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Requesting- Pros and Cons of University of Alberta (An Updated 2017 Guide)

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^^^

Thanks for your detailed input. I bookmarked it. If U of A gives me the honours, the second I get accepted I'm coming back to this post. Even though I've never attended U of A, I lived in the general vicinity on Whyte and 99th for a couple of years. I'm from Vancouver and Edmonton is a bit rough around the edges in comparison, but the Strathcona neighborhood is a blast (which is where U of A is situated). I agree, Edmonton offers enough to keep you occupied and then some. Sure, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver etc... are in a different class, but I'm not going to law school to then spend the majority of my time looking for distractions. And I think other people are probably thinking along the same lines. So whether you're in New York or Edmonton, you're mostly focused on law school. The rest of the time can easily be occupied by things to do in the neighborhood. There are a ton of restaurants (Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian and even a family owned and operated Ethiopian restaurant), cafes (of all types), bars, hookah joints, parks,  etc... The River Valley (the second best thing about Edmonton) is also right next door. There's a bike path along the river that I can't wait to take my road bike on. 

Here's the thing, Edmonton is not an amazing city, but it's not bad either. And as a law school student I'd imagine most of us being focused on our studies anyway. That said, the university is situated in the best area of Edmonton and you can easily avoid all the blandness and dead-zones of Edmonton by staying put in the general vicinity (not too hard). And when you do get bored of Strathcona, hop on the LRT and head to Downtown or the River Valley. The downtown city centre has a movie theater and some other basic mall stuff, but they're also building tons of new stuff around their new stadium. From the renders it looks like they're adding a new movie theater and a public ice rink (which I'm excited to get on if I can find someone to teach me how to skate loool). 

Unfortunately there's no real public transportation to the West Edmonton Mall (unless you want to take the bus) and the winters can be harsh for bike riders, no matter the distance. 

Edited by Abii

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1 hour ago, 2017grad said:

If you have an interest in practicing law in Alberta, you should attend the University of Alberta Faculty of Law as the largest and most comprehensive law school in Alberta.

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. I am curious as to whether you think the U of A gives students an advantage over the U of C. I will be turning 30 soon, and I am fairly certain that I want to live and practice in Calgary. It would be really nice to make a solid group of friends in Calgary and set down my roots there during law school rather than when I am 33 and starting articling... it is so much easier to make friends during school than when one is working, and also so much easier to date if you know you won't be relocating in a few years. However, I am not sure if Calgary schools would prefer students from one school over the other, or if the quality of the schools is the same.

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On 12/2/2017 at 2:20 PM, StudentLife said:

I agree with “not really much to do in Edmonton (besides the drinking)”. Edmonton sucks but not because of the snow. This winter had barely any snow this year and very warm otherwise so far.

Great Career Services staff I don’t agree with. Although the new Director has certainly improved things this year. Career Services is generally useless. U of C probably wins there by a lot.

Articling placement rate is like 60% or so right now as of end of 2017. Maybe 50% if we count the NCAs.  The Dean though is focused on big law firms in Calgary and Vancouver for purposes of getting large donations. Even though those few firms aren’t hiring at this point in the year and generally little outside of summer recruitment. Of course the Dean also refuses to make any progress in terms of various law societies’ (Ontario/BC/AB) initiatives to have more practice ready and practice/practical based courses or curriculum changes shifting away from the articling model. 

Rugby is not even on most students’ radar. Heard about it when I saw it posted here. Hockey a few. Law show maybe. I don’t do any of those and plenty busy with other things. There’re many activities and clubs to be part of.

Lecture rooms depend on what rooms you have lectures in but they’re ok. The building sucks if that’s what you meant, but even that is getting better.

Lol, the library says nothing about the students. Some students never go to the library and some are always there.

I’m confused if the “course offerings in upper year are extremely limited” comment refers to U of C or U of A. I mean this is definitely the case with U of C due to its small size. That’s mainly why I turned down U of C. The pedways linking the LRT and HUB plus other buildings like Business and Tory is pretty useful though. Makes it bearable being at school for a few more hours without being stuck in the law centre.

At U of A, a handful of classes were cancelled this year, and a few more from year to year, but there is still plenty to choose from. They also added some new things. The bigger problem I have is with the very poor leadership and admin decisions by the Dean, increased enrollment in 1L (like 190+ now?) and the jacked up NCA student numbers (like 20+ a year). Then keeping courses with low enrollment like French Law with like 4 people in it at most, while completely cancelling other courses like class actions, trusts, military law, privacy & access to information, legislative policy & drafting, corporate compliance & ethics, advanced corporations law, firearms & weapons law, etc. While others only seem to exist to keep certain tenured profs employed like Musicians & the Law, and Animal Law. They also added a whole bunch of Aboriginal law focused courses for mostly image reasons that the Dean enjoys talking about every chance he gets. Of course they generally have low enrollment and pretty much all taught by the same academic research heavy recently recruited prof. 

Some of the interesting courses are actually not listed on the website by the way because they are special topic specialized seminars, or individual sections of main courses like jurisprudence with different topics, or just new courses.
 
On the topic of moots, basically selection for most moots and some special courses like Law & Social Media and internship/clerking placements tend to be rigged. Especially in the case of the Moots, and Law & Social Media, where mostly the faculty favourite students tend to get those spots. The Competitive Mooting program “leadership” is the worst with faculty favourites (mainly deans listers or people who make the faculty look better tied to big law) getting spots two years in a row, when technically they’re supposed to give other students a chance who didn’t get to do it the previous year. But no worries, they still suck and didn’t actually win anything for a long time (I suspect mostly due to the biased selection and poor moot program leadership). This is not to be confused with regular courses with  moot components in them as a part of the course, which I highly recommend and there’s several of those; pretty good selection actually like hidden gems with great instructors.

Also, there will be some bad scheduling changes coming with basically reduction of 3h night classes in favour of 1.5h split afternoon blocks sort of thing, but again that’s more in line with the Dean’s poor and misguided admin leadership. He’s pushing out practitioners who typically teach more practical hand-on 3h night classes in favour of a string of new “high-profile” research focused prof hires who publish lots and do academic research, but instead teach several traditional type academic heavy lecture/seminar classes in whatever their research area is. So the course selection and scheduling will be getting worse than before for those reasons, but still way ahead of anything U of C could muster.

In the end it’s what you make of it though. Personally, I would always pick the bigger school just because a bigger institution has more resources and flexibility within the program. Plus, generally more established with more alumni connections.

For future readers: do your due diligence and check this person's post history. Proceed with caution taking this person's word as gospel. he/she/zhe/whatever has an axe to grind with U of A Law.

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11 minutes ago, lau said:

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. I am curious as to whether you think the U of A gives students an advantage over the U of C. I will be turning 30 soon, and I am fairly certain that I want to live and practice in Calgary. It would be really nice to make a solid group of friends in Calgary and set down my roots there during law school rather than when I am 33 and starting articling... it is so much easier to make friends during school than when one is working, and also so much easier to date if you know you won't be relocating in a few years. However, I am not sure if Calgary schools would prefer students from one school over the other, or if the quality of the schools is the same.

I just graduated from U of C law and I have friends from U of A Law, from what I heard, there is literally NO advantages of U of A students over U of C students if you looking to practice in Calgary.  In Edmonton, U of A dominates.

For Big laws you can check where all the summer/articling students from : U of C dominates or at least performs as good as U of A in most of the firms and some firms tend to favour the U of C students over UA (Blake, BJs).

For small firms, where you went to law school (provided you are not NCA) in Canada is almost irrelevant, whether you get a job or not almost exclusively depends on your skill sets/connection/EC-background outside of law school.

BTW , articling placement rate for class 2017 is well over 90% for U of C in case you are interested. I don't know the exact number for U of A, but according to their dean, the number is below 70% in Spring this year. 

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3 hours ago, lau said:

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. I am curious as to whether you think the U of A gives students an advantage over the U of C. I will be turning 30 soon, and I am fairly certain that I want to live and practice in Calgary. It would be really nice to make a solid group of friends in Calgary and set down my roots there during law school rather than when I am 33 and starting articling... it is so much easier to make friends during school than when one is working, and also so much easier to date if you know you won't be relocating in a few years. However, I am not sure if Calgary schools would prefer students from one school over the other, or if the quality of the schools is the same.

U of C is every bit as good if not better than the U of A if you want to live and work in Calgary. Firms in Calgary do not have a preference for U of A students and there are many advantages to attending law school in the city you expect to work in. 

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Iau, you should go to whichever school is in the city where you want to work. If you want to work in Calgary, U of C is the best choice. U of C gives students an advantage in Calgary.

Calgary as a city is the best choice over Edmonton as a city, school aside. There is no real comparison there.

1L and upper years are completely different. Most of my comments were about upper years.
 

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BigRigButters, being critical doesn’t mean what I said was factually incorrect.

 “For future readers: do your due diligence and check this person's post history. Proceed with caution taking this person's word as gospel. he/she/zhe/whatever has an axe to grind with U of A Law.”

Did you really have to block quote everything though just to say that?

How do you feel about the new exam schedule this year admin has so wisely planned out for the 1Ls? The exam period was compressed (arguably so profs can get more vacation time) so that 1Ls now have all 5 final exams 5 days in a row: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday. Do you think that was a good idea for wellness? I mean I don’t think ‘adult colouring’ and ‘puzzles’ in the library will help with a schedule like that, you know what I mean. And no fall term break still, when literally the rest of the university gets a week off.

BigRigButters, if you wish to discuss things further I certainly have more things to say, especially about the Dean’s leadership achievements (he’s working hard for that approximately $365, 000 + $37, 000 in benefits a year in 2017), but I was hoping you would mention what a great job they are doing for the students first. 

I find it odd that all of a sudden, an ‘articling student’ decides to post a very long admissions website FAQ like post at 4PM on a Tuesday. I mean I probably wouldn’t be checking U of A applicant thread at 3 PM on a Tuesday at work, or writing a super long and very well edited post like that if I was very busy articling. I felt like I was reading something from a faculty prospectus ghostwriter.

I do not have an axe to grind. I was saying it how it is right now. Ask me anything. I will answer it. Sorry, it’s just how it is. But sure, take the literal word of 2017grad who has that brochure like post as the ONLY (1) post ever in this whole forum. By the way, Trusts was cancelled. FYI, but I already said that before. There’s no one to teach it apparently.

I will write a long ranty detailed post later addressing the many factual inaccuracies of your post 2017grad. Later because wanted to see if anyone else had anything else to say before then.

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@StudentLife

I don't have much love for the faculty administration, but you're turning this thread into a negative one bashing the faculty as a whole, like you have with countless others. I get that you don't like the school, but there's no need to be so biased. Factually, you're probably correct on a bunch of points. It's your interpretation and your sanctimonious air of "I know best" that I'm cautioning against. People can take or leave it as they like, I don't give a shit. 

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On 12/5/2017 at 5:18 PM, Abii said:

^^^

Thanks for your detailed input....

 

On 12/5/2017 at 5:42 PM, lau said:

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. I am curious as to whether you think the U of A gives students an advantage over the U of C. I will be turning 30 soon, and I am fairly certain that I want to live and practice in Calgary. It would be really nice to make a solid group of friends in Calgary and set down my roots there during law school rather than when I am 33 and starting articling... it is so much easier to make friends during school than when one is working, and also so much easier to date if you know you won't be relocating in a few years. However, I am not sure if Calgary schools would prefer students from one school over the other, or if the quality of the schools is the same.

You're welcome. 

For practicing in Calgary, the advantage to U of A is some of the specialized courses which may not be available at U of C. Otherwise, it could be easier to get a job in Calgary if you are already in the city. When firms or other legal employers are interviewing, you as a candidate will be a bigger draw than the school you attended. 

On 12/5/2017 at 6:08 PM, MUTOTOMU55 said:

I just graduated from U of C law and I have friends from U of A Law, from what I heard, there is literally NO advantages of U of A students over U of C students if you looking to practice in Calgary.  In Edmonton, U of A dominates.

For Big laws you can check where all the summer/articling students from : U of C dominates or at least performs as good as U of A in most of the firms and some firms tend to favour the U of C students over UA (Blake, BJs).

For small firms, where you went to law school (provided you are not NCA) in Canada is almost irrelevant, whether you get a job or not almost exclusively depends on your skill sets/connection/EC-background outside of law school.

BTW , articling placement rate for class 2017 is well over 90% for U of C in case you are interested. I don't know the exact number for U of A, but according to their dean, the number is below 70% in Spring this year. 

I generally agree with this. As I mentioned the Dean said that U of A was over 90% by September. 

22 hours ago, Constant said:

U of C is every bit as good if not better than the U of A if you want to live and work in Calgary. Firms in Calgary do not have a preference for U of A students and there are many advantages to attending law school in the city you expect to work in. 

I agree - also though, keep in mind that you do not know everything as a pre-law student. You may think that you know you want to be a corporate Calgary lawyer until you take those courses and hate corporate law and decide you are going to work for the UN. Keep an open mind - that was one thing I found helpful in school. 

7 hours ago, StudentLife said:

BigRigButters, being critical doesn’t mean what I said was factually incorrect.

 “For future readers: do your due diligence and check this person's post history. Proceed with caution taking this person's word as gospel. he/she/zhe/whatever has an axe to grind with U of A Law.”

Did you really have to block quote everything though just to say that?

How do you feel about the new exam schedule this year admin has so wisely planned out for the 1Ls? The exam period was compressed (arguably so profs can get more vacation time) so that 1Ls now have all 5 final exams 5 days in a row: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday. Do you think that was a good idea for wellness? I mean I don’t think ‘adult colouring’ and ‘puzzles’ in the library will help with a schedule like that, you know what I mean. And no fall term break still, when literally the rest of the university gets a week off.

BigRigButters, if you wish to discuss things further I certainly have more things to say, especially about the Dean’s leadership achievements (he’s working hard for that approximately $365, 000 + $37, 000 in benefits a year in 2017), but I was hoping you would mention what a great job they are doing for the students first. 

I find it odd that all of a sudden, an ‘articling student’ decides to post a very long admissions website FAQ like post at 4PM on a Tuesday. I mean I probably wouldn’t be checking U of A applicant thread at 3 PM on a Tuesday at work, or writing a super long and very well edited post like that if I was very busy articling. I felt like I was reading something from a faculty prospectus ghostwriter.

I do not have an axe to grind. I was saying it how it is right now. Ask me anything. I will answer it. Sorry, it’s just how it is. But sure, take the literal word of 2017grad who has that brochure like post as the ONLY (1) post ever in this whole forum. By the way, Trusts was cancelled. FYI, but I already said that before. There’s no one to teach it apparently.

I will write a long ranty detailed post later addressing the many factual inaccuracies of your post 2017grad. Later because wanted to see if anyone else had anything else to say before then.

I am an articling student and yes, I needed a break from a tedious research project and from reviewing my application which is scheduled for tomorrow at 1 pm Masters chambers Edmonton  - yes you will find me there... 

I really only wanted to give my perspective as someone who has completed law school, and is looking back - rather than getting caught up in the heat of the moment. You will note I was not universally positive. I am sorry you seem so suspicious of everyone though. Have you tried writing a letter expressing your concerns to the Dean? I am not being facetious -- I found him to be pretty reasonable overall. I wonder if it could help give you some peace of mind. 

(Edit) AS an aside, trusts should be offered and that is unfortunate. 

Edited by 2017grad

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I find it odd that all of a sudden, an ‘articling student’ decides to post a very long admissions website FAQ like post at 4PM on a Tuesday. I mean I probably wouldn’t be checking U of A applicant thread at 3 PM on a Tuesday at work, or writing a super long and very well edited post like that if I was very busy articling. I felt like I was reading something from a faculty prospectus ghostwriter.

 

It shouldn't be odd at all to anyone here. As a mod, I can confirm that 2017grad is, indeed, a 2017 grad from U of A and is a current articling student, who came forward to offer a more balanced and realistic perspective.

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I'll add that as a UofA grad 2017grad's comments are in line with my views. There's good and bad points to say about any school, but overall UofA was a good choice for me. 

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14 hours ago, TKNumber3 said:

I'll add that as a UofA grad 2017grad's comments are in line with my views. There's good and bad points to say about any school, but overall UofA was a good choice for me. 

As a recent U of A grad now practicing in Edmonton, I also agree with TK's and 2017grad's views. Overall, I received a good education at U of A, and it has served me well out here in the trenches. Every law school has positives and negatives associated with them, and U of A is no exception. As many have said before, the main criterion in choosing which law school to attend should be location of where you want to work. If you want to practice in Edmonton, then U of A is the school for you. It is similarly a good choice for practicing elsewhere in Alberta, including Calgary. Out of province? You're better served going to a school in that province. All the other distinctions between law schools are really just window dressing.

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Some of the statements said in here are incorrect. With respect to landing Calgary big firm jobs, there is no advantage between U of A or U of C, they are viewed identically by the big firms.  If you want to practice in Calgary, you can choose either school.  Each year summer students at Blakes, BJs, BDP, Norton Rose, etc. will have students from both U of A and U of C.

Edited by RBK

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