The legal profession is not the most diverse of profession. For the longest time it was reserved for white cis men with enough financial mean to survive legal training. It has slowly opened its door to white cis women (although there are still issues, especially in the private sector). It is still very white and cis-hetero normative however. There are probably many causes for the homogeneity of the legal profession (financial barrier to access the profession, hiring biases in large firms, the image of the profession, etc). The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) is at least currently considering ways to increase diversity in the profession. While the LSUC is far from having control over all the factors affecting diversity, it does have the power to accredit law schools, and law schools are often viewed as the true gatekeepers of the profession. This power is, however, rarely used as new law schools are a rare thing. Trinity Western University (TWU), a private university that caters to evangelical Christians, is the most recent university so seek accreditation. TWU has an infamous covenant that all students are required to sign. This covenant forbids sexual intimacy except between married heterosexual couples. This unsurprisingly shocked many people including benchers (the decision-makers of the LSUC). Accrediting TWU seemed, at the very least, to go against diversifying the legal profession. The LSUC ultimately rejected TWU accreditation because of its discriminatory covenant. A law suit ensued, pitting equality against freedom of religion. Days before Toronto Pride, the Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA) upheld the decision of the LSUC. In this post, I shortly expose additional background on the case. I then explore the decision’s treatment of the LSUC’s decision making power. I finish by looking at the ONCA’s approach to the balancing of rights.
Note: My apologies for the lateness of this third and last instalment on law school advice. A member of my family recently passed away, and therefore time and will were missing in action.
The beginning of law school is an exciting moment, as are many new experiences. You are now entering (or you have already entered for some time) the deep, damp, dark and cold underground labyrinth that is law school. You are now a troglodyte … I mean student at law. The comparison to a troglodyte may seem unflattering, but like those mythical creatures you will now dwell in your own world cut out from reality and you will be blind to anything that is not related to law. At first, this strange new world will appear bizarre and unfamiliar, but as you grow accustomed to it, it is the rest of the world that will become strange and distant. I may be exaggerating, but barely. It is not a negative thing per se and far from a uniquely law school phenomena (many professional schools create similar settings). Nevertheless, it can sometime be overwhelming and difficult to deal with since we have little frame of reference. Fear not brave new proto-troglodytes for I will try to help you on your quest with these tips and advice on how to survive (and maybe succeed) in law school.
If you read through my last post and still think law school is for you, than you now have the difficult task of choosing where to apply, and, once you get admission letters, of where to go. Choosing a law school is like choosing any other program; everyone will have different priorities and taste. In that respect, this guide is not meant to determine what you should prioritize; instead it is meant to assist you in balancing your preferences with the reality of law school. The following list of consideration is therefore not built in order of importance. It is your task to determine which consideration is more important to you. You should, however, consider them all and avoid basing your decision solely on one point. Moreover, I’m always happy to discuss the matter further with readers in the comments or via email.
Should I go to law should (or some variation) is a question I often get. The short answer is probably not. If you are just thinking about it and you say to yourself “well I have the grades for it”, then you shouldn’t go. For the determined ones, I made this little non-exhaustive list of things you should consider before deciding to apply to law school. Of course it’s based on the Canadian system, but it should remain relevant for other common law countries.