THE ADVOCATE 841
VOL. 76 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2018
REFLECTIONS ON LAW SCHOOL
20 YEARS LATER:
FOR THE UBC LAW CLASS OF 1998*
By D. Michael Bain
The greatest invention of all time is ice cream in coffee. Don’t
get this wrong. It is not coffee poured onto ice cream. That is
called an affogato and for my money the Italians got it spectacularly
wrong. Why? If you pour steaming hot coffee over icecold
gelato, the coffee loses all its heat and just becomes cold coffee on
melted ice cream. What is that? It’s nothing. I mean, it tastes OK, but it
comes nowhere close to representing Life Itself. No, the greatest invention
of all time is ice cream in coffee. That is Life Itself.
When you place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a cup of hot espresso, by
the time you tentatively lift the concoction to your mouth, you do not really
know what to brace yourself for: steaming hot coffee or freezing cold ice
cream? Which one is going to touch your lips first? Once you’ve battled
through this conundrum you’ve got an amazing combination of opposites to
contend with: hot/cold, bitter/sweet, dark/light, liquid/solid, pain/pleasure.
In short, you have the whole dichotomy of life itself to contend with,
all there in one swirling cup of excellence that tantalizes, mystifies, compels
and repels you. The little dance you do with the cup before daring to
take a sip is you contending with the paradoxes of eternity. The Yin and the
Yang, the Alpha and the Omega, the birth and death of all things.
What does a 20-year look back on your time in law school afford you? Is
it peaks or troughs? For me, it is ice cream in coffee. I think of all of the
great things that happened in law school as well as all of the terrible things.
There were plenty of both for me. I had huge achievements in law school
and massive failures. It was a condensed three years of intensity that
exposed me to a way of looking at the world that has brought me much success
and has probably caused me to have more arguments than is healthy
in a lifetime. And I think of the 20-year gap since then. I think of not just
my experiences, but those of my friends and colleagues at the bar, the
* The 1998 graduating class was the 50th such class at the UBC faculty of law (as it then was).