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kunaRT

UOttawa vs. Western

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Hi everyone, 

Stuck between Western and Ottawa and would love some input based on what I'm looking for. 

With Western, I luckily got to visit the school and LOVED it. Everyone was so welcoming and really changed my mind about the school. Liked how it was a small class size and how it's closer to Toronto. I was planning on going here until I finally received an answer from Ottawa today. I like the idea of Ottawa because of how diverse their course selection is and their government connections. I'm hoping to explore either criminal or health law, both of which I've heard great things about with Ottawa. However, I've heard that Western is a bit more well connected if I'm hoping to stay close to home and practice in Toronto once I finish. I've worked for government and loved it, so I think this would be a great option for me or working with the public somehow. Worked in corporate law and hated it, which I know Western is big on so I worry I may not be able to explore other option/streams as much. Ottawa's larger class size, distance and hearing about their poor administration also worries me. I didn't get a chance to visit Ottawa so it's hard to compare the culture and atmosphere of Western to them. 

Ultimately, I want to be able to enjoy my student experience while also being able to effectively explore my options in law and have good chances at later coming back to Toronto to practice as well. Also, I'm definitely open to other streams outside criminal and health law, but as of now I'm super passionate about those. 

PLEASE HELP :(

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Exploring your interests

  • In 1L, variety in terms of course offerings doesn't really matter. You'll generally be taking the same foundational course whether you're at Ottawa or Western. However, another thing to maybe consider is that certain schools have better professors in certain areas. In 1L, what would definitely matter in relation to exploring your interests are the extracurriculars being offered (clinics, clubs, etc). Look into what both schools have to offer. 
  • After 1L is when variety in course offerings really matter in terms of exploring your interests. I would say that, on this point, Ottawa is the better choice. Western is a more conservative, pro-business school. There is corporate law and then there is everything else. This isn't just my opinion as Western has made a concerted effort to bill itself as the premier business law school in Canada:
    Quote

    ("...the School adopted as its goal to be the pre-eminent law school in Canada focussing on business law in the global environment. This remains the School’s ambition."(From Western Law’s Strategic Plan).

    Source: https://law.uwo.ca/future_students/business_law/

Social life/environment

  • Western: more tight-knit, conservative, preppy "bro" vibe, less diverse student body (may be conjecture though)
  • Ottawa: less tight-knit, liberal, social justice/progressive vibe, more diverse student body
  • These are just my observations so take it for what you want

Employment prospects

  • Broadly speaking, Western will generally be better for job prospects in Toronto, if Toronto means Bay Street. Your grades, resume, personality, connections, etc are ultimately what really matter in terms of your job prospects. However, I would still give Western the edge here.

Location

  • Unless you have existing connections to London or like living in a college town, Ottawa is the clear winner here. More things to do, more things going on and, without a doubt, advantages coming from being the seat of the federal government. Ottawa is also close to Montreal so you'll have that avenue open if you want to visit for fun or work. 

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