Law Schools in Canada

There are 24 law schools in Canada. The LSAC provides concise descriptions and information including admissions and financial aid requirements for 20 of these schools here: Canadian Law Schools.

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):

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:

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:

Schools teaching only Common Law:

Schools that teach both:

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:

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:

canadian law schools

*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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