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labr

Choosing a School

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Hello! I have a question for current law students about choosing the right school. I'm wondering if I should factor my interest in a particular type of law into making my decision. How much opportunity is there to actually explore one type of law within these 3 years? Or does that only happen in an LLM? I've been super interested in health policy for about 4 years. I'm hoping to use a law degree in policy work in the public sector or with a civil society organization. I've also seriously considered pursuing a PhD and working in academia.

Pretty much everyone I've talked to has said that they ended up practicing in an area that was different than their original interest... but I'm not sure if that's because they only had a cursory interest in one particular area (which I would argue isn't the case with me). I've done 3/4 of my coursework in undergrad in health policy and law. I'm currently in a Masters in health policy with my thesis on the Cambie surgeries private insurance case. All of my extracurriculars and jobs are related to public health and health administration. So I'm definitely invested in the 'health law and policy' area. 

Based on my research and chats with others, I'm under the impression that Ottawa or Dal would be the way to go? I also have acceptances from Sask and Western, but have largely discounted them due to my interest in health studies. I'm definitely not at the stage of making a final decision, as I'm still waiting on acceptances, but I just wanted to get some thoughts as I start to consider schools. 

Thanks a bunch! 

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1 hour ago, labr said:

Hello! I have a question for current law students about choosing the right school. I'm wondering if I should factor my interest in a particular type of law into making my decision. How much opportunity is there to actually explore one type of law within these 3 years? Or does that only happen in an LLM? I've been super interested in health policy for about 4 years. I'm hoping to use a law degree in policy work in the public sector or with a civil society organization. I've also seriously considered pursuing a PhD and working in academia.

Pretty much everyone I've talked to has said that they ended up practicing in an area that was different than their original interest... but I'm not sure if that's because they only had a cursory interest in one particular area (which I would argue isn't the case with me). I've done 3/4 of my coursework in undergrad in health policy and law. I'm currently in a Masters in health policy with my thesis on the Cambie surgeries private insurance case. All of my extracurriculars and jobs are related to public health and health administration. So I'm definitely invested in the 'health law and policy' area. 

Based on my research and chats with others, I'm under the impression that Ottawa or Dal would be the way to go? I also have acceptances from Sask and Western, but have largely discounted them due to my interest in health studies. I'm definitely not at the stage of making a final decision, as I'm still waiting on acceptances, but I just wanted to get some thoughts as I start to consider schools. 

Thanks a bunch! 

You should go to the law school in the province you want to work in, and plenty of students have went on to work in health law (which also tends to intersect with many other areas of law) from Saskatchewan and Western. In addition, health law is more of a niche field, so there really is no one law school that specializes in this area. You'll receive the base fundamental education from all Canadian law schools, and can go into any area of law that you want. More importantly, your interests may very well change in law school or early on in practice. If you want to work in Ontario, it's pretty foolish to write off Western simply because you think it doesn't have a health law focus. How many health law courses do you think you're going to be taking at Dal or Ottawa (first year is usually made up of all required courses like property, contracts, torts, constitutional, legal ethics, criminal, etc. with one elective)? 

There is a difference between practicing law and doing policy and theoretical work. Most of your post indicates that you like research, policy, and academia, but most lawyers do not do this. Most people do not go to law school to do this. But, yes, it definitely sounds like health law is where you want to be. You need to understand that this is a very niche area and very few jobs are here for law students and recent graduates. CAMH hires 1 articling student, and the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care hires 2. Most people I know who were interested in health law went into personal injury and insurance defence, as there are lots of opportunities in these fields. If you want to go into personal injury or insurance defence, then it definitely does not matter where you go for law school. The best advice is to attend law school in the province that you want to work in, as you will be learning the laws of that province and getting to know the people and legal entities within that region. 

Edited by Simbaa

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1 minute ago, Simbaa said:

You should go to the law school in the province you want to work in, and plenty of students have went on to work in health law (which also tends to intersect with many other areas of law) from Saskatchewan and Western. In addition, health law is more of a niche field, so there really is no one law school that specializes in this area. You'll receive the base fundamental education from all Canadian law schools, and can go into any area of law that you want. More importantly, your interests may very well change in law school or early on in practice. If you want to work in Ontario, it's pretty foolish to write off Western simply because you think it doesn't have a health law focus. How many health law courses do you think you're going to be taking at Dal or Ottawa? 

Thanks so much for the reply! My brother who is a lawyer had a similar perspective. I guess I'm just not sure where I want to work. My family is from Vancouver, but I did my undergrad in Halifax and consider it my second home, but I'm also aware that being in Ontario (Ottawa specifically) is good if I want to work for the government. It's still so early in the admissions process that I know I'll have lots of time to decide, but I just wanted to start considering things and gathering some different perspectives. 

In terms of classes, I know that one of the Ottawa first year thematic is taught by Colleen Flood, which would be amazing to have a health law course so early in the degree. I also have a few friends who have taken many of the health law classes at Dal, as they did the combined JD/Masters of Health Admin program. 

Did you find that you had opportunities to explore different areas of law outside your required courses? Is it possible, like in undergrad, to take a few electives in the same area? Or are there just not enough electives to do that?

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1 minute ago, labr said:

Thanks so much for the reply! My brother who is a lawyer had a similar perspective. I guess I'm just not sure where I want to work. My family is from Vancouver, but I did my undergrad in Halifax and consider it my second home, but I'm also aware that being in Ontario (Ottawa specifically) is good if I want to work for the government. It's still so early in the admissions process that I know I'll have lots of time to decide, but I just wanted to start considering things and gathering some different perspectives. 

In terms of classes, I know that one of the Ottawa first year thematic is taught by Colleen Flood, which would be amazing to have a health law course so early in the degree. I also have a few friends who have taken many of the health law classes at Dal, as they did the combined JD/Masters of Health Admin program. 

Did you find that you had opportunities to explore different areas of law outside your required courses? Is it possible, like in undergrad, to take a few electives in the same area? Or are there just not enough electives to do that?

Dalhousie is a good choice if you want to do the combined degree. I know people who filled their degree with courses in one area of law, then went on to practice in a completely unrelated area. There aren't enough health law courses in law school to fill an entire degree. You can do it for criminal and business law, but health law is a very niche area and most law schools only have a handful of courses in this area. Honestly, you've shown enough of an interest in health law, especially with your master's degree, that it won't make much of a difference to future employers. They'll know when they see your application that health law and policy is your main area of interest. 

Ottawa is a good place to be for government, but are there a lot of health law opportunities there? This is what you should research and find out. 

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https://www.lexpert.ca/directory/practice-areas/ranking/

Check out this link. Health law is such a niche field that it's not even listed in the practice area directory. Find the places you'd potentially like to work at, and read the bios of people there. 

http://www.cba.org/Sections/Health-Law/About

https://www.oba.org/Sections/Health-Law

Read up here and maybe even reach out to some people. 

 

Edited by Simbaa
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