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January 19, 2010 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Canadian law school: I am considering applying, or rather beginning the process of seriously exploring applying, to law school in Canada. I'm wondering if my somewhat lame GPA in my last year of undergrad study is pretty much a dealbreaker.

The way I understand it, your undergrad GPA is most important for law school apps in Canada.

Grades are my biggest obstacle then: my undergrad CGPA is 3.7, which is OK, but I feel that the fact that my worst marks are in my LAST year will count against me substantially (essentially, two B's drag everything down). My last two years of study average out to 3.66 GPA. Mitigating factors are (might be?) a bunch of bullshit to do with machinations within my program at the time (i.e. my transcript does not actually reflect the classes I took and when I took them) and I suppose I could mention such factors in my personal statement. My poor grades are also for clearly non-academic classes, but I don't know if that counts for anything.

I will also have a grad degree with a pretty good gpa (mostly A's, some A-'s) but as I understand it, grad degrees don't count for much on law school apps.

So, big con: final year undergrad GPA + downward trend
Pros are pretty much everything else: great/excellent LSAT, references, professional and academic experience directly related to the area of law I want to go into.

I'm not holding out for UofT but I am interested in somewhat-closer-to-top-tier law schools. Essentially, I want to know if the downward trend in my undergrad grades obviates pursuing this process any further.
posted by scribbler to Education (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you're going to be just fine! It's mostly a numbers game, is my understanding, at most schools; the schools vary about how much LSAT and how much GPA (with schools out west relying more on LSAT), but it is not like grad school admissions. It's an undergrad program; a really, really expensive undergrad professional program.

My boyfriend (one of the many people I know in law school) recommends lawstudents.ca, which sometimes even gives the formulas schools use. I know people at UBC with worse undergrad grades than you who are there on good LSATs, not because they have a bunch of other advantages.
posted by SoftRain at 6:25 PM on January 19, 2010


Expect a MeMail on the weekend with my own numbers. I'm too busy right now interviewing with law firms (I'm a first-year at UNB) to look them up. But I have shitty marks, excellent LSAT, and work experience as a mathematician/programmer and am in. And, for the record, doing well.

But qualitatively, don't worry, and apply.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:37 PM on January 19, 2010


If Canadian law schools are anything like US law schools, it's just a numbers game. An upward trending GPA may help gloss over a bad overall number, but a slight dip in your last semester is not going to be a significant drag.

It looks like UofT's medians are 3.8/167 (may be outdated?). If you have an "excellent" LSAT score (not sure exactly what that means but for the purposes of American law schools I think "excellent" would refer to 170+) I would think you'd be fine...
posted by jckll at 6:50 PM on January 19, 2010


I will also have a grad degree with a pretty good gpa (mostly A's, some A-'s) but as I understand it, grad degrees don't count for much on law school apps.

So, big con: final year undergrad GPA + downward trend
Pros are pretty much everything else: great/excellent LSAT, references, professional and academic experience directly related to the area of law I want to go into.


I'm not a lawyer, but I thought about it for a spell, so I spent a lot of time looking at Canadian law school requirements on the internet when I was supposed to be writing my thesis. Go back and read your post - I think you sound like a great candidate for law school. Relax and start applying to the places you want to go to. I know people who got into law school with less. A lot less.

Also, I always thought the tier system was more of an American thing. It doesn't seem like there's enough law schools for that.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:52 PM on January 19, 2010


LSAT/GPA are weighted about 60/40 in law school admissions. Don't worry too much about U of T. If you want a Bay St. job, it's not even necessarily the best choice, since almost everyone in your class wants exactly the same thing and you're competing against a bunch of very bright people for the grades, and firms only hire so many from U of T. Other top-tier schools are sometimes better choices. Dal, for instance, has lots of students who want jobs out east, so fewer compete for the Toronto jobs, and firms always want to hire some people from Dal. It's an excellent school in a great city, to boot. Can't say that about any other common law schools (except U of T and maybe Osgoode, if you're into leftist propaganda as law).
posted by Dasein at 7:11 PM on January 19, 2010


I don't really know quite how GPA plays out (my undergrad uni doesn't do GPA), but I'm at U of T Law, and from what I can tell, a lower GPA isn't necessarily a dealbreaker - a good LSAT score will help a lot, and anyway, U of T seems to like to try and balance the class a bit - not everyone here is a 4.0/175 student by any means.
Like I said, I can't speak much to GPA since I never dealt with that much, but please feel free to message me if you have any other questions, either about applications generally, or U of T specifically.
posted by iona at 5:29 AM on January 20, 2010


If you've done a lot of extracurriculars/overcome personal problems, McGill will take that into account. They seem to look at the application as a whole rather than focusing on the numbers. Once you get in you can request to see your admissions file, and it's clear that they really do look at everything.

What type of law would you like to practice? Would you want to practice in Canada?
posted by Anali at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2010


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