Canadian Law Schools

The links below offer a concise description of each school with information about admission requirements, special programs, financial aid, and more. Each page also includes a link to the school’s website. Some of the schools include an admission profile grid to illustrate the credentials of previously admitted applicants.

Legal Training in Canada

The responsibility for legal training in Canada is shared between the nation's law schools and the law societies of the various provinces. Law schools are institutions of higher learning dedicated to the study of law as a legal discipline; provincial law societies are charged with assuring that legal services are provided to the public by qualified lawyers. Law societies operate the bar admission courses and continuing education programs for lawyers.

Most law schools share a common approach to training lawyers but differ in the emphasis they give to certain subjects and teaching methods, such as opportunities for independent study, clinical experience, legal internships, and involvement with government affairs. Many schools offer joint degrees as well; they may combine the law degree with other disciplines, such as business or public policy.

Canada's Two Legal Traditions

In Canada, the French civil law tradition is dominant in Quebec and the English common law tradition is dominant in the other provinces and territories. In order to practice law in Quebec, it is usually necessary to obtain a civil law degree from a law school in Quebec or in the civil law program of the University of Ottawa. To practice law in common law jurisdictions, it is usually necessary to obtain a degree from one of the common-law law schools referred to on this website. Canada has a series of mobility agreements, as they are known, which have greatly facilitated the movement of lawyers, on either a temporary or permanent basis, between the various provincial jurisdictions. More detailed information about the protocols, and the requirements for practicing law, can be obtained from the law societies of the various provinces.

How Law Schools Select Applicants

In the last few years, between 5,000 and 7,000 applicants have completed for approximately 2,350 first-year places in Canada's common-law schools. Admission committees are faced with denying admission to many well-qualified applicants due to limited space and resources. All law schools consider a variety of factors in admitting students, and no single qualification by itself will guarantee acceptance or rejections. In order to be fair, schools rely heavily on selection criteria that includes the LSAT and academic achievements that relate to expected performance in law school and can be applied to all candidates.

Canadian Aboriginal/Indigenous and Traditionally Underrepresented Applicants

Most law schools have active programs to foster a more diverse representation in the legal profession. Many schools have academic support programs for students. Refer to the law school description on this website or to each school’s calendar for additional information.

People of Aboriginal ancestry may also be eligible to apply for participation in the Program of Legal Studies for Native People. This program enables Canadian Aboriginal/Indigenous applicants to engage in a preliminary study of legal materials by attending a full-time summer course offered at the University of Saskatchewan. The program helps to prepare Aboriginal students for law school; successful completion of the program will strengthen their applications to Canadian law schools and may be, in some cases, required for admission.

Paying for your Legal Education

Legal education is becoming significantly more expensive in Canada. Many law schools charge a differential fee. Tuition costs at Canadian law schools in 2018–2019 are expected to be between $7,000 and $34,000 per year. Depending upon the location of the school and the student’s lifestyle, housing and other living expenses may add an additional $10,000 to $20,000 per academic year.

Financial assistance is available. Federal government-sponsored loan programs provide most of the funds. Canadian students and landed immigrants may apply in their home provinces for loans under the Canada Student Loans Program. Most provinces also provide nonrepayable bursaries or provincial loans; however, these rarely cover all educational expenses. Most Canadian law schools also award a limited number of scholarships and bursaries.

The Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Legal Education

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by The Honourable Mr. Justice Murray Sinclair of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, issued its final report. Recommendation 37 called upon Canadian law schools to incorporate Aboriginal Law and indigenous legal perspectives in the law school curriculum:

We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and antiracism.

Aboriginal content has featured in the Canadian JD for many years now, but all Canadian law schools are now considering how they will best honour this call to action.

Admission to the Bar in Canada

In order to be admitted to the practice of law, the requirement in most provinces is that

  • a candidate possess a law degree from a recognized law school, and
  • a candidate serve a period of apprenticeship as an Articling Clerk under the supervision of a qualified member of the Bar in the province.

Articling usually involves working on a full-time basis with modest pay as a clerk in a law firm, a court, or the legal department of the government or a corporation. The length of this articling clerkship varies from ten months to one year, depending on the province. Each provincial law society also administers a bar admission course or set of bar admission examinations that must be completed successfully before a candidate may be admitted to the provincial bar. Bar admission courses and examinations cover a wide range of topics. Their emphasis is generally on practical knowledge and skills. The evaluations in these programs are designed to ensure that new members possess the knowledge, skills, and attitude expected of an entry-level lawyer in a competent and professional practice. Ontario has recently introduced a companion program to Articling. Known as the Legal Practice Program (LPP), it consists of a period of post-JD full-time skills-based study, together with a period of internship in a legal setting. At the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University, which has a particular mandate to train lawyers for northern, rural, and Canadian Aboriginal/Indigenous practice, the JD program has been given special accreditation to incorporate the LPP with the JD program itself with the completion of extra credits during the JD. For more information, contact The Law Society of Upper Canada.

Bar admission in Quebec usually requires graduation from a civil law school, followed by a term attending Bar School, and a period completing the Stage, which is the civil law equivalent to Articling.

Bar admission procedures and bar admission exams are being monitored and reevaluated in Canada. One should always contact the law society in the particular province concerning the structure and format of its individual course and examination prior to graduation from law school. 

Listing of Canadian Law Society Websites

Online Resources