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Windsor Stigma?

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Posted (edited)

Is there a "negative" stigma persistent, among students and employers?

Edited by theboy

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While at the Meet & Greet and subsequent conversations with alumni who have reached out to me after accepting my offer, I have come to understand that the only people who truly recognize this stigma are 1. applicants and 0Ls, 2. non-law folk, 3. people in this forum. 

I'm under the strong belief, as many others are, that a Canadian law school is a Canadian law school (with special regards to Ontario). This stigma seems to have arisen from nature of having a truly holistic admissions process, a weak focus (relative to other Ontario schools) on BigLaw placements, youth, and location. However, a quick search on LinkedIn (or a more complicated and lengthy search on firm pages) will show you that Windsor grads (yes even dual students) have ended up in all the places that students from more 'prestigious' schools have ended up. 

From what I understand, people in law school and actual lawyers don't typically have such strong opinions on the status of Canadian schools aside from small banter. But of course, I am biased as I have always viewed Windsor as my top choice and will be attending this fall. 

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16 hours ago, theboy said:

Is there a "negative" stigma persistent, among students and employers?

Depends on who you ask. I would agree with @luckycommander about the three groups he pointed out often having a negative association with Windsor Law. Whatever school you go to in Canada it will most likely give you a good legal education and I think people in the legal field are aware of that. However, I wouldn't go as far to say that there are no negative associations with the program. Based on Windsor law's admissions requirements, focus and location (i.e. distance from large legal markets and therefore affiliation from BigLaw firms) IMO warrants consideration when evaluating schools, especially say from recruiters. That is not to say that amazing lawyers can't come out of Windsor, but I think recruiters would assign a lesser probability that high-performing students are going to come from Windsor relative to schools such as UoT, Osgoode, Queens, Western etc. 

 

 

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23 hours ago, theboy said:

Is there a "negative" stigma persistent, among students and employers?

You would be doing a great disservice to yourself if you thought there was really any stigma on any law school in Canada. Maybe if you were trying to obtain a foregin law degree would a stigma occur, but not a Canadian JD. I currently work as a legal assistant and will be attending bora laskin facutly of law this fall and I can tell you, not one person at the court house gives a damn where you got your law degree in Canada. All they care about is your work ethic, your intelligence, and your ability to produce results. 

There are PLENTLY of Baystreet lawyers who went to Windsor. Big firms do not really care where you got your degree from in Canada, they care about your marks. Keep your marks high, get involved with law school clubs, apply for summer law jobs and you will get the job you desire.

Most people on this forum do not yet work in law and listen to these silly notions that get thrown around on the forum. It's an accomplishment to get into ANY law school in Canada. Yes, even Windsor isn't easy to get into, they have 2500 applicants and only around 180 spots. How do people actually think that getting into Windsor is easy?

To be frank, it's nonsense. As I said again, keep your grades high, network, join clubs and keep your face out there. You'll do just fine.  Coming from a current Criminal Defence Legal Assistant, and soon to be 1L. 

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Posted (edited)

So, here's my take.

Is there stigma? Sure. 

Is it enough to prevent you from working wherever you want and doing whatever you want to do in the profession? No.

In casual conversations with other articling students, I can tell you that there's definitely a sense that certain schools are more "prestigious" (read: difficult to get into) than others. 

And, honestly, to the extent that the name of your school suggests you had fairly high admission statistics, you may in some instances, benefit from some small, initial "assumption of competency" that another student might not. It's a thing. People from impressive sounding schools impress people who like impressive things. This is a lot of us.

But this bonus - this privilege, whatever it is, is miniscule. The name of your school will not give you a meaningful advantage in actual practice, and is completely none-existent in a courtroom. Honestly, whatever privilege or stigma you have or don't have will quickly be earned or lost the minute you open your mouth. That's why seasoned lawyers can sour on UofT grads for example, while warming to  kids coming out of the Windy city (EDIT: I know Windsor is NOT the Windy city). I've heard a few lawyers express these sentiments.

Look, the "stigma" of going to a school like Windsor boils down to not having bragging rights over students who went to other universities in the province. There's a sense that students who go to Windsor do so because they didn't get into other schools. This isn't untrue I find. So, the UofT student gets to say to themselves  "I could have attended your school if I wanted to, but you're there because you couldn't get into mine."  It's an ego trip. And they earned it. And it's one the average Windsor student will probably have to do without. But it actually doesn't matter in the long run.


I think the real question you want answered is whether this "stigma", however small, has any negative impact on the prospects of the average Windsor student. The answer is no. As someone who beat out students from every other law school for the position I currently have, I can tell you that firms hire the student, not the name of the school on the resume. Lawyers respect the student, not the name of the school on the resume. And clients depend on the lawyer, not the school on their resume.

The profession in general understands that the name of your law school is not a useful metric for predicting anything beyond your admission stats. But if you ever meet someone in real life that doesn't get this ... run. They've got self-esteem issues and are going to try to boost their ego at your expense.

Edited by TheAEGIS
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There's currently a recent Windsor grad who just got an SCC clerkship. Should give you an indication that even the most prestigious of legal positions hire the student, not the school. In addition, if more Windsor grads obtain more clerkships, it may seek to lessen the arbitrary "stigma" that is attached to Windsor because it's not UofT or Osgoode.

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Posted (edited)

I'm merely an articling student, but I used to worry about prestige to some extent. I can tell you right now that precisely no one I've met, at any level, during my articles has shown evidence of caring a single iota about the law school that another student or lawyer attended. I did not go to Windsor myself, but I would in no way carry any assumption about the competency of a Windsor grad if I were to meet one.

Note that, in my view, this is different than uncertainty surrounding the quality of students from a new school (for example Ryerson, or Lakehead/TRU prior to having produced any graduates). 

Edited by spicyfoodftw
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Posted (edited)

I think "stigma" is a strong word, but let's not kid ourselves and pretend that all law schools are equal in the eyes of employers, or even at all. OP, if your goal is Bay Street or the like, then yes, going to Windsor will put you at a disadvantage. That is just the objective truth if you look at the hiring numbers on ultra vires. Moreover, not only do employers take far fewer students from Windsor as compared to say U of T or Osgoode, but just as a function of location, you're at a disadvantage in terms of networking. 

Is there a general stigma that all Windsor students are morons and couldn't get in anywhere else? I'd venture probably not. Most of us (students and employers alike) are not all assholes or that pretentious. Are you going to be disqualified from any sort of position solely because you go to Windsor? Again, probably not. But if the highly coveted jobs are what you're after, then do you have to be one of the all stars of your year to stand a good chance against a slightly above average student at U of T? I'd think so. 

Edited by RollMaster
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Windsor has an exceptional litigation program. Some of the strongest litigators I have witnessed in the past year have gone to Windsor. I do not know if it is something in their water, but I have been very impressed.

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14 hours ago, RollMaster said:

I think "stigma" is a strong word, but let's not kid ourselves and pretend that all law schools are equal in the eyes of employers, or even at all. OP, if your goal is Bay Street or the like, then yes, going to Windsor will put you at a disadvantage. That is just the objective truth if you look at the hiring numbers on ultra vires. Moreover, not only do employers take far fewer students from Windsor as compared to say U of T or Osgoode, but just as a function of location, you're at a disadvantage in terms of networking. 

Is there a general stigma that all Windsor students are morons and couldn't get in anywhere else? I'd venture probably not. Most of us (students and employers alike) are not all assholes or that pretentious. Are you going to be disqualified from any sort of position solely because you go to Windsor? Again, probably not. But if the highly coveted jobs are what you're after, then do you have to be one of the all stars of your year to stand a good chance against a slightly above average student at U of T? I'd think so. 

Where are you getting your information from? That makes no sense that an employer wouldn't take a Windsor grad who was a straight A student, over a U of T student who had lower grades. How does that possibly make sense? 

If you see more UofT and other law school graduates from western and queens, etc. on Bay street, that has nothing to do with them being the preferred candidates, it could be that MORE of those students are applying to big law because their law school culture is tailored to that kind of work.

Windsor is more of a social justice school, so students who typically go there wouldn't, I assume, have big law objectives, hence LESS Windsor students applying for those kinds of jobs. You must have written the LSAT and learned about flawed assumptions. I strongly urge you to use that knowledge you learnt and apply it to this conversation. 

And AGAIN, You do not miss networking opportunities, Toronto law firms hold their interviews towards the end of April and May and summer positions for students typically start at the end of May/ beginning of June. How do I know this? Because AGAIN, I actually work in the field and speak to lawyers everyday. So no, your location doesn't stop you from going to the Toronto interviews which are held AFTER law exams.

The only stigma that exists is amongst these 0L's on this forum who continue to spread this idea of "stigma" that does not exists amongst actual lawyers. 

If you have a foreign degree, that is well, a whole different ball game. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, lawstudenthopeful88 said:

Where are you getting your information from? That makes no sense that an employer wouldn't take a Windsor grad who was a straight A student, over a U of T student who had lower grades. How does that possibly make sense? 

If you see more UofT and other law school graduates from western and queens, etc. on Bay street, that has nothing to do with them being the preferred candidates, it could be that MORE of those students are applying to big law because their law school culture is tailored to that kind of work.

Windsor is more of a social justice school, so students who typically go there wouldn't, I assume, have big law objectives, hence LESS Windsor students applying for those kinds of jobs. You must have written the LSAT and learned about flawed assumptions. I strongly urge you to use that knowledge you learnt and apply it to this conversation. 

And AGAIN, You do not miss networking opportunities, Toronto law firms hold their interviews towards the end of April and May and summer positions for students typically start at the end of May/ beginning of June. How do I know this? Because AGAIN, I actually work in the field and speak to lawyers everyday. So no, your location doesn't stop you from going to the Toronto interviews which are held AFTER law exams.

The only stigma that exists is amongst these 0L's on this forum who continue to spread this idea of "stigma" that does not exists amongst actual lawyers. 

If you have a foreign degree, that is well, a whole different ball game. 

Tons of networking events and firm tours take place over the school year, but okay. 

Straight A student at Windsor I agree, that's why I clearly said you have to be at the top of your class lol. 

Edit - Toronto firms hold interviews in April and May? Who? Since when? 1L recruit happens in February* of 1L and 2L recruit happens in October of 2L. Aside from formal recruits, not sure what firms would interview in May for an early-May (May 6 this year for all firms, legal aid clinics, firms in other cities such as Kitchener and London) start date. Summer jobs don't start in June, at least not anywhere that anybody other than you has heard about... where are YOU getting your information from?

Edited by RollMaster
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I have not read the posts above but I will say this. At Miller Thompson and Gowling WLG, some of the top recruits that are very sought after are from Windsor. Even when those graduates go to smaller law firms they are still being asked to move. I know this for a fact. This stigma is non-existent in the real world. I was not even considering Windsor until I actually worked in a law firm and I saw where the talent was really coming from. If I don't get into Osgoode, I without a doubt would choose Windsor. 

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19 hours ago, RollMaster said:

I think "stigma" is a strong word, but let's not kid ourselves and pretend that all law schools are equal in the eyes of employers, or even at all. OP, if your goal is Bay Street or the like, then yes, going to Windsor will put you at a disadvantage. That is just the objective truth if you look at the hiring numbers on ultra vires. Moreover, not only do employers take far fewer students from Windsor as compared to say U of T or Osgoode, but just as a function of location, you're at a disadvantage in terms of networking. 

Is there a general stigma that all Windsor students are morons and couldn't get in anywhere else? I'd venture probably not. Most of us (students and employers alike) are not all assholes or that pretentious. Are you going to be disqualified from any sort of position solely because you go to Windsor? Again, probably not. But if the highly coveted jobs are what you're after, then do you have to be one of the all stars of your year to stand a good chance against a slightly above average student at U of T? I'd think so. 

Are you saying that a Windsor student would need to be an “all star” in school, all else being equal, to be on the same playing field as an okay U of T student? I’m having trouble interpreting “slightly above average.” 

In your opinion, does this mean that the average U of T student would have equal chances to a “slightly above average” Windsor student?

I’m seriously wondering as a 0L highly considering Windsor Law. 

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23 hours ago, RollMaster said:

But if the highly coveted jobs are what you're after, then do you have to be one of the all stars of your year to stand a good chance against a slightly above average student at U of T? I'd think so. 

You can’t be serious with this... 

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I'm a Windsor grad currently doing my articles on Bay St. I can't think of any instance where I was treated differently than any other student in my articling cohort by a lawyer because of where I went to law school. Even within the student cohort, nobody cares where anybody else went to school - what really matters is whether you can do good work. The fact that a student went to U of T doesn't inherently mean they can do anything better than a Windsor student can, it really just means that they probably had a better undergrad GPA/LSAT and paid more for tuition and rent through law school (I miss only having to pay $750/month for a bigger apartment in Windsor than I currently have in Toronto at triple the price). With some exceptions, you'll find Windsor grads at just about every mid-size (or larger) firm, and scores of them in government and quasi-government (we consistently do very well at the OSC, for example). 

Where the stigma really festers is within 0Ls and current law students who (a) need external validation, (b) seek perceived status above all else, (c) have no idea what the practice of law actually entails. I've encountered students at receptions and during recruitment who have been way more snooty about law schools than any of the lawyers I've worked with.

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Posted (edited)

Who cares what people think. If you're passionate about law school and doing well in school, you will be fine. Getting into a Canadian law school is a great accomplishment regardless of where you go. I know people that went to law school abroad because they couldn't be accepted in Canada, and they would have wished to have gone to any Canadian law school. Honestly, don't care about what people think and just do you. If you do well in school, network well, and are personable I am certain employers will be more than willing to higher any lawyer from Windsor or any law school. 

Edited by lawstudentmikescott
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Currently on Bay Street, can confirm that nobody on our hiring team looks at Windsor any differently. In fact, we've been trying to hire more Windsor grads over the past three~ years.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Aschenbach said:

Unless they paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind.

[20]      For the foregoing reasons, the Respondent submits that the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

Order Sought

[21]      The Respondent requests that the application of them bitches be dismissed, and that this honourable Court pay them no mind. 

All of which is respectfully submitted. 

Taylor P. Swift
Swift Fake Legal Strategies LLP
181 University Ave, Suite 12000
Toronto, ON  M5H 3M7
Solicitor for the Respondent

Edited by realpseudonym
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