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Sartre123

U.K. LLB vs. Low Tier Canadian JD

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Hi all, I realize the topic of UK LLBs have popped up on this thread a few times, though I've got an inquiry which I dont think has been discussed at length or at all. 

For some background I'm completing my 3rd year at UofT with a Humanities BA. Due to some mental health issues that hit me during my first year my average is sub-par; like 2.3 bad. It is on the up though as Ive dealt with things and have started to preform academically like I should; I hope to have my cGPA at 3.0 at least by the time I graduate, with my L2 being 3.5+ (hopefully). I do still want to pursue law though as it has always been my goal. 

So my question is, is there really that much of a difference between going abroad and getting an LLB at a top 10/20 UK law school and getting a degree at a Low tier Canadian school like TRU or UNB? To me it seems like either way I wont have an Osgoode or UofT law stamp on my diploma - nor will I have that of an Oxford or Cambridge stamp - so does it matter? Either way I wont be able to build necessary or substantial connections in the Toronto region where I hope to practice and either way its not a T1 degree. I do understand that one way I'll be studying CANADIAN law and the other way ENGLISH law, but does this distinction matter so much so in the search for an articling position or job in general upon return?

For instance, if one applies to X law firm with a degree from City University London, and another applies from TRU, and another applies from UofT, wont the first two both be looked upon as lesser than that of the UofT degree anyway? Pretty much on par? 

I just want some further clarification if anyone can help. As well too I would like to know where to better set my sights for the coming years. Thanks!

 

Edited by Sartre123

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If you want to live and practice in Canada, go to a Canadian law school - full stop. 

Unless you have offers from some globally elite schools, which you've admitted you won't.

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The Canadian universities would be better. You learn relevant law and you show the companies you’re committed to Canada. It’s also a lot less of a headache to not move. The UK schools offer downsides relative to the Canadian ones, but no upside.

To use your example, the company would probably rank:

1. U of T

2. TRU

3. CUL

The “tier” of a Canadian school doesn’t really matter. They’re all a fairly similar quality, so it’s not like you’re getting a substandard education at a place like TRU.

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Yes, there is that much of a difference. If you want to practice in Canada, go to a Canadian law school. The only UK law schools I'd say you could feel confident about getting a job back in Canada are Oxford or Cambridge. A firm in Canada will absolutely look at a TRU or UNB graduate more favourably than a City University London graduate. By and large, it will be much, much harder to get a job with a UK law degree. Not to mention that plenty of TRU/UNB grads practice in Toronto - you may have to hustle more to get competitive grades and interviews, but going to TRU or UNB (or another equivalent Canadian school) will not by any means make it impossible for you to get into the Toronto market.

Also, you may be able to apply to Canadian law schools through Access categories due to the mental health issues you dealt with in first year. Look into what each school requires for such an application (ex. documentation, description of how your condition affected your academic performance). Don't write off Canadian law schools entirely just for that reason.

Edited by lewcifer
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This might shock some readers, but as an employer I want to hire some one who learned Canadian law. 

There is no contest. NCA students (if you don’t know what that means you need to learn it now) have a hell of a time finding work unless they already have some connection to the industry (eg their dad runs a firm).

American law schools are heavily tiered. Canadian law school are not. There is no comparison. Learn Canadian law if you want to be a lawyer in Canada. 

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For the sake of argument, let's assume that Canadian law schools are tiered and the reputation of your school has a meaningful impact on your employment prospects.

For the purpose of maximizing your Canadian employment prospects, you'd still be better off attending the lowest ranked Canadian school than if you were to attend a top 10 or top 20 British school. Maybe there's a good argument to be made for attending an Oxbridge school (though I suspect most of the benefits from such a decision are found outside of Canada and that few people who are considering an education in the UK actually have this option available to them) but in Canada virtually every foreign degree ranks towards the bottom of the list in terms of employability.

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Considering the fact that you can get into City University London and most other UK law schools out of high school without a university GPA and LSAT score, I am not sure why you think Canadian legal employers would place these schools on the same level as a Canadian law degree that you cannot get into out of high school. As a lawyer, I do not know what the top 10 or 20 UK law schools are. In my mind, it's Oxbridge, LSE, and the rest. I am certain most employers here are not going to take the time to research UK law school rankings when there are more than enough applications from Canadian law school graduates sitting on their desk. 

Something tells me that you went to U of T for undergrad because of this notion of prestige. You seem to be hung up on the idea. Most people do not care which school you attended after your first job - and even for your first job, it does not matter but for select fields like business. And you should realize by now how most people do not care if you went to U of T or Brock, Windsor, Guelph, etc. 

Why do you need a U of T or Osgoode stamp to work in Toronto or anywhere else? Is it only U of T, York, and Ryerson graduates working in Toronto? Why then do I see many Waterloo, Laurier, Ivey, McGill, and Queen's graduates working in downtown Toronto? Name a Canadian or international school and chances are you will find representation in Toronto and other major Canadian cities. 

Attending a Canadian law school is a privileged position to be in that is not available for everyone. When you graduate and get called to the bar, you will be in the privileged position of having a Canadian law degree and a license to practice law. How many other professions offer you a better guarantee than that? Maybe medical school and dental school? 

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There is no tiering of Canadian law schools. The often-touted advice is to go a law school in the province in which you'd like to practice.

There are also some law schools that only look at your L2 (and I think B2) GPA. Law school applications often have sections/categories for explaining any abnormal circumstances that negatively affected your grades (mental illness being one such example).

Edited by TheMidnightOil
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34 minutes ago, TheMidnightOil said:

There is no tiering of Canadian law schools.

The situation in Canada is nowhere near equivalent to the United States, where law schools range from open admission to the best and most competitive in the world. However, the above quote overstates things and gives applicants the wrong impression. Windsor and Ryerson will not generally provide comparable opportunities or graduate outcomes to those of UofT and McGill students of similar class rank (barring extreme outliers like medalists, etc), for example.

To be clear to the OP, outcomes are pretty good at every law school in Canada and not so much for foreign law school grads looking to practice here unless they went to some very elite schools. Any law school in Canada will pretty reliably allow you to get an articling position and a respectable job as a lawyer. There are differences between schools in Canada when it comes to landing the most competitive positions like NYC, BigLaw, clerkships, top boutiques, etc. But if you're an average law student this will not matter so much. Schools with a stronger "brand" will also provide more mobility in terms of where you can work after graduating.

Edited by CleanHands
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Students who half-ass their degrees here, and then half-ass the LSAT and/or neglect to even attempt the LSAT, can still get admitted to those UK schools you reference. These institutions lower the bar for admission for Canadian applicants. I know of people who barely passed their classes who were admitted into these “tier” of UK law schools. 
 

The average TRU/UNB grad will have likely been an A student or close, and will likely have achieved at least a fairly competitive LSAT score. 
 

This isn’t even a contest. If you’re a Canadian employer I’d imagine you’d be quite aware of this difference in admissions criteria. 
 

A UNB/TRU JD is always going to take your further here in Canada. Do the hard thing and put yourself in a position to get admitted to these schools. 
 

 


 

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Look, it really comes down to this. As stands, you aren't at all competitive for any Canadian law school, even those you term "low tier." So you are thinking about going to a law school that caters to students in exactly that position - uncompetitive for any Canadian program at all. And what you are hoping to hear is that the entire Canadian legal marketplace is unable to tell the difference between a student good enough to get into a Canadian law school and one that isn't. Can you see what's wrong with that question?

There's a whole discussion topic here about when, and if, anyone should seriously contemplate going the foreign/NCA route if that's the only option left. But skipping that discussion for a moment, you really should put aside any hopes that the legal marketplace is stupid, and that you can somehow fool them into believing that A = B even when there are obvious differences between the two. Make whatever decisions you feel you need to make. But don't make those decisions in the hope that down the line any rational observer will be blind to what was really going on.

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2 hours ago, Diplock said:

Look, it really comes down to this. As stands, you aren't at all competitive for any Canadian law school, even those you term "low tier." So you are thinking about going to a law school that caters to students in exactly that position - uncompetitive for any Canadian program at all. And what you are hoping to hear is that the entire Canadian legal marketplace is unable to tell the difference between a student good enough to get into a Canadian law school and one that isn't. Can you see what's wrong with that question?

There's a whole discussion topic here about when, and if, anyone should seriously contemplate going the foreign/NCA route if that's the only option left. But skipping that discussion for a moment, you really should put aside any hopes that the legal marketplace is stupid, and that you can somehow fool them into believing that A = B even when there are obvious differences between the two. Make whatever decisions you feel you need to make. But don't make those decisions in the hope that down the line any rational observer will be blind to what was really going on.

Your writing comes across as angry. I was simply hoping for some discourse on the topic I submitted, not to have someone belittle both me and the question as a whole. Thanks though! 

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14 hours ago, Deadpool said:

Something tells me that you went to U of T for undergrad because of this notion of prestige. You seem to be hung up on the idea. Most people do not care which school you attended after your first job - and even for your first job, it does not matter but for select fields like business. And you should realize by now how most people do not care if you went to U of T or Brock, Windsor, Guelph, etc. 

I actually have to disagree with your opinion. Though the notion of prestige within the university system is somewhat lesser in comparison to that of the UK and USA, the notion still exists. Theres a reason its harder to get into UofT than York or Ryerson, Brock or Lakehead. Having a degree from a school like UofT displays a form of personal academic pedigree which cannot be matched by most other Canadian universites.  

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13 minutes ago, Sartre123 said:

I actually have to disagree with your opinion. Though the notion of prestige within the university system is somewhat lesser in comparison to that of the UK and USA, the notion still exists. Theres a reason its harder to get into UofT than York or Ryerson, Brock or Lakehead. Having a degree from a school like UofT displays a form of personal academic pedigree which cannot be matched by most other Canadian universites.  

Then, what about raising your GPA at low-tierd institutions such as York or Ryerson rather than receiving C grades at Harvard of the North?

Edited by ArchivesandMuseums
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9 minutes ago, Sartre123 said:

Your writing comes across as angry. I was simply hoping for some discourse on the topic I submitted, not to have someone belittle both me and the question as a whole. Thanks though! 

Saying TRU and UNB are "low tier" when you are not competitive for admissions at either is a bad joke. The topic is not really one for "discourse" because there is a clear answer, the Canadian legal market significantly stigmatizes foreign degrees. 

5 minutes ago, Sartre123 said:

I actually have to disagree with your opinion. Though the notion of prestige within the university system is somewhat lesser in comparison to that of the UK and USA, the notion still exists. Theres a reason its harder to get into UofT than York or Ryerson, Brock or Lakehead. Having a degree from a school like UofT displays a form of personal academic pedigree which cannot be matched by most other Canadian universites.  

No, it doesn't. All it shows is that you did well in high school. Why would anyone care about how well you did in high school when you proved to be a weak student in university? 

PS. Diplock has (3?) degrees from UofT including law.  

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My friend, you whip out the prestige argument when your 4.0 GPA makes you God's gift to humanity, not when you have a 2.3.  

Edited by Tagger
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As a U of T grad, it's a decent school with well qualified faculty members.

Still, it's a public institution that engages in a mass-education mission. At the undergraduate level (particularly within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (of which I am a graduate)), the average U of T student is really just very mediocre.

The school earns its reputation on the back of its faculty and graduate programs. The undergraduates just pay the bills.

Edited by msk2012
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Remember that the LSAT is a very important component of your application. Your performance on it will give you a good idea of how to approach this issue.

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This converstion always take some weird left turn into the relative "prestige" of various named schools. This always baffles me.

OP, your goal isn't to get into a law school, any law school. You goal is to be a competant and perhaps even a successful lawyer practising in Canada, yes? Some one who can give their clients good service? So set yourself to BE that.

Forget what people think about whether U of T is The Shit or just the shit or even shitty Harvard. What U of T unquestionably teaches you is how to do the job you want to do i.e. what the law OF CANADA is. Incidentally, Ryerson and UNB and TRU and Lakehead ALSO teach you that same thing. Crazy, right?

No UK school is going to teach you the law of Canada as it applies in Canada. Don't gloss over this. The rest of you - stop glossing over this! These aren't the same thing or "close enough" or whatever that shiny UK LL.B. pamphlet with the happy students grouped around a smiling prof in front of a smartboard tells you right before it tells you it's gonna be a six figure committment but Hey, Travel! and Culture! and See The World! and Alumnus Network Everywhere!. An education in the law of the UK and an education in the law of Canada are very different things. 

I have been a lawyer in Canada for something approaching fifteen years. Know what I would never do? Move to Australia and set up shop and pretend what I know is "close enough". I would be incompetent. I would have so, so, so much to learn. It would be a stupid idea to try it. I could probably pull it off, sure - if I had a solid network, and took a massive pay hit, and attended a million classes, and tried very hard to parse what I think I know from what the law in Australia actually is. But why would I do that if my goal was to be an Australian lawyer? Why wouldn't I have attended an Australian school to start with?

Out of everyone here, Diplock and I have actually hired people before. We get lots of resumes. It's a rare resume from a young person with no other experience who got an LL.B. in the UK or Australia who doesn't immediately get rejected out of hand. It's not that we hate the UK or Australia. It's that we need, as a baseline, to hire a person who knows what the law is here. That's not a big ask. But it isn't something you with an LL.B. from the UK can supply.

Feel free to debate whether this is "right" or "wrong". But it unquestionably IS.

 

**edit: others posting in this thread may have have hiring experience as well and I don't intend to suggest otherwise - I just don't know that myself

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50 minutes ago, Sartre123 said:

Your writing comes across as angry. I was simply hoping for some discourse on the topic I submitted, not to have someone belittle both me and the question as a whole. Thanks though! 

Well hey, no problem. Your own original question was basically taking your situation, comparing yourself to students who have worked harder, and done better, to get into Canadian law schools, and then asking everyone to confirm your belief that people who have worked harder and done better than you actually don't deserve to have that acknowledged in any way.

So, yeah. I'm belittling your question. Because it was a stupid question. And whether you meant it to or not, it dismisses the accomplishments of many other people.

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