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There was a good ask a 3L thread a few years ago, so I thought there might be some interested in another thread like this. @e0813 and I just completed our 1L exams, and are happy to answer any questions about life at UofT Law, academic stuff, etc. I benefitted from reading the experiences of current students when I was deciding where to go last year, and we're both killing time cause of Corona. Feel free to PM us as well. 

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Would you say that the majority of your cohort wants to go into corporate law? I’ve heard u of t can be a bit of a corporate pipeline. 

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Just now, Toby1994 said:

Would you say that the majority of your cohort wants to go into corporate law? I’ve heard u of t can be a bit of a corporate pipeline. 

It's hard to say if it's a majority, but I wouldn't be surprised. According to Ultra Vires (our student newspaper), 48% of 2Ls this year secured a job through the 2L recruit: http://ultravires.ca/2019/12/toronto-summer-2020-2l-recruit-numbers/. Plus there's another 10-20% students that went the New York route. But even within the recruit, not all the OCI firms are corporate law firms. Some are litigation boutiques, some are employment law firms, some are IP-focused, etc. 

I find that a lot of people hope to work at a bay firm for a couple of years, with plans to leave after paying off debt and gaining experience. Of course, this doesn't mean that they actually follow through with this. 

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Do you/most of your classmates have 1L summer jobs? Are they still happening with COVID? Are you happy with your choice to attend U of T vs Osgoode? Do you think U of T afforded you more opportunities than Osgoode would have (jobs, connections, clubs)?

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7 minutes ago, Pls said:

Do you/most of your classmates have 1L summer jobs? Are they still happening with COVID? Are you happy with your choice to attend U of T vs Osgoode? Do you think U of T afforded you more opportunities than Osgoode would have (jobs, connections, clubs)?

There's no official survey, but before COVID, I know a majority of people had some kind of summer job lined up. The faculty hires over 80 students for summer jobs for various clinics, RA positions, and other opportunities. On top of that, I know there's around 10-15 students who got fellowships to work at non-profit organizations, and another 10-20 students who got IHRP fellowships to intern somewhere abroad in human rights focused positions. For example, I had some friends going to the Hague and others working for the UN in Geneva and Thailand. While UV didn't publish the numbers for the Bay St 1L recruit this semester, I think around 20 students got those summer jobs from UofT. There were also a number of job postings on UTLC (our career development portal) and many students were working in jobs that they got through there. Others went back to old jobs, got non-law jobs, and did other things. 1L summer isn't a huge deal, but most people had something lined up. With COVID, some positions were cancelled like the IHRP internships. I think the school is helping these people find new opportunities. The faculty also just launched around 60 3-week RA positions, prioritizing students who either lost a job because of COVID or had nothing lined up. I would say most jobs are just continuing online. 

I'm very happy with my choice. I received around 11k in financial aid bursaries from UofT, plus a couple thousand from OSAP. This brought the cost down. After financial aid is taken into account, Osgoode still would have been cheaper, but I don't know how much cheaper. The discrepancy was worth it to me. I received a scholarship from Osgoode, but its renewal was contingent on staying in the top 20% of the class or something like that, which is a pretty big risk to take in my opinion. 

I can't speak to the opportunities I would have had if I had chosen Osgoode, but I've had a ton to do at UofT. There were lots of clinics, working groups, intramural sports, and clubs to sign up for at the beginning of the year. If anything, there were way too many things I wanted to do and I had to learn how to narrow down my interests. If there was one thing I could change, it would be more mooting opportunities in 1L. We had 2 moots you could try out for in second semester, but you can only do one if you do make it. I talked to someone at Osgoode that had done said they did a couple moots by March. At UofT I think around 60 1L students were signed up for a moot before both were cancelled :( 

With respect to jobs and connections, I found UofT super helpful. I attribute part of getting my own summer job to my alumni mentor that the Career Development Office set me up with. I reached out to many alum for coffee chats and they were very receptive. At the same time, these alum connections are probably there at Osgoode as well. It's hard to definitively prove that my school name had an effect on hiring, but I do think it helped. 

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6 minutes ago, Notnotadog said:

 

There's no official survey, but before COVID, I know a majority of people had some kind of summer job lined up. The faculty hires over 80 students for summer jobs for various clinics, RA positions, and other opportunities. On top of that, I know there's around 10-15 students who got fellowships to work at non-profit organizations, and another 10-20 students who got IHRP fellowships to intern somewhere abroad in human rights focused positions. For example, I had some friends going to the Hague and others working for the UN in Geneva and Thailand. While UV didn't publish the numbers for the Bay St 1L recruit this semester, I think around 20 students got those summer jobs from UofT. There were also a number of job postings on UTLC (our career development portal) and many students were working in jobs that they got through there. Others went back to old jobs, got non-law jobs, and did other things. 1L summer isn't a huge deal, but most people had something lined up. With COVID, some positions were cancelled like the IHRP internships. I think the school is helping these people find new opportunities. The faculty also just launched around 60 3-week RA positions, prioritizing students who either lost a job because of COVID or had nothing lined up. I would say most jobs are just continuing online. 

I'm very happy with my choice. I received around 11k in financial aid bursaries from UofT, plus a couple thousand from OSAP. This brought the cost down. After financial aid is taken into account, Osgoode still would have been cheaper, but I don't know how much cheaper. The discrepancy was worth it to me. I received a scholarship from Osgoode, but its renewal was contingent on staying in the top 20% of the class or something like that, which is a pretty big risk to take in my opinion. 

I can't speak to the opportunities I would have had if I had chosen Osgoode, but I've had a ton to do at UofT. There were lots of clinics, working groups, intramural sports, and clubs to sign up for at the beginning of the year. If anything, there were way too many things I wanted to do and I had to learn how to narrow down my interests. If there was one thing I could change, it would be more mooting opportunities in 1L. We had 2 moots you could try out for in second semester, but you can only do one if you do make it. I talked to someone at Osgoode that had done said they did a couple moots by March. At UofT I think around 60 1L students were signed up for a moot before both were cancelled :( 

With respect to jobs and connections, I found UofT super helpful. I attribute part of getting my own summer job to my alumni mentor that the Career Development Office set me up with. I reached out to many alum for coffee chats and they were very receptive. At the same time, these alum connections are probably there at Osgoode as well. It's hard to definitively prove that my school name had an effect on hiring, but I do think it helped. 

Wow thank you so much for this detailed response! 

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Pls said:

Do you/most of your classmates have 1L summer jobs? Are they still happening with COVID? Are you happy with your choice to attend U of T vs Osgoode? Do you think U of T afforded you more opportunities than Osgoode would have (jobs, connections, clubs)?

From my casual knowledge, before covid, almost all of my classmates had really cool law related jobs lined up for the summer, even if they weren't officially through the 1L recruit. U of T specifically funds tons of opportunities for their 1L students. And in the wake of covid, U of T created over 60 new research assistant positions for students who lost their jobs. I can't speak to how it is at other schools, but as a 1L student at U of T, you should be pretty confident in having something cool to do that summer.

Like @Notnotadog, I also turned down a large scholarship from Osgoode to pick U of T instead and I absolutely have 0 regrets. I can't say for sure whether or not I would have had the same opportunities if I picked Osgoode instead, but I love U of T and the reaction I get from employers and other lawyers when they ask me which school I go to is very noticeable in my opinion. 

I'm not sure if this is a relevant consideration or not for you but it takes off SO much stress to know you still have so many opportunities available to you just by being an average student. I know lots of people who got on Bay Street or other prestigious positions with just average marks. I think this is definitely at least somewhat related to being a U of T student.

Edited by e0813
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Thank you for doing this! 

I was wondering about how evaluations work in 1L courses? Did you mainly have exams? What format are the exams (i.e. mc, short answer?) and how was your experience with exams/evaluations in 1L?

Thank you in advance for your answer! 

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4 minutes ago, plsletmebealawyer said:

Thank you for doing this! 

I was wondering about how evaluations work in 1L courses? Did you mainly have exams? What format are the exams (i.e. mc, short answer?) and how was your experience with exams/evaluations in 1L?

Thank you in advance for your answer! 

Most of the courses are just 100% exams. A couple profs will make 10% participation. Your small group will be a few assignments plus participation marks. The structure of exams vary by professor, but generally you get at least one fact pattern and you're asked to analyze the legal issues in them. Sometimes professors will ask specific questions about certain legal issues, others just give you a fact pattern and go "what claims may X have against Y?". Multiple choice does not happen. Sometimes there's an essay question based on themes in the course. 

100% exams can definitely be stressful, which is why I think it's important to do practice exams beforehand. That's what helped me the most. We do the exams on a computer program called ExamSoft, which I found actually worked quite well. 

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13 hours ago, Pls said:

Do you/most of your classmates have 1L summer jobs? Are they still happening with COVID? Are you happy with your choice to attend U of T vs Osgoode? Do you think U of T afforded you more opportunities than Osgoode would have (jobs, connections, clubs)?

Just for a bit of a different perspective - I’m also just finishing up 1L at UofT. To start - I 100% don’t regret my decision to come here. I didn’t apply to Osgoode, but the people, (most) professors, and community at UofT have far surpassed my expectations (although the admin isn’t without controversy, but I’m sure that’s the same at many law schools). My experiences with extracurriculars and clubs have been excellent, and financial aid was generous enough for tuition to be bearable. Networking is the bane of my existence, but there was definitely an abundance of opportunities for it. And I say all of this as one of the few that has 0 plans to go into corporate law!

However, I’m one of the unlucky few that still hasn’t landed a summer job (with COVID being partially to blame, had a couple interviews cancelled because of it - both non-law related though). I applied to essentially every law school recruit position + anything posted on UTLC, and landed a whopping 0 interviews (and have a couple of friends in the same boat). I’m not at all saying I deserved any interviews, but there can definitely be a downside to attending the top law school - the competition for jobs within it is very real (for reference - my grades were average (not straight Ps but not straight H/HHs) and my resume is also probably average for a UofT law student). However, I am doing some really interesting volunteer work this summer, and will be applying for the new faculty-funded RA positions (fingers crossed!). And this is also not to say that the competition isn’t equally as high at Osgoode, honestly don’t know enough about their recruit process to comment. 

Sorry for hijacking this thread a bit y’all (thank you for making it!) - just wanted to provide a bit of a different view, since I found the “basically everyone who wants a 1L job gets one/the people who don’t have a 1L law job choose to do so” rhetoric from the school to be a bit misleading & also wanted to remind any future 1Ls who see this thread that not getting a 1L bay st/faculty/law job is definitely not the end of the world ❤️ happy to answer any questions over here or PM about my experience as well!

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Thanks for making this thread--some very helpful info already. Couple of questions: 

1. In your own experience, what do most law students opt for in the way of accommodation? How important is it to be within walking distance of the law building? 

2. You may not have an answer to this one, but do you have any sense how UofT would try to replace some of the social/community aspects of school in the event that classes move online in the fall? 

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6 hours ago, subwaysandwich said:

Just for a bit of a different perspective - I’m also just finishing up 1L at UofT. To start - I 100% don’t regret my decision to come here. I didn’t apply to Osgoode, but the people, (most) professors, and community at UofT have far surpassed my expectations (although the admin isn’t without controversy, but I’m sure that’s the same at many law schools). My experiences with extracurriculars and clubs have been excellent, and financial aid was generous enough for tuition to be bearable. Networking is the bane of my existence, but there was definitely an abundance of opportunities for it. And I say all of this as one of the few that has 0 plans to go into corporate law!

However, I’m one of the unlucky few that still hasn’t landed a summer job (with COVID being partially to blame, had a couple interviews cancelled because of it - both non-law related though). I applied to essentially every law school recruit position + anything posted on UTLC, and landed a whopping 0 interviews (and have a couple of friends in the same boat). I’m not at all saying I deserved any interviews, but there can definitely be a downside to attending the top law school - the competition for jobs within it is very real (for reference - my grades were average (not straight Ps but not straight H/HHs) and my resume is also probably average for a UofT law student). However, I am doing some really interesting volunteer work this summer, and will be applying for the new faculty-funded RA positions (fingers crossed!). And this is also not to say that the competition isn’t equally as high at Osgoode, honestly don’t know enough about their recruit process to comment. 

Sorry for hijacking this thread a bit y’all (thank you for making it!) - just wanted to provide a bit of a different view, since I found the “basically everyone who wants a 1L job gets one/the people who don’t have a 1L law job choose to do so” rhetoric from the school to be a bit misleading & also wanted to remind any future 1Ls who see this thread that not getting a 1L bay st/faculty/law job is definitely not the end of the world ❤️ happy to answer any questions over here or PM about my experience as well!

Thanks so much for adding this perspective! Sorry to hear about COVID impacting your interviews. Goodluck with the non-profit work and applying for the RA positions. And please do feel free to answer any of the questions people pose here -I started it with @e0813 since we knew each other IRL and had the idea to start it, but we welcome everyone else to come answer questions as well! Not hijacking at at all. 

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5 hours ago, subwaysandwich said:

I’m not at all saying I deserved any interviews, but there can definitely be a downside to attending the top law school - the competition for jobs within it is very real...

...just wanted to provide a bit of a different view, since I found the “basically everyone who wants a 1L job gets one/the people who don’t have a 1L law job choose to do so” rhetoric from the school to be a bit misleading & also wanted to remind any future 1Ls who see this thread that not getting a 1L bay st/faculty/law job is definitely not the end of the world ❤️ happy to answer any questions over here or PM about my experience as well!

This. Will also hijack, but it's because I feel like different perspectives need to be shared. 

 Also completed 1L at U of T and although I do not regret going here (and would still choose U of T if I had the choice), I found this to be more my experience.  

(1) Competition for ECs. I didn't apply to any U of T-related summer jobs since I had other plans, but I can say that even getting a volunteer position at the legal clinic is so competitive because everyone is just so keen.  

(2) "everyone who wants a 1L job gets one". Yeah, no. I am above average at U of T (for reference, average grades after first semester are H/P/P and my grades are better). I applied to a non-Toronto 1L recruit with the impression that it won't be competitive (from the experiences of other upper year students) and I struck out. I also did not get a ton of in-firms.

(3) Side note: The above also applies to "no one gets an LP". I got an LP on my first LRW assignment (but improved my final mark). And it's not because I didn't try.  

For future 1Ls: I don't feel like it's the end of the world that I did not get any clinical experience in first year, not land a 1L summer job, nor will be doing anything law-related this summer. I still had a successful first year: I have a better sense of what I want to do in the future and have gotten better with dealing with disappoint and not comparing myself to others. Will also answer any questions over PM.  

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1 hour ago, pierremenard said:

Thanks for making this thread--some very helpful info already. Couple of questions: 

1. In your own experience, what do most law students opt for in the way of accommodation? How important is it to be within walking distance of the law building? 

2. You may not have an answer to this one, but do you have any sense how UofT would try to replace some of the social/community aspects of school in the event that classes move online in the fall? 

1. A lot of 1Ls live in Grad House, and others typically live somewhere in the downtown core but it totally varies. There are some condos in the area around Bay/Bloor that some students lived at since they were in walking distance, but they're definitely expensive. The Annex area is a good place to look if you want to cut costs. Personally I commuted from around 25 minutes away and had no issue. It's nice to be near the law building if you'll be spending a lot of time there, especially in 1st year. I think every year someone starts up a housing group sometime in the summer months to find roommates and stuff. Where you look will vary drastically by what your budget is. 

2. No idea. I think some events put on by clubs, like panels, could probably be run over Zoom. The social aspect is incredibly hard to replace. I'm not sure what they'll do. I hope all the law schools are working together to exchange ideas on this. 

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Twenty said:

This. Will also hijack, but it's because I feel like different perspectives need to be shared. 

 Also completed 1L at U of T and although I do not regret going here (and would still choose U of T if I had the choice), I found this to be more my experience.  

(1) Competition for ECs. I didn't apply to any U of T-related summer jobs since I had other plans, but I can say that even getting a volunteer position at the legal clinic is so competitive because everyone is just so keen.  

(2) "everyone who wants a 1L job gets one". Yeah, no. I am above average at U of T (for reference, average grades after first semester are H/P/P and my grades are better). I applied to a non-Toronto 1L recruit with the impression that it won't be competitive (from the experiences of other upper year students) and I struck out. I also did not get a ton of in-firms.

(3) Side note: The above also applies to "no one gets an LP". I got an LP on my first LRW assignment (but improved my final mark). And it's not because I didn't try.  

For future 1Ls: I don't feel like it's the end of the world that I did not get any clinical experience in first year, not land a 1L summer job, nor will be doing anything law-related this summer. I still had a successful first year: I have a better sense of what I want to do in the future and have gotten better with dealing with disappoint and not comparing myself to others. Will also answer any questions over PM.  

Seconding the competition for ECs. I know people who applied for several things during that first week where all the applications were due and got 0 in the end. The lottery spots are super frustrating, and there is a ton of pressure to get involved with everything right away.

The faculty tells you not to worry a lot during the first couple of weeks, then I found that a couple weeks after that, it's just expected that you will have picked up on how things work. The faculty sessions on things like cover letters, recruits, etc are also excellent for making you feel bad about yourself even if you know you have no interest in a recruit. The examples given in the cover letter session about being involved in some crazy investigation really made me feel like I was screwed for all cover letters cause I only had retail experience.

Edited by Notnotadog
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how many courses are you required to take in 1L? And how many hours on average do you find yourself spending a week on all school related matters (class and outside class studying)

 

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Just now, lucus3245 said:

how many courses are you required to take in 1L? And how many hours on average do you find yourself spending a week on all school related matters (class and outside class studying)

 

In 1L you take 4 courses at a time. Each semester, you take 2 big sections (of Contracts, Torts, Crim, Con Law, or Property), 1 small group (which is a year long course, and is one of the 5 substantive courses I just mentioned), and then Legal Research and Writing in the fall, Legal Process in the winter. 

Each semester there was roughly 15 hours of class time with substantive courses happening 3x a week and small group 2x a week. Legal Research and Writing was once a week, Legal Process was 2x a week. I'd say I studied (AKA, read and briefed) about an hour per substantive class (so 3 hours a week per class) and 2 hours for small group. Some weeks it was less time, some weeks it was more just depending on the reading. For example, Con Law for me had a lot of readings, so I probably spent more than an hour per class but it's hard to calculate. In second semester I dicked around a lot more and skimmed readings more than I did in first semester, so less than that.

I didn't "study" in the sense that I was reviewing past material until it was time to start outlining or prepping for exams. Extracurricular stuff and job applications also added on to just class time. 

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Hi, thanks for doing this! With all the rumours about 1L going at least partially online, I wanted to ask: how well did UofT law adapt to going online? Do you think the incoming class will be inherently disadvantaged for starting online (if this is the case) or was the experience somewhat comparable to in-person lectures? 

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2 minutes ago, Avocadotoast said:

Hi, thanks for doing this! With all the rumours about 1L going at least partially online, I wanted to ask: how well did UofT law adapt to going online? Do you think the incoming class will be inherently disadvantaged for starting online (if this is the case) or was the experience somewhat comparable to in-person lectures? 

I think the professors did their best and students still got to ask questions and stuff. It was still pretty awkward at times but it got better as time went on. The biggest disadvantage I think is actually focusing yourself. I had trouble avoiding distractions because it simply isn't as engaging to be listening to a lecture over zoom. The breakout Zoom rooms were also not the greatest. The content was the same but your experience in online lectures, if that's the case, will largely depend on how focused you can be over Zoom. At the same time, we already knew the professors and knew each other when we went online so people felt comfortable asking questions and stuff. If you've never met the prof or other people in the class I imagine it would be more intimidating. 

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On 4/30/2020 at 11:50 AM, Toby1994 said:

Would you say that the majority of your cohort wants to go into corporate law? I’ve heard u of t can be a bit of a corporate pipeline. 

hey! also just finished 1L, and the corporate law pipeline was my main fear when i chose UofT as someone who was and remains very set on not doing corporate law. this is super anecdotal, but i will say that it does feel like the vast majority of people here are going the corporate / bay st route. in my small group of ~20, there are maybe four people with other aspirations. i didn't even entertain the idea of participating in the 1L recruit (corporate, IP, and mgmt-side L&E law positions), and it was hard not to feel like i was doing something "wrong" when everyone else seemed to be. much of the career office's advice in our class-wide seminars has been geared toward corporate law applications.  

at the same time, i don't regret choosing UofT at all. there are a ton of extracurricular opportunities (clinics, journals, RA projects, etc.) for people interested in "social justice" / "public interest" (e.g. refugee, poverty, criminal, union-side L&E, etc. law). the students interested in corporate law are still very engaged with the conversations in those areas of law, which is a great academic/intellectual environment to be in. the career office and upper years who are also pursuing this career path are extremely supportive and helpful in providing tailored advice.  

the faculty also offers a lot of opportunities to secure funding for social justice / public interest positions (both domestic and international) that would otherwise be unpaid. idk if this is just me, but it seems like because everyone is so focused on corporate law and there aren't as many students vying for those things, some are easier to get. being in the minority just means having to be a little more proactive in seeking out resources and opportunities, but they're there.  

i will second what @Notnotadog said -- the corporate / bay st obsession might be the product of some people's short term goals. especially given our tuition, a lot of people feel super pressured to get those positions and pay off their debt as quickly as they can. but i would say after this year, i was kinda relieved to be proven wrong about the corporate law vibe of the student population. it's not as overwhelming as you might assume. 

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