Law School Admissions
Some law schools in Toronto have what is known as rolling admissions, which means that they will notify you of your status (acceptance or rejection) in about two to three weeks from when your application is received. Hard-to-get-into law schools usually have two deadlines — early decision (for those students who have made the university their very top choice) with a deadline somewhere between November 15 and December 15, and regular decision, with a deadline somewhere between December 15 and February 1. Early acceptances reach students by mid-December, and a binding agreement between students and the law school in Toronto is reached — basically, if you get in “early decision,” you’re supposed to go there. (Early admission allows law schools to go ahead and enroll 25 percent to 45 percent of the incoming class.) The remaining admissions notices are sent out by early April.
The Law School Admissions process in Toronto
It all starts with 14,000 applications in the law school’s mailroom. (Considering all the different parts of an application, this means well over 100,000 separate pieces of paper.) All of the pieces must be sorted and ordered and put into file folders, so that everything is in the right place in the right order. Each complete application is then evaluated by one of 15 to 20 “first readers” — temporary professional staff (former admissions officers, faculty spouses, alumni, graduate students). These applications are randomly distributed within the law school faculty.
Applications then receive a second full evaluation by the staff member responsible for the region of the country in which the applicant lives. So each application is evaluated at least twice. The strongest 5 percent to 7 percent of the pool (as defined by all parts of the application, not just the academic and quantifiable parts) then comes directly to the director of law school admissions for review. Most of the time, if both the first and second readers recommend an admit, the student will be admitted. But not always. Law schools in Toronto reserve the right to have a student discussed in selection committee.
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The weakest quarter to third of the applicant pool (again, as defined by all parts of the application) then go to an associate director for review — but only if both readers recommend a “deny.” The associate director can then “sign off” on a deny. All other applicants are reviewed by a selection committee where at least three staff members and the chairperson at the law school — either the director of admissions or the senior associate director — discuss the case.
So they literally sit around a table and talk about — often in great detail — all students in the large middle of the pool, and anyone, regardless of qualifications, who an admissions officer thinks ought to be discussed for admission to the law school. The question that is asked is, much impact has a student had in their school or community? What sort of impact do we think they’ll have at the law school? That impact can take place in the classroom, in a religious context, in the community, on a playing field or on the tenor of the law school as a whole.
By: Rafi Michael