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UofA Vs UofC


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  • Applicant

Some questions I have include:

1) What's life like in edmonton vs calgary?

2) Quality of the the JD program at each respective school

3) Program strengths 

4) Living cost

5) Job market in each respective city

6) Downsides to each school

These are just a few things I thought of, feel free to mention anything relevant.

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  • Law Student

Life is definitely better in Calgary. U of A tuition was going to be going up 45% to almost 17K , but they have lowered that amount to 29% now. It has not fully gone through yet, I believe there is a town hall this week. We should know soon. All else being equal if you had the choice, U of C for sure. 

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  • Law Student

I've never lived in Calgary, so someone else can speak to that, but I've been in Edmonton since earlier this summer, so I can give you my impression as someone also not from here. 

1. Can't compare for reasons stated above, but from how people describe it, Edmonton is more artsy and Calgary is more corporate. The river valley in Edmonton is surprisingly beautiful and it's often sunny outside. I didn't catch the full brunt of the heatwave but what I have experienced of the summer is quite nice. The UofA campus is also much nicer than expected. There are a ton of gyms, including one literally right across from the law building. The restaurant scene is good too. Whyte Ave is a short walk from campus. Aside from the occasional aggressive homeless person, the vast majority of people are really nice here. The West Ed Mall is kinda neat. There are, in normal years, lots of festivals and stuff here.

2. It could be because many of the legal community members in the area got their JD here, but I get the impression that UofA's JD is better respected than UofC's. That's not anything I've determined with objective measures, nor is it necessarily my opinion. I'll be open and say that I got waitlisted at UofC and had I gotten an offer off the bat, I would've gone there, if only because I'm heavily considering moving to Calgary after graduating. 

3. There are plenty of upper year course options, but I haven't compared it directly to UofC. The professors (at least in my cohort) all seem excellent so far. SLS (especially the crim option) is a very cool opportunity and doesn't require competition to get into during the school year. Apparently our moot teams won some good stuff in recent years. We have the second biggest law library in Canada. As meaningless as the phrase has become, my classmates and profs are really collegial. Students in years above you will literally trip over themselves to give you advice.

4. Low taxes, but that's Alberta-wide. Rent is comparatively cheap and there are reasonable vacancy rates, but higher cost than usual if you live right by the school in Garneau or something. Groceries seem more expensive than I'm used to. Tuition, at least for the Class of 2024 and older, is very reasonable. 

5. I don't have experience with this, but Edmonton is the capital, so more government jobs here. I've heard the average wages for law are lower than Calgary. It doesn't seem difficult for 3Ls to get jobs elsewhere in western Canada other than Edmonton, if they so desire. The Edmonton BigLaw firms seem to participate more in the 1L recruit than they do in the later recruits. 

6. Tuition is projected to go up. They haven't confirmed by how much, but the newest proposal is lower than the last one. The law building is not pretty. Administration seems haphazard sometimes. 

Overall, I'm happy with my decision. The smaller class sizes are a refreshing change from undergrad, the community is great, and the quality of the education I feel I'm getting is great so far.

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