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JBI

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  1. I lived just north of North St. and it was about the upper limit of walkable distance in the North End (and bars in downtown Halifax). I would have liked to have lived slightly closer, but our apartment was better and less expensive than what we could have gotten in the South End. I did have a car that I used infrequently.
  2. It’s been over ten years since I first walked in to the Weldon Law Building at Dal to start 1L. This board was extremely helpful back then and thought I’d jot down a few thoughts about my time at Dal with the benefit of almost a decade out of school. Originally from Toronto, I had worked in another industry in Manitoba for a few years before deciding to return to university and pursue law school. I wasn’t overly keen on returning to Toronto and working on Bay St., so that was less of a factor to staying at an Ontario school (though plenty of my classmates returned or moved to Toronto and have had successful careers at various sized firms). I won’t spend too much time chatting about the academics and professors as many things may have changed. In fact, I think a couple of my classmates are now sessional instructors there! However, overall my experience at Dal was quite positive. The faculty was excellent (with a few notable exceptions) and I was very impressed with my fellow classmates. It was a very friendly atmosphere and generally not overly competitive. I never attended any other law schools but anecdotally have heard stories of people hiding materials or ripping out pages from library books. My only real complaint about 1L at Dal was that you had your classes with the same 50 people or so in your “section”. This meant that you go to know 50 people really well, and 100 or so people not too well. I didn’t meet a couple of classmates who I still consider friends until 3L - would have been nice to have had at least one class with them earlier in law school. The social scene at Dal was lots of fun, though extremely alcohol focused. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a beverage as much as the next person and drinking seems to be pretty predominate in most legal circles, but things would definitely get excessive at Dal. Personally, I found that I had an absolute blast during 1st and 2nd year, but things had gotten a little stale by 3rd year (that was just me, I know there are plenty of folks who had even more fun in 3rd year after they had secured articling positions). I imagine it’s similar to most other law schools, but the law school was referred to as “Weldon High” - in that there was plenty of (mostly friendly) gossip and relationships. There was very little mingling with other graduate or professional faculties and most folks just kept to law specific clubs or intramural teams. One of my favourite parts of law school was playing intramural ice hockey and the law school also had pick-up hockey every Thursday night. Not sure if they still do that as the arena was torn down in 2012. I did the Legal Aid clinic in my third year. Some people loved the experience, I personally found it more of a neutral experience. It gave me a great appreciation of those lawyers who practice legal aid, family law, poverty law etc. but also allowed me to determine that that type of law isn’t for me. If I have one regret it’s that I wasn’t able to take advantage of the numerous international exchange programs that Dal has (had?). Financially I probably wasn’t in a situation where that would have been feasible, but still something that I perhaps should have tried to plan for. After graduation, my classmates scattered all across the country. That is the great thing about Dal - it truly is a national school. I have friends and classmates at law firms from Victoria, BC to St. John’s NL. There are plenty of Dal grads and articling students in Vancouver, Calgary, The Territories, Toronto, Ottawa and Atlantic Canada (I'm sure there are some in Sask, MB and rural Ontario, but less so). Plenty of firms came to OCIs and it didn’t seem like to much of a hurdle for classmates to get articles in the province that they wanted. For some folks, it almost seemed like it may have been easier as law firms do like to mix up their incoming students from different schools and there were usually less Dal students applying for particular positions in other provinces. I had originally wanted to stay in Halifax. It’s a lovely city. I was fortunate to get a 1L job at one of the larger Halifax firms and then stayed on for 2L and articling. However, the economic downturn was hitting Halifax during my articling year and more than 50% of the articling students did not get hired back. As I’ve mentioned in another post, not getting hired back was one of the best things to happen to me. Nonetheless, it did pose a challenge. I loved my time in Halifax. But, while I’m hoping things have gotten better, once you leave the university environment, Halifax was quite xenophobic. Even though I had been in Halifax for over 4 years, I was still from ‘away’. I don’t think that played a role in not getting hired back after articling, but it did play a role in determining where I would focus my job search. Smaller firms in Nova Scotia weren’t super keen on hiring an Ontario boy and truthfully, the starting associate salaries at Halifax firms were just way too low. While definitely less expensive than Vancouver or Toronto, Halifax isn’t that cheap a place to live. At the time, associate salaries were anywhere from 50%-65% of salaries in other provinces. I was lucky that I was able to find a job in BC with my previous background. Staying in Halifax would have been a challenge. There are definitely a few of my classmates from ‘away’ that were able to make a go of it in Halifax, but it was harder than I thought it would be. I think back on my Dal days very fondly. On a very regular basis I’ll get together with old classmates for coffee. The best is when you unexpectedly run into an old classmate at various airports or conferences as has happened a number of times over the years. I couldn’t say Dal was ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than other law schools but it was overall a positive experience. So, not sure how helpful these thoughts are, but hopefully it’ll help someone with their decision. Cheers!
  3. I transferred from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Not terribly difficult to do, but the process did take a few weeks of filling out applications, getting Nova Scotia to send something to BC, then reading the required documents for BC, signing an affidavit and then being called to the bar. In BC you don't need to wait for the formal bar call date (that was the way it was in Nova Scotia at the time - not sure now) as another lawyer can simply get your to state your oath. But I still needed to attend a separate bar call ceremony at the court house at a later date. So, technically, there shouldn't be too much of an issue getting a job in Ontario with only the NB bar admission. The process doesn't take too long (though I'm not sure of the exact wording of the overlap provisions - i.e. could you start working at an Ontario firm if you are still licenced, insured and listed as practicing in NB). The thing you'll need to keep in mind is that a lot of the more senior lawyers, especially in smaller firms or towns, are still not used to a world where it's easy to transfer between provinces without having to write another bar exam. I'm not familiar with the Law Society of Ontario's rules or website, but I seem to recall that the Law Society of BC's website was quite clear on the transfer procedures. If you're sure you want to move to Ontario, start the process now. If you want to wait until you have a job lined up, it would still be beneficial to contact the law society so you know the exact procedure and can explain it to potential employers. Depending on the employer may not even be a bad idea to put a little blurb about the procedure in your cover letter.
  4. NY Bar

    Hi habsfan, Quick follow up question, do you recall how long it took the BOLE to make the decision on your foreign legal credentials after you submitted all the required documents? On the BOLE website it says give them up to 6 months to make a decision, but anecdotally I've heard of Canadians finding out significantly quicker.
  5. NY Bar

    sng - thanks for the additional thoughts and great advice! Because I've essentially been out of law for the last 3 years, even if I had to re-write a Canadian bar exam, I'd essentially approach it from scratch. I appreciate the recommend re: Themis - even prior to your recommends I was favouring it over Barbri. There's a lot of variables as to whether or not I'll write the July or Feb (or write it at all), but it helps out my game plan. Cheers!
  6. To clarify a bit - you write the bar exam in the province that you article in. Generally speaking its part of the articling process. If you pass the bar in one province but later decide that you want to move, once you are called to the bar in one province (pass bar exam, some sort of bar course and do your application), you can then apply to transfer to another province. This usually does not involve writing another exam, but does involve paying a pretty hefty transfer fee and reviewing different provinces' study materials.
  7. NY Bar

    Thanks for your thoughts!
  8. NY Bar

    Reviving a bit of an older topic to see if: 1- There are new folks who may be writing the NY Bar this July or in Feb 2019; and 2- Whether anyone who has written it since the change to the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) format can provide insight into bar prep courses and whether there were areas that they felt they needed extra attention having studied law in Canada. I'm a 2010 British Columbia call, though after practicing law for 5 years, went back to my former career. I'm currently living in New York City for my wife's job and considering a change to get back in to law. I have no desire to do BigLaw, but there are some pretty interesting options in New York. I've spent a lot of time reviewing old threads here and on top-law-schools, but any thoughts on challenges/courses/tips etc. regarding the new New York bar would be very helpful. With regard to the prep courses, I've read a lot on top-law-schools about the different pros and cons, though would definitely appreciate thoughts on coming at it from the Canadian background. i.e. did you do an "international" edition of the course? Did you find that you were lacking info? Or did they do a really good job of going over the basics? My own challenge will be that I haven't touched certain subject matters since last writing a Canadian bar exam in 2009! Cheers!
  9. My biggest fear: not hired back

    It has been almost 8 years since I didn't get hired back after articling - I successfully practiced law for 5 of those years, went in a bit of a different direction for a few years, but may go back to law now. Not getting hired back at my firm was not only not a big deal, but honestly one of the best things to happen to me. In 2009/10 the financial crisis was hitting the city I was articling in. Of my firms' 8 students, they only hired back 3. Of those 3, only 1 stayed to make partner (though one did leave and come back and probably will eventually make partner). Don't get me wrong, when I didn't get hired back I was shocked. I was disappointed. I was angry and frustrated at the system and a couple of the partners I had worked for who never gave me any feedback or guidance (despite me requesting so) until a negative review on my final evaluation and worst of all, I felt that articling in a larger firm had actually left me without a lot of skills I thought I would need moving forward and, I felt like a failure. For most the personality of most law students, that's the worst feeling. However, I made sure to stay professional and worked even harder for the lawyers whom I know supported me and were upset with the decision not to hire me back. They gave me awesome references. I lucked out and got a job in a different pat of the country in an area of law that my firm didn't practice, but I had a strong background in. It was a better job and offered me a better career path. Also, I met my now wife in that new city. Big Law is not for everyone. In fact, I'd say it's not for most people. It's nice making good money right out of school and it's nice working for 'prestigious' firms and clients. Very few people from my class who started with a Bay Street firm have stayed. It may be that a big Bay St. firm is something you absolutely love, but even still, not getting hired back after articling at one particular firm is definitely not the nail in the coffin of your legal career. So, my advice, which is worth what you paid for it, don't worry about getting hired back (too much) while articling. Instead focus on doing work and tasks where you can actually learn skills that you can use going forward. Ask, beg, push and pester to get involved in the kind of transactions or industries you like or the type of litigation you want to be involved in. Go to and assist with as many trials, discoveries, motions etc. If you do enough with a lawyer they may actually let you get more involved. Then even if you don't get hired back, you have the skills to do these types of tasks.
  10. The thing to keep in mind Halifax for 1L jobs is that if you are not from Halifax, the firms will be suspicious about why you want to work in Halifax. There were a number of people, myself included, in my year who were not from Halifax and got 1L jobs in Halifax, but we had to show that it wasn't our intention to work for a summer and leave (though there were a few who did). So just make sure that you don't come across as just wanting a summer job in Halifax before you take off for greener pastures. I don't really know about summer job prospects in Kingston - more likely you'd be looking at Toronto or Ottawa.
  11. Dalhousie or UNB

    I went to Dal and enjoyed it. If you want to stay in the Maritimes, I think either school would be great. Dal has a slightly better reach in Halifax, but there are plenty of UNB grads working in Halifax. For other parts of Atlantic Canada, I'd say UNB probably has better connections. For other parts of the country, Dal has more of the bigger firms stopping in for OCIs, but there are still a number of UNB grads practicing all over the country (though not as diverese as Dal grads). Something to keep in mind, UNB's tuition is about $3000 a year cheaper than Dal's and Halifax is not a cheap place to live. Though Dal now has a number of new scholarships with Schulich's donation which could negate that.
  12. I found at Dal, there was a huge discrepency with the quality of the faculty. For example, there was one prof that taught tax that was awesome, and one that was horrible - that meant that the 3rd years, who get to pick classes a week ahead of 2nd years, would fill up the class with the good prof, and the class with the not good prof would be filled with 2nd years. I spent all my three years at Dal so I have nothing to compare it to. I found that some of profs would had the most awards were not actually good teachers, just fancy academic researchers. I guess it just depends on what you're looking for. As for the clinic, I was involved in the selection of students last year. The key is to work your schedule around having the pre-requisites of family and evidence, prior to attending. That can involve a little difficulty in working your schedule around in second year. Some students managed to get accepted without having taken one of the pre-requisities, but it depends on how many other students in a particular year are interested. The clinic was worth 13 credits (the average year is 30ish credits). Hope this helps.
  13. The way they did it 4 years ago (ah, that's dating myself) was that they did not grant any admissions to mature/access category applications until the spring. They look at these applications separate from the regular category applications. There was some confusion as to whether I'd be under the mature cateogry or regular category when I applied. I was originally going to be considered under the mature category (i.e. not until the spring), but once it was clarified that I was eligible under the regular category (that I did indeed have enough undergrad courses), I was offered admission the following week in early November.
  14. Despite finishing, I can't help myself: I was thinking that this situation of having to conform to other countries’ law degrees is confusing. The proposed JD isn’t a ‘real’ JD by American standards, yet, a Canadian LLB is different than an LLB in most other countries in the Commonwealth. I propose that we develop a strictly Canadian law degree. One that is independent and focused on law, truth and honesty. I propose that Dal, and all Canadian law schools, adopt the 'Veritas Doctoris'. Just think of the pride that you’ll feel on graduation day when the Chancellor places his hand on your shoulder and passes a piece of paper to you that confirms you have a VD. You’ll be able to tell everyone with pride that you got your VD from Dalhousie. Prospective employers will know that since it’s a Canadian Degree, you likely graduated from undergrad before you got your VD, but it’s also possible that you were extra keen and got your VD at a young age. You'll be able to hang your confirmation of your VD in your office and when your client's ask, you can indeed confirm that you have a VD (they may be in such awe that they may find it necessary to stand further back from you). The senior partners in your law firm may look down on you though as they didn't get a VD from their time in law school. Having a VD may not be the deciding factor in whether you will be more marketable in the international job market, but by having a VD, it will show potential employers that you are itching to be a successful lawyer. Good Luck to all the new Dal law students. Whether you end up with an LLB, a JD or a VD - enjoy law school!
  15. Doctors?

    When I was at Dal I just went to the University Health Services http://healthservices.dal.ca/index.php. Overall I've been happy with the doctor I have there and if you stay in Halifax after you're done, you can still go to that doctor.
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