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Author Topic: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic  (Read 2768 times)

Melatonin

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Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« on: April 25, 2006, 07:49:36 PM »
Hello All,

I've spent way too much time (I'm sure everyone has) looking at Law Schools in North America and I've drawn some of my own conclusions.  I hope that at least some of these (all of them?) are wrong because I honestly hope the situation is better than I think it is.  This has turned into a rant and please correct me where I'm wrong because it will probably improve my attitude regarding the whole issue.

My first 1 1/2 years are sufficiently poor enough that applying in Ontario is almost a waste of time.  Even Queen's says that applicants with less than a B+ over the four years need not apply.  That is unbelievable.  I was in a program which I had no interest in and I had NO idea that I wanted to go to law school.  Of course I played a lot of Tiger Woods and Poker but hey, at that point I just wanted my piece of paper and a ticket out.  When I found and realized that I loved law, I turned it on enough to bring myself up into the 3.16 range which isn't pretty but I've got a fairly respectable record after those first 18 months (A-).

The whole case is largely theoretical because I'm writing my LSAT this September but with diagnostics, personal studying and a powerscore course, I really don't see myself getting a poor LSAT mark.  Let's pretend for the sake of this rant that I get a modest 163. (I expect a little higher but at this point, it's a good guess). Further, I'm sure that a lot of people are going to have similar situations/numbers to myself so it serves the argument to make this assumption.

Those numbers, 163 and 3.16, will prompt one of two responses from most Canadian Law Schools: (1) A punch in the face; (2) A postcard with a confused guy on the front -- his palms up -- asking me if I'm serious.

So, because I enjoyed a good game of Tiger in first year, I can't do what I now know I definately want to do?  Let's say that the gods are looking to give up their usual passtimes of shooting dice and betting on the ponies in favour of trying something new: betting on my chances of getting through Law School.  With that, I'm into a Canadian Law School.  Let's say I get through it.  I now have to fight tooth and nail for an articling position that will pay me minimally and have very little effect on my massive student loans.  Ok, I find myself a position and do well.  I now get to fight all over again to find a position at a law firm.  If I'm lucky enough to track something down, I'm making somewhere in the ballpark of $55,000 - $60,000 CDN and have a great chance of being in a type of law that the reasonable man may find boring.

The alternative scenario is applying down south where the LSAT is given a little love.  Those numbers give me a legitimate shot at some reputable school (I'll save you the list,  one can check lawschoolnumbers.com).  Yes, it's way more money but scholarships flow much easier from U.S. schools plus, going to law school is better than not going.  I've heard claims that Canadian schools rank among the best (Top 100 say) with regarding to quality of education.  What's quality if it cannot get you a decent paying job?  A brief scan of the numbers tell me that graduating from a 2nd tier law school in the U.S. has the potential for you to make $70,000 - $100,000 USD.

Am I missing something?  I would honestly love to hear as many reasons as possible why I am completely incorrect because my family and friends are here and it would be more convenient for me to stay here.  But if the situation is like the above, I see no reason why I wouldn't at least throw some applications at some U.S. schools.  I'm assuming others in the same boat so any comments/corrections would be much appreciated.
It's a Good Life if you Don't Weaken

costaragas

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Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2006, 08:09:03 PM »
Interesting problem you have...

Before I give you any advice, I'm gonna tell you a bit about my story, so you know where I'm coming from. I figured out I wanted to go to law school the in the first semester of my senior year. It so happened that I was doing that semester over the summer interning at an embassy in Washington DC, so my final semester was also the only semester I had to apply to law school. So I read up on every Canadian law school out there to get the gist of what's going on in our country's legal education system. I worked at my applications, wrote the LSAT and was accepted to three law schools in Canada.

Now, read on if you think what I'm about to say is worth reading...

Your comments about your expected LSAT grade are striking. I hope you do as well as you say, but a 163 is not something easy. And like you said, you're going to practice, and take courses, and practice some more. It all may help and get you the score you want, and it all might be in vain. The LSAT is funny that way. My question to you is this: Are you any good at math?

I ask this because whenever someone asks me what the LSAT is like, I say a graduate level math test without any numbers. It's all patterns, and if you've never been exposed to this style of questioning before, it will bite you in the rear... LSAC will tell you that it's an excellent representation of your ability to perform in the first year of law school, and that EVERY Canadian university uses it as an objective way to evaluate candidates. This is false. Having spoken with Admissions Deans myself, the current trend is to move away from the LSAT because of the nature of Canadian post-secondary education. We stress logical reasoning, but we don't stress rapidity that borders on haste. (I'm refering the 35 minutes per section you get on each of the 5 sections of the LSAT).

The key to getting into any Canadian law school is the personal statement.

And this is particularly important in your case. Whatever your LSAT grade is, and whatever your GPA was, it's your personal statement that they really count. Your LSAT is viewed (with the exception of U of T) as nice addition to a well-prepared application, but it will not make or break you. Your GPA, even if it was poor over the first 18 months of university, is considered in a different way than you'd expect. Most schools will take your last 60 credits or two-years worth, but even that isn't written in stone. Essentially, they want to see an improvement. So if you're A- average is accurate of your later 2.5 years of university, that's what they'll consider your GPA to be. Which in most cases is about a 3.6, 3.7...

But there have been many refusals of candidates with LSATs superior to 163, and GPAs of 3.5 and above, simply because the person thought that they would get a "by" because of their grades and LSAT. It doesn't work that way. They want to know you, and they want you to distinguish yourself from the rest of the candidates (generally speaking, there are a few hundred applicants in the 160+/3.5+ pool). The only way you can do that is through the personal statement.

Now as for the US, and like I mentioned, I spent the summer in DC speaking with teachers and working lawyers at the embassy, the advice that others gave me has led me to conclude that anything short of a top-100 isn't going to make a difference in your salary. And on top of that, you need to dinstinguish yourself from your peers while you're at law school, and at a top-100 in the US, with an applicant pool approximately 10x that of Canada, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage... Not to mention the fact that if you're considering salary levels before writing your LSAT, let alone getting accepted, you're going about this all the wrong way.

Re-evaluate your priorities. If you have an interest in law, and the ambition to excel in the classroom, you'll get in, do well, and make the money later. Sky's the limit. But don't start with an interest in money. That's not what it's about.

Cheers,
Costa Ragas
p.s.
I've got a website that I made dedicated to all these topics if you care to visit: http://www.clsaweb.com

Melatonin

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Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2006, 12:49:06 AM »
Costa,

Thank you very much for your post.  It has definately made me a little more optimistic about my chances of Canada.  Further, I've been awaken to the fact that I seem to view the Canadian application process through the lens of its American counterpart.  I think I may have misrepresented myself regarding my reasons for studying law.  Given that I said that I wanted to stay in Canada if possible, my reasoning for getting into law definately does not revolve around the money to be made.  I tried to picture a job that I would want to go to everyday and would stay interesting.  Law is the only interest that I can see turning itself into a profession that I could enjoy.

That said, I'm relieved to hear that my chances are better than I had presumed and I will definately take care when preparing my personal statement.  Your points regarding my LSAT approximation are appropriate and I can hypothesize all that I want but everything changes on test day.  Again, I guess the best thing I can do is relax and see what I can do.  If it turns out then it turns out.

Thanks for reply,
Joe
It's a Good Life if you Don't Weaken

Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2006, 11:22:59 PM »
Queen's and Western judge you based on your last 2 years only.  Their class averages are like 3.6 (last 2 years) and a 159-160 LSAT.  Dalhousie also takes your last 2 years, as does Alberta.  Your low GPA will leave you with little chance at U of T, Osgoode, McGill and Ottawa, but you should have a real good shot at the schools I mentioned with an LSAT in the 160's.

nuffsaid

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Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2006, 10:38:24 PM »
I think that you should send those applications out to American schools as well.  A person in your situation really has nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Some schools offer automatic application waiver fees, and some others you can speak to the dean of admission and have them waive it for you personally. 

I'm in a similar boat as you.  Our GPA numbers are similar and your predicted LSAT is actually higher than what I scored.  I applied to 2 schools in Ontario and a bunch in the States.  I have been waitlisted on one of the Ont. schools and the other has not yet gone to the board due to an application error that is still being cleared up.  However I have been granted admission with scholarships up to 75% to many solid schools in the States and I'm very eager to get out there now.  Even if the other two do come through in the clutch i'm gonna have some decision making to do now, because I'm really impressed with some of the schools i'm looking into right now. 

Had I not gone this route, there might not be any law school for me at all in the fall.  If law school is truly what you want don't let a few schools in Ontario hold you back.  There are about 180 accredited schools south of us.  Even if you go to the one ranked 180th you can still be successful.  It is about personal character as much as anything.  You've proven that your final years are more indicative of your skill so you could thrive anywhere.  You could transfer to a higher ranked school later on, or remain at your school and finish amongst the top students in your class, making law review and all the rest, which looks great and helps to set up strong job prospects. 

Financially you could end up paying less for your tuition and making more afterwards, or even returning back home afterwards (however you would require additional schooling).

Just my opinion...I haven't gone through 1L yet either. 

EZ

OingoBoingo

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Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2006, 03:06:48 PM »
If you want to work in Canada, go to LS in canada. If you want to work in the States (and KNOW you do), go to school in the states. This is as simple and as complex as it needs to be.

Good advice.

Quote

Personally, I'd advise against going to a "TTT" in the US. They fail out a large % of the class to keep their bar passage rates up; the competition is brutal, the costs are high, employment prospects are local and awful....


This advice is a little on the pessimistic side. Granted, without naming names (cough) Thomas Jefferson (cough), there are T3 and T4 schools out there set and ready to take your money and toss you out the door. That said, there are also a number of fine regional schools with excellent placement and bar passage rates that just so happen to be T3's or T4's (University of Idaho, William Mitchell to name a couple). I hate to see people speak in generalizations because more often than not they are incorrect.

Oingo
"It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man."

OingoBoingo

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Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2006, 05:19:27 PM »

Ordinarily I'd agree with you on this; but here, we're talking about someone who has a ready-made tier-1 option in the Canadian law school system. Any school there is miles better than a T3 or T4 in the states; there's simply no reason to make the jump.

Its the generalizations that don't make sense to me, especially now that you are crossing borders when making them. What objective criteria are you using to make this assertion?

What I would say to the OP is to attend a school in the area in which they want to settle or could see themselves settling. This is, pretty much what you were trying to say, no?

Oingo
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Toogie

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Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2006, 01:42:27 AM »
I'd say stick with Canada, and why aren't you considering Windsor. I know it's "last chance U" but I mean they do have a good placement on Bay Street (if that's your goal) and it's a pretty quality program. That's honestly what I love about Canadian law schools, ALL of them are good, there are just some that are a little bit better whereas in the U.S you have this huge range between the horrible and the incredibly prestigious.

Good luck with everything, I'll be starting Windsor in the Fall.

Water

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Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2006, 09:09:35 AM »
I agree with the above posters. There isn't much difference in the quality of education you will get with ANY of the Canadian schools. If you aren't sure where you want to practice (Canada or the US) you should attend school in Canada. The process to take the bar in Canada with a U.S. JD can be tedious. You may have to take additional courses, sit for more tests and you'll still have to article once you transfer back. You're much better off staying here.

Good luck with your decision.

OingoBoingo

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Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2006, 11:23:55 AM »

Ordinarily I'd agree with you on this; but here, we're talking about someone who has a ready-made tier-1 option in the Canadian law school system. Any school there is miles better than a T3 or T4 in the states; there's simply no reason to make the jump.

Its the generalizations that don't make sense to me, especially now that you are crossing borders when making them. What objective criteria are you using to make this assertion?

What I would say to the OP is to attend a school in the area in which they want to settle or could see themselves settling. This is, pretty much what you were trying to say, no?

Oingo


Come on, it's pretty much common knowledge that virtually all Canadian law schools -- I'd even go so far as to say ALL -- are within a quite narrow band by any objective criteria. There simply isn't that much observable difference -- in "prestige," employment prospects, or whatever -- between them. This is clearly not the case in the US. Thus, any Canadian option is pretty good. Some US options are NOT so good.

And most Canadians who ask this sort of question don't have much experience in the US. I'd be very, very wary committing to life in the States -- esp. on a student or NAFTA TN visa -- without knowing for sure that you want to settle wherever this T3 school is.

I haven't ever argued the point about Canadian schools and their relevance to each other visa vie rankings. What I have commented on was this statement....

"Personally, I'd advise against going to a "TTT" in the US. They fail out a large % of the class to keep their bar passage rates up; the competition is brutal, the costs are high, employment prospects are local and awful"

which is mostly false. There are BAD T3 & T4 schools to be sure (I mentioned TJ) but there are also those that place well in their market (I mentioned William Mitchell and University of Idaho). If the OP was inclined in settling in the Mountain West or in Minnesota (my two examples) then these schools would prepare him well (they both feature excellent bar passage and employment rates).

I also got the sense that you were trying to compare a Canadian schools (which you called "tier 1") to these US tier 3 schools which again, makes absolutely no sense to me. I think the question we are trying to answer here is which school will give the OP the best chance of landing a job? If the question is framed this way then the answer has to be based on where the OP wants to live after graduation. The hurdles presented by being a Canadian working in the US have to be tackled whether you go to a T14 or to a T4.

I would think that most large US legal markets have it all over their Canadian counterparts. There is just so many more to choose from down here. I am from Winnipeg and can tell you that I would rather be a student at William Mitchell (a T4) than the University of Manitoba (a "Tier 1"). There is just so much more opportunity in the Twin Cities. I don't buy the notion, not for one second, that the University of Manitoba would be providing a superior education in this case. What make sense to me is that both are providing an education that is relevant to their market. To lay blanket statements like the one qouted above is clearly silly.

Oingo

"It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man."