Cost of Legal Education

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Rene Larson

I am appalled by the high tuition fees in law schools but believe that the LSO has no business interfering in university tuition fee setting.  The costs of preparing for  admission to the bar should be borne by students.  The high cost of legal education should not affect LSO high standards for examinations & admission to the bar; LSO does not owe anyone admission to the bar just because they paid a lot for their legal education.

 

Ryan Alford

The decision to approve a new faculty of law in downtown Toronto that is planning to charge its students full fees on a cost-recovery basis (without any government subsidies) should give us pause.  We cannot support the cause of access to justice by creating a generation of lawyers burdened by crippling debts.

 

E Patrick Shea, LSM

While I recognize that the LSO does not and should not control what universities charge for tuition, the simple fact is that the cost of a legal education and qualifying is too high and that presents a diversity issue and a barrier to entry.   The ever-increasing saturation of the market for legal services, particularly in large centers, only makes the situation worse for struggling young lawyers.    The LSO should put in place programs that assist younger lawyers who are struggling financially and provide assistance to those who wish to practice in under-serviced communities.   

 

Deepa Tailor

The LSO needs to listen to younger lawyers and their concerns regarding articling, the LPP and the exorbitant cost of obtaining a legal education.  The cost of legal education at existing Canadian law schools is at odds with the access to justice and the public interest mandate of our regulatory body.  The Law Society has an obligation to regulate it. The LSO should investigate implementing financial incentives for lawyers to service under serviced areas (such as fee reduction or loan forgiveness if you practice in an under serviced region – similar to doctors)

 

Addison Cameron-Huff

The costs associated with legal education are very high, and excludes many people who would make great lawyers, but this is a matter for universities, not the LSO. 

 

Jerry B. Udell

Law Schools continue to graduate lawyers at an unprecedented rate without any guaranty that those who have invested their “blood, sweat, and tears” will have a job. It is unfair to them as well as the Public who need to know that those who represent them will be able to do so unfettered.

 

Sean Robichaud

It’s outrageously high and not sustainable. This is a pressing concern that the LSO and law schools must address. We cannot have a system of law where only the wealthiest can afford to become lawyers; or, those that graduate are concerned more with paying back crippling debt than they are seeking justice for this clients and larger societal good. 

 

Billeh Hamud

The cost of legal education is out of control. In the mid 1990s, law school fees were regulated by the provincial government and as a result, graduates were not forced into certain practice areas in order to pay their law school debt. Today, in some law schools, one year of law school tuition is equivalent to the entire 4 year tuition of an undergraduate student. This is an access to justice issue which is within the mandate of the Law Society. Increased tuition fees also disproportionately affect racialized law students and diversity as a whole. As a result, the Law Society needs to take measures in conjunction with the provincial government and law schools to address this issue. For example, in medicine, law schools have implemented tuition waiver programs for students who practice in remote areas as general practitioners. The Law Society should be tackling these issues with the appropriate stakeholders.

 

Mitchell Kowalski

Ridiculously high.

It’s fair game for the LSO to consider high tuition fees as barriers to A2J and to diversity in the profession. In other words, high tuition fees are not in the public interest.

I would not rule out taking the same approach LSO took with TWU.

 

M. Steven Rastin

LSO should engage government and law schools to examine whether rapid increases in law school tuition and the number of new lawyers may hinder access to justice and diversity in the profession. Law school should not be a profession only for the affluent. We need to foster lawyers seeking to embark on careers providing access to justice to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

 

François Baril

This remains a significant challenge and acts as a barrier to entry to our profession.

 

Caryma Sa’d

Although the LSO cannot directly control tuition fees, more involvement on this issue is needed. We must work in collaboration with law schools and community legal organizations to reduce the debt-burden on new graduates and law students. For example, Lakehead University offers a 15-week practice placement in third year, which has been approved as a replacement for the articling requirement. The placement is unpaid, but firms can opt to support their students’ living expenses. This program provides an opportunity for students to work in small to medium-size firm environments in different communities across Ontario.

 

Jayashree Goswami

The escalating cost of legal education operates as a first and formidable barrier to an inclusive profession. If one is not wealthy, law school does not necessarily promise a good return on investment particularly when combined with the exclusionary effect of subsequent systemic barriers at the articling stage and thereafter. Also, law school graduates faced with mortgage sized debts, are more prone to taking up any job that pays the bill over what they might really want to do. This leads to chronic mental health and addiction issues rampant in the profession as lawyers feel trapped in dissatisfying jobs.

Law schools are outside the LSO’s jurisdiction, but the health of the profession is well within the LSO’s mandate. The LSO needs to claim strong ownership over the issue. The LSO must work closely with law schools and the Federation of Law Societies to devise a time and cost-effective legal education system. Incorporating a paid co-op program and making experiential learning a compulsory part of law school curriculum (to reduce or remove the need for articling) are some options that should be explored. Student debt forgiveness and debt reduction for lawyers in public service and academics should be considered.

 

Teresa Donnelly

The LSO does not regulate law schools. However, the LSO and law schools should work together to address the current costs of legal education.

Paul M. Cooper

The cost of legal education is absurd and creates a barrier to equitable entry. It is time for the LSO to step up and advocate against this. While doing this, the LSO must look internally and examine its own prohibitive costs to entry for candidates, our future.

James Mays

The LSO has no regulatory authority over Universities. I acknowledge that Universities are educating too many law students at too great a price. The LSO role is to ensure that anyone who receives a license to practice must have the requisite level of competency. The one area that the LSO could address in the fee to gain entry and the fee for the first few years.

Gerard Paul Charette

Abysmally too high. LSO has a role. Legal education is part of its jurisdiction. Should consider applying pressure to universities that overcharge their students.

Yavar Hameed

My work with the A2justice Coalition has focused on this question for the
last five years. Based on this experience, I would advocate three
responses to this question. (1) As part of my platform I advocate
building on the LSO Dialogue recommendation of building links between
law schools and the LSO, but specifically to integrate experiential
learning in law schools as part of licensing. Already we have clinics
and myriad practical experiences in law schools – we should use these in
order to abridge the experiential component of licensing – thereby
reducing the cost of licensing in view of the overlapped and integrated
approach of legal education and licensing;
(2) I would also advocate creating space for allowing student voice
within the LSO. Currently the LSO doesn’t see itself as having a role
to speak out on cost of tuition and law schools actively police their
boundaries to maintain their independence. I think that the LSO must
respond to the problem of rising tuition levels and speak out on this
problem. Integrating student voice, whether at the level of a
subcommittee or advisory committee, could maintain the urgency of this
question for the LSO.
(3) Simultaneously, I would advocate for a decrease/ control in
licensing fees. My platform in advocating an LPP for all model would
entail higher licensing fees, but I would suggest two caveats along with
this approach: (a) that we need to get better transparency and costing
on the LPP than what we saw in the LSO Dialogue on licensing; and (b)
that the LSO must look at ways of subsidizing the cost of licensing so
it is not shouldered exclusively by licensees. This may require revenue
generating models including a progressive levy.

 

 

 

Quinn Ross

Prohibitive.  Legal education is solely in the purview of the academy, but a conversation needs to happen whereby how people learn the law and what they are expected to do after law school lines up.  As to the costs, we are losing students because the perceived ROI is no longer there.

 

Cheryl Siran

The cost is ridiculous.  Graduating with unbearable debt exacerbates the A2J crisis.  Students stay in larger centers to earn the most they can, in the most lucrative areas of law, leaving smaller centers and the most needy clients underserviced.  The LSO has no control over universities, but this is a clear part of the A2J crisis.

 

Nathan Baker

The profession of law needs to be open to the best and brightest, not merely those who can afford high tuition. The LSO should be better involved in this issue. Students are being driven away from Canadian universities. Concurrently, the current review of the NCA process becomes more important given the rise of foreign-trained students. 

 

Ian Speers

LSO’s regulatory mandate gives it no direct jurisdiction over university tuition, but the current annual tuition has become ridiculous (and I can assure you that the token pay of adjunct faculty is not a contributing factor to tuition inflation).  The prohibitive cost frankly acts as a barrier to entry for many who would make good lawyers, and the consequent debt loading creates alarming stresses for new lawyers.  

 

Orlando Da Silva, LSM

When I attended U of T law school, the tuition was approximately $2000. Now, I understand it is approaching (or about to exceed $40,000) per annum.  I believe this is too high and imposes avoidable stress and mental health issues on its student body. I don’t believe the LSO has jurisdiction to regulate tuition fees.  What it can do, however, is partner with willing law schools to create incentives for law schools to provide transition training to its students.  If done properly, this transition training could stand in the place of articling or LPP enrollment allowing the law students to write the barrister and solicitor exams immediately after law school and, thereby, forgo the expense (or opportunity cost) of articling or participating in the LPP program.  Participating schools should be allowed to offer this option to its students only if it is prepared to commit to lowering its tuition fees to manageable levels.

 

Andrew Spurgeon

Accessibility to our profession is endangered by the cost of legal education.  The Law Society does not directly regulate law schools nor their funding.  It can however, ask some hard questions: Does law school need to be three years long?  Why do we accept students in our admission process from the UK with only two years in law school there? How do we force the law schools to take practical training seriously?  Pressing these questions in a way which challenges the current model of legal education in Ontario can have a significant impact on the price and accessibility of that education.   

 

Antoine L Collins

Some aspiring lawyers go to law school and pay high tuition in the expectation of earning six-figure salaries in their first legal job. Unfortunately, as we all know, this dream does not reflect the reality. While the LSO has no authority to regulate the tuition of law schools nor should it, I would be open to discussing ways the LSO could partner with stakeholders on educational initiatives that could help prospective students weigh law school costs against more realistic expectations.

 

Atrisha Lewis

The LSO has an important role to play in the conversation about the cost of legal education. The de-regulation of law school fees has significantly compromised both access to the profession, and access to justice. The Law Society must work with law schools to address this growing problem. Greater information is required so that we can have a meaningful conversation about access to a legal education. I would advocate for disclosure from law schools about revenues received from tuition, amount of financial aid provided to students, the percentage of students receiving financial aid, the average and median amount of aid received, etc.

 

David Milosevic

The cost of legal education as with most forms of higher education continues to rise dramatically. The LSO should work closely with law schools to address this issue and advocate for tuition increase restraints. However, ultimately this is an issue that lies outside of our mandate and is difficult for the LSO to influence directly.

Michael Allan Brown

I agree that the LSO does not have say in what law schools charge in fees. However when we are seeking EDI, it is apparent that some of the most promising people to our profession may never become lawyers or paralegals because it is too cost prohibitive. Universities have their place in the setting of fees, but it also hinges on the provincial and federal government in the grants given and funding to universities which drive up the cost of those fees.
The government has a role in our efforts of EDI to ensure the cost of university is affordable, not the LSO and the government should be making the effort to ensure a range of students are able to become lawyers of paralegals.

 

Robert Burd

The cost of a legal education is becoming unaffordable. Although this is not within the jurisdiction of the LSO, it is something they should comment on

 

Jeff Cowan

The LSO has no jurisdiction to regulate law school tuition. It sould however collaborate with law faculties to establish practice skills training in final years that would qualify for licensing and reduce the ramp up time and cost of entry into the profession. Consideration should be given to fee reductions or deferral for younger sole practitioners or small firm lawyers with large tuition debts and limited income.

 

Etienne Esquega

As noted early, I am very concerned about this. The LSO must do what it can to address this matter, including raising this as an urgent agenda item at the Federation of Law Societies.

 

Jonathan Rosenthal

There is no doubt that the cost of legal education has skyrocketed and that law students are graduating with massive debt. This should trouble anyone within the legal profession. Despite what some candidates are saying about reducing legal fees, the bottom line is the LSO does NOT have the authority to regulate law schools or tuition. Of equal importance, law schools are and must remain independent of the LSO. I support any inititiatives that brings all of the stakeholders together to jointly address this issue while maintaining independence between law schools and the LSO.

 

Selwyn A Pieters

Too expensive. The costs is simply prohibitive

 

Peter Wardle

It is a growing problem. Unfortunately, almost nothing we can do about it directly within our mandate at LSO. We can support efforts by students to draw attention to the issue, and in that way advocate for change.

Kristin Hutton

Market rate.

 

Joseph Groia

The cost of legal education is obscene – but it is not an issue the LSO has any control over.

 

Julia Shin Doi

I support accessibility.

 

John Arkelian

Continuing legal education (CLE) is a positive thing to encourage. But, instead of imposing ever stricter mandatory requirements (of a specific number of hours of officially-sanctioned programming), why not instead create meaningful incentives to encourage members to undertake, of their own volition, as much continuing legal as they can? Incentives like cumulative reductions in malpractice insurance premiums and membership fees could serve as a tangible benefit for the documented completion of CLE programs. Encouraging members to maintain their lifelong learning activities is better than coercing them. The Society was right to offer an array of free CLE programs. But there are far too few free ones! Most other programs (offered by the Society or by other providers) are onerously expensive for some members. And CLE programs need to be offered in members’ own regions, not just in distant downtown Toronto.

Sylvie Patenaude

Costs of a legal education has now attained the level of INSANITY. There has to be a better way to deliver the product in a more effective and cost efficient manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Shawyer

The Law Society has no authority or jurisdiction to regulate the tuition charged by Law Schools in Ontario. However, I agree with Orlando Da Silva that something the LSO could do is partner with willing law schools to create incentives for law schools to provide transition training to its students.

 

Michael B Lesage

Legal education is clearly overpriced, given: a) the number of lawyers in Ontario (around 52k); b) the market demand to hire legal graduates (as evidenced by the number of legal job listings on Kijiji, both for new and experienced lawyers) and c) the number of CanLii citations of Law Review articles;

 

Rebecca C Durcan

Too expensive. Although the LSO cannot control this it can clearly communicate to law schools what is required in order to become licensed in Ontario.  It can question why 

 

Douglas W. Judson

Imagine: it’s the year 2045 and not a single judge in Ontario comes from a low- to middle-income family. The costs of legal education are one of the greatest threats to the long-term viability of this profession and its ability to serve the public. The fact is that an accessible and representative bar helps the profession do its job for Ontarians. A profession that does not look like the public and cannot relate to the full range of its lived experiences is a poor instrument for supporting access to justice. As I have argued elsewhere (https://bit.ly/2EhbnPv), the LSO needs to assert its accreditation power over ALL law programs to require financially accessible pathways to the profession.

 

Janis Criger

Atrocious. Law Society does not regulate this. Government did, until they stopped. So, dialogue between Law Society/Law Schools and between Law Society/Government, to bring whatever influence we can to bear.

 

Claire Wilkinson
It has become extremely expensive to go to law school in Ontario.  Many students are now opting to attend law schools overseas, where the requirement to obtain a law degree is two years, instead of the three years required in Ontario.      This situation creates even more competition for jobs in Ontario when those internationally educated students return to Ontario to work.  While the Law Society does not directly regulate law schools, it can ask questions that go to the heart of the expense of legal education in Ontario, such as why we accept international students who have only studied law for two years, but demand that Ontario students attend law school for three years?  The answers to these questions should force further analysis by Ontario universities of the price and accessibility of an Ontario law school education. 

 

Malcolm M. Mercer

The cost of legal education has increased dramatically since the 1990s which is of significant concern. That said, the Law Society does not have authority to regulate law schools or tuition. Law schools are, and should be, independent from the Law Society. However, the Law Society and the law schools should consider working together to reduce the time and cost required to become a lawyer.

 

Barbara Murchie

The cost is prohibitively high but the LSO does not have jurisdiction to set tuition fees or require law schools to reduce them.

 

Isfahan Merali

The cost of legal education, since law school tuition was deregulated, is a serious barrier to entry in the profession, and I believe negatively impacts access to justice and diversity and equity in the profession. I would like to push for the LSO to have discussions at the Federation of Law Societies (which approves law school curriculums on several issues and with law schools on the following:

-barriers caused by high tuition fees (which is now further informed by the report coordinated by Heather Donkers);
– collaborative discussions on other equity barriers to law school including entry qualifications or admission reviews (in particular for Black and Indigenous students);
– integrated experiential education in 3L (similar to the Lakehead program where students do not have to article) to further explore other licensing options that will remove current barriers and 2 tier system which imposes further bias against primarily racialized students;
– access to quality equity and mental health services;
– promotion of the MAP (Member Assistance Program) and DHC (Discrimination and Harassment Counsel) program which many students do not know is available to them.

 

John F. Fagan

Law school tuition is much too high. Heavy lobbying of our provincial and federal governments, and their taxpayers, will be required to get more public money made available to reduce law school tuition. Effective pressure will also have to be applied, though, on our universities and law schools, to cut costs. If voluntary associations of lawyers could get this lobbying and application of pressure done well enough, that would be ideal, but it certainly seems that The Law Society will have to become involved. Meanwhile, the profession should not be sliding toward a situation in which overall post-law-school bar admission costs get any heavier. Please see my comments in the “Pathways to Licensing” section of this presentation.

 

Gina Papageorgiou

It is too high. New lawyers carry an unfair burden–a burden that those of my generation never had to carry. This burden inhibits them from pursuing public interest careers where salaries are lower. It inhibits people from entering law school at all. Finally, it ultimately results in higher legal costs paid by the public as lawyers have to charge more money so they can pay their own debts.

 

D. Jared Brown

The LSO should not (and I argue cannot) regulate law schools. Myopically focusing on law school tuition in Ontario or Canada ignores that we welcome more and more foreign-trained lawyers to our jurisdiction. We cannot possibly regulate the academy in Canada or elsewhere and nor should we. Measure competence on application for entry and during practice, full stop.

 

Robert Besunder

My own experience (not that long ago, in the 1980’s) was of obtaining a law degree for less than $1,000.00 per year at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. Even allowing for inflation, looking at the cost today is beyond my comprehension. Legal education cannot be allowed to become the realm of the wealthy alone – unless there is some action taken, that is what will happen. Law students will feel pressure to pursue a large firm employment experience, solely to pay for their legal education debt, and I fear the slow demise of small firms, sole practitioners and those who practice law for the ideals and public interest, often without hope of significant remuneration.

 

Tanya Walker

The cost to attend law school is extremely inflated, however the LSO does not have jurisdiction to change tuition fees or require law schools to reduce them.

 

Howard Philip Knopf

The costs of becoming a lawyer are also growing at an unacceptable rate. Tuition has increased from about $5k in 1998 to a range of about $20K at Ottawa and Lakehead to more than $38k at U of T. There is a real danger that the profession will revert to the elite enclave it was prior to the 1970’s before the progress made by Harry Arthurs and others in opening up the profession. While the LSO may have little if any control over this issue, it certainly has the power of influence. Malcom Mercer has some good analysis on Slaw: http://www.slaw.ca/2019/02/26/the-cost-of-becoming-a-lawyer/.

Paul Le Vay

The cost of legal education is a serious access to justice and equity issue. However, the cost of legal education does not fall within the mandate of the LSO.
Le coût de l`education juridique pose un défi à l`accès à la justice mais n`est pas dans le mandat du Barreau.

Mirilyn Sharp

I am aware that the cost of a legal education has risen astronomically, from the $1000 per year I paid at U of T Law School, to the almost $40,000 per year my daughter will face when she enters law school in 2020. Add to that the cost to become licensed as a lawyer after law school, as well as the yearly fees to be an insured member of the LSO, and it is not surprising that the practice of law is becoming less and less accessible. And don’t even get me started on the problems many young law graduates face in finding an articling position and/or an associate position. We need to fix this!

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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