June 14, 2021
Class of 2021: Student found courage, competitive edge and lifelong friends
With candour, Arfa Saeed, BSc’17, recalls the confusion that sometimes comes with making the move from being a student to imagining a career. “You know when you’re 20 and you’re halfway done your undergraduate degree and you don’t know what you want to do?” Sure, the idea of law school had long been in the back of her mind but, she says, “I didn’t think I’d ever be brave enough to do it.”
Still, Saeed managed to push herself to pursue options that took her outside of her Bachelor of Science psychology major and, in her last year as an undergrad, she registered for a Law and Society class. That changed everything for her. “That class allowed me to suddenly see myself excelling as a lawyer.”
New way of looking at things
Of her law school experience, Saeed says that nothing could have prepared her for the journey. “It’s not easy but it’s also not impossible — it’s just … new,” she says. “It’s a new way of learning and looking at things, and of being evaluated.” Saeed says one of the most rewarding projects of her time as a law student came earlier this year when she and a team of her classmates won a place in the prestigious William C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (a.k.a. the Vis Moot.)
Now in its 30th year, the Vis Moot — normally held in Hong Kong and Vienna but taking place online this year — is a high-profile arbitration competition that provides a practical training opportunity for law students around resolving international business disputes. Saeed’s class was the first time UCalgary has ever been represented in the event — a coup for the university, and for Saeed and her teammates.
'We're all very competitive people'
“Preparing for the Vis involved a huge learning curve for us,” says Saeed, whose particular passion is corporate commercial litigation. “It required all of us to take initiative and make what we wanted out of the experience — we realized we’re all very competitive people and we worked really hard.” She and her team "mooted" (debated) against a team from Germany and made it into the top 32 out of 150 teams. “We’re really proud of that.”
Saeed has just begun her 10-month articling position, at TD Bank in Toronto. She says she already misses her professors and the hours she spent in intense study in the TDFL. She won’t, of course, miss her law-school friends: “I’ll be keeping them!”