he4dhuntr

Ask a recent associate (admissions, law school, bar, articling, course, etc.)

54 posts in this topic

Hey all!

 

I've been a member of these boards for quite some time now (kind of scary long as I look at my profile.. time flies!), and I've been receiving a decent amount of PMs with questions ranging from admissions, to law school, bar, course aux stages, articling and beyond.

 

Since many questions seem quite common, I thought it may be useful to answer some for the benefit of everyone. I'd of course also invite everyone and anyone who can answer any questions asked here to chime in (as I don't claim to be an expert on any given subject.. unfortunately)! All I can offer is my experience. Hopefully this thread can give back to a community which I found quite useful over the years I've been here.

 

Background

 

A bit about me... I completed CEGEP, followed by a business undergrad. After that, I completed law school at UdeM (LL.B./J.D.) and followed that up with some other business and law-related studies. I did the course aux stages, successfully wrote the Quebec bar, articled, and was then hired back and am currently practicing as an associate in a large firm in Montreal. I also wrote the LSAT before applying to law school (since I had applied to a number of Ontario universities at the time).

 

Questions

 

I invite you to ask any and all questions that you may have regarding any topic and I'll do my best to answer what I can (and hopefully other very useful posters on these boards will chime in with their experience as well). Naturally, I'm a little more removed with regard to admissions questions (as well as LSAT-related questions), but I'll give you my experience if it applies and can be useful.

 

I can speak about my time at UdeM, but I also have a good amount of friends who have studied at other schools (and some who still are currently there), such as McGill, UQAM, Sherbrooke, Laval, etc., so don't be shy.

 

You can also ask your questions in either French or English (though the language I use to respond may depend on my mood on any given day..).

 

If you prefer, you can PM me if ever you don't want to ask questions publicly, though I encourage you to do so, since as I mentioned, many people on here seem to have similar concerns, and that way everyone can benefit from the answers.

 

I apologize in advance if ever it takes me a while to respond, since life does get a bit hectic sometimes! ;)

 

Looking forward to helping out if and where I can!

 

Cheers,

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Thanks for the offer He4dhunter! I'll break the ice.

I'm doing la Course aux Stages this year and have a two questions about it:

 

First, what do firms expect us to know about them? Most of my answers to "why our firm" are about the general impressions I got from meeting their lawyers. I've tried to look for high profile cases, but they always seem interchangeable - you made deal X, but that other firm made deal Y which is pretty similar - and, as such, aren't very convincing reasons for preferring a firm over another.

 

Second, I know people with good applications - above average grades and good ECs - that don't have any interview. Is it normal or is there less positions available this year?

 

Thanks!

A

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Hey!

 

Here are my attempts at answering your questions. Keep in mind however that I'm by no means an expert, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt.

 

La course aux stages

 

As a general statement, I would first like to say that the course aux stages, contrary to what most people will have you believe, can be a very enriching and quite enjoyable experience if you let it. While the employers arguably hold the larger end of the stick in most cases, students have to come to understand that both sides are shopping. The "power struggle" actually tends to flip the closer you come to offer day, as every firm loses out on a number of candidates they would have hoped to get. 

 

Why X Firm?

 

This is a question you will probably hear a lot during interviews, and one that you probably also tried to tackle in your cover letter. In my experience, the best policy is to be honest. That being said, while I firmly believe that "be yourself" and "be honest" are hands down the best advice anyone can get for interviews, you still have to come to realize that it's somewhat of a game, so play it right and enjoy it.

 

It's all too true that large and medium-sized firms from the outside seem the same. The websites are similar, the deals, the people, the practices, etc. As you move through the interview process and cocktails, you'll start differentiating them a bit. Your decision, if you're lucky to have one, will likely still come down to a gut feeling. Let's just hope it will be an "educated" gut feeling!

 

If you have a specific answer to the "why us?" question, then good for you. Whether it be working with a certain individual, in a certain field, things you've heard or people you've met. However, most students won't really have a specific reason, or at least not for every firm they interview at. This is when you should realize that the course aux stages is a shopping process for you. Ideally, you want to find a place where you will actually enjoy working and where you see yourself evolving at least for some time into the future. Once you come to grips with that, the question is rather easy to answer by simply asking it back to them.

 

So, if you don't have a specific reason why you would want to work at X firm, tell them what it is you are looking for (and here is where the honesty with a pinch of "game" comes in). This is also why you have to ask yourself what it is you are looking at getting out of the course aux stages. Hopefully it's not simply a stage anywhere at any cost. I can tell you very frankly that students for whom this is apparent don't come off as very desirable in interviews. Interviews are much like a dating and attraction game. People that seem desperate and that want a relationship at any cost typically are the ones who don't find one, or at least not the one they are looking for. So know what it is that you want. This will make you come off as more confident and desirable, since you don't send the message that you want to work just anywhere.

 

Let's say what you're looking for is an environment and a culture that has the resources of a large firm (e.g., support staff, library, access to databases, etc.) with the feel of a small firm (i.e., tight knit team spirit, family vibe, open-door policy, etc.). Then when you're asked "why us?", you simply answer: "Well, what I'm looking for is a firm where I will have access to the resources and guiding support of a large firm, but that offers the feeling of a tight knit team and responsibilities as in a small firm. From the people I've talked to at your firm (and if you have friends there you can name them), I get the sense that this is precisely what you offer. Can you correct me if I'm wrong? How would you describe your firm culture?".

 

I like to end my answers with a question thrown back at them. This shows (a) your interest in the firm, (b) a certain amount of confidence and © that you're actually shopping around for a place you genuinely see yourself working at. The term "fit" is thrown around a tad loosely sometimes for interviews, but it's really the most important aspect of any hiring process, both for the employer and potential employee. Finally, this "strategy" of not waiting for the end of the interview to ask your questions turns a Q&A style "interview" into more of a conversation. This tends to loosen the mood and make the whole process more enjoyable and less formal. At the end of the day, people who are offered positions are those who the interviewers felt "good" about. This comes down to a feeling. If you're interviewing, you're competent on paper, now they want to see if they "like" you.

 

When my girlfriend worked in HR, they called it the "plane test". Do you see yourself taking a 14 hour plane trip sitting next to this person? If the answer is yes, you're in a good spot. These people will be working long hours with you, so they'd better enjoy your company or at least find you interesting. If they see themselves having a beer with you after a long day and enjoying it, you're golden.

 

Quantity of Interviews

 

I know for a fact that certain firms have taken a stricter approach for first-round interviews this year. There are probably a few reasons for this for which I can only speculate on from what I've heard from the grapevine. First is that they want to spend more time with candidates that they believe are viable and interesting. Over the years, it seems that firms have developed a skill (or at least they probably think they have) to be able to spot candidates they are more interested in from paper without meeting them. Second is likely due to the current state of the economy, which isn't necessarily booming. There seem to have been less hire-backs this year for articling students then in general as well, so this effect may be trickling down to hiring processes. Perhaps firms are looking at hiring a few less students this year. There's also the fact that many previously hired students push back their articling due to higher-education or other reasons, so some firms already have a number of articling students lined up for 2-3 years from now. And finally, it seems that the playing field, just as for law school admissions, is getting more and more competitive every year. Better grades and more well-rounded students seem to be more and more frequent, so perhaps certain people who would have typically gotten interviews a few years ago are no longer shoe-ins today. I know that every time we announce our new batch of entering students, we (current employees) look around at each other with a sense of "wow! If I were a candidate this year, there's no way I would have made it in!". But maybe that's just modesty :P

 

I hope that answers your questions at least somewhat!

 

Don't hesitate if you have any more or if I missed any specific points.

 

Cheers,

Edited by he4dhuntr
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Thanks so much for taking the time to do this and answer our questions.

 

I was recently accepted at UdeM and will most likely be accepting the offer. I'm waiting to hear back from a few other schools, but chances are, I'll be staying here in Montreal.

 

I have a few questions that I hope you can help me with:

 

1. How exactly does the course aux stages work? At what point in the law program does this take place? Also, I understand that while it may not be common, some law students get summer jobs at law firms after their first year. I take it that this does not make them "stagiaires", but rather "étudiants". How is this distinction made?

2. Have you known anyone to take time off in the middle of the program, or do part of the program on a part-time basis? I realize that this is not recommended, and that most law programs are constructed in such a way as to ensure continuity, but have you known of cases where exceptions are made?

 

Thank you so much in advance!

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Hey! Congrats on your acceptance to UdeM! I'm sure you won't regret it if you accept the offer and end up attending. I very much enjoyed my time there.

 

Glad to help if and where I can!

 

The Course aux stages Process & Summer Jobs

 

The course aux stages is a "formalized" recruitment process. Basically it's an agreement between a number of firms (most large and some medium-sized) not to solicit students for articling positions before they've achieved a number of credits of law school. So the Course typically falls during the winter semester of your second year of law school (note: some students do it in third year as well, especially at McGill where you can choose to complete the program in 3, 3.5 or 4 years).

 

The way it works is that you submit your candidacy (CV + cover letter + grades) to the firms you wish to apply to for an articling position. This happens sometime in February. Then there are typically three rounds of interviews (this varies by firm, some do less). If you're "good enough" on paper, you'll be invited to your first interview (which happen next week for this year's cohort). If you perform well during the first interview, you'll be invited to a second interview the week following. Then again to a third interview (which usually takes the form of a dinner or cocktail) the week after. Finally, all offers are sent (usually by phone) to students on the last Friday of that last week (they aren't allowed to send them earlier or even hint at whether you'll be receiving an offer or not). You then have the weekend to decide which offer (if any) to accept. I believe however that the new policy permits firms to revoke an offer if it isn't accepted by Friday night (correct me if I'm wrong).

 

It should be noted that certain firms also make exceptions and let you do the Course in the Fall of your second year of law school, for instance if you're going on exchange (and thus won't be available) in the winter. The number of firms that offer this option is somewhat restricted though.

 

So the whole process takes about 1 month, if you make it to the end. A statistic that is thrown around is that about 10% of students get articling positions through the course aux stages. I have no idea if this is true or not though, so you can do your own homework on that front if it interests you.

 

Articling positions are given for two years down the line, meaning that if you're interviewing next week (March 2016), you're looking at an articling position for the year 2018-2019 I believe. If you accept an offer from a firm, many of them will let you work summers and part-time thereafter (so summer after 2nd year and after 3rd year). Though some limit this to one summer (so only after 3rd year), and yet others don't offer much flexibility to work as a student (this depends on the firm and its size). Some firms also pay for your bar school fees, while as others go beyond this and even give you a salary (allocation) during bar school.

 

So, this whole process puts aside 1st year law students. Most students won't find a legal job in their first summer. However, the school's career services department will regularly send out emails to students with job opportunities. Some of these will target 1st year law students, so you can apply and see. Otherwise, a number of students either work through their personal networks to find legal summer or part-time jobs, or else cold-call and apply on their own end.

 

Don't stress out if you don't have a legal summer job (or any job for that matter) in or after 1st year. It doesn't have much if any impact down the line. If you can, I'd actually suggest taking advantage of your summer to do things you enjoy. It may be some of the last consecutive months off you will get for a while.

 

Time Off & Part-Time Studies

 

Some people complete a law degree part-time, others take time off. A law degree really isn't at all different from any other university program. It's up to you to do what suits you most. Everyone has their own lives to live, so decide based on your needs and wants. Talk to the administrative staff at your university to understand the options that are open to you based on your personal needs and situation.

 

That being said, taking time off tends to skew the course aux stage process a bit (if you choose to go that route). So be aware that it might make you a "weird" candidate, which may impact your chances at interviews, at least at some firms. If you do go the Course route and do get interviews, be prepared to answer some questions about your journey.

 

All that said however, do be aware that the Course aux stages is not necessary and a lot of students don't do it. It's typically aimed at large firms, which mostly work in business law, litigation, and a bit of labour law and IP. Moreover, not getting an articling position during the Course is far from being the end of the world. Most students find articling positions outside or after the Course, whether it be in 3rd year, during bar school, or after.

 

It sometimes feels as though law students are hearded toward the Course and large firms, and this makes sense due to the larger marketing budgets that these firms have, and thus their greater presence within universities. Make an effort to ask yourself what it is that YOU want and find out about all the different possibilities that are offered to you as a law student. There's more out there than "Big Law".

 

I hope that answers your questions a bit! Don't hesitate if you have more or if you want any clarifications.

 

Cheers,

Edited by he4dhuntr
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Hey He4dhuntr,

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions so thoroughly.

 

I know there are a few applicants here that are completing a B. Comm., including myself, and since you previously mentioned you had completed such a degree yourself, you might be able to enlighten me on some questions I have.

 

I apologize in advance if my questions seem to overlap each other; they are somewhat all interrelated...

 

Firstly, I was wondering if you find your B.Comm. as given you a hedge over other candidates when looking for employment post law graduation? And, more generally, in addition to your law degree, does having a bachelor in another discipline make you a different candidate in the eyes of employers?

 

Secondly, say I’m looking at pursuing a career in corporate law and more specifically in capital markets or mergers and acquisitions. Would the knowledge acquired through business studies help in building such a career? Would you say the material taught in business schools is too disconnected from reality to be applicable in legal practice?

 

Finally, I was also wondering if you have been able to apply your knowledge acquired through your commerce studies to your legal studies? When studying, as it helped seeing commercial law from a different point of view?

 

Thank you in advance.

P

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Hey!

 

I did complete a B.Com. before law school. Below are my answers to your questions based on my experience.

 

Undergrad prior to Law School

 

In my experience, having an undergrad before undertaking law school helps in more ways than one. First, it gives you that much more experience with developing study techniques and getting accustomed to post-secondary testing and grading. This should help with your success in law school. That being said, I'm sure there really is no correlation between students that get good grades in law school and whether they have an undergrad or not. However, personally, I know for a fact that I would have done quite a bit more poorly (and would have had to work a heck of a lot harder) had I gone to law school straight from CEGEP. This depends on the individual though.

 

As far as how employers view this, unfortunately it depends again. I would say with some confidence that an undergrad is rarely viewed as a bad thing. It probably tells employers that there are more chances that you're more mature, more certain of what it is you do and don't want to do, and perhaps that you're a more well-rounded candidate. However, there is something to be said about students that come straight from CEGEP, in that they typically haven't had the time to pick up any "bad" habits and might be able to more easily "adapt" or be "molded" into the type of lawyers a firm might be looking for.

 

Overall though, I'd say a prior bachelor is usually a good positive for interview and employment, if not only because it differentiates you that much more and gives you something extra to talk about during interviews.

 

Utility of a B.Com.

 

I'll start by saying, although probably with a bit of bias, that a B.Com. is probably one of the more useful pre-law degrees you can have if you're looking at going into business law (and even in other fields, such as litigation and labour - for IP, perhaps a more technical degree comes in handy). That being said, you won't "use" your business degree much once you start working as a lawyer. I personally do mostly M&A and Securities, and my B.Com. really only comes in handy for a few relatively indirect reasons. First, you'll understand concepts quicker. Knowing (or at least having the base to better understand) certain financial concepts will help when it comes to financing deals, drafting acquisition contracts (that often have price adjustment clauses based on such things as Working Capital - so it helps if you know what that is, or if you can quickly understand what it is), etc. A B.Com. can also come in handy because you speak your clients' "language". You can thus better understand your clients' needs and what it is that they do. This not only builds more confidence on the client's side when he talks to you, but also makes you much more comfortable when you begin drafting contracts or structuring deals, since it might come a bit quicker or easier to you to understand what the ultimate goal is. And finally, probably the most direct benefit of having a commerce degree is simply being able to read financial statements. We take it for granted, but many people haven't seen much of these, and if you think back to the first time you did, they may come off as pretty gibberish. Simply knowing the difference between a cash flow statement, a balance sheet and an income statement can go a long way in your early days as a student, stagiaire and lawyer.

 

All that said, these concepts can be learned rather quickly by anyone, at least to the extent they are to be used by lawyers. So I'm in no way saying that becoming a business lawyer demands a business degree, far from it. A lot, and probably most, of the lawyers we have at the firm in our business group don't have a prior business degree (or prior degree at all), and they are great lawyers. It might just take a tiny bit more effort at the start of your practice to get acquainted and more comfortable with certain concepts... But that's why someone invented Investopedia ;)

 

I'd also like to add that a business degree can also help to open doors down the road if ever you choose to diversify your practice or jump into another field or tangent. Naturally the more diverse, applicable and interesting your experience, the more marketable you are.

 

I hope that answers your questions a bit!

 

Don't hesitate if you have any more.

 

Cheers,

Edited by he4dhuntr
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Starting Course aux Stage's second week, I was wondering whether you had any tips on how to seal the deal?

Aside from doing your best in second interviews and at the events, is there other things we should know or do?
 

Thanks again for all you answers!

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Hey!

 

Second and Third Interviews

 

Unfortunately (or fortunately) there is no real way to "seal the deal" in second and third rounds. The same principle really carries over from your first interaction with a firm to your "last", and that's really just what "gut feeling" they get about you. Are you sociable? Are you comfortable? Are you interesting? Are you pleasant?

 

That being said, cocktails, dinners or in-room interviews are very different environments, and thus require different approaches. The golden rule of "being yourself" always applies, but different things are being looked for in these different settings.

 

In-Room Interviews

 

I covered these above relatively extensively, but what interviewers typically tend to look for here is to validate you beyond your "on-paper" persona. If you're in the room, it means you're qualified on paper. Now they want to see if you're socially apt, if you seem confident, if you seem comfortable, if you seem interested and motivated. The best tips you can get here is to be yourself and turn a Q&A-type interview into a conversation as soon as possible (or at least this is what I try to do). If conversation flows freely and the experience is enjoyable for the interviewers, you're typically in a good spot. That being said, you can sometimes come out of these interviews thinking they went absolutely horridly, and then end up with a call-back. The most frequent reason for this is quite simple. Often times if a firm likes you, they might challenge you that much more to see how you react to more uncomfortable situations and tougher questions, so don't get discouraged right away if you think an interview went poorly. You may be surprised.

 

Cocktails

 

I personally very much dislike the cocktail-type interview, and am not very good at them. These "interviews" serve a few purposes. First and foremost, a firm may want a larger number of lawyers to meet candidates so that they have a bigger pool of opinions to work off. With this in mind, do try and get around the room to meet, maybe not as many people as humanly possible, but at least a good amount. Typically either all these people meet thereafter to give their top picks, or at least give feedback about certain candidates. If your name is dropped more often than not, you're in a good spot. If however you only stuck to the 2-3 lawyers you already knew, you may be a tougher sell.

 

These events also serve to gauge how you interact in a crowd. As a lawyer, you'll eventually end up going to a decent amount of networking events and be expected to bring in clients (or at least interact with them). The firm wants to know how comfortable you are in these situations and how (potentially) successful you can be at this. They also want to be somewhat reassured that they can put you in front of a client without being completely embarrassed. So with that in mind, definitely don't stay quiet during conversations. Chime in, but don't necessarily take up all the breathing space either. Overbearing candidates don't necessarily do very well here, but neither do the shy ones who simply smile and nod. Read up a bit on the latest news and come with some interesting topics of conversation. I personally suggest asking lawyers things that go beyond the "what do you do?" line of questioning (which gets rather tiresome quite quickly). Ask them about hobbies, travels, recent new events, sports, etc. You'll have more memorable, genuine and interesting conversations this way. If you line up hobbies or interests with a few lawyers and talk about them candidly, you're typically in a good place, because you'll be more easily remembered and perform better overall. It comes back to that "are you enjoyable and interesting" question.

 

Now I don't know if there's a non-awkward way to insert yourself in a group conversation (please enlighten me if there is!), but you'll likely have to deal with this fact more often than not in cocktail-style settings. There are different strategies... Linger very briefly close to the group and try to make eye contact with someone in the group to insert yourself "politely". Go for the more explicit insertion and just kind of jump in the group and introduce yourself or have an opening line along the lines of "Do you mind if I join in?" or "Just jumping in here!".

 

You'll also have to probably find a way to "end" conversations. If you want to get around the room in the often limited time you have, you'll have to politely end conversations to continue mingling. This is usually easier when in a group conversation, since you can often find a moment to excuse yourself. In a one-on-one it usually comes down to either finding a reason to leave (e.g., going to the bathroom, getting a drink, etc.), or simply thanking the person for the conversation, ending it on a positive note and telling them you're going to go meet some other/new people.

 

Dinners

 

I personally like the dinner format because you don't feel the need to cut conversations short and insert yourself awkwardly into groups to try and chime in on topics which may or may not interest you. Dinners are either you alone with a few lawyers, or else "group dinners" which will typically involve a one student to two or three lawyers ratio. In either case (being the sole candidate at a table or sitting there with a few other students), try to get comfortable as soon as possible. If that takes a joke right off the bat, don't be shy to make one. If it lands or not, it'll break the ice and you can build from there. Let your personality shine here. Act as though you were around the table with friends and/or colleagues. If the lawyers sitting around the table would be glad to re-do the experience, you're in a good place, since you'll likely be doing this again soon as an articling student and associate at the firm!

 

Firms here are looking for how you act in a social and more informal setting. These are dinners that you will soon be having with clients, potential clients and colleagues, so might as well act as though you're already there. Once again, try and get passed the "what do you do" questions rather quickly. Move on to hobbies, anecdotes, interests, etc. These are more enjoyable conversations. If you can be that "loud" table that had a few crack ups during dinner, you're pretty golden. If it was genuinely an enjoyable experience and dinner (and you actually forgot that you were in an interview at one point), good on you!

 

Take-aways

 

So as mentioned, it really comes down to making the experience enjoyable. Don't be pretentious, don't try to sell yourself too much (definitely somewhat, but don't be "that guy" that's shoving his out-of-context accomplishments down everyone's throat). Try and have fun and you'll typically do better than if you're in "interview mode" the whole time. Converse, mingle, laugh, poke fun, and hopefully everything works out for the best.

 

Also, don't get too upset if you don't get a call back or offer. At this stage, you're in a select group and decisions are extremely tough for firms to make (most of the time). Don't go in there "trying" to distinguish yourself or find a way to be the "best" candidate. If you're there, there's a reason for it, so just keep doing what you've been doing.

 

Sorry if I don't have any "concrete" advice to give, but as mentioned, unfortunately (or fortunately) there isn't any secret or magic formula to getting offers. It's a process. Try and enjoy it! :)

 

Don't hesitate if you have any more specific questions or if you want clarifications on any given point.

 

Best of luck!

Edited by he4dhuntr
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Further on "sealing the deal", I was asked this question a few times and again recently in a private message. If you have a #1 firm from whom you will 100% accept an offer if you receive it, don't be shy to tell them they're at the top of your list.

 

That being said, be honest if you're going to go down this route. Don't go telling all the firms the same story. It's a small world.

 

Firms like to make offers that will be accepted. This is far from saying that you'll get an offer that you wouldn't have otherwise gotten, but it's not necessarily a bad idea to tell your top choice that they're sitting atop your list.

 

Cheers,

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In your experience or judging from what your friends/classmates/colleagues from other law schools have experienced, do you find that going to such-and-such law school actually makes a difference in articling/job interviews? Do employers actually care or is it simply based on your grades, profile and previous experience? 

 

I'm still waiting to hear back from McGill but was already accepted into Ottawa's PDC and Sherbrooke's LL.B/J.D. program, and the more I look at it and the more I'm tempted to go for Sherbrooke - solid reputation (at least in Quebec), very hands-on, prepares well for the Bar Exam and job market, smaller school with smaller class sizes, quality teaching, much cheaper tuition.

 

My only worry is if going to a relatively unknown school (or is it?) in English-speaking Canada would hurt me down the road for common law jobs? Basically, is a law degree a law degree or would having McGill on my resume open up a lot more doors in, say, Ontario than if I showed up with Sherbrooke's J.D?

Edited by rowingracquet

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Hey!

 

Within Quebec, I would say that there isn't much of a difference with regard to which school you attend, for jobs in Quebec (or based on my experience, Montreal), with the exception of UQAM, which seems to still be viewed somewhat poorly by some firms and/or recruitment professionals. That said, the school you choose still does make at least a bit of a difference. McGill is definitely seen as the top law school in Quebec (if not Canada), but for recruitment purposes in Montreal, UdeM is pretty much on par, if not only because it has a better civil law program. Laval, Ottawa and Sherbrooke are all viewed positively (as far as civil law goes), and are probably on par with UdeM, but UdeM lands a lot more recruitment in Montreal if only because of the proximity (and likely much larger amount of students applying for Montreal jobs).

 

So my short answer is: if you're applying to jobs in Quebec or Montreal, differences in which law school you attend aren't all that present, if at all (besides UQAM - but to be fair, UQAM students seem to be less interested in "Big Law" jobs in general).

 

For the rest of Canada, definitely McGill has a huge leg up on any other school in Quebec. Getting a job in a common law province when coming out of a civil law school (other than McGill, which really isn't viewed as a civil law school) is likely very difficult. Already that the market for legal jobs is competitive for students coming out of highly recognized common law programs, it must be that much tougher if you're coming out of a civil law school. That being said, most civil law schools offer the option to complete a J.D. either at the school itself (e.g., UdeM, Sherbrooke, etc.) or by tacking on a year at a common law school (e.g., Osgoode, Dalhousie, Ottawa, etc.). The latter option, even though likely still much less competitive than completing a full J.D. at a common law school, is still a stronger bet at being competitive for common law jobs outside of Quebec than completing a civil law school J.D., such as at UdeM or Sherbrooke.

 

While the UdeM or Sherbrooke (or other civil law school) J.D. permits you to write the bar in other provinces (and certain states), it unfortunately really isn't recognized or held in high regard by anyone. When an employer has a boat load of J.D. students coming out of schools like UofT, UBC, Osgoode, Western, Queens, Ottawa, etc., they don't have any reason to want to recruit someone who's training comprises in large part of civil law classes (which he will never again use), and is completed by J.D. classes given at a civil law school (for only one year).

 

If you don't plan on practicing in Quebec upon graduation (read: if you want to practice in a common law province after graduating), I would highly suggest you pursue a degree outside of Quebec, and even within the province or city you want to practice in.

 

The combination LL.B./J.D. that a good amount of civil law schools offer can be viewed as a nice-to-have, but the value it actually brings, in my opinion, is relatively minimal. The only time it may come in handy really is if you plan on practicing in Quebec, but still want to keep certain doors open as much as possible without having to put up too much effort, time or money. By the way, this is coming from someone who holds a J.D. from UdeM, so I'm in no way trying to bash the degrees, but having completed one, they really aren't very serious in my eyes (yet).

 

I unfortunately can't really speak from experience about Ottawa's PDC program, which in my view probably offers the best common law prospects of the civil law schools, since Ottawa's common law program is quite strong.

 

Hope that helps at least a bit. Don't hesitate if you have any follow-up questions!

 

Cheers,

Edited by he4dhuntr
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Yes, thank you! That was a great answer. Though now I'm even more confused! haha My initial plan is to practice in Quebec, yes, but I still want to leave my options open, i.e. I would not mind moving to the ROC and get a common law job. My plan was to sit both the Quebec and Ontario bar exams straight out of schoool and then decide.

 

I am thinking now that Ottawa's PDC would be the better alternative to McGill, but tuition is just brutal (to Quebec standards of course). 

Edited by rowingracquet

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In my opinion, it's difficult to find a better alternative to McGill period (though arguments can be made re: studying where you work, so perhaps if you're 100% set on working in Toronto, UofT or Osgoode could be a better choice). If you're looking at keeping civil and common law doors open, McGill should definitely be your go to. They have an excellent hire rate in Montreal (or the province of Quebec, but they likely don't have too many students applying outside Montreal, but within Quebec), and great opportunities elsewhere (their students go on to work in Ontario, New York and abroad). As mentioned in my previous post, I don't consider McGill a civil law school. So putting them aside, your best bet otherwise would likely be the PDC program at Ottawa, when compared to doing an LL.B./J.D. at a civil law school. However, there is something to be said about the exchange programs many civil law schools have. A civil law degree from UdeM, followed by a one-year common law degree at say Osgoode may not make you as competitive in the Toronto market as a straight up Osgoode graduate, but it's still better than a J.D. from a civil law school, and maybe even the PDC program from Ottawa.

 

I don't necessarily have much experience job hunting outside of Quebec, but a good amount of my McGill colleagues wrote multiple bars upon graduating (either Quebec and Ontario, or Quebec and New York). Still to be seen whether they use their non-Quebec bars though.

 

Cheers,

Edited by he4dhuntr
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Yes, McGill has always been my first choice and am eagerly waiting to hear back.

 

My situation is I'm older at 29. I already have a B.A. and M.A. under my belt and a few years of professional work experience. So my main goal here is to get everything done in the least number of years. Doing three years of civil law + one whole year of JD at another school + bar + internships, etc. is not as appealing to me as doing both civil law and common law in three years and then I'm done. 

 

Thanks again for your input.

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At McGill and UdeM / Sherbrooke you can do the civil/common combo in three years. I would check whether you can do the exchange at UdeM (or Sherbrooke, etc.) for a J.D. at say Osgoode in your third year instead of your fourth. I would be inclined to say yes, if not only because you have a previous Bachelor degree that will already credit you some classes. Might be worth a phone call to UdeM/Sherbrooke and/or Osgoode, etc.

 

I got four degrees (three law and one business) in four years at UdeM, so there are definitely options that aren't necessarily explicitly mentioned on schools' websites. Unfortunately, sometimes these options are only made apparent to you once you actually start attending a certain school.

 

Cheers,

Edited by he4dhuntr

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Hi  everyone, I have a tricky question here: 

 

I just finish my bac at Concordia University (sociology, GPA: 3.29) and was refused from Sherbrooke and Udem. Right now I am considering to start a technique juridique in order improve my chances to get in and also (if not accepted later) i could already work in something i really like with the technique.

 

The question is, how would they check my dossier since I have 90 credits from university already (sociology) but also at the same time (let's say for example) 31 de cote R (from the technique juridique)? Am I going to be considered as a cegep student or university student? Also, is it a good move to start the technique juridique?

 

Please help me out here. Thanks.

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I unfortunately don't have any experience with this, but I would venture into the admissions and acceptance threads for civil law schools. A lot of discussion goes on there on how grades are calculated and what category people fall into. Also, you may want to consider a law certificate rather than a CEGEP technique, but again, I have no experience with the difference in opportunities these degrees give you. Search the forum for the law certificate, a lot of discussion has been had on the chances it gives you at the law degree thereafter and the pros and cons of the certificate in general.

 

Cheers,

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I got four degrees (three law and one business) in four years at UdeM.

I realize that this is in the context of cegep and 3-year degrees in Quebec, but this is pretty impressive. Did you have elevated course loads and summers full of school?

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My semesters were overloaded (typically 6 courses per semester instead of 5) and I took summer courses too (1 or 2 per summer) while working. I did the dual LL.B./J.D. offered at UdeM in 3 years (since I had a prior Bachelor degree, some courses were credited), and then followed that up with the MBA at HEC (which is 12 months). I also wrote a "projet dirigé" during my MBA to get my LL.M. at UdeM. It sounds more intense than it really is... I didn't study all that much to be honest. I spent most of my time snowboarding, playing soccer and going to "social" events ;) It was a fun four years.

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