I'm fortunate to have received offers of admission from my top two Canadian choices - McGill and the Univeristy of Toronto, but I'm really struggling to decide which of the two will be a better long term choice for me.
I'm a mature student with work experience that is relevant to and has inspired an early interest in commerical and business law, though I recognize that interests can and do evolve over the course of one's degree.
Because I've had time to work and save up money, I'm reasonably certain that I won't get much or anything in the way of financial assistance from either university (although I understand this could change for UofT in years 2 and 3 after I've burnt through my savings).
I'm currently living in Ontario but not particularly attached to either Montreal or Toronto; that said, I do expect to practice in Toronto given the size of the legal market and my interests and language profile. It's also where I have a nascent network in the legal and business community that I hope to leverage during and after my studies.
In a word, the value proposition for McGill for me comes down to money. It's just a heck of a lot cheaper, even as an out of province student paying sticker, than UofT. When you take rent into consideration, this becomes even more the case.
That said, I do weigh the opportunity cost of the additional half year of study that the McGill degrees require against the savings in tuition (yes, I know the degree can be done in 3 years, but everything I've heard from students there would seem to caution against this approach).
I was accepted to McGill without any French interview, but I'm concerned that my language skills still won't be strong enough for me to excel at McGill. My French is OK but not great, by which I mean I can hold a conversation and get through a news article even if I have to guess at a few words.
I do have the option of taking the summer to really double down on my French but even then I'm not sure I'd be setting myself up for success given that the program is designed to be bilingual.
I don't plan to practice in Quebec after graduation.
As best as I can tell, UofT has a very strong track record of placing students on Bay St. in the kinds of practice that I'm interested in right now, which is very appealing.
The amount of debt is a big turn-off however; even with my savings, I know I'll be paying off my student loans for years afterwards. The rental / housing market in Toronto is mildly terrifying.
I do feel that there is an intangible but significant advantage to studying where one wants to practice; I've heard that McGill does well in OCIs with Bay St. and New York firms, but even if the two schools are at par in this regard, I still feel like there is a networking advantage inherent in UofTs location.
Depending on the day of the week and the weather, I'm leaning towards UofT but still having trouble deciding. The key questions seem to come down to:
Will my French hold me back at McGill in a meaningful way (ie, can I not only survive, but thrive in a bilingual program as an anglophone with lackluster French?)
Does UofT have enough of an advantage in terms of placements in business and commercial law to justify the signficiant tuition and cost of living differential?
Would I be limiting my ability to build a strong network in Toronto by choosing McGill? Can this be disadvantage be ameliorated by seeking summer work / articling in Toronto?
I know it's a good problem that I'm very fortunate to have, so I'm really looking for any help in challenging or affirming the assumptions and considerations that I'm relying on to make this significant (and potentially expensive) decision !