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UBC vs UofT vs UofA


Farrammir

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Farrammir
  • Applicant

Hi all,

 

I have been accepted into these 3 universities and am having some difficulty picking where I should go. I've been lurking on this forum for a while, but I feel like I can get a better answer for myself if I posted. 

 

First off, I was born and raised in Alberta and I earned my undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta. I have a big interest in corporate law and IP law. I have done a lot of research on the three different Universities and have created a list of pros and cons, but it has not made the decision easier.

 

UofT

--most expensive tuition

--very expensive living expenses (post graduation), but less than Vancouver

--very far from family

--overall, most challenging

-crime is rising in Toronto

+best financial aid, requires LOC

++best school

+good position (close to Ottowa so government work is possible and Toronto is big too for corporate law jobs)

+maybe??? good place for ip law and corp law. 

UBC

-least expensive tuition, BUT second most expensive option because of living expenses

-closer to family

+financial aid in form of scholarships is less than toronto financial aid but no LOC required

+3rd best school in Canada

+Vancouver is beautiful, but not sure what pay and living there is like (is a lawyer's salary enough to enjoy life?)

+business law specialization

UofA

+Least expensive option

+closest to family

+high chance of scholarship

-no cities I'm in love with, if not home then would definitely have no fondness for the province

-no challenges and no new learning experiences (same as always)

-not even top 5 law school in Canada

 

As you can see, I have put in some work into making a decision, but this is also why I am so torn. No overwhelming positives or negatives. What do you guys think?

 

 

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GoatDuck
  • Law Student

Just a few thoughts.

First, rankings are largely irrelevant -- there is no widely accepted ranking of law schools in Canada that would provide a meaningful reference point for determining how the prestige/employability is distributed across the board. There's a sense in which UofT is often thought to be the top law school in Canada, followed by a vaguer sense of UBC/Osgoode and maybe McGill being somewhere close the top, but that's about it, and the relevance of even this hierarchy is limited -- it tells you what schools you're better off attending if you want biglaw jobs in respective markets (i.e. UofT for Toronto, UBC for Vancouver etc). UofA is a great school, and it's really unhelpful to assign any weight to the ranking that MacLeans gave it in 2009. 

Second, whatever is the ranking of a given law school, it will often be offset by the firms' preference for local hiring. Other things being equal, Toronto firms will prefer to hire Ontario law students, Calgary/Edmonton firms will prefer to hire Alberta law students students, and Vancouver firms will prefer to hire BC law students. This means that one of the most important questions you should consider is where you want to practice. If you have a preference for either Toronto, Vancouver, or Calgary/Edmonton, then, other things being equal, you're better off attending law school in the province where you want to practice. If you're indifferent to what city you want to practice in, then I'd go with the cheapest law school, which in your case is UofA. Also, I can guarantee you will have no shortage of challenges and new experiences regardless of what law school you attend, so I wouldn't count lack of challenges as a minus of attending UofA. If anything, you might benefit from not having extra stress caused by moving, being away from your family/friends etc. 

Third, sometimes you might hear that in the practice areas you're considering, UofT's program is more rigorous than UofA's and maybe more rigorous than UBC's. This may be true, but even in this case it's important not to overstate the utility of rigor. More academically-rigorous programs don't necessarily lead to more high-paying jobs, or to a much easier time landing such jobs. 

Fourth, you might find it easier to make your decision once you assign relative values to each point in the above list. For example, how important is it for you to be close to your family? How important is the prestige? How important is it for you to graduate with minimal debt? How do these value-considerations relate to each other? If you feel like staying close to your family is much more important than getting education from a school that's widely considered prestigious, then you have far more reasons to pick UofA; and if you think that living in a beautiful city is the most important criterion and you only slightly care about the cost of living, than you have strong reasons to pick UBC. This sort of value-assignment is meant to be very subjective -- after all, you're picking what's best **given your specific set of preferences and circumstances**. Do this value-assignment, then take a fresh look at the factors that you're considering, and you might gain more clarity on which law school to pick, or at least which law school to eliminate from the list. 

 

Edited by GoatDuck
typos
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Goldenbears19
  • Undergrad
On 3/12/2023 at 6:09 PM, Farrammir said:

Hi all,

 

I have been accepted into these 3 universities and am having some difficulty picking where I should go. I've been lurking on this forum for a while, but I feel like I can get a better answer for myself if I posted. 

 

First off, I was born and raised in Alberta and I earned my undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta. I have a big interest in corporate law and IP law. I have done a lot of research on the three different Universities and have created a list of pros and cons, but it has not made the decision easier.

 

UofT

--most expensive tuition

--very expensive living expenses (post graduation), but less than Vancouver

--very far from family

--overall, most challenging

-crime is rising in Toronto

+best financial aid, requires LOC

++best school

+good position (close to Ottowa so government work is possible and Toronto is big too for corporate law jobs)

+maybe??? good place for ip law and corp law. 

UBC

-least expensive tuition, BUT second most expensive option because of living expenses

-closer to family

+financial aid in form of scholarships is less than toronto financial aid but no LOC required

+3rd best school in Canada

+Vancouver is beautiful, but not sure what pay and living there is like (is a lawyer's salary enough to enjoy life?)

+business law specialization

UofA

+Least expensive option

+closest to family

+high chance of scholarship

-no cities I'm in love with, if not home then would definitely have no fondness for the province

-no challenges and no new learning experiences (same as always)

-not even top 5 law school in Canada

 

As you can see, I have put in some work into making a decision, but this is also why I am so torn. No overwhelming positives or negatives. What do you guys think?

 

 

I also had a similar decision, mine was between UBC and U of A. Since you completed undergrad there and you don’t love the province, I’m not sure how beneficial it would be for you to complete your law degree there. I know you mentioned the crime rates rising in Toronto, the same is happening in Vancouver. For me, I couldn’t justify paying the high costs of living there and how inaccessible the campus is from the rest of Vancouver. I don’t have a car, so I looked into the public transportation to get to and from campus- it’s VERY unreliable (it’s just buses). They often don’t show up or don’t follow a schedule. UBC was such a draw originally because of the low tuition, but after calculating costs of living, it didn’t make sense anymore. Sounds like U of T and UBC both have their positives and negatives for you, it depends what’s most important to you (family support, quality of life, etc). Either decision is a great one. 

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FranksRedHot
  • Law Student
On 3/15/2023 at 10:07 AM, Goldenbears19 said:

public transportation to get to and from campus- it’s VERY unreliable

I have to disagree somewhat with this. You shouldn't rely on internet sources, as commuters are much more likely to complain online and say transit is bad when a bus no shows, or is late, vs when it is on time every day prior. 

I take transit to UBC every day, and I've found it to be more than reliable enough, and unless it snows it is just as good as every other bus system, and gets me to class on time. I also don't think the campus is inaccessible, it just got not have the skytrain (which is a drag I will admit), otherwise I've never had problems. 

UBC has lots of scholarships and bursaries, but many do require that you have financial need, which is based on an assessment by the province (studentaidbc if you are a BC resident) 

Good luck!

 

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Farrammir
  • Applicant
On 3/12/2023 at 7:39 PM, GoatDuck said:

Just a few thoughts.

First, rankings are largely irrelevant -- there is no widely accepted ranking of law schools in Canada that would provide a meaningful reference point for determining how the prestige/employability is distributed across the board. There's a sense in which UofT is often thought to be the top law school in Canada, followed by a vaguer sense of UBC/Osgoode and maybe McGill being somewhere close the top, but that's about it, and the relevance of even this hierarchy is limited -- it tells you what schools you're better off attending if you want biglaw jobs in respective markets (i.e. UofT for Toronto, UBC for Vancouver etc). UofA is a great school, and it's really unhelpful to assign any weight to the ranking that MacLeans gave it in 2009. 

Second, whatever is the ranking of a given law school, it will often be offset by the firms' preference for local hiring. Other things being equal, Toronto firms will prefer to hire Ontario law students, Calgary/Edmonton firms will prefer to hire Alberta law students students, and Vancouver firms will prefer to hire BC law students. This means that one of the most important questions you should consider is where you want to practice. If you have a preference for either Toronto, Vancouver, or Calgary/Edmonton, then, other things being equal, you're better off attending law school in the province where you want to practice. If you're indifferent to what city you want to practice in, then I'd go with the cheapest law school, which in your case is UofA. Also, I can guarantee you will have no shortage of challenges and new experiences regardless of what law school you attend, so I wouldn't count lack of challenges as a minus of attending UofA. If anything, you might benefit from not having extra stress caused by moving, being away from your family/friends etc. 

Third, sometimes you might hear that in the practice areas you're considering, UofT's program is more rigorous than UofA's and maybe more rigorous than UBC's. This may be true, but even in this case it's important not to overstate the utility of rigor. More academically-rigorous programs don't necessarily lead to more high-paying jobs, or to a much easier time landing such jobs. 

Fourth, you might find it easier to make your decision once you assign relative values to each point in the above list. For example, how important is it for you to be close to your family? How important is the prestige? How important is it for you to graduate with minimal debt? How do these value-considerations relate to each other? If you feel like staying close to your family is much more important than getting education from a school that's widely considered prestigious, then you have far more reasons to pick UofA; and if you think that living in a beautiful city is the most important criterion and you only slightly care about the cost of living, than you have strong reasons to pick UBC. This sort of value-assignment is meant to be very subjective -- after all, you're picking what's best **given your specific set of preferences and circumstances**. Do this value-assignment, then take a fresh look at the factors that you're considering, and you might gain more clarity on which law school to pick, or at least which law school to eliminate from the list. 

 

I really appreciate this. I have read it over a couple of times and the second and fourth point really sparked some personal reflection. It's not that I have a preference for any place, BUT I am aware that Ottowa is known as the hub for IP law, definitely an area I am interested in practicing. I guess one of my concerns is that if I attend UBC or UofA, I may not get the opportunity to try IP law. I'm not sure if you have any input on this though haha. I'm happy to hear that prestige is less important though. 

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LMP
  • Articling Student

UBC seems like the balanced choice here. Without digging deeper into the level at which you weigh your preferences, that would seem the way to go. 

UBC has a nice balance of cost, proximity to family and access to opportunities. Also if you're just interested in corporate law and not just specifically Bay Street biglaw then UBC is a really great choice. 

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Farrammir
  • Applicant
On 3/15/2023 at 11:07 AM, Goldenbears19 said:

I also had a similar decision, mine was between UBC and U of A. Since you completed undergrad there and you don’t love the province, I’m not sure how beneficial it would be for you to complete your law degree there. I know you mentioned the crime rates rising in Toronto, the same is happening in Vancouver. For me, I couldn’t justify paying the high costs of living there and how inaccessible the campus is from the rest of Vancouver. I don’t have a car, so I looked into the public transportation to get to and from campus- it’s VERY unreliable (it’s just buses). They often don’t show up or don’t follow a schedule. UBC was such a draw originally because of the low tuition, but after calculating costs of living, it didn’t make sense anymore. Sounds like U of T and UBC both have their positives and negatives for you, it depends what’s most important to you (family support, quality of life, etc). Either decision is a great one. 

UBC is really appealing solely because it boasts lower tuition then UofT as well as a business law concentration. All of the remaining benefits are short term that will only be relevant during law school. As we all know, living there costs an arm and a leg, and I am concerned given that the average pay of a lawyer is less in BC then it is in Alberta or Ontario. I would be fine with getting my education there then moving to Ottowa to practice IP, but I know this goes against one of the big rules where you go to school in the province you wish to practice in. 

 

I appreciate your feedback, many of your concerns about UBC are shared by myself. I guess I was just hoping that UBC would give me an easier time of relocating after graduation to practice in the field I want to right now at a cheaper cost. 

On 3/18/2023 at 1:19 PM, FranksRedHot said:

I have to disagree somewhat with this. You shouldn't rely on internet sources, as commuters are much more likely to complain online and say transit is bad when a bus no shows, or is late, vs when it is on time every day prior. 

I take transit to UBC every day, and I've found it to be more than reliable enough, and unless it snows it is just as good as every other bus system, and gets me to class on time. I also don't think the campus is inaccessible, it just got not have the skytrain (which is a drag I will admit), otherwise I've never had problems. 

UBC has lots of scholarships and bursaries, but many do require that you have financial need, which is based on an assessment by the province (studentaidbc if you are a BC resident) 

Good luck!

 

Funnily enough, I have heard commuting to UBC is actually very easy (and hearing that is huge given how awful Edmonton's public transit is). Correct me if I am wrong, but the most recommended areas to live in if attending UBC are like 30 mins commute right, no transfers? It's nice to hear about scholarships, I think I would have financial need given the expense in living haha. 

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Farrammir
  • Applicant
3 minutes ago, LMP said:

UBC seems like the balanced choice here. Without digging deeper into the level at which you weigh your preferences, that would seem the way to go. 

UBC has a nice balance of cost, proximity to family and access to opportunities. Also if you're just interested in corporate law and not just specifically Bay Street biglaw then UBC is a really great choice. 

I have thought the same thing many times since I made this post. The only thing I would add to my post is that IP law is definitely something I would like to try and I am not sure of the market for it in Vancouver. Then say it is non-existent, would it be easy to move to Ottawa to practice IP law post graduation? Obviously, you may not have all the answers since not everyone is interested in IP law, but I would love to hear your thoughts if you have any.

 

Thanks for your feedback!

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LMP
  • Articling Student
25 minutes ago, Farrammir said:

I have thought the same thing many times since I made this post. The only thing I would add to my post is that IP law is definitely something I would like to try and I am not sure of the market for it in Vancouver. Then say it is non-existent, would it be easy to move to Ottawa to practice IP law post graduation? Obviously, you may not have all the answers since not everyone is interested in IP law, but I would love to hear your thoughts if you have any.

 

Thanks for your feedback!

I don't want to speak out of turn, so if anyone knows better please correct me. But my understanding is that for IP law a big consideration is the candidates background. This means education and work experience, generally in an area involving science or technology. 

In fact I don't know to what extent a given law school's curriculum or "rank" would matter in this. 

I know of course that not everything is patent related and that there is work in IP for those without these backgrounds. But fundamentally I don't think your law school of choice plays a huge role in this. 

But again, really not at all my area so ill defer to those who are more in the know.

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Byzantine
  • Law Student
3 hours ago, Farrammir said:

I have thought the same thing many times since I made this post. The only thing I would add to my post is that IP law is definitely something I would like to try and I am not sure of the market for it in Vancouver. Then say it is non-existent, would it be easy to move to Ottawa to practice IP law post graduation? Obviously, you may not have all the answers since not everyone is interested in IP law, but I would love to hear your thoughts if you have any.

 

Thanks for your feedback!

There is definitely a market for IP law in Vancouver. I have no clue how it compares to other markets though so hopefully someone more knowledgably can jump in. I have a classmate at UBC heading to the US to practice IP law this summer so getting a job in another jurisdiction is a possibility, although I would think this example is probably pretty rare. 

One thing I've heard about UBC is that we don't have a ton of IP courses/professors, not sure how that compares to the other schools you're accepted to.  Look through the upper year course offerings but I believe there's just one IP course and a video game law course. 

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