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ImposterSyndrome

UofC, UBC, or UVic? Which is best for me?

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Hi there,

I have been a passive follower of these forums for some while and since I have my own internal debate, I thought I should ask the community here for their insight since it has so often provided insight before.

I am unoriginal in that I am a bit stuck in deciding where I want to study for law. Of course, I am very excited and know I am privileged to have the opportunity to study law in the first place. I am certain that regardless of what school I go to, I will get a worthwhile and meaningful education.

But that doesn't mean that I don't want to try and get the most suitable education possible.

The main contenders for me are UofC and UBC while I have also applied to UVic.

I am interested in a law school that offers me the most opportunities to pursue different areas of law since I am not entirely too sure what I want to practice. I am trying not to settle yet on any area of law as I have read often that people tend to change their minds when they actually start to go to law school. If I had to make a choice though, it would be (in order of favour): immigration, international, human rights, aboriginal rights, environmental, and criminal (all of which I have some experience or education in besides criminal and environmental). But I would not be surprised if five years down the road I am doing corporate law or something else unexpected.

Furthermore, the majority of my friends and family are pretty much all in Calgary offering me a considerable support group. My partner and I are also pretty sure we want to settle down in Calgary after we finish our education. Thus, I will likely want to start practicing law in Calgary after Law School.

What holds me back from deciding on UofC then is that from browsing through their faculty, natural resource law is a recurring theme and is, unfortunately, not one that particularly interests me. I worry then that I am not going to the school that best caters to my interests. Especially as I have heard that it is a smaller school and therefore does not offer the same variety of upper year courses as, for example, UBC does.

Lastly of course, I want to go to law school and feel secure in being able to practice law after graduation. Although each school seems to boast high rates of articling, I know better than to outright believe this.

So my debate surrounds these questions: 

1) Will I be giving up meaningful opportunities for areas of law that I am leaning towards if I go to UofC?

2) If I go to UBC, will their reputation mean a better education and offer me more in the long run while still giving me the equivalent opportunity to practice law in Calgary afterwards?

3) Since UVic promotes areas of law that I am very much interested in, should I be going to their school in order to best pursue my interests?

4) Are any of these universities significantly better or worse in terms of articling rates or will the average law student gain a desirable articling position immediately after graduation regardless of their school (emphasis added on purpose)?

I know these are questions that don't have definitive answers but I would be interested in any insight which can help me make the best decision.

Thank you for your time and I really appreciate the help everyone provides here. I hope that when I start to go to law school and continue to browse these forums I can return the favour and provide my 2 cents to others as well.

Edited by ImposterSyndrome
better word choice

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49 minutes ago, ImposterSyndrome said:

My partner and I are also pretty sure we want to settle down in Calgary after we finish our education. Thus, I will likely want to start practicing law in Calgary after Law School.

No brainer...U of C. Best legal market in Canada net of Toronto. 

Edited by Constant

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Have you actually got into any of these schools yet?

You're not going to do "international" law fresh out of law school in Calgary. Any "human rights" law you will do is probably not what you're thinking of. Ditto for "environmental" law. But if you are interested in environmental law, why wouldn't you want to study natural resources? That would seem to be very important knowledge for that area, as well as for aboriginal law, which often involves environmental and natural resource issues.

A "desirable" articling position means different things to different people. A desirable criminal position is way different than a desirable corporate position. 

Edited by providence

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16 minutes ago, providence said:

Have you actually got into any of these schools yet?

You're not going to do "international" law fresh out of law school in Calgary. Any "human rights" law you will do is probably not what you're thinking of. Ditto for "environmental" law. But if you are interested in environmental law, why wouldn't you want to study natural resources? That would seem to be very important knowledge for that area, as well as for aboriginal law, which often involves environmental and natural resource issues.

A "desirable" articling position means different things to different people. A desirable criminal position is way different than a desirable corporate position. 

We should really just make a robot that scans posts for *insert noun* law, and then posts "Any corporate/criminal/environmental/international/human rights law you will do is probably not what you're thinking of." 

It would be a big time saver. 

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23 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

We should really just make a robot that scans posts for *insert noun* law, and then posts "Any corporate/criminal/environmental/international/human rights law you will do is probably not what you're thinking of." 

It would be a big time saver. 

Or maybe explain each area's misconceptions for us Hopefuls?

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1 hour ago, soulmeetsbody12 said:

Or maybe explain each area's misconceptions for us Hopefuls?

International law = most people refer to this meaning going into foreign countries and fighting human rights abuses, prosecuting war criminals, enforcing treaties, etc. This is an extremely niche area of law - usually requires multiple foreign languages, post-graduate studies and many  years of experience, and often people have done free internships etc. first meaning that many of the people in the field come from wealth - you would have to prove yourself first and likely not be based in Canada to practice in this area. 

The "international" law you MAY have a shot at doing is international business law if you work with a firm that does this. Ie. it's corporate and about contracts, offshore taxes, etc. 

Environmental law = most people think this means saving the environment - working for Greenpeace etc. Again, incredibly niche and difficult area to get into as above. "The environment" doesn't have money to hire you.

The "environmental" law you're more likely to do is also, again, through business law and advising businesses on projects, doing environmental assessments for them, etc. or maybe some work with government doing the same - trying to make projects happen that will cut down trees, dam rivers etc. with the least negative impact. 

Human rights law = most people think it means some vague idea of standing up for the oppressed, etc. To get paid to do human rights law, you are either working for a human rights commission/tribunal (limited number of jobs and they usually want some experience) or you are doing some combination of aboriginal/criminal/refugee/poverty law through a clinic or on legal aid. I would say I do human rights law as a criminal lawyer but I think a lot of people balk at the idea that defending the Charter rights of those accused of sexual assault is human rights law. Possibly you could stretch this category to include labout/employment law which frequently refers to human rights principles. 

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15 minutes ago, providence said:

Possibly you could stretch this category to include labout/employment law which frequently refers to human rights principles. 

Is it a stretch? In the latest year with available data, 70% of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal caseload, and 83% of complaints to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, arose from claims of discrimination in employment.

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2 minutes ago, whereverjustice said:

Is it a stretch? In the latest year with available data, 70% of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal caseload, and 83% of complaints to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, arose from claims of discrimination in employment.

Yeah but a lot of people bring human rights complaints without a lawyer, because they can't afford one. So it would be the human rights commission counsel doing the work on most of those cases.

I didn't mean it was a stretch as in labour and employment lawyers don't deal with human rights issues - obviously, they do. I meant that it might be a stretch to call them "human rights lawyers" as they deal with a lot of other issues too and if working for or with unions there are all kinds of union grievances, collective agreement issues etc. that aren't directly linked to human rights issues. 

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43 minutes ago, providence said:

International law = most people refer to this meaning going into foreign countries and fighting human rights abuses, prosecuting war criminals, enforcing treaties, etc. This is an extremely niche area of law - usually requires multiple foreign languages, post-graduate studies and many  years of experience, and often people have done free internships etc. first meaning that many of the people in the field come from wealth - you would have to prove yourself first and likely not be based in Canada to practice in this area. 

The "international" law you MAY have a shot at doing is international business law if you work with a firm that does this. Ie. it's corporate and about contracts, offshore taxes, etc. 

Environmental law = most people think this means saving the environment - working for Greenpeace etc. Again, incredibly niche and difficult area to get into as above. "The environment" doesn't have money to hire you.

The "environmental" law you're more likely to do is also, again, through business law and advising businesses on projects, doing environmental assessments for them, etc. or maybe some work with government doing the same - trying to make projects happen that will cut down trees, dam rivers etc. with the least negative impact. 

Human rights law = most people think it means some vague idea of standing up for the oppressed, etc. To get paid to do human rights law, you are either working for a human rights commission/tribunal (limited number of jobs and they usually want some experience) or you are doing some combination of aboriginal/criminal/refugee/poverty law through a clinic or on legal aid. I would say I do human rights law as a criminal lawyer but I think a lot of people balk at the idea that defending the Charter rights of those accused of sexual assault is human rights law. Possibly you could stretch this category to include labout/employment law which frequently refers to human rights principles. 

Thanks for the write up actually.

Its not that I thought human rights or any of the aforementioned fields were what many people with no background in law think they are. What you wrote up is quite similar to what I already understood of those fields. Because money doesn't come from nowhere to fund lawyers who think they can save the world.

So although I don't by any means have the same insight as you do, I am quite realistic in that I expect to change my mind a lot over the next 4 years and its why I am open to anything.

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Thanks so far for all the helpful comments by people. It sounds like most people stick with the "study where you want to practice" advice I have read often before.

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3 hours ago, providence said:

Have you actually got into any of these schools yet?

You're not going to do "international" law fresh out of law school in Calgary. Any "human rights" law you will do is probably not what you're thinking of. Ditto for "environmental" law. But if you are interested in environmental law, why wouldn't you want to study natural resources? That would seem to be very important knowledge for that area, as well as for aboriginal law, which often involves environmental and natural resource issues.

A "desirable" articling position means different things to different people. A desirable criminal position is way different than a desirable corporate position. 

What I meant with 'desirable' is simply not bottom-of-the-barrel, low paying, you-didn't-have-a-choice, articling positions. Of-course I don't know much about how people select articling positions so I maybe completely of base here. Sorry for the lack of clarification.

You're right, there's probably a lot of overlap between environmental law and natural resource law that likely will draw me to it. That being said, I am not really interested in working in the oil and gas at the moment. This too though could change over the course of my next five years.

Edited by ImposterSyndrome

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1 hour ago, providence said:

International law = most people refer to this meaning going into foreign countries and fighting human rights abuses, prosecuting war criminals, enforcing treaties, etc. This is an extremely niche area of law - usually requires multiple foreign languages, post-graduate studies and many  years of experience, and often people have done free internships etc. first meaning that many of the people in the field come from wealth - you would have to prove yourself first and likely not be based in Canada to practice in this area. 

The "international" law you MAY have a shot at doing is international business law if you work with a firm that does this. Ie. it's corporate and about contracts, offshore taxes, etc. 

Environmental law = most people think this means saving the environment - working for Greenpeace etc. Again, incredibly niche and difficult area to get into as above. "The environment" doesn't have money to hire you.

The "environmental" law you're more likely to do is also, again, through business law and advising businesses on projects, doing environmental assessments for them, etc. or maybe some work with government doing the same - trying to make projects happen that will cut down trees, dam rivers etc. with the least negative impact. 

Human rights law = most people think it means some vague idea of standing up for the oppressed, etc. To get paid to do human rights law, you are either working for a human rights commission/tribunal (limited number of jobs and they usually want some experience) or you are doing some combination of aboriginal/criminal/refugee/poverty law through a clinic or on legal aid. I would say I do human rights law as a criminal lawyer but I think a lot of people balk at the idea that defending the Charter rights of those accused of sexual assault is human rights law. Possibly you could stretch this category to include labout/employment law which frequently refers to human rights principles. 

You know I was half expecting a bunch of people to tell us to google it. 

But thank you for the great write up. I feel like information like this can help prospects and should really be expanded upon in a sticky. 

Just my 0.02. 

Sorry for high jacking!

Thanks!

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36 minutes ago, soulmeetsbody12 said:

You know I was half expecting a bunch of people to tell us to google it. 

But thank you for the great write up. I feel like information like this can help prospects and should really be expanded upon in a sticky. 

Just my 0.02. 

Sorry for high jacking!

Thanks!

Second that. There are a lot of misconceptions about different areas of law.

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15 hours ago, ImposterSyndrome said:

Thanks so far for all the helpful comments by people. It sounds like most people stick with the "study where you want to practice" advice I have read often before.

You've read it for a reason.

U of C is a great law school and sounds perfect for you.

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Lol @ UBC’s “reputation” being an advantage in Calgary over U of C.

U of C, easily. For all the reasons already mentioned in this thread.

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19 hours ago, ludo said:

Lol @ UBC’s “reputation” being an advantage in Calgary over U of C.

U of C, easily. For all the reasons already mentioned in this thread.

To be fair, I never stated, implied, or questioned if it would be an advantage in the Clagary market. Just asked if it meant a better education.

But thank you for adding your voice to the resounding answer that I should just go to UofC.

Edited by ImposterSyndrome

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