the beach or a surf and then go to school for about 9 a.m. At school I would do any work I had, attend classes for the day, even go to gym, and then continue with my studies or readings until about 6 p.m. when I would go home for dinner. I was able to take most evenings off to relax. At the beginning of the semester, weekends were free and my course load was smaller. Toward the middle of the semester, if I had mid-term assignments or assessments, I would continue to work on my assignments and studies on the weekends. Following the middle of the semester, my course load would lighten again for about three weeks. At about week nine or 10, I would begin exam preparation and my course load would increase to six days a week of study time. During exam time, I would have my head in the books and grind away until my exams were complete.
OzTREKK: What kind of school/life balance did you have?
Jordan: During the week, my evenings were usually free as I scheduled my classes, completion of assignments and studies during the day. On Thursday nights, most students would take off because that was the student “party night.” Again, if you are diligent and stay on top of your work during the week and get your tutorials and readings done during the weekdays, you are able to go to Sydney or Melbourne at least one weekend per semester, like I did.
During exam time, however, you don’t have any free time—except for the gym or a surf, whichever break you decide to give yourself!
“By preparing and participating in your tutorials, you will better understand the course and will be better prepared for your upcoming exams.”
OzTREKK: Were you able to join any clubs at the university (e.g., the Canadian Law Students’ Association)?
Jordan: I was president of the Bond University Tennis Club, and I was able to organize one tournament, which was a great experience and taught valuable networking skills as well administrative skills, which are not typically taught in a lecture/classroom. Also, I was able to train with the tennis team two mornings a week.
I am also proud to say that during my first semester at Bond I was part of the cheerleading team. (Laughs)
I have plenty of friends who were on the Canadian Law Students’ Association (CLSA), but because of the frequency and variety of meetings and events for the CLSA, one had to balance one’s time a little better than the average student.
OzTREKK: Did you take any of the NCA-approved courses at Bond? What were they like?
Jordan: The NCA-approved courses at Bond were challenging. Although you were not required to attend tutorials like the other Bond classes, you had to participate and stay up to date on your readings.
The NCA-approved courses at Bond are graded, whereas the NCA exams in Canada are pass or fail. If you do not receive a grade over 60%, there is a chance the Canadian accreditation centre would likely make you redo that particular course. With this being said, I took the Canadian Criminal Law and Procedure and Canadian Administrative Law electives at Bond. I passed both and did not have to redo them upon my return to Canada.
Bond Law School student Jordan Assaraf (left) with roommate and fellow Bondie
Upon returning to Canada, I had to complete Foundations of Canadian Law and Canadian Constitutional Law. I didn’t take the Canadian Constitutional Law elective at Bond because it was a two-credit class (the others are just one credit). As Canadian Constitutional Law is very involved, I did not want to waste my elective courses on a difficult course worth double any other course, which would affect my overall average. Further, by not giving up two electives, I was able to take courses that interested me, like Sports Law, Mediation, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Working within a firm has reinforced that decision as I am able to utilize the negotiations skills learned within these courses to assist with positive outcomes in mediations, motions and settlement discussions.
Although I feel it is important to take courses that interest you and provide exposure to the different areas of law, I would suggest taking the NCA-accredited courses to assist with obtaining your accreditation on a timely basis.
Canadian Foundations was an easy NCA. By taking Canadian Administrative Law, Canadian Criminal Law and Procedure and studying for Canadian Constitutional Law, I was able to use what I learned in those classes and condense the material, therefore providing me with a foundation of each subject in order to tackle the issues on the foundation NCA exam. Foundations of Canadian Law brushed on each course. By learning each course in depth, you gain the necessary tools to help ease the Foundations material and help you excel in that particular course or exam.
OzTREKK: Do you feel these courses are relevant?
Jordan: I have found that theory within school is a good foundation in law; however, some of the courses were not as relevant because of the complexity of each practice area. Theory is important, but working in the field and learning by the example of mentors and actual cases will provide much more in-depth knowledge of the actual workings of the law and administration of the law.
The good thing about Bond Law School—compared to Canadian law schools—is the hands-on, practical approach. Bond University includes a skills assessment with every class. The skills assessments range from memos to advocacy skills, such as moot trials, mediations, and presentations. By making these skills mandatory to pass, you gain more experience through this practical approach.
OzTREKK: Do you have any tips for students undertaking LLB/JD program?
Jordan: I think it’s important for students studying at Australian university to be aware of some of the challenges that they may face upon their return to Canada. For example, returning students need to be aware of the on-campus interview (OCI) process in which typical Canadian firms participate. It is more difficult to obtain a summer position (with a chance of securing an articling position afterward) if you aren’t aware of the list of firms the students attending Canadian law schools are given.
When undertaking a JD or LLB program in Australia, I suggest that you take courses that interest you, and courses that will help you to prepare for your Bar Exam, upon returning to Canada.
The best part about Australian law school are tutorials, compared to Canadian law schools, where they don’t have any.
Use your tutorial teachers as resources. Go to each tutorial as it will help prepare you for your final. Take your tutorials seriously: they are free marks. By preparing and participating in your tutorials, you will better understand the course and will be better prepared for your upcoming exams. (If you can answer your tutorial questions without a problem, and prepare properly for them, your exam will be nothing out of the ordinary.)
We are also faced with a typical stereotype when coming back to Canada: You could not get into law school here, so you went to Australia. This is a battle one must learn to overcome. The positive aspects of attending Bond Law School and returning to Canada to practice are the invaluable experiences you gather as well as a well-rounded knowledge of the law and administration of law. The ability to participate in group tutorials builds your sense of teamwork, which is an asset to any law firm. When speaking with prospective employers and articling firms, you may be able to emphasize the vast international experience and knowledge you gained, as well as demonstrate the discipline required to travel abroad and succeed in your chosen field.
Stay tuned for the next installment from Bond Law student Jordan Assaraf, where he discusses his articling experiences and how he obtained his position at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers.
Email Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free in Canada 1 866-698-7355.