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wonderwoman121

Is Windsor really that bad?

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Here's the deal, for the most part Ontario's 6 traditional law schools (who knows about Lakehead) are more or less interchangeable in terms of quality of education. Yes, some have programs that others don't, or are better in some areas than others, but on the whole, in terms of quality of program, there isn't a whole lot to choose from.

 

Now, people make a big deal about big firm hiring, but typically overlook two points. First, without knowing what percentage of the class applies (and, to which employers), the overall hireback number means little. I don't have trouble believing that UofT attracts more "biglaw or bust" students gunning for Bay Street because who drops $30k a year in tuition to become a family lawyer? Even you accounted for interests UofT would probably still do better than the others, but its "advantage" (which, for the reason I discuss below, isn't really a UofT advantage) is less marked  than the Ultra Vires numbers suggest.

 

Second, and this is a point that people don't like to hear, is that if UofT students place better on Bay Street than, say Windsor, or Ottawa (and, notwithstanding my first caveat, they probably do), it's because they're just that much stronger candidates. And this should come as a surprise to no one - you need higher grades and LSAT scores to get into UofT then Windsor and, in practice, UofT students are more accomplished in other respects than your typical Windsor student (graduate degrees, work, etc.). (Sorry hegdis, "holistic standards" or no, I'm pretty sure Windsor would admit most of UofT's class in a heartbeat if they could. The reverse isn't true). So, when Bay Street firms are hiring, it's no surprise that the UofT students do better. But they do better because they're better candidates, not because they went to UofT - had they gone to Windsor they'd be very bit as attractive. If you're a strong candidate, you're a strong candidate no matter what school you attend. I've know some very good lawyers who have come out of Windsor.

 

Then, there's the fact that to attend Windsor, you have to live there for three years. There's no getting around that - even my friends from Windsor were glad to leave. On the flip side, it's cheaper than living in Toronto.

I think maximumbob hit the nail on the head by focusing on the quality of candidates. I think one way that we as law students or prospective law students judge schools is based on how easy or difficult it is to get into that school, and the quality of the students that go there. As previously mentioned, the overwhelming norm is that students who can get into UT/Queens/Western/Osgoode can get into Windsor, but the reverse is usually not true. With U of T as the exception, I've seen students with offers from the other three schools that I mentioned make arguments for and commitments to each over the others. That said, I have yet to encounter a student who willingly chose Windsor when they had other Ontario options available to them. The purpose of this post isn't to hate on Windsor. I concur that the students that I know that either attend or have attended that school seem to hold positive sentiments about it. However, that does not change that fact that it is the de facto school of last resort in Ontario, and as such its social stigma, regardless of its impact in practice and recruitment, continues to exist.

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^Anecdotally, I know a few students here at Windsor (myself included) who got in elsewhere and chose to come here. And not once did Hegdis even imply that all or most Windsor students can get into U of T. He said that holistic process =/= poor students. And since Windsor grads are just as competent as all the other lawyers out there, I don't see why that requires further commentary or rebuttal. 

 

Wait -- what am I saying? This is lawstudents.ca. You are only allowed to make disparaging comments about Windsor Law! Nothing even remotely positive allowed.

Edited by kathryndan

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With respect, you're taking this too personally. The question is not of lawyer competency, it is about the school's reputation. If we're getting specific, I don't think the accusation or analysis is that Windsor has "poor" or weak students in absolute terms, but that relative to the other Ontario law schools, Windsor has weaker students. IIRC this is backed up by fact through GPA and LSAT medians. Also, as maximumbob already noted, it is telling that holistic process or not, Windsor would admit most of U of T's, and I would go as far to include Queens, Osgoode, and Western's class but the reverse is simply not true. This in itself is telling in relative terms about the quality of candidates. 

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Windsor is a strange beast in that a lot of splitters end up going there or Ottawa. Those with high GPAs and relatively lower LSATs (below 158) tend to choose Ottawa, while those with lower GPAs and LSAT scores, or lower GPAs and higher LSAT scores, go to Windsor.

 

What the other Ontario schools have in common is a threshold for the minimum LSAT score they are willing to dip into, usually a 158+, and GPA 3.5+.

 

Again, this speaks nothing about the quality of Windsor students in law school, and these students as practicing lawyers.

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This may just be me but my Ontario law schools list is literally ranked by how much I want to live somewhere...

 

Toronto

Kingston (I like the lake)

London/Ottawa (London is closer, but Ottawa is a better city)

Windsor (so far away and small) 

Thunder Bay (there are like bears up there right?) 

 

And I can't imagine that would be much different for anyone else living in the GTA. It's just so blasted inconvenient so it's way down the list. It's also unfortunate that it's across the border from such a shitty city (if it was Chicago, I'm totally there). 

 

So I think the candidates it gets generally have less options - not necessarily because of anything to do with the school. That unfortunately lowers the rep. 

Edited by aihe24
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My uncle is a lawyer in Toronto and says 2 things 

 

1)you can find lawyers from all of the law schools in his firm since all the law schools are required to offer the same or very similar classes (especially in first year), so you will learn all the same thing where ever you go

 

2) He as noticed that students from windsor transition easier when beginning to practice law than student from for example U of T. Windsor apparently focuses more on practical lawyering skills than Tornto, the latter of which wants to develop more legal masters and PhD students since the school is sooo into research (often voted top of the list in legal research by Macleans).  So if your more into practicing law than legal research apparently you will more likely transition better into the field. 

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However, that does not change that fact that it is the de facto school of last resort in Ontario, and as such its social stigma, regardless of its impact in practice and recruitment, continues to exist.

 

I think that the reason there is a "stigma" among 0Ls and law students is because they keep repeating this to each other as if it were fact rather than an applicant-level fiction. To give you an example of how reliable gossip among students really is, I present to you the educational saga of Morgans LLP.

 

I have never heard any practising lawyer have anything bad to say about Windsor as a school or Windsor in terms of quality of graduates. It is a preoccupation that only seems to entrap those not yet out in the working world. 

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My uncle is a lawyer in Toronto and says 2 things 

 

1)you can find lawyers from all of the law schools in his firm since all the law schools are required to offer the same or very similar classes (especially in first year), so you will learn all the same thing where ever you go

 

2) He as noticed that students from windsor transition easier when beginning to practice law than student from for example U of T. Windsor apparently focuses more on practical lawyering skills than Tornto, the latter of which wants to develop more legal masters and PhD students since the school is sooo into research (often voted top of the list in legal research by Macleans).  So if your more into practicing law than legal research apparently you will more likely transition better into the field. 

 

Ah yes, a family member's opinion and the Macleans rankings.  This guy knows what he's talking about.

Edited by bernard
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I'm at Osgoode and I've met several summer and articling students from Windsor at Bay street firms I've toured. I remember getting the impression that school selection was such a big deal before starting law school, but it's really not. What matters is how well you do and how well you sell yourself once you're there. 

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My uncle is a lawyer in Toronto and says 2 things 

 

1)you can find lawyers from all of the law schools in his firm since all the law schools are required to offer the same or very similar classes (especially in first year), so you will learn all the same thing where ever you go

 

2) He as noticed that students from windsor transition easier when beginning to practice law than student from for example U of T. Windsor apparently focuses more on practical lawyering skills than Tornto, the latter of which wants to develop more legal masters and PhD students since the school is sooo into research (often voted top of the list in legal research by Macleans).  So if your more into practicing law than legal research apparently you will more likely transition better into the field. 

 

Just chiming in to ask that we never, ever use the Macleans rankings as a reliable, or even remotely quantitative way of assessing anything to do with legal research.  

 

As a matter of fact, let's never rely on journalists to assess academic research at all, ever.  And this is coming from someone that benefits personally from that practice.

 

Journalists are skilled, generally focused individuals with a socially crucial mandate.  But their skill set, impressive as it is, does not translate to rigorous in-depth research and formal methods of qualitative analysis in respect of literally millions of cubic meters of printed data and anything as ephemeral as specialized, nuanced public opinion.

 

It would be a great story if a think tank assessed and ranked Canada's law schools.  Every year we get the story, but not that other thing.

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Not to mention the fact that Maclean's hasn't done law school rankings in two years anyway... if if they weren't garbage.

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Just chiming in to ask that we never, ever use the Macleans rankings as a reliable, or even remotely quantitative way of assessing anything to do with legal research.  

 

As a matter of fact, let's never rely on journalists to assess academic research at all, ever.  And this is coming from someone that benefits personally from that practice.

 

Journalists are skilled, generally focused individuals with a socially crucial mandate.  But their skill set, impressive as it is, does not translate to rigorous in-depth research and formal methods of qualitative analysis in respect of literally millions of cubic meters of printed data and anything as ephemeral as specialized, nuanced public opinion.

 

It would be a great story if a think tank assessed and ranked Canada's law schools.  Every year we get the story, but not that other thing.

My understanding is that the methodology for Macleans rankings was determined by Brian Leiter, who is a professor of jurisprudence at Chicago. I don't know if he is any better than a journalist, but he is definitely not a journalist.

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I wonder why they didn't pick someone familiar on a firsthand basis with Canadian legal education and the Canadian legal market.

Edited by ericontario

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Windsor has produced its share of excellent Canadian lawyers and any rumours about it being a "2nd-tier" Canadian law school are entirely undeserved. 

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I wonder why they didn't pick someone familiar on a firsthand basis with Canadian legal education and the Canadian legal market.

 

Leiter has a huge following and foundation in this area. His independent rankings of Philosophy departments around the world started as a personal hobby and turned into the defacto final word on the subject in the field of philosophy. He's the Peter Hogg of that particular little topic. His authority is that deep. So while the results for Macleans may be a joke, they certainly hired the right guy. Frankly, the reason the result is so poor is probably just because Leiter had to work within metrics that required no work hours to produce. Every measurement used is objective and simple to achieve. There's no qualitative work at all. Because Macleans is cheap. And that's the real problem.

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With reference to the topic at hand, btw, absolutely not. Windsor is not that bad. Not remotely so. It's a perfectly decent law school which has produced many good lawyers and will produce many more. Having said that, however, I also won't pretend there is no difference between the class of students that Windsor admits as compared with the class admitted at more competitive law schools. And I won't subscribe to the rather absurd but often repeated idea that the quality of the student going in is irrelevant to the quality of the graduate.

 

I don't know why people on this board gravitate in some selective topics to such absurd positions. There's so much middle ground between the suggestion that Windsor is some Canadian equivalent of trashy American schools (which is not even close to reality) and the expectation that we just abandon all sense of distinction amongst Canadian schools and treat everyone and every school identically as a matter of right. We may disagree on where the rational midpoint falls between these two equally stupid positions. But let's at least agree it's somewhere in that space.

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To give you an example of how reliable gossip among students really is, I present to you the educational saga of Morgans LLP.

 

First off: I was straight up fooled Morgans LLP, kudos to the forum.

 

Second: Now I want Morgans LLP to be a thing. The Right Upstanding gentle(wo)men of the forum should make it a thing. You know you want to.

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