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  • 1. General Admissions


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    General Admissions

    What kind of postsecondary education do I need to qualify for admission?

    Generally, you need at least two years of postsecondary education at the university level in order to qualify for admission. This means you can be admitted to law school without having obtained a bachelor's degree, but it is exceedingly rare to do so. The vast majority of law students have an undergraduate degree (and most have a four-year degree over a three-year degree). Alternatively, some colleges offer "bachelor of applied arts" degrees, which may or may not be accepted by law schools; you should contact the schools to confirm whether your program makes you eligible for admission.

     

    What is the best major to get if I want to go to law school?

    There is none. Generally, all law schools look at all majors the same, and it is highly unlikely that there is a major you could take at a Canadian university that would make your application less appealing to law schools. You should select a major that aligns with your interests, and one in which you can succeed academically. You should also select one that will serve as an alternative career path, should you not get admitted to law school (remember, the vast majority of people who apply to law schools do not get in).

     

    I have some college credits. How does that affect my application?

    College credits are typically recorded as transfer credits on your transcript, and therefore contribute no grade-points to your OLSAS GPA. OLSAS only considers university grades in its calculation; however, schools do receive your college transcript, which admissions committee members can look at and potentially consider on their own terms (alternatively, some schools might have certain evaluation criteria regarding college grades). The practical implication of this is that you lose two years worth of grades when your OLSAS GPA is calculated, so it is much more important to do well at the university level, as poor grades will have a greater effect on your average than if you had four years of university credits.

     

    Who should I ask for letters for reference?

    Generally, the best letters of reference are from those individuals who can attest to your academic skills (for academic references) or personal attributes (for general references). It's usually better to select people who know you well and can speak extensively about you, but if you cannot find anyone whom you know very well, then it's fine to simply select a professor in whose class you did well. Generic letters of reference will neither help nor hinder your application, but good ones may make an impact. It's best to cultivate relationships with professors early (e.g., by attending office hours or participating in class) so they have ample amounts to say when you ask them for a reference.

    While it should probably go without saying, don't ask someone for a reference unless you're sure they will give you a positive one. Negative references can cause your application to be declined.

     

    How should I go about asking someone for a letter of reference?

    Professors are generally used to being asked for reference letters. Many graduate school programs require them, so asking a professor to write you a reference to law school is not unusual or onerous. Be sure to give them plenty of time to write the letter (e.g., ask them well before the November 1 application deadline). Feel free to remind them that the due date for the letter is coming up if you noticed they haven't submitted it yet; it's not rude to do so.

    It's best to approach professors who know you, as you're more likely to get an affirmative response. If a professor turns you down, note that there are a variety of legitimate reasons to do so, and you shouldn't take it personally. Simply ask someone else.

    If you're looking to ask someone to be a personal or professional reference, your current relationship with them will largely dictate whether it's appropriate to ask them for a letter. As was said before, make sure it's reasonable to expect that the person writing you the reference will give at least a generic affirmative recommendation for your admission to law school; negative references can cause your application to be declined.

     

    I want to go to a top law school in Canada. Which one do I pick?

    Unlike the United States, the quality of legal education you will receive at any Canadian law school is at a reasonable standard. There is really very little distinction between the schools in the way there is in the US. Despite this, there have been formal and informal rankings over the years, with the MacLean's rankings being the most popular. They are, however, largely pointless metrics in reality.

    The best advice for deciding which law school attend would be to select one in the region you want to practice. For example, if you want to practice in Ontario, you should pick an Ontario school. While mobility between provinces is not substantially difficult once you are licensed, there can be significant differences in the law between the various provinces depending on your practice area. As a result, you will likely find yourself having to spend time catching up on what you don't know. Furthermore, the networks you build throughout your years in law school are valuable and difficult to replace, which is also why it's best to choose a school not only in your target province, but your in target region as well. For example, if you want to end up practicing in the GTA, it's generally best to shoot for a GTA school. This last recommendation is pretty flexible, though — plenty of graduates from non-GTA schools end up practicing in the region. But, generally speaking, you will face more difficulty building a network with practitioners and firms if you live away from your target market.

    Try not to get stuck on the "prestige" of a particular school when deciding on where to accept an offer. You should give far greater regard to things like overall costs (e.g., tuition fees, rent, costs of living, scholarship and bursary opportunities) and social benefits (e.g., being near family or friends or support networks) of selecting a particular school. Concepts like "prestige" are largely only held in high regard by applicants and law students; practitioners don't really make a distinction between graduates of one school or another. If you are a strong candidate for a position, it generally doesn't matter where you got your law degree.

     

    I heard a certain school is better for a certain type of law. Should I go there over somewhere else?

    Some schools are "known for" certain areas of law, mainly because certain faculty members are particularly prolific at publishing papers or books related to that practice area, or because notable graduates of that school practice in that area of law. If you want to study with a certain professor (likely more important if you are considering doing graduate work), or you feel a particular network of alumni can help you achieve your career goals, then those are reasonable factors to consider when selecting a school to attend.

    That said, all schools will generally teach most areas of law reasonably well (in particular, the common practice areas, like family, criminal, corporate, administrative, and so on), so there is no reason to select school "A" over school "B" because you heard school "A" is better at business law (whatever a statement like that means). Conversely, in niche areas of practice, if you're certain that's where your interest lies, some schools might be better choices over others.

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