By Sahar Mir
1. Why did you want to go to law school?
There is no one independent reason for why I chose to go to law school. I was never the person that knew I wanted to pursue law from a young age, yet when looking back, I see that everything has led me to choose this career path and it aligned so well with my passion. I was always a critical thinker and law school teaches you just that; to think in critical ways and to question things in a healthy way. It also teaches you to look outside the box. The other aspects that drew me to the legal field were the challenges of figuring out how different pieces fit together, almost like a puzzle. Further, what drew me to law school was the ability to pursue so many avenues in life after law school; you don’t just have to be a lawyer or a judge, a legal education is so diverse and opens the door for so many possibilities.
The legal field lacks representation of minorities, especially women. This was another driving force for me to join the legal field. As a minority myself, I realized that we cannot be afraid to pursue career paths, like law, where there isn’t much representation of us. Instead, we must break the barriers and become those representations for the future generations ourselves. I believe that I have been able to accomplish this goal by successfully graduating law school, currently working as an Articling Student and giving back through my consulting company, Sahar Mir Consulting. Through Sahar Mir Consulting, I have the ability to help students, (particularly those who are first generations minorities) to make more informed decisions about going to Canadian Law Schools.
2. What was your undergraduate education like?
Like I mentioned before, I did not initially plan to attend law school at a young age; I did not know any lawyers and didn’t really understand what lawyers did other than what I had seen in TV Shows. I started off undergrad at UofT in the sciences. I had a double major in biochemistry and sociology at the time because I enjoyed the critical thinking that sociology provided me with but also the quantitative analysis skills biochemistry provided me with. About a third of the way through my undergrad I was involved in a horrific motor-vehicle accident which caused debilitating injuries for me, to the point I had a hard time completing my science labs and standing for such long hours (almost 3-4 hours at a time). I knew I had to complete my degree and could not just leave it hanging because of my physical constraints. That is when I decided to make a switch and complete my degree with sociology. As you can imagine, my undergrad wasn’t an easy journey and there were some tough decisions I had to make; but remaining resilient and working with many professionals both at UofT and medically, I was able to achieve my ultimate goal of completing my undergrad.
3. What was the process like for studying for the LSAT?
Since I did not have anyone close to me who pursued a legal education, I did not know what to expect from the LSAT. I did a lot of research and networking to learn more about the LSAT. I then enrolled into an LSAT prep course which was expensive but worth every penny in my opinion. The instructor taught me how to take the LSAT; he taught me tricks and provided a lot of advice on what to look for and how to answer the questions. I did not have much time to study for the LSAT; I believe I studied for a couple months before I wrote the exam. I treated my studying as a full-time job. I would study all day with a lunch break in between and then in the evenings attend the prep course (which was only a few weeks long). I did a lot of practice and learned how to essentially think critically and “think like a lawyer.” There is no other way to do well on this standard exam – you must be disciplined and study hard. The exam is hard, and most people will fall within the average percentile. The only way to get around that is to take the exam seriously and put in the effort.
4. What did you enjoy the most and least about law school?
What I enjoyed the most about law school was the diversity of every class. I loved the fact that every day I would learn something new. I found it so fascinating how legal education teaches you to think and be more critical even about things that can seem simple at first glance.
What I least enjoyed about law school was the sheer volume of daily readings (not necessary the content). There was a lot to take in, especially in the first year when my schedule was the busiest. This required a lot of self-discipline and time management.
5. What are some tools and skills needed for success in this kind of education?
Time management and discipline in my opinion are the top two key skills needed to succeed in law school, but also afterwards. You will seldom have the luxury to work on one task/case at a time both in law school and professionally. You must learn how to manage your time not only for school and studying but also for friends and family or break time. No one will be watching over you making sure you are getting your work done or that you understand what you are reading/learning. You must be proactive and have the discipline to keep yourself on track. Further, you must be able to network and speak up if you are not understanding a concept.
I also believe you must be willing to take risks and put yourself out there while keeping an open mind. You may go into law school thinking that you want to practice in a certain area of law, because you have not been exposed to another area of law; but you don’t know what you are missing out on if you keep a closed mind. If you keep an open mind and try to explore you will open more opportunities for yourself, even beyond just being a lawyer and realize there is so much more out there.
6. Tips for those considering law school?
If you are considering law school, even remotely, start the process now. The legal profession, especially getting into a Canadian law school, is very competitive and you must start preparing for it early. It is not just your grades or LSAT score. Of course, those play an important role in your application and admission, but law schools look at you and your application holistically as well. You must keep in mind that when you are applying to law school you are competing with some of the smartest and most well-rounded people. Starting your research and preparing early will serve you well.
I would recommend setting up meetings with different law schools and getting a feel for what they offer and where you see yourself fitting in best. I would also recommend networking and reaching out to people who have gone through the process, like myself. Set up informational meetings and ask things such as why they went to law school and what to expect. I am more than willing to be a point of contact for anyone who may be considering law school or has any questions. Feel free to send me an email through my website at: www.saharmir.com and I would be more than happy to chat.
7. What would you tell yourself 5 years ago?
Five years ago, I would tell myself: “Breathe. You will get through it; what awaits you is much greater than what you are going through right now.” As students we often get so caught up in always having high grades, studying 24/7 and not allowing ourselves to reflect and appreciate how far we have come. It’s a continuous battle with ourselves to be the best, and if we slip even slightly, we go hard on ourselves. We need to take a minute to breathe, reflect and appreciate ourselves. Sometimes you need to pat yourself on the back for how far you have come, and how much progress you’ve made. Life is full of ups and downs, but you must keep moving. A quote that really resonates with me and that I wish I knew and understood 5 years ago is by Steve Jobs: “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you must trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You must trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Interviewed by Maisha Alam
Thanks for reading this article! If you liked it, consider checking out the other articles on our page and stay tuned for new ones weekly. Did you know we also pair high school students with uni students in their desired program for advice and mentorship? Check out our sign-up page to register as a mentor or mentee today!