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Making sense of year-end statistics for Canadian law schools

|Written By Anastasiya Jogal
Making sense of year-end statistics for Canadian law schools
“Single parents and individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds rightly find the prospect of an additional $100,000 of law school debt to be daunting,” says legal educator Omar Ha-Redeye.

North American statistics show applications to law schools are down and tuition is rising at some schools, but the appetite for legal education is still strong, say educators.

According to the Law School Admission Council, as of October 2015, law school applicants have decreased by 1.8 per cent, with applications down by 4.5 per cent over last year (applicants often apply to more than one law school).

A challenge for many students is the competitive grade point average needed to apply to law school, says Omar Ha-Redeye, lawyer with Fleet Street Law, who teaches law at three Toronto-based post-secondary institutions.

The Law School Admission Test is also a hurdle, he adds. Despite practice exams and prep courses, many students are unable to achieve a competitive score.

However, Alexis Archbold, assistant dean at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, says LSAC statistics focus on U.S.-based law school applications, which have been decreasing since the start of the 2008 recession, while Canadian law school applications have remained fairly steady.

“LSAC reports on all North American schools, and, of course, that number is heavily skewed by the U.S. experience,” she explains. There are 17 Canadian law schools that require LSAC services listed on its web site, while there are about 250 law schools in the U.S. Besides North America, there are also two schools in Australia, one in China, India, and Armenia represented by LSAC.

Archbold argues that from her vantage point, law school student enrolment in Canada is steady. For the past few years, U of T’s law school has had enrolment of between 200 and 208 new 1L students per year.

 “We hold our enrolment rates steady; i.e., we set an enrolment target and stick to it. Our application numbers are up,” she says.

Archbold says, “95 per cent of U of T law students get jobs at graduation. We take that as an indication that there is a demand in the market for our graduates.”

She notes that law school’s enrolment numbers are carefully controlled and she is only aware of two Canadian law schools that may have increased enrolment.

Many students “simply cannot get into a Canadian law school based on how competitive it is,” says Ha-Redeye. The contemporary trend of thousands of Canadians studying law abroad certainly speaks to that, he says.

 “The rising cost of law school tuition poses a significant hurdle to many students who have competitive GPAs and LSAT scores but simply do not have the money or have other financial responsibilities. Single parents and individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds rightly find the prospect of an additional $100,000 of law school debt to be daunting,” he adds.

The U of T law degree, for example, is the most expensive in Canada, with fees for the 2015-2016 academic year amounting to $33,105. Law dean Edward Iacobucci has recently recommended that administration and tuition fees be increased by five per cent next year. The increase to the maximum legally allowable limit would mean that incoming law students would pay almost $1,600 more per annum, according to Ultra Vires, the faculty’s student newspaper.

Archbold says that “all Ontario law schools increase their respective tuitions each year.”

Overall tuition does tend to rise each academic year, according to Statistics Canada. Preliminary tuition hikes for the past academic year compared to the year prior in the area of law and legal studies is $469. The tuition boost is more or less consistent with that of previous academic years, dating five years back.

  • CalledandUnemployedStill

    Called Unemployed
    The dwindling employment prospects for junior lawyers are an important consideration. How many document review lawyers does Toronto really need?
  • Founder of Lawjobexchange.ca

    Litsa Katsoulias
    95% employment rate?

    Either that's a typo or this survey was conducted on Survey Monkey and then analyzed by a monkey.

    It is possible that students land articling upon graduation (although it is definitely not at a 95% rate) but ask them how they do once they're called.
  • ik

    i.... l.
    The 95% figure was quoted by an assistant dean at the UofT Faculty of Law regarding UofT law students. There's no need for name-calling.

    Do you have any evidence backing up your assertion that this figure is wildly off-base? I practice in Toronto, know many UofT graduates, and am not surprised by this figure. UofT law graduates are well respected and sought out.

    [quote name="Litsa Katsoulias"]95% employment rate?

    Either that's a typo or this survey was conducted on Survey Monkey and then analyzed by a monkey.

    It is possible that students land articling upon graduation (although it is definitely not at a 95% rate) but ask them how they do once they're called.[/quote]
  • Are you joking??

    Lord Diplock
    There is not doubt that UofT is one of Canada's pinnacle law schools (although at times heavily debated at dinner parties). However, the 'goods sold' by UofT (i.e.Bay St) and the deans stats of 95% "employment rate", should be contemplated over a brandy. Considering the latest stats, UofT intake is about 200 and Bay St gave the nod to 277. (please google-running out of characters), It is preposterous and asinine to think 190 of those went to Uof T grads. Although admission is difficult, unless your father/mother (nevermind only your white father), they do have a min grade of 70% awarded, even if you pass by lectures and pass gas.
  • Did you even understand what you read?

    Johh Deia
    95% of grads find employment. This does not mean that each and every one of them found a job on Bay St.
  • The 95% figure

    Litsa Katsoulias
    Thank you for your comment. I should have reformulated my comment in order to make it a little more clear. In no way did I intend to question the credibility of the assistant Dean nor the quality of the pool of law graduates from U of T.

    Since I run a law student employment website with over 5000 members (of which 64% are from Ontario) and am an articling student, I felt as though that figure was surprising given that I receive emails almost every day from law students (including students from the University of Toronto) about how they are struggling to find articling positions let alone jobs once they are called. I don't question that there is a market for U of T grads but I am frankly surprised to hear that figure given the current job market for law grads. My comment was impassioned and could have used better formulation so I do apologize for that.
  • I

    i.... l.
    Thank you. Best of luck.

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