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Aryaa

What has been your experience with Lakehead?

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I’m really interested in this university and I couldn’t find any reviews left by students online about how lakehead was like?

How’s the program? Is it tough? Do you like it? Hate it? And if you had to choose again would you choose Lakehead?

Appreciate all responses!

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Hey Aryaa!


Thank you for asking this. You’re right, there isn’t a lot of chat on this forum about student experiences at Bora Laskin. I hope that doesn’t give you any negative impression of the BL community, because our small size is a huge strength in terms of our internal support network! I will try to share as much as I can with you here about my time so far at Lakehead. 

 

I love it at this school, and I was worried about liking the program before accepting my offer. The school itself and the class sizes are small, which I have found to translate to more attention on you and your needs as a student. Another upside is that the student perspective is actually influential to the directors. This allows us to shape our current experience and ask for improvements for future 1Ls! 

There are about 65 students in 1L, split into two sections of ~32, and we have all become very close. The two groups of 32 merge in 2L. This closeness is thanks to events hosted by the school early in 1L, and students in 2L & 3L passing on an attitude centred around support and communication. I have a mentor in 3L, but I am comfortable approaching any upper year or alumni for advice! This may be the case at other law schools as well, but it is at least my experience here. Indeed law school is competitive once you are here, but there is a strong sense of being on a team at BL.

I am an access student, and BL has been highly accommodating to my needs.

There are also a lot of volunteer opportunities and clubs open for students. This 1L class has created two new clubs and has hosted talks/events at the school! There is almost always free pizza or lunch somewhere in the school. Also there is free coffee, tea and treats in the student lounge year round! (Which is a good casual setting to mingle with upper years)
 

The classes and professors are great so far as well. 1L consists of x4 year long courses and x2 half year courses per semester on fundamental areas of law (constitutional, criminal, property, etc). 2L will be much harder than 1L from what I have heard, due to the workload volume. 3L is supposed to be slightly more easygoing due to the one semester placement in a law firm anywhere in Ontario. If you choose to be placed at a law firm in Thunder Bay, often times that translates into a job after graduation! 

Your profs will know your name by October because of the small class size. The ones I have had are all approachable, kind, and keen to help. The size also makes it easier to raise your hand in class to engage with the material. They will even bring their dogs by the school for a morale boost!

If you have any issues, the Director of Student Services at the school is an amazing person. I met her at a law school info convention in Toronto before applying, and she is a total cheerleader for all BL students. 

I have found that the IPC factor has also turned out to be a significant help in crafting legal writing & practical skills. Oral advocacy has been the largest component, with 1L students doing a mock bail & sentencing hearing, writing & presenting a factum, and drafting numerous faux memos, contracts & opinion letters. This helps break down your grade - so far only one half-course has a 100% exam. These assignments continue into 2L & 3L. For example, in 2L there is a mandatory year long Civil Practice course which has each student do a mock trial from start to finish. 


Mooting and the Legal Clinic are popular. This new school is pumping out good litigators - we just won the Arnup Cup for a 2nd year in a row! My plan is to hopefully Moot in 2L, and in 3L do half a year of Legal Clinic before I go to my placement. If you choose to do Clinic in 2L, you have to do it for a full year. 

The classes are a lot of work and it is important to keep up. As with any law school, expect to read for 2hrs minimum every day. No complaints about the content or teaching style so far! 

My only serious complaints would be about Thunder Bay. I have some gripes about the weather! (I am from Toronto) The wind off of Lake Superior is no joke. December & January it snowed a ton. Now in February it doesn’t snow anymore, but it is a dry/frigid cold. March and April are unfortunately supposed to be messy. However you will get a locker at the school to put your winter jacket & boots for class.
That being said, the City does a great job with speedy snow removal. 
The bus system is reliable and far reaching, so getting groceries isn’t a problem. However you will need a car (or a friend with a car) to enjoy the parks and conservatories just outside the city.


There are a lot of skating rinks in the city, and a local ski hill (Loch Lomond) that offers $15 night skiing! 
Sleeping Giant Brewery is a fun place as well - check them out on Instagram! 

The neighbourhood around the law school is lively. Red River Road and the Historic District have a lot of shops/bakeries/bars to enjoy! Thunder Bay has improved drastically over the last 10 years, but there are still some areas that need help.
Bundle up and find a room or house to rent near the Law School!

 

Feel free to ask any specific questions if I didn’t touch on something you would like to know. I have grown so much since the start of my studies, and I would certainly choose Bora Laskin again!

Edited by tillandsia
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Hii @tillandsia,

Hope @Aryaa doesn't mind me hijacking their post, but I have a question that probably doesn't need its own thread:

You mentioned that some folks are able to land a job at the firm where they do their 3L placement. I am curious whether you could give sort of a general description of how many and what type of firms in town are able to potentially offer that sort of pathway. I'm thinking of Thunder Bay very specifically, and not other Northern cities.

The reason I'm being so specific is that, for family reasons I won't bore you with, wherever I go for law school, I'm hoping to stay put after. As in, right in the city, hopefully not even moving houses. The school's website talks a lot about preparing you for northern or smaller communities in general, but because of the above, I'm much more interested in getting a specific lay of the land for the opportunities that may* exist in Thunder Bay.

Basically, I know I like Thunder Bay, and I know I'll like the school, but if I have to move to Timmins to find a job at the end of 3L, that's not going to go over too well with my other half. ;) So I'd just really love to get a sense of how plentiful and how varied these potential workplaces are.

Thank you!

-GM

* Obviously I know that past experiences may not predict future results, and that firms that could hire an associate last year may not in 2023, etc., etc. I just want to have a general idea of what kinds of things are typically available, and in what sort of of typical number.

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Recent graduate here:

most firms in town participate in the placement experience, but the availability of jobs after really depends on their own situation at the time. The firms range pretty much every type of law, some are niche boutique firms such as criminal, family, labour, but there are some "larger" firms that practice almost every type of law, so those would be good for trying everything and seeing what you like. The firms here are not like Toronto where they are always hiring new associates. It really can vary year to year. that said, most of my classmates who wanted to stay in Thunder Bay were able to after and landed an associate position, just not all were at the same place they did their placement at. 

 

Your best bet to ensure you get a job after is to try to land summer jobs at firms throughout, networking is vitally important for small town practice, so try to get your name out there if possible. 

 

In terms of the school, I cannot speak highly enough of it. I graduated and found an associate position back in my home town, and I felt like learning the practical side of law has definitely given me a leg up on competition for job. The school atmosphere was probably the most fun I have ever had in school and the class size being so small really makes you very close (sometimes it can be a bit highschool vibes though). The upside of the school is there are very little commuters, which means everyone (mostly) is new to the city and looking for friends, so thats helpful.

 

In terms of was it tough... I mean yes and no. First semester first year is going to be awful, its a whole new way of approaching school. 2L can be very stressful due to mock trials that all 2L's do, but by 3rd year you're just waiting to be done. I can tell you that at no point did I ever do schoolwork past 5pm at night and only usually put in 3-5 hours on weekends. I had a very full and active social life, and found it not too challenging to keep up with everything. I also did decently well in school. The professors are very approachable, and willing to help however they can. they will also all know you by name since the school is so small, so you won't be able to hide from them (as i did in my large undergrad lecture halls in a bigger city)

The nightlife is pretty good as well, and the summer's are truly the best in Thunder Bay and something I miss dearly. it stays light out till almost 11pm, and the weather is warm without the humidity. the hiking is unlike anywhere else in Ontario. 

if you do choose Lakehead, know you have a whole support system of current students and alumni who are always willing to help should you need it! I doubt you will regret your decision.

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