Jump to content
ale97

Choosing a law school

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone! I wrote the July LSAT and just received my grade so I'm hoping for some advice about choosing a law school.

To give you some context: I just finished my third year in commerce at UBC, my CGPA is 83%, and I scored a 168 on the LSAT. I was injured at the beginning of one of my semesters and my grades suffered significantly, I know some schools take that into account and lessen the weight of that semester or drop it completely.

I've lived in Vancouver my whole life and go to UBC for my undergrad - I'm starting to feel like I want to try something new and go somewhere else. I believe I have a competitive enough GPA and LSAT combination to be a candidate for any school in Canada. Toronto is probably my top choice, but I'm not sure if it's worth paying an extra $20,000 per year to go there. I also can live at UBC at home, saving me a significant amount of money. If you were in my position, and a candidate for most schools in Canada, where would you go? I am considering working in Toronto after graduating, possibly relocating back to Vancouver well into my career (around 10 years from now). 

 

Thank you for any advice you can provide! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you converted your cGPA to the OLSAS GPA scale? Depending on your grade distribution, it could lower your cGPA.

Also, are UBC and Toronto (UofT? Osgoode?) your only choices atm? Are you interested in any other schools in Ontario or other provinces?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My OLSAS GPA is a 3.7. Definitely considering other schools as well, my main thought process is that if I have the grades to, then I should go to the best law school that I can. Would be open to schools in BC, Ontario and maybe Montreal! I would say UBC, U of T and Osgoode are my top choices. Thanks!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No doubt your stats will get you in nearly anywhere. With that being said, I'd say the only thing you have to consider is money and networking. Are you supporting yourself financially? Will you have a LOC? Parents gonna help? etc...

In terms of networking, I've always seen it as beneficial to study where you want to work. If you're dead set on working in TO, then I'd say go to Oz or UoT. I don't doubt you'll get into either one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for your encouragement!! To be completely honest, I don't know where I want to work. I'm going a little stir crazy being in Vancouver all these years and like the idea of getting away, but am not sure how I feel about relocating permanently. I guess I'm hoping for a degree that will have some flexibility in terms of location.

Cost is a very important factor. I am primarily paying my own way (savings, student loans, hopefully scholarships) but will receive some help from parents. This is a big factor for the UBC/UofT comparison.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your stats are very good, competitive at every Canadian school. Nice!

The decision of where you will go will depend on where you get in, so for arguments sake lets assume all the schools ( and the chance of this actually occurring is good).

The Toronto schools are significantly more expensive than UBC law. Osgoode this year is running very close to 30 000 a year for tuition, U of T running close to 40 000 a year. UBC law is around 12 500 first year and even cheaper for second and third year. That is a striking difference in tuition. You could essentially finish your ENTIRE Law degree at UBC for the cost of ONE YEAR  of tuition at the Toronto schools, as you already mentioned. The fact that we are talking about ( I am assuming you will not have someone cover the tuition for you, if you do I wouldn't pay much attention to this part) such a large difference in the debt one would have when graduating, this point in favor of schools like McGill and UBC cannot be overemphasized.  

It all depends on what you want.  The Toronto schools do have a lot to offer ( extent of course offerings, faculty size, clinical opportunities, but it could be argued that UBC has a lot of the same opportunities close to what the Toronto schools might have), the question is if they are worth the premium. When comparing it to UBC, although schools like U of T and Osgoode might offer certain material things in a better capacity eg course offerings, I do not know if the difference between Oz/UofT and UBC is such that  we can justify the magnitude of the tuition difference. Some of us need to remain in the GTA for certain personal reasons. Thus, we pay the premiums the schools ask. Some think they have a better chance at Big Law and Bay St.firms, especially from U of T since the firms go deepest into the class of U of T compared to any school in Canada ( around 50% of the class gets hired to Bay during 2L summer OCI, closest being Osgoode at around 30%, but note similar numbers of actual people getting to Bay due to larger class sizes at Osgoode). Others pay the increased premium due to their own perception of reputation and prestige they attribute to these schools, I would not advise paying the large tuition prices for such reasons. Some really desire to work In Toronto, thus pay the premium to allow them to build there network over the course of 3 years in the region they actually wish to work.  

You wont go wrong in choosing any of the schools. They are all amazing places to go. It boils down to where you wish to work. Toronto, U of t/Oz, Vancouver UBC. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you!! I guess my main point is to be honest, I have no idea what I want. I've always lived in Vancouver and think a change would be nice, but don't know about relocating permanently. I've always wanted to be a lawyer, and am getting a degree in business, but don't know if I want to do corporate law, or exactly what kind of law I want to do. I'm hoping that I figure it out in the next few months, but ultimately I think my best bet is applying to schools that give me a great education and open as many doors as possible. Tuition is, of course, a big concern, but if U of T or Osgoode are absolutely the right choice for me, I am willing to let the tuition aspect go and figure out a way to make it work. So any insight or recommendations is much appreciated!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

You need to really sit down and think about whether you want to live and work in Toronto/Ontario. I've talked to UBC students who tried breaking into the Toronto market, and they felt that they were at a disadvantage due to not having connections to the city. You won't be able to attend networking and social events in Toronto. You won't be learning the law of Ontario. The tuition differences have been explained already to you. It comes down to this:

1) Do you want to work in Toronto/Ontario?

2) Do you want to work in New York or an international market? If so, you should attend U of T, Osgoode, or McGill since these schools carry the most weight outside of our borders.

3) Do you want to work in Biglaw on Bay Street? Then you absolutely want to go to U of T, followed by Osgoode or another Ontario law school - preferably Western/Queen's which does better than Ottawa and Windsor for Bay Street hiring. Though, you could still get there from UBC as well. 

4) Do you want to build a career in Vancouver? Go to UBC. 

5) Do you want to keep your doors open in terms of practice areas and locations (meaning that your degree will be looked at favourably in different regional markets? Then go to U of T or Osgoode. 

Edited by Simbaa
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, ale97 said:

Thank you so much for your encouragement!! To be completely honest, I don't know where I want to work. I'm going a little stir crazy being in Vancouver all these years and like the idea of getting away, but am not sure how I feel about relocating permanently. I guess I'm hoping for a degree that will have some flexibility in terms of location.

Cost is a very important factor. I am primarily paying my own way (savings, student loans, hopefully scholarships) but will receive some help from parents. This is a big factor for the UBC/UofT comparison.

If cost is a significant factor, then I'd say hands down go with UBC. By no means is UBC a non-transferable degree. If you have good grades, I don't doubt you can land a job straight from Vancouver into TO. You'll have even better odds if you get some experience in Van first.

Of course law school reputation matters, but not to the degree you might think. In my mind, based on what I heard from several lawyers, UBC has always been up there with UoT and Oz (of course this is subjective).

 

I totally get it, I've been in the same Northern Ontario city my whole life, and I can't wait to start law school and eventually move to TO myself. But if you are any bit uncertain of living permanently in TO, I think UBC is the clear choice. I mean, how bad can Vancouver be :D ? I would love to live there for a month!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Simbaa said:

2) Do you want to work in New York or an international market? If so, you should attend U of T, Osgoode, or McGill since these schools carry the most weight outside of our borders.

If you want to work in NY or an international market, you should go to a US T14 school. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did a quick search of some American firm websites of their lawyers and respective schools at which they obtained their JD degrees

Kirkland: U of T 2, UBC 1, Osgoode 1

Skadden: U of T 4, Oz 2, UBC 0

Baker McKenzie: I got 0 for all 3 schools

White and Case: U of T 9 Oz 1, UBC 0

I think in any case, when considering the people posted on the websites are not from only one given graduating class, on can begin to speculate that very few from any Canadian school go to the top American firms. I could be wrong, this is just 4 firms picked randomly from a list of the top earning firms located in the USA. However, I do continuously wonder of this notion that U of T or Oz or McGill are better than any other Canadian school for working in the USA. I have heard here on this forum that NY firms come to recruit from U of T and Oz, but I do not know if this is true yet. In any case, it does not seem from the websites of these firms that many students are going to America. White and Case LLP out of these 4 firms had the most Canadians, and the most was NINE from U of T. That is not 9 from the class of 2008, rather nine TOTAL currently employed from all graduating classes EVER lol.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ale97 said:

I've lived in Vancouver my whole life and go to UBC for my undergrad - I'm starting to feel like I want to try something new and go somewhere else.

I think this is a great instinct and a totally valid reason to choose a law school. I was very happy with my law school experience, but do have some regret that I didn't take the opportunity to go experience a different part of the country.

Toronto would be great, I'm sure, but you (and the other posters above) are right to fret the cost, whether of UofT or Osgoode. You might consider Ottawa, which is a reasonably-sized city, definitely a different region, and unique as the federal capital. 

Halifax is quite a bit smaller than Ottawa but I've heard really positive things from people who went there.

London and Kingston have good law schools, but I'm not sure they're the ideal destination for someone looking to experience a city apart from the university.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, worth estimating financial aid at Toronto. It can be quite significant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did the OP mention a desire to work in the U.S.? I must have missed that. 

@Timmies123  That is a somewhat random choice of four firms.  U of T for many years sent ~30 students to NY firms. I imagine that Osgoode and McGill had a fairly significant number as well. Now, how long those people remain in NY is another issue.  Most don't stay for long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Timmies123 said:

The Toronto schools are significantly more expensive than UBC law.

I dunno why people on this forum always look at sticker costs without considering scholarships and financial aid. OP, punch in your info into this calculator: https://www.law.utoronto.ca/financial-aid-calculator to get an estimate on your fin.aid at UofT. Also, contact OSAP to see if you are eligible for bursaries as an out of province student, and use their calculator to figure out how much aid you will get (if eligible): https://osap.gov.on.ca/AidEstimator1819Web/enterapp/enter.xhtml. I know people who ended up paying under 5k in tuition at UofT due to a combination of school aid, government aid, and tax credit kickbacks. Figure out what your actual costs of attendance are before making any big decisions (i.e. before you blow your money on app fees).

 

2 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

If you want to work in NY or an international market, you should go to a US T14 school. 

I went to a T14, and I think UofT makes sense for students who have a passing interest in working in the US, but want to work in Canada in the long term. Something like 10% of the class goes to NY, and 20%+ was getting sent there pre-2008. Otherwise, if working in the US is your long term goal, then I agree that the T14 should be your focus.

Also OP, what exactly are your goals? If you want biglaw or a market-paying boutique, UofT is going to give you a boost over UBC. But if you want a small firm, PI, or government, you're better off going to whatever school will keep your debt the lowest. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just go to UBC. 

Jobs in Toronto are easily attainable from UBC. 

You're paying with loans? You will literally save 100K by living at home and going to school in Vancouver.

How is this even debatable? 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, the cost savings of going to UBC are quite high. I don't know your situation in-depth but it would be hard to pass that up personally.

If you want to broaden your horizons/experience new places you can try and do an international internship in your 1L summer (more common than it sounds) and do an exchange semester in 3L. If you go the Toronto Bay St route (by no means a guarantee) you also get a fair bit of time after the bar and after articling to travel.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Go to ubc! there is no debate. Take the money you save and explore Toronto multiple times per year if you want to. Lol. UBC is an amazing school, it’s beautiful and its grads are well received in the legal market. If you do well you can place in Toronto from ubc. Plus free boarding!?! Toronto isn’t worth the premium

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, erinl2 said:

Did the OP mention a desire to work in the U.S.? I must have missed that. 

@Timmies123  That is a somewhat random choice of four firms.  U of T for many years sent ~30 students to NY firms. I imagine that Osgoode and McGill had a fairly significant number as well. Now, how long those people remain in NY is another issue.  Most don't stay for long.

It was mentioned as a potential benefit of attending the Toronto schools on one of the other posts here. Its also something that is at other times mentioned as a potential benefit to going to U of T, Oz, or McGill. Again, I wasn't necessarily saying this is a false notion, and I did  add my disclaimer that it is a random collection of 4 of some of the biggest law firms in the USA. I would be interested in seeing if I continued to go throw the big  firm websites, if this pattern would change. I have not yet seen any statistical evidence ( how we see the ultra vire numbers for the 2L summer recruit) supporting this notion yet. That doesn't mean its false, I was just beginning to look deeper at this notion and trying to see for myself if there exists any validity within it. Especially if we are to use this point to compare it to the benefits of attending schools like U of T and Oz and paying the premium that comes with that, then I would personally want to see the magnitude of difference between a school like U of T and UBC in that regard from a numerical perspective.

4 hours ago, GodotXVII said:

I dunno why people on this forum always look at sticker costs without considering scholarships and financial aid. OP, punch in your info into this calculator: https://www.law.utoronto.ca/financial-aid-calculator to get an estimate on your fin.aid at UofT. Also, contact OSAP to see if you are eligible for bursaries as an out of province student, and use their calculator to figure out how much aid you will get (if eligible): https://osap.gov.on.ca/AidEstimator1819Web/enterapp/enter.xhtml. I know people who ended up paying under 5k in tuition at UofT due to a combination of school aid, government aid, and tax credit kickbacks. Figure out what your actual costs of attendance are before making any big decisions (i.e. before you blow your money on app fees).

You are correct that Oz and U of T have generous financial aid. However, my gut feeling is that if we included all bursaries and financial aid etc into our conclusions for both the Toronto schools and UBC and compared them, UBC STILL works out to SIGINFICANTLY cheaper. Does that mean I think the premium to pay at a place like U of T and Oz is not worth it? Not necessarily.  I mentioned some reasons why people might pay the premium of the Toronto schools. As you also mentioned, the OP should ponder for their  needs, desires, and situation. When I used the calculator to see how much help I would have recieved if I had been attending U of T, I still get around 25 000 in tuition price a year. That's with the 15 000 bursaries which I am expected to receive ( but not guaranteed). I'm assuming Oz would be around 20 000 a year or less ( I think you can get up to 10 000 a year or more depending on financial need?). The thing is its variable, and  we wont  really know until after  we start school for that year ( I know for Oz you don't get he bursary until after Sept., I'm not sure for U of T). UBC also offers financial aid though, so we would have to compare after we also factor that in. I don't see the Toronto schools coming close in tuition pricing to UBC or McGill. Now again, if its worth it is a different discussion. Perhaps. Depends for the OP and their own situation, as is the decision we all must make for ourselves , should we find ourselves admitted to one of the Toronto schools. Is the magnitude of difference between attending UBC law and U of T/Oz in terms of big law prospects ( assuming for discussions sake one is interested in this route) really that big that one should pay the premiums these schools charge? I do not necessarily know the answer, but it is a question for anyone in this dilemma of choosing between the 2 schools. 

 

Edited by Timmies123

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



  • Recent Posts

    • The deadline for documents to arrive at OLSAS is November 1. You have plenty of time. 
    • I'm an asian student looking to transfer from a law school outside canada to a canadian law school as i want to work in canada. Ideally, I would prefer to go to a law schools in ontario. I applied to both toronto schools this year and was rejected by one and waitlisted by the other because my stats are very uncompetitive for both. I want to ask if anyone knows about how different the criteria is for regular applicants and transfer applicants. Let's say if I want to transfer to U of T/Western/Windsor/anywhere else, do I have to have around the same GPA and LSAT as someone applying to 1L or can I have an uncompetitive GPA by the school's regular applicant standards but do really well in 1L at my law school and still get in? My background: I did my undergrad in asia at a top asian university and my university didn't give a GPA out of 4. I didn't do very well in my first two years except for a semester where I did well, was above average in my third year and got almost a perfect average in my last year. I ended up with an upper second class degree. My university is also notorious for extreme grade deflation and almost nobody can get the kind of grades (equivalent of 3.7+/4 that most canadian law schools require) but this is a separate point from my bad results in the first 2 years which were only due to my bad personal circumstances. The world education services computed my gpa to be 3.4. I gave the lsat twice, both times without having much time to prepare (only a week the first time and 1 day the second time) because of awful personal circumstances again. I only got 160 and 161. The first time I  guessed all of logic games because I was in a horrible stress and panicked state of mind because apart from my personal issues I also had exams at school and the GRE around the same time and I have never learnt how to do them properly anyway. The second time I was too "relaxed" because I had no time to prepare and stress myself out about how badly I was doing in any particular section beforehand so I miraculously managed to solve about half the logic games but because of the lack of practice I had no time left for 1.5 of the verbal passages so I had to guess those. I am very sure that I can do much better on the LSAT because I have a very strong foundation in logical reasoning and philosophy (that is not what I studied at university) so I am very comfortable with the logical reasoning and verbal parts of the exam. My goal right now is simply to study for the LSAT properly and get a 170+ score if that is possible and if I can learn how to do logic games. Not every law school accepts transfers from outside Canada so the other option I have is to  apply as a regular applicant to 1L. Apart from improving my LSAT, if I don't attend my foreign law school I can get a graduate degree from the same place I did my undergrad and get a very high GPA on that (I think this is very doable for me after carefully looking at the courses and course materials and past exam papers etc)  but I have no idea how much this would help since grad degrees are not used for GPA computation. Some schools did tell me that they do factor grad performance into admissions decisions but I am still confused if they will matter enough. I do not have any option to go back and do more undergrad courses as that is unheard of in my country and my university does not allow anything like that. Can anyone who knows about transfers tell me which option will be better for me- to transfer from overseas with high 1L grades and a 170+ LSAT or to apply again with a grad degree in which I did really well and a 170+ LSAT? Thanks and sorry for the long winded post  
    • Maybe they changed their policy?
    • Maybe you got the info from the dual: http://www.uwindsor.ca/law/570/lsat-and-gpa-questions
    • Agreed.  Also, all other things being equal, I would also go with a prof over a grad student lecturer.
×