Tips | Preparing for Law School
1. Preparing for Law School
Law is the profession of interpreting laws, applying them to client situations and providing legal advice. It involves informing clients of their legal rights and responsibilities and providing representation in situations such as negotiations, courts and tribunals. The legal profession involves a significant amount of research and preparation of legal documentation and contracts. There are many areas of law specialization, some of which include business, taxation, intellectual property, criminal, environmental, human rights, family, labour, cybersecurity and litigation law. Students can apply to law school without having a specialty in mind.
2. What University Background is Required?
Gaining admission to law school is competitive. Requirements to apply vary for each law school but start with a combination of a candidate’s GPA (minimum B+/A average) and LSAT score (minimum of 75-85th percentile). Admission committees also consider a candidate’s extracurricular activities and work experience. A strong personal statement and solid academic references from professors are also typically required. It is prudent to verify all information on admissions requirements directly with each faculty.
Many law faculties maintain separate admission categories for applicants who have significant work experience, are aboriginal, or those with disabilities. These access categories may have slightly different admission requirements. Each applicant is considered and compared with others in the same category.
3. What is the LSAT?
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized test issued by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) to measure skills considered essential for success in law school. Typically, it consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice. The sections include reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning sections. A fifth section is used to pretest new test questions. A writing exercise is also required as part of the test. The LSAT is typically offered four times a year. The test when conducted at a testing centre, in-person, is administered electronically on tablet computers provided to you. When in-person testing formats are not permitted, online testing called LSAT Flex is offered. It happens in the applicants own home and is remotely proctored using proctoring software installed on the applicants’ computer. It is equivalent to the regular LSAT but is slightly shorter in duration.
Tip: Review an LSAT guide (from a training company like Kaplan, PowerScore) or use the free resources of the Khan Academy (developed in collaboration with LSAC) to get started exploring and preparing for the test. Official LSAT Prep Tests can be purchased at: http://www.lsac.org/. Free LSAT preparation is offered through the U of T Law School Access Program, for high-potential, low-income undergraduate students and recent university graduates. Further details: https://www.law.utoronto.ca/admissions/youth-outreach/lsap. Black students can also find LSAT Preparation and other supports with U of T’s Black Future Lawyers Program.
Free LSAT Prep for all is also available online through the Khan Academy.
4. How to Register for the LSAT
Applicants can register online by visiting the LSAC website. Check the LSAC website for test dates, formats, fees and deadlines.
Tip: Check with each law school regarding deadlines by which the LSAT must be written and consider writing in advance of the application deadline to provide a buffer for a retake.
5. Applying to Ontario Universities
There are 20 law faculties in Canada 8 of which are in Ontario where it is common to receive 2,500+ applications for 160-290 spots. Given the degree of competition, students are advised to consider and prepare for a variety of career options rather than having an exclusive focus on law. Once admitted, the cost of law school in Canada ranges greatly by institution. For the 2019-2020 year, the fees ranged between $11,230.99 (University of Ottawa) to $34,633.51 (University of Toronto). Financial aid is available at all schools.
The application process is handled centrally by the Ontario Law School Application Service (OLSAS).
- In addition to the online application, refer to each university’s admission requirements for supplementary information that might be required. Applications are due through OLSAS November 1, 2021.
- It is recommended that applicants allow between 5-25 hours for preparation of their application and if a personal statement is required, allow plenty of time for editing and refining.
- Non-refundable OLSAS application fee is $200.00 Canadian, plus $100.00 for each school applied to.
TIP: Preview the online OLSAS application at least one year prior to applying to law school by creating a “dummy” account with a different email address. This will give you an idea of what is required and will help you understand the process of applying in the following year(s).
6. Faculties in other Provinces and Abroad
Those considering law schools outside of Ontario or Canada should enquire about application processes for each faculty of law in those provinces/countries. Qualifying to practice in Canada with an international law degree requires a number of accreditation steps before articling / Law Practice Placement and the bar exams. For full details consult: https://nca.legal/
UTM Career Centre Resources
The Further Education Showcase: A virtual online event hosted by UTM and UTSC. September 27-October 1, 2021. Speak with representatives from select faculties of law on September 28. See the Events Calendar on CLNx for a list of faculties attending.
Law School Information Session: If you are thinking of a career in law, attend this information session on preparing your application for faculties of law in Ontario. Registration via the CLNx or access the asynchronous version via Quercus https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/careers/online-workshops-and-e-modules#furthereducation
Law School Alumni Panel (Alumni Relations): Watch the recorded session of 3 inspiring alumni talk about their law careers. https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/alumni/2020-webinar-careers-law-alumni-panel
Job Shadowing Program: The Job Shadow Program at UTM is an opportunity that will enable students to test drive a career by visiting a professional (job shadow host) in their workplace. Job shadowing will help students gain insight into an industry or career, better understand how classroom learning can be applied to work outside of academia and learn more about the skills and educational requirements needed to follow their career interests. Due to COVID-19, the Job Shadow Program is currently being conducted virtually. https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/careers/jsp-students
“Mastering the Personal Statement Workshop” – Understand the process of writing a personal statement. Can’t make it to the workshop? Get started with our Master the Personal Statment e-module found on our website. You can also view the asynchronous version via Quercus.
Once you have a first draft of your personal statement, make an appointment to have it reviewed by calling (905) 828-5451
E-book Collection: “What About Careers In?” and “Do I have What I Need to Get Into Grad School” for e-books on the LSAT and Law School which can be downloaded for 14 days.
Alumni Profiles – Learn about the careers paths of Alumni practicing Law: https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/careers/career-planning/alumni-profiles (four Lawyer Profiles)
Law and Alternatives to Law Career Panel Packages: https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/careers/career-profile-packages
Individual Appointments – Get advice and information to plan your law career, explore alternatives, gain relevant experience and critique your personal statement. Call (905) 828-5451
Practicing Law in Ontario
To practice Law in Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada requires successful completion of:
- An accredited three-year Juris Doctor (J.D) program
- 10 months of Articling – supervised work (usually paid) with a law firm or a Law Practice Placement
- (consisting of a 4 month training program and a 4 month placement) http://www.lpp.ryerson.ca/
- A self-study course on Professional Responsibility and Practice (approx. 30 hours to complete)
- Two full-day multiple choice Bar Exams
Ontario Law Schools
- University of Toronto Law
- University of Ottawa Law
- Queen’s University Law
- University of Western Ontario Law
- University of Windsor Ontario Law
- York University Law - Osgoode Hall
- Lakehead University Law
- Ryerson University Law
Tip: Detailed information about admission requirements and application procedures should be obtained from the individual Faculties of Law. For an overview summarizing law school requirements, application categories and specialty programs refer to: https://www.ouac.on.ca/guide/olsas-program-requirements/ and/or https://www.lsac.org/jd/choosing-a-law-school/canadian
Always consult law faculties’ websites for the most up to date information. Contact law schools’ admissions offices to clarify specific questions not covered on their websites.
Information is subject to change. Consult the original sources for the most up to date information. Updated August 2021.