Hello future lawyers !
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Before reading the many articles I will write on how to become a lawyer, from law school to practice, it is necessary to determine if this is an appropriate path for you!
Things you’ll need to know:
- It will not be easy
- It will cost you, time and money
- It will strain your current relationships
- BUT, if it is right for you, it will be the best time of your life
The personalities that law school used to attract were very homogeneous. Strictly Type-A straight white male candidates. If that sounds like you, you’re likely still fine to apply, get in, and succeed. For those of us who do not fit into that box, law schools have been consistently changing to increase access to justice by recruiting a diversity of students. Look at the diversity policies of the different law schools if you think that is something you want to address in your entrance essay. You still need to be very hard working. You still need critical thinking skills. Type-A personalities do tend to thrive. But success is achievable in the legal profession for anyone who is willing to put in the effort. I truly believe that.
Law school is a 3 year degree for most people pursuing a JD. Exceptions apply for dual degree programs. After you gradate you spend approximately 10 months Articling (the pathway to obtain the required experiential training in order to be licensed to practice law in Ontario). Then you are required to write the provincial bar exam to be called to the bar and eligible to practice law.
Law school will very likely cost you between 30,000 and 40,000 per academic year. This is no small amount. Each school will likely have a financial office, bursaries, scholarships, and online budgeting tool. To see a sample budget for Osgoode Hall Law School click here. The Oxford Seminars website has a chart which is useful for a brief comparison of the Ontario law schools and their respective tuition costs.
- *Some Law Schools are much cheaper than others
- ** Law schools have different costs for in-province and out of province applicants.
- *** Law schools have different costs for dual degrees.
- **** Law schools have different costs for textbooks and often there is a chance to buy used books and save on those costs.
I would recommend using the OSAP estimation tool, and contacting your banking institution to find out about a Professional Student Line of Credit. The money does exist to get you through the degree but you need to be willing to incur the debt.
Law school is very time consuming. Much more so than other degrees. Usually you move for school as most people don’t currently live close to a law school. Often this means living on residence, again. These strains, plus the financial strain, can have a lasting impact on your relationships. Please know it is 100% possible to have lasting romantic relationships, lasting friendships, and spend time with your family. However, it will require setting real limits on your school involvement, excellent time management skills, and you will have to put that on pause during examinations.
Professor Alan Hutchinson of Osgoode Hall Law School wrote a guide to law school book in which he recommends having a conversation with the important people in your life about law school before you start. I followed this advice and was taught at Osgoode by the man himself, it is solid advice. Let your loved ones know you will be very busy, you will be stressed, you may not always be acing like yourself, but you need their love and support nonetheless.
Right and Wrong Reasons
There are right and wrong reasons to go to law school. Please read and consider them here.
Law School v Practice
While I am not yet a lawyer there is one important note I should make about the differences between law school and practice. If you want to attend law school you may not want to practice. If you want to practice you must attend law school. Understand the career paths available to you after law school and evaluate if they are worth the costs associated.
For those of you who are not deterred by the above information, congratulations, you are likely determined enough to begin your journey to becoming a lawyer.
The next step for you is to read one of the following articles:
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: Nothing I write should be taken as legal advice, I am writing my opinion backed by my own research. In fact, double check everything you read. It is good practice to develop critical thinking skills and be skeptical of information you receive.