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Richwagy

Foreign Failure Story?

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Knew the title would get your attention!

I hoping the title doesn't hold true, but I have absolutely lurked through these forums while doing my research. I understand the foreign degree stigma, I understand that most schools are more expensive as well. I understand the NCA process and have reached out to them before making a decision. I'm 29 years old, without an undergraduate degree. I chose a different route after high school, becoming a professional in a sports field, without giving away too much personal information. I am faced with two options, 4 year BA + 3 year JD or 3 year LLB + 1 year LLMCL at Osgoode (hopefully). The NCA has confirmed the school I am planning to attend will be recognized, and I will be able meet their requirements with a LLMCL upon return. I like the Osgoode route because I think it not only allows for a chance at networking, but it also shows Canadian firms I have been taught these subjects in Canadian law.

I have gone as far as contacting foreign grads who now practice in Canada, some being partners at firms. I am willing to article for free once I return, but of course like anyone, I'd like to be paid! I am willing to both article and accept a job anywhere in Canada. Now understanding the consequences, the grind I will be on, have I missed anything and is my decision to go to the UK a piss poor one? I'm not looking to come back to piles of articling options and job offers, but I am willing to work my tail off in an effort to obtain employment. I feel like I'm under a time crunch and yes, I am trying to make the best decision while keeping that in mind. 

For reference, the school I am considering has a yearly tuition of $19032.00 CAD and a International scholarship of $2193. CAD (converted from euros) every year. My living costs have the potential to be cheaper as I may 'slum' it for the three years. 

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Something that is missing here is your career goals. Why law? Being a partner in a small firm in rural Ontario looks very different than being a partner at a Bay Street firm. You will close quite a few doors with the foreign law degree, so you need to know what that looks like. Simply being "employed" should not be the end goal here. I know many UK law graduates employed right now as legal assistants and administrative assistants. There are Canadian law school graduates struggling to find jobs, so you can imagine what the situation will look like to a UK graduate who has little to no connections in the legal market. 

I can assure you that everyone knows the difference between the JD and Canadian Common Law LLM at Osgoode, U of T, UBC, etc. You can get rid of some or all of the NCAs by doing the expensive LLM program but it will not increase your job prospects. Employers know why  you are doing it. The Common Law LLM program accepts everyone with money in their pocket and a pulse. They are making money off naive and desperate students, in my opinion. 

Look, whatever time and money you think you are saving, is a huge miscalculation now on your part. I'm a K-JD that did the 4 year degree and straight to law school path, and I am younger than many foreign trained law grads I meet who are struggling to enter the legal market. It can take you a very long time to find good employment, maybe even years. Is this a risk you want to take?

https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/resources/legal-education/lso-to-mandate-pay-for-articling-students/275700

The Law Society of Ontario decided on Monday to alter the training process for young lawyers, approving a proposal to mandate pay for articling students and audit the firms where they work beginning May 1, 2021.

I think this may actually make finding articles more difficult in the near future if employers do not want to bother with paying articling students and have their firms audited by the LSO. Because at the moment, we do have many articling employers not paying their students or offering very low stipends. 

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NCA here. Look at accelerated degrees for undergrad in Canada, apply as a mature student. Canada first. 

You will not want to "article for free" while racking up crippling student loan interest. 

All the convenience you have on the front end is countered by more hardship on the back end. 

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100% Agree. I know three NCA students. One of them could have gotten into a Canadian school but went abroad for personal reasons; they are incredibly smart and doing well now, but it took them nearly 3 years to find an articling position and that position wasn't ideal. The second had a parent who owned a firm. The third never got anywhere near practicing.

If you have some sort of connection to employment, then sure, maybe it's worth it. If you don't, I think that even in the best case scenarios, you're probably creating more problems than you're solving. 

Edited by spicyfoodftw

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All the foreign grads I know have gotten jobs merely through connections (family friends), and even then, the jobs weren't that great and very low-paying. 

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Thank you everyone for your replies, I do appreciate it.

@Deadpool, thank you for taking the time to address everything in my post, your perspective is appreciated. I'm sorry if I made it seem as though the decision to study law was unfounded or made on a whim. It's something I've considered for the last 5-6 years, but was too hesitant to make a jump (somewhat regretting that now, obviously). Practicing law is a desire of mine, from the little experience I have with the subject. I'm passionate about helping people, and to be honest, big law isn't a driving force for me. When I mentioned going anywhere, it was while understanding it may be required to get my foot in the door, which I had accepted and was okay with. I also certainly wasn't trying to pull the wool over any future employer's eyes by taking the LLM, apologize if it seemed that way, it was strictly just an option because from my understanding, it allows you access to the OCI process. Of course, the subjects taught in the LLM are Canadian law focused, and I thought that would be beneficial as well, along with meeting the NCA requirements. 

I appreciate the detailed response, and it'll certainly help in my decision making 

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Good luck! Only you can make the decision that is right for you. I would still say that I'd avoid imposing any kind of deadline on yourself due to age as a reason to not go the Canadian route. Plenty of people (including people who were in my class) started law school at ages significantly older than 29, and even older than 40.  

As an aside, if you do decide to go the Canadian route, I think your background as a high-level athlete would be quite appealing to Canadian law schools. As far as softs go, that seems to be one that is generally considered "strong".

Edited by spicyfoodftw

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Thanks again everyone.

I’ve decided to complete a Canada BA first, working throughout the summers to complete the degree as soon as possible. I think taking the foreign route will save me a maximum of one year of education time but that isn’t counting the extra time it could take to gain articles and employment afterwards. If I don’t complete a JD until I’m 33-34, that isn’t the end of the world. 

Edited by Richwagy
Misspelling
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You'll also be in a muuuuch better spot with a Canadian JD. I think you've made a good choice. You've got this!

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Can OP not just take the LSAT and apply as a mature student?

I know one close family friend who got into osgoode as a mature student with a 175 without attending undergrad (however this was 10ish years ago) 

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1 hour ago, Lawstudent97 said:

Can OP not just take the LSAT and apply as a mature student?

I know one close family friend who got into osgoode as a mature student with a 175 without attending undergrad (however this was 10ish years ago) 

OP according to osgoode’s website you can apply without an undergrad if you are 26 and have 5 years of non-academic experience.

 Being an athlete might count. I would call the admissions office to inquire if I were you

Best of luck :)

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**While I am a Canadian law school grad articling in Canada, I have knowledge of the following**

If you are interested in corporate law, it may be very worth it for you to go to a good UK law school, then apply for UK training contracts (articling equivalent), work there for a few years, and then come to Canada. If you have a 2:1 in law, particularly with your professional sports background, you will likely have a high chance of landing a training contract at a recognized corporate/commercial firm. 

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