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Advice for applying to law school in Canada

Caitlin Tolley offers a few tips for Indigenous youth interesting in pursuing a career in law

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As a third year law student, a lot of people ask me for advice on applying to law school. Getting accepted into law school is not easy, so I have come up with a list items for youth to consider when preparing their applications. Keep in mind this is not a comprehensive list; rather these are some pieces of advice that have worked for me on my journey to law school.

1. Be prepared to work hard

Preparing your law school application will require a lot of time and effort. However, that is what law school regularly feels like–a lot of work. Law school is a professional program and most students treat it as a full-time job so it’s important to establish a good work ethic early.

2. Start researching law schools as soon as you can

I began the process of researching different schools during my undergraduate studies. There are a lot of law schools out there with unique and specialized programs pertaining to areas focusing on Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Legal Orders. I would encourage you to take the time to research different schools, and the specific programs that each school has.

3. Speak with Indigenous law students or Indigenous lawyers

It’s important to connect with other Indigenous law students or lawyers and ask them about their experiences when they were law students. Each person will have a unique perspective and experience. Listening to their story may influence your decision about going to law school or what area of law you want to practice in later.

4. Create an LSAT study group   

I found it helpful to find other people who you can work with when studying for the Law School Admissions Test. That way you have a support network and you can assist each other when studying. It was also useful for me to purchase mock LSAT exams, and use them for practice. There are plenty of courses that you can take to prepare you for writing the LSAT as well. You would need to research the courses that are offered in your area.

5. Attend the Program of Legal Studies for Native People

I had the opportunity to attend PLSNP in 2014, and it was an incredible experience. I found it to be very helpful in preparing for writing exams and strengthening my legal writing skills. It is also beneficial because you get the opportunity to meet with other Indigenous law students who have similar interests as you.

6. Don’t get discouraged

Let’s face it: the process of applying to law school is long and daunting. When I applied to law school, I only heard back five months later that I had been accepted. It is important to be patient and continue to work hard towards achieving your goals. If you happen to be unsuccessful in your first round of applying to law school, I would encourage you to re-apply the following year.

 

Caitlin Tolley is a proud Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan-Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec. Caitlin is currently completing her final year of law school at the University of Ottawa.

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