Do the majority of students focus their studies in a particular area of law?

No. After first year, the choice of courses is entirely optional (within certain academic requirements). The breadth of theoretical and practical courses offered at this law school means that students specialize only to the extent they wish to.

Does U of T law school have a particular area of speciality?

Although the Faculty does not offer specializations or programs of focus available at other law schools, the expertise of our Faculty is unparalleled.  

The richness of upper year courses is the heart of our JD program.  The breadth and diversity of the curriculum offered allows students to craft programs of study tailored to their individual needs and ambitions.

Students may select from amongst more than 100 upper year courses each year, including those as fundamental as Evidence Law and Business Organizations to those as unique and varied as Financial Crimes; Comparative Anti-Terrorism and National Security Law; Law, Religion and Public Discourse; and Modern Political Trials.  In addition, the Faculty's commitment to ensuring that our leading academics are in the classroom means that students study with the leaders in the field across a wide array of subject matters including law and development, corporate law, health law, family law, criminal law and other areas too numerous to mention.  The Faculty is also extremely fortunate to be supported by an outstanding array of adjunct professors who shape their fields and who bring a sophisticated understanding of legal realities to the classroom.  Their courses include topics as diverse as International Arbitration, Animal Rights, Freedom of Expression and the Press, and International Criminal Law.  Finally, one of the Faculty's defining features is its broad transnational engagement.  The Distinguished Visiting Faculty Program, which brings the world's leading scholars and jurists to the law school, is one expression of this engagement.  Distinguished Visitors have included some of the most influential jurists, scholars and legal thinkers from Canada and around the world.

If you have a specific are of interest, the Faculty will be able to satisfy it.  If you would like more information about the Faculty's curriculum, please refer to Acacemic Programs.

How do I specialize in an area of law?

Students select upper year courses based on their academic interests and goals, providing they meet the academic requirements. For example:

  • A student interested in litigation and dispute settlement might select courses such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, Advanced Civil Litigation Strategies, Trial Advocacy, and Negotiation. This could be supplemented by participation in the first year voluntary moots, and the second year compulsory and competitive moots. This student may also join one of our numerous advocacy-focused extra-curricular activities, including the Client Counselling Competition.
  • A student with an interest in international issues might study Comparative Constitutional Law, International Law and Compliance, International Trade Regulation, Public International Law, and Private International Law. This could be augmented by participation in the International Human Rights Internship Program, the Work in Hong Kong/China/Japan programs, or the Summer Fellowship in International Business & Trade Law. This student could also get involved in the student-run International Law Society.

Do you offer combined degrees and can they be of advantage in obtaining a legal position?

Each year, approximately 20 per cent of the class participates in at least one combined degree. Employers may consider a combined degree advantageous since it gives students insight into different but related disciplines. Students are able to demonstrate to employers specialized knowledge and perspectives in an area other than law.

For example, many law firms with corporate departments hire students with a combined J.D./M.B.A. degree because of the business expertise those students can bring to the firm. Similarly, firms specializing in family law or government departments dealing with children may welcome someone who has also obtained a Masters in Social Work in addition to their law degree.

Our law school offers the following combined degrees:

How successful are graduates in obtaining articling positions?

Our strong academic reputation is well understood by prospective employers and our graduates enjoy tremendous success in securing placements at law firms and industry, public interest and government departments. The Faculty also has a remarkable placement rate for judicial clerkships at all levels of courts.  Consider, for example, that in 2013-2014 six of twenty-seven (roughly 25%) Supreme Court Clerks will be graduates of our Faculty.  Equally impressive is the fact that six of the Court of Appeal for Ontario's 2013-2014 Clerks are graduates of our law school.

By graduation each year, 90 - 95% of the class has secured an articling placement, a pre-requisite to being called to the various provincial bars. Our graduating classes typically enjoy the highest rate of placement at the time of graduation of any Ontario law school.

How will I find an articling position?

In the first year following graduation from the J.D. program, students must article in order to fulfill the requirements for being called to the bar of a Canadian province. The CDO will assist you in obtaining an articling position, whether in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, London, Ottawa, or any other Canadian city.

Students should carefully consider their articling options in order to find an employer that will give them the background, guidance, and training in the area they have selected.

The office provides resources including:

  • up-to-date articling and summer employment handbooks
  • information packages about employment opportunities in major cities
  • resumé writing and interview skills seminars
  • an individual review of your application package and discussion of interview strategies
  • annual career fairs and on campus interview programs

Also, some articling employers offer second-year summer employment programs, which for many law students translates into meaningful work experience and an offer of an articling position upon graduation.

What is the salary range for new lawyers?

The Career Development Office compiles current information on articling and associate salaries and makes this available to our students.

  • Articling salaries in Toronto range from approximately $35,000 to $70,000 per year.
  • Students who article with a mid- to large-size Toronto law firm earns about $50,000 to $65,000 a year.
  • Articling salaries outside of Toronto, and in particular, outside of Ontario are lower.

The Career Development Office also compiles current information on articling and associate salaries and makes this available to our students.

If I attend U of T law school will I be able to practise law in other parts of Canada?

Yes. Our law school is accredited not only by the Law Society of Upper Canada - the governing body for the Ontario legal profession - but other provincial and territorial law societies throughout Canada.

But legal governing bodies in each province have varying requirements for admission to the practice of law. You should contact the specific law society to which you seek admission. Furthermore, each provincial law society requires some period of articling following completion of a Canadian law degree.

A good place to begin your search on the different requirements of each provincial body is at the website of the Canadian Federation of Law Societies of Canada

If I attend U of T law school will I be able to practise law in the United States?

In a nutshell, it depends. Like the different provincial law societies, each state has its own entrance requirements, particularly when it comes to law degrees from other countries. Currently, states which accept our law degree as “equivalent” to an American law degree are New York and Massachusetts.  Another popular destination for our graduates is California, but to be eligible to write the California Bar, one must first be called to the Bar of a Canadian province, or another American state such as New York.

Detailed requirements for every state are available in a publication called the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements published by the American Bar Association. You should investigate this information early in order to avoid disappointment in the future.

Will a J.D. degree be useful if I decide that the traditional practice of law is not for me?

Absolutely. Graduates seek a variety of positions in practice as well as in non-traditional careers upon completion of their law degree or articles. For example, some students choose to clerk for judges at a Canadian court, or article with a policy division of the government, a public interest organization, a union, or corporation.

You may choose to pursue a career in academics, the civil service, with an international human rights organization, or within business. We have graduates who are actors, labour relation consultants, career counsellors, human rights advocates, professors, university administrators, company presidents, investment bankers, stockbrokers, and small business owners - the list is endless.

All these people, although pursuing non-traditional paths, have benefited from the acquisition of a law degree. But before you decide to pursue a non-traditional career, it may be useful to get an articling position that exposes you to several areas of law. This may help determine exactly which direction you should take. The Career Development Office can also assist in your search through panel discussions, resources, and individual career counselling.

How do I pursue interests in environmental law, international law, entertainment law, etc.?

As noted above, the best way to pursue your interests is to:

  • take courses in your areas of interest
  • participate in the many exciting and innovative programs offered by the law school
  • get involved in extra-curricular activities

You can also:

  • pursue your interests by seeking faculty members whose area of interest or expertise mirrors your own and undertaking a writing project  with one such person
  • take the opportunity to do research and writing in your area of interest 
  • attend the many seminars and lectures by visiting speakers that run throughout the academic year which relate to your area of interest
  • seek out a summer or articling employer that specializes in your interest (for example, a boutique intellectual property firm)