10 Worst Law Schools in Canada

Generally, the ‘worst’ is subjective, and is not the best way to determine what law school you want to attend in Canada. You should usually be looking at a school that suits your abilities or qualifications, as most law schools in Canada are good to go. But that’s not to say that we don’t still have rankings for the worst law schools in Canada.

Times Higher Education ranked the best law schools in Canada, and in this post, I collected the worst ranked Law schools, according to their rankings. The best law schools in Canada included the University of Toronto Toronto, McGill University Montreal, the University of British Columbia Vancouver, the University of Ottawa Ottawa, and the University of Montreal. So, now, let’s look at the worst-ranked law schools according to Times Higher Education.

Worst Law Schools in Canada

I was able to identify the last ranking 10 schools, from the list. The list isn’t exhaustive, so there could be more, and that’s where your research skills come in. That said, below are the 10 worst law schools in Canada.

1. University of Alberta

  • Canada Law Rank: 8
  • Law Rank: 101–125
  • Location: Edmonton

The University of Alberta is considered one of the worst law schools in Canada. Right now, however, your main goal should be to work on achieving and keeping the highest GPA you can for the rest of your undergraduate studies. If you’re planning to apply to law school soon, start preparing for the LSAT. The sooner you begin, the better. The University of Alberta (UofA) is unique in Canada because it considers the average of all your LSAT scores, not just the highest one.

However, there’s not much else you need to worry about. Getting into law school is very competitive, so having the best GPA and LSAT scores you can manage is important. UofA has been using the highest LSAT score for the last few admission cycles, not the average. But generally, your focus should be on maintaining a strong GPA and starting to familiarize yourself with LSAT practice questions.

Extracurricular activities are valuable, especially for scholarship applications. However, for admissions, UofA places a lot of emphasis on your academic performance and test scores. There are some admissions that consider a broader range of factors, but that process is not very transparent.

2. University of Calgary

  • Canada Law Rank: 9
  • Law Rank: 126–150
  • Location: Calgary

The University of Calgary (U of C) is a commuter school, meaning a lot of students head home right after their classes. However, it’s still a social environment where making friends and enjoying yourself is possible.

For safety and convenience, the Southwest (SW) and Northwest (NW) areas are recommended. The U of C is in the NW, making nearby Brentwood a good choice for off-campus living. It’s generally advised to avoid the Northeast (NE) for rentals. Downtown is lively, especially if you’re into clubs and bars, but there are other fun places too.

Getting involved in clubs and other activities is a great way to enhance your social life at U of C. People are mostly friendly, and the campus layout makes it easy to navigate, especially in cold weather. Calgary’s chinook winds help with the cold, unlike in Edmonton.

Many would choose Calgary over other universities like UofA or UVic, though UBC is considered in a different league. For more specific questions, especially about law, the ambassador program at U of C is a great resource. Current law students can provide answers and even give tours.

The law program at UCalgary is known for being close-knit and supportive, especially during stressful times. It’s distinct from the rest of the university with a more social and group-oriented feel. The law program is also notable for its international opportunities, allowing about 20 second-year students to study abroad in their third year, with a choice of around 23 law exchange partners.

Opinions on the UofC campus vary; some find it lackluster, while others appreciate features like the connected buildings. Social life might seem limited unless you actively join clubs. There are pros and cons to consider, but some may prefer other universities for a more comprehensive experience.

3. Université du Québec

  • Canada Law Rank: 9
  • Law Rank: 126–150
  • Location: Quebec City

In Québec, earning a Civil Law degree (LL.L. / LL.B.) is more accessible and less expensive compared to the J.D. program. However, passing the Québec bar exam is exceptionally challenging, known for its high failure rate. The exam changes every year, making repeat attempts difficult, and it consists of several long-form, handwritten questions in French. Failing more than two questions usually results in failing the exam, and failing any exam requires retaking all exams.

These exams require eight months of full-time classes and are more expensive than a year of civil law school. Performance in these exams is public, affecting future employment prospects.

Achieving the title of Maître in Québec is a prestigious accomplishment, reflecting the immense effort and cost involved.

Regarding law school difficulty for a student accustomed to good grades with minimal effort, law school requires significant dedication. On average, students read about 60 legal-sized pages per week per class, requiring deep understanding and analysis. Exams are typically closed-book and heavily weighted, demanding excellent recall and work ethic.

Lawyers may vary in intelligence, but none are lazy. Success in law requires being highly driven and efficient from day one. Québec Civilists must have an exceptional command of French and are more focused on codified laws and the philosophy of law, rather than precedents.

To succeed, you need to be top-notch readers, efficient writers, persuasive speakers, and have good English skills and financial resources. Considering the demands, alternatives like plumbing school or continuing your current path might be more advisable.

4. Queen’s University

  • Canada Law Rank: 9
  • Law Rank: 126–150
  • Location: Kingston

During my findings, I came across contrasting opinions regarding Queen’s University as one of the worst law schools in Canada. First, in the Toronto summer job market for law students. These statistics mainly reflect positions in large law firms (BigLaw) and don’t include smaller firms or government roles, which often hire closer to graduation.

The major recruitment happens at the start of the second year of law school. Schools like the University of Toronto (UofT), Osgoode, McGill, and the University of British Columbia (UBC) are top-ranked in Canada. UofT graduates have a slight edge in securing US BigLaw positions right after school, but Canadian BigLaw experience is highly valued in the US. With over two years of Canadian BigLaw experience, transferring to a US firm is straightforward, regardless of your law school.

Queen’s University offers similar opportunities to UofT and Osgoode, though Queen’s students may need higher grades to compete for the same roles. UofT and Osgoode students benefit from an extra day of on-campus interviews (OCIs), giving them a broader reach into their classes.

Law school attracts high achievers and workaholics. It’s unrealistic to expect to be top of the class, and attending a higher-ranked school can provide a safety net. These schools tend to have less competitive environments, with many students securing articling positions early.

The average age in a first-year law class is between 25 and 27, and maturity is important. Work experience is highly valued, especially in BigLaw. Those aiming for these roles often compete with peers who have extensive professional experience and qualifications.

Rushing into law school without work experience and personal development is not advisable. Law school is highly competitive, and the legal profession often demands long working hours.

5. University of Victoria

  • Canada Law Rank: 9
  • Law Rank: 126–150
  • Location: Victoria

UVic offers a warm and supportive environment and is also ranked as one of the worst law schools in Canada. This school has an impressive 99% graduation rate. Their commitment to student success is a key aspect of their culture. Also, UVic is unique in Canada for offering a law-specific co-op program, providing valuable real-world experience.

When considering law specializations, UVic tends to lean towards public interest and social justice areas, rather than corporate law. However, this doesn’t limit opportunities in corporate law, as evidenced by many UVic alumni succeeding in this field.

Many students are drawn to UVic for its focus on indigenous and environmental law or the appeal of living on the island. While the university isn’t primarily corporate-oriented, graduates often find themselves in prominent firms in Vancouver.

Currently, there’s construction near the law building for the new Indigenous Law Program, but this shouldn’t cause significant disruption. The law library has recently been renovated, offering a modern and well-equipped space. The Law building’s convenient location makes accessing campus facilities easy.

Also, the co-op program at UVic is highly beneficial, providing practical experience and enhancing resumes, making it a commendable choice for students in all fields.

6. Université Laval

  • Canada Law Rank: 13
  • Law Rank: 151–175
  • Location: Quebec City

In Quebec, outside of areas like New Brunswick, French-language universities like Laval University aren’t as well-known as their English counterparts. They’re more obscure compared to smaller regional universities in other provinces. However, many sports enthusiasts would recognize Laval primarily for its football program, though they offer solid academic programs, much like other major universities.

Laval is generally seen as a typical university by most. Its recognition outside the province isn’t widespread, though, which probably explains why it is one of the worst law schools in Canada.

While the education quality in Canada, particularly in Quebec, is quite uniform, Laval doesn’t share the same prestige as institutions like McGill, the University of Toronto, or UBC. If you’re aiming for top global companies or want to stand out in competitive job markets in the US, UK, Singapore, etc., graduating from Laval might not give you a strong edge. However, for those planning to stay in Quebec, Laval University won’t hinder job prospects, except perhaps when targeting top international firms in the province.

Regarding Quebec City, there are several pros and cons:

Pros

  • Clean environment, little pollution
  • Friendly community
  • Beautiful natural surroundings

Cons

  • Dependency on a car is high
  • Public transportation is lacking, with poor bus service and no metro
  • The city can be dull
  • Limited culinary options
  • Little change over the past 10-15 years, with minimal new developments

A critical point for non-French speakers: Quebec City can be challenging. The university deducts points for French errors in essays and exams, and there’s little accommodation for those learning French. The city is predominantly Francophone with limited diversity, and locals often keep to themselves, making socializing tough for outsiders. The party scene isn’t vibrant unless you know the right people.

While the city is picturesque, it’s advisable to research thoroughly before deciding. Montreal might be a more welcoming option for studying in Quebec, especially for those more comfortable in English.

7. Western University

  • Canada Law Rank: 14
  • Law Rank: 176–200
  • Location: London

Western University tends to attract a younger, more uniform group, particularly focused on business and known for its vibrant social scene.

For those leaning towards BigLaw, especially in Toronto, Western University is a strong contender. Also considered one of the worst law schools in Canada, this school competes closely with Osgoode.

While Western emphasizes intellectual property and technology law, UOttawa is equally proficient in these areas and benefits from being in a tech-centric city. Your choice should consider two main factors: your interest in BigLaw and your preferred city and school environment for the next three years.

8. Carleton University

  • Canada Law Rank: 15
  • Law Rank: 201–250
  • Location: Ottawa

Carleton University is well-regarded for its social science programs, particularly those linked to the public sector like political science, economics, sociology, criminology, public affairs, and communications. This is largely because of its proximity to government institutions.

However, you should be cautious about going for Legal Studies programs. These undergraduate programs in Legal Studies or ‘Law’ often don’t lead to strong employment opportunities in the legal field. They tend to be less effective unless followed by Law school, which is a competitive and challenging path.

Legal Studies is not equivalent to a Law program. It doesn’t prepare students for Law school, which requires an undergraduate degree for admission, nor does it align well with the needs of law firms, which usually seek interns from Law school students.

Also, these programs differ from law clerk or paralegal programs offered in colleges, which provide specialized training for roles like paralegals, law clerks, and legal administrators.

Without proceeding to Law School — a step that the vast majority of students won’t take — a degree in Legal Studies

9. The University of Saskatchewan

This school might be a good choice in Saskatchewan or Alberta, but it’s not among Canada’s top-tier institutions, thus it ranks as one of the worst law schools in Canada. Your decision to accept an offer should consider other options you have and whether your LSAT score or GPA is the limiting factor. If your LSAT score is holding you back and your aim is to join a top law firm in Toronto, you might want to reconsider and improve your LSAT score.

In general, Canadian law schools have a good track record of placing graduates in jobs within their regional markets. They usually have reasonable tuition fees, and graduates often find well-paying jobs as attorneys. However, you should think carefully about attending a school in Saskatchewan. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea due to its cold weather and somewhat uniform landscape. That said, many people appreciate the lower cost of living there and find the culture suitable.

I haven’t studied at the University of Saskatchewan’s Law School, but I have friends who graduated from there. One of them mentioned that compared to schools in British Columbia, USask has a more collaborative environment. I’ve also heard great things about the events and volunteer activities there.

The University of Saskatchewan’s law states that a competitive LSAT score is 158 and a competitive GPA is 83%.

Even if your scores are slightly lower, it’s worth applying. If you don’t get accepted, you can always try again next year. I know someone who got in with a 152 LSAT score, but people usually share their scores only if they’re high.

Lastly, the LSAT can be mastered with further study. Putting in more effort and retaking the exam could significantly improve your chances of getting into a better law school.

10. Ontario Tech University

  • Canada Law Rank: 17
  • Law Rank: 251–300
  • Location: Oshawa

The university you choose for your undergraduate degree doesn’t matter for law school admission. What’s important are your GPA and LSAT scores. So, whether it’s Ontario Tech or another institution, it doesn’t significantly impact your law school prospects.

Your choice of program is also flexible. Opt for a field that interests you and where you believe you can excel academically.

A point to consider, however, is the relative difficulty of achieving a high GPA at different universities. For instance, some find it more challenging to maintain a high GPA at the University of Toronto, which could affect law school admissions. Since all these universities are accredited, your focus should be on excelling in your chosen program and maintaining a high cumulative GPA.

Conclusion—Worst Law Schools in Canada

Remember, law schools don’t place much emphasis on the specific program or university for your undergrad. They mainly look at GPA, LSAT scores, and quality references. Choose a program you find engaging, where you can achieve a high GPA, prepare well for the LSAT, and build strong relationships with your professors for solid reference letters. That’s the key to a strong law school application.

Read alsoEasiest Law School to Get Into Canada

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