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Scrantonicity

Ottawa V. Queen's

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Would be really grateful for any advice, particularly from folks who have direct experience at either or both of these schools.  I'm applying for admission for September 2021, Ottawa and Queen's are my top choices, and, based on my stats, I think it's very likely that I will get into both.

Both schools are close to the region I would like to practice in eventually, although Queen's is a bit closer. Broadly, I'm interested in pursuing poverty law (criminal defense, clinics, adovocacy- that kind of thing) and I have about 5 years of relevant work experience in this area, but in a different city in Ontario.  If things go according to plan, I would like to end up working in a clinic setting, at a small firm in a rural-ish area, or working as a sole-practitioner.  

At this point, Queen's looks like it might be the better option in terms of 1) clinics (it would be a dream to work at their Prison Law clinic), 2) prestige (I realize this is nebulous, and it doesn't matter to me much personally, but it can be "a thing") 3) class size and 4) quality of their administration (based on what I've read on this forum).

The trouble is, if I were picking a place to live for 3-4 years, Ottawa would be my choice hands down.  I've lived in Kingston and Ottawa before, and I really preferred Ottawa, and I have some great friends there.  My partner would also really prefer to live in Ottawa over Kingston, although they are willing to move to either city.  

Would it be a mistake, in this case, to make my choice based on the city rather than the school?  Or would uOttawa be a just as good or better option for me than Queen's?  My main reservation about Queen's as a school is the culture.  In my experience, it could be hard to find your niche there if you weren't into the privileged party culture (this is obviously a generalization, and there are many great folks there, but I think there's some truth in it).

Any wise words of advice?  Anyone think I've mischaracterized either school or that I'm missing some important considerations?

 

 

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LSAT 166 and GPA 3.92 (I used the estimator tool to get my OLAS GPA, can't find my account info now, but it was close to this, maybe a little higher).

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Frankly I don't think you should make your decision on the basis of the city the school is in, unless there are considerations like you're picking between cities in different provinces or you have to be close to family. You will only be spending three years studying law there. Once you graduate from Queens, you never have to go back to Kingston if you don't want to. It sounds to me like your interests really align with what Queens has to offer, and it would be a shame to miss out on those just because you don't like Kingston much.

Personally, I was deciding between Western and Ottawa for law school, and ultimately picked Western even though I vastly prefer the city of Ottawa over London.

Edited by lewcifer

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Ottawa certainly has similar clinics to Queens, and has several professors who focus on poverty law (David Wiseman for example, who runs a clinic). 

Wouldn’t say Queens is more prestigious either. Honestly “prestige” for law schools is seriously overrated in Canada and not really a thing in practice (and if you want to work in rural areas, your clients certainly won’t care where you went to school).

Ottawa has a huge class size (though no longer the biggest in Canada apparently), but the class is subdivided into different groups and your actual classes aren’t substantially larger than other schools. Depending on what you want to take, they may even be smaller. The large class always means there is a pretty diverse cohort of people interested in every area of law.

The legitimate concerns are the school building itself is insanely crowded, and yes, the administration is ass. But I think it might fit your interests a lot more than you think, especially as Queens has increasingly moved to align with business law.

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1 hour ago, Scrantonicity said:

LSAT 166 and GPA 3.92 (I used the estimator tool to get my OLAS GPA, can't find my account info now, but it was close to this, maybe a little higher).

Why limit your choices to Queens and Ottawa? Your stats are good for many Ontario school

You can still do what you want "I'm interested in pursuing poverty law (criminal defense, clinics, adovocacy- that kind of thing)" if you go to say Osgoode.

Edited by Luckycharm

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1 hour ago, lewcifer said:

Personally, I was deciding between Western and Ottawa for law school, and ultimately picked Western even though I vastly prefer the city of Ottawa over London.

 

Thanks for that perspective!  Appreciate hearing from someone who was in a similar position. 

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39 minutes ago, spacelaw said:

Ottawa certainly has similar clinics to Queens, and has several professors who focus on poverty law (David Wiseman for example, who runs a clinic). 

Wouldn’t say Queens is more prestigious either. Honestly “prestige” for law schools is seriously overrated in Canada and not really a thing in practice (and if you want to work in rural areas, your clients certainly won’t care where you went to school).

Ottawa has a huge class size (though no longer the biggest in Canada apparently), but the class is subdivided into different groups and your actual classes aren’t substantially larger than other schools. Depending on what you want to take, they may even be smaller. The large class always means there is a pretty diverse cohort of people interested in every area of law.

The legitimate concerns are the school building itself is insanely crowded, and yes, the administration is ass. But I think it might fit your interests a lot more than you think, especially as Queens has increasingly moved to align with business law.

Thanks for that information about Ottawa!  Really appreciate it.

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8 minutes ago, Luckycharm said:

Why limit your choices to Queens and Ottawa? Your stats are good for many Ontario schools

Thanks!  Based on my career goals, I can't justify the price tag at Toronto or Osgoode, and my partner doesn't want to move to London or Windsor (which would be my other two Ontario picks).  If I haven't heard anything from Ontario schools by late Jan, I'm also planning to apply to UNB.  I have some family connections out there, and the price is right! 

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I'd probably go with whichever is cheapest given that the area of law you want to practice in is not particularly lucrative from what I've read. 

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4 hours ago, Scrantonicity said:

Thanks!  Based on my career goals, I can't justify the price tag at Toronto or Osgoode, and my partner doesn't want to move to London or Windsor (which would be my other two Ontario picks).  If I haven't heard anything from Ontario schools by late Jan, I'm also planning to apply to UNB.  I have some family connections out there, and the price is right! 

I went to Ottawa for 1L and transferred to Osgoode  for L2.

Total  tuition and accommodation cost was lower at Osgoode after bursaries. 

I received a total of $21K for L2 and L3. 

Check out the Osgoode bursaries if money is the issue.

https://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/programs/juris-doctor/financial-services/fund-law-school/bursary-program/#:~:text=Osgoode Hall Law School offers,students with demonstrated financial need.

Edited by Luckycharm

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On 9/15/2020 at 4:01 PM, Scrantonicity said:

Thanks!  Based on my career goals, I can't justify the price tag at Toronto or Osgoode, and my partner doesn't want to move to London or Windsor (which would be my other two Ontario picks).  If I haven't heard anything from Ontario schools by late Jan, I'm also planning to apply to UNB.  I have some family connections out there, and the price is right! 

To be frank, you'll almost certainly get into both Queen's and Ottawa with your stats so I wouldn't worry about applying to UNB if you haven't heard by January. January is very early in the admission cycle.

Spacelaw is right that prestige is overrated in Canada. For big-law, I don't think it's a non-factor and Queen's does better every year than Ottawa in that area. For what you want to practice though, don't worry about the prestige of the schools. I think the most important thing will be what activities you choose to be involved with once you get to law school. Like you mentioned, the Prison Law clinic at Queen's would be great for what you want to do and we have a lot of great professors and RA opportunities in criminal law. I don't have too much familiarity with Ottawa but I'm sure they have great clinics, great professors, and a great selection of courses/research as well. 

You'd probably be in the running for some scholarships or bursaries as well. If you're sure you want to practice Poverty Law,  my biggest factor would be which school is going to give me the most money. 

That being said if you really vibe with one of the schools, or if you want to go to Ottawa for the location, or Queen's for the prison clinic those are all legitimate reasons as well. Just go where you feel like going. You'll almost certainly get into both. 

 

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4 hours ago, QMT20 said:

To be frank, you'll almost certainly get into both Queen's and Ottawa with your stats so I wouldn't worry about applying to UNB if you haven't heard by January. January is very early in the admission cycle.

Spacelaw is right that prestige is overrated in Canada. For big-law, I don't think it's a non-factor and Queen's does better every year than Ottawa in that area. For what you want to practice though, don't worry about the prestige of the schools. I think the most important thing will be what activities you choose to be involved with once you get to law school. Like you mentioned, the Prison Law clinic at Queen's would be great for what you want to do and we have a lot of great professors and RA opportunities in criminal law. I don't have too much familiarity with Ottawa but I'm sure they have great clinics, great professors, and a great selection of courses/research as well. 

You'd probably be in the running for some scholarships or bursaries as well. If you're sure you want to practice Poverty Law,  my biggest factor would be which school is going to give me the most money. 

That being said if you really vibe with one of the schools, or if you want to go to Ottawa for the location, or Queen's for the prison clinic those are all legitimate reasons as well. Just go where you feel like going. You'll almost certainly get into both. 

 

It's worth noting here that fewer uOttawa students apply for big law placements in Toronto, due to their proximity to the Ottawa market and potential interest in government work. 

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