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Canadian Law Schools Guide

Law Schools in Canada

 

There are 21 law schools in Canada. The LSAC Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools has profiles on the following fifteen schools:

 

·         University of Alberta: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         University of British Columbia : LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         University of Calgary: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         Dalhousie University Schulich: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         University of Manitoba: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         McGill University: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile (French)

·         University of New Brunswick: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         York University (Osgoode Hall): LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         University of Ottawa: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile (French)

·         Queen's University: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         University of Saskatchewan: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         University of Toronto: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         University of Victoria: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         The University of Western Ontario: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

·         University of Windsor: LSAC’s Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools profile

 

The following six law schools are also located in Canada, but are not listed in the LSAC Official Guide (due to the fact that they are French-speaking schools):

 

·         Université de Montréal, Faculté de droit

·         Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences juridiques

·         Université de Sherbrooke, Faculté de droit

·         Université Laval, Faculté de droit

·         Thompson Rivers University, TRU Faculty of Law

·         Université de Moncton, École de droit

 

First-time Canadian Law Degrees: J.D., LL.B., LL.L., B.C.L.

 

Canadian law schools have a number of different degrees that can be conferred to first-time law students (e.g., students that have never undertaken a post-graduate law curriculum). They are:

 

·         The J.D. (Juris Doctor). This is the same as the American J.D. It is three years long, and is only available in Common Law programs. This degree is offered by Queen's University, Faculty of Law, Thompson Rivers University, TRU Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law, University of Calgary, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law, University of Saskatchewan, College of Law, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria, Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, and York University, Osgoode Hall Law School.

·         The LL.B. (Legum Baccalaureus) or Bachelor of Laws. It is a three year post-collegiate program that, in Common Law programs, encompasses the same elements as a J.D. (in fact, many Canadian Common Law law schools have been changing the LL.B. nomenclature to J.D.). In Civil Law programs (which are available primarily in the province of Quebec, although there are some law schools outside that province that have Civil Law/Common Law dual programs), the LL.B. most often refers to a three-year program, although it does not cover the same academic requirements as the J.D. (since it teaches Civil Law rather than Common Law). This degree is offered by Université de Montréal, Faculté de droit, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences juridiques, Université de Sherbrooke, Faculté de droit, Université Laval, Faculté de droit, Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law, Université de Moncton, École de droit, University of Alberta, Faculty of Law, University of New Brunswick, Faculty of Law, and McGill University, Faculty of Law.

·         The LL.L. (Legum Licentiatus), or Licentiate of Laws. It has been offered in Civil Law programs (both in Quebec and outside it), as a three-year degree. In some cases, the LL.L. Civil Law degree is offered as a dual degree with a J.D. or LL.B. in Common Law, in which case it is not a three-year stand-alone degree, but rather part of a 3+ year program in which students learn both Common and Civil Law. This last is offered by University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.

·         The B.C.L., or Bachelor in Civil Law. This is the same as the LL.B. and LL.L. three-year Civil Law programs. This degree is offered by McGill University, Faculty of Law and York University, Osgoode Hall Law School.

 

Note that Civil Law programs in the province of Quebec do not require that the applicant have completed or even attended a four-year undergraduate university. Instead, the only require a CEGEP diploma (which can be interpreted as a diploma from a post-secondary vocational school, not necessarily an undergraduate college or university).

 

Civil Law vs. Common Law

 

Canada has two systems of law: Civil Law and Common Law (this great article that explains both as it applies to Canada). The standard definitions of each apply. Most Canadian schools only teach one or the other, although some schools teach both as a dual degree or allow you to choose which you will study.

 

Schools teaching only Civil Law:

 

·         Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences juridiques

·         Université de Sherbrooke, Faculté de droit

·         Université Laval, Faculté de droit

 

Schools teaching only Common Law:

 

·         Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law

·         Queen's University, Faculty of Law

·         Thompson Rivers University, TRU Faculty of Law (just opened, inaugural class starts 9/2011)

·         Université de Moncton, École de droit (teaches Common Law, but all in French)

·         University of Alberta, Faculty of Law

·         University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law

·         University of Calgary, Faculty of Law

·         University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law (Robson Hall)

·         University of New Brunswick, Faculty of Law

·         University of Saskatchewan, College of Law

·         University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

·         University of Victoria, Faculty of Law

·         University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law

·         University of Windsor, Faculty of Law

 

From LSAC.org: Key facts about enrollment, tuition, and applications for Canadian common-law law schools

 

Schools that teach both:

 

·         McGill University, Faculty of Law

The school offers a combined B.C.L./LL.B. program, leading to degrees in Civil Law and Common Law (more information on that program here). McGill does not have a Civil Law-only or Common Law-only program.

·         University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

The school offers Civil Law-only and Common Law-only programs (which can be taken all in English, all in French, or both), as well as combined Common Law and Civil Law programs.

·         York University, Osgoode Hall Law School

The school teaches primarily Common Law, but has a Juris Doctor (Common Law) and Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) combined program with the Université de Montréal, Faculté de Droit.

·         Université de Montréal, Faculté de droit

The school teaches primarily Civil Law, but has a one-year Diploma in Common Law in North America that students who have already completed their Civil Law degree can undertake.

 

Applying to Law School in Canada

 

How you apply to law schools in Canada depends on where the law school is located. Law schools located in Ontario follow a different procedure than those in other provinces.

 

For schools in Ontario

 

The following law schools are located within Ontario:

 

·         York University, Osgoode Hall Law School

·         University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

·         Queen's University, Faculty of Law

·         University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

·         University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law

·         University of Windsor, Faculty of Law

 

All of these schools require that students apply through the Ontario Law School Application Service (OLSAS) (French version), “a non-profit centralized application service for applying to Ontario Law Schools.” OLSAS is similar to the United State’s Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) Credential Assembly Service (CAS); it acts as an information clearinghouse during the law school application process, collecting all of an applicant’s materials, assembling them into one cohesive file, and then submitting that file to law schools on the student’s behalf.

 

Applicants interested in applying to Ontario law schools should check out the OLSAS 2012 Instruction Booklet, which goes into step-by-step detail of the application and material submission process.


For schools outside Ontario

 

For law schools outside of Ontario, students will typically have to apply directly through each school's website. Most will give a choice of applying online or via a paper application. Students should go to each school's website and look under "Prospective Students" or “Futurs étudiants.”

 

Application requirements

 

Whether applying through OLSAS or directly to each school, most law schools require or accept the following:

 

1.       Biographical information

2.       Transcripts

3.       Résumé

4.       Letters of reference/recommendation

5.       Personal statement

 

Note that there are some law schools that will require some of the above materials for some applicants, but not for others.

 

A note about LSAC’s CAS

 

No Canadian law schools use LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service, either for transcript evaluation, or for letter of reference/recommendation processing.  Transcripts and letters of reference/recommendation must either be processed by OLSAS (for students applying to schools in Ontario), or should be sent directly to the law schools along with all other application materials (for students applying to schools outside Ontario). Students applying exclusively to Canadian law schools should not register for CAS.

 

A note about the LSAT

 

Not all Canadian law schools require the LSAT. A number of Canadian law schools, particularly those whose programs are conducted entirely in French, do not request it as a part of their application materials, nor do they require their applicants to take it. The following chart notes which schools require, accept, and do not accept/require the LSAT:

School Name Requires
LSAT
Accepts
LSAT
Does not accept or require LSAT

University of Alberta

 

 

University of British Columbia

 

 

University of Calgary

 

 

Dalhousie University Schulich

 

 

University of Manitoba (Robson)

 

 

McGill University*

 

 

University of New Brunswick

 

 

York University (Osgoode Hall)

 

 

University of Ottawa**

 

 

Queen’s University

 

 

University of Saskatchewan

 

 

University of Toronto

 

 

University of Victoria

 

 

University of Western Ontario

 

 

University of Windsor

 

 

Université de Montréal

 

 

Université du Québec à Montréal

 

 

Université de Sherbrooke

 

 

Université Laval

 

 

Thompson Rivers University

 

 

Université de Moncton

 

 


 *Not required for either English or French programs. However, if submitted, it will be considered.

**For the English Common Law Program only.

 

Canadian Law School Rankings

 

McLean’s Magazine has been ranking Canada’s law schools since 2007. The most recent rankings available are from 2010 (the magazine releases rankings every year in mid-September). Here is a basic version of those rankings:

Common Law School Ranking

1 Toronto
2 Osgoode
3 McGill
4 Queen's
5 UBC
6 Dalhousie
7 Victoria
8 Western
9 Ottawa
10 Alberta
11 Saskatchewan
12 Calgary
13 New Brunswick
14 Manitoba
15 Windsor
16 Moncton

Civil Law School Ranking

1 McGill
2 Montreal
3 Laval
4 Ottawa
5 UQAM
6 Sherbrooke
SOURCE: MACLEAN'S

Getting Licensed to Practice Law in Canada

 

The legal profession in Canada is regulated and governed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) (French version). Here is what the FLSC has to say about the steps necessary to become an attorney in Canada:

 

Generally speaking, an applicant as a student-at-law (also called "student member", "articled student" depending on the province or territory) in a Canadian law society must provide documentation which establishes that he or she is the holder of a law degree from a recognised Canadian university, typically a 3 year LL.B. degree, or a 3 year civil law degree if the student applies at the Barreau du Québec or the Chambre des notaires du Québec.

 

In order to be admitted as a student in a Canadian law school, the applicant will most likely be required to hold an undergraduate degree, typically a recognised 4 year Bachelor degree. Therefore, the person who applies for membership in a Canadian law society has usually studied for a minimum of 7 years and has obtained 2 university degrees. The civil law faculties of the province of Québec do not require that the applicant hold a Bachelor degree for admission as a student.

 

Much like for law schools in the U.S., you do not need to have an undergraduate degree in law—you just need to have an undergraduate degree (except for Civil Law faculties in Quebec, which do not require you to have a Bachelor degree at all in order to attend law school).

 

LSAC also has information on being admitted to the bar in Canada. It is available here.

 

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