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Canadian Law School Rankings

Written by Matthew G. Scott

In 2007, for the first time, Macleans issued rankings of Canadian Law Schools. An article was published on TLS to that effect, along with the attached ranking system. A year later, Macleans refined the process with the goal of improving the accuracy of their rankings. A new category, Faculty Hiring, was added as an attempt to also give some weight to how many graduates of the various law schools end up as Professors.

In refining the process, Macleans relied on Professor Brian Leiter, who worked for the University of Texas at Austin Law School, where for many years he has criticized the U.S. News and World Report rankings methodology as using data that is open to manipulation and in some cases, even if the data is accurate, irrelevant.

Using his advice, the ranking system currently evaluates both common and civil law schools on five considerations split between two main categories, namely graduate quality (50%) and faculty quality (50%). The graduate quality section can be further subdivided into four main areas of interest, Elite Firm Hiring (20%), National Reach (10%), Supreme Court Clerkships (10%) and Faculty Hiring (10%); while the latter is solely based on Faculty Journal Citations. All of the data used to compute these categories is publically available, and more on these categories can be found below.

Explanation of Categories:

Graduate Quality - Elite Firm Hiring:
Measure is worth 20% of a schools ranking, relied on the Lexpert list of the leading Canadian law firms and Vault’s list of the leading New York firms. On each firm’s website, the number of associates from each school was counted, divided by the size of each school’s first-year class, as outlined on the Law School Admission Council website.

Graduate Quality - National Reach:
Worth 10% of the ranking, this value was derived from the elite firm hiring, except, in this case it was calculated using how many of each school’s graduates were hired from leading firms other than the top three firms to hire graduates from school. In effect, the point of this measure was to attempt to measure the extent to which leading firms outside of a school’s region hire its graduates, since students prefer a degree that is marketable across the country.

Graduate Quality - Supreme Court Clerkships:
The final measure, worth 10% of the ranking, is derived from the number of Supreme Court clerks hired over the past six years, and the number from each school. As there are only twenty-seven of these positions each year and they are generally drawn from the nation’s top students, it is one of the competitive positions open to graduates.

Graduate Quality – Faculty Hiring:
This new indicator, worth 10% of the ranking, is an assessment of how many of the law schools alumni go on to become professors at law schools around the country. More emphasis is placed on individuals who teach at schools other than their alma-mater.

Faculty Quality - Faculty Journal Citations:
Weighted at 50% of the rankings, the number of tenure and tenure-track faculty was counted at each school, excluding adjunct faculty, emeritus professors and etc. Each professor’s citation count in Quicklaw’s database of 33 Canadian legal journals was then tallied, and added to the school’s total citation count. This value was then divided by the number of professors at each school. Additionally, unlike in 2007, the ranking now considers international citations as well.

Why Other Things Were Not Considered:
Macleans decided not to consider factors such as clinics, courses, styles and approaches because in the opinion of Professor Leiter, these considerations do not “really compensate for the scholarly excellence of faculty and professional opportunities.”

Editors Note:

Before proceeding to the rankings, it is important to note that unlike in the United States, where Law School rankings are fairly common; this has never taken hold to the same extent in Canadian society. Although it is true that there are rankings done for the vast majority of university programs in Canada, these rankings do not always mesh with either public perception or actual hiring prospects. Consequently, the importance of going to a school ranked “1st” v. “5th” might be largely irrelevant.

When determining where to go to school in Canada, some considerations that are very important are the region you wish to work, the programs offered by the school and the quality of life that you will have wherever you attend. You would be ill-advised to choose to attend a school in Ontario simply because it is ranked 1 spot higher than school in British Columbia if you have no intention of working in Ontario, for example. Thus, while the rankings do serve as a useful tool, they should not be the sole basis for any decisions.

Additionally, the Common Law Rankings - Overall and the Civil Law Rankings - Overall have been updated as of September 15th, 2011. Please note that the rest of the information herein is drawn from the Macleans rankings article published on September 11th, 2008.

Common Law Rankings - Overall

Overall Ranking
(change in ranking)
Graduate Quality
Elite Firm Hiring
Graduate Quality
National Reach
Graduate Quality
Supreme Court Clerkships
Graduate Quality
Facurly Hiring
Faculty Quality
Faculty Journal Citations
Rank Change School Rank Change Rank Change Rank Change Rank Change Rank Change
1. (0) Toronto 1 (0) 7* (-2) 2 (0) 1 (0) 1 (0)
2. (+1) Osgoode 11 (+1) 1* (+2) 8 (-1) 8 (-2) 2 (-1)
3. (+1) UBC 4* (0) 3* (+3) 4* (+6) 6 (+3) 4 (-1)
4*. (-2) McGill 8 (-6) 9 (-9) 1* (0) 2 (+1) 6 (-2)
4*. (+4) Queen's 12 (-3) 3* (0) 7 (+3) 3* (+1) 3 (+5)
6. (0) Dalhousie 9* (+2) 7* (+5) 4* (+2) 3* (-1) 7 (0)
7. (-2) Victoria 13 (0) 6 (-5) 4* (0) 7 (0) 5 (0)
8. (+1) Alberta 3 (+2) 3* (+3) 9* (+1) 9* (+1) 9 (-1)
9. (+3) Western 9* (-1) 1* (+1) 12* (+2) 9* (-1) 10* (+3)
10. (+2) Saskatchewan 6* (-3) 13 (+2) 9* (-4) 5 (+6) 13 (+1)
11*. (-1) Calgary 6* (+3) 11 (+3) 12* (-5) 15* (-2) 10* (-2)
11*. (-4) Ottawa 14 (0) 11 (-2) 3 (0) 12* (-1) 8 (-2)
13. (-3) Manitoba 2 (+4) 15 (-6) 12* (+2) 12* (+4) 14 (-2)
14. (-2) New Brunswick 4* (+3) 16 (-3) 9* (+1) 11 (-7) 15 (-1)
15. (0) Windsor 15 (0) 10 (+1) 12* (+4) 12* (+1) 12 (-1)
16. (0) Moncton 16 (0) 14 (+2) 16 (-9) 15* (-2) 16 (0)

* Indicates a tie.

Civil Law Rankings - Overall

Overall Ranking
(change in ranking)
Graduate Quality
Elite Firm Hiring
Graduate Quality
National Reach
Graduate Quality
Supreme Court Clerkships
Graduate Quality
Faculty Hiring
Faculty Quality
Faculty Journal Citations
Rank Change School Rank Change Rank Change Rank Change Rank Change Rank Change
1. (new) McGill
1 (new) 2 (new) 1 (new) 1 (new) 1 (new)
2. (-1) Montréal 2 (-1) 1 (0) 2* (-1) 2 (-1) 2 (-1)
3. (-1) Ottawa 4* (-2) 3 (-1) 2* (0) 4 (0) 3* (-1)
4. (-1) Laval 3 (0) 6 (-3) 5 (-3) 3 (-1) 3* (0)
5. (0) Sherbrooke 4* (0) 4* (-1) 6 (-4) 5* (-1) 5* (0)
6. (-2) UQAM 6 (-1) 4* (+1) 2* (0) 5* (+2) 5* (-1)

* Indicates a tie.

Note that UQAM = Université de Québec à Montréal.

Common Law - Categorical Rankings

Elite Firm Hiring National Reach Supreme Court Clerkships Faculty Hiring Faculty Journal Citations
Rank Change School Rank Change School Rank Change School Rank Change School Rank Change School
1. (+1) Toronto 1. (+4) Victoria 1. (0) McGill 1. (new) Toronto 1*. (0) Toronto
2. (+1) McGill 2. (2) Western 2. (0) Toronto 2. (new) Dalhousie 1*. (+1) Osgoode
3. (+3) Saskatchewan 3*. (-1) Osgoode 3. (0) Ottawa 3. (new) McGill 3. (+7) UBC
4. (+4) UBC 3*. (+8) Queen's 4. (0) Victoria 4*. (new) Queen's 4. (-1) McGill
5. (+8) Alberta 5. (-3) Toronto 5. (+2) Saskatchewan 4*. (new) New Brusnwick 5. (+3) Victoria
6. (-1) Manitoba 6*. (+3) UBC 6. (-1) Dalhousie 6. (new) Osgoode 6. (-3) Ottawa
7. (-6) New Brusnwick 6*. (0) Alberta 7*. (0) Osgoode 7. (new) Victoria 7. (0) Dalhousie
8. (-1) Western 8. (-1) McGill 7*. (+7) Calgary 8. (new) Western 8*. (-2) Queen's
9*. (+1) Queen's 9*. (-8) Ottawa 7*. (0) Moncton 9. (new) UBC 8*. (-2) Alberta
9*. (-1) Calgary 9*. (+4) Manitoba 10*. (-3) UBC 10. (new) Alberta 8*. (+6) Calgary
11. (-7) Dalhousie 11. (-2) Windsor 10*. (+2) Queen's 11*. (new) Ottawa 11. (-3) Windsor
12. (-1) Osgoode 12. (-5) Dalhousie 10*. (-3) Alberta 11*. (new) Saskatchewan 12. (+1) Manitoba
13. (-1) Victoria 13. (+2) New Brunswick 10*. (-5) New Brunswick 13*. (new) Calgary 13. (+1) Western
14. (+1) Ottawa 14. (-1) Calgary 14*. (-2) Manitoba 13*. (new) Windsor 14*. (-4) Saskatchewan
15. (+1) Windsor 15. (-3) Saskatchewan 14*. (0) Western 13*. (new) Moncton 14*. (+2) New Brunswick
16. (-2) Moncton 16. (0) Moncton 16. (-2) Windsor 16. (new) Manitoba 16. (-4) Moncton

* Indicates a tie.

Civil Law - Categorical Rankings

Elite Firm Hiring National Reach Supreme Court Clerkships Faculty Hiring Faculty Journal Citations
Rank Change School Rank Change School Rank Change School Rank Change School Rank Change School
1. (0) Montréal 1. (+3) Montréal 1. (+1) Montréal 1. (new) Montréal 1. (0) Montréal
2. (0) Ottawa 2. (-1) Ottawa 2*. (-1) Ottawa 2. (new) Laval 2. (+2) Ottawa
3. (0) Laval 3*. (+2) Laval 2*. (0) Laval 3. (new) UQAM 3. (-1) Laval
4. (0) Sherbrooke 4. (0) Sherbrooke 4*. (+2) UQAM 4*. (new) Ottawa 4. (+1) UQAM
5. (0) UQAM 5. (-3) UQAM 4*. (+2) Sherbrooke 4*. (new) Sherbrooke 5. (-2) Sherbrooke

* Indicates a tie.

Note that UQAM = Université de Québec à Montréal.

 

Note: While Canadian law school rankings have not become as contentious as they are in the United States, they should only act as a guide and the final determination of what law school is best for you should be determined by a personal visit.



Canadian Common Law Schools - Information Related to Attending

School Tuition (Domestic) Tuition (International) % Women Full Time Faculty Primary Degree Special Notes
Alberta 10,000 20,000 52% 34 LL.B None
UBC 9,363 18,749 52% 40 LL.B None
Calgary 11,080 Unknown 51% 21 LL.B None
Dalhousie 12,464 Unknown Unknown 42 LL.B None
Manitoba 8,500 Unknown 45% 23 LL.B None
McGill $3,036 to $5,945 13,082 54% 34 LL.B/BCL Bilingualism Required
Moncton 4,955 Unknown 54% 12 LL.B French
New Brunswick 8,646 Unknown 52% 20 LL.B None
Ottawa 10,707 24,800 64% 50 LL.B LL.B/LL.L, LL.B/J.D.
Queens 10,452 20,376 47% 29 LL.B Moving toward J.D.
Saskatchewan 7,293 Unknown 51% 20 LL.B None
Toronto 18,662 28,191 49% 57 J.D. None
Victoria 7,721 20,903.1 60% 34 LL.B None
Western Ontario 10,609 23,666 48% 34 LL.B None
Windsor 10,708 16,237 57% 33 LL.B LL.B/J.D.
Osgoode Hall (York) 5,466 11,933 52% 56 LL.B LL.B/J.D.

Common Law - Application Information

School Application Fee Median LSAT Median GPA Applications First Year Class Size Application Deadline Overall Ranking
Alberta 100 160 3.6 1,250 175 November 1st 7th
UBC 80 163 3.74 1,683 208 February 1st 9th
Calgary $100-$130 158 3.55 930 100 November 1st 15
Dalhousie Unknown Not Listed Not Listed 1,400 163 November 30th 6th
Manitoba $90-100 158 3.8 697 252 November 1st 11th
McGill 80 160 3.77 1,516 246 November 30th 2nd
Moncton 39 Not Required 2.8 85 39 March 31st 16
New Brunswick 50 158 3.7 870 89 March 1st 12*
Ottawa 75 No Minimum 3.67+ 3,450 200 November 1st 4th
Queens 75 162 3.67 2,346 165 November 1st 5th
Saskatchewan 75 157 3.6 900 117 February 1st 10th
Toronto 75 167 3.8 1,900 190 November 1st 1st
Victoria 50 163 3.85 1,038 108 February 1st 8th
Western Ontario 75 160 3.7 2,400 161 November 1st 12*
Windsor 75 Not Listed Not Listed 1,813 200 November 1st 14
Osgoode Hall (York) 75 160 3.8 2,397 302 November 1st 3rd







Canadian Law School Rankings

Canada: University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Canada: University of Alberta Faculty of Law

Canada: Dalhousie Law School

Canada: McGill University Faculty of Law

Canada: University of Ottawa Faculty of Law

Canada: Osgoode Hall Law School (York University)

Canada: UBC Faculty of Law

IE Law School- Northwestern Law Executive LLM Program

IE Law School- Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Practice

Legal Education in the United Kingdom