Focus on the UND Law Family - Bryn Chyzyk
Bryn Chyzyk, a third-year student from Virden Manitoba, served as a captain on UND's 2016 National Championship hockey team. He is using the same skills that made him successful on the ice to complete his law degree.
Q: What got you interested in going to law school?
A: It was my senior year, and I signed up to take the LSAT, because I thought it would be something fun to do. I actually took it the morning before we had a game, so I sat for around five and a half hours, and then I had a game that night. When I was playing semi-professional hockey after graduating, I suffered four concussions in a span of five months. I thought, I’m going to need my brain one day. I was meeting with the doctors and they told me that I should probably consider finding something else. I figured this would be a great time for me to apply to law school, and that’s when I decided on switching career paths a bit and applied to UND. One reason I was interested in law school, is seeing some of the higher ups in hockey, whether it’s Brian Burke or Laurence Gilman, who is a UND Law graduate, and just their path where they can use a law degree with hockey, and where that’s taken them. That piqued my interest in law school.
Q: What was the transition like from hockey to law school?
A: That was a big change. In professional hockey, your schedule is just to get up and skate in the morning and then go take a nap and workout. Now it’s not as much physical work, but a lot more mental work, whether it’s reading late at night, and just different stresses that come with it. It took me a while to adjust. I’m still adjusting.
Q: What would you say are some of the similarities between hockey and law school and trying to be successful in both?
A: I think the biggest similarity is you have to have a driven personality. Obviously, you’re doing different things and just having that personality and the drive to do whatever it takes to win, or now doing whatever it takes to succeed. I think that mental mindset has been transferrable.
Q: What leadership skills were you able to gain from playing hockey at UND that have helped you with law school?
A: I guess when you come into the hockey program at UND, you look up to the seniors and you kind of learn from them and the coaching staff. You kind of start from the bottom and by the time you’re a junior or a senior you’re expected to lead, so you learn from them. Being the old guy on the team when we won was really neat, just the decision making and how to treat people, and just earning their respect. I think that relates in all sorts of life situations, so that was really valuable for me to kind of be the old guy on the team, kind of making the rules, looking out for people and earning their respect. That translates into law school and hopefully into the workforce.
Q: What advice do you have for incoming law students, and why do you think they should consider coming to UND Law?
A: I guess just telling them about my experiences in law school, positives and the negatives and what I wish I would have changed. I think coming in, it’s kind of a scary experience being a first-year law student because of the pressures and all of the reading. I would try to get them to calm them down because a lot of that stress goes to your head. You need to trust the reasons you went to law school and trust the academics that you’ve gone through to get here. I would encourage them not to be too stressed. I think a lot of people get crippled by the pressure they put on themselves and from others. I remember coming in and you hear people talk about how much they know about a topic, but really everybody has got to learn the topic over again. I knew nothing about the law coming in. I hadn’t worked or had any background in it, and that gave me a little stress initially, but you just block that out and come in and do your thing. Students should come to UND for the people and the community feeling. Everyone is kind of looking out for you, no one is going to try to backstab you and it’s just a friendly place to be and learn.
Q: What would you say has been the most challenging part of law school?
A: I’d say the reading. Just because you have such a certain thing that you’ve worked your whole life for, and it’s just learning how to use a different set of skills that you’re now using all the time. There are many long hours of reading now that I have never had to do in my life. I have had to shift my focus to going all in, and using that same work ethic towards reading that I did with hockey has been probably the most difficult part.
Q: What’s been your favorite activity that you’ve done as a law student?
A: In our first-year lawyering skills class, when we had to sit through a moot court session and do our arguments. I remember thinking in a lot of ways this is kind of like of like a sports match because of the competitiveness between you and the other person as you are fighting to win. I thought to myself, I can get used to this.
Q: What was your experience like participating in the Cross Border classic this year?
A: The Cross Border Classic hockey tournament with the University of Manitoba Law and Med schools was a great experience. I think everyone likes to go out to the Ralph Engelstad Arena for skating. It’s just fun getting the skates back on and playing with some of the people you’re reading books with.
By: Andrew Truckenmiller