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McGill vs U de M

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I was just going to post the same question... except I'm 37 years old with a masters degree and a bunch of life experience...

 

Has anyone attended both schools?

 

Both schools are comparable in that they offer combined civil and common law degree programs.  U de M now awards Juris Doctor degrees if you pursue that course. 

 

I've heard that McGill is more theoretical and less practical.  Is that more interesting, or just more masturbatory? 

 

Are students who come out of McGill at a disadvantage when it comes to speaking french?

 

Are McGill students at a disadvantage when it comes to practical knowledge?

 

I know that McGill has more prestige and that's better for big law firms, but I have no interest in working for big law firms, and would prefer to work for myself when possible. 

 

What kind of people are McGill students, vs U de M students?   From what I can tell the U de M student body is pretty young - I'm good with hanging out with people in their mid and late 20's, but am not used to 20 year olds...  Will I be an out of place dinosaur there? 

 

What are people like politically in both programs?  I know that law students tend to be on the conservative side (students didn't partake in the strikes for example), but is there a good mix of people from different backgrounds with different points of view? 

 

In general I've been leaning towards U de M because it's more practical based and great for improving my French.  I've also been told by several lawyers that despite McGill's prestige U de M is simply better training to be a lawyer, and that many firms in Montreal prefer U de M graduates.  One U de M student told me that his mother graduated from McGill a few years ago, and that bar school was really brutal on her because she was totally unprepared for it by her McGill education.  I was also told by a lawyer friend that "the best Jewish lawyers recommend U de M"...!

 

My main concern is that U de M's practical orientation may be less stimulating (though it could be more stimulating if McGill is a bunch of hyper theoretical B.S.) and that the students might be super young so that I won't really connect with anyone, and that I might not make the same kind of contacts that I would at McGill. 

 

Any info from experience would be welcome!  Thanks

Edited by johnnyhaggis

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Hi Guys!

 

Full disclosure - I'll be starting my degree at McGill in September and didn't finish my UdeM application after receiving my McGill acceptance. THAT being said I was in a similar position, considering both schools, and after chatting with a few law-student friends from both schools (and some young lawyers recently entering practice), the anecdotal conclusions I've heard are essentially:

  • if you're an anglophone committed to working in Quebec only and your French is weak, UdeM might create a culture where you learn French more quickly (because you have to). That being said, if you're a pretty committed person, you could take most/all of your classes at McGill in French as well.
  • McGill has a much better reputation across the board in superior courts, courts of appeal, etc. as well as bigger firms (there may be exceptions in certain specific niches in Quebec that I'm not aware of). McGill sends a disproportionate number of clerks to the Supreme Court every year (eg. six this year) and consistently scores above UdeM in Maclean's (although we all take that with a huge grain of salt).
  • McGill's admissions process means that you get older, more diverse students, many of whom have done graduate studies, have work experience, etc. The UdeM admissions process in only grades-based and accepts many more CEGEP applicants (so 19-20-21).
  • UdeM does marginally better on the Bar exam than McGill students (eg. 90% for UdeM vs. 87% pass for McGill for students who took the 4-month prep course in 2010-2011 / 88% vs. 80% without prep courses).

In short, there's not really any downsides to going to McGill, but UdeM is of course a legitimate choice and might be the right one if your biggest challenge to overcome is going to be forcing you to learn French (remember though that there are a number of anglos at UdeM and I believe many of your exams and essays can be submitted in English).

 

Best of luck making your decision!  

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I was just going to post the same question... except I'm 37 years old with a masters degree and a bunch of life experience...

 

Has anyone attended both schools?

 

Both schools are comparable in that they offer combined civil and common law degree programs.  U de M now awards Juris Doctor degrees if you pursue that course. 

 

I've heard that McGill is more theoretical and less practical.  Is that more interesting, or just more masturbatory? 

 

Are students who come out of McGill at a disadvantage when it comes to speaking french?

 

Are McGill students at a disadvantage when it comes to practical knowledge?

 

I know that McGill has more prestige and that's better for big law firms, but I have no interest in working for big law firms, and would prefer to work for myself when possible. 

 

What kind of people are McGill students, vs U de M students?   From what I can tell the U de M student body is pretty young - I'm good with hanging out with people in their mid and late 20's, but am not used to 20 year olds...  Will I be an out of place dinosaur there? 

 

What are people like politically in both programs?  I know that law students tend to be on the conservative side (students didn't partake in the strikes for example), but is there a good mix of people from different backgrounds with different points of view? 

 

In general I've been leaning towards U de M because it's more practical based and great for improving my French.  I've also been told by several lawyers that despite McGill's prestige U de M is simply better training to be a lawyer, and that many firms in Montreal prefer U de M graduates.  One U de M student told me that his mother graduated from McGill a few years ago, and that bar school was really brutal on her because she was totally unprepared for it by her McGill education.  I was also told by a lawyer friend that "the best Jewish lawyers recommend U de M"...!

 

My main concern is that U de M's practical orientation may be less stimulating (though it could be more stimulating if McGill is a bunch of hyper theoretical B.S.) and that the students might be super young so that I won't really connect with anyone, and that I might not make the same kind of contacts that I would at McGill. 

 

Any info from experience would be welcome!  Thanks

 

What jjbean said is spot-on. I wish I could answer all the questions you raise; I won't be able to answer till September or much latter :rolling:

Perhaps a current student could chime in and give us his 2 cents.

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McGill students who wish to practice exclusively in Québec should (read MUST) take more civil law exclusive classes. Most of these are offered in French, thus will be a good opportunity to practice French. All your first year classes can be taken either in French or English. McGill is less intense civil-code wise than UdM - we'll know the main things, but also study the history and social implications of the codal provision. U d M will know how to apply it, have the number memorized and, depending on their prof, know a bit of additional theory behind it.

 

Politically, McGill is diverse. There ARE rad lawyers who went on strike, demonstrated and have quite an active club. There are card carrying Péquistes, Liberals, Cons, Libertarians, Pastafarians, Christians, Gays, Jewish people, etc. That said, it is still mainly middle/upper-middle class white students.

 

McGill places well in Montreal and we have a wide alumni network. Most people who accept McGill end up graduating. Many people drop out of UdM in their first year. The retention numbers are terrible.

 

Both are fine schools. You can definitely improve your French at McGill, though you will have much more opportunities to take English courses and hang out with English peers. You will have to make a bit more of an effort at McGill language-wise if that is your goal. Obviously, at UdM you will learn French as you will be constantly exposed to it.

 

Last, the UdM JD is nice if you want an exposure to Common law. I don't see many of the JD grads moving to Toronto and easily finding work. McGill's Common Law and Civil law degrees both are well-received.

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Thanks artsydork - why do so many drop out of U de M first year?   Is it just because there are so many cegep students and therefore they aren't really prepared and don't know why they're there?  Or is it a miserable place?   Everyone I know who went there loves it, and the McGill people I know also tend to love it, but they seem really burned out and also like they've been kind of brainwashed!

 

In terms of course content - the way you're describing it, it sounds like U de M leans towards memorization without much social context, is that right?  You sound like you went to McGill - where'd you hear that about U de M?

 

What kind of assignments do you have at mcgill?  Is it all exams or lots of research papers?

Edited by johnnyhaggis

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More chances to find mature students with graduate degree at McGill! Like me :) McGill actually seeks us while UdeM ignores most of us... UdeM seems like a great faculty but, as far as I am concerned, feeling welcome as a mature student does count. Also McGill teaches civil and common together whereas UdeM it's one after the other. To get an idea of what transsystemia is : http://www.mcgill.ca/centre-crepeau/transsystemic. I am not (yet) a current student at McGill, I do not have hands on experience of any anything else than the application process (and evening law classes I took at UdeM which were excellent).

 

See you in september... maybe ?

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Yeah, I know about the transystemia thing - I just can't tell if it's pretentious theory B.S. or if it'll be really stimulating!  U de M people I've met all seem to have loved it there, and McGill people too, but McGill people always seem burnt out!

 

But the age thing bugs me, I don't want to be socially isolated... though a friend who went to McGill my age said she didn't really have many people her age either there

Edited by johnnyhaggis

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I have friends and colleagues who go/went to UdM, Johnny. I've worked with UdM students at local NGOs as well. It is through them that I've heard this.

 

McGill scrapped the 100% final, meaning classes tend to have a large final (fact pattern + essays usually... though you can get essays only) and either participation, midterm or small paper.

 

PM Head_huntr, on the UdM forums. He'll be able to give you a good rundown on the pros of UdM law.

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McGill scrapped the 100% final, meaning classes tend to have a large final (fact pattern + essays usually... though you can get essays only) and either participation, midterm or small paper.

 

What would the general grade distribution be by percentage?

 

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Here's my disclaimer I guess :P I'm 26, third year at UdeM Law and finishing up the combined LL.B./J.D. program. I have a previous Bachelor degree in business from Concordia and am rather bilingual (did my elementary and high school in French, but CEGEP and first Bachelor in English).

 

For a good perspective of UdeM and McGill comparisons, hit up LivingLegend, who has studied at both (transferred from UdeM to McGill after first year I believe).

 

That being said, I have a lot of friends here at UdeM, and know quite a few people over at McGill. Take my answers with whatever amount of salt is needed ;)

 

I was just going to post the same question... except I'm 37 years old with a masters degree and a bunch of life experience...

 

Has anyone attended both schools?

 

Both schools are comparable in that they offer combined civil and common law degree programs.  U de M now awards Juris Doctor degrees if you pursue that course. 

 

I've heard that McGill is more theoretical and less practical.  Is that more interesting, or just more masturbatory? 

 

Are students who come out of McGill at a disadvantage when it comes to speaking french?

 

Are McGill students at a disadvantage when it comes to practical knowledge?

 

I know that McGill has more prestige and that's better for big law firms, but I have no interest in working for big law firms, and would prefer to work for myself when possible. 

 

What kind of people are McGill students, vs U de M students?   From what I can tell the U de M student body is pretty young - I'm good with hanging out with people in their mid and late 20's, but am not used to 20 year olds...  Will I be an out of place dinosaur there? 

 

What are people like politically in both programs?  I know that law students tend to be on the conservative side (students didn't partake in the strikes for example), but is there a good mix of people from different backgrounds with different points of view? 

 

In general I've been leaning towards U de M because it's more practical based and great for improving my French.  I've also been told by several lawyers that despite McGill's prestige U de M is simply better training to be a lawyer, and that many firms in Montreal prefer U de M graduates.  One U de M student told me that his mother graduated from McGill a few years ago, and that bar school was really brutal on her because she was totally unprepared for it by her McGill education.  I was also told by a lawyer friend that "the best Jewish lawyers recommend U de M"...!

 

My main concern is that U de M's practical orientation may be less stimulating (though it could be more stimulating if McGill is a bunch of hyper theoretical B.S.) and that the students might be super young so that I won't really connect with anyone, and that I might not make the same kind of contacts that I would at McGill. 

 

Any info from experience would be welcome!  Thanks

I've heard that McGill is more theoretical and less practical.  Is that more interesting, or just more masturbatory? 

I would say that the answer to this question depends on (1) what you're looking for, and (2) how your mind works. I personally very much like both methods of teaching. UdeM is definitely more practical, and I very much enjoy that from a problem-solving perspective, but it does get somewhat tedious after you move past that (i.e., after first year). Once you get used to the courses and exams, it gets repetitive and falls into a "memorization" pattern if you will (which isn't all that accurate since most exams are open book, but I can't seem to find the right way of characterizing it. Here's hoping you understand what I mean anyway...). McGill on the other hand is definitely more theoretical and open-ended, which is super interesting when it comes to having a deeper understanding of the reasoning behind the legal system. However, having spoken to quite a few McGill students, this also tends to get a tad tedious after a while. A combination of the two would be great :P In sum, I wouldn't call either system masturbatory or boring, but they each have their pros and cons. It's up to you to decide which would fit you better.

 

Are students who come out of McGill at a disadvantage when it comes to speaking french?

This depends on what you mean by disadvantage. There are quite a few French speaking, and many bilingual students at McGill. However, you are definitely not immersed in a French culture and environment if you choose not to be, specially when compared to UdeM. That being said, there are more and more anglophones at UdeM (or at least this seems to be the case in my perspective), so you can spend quite a bit of time here in the company of English speaking people as well, depending on who you choose to hang out with. Of course all our courses are in French, so you won't have a choice but to improve your French. Though if you go the LL.B./J.D. route, your last year (the J.D.) will be solely in English. McGill offers quite a few courses in French too.

 

Are McGill students at a disadvantage when it comes to practical knowledge?

I wouldn't say they are at a disadvantage when it comes to practical knowledge, but it is somewhat thought that the Quebec bar exam comes as more of a "shock", so to speak. Students coming from civil law schools are typically more prepared for the Quebec bar than McGill students. In a work environment however, I wouldn't say McGill students are at any disadvantage whatsoever, perhaps depending on the area of practice, but I don't have the experience to speculate about that any further.

 

I know that McGill has more prestige and that's better for big law firms, but I have no interest in working for big law firms, and would prefer to work for myself when possible. 

Either school will prepare you just fine to work for yourself (if anything really prepares you for that that is). Even when it comes to large firms, UdeM places quite strongly (within Quebec). I wouldn't say that McGill is all that advantaged really.

 

What kind of people are McGill students, vs U de M students?   From what I can tell the U de M student body is pretty young - I'm good with hanging out with people in their mid and late 20's, but am not used to 20 year olds...  Will I be an out of place dinosaur there? 

McGill's cohort is definitely more diverse and has a larger ratio of older students. That being said, UdeM is recruiting more and more university students every year. In my year I would say the ratio was about 70-30 for my section. This past year, some sections are almost at 50-50. There are quite a few mid-20's here (including myself), though the overall feel of the faculty is definitely younger than at McGill. This isn't necessarily a negative thing however, depending on your interests of course.

 

What are people like politically in both programs?  I know that law students tend to be on the conservative side (students didn't partake in the strikes for example), but is there a good mix of people from different backgrounds with different points of view? 

Once again, I think McGill's student body may be more diverse, as their admissions method kind of looks to create this dynamic in every year's cohort. UdeM is also quite diverse when it comes to politics. We did not partake in the strikes last year (as a matter of vote), but the vote wasn't all that one-sided. We have both anglophone and francophone students, varying in classes. It's a good mix if you ask me at both schools.

 

In general I've been leaning towards U de M because it's more practical based and great for improving my French.  I've also been told by several lawyers that despite McGill's prestige U de M is simply better training to be a lawyer, and that many firms in Montreal prefer U de M graduates.  One U de M student told me that his mother graduated from McGill a few years ago, and that bar school was really brutal on her because she was totally unprepared for it by her McGill education.  I was also told by a lawyer friend that "the best Jewish lawyers recommend U de M"...!

I'm not sure what to answer to this. Yes UdeM education is more practical and prepares you better for the bar. However, I'm not sure I would go so far as to comment on how well it prepares you for actual practice (I haven't seen McGill students at any kind of disadvantage in this respect), and wouldn't venture into the Jewish views on schools (why that would matter anyway).

 

My main concern is that U de M's practical orientation may be less stimulating (though it could be more stimulating if McGill is a bunch of hyper theoretical B.S.) and that the students might be super young so that I won't really connect with anyone, and that I might not make the same kind of contacts that I would at McGill. 

The practical education, as mentioned, is quite stimulating at first, but does get a bit tiresome after first year, for me anyway. I think that I would hit the same boredom wall at McGill too however. I enjoy a change of pace once in a while. As for connecting with students, it really depends on how open-minded you are. I have a friend at UdeM that is in his 30's and is one of the best known people in the faculty. He connects well with everyone. If age is that big of a barrier for you, you may want to explore why. I haven't had any trouble connecting with older or younger students. It's a matter of perspective and accepting people for who they are. As far as contacts go, you'll make more than enough in either school. It's definitely a younger cohort at UdeM, but maybe you'll be able to tap into your inner-child a little ;)

 

Hi Guys!

 

Full disclosure - I'll be starting my degree at McGill in September and didn't finish my UdeM application after receiving my McGill acceptance. THAT being said I was in a similar position, considering both schools, and after chatting with a few law-student friends from both schools (and some young lawyers recently entering practice), the anecdotal conclusions I've heard are essentially:

  • if you're an anglophone committed to working in Quebec only and your French is weak, UdeM might create a culture where you learn French more quickly (because you have to). That being said, if you're a pretty committed person, you could take most/all of your classes at McGill in French as well.
  • McGill has a much better reputation across the board in superior courts, courts of appeal, etc. as well as bigger firms (there may be exceptions in certain specific niches in Quebec that I'm not aware of). McGill sends a disproportionate number of clerks to the Supreme Court every year (eg. six this year) and consistently scores above UdeM in Maclean's (although we all take that with a huge grain of salt).
  • McGill's admissions process means that you get older, more diverse students, many of whom have done graduate studies, have work experience, etc. The UdeM admissions process in only grades-based and accepts many more CEGEP applicants (so 19-20-21).
  • UdeM does marginally better on the Bar exam than McGill students (eg. 90% for UdeM vs. 87% pass for McGill for students who took the 4-month prep course in 2010-2011 / 88% vs. 80% without prep courses).

In short, there's not really any downsides to going to McGill, but UdeM is of course a legitimate choice and might be the right one if your biggest challenge to overcome is going to be forcing you to learn French (remember though that there are a number of anglos at UdeM and I believe many of your exams and essays can be submitted in English).

 

Best of luck making your decision!  

I agree with pretty much all that was said here. However, on point two, even though McGill does have quite the reputation with courts and clerkships, I know of quite a few students at UdeM that are working with judges. You'll have the same opportunities in both schools, it's just a matter of whether you can take advantage of them personally (and not on a statistical school basis).

 

As for the anglo-franco debate with regard to UdeM, I just answered a post on the question here: http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/33039-questions-about-life-at-u-de-m/

 

McGill students who wish to practice exclusively in Québec should (read MUST) take more civil law exclusive classes. Most of these are offered in French, thus will be a good opportunity to practice French. All your first year classes can be taken either in French or English. McGill is less intense civil-code wise than UdM - we'll know the main things, but also study the history and social implications of the codal provision. U d M will know how to apply it, have the number memorized and, depending on their prof, know a bit of additional theory behind it.

 

Politically, McGill is diverse. There ARE rad lawyers who went on strike, demonstrated and have quite an active club. There are card carrying Péquistes, Liberals, Cons, Libertarians, Pastafarians, Christians, Gays, Jewish people, etc. That said, it is still mainly middle/upper-middle class white students.

 

McGill places well in Montreal and we have a wide alumni network. Most people who accept McGill end up graduating. Many people drop out of UdM in their first year. The retention numbers are terrible.

 

Both are fine schools. You can definitely improve your French at McGill, though you will have much more opportunities to take English courses and hang out with English peers. You will have to make a bit more of an effort at McGill language-wise if that is your goal. Obviously, at UdM you will learn French as you will be constantly exposed to it.

 

Last, the UdM JD is nice if you want an exposure to Common law. I don't see many of the JD grads moving to Toronto and easily finding work. McGill's Common Law and Civil law degrees both are well-received.

Once again, agree with pretty much all that was said here. Two things however. First, the drop-out rate at UdeM is undoubtedly higher than at McGill. I believe we are around 1,000 students in all at the faculty, with around 400-500 in first year. So you lose quite a few after first year, and fewer after second. The reason for that is likely that many students come straight from CEGEP and are not all that prepared and/or driven to the idea of law school and the practice of law in general. I'm not sure this is all that negative though, since it simply works to weed out the people that are not committed to or ready for the experience.

 

As for the UdeM J.D., I would definitely say that it's less recognized than the McGill degree, since McGill's prestige is difficult to match both internationally and within Canada. That being said, the UdeM J.D. has only recently been recognized (and turned into a J.D. for that matter). Practically speaking, it serves it's purpose. However, if you don't want to work in Quebec, I'm not sure I recommend any civil law school... For obvious reasons.

 

Thanks artsydork - why do so many drop out of U de M first year?   Is it just because there are so many cegep students and therefore they aren't really prepared and don't know why they're there?  Or is it a miserable place?   Everyone I know who went there loves it, and the McGill people I know also tend to love it, but they seem really burned out and also like they've been kind of brainwashed!

 

In terms of course content - the way you're describing it, it sounds like U de M leans towards memorization without much social context, is that right?  You sound like you went to McGill - where'd you hear that about U de M?

 

What kind of assignments do you have at mcgill?  Is it all exams or lots of research papers?

The drop out rate, as mentioned, likely has to do with some CEGEP students not being prepared and/or committed to the study and practice of law, and all that it entails. UdeM is far from being a miserable place. It's quite enjoyable both on a academic and specially on a social level.

 

As for burnouts at McGill, this depends on the students. The atmosphere at McGill is quite driven, if you want to put it that way. Simply from a numbers perspective, there are quite a bit less students at McGill, which makes it so that there may be less options and/or diversity when it comes to "atmosphere" if you will. You can go through either faculty and feel burned out at the end, as well as you can go through either and not be. It is, overall, more difficult to get stellar grades at McGill though (which is factored by recruiters anyway), which may cause more stress perhaps. I'm not experienced enough with McGill to be able to speak in length about their atmosphere and competitiveness.

 

UdeM classes are not driven to memorization, being that most exams are open book, but they are much more practical. It's typically problem solving, which requires you to know the rules and state (find) the applicable articles and cases that justify and support said rules. McGill's questions are typically more open-ended and dig deeper into the meaning and reasoning behind the law, while as UdeM simply tests your knowledge of the law and whether you can apply it. I would honestly like a mix of both. I love problem-solving, but it does get repetitive after a while. Same goes for these more open-ended and theoretical questions though... I like a change of pace :P

 

More chances to find mature students with graduate degree at McGill! Like me :) McGill actually seeks us while UdeM ignores most of us... UdeM seems like a great faculty but, as far as I am concerned, feeling welcome as a mature student does count. Also McGill teaches civil and common together whereas UdeM it's one after the other. To get an idea of what transsystemia is : http://www.mcgill.ca/centre-crepeau/transsystemic. I am not (yet) a current student at McGill, I do not have hands on experience of any anything else than the application process (and evening law classes I took at UdeM which were excellent).

 

See you in september... maybe ?

You will definitely find a larger ratio of mature students at McGill (though not sure if purely by numbers it is larger). I wouldn't go so far as to say that UdeM "ignores" mature students, but their admissions process is definitely not the same as McGill's, who actively looks to have a diversified entering cohort each year. However, UdeM is admitting a larger ratio of non-CEGEP students each year (or so I've been told and have noticed). The question of teaching civil and common law concurrently or sequentially is another matter. I'm not sure which I would honestly prefer. Comparing the two is definitely interesting, but can be done in both environments. It's definitely less confusing to learn them separately, but I can see the interest in doing both at the same time... I can't really pronounce my opinion on the matter.

 

Yeah, I know about the transystemia thing - I just can't tell if it's pretentious theory B.S. or if it'll be really stimulating!  U de M people I've met all seem to have loved it there, and McGill people too, but McGill people always seem burnt out!

 

But the age thing bugs me, I don't want to be socially isolated... though a friend who went to McGill my age said she didn't really have many people her age either there

Even though the age thing is definitely important, whether you will meet and connect with people has less to do with it than you may think. It's a matter of open-mindedness and your own character. I would honestly try and throw out these preconceptions relating to age that you seem to have (even though it's difficult). I think this will be the greatest step you can take towards coming into a new atmosphere and environment in order to be receptive and open enough to truly connect with your colleagues (no matter their age) and enjoy and take away as much as you can from the whole law school experience.

 

McGill is somewhat known to have a divide between CEGEP students and non-CEGEP students (a point on which I may be wrong, but that was communicated to me by a number of friends I have there). I feel as though this divide is less apparent (read non-existant) at UdeM. Depending of course on the people. As mentioned, my friends comprise of older and younger people than me. It's a matter of accepting people for who they are and also accepting the fact that, no matter the age difference, you can learn from anyone. Everyone has a different experience, regardless of the years they've spent living it. You'll definitely have a more mature (age-wise) group (ratio-wise) at McGill, but whether you'll connect with people or not is completely in your hands.

 

Either way, I don't think you can make a wrong decision with your choice (and at worst you can always apply to transfer after first year).

 

Best of luck!

 

Cheers,

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wow, thanks he4dhuntr!  that's about as comprehensive a response as anyone can hope for!

 

About the age difference - it's not like I can't get a long or relate to 19 year olds, It's just that I wouldn't expect to be hanging out with them much outside of school for example, you just tend not to relate to them at the same level.  One thing I like about school is making new friends.

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Headhunter always gives great answers. I'll try and answer your questions without repeating the info already given. Unless I explicitly disagree, what others have said also holds true in my opinion

A disclaimer however:

The transfer was something I did for various reasons. It turned out for the better for me but I'll try to remain objective in my comparisons. Therefore, if I recommend a a university over the other it doesn't necessarily mean that holds true in my case. It's what I think would holds true for most people.

 

I've heard that McGill is more theoretical and less practical. Is that more interesting, or just more masturbatory?

You've heard correct.

 

UdeM

At UdeM, you have some profs who are giants of civil law. The law therefore is seen through their eyes. These profs (Lluelles, Baudoin, Deslauriers, Parent [criminal law]) have their own bricks of doctrine. Therefore what usually happens is that they (alongside their more junior colleagues) teach you the law using these books, and your job will be learning THEIR view of what the law is. You can perhaps criticize, sure, but within the limits of law set by them.

Does it mean a UdeM course is a boring memorization of the law? No, these books are very well written, highly interesting and full of value. These profs are also EXCELLENT teachers and masters of their field. So as a first year law students, you won't have the time to get bored, there is so much to learn and you're learning them from the best.

 

Upside:

You get a straight answer to highly complex questions of law. Law will seem clear to you.

On the exam, there will be a right answer. Teachers often have a "answer sheet" before the exam is corrected and will correct everyone accordingly (2 points if so and so is mentioned, etc.). Once you get your exam back, you know what you did wrong and what you did right.

 

Downside:

It soon becomes a matter of who has the best archive. If you learn to make good notes, understand the law from the teacher's perspective, and practice with the teacher's past exams, there is no reason you shouldn't succeed. The program might soon seem like a game: if you learn how to play it, you'll get an A. If not, you won't.

 

McGill

You'll be given readings from Lluelles, Baudoin, Deslauriers, etc, but also other authors of Common Law, Civil law and even other non-legal fields, such as Fridman, McCamus, Posner and, behold, even (rarely) Nietzsche Then you are asked to formulate your own opinion of the law. While at UdeM the exams are almost always a fact pattern (a situation) to which you apply the law, at McGill, you have policy questions (Make a recommendation to the Minister of Justice or Which regime of responsibility is better, etc.).

The teachers therefore have no right answer in mind before correcting your paper. Every class will be corrected almost the way "Foundations" (a course on Philosophy and History of the Law) is corrected at UdeM: The teacher reads the papers and grades according to how they feel you understood the course material. The "answer sheet" will be the best answer in the class.

 

Upside:

You get a new perspective of the law. Freedom!

You can get creative and you won't get marked down because of it.

 

Downside:

Grading seems even more random than UdeM.

Answering to policy questions in a sitdown exam is frustrating. Reading about the law from so many perspectives, while stimulating, can also get frustrating and confusing. You sometimes feel like you haven't learned anything.

The courses are also less structured and harder to follow.

 

Result: Depends. While McGill gives you a new perspective, which you won't get at UdeM, UdeM's curriculum seems to be more clear: You know what is expected of you and you know how to deliver it.

 

Are students who come out of McGill at a disadvantage when it comes to speaking french?

You can do all your classes at McGill in French. So you can improve your French, that's for sure.

 

BUT at UdeM you will have a lot more French speaking friends, this will, in my opinion, help your speaking a lot more. Also, I feel like teachers at UdeM are more lenient towards grammar and syntax mistakes in French than they are in McGill (partly because at UdeM, if you give the right legal answer you get all the points, while at McGill your mistakes will affect the profs opinion of "how much you deserve").

 

Result: UdeM Clearly wins this one. I came in not at all confident in my French and left feeling a lot better about it. And I know I improved.

 

Are McGill students at a disadvantage when it comes to practical knowledge?

No. To be honest, by third year you won't even remember your family law class in the first semester. Most of the "practical" knowledge is learned during your stage and once you start working in a specific field. UdeM will give you a slight advantage for the bar, just because it gets your mind ready for the way the Bar exams work (THERE IS ALWAYS A RIGHT ANSWER!!!).

 

Result: Tie

 

I know that McGill has more prestige and that's better for big law firms, but I have no interest in working for big law firms, and would prefer to work for myself when possible.

Yes, McGill does a lot better with Law Firms and Clerkships. McGill accepts 180 students each year and UdeM accepts 360-400 and they both place roughly an equal number of students in firms and McGill does a lot better with clerkships.

Even if you don't want to work for firms or courts, outside of Quebec McGill has a better reputation.

 

Result: McGill

 

What kind of people are McGill students, vs U de M students? From what I can tell the U de M student body is pretty young - I'm good with hanging out with people in their mid and late 20's, but am not used to 20 year olds... Will I be an out of place dinosaur there?

No doubt, McGill is more diverse. The average age here is 24-25 (which is still surprisingly young).

As a 37 year old, I think you might feel out of the group at both faculties. You'll probably find more people your age in McGill but you'll be significantly older than most.

 

UdeM crowd is also more "wild". This of course makes for more intense parties and initiation. Up to you to see if you like that kind of college vibe.

 

In any case, Law School is like high school. You'll hang out with a certain group of people and have the same people in almost all of your classes for the first year. This is even worse at UdeM where people gossip about each other almost all the time. Also at UdeM grades are often readily shared between students. This is a huge taboo in McGill.

 

McGill crowd are somewhat more unified: you get to know more people within a smaller faculty. UdeM, you can easily see "cliques" of people (activists, party people, studious people [gunners], etc.). This might make for strong friendship bonds, but also has its obvious drawbacks.

 

Result: In your case, I think you'll fit in more with the McGill crowd. In the case of the OP (a CEGEP student), I'd say UdeM.

 

What are people like politically in both programs? I know that law students tend to be on the conservative side (students didn't partake in the strikes for example), but is there a good mix of people from different backgrounds with different points of view?

Both faculties have diverse set of students (politically). Both faculties lean towards the left side of the spectrum [we're in Quebec after all]. But the faculties are also not very "red square". Case in point, UdeM voted for 1 day strike last year and McGill voted for 0.

 

As said previously it's a good mix.

 

Result: Tie

 

My main concern is that U de M's practical orientation may be less stimulating (though it could be more stimulating if McGill is a bunch of hyper theoretical B.S.) and that the students might be super young so that I won't really connect with anyone, and that I might not make the same kind of contacts that I would at McGill.

As said by Headhunter, UdeM gets tiresome after your first year. And McGill tends to verge on the hyper theoretical B.S. Both are not great preparation for actual practice (with UdeM having a slight edge).

Problem with McGill is that it tries to cater to two categories of people and to two systems of law. Given it's limited budget and size, it seems like it's sitting at a crossroad, not knowing where to go.

 

Here's why: McGill claims to be a faculty that doesn't train lawyers, per se. You can become a musician, a comedian, an sports player, a politician and come to McGill Law to stimulate your mind and become better at whatever you do at life. Some students come to McGill for that and some come to become lawyers. This puts McGill at an awkward position: more practical, bar-style courses and the non-lawyer people get mad, and more theoretical classes and the lawyer people get mad.

Add to this the transsystemic education (which is still far from being perfect) and you get a curriculum that is a little handicapped and most certainly confusing.

 

McGill also has a problem with lack of profs. A lot of them are retiring or retired recently and it is very hard for McGill to find good profs who are comfortable with Civil and Common law. For now, McGill is filling the void with a lot of practitioners who teach part time. While some practitioners are great teachers and bring a practical perspective, some aren't great teachers and are far too practical in their approach which clashes with the overall McGill curriculum.

Edited by LivingLegend
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hello,

 

I am a student cegep from montreal

 

which university is best and why?

 

thank you very much

I can hardly see a CEGEP student turn down McGill, just because they only accept about 25-30 students from CEGEP. So I think even if you know UdeM is a better school, you'll still choose McGill. ;)

 

Basically to sum up my previous post, both are great law faculties. You can't go wrong with either.

 

McGill beats UdeM as far as reputation and outside Quebec opportunities goes. It also beats UdeM if you want a common law degree you'd like to use outside of Quebec/Canada or if you want to participate in world renowned law journals.

UdeM beats McGill as far as curriculum goes: UdeM knows what it is (the best civil law faculty) and what it wants (a clear, structured curriculum with the best civil law profs around geared to produce good lawyers).

 

McGill beats UdeM for clerkship and big firms BUT I think it's futile to choose a Law School merely because of that since not a lot of people get a big firm job and even less get clerkships so you shouldn't place your bets solely on these two career paths.

 

The bigger question to ask yourself is: am I the type of person who is creative and can come up with strong new arguments that can defy the current rules (while sticking to the law) and still make sense or am I the type of person who can learn the positive law as it is, can follow a strict curriculum and produce accurate and precise legal answers?

If you are the creative type, McGill suits you better. If you are the person who wants to see the path laid in front of them and get to the finish line faster and better than the rest, then go to UdeM.

 

One last thing: While I think it is easier to find out the path to success at UdeM, UdeM is a more aggressive world: The curve is harsh, some get A+ some FAIL. You're on your own and the administration doesn't really have the time to babysit each of the 370 new students. At McGill the curve is softer: Most people get in the B range and sometimes you won't have anyone get an A and almost always no one fails. The administration is more open to help you finish the program.

The curve at both faculties is a huge source of stress and anxiety [even more at UdeM]. Since at McGill the curve makes very little sense, they are thinking of using a Pass/Fail system BUT that is highly unlikely to happen so don't count on it.

Edited by LivingLegend

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Thanks for taking the time to write out those well thought out answers!  I really appreciate it.  That basically tells me everything I need to know, thought still not sure what the best choice is. 

 

Based on what you say, I get the impression that I'll feel more like I'm learning something at UdeM, but I'd probably like the community better at McGill.

 

 

Two more quick questions - is there no room for creative thinking at UdeM?  Isn't creative thinking a essential part of being a good lawyer (at least a court lawyer)?  Do you think 3.5 years at UdeM would hamper creative thinking? I like structure, and want to feel like I'm learning something practical, and do not like arbitrary prof power in marking, but I am very, very much a creative thinker.  Part of why I want to practice law is to be able to use creative thinking in a practical context.  Not being able to think creatively would be a waste of my abilities.

 

Is the UdeM Juris Doctor (it's supposed to be properly accredited starting this summer) useful at all for working outside Quebec?

 

Oh yes, also you say UdeM won't babysit you through your education, but is the environment (and class sizes) such that are you able to form relationships with some of the profs?

 

Finally are the reasons you chose to switch schools relevant to this discussion?  If so, what were they?  If not no problem, but it could be illuminating if it's relevant to the curriculum, social environment. 

Edited by johnnyhaggis

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Thanks for taking the time to write out those well thought out answers! I really appreciate it. That basically tells me everything I need to know, thought still not sure what the best choice is.

 

Two more quick questions - is there no room for creative thinking at UdeM? Isn't creative thinking a essential part of being a good lawyer (at least a court lawyer)? Do you think 3.5 years at UdeM would hamper creative thinking?

 

Is the UdeM Juris Doctor (it's supposed to be properly accredited starting this summer) useful at all for working outside Quebec?

 

Oh yes, also you say UdeM won't babysit you through your education, but is the environment (and class sizes) such that are you able to form relationships with some of the profs?

 

Finally are the reasons you chose to switch schools relevant to this discussion? If so, what were they? If not no problem, but it could be illuminating if it's relevant to the curriculum, social environment.

You're welcome!

Question 1:

I think Headhunter can answer your question about creative thinking at UdeM better. During the first year, I can say there isn't much room. But I wouldn't say it kills it either. They encourage you to think critically (specially some teacher like Alain Roy) but won't mark you for it. You also get to think creatively in your papers (for Criminal Law and Constitutional Law).

 

Question 2

The JD will allow you to practice outside of Quebec but I doubt you can find an articling position with it easily unless you are at the top of the class. Most likely, it allows you to go work somewhere else after you practice in Quebec. But then again, the Law Societies/Bars in Canada are merging and are planning to allow lawyers with either degree to practice in any province. It's still not clear how this will be implemented though. For more information see:

1. http://www.newswire.ca/fr/story/1134319/mobilite-interprovinciale-des-avocats-le-barreau-ratifie-l-accord-de-libre-circulation-nationale-2013

2. http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201303119661/Headline-News/Deal-opens-Quebec-doors-to-Ontario-lawyers

 

Question 3:

It's really hard to form relationships with profs in UdeM. Class sizes are 70-80 and unless you are the student that sits in second row and answers all the questions, profs will likely ignore you. Some profs will try harder than others however.

 

Question 4:

My reasons:

- I wanted a common law degree from a more recognized common law university. Staying at UdeM meant going to Osgoode or Dalhousie and going 25k in debt from tuition and living expense.

- I thought the transsystemic approach was interesting (and while it is, it has its many drawbacks).

- In McGill students have a lot more input in class than at UdeM (basically in English systems, student input is valued and in French systems there is a more clear hierarchy of prof vs student).

- In McGill you can participate in 3 different student journals and even create your own. I know UdeM is just launching their very first (which is a great news, a lil late).

- I also wanted to see if I can get into McGill (a personal challenge -- I was hardheaded).

 

AND ONE REASON NO ONE MENTIONS:

The Campus at McGill is much nicer than UdeM ;)

Edited by LivingLegend

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My path worked well for me: I got the Bar mentality at UdeM, got a massive boost to my French and made a lot of friends. I got the transsystemic and creative approach at McGill, perhaps the reputation of its name (while I rather not put too much weight on this) and also made a lot of friends (again!).

That said, transferring and being a transfer student is hard. It's a decision that must be taken very seriously and I won't recommend it to everyone.

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As always, LivingLegend doesn't disappoint and gives great answers ;) I don't really have much to add to what he's said.

 

Here are my cracks at the latest questions regardless (in addition to what has already been said):

 

Based on what you say, I get the impression that I'll feel more like I'm learning something at UdeM, but I'd probably like the community better at McGill.

That's a pretty good way of summing it up. I have the same feeling for you ;)

 

Is there no room for creative thinking at UdeM?

I wouldn't say there is no room for creative thinking, but as LivingLegend has mentioned, exams are graded on what the teacher is looking for. I like the characterization that was given to it when compared to a game, because it really is. The sooner you figure out what the teacher wants to see, the better you will do, and the less work you'll notice is required in order to get a good grade. Now that being said, as I've mentioned, I do appreciate the analytical thinking that is developed through problem solving. To put it maybe a bit crudely, I think UdeM favours analytical thinking, while as McGill leans more towards critical thinking. As I've said before, I would absolutely love a method which combines the two a bit (a lot) more. But elas, UdeM is driven by very practical desires of forming lawyers, while as McGill (and what was well explained above) is hovering in a space where they need to cater to two somewhat distinct populations (jurists vs more open-ended thinkers).

 

All this to say that practically speaking, there isn't much room at UdeM for creative (or even critical) thinking, since it leans more heavily and practically exclusively on analytical thinking. However, that doesn't go to say that it stifles it. You have more than enough opportunity to further your creativity both at the faculty and beyond. Drawing from law school goes far beyond what is simply taught in class and asked on exams. I use "creative thinking" every day, both academically and professionally. There's never only one way to solve a problem.

 

Is the UdeM Juris Doctor (it's supposed to be properly accredited starting this summer) useful at all for working outside Quebec?

Yes and no. As I've mentioned, if you're thinking of working outside of Quebec, I don't suggest enrolling at a civil law school (and I don't consider McGill to be a civil law school), for obvious reasons. Personally, I think Ottawa is the best choice if you really want two degrees that are both practical and recognized. McGill is hard to beat when it comes to recognition, but their civil law curriculum is not to say lacking, but not as practical when compared to civil law schools.

 

The UdeM J.D. is recognized (or should be in July) for the New York and Ontario bar exams. However, as LivingLegend mentioned, the question within Canada with regards to bar exams may become somewhat trivial in the near future with the recent signing of the relevant agreement between the provinces. Also, as to what I've been told, New York is changing their standards with regard to foreign degrees (which includes Canada, and yes McGill is a Canadian law school), so it may become more difficult and/or lengthy (read not impossible) to enroll. I haven't however really looked into this matter myself, since it's of no interest to me, at least in the short run, so do correct me if I'm wrong.

 

In sum, with regards to the bar, the UdeM J.D. shouldn't be an issue outside of Quebec, however the questions rather lies on it's recognition by employers. I doubt it's very strong, at least for the time being (though I don't see it competing with Canadian common law schools any time soon). If you really want to practice outside of Quebec (and don't have a job lined up), either go to McGill or Ottawa for their joint degrees, or do  the exchanges that are available at UdeM with Osgoode, Dalhousie, Victoria, etc. That's my recommendation anyway. Take it for what it's worth.

 

Oh yes, also you say UdeM won't babysit you through your education, but is the environment (and class sizes) such that are you able to form relationships with some of the profs?

It's without a doubt more difficult to build a strong relationship with teachers at UdeM than it would be in a school with a smaller class size, obviously. However, teachers are very open to answering questions either during class, during breaks, or outside of class hours. There are also many opportunities to work as a research assistant for teachers. Office hours are always useful if you really want to talk. Finally, there honestly isn't all that much participation in most classes, so if you're active, you'll get noticed :P It depends on what your goals are really... All this to say, more difficult, but far from impossible to form relationships. They may just happen less "naturally" or "organically" in most cases, since you do have somewhat large classes.

 

P.S. And yes McGill's campus is nicer, but the Law Faculty is at the top of that dreaded hill :P

 

As mentioned, you can't really go wrong with either school here, specially if you plan on practicing in Quebec.

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I have never thought about it in this wording but He4dhunter, once again, nails it:

McGill: Critical Thinking
UdeM: Analytic Thinking
And I wish both had a bit more of the other.

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