Jump to content

Does law school choice matter when applying for municipality or provincial lawyer jobs?


Fyodor
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello. I am most interested in pursuing the field of law to work for an Ontario municipality or the province. While I can work hard, I know I cannot put in the absurd hours family members do in corporate law. My main goal is to stay in Toronto or the GTA. To have a chance at these jobs do I need to go to law schools like Uoft or Osgoode? Or will other schools like Ottawa, Queens, TMU be totally fine? Extra context: native speaker in English but not French. 

Thanks

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My advice would be stick to an Ontario school. And then stick to the school that keeps your debt load as low as possible - whether it’s lower tuition or scholarships or bursaries or whatever. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

whereverjustice
  • Lawyer

It's definitely not necessary to attend UofT or Osgoode to work for the Ontario provincial government. Any common law school will do (in Ontario or elsewhere).

It might be helpful to go to a law school somewhere that has a vibrant public sector (e.g. a large city or a provincial capital) to make it easier for you to pursue summer jobs and volunteer experiences that could bolster your resume for government jobs.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both for the responses. I am currently living in Toronto and am hoping to practice in Toronto/GTA. One of my top choices is Ottawa and Queens. Do you think Ottawa/Queens would have good opportunities for coming back to Toronto to work in the public sector? 

Thanks again for the replies,

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

whereverjustice
  • Lawyer

Ottawa, yes, definitely.

I'm not familiar with the experiential programs at Queen's but I would suspect that Ottawa would have a lot more to offer in terms of public sector placement opportunities, both from the size of the city and the fact that it's the national capital.

Ottawa's public law course offerings and faculty are also very strong.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

ZukoJD
  • Law Student

I would strongly encourage you to get your foot in the door of the public sector in some capacity asap. It seems like many public sector lawyers worked some government position prior. I’ve noticed many of them have experience in student roles that you can get through FSWEP.

Also at uOttawa you can do a student proposed internship. I’ve seen people leverage these to get some public sector experience. Sometimes these lead to paid positions. 

Edited by ZukoJD
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

YerAWizardHarry
  • Law Student

Queen's isn't a bad choice either. I have plenty of friends who recently landed jobs in the public sector.

I won't pretend like Queen's outshines Ottawa in terms of opportunities (in your field) though. If you get into both schools, you'll probably have a slightly easier time landing the types of jobs you want with the resume uOttawa can give you. For example, Queen's offers an internship with the federal government (https://law.queensu.ca/federal-government-internship#:~:text=Overview,100 hours during the term) that requires you to spend about one day a week working in-person in Ottawa. This is pretty inaccessible for most of the people I know, even those who have a car. 

All things considered, I definitely agree that you should work on minimizing that debt load. This is something you can do at either school. If you end up at Queens, you're definitely not going to be forced into a corporate law career. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

BlackRod
  • Lawyer

I wouldn't immediately write off private practice.

Depending on the firm (i.e., if you are outside the GTA and/or not at a national satellite), you don't need to work absurd hours if you are a municipal/land-use planning lawyer. There are several smaller/regional firms throughout Ontario with excellent municipal practices. While you would make less than the Toronto firms, the money is still good.

Further, you would act for many municipal corporations that are too small to employ permanent counsel. As such, after cutting your teeth for 2 - 4 years, you could easily lateral into a position with a larger municipal corporation if you are not enjoying private practice.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Queen's has a municipal law course, which I don't think every school does, and it's worthy of note that two of the larger firms in the Kingston area (Templeman and Cunningham Swan) have significant municipal practices.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

erin otoole
  • Articling Student
3 hours ago, Psmith said:

Queen's has a municipal law course, which I don't think every school does, and it's worthy of note that two of the larger firms in the Kingston area (Templeman and Cunningham Swan) have significant municipal practices.

Windsor has both a municipal law, and a land use law course. As well as some oddly specific municipal law externship and clinic opportunities. If Windsor has it I can't imagine it's that rare. 

Edited by erin otoole
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/27/2022 at 7:58 PM, ZukoJD said:

I would strongly encourage you to get your foot in the door of the public sector in some capacity asap. It seems like many public sector lawyers worked some government position prior. I’ve noticed many of them have experience in student roles that you can get through FSWEP.

Also at uOttawa you can do a student proposed internship. I’ve seen people leverage these to get some public sector experience. Sometimes these lead to paid positions. 

Thank you so much for this!

I am currently in my fourth year and will be taking a gap year. I now know what type of job I'll have to aim for. I do have a family friend that is a lawyer working for a municipality. So aside from applying through FSWEP, fingers crossed I have a chance there as well. It also seems like uOttawa has so many great things to offer. Are most of the opportunities reserved for bilingual speakers though? While I am a native speaker in English I'm an elementary French speaker at best. 

I do have a great connection being my dad whos work dealt with furnishing government buildings like the Ministry of Labour etc. Only thing is it wouldn't be a clear association. Still worth a consideration though. For sure I'll focus on trying to get some type of government position!

Edited by Fyodor
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

On 11/28/2022 at 1:01 PM, YerAWizardHarry said:

Queen's isn't a bad choice either. I have plenty of friends who recently landed jobs in the public sector.

I won't pretend like Queen's outshines Ottawa in terms of opportunities (in your field) though. If you get into both schools, you'll probably have a slightly easier time landing the types of jobs you want with the resume uOttawa can give you. For example, Queen's offers an internship with the federal government (https://law.queensu.ca/federal-government-internship#:~:text=Overview,100 hours during the term) that requires you to spend about one day a week working in-person in Ottawa. This is pretty inaccessible for most of the people I know, even those who have a car. 

All things considered, I definitely agree that you should work on minimizing that debt load. This is something you can do at either school. If you end up at Queens, you're definitely not going to be forced into a corporate law career. 

Thank you so much for the advice. It's great to know Queens as great opportunities for this as well. The main thing I'm concerned about with federal government is I assume I will need to be a bilingual speaker. Unfortunately, I'm only native in English with an elementary level of French. It seems to be a a reoccurring theme that minimizing debt load is important especially when aiming to work in the public sector. 

Thanks!

17 hours ago, BlackRod said:

I wouldn't immediately write off private practice.

Depending on the firm (i.e., if you are outside the GTA and/or not at a national satellite), you don't need to work absurd hours if you are a municipal/land-use planning lawyer. There are several smaller/regional firms throughout Ontario with excellent municipal practices. While you would make less than the Toronto firms, the money is still good.

Further, you would act for many municipal corporations that are too small to employ permanent counsel. As such, after cutting your teeth for 2 - 4 years, you could easily lateral into a position with a larger municipal corporation if you are not enjoying private practice.

You make an excellent point! It goes to show how versatile a law degree can be. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LMP
  • Law Student
57 minutes ago, Fyodor said:

 

Thank you so much for the advice. It's great to know Queens as great opportunities for this as well. The main thing I'm concerned about with federal government is I assume I will need to be a bilingual speaker. Unfortunately, I'm only native in English with an elementary level of French. It seems to be a a reoccurring theme that minimizing debt load is important especially when aiming to work in the public sector. 

Thanks!

You make an excellent point! It goes to show how versatile a law degree can be. 

Being bilingual certianly helps and may be a requirement for some positions. But there are many, many, members of the public service who speak only one language. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ZukoJD
  • Law Student
1 hour ago, Fyodor said:

Thank you so much for this!

I am currently in my fourth year and will be taking a gap year. I now know what type of job I'll have to aim for. I do have a family friend that is a lawyer working for a municipality. So aside from applying through FSWEP, fingers crossed I have a chance there as well. It also seems like uOttawa has so many great things to offer. Are most of the opportunities reserved for bilingual speakers though? While I am a native speaker in English I'm an elementary French speaker at best. 

I do have a great connection being my dad whos work dealt with furnishing government buildings like the Ministry of Labour etc. Only thing is it wouldn't be a clear association. Still worth a consideration though. For sure I'll focus on trying to get some type of government position!

I know people who have done their internships with the gov't without knowing French, but it's obviously going to be an asset. I learned French as an anglo so if you want to chat about that PM me. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BlackRod
  • Lawyer

There is also a municipal and land use planning course at uOttawa. When I was there, the prof was a retired deputy City Solicitor with the City of Ottawa. Nice guy, and a pretty chill course.

Municipal/land use planning is also a relatively niche field. If you get a position with a smaller regional firm (including the ones Psmith referenced) the job is more relaxed, and you work on files with Bay Street firms opposite all the time. It is a relatively small bar; you start seeing the same faces at the Ontario Land Tribunal pretty quick. Really makes you question why people pay Bay Street rates for municipal lawyers. They charge 40-50% more, and really don't provide any more discernible value...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

whereverjustice
  • Lawyer
4 hours ago, Fyodor said:

I do have a great connection being my dad whos work dealt with furnishing government buildings like the Ministry of Labour etc. Only thing is it wouldn't be a clear association. Still worth a consideration though.

I'm not 100% sure I understand what you meant by this. But if you mean this is a "great connection" in the sense that your dad's work will give you a meaningful advantage in applying for public sector jobs, I think you are mistaken.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

BlackRod
  • Lawyer
21 minutes ago, whereverjustice said:

I'm not 100% sure I understand what you meant by this. But if you mean this is a "great connection" in the sense that your dad's work will give you a meaningful advantage in applying for public sector jobs, I think you are mistaken.

I believe the Borden Ministry implemented the impartiality of the civil service at the federal (dominion?) level at some point during the First World War. Not sure who did the same at the Ontario level. But yes - nepotism generally doesn't work for positions with the Crowns.

Not that you were implying political donations. But still, generally an anti-nepotism sentiment in government (thankfully).

Edited by BlackRod
Link to comment
Share on other sites

55 minutes ago, whereverjustice said:

I'm not 100% sure I understand what you meant by this. But if you mean this is a "great connection" in the sense that your dad's work will give you a meaningful advantage in applying for public sector jobs, I think you are mistaken.

 

34 minutes ago, BlackRod said:

I believe the Borden Ministry implemented the impartiality of the civil service at the federal (dominion?) level at some point during the First World War. Not sure who did the same at the Ontario level. But yes - nepotism generally doesn't work for positions with the Crowns.

Not that you were implying political donations. But still, generally an anti-nepotism sentiment in government (thankfully).

For sure nepotism wouldn't work and I don't expect/want that. I meant more like just like talking to people (probably doing their filing and simple tasks) with people connected to the public sector. I figure it's always good to learn from many people in similar fields of interest. I also figure it's great opportunities to just ask questions in general. That's what I meant by saying how it's not some pure association with the public sector.

From you guys alone I learned so much more about what I am interested in. But encountering people irl who work in it can also add a lot because I find industry professionals always recommend so many doors I didn't even know existed (Like above with the land use planning suggestion!). Hope I didn't come across in a bad way.

 

Edited by Fyodor
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By accessing this website, you agree to abide by our Terms of Use. YOU EXPRESSLY ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOU WILL NOT CONSTRUE ANY POST ON THIS WEBSITE AS PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE EVEN IF SUCH POST IS MADE BY A PERSON CLAIMING TO BE A LAWYER. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.