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legallybrunette3

What's the deal with school rankings?

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I shall now apply all of the wisdom I have gained from reading this forum twelve hours a day every day since October to settle this issue once and for all.

THE ONE TRUE GUIDE TO CHOOSING A LAW SCHOOL:

Criterion #1: Go to school in the province where you want to work. This will help you build your network and minimize difficulties of changing jurisdictions where the laws may differ.

Criterion #2: Minimize your debt. All Canadian law schools give you the same JD and all differences in outcome are due to individual differences among students. The fact that some schools have stronger or weaker students says nothing about the school itself, so you may as well just get the degree as cheap as possible.

Therefore, without further ado, the one true objective ranking of Canadian schools (for English speakers, at least. Don't know enough about the French side of things to comment):

If you want to work in BC:

1. UVic

2. UBC

3. TRU

If you want to work in Alberta:

1. U of A

2. U of C (might be the better choice if you're dead-set on Calgary).

If you want to work in Saskatchewan: U of S

If you want to work in Manitoba: U of M

If you want to work in Ontario: Anywhere in Ontario but U of T. Lakehead for anywhere north of Sudbury. Only go to Ryerson as a last resort.

If you want to work in New Brunswick: UNB.

If you want to work in Nova Scotia: Dal.

If you want to work in PEI: UNB (see criterion #2).

If you want to work in Newfoundland: Wait for Memorial.

If you want to work in the North: Haha no you don't.

If you want to work in the States: T6 if you can, T7-14 if you must. Otherwise forget it.

Edited by Chazz
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4 hours ago, Chazz said:

Criterion #2: Minimize your debt. All Canadian law schools give you the same JD and all differences in outcome are due to individual differences among students. The fact that some schools have stronger or weaker students says nothing about the school itself, so you may as well just get the degree as cheap as possible.

 

Completely false and misleading. At UofT you will have a better chance as a middle-tier student than you would as a middle-tier student at Windsor. I have confirmed this multiple times with multiple firms and practitioners. 

Debt is important of course, and in some sense that should be a primary consideration, but suggesting that you can just wing it at any school is not true. If you're genius-tier and you can gold medal at Windsor or Osgoode, it makes no significant difference which school you go to (although the latter would get you to NY for example, the former would not). But if you are in the middle of the pack, which you almost certainly will be, this is not true. 

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10 hours ago, Rosetah1 said:

 

Moncton law school is a common law school taught entirely in French, right?

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2 hours ago, Prospero said:

you will have a better chance as a middle-tier student than you would as a middle-tier student at Windsor.

I've heard this before, but why? What advantage does a top school give middle-tier students? And for what? Big law or any area? 

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5 minutes ago, legallybrunette3 said:

I've heard this before, but why? What advantage does a top school give middle-tier students? And for what? Big law or any area? 

Not 100% sure but I would assume it’s because of the more rigorous admissions standards. An average student at UofT is considered to be academically stronger than an average student at another school with lower admissions standards.

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The Canadian culture of self-defeating aloofness coupled with an inferiority complex whenever a whiff of Americana is proximate, results in risk-averse behaviour that goes beyond being "safe", and turns into absurdities. Every developed country, and every major white-collar industry has some sort of school preferences that create tiers. The tiers are not based on the value of the education, but the average strength of the student cohort based on admission statistics. Thus, in a marketability signaling model, employers positively correlate the average strength with employment abilities. This is not a perfect model, and there are idiots and genius everywhere with different life stories, but an employer is not going to investigate everyone to do a case-by-case analysis. Exceptions are exceptions, and these discussions should focus on the average cohort strengths.

So the question of "tiers" turns into a cost-benefit assessment: is assumed greater employability "worth" it? This is where the debate can be broad, given that (a) everyone has different preferences; (b) the employability correlation doesn't translate as well in certain sub-sectors; and (c) certain positions pay less and significantly alter the cost-benefit analysis. Thus, it's inappropriate to apply the same cost-benefit model for public law work in a small town with private law work in a global city. The "tiering" system is often illustrative of relative employment opportunities, but it must disaggregate different life goals. Given that a majority of law students are interested in "corporate" work (based on post-graduate employment statistics), the tier discussions work on such assumptions.

However, this forum doesn't conduct proper cost-benefit analyses within a corporate law model. The costing sub-analysis is myopic and often focuses on a short time horizon of immediate post-grad years  The preference-weighted benefit sub-analysis often (a) omits "lucrative" positions not captured by OCIs, including international employment opportunities; and (b) inappropriately assesses probabilities in obtaining "lucrative" corporate jobs. The probabilities should be assessed per class-ranking percentiles - not by comparing the 95th percentile Ryerson student with the 20th percentile UofT student. Further, the forum overestimates the portion of students with zero interest in corporate law (at least at the start of their careers), and gets to hide behind such assumptions since some schools fail to provide any valuable information. Such schools should not be given the benefit of the doubt.

While I'm sure a significant portion of the students at some schools (see: Ryerson) are interested in less lucrative law careers, it's also very clear that many of them only use it a coping mechanism for their underachievement. Seriously, how many undergrads did you guys meet in your lives with dreams of being a 1M starting salary neurosurgeon who flamed out in 2nd year and went with the "oh well actually I'm really passionate about pipetting and being a neurosurgeon is stupid anyway" routine? It's pretty obvious lol.

With regards to employment prospects mentioned above: the average 90th percentile UofT student has the opportunity to work at a V10 NY firm, while the average 90th percentile Ryerson student has the opportunity to work at a larger full-service Bay Street firm. The 40th percentile UofT student has the opportunity to work on Bay, while the relative Ryerson student cannot. The 10th percentile UofT student works at a mid-sized firm, while the Ryerson student is unemployed.

 

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2 minutes ago, Re7o said:

Not 100% sure but I would assume it’s because of the more rigorous admissions standards. An average student at UofT is considered to be academically stronger than an average student at another school with lower admissions standards.

I get that but what's the actual advantage? I assume if two candidates with middle-tier grades come into an interview, and the Windsor one seems better for the job they'd get the job. So I think this person means that the Windsor student wouldn't get the interview at all, like employers see Windsor and they just throw it right into a bin? That's kind of a big consideration for tiers if true... 

Does this only occur in Toronto in the corporate fields that are, from what I've read, rife with all kinds of unfairness, or is it everywhere? 

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5 minutes ago, legallybrunette3 said:

So I think this person means that the Windsor student wouldn't get the interview at all, like employers see Windsor and they just throw it right into a bin? That's kind of a big consideration for tiers if true... 

Does this only occur in Toronto in the corporate fields that are, from what I've read, rife with all kinds of unfairness, or is it everywhere? 

Yeah I would think this is the case, an average student at UofT would have a higher probability in getting to the interview stage compared to an average student at Windsor. It’s like a filtering process. The only figures I have looked at are from the Ultravires 2L recruit page.

Edited by Re7o

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2 hours ago, Prospero said:

Completely false and misleading. At UofT you will have a better chance as a middle-tier student than you would as a middle-tier student at Windsor. I have confirmed this multiple times with multiple firms and practitioners. 

Debt is important of course, and in some sense that should be a primary consideration, but suggesting that you can just wing it at any school is not true. If you're genius-tier and you can gold medal at Windsor or Osgoode, it makes no significant difference which school you go to (although the latter would get you to NY for example, the former would not). But if you are in the middle of the pack, which you almost certainly will be, this is not true. 

Not a U of T student but I have to agree with this comment. I don't know what career outcomes are later into your career but if you just look at the recruitment numbers for different law schools you can see the discrepancy. 

http://ultravires.ca/2019/12/toronto-summer-2020-2l-recruit-numbers/

https://ultravires.ca/2019/09/new-york-summer-2020-recruit-results/

http://ultravires.ca/2020/10/toronto-summer-2020-1l-recruitment-results/

Both U of T and Queen's where I go have classes of about 200 students. 

If you look at the numbers from the Toronto 1L recruit, the New York recruit, and the Toronto 2L recruit, something like 140/200 students will have settled into a position somewhere or another at U of T. In comparison, if you look at the historic numbers at Queen's (which are actually wrong in this edition of ultra vires, the 60ish students that landed in the 2L recruit for 2019 summer were from Queen's not Western), the numbers range from 45-60 per year in that recruit from Queen's. Maybe 5-10 from Queen's will land in the 1L recruit per year, and a student from Queen's lands in New York only once every couple years. As such, only about 60/200 students will have settled into a position at Queen's. 

Someone might mention the fact that the Articling recruit provides different opportunities and if you look at the overall articling placement rates between Queen's and U of T, it isn't that different (both around 95%). That's true but I don't think it's fair to assume that a greater number of students from Queen's are going for the unique opportunities offered in the articling recruit compared to U of T. Unless there's a survey that proves otherwise, my experience has been that almost everyone at Queen's is applying in 2L, and the majority who apply to articling recruit are people who didn't land in 1L or 2L. 

People might say things like not everyone wants to go for Toronto/New York but it's my experience that in 2L the vast majority of students at Queen's are applying to the Toronto recruit. So when competing for the same positions, I definitely think the average student (and even the slightly below average student) at U of T has the edge. 

This isn't to bash on Queen's. I love the school, I've had a very fulfilling legal education, the professors and my peers have all been great, and if I knew everything about the school that I know now at the time I was making my decision, I think I'd still choose to go here. I also don't necessarily think it's fair that U of T students are hired more than Queen's students but it just seems to be the truth. I just don't think it's true that all law schools are putting you on an equal pedestal when most of the students inevitably apply for the same positions. 

Edited by QMT20
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10 minutes ago, Re7o said:

Does this only occur in Toronto in the corporate fields

I'm just going to assume the answer to this is yes, and so this info will not apply to me. 

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2 hours ago, legallybrunette3 said:

I get that but what's the actual advantage? I assume if two candidates with middle-tier grades come into an interview, and the Windsor one seems better for the job they'd get the job. So I think this person means that the Windsor student wouldn't get the interview at all, like employers see Windsor and they just throw it right into a bin? That's kind of a big consideration for tiers if true... 

Does this only occur in Toronto in the corporate fields that are, from what I've read, rife with all kinds of unfairness, or is it everywhere? 

It's not just useful for corporate fields, but it also applies for clerkships as well. It's possible to get an interview with a (non-ON) appellate level court from U of T with above average grades (not directly related to your question about average grades, but we're not talking about dean listers either), whereas the same does not apply to other schools. To confirm, this particular appellate court's recruitment committee was clear that not all grades are treated the same (depending on the school).

I may be wrong, but I think @CleanHands had a similar experience coming from UBC.

Edited by Twenty
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2 hours ago, NeverGiveUp said:

Moncton law school is a common law school taught entirely in French, right?

Yes. The only other French common law program in Canada other than Ottawa's

Edited by Rosetah1
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27 minutes ago, Rosetah1 said:

Yes. The only other French common law program in Canada other than Ottawa's

Other than Ottawa's, and University of Montréal, UQAM, Laval, and Sherbrooke. 😉

 

Edit: I made a big big mistake.... those are all civil schools.... whooopps

Edited by NoContest

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5 hours ago, Prospero said:

Completely false and misleading. At UofT you will have a better chance as a middle-tier student than you would as a middle-tier student at Windsor. I have confirmed this multiple times with multiple firms and practitioners. 

Debt is important of course, and in some sense that should be a primary consideration, but suggesting that you can just wing it at any school is not true. If you're genius-tier and you can gold medal at Windsor or Osgoode, it makes no significant difference which school you go to (although the latter would get you to NY for example, the former would not). But if you are in the middle of the pack, which you almost certainly will be, this is not true. 

The counterargument I've seen to this is that a middle-tier student at U of T wouldn't be a middle-tier student at Windsor, they'd be an upper-tier student. And a middle-tier student at Windsor would be a lower-tier student at (or not even be able to get into) U of T. I get that this isn't always true since stats aren't perfect predictors, but do you think it would generally be the case?

And yeah, US/international aspirations definitely switch things up for sure.

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1 hour ago, Chazz said:

The counterargument I've seen to this is that a middle-tier student at U of T wouldn't be a middle-tier student at Windsor, they'd be an upper-tier student. And a middle-tier student at Windsor would be a lower-tier student at (or not even be able to get into) U of T. I get that this isn't always true since stats aren't perfect predictors, but do you think it would generally be the case?

And yeah, US/international aspirations definitely switch things up for sure.

I don’t think this is true. While UofT definitely has higher admission standards than the other schools in Ontario, I don’t think that directly translates into UofT student = smarter and brighter than all other law students. Even to go to/get into UofT requires a certain amount of privilege that not all law students will possess. And there are a number of reasons to choose one school over another. Also, one may be successful at the undergrad level and not as successful at law school, that’s just the nature of the curve. 

Edited by blackwidow
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Another thought I had - not to derail this thread - is how/why does UofT seem to win awards at nearly every moot? Is there something they do that other schools don’t? I realize it’s a difficult question that students most likely won’t be able to answer because only a student would know their school’s mooting practices but I’m genuinely curious. 

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40 minutes ago, blackwidow said:

Another thought I had - not to derail this thread - is how/why does UofT seem to win awards at nearly every moot? Is there something they do that other schools don’t? I realize it’s a difficult question that students most likely won’t be able to answer because only a student would know their school’s mooting practices but I’m genuinely curious. 

Because on average their top students (those that take part in those competitions) are brighter than their peers at other schools. Either that or they get better training, which I doubt. 

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There are two arguments here, and which one you prefer will likely be based on a whole bunch of factors and your own biases. 

The first one is that all law schools are equal and provide equal opportunity to their students. If that’s true, the differences in employment data we see are due to inherent differences in the strength of each school’s class. A necessary part of this argument is the recognition that there are differences between classes and U of T students are, on average, better than Windsor students. @TheAEGIS appears to subscribe to this viewpoint. 

The second argument is the school you attend affects the opportunities you will have post-graduation. If you believe, as @blackwidow does, that U of T students aren’t, on average, better than Windsor students, you need to believe that the disparate outcomes are due to the school you attend. 

Of course, there’s a middle ground where you think both are true. I fall into that camp. I think U of T students are likely, on average, better than Windsor students, and I also think the school you attend has marginal effects on your post-graduation opportunities. 

What you can’t do is believe neither, because we know there are disparate outcomes.

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19 minutes ago, Rosetah1 said:

Because on average their top students (those that take part in those competitions) are brighter than their peers at other schools. Either that or they get better training, which I doubt. 

Training is definitely a factor. I know some moots at UBC bring on the top experts in the country as coaches who then have connections to various practitioners in the city that act as judges during practices. This isn’t true of all our moots but in this regard, name brand of the school plays a big part. 

Edited by Psychometronic
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