Going To Law School

By Pace Law | January 9, 2014

Elaine Bright – Pace Personal Injury Lawyer in Kenora: Have you ever thought of going to law school?

In Canada there are 17 universities that offer 3-year programs leading to a degree in common law. This is the degree required to practice law in all provinces and territories, except Quebec. The newest program in Canada is the program at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay . The first law class starts there in September, 2013 and Kenora’s own Whitney Van Belleghem will be one of the students in that class. “I am so excited about going. The law school couldn’t be more welcoming. We are having a BBQ at the Dean’s house, opening ceremonies at the Courthouse, and lots of other activities.”

Obtaining admission to law school is the biggest hurdle to practicing law in Canada. Acceptance rates at Ontario schools range from about 1 in 10 applicants, to 1 in 20.

Prior to applying to any law school in Canada, applicants must write the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Student around the world write this test to gauge their aptitude for success in a common law degree program. Law schools usually rely heavily on LSAT results in making admission decisions.

In addition to LSAT scores, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree, or most of a degree in some discipline.

Law is a very rewarding profession, and there is a growing need for lawyers in smaller and rural communities in Ontario.

For those who are admitted to a law school in Canada, the cost of tuition is high. For example, at Lakehead, tuition and fees for the law program are over $16,000 per year. At the University of Toronto, the cost is over $29,000 per year.

After law school, graduates who wish to practice law in Ontario must complete a 10 month period of “articling.” This is a type of apprenticeship conducted under a qualified lawyer. The good news is that students usually get paid for their work during articling.

During or after articling, students must write licensing exams or “Bar Admission exams.” In Canada, almost all students who write these exams pass. This is very different from the US, where passing Bar Admission exams may be the biggest hurdle to practicing law.

The final step to becoming a lawyer is “being called to the Bar.” Licensed lawyers are called “members of the Bar” of Ontario. The term refers to a bar that has been erected in courtrooms since medieval times, to separate those who are part of the proceedings of the court from those who are not.

Is all of this worth it? Law is a very rewarding profession, and there is a growing need for lawyers in smaller and rural communities in Ontario. Do you think you are too old for law school? One woman in Ontario went to law school after retiring from her first career. Once she was called to the Bar, she bought a small camper and set up an office in the back, then went around to seniors’ homes to help them with their legal work. Anything is possible, and maybe law school is indeed for you.
Elaine Bright is a lawyer with Pace Law Firm. She handles cases in Kenora and throughout Northwestern Ontario. Pace’s personal injury lawyers have been helping accident victims since 1980.