OLSAS – Bora Laskin Faculty of Law (Lakehead University)

Last updated: August 16, 2021

Note: This application guide contains information for fall 2022 admission.

University program information is subject to change. View the application for the most up-to-date details.

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About the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law

The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University is one of Canada’s newest law schools. Located in Thunder Bay, Ontario, situated in the historic Port Arthur Collegiate Institute and built in 1909, the law campus overlooks Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant.

We provide the highest standard of legal education, where knowledge of the law is fused with practical application. Our program focuses on the realities of living and working in the North: Aboriginal and Indigenous Law, Natural Resources and Environmental Law, and small firm practice with the Integrated Practice Curriculum (IPC).

Our focus is on:

  • Preparing our students for the practice of law immediately upon graduation through skill development exercises under the IPC
  • Aboriginal and Indigenous Law
  • Natural Resources and Environmental Law
  • A foundation in the essentials of small firm and solo practice

Our advantages are:

  • Small class sizes
  • Professors who have a passion for teaching and who challenge and engage our students
  • An IPC built on practical skill development exercises and a 4-month Practice Placement
  • Students graduate practice-ready, without the need to article

Student Body

Our student body is comprised of individuals engaged in our 3 mandate areas from communities in Northern Ontario, Southern Ontario and other provinces. We are proud of the diversity of our student body and are committed to encouraging Indigenous applicants to our legal program. Due to our IPC, we cannot accept transfer or visiting students.

Faculty

With our small class sizes, our professors and staff know all the students by name. Our professors are committed and passionate about teaching, and they strive to challenge and engage our students.

Curriculum

The innovative IPC model of legal education fuses the theory of law with the practice of law, where students learn not only law, but also the necessary practice skills to use that law effectively. The IPC is aimed at integrating legal skills with substantive legal knowledge. Skills are taught progressively so that they build one upon the other, course by course, year by year.

The first-year program for all students is mandatory. In addition to core law courses (Foundations of Canadian Law, Contract Law, Criminal Law, Torts, Property Law, Constitutional Law, Legal Research and Writing), every student will take mandatory Aboriginal and Indigenous Law courses in both their first and second year, and Aboriginal/Indigenous Law will be woven into all courses, where appropriate.

Earlier this year, we launched an Indigenous Law and Justice Institute, the Maamawi Bimosewag – They Walk Together, which aims to advance community collaboration and curriculum innovation in Indigenous law at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. By developing and applying grounded methodologies, the Institute will investigate treaty history and practice, conduct community-based workshops, and document Anishinaabe and Métis law, legal principles and processes in culturally-appropriate and community-accessible ways.

In addition to mandatory courses, students will take upper-year elective courses available to both second- and third-year students. These courses cover a broad spectrum of interests, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, Tax Law, Labour and Employment Law, Insurance Law, Remedies, Advanced Criminal Law, International Environmental Law and other topics focused on issues pertaining to the North.

Students are also able to engage with our student-led clinic, Lakehead University Community Legal Services (LUCLS). Founded in 2015, in partnership with Legal Aid Ontario and Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, one of the main goals at Community Legal Services is to provide a practical clinical education program for our law students. Second- and third-year law students have the opportunity to work in the clinic, under the direct supervision of experienced staff lawyers (Review Counsel), for academic credit. Students have full carriage of files. Their work in the clinic allows them to gain valuable experience interviewing clients, drafting legal documents, negotiating with opposing parties, and conducting motions, hearings and trials.

In addition to the LUCLS, the Newcomer Legal Clinic is a new legal clinic, established with a grant from The Law Foundation of Ontario to serve the legal needs of immigrants and refugees in Northwestern Ontario. The Clinic will operate at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, and will welcome its first for-credit clinic course students in September 2021.

As part of the IPC, our students will also participate in a 4-month, unpaid Practice Placement in their third year. The Practice Placement component of the IPC will place students in firms and legal offices across Ontario, allowing them the full experience of working in an area of law that interests them. Students will be given the opportunity to develop and refine, in a practice setting, relevant competencies and skills developed throughout the law program.

Students will have the option to article after graduation if they wish; however, upon the completion of the IPC and Practice Placement, and graduation from the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, students can sit for bar exams and get called to the bar without the need to article.

Through the IPC and Practice Placement, students will develop the skills necessary to prepare them for all types of legal roles. With a focus on small firm practice, we support our students to become thoughtful and effective lawyers in all environments. Our students are experiencing success on Bay Street, clerking at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and working in both small and large law firms, government offices and legal aid clinics across Ontario.

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Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarships

Tuition for 2021-2022 is $16,734.43 plus ancillary fees of $1,304.79. We offer entrance scholarships to our top candidates based on grade point average (GPA) and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores. You do not apply for entrance scholarships; you are automatically considered.

Lakehead University offers more than $11 million in funding each year through scholarships, awards and bursaries. The Student Awards and Financial Aid office recently launched the myAwards database. This makes it easy for students to input their information and find out which scholarships, awards and bursaries they may be eligible for. We want to ensure all students have the necessary financial information, support and resources to complete their education.

Visit Student Central – Financing and Budgeting for more information.

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Career Services

Our mandate is to prepare graduates for the practice of law in smaller centres and in rural regions of Canada where there is a shortage of legal practitioners. However, with a focus on skills training and practical application of the law throughout the 3-year program, our graduates will be a valuable asset to any firm or legal office, big or small.

Our Student Services department works closely with students to develop their resumés and cover letters, practice interviewing and networking skills, and promote professionalism.

The Student Services department will keep students up to date on job postings and professional development opportunities in the region, in the province and across Canada.

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Admission and Applications

We review files holistically; we assess GPA and all transcripts, best LSAT score, Personal Statement, references and an Autobiographical Sketch to determine best fit for law and our program. Applications open in August and close on November 1, 2021. Late applications will not be considered.

We usually extend first-round offers in December, and rolling admission continues until classes reach capacity, usually in mid-summer.

Academic Requirements

You must successfully complete a minimum of 3 years of full-time undergraduate studies at a recognized university to be considered for admission (unless applying under the Mature category). Preference is given to those with an undergraduate degree. You may apply in the third or final year of your undergraduate degree program.

Competitive applicants will have a 75-80% or higher average in their overall undergraduate programs. The Admissions Committee assesses applications based on all the criteria listed in this section. Admission is competitive as we receive many applications each year.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

You are required to take the LSAT, which is administered several times throughout the year in several locations across Canada and the United States, or remotely as the currently offered LSAT Flex option. It is not necessary to apply to the Faculty of Law prior to registering for the LSAT.

See upcoming LSAT test dates and registration information.

You must take the LSAT by January 2022; however, you are highly encouraged to write the LSAT by November 2021 to have the score reports available for the first round of offers.

If you write the LSAT more than once, the highest test result reported by the Law School Admission Council in the year you apply will be used for admission. LSAT scores within the past 5 years (on or after June 2017) may be used.

Lakehead University does not set a minimum LSAT score requirement. The weight given to the LSAT varies depending on fulfilling other elements of the application.

Personal Statement

You must complete the Personal Statement with your OLSAS application.

The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is committed to the following 3 mandate areas:

  1. Aboriginal and Indigenous Law,
  2. Environmental Law and Natural Resource Law and
  3. Sole Practitioner/Small Town Law practice, including the IPC.

Discuss how any or all of our mandate areas fit in with your goals as a future lawyer. If applicable, also discuss any connection or previous experience you have with any or all of our mandate areas.

We recognize that it may be more difficult for Black and racialized applicants to situate their application given the long history of conceiving settler-Indigenous relations as a relationship between First Peoples and white people. In light of this history, we want to clarify that we invite reflections on Indigenous-Black relations and the role of racialized people in reconciliation and decolonization. We welcome the thoughts of applicants on the historical exclusion of Black and racialized communities from environmental protection and natural resource development. We also welcome applicants’ thoughts on the challenges and contributions of Black and racialized communities in small town practice or as sole practitioners.

The Personal Statement also provides you with the opportunity to discuss your strengths, capabilities and achievements that distinguish you as a desirable applicant. You may wish to include information about what led you to apply to study law, your preparedness for the study of law and your interest in the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.

You may also wish to include information about any anomalies within your academic performance, highlight non-academic achievements and note any special circumstances that have contributed to, or adversely affected, your academic and non-academic success.

Your Personal Statement will be considered in the context of the rest of your application. It must be authored entirely by you and must not exceed 8,000 characters in length.

References

You must provide at least 2 letters of reference: 1 academic and 1 non-academic; however, 2 academic references are preferred.

Carefully consider your referees. Referees should have extensive personal knowledge of you in order to make statements about your character, personal qualities, academic competencies, employment performance, volunteer contributions and other areas that may be of interest to the Admissions Committee.

Letters of reference must be confidential and submitted directly by the referee to OLSAS. You need to arrange for your referees to use the OLSAS Confidential Assessment Forms that are provided with the application.

Transcripts

Official transcripts are required for all postsecondary institutions you attended, including transcripts from studies as a visiting or exchange student. You must order all transcripts and they must be sent directly to OLSAS from the host institution. Current and previous Lakehead University students must also provide official transcripts to OLSAS.

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Language Proficiency

An excellent command of spoken and written English is essential for success. If English is not your first language, and you cannot verify having completed at least 1 year of full-time study at an accredited postsecondary institution where English is the official language of instruction, you are required to present proof of English-language proficiency by achieving appropriate standing on 1 of the following tests:

  • TOEFL (internet-based)
    • Minimum score: 103
    • Minimum individual scores: Writing – 28, Speaking – 28, Reading – 24, Listening – 23
  • IELTS
    • Minimum score: 7
    • Minimum individual scores: Writing – 7, Speaking – 7, Reading – 6.5, Listening – 6.5

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Foreign and Private Universities

You must have all official transcripts translated (if applicable) and evaluated by World Education Services (WES) if:

  • you were educated outside Canada or the United States,
  • you obtained a degree outside Canada or the United States or
  • you are currently completing an undergraduate degree from a foreign country.

A course-by-course evaluation specifying Canadian degree, grade and credit hour equivalency is required.

You are responsible for the costs associated with the transcript evaluation and any required translation. WES evaluations are not needed for course work completed on exchange or Letter of Permission if transfer credits for courses are recorded on the home university transcript.

Currently, we are not accepting applications from international students. Applicants must have either Canadian permanent residency status or Canadian citizenship.

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Fee Waivers

You may request a fee waiver for the Bora Laskin portion of the application fee. Requests will be assessed using a fee waiver application form obtained directly from the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. The basic criterion for granting a fee waiver is the absolute inability to pay for the service.

Apply for a fee waiver.

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Application Categories

There are 4 application categories:

General Category

Use this category to apply, unless you feel that you qualify to apply in the Access, Indigenous or Mature categories.

Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) Category

We strongly encourage Indigenous applicants from across Canada to apply to our program. We are committed to improving Indigenous representation in the Canadian legal community.

To apply under the Indigenous category, you must be of Indigenous ancestry: First Nations, Métis or Inuit.

Applicants in this category are required to submit evidence of Indigenous identity, such as a copy of a status card or letter of support from an Indigenous organization, such as a band council or Métis community council.

You are also requested to outline in your Personal Statement your relationship to your community, including how you have contributed to, are connected to and identify with your community.

You must have a minimum of 3 years of university and must also take the LSAT exam.

Applications are reviewed holistically, as are all applications to the JD program.

Access Category

The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law encourages applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences, including equity-seeking groups. We will consider an applicant whose academic performance was affected, delayed or interrupted by a disadvantage or inequity as protected under the enumerated and analogous grounds of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Disadvantages and inequities may include, but are not limited to, socio-economic factors, both mental and physical disability, culture, creed, sexuality, family status and gender, among others.

Under the Access category, and as part of your Personal Statement, you are required to describe how the disadvantage or inequity affected your academic record and, if possible, provide supporting references and documentation.

Note: Any disability-related documentation only needs to confirm the functional limitations of a candidate, as we do not require confidential diagnostic information.

Mature Category

We encourage applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences. You may be considered under the Mature applicant category if:

  • you do not have a completed undergraduate degree
  • you have 10 or more years of relevant work or non-academic experience since completing high school, which demonstrates that you have a strong potential to succeed in the program, despite not meeting the academic requirements of the General Application Category.

As with all applicants, your file will be reviewed holistically, taking into consideration your capacity for academic success and contribution to the law school and broader community.

As a mature applicant, you must submit an up-to-date resumé along with your Personal Statement. You are required to submit 2 letters of reference, preferably at least 1 from an academic source. If you are unable to obtain an academic letter of reference, choose a reference that can speak to your abilities as they relate to law school, such as conducting research, writing, critical thinking, ability to work with others and time management.

Mature applicants must complete the LSAT exam and ensure that OLSAS receives all postsecondary transcripts.

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Application Components

All applications and supporting documentation must be submitted to OLSAS. The application deadline for the JD program is November 1, 2021. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

All applications must contain:

  1. OLSAS application
  2. Official transcripts for all postsecondary institutions attended
  3. Personal Statement
  4. Official LSAT scores
  5. References
  6. Autobiographical Sketch
  7. Supporting documentation, where necessary (Indigenous, Access and Mature Applicant categories)

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Contact Information

Direct all inquiries about application submission and receipt of documentation to OLSAS at: 519-823-1063.

For further questions about the program requirements and admissions requirements, contact us:

Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law
Telephone: 807-343-8010, ext. 7862
Email: law@lakeheadu.ca
Follow us on Twitter: @LawLakehead

In person:
Bora Laskin Faculty of Law
401 Red River Road
Thunder Bay ON  P7B 1B4

By mail:
Bora Laskin Faculty of Law
Lakehead University
955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay ON  P7B 5E1

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