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HYS AMA(A)


Scribbleergosum
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Scribbleergosum
  • Law Student

I found lawstudents.ca (as it was known back then) to be really helpful when I was going through the application process, so thought I would try and pay the favour forward:  

I'm a HYS 3L at the moment, and applied to schools in both the US and Canada before making my decision.  There's a limit on how much specificity I can offer in a public forum, but I would be happy to try and answer any questions related to US law school applications / interviews, life at a US school as a Canadian / generally, the recruitment and clerkship process in the US, the CPT / OPT and H1B / TN-1 processes (though I can only speak to the latter as an applicant), or anything else that is of interest.

 

 

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Pendragon
  • Lawyer
8 minutes ago, Scribbleergosum said:

I found lawstudents.ca (as it was known back then) to be really helpful when I was going through the application process, so thought I would try and pay the favour forward:  

I'm a HYS 3L at the moment, and applied to schools in both the US and Canada before making my decision.  There's a limit on how much specificity I can offer in a public forum, but I would be happy to try and answer any questions related to US law school applications / interviews, life at a US school as a Canadian / generally, the recruitment and clerkship process in the US, the CPT / OPT and H1B / TN-1 processes (though I can only speak to the latter as an applicant), or anything else that is of interest.

 

Thanks for doing this! I have gotten a few questions from prospective students about this that maybe you can help answer. Do you recommend attending a T14 law school for Canadian students interested in pursuing public interest work? My understanding is that these jobs in the US are closed off to international students. In that similar vein, do you only recommend this path for Canadians if they want to work in US Big law or top litigation boutiques in the US?

Are there any T14 schools you would not recommend for Canadians that want to return to Canada (in terms of name recognition like Virginia, University of Michigan, and maybe University of Pennsylvania? 

If a Canadian attends a US law school, realistically how many years do they have to work in US Big law to pay off their debt before they can return to Canada?

Are there any reasons besides cost for why a Canadian who can get into a T14 ot T6 law school should not go to the US and instead go to U of T, Osgoode, UBC, or McGill?

In terms of the 1L and 2L recruits in the US, are they mostly Big law employers like in Canada? What is the distribution like in terms of types of employers and firms that participate in this hiring process.

Do you need a 170+ LSAT score to be competitive for the T14 schools or do you have good chances with a mid-high 160s LSAT if your GPA is in the 3.9+ range?

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Turtles
  • Law Student

What was your net total of tuition paid? How close to sticker price do average students typically pay? Does your international student status limit the availability of funding? Is the cost manageable and debt easy to obtain (in Canada or the US) such that a student could reasonably self-fund their way through, or is the bank of mom and dad absolutely necessary (either for funding or to get a big enough loan under their name / co-signors)?

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Scribbleergosum
  • Law Student
2 hours ago, Pendragon said:

Thanks for doing this! I have gotten a few questions from prospective students about this that maybe you can help answer. Do you recommend attending a T14 law school for Canadian students interested in pursuing public interest work? My understanding is that these jobs in the US are closed off to international students. In that similar vein, do you only recommend this path for Canadians if they want to work in US Big law or top litigation boutiques in the US?

Are there any T14 schools you would not recommend for Canadians that want to return to Canada (in terms of name recognition like Virginia, University of Michigan, and maybe University of Pennsylvania? 

If a Canadian attends a US law school, realistically how many years do they have to work in US Big law to pay off their debt before they can return to Canada?

Are there any reasons besides cost for why a Canadian who can get into a T14 ot T6 law school should not go to the US and instead go to U of T, Osgoode, UBC, or McGill?

In terms of the 1L and 2L recruits in the US, are they mostly Big law employers like in Canada? What is the distribution like in terms of types of employers and firms that participate in this hiring process.

Do you need a 170+ LSAT score to be competitive for the T14 schools or do you have good chances with a mid-high 160s LSAT if your GPA is in the 3.9+ range?

These are all great questions!  I can answer some only from my perspective, and not definitively, but hope the below is helpful.

1. Public interest.  I don't have an awful lot to offer here because I am heading into private practice and did not seek PI employment.  With that being said, I am aware of other international students at my school who are headed into PI, albeit some in specialized fields (e.g., immigration and humanitarian law) that might care less about international status and more about fit.  I think the catch here would be H-1B visa sponsorship (getting these jobs over a summer would be straightforward because employment would be covered under your school's OPT and CPT status, which is a part of the F1 visa) - but even still, I suspect (but do *not* know) that going the TN route would help a lot in this regard and could make a Canadian more attractive to most PI employers than most other international students. 

2. Big law / lit boutiques.  Yes, if you are interested in a) top shelf (think V10 or V20) US big law, b) specialized big law (e.g., international arbitration work), or c) litigation boutique work, then T3 or (I am guessing) T14 are good bets.  Some of these firms hire exclusively from T3 / T14, while others don't do so exclusively, but do so predominantly.  This was a big part of the reason I ended up at my school.

3. US Lemons.  I'm not really sure about this one because most of my peers at the firm I am joining came from other T3 or high-end of the T-14.  I personally was wary of anything outside of HYS + Columbia / NYU, but in large part that was based on my own predispositions and perceptions of the US Ivy League.  I can't say definitively that a UVA or Michigan won't get you in to some of the same Big Law opportunities, but I think the received wisdom on this forum and elsewhere holds true: the bottom of the class at those schools may struggle more, while the top of the class may not always have access to the same opportunities, especially in PI, that a HYS or other top law school student might.  US employers pay a lot (too much) attention to the fairly arbitrary US news rankings, and sometimes it really shows. 

4. Debt.  It depends on how much you take on.  I think the average at my school is probably around the $150,000 mark.  Starting salaries in US Big Law firms on the Cravath scale is (as of about a week ago) $215,000 + bonus ($15,000 for most first years at most firms, and in the last year or two has also included special one-time bonuses as most of the V20 rake in record profits).  That comes out to ~ $150,000 take-home, depending on your state of practice.  It is very realistic to pay off that debt in five years; some folks do it in less time, some take more.  Debt is quite cheap in the US right now (especially on fixed rate student loans), relative to inflation, but that may change in the future as interest rates rise. 

5. Reasons to not go T6 / T14.  I am probably not the best person to ask this question to - because I ended up going the US route!  But I can think of a few reasons.  First, the aforementioned debt.  Even UofT is cheaper, although as others on this forum have noted some of the T6 an T14 offer very generous scholarships that can make them competitive on cost - and salaries are commensurately higher as well.  Second, living and practicing in the States - it is not for everyone, and the cultural component was something I wrestled with for a long time (though ultimately I was swayed by the relatively more culturally diverse areas of the Northeast that I'd be studying and practicing in).  Third - clerkships.  If this is something that is of great interest, you are probably better off staying in Canada.  The prestigious clerkships in the states are the federal ones and, with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii (the judiciary act is poorly written, and limits its pay provisions to the continental United States), international students cannot be paid for federal clerkships in this country.  State clerkships are still an option, but generally seen as less desirable.  Clerking in Canada as a US JD is still an option (and is what I will be doing), but can be challenging - though the novelty factor can sometimes cut the other way and make a HYS candidate especially stand out.  Those are a couple reasons that I grappled with - but there are probably many others. 

6.  Recruiting.  It is mostly V100 (and really, V50) firms that recruit at T3 / T6 campuses.  Not for lack of effort on the part of other firms - but they struggle to gain traction with law students who are obsessed with prestige and default to the largest firms or the fanciest boutiques with desirable practices like appellate litigation.  That said, if your interests lie elsewhere and you are at a HYS (again, can't speak to the others), your career office will help you land mostly anywhere you'd like.  I have classmates who are heading into private equity, consulting, going straight in-house, working with record labels, or doing other non-traditional things.  The last big bucket is the academic track, which is well-trod at HYS.  Fellowships flow a lot easier at the top-end of the spectrum, and are as close to a sure-bet as you can get if you are interested in legal academia (in addition to publishing and obtaining a clerkship, which are both coincidentally a lot easier for students at top-ranked law schools). 

7. Entrance stats.  I also don't have a great answer to this one.  I can say that I got into every school I applied to in the US with a 170 LSAT and a GPA well below 3.9 (my (Canadian) school didn't use a 4.0 scale so not sure what exactly it translates to).  But - I had very strong softs (post-university employment + extracurriculars) so these probably sealed the deal for me.  The best answer to this question is probably to apply and try your luck - you might be surprised at where you get in (I sure was). 

 

Edited by Scribbleergosum
Removing a detail I felt might be too identifying.
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Scribbleergosum
  • Law Student
1 hour ago, Turtles said:

What was your net total of tuition paid? How close to sticker price do average students typically pay? Does your international student status limit the availability of funding? Is the cost manageable and debt easy to obtain (in Canada or the US) such that a student could reasonably self-fund their way through, or is the bank of mom and dad absolutely necessary (either for funding or to get a big enough loan under their name / co-signors)?

My net total was pretty close to sticker at my school - so over $200,000.  That's because I didn't receive much financial aid (because I had worked and saved before lawschool, I did not qualify for significant needs-based aid which, I should mention, is offered irrespective of international status at my school at least).  Most students don't pay full sticker - most get some aid - but how much varies on personal circumstance.  Relevant to the question of financial aid is that most students work at least one (I did two) summers at a law firm - which pays students at the first year associate rate (about $4,000 / week gross), which tends to mean that financial aid dries up in the second and third year of law school as you accumulate earnings. 

HYS do not (to my knowledge of the other two schools at least) offer merit scholarships.  Funding (loans) was easy to come by as an international student, though I think I paid a small markup on my interest rate.  I did have a co-signer, but no assistance on funding - though there may be ways around this if a co-signer is unavailable to you. 

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RagingBull
  • Law School Admit

Thanks for this thread!

Quote

Clerking in Canada as a US JD is still an option (and is what I will be doing), but can be challenging - though the novelty factor can sometimes cut the other way and make a HYS candidate especially stand out.  Those are a couple reasons that I grappled with - but there are probably many others. 

Could you speak a little more as to how easy/difficult this was? Are Canadian judges very receptive to hiring Canadians with U.S. JDs (from HYS)? Likewise, if it's not too identifying, do you plan on practicing in Canada or in the US in the short-term and long-term? From my limited understanding, clerking would set you up well for private practice in Canada, but is there that same sort of 'recognition' if you were to work in the US after clerking in Canada?

 

Also, is there any employer hesitance at hiring Canadians from HYS for post-grad positions in the US? Is there existing knowledge of the TN visa or is that something a Canadian student would have to bring up themselves?

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Scribbleergosum
  • Law Student
2 hours ago, RagingBull said:

Thanks for this thread!

Could you speak a little more as to how easy/difficult this was? Are Canadian judges very receptive to hiring Canadians with U.S. JDs (from HYS)? Likewise, if it's not too identifying, do you plan on practicing in Canada or in the US in the short-term and long-term? From my limited understanding, clerking would set you up well for private practice in Canada, but is there that same sort of 'recognition' if you were to work in the US after clerking in Canada?

 

Also, is there any employer hesitance at hiring Canadians from HYS for post-grad positions in the US? Is there existing knowledge of the TN visa or is that something a Canadian student would have to bring up themselves?

I can reply to some of this in the general case but if you’d like to follow up on any of the below feel free to PM.  
 

Willingness to hire US JDs varies enormously by court and by judge.  I have only limited experience here, but my sense was that there was an uphill battle to demonstrate proficiency in Canadian law (or an ability to learn quickly), against which some courts / judges may weigh your unique application (including grades, references, law review, etc.) and the comparative perspective that a JD from a neighboring and often persuasive (for the purposes of precedent) common law jurisdiction can bring.  So at bottom - it is more challenging than clerking out of a Canadian program but far from impossible, and something that happens somewhat regularly.  As to recognition in the US - my understanding is that most major firms will treat a Canadian appellate clerkship as on par with US federal clerkship.  So, you’ll get class year credit for your time spent clerking and will get a sizable bonus (around $50,000 generally).  That’s the general case though, and your mileage very well may vary.   
 

Regarding post grad positions - not sure if you mean post grad (eg doctoral) research positions or just firm work.  I know next to nothing about the former but imagine that would fall under an academic visa and be pretty straightforward.  The latter is also pretty easy at most major firms.  The big ones have sophisticated in house immigration counsel and lots of experience hiring Canadians especially.  The smaller ones may have relationships with good outside counsel.  I interviewed quite widely and never once got the sense that anyone cared about my citizenship status.  Now I should note here that this may not hold true for all nationalities, but Canadians are especially easy to hire by virtue of the TN-1 visa, which serves as a surefire backup to the sometimes more fickle H-1B process. 

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