Pre-Law Society has had an amazing semester so far – what about you?

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Hey Pre-Lawyers! Want to hear something crazy? IT’S ALREADY NOVEMBER. Can you believe it? With that, Pre-Law Society has had an exciting time so far hosting a series of awesome events that many of you came out to. In particular, we hosted two major events – Admissions Night, and Challenges from Abroad by Kerry Sheppard (check out the links for an overview!). For those of you who couldn’t make it, we’ve taken the opportunity to gather some interesting things we learned from those events and post it up on our blog for you to read:

Sept 30th: Admissions Night

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Pre-Law’s Admissions Night was an evening where representatives of Law Schools in Canada came together to answer students’ questions about the various standards of getting into each individual law school. Like all years past, this year was a success yet again! We had over 150 attendees, and our representatives came from law schools from both Canada and the United States. Law schools included:

    • University of British Columbia
    • University of Victoria
    • University of Calgary
    • Dalhousie University
    • Washington State University
    • University of Toronto, and
    • Western University

Each representative gave brief overviews of their respective application processes, and what they are looking for in candidates. Here are some things we learned (credits to our Executive Assistant, Isabella P., for taking these notes!)

  • Many of the Canadian universities hold heavy weight towards an applicant’s GPA and LSAT score, and use the extracurricular sections of individuals less onerously.
  • With regard to the University of British Columbia, the student’s cumulative GPA and LSAT score are weighted, “50/50”, suggesting the ability of a student with a lower GPA to be admitted with an excellent score on the LSAT. This was echoed across the panel, and representatives stressed the importance of both aspects towards the application.
  • With regard to the personal profile of applicants, all panelists implored that individuals not simply regurgitate their resume, but take the time to let the admissions committee learn about yourself.
  • The biggest pet peeve of the Western representative’s personal statements is when applicants copy paste their statement from other schools, and don’t write the name of the correct institution!
  • Other pet peeves included bad grammar, not being genuine with your statement’s application, and trying to exceed the limit by decreasing font size.
  • Following the Question and Answer period, students were able to meet with the panelists and receive materials from the respective schools, including hand-outs, pens, notebooks, and sunglasses!

Oct 29th: Challenges from Abroad with Kerry Sheppard

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Challenges from Abroad features an afternoon led by Kerry Sheppard, a lawyer at DLA Piper Canada, who came in to provide valuable information to students regarding bringing a law degree from overseas back to Canada.

Kerry Sheppard went to the University of Victoria for his undergraduate studies as well as law school, and has over 30 years of experience in the law business doing litigation, solicitation, in-house counsel, government, and in both big and small private firms. He is currently the director of student programs at DLA Piper Canada, recruiting and training articled students as well as recruiting second year law students to become summer students.

Kerry’s talk focused mostly on BC, but is generally applicable to most of Canada as well.

Here are some interesting things we learned from him (credits to our VP Events, Ashley B., for taking notes!):

  • If a student is looking to practice in BC, then it would be to their advantage to focus on going to school in BC.
  • The Law Society of BC has rules that make becoming a lawyer more complex for out-of-country law students.
  • The Law Society of BC’s process of becoming a lawyer:
    • Get your (ideally Canadian) JD from a Law School.
      • Note: An out-of-country JD has additional steps to follow!
    • Complete Articles:
      • In BC, a student must complete an articling term (1 year) with a lawyer in practice
      • An articling period consists of 9 months of working in a law firm under guidance/ supervision of lawyers. The rest of the year (3 months) is completed by enrolling in and passing the Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC) administered by the Law Society.
    • Get called to to the bar.
  • In securing an articling term, Canadian law schools are, on average, more attractive from a BC law firm’s perspective. But why is this so?
    • Because BC law firms are more familiar with local law programs and understand what programs they offer, their strengths, the quality of the program, etc.
  • Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that out-of-country applications are completely invalid! It just means that they are not as familiar with the school and may or may not know its program’s strengths and qualities.
  • If you want to practice in Vancouver, there is tremendous advantage by going to UBC Law (Allard School of Law). The professors who teach the course tend to come from the local legal community and it becomes easier to build a good network of connections in the city.
  • When Kerry looks at resumes, he looks for:
    • Interpersonal communication skills
    • Listening skills
    • Interest/ Motivation
    • Volunteer + work experience
    • Transcripts
  • On average, there are about 100 applications per 1 articling position available. In other words, it gets pretty competitive!
  • So… what if you DO choose to study abroad and bring your degree back to Canada?
    • You must go through the accreditation process through the NCA (more information here).
    • Note that the NCA is fairly resource-consuming – the entire process takes about a year on average and costs a few thousand dollars.

It’s been an exciting month at Pre-Law Society, but the awesome events aren’t over yet. Check out Life of a Law Student coming up on November 17th and get your questions answered about attending law school at the Allard School of Law (UBC), and keep counting down the days to our end-of-year signature event: Wine and Cheese 2016!

We hope you’ve been having as awesome of a semester as we have!

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