Q1.What do I have to do to get into law school?
A. You need to complete at least 2 years of university, ie. 10 full course credits or the equivalence thereof, of any programme of courses leading to a degree. However, 80% of the students applying have a degree.
Q2.Is preference given to applicants with a degree?
A. No, but if you apply for admission based upon two years of university, your entire university record is taken into account. Once you have completed three years of university, ie. 15 full course credits or the equivalence thereof, some of your worst grades are dropped in the calculation of your grade point average. Universities evaluate your performance by letter grades, A+, A, B+, B etc. Each letter grade has a grade point. A+ is 4.5, A is 4, B+ is 3.5 and so on, which enables a grade point average to be calculated. To be competitive for admission to law school you need a 3.75 g.p.a.
Q3.What pre-Law university courses should I take?
A. There are no pre-requisite or preferred courses. Because your grade point average is so important, take whatever courses you're interested in, without regard to whether you think they're relevant to law school. You'll likely work hardest at courses which interest you and thereby achieve your highest g.p.a. Ask 10 law professors what pre-Law courses are a good preparation for law school and you'll get at least 7 different answers.
Q4.Should I take any available law courses as part of my pre-Law programme?
A. No, for three reasons. First, they'll not give you any idea about what your law school courses will be like. Second, they may give you a false sense of confidence at the beginning of First Year Law that you know something or a lot about an area of the law. Third, if you get into law school, from then on you'll be studying law for the rest of your life, if you stay with law as a career. Take your pre-Law opportunity to delve into other areas of interest.
Q5.What if I have a Criminal record?
A. This does not affect your admission to law school in Manitoba. However, a conviction for any offence under the Criminal Code or the Narcotic Control Act may be a disqualifying matter for the Law Society of Manitoba regarding admission to its Bar Admission programme (see Q.17). You can contact the Law Society at 942-5571.
Q6.What's the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)?
A. It's an aptitude test which all First Year applicants have to write.
Q7.When should I write the LSAT?
A. Wait until the year before you hope to gain admission to law school, because your pre-Law university courses will sharpen the reading comprehension and logical and analytical reasoning aptitudes which are tested by the Test. There are four Test writing days a year, one in February, June, October, and December. You have to arrange to write the Test several weeks before the Test writing date. You have to write the Test no later than the October Test writing date preceding the September in which you hope to gain admission to First Year Law. You should consider writing an earlier Test so that if you have a bad test day, resulting in a low score, you can re-write the Test in October.
Q8.How can I prepare for the LSAT?
A. Because it is an aptitude test, compared to a knowledge test, you can only prepare for the Test by familiarizing yourself with the format of the Test, so that you won't be surprised when you write it. It is composed of several timed segments of multiple choice questions. The LSAT Registration & Information Book, which can be acquired at the Faculty of Law General Office or the University of Manitoba Admissions Office, contains a sample test. At least do the sample test under its timed conditions. There are commercial LSAT preparation courses offered from time to time, which are advertized on university bulletin boards. Essentially, these courses offer some advice and an opportunity to write additional representative Tests. The law school neither recommends nor discourages taking these courses. They work for some people and not for others. There are books of old tests available in the University Bookstore; do not practise with tests older than three or four years, because the test format is changed every four or five years.
Q9.How many applications do you receive each year?
A. Approximately 900 - 1000.
Q10.How many applicants are admitted to First Year?
A. 101 full-time students.
Q11.How do you choose the 101 students?
A. Most of the 101 are selected solely on the basis of their university grade point average and LSAT score, weighted 50/50. It takes a 3.75 grade point average to be competitive, unless your LSAT score is very high. A few places are made available, usually to older applicants and very rarely to someone under 25, on the additional basis of a personal statement, letters of reference, and an interview.
Q12.What's the ratio of men and women in law school?
A. It varies from year to year; it's about 50-50, with some years there being a few more men than women and vice versa.
Q13.I'm a member of a visible minority? Does the First Year Law class reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the community?
Q14.I have a disability; is it an impediment to my attending law school?
A. For the purpose of admission, if as a result of your disability you are not competitive on the basis of your academic record and LSAT score, there is an avenue of admission called Individual Consideration in which additional criteria (a personal statement, letters of reference, and perhaps an interview) are considered. For the LSAT you can make an arrangement to write an accommodated test. If you gain admission, the law school will be sensitive and receptive to reasonable arrangements to accommodate you and there is a University's Disability Services Office
, which can assist you.
Q15.What degree do I receive?
A. You receive an LL.B., which stands for Bachelor of Laws. Some law schools, ours included, offer a Master of Laws degree, an LL.M., for students who have an LL.B. or an equivalent degree. An LL.M. is not required to be a lawyer.
Q16.What are the aims of the LL.B. programme?
A. In addition to facilitating a basic understanding of our legal system, ie. the way law is made and enforced, and of fundamental legal principles, the programme instills the intellectual, communication, and some of the craft skills of a lawyer. Regarding the intellectual aspect the attributes we hope to develop through the courses you will take over the three years are (i) an ability to analyze facts thoroughly, with imagination and foresight, a sense of relevance, and the ability to perceive similarities, distinctions and relationships, (ii) the ability to appreciate the legal and social policy issues involved, and (iii) the ability to find the applicable law, so as to arrive at appropriate conclusions and to give effective advice of the action that is required. As well, the programme teaches students a sense of professionalism and emphasizes the professional responsibilities of lawyers in terms of ethics and service to clients and the public.
Q17.How long does it take to get a law degree and qualify as a lawyer?
A. The law school LL.B. programme is 3 years. After that you can go to the Bar Admission programme of any province, other than Quebec. Bar Admission programmes comprise a period of articles (apprenticing for pay with a lawyer) and taking courses. The entire programme, articling and courses, depending on the province, is from one year to a year and a half in length. Most programmes, as in Manitoba, are one year.
Q18.How does U of M's Faculty of Law compare to other Canadian law schools?
A. There are 16 law schools in various provinces of Canada, to which you could apply, not counting several civil law schools in Quebec. To practise law in any province or territory, other than Quebec, you need a law degree from one of these university law schools: Dalhousie, Moncton, U.N.B., McGill, Ottawa, Queen's, Toronto, Osgoode Hall, Western Ontario, Windsor, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Alberta, U.B.C., and Victoria. All 16 of these law schools offer a general education in law and none is actually superior in this regard. A few of the law schools have a superior reputation based either on the high academic credentials of their First Year students (Toronto) or the length of the law school's existence (Osgoode Hall). Law schools can be compared on several bases, including size, curriculum, library and geographic location. Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto is by far the largest law school, admitting 280 students into First Year. There are 11 law schools which admit between 110-215 students. Manitoba is the largest of the small law schools, which admit between 45 and 95 students. Some people feel more comfortable in a small milieu, others in a large environment. In our law school the Dean, the Associate Dean, and the full-time professors are quite accessible; the General Office and library staffs get to know students by name. The First Year Class is divided into sections, varying from two sections to five, depending on the course, so that actual class sizes vary in First Year from 18 to 45 students; in Second Year the Class is divided in two for each course. The large law schools are able to offer a greater number of specialized courses. We do offer multiple courses respecting several areas of law, but not in as many areas as the larger schools. Our clinical courses are second to none; these are courses which focus on lawyering skills and involve actual or simulated client files, as compared to the other courses, which deal with legal rules, theory and policy. The same as most other law schools, there is a law clinic in the Faculty, in which students volunteer to deal with actual criminal cases; there is a law journal published by the students, and our students compete in national, regional, and international mock court competitions. Also, we have a Small Business Clinic. The larger law schools have larger libraries. But, all of the law schools, including ours, have fully adequate libraries for the LL.B. programme. The large libraries are only significant for the LL.M. programme. Like all of the law schools we have a state-of-the-art multi-station computer classroom and we offer two courses, which teach the use of the computer in legal research.
Q19.Can I tailor my choice of Law courses to specialize, say in Criminal Law, or Corporate Commercial Law, or Aboriginal Law?
A. To a limited extent, probably more so in the larger law schools.
Q20.How much is the tuition fee for Law?
A. Beginning the 2005-2006 academic year the tution for each Year will be approximately $8,500.00.
In addition, there are books, supplies, photocopying, computer access, and a few incidental fees totalling as much as $1,500-1,700.
Q21.Is there any financial assistance available?
A. In addition to government loans and general University bursaries, there are currently 41 bursaries specifically for Law students; probably by 2005-2006 that number will be 50, and the total available money for allocation by 2005-2006 will be around $500,000.00 per year. As of 2006 - 2007 there will be several Entrance Scholarships, which we hope to increase to 10, each around $5,000.00. For First and Second Year Dean's Honour List students there are the Pitblado Scholarships of $5,000.00 each. And, we have money to allocate for interest relief, post graduation, respecting government loans.
Q22.Is law school difficult?
A. Studying law is not like mathematics or music, which you either have a natural ability to do or you don't. Law is not rocket science or even fluid dynamics. The difficulty with Law is not with complex principles, but rather with the volume of course work expected. Probably, you will find the workload significantly heavier than your pre-Law. But, if you do the work, you should have no difficulty passing. There is a very low failure rate. Failures occur because the students don't do the work; and this happens because they find Law is not for them, or they have a prolonged personal problem during the year, or they are so immature that they think that they can get along without doing the work.
Q23.I don't like public speaking; I don't want to be a courtroom lawyer; is this a compulsory part of the Law programme?
A. We call this advocacy and there is a small advocacy component in one First Year course and a large one in a Second Year course. But don't despair. Remember, many students with your feelings have coped; it's not that big a deal. For those who aspire to the courtroom there is an Advanced Advocacy course available in Third Year. A significant percentage of lawyers never go to court.
Q24.If I don't get into a Canadian law school, is it worth going to law school elsewhere, such as in the U.S.A. or England?
A. Obtaining a law degree outside of Canada will require you to do another one to two years of courses in a Canadian law school to qualify for entry into a provincial Bar Admission programme. In order to do this you must submit your foreign law degree to the National Committee on Accreditation in Ottawa for evaluation.
Q25.What can I do with a law degree?
A. There is a variety of careers open to you. Most graduates pursue what is called the private practice of law; they work either alone or in firms with other lawyers serving clients' needs, including wills and estates, family law, criminal law, civil litigation, commercial contracts, incorporating companies, securities regulation, taxation, real estate transactions, and labour management employment matters. Many large corporations are so continuously in need of legal service that they find it useful to employ their own lawyers, called corporate counsel. Modern government is so complex that it must employ a large number of lawyers in various capacities, as crown prosecutors, drafting legislation, advising various departments and tribunals, preparing contracts, and representing the government in court on constitutional and other civil matters. A legal education is often a stepping-stone to an executive position in business. Many business people have a law degree. As well, law graduates pursue careers in law enforcement, corrections, foreign affairs, banking, journalism, teaching, and returning to an initial professional qualification, such as medicine and engineering.
Q26.Is there a surplus of law graduates or a shortage; in other words, is it easy to get a job with a law degree?
A. Currently, there is a surplus of law graduates for absorption into the private practise of law. However, there is always demand for those who do well. One demographic study indicates that by 2004 the number of law graduates will equal the number leaving the legal profession by retirement or death; by 2010 there will be a significant shortage of law graduates.
Q27.How much money do lawyers make?
A. It is very difficult to generalize. Some corporate, commercial, tax, and securities lawyers earn huge incomes, as do a few courtroom lawyers. Most lawyers make a comfortable living in the middle income range. For much more information (than probably you need at this time) you can visit our website at www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/law