So, You Want to Become a Lawyer
Here are some of the things you will need to do to achieve this goal:
1. Graduate with your high school diploma
Complete your high school education, regardless of your educational system, e.g. Ontario Grade 12, US Grade 12, GCE/GCSE at the A/AS level, CAPE, IB, etc.
2. Attend university, with the goal of earning an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree
You cannot enter Canadian law schools directly from high school. After finishing high school, continue on to university studies. Any university degree is good preparation for law school, e.g. BA, BSc, BBA, BComm, BEng. BMus, BPHE, BKin etc.
There are people at U of T law school who have degrees in engineering, biochemistry, English literature, political science, economics, music etc. For your undergraduate degree, select the program that you will enjoy studying, since no subject is better than another for getting into law school. For applications to initial undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, please visit the undergraduate admissions webpage.
Finish your degree
Undergraduate degrees are typically designed to be completed in four years of full-time studies. In order to qualify to be accepted into law school, most law schools in Canada require the completion of at least three years of your degree or a completed degree.
Even if the law school you are applying to does not require it, your application will be more competitive if you have completed your undergraduate degree. At the University of Toronto almost all law students have completed at least a four-year degree. In recent years, approximately five applicants a year have been admitted without completing a four-year undergraduate degree.
3. Write the LSAT (Law School Admission Test)
All Canadian and US law schools require the standard LSAT. Not valid are the specially-designed LSAT for entry in to law schools located in India, and the specially-designed Spanish-language LSAT for law schools located in Puerto Rico.
The standard LSAT is held four times a year, and consists of several sections of questions and problems designed to test reading comprehension and your ability to think logically and analytically. You may write the test more than one time. However, you should check with each law school to see how they treat multiple writings of the test. Some law schools average the scores and others take the highest or the lowest score. Many applicants write the test in June after third year or during first term of their fourth year undergraduate degree.
For high-potential undergrad students who have limited financial resources, the U of T Faculty of Law offers a free LSAT prep course plus law school admissions support.
4. Apply to law school
Do the research to determine the law schools to which you should apply
There are 16 law schools in Canada, six of which are in Ontario, and hundreds more in the US and around the world.
When picking a law school, you will consider many things, including the size of the school, its distance from your home, the type of law it specializes in, the composition of the student body and faculty, whether it offers courses or a degree in French, and the philosophy of the school.
In particular, you must also consider whether you are likely to gain admission to that particular school, based on your grades, LSAT score, and other accomplishments and attributes. There are special programs offered by different law schools as well. For example, at the U of T law school, you can do “combined” degrees in Law and Social Work or Law and Business Administration.
Complete the application form
All law school applications in Ontario are coordinated by the Ontario Law School Application Service. The OLSAS application is completed on-line. The applications are processed by OLSAS and then forwarded to each law school the applicant has applied to for an admission decision.
Every law school has different requirements for entrance. However, they all require your academic transcripts, LSAT score and some form of a personal statement. Many law schools also request reference letters. The deadline for applying to law schools in Ontario is usually the first week of November of the year before you want to enter law school. Law schools outside Ontario all have different deadlines.
5. Earning your law degree
Length of Program
There are many extracurricular activities and volunteer experiences open to first year students. Many students participate in trial advocacy and client counselling competitions, volunteer at legal clinics or non-profit organizations, and participate in student-led clubs and social events at the law school. This is a great way to meet people with similar interests and find out how you can apply your legal training outside of academics.
Summer After First Year
Second Year Law
Summer After Second Year
6. After you graduate with your law degree
Becoming licensed to practice law
In Canada, completion of a law degree alone is not sufficient to permit a candidate to practice law (that is, work as a lawyer). In order to be admitted to the bar in one of the provinces or territories in Canada, you must also write and pass the provincial bar exams and either:
- “Article” or
- In Ontario, complete the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Law Practice Program
The Law Practice Program (the alternative to articling)
The Bar Admission Exams
Working as a lawyer
There are many fields of law that a lawyer can choose. Often, the many possibilities are divided into three categories:
Not sure you want to practice law? Fear not. The options are limitless
Law school will provide you with an unparalleled education. Upon completion of your degree, you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to commence your career as a lawyer, but also equipped with the intellectual strength and roster of skills necessary to succeed in virtually any profession or job, including in business, politics, journalism, and virtually any other profession that requires strong oral and written communication skills, an ability to approach tasks in a clear, reasoned and logical way, and an ability to think through and effectively solve problems. Lawyers become professors, politicians, CEOs, mediators, arbitrators, union leaders, agents, doctors, teachers, and so much more.
For more information about the Career Development Office at U of T Law visit our website at
For More Information
- University of Toronto Faculty of Law
Prepared by the Career Development Office and the JD Admissions Office, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.