Thursday, May 09, 2019

Ryerson law school plan would let students skip articling

I saw the above headline in the news recently.  I also received a survey from the Law Society of Alberta today aimed at principals of articling students to get some feedback.  This got me to thinking about whether our traditional approach to the training of lawyers needs some serious re-thinking.  I have been the principal for 8 students in the past 8 years, and I have enjoyed this opportunity to mentor very much.  However, there are aspects of the articling experience that need some work, or perhaps should be thrown out altogether.  Students-at-law spend far too much time during the year of articles worrying about their constant module demands and the constant competency evaluation pressures, while trying to learn the law, learn the practice of law, and learning to work in a very new environment. 

Supporters of the proposal at the potential new law school at Ryerson said that "the proposal, if successful, could move Ontario away from long-standing problems posed by the traditional articling model."

This is a complex issue, and I will leave it to to the powers that be, but my thoughts today are that they might want to consider getting rid of articling altogether, start promoting more meaningful summer internship or school year internships (such as they have in nursing at many universities) and then go the way that they do
in the US, where you write your bar exam and then start practicing right away (with mentorship).  There is no perfect system, of course, but I also think that instead of focussing on a system to test the Students-at-law, law societies might want to consider training current lawyers to mentor law students properly and appropriately.  Currently, in Alberta, the only requirement is that you are at least 4 years at the bar before becoming a principal.  No training, no vetting of the principal.  So, we have no consistency, no accountability, and lawyers having potentially terrible experiences, at low pay, with little support or recourse for such potentially poor levels of training.

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Before and during law school at the University of Alberta I read a lot of legal thrillers and watched any legal type movie that I could find.  Some of my favourite movies were Runaway Jury, The Firm, A Civil Action, The Paper Chase and A Few Good Men.  For books, I liked King of Torts, Kafka’s The Trial, L’etranger by Albert Camus, and To Kill a Mockingbird.  Each book and movie has had some influence on me as a law student and as a lawyer.  Even more recently, I designed the interior of our office building after the set of Suits.

Most legal books and movies and television shows are not very realistic.  How can they be?  The law can be exciting but often it’s a bit boring from a dramatic or literary point of view.  For example, I always laugh when the lawyers come into the office of a partner on Suits with a file that has a few pages of paper in it and say they have found the solution.  My files tend to be many hundreds of pages and sometimes take up boxes, even though we try to be as paperless as possible.

What media has influenced you towards choosing a legal career?  In your practice of law?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Famous people who went to law school

There are many people who go to law school but don't practice law.  A law degree can train you to think critically and can open up doors that you may never have imagined.

Sometimes it is fun to find out who has a law degree but who is not practicing law.

Here is a short list of some celebrities who went to law school.

  • Gerard Butler - president of the law society at the University of Glasgow and graduated with honors in 1992
  • Jerry Springer - Northwestern University in 1968
  • Rebel Wilson - graduated from the University of New South Wales in 2009 with a B.A. in theatre and performance studies and a Bachelor of Laws
  • Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) - law degree from Oxford University
  • Barack Obama - Harvard Law School
  • Michele Obama - Harvard Law School
  • John Cleese (Monty Python) - attended law school at Downing College, Cambridge University
  • Steve Young - Pro Football Hall of Famer earned his law degree at Brigham Young University


  • Nelson Mandela
  • Mohatma Ghandi
  • Julio Iglesias
  • Fidel Castro

Friday, April 19, 2019

eBook So, You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? Law School in Canada now available on Kindle

I just found out that the eBook version of my book, So, You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? Law School in Canada is now available on Kindle through  Readable on any device.

Find the Kindle book here.  Print version is available on here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to be (Sort of) Happy in Law School - Review

I finished reading How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School by Kathryne M. Young, JD, PhD.  It was a fun and quick read. Here is the review that I left on

I had to buy this book when I read the title on  It was most intriguing.  As the author of So, You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? Law School in Canada, Third Edition, I was very interested in what Ms. Kathryne M. Young, Ph.D., JD meant by "Sort of".  I have spoken to many, many law students, former law students and lawyers or former lawyers who have shared numerous stories of how great law school is or was, or how terrible it is or was.  Ms. Young has collected a wide range of similar stories in her academic work (especially about difficult or poor experiences), and she has shared many of those comments in this book.  This was most engaging to read, especially in that many of the shared anonymous comments were from a large cross-section of law students across the US from a variety of law schools.  This lends great credibility to her very entertaining commentary about the law school experience.

At first, I was skeptical of Ms. Young, when reading the beginning of this book when she shared that she had quite despised many aspects of law school.  I actually enjoyed many aspects of law school at the University of Alberta in Canada, but as I continued to read this book, I smiled often as I remembered various experiences and possibly even traumas throughout my law school experience and as I started in my legal career.

My favourite parts of this very well written, introspective, and quite complete commentary about the law school experience was Ms. Young's personal commentary about law school professors (especially the crappy ones) and her individual thoughts about how the law school experience and law school pedagogy could be improved upon.  As an instructor of law-related courses at the Dhillon School of Business, I am always looking for more effective ways to teach university students about the law.  Ms. Young, although not a law school professor, has many good ideas here that she is willing to share.  I do hope that some, or rather many, law school professors read this book and take note of the student commentary and Ms. Young's thoughtful suggestions for improvement.

This could have been a depressing read, with many of the student comments being quite negative or even shocking.  However, Ms. Young has provided many resources and suggestions for getting through the more obviously difficult experience of law school, and to find potential success in the legal field.  She does not sugar coat law school at all.  It is obvious that Ms. Young has more to say about how we could improve law schools.  However, she comes across as being optimistic in the end.

The sociological approach and commentary are a welcome addition to the law school guidebook libary, and I hope that many of my readers will consider this entertaining and enlightening book as they approach law school or as they navigate their way in or out of law school.

I think that many of my law school and legal colleagues might have benefited from reading this book and possibly leaving law school or the legal profession before it became a true chore to them.  Many people enter law school with naive ideologies and are afraid to pursue a different path that might be more agreeable to their personalities.  It is well worth considering the commentary in this book as you contemplate your career choices.

As I said, I really quite liked law school, and many people have shared that sentiment with me.  However, it is important to look at law school from many perspectives before plunging in.

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any prospective or current law student, or to all law school professors or law school administrators.

You can view and buy the book on Amazon by clicking here. They have the print version and the Kindle eBook version.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How to be (Sort of) Happy in Law School

I came across and ordered the book titled "How to be (Sort of) Happy in Law School" by Kathryne M. Young, PhD, JD.  She went to law school at Standford Law School and completed a PhD at Standford University. She is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.    Apparently, it is based on interviews from over 1,000 law students.

This has been a topic of great interest to me for some time, as I contemplate the high number of lawyers who leave the profession in Alberta and in Canada.  I have a theory that those who leave the profession start leaving it in law school, and I am interested to know more, and to know why.

I will let you know what I think about the book once I finish it and will post a book review on this blog.

I am a relatively happy lawyer, and am now just about to pass my 13th anniversary of being called to the bar.  I would love to learn how to help others to find happiness in their legal careers.

Friday, April 12, 2019

eBook available on Kodo - So You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? Law School in Canada

The eBook is now available for our book, So, You Want to be a Lawyer, eh? Law School in Canada.  It can be purchased and downloaded for Desktop, eReaders, Tablets, Apple IOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows by clicking here - Kodo.  It is currently listed at $14.39 CDN, which is a steal of a deal, given that the print version has a recommended sale price of $29.99.  If you want the print version, you can get it here - for $25.29 CDN plus shipping.

Think about it. $14.39 to save hundreds of hours of research, and to get the latest information about how to get into law school in Canada and how to succeed in law school in Canada, as well as how to land law articles, and what life is like as a lawyer in Canada.

UPDATE: The eBook is now also available on iBooks on your Apple device for $17.99.  Search Adam Letourneau.

Happy reading! and Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Get rid of 100% final exams in Canadian Law Schools

I recently came across a cool tweet on Twitter:

Question. Why does our profession not critically question law school pedagogy more? Law school is, for the most part, taught as if every law student is destined to become a constitutional academic or appellate litigator. (1)

Replying to 
Shakir - you should look at what we’re doing at . We don’t have 100% exams any more. We use formative assessment in our classes. We have group work. We teach business skills and project management and leadership for lawyers. Have a look at the Calgary Curriculum.

This got me excited. How many of us have thought this same question, many times perhaps?  100% exams are stupid.  They are not a reflection of real life lawyering.  We collaborate.  We take time to think.  We write, we revise, we write, we revise.  We practice our oral submissions. We research, we write, then we speak.  We speak to clients.  We speak to opposing counsel.  We do more research.  We do more writing, we collaborate some more.  I love that @UCalgaryLaw is taking this approach.  I will be having a closer look at their curriculum.  I am curious to see if any other Canadian law schools are taking this approach.  Let me know if you come across any.  

I also appreciate @LawDeanHolloway's comments about teaching business skills, project management and leadership skills for lawyers.  This is essential!  Great work, in my opinion, @LawDeanHolloway and @UCalgaryLaw.

Let me know your comments on this as well.  I'm sure we are all curious if we might be seeing the end of 100% final exams in law school.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Helping students to choose and get into Canadian Law School

I have had some recent students of mine at the Dhillon School of Business (I am a part-time Instructor there, teaching two legal related classes each semester - Management Law, Employment and Labour Law, and The Art of Negotiation) gain acceptance into law school, and it is really gratifying to know that I was an influence in them making the decision to apply for law school.  I usually talk a bit about the process of applying to law school in my class, and sometimes I am surprised at how a student who says that they have no interest in law school at the beginning of the semester ends up telling me that they have decided to apply for law school by the end of the semester and have taken the LSAT and now hope for a reference.  I think that is really cool.

My experience is that until you have some real exposure to the law, either through a university class, or when you end up in a legal matter yourself, or until you spend a bit of time with a lawyer or at a law office, it is uncommon to have an inherent desire to become a lawyer.  Exposure of this kind often leads to an aha moment and the student then decides to make the sacrifice to write the LSAT and to apply to law school.  It's a big decision but often leads to great rewards.

What made you decide to apply for law school or to write the LSAT?

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

So, You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? Law School in Canada now available for order

The publisher of my book, So, You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? Law School in Canada is working on making sure that the book is available at all University bookstores and libraries across Canada, as well as with career officers, law school career officers, and in the law schools themselves.  Watch for it.

Let me know if there is somewhere that you would like the book available so that you can get a copy.  I'll pass it along to the publisher, RCT Press.  Thanks.

In the meantime, the book is available on with free shipping here.

If you contact the publisher at sales at they might be able to get you a less expensive version, although you may have to pay shipping. might also be faster.

Learn more about the book and the authors by visiting

If you have any specific questions that you want me to personally answer about applying for or succeeding in law school, give me a shout.  adam.letourneau at
Have a great day!

Monday, April 08, 2019

Canadian Law School and Canadian Law Professor Blogs

I'm trying to gather various Canadian Law School and Canadian Law Professor Blogs.  I came across and this is a good start.  If there are any out there that you read regularly, please let me know so that I can share it with my other readers.  Thanks.

Friday, April 05, 2019

There are other law school guidebooks out there.  I really enjoyed Law School Confidential. How to Get into the Top Law Schools is pretty good.  However, there wasn't, and isn't much out there for how to get into Canadian Law Schools, and how to succeed in Canadian Law Schools.  That's why I wrote So, You Want to be a Lawyer, eh?  I wanted to provide a Canadian perspective, specific Canadian law school information, and information about the articling and application process for legal jobs.  The third edition also adds a variety of new information, including how to apply for law school in the US as a Canadian (written by my co-author Mitchell Heyland, JD).  There are also chapters on what it is like to be a lawyer, my experience as a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta, and how I was appointed Queen's Counsel, for example.  Order the book - it will save you many hours and significant energy as you contemplate law school, or navigate your way through Canadian law school.  The book is now available on for $25.53. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Mental Health at Law School

I came across this article from Above the Law.  It speaks about students attending the admitted students weekend at Harvard Law School and seeing a pamphlet in various washrooms during the weekend speaking about mental health at Harvard Law School.  A short read, but got me thinking - I don't recall any comment or discussion about mental health by any of the law school administration or faculty when I attended law school at University of Alberta.  Weird.  It is such a huge issue in our field, or any professional field, for that matter.  I would be very interested to find out what the various Canadian law schools are doing to address mental health of their students.  Any comments?

So, You Want to be a Lawyer Eh? Law School in Canada Third Edition now available

You can read more about the 3rd Edition of my book, So, You Want to be a Lawyer Eh? at  You can see reader reviews there and learn a bit more about the authors.  The 3rd Edition was released in March of 2019 with over a hundred more pages than the 2nd edition, and various new Chapters.  You can now buy the book at,, Barnes & Noble and  Links are on

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Switching from medicine to law or law to medicine - JD/MD programs

I have had a few colleagues who were lawyers and then went to medical school and a few that were doctors and then decided to go to law school.  It seems far out maybe but they always had good reasons.  I just came across this interesting article in Canadian Lawyer Magazine on that very topic.  I learned that there are some JD/MD programs in the US.  That is pretty cool I think.  I wonder if any Canadian law schools or Canadian Medical schools have explored that option.  Thoughts? Comments?

Read the article.

Monday, March 25, 2019

High schools should teach family law basics

I read the above headline today in Canadian Lawyer magazine.  The author, Sara Tatelman, puts forward the premise that high school students should receive some basic family law decision curriculum in grade 10, arguing that since Ontario has determined to include some basic financial education curriculum, "making informed romantic decisions that carry enormous legal and financial repercussions is just as important." 

I have often thought about this idea - that high school students should all receive basic financial and life-skill education, but I hadn't thought about covering the basics of family law.  Some good topics might include:

1. What are the implications of marriage as opposed to a common-law relationship?
2. Will you be able to survive upon separation from a spouse?  Spousal support and child support.
3. How do you protect your property upon entering a cohabitation relationship?
4. Are pre-nuptial agreements a good idea?
5. What happens with my children if I split up from their father?
6. Do I have to pay child support for all children that I help to conceive?

What are your thoughts? 

Read the full story here