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uOttawa v. Queens

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Last I checked, Queen’s hasn’t released their first round of offers yet. This question seems a little premature. 

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Queen's undergraduate, I'll speak to the student life/general campus feel but can't really speak to academics. Queen's has strong school spirit. Tricolour is everywhere on campus and it really is incredible how much people love the school. It does have a reputation as a party school and Homecoming/St. Patrick's Day involves a lot of rowdy street parties. Depending where you went before, you may notice Queen's students are much more prideful, sometimes to the point where it gets annoying (the classic "my school is better than yours"). That said, it really is a strong community and students go out of their way to help one another out! 

The campus is almost all limestone and is really pretty in all four seasons. Lederman/John A. Macdonald Hall is a great place to study, although it is sometimes overrun by undergrads (like myself for the past four years... it's so quiet there). 

The reason I am going with Ottawa over Queen's is my need for a change of scenery, nothing to do with the school itself!

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1 hour ago, dwesc92 said:

Queen's undergraduate, I'll speak to the student life/general campus feel but can't really speak to academics. Queen's has strong school spirit. Tricolour is everywhere on campus and it really is incredible how much people love the school. It does have a reputation as a party school and Homecoming/St. Patrick's Day involves a lot of rowdy street parties. Depending where you went before, you may notice Queen's students are much more prideful, sometimes to the point where it gets annoying (the classic "my school is better than yours"). That said, it really is a strong community and students go out of their way to help one another out! 

The campus is almost all limestone and is really pretty in all four seasons. Lederman/John A. Macdonald Hall is a great place to study, although it is sometimes overrun by undergrads (like myself for the past four years... it's so quiet there). 

The reason I am going with Ottawa over Queen's is my need for a change of scenery, nothing to do with the school itself!

I am finishing up my undergrad at Western, so I am used to the ra-ra school spirit. So far, Ottawa has the edge for me because I think I would prefer to be in a larger city rather than in a university town for my early-20s.

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The Ottawa U experience is simply different.  I get the sense it is less of a community and more of a commuter school. Both will qualify you well for practice.  Maybe if you have the choice of both, you should visit both and get a feel for their campus....and then read up on the programs each offers.   I want to practice in Eastern Ontario....Queen's and Ottawa U are my 1st and 2nd choice in that order.  However, my undergrad was at Queen's and I love its sense of pride and community.  I have two lawyer parents and I know Queen's has a stellar reputation.  They have practiced with grads from Ottawa and take no issue with their education either.  I think they feel that Queen's might have greater connections through their grads with Bay Street if that is where you wish to land. My choice might be different if, for instance, my French was great and I would want to then get both civil/common law degrees - then it would be OttawaU.  But it's not....so I am hoping it's Queen's for me.

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On 1/5/2019 at 6:02 PM, Littlelegal said:

The Ottawa U experience is simply different.  I get the sense it is less of a community and more of a commuter school. Both will qualify you well for practice.  Maybe if you have the choice of both, you should visit both and get a feel for their campus....and then read up on the programs each offers.   I want to practice in Eastern Ontario....Queen's and Ottawa U are my 1st and 2nd choice in that order.  However, my undergrad was at Queen's and I love its sense of pride and community.  I have two lawyer parents and I know Queen's has a stellar reputation.  They have practiced with grads from Ottawa and take no issue with their education either.  I think they feel that Queen's might have greater connections through their grads with Bay Street if that is where you wish to land. My choice might be different if, for instance, my French was great and I would want to then get both civil/common law degrees - then it would be OttawaU.  But it's not....so I am hoping it's Queen's for me.

no need for French at uOttawa. Everything is in English, and the school has a lot of choices. There are some options for bilingual courses, and there is an option of taking some courses in French. The students from out of town seem surprised by the mere presence of French in the environment, even though they are not required to have any

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On 1/4/2019 at 11:06 PM, RNGesus said:

Last I checked, Queen’s hasn’t released their first round of offers yet. This question seems a little premature. 

Just received an offer from them this morning! 

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I've been accepted to both Queen's and Ottawa. Each has placed an April 1st deadline for me to accept. I plan on visiting both campuses in order to get a better feel for where I might fit in best. 

Does anyone else have any opinions regarding this comparison? 

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Any idea on what you want to practice? Ottawa offers a number of specialized classes in IP, Health Law, Constitutional/Public Law, Aboriginal law and International business law. That's not to say that if you don't want to practice in one of those areas you shouldn't go to Ottawa, I have many friends who attended the school and are now corporate lawyers on Bay. But if you are particularly interested in one of those areas - then perhaps Ottawa might have an edge for you.

Things I loved about Ottawa include its proximity to the SCC (the school has a genuine connection there - including a SCC seminar class that has a guest lecture from a sitting judge). I also really loved Ottawa's emphasis on mooting - When I was there they spent over $100K funding moot expenses/year. The school participates and is very successful in a lot of moots (including the Vis and the Jessup which are deemed by many to be the "best" moots in the world). There is also a first year moot where the majority of the first year class participates and the final round is usually before a retired SCC judge.

There is also ample opportunities for clinics and RAships (although I'm sure this is also true of Queens). A lot of people i know (including myself) were able to publish as part of an RA gig and many of us got to travel around the world to give presentations on the research we had help to conduct. 

I did feel that there was a community feel at Ottawa U, but it was just a large community. There were absolutely people in my class who I did not know, however, I also became acquainted with a subset of the class and we are all very close. There is also a genuine "help everyone out" attitude among the students. I never had a problem getting notes for a class that I missed, or getting a good summary from an upper year to help me prepare for my own exams. 

Finally, the faculty at Ottawa U is first rate. Some of the Prof's are just giants in their field and it is truly an honor to learn from them. 

As for jobs - if you want to work on Bay you have to get in the top 20-25% of the class. If you can do that then you will secure a number of OCIs and from there it's up to how well you interview. If you want to work in Ottawa then going to Ottawa U is an advantage because firms there like to see that you have a connection to the city (with that being said, a number of Queens grads are also hired in Ottawa). 

Good luck in the decision! 

Edited by TheScientist101
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Academic:  Going to echo The Scientist because he usually always explains UOttawa's depth quite well. Our faculty size for the English Section is the largest with 50+ fulltimes, 30 part time (technically, in reality they have job functions non-purely academic but teach courses, since we have non-JD stuff like the National Program for training QC lawyers in commonlaw, a bunch of faculty-run legal clinics/public interest groups intervening in the SCC, etc. ). Research at the faculty is also pretty strong but the university isn't that good at branding itself; e.g. our environmental law faculty has the most depth including the very best career lawyers in Canada and our tech law faculty has the most influential people in Canada for tech-related areas of law. We have people from the foremost torts scholar in Canada (former dean too) and a former Attorney General teaching 1Ls. 

Other positive notes: Significant amount of panels, talks, issues and engaging topics. This ranges from the obvious SCC lawyers/Federal Courts cases where a bunch of lawyers go from the court house to panels at UOttawa, many corporate lawyers from Ottawa/Toronto, many specific interest groups (Aboriginal law, feminist law, technology law, federal law, public international law etc)  and many visiting lawyers and academics in Ottawa. The thing about Ottawa is that it functions as a sort of "gathering place" for people from all across Canada/the world so there's lots of big events in town where some people also do things at UO. 

We also have a strong "revolving door" of sessional instructors, you will very likely get one per semester. They are usually hits but they are also working people with full jobs and a law graduate degree (e.g. the guy who teaches my course is an awesome first-timer and went to HYS school for an LLM). They are also fantastic people to talk to for career advice. 

Downsides: We do not have nearly the depth as Queens or a few schools in advanced corporate law courses; classes can be very full sometimes (50-60 per class is typical). 

Community:  Upsides: More mature community than other law schools, like 30% of the class has had career experience or a graduate degree and the average age is like 25-26. While the majority just got out of undergrad, the two groups mix quite well. I've known many people who worked for the Feds or Prov government, worked in Bay Street, did advanced research MSc's, etc. I have honestly learned alot from my classmates and each bring great life experience. 

We have lots of student groups; arguably many of the X Field of Law Students Association do not do regular events except panels and bake sales but you will find lots of proactive interest-specific groups/clubs/event organizations. Getting engaged in student life can be very tricky but it requires looking in the right place. 

We also got to meet the SCC at an event hosted on their lawn; it was fantastic. The Faculty seems to be the most well-connected in Canada. 

Downsides: Overcrowded building; they shuffle a lot of undergrads into a few rooms and they are often in our libraries. Alot of law students were pushing for a ban of undergrads. Civ Law also uses our space and we operate like two parallel worlds. The community is less tied together; there is definitely a weaker sense of community outside of your large group (70-80) or small section  (15-20). Part of this is due to the inept law student society imo and the lack of community-building events of the orientation which did not have any social events. They virtually guarantee that cliques will (and has always) formed just by the nature of how they structured the first week. English Common Law have far few events that bring people together and French Common Law (1/5th the class) are pretty much in their own bubble. Civil Law tends to dominate the libraries though; hard-working but we have basically parallel worlds. 

I honestly think this can be fixed by just giving us our own student spaces and lounge areas; offices and rooms for student groups and making it appear more community-friendly. They were supposed to give us a new building a while back but UOttawa instead spent it elsewhere. Taking proactive effort in the first 3 weeks with community-making social events and breaking the barriers that develop is also something the admin can do.  

Other Notes: It can feel like "Going to Work" in some sense; our school is probably less student-focused given the school plays a significant functional role for the legal profession, Canada, and specific interests/issues. For example there was an event honoring a great Ontario judge attended by many lawyers and well-to-do judiciary members including the SCC right beside my evening class; it was definitely open to all students though.

Edited by mazzystar
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