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Dwrigh55

JD in Canada vs USA

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Hi, 

I've applied all over Ontario and to 6 schools in the United States for JD programs starting this fall.  I've been accepted to a few of the Ontario schools and most of the American schools to date.  I don't mind where I live and start a family in the future.  What I would like is to study IP law and accumulate as little debt as possible because I don't have a great deal of savings due to my undergraduate expenses.  When I look at tuition cost for an Ontario school, such as Western, it amounts to over 22,000.00 plus additional living expenses.  However, I've been offered a full tuition scholarship to a University in the United States that has a relatively good IP law program as well.  Obviously living expenses will be expensive, but I think it would be cheaper for me to study there.  It's also an enticing offer, as I would love to live in California.  The pertinent question on my mind now is 'how much more difficult is it to stay in the United States following law school?  Is it difficult to article and subsequently practice law as a Canadian citizen living in the States?  Is there a chance I'll graduate and I won't be granted a work visa, thus sent home to Canada unable to practice/article?'  I would love some experienced advice on this subject.  Excuse my naiveté as I haven't been able to find much useful information.   

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What's the school in California? You have to be wary when it comes to US law schools as there are a lot of sub-par options.

Moreover, while we should all try to limit our debt load as much as possible, you shouldn't be too debt averse. You're taking out a loan to increase your earning potential. It may help to think that you're taking out a loan to expand a business (you being the business).

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Yes be very wary of US schools. Best thing to do is look at the top law school list from US News and see if your school is there. Realistically, if it’s not within the top 50 you shouldn’t ever consider going there. But even graduating from the top 50, from my understanding, won’t give you anything close to a guarantee of a decent lawyer position. The US legal market is incredibly saturated and the average salary is quite low. If you don’t graduate from a decent school, you may end up doing clerk work or doc review forever. Other websites are better resources for advice on this front but this is my general understanding. There also is no articling in the US; you graduate, pass the bar, and you’re licensed. But the bar exams are usually very hard, and California’s is notoriously difficult. Check out your school’s bar pass rate and use that, too, to gauge your odds of success. 

Coming back to Canada will be difficult. Check out the international section at http://lawapplicants.ca/faq for some reasons why. 

I would finally add that if you didn’t receive a scholarship from a Canadian law school, think hard about what you’re getting from the US, particularly if you’re getting a “full ride”. The shadier schools tend to give these out at first but bust you on the eligibility requirements in subsequent terms. 

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OP, unless you got a full ride to Stanford, the only scenario in which you attending this school in California makes more sense than going to Western (or any other Canadian school) is if you absolutely want to live in California for some reason.  If you are not a US citizen, you will face hurdles in getting work authorization.  The only US employers likely to be in a position to hire you will be in big law, which is competitive.  Even if going to the California school turns out cheaper (which doesn't sound plausible),  the California school will (again, unless it's a top school) only give you a remote chance of practicing law  in Canada or Cali.  On the other hand, with the Canadian school you will almost certainly find work as a lawyer.  

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43 minutes ago, habsfan93 said:

OP, unless you got a full ride to Stanford, 

 

Or Berkeley/ USC

 

Edited by harveyspecter993

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14 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

 

Or Berkeley/ USC

 

Yeah all of those are great schools and would be worth going to if you had a full ride. Coming back to Canada will still be challenging but you’d be competitive for an articling spot with a law degree from USC or Berkeley. Or you could go for US biglaw if you had the grades and then skip articling, if you come back, after having practiced for a few years in the US. 

But there are still a lot of “ifs” in that scenario. The scholarship is still a meaningful consideration, though, in those circumstances. 

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Hey guys, thanks for the responses!  The school is not a super well rated school.  The school is around 120 in US law schools.  However, when I looked up top rated Intellectual Property law schools in the States this school is rated number 6 overall.  Santa Clara.  It also has a Tech Edge program which seems like a perfect fit for me since I would like to work in Intellectual Property.  I have a Masters of Science and I would like to use my skilled qualities in law to be a prominent consultant for individuals and businesses seeking to bring their products to fruition.  I would like to move to and live in California if I am to go to school there, so returning to Canada is not an issue for me.  Also, I think California may be beneficial because of the saturation of tech start-ups which may provide tons of business and opportunities for someone in my position.  Let me know your thoughts on this and if this school would be worth considering over Canadian law schools.  

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This conversation begins and ends with where you want to work. If you want to work in the US,  go to the best US school that will accept you. 

Edited by Trew

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It looks like you'd have a 43% chance of not landing a job as a lawyer after graduation, and you'd be trying to overcome those odds while competing against Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, UC Davis, and UC Hastings grads. 

I wouldn't do it. 

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If Santa Clara is the best school that you can get into, don't go to the US.  It doesn't matter if they have a program that interests you.  It also doesn't matter if they are ranked 6th in IP.  Those specialty rankings aren't worth much.  Other, better ranked schools in California would have plenty of IP classes.

Edited by ProfReader
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51 minutes ago, Dwrigh55 said:

Hey guys, thanks for the responses!  The school is not a super well rated school.  The school is around 120 in US law schools.  However, when I looked up top rated Intellectual Property law schools in the States this school is rated number 6 overall.  Santa Clara.  It also has a Tech Edge program which seems like a perfect fit for me since I would like to work in Intellectual Property.  I have a Masters of Science and I would like to use my skilled qualities in law to be a prominent consultant for individuals and businesses seeking to bring their products to fruition.  I would like to move to and live in California if I am to go to school there, so returning to Canada is not an issue for me.  Also, I think California may be beneficial because of the saturation of tech start-ups which may provide tons of business and opportunities for someone in my position.  Let me know your thoughts on this and if this school would be worth considering over Canadian law schools.  

You'd be making a massive mistake by attending a school ranked 120th. In that case, you'd arguably be better off at Bond.

Edited by harveyspecter993
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1 hour ago, harveyspecter993 said:

You'd be making a massive mistake by attending a school ranked 120th. In that case, you'd arguably be better off at Bond.

It's definitely risky but  school ranking isn't everything. OP has a masters of science which is highly coveted in IP. 

Edit: just saw the median LSAT is 155 and the median GPA is 3.3, didn't realize it was that low. Promotional materials are pretty good though. I can see why OP would seriously consider it. 

Edited by Trew
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38 minutes ago, Trew said:

It's definitely risky but  school ranking isn't everything. OP has a masters of science which is highly coveted in IP. 

Edit: just saw the median LSAT is 155 and the median GPA is 3.3, didn't realize it was that low. Promotional materials are pretty good though. I can see why OP would seriously consider it. 

I don't think this is very sound advice.  I agree that rankings aren't everything, but the employment statistics aren't great, which is arguably the most important consideration.  Only 77/136 students from 2017's class are employed in jobs that are both full time/long-term and require a JD: http://1x937u16qcra1vnejt2hj4jl-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/Class-of-2017-ABA-Summary.pdf.  Yes, a masters of science is coveted ("highly" is going too far given that it is not at all uncommon for students to have a MSc and some even have a PhD...the specific field of the masters may matter).  However, Stanford, to name one example, has a much more prestigious science and tech law program that likely also has many students with a masters of science and who are US citizens who would be competing for the same jobs.

Edited by ProfReader
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2 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

I don't think this is very sound advice.  I agree that rankings aren't everything, but the employment statistics aren't great, which is arguably the most important consideration.  Yes, a masters of science is coveted ("highly" is going too far given that it is not at all uncommon for students to have a MSc and some even have a PhD...the specific field of the masters may matter).  However, Stanford, to name one example, has a much more prestigious science and tech law program that likely also has many students with a masters of science who would be competing for the same jobs.

I wouldn't consider it advice, more so disagreement with one post. But that probably isn't clear, especially since my first post was advice and could be interpreted as endorsing the decision to attend Santa Clara. I still think location is the most important factor in this decision, but I also agree with you that OP  should attend a higher ranked school if he wants to go the US. 

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Just now, Trew said:

I wouldn't consider it advice, more so disagreement with one post. But that probably isn't clear, especially since my first post was advice and could be interpreted as endorsing the decision to attend Santa Clara. I still think location is the most important factor in this decision, but I also agree with you that OP  should attend a higher ranked school if he wants to go the US. 

Yes, I was referring to the posts collectively.  I still disagree.  I don't think that location is the most important factor at all when you are talking about attending a school that doesn't have great employment prospects, especially when coupled with immigration issues.  I think the better decision if that were the only option would be to not attend law school at all.  However, luckily, the OP has admissions to several Canadian law schools that would have much, much better employment prospects.  Although there is a scholarship on the table at Santa Clara, with living expenses, it could come out in the wash.

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Just now, ProfReader said:

Yes, I was referring to the posts collectively.  I still disagree.  I don't think that location is the most important factor at all when you are talking about attending a school that doesn't have great employment prospects, especially when coupled with immigration issues.  I think the better decision if that were the only option would be to not attend law school at all.  However, luckily, the OP has admissions to several Canadian law schools that would have much, much better employment prospects.  Although there is a scholarship on the table at Santa Clara, with living expenses, it could come out in the wash.

I am assuming that OP would do their diligence and resolve the immigration issues before choosing to attend. Granted, the employment prospects are the most important factor in regard to this specific school. Location is the most important factor more generally. OP should not attend a Canadian law school if he is committed to working in the US. Of course, it's possible to go to a Canadian school and work in the US, but OP would be better off waiting a year and re-applying to more competitive US schools. 

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Just now, Trew said:

I am assuming that OP would do their diligence and resolve the immigration issues before choosing to attend. Granted, the employment prospects are the most important factor in regard to this specific school. Location is the most important factor more generally. OP should not attend a Canadian law school if he is committed to working in the US. Of course, it's possible to go to a Canadian school and work in the US, but OP would be better off waiting a year and re-applying to more competitive US schools. 

I'm not an immigration lawyer, but to my knowledge, you can't really resolve them.  Yes, you can get a student visa, but your ability to work after graduation would be constrained by an employer's willingness to sponsor you.  If I were the OP, I would be very concerned that an employer wouldn't be willing to sponsor me in an oversaturated market with other equally qualified candidates. 

I don't agree that the location is the most important factor more generally when we are talking about US schools.  Yes, that is true in Canada, but in the US, it is much more common to just go to the best school that you can get into.  That being said, yes, of course, the OP shouldn't attend a Canadian school if he is committed to working in the US, but he didn't say that.  He said that living in California was enticing, but was seemingly more concerned about his employment prospects.  I was advising on that basis.

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2 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

I'm not an immigration lawyer, but to my knowledge, you can't really resolve them.  Yes, you can get a student visa, but your ability to work after graduation would be constrained by an employer's willingness to sponsor you.  If I were the OP, I would be very concerned that an employer wouldn't be willing to sponsor me in an oversaturated market with other equally qualified candidates. 

 I don't agree that the location is the most important factor more generally when we are talking about US schools.  Yes, that is true in Canada, but in the US, it is much more common to just go to the best school that you can get into.  That being said, yes, of course, the OP shouldn't attend a Canadian school if he is committed to working in the US, but he didn't say that.  He said that living in California was enticing, but was seemingly more concerned about his employment prospects.  I was advising on that basis.

Yeah, you're clearly more informed about this than I am and OP should definitely follow your advice over anything I said

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1 minute ago, Trew said:

Yeah, you're clearly more informed about this than I am and OP should definitely follow your advice over anything I said

I worked at a US law school for a while, so I do have some info.  That being said, I am far from an expert on American law schools, and those in California specifically, so the OP should likely talk to some law students in the US and do some immigration research rather than relying on any of this.

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