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Pythia

Clerkship at the Ontario Superior Court

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I'm interested in applying for a clerkship at the ONSC, but I'm wondering whether my grades are up to snuff. I have roughly a 3.3 at Queens out of 1L. Is this competitive for a clerkship? What kind of grades out of Queen's would you need to be competitive?

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I'm not an expert on clerkships, but I'm fairly sure a B+ average would at least get you interviews as long as your writing sample and references were fine.

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2 minutes ago, providence said:

Seems on the low side, especially for Queens where the curve is high.

Queen's does not curve high. 1L curve is a B, like every other law school.

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5 minutes ago, providence said:

Seems on the low side, especially for Queens where the curve is high.

Yes, this is my fear as well. I am hoping my 2L first semester marks will subvene me, but who knows if I'll be able to improve.

4 minutes ago, thegoodlaw said:

Queen's does not curve high. 1L curve is a B, like every other law school.

Well, the curve might still be to a B, but if I understand other law schools' grading systems correctly, then Queens almost certainly has fewer student in the sub B- range and more students in the over B+ range. 

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33 minutes ago, Pythia said:

Yes, this is my fear as well. I am hoping my 2L first semester marks will subvene me, but who knows if I'll be able to improve.

Well, the curve might still be to a B, but if I understand other law schools' grading systems correctly, then Queens almost certainly has fewer student in the sub B- range and more students in the over B+ range. 

Well, the distribution of grades is such that it is quite tightly packed in the B region, but that can have the effect of reducing the number of As awarded. Is there another school's breakdown you're comparing this to?

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I was mostly thinking of Osgoode or UofT. At both of those schools, the students in the A range (or whatever UofT now calls an A; HH I think?) doesn't crack 15% (10% at UofT I think?). At Queens there are some courses that have 24% of the class getting in the A range. 

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This is a post or two away from falling into the "which school is harder" pit. Let's avoid that entirely by keeping this advice simple and realistic. First, if you want to know what grades you need from Queen's to get an ONSC clerkship, the #1, #2, and #3 places to ask are all the CDO. They should (eternal caveat) have a general idea of what you need to be aiming for. They also should have a list of past and present ONSC clerks whom you can contact. They may or may not be willing to discuss their grades, although if they have a clerkship they're probably not too unwilling to discuss that topic. Now, they'll also all likely tell you that grades are only one part of the application process. That's not exactly true, but it isn't a lie either. They're one part, but a pretty damn significant part. Although anecdotally I've heard that ONSC is more lenient on grades than ONCA and the SCC.

Second, what does it matter what you need? This advice is not directed at you specifically but more at everyone who asks questions along the lines of "what grades do I need". I've never understood that question. If you want a clerkship, here are the two steps to follow: (1) do the best you can, (2) apply. That's it. When are ONSC applications, summer after 2nd year presumably? If so, you have a year to bump up your GPA. Every point increases your odds.

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When are ONSC applications, summer after 2nd year presumably?

No. Clerkship apps are due sometime in late January of 2L.

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1 hour ago, Queensberry said:

This is a post or two away from falling into the "which school is harder" pit. Let's avoid that entirely by keeping this advice simple and realistic. First, if you want to know what grades you need from Queen's to get an ONSC clerkship, the #1, #2, and #3 places to ask are all the CDO. They should (eternal caveat) have a general idea of what you need to be aiming for. They also should have a list of past and present ONSC clerks whom you can contact. They may or may not be willing to discuss their grades, although if they have a clerkship they're probably not too unwilling to discuss that topic. Now, they'll also all likely tell you that grades are only one part of the application process. That's not exactly true, but it isn't a lie either. They're one part, but a pretty damn significant part. Although anecdotally I've heard that ONSC is more lenient on grades than ONCA and the SCC.

Second, what does it matter what you need? This advice is not directed at you specifically but more at everyone who asks questions along the lines of "what grades do I need". I've never understood that question. If you want a clerkship, here are the two steps to follow: (1) do the best you can, (2) apply. That's it. When are ONSC applications, summer after 2nd year presumably? If so, you have a year to bump up your GPA. Every point increases your odds.

I have reached out to a few former as well as future clerks. But, generally speaking, more information is better (subject, of course, to the caveat that the weight attached to different pieces of information should be proportional to their quality as pieces of evidence), so I thought it would be better to get some perspective from the people on this forum (from whom I've gleaned a lot of good information on other topics).

As to the second point, well I think the general reason people (myself included) ask these questions has to do with (1) adjustment of expectations and (2) ex ante evaluation of whether applying is worthwhile. If clerking were generally available only to students with GPAs in the top 10% at Queens or equivalently ranked schools, that would tell me (1) that I probably have to pull up my grade quite a bit, (2) that failing to pull up my grades would render my application a long-shot, and (3) given a failure to raise my grades or, even worse, supposing my grades actually worsen, it might not be wise to apply and it might instead be better to direct that energy and effort towards other potentially more fruitful things. That's my view, anyway. I know the general counsel is to apply even if getting a clerkship is a Hail Mary because, who knows, I might end up being Doug Flutie (my parents lived in Boston for quite a while before heading north), but imo preparing a good application is not an easy thing.

Edited by Pythia
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This is a possibly off-topic question that I had while reading these responses: is grade distribution something that employers/judges pay attention to when hiring? Is, say, having a 3.9 GPA less impressive at Queen's than it would be at Osgoode or Dal or something? Is class rank more broadly comparable across schools?

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30 minutes ago, solas said:

This is a possibly off-topic question that I had while reading these responses: is grade distribution something that employers/judges pay attention to when hiring? Is, say, having a 3.9 GPA less impressive at Queen's than it would be at Osgoode or Dal or something? Is class rank more broadly comparable across schools?

Without commenting on the clerkship situation specifically, but rather other contexts such as LLM admissions, yes I view Queens to have much higher than average grades.  Class rank or being on the Dean's List would be more broadly comparable to me.  That being said, if we are talking about someone with an A average or something, I'm not sure that it would make a huge difference, as I'm not certain they give way more As.  I'm not sure how many judges or employers would be aware of this.

I should add that I didn't read this thread, so I'm not sure if the specific context within which these comments were raised.  I'm just replying to this question.

Edited by ProfReader
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29 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

Without commenting on the clerkship situation specifically, but rather other contexts such as LLM admissions, yes I view Queens to have much higher than average grades.  Class rank or being on the Dean's List would be more broadly comparable to me.  That being said, if we are talking about someone with an A average or something, I'm not sure that it would make a huge difference, as I'm not certain they give way more As.  I'm not sure how many judges or employers would be aware of this.

I should add that I didn't read this thread, so I'm not sure if the specific context within which these comments were raised.  I'm just replying to this question.

A question: is Queens the only law school with this reputation, or are there others as well? 

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On 8/10/2018 at 12:46 PM, Pythia said:

I'm interested in applying for a clerkship at the ONSC, but I'm wondering whether my grades are up to snuff. I have roughly a 3.3 at Queens out of 1L. Is this competitive for a clerkship? What kind of grades out of Queen's would you need to be competitive?

What’s with this clerkship thing. Strikes me as lamentably boring. 

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21 hours ago, thegoodlaw said:

Well, the distribution of grades is such that it is quite tightly packed in the B region, but that can have the effect of reducing the number of As awarded. Is there another school's breakdown you're comparing this to?

Queen’s grade distribution is more generous than most. Queens default lecture distribution is 20/60/20. That’s much more generous than Osgoode’s, which is 15/60/20/5 for lecture. 

If you look at the actual grade distributions, you’ll see that 1L classes at Queens routinely award about 1/4 of their class A grades. That just doesn’t happen at other law schools. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois

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2 minutes ago, Constant said:

What’s with this clerkship thing. Strikes me as lamentably boring. 

Really? I think judging is the coolest part of the law. If I had the option, I'd directly become a judge (in other judicial systems, this is a common pathway; in many European countries and in places like South Korea, many students become judges right after completion of law training, provided they're good students). 

 

4 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Queen’s grade distribution Ian much more generous than most. Queens default lecture distribution is 20/60/20. That’s much more generous than Osgoode’s, which is 15/60/20/5 for lecture. 

If you look at the actual grade distributions, you’ll see that 1L classes at Queens routinely award about 1/4 of their class A grades. That just doesn’t happen at other law schools. 

Wait, what letter grades do the four segments at Osgoode represent? 

Out of curiousity, is Queens the only school with a lenient distribution? What about Western for example? I don't know anything about Western's distribution because it is hard to find.

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1 minute ago, Pythia said:

Really? I think judging is the coolest part of the law. If I had the option, I'd directly become a judge (in other judicial systems, this is a common pathway; in many European countries and in places like South Korea, many students become judges right after completion of law training, provided they're good students).

Yeah I guess there is that. Not my thing but okay. 

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33 minutes ago, Pythia said:

A question: is Queens the only law school with this reputation, or are there others as well? 

I can't think of others.  I don't have this opinion of others.  Some people think that the UofT did/does, but that may be under the former grading system.  I had that opinion under the former grading system, but don't have an opinion on the current one.

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2 hours ago, ProfReader said:

I can't think of others.  I don't have this opinion of others.  Some people think that the UofT did/does, but that may be under the former grading system.  I had that opinion under the former grading system, but don't have an opinion on the current one.

I honestly can't remember what the distribution was when I was at U of T. I know that those who graduated With Honours, which meant an A average, was less than 10% in my cohort.

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15 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

I honestly can't remember what the distribution was when I was at U of T. I know that those who graduated With Honours, which meant an A average, was less than 10% in my cohort.

Yeah, I am blurry on the exact details of the old grading system at this point.  But I am referring to their letter system that pre-dated the High Honours, Honours, etc.  

I don't think this will out me as it was so long ago now and not many people know this, but I taught a course there under the old system and thus had access to the grading instructions that were sent to faculty.  I found those instructions and the way they were applied by faculty produced higher grades than when I taught elsewhere.  I'm not sure that they necessarily would have produced more As, but I think they definitely could have produced more B+s than would have been the case elsewhere.

Edited by ProfReader
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