The Otago Embrace

Was it the iconic party life that drew me to Law school in Dunedin? A desire to live that much coveted scarfie experience? Or was it the true ‘embrace’ of Mark Henaghan? In all honesty, it was probably a bit of all three.

After spending two years at Victoria University of Wellington, I made the decision to pack up my life and enroll in Otago University to continue studying toward my Law and Media degree.  I can now safely say it has ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

Being a born and bred Southlander, when it came to choosing a Uni after school I quite honestly wanted to get as far away from the deep south as possible. Trying to avoid the cold and get away from small town life, Wellington’s ‘bright lights’ drew me in tenfold. Hopping on a plane and looking around Victoria Uni at it’s annual open day, I fell in love. It was a beautiful sunny day, the campus was bustling, and the LAWS101 lecturer Grant Morris was as charismatic as ever (think Mark Henaghan, but with Wellington trendiness).

So, while everyone was on edge about whether they would get into Arana or Studholme, I was applying for halls I had never even heard of before. I was lucky to be accepted into Weir House, which was back then one of the closest Halls to the Uni, and had a pretty impressive pass rate for law.

At the start of 2013 I flew up to our capital city and lived in Weir House. I’m lucky in that I made some amazing friends. Weir House was, I guess, like any other hall – a mix of nerdy kids, jocks, super sporty kids, strictly Lululemon only cool girls, and all other groups in between. It’s always hard to say retrospectively where I fit into that mix, but I know I made some lifelong friends who are now dotted all over New Zealand. Overall first year was great, and I feel like Vic does offer you a true student experience. I guess it wasn’t until second year where I started to feel like I wasn’t quite in the right place.

First of all, finding a flat was horrific up in Wellington. With no student area we found ourselves having to compete with yo-pros and the like, meaning a flat remotely close to Uni was going to be close to $200 each a week. We managed to land a cold as hell flat up the top of a huge hill, at least half an hour’s walk from Uni in the suburb of Northland, and paid $185 a week. Living at least a 20-minute car drive away from any of our friends, flat parties became a bit of a mission to get to, and nights out in town always ended with a ridiculous cab fare home. But that’s all I knew, so I guess I kind of just sucked it up.

Uni life in second year was cool though, after getting through competitive first year law (which I vouch is just as hard as down here in Otago as opposed to many rumours).  Law classes were way different to what I’m now acquainted to down here. Most of the time now I’m dragging my sorry ass to lectures in Archway, hungover from a big weekend and sharing half my attention with the lecturer and half with Facebook. Up at Vic we sadly did not have this luxury. Through the implementation of the infamous Socratic method, the lecturer by the end of the year would know most of us by name, and would call on us randomly, and frequently, to answer questions. This meant instead of crawling out of bed 15 minutes before class and having half shut eyes at our dreaded 9ams, you had to be alert, focused and ready to answer questions. This meant I always HAD to be on top of my readings before I went to class, for fear of being grilled about a case for 10 minutes straight. Although Socratic was in theory really great for learning, Otago has a good thing going on by actually letting students relax in class.

Vic does however trump Otago in one respect, and that’s being based in the old government buildings. This was insane, and having our own law campus right beside Parliament and the Supreme Court just can’t be beaten – sorry Castle 1 but Vic hands down beats you in that department. The buildings were beautiful, and studying in the law library consisted of roaming through the hallways until you found a random little room (formerly government offices) where you nestled up and smashed out assignments.

I wouldn’t say I hated Vic. It was fun, and the law school was great, but there was just one thing missing, and that was student energy. Wellington is simply owned by young professionals, who hustle down the Wellington streets grabbing their short blacks in between work meetings while wearing their designer suits. Wellington certainly does not belong to students. At times I felt like I totally loved the city, but at other times I felt like I was merely visiting – I was a student that didn’t quite fit into the urban landscape.

So it was in my third year while I was down partying during O-Week that I realized what I was missing out on. Admittedly, I was on a bit of a bender, and I was lying around hungover with some of my friends that were already studying down here. It was weirdly then and there I realized that this is where I wanted to be. Dunedin is built around students. They’re not visitors, and they give this otherwise dead town an iconic vibrancy. As students we embrace this, swarming together in student areas, all going through the journey of being a scarfie.

So that Friday, I decided not to catch my flight back up to Wellington. In hindsight, it was pretty bloody irrational, and I should have made the decision a lot sooner than when I did. But fuck I was happy I made it. The following years have been so great. Yes law school is stressful at times, and yes I miss my Wellington pals, but nothing compares to living in Dunedin while you are studying. The sense of belonging and togetherness I’ve felt down here is second to none. So now when my friend’s younger sisters and brothers ask me where they should go, I hands down sing about all Otago’s bells and whistles.

Studying law at Otago is, in my humble opinion, the best in New Zealand, and the only mistake I made during my Uni years was not coming down to join you guys sooner.

 

Written by Lucy Kingsbury.

Speaking Out About Speaking Up (In Class) – Marcelo Rodriquez Ferrere

As I was walking to my first Public Law lecture of 2016, I happened to walk behind a couple of second year law students. Naturally, being law students, the pair’s conversation was at an elevated volume, and so naturally, when I heard them mention my name, I eavesdropped. Sadly, my presence in their conversation was not for positive reasons. It turned out that I had a bit of a reputation, one that stretched beyond my voluminous hair, poor posture and, apparently, ill-fitting trousers.

That reputation was for – quelle horreur! – asking students questions during lectures, and singling out particular students to answer them. This was new information to me. While I knew I had a reputation for picking on students who wear stripes or bright colours, I was quite unnerved that now I simply had a reputation for asking students questions at all, and that these students were utterly fearful of that reputation. As I explained to that class, there are many reasons for this approach: it lets me gauge whether students are following the lecture and understanding the material, while at the same time engaging the class and breaking up the monotony of my dulcet baritone (occasionally alto) voice. Ultimately, I think (and students tell me confidentially in feedback) that the approach can make lectures more interesting. It is not and was never supposed to be a technique to terrify students. I’m no sadist – that’s Professor Geddis’s department.

I understand that my light-hearted analysis of the various baseball caps, clothing choices and beards in class (although let’s be honest, when it comes to beards, it’s just me projecting my significant insecurities on that score) might sting a little in the public setting of Archway 4. However, through talking with students in the apparent-therapy-session-that-is-the-SOULS-wine-and-cheese-event, it’s become clear that people are less mortified about having me talking about their stripy clothing than they are mortified about answering the question. So mortified, it seems, that they will go to great lengths to avoid being called upon in class.

Now, I’m well aware that some students are afflicted by acute social anxiety and that to speak in such a public setting is a genuinely upsetting experience. I do not want to minimise those very real issues that such students face (and, I should note, am taking steps in my future lectures to accommodate these students to ensure I never call upon them). However, it seems that classes are possessed by a collective social anxiety: no one wants to answer the question. It’s not as if the questions are particularly difficult: the vast majority of students will answer the questions I pose correctly (after all, as I described above, I’m not trying to catch people out).  Moreover, it’s not like there isn’t a 100% effective solution to being called out: simply raise your hand and volunteer the answer and neither you nor your colleagues will be called upon to provide it.

So, if students know the answer to my questions, why don’t they (you) provide it voluntarily, and why are they (you) terrified when I ask them to provide it? Certainly, this reticence isn’t a common feature of law students internationally. North American students, for example, suffer from the reverse: they won’t stop asking questions of the lecturer. I’ve seen entire lectures being derailed by inquisitive students not letting the lecturer get a word out. Perhaps that’s the hell some of you would wish for me. So let us localise the issue: why do Otago law students have a problem with speaking out in class? Perhaps much of it has to do with New Zealand and its national predilection to embracing tall poppy syndrome: to raise your hand and venture an opinion is to be different; other, and thus generally to be avoided. However, I would think, and hope, that law students – future advocates – would be the one sector of University that we can depend upon to break the mould and resist that national ethos.

It comes down to consequences. Answering questions can be stressful when there is so much on the line, and so little to gain. Answer the question correctly, and you’re a geek/nerd/keener/try hard (or whatever is the appropriate term these days); answer the question incorrectly, and you look like an idiot. Either way, you become a social pariah. So, you might be screaming silently in the library while reading this: why would I want to answer the question when there is no good that can come of it?

Indeed, if that’s the case, I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to answer the question. Except of course, that’s not the case. Those are phantom consequences. Few students will label you a geek for answering a question correctly (those that do really ought to query why they are in a place of higher learning). Similarly, I’m certain students won’t label you an idiot for incorrectly answering a question in good faith. You might feel that your colleagues are appending those labels to you; burning you with their gaze of judgment. They aren’t. Trust me. They’ve already forgotten the exchange. And, if you answered correctly, they likely appreciate the fact that you’ve stopped the line of questioning from continuing.

On a hot March day in 2004, as I sat in the third row of a particularly stuffy Archway 4, Associate Professor James Allan (now Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland) asked the Public Law class who wrote the American Declaration of Independence. I’m still not particularly certain of the relevance of the question. All I know is that Allan picked on students mercilessly: “you in the red hat, or whatever that is on your head”. I’m not sure what possessed me, but I yelled out “Benjamin Franklin”. It was incorrect, and Allan made it clear that this was the case: “nice try, but I think he was too busy flying a kite.” He nevertheless stopped the line of questioning and moved on (Thomas Jefferson, if you were wondering.) And so, dear reader, as a law student once who had a lecturer that would with apparent callousness call students out to answer questions, I know and empathise with your feelings of mortification. But, I also know that no-one, no-one, remembers that exchange apart from me. There were no negative consequences.

I’m realistic. I know that I won’t change the Otago culture: I shan’t turn up to a lecture and have a hundred hands raised high and desperate to engage in a meaningful dialogue and exchange of ideas. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop asking questions, because it’s important to aim towards that ideal of making lectures beneficial, engaging and interactive experiences. My challenge to you, students, now that you know (and perhaps always knew) there are no negative consequences to speaking up, will you resist this collective anxiety that pervades Archway 4? Will you raise your hand and stop being so fearful of my penchant for stripes? It’s your move.

 

Written by Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere.

Law Library Tips from Kate Thomson

OMG, third year has begun. Suddenly you have 5 research and writing pieces looming over you for the next two years. You are not alone… you have the Law Library.

First, some general tips for successful legal research.

  1. Plan your research – think about keywords, cases and statutes, and jurisdiction
  2. Use the databases provided – they ensure the data you find is of a high quality and will save you time in the long run
  3. Evaluate your research (is it good law?), keep track of what you found, where and how.
  4. Use the NZ Law Style Guide for referencing
  5. If you get stuck, don’t delay, get help

Here’s how we can help:

  1. The Law Subject Guide

Bookmark it now.  http://otago.libguides.com/law

This guide is a portal to all of your legal research needs. The Research Strategies tab contains links to the step-by-step guides used in the LAWS398 tutorials, the Faculty Research and Writing guide, flowcharts, a suite of self-help database tutorials, and much much more.

  1. Law Databases

WestlawNZ LexisNexisNZ, CCH, Heinonline, LegalTrac, ICLR, Westlaw and Lexis are the key resources you should use. The Law Subject Guide Database tab provides links to these resources as well as tips for their use.

  1. The Law Librarian, Kate Thompson

If you need additional help, or have a burning question, please contact me before the frustration kicks in! Legal research is sometimes like being a detective, so when a clue is eluding you, I can talk you through the problem. I can also help you with your research strategy, choosing the best databases, referencing questions, avoiding plagiarism, and other academic necessities.

  1. The Library

It‘s not all online. The physical library collection contains a lot of high quality and unique information that is not on the internet.

  • Use Library Search \ Ketu http://www.otago.ac.nz/library/ to discover what is on the shelves.
  • The latest editions of key texts recommended by the Faculty of Law staff are on Reserve: this is a closed collection, so Library Staff will mediate your requests.
  • If you want a tour, try the virtual one via the subject guide, or get your mates together and arrange a group tour with the Law Librarian.

  1. Library staff.

Front line library staff are there to help you, or direct you to someone who can. They have a wide understanding of general library functions and services. Just ask.

 

Written by Kate Thomson.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The saying goes: ‘innocent until proven guilty’. In New Zealand, and around the world, most crimes carry a presumption of innocence. Despite this, people constantly slip through the cracks of our justice system. David Bain and Teina Pora are two high-profile examples of those who have been convicted of murder, served large portions of their lives in prison (12 and 20 years respectively), and were then declared to be innocent. Around the world thousands of others have suffered similar ordeals – but thanks to 68 international ‘Innocence Projects, including the Innocence Project New Zealand (IPNZ), many of those wrongfully imprisoned are slowly but surely being exonerated.

The Innocence Network is a global organisation that uses DNA testing (which was often unavailable during original trials) to prove the innocence of those that have been wrongfully imprisoned. Since its establishment in 1992, various Innocence Projects has successfully helped overturn more than 350 wrongful convictions. With many IPNZ staff working pro bono, they rely heavily on the goodwill of lawyers, law students, psychologists and other scientists who work tirelessly to free innocent people from prison. This is necessary work – the number of innocent people convicted globally is estimated to be as high as 10%. Just let that sink in. 1 in 10 prisoners could be innocent.

IPNZ is spearheaded by our very own Prof Mark Henaghan, our vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne, and Psychology Associate Prof Rachel Zajac, among others. The day-to-day operations of the project are facilitated by Dr Bridget Irvine. As they all attest, overturning a conviction is no easy feat. “Because the [justice] system doesn’t like to admit it is wrong”, says Mark Henaghan, “you have to do a hell of a lot of work… to show there is something the system has missed”. In New Zealand, convictions cannot be overturned unless fresh and credible evidence comes to light. This is why the Innocence Network relies heavily on DNA evidence, which can provide conclusive proof of a person’s innocence. Before the advent of DNA testing, factors such as incorrect eyewitness accounts, false confessions, and incorrect questioning techniques caused an alarming number of people to be locked away for crimes they did not commit.

There is arguably no better example of this than Teina Pora. While not related to DNA, Pora’s case demonstrates the break-down of the justice system that was so typical of the 80s and 90s. Pora’s Lawyer, Jonathan Krebs, originally got involved with the case because Pora’s confession “just looked so ridiculous”. Pora has a mental age of 8-12 years old, and suffers from foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. When questioned by the police therefore, Pora had a desire to please and agree with them – and he eventually agreed to everything they told him. One vivid example of this was when Pora was asked “what colour was the car?”. He guessed four or five different colours before landing on the right one, and the police moved on to the next question.

Thankfully, Krebs notes that “police questioning techniques have improved considerably”, and the introduction of compulsory video-taping of interviews, coupled with better police training, has led to far fewer false confessions. Nevertheless, there is always more to be done. Krebs is currently taking a case to the Privy Council that began under the Innocence Project, but “ran out of steam”. He notes that “the [problem with] the Innocence Project is that it relies upon the goodwill of people – and there is a limited supply”.

Currently the Innocence Project is supported by a bunch of volunteers around Dunedin, most of whom are law students in their fourth or fifth year of study. Different students help the team each year, volunteering for around 3 hours per week. In the words of Bridget Irvine, “Law students—in their volunteer capacity—are the backbone of the project”. Helping out the Innocence Project is an excellent, hands-on way to give back to the community and to learn how the legal system works (or sometimes doesn’t). The Project is always looking for new volunteers who can bring energy and a fresh perspective to understanding claims of wrongful convictions. A basic understanding of criminal law (and the law of evidence) is helpful, and students who are completing complementary second degrees (e.g. psychology, biochemistry) also bring new ideas into the mix.

If you are interested in helping out the Innocence Project team, or just want to find out more, get in touch with Dr Bridget Irvine, Research Co-ordinator of the Innocence Project New Zealand. Bridget is happy to receive calls on 03 479 4002, or emails to ipnz@psy.otago.ac.nz.

 

Written by Jasper Fawcett.

Gender Identity and Queer Support at Otago Law

Eight years before I was born, homosexuality was illegal. By the time I was 18, Parliament allowed same sex couples to marry. In less than 30 years there has been a massive change in the representation of sexuality in the media, popular culture, and wider society. However, despite this change there remains a prejudice and misunderstanding about queer lifestyles.

 

It is still difficult for many people to understand the feelings they may be having. Many are often embarrassed for having these feelings at all. If you are feeling unsure about your sexuality, even slightly, the best thing you can do is talk about it. Below is a list of some of the assistance available on campus.

OUSA runs a Queer Support programme, led by full time staff member Hahna Briggs, at the Student Support Centre on Ethel Benjamin Place. Under Queer Support’s umbrella is peer support, where you can be confidentiality paired up with like-minded and trained buddy. OUSA also runs an advocacy programme, staffed with advocates who can assist if you are experiencing discrimination or are having a general rough time with uni life. These fully trained advocates can assist with all issues, and can also help with changes you might wish to make to the University’s or an outside group’s policy to make it more inclusive. Contacting one of Queer Support’s services is easy – either visit their office behind the Clubs and Socs building, or send an email to q.support@ousa.org.nz.

Additionally, UniQ is a fully student run group who have a more social focus, providing queer friendly spaces and regular social functions. You can contact UniQ on their Facebook page.

Someone a bit closer to home who can assist is our own Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere, who is part of the Queer Friendly Staff Network. In plain terms this means that Marcelo is available for anyone to talk to about any queer related issue (or any issue for that matter). Marcelo is not the only staff member in this network – you can check the OUSA Queer Support Website to see which other University staff members are in the network, and which departments they are from.

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that SOULS is about more than just Wine and Cheese and lost property. As your Education and Welfare Representative, I am available to help with any welfare concerns. Any concerns you take to me or anyone else on the Executive will be held in the strictest confidence.

Further to all of this, there are vast amounts of online resources available. One of the more recent and progressive publications out there can be found at www.takatapui.com.

It’s a big, changing, and challenging world out there but most of all it is exciting and there is always someone to talk to. Whether that be your mates, a lecturer or someone from Queer Support, it is super important to let someone know how you are going.

 

Written by Sean Gamble

‘Legally Blind’ 2.0

 

We at SOULS are firm believers in increasing inter-year group and intra-faculty relations (or as Mark Henaghan would call it, ‘collegiality’). To this end, we’ve decided to set up single law students on blind dates. We provide the food and alcohol, you provide a good time and a write-up of the night’s events (as below). If this sounds like you, keep an eye on our Facebook page for the next round of sign-ups!

Her.

After hearing from my hairdresser that blind dates are the MO of murderers who chop girls up and put them in their freezer, I turned up to Velvet pretty chopped, pretty late and pretty nervous. In hindsight, “you don’t seem like a murderer” probably shouldn’t have been my opening comment but I’m pretty sure he took it as a compliment. Not only was he good looking but he had good chat and didn’t come across as a total asshole so he’s already streets ahead of most law bros I know.

I have to admit that I was keeping a notes tab open on my phone because I knew I would forget all the questionable stuff that happened. This proved to be a great idea because the first thing I wrote, which I have zero recollection of, was ‘Why does he keep saying ‘proceedings’ in conversations? Is he trying to prove he does law??’ Aside from this, what I recall of the chat was that it was v good. Our shared love of Marcelo definitely came up a few times. I must have looked horrified when he announced he was a vegan because he followed it with “but I don’t give a fuck about animals… just the environment”. Swoon. He proceeded to explain why I should watch the Cowspiracy documentary and told me about, and I quote, “really cool vegetables”. Meanwhile I ate my chicken and bacon burger with zero regrets.

When our wine ran out we headed to Night and Day where he swept me off my feet with the line “do you wanna split a pack of darts?” which I’m pretty sure came straight out of Romeo and Juliet. Needless to say, I was game from there.

To give the guy credit, he did back me up in my losing battle when the Suburbia bartender tried to step me out, and he wrangled a refund for our drinks when we got kicked out. Chivalry is not dead. He bought us a fancy (I’d say at least $14) bottle of wine even though he clearly pined for a box of Billy Mavs, and in response I suggested we go back to mine.

Great chat ensued, and we managed to swap some horrific stories which I’m pretty sure we promised to keep out of the write up… I definitely would have reneged on that promise just for the sake of being really brutal but I can’t actually remember the details of his. Sorry team. It was here that we realised we both have banger taste in music, especially the genre to make out to. It was reminiscent of a romantic movie where they fall into bed listening to soft jazz, except I was kind of falling onto the floor to the tunes of the Arctic Monkeys.

Eventually we both became too intoxicated to make good decisions, and settled on saving ourselves till we can find a nice quiet spot in the law library or even Archway 4, for old times’ sake.

Overall fab night, would highly recommend the blind date if you’re down to get a bit weird with a stranger you’ll almost definitely share a ten-floor elevator ride with in the future.

Him.

About 3 hours prior to the 8pm meet time I decided it was time to start preparing myself. Alternating between some Andrew Geddis podcasts and the new Kendrick Lamar album on the speakers in my room, I commenced my 3-hour manscape. Then after 2 nervous poos and a bottle of Bird Dog I was out the door.

I was a healthy 6 minutes late, but I still found myself waiting like an idiot for another 5. It didn’t help that Velvet Burger was hosting an Ignite Consultants BYO that night which several of my mates were apart of.

And then she arrived. My blue-haired bombshell was a gift from the SOULS gods. Great chat flowed along with the wine while we proceeded to laugh the night away. After a half-arse attempt at eating our burgers we decided for a change of scenery. I had gathered by this point that my date might be partial to a cigarette or two, and sure enough she, like me, had also left her pack at home. We must have been really fiending because the next thing I know we’ve bought a pack and are sitting in the stairwell that leads up to Etrusco sharing a dart. Romantic, I know.

Still wanting to kick on, we walked back towards the Octy. We bumped into Joan the Butcher and her mate while we were searching for the next bar, and being the good Samaritans that we are, we decided to shout them both a durry. They were very happy. We kept walking and ended up at the fine establishment called Suburbia. The fires were on outside the bar which provided an ideal moody setting, so I left my date with another Marlboro while I went inside to buy us a drink. As I came back armed with a house Sav and the cheapest tap beer available, I heard the bartender complaining to some other patrons about the stingy order I had just made. Now I thought this was pretty rude – we were paying customers and surely she caught on that we were penniless students? I told my date and she agreed that it was not chur. Then the bartender comes out after a minute or two and starts turning off the fires and shutting up shop. I couldn’t believe it, but I kept my cool and politely asked for her to just keep one on while we finished our drinks. She said we could finish our drinks, but she didn’t want to attract any more bar goers by having the fires on and started to head back inside, but not before my date decided to ask under her breath, “Is it because we’re students?” Now, I think the bartender heard her, but still asked if my date could repeat the question, to which she decided to ignore. You could cut the tension with a knife as the bartender asked another couple of times before I decided to answer her by repeating the question myself. Then this woman really kicked off. Like this rude, sassy-ass woman was seriously fucking angry and just going to town on us. After having a bit of back-and-forth and me firmly expressing my displeasure with her tone and the service she had given us, we were asked if we wanted our money back. I immediately said yes. We got out of there with refund in hand, but not before I drunkenly broadcasted to the street how shithouse Suburbia was. Never going back there.

My date loves it. Thought it was real manly standing up for her or some shit. Big ups to me. So I’m feeling quite happy with myself and decide to use the $17 refund from Suburbia to splash on a nice bottle of wine to take back to her abode. The conversation got to music, so we started up the speakers and alternated playing songs while continuing to chat. I’m feeling rather groggy at this point so I start to slow down on the wine. The music follows suit, so I took the opportunity to make a move as a particularly sultry song came on. It was a great success.

By 1am we were still chatting and canoodling, but we both decided that a sleepover wasn’t on the cards.  I went on my merry way not long after that to a nearby grad party and kept sending it until 5am.

Massive thanks to SOULS and my gorgeous date for a great night!

‘Legally Blind’ 1.0

We at SOULS are firm believers in increasing inter-year group and intra-faculty relations (or as Mark Henaghan would call it, ‘collegiality’). To this end, we’ve decided to set up single law students on blind dates. We provide the food and alcohol, you provide a good time and a write-up of the night’s events (as below). If this sounds like you, keep an eye on our Facebook page for the next round of sign-ups!

Her.

Headcase: Law Student v Dignity [2017] NZVB

Held: Dignity lost, student awarded hangover dustier than the Law Reports in the Richardson Library.

As a fifth year, my search for a SOULS mate has been, much like a Carbolic Smoke Ball, steamy yet ineffective. As such, I figured it was high time to leave it to “the experts” at SOULS to bag me the Jesse to my Marcello. In true scarfie fashion I rocked up 8 standards deep, fizzing to discuss some dicta. “Jesse” came in hot a few minutes later (only not the inebriated kind), lets just say I wanted him to invade my personal space on a Mark Henaghan level.

Turns out, to my delight, he was *plot twist* a second year and even better, was still living in a hall. My international man of mystery was also pretty fresh to New Zealand, so I thought it only fair to apply some undue influence to down our wine to test his cultural assimilation. In hindsight, this was an error of judgment; he passed the test but I was on the verge of passing out. The chain of causation that then led us to a bar somewhere in the wider Octagon vicinity (unclear).

What I do know is we drank something akin to methylated spirits, and I am estopped from recalling what happened thereafter. On a request for discovery the next day, my charming date informed me some expelling of bodily fluids in a bathroom was involved (take from that what you will). As for where the rest of the night took us, I am not one to cougar and tell but … res ispa loquitor.

On a side note, I hope my date fleeing the country a few days after our rendezvous is unrelated to the night’s events. Watch this space. 


Editors note: The following day, this charming female ‘accidentally’ sent me a text saying: “P.s. I’ve been getting with 4th years”. She later said: “I would like to affirm my stance as a big advocate of ‘getting with’ younger students for study purposes, and I would encourage readers to do the same.”

Him.

In typical Dunedin fashion, the night kicked off to Jayfly’s Do You Like Jungle blaring from the speakers, while my mate, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and speedsters, enthusiastically passed me drink after drink. It was like the Olympics, but for my liver.

Once the clock hit quarter to eight, I stumbled out the door and scrambled onto my bike, zooming down to Captain James Cook’s very own Velvet Burger. As the cool autumn breeze blew through my hair, and the moonlight illuminated the road before me, I realized that, like Lance Armstrong, someone should have banned me from using my bicycle that evening. Nonetheless, with a hand-picked bouquet of flowers in one hand, and a bottle of wine secured tightly in my bicycle’s water bottle holder, I rode further into the night.

At Velvet, my date (X) and I were quickly paired and brought down to an intimate corner of the restaurant, where I presented her with her bouquet of assorted vegetation – she seemed delighted. From that moment onwards, both the conversation and the wine flowed like the waters of the Waikato river. X turned out to be absolutely lovely, with fantastic chat, a beautiful smile, and striking eyes. Mid-way through the meal, we forgot about the food altogether and began trying to out-drink each other instead; that vino hit us like a train.

We then agreed to head down to a nearby whiskey bar; big mistake. A sip of whiskey deep and I had to be excused to the bathroom, where I proceeded to redecorate the walls and floors with my spew. Then, peacefully, like a faun in the forest, I lay down to take a nap on the restroom floor. I would love to tell you about how I heroically resuscitated and went on to taking X home, but nope. As I awoke from my snooze, my dreams, hopes, and fantasies for the night lay on the floor beside me, in the shape of a puddle of vomit. By then, X had gone home. Anti-climactic, I know.

Moral of the story, everyone deserves a second chance. X let’s go another date?

Thanks to SOULS for the evening! 10/10 would recommend.

Building Resilience: Coping with Stress at Law School

Building Resilience – Written by Jan Blair.

Life as a student at Law School can be a real challenge. You need to adjust to a new environment – deal with new concepts, subject content, ways of thinking and meeting deadlines (often multiple ones) tutorials, tests, presentations, social events and in most cases work commitments, as well as endeavouring to achieve some balance to your life.
As a consequence, you will need to develop the ability to function effectively under pressure, avoid burn out, manage stress, develop resilience and the skills that will enable you to thrive on the challenges you face and achieve to the best of your ability at Law School.
It could be said that the stresses and challenges you face throughout your studies are not dissimilar to your future life as a lawyer.
The real key to success is to develop strategies to cope with pressure, and stress and more than anything is to build resilience (individual stress management), and an ability to bounce back from adversity. A relevant mantra to consider, and apply, is “when the going is tough, the tough get going”.
Also never forget that everyone is anxious – not just you.

Helpful Tips to Manage Stress:

1. Look after your physical well-being:
• Sleep at least 7 – 8 hours;
• Take care of your body:
• Maintain a healthy diet;
• Limit caffeine, alcohol etc;
• Hydrate (2 litres of water per day at least);
• Maintain regular exercise;
• Massage.
• Take 30 minutes each day to spend “alone – me time”.

2. Take & Learn:
• Catnaps;
• Relaxation exercises;
• Visualisation (achieving and succeeding);
• Positive self-talk;
• Forehead massage;
• Breathing in for 8, hold for 8, out for 8;
• Sing and listen to relaxing music;
• Stretch;
• Meditate;
• Maybe learn yoga.

3. Relationships:
• Maintain healthy positive relationships with friends and family;
• Get involved in law school, student life and events;
• Form and attend study groups.

4. Personal Management:
• Work smart – if you work more effectively in the morning, do the more difficult tasks then and vice versa;
• Develop effective time management skills. Suggest only have on your daily “to do” list what you could achieve in that day – list no more than 5;
• Stay in the NOW. Concentrate on the daily list – not the end of the week or next week;
• Do create a long term plan as well – but plan only what is manageable for the day;
• Ensure your daily plan is balanced – not just work or study (e.g. put in exercise and time with friends/family as well);
• Attend relevant workshops available to you e.g:
• CV preparation;
• Interview skills;
• Time management;
• Building resilience;
• Wellness;
• TALK to someone – SEEK HELP if you are anxious or dealing with difficult personal or work related issues;

5. For study issues/extensions:
• Talk to your Supervisor;
• Tutor;
• Student services.

6. For Personal Issues:
• A counsellor;
• Student health;
• Your GP.

7. Learn to Relax:
• Walk with awareness;
• Connect to your body. Know when it is not functioning well;
• Study things that interest you;
• Listen to or play music;
• Draw; paint; colour in;
• Be in nature;
• Meditate;
• Maintain a spiritual dimension;
• Focus on a calm relaxed pleasurable feeling (practise);
• Be in the moment – NOW;
• Maintain correct posture, inhale from belly, not upper body;
• Learn relaxation exercises.

8. Some further useful tips to shrink your worries and day to day anxieties:
• Is it really your problem?
• Share it with someone else. Others will welcome your trust;
• Put it on paper. It’s easier to see it in perspective;
• Raise your shoulders, then drop them. Relax your whole body;
• Inhale deeply, exhale with a sigh a few times. Let your tension go as you breathe out;
• Give yourself 15 minutes to concentrate on your worry, then firmly leave it behind;
• Do something physical. Give your tension an outlet;
• Look for some humour in the situation;
• Imagine a few years from now. How much will it matter then?
• Find a good side as well as the bad;
• Picture the worst that can really happen. How likely is it?
• Say “stop”, pause and steady your thoughts. Now take a fresh look;
• Notice something enjoyable around you. Get into the present;
• Get up earlier to prepare to face it;
• Surround yourself with joyful colours, sounds and use your strengths.

Remember that once you have developed resilience and applied the skills to maintain a healthy balance to your life, they will form the foundation for ever.

Written by Jan Blair.

CV Tips from Jan Blair, HR Coach

Jan Blair was the Human Resources Coach at Russell McVeagh for 15 years, and prior to that the principal of Kristin School in Auckland. She has now established her own consulting, coaching and counselling business, and is known around the country as an expert on career advice and counselling. She will be holding very helpful application and interview skills workshops during the recruitment period at Otago University – keep an eye on your emails and the SOULS Facebook Page to find out when she is coming!

CV Tips.

1. Do your research on each firm you are applying for so that you can prepare a more personalised application which reflects their particular culture/values and requirements.
2. Many firms have tips for applications, CVs and interviews on their websites. Make sure you look for these to ensure your application documents meet their expectations.
3. If in the online application process the firm asks you to fill out some details that are already on your CV, still fill them out! Do not write “refer to my CV,” as a lawyer needs to learn to follow the instructions.
4. Have a testimonial or reference ready (school, university or work) to attach in your application.
5. Try to keep your CV to 2 pages.
6. Sell yourself! List the good grades you have received, and your other outstanding achievements.
7. Emphasise your cultural/sporting achievements, volunteering, and leadership roles. Firms are looking for well-rounded candidates.
8. List two referees at the bottom – but make sure you get their permission!
9. Let them know your interests. The recruiter likes to know that you are an interesting person, and that there is more to you than just study.
10. Attach a photograph. Make sure this is appropriate (i.e. not you in your ball gown or your passport photo). Find a photo that shows you smiling and looking approachable. Legally you do not need to give a photo but it is recommended.

Cover Letter Tips.

11. Spell the firm’s name and the HR person’s name correctly.
12. Use proper grammar.
13. If you are reusing the cover letter for applications to multiple firms, make sure you do not accidentally address it to the wrong firm, or leave a firm’s name in the cover letter.
14. Keep your cover letter to a page if you can.
15. Find out the head of HR?s name as this is usually the person who will be reading your cover letter. This can be easily found on the firm’s website. If you are desperate and have not been able to find a name address your letter to “the Recruitment Team”.

Interview Tips.

16. Research the firm – show them you are interested in what they do.
17. Prepare some questions to ask them.
18. Be on time, dress appropriately, remember their names, and relax! Be yourself and let your personality shine.

General Tips.

19. Check out nz.gradconnection.com for more information about available summer clerk and graduate positions.
20. For more tips and a wealth of information, check out the Law Students’ Careers Guide.